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

MaWeiTao Tacky solution. (203 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.

2 days ago
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Switching From Sitting To Standing At Your Desk

MaWeiTao Easier said than done. (311 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 a week 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 (395 comments)

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

about a week 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 a week 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 two weeks 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 two weeks ago
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Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500; Teach Boys, Get $0

MaWeiTao Re:Sex discrimination. (673 comments)

It seems to me like you work in industries that are less attractive to women, hence the overall issue being raised here. But your experience doesn't even come close to reflecting mine. I'm in the design industry where women outnumber men, albeit by a slim margin. Of the roughly 15 project managers I've worked under only two have been men. Amongst clients, which have ranged from small businesses, to universities, to large corporations, there's been a balanced mix of men and women in middle management. Within specific departments, however, women are sometimes the overwhelming majority.

In terms of work-life balance, things seem comparable too, at least right up to the point that people start raising a family. Then woman take far more time off than men for family obligations, and typically it's unquestioningly worked into their weekly schedule. And that's when they aren't taking days off outright. It's already hard enough for a man to simply get out of work on time, let alone get approval for leaving early.

In fact, I'm currently working with a project manager who leaves at 3pm every day and what that means is she's completely out of touch until the next morning. This, inevitably ends up being detrimental to the rest of the team. The rest of us have to pick up the slack in one way or another. Sometimes it's making decisions independently of her and hoping the client doesn't throw a wrench in the process, other times it's delaying progress until she's back in. Its to a point where you have to question why the company even wastes money on this individual. The money spent there would be better served hiring another designer and just having the team interact more directly with the client.

Now, the interesting thing is that I recently heard one of the reasons why female average salaries are lower is specifically because they tend to take more time off. But people will look at the numbers, see that women earn less than men and draw incorrect conclusions from that.

This doesn't mean they aren't competent. There are always exceptions, but female managers are generally as effective as males and easier to work with. I've found them to be more open-minded and less likely to micromanage. But I do think that in striving for equality we've overcompensated, creating a bit of an unfair playing field.

about two weeks ago
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Smart Car Tipping Trending In San Francisco

MaWeiTao Re:San Fran = the new Detroit (371 comments)

Of course San Francisco has decent weather and pleasant scenery going for it where Detroit does not. It helps make the residents a lot more tolerant of pervasive problems.

about two weeks ago
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Online Skim Reading Is Taking Over the Human Brain

MaWeiTao How about both? (224 comments)

I'm not sure why people can't do both. I tend to be very non-linear when I'm online and probably skim more than I should. But I can still sit down every night and read a novel or non-fiction book. I don't feel like I need to readjust myself or anything. If there's a day where I can't read it's more due to my mood than because I've spent the day skimming.

That said, I do think lack of focus and patience is a problem. It's frustrating at work to have coworkers gloss over an email and miss important points, even when I've set up a bulleted list for easy reading. Sometimes skimming works, but often it doesn't. And I think many people have gone beyond that to where they just read a headline and nothing more. Crap like Twitter certainly encourages that, as it's nothing but headline spam.

about two weeks ago
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Indie Game Jam Show Collapses Due To Interference From "Pepsi Consultant"

MaWeiTao Get off my lawn. (465 comments)

I've only taken one thing away from all this: Traditionally, an individual had to get to their 60s before they turned into a curmudgeon. With pop culture being what it is and trends changing so rapidly you'll now be one by your 30s.

about three weeks ago
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Social Media Becomes the New Front In Mexico's Drug War

MaWeiTao Re:make drugs legal - war over, cartels fail (120 comments)

Typical naivete. Organized crime didn't disappear with the end of prohibition. Why the hell would it go away with the wholesale legalization of drugs? Best case is you're not arresting people for possession. But as studies on decriminalization has shown all that happens is that the money is redirected towards distribution, treatment and medical care. And Mexico will go right on fighting the cartels like nothing has changed.

about three weeks ago
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Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

MaWeiTao Tin Man (512 comments)

I'm really surprised Tin Man wasn't listed. For me it's always stuck in my mind as the worst. It was an interesting idea completely marred by that insufferable, whiny ass Tam Elbrun.

about three weeks ago
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Tesla Model S Gets Titanium Underbody Shield, Aluminum Deflector Plates

MaWeiTao Re:"extrusion"? (314 comments)

I don't understand why people see every new bit of technology like it's some magical panacea, ready for mass consumption the instant they learn of its existence.

You wouldn't try to print 100,000 books on an ink jet printer. While you might do mockups on that ink jet, you'd have the actual run output on a printing press. 3D printing is the same exact thing. Great for prototyping, but too slow, inefficient and expensive for mass production. That may change some day, but currently were a ways away from that being feasible.

about a month ago
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Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion

MaWeiTao Re:Lets wait and see (535 comments)

Why in the hell would they ever build their own OLED factory? This is far from being a trivial enterprise, and is something that even established companies don't generally engage in. There are numerous display manufacturers already out there, so there's no need whatsoever to be reliant on Samsung. Sharp and AU Optronics are two of the biggest players that immediately come to mind.

