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The Least They Could Do: Amazon Charges 1 Cent To Meet French Free Shipping Ban Re:Not France vs US (308 comments)

Funny that it was France that pioneered huge supermarkets outside of the cities a long time ago. Hell, they invented the "hypermarché" ( )! Of course that's killing the small retailers in the inner cities.

about two weeks ago

FAA's Ruling On Smartphones During Takeoff Has Had Little Impact Re:Maybe the FAA should inform the stewardesses (128 comments)

What airline is that? There are Standard Operating Procedures. They make their own rule.

As far as I know, the FAR's basically say that it is up to the operator (the airline) to decide which devices are OK to use [1491.21, and, for typical airline operations: 121.306].

about three weeks ago

WebODF: JavaScript Open Document Format Editor Deemed Stable Re:zotero (91 comments)

Generally, something like Dropbox and LaTeX work fine - unless you have two people editing the same file at the same time. Then, any VCS or something like Dropbox fail miserably. I have tried, but of course I'd like to keep using my local Aquamacs instead of a web-based solution. Maybe I'll write a synchronization tool for Emacs. The issue is then that we need to integrate people who don't use Emacs...

about three weeks ago

WebODF: JavaScript Open Document Format Editor Deemed Stable Re:Wow! (91 comments)

No "track changes", as it seems. :-(

about three weeks ago

WebODF: JavaScript Open Document Format Editor Deemed Stable Wow! (91 comments)

This is fast and responsive. Does it avoid long-standing Word problems, such as figures that jump away from captions, paragraphs that adopt the adjacent style just because you're moving them around, and the like? For professional writing, I'll stick to LaTeX for now. For collaborative writing, something like this could be nice (and improve on half-baked solutions like the editor in OneDrive (very slow) or Google Doc (not word-compatible). So, I think this would have to be able to export / import Word docs seamlessly, due to business pressure everywhere...

about three weeks ago

Microsoft Wants You To Trade Your MacBook Air In For a Surface Pro 3 Air hardware falling behind... (365 comments)

If it wasn't for the operating system, the Air would be losing quickly this year against its competitors. It's about time that Apple released a Retina version, or an "Air" style version of the MBP.

about a month ago

Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job Assistant Professor in Tech: Having' a good time! (538 comments)

Sorry to spoil the party, but I'm having a good time.

Yes, I spent my late 20's and early 30's doing a PhD and a longish poorly-paid post-doc at one of the top US institutions. But I enjoyed it. I did not have to do my professor's work. I develop a research agenda instead.

I'm tenure-track faculty at a very large, research-intensive state school now. My salary is where I'd start out at Google as an engineer with a PhD, because the university has recognized the need to compete with the private sector. I chose not to take the Google job at the time because I wanted to run my own lab, but the decision was close. I now have a few PhD students, some very limited grant money coming in. I do have to teach: some of it is fun, and I'm trying to give something back to my "customers" without spending valuable time on it (which I need to spend on research).

I do see some people that work crazy hours. They tend to either be very good at what they do, or they go for every grant opportunity they see (and still have a poor success rate). With the low chances of getting a proposal funded at certain important institutions (like NSF, NIH), I feel I need to economize and only send in core work.

Yes, a lot of teaching is offloaded on teaching faculty with year-to-year jobs. Science is not in their career goals, but they are much more dedicated educators. Given the poor preparation and an attitude among our undergrads to "pick up a degree" in lieu of "learning something profound", I think this is the right choice. We do not work with adjuncts all that much, but it's widely agreed that working as an adjunct for more than a year is labor of love, not a career.

I'm happy with my job for it offers plenty of intellectual and practical freedom. The downside is having to live in a college town rather than in NYC or SFO, or in a much more interesting European city. I'll live with this trade-off.

about a month ago

Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job Administration: regulation and legal exposure (538 comments)

It is true that many universities world-wide are run more my administrators and their helpers, sucking up resources that are not spent on the universities core mission. In the U.S., anyway, a good bit of that has to do with two things: (a) regulation forces universities to check and double-check compliance with a complex set of rules imposed by federal and state governments and other sponsors. (b) Exposure. A larger university is much more likely to lose large sums of money (and public credibility) as a result of litigation when things go wrong. The system over-reacts because the stakes are high. In science, empiricism means that we do not conclude anything from anecdotal evidence (sample size: one). "Learning from experience" in policy-making means that when one person messes up one thing, everybody else will have to fill out more forms for rest of their lives.

about a month ago

Wikipedia Mining Algorithm Reveals the Most Influential People In History evaluation? (231 comments)

I wonder how this is evaluated, if at all. As others have been pointed out, the fact that Carl Linnaeus means that they define "influence" in a fairly poor, counter-intuitive way. Many mentions might make someone famous, but not influential in a deep sense. Deep influence, to me, affects the answer to a simple question. If the contributions of person A hadn't been made, would our world be a fundamentally different place? This will work for largely fictional figures (such as Jesus), as for evil people (Hitler). It will, IMHO correctly state that Mary (as in mother of Jesus) or Queen Elizabeth weren't all that influential.

