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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

RabidReindeer Re:let me correct that for you. (608 comments)

Read again.

Almost invariably unstable.

The market for dry cleaning services in my town seems to reside almost exciusively in small businesses, rarely more than a handful of shops under 1 owner.

Fast food is comprised of a few really big fairly durable players, although there's room for "mom-and-pop" operations.

Software? Well, there's Microsoft and Apple and...

Air travel? At the rate we're going, we'll end up with 1 carrier. TSA Airlines, I presume.

Note that in practical terms, a monopoly doesn't require that there be only 1 player left standing. It's sufficient that there be a small enough number of players that they can set their own terms. Signals include lack of responsiveness ("Please stay on the line."), limited choices, lower quality.

What determines whether a market is monopoly-prone? The #1 indicator is how capital-intensive it is. Anyone can set up a lemonade stand, subject to local regulations. Few individuals can buy a fleet of airliners or build an IC fabrication facility. Or even persuade enough people with enough money to chip in. The higher the buy-in cost, the smaller the market. In short, Capitalism and the Free Market are somewhat at odds.

The #2 indicator is economies of scale. Fast-food restaurants have room for the small players because while chains (which are often franchises) have deeper pockets, the costs have been cut to the bone. It's no co-incidence that they're where you'll find a lot of minimum-wage employees. Or that Wal-Mart can shut down shops in a town just by being there. They can negotiate bulk purchases and offer Lower Prices Everyday. And long before Wal-Mart became popular, price wars were cited as one of the leading ways that monopolies build themselves.

In short, you don't need to blame government interference for monopolies. Governments play a part, but it's not the only part, by far. And often it's just another tool that the big use to become bigger, not the cause itself. There are far fewer truly free markets than some would like to believe, even potentially.

yesterday
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Buying New Commercial IT Hardware Isn't Always Worthwhile (Video)

RabidReindeer Re:No kidding (92 comments)

And the sad part is some CFO will see the video clip, override the CIO's IT Plan for updating their hardware infrastructure and then complain about a lack of 110% uptime

Well, I'm burning in a refurbed Dell server right now. But I only demand 100% uptime, so I'm happy.

2 days ago
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Print Isn't Dead: How Linux Voice Crowdfunded a New Magazine

RabidReindeer Re:As a subscriber (56 comments)

If it wasn't for the bathroom, I'd be much more ignorant.

I use PDFs and ebooks for a lot of things, but for randomly picking up potentially useful information, a print magazine works best for me.

3 days ago
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Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

RabidReindeer Re:let me correct that for you. (608 comments)

Strictly speaking, Capitalism is when a group of people pool resources in the expectation of obtaining a return on investment. In one sense, Communism is Capitalism expanded to the point where the group of people involved is the entire population.

Capitalism and the Free Market are 2 different things. Capitalism functions well in a free market, but it doesn't depend on it except to the extent that non-free markets exclude players, whether capitalized or not. No-bid contracts, for example.

What annoys me about worshippers of the Free Market is that they blindly consider the Invisible Hand to be the Beneficent Hand of God, when in fact, it's more like water falling from the sky, which can be a blessing in drought-stricken Texas and a curse when you're in Katrina's New Orleans. And in any event, what the Invisible Hand works for and what we ourselves desire may not be the same thing.

Libertarianism is thus closer to the Free Market than Marxism is, since Marxism and Communism expect that the people will control the markets (and in the USSR, did, with sometimes laughably tragic results), but Libertarianism and Free Markets are more hands-off. However, a totally Free Market is almost invariably unstable, as it encourages the big to get bigger, the small to vanish, and the ultimate end is no longer a free market, it's a Monopoly.

Libertarianism as a label is freely adopted by anarchists and deadbeats whose concept of "minimal government" actually means "I get government's benefits without paying the price", and unfortunately, hasn't had anyone really stand up and make the difference clear.

3 days ago
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The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

RabidReindeer Re:It was pretty cool in its day (192 comments)

Actually, timing-dependent code is a gross violation of Commodore's published Amiga programming standards.

For commercial-level code... fair enough

The demo-coders, though, would have taken one look (if that many) and said "screw that - look what we can do!"

