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When Scientists Give Up

dballanc Re:Stop using tax dollars (348 comments)

I'm not sure why everyone seems to boil things down the false dichotomy of goverment or business. The 'public' can fund non-profit research organizations in ways that don't involve a government middleman. As a society we need long-term non-profit oriented research, but I would think that the goverment should be the last resort. It's a highly political environment full of corruption and self-interest not unlike many businesses, but unlike business it's essentially self-regulated. I'm not saying goverment is evil or incapable of doing wonderful things in the realm of research (internet, and nice fluffy memory foam among others), but I would like to see the 'public' funding the research more directly via contributions and support of non-profit research organizations that they select - that's true democracy - not 51% being able to spend 100% of the dollars. As a society we may not responsible enough for that approach, but I think it would be more effective - and it doesn't a consensus or majority - just enough like minded people to contribute toward making the world a better place.

about a month ago

Ask David Saltzberg About Being The Big Bang Theory's Science Advisor

dballanc Re: Why do you participate? (226 comments)

Is that you Sheldon?

I'm a scientist (with a degree and everything) and find the show to be reasonably funny. It reinforces the universal law of humanity: People are both smart and stupid, often at the same time. I have met some brilliant people I woudn't trust to tie my shoes, and some not-so-seeminly-bright I'd trust with my life in certain circumstances. Those that feel 'persecuted' need to get a grip on the fact that idiocy and genius are not mutually exclusive states. Those 'normal' people out there like you are have just muted their inner idiot through training and 'professionalism'. Too bad that doing so often mutes your inner genius as well.

about a month and a half ago

Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem

dballanc Re:Vote with your feet, literally (181 comments)

I recently bought a saw off a fellow via an online ad - about 20 miles of travel from the 'big' town of 25,000 to a house in pretty much the middle of nowhere and accessible only by several miles on gravel roads. Lots of cows, hayfields, dense forest. Out of curiousity I ask him about the internet options - he was on 10mb dsl, as are most of the other people in that area. Similar story from friends who live out in the country about 8 miles from a town of a few thousand people in a different direction. There seems to be at least a few rural options these days, atleast here in Missouri. Don't write rural off completely... atleast due to internet...

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Does LED Backlight PWM Drive You Crazy?

dballanc Re:first world problems (532 comments)

As someone with this problem, yes! Surprisingly setting the backlight to 100% pretty much eliminated my eye/migraine issues from upgrading to 3 BENQ 2250s. A SOLUTION to the brightness that worked very well for me was automotive window tint film (nothing special, $10 from O'Reilly) on plexiglass panels. I thought the image quality would be toast, but everything is perfectly clear and easier on the eyes now.

about a year ago

Keeping Your Data Private From the NSA (And Everyone Else)

dballanc Re:Can't have it all. (622 comments)

It's a question of balance. Your freedom is the currency on which govermnent operates. Are you getting your 'moneys' worth for what you are giving up? I think the only possible way you can say that is true for something like massive data collection and archival is from a terribly naive viewpoint. Governments rarely give up power. They just don't. Even if you consider what is currently known to be acceptable, it is inevitable that it will expand as time goes on. Considering the possible abuses, and the potential magnitude of damage those abuses could cause to everything that democracy stands for, I cannot imagine any realistic threat worth taking that risk. Make no mistake, these are the -seeds- of a future we do not want. They may seem almost benign now, but have the potential to grow into something far worse than a few people with bombs.

about a year ago

UDOO Looks To Combine Best of Raspberry Pi, Arduino

dballanc Re:$500000 for a $100 device? (59 comments)

I could be wrong, but to me it reads that they HAVE 500k pledged, of 27k desired. Which essentially means their excess pledges are more like 'preorders' for a the final product. That should allow them to negotiate better quantity deals for manufacturing costs at the least.

about a year ago

Credit Card Swipe Fees Begin Sunday In USA

dballanc Re:I'm curious to see how many retailers actually (732 comments)

When I was with cardservices a few years ago it was part of the agreement. We could offer a cash discount, but not charge fees or even tell the customer about the fees/amounts. All of the gateway processors I looked at had the same requirement. The difference to a small business between a contract violation with bankruptcy inducing fines/fees and a legal violation is largely irrelevant... you're done either way.

They do all kinds of trickery... for example if I wanted to accept a major card (I think it was discover) at x% fee I was forced to also accept minor cards (diner's club) with massively higher fee. I was selling computers at a very small margin, and thank god no one ever used a diner's club because it would have ended up generating a net loss on the sale. If course I wasn't allowed to tell the customer about the differences in fees without violating my contract.

