Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!



Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

drsmithy Re:selective enforcement at it's finest. (325 comments)

Trust me, you have no idea what "revenue generation" is.

Here in Australia, a personalised number plate will set you back anywhere from $400-odd to a few grand. And that's before even getting into "rare" plates that people already own.

about a week ago

Star Trek Economics

drsmithy Re:Wow (888 comments)

Our society has become massively automated compared to the middle ages. And we have 25 times the world population now. Yet we still have plenty of jobs;

No we don't. It's be decades since any western country had full employment, or even a policy to achieve same, thanks to the sadistic neoliberal idea of NAIRU. In most of the western world, there are an order of magnitude more job seekers than there are jobs.

And that's not even taking into consideration the swathes of the population involved in unproductive, pointless, bullshit jobs that serve no real purpose (eg: most layers of management).

Within a generation, two at the outside, the vast, vast majority of jobs involving manual labour will be performed by robots, except for those targeting the high-end luxury market. I expect a fairly large chunk of today's "intellectual" jobs will also disappear towards the end of that timeframe (eg: basic engineering, software development, lower levels of management, etc) as AI capabilities improve.

about 2 months ago

HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers

drsmithy Re:Service packs? (385 comments)

And yet there are apparently bugs still being found, otherwise there's be nothing to download for a 3 year old server [...]

Of course there would.

Just because a bug was fixed in a firmware update 3 years ago doesn't mean that update was applied 3 years ago.

about 2 months ago

HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers

drsmithy Re:HP used to be greatl (385 comments)

For the life of me I do not understand this 'commercial strategy'.


Charging the customer what they are prepared to pay for a product, rather than what it costs to make, is a pretty core tenet of free market capitalism.

about 2 months ago

HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers

drsmithy Re:Government Regulation?? (385 comments)

We have millions of dollars invested in HP hardware.

We typically only have 3yr support contracts on servers, first and foremost to handle hardware failures.

After that time, servers are cycled out into low important, or non-production tasks. Failures in these roles usually result in wholesale machine replacement.

Maintaining support contracts for all those 3-6 year old machines is not viable, nor are we expecting _new_ problems to be addressed since they are out of contract.

Not being able to download _old_ patches, firmware, etc, to apply when the servers are cycled out of production, however, is bullshit.

about 2 months ago

HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers

drsmithy Re:Service packs? (385 comments)

Rest assured most customers get at least 3 year of support. Not because of anything to do with firmware updates, but to deal with hardware failures.

about 2 months ago

HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers

drsmithy Re:Service packs? (385 comments)

Yes they do.
Where ?

Where is the incentive to "deliver broken products" when they're going to have to fix them anyway since the vast majority of customers will be in support contracts for at least 3 years ? And would have been even if this change never occurred ?

Most customers will pay for 3 years of support - just like they have the last upteen years - because of the other stuff it buys.

about 2 months ago

HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers

drsmithy Re:Service packs? (385 comments)

And they get a perverse incentive to deliberately deliver broken products from the outset.

No they don't.

All customers will have support contracts for a hardware purchase for 12 months.
The vast majority will then have them for another 2 years.
A sizeable chunk for probably another year or two after that.

Nearly all bugs are going to be found in the first couple of years, probably in the first 6 months, when pretty much everyone will have support contracts. Ie: they'll need to be fixed.

about 2 months ago

Protesters Show Up At the Doorstep of Google Self-driving Car Engineer

drsmithy Re:Wait so now (692 comments)

Independent people are more likely to live away from the masses, choose property with other criteria as a priority (view, weather, etc.) This is why the wealthy live in gated communities, try to prevent the public from accessing the beach in front of their house, live in the hills outside the cities, etc. They want to get away from the masses of poor, stupid, ugly, dirty, sick, etc. people. This is why royalty and titled people built castles and moats. It's why artists live cloistered lives. It's why the religious figures, the rabbis, the wise men, the medicine men, etc. had a space to themselves and people trekked to them for guidance and assistance.

The people you describe are not independent, they are actually hyper-dependent.

Without their subjects to bring them offerings, they have nothing.

This has been true for all of human history. The intelligent seek to shed the husk of ineptitude that is the rest of humanity.

The intelligent seek like-minded people.

For all the historical glory the lone inventor gets, the vast majority of progress comes from teams of people working together.

about 3 months ago

Windows 9 Already? Apparently, Yes.

drsmithy Re:9.1 (1009 comments)

Windows 95 and 3.1 still had the same fundamental interface.
No, they didn't. They were extremely different.

The Desktop, Start Menu and Taskbar are the most obvious major fundamental differences between Windows 3.1 and 95. Extensive ability to drag & drop is another. The deprecating of the MDI interface (though - amazingly - it still lingers on in some apps). Context menus. Transparent interaction with network resources.

