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Comments

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VP Anthony Moschella Shows Off Makerbot's Latest Printers and Materials (Video)

Tom Re:Embedded fucking videos??? (45 comments)

And with Flash, which has active exploits running around...

2 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

Tom Re:So what will this accomplish? (154 comments)

ROFL.

What a strawman. Which hypothetical investment banker will take Uber and what happened to his limousine and private driver?

4 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

Tom Re:why is the cap a good idea? (154 comments)

Hypothetically speaking, if I'm desperate to get somewhere, and I'm willing to pay *whatever it takes*, why is it a good idea to limit the surge pricing?

Because other people will pay for your desire.

Or what about having an auction system where each person that wants a ride indicates how much they're willing to pay for it? Would you want to cap that as well?

Economists are big fans of auctions and say that's the most fair method to distribute resources. Economists, however, are not known for taking social, cultural or human values into account in their simple models.

So yes, I would. Man, it really isn't so difficult. Get some history lessons on when and why the taxi business became regulated.

4 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

Tom Re:Bad economics leads to bad policy (154 comments)

I'm sure all Uber drivers are responsible, altruistic people and they will only offer you a lift if they are in possession of specially equipped and certified snowstorm-safe vehicles.

4 days ago
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Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

Tom Re:So what will this accomplish? (154 comments)

In Econ 101 you also learn about horizontal and vertical pricing.

Basically, if the surge price is reasonably high, most drivers will be available. From 1.0 to 1.5 you may raise the number of drivers considerably, but from 3.0 to 3.5 you will probably not motivate many more drivers to go out and drive - most available drivers will already be on the road, and the few who decide against it will not change their mind here because if 3.0 doesn't motivate them, then 3.5 most likely won't because they have important reasons to stay home.

A cap on such elastic pricing is almost always a good idea.

4 days ago
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Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

Tom Re:Escaping only helps you until a war. (339 comments)

This exactly.

Why do rich people not live in Africa and Asia where the climate is good? Safety and convenience. If you don't want to spend your life in a castle defending your riches, you go somewhere where culture, society and government will do that job for you.

Strangely, many don't see this as a service worth paying for, which is largely a semantic problem. Maybe we should tackle it there, and instead of taxes, we should collect a "wealth-protection service fee".

4 days ago
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Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

Tom Re:"They" is us (339 comments)

From the very article you link to:

But Credit Suisse's report doesn't tell the whole story.

It doesn't take into account how much it costs to buy goods in each country, for example. Half a million pounds might buy a one-bedroom flat in central London, but in other countries it could buy a mansion.

It also doesn't take into account income. As a result, many well-paid young people in Western countries may fall into the bottom 50% of wealth - either because they still have student debt to pay off, or because they know how to live well, and spend all their income.

4 days ago
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Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

Tom never believe PR (339 comments)

I am extremely sceptical about all these doomsday scenario media reports.

If you do not know something for sure, "follow the money" is always good advise. For example, why would someone who makes his money on the stock market give free advise to the rest of the world by warning them about an imminent market collapse? It makes no sense. If I knew (or were sure about) such an event, I would put my money into short options and become mega-rich.

But, of course, if you expect the opposite, such a press statement can lead a critical mass of people to disinvest, temporarily lowering prices, convincing others that you are right and the crash has begun, so they do the same, and then you buy at the low point.

The same with all the "super-rich are investing in getaways" bullshit. It's a really great tool to convince the wannabe-super-rich (aka the simply rich) to follow (or believe they are following), because that's what they do. In all layers of society, people tend to emulate the next-higher-up from their own status, because that is where they want to be.

Maybe I'm overly cynical or just blind, but thinking about not only what is being said, but also who is saying it and why seems to me to be a good idea.

4 days ago
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Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

Tom Re:Lack Of Faith (90 comments)

Could be, as I rent and don't buy, I don't drive cars older than a few years.

I know the Toyotas and Hondas are famous for their reliability. My first car was a used Honda and it had almost no signs of being used before.

That said, old Mercedes cars are also legendarily reliable. My GF wants to buy a used SLK for exactly that reason - they are cute and almost as good as new, for a fraction the price.

