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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?

fermion Re:No issues here (217 comments)

I find it to be a bit slow on my 5. It is very slow on my old iPad. This, I think is normal, and it has gotten faster since I upgraded.

As far as the updates, most applications seem to update when a new iOS comes out. I have not seen an inordinate number of updates. As the Apps have to not only deal with a new OS but also new screen sizes, Apps that are not written to run on many screen sizes will obviously have to be updated.

My problem is that Apple is reintroducing the cloud disk service, a la iDisk, but it is not going to available on mac until the next MacOS, which is not going to be available for at least a month. Those who upgrade when they upgrade their phone will lose access to data on the Mac. There does seem to be some feature bloat at the expense of efficiency.

4 hours ago
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Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

fermion Re:Me too. (362 comments)

you would be more expensive because you would not be manufacturing at the same scale. If you are making 10,000 widgets, and it costs $100K to set up and $10 to make, that is $20 a widget just to make. If you are manufacturing a million, that is $10.10, and probably much less due to other discounts.

We see this in other industries. The F150 is now aluminum, which required not only the entire production line to be redone, but also supplied of aluminum to be created. This is only profitable because Ford sells about 10,000 of these trucks a week, and that is a number that has been falling since a high in about 10 years ago, though in recent years the sales have increased.

yesterday
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Why the iPhone 6 Has the Same Base Memory As the iPhone 5

fermion real use case (229 comments)

To upgrade my phone to IOS 8 I had to free some space. This basically involved deleted some Apps that I never use that were taking a great deal of space. I don't buy apple movies because they can be only played on apple devices, so the majority of data is music, most of which is stored on the cloud, and photos. I know people have almost no music on their devices, but stream everything. To be honest, streaming has meant that many people do not have to deal with the hassle of local storage. Though we can get into a philosophical argument, the fact is that I do not store as much on my mobile devices as I once did. Even my laptop now has less stuff on it. As to why there is still a 16GB model, that is obvious. Apple needs an entry level device and is not willing to enter the cut rate phone market. Amazon has done this with a 99 cent 32GB model and at $99 64GB model. Obviously they are hoping customers buy the 64GB model even though what is essentially $100 for a 32GB upgrade is essentially highway robbery. Some will do it even though the pricing structure provides little value. Most cell phone companies do this. Apple, being a premium device, is just a little more aggressive.

yesterday
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Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US

fermion Re:Why is Alibaba selling IPO in USA? (188 comments)

The story is the owners want to maintain control, even if they do not maintain a controlling interest. They set up a shell company in the cayman islands which is nominally linked to the profits of the actual company, and as far as I can tell are in fact selling shares in that shell company. So the company that is being purchased in not in china, and the business model will probably be international.

As far as why this is allowed, it is a lot of money. The banks and firms who are managing the IPO are US and will make a lot of money. The persons and firms who are allowed to buy or are given the stocks will make a lot of money when they resell the stock, either immediately, or in a few months when principles are allowed to resell stock.

It seems that the sale is on shaky ground, given that the Chinese government can likely do any number of things to make the shell company worthless. I think what some may be hoping is that the Alibaba can quickly expand out of china and preserve value as a worldwide conglomerate type thing. At a basic level this is further indication that there is a lot of capital out there, and for some reason the people who have it think it is better to risk it on the occasional potential high return scheme than use it to build long term infrastructure. I guess no matter how much money one have, one always is susceptible to a get rich quick scheme,

2 days ago
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Dealership Commentator: Tesla's Going To Win In Every State

fermion Re:Thoughts (153 comments)

My thoughts are there must have been a reason that dealers franchises had to be protected from manufacturers. I suspect there were issues, and that is the reason in the vast number of cases, except for fly by night 'seen on tv' junk we as retail consumers tend to buy retail, not direct from the manufacturer. I have bought or been involved in buying a fair number of cars in my life. I never felt the dealer was pushing me to buy a car I did not want. I have generally gone in knowing the car that I want, and the back and forth is which car that is available is the car I am willing to plunk done some cash for. I suppose some people go into to buy a car that they have no interest in, and the dealer gets them to buy it, but I don't think that is the general case. Making money off service and not the car is no issue to me. That is how we keep cars affordable. It is called competition. What Tesla wants to do is charge an arbitrarily high price for a produce, like Mont Blanc. I am not a greedy person and have never been unwilling to pay for good service. Likewise is a car comes with a good warranty I know that there is a good chance the car is good, and a dealer network means I can get warranty repair. I am not saying that Tesla is not a good car, but if the car needed a repair not under warranty, and it cost money, and it was less than three years old, it is not a good car. There are a lot of cars that have limited production run. The Lotus Evora has production runs of about 2,000 a year, but I can go down the street right now to my car dealer, lay down $100K, and get one. A 2013. So Tesla is not unique there. I suspect that the franchise laws will change, and that Tesla will be able to sell direct. I also suspect that Tesla has spent too much time with the lawyers, and cheating tax payers out of 1.5 billion, and not enough time innovating, so they may not be able to bring the 25,000 electric car to the people, which is what we need. As it is the Asian car manufacturers are shipping real cars right now that get over 50mpg in the real world. Not all electric, but electric is simply a means to an end, not an end to itself.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

fermion Re:As a hobby yes, as a job NO (230 comments)

