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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With an Unresponsive Manufacturer Who Doesn't Fix Bugs?

PuckSR Re:The name (204 comments)

I am reminded of something my accountant friend always tells me: I don't do magic.
Lawyers and accountants are highly trained individuals with a great deal of knowledge. They know a lot of things that you don't know.
However, you probably aren't going to fail an audit just because you didn't use an accountant, as long as you have some idea of how finance works.

Similarly, you aren't going to lose a court case because you don't have a lawyer. An entity can sue you for any reason, however if their claim is entirely false you aren't going to get destroyed in court. The entity's lawyer isn't going to magically produce a legal motion in a foreign language that makes it impossible to defend yourself.

In the end, lawyers are just like car mechanics. They are probably going to do a far better job than you, but they aren't doing any magic. Just applying a significant amount of specialized knowledge.

about two weeks ago

Snowden's Leaks Didn't Help Terrorists

PuckSR Re:The sad part is... (183 comments)

This is true, but maybe it doesn't help that half of the people defending Snowden are also arguing that Pfc. Manning is just as defensible.
It might go a long way towards defending Snowden if his defenders would demonize Manning a bit more.

about a month ago

Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

PuckSR Re:It's getting hotter still! (635 comments)

The US Navy has officially made a statement in which they expect "no sea ice". This means that it will be mostly navigable, but may require ice-breakers or similar because of large ice drifts.
This would only occur during the peak of the summer, and not be a year-round phenomenon.

This is a significant event, but it can quickly get tangled. They are not predicting that there will be no ice at all in the arctic sea for the entire year. The prediction makes sense for meteorologists, but it can be confusing for the average person.

about a month ago

Selectable Ethics For Robotic Cars and the Possibility of a Robot Car Bomb

PuckSR We need to fix the common ethical dilemma (239 comments)

The common dilemma is mentioned in the wired article. It is known as the "trolley problem". It essentially creates a scenario where you need to make a binary choice: kill 5 people through inaction or kill 1 person through action.

If we are going to discuss autonomous cars, I really think we should expand the scenario:
1. You are driving directly at a large concrete barrier at 70mph.(kills 1 person-YOU)
2. Swerve left and you strike a pedestrian(kills 1 person-OTHER)
3. Swerve right and strike a car head-on(potentially kills >1 person)

Why this alternative? It presents a risk to the occupant, which is always going to be a concern for a driverless car. It it less simple than a binary choice, but it illustrates almost all of the ethical issues. Do you value the occupant over others? Do you take a 50% chance of killing 2 people or a 100% chance of killing 1?

about 2 months ago

Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

PuckSR Re:Where do I sign up? (327 comments)

The CATO Institute reference is laughable.
It is interesting to read their mental masturbation about how multiple cable companies could compete in the same city, each with their copper. While that could technically happen, the diminishing returns of market entry would keep any sane company from entering into the market. Also, since their Utopia would be lacking in ANY government regulation, the larger company would simply purchase the smaller company if it became a threat. Which is EXACTLY what happened.

That paper was written in 1984. Thanks to their argument many places deregulated the cable industry.
Cable prices sky-rocketed. Companies merged. No true competition arrived. Comcast isn't an example of crony-capitalism. Comcast is the result of people like you and the CATO institute blocking government from heavily regulating "natural monopolies".

Why did anyone care in 1984? Because the federal government had just 'regulated' Ma' Bell. They required the company to reduce its sphere of influence and then they required them to allow "virtual competition". Government 'regulation'(in the form of anti-trust rulings) eventually required AT&T to operate as a copper providers, while other companies could operate as service providers. What was the result of all of this government regulation of a natural monopoly? Prices for long-distance calls dropped rapidly. Services were upgraded in many areas that were previously "unprofitable". Technologies that made heavy use of previously existing infrastructure(ADSL) spurred technological advances.

Basically, the best thing for the internet and cable TV would be HEAVY regulation. It might fall under a different name, but it would be regulation because it would be the government imposing its will on the market. If you wanted truly better service you would look to the deregulation of power operators in Texas as a key example. Create 3 specific "tiers": Content providers, network operators, retailers. Require that no company could exist as more than 1. Pay the network operators based on peers and speed. Watch the internet/cable get better rather rapidly.

about 2 months ago

Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

PuckSR Re:Where do I sign up? (327 comments)

You don't seem to understand the definition of a "Ponzi scheme".