Windows 95 was a document/object-centric interface. Windows 3.1 was an application-centric interface.

Same with Windows 3.1 to 95, if you used 3.1 you could use 95 with no problems apart from the fact it looked a little different.

What ? No. People had huge problems moving from Windows 3.1 to 95. Microsoft even included Program Manager in Windows 95 and it was not uncommon in the early days for people to run it as the shell.

There are fewer fundamental UI differences between Windows 95 and Windows 7, than there are between Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. Indeed, in terms of UI fundamentals there's almost no difference at all between Windows 95 and Windows 7. But there are few, if any, similarities between Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 (apart from the kinds of elements that are common to nearly all WIMP interfaces).

about 2 months ago

UK Benefits System In Deeper Trouble?

drsmithy Re:Really??? (266 comments)

I do not have the time to properly research this topic, so I'll leave it here.

But everything I've read so far convinces me the UK is little different to the US and Australia.

The fundamental problem is there's more people than jobs. It is unlikely to be resolved in the future due to both political (conservatives and their backers have no interest in pursuing full employment) and practical (within a generation or so robotics are going to render probably half the workforce obselete) reasons.

Thanks for the discussion.

about 3 months ago

Silicon Valley Workers May Pursue Salary-Fixing Lawsuit

drsmithy Re:Collusion, in tech? (130 comments)

The point of unions is not to drive the "evil corporations" out of business. That would be counter-productive and stupid.

The point of unions is to put employees on an equal footing to employers when it comes to negotiations on working conditions and pay.

Generally, they achieve this goal well.

about 3 months ago

Silicon Valley Workers May Pursue Salary-Fixing Lawsuit

drsmithy Re:Collusion, in tech? (130 comments)

A free market is what people do when no-one holds a gun to their head forcing them to do something else.

But then inevitably someone does get a (metaphorical or literal) gun and starts holding it to people's heads.

about 3 months ago

Silicon Valley Workers May Pursue Salary-Fixing Lawsuit

drsmithy Re:Collusion, in tech? (130 comments)

Remember, total corporate profits in the US are less than 10% of total wages in the US. "Evil big corporations" are certainly paying as little as they can get away with, but there's not much slack there in the first place. It's not like, on average, we could be paid 20% more if our collective bosses was only more generous - that money just doesn't exist (and small companies are on far thinner margins here - making payroll is a monthly uncertainly for most).

Why must salary increases for workers be sourced from existing profits ? Why could they not be sourced by reducing the ridiculous pay packages of upper and executive management ?

about 3 months ago

Silicon Valley Workers May Pursue Salary-Fixing Lawsuit

drsmithy Re:Collusion, in tech? (130 comments)

There are lots of system admins around, but not a lot of them have advanced devops experience.

Maybe you should consider taking someone on and training them.

It might even generate a bit of loyalty.

about 3 months ago

UK Benefits System In Deeper Trouble?

drsmithy Re:Really??? (266 comments)

Right, so if I quit my job now there's no other jobs available for me? Don't be so stupid.

I’m not the one being stupid. I’m talking at a macro level. You’re nitpicking at an individual level.

There are ca. millions more people looking for work than there are advertised jobs. That doesn’t count all the people who could work but for whatever reason aren’t considered to be looking. That means there’s not enough jobs. It doesn’t mean arbitrary person Joe Blogs cannot find a job. Obviously individual people move in and out of jobs all the time.

If we pretend to be physicists for a second, and assume each job is a perfect sphere, and we could somehow match up every single vacancy with a willing applicant tomorrow, you would still have millions of people either without a job, or working less hours than they want to.

That’s because there’s not enough jobs.

Yep, that's exactly the problem, over a million of them are NEETS for starters, youths not in employment, education, or training. They can get away with it because they live at home and £90 a week is still plenty enough to pay for the latest XBox games.

Where is the evidence these people do not want to work ?

What's the relevance of your anecdote exactly?

That your argument because you can in certain situations drive from point A to point B in less than three hours means long commutes don’t exist is stupid.

Of course if you live on one side of London and commute to the other and dawdle about walking slowly or happen to work or live far from a tube station then you're going to be able to get your commute up to 45 minutes but that still means they can get anywhere in the capital from their doorstep within 45 minutes which for a city with a population of over 7 million (think about the size of that) is not unreasonable.

The _average_ London commute is something like 37 minutes each way.

You are arguing a 45 minute commute is unusual. In actual fact it’s common if you live in London.

I am not making any comment about whether or not that is “unreasonable”. I am making the point that it could be a reason that taking a particular job is impossible.

Except that's unnecessary because guess what? we also have publicly funded schemes to deal with those problems for parents.