Well, I could go thtrough my correspondence from the developer program, but I'm pretty sure it was worded as in "if you don't want to look like an idiot when we released newer and cooler hardware, don't make assumptions about hardware that's certain to change." They weren't the pompous jerks that other big-name companies were.

Another reason you didn't do CPU timing loops was that there were 25 DMA channels running in that box on a totally real-time interrupt-driven operating system. If you used the CPU for brute-force timing, the only way to keep the system from going totally eplilectic would have been to spend much of your time in an interrupt-disabled state, thus dragging the overall system down. Besides, the whole point of all those DMA/interrupt driven devices was to offload CPU functions onto hardware specifically optimized for the tasks they did.

I can't recall a single Amiga program of any popularity that played CPU timing games. As far as that goes, I'm not even sure about the NTSC/PAL concerns. Commodore's hardware was designed and documented to serve both standards.

3 days ago
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The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

RabidReindeer Re:SCSI madness (192 comments)

As much as people fawn over computer nostalgia, they forget how much the pre-plug-and-play era actaully kind of sucked on a day to day basis. Sure, it got you job security, but today I enjoy unboxing my SATA drive, plugging it in and moving on to whatever it is I wanted to do with the new drive.

Well, you can thank the Amiga as much as anything for that. The Amiga's Zorro bus was the first PC plug-and-play computer bus, coming ahead of the IBM Micro-Channel and EISA busses.

4 days ago
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The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000

RabidReindeer Re:It was pretty cool in its day (192 comments)

Actually, timing-dependent code is a gross violation of Commodore's published Amiga programming standards.

They spent a lot of effort on creating specialized circuitry for the Amigas to do time-critical things in a safe and reliable way and not depend on the CPU timing to do it. Partly because it was already apparent how that had ended up on the IBM PC clone models of the day and partly because the machine was designed to a higher standard when it came to real-time processing and multi-media in particular.

4 days ago
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States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

RabidReindeer Re:Short-Lived? (774 comments)

But they'll never know what the results would look like had they not implemented minimum wage hikes, so its all a game of 'twist the data'. And frankly, its quite early to be claiming anything wrt results. There are much larger drivers of the economy than min wage. Frankly, I doubt we'd see any different results had those states not made changes, and there is probably a much stronger argument for that position at this time.

A difference that makes no difference is no difference. Obviously the economies of these states didn't tank overnight like so many predicted.

4 days ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

RabidReindeer Re:"the market" = biz managers (191 comments)

And I hate babies.

You just haven't tried them with the right sauce.

4 days ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

RabidReindeer Re:"the market" = biz managers (191 comments)

Because one group is a bunch of insane goons who'd eat their own babies.

The other group claims to be their polar opposite. They're the insane goons who'd eat YOUR babies. It's got to be one or the other. No room for a middle. Exact opposites! You must choose whether to be one of the "good guys" or one of the "bad guys". You believe in babies, don't you?

See? SEE?

5 days ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

RabidReindeer Re:Yep, how the music industry was killed... (191 comments)

Piracy has trained consumers that music should be cheap.

In case you hadn't noticed, these days people expect EVERYTHING to be cheap. Well, except CEOs, anyway.

5 days ago
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Math, Programming, and Language Learning

RabidReindeer Re:That's not a toad, it's a frog. Or a butterfly? (241 comments)

Mathematics is a very wide field. There are specific branches of it - Boolean Algebra and the Calculus of Propositions (symbolic logic) whose mastery will definitely elevate you above the fumbling herds of hack programmers. Basic Calculus teaches one to think in terms of functions, and few programming languages are devoid of the concept of functions or lambda calculus.

On the other hand, I manage to completely forget even the very existence of trigonometic identities (to my cost) for over 15 years, and unless I'm called upon to do some heavy scientific computing or write my own math function libraries will probably go the rest of my career without needing them.

about a week ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need?

RabidReindeer Re:They're finishing off Nokia (272 comments)

>

Globally huge numbers of traditional blue collar jobs are being made obsolete and they're not being replaced in sufficient numbers with new opportunities. We're going to have to adjust to the reality that within, say, 100 years... unless climate change or war or whatever hasn't significantly affected global demographics.. most of the developed world's population is not going to be economically active within the existing model of trading labour for goods. We're going to have to find cheap ways of keeping them fed and pacified whilst still being able to look at ourselves in the mirror.