If we're talking about competition and being able to scale the company I don't see how Facebook benefits Oculus VR. Facebook has no experience with hardware so they can't help there. I saw mention of Facebook having a longer term vision than investors. If that's the case then they're seeking out the wrong people. From everything I've ever seen, the right kind of investors are much more likely to see the product through to fruition. Facebook has many more people to answer too and the way Zuckerberg has been throwing away money I expect people are going to start demanding some accountability. And when push comes to shove, Oculus VR is a small aspect of Facebook's business. Had they gone with individual investors there would be more ownership in the enterprise.

It's hard to figure out what Facebook is trying to do. Every one of their other acquisitions has revolved around their core business. The desire to diversify is more evident at Google than it is here. So the acquisition of Oculus VR seems to be borne out of some desire to somehow integrate it with existing platforms. I wonder if this isn't some kind of response to Google Glass. Any way I slice it, I think Facebook is looking to expand their own platform. This is not to Oculus VR's advantage.

about a month ago
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Back To the Moon — In Four Years

MaWeiTao Re:I can barely make ends meet (292 comments)

I'm in a similar boat to you but I still support spending money on the space program over a lot of the other garbage on which our government spends money.

about a month ago
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Should Newsweek Have Outed Satoshi Nakamoto's Personal Details?

MaWeiTao Software development model. (276 comments)

News reporting, whatever little there is left with all the talking head crap, has adopted the software development model. Post a story in "beta" so that you can beat everyone else to the punch; although, sometimes the errors are so blatant it's probably more akin to an alpha release. By the time the appropriate fixes come along the damage is done and everyone has moved on.

There's no accountability whatsoever. But what do you expect in a culture driven by celebrity and craving the next sensationalistic fix like a drug addict?

about a month and a half ago
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Physics Forum At Fermilab Bans Powerpoint

MaWeiTao Re:good riddance (181 comments)

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make as Keynote is basically just Apple's version of PowerPoint. They both do the same exact thing. Misuse is not PowerPoint's fault. Just like it isn't Keynote fostering the creation of better-looking presentations. That's generally the result of designers typically being Apple devotees and as gravitating towards all things Apple. Of course, they're going to have a much better eye for what constitutes a good presentation. That said, I've seen some bad Keynote presentations. Actually, the best presentations I've seen were created using online services. But again, that's thanks to designers being heavily involved and in some cases those being promotional pieces.

It almost always comes down to how the tool is used, not the tool itself.

about a month and a half ago
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Physics Forum At Fermilab Bans Powerpoint

MaWeiTao Learn to use PowerPoint. (181 comments)

Having sat through far too many PowerPoint meetings, I've found that the problem isn't PowerPoint itself, but that most people have a compulsion to cram far too much information onto each slide. It basically gets turned into a teleprompt. So what ends up happening is that by the time the presenter done regurgitating what's on the screen everyone's already read through it all.

PowerPoint is best used to convey overarching themes and talking points. It frames what the presenter is going to say and helps emphasize critical points. This PowerPoint ban essentially produces the same net result, but what people really need is to learn how to use the application.

about a month and a half ago
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Apple Drops Snow Leopard Security Updates, Doesn't Tell Anyone

MaWeiTao It's only Apple. (241 comments)

Who's the other major software vendor? Microsoft? They spell out their support policies quite clearly. Everyone knew well in advance when Microsoft was ending support for XP, an OS that's been supported far, far longer than anything from Apple. My Intel iMac at home is stuck at OSX 10.6.8. It was built several months too soon and lacked some random bit of hardware related to the BIOS which disqualified it from being a proper 64-bit machine. By the time Apple announced it was dropping support for that version I hadn't seen updates in about a year anyway.

Instead of just criticizing Apple for what they do wrong, there seems to be this compulsion to make everything relative so that Apple doesn't look so bad. I'd argue that in this particular case Microsoft is a lot better than Apple. Apple seems content to sweep things under the rug as long as they can get away with it.

about 2 months ago
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Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

MaWeiTao People hate cameras. (921 comments)

People turn quite irrational at the prospect of being photographed or filmed. I've run into problems overseas, but I almost think it's worse in the US. People seem to take issue with the mere presence of a camera. If you're shooting buildings that are not established landmarks you get odd looks. And I got approached once because I was taking photos of car taillights for a project. They were still suspicious after showing them my shots. The only time you're really not going to have a problem is when you're with friends and your camera is clearly pointed at them.

Google Glass, however, takes this perceived threat to a whole other level because you've got a camera stuck to your head and in the minds of the ignorant you're recording everything you see.

Of course, we don't really know the nature of the incident; if this woman was antagonistic herself, if the other party were resentful of someone flaunting wealth, if theft was the motive, or if they really were just plain stupid. Either way, bars and such tend to attract imbeciles which is why I would never wear something like Google Glass out at night. At least not until the technology became ubiquitous and accepted.

about 2 months ago

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