A ponzi scheme is an investment scam where the "investment returns" are actually the investments of other investors. Investors are being tricked because they think they have invested money. There is no actual investment.
Social security is a public welfare program that is paid via tax revenue. It also includes a tax on earnings to offset the tax expenditure. T

Social Security is not an investment, so it cannot be a ponzi scheme.
Do you think the department of transportation is running a ponzi scheme when they collect gas taxes to pay for road work?

about 2 months ago

TCP/IP Might Have Been Secure From the Start If Not For the NSA

PuckSR Re:Flamebait (149 comments)

Bad analogy.

The NSA didn't tell Cerf not to use this cryptography scheme. Cerf didn't even ask. He was working on a classified research project(NSA cryptography) and working on a unclassified academic experiment(TCP/IP).

I keep fish as a hobby. I have a friend who researches new antibiotics. Do you think my friend's employer is "standing in the way" when he doesn't give me the latest and most potent antibiotics which aren't even publicly available to treat my fish?

about 7 months ago

Star Trek Economics

PuckSR Re:Wow (888 comments)

A limited resource in this solar system that stops us at 384.6 yottawatts. I think we can just go ahead and assume it is NOT a limited resource for all practical purposes.

about 8 months ago

Star Trek Economics

PuckSR Re:Wow (888 comments)

Not bollocks.

You are looking at short-term trends. I am discussing long-term trends. Energy production will continue to increase or we face a Malthusian collapse. I don't think that will happen. I think we will develop technologies that circumvent the Malthusian collapse. I wasn't discussing "alternative energies". I was discussing ANY energies.

We have already developed heat engines that would have blown the minds of engineers 100 years ago(they achieve better than 50% efficiency). You are thinking of "wind vs coal". I am thinking of Dyson spheres. Why mention a Dyson sphere? It isn't an actual goal, it is a commentary on the upper limits of power production. Stop getting bogged down in "current technologies". We will have future technologies which are unimaginable. You know why? If you could imagine them now they would be a reality in the present. 100 years ago we were running small combustion engines at efficiency that bordered on 10% and that was a NEW technology that was wildly efficient. Give use another hundred years, I am sure you will not be disappointed.

about 8 months ago

Psychologists: Internet Trolls Are Narcissistic, Psychopathic, and Sadistic

PuckSR Serious question (293 comments)

Since when did Machiavellianism come to be defined as a "willingness to manipulate others"? The traditional attribute of "The Prince" is that he manipulated other people for a purpose. Doing it simply for entertainment seems to be a far different thing. If I lied to you to get you to take your medicine, that could be Machiavellianism. If I lied to you because I was a huge dick and wanted to fuck with you, that would seem to be "Assholishianism".

about 8 months ago

Star Trek Economics

PuckSR Re:Wow (888 comments)

I think you are misunderstanding or misconstruing the argument. Post-scarcity doesn't mean that "limited resources" cease to exist. The primary driver of our modern economy(and any new economy) is energy. Energy is becoming rapidly less expensive because of modern technologies. He is arguing that at a certain point we will have to acknowledge that we have enough energy to meet everyone's basic needs. At that point, excess energy can be used to meet everyone's luxury desires. We tend to think of everyone's luxury desires as limitless, but that isn't exactly true. Our appetite for luxury goods is highly pliable. A great example of this would be video games. In the late 80s, you probably would have wanted a lot of Nintendo games. Those were a desirable luxury good. Now, you can acquire all of those games(through illegal and quasi-legal channels) and play them on a machine that costs as much as 2 beers. Yet, you don't play all of those old games. Why not? Your appetite has changed and now you are more than happy to play one new game rather than dozens of old ones. Consider it the "Brewster's Millions" problem.
As far as "limited resources", they will continue to exist. However, we might find that their value and how we assess that value has changed dramatically. Gold will probably be the clearest example. Gold has very little intrinsic value. It is a rare metal, but materials of similar rarity do not approach anywhere near the value of gold in the current market. Tellurium, an element found with gold which is actually rarer, has similarly valuable commercial applications. However, tellurium does not trade for 1/100th the price of gold. In a world where you can have all of your needs met, what use will we have for gold? We only wear it now as a symbol of wealth. If everyone has quasi-limitless wealth, then what point is signaling your wealth? Yes, in the Star Trek economy, gold is still rare. However, since there are few commercial applications for gold, you would see the price drop precipitously.

about 8 months ago

L.A. Building's Lights Interfere With Cellular Network, FCC Says

PuckSR Re: including imprisonment? (158 comments)

What are you talking about? Imprisoning executives? Do you understand how FCC regulations work?

