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Comments

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How To Fix The Shortage of K-5 Scholastic Chess Facilitators

SethJohnson thank you (128 comments)

Most inspired and insightful post I've read on Slashdot all year.

Thank you for teaching children.

about two weeks ago
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The World's Best Living Programmers

SethJohnson Re:No exhaustive.. (285 comments)

Sounds like you missed an opportunity to capitalize on his genius. You could have been the Steve Jobs to his Steve Wozniak. No disrespect to yourself, because this is clearly one of those impossible-to-predict scenarios. I guess the lesson learned is to watch for these types of talents and make sure the work they have in front of them is sufficiently engaging on levels that will interest them.

I suppose this is one aspect of Google's 20% projects. People who are bored with their normal work may find satisfaction with their own pursuits and stay with the company to continue working on them.

about three weeks ago
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The World's Best Living Programmers

SethJohnson Hall of Fame is different than these projects (285 comments)

While each of those are significant milestones in implementation achievements, I'm not aware of a single individual who can claim credit for enabling the completion of those projects.

To put those projects in proper scale to what the programmers on this IT World Hall of Fame have done, the above examples were all built with budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars. The needs of those systems were readily apparent by everyone involved. It was a matter of assigning an army of workers to put all the pieces together.

The accomplishments of these hall of fame programmers revolve around smart people identifying a vacuum of need that others hadn't recognized even existed. Then these people set about filling those needs by building essential tools themselves from scratch.

about three weeks ago
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Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi

SethJohnson Cab companies are not LLCs (139 comments)

What difference does it make if it's an Uber driver or any other driver who paralyzes you?

Difference being that Uber is sucking up around $213,000,000 per year by avoiding significant insurance coverages that their competitors are having to pay. They're offloading this chunk of the insurance burden on their 'independent contractors' who are not able to cover injuries like a $1 Billion / year revenue company can.

What does it matter? It's the difference between being compensated properly for a life-changing injury caused by an 'independent contractor' working for Uber and suffering "tough luck" by getting zilch in compensation. Compensation is the deciding factor between institutionalized living or as normal-as-possible life for the remainder of your years.

And if you think you can get lots of money out of taxi companies, think again: they are usually limited liability.

That corporate structure doesn't work the way you think it does. An LLC is created so it can implode in the face of a liability claim and protect the owners. If Yellow Cab were operating as an LLC, they would have dissolved after the first accident by one of their cabs.

Instead, in the big cities like New York and Chicago, the cab companies are trying to shield themselves from liability in the same way as Uber-- the drivers are independent contractors.

about three weeks ago
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Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi

SethJohnson Re:And in other news (139 comments)

Why shouldn't the same insurance rates apply to everybody, simply based on mileage, driving history, and vehicle type? I mean, if I wanted to pick out a category of drivers to charge more, it would be mothers with children in their cars (they are dangerous), not Uber drivers looking for rides.

Consider the scenario where you are standing on a street corner and a car comes rushing towards you at a high rate of speed. Collision is imminent. You're going to survive the impact, but you'll be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of your life.

If the car that crippled you was operated by an employee of a cab company, it might mean that a legal settlement would be reached such that you'd spend the rest of your life at your house with inhouse nurse care.

If the car was an Uber driver rushing down the street to pick up a customer before becoming inpatient and choosing a different car in the app, well, I hope you have substantial insurance through your own job. When you attempt to sue Uber over your injuries, they'll say they have no liability in the matter because their driver wasn't on the clock with a passenger. And they'll exert significant legal resources to prevent creating a precedent that'll put them out of business. They'll happily spend more fighting your case than the amount for which your suing. In this scenario, you're likely to have to live at an institution to be provided needed medical care for the rest of your life.

As for your stereotyping of mothers with infants, the most common cause of car accidents is distracted driving due to cellphone usage. Seems that Uber drivers looking for fares would strongly fit into that category....

about three weeks ago
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Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year

SethJohnson Re:Tonka Tough (431 comments)

This AC speaks the truth.

I saw this happen in the US with the skateboard deck industry. In the eighties and nineties, all legitimate wooden skateboard decks were manufactured in woodshops located in North America. Sure, Chinese-made skateboards would show up in big-box retail stores, but they weren't taken seriously by serious skateboarders. They were junk for kids.

In the early 2000's, certain California-based vendors contracted their entire production of these boards to Chinese factories. Within just a couple of years, the margins forced the all the other mainstream deck vendors to follow suit. As it ended up, the companies in California now just design the pictures on the boards, purchase advertising, and promote the decks made by Chinese companies. Whereas previously, Chinese-made skateboards weren't accepted by the skateboard industry, the Chinese factories have co-opted the California industry members to promote and market their products.

about a month and a half ago
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Kids With Operators Manual Alert Bank Officials: "We Hacked Your ATM"

SethJohnson Re:Too dangerous to keep digitally now? (378 comments)

If you're referring to the documentation being in digital form, the referenced article does not explain where 'online' the kids found the operator's manual. It could very well, and probably was, a scanned document on a hackerz website or torrent.

about 2 months ago
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Interviews: Ask Travis Kalanick About Startups and Uber

SethJohnson It's a taxi service, duh... (79 comments)

One thing that Lyft does and Uber does not do is Lyft requires both drivers and passengers to log in with their facebook account.