You have a scheme that picks children up from their homes, takes them to childcare and returns them at the end of the day ? From anywhere ?

They also get the bulk of childcare paid for, and child tax credits which leaves them with a net profit for having a child.

A quick Google says the base tax credit is 500 quid. I know the cost of living there is a lot lower than Australia, but I still doubt that would be enough turn a profit on the annual costs of child rearing.

You're just showing you have no idea about the breakdown of UK finances, the amount of benefits available and so forth. Bank bailouts don't even get included in general spending figures as they're classed as one off costs. Some of those banks have been sold back to private investors and much of the money recouped now anyway.

Who said anything about a breakdown of finances and spending ? You said:

“This is a large part the reason we ended up with one of the highest levels of public debt in the world when the financial crisis hit.”

Incorrect. See above. You've no idea what you're talking about:

Actually that breakdown is the same one I found before commenting.

I was under the impression we were talking primarily about welfare frauds - people who could work but choose not to, and how much the welfare they receive costs.

I think you just need to admit you're bitching about problems in your country and trying to project them everywhere.

Actually everything I’ve read during this discussion has led me to believe you have exactly the same problems. The sort of middle-class welfare you mention (payments to millionaires) is a problem here in Australia as well.

This shouldn’t really be surprising, since the people running the whole western world for the last 20-30 years are all adherents to the same broken neoliberal economic philosophy.

about 3 months ago

UK Benefits System In Deeper Trouble?

drsmithy Re:Really??? (266 comments)

Right, but it doesn't mean there aren't jobs.

Yes, actually, it does.

Unless you want to mount an argument that large numbers of people would prefer to live in abject poverty rather than work and live in relative comfort.

Further, even ignoring that, there are hundreds of thousands of available jobs, and millions of job seekers. More people than jobs. Lots more.

You can be a job seeker willingly - opting to hold out for the job you want, rather than any job you can get, this is a conscious choice to be unemployed and it's one I'd make if I were in that situation too because I have enough savings to get by so that if I did become unemployed I'd be able to do that, but it doesn't change the fact that many people are unrealistic about what they can hold out for or, how much they have in savings to be able to hold out for something they're never going to get and simply can't afford to be choosy. If my cash reserves ran out I'd stop being choosy and take one of the many other options available.

Yet apparently you think tens, hundreds of thousands of people would rather “hold out” and choose to be unemployed, living on the pittance offered by welfare ?

So yes there are people unemployed, some reasonably so just waiting a little longer to get what they both want and know they can get, others not so reasonably so holding out for something they couldn't get even if they were employed, or simply not wanting to work at all.

The former are accounted for in the “0%” I referred to. That’s why it was in inverted commas.

The proportion of people who choose to not work and live in abject poverty is vanishingly small. You’ve already stated you wouldn’t do it. I certainly wouldn’t, either. Nor would anyone I know. Yet you want to try and argue tens to hundreds of thousands do ?

Doesn’t even pass the laugh test.

That's an American thing. It doesn't apply globally. Here we have two figures, the claimant count which is those taking unemployment benefits and so excludes housewives and working age teens and early 20s still in education and the actual unemployment levels which you quoted. For what it's worth it has changed quite drastically, unemployment has been falling non-stop in the UK, far faster than estimates expected.

“A person is classed as unemployed if not only out of work, but also actively looking for work and available to start work within a fortnight.”

So unemployment stats don’t account for people who have given up looking for work, or who couldn’t start within two weeks.

Further people are considered “employed” if they work an hour a week. That means unemployment statistics don’t account for underemployment - people who want to work more but can’t because there aren’t enough jobs.

Real unemployment is _vastly_ higher than official figures. This is a worldwide problem. There is an under- and unemployment disaster that’s been building up in the advanced world for decades.

But we're talking about the UK, there is no 3 hour commute.

Anecdotally, I know many people living in London. None of them have less than a 45 minute commute door-to-door, each way.


That’s actually 3 hours in total, rather than each way, and I have no problem saying I picked 3 hours out of the air, but the overall point remains. It’s quite reasonable for there to be quite legitimate reasons for someone to be unable to take a job, as opposed to unwilling. A long commute interfering with other critical obligations is simply the easiest and most obvious example.

For a parent who has to drop off and pickup a child at care or school on the way to and from work, a commute could easily stretch to a couple of hours in each direction.

I sympathise in America or Australia which are much more sparsely populated countries this may be true, but it's not true in almost the entirety of the UK.

Long commutes tend not to come with sparse population (up to a point). They tend to come with concentrated population (ie: big cities).

If you really want to talk about benefits over the last 30 years and ignore the changes in systems that have taken place then they have drastically increased in the UK. This is a large part the reason we ended up with one of the highest levels of public debt in the world when the financial crisis hit.

