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Comments

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Mayors of Atlanta & New Orleans: Uber Will Knock-Out Taxi Industry

andymadigan Re: Good? (273 comments)

It's worth remembering Uber started in a city with one of the worst Taxi systems in the country - San Francisco. Regulatory capture from the taxi cartel meant the city had far fewer medallions than it needed. Even in the densest commercial districts it was difficult to get a cab. In residential areas it was impossible. It was in the medallion owners' best interest to keep it this way, because the medallions can be sold and will keep their value better if the supply is over-restricted.

I hear they're auctioning additional medallions, probably because the cabbies realized SF residents would gleefully allow Uber to destroy the taxi cartel. After waiting 30 minutes in a dense area of SOMA for a cab over a year ago I've never taken a cab since. They don't patrol near my apartment anyway, but Uber drivers do.

In my experience every part of Uber works better than Taxis. They're easier to hail, easier to get to where you want to go, and easier to pay. The taxi industry could and should have done this too, instead thry decided to dig their feet in and demand the government defend their bad service and luddite attitudes. They're already paying for it dearly in SF, which is no better than they deserve.

about a month ago
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How Open Government Data Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets

andymadigan Re:If people would fight their tickets... (286 comments)

I really hope you're missing a sarcasm tag there. The primary purpose of the mail system today is to waste resources (paper, ink, fuel, labor, space, etc.). There's a secondary purpose of providing a crutch for those businesses and individuals that haven't 'gone digital' yet, but that becomes less important by the day.

Now of course, parcel mail is still useful, but most of my packages are delivered by OnTrac or directly by Amazon (they're running their own trucks now). Outside CA you're more likely to see FedEx or UPS, but the point remains.

USPS is dependent on junk mail for revenue now, which will be its downfall. The moment there's an opportunity people will gleefully rip down the USPS just to stop receiving junk.

about 2 months ago
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Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

andymadigan Re:It wasn't just private opinion. (824 comments)

First, it's not a union, it's what the individual employees actually think, and those employees are critical for the company to succeed. Plus, they're not threatening to strike, they're threatening to quit, which could be fatal for Mozilla.

Secondly, while Prop 8 may have passed in California, it's offensive to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley in particular. Santa Clara and San Francisco counties actually sued to overturn it. Even Republicans here aren't suicidal enough to support Prop 8.

Third, how you voted or which party you're registered for is very different from actually financially supporting such an offensive piece of legislation.

It's perfectly acceptable to say you don't want to work for someone who has taken a public political position like this, especially if they backed it up with cash. If it so happens that there are so many like-minded employees willing to do the same that the company is threatened, then it's time to find a different CEO. Though I think Eich could probably resolve this by outright saying he now thinks that Prop 8 was wrong.

In this industry, in this area (I'm an engineer for a tech startup in SF, and I used to line in San Jose) supporting Prop 8 is as far to the right as banning birth control would be in the rest of the country.

I don't know what it's like at Mozilla, but I know the CEO of my company. Everyone knows everyone here. If a Prop 8 supporter suddenly became the CEO of my company, I'd likely turn in my resignation the same day. I really doubt I'd be the only one either.

about 4 months ago
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Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

andymadigan Re:It wasn't just private opinion. (824 comments)

Whether it's related to his job or not, if people are willing to stop working for Mozilla because of his beliefs, that is related to his job. This isn't some low-level lackey threatened with termination because he voted for the wrong party. This is his subordinates threatening to leave because they don't want to work for him. If enough people are willing to leave, firing him will do less damage.

about 4 months ago
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Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

andymadigan Re:No (824 comments)

Mozilla can absolutely fire them, but how much talent are they willing to shed so that this guy can be CEO? In Silicon Valley, a lot of these people can probably walk across the street and get a new job, even if their explicit reason for leaving the last one was that the new CEO supported Prop 8. Mozilla's board has got to be thinking about how much damage could be done before this guy has really even started.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Does Your Employer Perform HTTPS MITM Attacks On Employees?

andymadigan Re:its not uncommon.... (572 comments)

What you're describing would still be visible to someone using their own device on the network, or if they checked the computer's list of trusted certificates and found the one that allowed the firewall to do this.

