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Windows Tax Shot Down In Italy

MaWeiTao Re:Freak outbreak of common sense (396 comments)

I suppose in your universe cars would come without tires so that they can't force you to go with Pirelli over Michelin.

People want convenience. They don't want the pain in the ass of having to choose and then install their own OS, or worse, paying someone else to do so. I can't imagine a PC would be any cheaper without Windows, and if so, how much cheaper would it be? $20? $50? But the alternative is paying $80+ for a copy of Windows, which most consumers would inevitably buy. Many would then be forced to spend another $50-$100 to pay someone to install it.

For those who really don't want Windows, there are already countless avenues for purchasing a Windows-free machine.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

MaWeiTao Make the smartwatch a dumbphone. (470 comments)

It's a bit ironic that nearly all smartphones are growing, including Apple's, but everyone is jumping on this smartwatch bandwagon which features a display too small to be truly useful.

With smartwatches why even bother with a mobile phone at all? Allow it to work with a desktop, laptop or tablet for more complex functionality. When untethered give it dumbphone functionality so that the watch can at least make calls and send texts, even if they have to be dictated. I think that's well within the realm of what's feasible with current technology and then you're giving the watch some level of true value.

The fitness tracking functionality is nice, but as data shows, adherence is abysmal for Fitbits and the rest. That functionality isn't going to make non-active individuals suddenly active, and fitness freaks don't necessarily need the info. If anything, these devices typically just create more work.

4 days ago
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Samsung Announces Galaxy Alpha Featuring Metal Frame and Rounded Corners

MaWeiTao Plastic Metal (220 comments)

I don't get the obsessive appeal of phones with metal shells. Every iPhone I've ever seen that's led a life case-free really shows it's age, with all kinds of scuffs and obvious wear. The wear on plastic phones is far less apparent because the scratches don't show nearly as much.

I suppose excessive wear plus for the device maker as a motivator to get consumers to upgrade on a regular basis. It certainly helps that your average stupid consumer equates cold metal with luxury.

about a month ago
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Japan To Launch a Military Space Force In 2019

MaWeiTao Re:Strategic coverage (150 comments)

Regardless, visit Japan and you'd never know their economy had been stagnant for over two decades. I'd take that kind of stagnation to American "growth" any day. They may be running a huge deficit, but at least the money seems to be used more productively than it ever is in the US. I'd love to see the kinds of massive infrastructure projects they undertake introduced over here. Stimulus spending in America consists of pointless and useless beautification on some stretch of road, not a new bridge link to cut travel times by half and foster local development.

I've suspected that their economy has stagnated because Japanese companies have expanded as far as they possibly can. The only way to rekindle growth is to engage in the kind of ingenuity and risk taking which Japanese may not be capable of. I certainly don't think this is something the government can fix. It's either that or US-style cost-cutting and layoffs. Although, while that would give the illusion of growth in the short term it would also gut their core competencies.

about a month ago
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Wikipedia Blocks 'Disruptive' Edits From US Congress

MaWeiTao Re:News source (165 comments)

I agree with you on everything exception your mention of Democracy Now. They definitely cover some legitimate stories and they haven't been commercialized, but they're clearly pushing a particular worldview and appealing to a certain demographic in very much the same way as Foxnews. Just because you happen to agree with that particular perspective doesn't mean that they aren't biased.

about 1 month ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

MaWeiTao Re:What's the point (353 comments)

You've posted twice about the supposed wonders of the NHS, but the reality doesn't seem to corroborate your claims. There are numerous reports about the massive financial crisis the NHS is facing. Evidently the problems are the worst they've been in a decade, resulting in significant layoffs and that 44% of hospitals will end the year in deficit. The fact that the things were bad only a decade ago seems to imply that the system has always had a problem with sustainability.

Sustainability seems to be a significant problem with socialized healthcare systems the world over. That's where the problems arise. Americans are hit with the cost of healthcare up front, Europeans pay for it indirectly via high taxes and other compromises. You'll likely be hit with a huge bill in the US, but at least if a doctor spots something of concern you'll be scheduled for tests the very next day. If they find a problem you can be in surgery the following week. In Europe you end up on waiting lists and hope things don't get worse before you get treatment. Unless you're wealthy, then you can pay for prompt care, which ironically causes the same economic divide people complain about in the US.