Of course Astrophysics, even as the bastard child of real physics, is still very hard. Most people who are in it have had some major training and degrees by the time they are 30. Also, if you are like me you are probably making some good money after 20 years of work. I could probably go to a research job, learn what I needed to learn, but would probably me making half of what I do. I love research, but like the cash as well, and can do fun stuff occasionally and as a hobby. That said there seem to many contribution amateur astronomer make to the science. IT is a very general term, and can mean anything from repairing computers to writing web pages to developing analytical algorithms in C, but maybe there is something you could contribute to on that side, or a job with a firm that does work that might be an intersection of the two.

3 days ago
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The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes Will Be Awarded Tonight

fermion JIR (30 comments)

Just to mention, since many have probably never heard of it, the JIR was a great to read in college. My favorite collection was Druken Goldfish. I also particularly remember the study that sought to predict the date when National Geographics would trigger a world cataclysm.

3 days ago
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ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

fermion Re:Anti-math and anti-science ... (950 comments)

Really it is true. The GOP in the US base most of their policy on religious and military views. For instance, GWBush used an expansion of the military to employ the unskilled and uneducated. He then used Homeland Security. If you are not actually basing your economy on a educated workforce, and maintaining control through religion, then any kind of secular education is a bad thing.

4 days ago
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Uber CEO: We'll Run Your Errands

fermion Re:Consumer feedback removes need for certificatio (139 comments)

This is quite a piece of idolotry. Let us start at the end first. For many jobs no one requires a certified plumber or electrician or anything. There is no requirement to get such a certification. For certain jobs it is a requirement to get a permit, but that is to protect lives. OTOH I am sure you would no problem if your family died because the water heater exploded or the house caught on fire because of the work of a plumber or electrician was faulty, because, after all, she had good recommendations from people who had no expertise in critiquing the actual work. In any case, such requirements as the exists, are demanded not by government but by bankers, insurance companies, and general sane people who do not want to die because the invisible hand, or magic ratings, or whatever, was a substitute for competence. It is intersting that th.s hair brained scheme was introduced after the previous hair brained scheme, to force some Uber drivers to work at or below cost, failed. You see some of the driver took the capitalistic idea of better service leading to more profits seriously,So they only wanted to serve the high end clientele, and invested resources to do so. But Uber told them they could not limit themselves to high end customers, and said if the drivers did not pick up any customer that Uber sent, they would be out of the network. This was absolutely Uber's right to do, after all the contractors could just leave, but I think it speaks to an issue with capitalistic fantasy. At some point the people who are taking a cut of everything the workers do, will want an increasingly large cut to support their increasingly inefficient operations, and to do that they will begin to compete on price instead of service. The contractors, as individuals, can make that choice on a case by case basis. Corporate, however, seeing only a lack of funding for their cocaine habit, are only able to make drastic decisions to increase funding for said habit. In any case, the Uber drivers still had the ability to strike, so they did, and Uber relented.

5 days ago
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Sapphire Glass Didn't Pass iPhone Drop Test According to Reports

fermion Re:Isn't it just "sapphire"? (207 comments)

When I hear the term glass I think of a fused or amorphous material rather than a crystal form. Sapphire, like many other material, is synthetically created as a single crystal as a substrate for RF and IC applications, which is different from the glass use in optical applications.

about a week ago
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Publishers Gave Away 123 Million Books During World War Two

fermion Re:Discounted not free (121 comments)

It is pretty much free. I have some books that are post WWII, and it seems the paperbacks cost 30-50 cents. 70% discounts are even beyond the bargain bin.

As I recall on aspect of the cheap printing was the pulp book. Publisher would print and ship paper backs to stores en masse knowing that most would not sell. Those that did not would simply be returned, maybe with the cover torn off, and pulped back into paper that could be reused to make the next book. Could these book have been the equivalent of the reject rack, and selling the to army was simply a way to at least cover costs? I don't see that these books were specifically printed for the military. OTOH, if they were printed specifically for the military, it has no impact on today's economics. Many industries will sell large quantities of product at cost simply so they can stay afloat and pay the bills, knowing that profit will come in the future.

I believe what really ignited the post war reading boom was the newly educated population, created through the GI Bill, the brief existence of the housewife, whose appliances gave her much less to do and much more free time, and the willingness of publisher to print just about anything, knowing that they could charge enough so the many failures would be covered by the few successes.

What might be applicable from this story to the modern day is that publishers still have to pay for printing presses. No matter how cheap it may be to print books, if the books are not selling, and the printing press costs are fixed, then fewer books are paying for the overhead. E-Books may not need the printing press, but the printing press is still part of the fixed costs.

about two weeks ago
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To Really Cut Emissions, We Need Electric Buses, Not Just Electric Cars

fermion Re:Compromise: (486 comments)

Cars are really expensive to maintain. In parts of the US and other developed countries, a large number of people have the funds. There will always be a need for mass transportation, both for those who cannot afford personal transport and for the regions that cannot support all individuals driving around.