The real problem here is one of transparency and an entire industry being about to set the rules in their favor (not unlike defacto monoplies of cable and internet services in many areas).

about a year and a half ago

AMD Radeon Performance Preview On Linux 3.8

dballanc Eyefinity (112 comments)

I've run nvidia cards on linux since before the turn of the century but recently switched to an ATI for the eyefinity capability. Trying to do triple head (or more) with Nvidia just blows. I picked up a cheap Saphire Flex 6540 for less than $70 and it runs (3) 1920x1080 screens with one card and no real issues. I even get composite support for window previews. I know gaming is out, but that's fine for my purposes. For some more bucks I could run 6 screens off one card. I would prefer nvidia, but short of dropping thousands on a video card they just don't have any offerings that I've found. All in all I have to give ATI credit for putting something on the market at a reasonable price that is exactly what I needed, and something that no other vendors seem to care much about.

about 2 years ago

Project To Build Dual-Booting Linux, Android Tablet For $100

dballanc Re:Not very impressive (114 comments)

I also have an Elf II (nice tablet for the $), but I think you hit on the major point. It can run Ubuntu 12.10 (great!) without the touchscreen (wtf). Having a device with well supported hardware would be very useful. Especially as the hardware gets older and moves from primary tablet to laying around and gathering dust. If we had full support for the hardware it opens up those older tablets to all kinds of interesting uses / repurposing.

  As it is we get stuff that may run linux in a half-assed fashion. Everything works but touch. Everything works but wifi. Everything works but hardware accelerated video. There always seems to be a "but" in there with most tablets that puts it back on the shelf gathering dust. So much useful hardware is abandoned just because we don't have decent driver support for a critical component. I for one would be willing to pay extra to have open drivers, or atleast a company that would work with the community in that regard.

Ainol has been much better with updates/fixes than I expected from an iexpensive tablet, but rather than release a JB update for the Elf II they just renamed the Elf II to Crystal (with a slightly better screen) and started selling a new version with JB keeping the Elf on ICS. There are 3rd party JB roms available, but even those are based upon a lucky leaked rom from Ainol. There is just no profit incentive for these companies to do it themeselves, so maybe a kickstarter based collaboration is the only way we'll ever see it.

All that said, I don't know what these guys are thinking targetting low end hardware like the a8 based A10 and 800x480 resolution for linux geeks. That's just plain silly considering an a8 based A10 costs about $7 and a dual core amlogic A9 like the Elf2 uses costs about $13 and offers a huge boost in performance.

about 2 years ago

Thousands of Muslims Protest 'Age of Mockery' At Google's London Headquarters

dballanc Re:Don't watch it (515 comments)

Did you not pay attention in history class? This sort of thing didn't start on 9/11. It's been going on with the same basic political/theocratic base for many decades now, and fundamentally for hundreds of years. A voice of reason has to come from within. It's not something the west or anyone else 'allow'. It can be silenced (violence, fear). It can be discouraged (dogma, poor education, lack of diversity).

The problem boils down to the usual brew of basically good people naively trying to find their place in life, and a few people willing to persuade and exploite the first in order to shape the world to their liking. It's not a muslim thing. It happens in many places, and to varying degrees (just look at the current US elections for a nice modern example). It's human nature. The only things I know of that we can do to fight it are to educate the naive so they are not so easily led. Education. Not schools, but discourse. Free thought, ideas, speech. Of course there is a fine line between education and persuasion, and that is why absolute free speech is so important. Any restrictions on free speech are a step in the direction of persuasion.

I've heard arguments that "people will be offended" if XXXX. I object to that. I think "people may -take offence-". Like the voice of reason, offense comes from within. It's not something we push on others. It's something people choose for themselves.

about 2 years ago

KDE Multi-Monitor Control Getting An Overhaul

dballanc Re:Win 7 (144 comments)

It's nice to be able to drag things around, and unless I'm remembering incorrectly separate x sessions are just that. If you open a window on display Y it stays on display Y. Back when I was first using dual monitors I had them set that way and things were a bit quirky. Firefox wouldn't open on one dislay if it was already open on another, there were a few other apps that didn't play nice either. I'm currently on two monitors via twinview and a third via synergy on a different machine (which is a bit like a separate x session), and while it is functional - that third screen doesn't get used for much because it's not possible to drag a window over to primary (easier to read) screen for some work and then toss the window back to the side when I'm done with it.

about 2 years ago

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 Rooted

dballanc Re:The missing feature (62 comments)

Perfect. That usb dongle and my usb keydrive won't get in the way at all. A much better option than simply adding support for a microsd as big as by pinky fingernail. It's like making a car without a trunk of any sort and telling people they should be happy it comes with a trailer hitch.

Lack of storage is a total deal killer for a lot of us.

more than 2 years ago

Obama and Romney Respond To Questionnaire

dballanc Re:Mitt Romney must have a degree in BS (608 comments)

Concise? Obamas answers followed the "rarely has so little been said so well" pattern he has damn near perfected. Romney's did ramble a bit, but at least he seemed to throw out some specifics rather than just platitudes. I mean the guy referenced two whitepapers outlining his approach on different issues. On the flip side, the few "attack your opponent answers" left an equally bad taste.

more than 2 years ago

Iran Universities To Ban Women From 77 Fields of Study

dballanc Re:Goodbye then (585 comments)

