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Comments

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Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

Tom question? (177 comments)

Uber reps ordering and canceling Lyft rides by the thousands, [...] Is this an example of legal-but-hard-hitting business tactics, or is Uber overstepping its bounds?

Are you fucking kidding me? This is so plainly in the "if it's not illegal, it ought to be" category that it's really difficult to think of a more clear example.

It's a direct attack on a competitors system, intended to deprive them of their ability to deliver their service. In IT security terms we'd call it a DOS.

If this rumoured playbook exists, someone ought to go to jail for it. To me it's bright as daylight and even asking the question seems stupid.

11 hours ago
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Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

Tom red cross (299 comments)

or mitigating the damage they're doing?

Really? They now put severed heads back on?

It may be your favorite charity, but frankly speaking, if you are looking for organisations that are opposing ISIS, the Iranian Army is a closer call than the Red Cross.

2 days ago
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Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

Tom Re:Good answer! Fraud is their main source of prof (210 comments)

Because instead of holding corporations to their promises and showing them who owns the tanks, governments in the west have spent the past 10 years selling themselves to the cheapest bidder, with treaties allowing corporations to sue governments if they dare pass laws that impact profits.

Sometimes I wish we had a king with a big ego, who'd on as much as the proposal of such a treaty arrest all those corporate bigshots and hang them publicly.

3 days ago
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"MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

Tom Re:Perhaps this won't be a popular view... (358 comments)

With you on this one. Adam and Jamie are the Mythbusters and for everything they've done, all the others (there was one other woman for one or two seasons and a few temps for a few episodes) never seemed to be more than additionals.

Also, did everyone notice how little interaction there was between the teams for a long time now? I remember it was higher in the beginning. But for a long time now, it seemed like two similar shows edited together, not one show.

Mythbusters has been going downhill for a few seasons, I have hopes this move will reverse that trend.

But yes, it's probably not a very popular position.

4 days ago
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Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

Tom Re:Good answer! Fraud is their main source of prof (210 comments)

Apparently the major profit center for companies like Oracle is being late and more expensive than predicted.

This 100 times. I am amazed again and again that big government projects are almost guaranteed to be over budget and late, and I don't mean 10% in either case. After having this 5000 times, which idiots write the contracts that still don't contain massive penalties for those cases? Grab them by the balls when they promise you the heavens and tell them to deliver or shut up.

Nothing short of corruption can explain this, because I refuse to believe that someone can be this stupid and at the same time still remember how breathing works.

4 days ago
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Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Tom Re:Too much good content is deleted at Wikipedia. (239 comments)

The thing I've never quite understood is why deleted pages aren't archived. That tells you right away that the deletionist folks are obviously up to no good. Everything else is always archived on Wikipedia,

Bingo. Deleting pages is not only evil by itself, it also fundamentally breaks the "wiki" part of "Wikipedia".

Deletion in the Wikimedia software is intended for vandalism and mistakes. But hey, you and me we are among a large crowd who have decided to not contribute to WP until the idiots in charge understand some of the basic concepts of their own system. This is just one of the most blatantly obvious.

addendum: /. -

It's been 3 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

WTF? It used to be 1 minute. Are we now pandering to people whose mental processes and typing skills don't allow to post more than one comment every 3, 5, 30 minutes?

5 days ago
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Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Tom Re:Too much good content is deleted at Wikipedia. (239 comments)

I tried reading some of their justification for deleting the article, but it made absolutely no sense. It's a perfectly good topic to cover, and clearly I and others want to read about it! Yet these totalitarian shitbags feel the need to censor, censor, censor and then censor some more.

Notability never made any sense whatsoever. The exact topics that are "not notable" are the ones that people are most likely to search desparately for. If I want to read something about Michael Jackson, or the city of Paris, there are 20 million pages on the Internet. Finding them is trivial.

If I want to read about Nimrod or any other "not notable" topic, that's exactly where Wikipedia could shine. It could give me a short summary and some links to read more. It could, in other words, do exactly what an encyclopedia is supposed to do.

For some reason, the idiots managing WP have decided to gut exactly the part of their project that would make it the most useful, while having pages about individual porn stars and manga characters is somehow really important.

5 days ago
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Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Tom Re:Agile can fuck off. (239 comments)

To be fair, Agile can be freaking awesome. I worked at a devotedly Agile shop and it was a developerocratic utopia.

Chances are this has nothing to do with Agile and everything to do with the people, company and culture.

If your culture sucks, Agile won't save you, or magically improve it. Managers love this "magic bullet you can buy and it'll solve all your problems" which is largely why they constantly re-organize something, completely ignoring 10, 20 or sometimes 100 years of re-organization experience that prove that nothing whatsoever changed after any of them.