In the US we cannot afford to lower taxes on cars. We are already in trouble because of very low gas tax and an increase in fuel efficiency over the past 20 years. In fact we really need to change the way we tax cars so that cars pay a small fee for each mile driven adjusted for the weight of the car, instead of a gas tax. So for instance a person driving 10,000 miles a year in their Tesla would pay $100 extra registration fee, while a Highlander might have to cough up $150 for the same. We have no money to fix our roads, and will have to get it somehow.

A more real compromise here is to accept that this is advertisement and not take it at face value. While electric vehicles may be the winner in the consumer market, especially the second car consumer market, it is probably not the best choice for fleet vehicles. Something like fuel cells or the like will be a better choice. Proffesional fleet staff can handle the refueling that might a challenge for the consumer. The range is more reasonable, in the 200 mile range, and refueling is quicker.

about two weeks ago
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In France, a Second Patient Receives Permanent Artificial Heart

fermion Re:WIFI-Enabled Vital Organs?!?! (183 comments)

I can't, the summary reads like a bunch of propaganda tripe written by some cult. I am a person who wonders if sending your real time medical information to Google or Apple is really a good idea.

Some people seem to be only concerned with living forever in relatively good condition, or keeping a young person alive even if the quality of life is dismal. They will give up whatever privacy, dignity, or wealth to accomplish this task. We have had some success. The average lifespan is increasing, and more importantly more people are healthy at older age. I am sure that artificial organs will play a huge part of this. I am sure that people will cut whatever deal to make it happen. I am sure that when their heart gets hacked they will sue, just like all those boys who grow breasts, even though it is common sense that selling drugs to kids, or allowing remote access to a heart, is not the wisest thing to do.

Here is what scares me. We do not seem to be doing much to keep the brain healthy into very old age. I have seen active, intellectually stimulated, well read, educated people fall into senility even though they have kept their mind active and engaged. It seems there is a limit to how long a brain can be very healthy. Do we want to be 125 years old and not be able to accomplish basic tasks? Do we want a world where a huge percentage of the adult population cannot care for themselves.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Service To Digitize VHS Home Movies?

fermion Re:DIY - buy a cheap DVB-T receiver, with... (130 comments)

This is what i was thinking any commercial conversion place would do. I also recall those machines used to convert film to video, projecting the film and then recording onto video tape. I wonder if one of those could be used to playback a video on a good sony triniton TV and record onto a good 3ccd video recorder. The real problem with VHS is that it is pretty low quality analog, and one has to add information and fill in holes to make it work with digital. This may be the way to do it. When people complain about quality and blame it on lossy transition, it is probably more than likely the way that information is interpolated to make it work on digital.

about two weeks ago
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Silicon Valley Fights Order To Pay Bigger Settlement In Tech Talent Hiring Case

fermion Re:Unseal the documentation too (200 comments)

Only because you think the labor market is different from other markets. One thing you miss is that the there are regulations in all markets. In fact firms want these regulations so the competition is simplified. On radical extremist say the minimum wage is bad, as it allows firms to compete for labor in a less expensive manner. There is disagreement on the value of the minimum wage, but even developing countries have minimum wages. It would be like saying that indoor plumbing or septic tanks should not be part of the building regulations because it prices some people out of the market. Our homeless problem would decrease significantly if people could just pout chamber pots into the streets or poop in the yard. Yet few conservatives are running around decrying how these building codes are destroying society.

about two weeks ago
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New DNA Analysis On Old Blood Pegs Aaron Kosminski As Jack the Ripper

fermion forensic 'science' (135 comments)

This is where I think we get in trouble with forensic science. Certain things, like finger prints and DNA, can exonerate a suspect but we have seen enough analysis around here to know that it is a fallacy to think that these things prove guilt. it only proves guilt if we assume the probability of guilt is 100% initially. When comparing the sample to a database, random error can create a match under certain common circumstances.

So we can say that DNA evidence is part of a chain that can lead to guilt, and if we assume the known suspects represent the total population of possible suspects, then if the DNA exonerates all other suspects, then there is a case to be made for guilt, but that is a lot of caveats. As we have seen in many cases, obvious suspects are ignored because the authorities jump to quick conclusions. As said, DNA is good for exonerating people, not convicts them.

about two weeks ago
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Silicon Valley Fights Order To Pay Bigger Settlement In Tech Talent Hiring Case

fermion Re:Unseal the documentation too (200 comments)

I think a different analogy is appropriate. Say a group of activist threatened to block access to stores in a neighborhood who charged more than $1 a pound for any fruit. The stores have a choice between taking a loss on fruit, not selling fruit, or having their customers harassed. In such a case we can be sure the police would be called and the activist arrested. The stores could probably sue for lost sales as well.