Required Facebook membership? No thanks.

Lyft could do some interesting analysis to match people up based on shared characteristics.

These people need to get out of their comfort zone. Expose them to different cultures and ideas. Using FacEbook to ghetto-ize drivers is xenophobic. No sympathy for the OP complaining about immigrant drivers, either.

about 2 months ago
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Interviews: Ask Travis Kalanick About Startups and Uber

SethJohnson Call Uber's insurance company (79 comments)

Uber explicitly states that it is up to the driver to remain compliant. Drivers aren't Uber employees, they're independent contractors.

If the drivers get money from Uber as independent contractors, then Uber's workers' compenation and liability insurance policies cover the independent contractor unless the contractor provides proof of their own coverage. Without proof in Uber's hands, the liability falls on the general contractor, not the subcontractor.

Any city that wants to expel Uber should simply have the state insurance board examine Uber's insurance coverage. Once their insurer has been identified, a quick call to that company is all it would take to convey the real shenanigans being played by the policy holder.

about 2 months ago
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Interviews: Ask Travis Kalanick About Startups and Uber

SethJohnson Re:a question that will not be answered (79 comments)

I love this rationalization---

"If you pay for premium service, you can expect a higher degree of safety. If you purchase standard service, it's a roll of the dice."

If Uber isn't requiring proper licensing and insurance from these service providers, but is referring people to use them, Uber will be held liable for insurance claims.

The lawsuit won't come from the guy's family who got paralyzed after an Uber driver ran over him on his bike. The paralyzed guy's health insurance company will sue Uber because they don't want to pay for quadraplegic care for the rest of his life.

Guess who has the tougher set of lawyers...

about 2 months ago
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H.R. Giger, Alien Artist and Designer, Dead at Age 74

SethJohnson Not sure if trolling.... (92 comments)

Limited range and repetitive concerns.

Oh, I dunno. How long has Mark Rothko's influence / popularity lasted?

about 3 months ago
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GM Sees a Market For $5/Day Dedicated In-Car Internet

SethJohnson OnStar proves there's a market (216 comments)

I'm with everyone else pooh-pooing this misguided disservice. It's not for us.

But, GM is not floating this concept out of sheer ignorance. They already have hooks into a certain collection of consumers who don't know crap and subscribe to OnStar because operating a GPS themselves is too complicated. GM marketing executives are sitting in board rooms laughing at how much money they are still getting out of these subscriptions while cellphones would seem to have made OnStar obsolete. This internet package is just an added service fee they're trying to pile on top of these clueless subscribers.

A closer look would likely reveal that many of them are still subscribing to AOL at home.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Tell a Compelling Story About IT Infrastructure?

SethJohnson First-Responder's Award (192 comments)

Give out an annual award to someone on the IT staff who jumped on more Severity 1 tickets than anyone else. When everyone else wanted to be in bed asleep, this person was the one who tirelessly answered the pager and ran into the burning buildings to rescue the crashed servers. The holder of the award is your best first-responder. Having this plaque on the wall reminds management of the crises that were resolved in heroic fashion.

Sure, there's no award for the person who prevented drama from happening in the first place. But that's kind of the way it goes with heroes.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Communicate Security Alerts?

SethJohnson fix it at the proxy level (84 comments)

Modify your outbound proxy rules to redirect every outbound http request that has a useragent string belonging to the affected browser. Send them to an internal HTML page that explains the security threat and provides a link to download and install the browser preferred by the organization.

This will:

  1. Selectively communicate the issue to only the affected users.
  2. Prevent anyone on the internal network from being compromised due to this vulnerability.
  3. Prevent anyone from ignoring the 'advisory.'

If you're not using an outbound proxy, god help you.

about 3 months ago
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How Japan Plans To Build Orbital Solar Power Stations

SethJohnson Re:Not going to happen (230 comments)

The optimist in me hopes HornWumpus accomplishes his goal atop the Oyabashi space elevator.

about 3 months ago
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How Japan Plans To Build Orbital Solar Power Stations

SethJohnson Re:Not going to happen (230 comments)

Two years ago, Obayashi corp announced its intention to have a space elevator up by 2050. Part of that design involves solar panels transmitting energy back down to terra firma.

about 3 months ago
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You Can Now Run Beta Versions of OS X—For Free

SethJohnson Re:Good luck (201 comments)

Apple doesn't care about the 'bug reports'... They're looking at kernel dumps and other crash reports automatically submitted by the users' computers. From there, they can reach out to third-party developers with suggestions on how they can update their software to work on the next OS release.

This is more to help third-party developers than to help Apple developers.
In the closed beta, it's common for many third-party apps to fall through the cracks if they don't have a large enough user-base to have some participants in the closed beta.

about 3 months ago
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Heartbleed Used To Bypass 2-Factor Authentication, Hijack User Sessions

SethJohnson not enough evidence against conspiracy theory (59 comments)

I'm not convinced this wasn't an intentional effort to backdoor OpenSSL.