Tackling the culture of a company or department is a lot more difficult, less flashy and less likely to give you short-term quantifiable results, which is why so few do it.

There's no such thing as "Agile Done Right". There is such thing as a right culture in which Agile (or, frankly speaking, any other methodology) will work and make everyone happy. If you live in a wrong culture, there's nothing Agile or anything else could do right to fix it.

5 days ago
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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

Tom Re:moving vs. stationary (142 comments)

Microsoft were the ones who brought desktop computing into the mainstream.

But they did neither invent it nor made they any innovative progress. They are a marketing company - good at repacking other peoples inventions and selling them to a mainstream market.

What are the alternatives?

Thanks to over 20 years of monopoly practices and systematical destruction of potential rivals, indeed there aren't very many. But that's like saying that you don't have any alternatives to being a muslim in Iraq. Just because someone has taken away all your other choices doesn't mean the remaining choice is any good.

and alot slower than Microsoft Office.

True, but let's be honest here: We are comparing different flavors of shit. Office, in any of its incarnations, is an abomination.

about a week ago
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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

Tom moving vs. stationary (142 comments)

"the mobile-first, cloud-first world."

This sums up the core MS issue better than anything else I've ever read. MS has never been innovative, but worse: It has never been a company that likes change. Their world-view is static and stationary. While they acknowledge the world is changing (reality can be quite persuasive), they don't see movement, they see a succession of stationary status quos.

They will now throw everything at becoming the perfect company for the picture of the world they have. And in five years look out the window and see that the world has changed - again.

It's also the reason we all hate MS - due to their still existing stranglehold on computing, they keep much of the rest of the world static with them. The damage done by preventing innovation and progress is easily ten times MS net worth.

All because some people don't understand that life is dynamic.

about a week ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

Tom Re:metaphors (376 comments)

Hate to burst your bubble but most wheel clamps are put into place by 'parking enforcement' companies that have dubious authority to do so.

Then I'm glad I live in a country that hasn't yet privatized law enforcement. Thanks for the data.

about a week ago
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The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise

Tom victory of stupidity (248 comments)

TFA is factually wrong on many counts.

The main reason we don't get new reactors in most european countries are political, not economical. In fact, power companies are doing fine and nuclear power is highly subsidized, mostly indirectly. New plants are expensive only on paper.

But the political culture has moved many countries into a very strange corner. Because the public dislikes nuclear power and wants it gone, but politicians don't (bribery, lobbyism, desire for energy-independence or wisdom in planning the future carefully - make your pick), you cannot get permission to build a new plant in many countries, but you can keep your old one running and extend its lifetime.

The second reason is economic, but of a different kind: Since these plants were originally designed for 20-30 years, which are long past, their value in the financial statement is 1 Euro. Which gives them incredibly cute key figures - they look really good in financial analysis. Actually, in reality too, because due to stupid/bought laws, the government will pay for large parts of the waste disposal, and the amount companies need to pay into a fund to pay for deconstruction is, by many experts opinion, only a fraction of what is needed. But once they actually deconstruct most of the plants, the game is up. Like any good scam, you need to keep it going as long as possible.

So thanks to management-think in both politics and business, we have some of the oldest nuclear power plants in the world, right next to some very large cities.

And, btw., I like nuclear power. I wouldn't mind having the old plants replaced by modern ones. But I agree with the anti-nuclear-power people that right now, we have the worst possible solution.

about a week ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

Tom metaphors (376 comments)

is less like a "piracy speeding ticket" and more like a "piracy wheel clamp"

No, it is not. A wheel clamp is attached by police, i.e. the executive branch of the government elected by the people. Like it or hate it, it's part of the democratic system and it is authorized to do this.

about a week ago
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Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

Tom Re:corporations are always right (341 comments)

Well, you shouldn't get your bread in Germany if you say that...

Actually, Germany has some of the best bread in the world, with some of the highest variety. But if you appreciate bread, you should always cut it just before eating. Pre-sliced bread is dried out and loses much of its flavour and smell. Freshly baked bread, cut into thick slices just before you eat it, that's how you do it.

Typical american white bread doesn't even register as "bread" in Germany. In the supermarket, it is sold in a seperate shelf, because toast and sandwich is the only thing it's good for.

about two weeks ago
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Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

Tom corporations are always right (341 comments)

"As a new entrant we are bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn't changed in years. Competition is good for everyone and it raises the bar and ultimately it's the consumer who wins,"

Says the guy who gets to profit. Follow the money - of course he'd say something like that. PR drones are paid for coming up with good reasons why their product is the best thing since sliced bread.