The problem we have in the US is that firms are given a great deal of leeway to insure that they can charge as high as price as the market will bear, but labor is severely restricted in doing the same. For instance firms are free to form collectives that lobby congress and produce promotional campaigns, even to the point of forcing companies to pay for such promotions, but unions have to bill lobbying efforts separate and members can opt out. Likewise firms are allowed to use some pretty significant tools to prevent labor from organizing, though firms are free to do the same with few restrictions.

about two weeks ago
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Bill Gates Wants To Remake the Way History Is Taught. Should We Let Him?

fermion Re:So long as it is consential (363 comments)

One problem with education is that is it 'consensual' For instance, no child left behind set standards, but then left the states to meet those standard. While some good was done with the non-consual bits, i.e. well qualified teachers, hundreds of billions of local tax dollars were wasted paying testing companies and writing curriculum that to some extent were significant duplications of effort.

What needs to be left to local authorities, even down to the teacher, is the choice of how to teach material and a limited buffet of what to teach. What needs to be done on a interstate level is developing the methods of how that learning is going to be assessed. If there was a more consistent, maybe crowdsource, assessment then teachers would probably more understand what they are supposed to teach. Outside of history of the local area, there is little reason to have significant differences in content. What we can have is local differences in content that is emphasized.

The biggest hurdle to this, and the biggest damage the NCLB did, was the need to rank teachers and students. Current testing is not objective based mastery, but rather ranking. This requires an extremely expensive test, with passing levels set arbitratily after the test is given, often to maximize the success of preferred groups of students, rather than based on the objective performance of the student to show mastery of a benchmark number of standards. Therefore instead of measuring that a student has learned the material, and that a teacher has facilitated such learning, we merely have a continuum that is independent of learning, only indicating the ability to fill in bubbles effectively.

This is where the current reforms are still failing. Leaving the punitive ranking system behind and rather focusing on learning. Common Core is a step away from this, which is why no one likes it. Parents like to know their kid is better than others. Administrators like to be able to rank teachers on arbitrary statistically invalid scales.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

fermion Re:Many languages and... (729 comments)

The line terminator in C and C++ are pretty easy to find and fix. The conventions in FORTRAN are much more difficult to fix as the errors are non nonsensical. On of the first things I learned when I learned to code is a page of errors meant you had a mismatched type in a subroutine.

about two weeks ago
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How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

fermion Re:testing (359 comments)

I have an HP in my desk. If I need to do simple math, I type it into google as I normally have a browser open on my desktop. Anything more complicated can be done in Wolfram Alpha. I don't carry around my HP anymore, remember they days when everyone had a pocket protector and calculator on the belt, because my phone does everything. An RPN calculator, the Alpha App, and of course web connectivity. Even back in that day I preferred my TRS-80 pocket computer to the calculator, though I had both.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Back when patents had to be innovative

fermion fermion writes  |  1 year,6 days

fermion (181285) writes "This weeks "Who Made That" column in The New York Times concerns the built in pencil eraser. In 1858 Hymen Lipman put a rubber plug into the wood shaft of a pencil. An investor then paid about 2 million in today's dollars for the patent. This investor might have become very rich had the supreme court not ruled that all Lipmen had dome was put together two known technologies, so the patent was not valid. The question is where has this need for patents to be innovative gone? After all there is the Amazon one-click patent which, after revision, has been upheld. Microsoft Activesync technology patent seems to simply patent copying information from one place to another. In this modern day do patents promote innovation, or simply protect firms from competition?"
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Anti-Drone Clothing

fermion fermion writes  |  about a year and a half ago

fermion writes "Given that the Obama Administration now has the power to Terminate Americans on Demand, it might be time to think about defending ourselves from such a near term scenario. One might think that a Stinger would be the ideal defense, but radical gun control promoted by the liberal government makes that a difficult option at best. Therefore we are forced to execute a more passive defense in the form of anti-dron apparel from Adam Harvey. I am sure this will become the new little black dress."
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Linux forcibly installed on Congressman's computer

fermion fermion writes  |  about 2 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "I am sure most have heard about Michael Grimm, a US House of Representatives member from New York, who's campaign headquarters was vandalized. What has not been reported everywhere is that Linux was installed on one of his computer, erasing data in the process. Is this a new attack on democracy by the open source radicals, or it is just a random occurrence?"
Link to Original Source
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When Patents Attack

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "This American Life runs a story this week on Intelectual Ventures, a firm some consider the leader of the patent trolls . The story dwells into the origins of the term patent troll and the rise of the patent troll industry. Much time is spent presenting Intelectual Ventrues both as a patent troll firm and a legitimate business that allows helpless inventors to monetize patents. It is stipulated that Intellectual Ventures does not in fact sue anyone. It is also alleged that the Intellectual Ventures create many shell companies presumable to hid such activity. Intellectual Ventures is compared to a Mafia protection racket that may never actually burn down a business that does not pay the dues, does encourage such burning to occur."
Link to Original Source
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Flight 447 "Black Box" Decoded

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "An initial report has been released by the BEA concerning the details of the last minutes of Flight 447 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. According the report the autopilot disengaged and stall warning engaged at 2 hours 10 minutes and 5 seconds into flight. Less than 2 minutes later the recorded speeds became invalid. At 2 hours 14 minutes and 28 seconds, the recording stopped. The final vertical speed was recorded around 10,912 ft/min."
Link to Original Source
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Gaming and Real Assassinations