No, that would have been the bank bailouts.

The kind of welfare benefits you’re railing against are a small part of the UK’s national expenditure (as they are in every other country). You could eliminate all of it tomorrow and public expenditure would be largely unaffected.

I was trying to keep things in your favour by referring to only the current unemployment benefits which have kept pace with average earnings increases, but if you really want to compare against what they replaced then they replaced much lower benefits meaning that factoring those in leads to a clear increase in the last 30 years which means your clinging on to this arbitrary 30 years number does you know favours, it destroys your argument completely.

I can’t find any suitable historical statistics about welfare compared to real inflation or the median wage in the UK in the five or so minutes I’m prepared to spend on this. You may well be right, but given it would buck the trend of pretty much every other western country, where welfare benefits (and similar things like minimum wage) have been outpaced by real inflation and salary increases, I’m highly sceptical.

about 3 months ago

Ford Exec: 'We Know Everyone Who Breaks the Law' Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car

drsmithy Re:Why does Ford need this data? (599 comments)

Because it's interesting and useful to them in the vehicle design process.

Two fairly immediately obvious things that they can learn that would help them in product design are areas most of their cars are driven in and the most common speeds they are driven at.

There is also the obvious marketing benefit of knowing where your customers live (and by extension, a reasonable idea of their socio-economic groups).

about 3 months ago

UK Benefits System In Deeper Trouble?

drsmithy Re:Really??? (266 comments)

Really? Can you give an example?
Uh, practically the whole world, right now ? Indeed, pretty much since the whole sadistic idea of NAIRU gained acceptance ?

I believe your unemployment rate is higher than 0% (or the effective 0% to allow for brief periods between jobs). That pretty much means there's more job seekers than jobs by definition.

I don't really follow the UK that closely, but a quick Google on the topic pulled up this blog that has some facts and figures. 463,000 jobs, 2.68 million job seekers. That's 2 years old, but I doubt the situation has changed dramatically (either in the 2 years since or the decade before).

Note also that official unemployment figures almost certainly vastly underestimate real unemployment, since the definition of "employed" (usually something like a few hours of paid work in week) and "unemployed" (must be actively searching for work) have been comically gamed to try and make the under- and unemployment problem look much less worse than it actually is.

The only way there isn't a job in the UK is if you intentionally place artificial reasons in the way like "I can't be bothered to commute that far", "I don't want to do that job", and so forth, but all of these are choices, not impairments.
This is just more blinkered conservative moralising bullshit.

If the only job available to you requires a three-hour commute in each direction and you have a young child that goes to school, then that job is not a feasible option. That's not a "choice", that's reality.

It's pointless to go back 30 years because different benefits have come and gone in that time, or been drastically altered, but as I say in general they've been tied to inflation so have generally done worse than average earnings in boom times but much better in bust times. Overall it tends to balance out though and they do as well as average earnings increases for workers as a result.
I'm glad you agree that it might have gone up quicker than wages in recent times doesn't matter because it all balances out over the long run, even though I sincerely doubt it hasn't balanced out at all over the last 30 years (it would certainly be unusual if it had, because it certainly hasn't in the other countries of the Anglosphere). Now, what was your point again ?

about 3 months ago

UK Benefits System In Deeper Trouble?

drsmithy Re:Really??? (266 comments)

You're right that the disability allowance is higher, but that's because it's intended for people who outright can't work, whilst job seekers allowance is intended as a short term measure for people who can work but simply can't find a job - you're not meant to live off of it indefinitely. It is however bolstered by free training, access to apprenticeships and so forth to ensure that there's always at least some job you can get meaning not getting a job long term isn't really an excuse, but a choice.

There's NOT "always at least some job you can get". That's the problem.

As an aside our welfare payment have risen with inflation, so for example in 2012 when everyone's wages were going down, unemployment benefits saw a 5.2% rise because inflation was high in the month they determine payments. The government is changing this now to try and make sure unemployment benefits more closely mirror average increases (or decreases) in wage rather than inflation.

And how does it look when you go back over the last 30 years ? My bet is inflation and wage increases have vastly outstripped the increase in the welfare payment.

Really, here it was mostly just dishonesty because our Labour government simply made such benefits too attractive an alternative to work and too easy to get which is why a roughly similar number lost these benefits when the current government did a complete re-assessment of everyone receiving that benefit. They simply shouldn't have had them in the first place, and didn't deserve them simply because job seekers allowance has become a less reasonable option for simply choosing to be long term unemployed.

People who "choose to be long term unemployed" are a vanishingly small percentage. Always have been, likely always will be.

about 3 months ago


drsmithy hasn't submitted any stories.


drsmithy has no journal entries.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account