Actually, sliced bread is pretty awful, but that's a different story.

The market has changed quite considerably. German startups like MyTaxi are increasingly replacing the old and stupid middlemen with a nice mobile service that connects drivers and passengers directly. There's a bit of competition in that market as well. Then there are the modern car-sharing companies like Car2Go and DriveNow and some others, where you can take any of their cars wherever you find it and can drop it off wherever you go. No need to go to designated parking spots or something. They're basically like a taxi you drive yourself. In a few years, they'll probably have an autonomous car in the mix that you can call on your smartphone and it'll pick you up.

To say the market is stagnant is a bold piece of PR lies. There have never been so many options for personal transport, changing so quickly.

Uber is not as revolutionary as it makes itself out to be. But more important: They don't understand the European market, where american wild-west methods of just riding into town and taking what you think is yours by god given rights are not welcome. We have regulations and laws and rules, and we actually quite like them. They make our lives more calm and plannable. Europe has a different culture, less friendly to startups and hotshot ideas, but it also means fewer people crash and burn, and less collateral damage when they do.

If Uber gave a fuck, they could operate in Berlin. But their attitude - which was visible in other german cities like Hamburg where they also ran into problems - was basically "this is our cool business idea, go and change your laws if you don't like it". I'm not surprised that with that attitude, someone told them to fuck off and die.

about two weeks ago
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Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

Tom Re:User moderation (299 comments)

No, I do mean the public comment system.

The problem is that even if the troll is always at -1 with all his trolling, you still see it as replies in your comments page. If he replies to absolutely everything you post, you're drowning in noise. And if he's a very tiny bit smart, he will reply twice or three times to some of the postings, so you can never be sure when there's a genuine comment and when it's just the troll and nobody else.

about two weeks ago
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Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

Tom Re:Moderation? (299 comments)

You have no idea what browsing at 4+ is like, as is very evident from your comment.

Bubble? Yeah, a bit. But this is a tech site, and I don't make my voting or life-choice decisions based on /. so I'm quite fine with living in a bubble when it comes to /. topics.

about two weeks ago
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Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

Tom Re:Moderation? (299 comments)

A website without comment section is basically a propaganda machine, telling people what to see and think. A website that's all comments - like Slashdot and yes, even 4chan - is a community discussing matters. Newssites with comment section are somewhere in the middle,

Not everything that mixes two extremes ends up in the middle.

People were capable of having informed opinions before the Internet, when newspapers was all we had. You simply had to read more than one and make up your own mind. It also heavily depends on the topic. Don't forget that /. is not a general news site - many of us here are actually experts in the topics being discussed, and when you post an article about, say, a new encryption scheme and you get comments from people who are in security, hacking or even cryptography itself, that's worthwhile.

What do you expect from an article about the Ukraine crisis on a general news site? How many of the readers could even find Ukraine on an un-labeled map? How many have been there? How many know anything at all about the political and economic situation, if you substract what they read in other news articles?

No, sir, the comments section on /. and on some news site are not comparable, and mixing them does not result in a "best of both worlds" scenario.

about two weeks ago
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Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

Tom Re:Moderation? (299 comments)

I'm amazed at the noise that doesn't get buried. If you don't browse at 2+ or even 3+, there's an awful lot of juvenile trolling.

You browse at 2+ ? You, sir, have way too much spare time. I've been browsing at 4+ for almost a decade, and I've never once thought about lowering it.

about two weeks ago
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Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

Tom Re:Jezebel? (299 comments)

Actually, the latest events on Jezebel proves the point of many of Jezebel's authors, which is that much of the internet is openly hostile to women.

A very, very loud minority of people is openly hostile to women/gays/atheists/muslims/mexicans/elderly/children/redheads/any-minority-of-your-choice.

The Internet as a whole - much like the real world - is openly hostile to extremists who act like dicks and think everyone who is less extreme than they are is pure evil, even if you're agreeing with them in principle. That's why feminazis get rape gifs (I'm not surprised) while thousands of other women don't - because trolls do to you what they know sets you off.

I'm not saying women don't get offensive comments. They do. But firstly so do men (of a different kind, physical violence takes the place of sexual innuendo) and secondly the problem isn't hostility to women, the problem is trolling. It just happens that for women the low hanging fruit for the trolls is their sex, just like race is if the victim is black.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Supreme Court strengthens First Sale Doctrine

Tom Tom writes  |  about a year and a half 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 2 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 6 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 5 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  |  more than 6 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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