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 3 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Wall Street Journal has an article detailing the gaming life of Jared Lee Loughner. While it seems to avoid explicitly blaming gaming for the murders, it does appear to allude to a link. For instance "In the 7th grade, he and a friend, Alex Montanaro, began playing the multiplayer online games Starcraft and Diablo, which featured complex virtual worlds where players assume roles and play against other people around the globe, Mr. Montanaro said in emails over the weekend and Monday." Is the fact that he played a certain game in grade 7 in any relevant to his alleged shooting of a nine year old girl in 2011? The article further details his increasingly erratic online posting, which apparently inevitably leads to assassination. What is really depressing is that Education Week seems to make a directly link between utilizing online communication and expression of violent behavior.

 "

Link to Original Source
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Safara 5 the ultimate Ad Blocker

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Regster is reporting on the Safari 5 Reader. This feature, in the form of button marked "Reader" strips all ads, all branding, as well as consolidating content spread over several web pages into a single frame. Some say this is an attack on Google and others that will compete with the new iAds. Some say this is just a way to remove distractions that keep users from enjoying web content. What is clear is that this a bold move, one that makes the attack on flash seem tame. The race no longer seems about speed. It is nowabout using the HTML tags to render content in the most user centric manner."
Link to Original Source
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America Speaking Out

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Republican House Leadership has jumped on the social media bandwagon by creating American Speaking Out. On this site anyone in the world(all one has to do is enter the universally known 90210 postal code) can posit ideas, vote them up and down, and comment. Right now the top ideas are to stop the pork, roll back, reduce the military and tax churches. While the later two are rather excellent ideas, I am not sure what 'roll back' means. Perhaps repealing all amendments to constitution after #12. As far as stopping the pork, I doubt any representative would have a job if money was not sent back home on a regular basis."
Link to Original Source
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Android Store to Stop Selling Android Phones

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "In classic Monty Python style, Google has responded to the news of the imminent domination of the smartphone market by retreating. In a Google Blog post Andy Rubin writes that '[o]nce we have increased the availability of Nexus One devices in stores, we'll stop selling handsets via the web store..' He further states that the store has not met expectations and 'that many customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from'. As such Google wil 'offer Nexus One to consumers through existing retail channels'."
Link to Original Source
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Apple bought Intensi

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 4 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The New York Times claims that Apple has bought Intrinsity, the company allegedly behind the A4. The story is heavy on speculation, light on citations. Intrinsity may be the company that provides the technology for the A4. Intrinsity employees are changing thier Linkedin profile to list Apple as their employer. The Intrinsity website "appears to have pulled down." The only verification of the sale are the infamous "people familiar with the deal". How does this purchase, if it happened, relate to the rumored purchase of ARM?"
Link to Original Source
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Programmer cannot get a date, shoots up gym.

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The man who killed three women at a gym, and then himself, was evidently a frustrated analyst who could not get a date. The legend of the lonely geek living in the parents basement, alone, without success, without sex, is rampant on /.. Here is perhaps the more realistic example. An apparently successful person, with his own home, job, and a minimum of social skills,but not able to find another to be with. Was the lack of a sex life an excuse? As always, it is the quiet ones. A neighbor is quoted as saying ""I never saw any women over there, and he wasn't bad looking,I don't understand it. I just assumed he was gay.""
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Pre does not get US tethering either

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The Register is reporting that the Pre Dev Wiki has been sent a note asking it to stop discussing tethering. Evidently Sprint is none to eager to have users tether the game changing tetherable smart phone. The development forum is evidently eager to avoid lawsuits, so has rapidly agreed. Perhaps, like the iPhone, the Pre is going have a vigorous underground. What is interesting is that the Pre, like the iPhone(allegedly), can be tethered in the non-US domain, but even those customers are being denied apparently lawful information to satisfy the US exclusive agents."
Link to Original Source
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Wolfram|Alpha and the ToS

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "Growlaw has an article on how Alpha is different from Google. It seems that Wolfram reckons Alpha as an authoritative source of information and has created a special terms of service to insure that users do not violate the rights of the apparent legal entity known as Alpha. Wolfram claims that "in most cases the assemblages of data you get from Wolfram|Alpha do not come directly from any one external source. In many cases the data you are shown never existed before in exactly that way until you asked for it, so its provenance traces back both to underlying data sources and to the algorithms and knowledge built into the Wolfram|Alpha computational system" which is capable or generating unique copyrighted information. Wolfram states that lack or attribution is a violation of copyright and an act of academic plagiarism. Parents and teachers are warned that if the kiddies use the service and violate these terms the parents or teachers will be held responsible. This is not completely unreasonable, as Alpha is likely a unique creation, and deserves full legal protection. What might be a bit controversial is the attack on deep linking:"It is not permitted to use Wolfram|Alpha indirectly through another website that has created a large number of deep links to Wolfram|Alpha, or that automatically constructs links based on input that you give on that site, rather than on Wolfram|Alpha"."
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Apple Back on top.