I think this type of thinking is incorrect. You are right in that the green 'revolution' was squashed. Iran is a big country though, with coming up on 100 million people. Anything that doesn't involve double digit millions in active support isn't a revolution - it's somewhere between a protest and a power struggle between the incumbent regime and another group of people who happen think their way is the best way. Just because some groups claim to represent the Iranian people, doesn't actually mean they do. The only people that properly represent the Iranian people, are the Iranian people. They still have a backwards, tyrannical regime. Judging by their actions I think it's pretty clear where they stand as a whole. That is not to say that many, maybe even the vast majority are good and decent people being repressed by their goverment - but it will take more than simply toppling the current regime to bring lasting freedom from oppression - that is something that has to rise up and be sustained from within.

more than 2 years ago

Should Medical Apps Be Regulated?

dballanc Re:We no longer regulate ads and mail order produc (254 comments)

How about "certified". Don't block apps, but those that have passed verification get a rubber stamp of approval. Or even certify smaller snippets of information. Let the user decide if they want to trust information that isn't certifiably correct.

about 2 years ago

Paul Ryan's Record On Science and Government

dballanc Re:I visited the National Ignition Facility this y (543 comments)

Back in college I worked at a restaraunt. The dishwasher there was a nice guy, and a good worker. Not a rocket scientist. He'd been working there a very long time. He'd been turning down raises for a decade, not because he wanted less money, but because it would put him above some arbitrary line that allowed him to have low rent housing. That's the kind of sillyness that 'step' based systems encourage, whether they be in assistance programs or part of the tax code.

One thing that never seems to get much mention is that you can have a "simple" progressive tax. I think people very much like the idea of a flat tax because it seems simple and fair. I also think the "skin in the game" argument has merit. There is no reason we can't do something reasonable like say 5% of income at the bottom, XX% at the top, and a nice smooth line between those two whose equation calculates your taxes. Screw deductions. You pay on your real income. No loop holes, the super rich don't get off, everyone has stake (and a reason to pay attention to gov't efficienty), and it's simple. If people can't afford to pay 5% in taxes, then jack the mimimum wage to a reasonable level. The money comes from somewhere anyway, paid to the government or paid to workers. The mechanisms for the payments are very important even of the dollars in your pocket remains the same.

It seems absurd to me that with capital gains you are taxed less than someone who actually had to earn that money. It seems equally absurd that 50% of americans don't pay any taxes at all, and a good chunk of those actually get money back.

When you have to depend on the goverment just to make ends meet, that is a very, very bad thing. And that is what 50%+ of us do.

more than 2 years ago

AT&T Introducing Verizon-Style Shared Data Plans

dballanc Re:Oy (307 comments)

Of course that assumes Verizon will even let you active a smartphone without a data plan... which they normally will not. Some of the MVNOs like page plus will let you, but I'm pretty sure verizon won't. I'm sure ATT would love to block that route too, if it could. It boggles my mind why non-contract plans aren't more popular. Looking at Page Plus (verizon mvno) you get unlimited, plus 2gb data for $55. If you can get by with wifi and 100mb mobile data that drops to $39. If you can live with 1200min on the voice plan and 100mb that drops to $29. Those are without contract. I'm pretty sure they also include the taxes, where as the contract plan prices usually don't. Simple mobile is $40 for "unlimited" (1gb data) using Tmo's network. The voice only prepaids get even cheaper (4c a min is the lowest I found at page plus) if you can get by with wifi only.

more than 2 years ago

The Patent Mafia and What You Can Do To Break It Up

dballanc Patent costs need a sliding scale (205 comments)

Aside from the absurd patents, like software that need to go away completely, the fees and the total number of patents held by an organization should be linked to the number of full time, non-contract employees. The implementation would need appropriate loop holes checks, and heavy fines for trying to subvert the system.

A huge company with many workers should be allowed an appropriately large number of patents. They should also have to pay top dollar to keep them, with the price per patent going up considerably each with each new patent. A smaller company can only hold a few (bye-bye patent holding troll companies), but the fees should be in line with what a smaller company that actually -needs- patent protection to get off the ground can actually afford.

I'd also like to see published licensing rate formulas required in the patent where everyone pays using the same rate formulates when utilizing the holders patent, and the holder may not refuse to license a patent at those rates. The rate formula is part of the submitted patent application, and can be grounds for refusal of the patent.

Now decrease protection time to something reasonable like 5 years I think things might get better.

more than 2 years ago

Apple and Google Face Salary-Fixing Lawsuit

dballanc Re:Ahhhh! Corporations own the government! (402 comments)

The other difference is that you have only ONE government, so it damn well better get things right. Atleast I can opt out of supporting google and apple if I choose. Not so much with the government. Of course the flip side of all this is that the megacorps and elite, with the purchased support of our lovely elected officials are working hard to make it impossible for the little guys to 'vote with our dollars'. You have the freedom to choose option A, or option B citizen.

more than 2 years ago

GNOME 3.4 Released

dballanc Re:My commentary... (147 comments)

You can ALT-F4 the "Oh no screen". It's silly that you can't close it any other way, but it is just a window.

more than 2 years ago


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