Code was submitted on new year's eve. A moment when the fewest people would be available to review it. Many people are on vacation and likely to gloss over the pile of code submitted while they were gone.

Just because he's a professor doesn't mean he wasn't compromised. A common page out of spycraft textbook would be to get an agent to seduce the professor and then document his infidelity. With this hanging over his head, he'll plant the requested vulnerability and even after it's discovered, he'll stick to the cover story to prevent those photos from being sent to his wife. For further reading on this topic, see the wikipedia page on Julian Assange.

about 3 months ago
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Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

SethJohnson Please Google, build the QuickBooks killer (423 comments)

I've spouted it a hundred times, here's #101:

Intuit's QuickBooks package is in desperate need of competition. It's thoroughly entrenched in the accounting industry such that the interface is nonsensically-antiquated. Yet, it's become one of those industry standards that Intuit refuses to modernize it or introduce any kind of improvements for fear it will alienate the armies of accountants that have been compelled to learn it.

If google were to launch a cloud-based bookkeeping app, this would be a tremendous benefit to small business owners worldwide.

about 4 months ago
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Judge (Tech) Advice By Results

SethJohnson first year at Burning Man (162 comments)

How would you tell someone to prepare for their first year at Burning Man?

It's absolutely identical to the Gathering of the Juggalos, but hugely more pretentious.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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Number 6 Finally Escapes from the Village

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 5 years ago

SethJohnson writes "Actor Patrick McGoohan became bored playing the lead spy in a successful 1960s television show called "Danger Man" and quit to create a much more interesting spy series with a dystopian, counter-culture bend. The Prisoner aired only 17 episodes from 1967-1968, but became a cult hit in the 40 years since. For those who miss watching Number 6 vex Number 2 and vice versa, the show is currently being remade for AMC, with James Caviezel in McGoohan's role as Number 6 and Sir Ian McKellen as Number 2. To promote the 2009 release of the remake, AMC is hosting every episode of the original series for free online viewing.

Patrick McGoohan died Tuesday in Los Angeles at the age of 80. Be Seeing You."

Link to Original Source
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Half-petaflop supercomputer deployed in Austin

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 6 years ago

SethJohnson writes "Thanks to a $59 million National Science Foundation grant, there's likely to be a new king of the High Performance Computing Top 500 list. The contender is Ranger, a 15,744 Quad-Core AMD Opteron behemoth built by Sun and hosted at the University of Texas. It's peak 504 teraflops processing power will be shared among over 500 researchers working across the even larger TeraGrid system. Although its expected lifespan is just four years, Ranger will provide 500 million processor hours to projects attempting to address societal grand challenges such as global climate change, water resource management, new energy sources, natural disasters, new materials and manufacturing processes, tissue and organ engineering, patient-specific medical therapies, and drug design."
Link to Original Source
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DIY Aerial Photography Helps Sell High-rise Condos

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 6 years ago

SethJohnson writes "An article in the Austin-American Statesman describes how Gary Lockhart has pushed DIY aerial photography into the professional big leagues. With 16 years of testing and over $125,000 in prototypes, he's chosen tethered blimps over wind-dependent kites to give him a stable vantage point up to 1,000 feet high. But it's his nearness to the ground that gives his aerial photography business a competitive edge over traditional helicopter and plane-based platforms. Lockhart's specialized 130 panoramic camera captures 3.2 gigabyte images from intimate perspectives where motorized aircraft can't fly.

The recent credit collapse puts developers under increasing pressure to pre-sell their condos before they can build these high rises. That's where Lockhart's blimp photography comes in- his photos give prospective buyers a sample of the view specific to the height and angle of each unit in a building before it's even built. Ground-floor sales rooms have panoramic murals mounted in window frames so it looks like you're on the 24th floor of a building that hasn't begun construction."

Link to Original Source
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Lord British fundraising for video game museum

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 6 years ago

SethJohnson writes "In order to raise funds to develop the University of Texas' upcoming Video Game Archive at the Center for American History, Richard Garriott is throwing a party at his Austin estate. Festivities will include Segway scooter polo, classic arcade games, a replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the chance to win a zero-gravity flight 32,000 feet above Earth. Garriott is best known as the creator of the Ultima series of computer RPGs and is working to support the video game archive so that early works in the field will be preserved for future reflection. Tickets for the fundraiser start at $75 per person and escalate to $5,000."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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The Flaming Lips Sold-Out to Big Tobacco

SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 6 years ago This past week the Flaming Lips played at La Zona Rosa. The tour they're on is sponsored by Camel. The shows are free. The fans are subjected to intense Camel marketing / recruitment by the cancer merchant. Ugly companies like Camel will pay anything for coolness. Apparently the Flaming Lips decided it was time to sell theirs. Oh, and Dinosaur Jr. must have caught Camel's attention with their Green Mind album cover, because they're on the tobacco gravy train as well.

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SethJohnson SethJohnson writes  |  more than 9 years ago Last night Adam and I worked at the Skate Plaza. We poured some new transitions and added a concrete ledge next to the flatrail. Will post pictures later. Seth

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