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "Forrester Research published the Customer Experience Index 2008 Snapshot: PC Manufacturers. From the summary "Apple leads and Dell lags.". The NYT blogs the finding with specific data. Apple has a rating of 80%, MS Windows PC manufacturers are in the 60's, and Dell drags in at 58%. The blog suggests that MS outsourcing OS support to the manufactures might be a mistake, and they may want to explore direct support through retailers like WalMart. If MS were to be truly agressive, they might again follow Apple by implementing plans to open company stores. In this time of rising unemployment, I am sure there are many available MCSE that would be happy to help."
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G1 not so open

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The register reported that the open-to-anyone-and-any-application Android Store has terminated the availability of a popular tethering app. The Android Store, which was supposed to be devoid of a not-so-benevolent dictator preventing such useful apps from reaching the market, evidently caved to T-Mobile's displeasure at the bandwidth sucking app. The control of the store by T-Mobile appears to be real and material, as indicated by a quote from Google: "Google enters into distribution agreements with device manufacturers and Authorized Carriers to place the Market software client application for the Market on Devices. These distribution agreements may require the involuntary removal of Products in violation of the Device manufacturer's or Authorized Carrier's terms of service". It appears, as many suspected, the the G1, and by extension the Android stack, as the Authorized Carriers deem profitable."
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Jailing Kids for Fun and Profit

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "In the past students have felt especially abused when suspended from school for posting inappropriate material on facebook or sending threats through email and the like. Well imagine what Hillary Transue thought when she was put in jail for posting satirical content. In this case it turns out that the judge was paid by PA Child Care to incarcerate juveniles. PA Child Care, coincidently, ran the jails. The judges involved and have plead guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion, but have not admitted to any quid pro quo. Other judges have been appointed to deal with the cases of 5000 juveniles whose sentences are now in question. One presumes that the costs of such proceedings are not going to be fully covered by the Judges or PA Child Care. This might be a reminder to teens that the law is not as cut and dry as they think, and that what they think is tolerable behavior might in fact be criminal when viewed by a judge. It can be argued that a few days suspension is an appropriate slap on the wrist to discourage such behavior. If a further reminder is needed, the system that allowed these judges to trade children's lives for profit is still intact."
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Is this the end for Jobs at Apple?

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "The NYT is reporting that Steve Jobs is on medical leave until the end of June The reason cited is that the health issues are more complex than originally thought and these issues are a distraction for the company and employees. This seems to be standard press released language for things are worse than we thought, but hopefully by gettting him out of the spotlight the constant publicity that negatively effects stock price will go away. By my count, this means that Jobs will be away from Apple for 5 months. My question is will he be back, or is the Apple strategy for a peaceful and smooth transition of power. In other, is his replacement in fact an interim chief executive put in place while they perform a quiet search for a permanant CEO."
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Watchman is Fox property

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "According to the NYT a judge has decided that Fox owns the copyright to Watchman, not Warner. Is this an example of copyright law becoming so complex that companies can abuse the court system to prevent competition, or just extreme incompetence by Warner. In the current business environment, either explanation is believable. Yet it is unbelievable that seasoned producers would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create a movie that they can't even release. It seems the judge didn't want to bring this to a jury, and maybe daring Warner to appeal, or Fox to settle."
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Android and the roaming scam

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 5 years ago

fermion (181285) writes "If seems that Google Android and T-Mobile has not learned from the bad experience and wrath Apple incurred with roaming charges on the iPhone. It seems that application can switch to roaming and data operation without the user knowledge. Also, according to The Register, there is no way to switch off roaming. Given the backlash that Apple experienced over international roaming charges, one would think that T-Mobile would have built a phone to prevent such unexpected charges. On the other hand, while iPhone lives under the protective graces of Apple, the G1 is a much more laissez-faire business model, and perhaps has no reasonable expectations of such intervention to protect the user."

Journals

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representing numbers

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 7 years ago I notice a tag popping up around slashdot, namely hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0. The context of the tag is irrelevant to any civilized person, but I was intrigued with the prefix hex, presumably to indicate the number was base 16. I wonder if the use of the prefix, instead of the more traditional 0x, was due to the increasing distance between the technical elite and the hardware

As I am sure we all know, a digital computer represents all information by either an on or off state, which is typically represented numerically as 0 or 1, respectively. As the digital state is often implements as an analog current, there is often some firm threshhold value, above which the state is said to be on.

Therefore to represent a peice of information, such information must first be encoded in as a number, then the number encoded into a series of off or on states to represent that number. This is where binary notation comes from. Using only 0 an 1, in principle we can represent any number as easily as using the 0-9. For instance, using base 2, the number representing in decimal form as 4 would be 100. Perhaps a bit verbose, but quite adequate when one can complete thousands of operations every second.

The verbosity, however is a problem for humans. For instance, to represent the decimal number 9 requires us to write 1001. While a digital device has no problem with this, and humans working to hardwire code have no problems, as the amount of information to encode becomes greater, humans wish to have more information density.

Which is where Octal, or base 8 representation emerges. Octal notation groups three states, or bits, in one. In octal instead of only using the digits 0 and 1, we use 0-7. This means that to write the decimal number 7 instead of writing 0b111, we write 0o7, i which the 0o prefix means octal.