I actually disagree that companies have an absolute right to do this. Whatever your policy may say, employees are going to do personal tasks at work. Some activities would fall in to a grey area:
- Signing up for direct deposit may involve logging on to your bank to get your acct #
- Some new health insurance plans incentivise participation in "healthy living" programs, including filling out surveys about your personal habits on your health insurance website, that should not be intercepted
- Emergency communications (which may still be over e-mail, or SMS via google voice)

Even logging in to one's personal e-mail is to be expected. Except in cases where such security is legally mandated, I don't think it's ethical to implement something like this. Even in cases where it is mandated, a "secure mode" would be better. Perhaps keep the really secure corporate information in a VM that is subject to SSL interception, but provide non-intercepted browser with no access to the secured data.

about 5 months ago
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Investor Lawsuit Blames NSA For $12B Loss In IBM Value

andymadigan Re:Let Me Get This Straight (204 comments)

Only sovereign states can ratify treaties, yet the 50 states are barred from conducting foreign affairs. The United States, on the other hand, has ratified treaties. You're actually describing the European Union, which may negotiate jointly but ultimately treaties are ratified by the member states.

The civil war pretty well put to rest the idea that the idea that the states are truly sovereign. They may have been before they signed the constitution, but today there isn't even a way for a state to leave the union (we have no Clarity Act). I don't see how a state in such a situation could possibly be considered remotely sovereign.

Also, a republic is merely a type of government. The legal status of the states would not really be different if the U.S. were a direct democracy, a monarchy, or an empire. We're a union of 50 states, which happens to be governed as a presidential republic.

about 7 months ago
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EU Plastic Bag Debate Highlights a Wider Global Problem

andymadigan Re:England (470 comments)

Actually Aldi does that in the U.S., but I've seen other supermarkets implementing anti-theft devices on carts. You'll see signs warning that the cart won't work off the property (I believe they have brakes that 'lock' if you try to roll them away). Homeless people will steal them otherwise. There's no Aldi's where I live, good thing too, I never carry change.

about 8 months ago
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Blue Light of Death Plagues PlayStation 4

andymadigan Re:Sabotaged (309 comments)

Sure, they destroyed employer property. Firing workers doesn't do anything if they're physically sitting in the factory. Video of police forcibly pulling striking workers out of a factory would get a lot more attention than doing a bad job and then claiming it was intentional.

about 8 months ago
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Blue Light of Death Plagues PlayStation 4

andymadigan Re:Sabotaged (309 comments)

That happened here too, doesn't mean it didn't work, eventually.

about 8 months ago
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Blue Light of Death Plagues PlayStation 4

andymadigan Re:Sabotaged (309 comments)

The workers who wanted a union would shut down the factory, they would stage a sit-in, form a picket line. The idea was "we do good work, we should be treated properly for it". The was NOT "treat us right or we'll do shoddy work". What if they had sabotaged the power supply and they started catching fire? Would you still say they were just trying to be taken seriously?

A worker is supposed to take pride in their work and demand proper compensation and conditions, not the other way around. You can refuse to work, you can't do shoddy work.

about 8 months ago
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Can the US Be Weaned Off Ethanol?

andymadigan Re:Couldn't we just buy the corn (330 comments)

Most of the corn grown in the U.S. isn't 'tasty'. You're thinking of sweet corn. The stuff used to produce ethanol, HFCS, etc. tastes terrible.

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Makes You Uninstall Apps?

andymadigan Re:Any updates at all! (243 comments)

In Mavericks they already have enabled auto-updates, check the 'App Store' System Preference Pane.

about 8 months ago
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The NSA Is Looking For a Few Good Geeks

andymadigan Re:world ramifications... (388 comments)

You can't sue if every discovery motion gets met with "we can't tell you that because of National Security concerns". You can't sue if the court order permitting the search is sealed and you don't even know it exists.

The NSA has managed to shield itself from the legal system. Congressmen have said that the concept of congressional oversight of the NSA is a joke, the intelligence services routinely withhold information from congress, and it took FISA years to find out about a collection program that was deemed unconstitutional.

Recently we found out the NSA has tapped into Google's internal networks. In non-technical terms, this is the equivalent of stopping every FedEx truck and searching every package, then closing the packages and never telling you they were searched (and swearing the drivers to secrecy).

Thankfully, we'll soon have all the evidence we need to prove that rights are be eroded. The question is, how far down this road are we willing to go? Given the apathy I'm seeing from most of the people around me, I think the U.S. is going to go much further before I realize how wrong it is.

about 9 months ago
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Feedly Forces Its Users To Create Google+ Profiles

andymadigan Re:rs (251 comments)

I've found Digg Reader to be excellent. The interface is very similar to the old Google Reader. I used to use Newsify on iOS which tried to force me to switch to Feedly when Reader shut down, I'm glad I didn't.

about 9 months ago
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Why Amazon Fights State Sales Tax, But Supports It Nationally

andymadigan Re:So the solution is... (165 comments)

Adjusting the tax rate is communism: it relies on the perfect wisdom and incorruptibility of the ruling class to set the right rates.

legislators can define a measure for poverty and the amount of assistance warranted.