Actually, excepting drivers, the positions you mentioned are white collar jobs.

When we first started shedding career options in the 1990's, it was expected that those lost blue-collar jobs would be supplanted by white-collar ones. "Knowledge workers" being a main alternative.

Instead, we shipped a large number of the Knowledge Worker jobs overseas, lost a good many more by creating a Self-Service Economy via the Internet, and as for the rest, well, which do you expect these days? The Low Price, or good service?

about a week ago
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Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

RabidReindeer Re:Microsoft (161 comments)

Modern dryers offer timed settings, but they are not the most efficient: The recommended settings stop when the clothes are dry enough. This changes with the season, the specific set of clothes you put inside of it, and all that. So if you don't want to go downstairs in the worst case scenario, you will make multiple visits every so often, because you just got there too early.

I have a fairly old dryer and it has an "automatic" setting. It works by employing the thermostat. When the contents are cold and damp, they are absorbing heat, the thermostat stays below the critical temperature (about 135 degrees F), and the timer doesn't run. Once the contents have absorbed enough heat, the excess amount triggers the thermostat, which causes the timer to run. So the dryer's actual run time varies with conditions, and does a reasonably good job of running just long enough to get things dry, but no longer.

Some newer models have an actual humidity sensor, which means that they can tell precisely when the clothes are dry.

about a week ago
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Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

RabidReindeer Re:Too long (161 comments)

Can you sum it up for me?
Okay, now can you put it in layman's terms?
Okay, now tell it to me like I'm a ten year old.
Okay, tell it to me like I'm a five year old.
Okay, now tell it to me like I'm a five year old who drank a Big Gulp and you don't want to mop the floor.

Okay, now tell it to my like I'm the CEO.

about a week ago
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Heinz Zemanek Passes At 94

RabidReindeer Re:Father of Computer Puns? (52 comments)

Maybe that's his greatest contribution. Possibly he's what inspired the Unix name to be a play on Multics, C to be a play on BPL, and the literally uncountable other successor puns (in the *nix-verse alone!)?

And that's why Unix isn't considered to be a serious OS, the way Windows is.

about a week ago
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New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes

RabidReindeer Re:There's another treatment that stops most T2 (253 comments)

Oh so wrong. Healthy food is also fabulously tasty. Too bad most people have no idea what food actually is healthy and which ain't so much.

Through my college years of pizza, pasta, candy, couscous, cereal muesli and homemade fruit juices I ended up obese and prediabetic in 2007. I lost the extra weight and reversed the diabetic symptoms (fasting glycemia and Hb1ac back to normal) on zero exercise and a diet of roasted fatty duck filets (with the skin braised crispy), salmon sashimi, lamb/veal casserole, chicken massala and lots of greens bathing in molten butter.

There is a big personal investment required though: you must learn to cook.

One of my favorite snacks is raw vegetables and hummus. Hummus isn't perfect, but I use olive oil, and chickpeas are favorite among diabetics due to their high fiber and low glycemic index. No cooking required for this one.

about a week ago
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New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes

RabidReindeer Re: There's another treatment that stops most T2 (253 comments)

that's because enforced exercise in a special purpose exercise room is unnatural. Try cycling or walking to and from your work, and try standing up at work for a significant portion of the day.

I have done all of the above. One job I had was with a company whose policy was "if you have time to sit down, you're slacking". The nearest bus stop is about 1 mile from my home. And in summer, if I don't mow the lawn every 15 minutes or so, children and small animals may disappear.

Sorry. No endorphin rushes came my way. All I ever get is hot, uncomfortable, sore and annoyed.

about a week ago
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Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

RabidReindeer Re:Wait for it... (752 comments)

In the US pilots can and will alter their course to get around bad weather systems or take advantage of more helpful prevailing winds that day. For a trans-continental flight, 100 miles is a pittance.

Fortunately, for us, our pilots don't have to also take in consideration whether Nebraska is currently having a dispute with Kansas.

Indeed. I once flew from Houston to Florida in high summer. Cloud systems were popping up like mushrooms and we kept having to turn to dodge them, since they were far too tall to fly over.

I swear we were halfway to Ohio before we managed to swing back south again.

about a week ago

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