Very simple. The FCC is the "radiowaves police". If you get pulled over in a brand new car that has a faulty speedometer which is showing your speed as 20 mph slower than reality, the cop is still going to write you a speeding ticket ticket. Sure, it is the manufacturer's fault. The traffic cop's job is to make sure everyone is driving at the correct speed. The traffic cop isn't going to drive back the manufacturer and write them a citation.

The end-user IS ALWAYS responsible for using equipment that interferes. It doesn't matter if he bought it legally. It doesn't matter why the interference is being caused. If you have a transmitter that is causing illegal interference, you are responsible. This just makes sense. Even if they went back to the reseller or manufacturer; that doesn't fix the problem in the "here and now". The only way to fix the immediate problem is to compel the end-user to STOP TRANSMITTING.

about 8 months ago

Audience Jeers Contestant Who Uses Game Theory To Win At 'Jeopardy'

PuckSR Re:Very little "game theory" here (412 comments)

Actually, that is the problem with game theory. So much of game theory just sounds like "common sense" when it is explained.
In a way, game theory is just the formalization of "common sense".

How many times has the "prisoner's dilemma" been part of the plot in a police procedural? (Hint: It is almost ALWAYS involved when two or more suspects are being charged)

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: State of the Art In DIY Security Systems?

PuckSR Re:Umm no. (248 comments)

And if these professional burglars have decided to target your house, then you might as well just give up. It isn't worth your time or money to attempt to deter such criminals. If the gang from Ocean's 11(Clooney, not Sinatra) decide to take down your house you are royally fucked.

People seem to have this idea that there are packs of professional thieves roaming the streets just waiting to rob them, their cars, or their homes. There are not. 90% of people would never commit a crime. Most of the remaining 10% might steal if they justify it to themselves and if they think they can get away with it. Then there is a tiny minority that performs a complex risk/benefit analysis and determines that the odds of getting caught are low and that the rewards are great. They become your professional thieves and it would take a great deal of effort and energy to stop them. Don't waste your time.

about 10 months ago

MenuetOS, an OS Written Entirely In Assembly Language, Inches Towards 1.0

PuckSR Re:Why do it? (372 comments)

Well, technically we all "touch" systems at this level, we just don't realize we are doing it. Learning/Using Assembly is like learning/using arithmetic instead of using a calculator. It is very handy and gives you a core appreciation for what is happening in complex problems, however most professionals just plug it into a computer rather than do it because it becomes too cumbersome at a certain level.

about a year ago

Electrical Engineering Labor Pool Shrinking

PuckSR Mechanical + Electrical (401 comments)

This is a pretty common thing. They aren't always looking for someone who is both, but someone who understands both.
There are a lot of EEs who can't figure out how a combustion engine even functions. There are a lot of MEs who can't understand basic circuit theory.
Considering how many times we use dynamos(generators) and electric motors, a complete lack of knowledge of one field or the other is a disaster.

This wasn't an odd requirement. I know several EEs who are self-taught MEs. Typically they are greasemonkeys who like to work on cars. They do very well because of their knowledge. I would bet that the company who had the dual requirement was an Industrial of some type.

about a year ago

Electrical Engineering Labor Pool Shrinking

PuckSR Re:Electrical Engineer / Computer Engineer (401 comments)

In my experience, they do differentiate. An RF engineer might be able to figure out power systems relatively quickly. Sure, waveguide is not a cable, but their knowledge of how to calculate power just requires some quick adjustment of which formulas they are applying in which situations. Most power guys know some RF(because they have RF problems) and most RF guys know some power(they have to power their signal somehow).

A Computer Engineer(CE) typically just knows chip design or similar. How do you apply that to anything else in Electrical Engineering? They don't use circuit theory on a regular basis. They don't do much in the way of complex power calculations.