Sorry, how is having the ruling class define poverty any better than having them set tax rates? For that matter, since you mention food coupons and rent assistance, you're having the ruling class perform budgeting for the poor by forcibly allocating funds, while the rest of us get to decide what to spend our money on.

Further, while you might be able to pick some specific measure for any given program (housing benefit can measure the number of people with housing, food benefit can measure the number of people who are suffering from lack of food) your measurements are unlikely to calculate overall level of suffering. Perhaps you build housing for the poor and provide it at low rent with income limitations, thus reducing homelessness. However, other housing in the area increases in rent because the low end of the market is now monopolized by income-limited housing, and so the poor can now only afford to live in public housing. In addition, the schools in the area where you build happen to have worse outcomes than the areas they were forced out of. You've provided better shelter for 5% of the poor, while damaging the future of 15% of their children. The first statistic gets printed in the newspaper, the second is lucky to make it to a scientific journal (since no study will ever be funded by the government).

The best way to help the poor is to give them cash and let economics take its course. Will you have some people that spend it on things society doesn't approve of? Sure, but overall you'll help more people and avoid market distortion.

about 9 months ago
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How Big Data Is Destroying the US Healthcare System

andymadigan Re:Sounds like a problem... (507 comments)

You say that the government would 'naturally' provide for national security. If people refuse to become soldiers, then the government would have to force them 'at the point of a gun'. National security also involves political choices, in terms of cost and liberty. We invest enormously in national security, where other countries refuse to start wars we seem to go looking for them at times. We decide how much to spend on national security. We also (apparently) choose to invest in programs that attempt to impede private enterprise by publishing standards with hidden flaws (Elliptic Curve Cryptography and the NSA) or even barring the export of certain products.

Likewise, we choose how much we spend on healthcare. Some countries manage to spend almost nothing on national defence, we spent enormously on healthcare even before the ACA. I suppose we could have chosen to spend nothing, but hospital ERs would have significant difficulty if suddenly everyone who currently receives medicare/medicaid had no insurance at all and relied solely on 'free' ER treatment.

I would say that public spending should be left up to the politicians, but the politicians need to do their job. For those who haven't, I suggest reading Mark Mardell's recent BBC columns, especially the most recent one.

about 9 months ago
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How Big Data Is Destroying the US Healthcare System

andymadigan Re:Sounds like a problem... (507 comments)

If no one decides to become a police officer how can the government provide for reasonable public safety?

If no one decides to become a lawyer or judge how can the government provide for protection of constitutional rights?

If no one decides to become a soldier how can the government provide for national defence?

Is it possible, just maybe, that all government is 'at the point of a gun'? Constitutional rights, basic requirements of government and law & order, etc?

Or perhaps economics rules the day, and if the government provides the cash people will work for it, and in the process provide a societal necessity, like healthcare.

about 9 months ago
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Autonomous Cars Will Save Money and Lives

andymadigan Re:Lost revenue to the cops (389 comments)

They'll care if less municipal revenue means layoffs at the police department.

about 9 months ago
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Firefox's Blocked-By-Default Java Isn't Going Down Well

andymadigan Re: Didn't they learn from Microsoft? (362 comments)

What are you talking about? The WMF vulnerability allowed execution of native code on the target system, it affected IE and Firefox, it even affected non-browsers like Lotus Notes. The only connection it had to the browser was that the browser used a particular windows library for displaying images. It required no JavaScript at all. It was discovered before any major browser used sandboxing, so I can't really think of any browser (with or without extensions) that would have been protected, unless you disabled the display of images, or it used its own library. IE certainly didn't.

about 9 months ago

Submissions

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New Semantic Web API opens up

andymadigan andymadigan writes  |  more than 6 years ago

andymadigan writes "The SemanticHacker API has released, it's an API for mapping text to "dimensions" with human readable labels and weights for computing similarity. The API is free, you can sign up on their website. There's a good write up about it on devUnite.com. From the article:
I tried out the semantichacker API and the results are exciting. They have a concept called Semantic Signature which comes up weighted concepts. The weight represents the significance as they have said in the site."

Link to Original Source

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