There are other more subtle problems I've personally observed in Europe in Asia. Doctors are overburdened and relatively underpaid. So I've found that they tend to gloss over issues and don't really spend enough time evaluating a patient's condition. These and many other problems are the sorts of things you only really start noticing when you've lived in a country for any length of time. I've noticed that immigrants to the US always complain about the cost of healthcare. Until they start noticing those subtle differences, the extra effort American doctors put into patient care, prompt treatment and a general sense that everything is handled more thoroughly.

At the end of the day, healthcare is a massively complex and expensive beast. I've yet to see an implementation that comes close to solving most critical issues.

about 2 months ago
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How Often Do Economists Commit Misconduct?

MaWeiTao Re:Political/Moral (305 comments)

The problem with Occupy Wall Street was that instead of being about real and legitimate problems it turned into a bunch of self-centered brats bitching about things like college loans. Idiots stormed a Bank of America branch at one point demanding something like college loans being forgiven. If they have an issue with the cost of eduction they should have gone to the source, protest the universities themselves for their wasteful spending and exorbitant tuition. Instead, Americans have this irrational loyalty to the college they attended and are far too comfortable with the idea of credit. Just think, the very thing they were demanding, easy credit, was one of the bigger sources of economic trouble.

about 2 months ago
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GM Names and Fires Engineers Involved In Faulty Ignition Switch

MaWeiTao Re:No one will ever buy a GM product again (307 comments)

I'm pretty sure this engineer is actually a middle manager. This falls under his area of responsibility because it's not upper management's responsibility to worry about such granular details. That said, a big problem with corporate America is that middle management is not measured by actual performance and productivity. So this guy solved the problem in a way that probably looked good to the higher ups because he wasn't causing disruption. Honestly, he likely didn't care either way; all he wanted was a secure paycheck and to be out the door at 5pm sharp.

about 3 months ago
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U.S. Drone Attack Strategy Against Al-Qaeda May Be Wrong

MaWeiTao Absurd comparison. (433 comments)

This is a ridiculous comparison to make. Corporate executives don't have to worry about a missile being lobbed into their BMW on their morning commute. Middle managers also don't have to worry about being caught up in the collateral damage.

There are legitimate arguments to be made against drone strikes, but I struggle to see how it isn't effective. Al-Qaeda clearly been forced to change the way it operates. That big open air meeting they held in Yemen, in broad daylight was their attempt to pretend that they're not intimidated. The fact that a drone strike followed the release of that video shows the reality of the situation they face. If nothing else, it brings the same level of fear to these terrorists that they inflict on their own fellow citizens.

about 4 months ago
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What Caused a 1300-Year Deep Freeze?

MaWeiTao Re:Climate change is for pussies. (258 comments)

I work right on the water, in a location that's indicated on that map to have experienced over 4ft of inundation. Maybe those figures actually represent deviation from normal high tide and not actually inundation. While there was indeed flooding around here it didn't exceed 12" and only affected a few waterfront areas. Go a few hundred feet and there was no flooding at all. The flooding also didn't persist for the duration of the storm, instead receding once the tide went out.

I'm not suggesting that the rising sea level isn't a problem. I'm suggesting that it isn't the urgent issue it keeps being presented as. The rise is so gradual that people will almost certain adapt long before it could turn into a critical problem. As it stands, in a few residential neighborhoods affected by flooding some have moved out and others have taken measures to defend against flooding.

This is the sort of thing we're going to see increasingly around the world, and eventually some of these spots may be completely given up to the sea. However, for the most part it's not going to occur at a frantic pace that would pose a humanitarian nightmare. People will simply adapt or move.

The problem with some aspects of trying to take action now is that it's too soon to even know how we should be responding. It's the typical nonsense I face with management. They're so frantic to get started on a project, to do anything, that we end up wasting an inordinate amount of time and money simply fixing problems caused by rushing. And in many cases the original goals go unfulfilled anyway.

about 4 months ago
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Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable

MaWeiTao Re:Memories do decay upon recall (426 comments)

Is it that retrieval alters the memory or your processing of the retrieved memory that alters it? That's an important distinction.

I would propose that the original memory isn't altered at all, but that new experiences and thoughts get layered on top of it. The original memory, when retrieved gets inextricably tied to all that and thus distorted. If you were able to store a memory that is unlikely to be tainted in this manner, unique smells and flavors come to mind, I imagine when it's retrieved years later it wouldn't be distorted at all.

about 4 months ago
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Skepticism Grows Over Claims That MH370 Lies In the Bay of Bengal

MaWeiTao Re:Where's Waldo? (126 comments)

It is newsworthy, but not to the extent that is merits the constant coverage CNN has been giving it.