Octal was nice when bits were base of the computers, but soon information grew so much that we began to group bits together. The smallest traditional grouping of bits is the nibble, which contains 4 bits. This means the biggest number that can be held is 0b1111 or the decimal number 15. This lead to the idea that we might want a numbering system that can represent numbers up to decimal 15, and the hexadecimal system was used. In this system, digits go from 0-F. Therefore the decimal number 7 is written 0x7. The decimal number 15 is written 0xF, 0o17 or 0b1111. One can see that even though the computer does not care, it is easier for people.

Hexadecimal was quite used prior to the mid 80's. While programming tasks were easily handled through the alphanumeric keyboard, with minimal special keys, formatted text processing required copious use of the entry of special codes. Even in programming, it was useful to direct many function directly through the hardware using hex.

So, obviously, with the huge bit capacity, it is quite easy to see why we use hexadecimal to represent numerical values. What is not so obvious is why we represent using the longer form hex09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0 rather than 0x09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0.

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Beware of gifts with stange Apples?

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 10 years ago I love my Apple computers. I have a G4 tower in the back room. I have powerbook that I injured a while back but still serves me faithfully. I have a newton 2100 in my pack, a broken newton 2100 and another old newton in storage. I have a Mac Classic, a perfoma, and all manner of half assembled portables and desktops. I reluctantly gave up my Apple /// because of space considerations, and I regret it to this day.

It has been a strange ride over these 20 years. Shape tables on the Apple ][. A EPROM burner in another Apple ][ to program an EEPROM for use in a Z80 controller for flight. Printing WYSIWYG documents for the first time from a Mac to an imagewriter. Horrible fonts and resolution. Embarrassing. But such excitement to not have to embed the Epson codes directly into the AppleWriter document.

And then Macs that actually ran fast enough to do work. And then Macs with harddrives, separate monitors, expandable innards. Appletalk replaced with ethernet. And then SCSI gone and all my stuff had to be replaced with Firewire stuff.

But through all this time I have never felt betrayed. Until today. Yesterday I happily installed the MacOS update. I have complained a bit in the past week about the fact that they combined security and feature updates, and I hope they have learned from this experience, even though the probably have not, but i am over it. Sort of.

But today I noticed something strange. Moving advertisements on my web pages. Could it be that my preferences for images got messed up? No, checked my pref files everything as I left it. Could it be that more sites are manually changing images? Unlikely but i looked at the page source just to be sure. No, nothing there. The source for the web pages is essentially what it has been for these sites. Check for flash, try some scripts, then give up with a static images. So could it be Flash? I don't have flash on my computer. It eats up too much time. Do a search for the file, not there. Forgot where the file was stored, so i just go back to double checking preferences and the source of the web pages. Maybe I missed something. It sure looks like flash, though.

Finally get a brainstorm and go to the macromedia site. Yep, it starts playing a flash movie. I definitely have been infected by the annoyware virus. But how, and where it is? I finally find a web page with the directory location. It is in the library directory. Not the user one, but the main one. The one that needs administrator access. Find the file, check the date. It was the date and time I installed the MacOS update.

Now, i have no proof that the update came with a flash payload. I could have accidently installed it some other way. All I have is circumstantial evidence and i do not want to make false accusations. But the install time was during the time i was installing the update. I go through great pains not to install flash and avoid sites that require it.

On the other hand flash is becoming tricky, and someone may have set up a trojan that got it onto my computer. Could have been Apple could have been someone else.

And the only thing that the knowledge base lists is Safari enhancements. Which of course brings a whole separate set of problems, like what if I don't want to use Safari.

I am telling you. I am so close to getting a Intel piece of crap, installing Linux on it, and just running the command line with the occasional X for the rest of my life. It was not so bad when all we had was the command line.

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on moderation

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago "A right of free correspondence between citizen and citizen on their joint interests, whether public or private and under whatsoever laws these interests arise (to wit: of the State, of Congress, of France, Spain, or Turkey), is a natural right; it is not the gift of any municipal law, either of England, or Virginia, or of Congress, but in common with all other natural rights, it is one of the objects for the protection of which society is formed and municipal laws established." --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1797.

The following is some thoughts on altering the /. moderation system. I do not believe any of these ideas are novel or unique, but the application of these ideas may help with issues such as scalability and the promotion of long term discussions within an article posting. The main concepts in this modified moderation proposal are moving to labels instead of numbers for moderation, continuously variable starting moderation points based on karma, and non linear moderation scoring.

First, I believe /. should move to labels for moderation in leu of the current numbers. These labels could be 'horrible', 'unrated', 'default', 'fine', 'great', 'terrific', and 'super' , respectively corresponding to moderation of -1 to 5. The labels will need to be tweaked with the idea that labels will reflect the status of a comment. For instance, a current '1' comment would be unrated because this is the default posting for a logged in user. I do not use the karma labels to avoid confusion.