about a month and a half ago

Building an Open Source Nest Re:The hard part (195 comments)

If you think of a thermostat as a device that closes a switch when the temperature is below or above a set point, you're certainly right. But if you had some vision, you would see a new generation of devices, "smart homes", real-life ubiquitous computing, energy sustainability, and opportunities for data-mining or even networked intelligence. That's why I have two Nests - right now it's just good-looking and convenient (remote control!), but I'm adopting technology that, in a few years, may change the way I live.

about 6 months ago

Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian' Someone disagrees - and gets fired? (409 comments)

Is this what corporate America is, these days? Someone disagrees in an e-mail with the head office and gets dismissed for that? Oracle would be unethical, but also downright stupid if they fired everyone who didn't share the views of their superiors. I can't believe that...

about 6 months ago

Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian' Visa requirements - above-average salary? (409 comments)

That guy from India presumably needed a visa, such as an H1B. In order to get this, a company needs to demonstrate to the Dept of Labor that the person in question can command an above-average salary. How do they do this if they undercut people in comparable jobs?

about 6 months ago

D.C. Awards Obamacare IT Work To Offshore Outsourcer Re:Yet another great argument... (402 comments)

I'm not sure you're familiar with the facts. First, the number of H1B's given to this company indicates precisely that they are _not_ an offshore, outsourcing enterprise - the place of employment (and where taxes are paid by the employer and employees) is the US. Second, H1B requires that employers "Pay the nonimmigrant workers at least the local prevailing wage or the employer's actual wage, whichever is higher; pay for non-productive time in certain circumstances; and offer benefits on the same basis as for U.S. workers;" ( Of course, there is some wiggle room, but that is natural and appropriate for a free market society. The H1Bs I know are getting paid far above what certain US nationals make in similar jobs, because they're worth it. Their job hunt is international, and so are their careers. For other H1Bs - well, don't forget that this country was founded based on immigration. I agree that there are problems though - see Moryath's comment below. The bigger question for me is why it takes $50M to make a website backed by a database, to serve a tiny state in which most potential users will have employer-provided healthcare anyway.

1 year,21 days

New Links Found Between Bacteria and Cancer lateral transfer / evolution (159 comments)

Oh, thanks. I've just learned something. I have used resistance to antibiotics as an example of real-time observable evolution. If it is actually lateral transfer, then this example won't hold. Good to know!

1 year,28 days

DARPA Develops Non-GPS Navigation Chip INS has been around... with shortcomings (84 comments)

Inertial navigation systems have been around for a long time - certainly predating GPS. Commercial aircraft fly with them (to be independent). They are small enough to be added to small drones - though they are not "chip-scale". Precise, robust ones are very expensive, and perhaps addressing the price is one of their goals, though the blurb doesn't state that. They also need to be re-calibrated regularly (ever seen exact position information at locations where aircraft park?), but again, I don't see how the DARPA project addresses it. It would be nice to have a miniature-INS for indoors navigation, but only if it's a chip for less than $10 or so...

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Starting From Scratch After a Burglary? Simplify your life (770 comments)

I live perfectly well without TV. Netflix provides ample entertainment on a nice large flat-screen or a projector. You will save time and energy (it'll be quiet). AppleTV is useful. I have a laptop (a top-of-the line Macbook Pro with SSD etc etc), but no desktop (not even at work). That way I don't have to synchronize data, and I have everything with me. If you need another iMac at home depends on your family, I guess. An iPad or a cheaper Android tablet are useful for reading the news during breakfast, etc etc. Someone here suggested to simply wait and see what you miss the most. That is a wise suggestion.

about a year and a half ago


top writes  |  more than 7 years ago writes "Craig's List's CEO Jim Buckmaster runs the largest ad site in the world, and he does pretty much everything differently from global e-commerce power-houses like eBay. In a recent Q&A session, Buckmaster recently revealed a few details about the world's largest publisher of ads, online or offline. With it's chain of centrally run, but locally-themed Craig's List sites, the company has success like only streamlined and tightly managed commercial operations — yet their methods are completely different. Putting up private ads is free, and the site relies on personal meets and the local social network to establish trusts rather than getting users to assign each other virtual brownie points. While the company operates globally, Buckmaster's mantra is still to stick to local affairs: a global search across all local Craig's Lists is not available. Surprisingly, one trick to keep costs down is to not seek maximum revenue and save on the sales people. They still have only a small team and listen to users, not marketers, to drive website development."
top writes  |  more than 7 years ago writes "Richard Stallman is planning to step down as head maintainer of the GNU Emacs project. In an e-mail to fellow Emacs developers, he today asked for candidates to succeed him. RMS wrote the first extensible Emacs text editor in 1975 at MIT's AI Lab. Seen by many as the founder and chief advocate of the free software movement, Stallman has also been actively involved in Emacs' development. GNU Emacs 22, due soon, will be the first major release of the editor since 2001."

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