But it's easy to see why they're stuck on this particular story. It garners ratings but requires minimal financial and personnel commitment on CNN's part. There's nowhere to send reporters but the local harbor to pointlessly demonstrate some bit of tech. They could send reporters to Malaysia, but why bother when other news agencies are doing the real work for them? The fact that it's politically neutral is another bonus. So there's not much left but to endlessly speculate.

There are other stories that offer much more substance and are far more relevant to us. They also require a lot more work on the part of real journalists. Unfortunately, there's no room for those people because we need to pay for presenters who are borderline celebrities. That and the talking head format has gotten far too prevalent for it's own good.

about 4 months ago
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Consumers Not Impressed With 3D Printing

MaWeiTao Unrealistic expectations. (302 comments)

I believe that 3D printing will eventually be ubiquitous. However, we're talking about something that's at least a decade or two off because not only does the technology need to mature but a whole infrastructure needs to arise to support it. Certainly, these machines will need to evolve beyond spitting out relatively rough hunks of plastic. The suggestion that the lack of a "killer app" is a major stumbling block to adoption is almost comical.

The article seems written by someone who lacks fundamental understanding of the technology and so holds unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, this mentality seems pervasive as far too many people believe that the instant they hear of a new technology it's ready for mass consumption.

The reality is that many consumers struggle to set up a mere ink jet. They muddle through applications like Word and PowerPoint, using a fraction of available functionality. They need to call an electrician to replace a light switch and AAA to mount a spare tire. In light of all that, what hope in hell do they have of manipulating a 3D model, preparing it for printing and then assembling it?

Some day, the technology will likely affect the lives of nearly everyone. But I can't imagine it will happen in the way some people seem to be envisioning it.

about 5 months ago
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iPad Fever Is Officially Cooling

MaWeiTao Re:Apple is on very shakey ground (386 comments)

You're wrong.

Apple's business hasn't been based on breaking new ground. Others, Microsoft and Google, are the ones breaking new ground. This risk with that approach, however, is that you're often bringing to market a product that's half-baked, either because the tech is in it's infancy or there's a lack of exposure to that particular type of device.

What Apple has been the master of is identifying a unique niche where there's a unfilled demand because existing products are subpar. But they don't just rush in to fill that vacuum. They wait for the dust to settle, for the tech to reach sufficient maturity. Other companies often predate Apple in the introduction of new technology, but they rarely implement it as effectively. My impression is that they're stuck in iterative mode. They're stuck trying to beat everyone to market and rely on subsequent models to address outstanding issues instead of considering a device as a holistic package and maximizing refinement.

That last bit is reflective of the important of integration, and it's really the most critical. It's the thing that really attracts consumers. Apple successfully removes most of the obstacles that have traditionally hindered user experience in that particular space. The ability to identify technology and successfully exploit it is part of that.

What Apple has done is impressive, but they are able to take this approach only because others have broken ground first.

about 5 months ago
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NYC's 19th-Century Horse Carriages Spawn Weird, Truck-Size Electric Car

MaWeiTao Tacky solution. (204 comments)

I think the idea of still having a horses in the midst of a busy city is ridiculous.

That said, the proposed alternative is cheesy. I really struggle to understand the American fixation antique reproductions. It's ironic that in Europe, where cities are much older than NYC, a similar concept would look sleek and futuristic.

I'm also struggling to understand why this thing is so big and heavy. It's at a point where you might as well just take a double-decker tour bus. It's likely also the safer alternative.

about 5 months ago
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Switching From Sitting To Standing At Your Desk

MaWeiTao Easier said than done. (312 comments)

Any solution that's good for your health is going to cut into productivity. What companies are trying to do is find a solution that helps but doesn't disrupt that productivity. Unfortunately, I just don't think that's possible.

Currently, I've got a coworker who walks at a specialized treadmill, designed for office use, nearly all day long. Great for her, but all she does is read and type on her computer. There's some work you just can't be moving to do effectively. I design, requiring precision and focus. I can't stand or walk while I work. But my workload is such that I can't talk long breaks throughout the day.

A sensible approach might be several long breaks throughout the day. But the problem is fitting those in to a work day. I wouldn't want my work day to get longer. Sure, if you're single, it's easy to just lengthen your workday but fit in numerous breaks. However, not everyone has that freedom or desire. I want to be home with my family at a reasonable hour.

