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Marissa Mayer's Reinvention of Yahoo! Stumbles

afgam28 Re: Bewitched? (185 comments)

If they're comparing her to Steve Jobs and expecting her to create Yahoo's iPod, then it may be worth pointing out that Jobs returned to Apple in 1996 and the iPod wasn't released until 2001. Two years is a long time but sometimes great products take even longer than that.

13 hours ago
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Want To Influence the World? Map Reveals the Best Languages To Speak

afgam28 Re:"Chinese"?! (142 comments)

Mandarin and Cantonese differ a lot when spoken, but have similar written forms (especially for more formal writing). Since the study looks at written languages (books and websites) it makes sense to lump the many written forms of Chinese together.

3 days ago
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LA Mayor Proposes Earthquake Retrofits On Thousands of Buildings

afgam28 Another (178 comments)

There seems to be this idea that rather than regulate something, you just need to inform consumers of the risks, and then the free market will sort everything out. It sounds great in theory but doesn't seem to work well in practice. How many times have you seen a sign saying that something "contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm"? Most Californians ignore it and most people would probably ignore this list of "unsafe" buildings too.

about a week ago
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The Driverless Future: Buses, Not Taxis

afgam28 Re:I disagree (257 comments)

The only time this matters is during peak times - who cares how much space a vehicle takes up when you've got plenty of extra road capacity?

about three weeks ago
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Google Chrome Will Block All NPAPI Plugins By Default In January

afgam28 Re:Why Chrome when you can use Chromium? (107 comments)

I suspect they do some, but either way you're still "the product". Or is it more about privacy (which is a totally different thing from being exploited)?

about three weeks ago
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Firefox Will Soon Offer One-Click Buttons For Your Search Engines

afgam28 Re:Huh (101 comments)

I bet it has something to do with the $5 billion they pull in every year in revenue.

about three weeks ago
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Google Chrome Will Block All NPAPI Plugins By Default In January

afgam28 Re:Why Chrome when you can use Chromium? (107 comments)

An honest question: if you don't want to be "the product" then what are you doing here? How do you think Slashdot makes its money?

about three weeks ago
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Australian Post Office Opens Mail Forwarding Warehouse In the USA

afgam28 Re:I'm not clear (142 comments)

Yep, sellers charge Australians more literally "just because they can". They sometimes make up excuses like shipping or localization, and sometimes buyers even believe them! But the reality is that Australians are willing to pay more than Americans for the same thing, so sellers take advantage of this.

A similar situation of price discrimination exists for university textbooks. US edition textbooks can cost about double the price of the "international edition" of the exact same book. This is because Americans are willng to pay more than the rest of the world for the same book.

about a month and a half ago
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Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

afgam28 Re:Cloud (283 comments)

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. It's interesting that Ballmer would say this, given that Microsoft made a big effort to carbon copy AWS during his leadership.

about 2 months ago
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Preferred smartphone screen size?

afgam28 Re:Missing option (258 comments)

I feel like smartphones have replaced TVs as the consumer electronics device to be smug about not owning. With apologies to the Onion:

CHAPEL HILL, NC–Area resident Jonathan Green does not own a smartphone, a fact he repeatedly points out to friends, family, and coworkers–as well as to his mailman, neighborhood convenience-store clerks, and the man who cleans the hallways in his apartment building.

"I, personally, would rather spend my time doing something useful than play with my smartphone," Green told a random woman Monday at the Suds 'N' Duds Laundromat, noticing the other customers' gigantic phablets. "I don't even own one."

According to Melinda Elkins, a coworker of Green's at The Frame Job, a Chapel Hill picture-frame shop, Green steers the conversation toward smartphones whenever possible, just so he can mention not owning one.

Elkins said Green always makes sure to read technology news sites like Slashdot and Hacker News, "just so he can point out all the devices and apps he's never heard of."

"Last week, on some website, there was an article about Instagram," Elkins said, "and Jonathan announced, 'I have absolutely no idea what this app is. Insta-what? Am I supposed to have heard of this? I'm sorry, but I haven't.'"

Tony Gerela, who lives in the apartment directly below Green's and occasionally chats with the 37-year-old by the mailboxes, is well aware of his neighbor's disdain for smartphones.

"About a week after I met him, we were talking, and I said something about screen sizes being too big," Gerela said. "He asked me what I was talking about, and when I told him it was about smartphones, he just went off, saying how the last phone he owned was some device from Motorola, and even then, he would only use it to make phone calls."

Added Gerela: "Once, I made the mistake of saying I forgot to charge my battery last night, and he started in with, 'Last night? I don't know about you, but I only charge my battery twice a week!"

"I'm not an elitist," Green said. "It's just that I'd much rather create content on my desktop than stand there passively swiping away at some glass screen."

"If I need a fix of passive content consumption, I'll go watch a movie I downloaded from BitTorrent on my desktop," Green said. "I certainly wouldn't waste my time with so-called social media or, God forbid, any of the inane social apps the new tech startups pump out."