4 days ago
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Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

Tom Re:Lack Of Faith (90 comments)

Are you aware that BMW and Mercedes reliability has gone into the toilet since the 1980s?

The M3 I drove last year begs to differ. As did the SLK the year before. :-)

Maybe they have problems, I don't know, I don't own a car, I just rent them pretty often, and I'll take one of those every day over almost any brand. At least until my car rental company gets Teslas.

5 days ago
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Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

Tom Re:what about liability? and maybe even criminal l (90 comments)

Just think of a auto drive loosing control and plowing through a school crossing killing a dozen children. Who or what is responsible? The passenger? Or the computer?

The school that put its children on the fucking Autobahn, a high-speed road that is by law off-limits to pedestrians, bicycles and anything else that can't reach and maintain the minimum speed of 60 km/h.

5 days ago
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Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

Tom Re:Lack Of Faith (90 comments)

Are are aware that VW is our low-end brand, yes?

BMW and Mercedes are the high-end brands, as is Porsche.

5 days ago
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Omand Warns of "Ethically Worse" Spying If Unbreakable Encryption Is Allowed

Tom targets (392 comments)

Intelligence agencies are not going to give up trying to get the bad guys.

I'm glad to hear that as I'm sure everyone else is.

Now if you could give up trying to spy on all the other guys, we could become friends. You see, the problem is your "kill 'em all, let god sort 'em out" approach of just vacuuming everything in and leaving the decision about who the bad guys actually are until later.

5 days ago
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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

Tom Re:Who are you? I'm bat- er, ANON! (408 comments)

This and more. There's also a massive difference between actually abusing a child and trading pictures of nude kids on the beach. And many more details.

That's the main problem with the public court of opinion - our own and the medias tendency to simplify. To replace details with labels.

Every witch hunt in history has this problem. They all start with something arguably reasonable. You want to get rid of the witch because she poisoned your cows. You want to kick out jews because they steal money from the people. You want to drive the heathen out of the community because he erodes moral values. You want to put the paedophile behind bars because he abuses children. More or less reasonable arguments, maybe not true but there's a causality in the thinking that we can relate to. But a few steps further the cause is lost or abstracted and the individual becomes a group, and the causality is not even assumed anymore, just implicit in the group attribution. Now you want to burn all witches, kill all jews, slaughter all heathen or castrate all paedophiles. Not because they've one anything, only because they belong to a group that you've given the "evil" label.

5 days ago
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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

Tom Re:Think of the children! (408 comments)

Not the purposefully coordinated kind where everyone meets in a dark room somewhere to plot their actions, but the kind where everyone sharing fundamentally rotten values leads to effectively coordinated flock behaviour.

Which is not a conspiracy. The first rule of searching for the truth is to call things by their proper names. A conspiracy, by both legal and colloquial definition, requires agreement between the parties. Agreement requires communication (not necessarily verbal, but explicit).
If everyone on the highway drives too fast, you can argue about "everyone sharing [fundamental values] leads to effectively coordinated flock behaviour", but that still only makes it a lot of speeding tickets and not a conspiracy.

It's important to make the distinction because it changes how to approach the problem. A conspiracy you would try to shatter in a different way than you would tackle a culture problem.

5 days ago
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Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

Tom validation (408 comments)

the ongoing work, which has been divided into three steps.

None of which is validation of the information.

It'll be interesting to watch how much of this is going to end up being disclosure, how much a witch hunt and how much targeted disinformation. It's already far too popular to destroy peoples' lives by accusing them of kiddie porn, now you can make an anonymous account on Github and add your enemies.

We seem to forget too often that the more vile the crime, the more sure you need to be that you actually have the guilty party. Falsely accusing someone of a petty theft is bad, but it will be forgotten. Falsely accusing someone of murder, rape or kiddie porn, not so much.

5 days ago
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Behind the MOOC Harassment Charges That Stunned MIT

Tom Re:Not trying to excuse what he did (376 comments)

but had the first degree women friends of the Professor on Facebook not replied to that first woman saying that they were also in an online sexual relationship with the Professor, then the first woman wouldn't have considered his behavior sexual harassment, and she would have never retroactively taken back her consent to the online relationship.