Underlying these labels would be an expanded, and scalable counter. To determine the range of the counter, one would set the increment for a category. If we select the increment to be 20, for instance, the counter would go from 0 to 101. A comment at 0 is 'bad', a comment at 101 is 'terrific', and everything else is evenly divided into groups of 20. For instance, the structure might look like
horrible 0
unrated 1-20
default 21-40
fine 41-60
great 61-80
terrif 81-100
super 101

In the discussion below I will assume that moderation counter starts at zero. I will also refer to the increment as defined above. As an aside, is feasible to make the increments nonlinear, and there are reasons to do this, but I believe the such functionally can be incorporated into the moderation procedure.

The next issue is the starting moderation based on Karma. Currently logged in users start at 1 and eventually get a point. If the user is subsequently very bad, they will lose the point. This system is effective, but imprecise. I feel it gives a new user excessive benefits, delays additional benefits until the user reaches top status, and does not quickly punish bad behavior. My suggestion is that anonymous users start at the low end of unrated, which in general is 1. All registered users would have their starting moderation calculated based on karma, as described below.

If we assume that the underlying karma count sets a neutral karma to zero and goes positive and negative with increasing and decreasing karma, we might calculate default moderation as

default_moderation=offset + karma*scale.

This equation has two variable. The first is offset, which is where we give logged in users a boost over anonymous users. For instance, if the offset is equal to the increment, a new logged in user will still start with 'unrated' comments, but a single moderation would guarantee the comment would become 'default'. The other variable is scale. To be consistent with the current system, this should cause a user with maximum karma to in the 'great' rating. This could be done by having each label change in karma add half the increment. Therefore, a karma of 'positive' and 'good' would make the moderation increasingly 'fine', while a karma of 'excellent' would have moderation in the middle of great. The application of this is that the default moderation is a continuous function based on karma, which we assume also changes continuously with user behavior.

Moderation itself should not change from the point of view of the moderator. The moderator will still choose a label and moderate. However, /. will now have fine control over the points awarded. For instance, each moderation might only award 3/4 of an increment. Or perhaps we want to encourage users to look for new good comments rather than just continue to moderated existing highly moderating comments, so we might only award 1/3 of an increment to any comment that is already 'terrific' Maybe we see that most comments posted in the first 5 minutes of an article are useless, so the moderators on those articles on get to award 1/3 of an increment until the comment reaches 'fine' status. Maybe we want to encourage moderators to look at new comments, so a moderator will only be able to award 1/4 increments to any comments that is past a certain time threshold. It may be decided that a funny comment is less valuable than an insightful comment, or an overrated tag is less valuable than a insightful tag. In summary, because moderators will still only have a certain number of moderations, regardless of the actual points awarded, the moderator can be discouraged from certain actions by making those actions less forceful.

There are several possible pitfalls in this proposal. First, the moderation of a comment will not necessarily lead to the change in moderation status for an article. This may confuse moderators. Second, communicating the variable moderation points may be prohibitively difficult. If such information is not communicated to user at the time of moderation, this proposal may not be an improvement over the current system. Third, an increased amount of computation may be necessary to display as moderation page. This increased load on the web-server may prove excessive.

A final comment on the '3 day limit' for moderation. I believe this limit is excessive and does not encourage the important activity of moderation. My suggestion is based on when the user logs into /. First, if a user does not log into /. within 24 hours of being awarded moderation points, the moderation points go back into the pool. If the user logs in within the 24 period, the user will then have 24 hours to use the points. If the points are not used in that period, they go back into the pool.

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out come the freaks

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago Dear is my friend--yet from my foe, as from my friend, comes good:
My friend shows what I can do, and my foe what I should.

--Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

I received an email recently about my sig. The email asked what was a freak. I wanted to answer that question in my journal. In addition, I also wanted to discuss why I chose to put Freaks in my sig instead of Fans.

First, what is a freak. If we look at the FAQ, we see that a freak is a person who has chosen you as a foe. This, in my opinion, is a much more significant event that another choosing you as a friend.

To get excessively philosophical, the act of choosing a foe is also an act of preparing for conflict. For some people this choice may be a petty expression of violence. However, for others it may a genuine declaration of the willingness to grow, learn and become a more complete person. As the quote above indicates, a foe can be the ideal way to discover what one should do. I hope to have the time to look at comments carefully enough to chose quality foes.

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negative moderations

fermion fermion writes  |  more than 11 years ago I have been meta-moderating a lot lately. It is interesting to see how people use their moderation points, especially in modding down a post. If we look at the section of the FAQ on how moderation works, we see that we are to concentrate on modding good posting up, while reserving our negative points for for spam, true trolls, and the like.

Yet once again I saw a perfectly reasonable post marked off-topic, and I had to mark it as unfair. It was not exactly on-topic, but it was a valid and useful reply to the comment. Why a moderator would waste points marking it off-topic is beyond me. Were there not enough good comments that day? Are there some whose only mission in life is to to promote personal agendas? I do not know.

I try very hard to limit my negative moderation to truly harmful posts(goatse, etc). It seems if a post relates incorrect information, that post will invariable attract comments that correct the error, and those replies will usually get modded higher than the original comments.

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