I think we need a more fundamental shift in corporate mentality. There's this persistent attitude of rushing to wait. Jam in a ton of work into a compressed timeframe only to have it languish once it's complete. On the other hand, there does need to be some kind of balance. You can't just have employees sit around doing nothing. Although, sometimes I feel like that's all that happens with so many of my clients.

about 5 months ago
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Snowden Queries Putin On Live TV Regarding Russian Internet Surveillance

MaWeiTao Re:wouldn't matter if it weren't canned (396 comments)

You're certainly right, but it's still funny how quickly some people compensate for any criticism of Democrats.

about 5 months ago
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Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers

MaWeiTao Re:Ukraine's borders were changed by use of force (304 comments)

This is why we don't have pure democracies. You can't just have the majority vote impulsively on every whim that pops into their heads.

about 4 months ago
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UN Report Reveals Odds of Being Murdered Country By Country

MaWeiTao Crime in America (386 comments)

I have generally found that most foreigners and immigrants have a much harsher perspective on handling crime than Americans. Many developed countries engage in law enforcement activity that Americans would consider the mark of a police state. I've found most of those people, however, find it outrageous that Americans would be so obsessed with perceived freedom that they'd be willing to sacrifice quality of life and overall safety. The difference is that they're focused on prevention whereas American obsess about deterrence via punishment.

I'm not arguing they're right necessarily but it's hard to argue when cities in most first world nations are safer than American cities. I was generally oblivious to this until I lived in Taiwan for several years. It was refreshing to be able to go out at 3am and not have to worry about being mugged. Not that there weren't problems, particularly in Southern Taiwan and especially seedy neighborhoods. And sometimes I suspect crime in other countries in under reported. There's a lot of petty crime that I think is not adequately represented. But even then it's nothing compared to how rough things can get in the US. And to think that Japan somehow manages to be on another level.

Crime also doesn't tell the whole story. In Taiwan, if you really had to go looking for trouble. Otherwise no one gave you a hard time, even as a foreigner. In America, however, wander into certain neighborhoods with the wrong skin color and it's a near inevitability you'll get harassed. And usually the harassment comes from some punk teenager, which is a bit of a concerning trend. Where I used to live in the US was a borderline neighborhood that straddled the line between okay and bad neighborhoods. A week didn't go by that some asshole didn't make remarks about me, as a white guy, being out for a jog.

Inevitably, you learn to avoid trouble areas and I think Americans as a culture do that constantly. The problem is that it's the equivalent to sweeping the problem under the rug. And Americans seem to have a habit of reinterpreting statistics to suit some deluded world view. Take incarceration stats. People look at the numbers and assume there's some grand conspiracy. Doesn't it occur to people that more people are in jail because there's generally more crime? Certainly, the crime statistics corroborate that.

Now, the interesting thing I've found, is that American police departments are far more militaristic than anything I've seen overseas. In Taiwan, more than once I've seen a drunk woman slap a police officer and he just stands there and takes it, waiting for her to calm down. In the US they would have tased her and smashed her face into the pavement, assuming someone more gung ho didn't just pump a few rounds into her claiming probable cause.

On the other hand, I found the authorities there much more comfortable with continued surveillance. Here, it's all reactionary aggression. The rare police car I see is busy blowing through stop lights supposedly on the way to an incident. In Taiwan, however police presence was more persistent and reliable. Not that cops were personable there, but there was a lot more interaction. The only time people ever see cops in America, other than directing traffic, is when something has gone wrong. No wonder people develop a negative impression.

If I had to attribute crime in America with a cause, I think the single largest problem is irresponsible and shit parenting. If that were addressed I think so many other things would start falling into place. There are so many cultural problems endemic to America that you just don't see overseas, at least not to the extent they exist here.

about 5 months ago
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New French Law Prohibits After-Hours Work Emails

MaWeiTao No longer the exception. (477 comments)

Sometimes there's something critical going on and you need to be in touch after hours. That's reasonable. The big problem is that for most it's become the rule, not the exception.

I've never been told I need to check emails outside of work, however, in recent years I've felt an unspoken pressure to be responsive to emails after hours. Working late bothers me less than this because it feels like an intrusion into my personal life. My own time is for unwinding and taking care of personal obligations, not to keep fretting about work. And without fail, the thing that demanded immediate response was something that could have waited, if it weren't for an impulsive and impatient manager.

Sadly, we're in a world of instant gratification. If people don't get an immediate response they freak out. And it's the same old shit with corporate America; there's an incredible sense of urgency; until the responsibilities fall on them, then they can afford to take on a leisurely pace.

about 5 months ago

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