Sadly, this seems to be the case for many recent sexual harassment cases, which is bad firstly because it turns innocent (not necessarily morally good, but criminally innocent) people into victims of the system and secondly because it muddies the water when it comes to real cases. Too many of these "angry ex-lover" cases, and people will tend to believe that actual cases are of the same kind.

She also said she felt trap near the end, but really how trapped could she have been?

You can feel very trapped in relationships, ask any of your married friends. ;-)

Seriously, over the Internet, when it's not really an actual relationship - yes, she does have attachment issues.

about a week ago
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Behind the MOOC Harassment Charges That Stunned MIT

Tom Re:WTF! She was 32 years old (376 comments)

Psych problem or not, when you're sending nude pictures to someone who's not your significant other, and you're not in the sex industry, then you should realize that something is not as it should be.

about a week ago
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Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

Tom off (820 comments)

As long as it has an "off" switch, they can do what they want.

I actually like my cars to be quiet, one of the reasons I like driving BMWs and am very interested in electric cars.

about two weeks ago
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The Missing Piece of the Smart Home Revolution: The Operating System

Tom Re:Scifi (252 comments)

Robocop is not even close to a corporations-rule-the-world dystopia. Try cyberpunk. WTF happened to /. that people bring up a stupid 80s movie instead of Gibson and Sterling.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Supreme Court strengthens First Sale Doctrine

Tom Tom writes  |  about 2 years ago

Tom writes "The Supreme Court has sided with Supap Kirtsaeng regarding the resale of textbooks. Publisher Wiley had tried to keep a $600,000 judgement from the lower courts because the student had sold textbooks in the US that he had imported from his home country Thailand, where they are sold much cheaper. The Supreme Court ruled that while it realizes that US companies often try to get different prices in different markets, the copyright law does not provide a right to such business models."
Link to Original Source
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Hotfile countersues Warner

Tom Tom writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Tom (822) writes "Hotfile went out of its way to bow to the movie industry and gave the likes of Warner a special account that they could use to delete content — any content. Apparently, that's just what they did as Hotfiles countersuit claims after Warner sued them anyways. They claim Warner deleted Public Domain content, Free Software and many other items that could not possibly be confused with copyrighted movies if one took even a single look.
The funny part? They are suing Warner under the DMCA, the very law the music industry bought/bribed for themselves."

Link to Original Source
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MS loses European anti-trust case

Tom Tom writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Tom writes "The court has spoken in Microsoft's case against the EU anti-trust commission, and the result is even more damaging to the monopoly company than analysts expected.
The court upholds all major decisions of the commission, including the record half a billion Euro fines. Most importantly, it smacks down MS entire defense line of "we can't make interoperability possible because we need to protect our copyrights and patents"."

Link to Original Source

Journals

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The Trolls

Tom Tom writes  |  about 10 months ago

Wow, it's been 15 years but I've finally got my own personal troll! :-)

I must apologize to everyone I've ever called a troll now that I've seen a real one. Yeah, there are trollish comments, but this... it's a different league. If you ever wondered who these brain-damaged morons were who set up geocities homepages with blinking purple text on blue background with red dots in Comic Sans - that kind of different league.

Now it does make me wonder about trolls in general. Has there been a study on this? I really wonder if psychologists have tackled this because quite honestly, you cannot be mentally stable and post in this and this content at the same time. So I do wonder if trolls on the Internet (the real trolls, not the people occasionally posting something stupid) do have a mental problem. It definitely looks like it. Probably insecurity issues, definitely an exaggerated need for attention, might be related to borderline syndrome or schizoprenia.

And, of course, the Internet provides:

As someone who has had to deal with family members suffering from mental illness, let me tell you that it's not funny. So despite the fact that they are, in fact, obnoxious, aggravating assholes, these sad little fucks also need help and their miserable little existence is not something you'd want to trade for yours, no matter how much you think your life sucks. Trust me, with a mental illness on top, it'll suck more.

Obviously, we can't offer therapy to people who usually comment anonymously and will often go to great lengths to avoid being tracked down. What we can do, however, is get a better understanding for how they act this way (they can't help it, mental illness is stronger than your conscious mind) and that the best thing we can do for them is to not continue the feedback loop. "Don't feed the trolls" - old wisdom there.