Continued Green: "People don't realize just how much time their smartphone-using habit–or, shall I say, addiction–eats up. An hour of smartphone usage a day, over the course of a month, adds up to 30 hours. That's more than an entire day! Why not spend that time living your own life, instead of broadcasting to your friends every little thing that you do? I can't begin to tell you how happy I am not to own a smartphone."

about 2 months ago
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Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

afgam28 Re:More changes I don't want ... (173 comments)

1. UI innovations are still innovative, even if the underlying technology has been around for a while.

2. There are no existing email clients that bundle semantically similar emails and extract relevant highlights. Even if you're not impressed with the ui there is still a lot of interesting machine learning behind this.

about 2 months ago
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Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

afgam28 Re:Apple's take on Windows 8 (370 comments)

I don't think this is like Windows 8. It's a safe bet that once technology improves and prices are low enough, everyone will have a hi-dpi screen, so it's easy to argue that retina displays are the future. Whereas this idea of desktop-tablet convergence thing that Windows 8 tried to push was controversial at best, and is an example of Microsoft designing for a future that probably won't happen.

The right font choice depends on the screen that the font is being displayed on. And during the period where we're transitioning away from low resolution screens to "retina" screens, there is no perfect choice for everyone - Lucida Grande is going to be better for low-resolution screens but Helvetica will look better on retina displays. They're not "ignoring good user interface design", they're just making a design tradeoff that favors new hardware over old, and optimizes for their highest-paying customers.

about a month ago
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Chimpanzee "Personhood" Is Back In Court

afgam28 Re:Chimps have rights, babies don't (385 comments)

You're putting words in their mouth - no one is arguing that we should just coldly kill babies. This isn't about lowering babies, it's about improving the treatment of animals that are believed to have self-consciousness and the capacity to suffer from what we do to them.

about 2 months ago
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Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

afgam28 Re:People (481 comments)

So do dogs, cats and chimpanzees end up on the "OK to eat" side of that line?

about 2 months ago
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Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

afgam28 Re:Drawing the line (481 comments)

No, we're not all one big organism, or at least it's not useful to think that way.

When it comes to the ethics of eating meat, the issue is not really the eating but the killing. If you could eat octopus meat without killing it or harming it or otherwise causing it to suffer, you'd be able to side-step this ethical problem easily. That's why even PETA is interested in lab-grown burger meat.

about 2 months ago
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Magnitude 6.0 Quake Hits Northern California, Causing Injuries and Outages

afgam28 Re:Not strong in Oakland (135 comments)

Maybe he wasn't talking about Mercalli, but I'm pretty sure he was talking about intensity and not magnitude.

about 4 months ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

afgam28 Re:A stupid consideration (511 comments)

As mentioned in the summary this has been discussed a few times on Slashdot, and the original discussion was kicked off by Paul Graham's assertion that the cool hacker kids were into Python and the only people using Java were boring corporate types who had no passion for their jobs and were often mediocre programmers. In this sense, "coolness" does matter a little bit - if you're starting a new project, you don't want to choose a language where the labor pool that you're recruiting from is full of crappy programmers.

And yes, I know good programmers can pick up new languages quickly. But it can take months or sometimes years to master all the libraries and frameworks around the language. Someone with relevant experience can hit the ground running and have a shorter ramp-up period than someone without. I'm not saying that this is more important than general coding ability - it's not - but this is valuable to a lot of smaller companies and startups who don't have lots of time to train up new hires.

What makes Java uncool isn't so much the language itself, but rather the community around it. I actually like Java as a language better than Python, but there's a real culture of overengineering in the Java community, and people there really value convoluted architectures that are (ostensibly) maintainable and extensible. In the Python community, people value simplicity and hackability, and you can see it when you do things like file I/O or compare popular frameworks from both languages.

Not directly related to Java, but a while ago the tech lead for OAuth 2.0 resigned citing cultural differences between the "web" and "enterprise" communities. The "cool" languages are definitely the ones that are favoured by the web community, and the uncool ones favoured by the enterprise community.

So as much as people might think that it's just language syntax, it's not - it's also about communities, culture and different ways of thinking.

about 4 months ago
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Magnitude 6.0 Quake Hits Northern California, Causing Injuries and Outages

afgam28 Re:Not strong in Oakland (135 comments)

The magnitude of a quake is the total energy released at the epicenter, and it's true that you can't estimate the magnitude from feel since you have no idea of the distance. But the intensity is the amount of shaking at a particular location, and is probably what bazmonkey was talking about.

about 4 months ago
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Students From States With Faster Internet Tend To Have Higher Test Scores

afgam28 Re: Correlation is not causation (175 comments)

That's true but the article (and even the summary) says that the correlation with internet speed is stronger than with income. So there may be more to it than just rich people can afford premium services.

Maybe families that value education more strongly are more likely to get broadband, or maybe there's is actually some causation.

about 4 months ago

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