Quick example: Ask any EE to define "Vp"(Velocity of propagation) and they will will quickly respond. This typically falls across all disciplines and is important to know for a myriad of different reasons. It doesn't come up so frequently for computer engineers.

about a year ago

Birthday Song's Copyright Leads To a Lawsuit For the Ages

PuckSR It shouldn't even be copyrighted (442 comments)

This is the sad fact. The "Happy Birthday" song shouldn't even be copyrighted.
It is a derivative work on an older song in the public domain(Good Morning To You) and is far too short to receive a copyright.

In other words, imagine if you changed the ending to the alphabet song and then tried to get it copyrighted. That would be laughable, even in our modern pro-IP courts.Yet someone did exactly that decades ago, and then some company has maintained the copyright on the "Happy Birthday" song for all of these years? It is a joke. Fixing this shouldn't even be the first blow for fixing our IP problems. It should just have been challenged in court by someone by now, but the company who "owns" the song only brings it up when they know that it is a large media company who would rather just license the song than try to challenge in court.

about a year ago

Napster: the Day the Music Was Set Free

PuckSR Re:Napster put music in a cage. (243 comments)

Sony didn't try to ban the VCR. Sony invented the VCR.

They turned into "the bad guys" when they became a movie/music company later. At the time, it was Sony vs. the TV networks.

Hilariously, they were the same company that tried to prevent the rise in the CD-R by refusing to allow any of their DVD/CD players to play burned media until well after it was a common practice. This seriously impacted their audio equipment sales and policies like this probably resulted in the company being so financially screwed today. So, Sony has been on both sides. They succeeded by being on the side of piracy(by fighting the networks copyright) and failed by trying to fight it later(as part of the RIAA/MPAA).

about a year and a half ago

There Is Plenty To Cut At the Pentagon

PuckSR Problems with cuts (484 comments)

The current sequester will indeed cause a lot of problems, and this is rather useless at point that out. The current sequestration requires ALL PROGRAMS to cut 15%. So, the F-35 will have a 15% cut and the guys who maintain the A10s will have a 15% cut, the janitor will have a 15% cut, and the security will have a 15% cut. This is the problem with the sequestration. This was actually on purpose, to make sure that congress actually took care of everything. The thought was that no one would be stupid enough to let this go through, and at the very least the would modify it so that they could cut a weapons research program before cutting the budget for the furnace at the office.

Even if we get past the stupidity of the sequestration, we are still left with the fact that many of the cuts that managers want to make don't align with what cuts congressmen want to make. A great example is that the military knows that operating so many bases is a huge drain on their resources, and it would be much easier to operate a few large bases like Ft. Hood. Unfortunately, a base closure will raise the ire of the local congressman because it hurts the local economy so he fights to keep it. Government organizations have two customers: the public and the congress. They have to make sure that they operate in a way that pleases the public, but then they also have to operate in a way that pleases as many congressmen as possible.

Finally, the bulk of the programs which are being discussed are not the bulk of our spending. DoD and discretionary spending(FAA, Parks, Dept. of etc) only account for about 35% of total spending. Considering that our deficit is about 35%, the only way that this would even balance out is if we zeroed ALL of it. This would mean that every single department of the federal government ceased to exist. No more Departments.(Except for perhaps the treasury). If we did this, we would have no more deficit. Even the most idealistic conservative would agree that this is insane. We can't get rid of the patent office, for example. This entire debate is somewhat pointless.

The only options that would actually be feasible would be some combination of the following: Reducing benefits for social programs, some tweaking of regular government spending, and higher taxes. This isn't an opinion. The only optional part of that is that you might be able to avoid any government tweaks with much higher taxes, but that seems unlikely to pass. This is why the entire thing is so silly. Everyone in Washington knows the score, they just don't want to be the one who has to be the messenger to their constituents.

The truly sad thing about all of this is that Social Security is probably going to get hurt in the process. It is sad because social security has its own paycheck tax(OASDI), and the program has a massive surplus credit. It is just that Washington raided Social Security to pay for other programs, and now that Social Security cannot pay its own way(despite having generated trillions in surplus), people are suggesting that it is a bankrupt program. I don't mention this to make any argument about the program itself, but rather to use it as an example of how much of the argument is manipulated to take advantage of the short memories and general naivety of the American voter. Only in Washington would someone agree to a plan that paid dividends for 40 years but eventually would require interest and go along with it happily until the first bill showed up.

about a year ago


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