The last link in that list contains a few more ideas.

Now that I'm at the end, I kind of regret the smiley face at the top. But I'm leaving it in because this journal entry is a bit of a journey, even if it is short. Thanks to some Internet resources, a bit of research and connecting the dots, I've come a short way, changing my mind a little on this particular sub-sub-sub-part of life.

-----

A short additional statement on how to treat trolling. From what I've gathered from the resources above, a few comments (both here and in the various spammed threads) and my own life experience:

First, don't feed the trolls. Most of them seek attention, so if you stop giving it to them, they become frustrated and go away. Notice that they seek attention, not validation. A rebuke or an angry rant or even a shootout of personal insults satisfies them as much as anything else. Much like the old PR saying "there is no negative publicity", it is all about the attention itself, not about its content.

Second, stand your ground. Do not leave the site or stop commenting just because you're being trolled. It takes a bit to do that, yes. Trolls consider it a "victory" if they shut you up, either by simple flooding or by frustrating you enough to disappear. In their twisted minds, it gives them validation and somehow proves that they were right.

Third, if you see someone else being trolled, give them support. Doesn't take much - a single sentence is more than enough. Someone under attack by a real troll is being flooded. The troll will commonly post under multiple aliases or otherwise attempt to appear as more than one person. Psychological experiments such as Solomon Asch's show how we humans as social animals experience conformance pressure. So give that other person support by showing him that the flood he's getting is no the only opinion around. It doesn't matter if he consciously knows it's just one troll, the pressure is subconscious.

-----

I'd like to have comments disabled on this journal entry, for obvious reasons, but you can't publish a journal entry with comments disabled, so... 1000:1 bet that he's stalking the journal as well and will add his drivel below?

Also, if the formatting looks atrocious, turn off beta and revert to classic. Seriously.

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The "new" and "de-improved" Slashdot

Tom Tom writes  |  more than 5 years ago

If you've known /. for a while, you've certainly noticed all the recent changes. The front page articles auto-load-extend (presumably through AJAX code), the link to get to your own page has moved twice, and now there are two (that both look alike - your username - but work differently), and checking if anyone has replied to your comments has been a two-click journey instead of the old one-click for a while now.

Then there's the annoying inline popup (so it's not caught by popup blockers) that tells you that "Firehose is paused due to inactivity". Whatever that means, it doesn't seem nearly important enough to interrupt my reading.

Quite frankly, from a user interface design standpoint, the "new" slashdot sucks. Badly. Maybe I'll try disabling all javascript for slashdot.org and check if that improves the experience.

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Giving up on Wikipedia

Tom Tom writes  |  about 7 years ago

I'm giving up on Wikipedia today. Which means no more editing, and a lot less using it.

The reason is one word: Deletionism.

The details are three points:

a) It goes so against the spirit of Wiki, because a deletion is a non-reversable, non-reviewable change. The history gets lost, all work of everyone gets lost, and nobody can see and check it later. Every other change in a Wiki is documented, and you can see exactly what was changed, by whom, and when. Not so with a deletion. If you are lucky, you can find out that there used to be a page named this, but nothing about its contents.

b) It is destructive. You put hours of work into something, and it just gets deleted. Not updated, changed or even vandalised, but deleted. Poof, gone, as if it never existed. Have you ever lost your documents folder with no backup? Then you know the empty feeling. Don't do that to people, especially not those who might be new (and could have become worthy contributors, if they hadn't be hit in the face for their first attempt).

c) Notability-Nazis. Some time ago, the main reasons for deletion where actually valid. Nowadays, the main reason for deletion is notability, or in simpler words "I've never heard about this". My position on notability is very simple: Add a "non-noteable" category, namespace or at least archive and move stuff there, but it should not even be on the list of reasons for deletion. To me, an encyclopedia is where I look up the stuff that I've never heard about, so it'd better be there.

So for all these reasons, and a few minor ones, I've really switched sides over the past few weeks. I think I even begin to understand why large parts of the science community view Wikipedia with scepticism, and that much of the media's portrayl of their reasons is grossly simplified.

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