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The Great Taxi Upheaval

jfruh we're missing the METERS (218 comments)

The meters on traditional cabs may sometimes be tinkered with, but that's illegal, and in the vast majority of cases they're accurate and legally binding. Whereas with the new wave of rideshare apps there's no indication of what charges you're reacking up until you arrive. You can get an estimate to start with on at least some of the apps but it's not binding, and especially when surge pricing is in effect you can end up with large and unexpected charges that are difficult to predict.

I use Uber and Lyft a lot, and I'm the first to admit that traditional taxis brought this on themselves, by often refusing to take credit cards and by never adopting a convenient method of hailing a cab for the increasing pool of people who use smartphones. But traditional rules around taxis were put in place for a reason, and meters in particular were created and regulated to protect consumers against arbitrary price-gouging.

about a month and a half ago
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Proposed SpaceX Spaceport Passes Its Final Federal Environmental Review

jfruh Why do they need their own spaceport? (40 comments)

Out of curiosity, what do they need their own spaceport for, especially if (as an earlier poster notes) they only intend to launch about once a month? Are there constraints on the use of launchpads at Cape Canaveral, where there's already been a great deal of investment in building launchpads, support structures, etc.?

about 4 months ago
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Taiwan Protests Apple Maps That Show Island As Province of China

jfruh Isn't this what the Taiwanese believe as well? (262 comments)

Both the government of the People's Republic of China (which controls the mainland) and the government of the Republic of China (which controls Taiwan) believe that Taiwan is a part of China. The two just disagree about who China's rightful government is. I realize that over the past 60 years Taiwan has grown more and more self-contained and has become a de facto state independent of China, but in theory there's nothing either side should object to in portraying Taiwan as part of China.

about a year ago
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How Big Data Is Destroying the US Healthcare System

jfruh this is banned starting next year (507 comments)

Kind of bizarre that this whole jeremiad seems to ignore the fact that the Obamacare reforms ban exactly this practice starting in 2014? This is responsible for a lot of the disruptions to the market we're seeing now -- some young healthy people are going to be paying more, and some older sicker people are going to be paying less. (The other disruptions are that some of the old policies had coverage caps that wouldn't have covered expensive catastrophic illnesses; that's also banned, and their replacements are more expensive.)

about a year ago
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Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Private Business Will Not Open the Space Frontier

jfruh SpaceX is impressive, but... (580 comments)

...to say that it's an example of free enterprise in space is laughable. The company's most high-profile missions -- the Dragon capsules to and from the ISS -- are fully paid for by NASA. SpaceX is essentially a government contractor. It's "profitable" because the government is paying it do things (and because it can do those things more efficiently than the government could itself, for a variety of structural reasons). So, yeah, I have no doubt that Elon Musk could set up a Mars colony if the U.S. government paid him to do it. I'm just not sure that really constitutes "private business" doing the job.

1 year,21 days
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Transport Expert Insists 'Don't Dismiss Wacky Hyperloop'

jfruh 10% of the capacity of high-speed rail (385 comments)

An actual transit engineer crunches the numbers here:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/19848/musks-hyperloop-math-doesnt-add-up/

And finds that while the journey for individuals may be faster, the system as a whole would have one-tenth the capacity (i.e., the ability to move people in numbers) than the planned high-speed rail system. You could solve this problem by building 10 times as many tubes, of course, but that would eliminate the 90% cost savings Musk is touting.

The radically reduced travel times vs. HSR are also deceiving. The maps Musk released show the system travelling from the fringes of the Bay Area to the fringes of the LA area, because it's hard/expensive/impossible to get land for the straightaways you'd need for the project within densely built up urban areas. To get from San Francisco to the hyperloop station, or from the hyperloop station to downtown LA, you'd have to switch to local transit or drive, which will double or triple travel time. Not coincidentally, must of the construction and expense that adds to HSR's very high price tag will come in SF and LA urban areas, since that system goes from downtown to downtown.

about a year ago
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Microsoft Slashes Prices On Surface

jfruh Re:Better idea - inform the consumer (330 comments)

Right now MS adverts for the surface are nothing more than hipster dipshits dancing on a boardroom table and spining the Surface around ... MS can't act like Apple.

iPad and iPhone ads are actually pretty good about showing you in succinct ways what you can do with the product. They're usually made up of quick, targeted clips of apps in use. It's kind of flabbergasted me that Microsoft hasn't done the same thing with their TV ads, especially when it comes to Office. It's almost as if their marketing dept. came to the conclusion that "We have to fight Apple on their own terms" without actually sitting down to watch how Apple markets its products.

about a year ago
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How the Syrian Electronic Army Hacked The Onion

jfruh Re:I read the Onion, I thought it was a joke (91 comments)

This is wildly incorrect. You could tell form their posts that the Syrians knew exactly what the Onion was and were actually writing Onion-style headlines to promote their point of view. "UN admonishes Syria for getting in way of Jewish missles," that sort of thing.

about a year ago
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Surface Pro Sold Out; Was It Just Understocked?

jfruh for the love of god, why? (413 comments)

It's a lap-burning battery-sucking brick with processing power to rival a laptop. That's the type of tablet I want.

You and very few other people! I mean, what's the point, exactly? Why not get a similarly light ultrabook? The whole idea of a tablet is that it's light, the batterly lasts all day, and the UI is oriented around touch. I mean, there are things about the iPad that drive me nuts (particularly file-handling, or rather the way it tries abstract away file-handling completely) but it gets all that right. Do you really want something as heavy as a laptop with a laptop-focused OS, but with no keyboard?

about a year and a half ago
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Forbes 2013 Career List Flamed By University Professors

jfruh fundamental misunderstanding of what academics do (370 comments)

The problem is that many non-academics believe that the primary job of college professors is teaching undergraduates, and so they see any time not in the classroom as "time off" (never mind that the ratio of classroom prep time to classroom time can approach 1:1 if you really care about doing it right). In some institutions this is much of what college professors do, but in most schools that have any pretentions of being a research institution, academics are expected to produce publishable scholarship. Scientists and engineers spend much if not most of their time in the lab; humanities profs tend to work less collaboratively, but still spend a lot of hours reading, researching, and writing in whatever their field is. Most schools will give lip service to the idea that working with students is the most important thing, but in reality most of the incentives are geared towards producing quantifiable amounts of research (so many books, so many published articles, etc.). Far from having semester breaks "off," professors often use this time to focus more intently on their research, and sabbatical years are generally used to polish off major works of scholarship. On the surface, it can seem like this is work you're doing for you rather than for your job -- after all, it's your name on the book, and you take your reputation with you if you jump to another school -- but this work is one of the university's primary missions, and it's what they're paying you to do, as it reflects back on htem.

It's also worth nothing that in those schools where teaching undergrads really is the primary mission, professors spend much more time in the classroom than the stereotype discussed in the Forbest article (i.e., 3 or 4 classes a semester as opposed to the two typical of a research institution).

Finally, there's an awful lot of diversity within academia as to what professorial workload is like. In particular, more and more academics are being hired on interm or adjunct bases and end up spending a lot more time in the classroom for a lot less money than what tenured and tenure-track profs get. The irony is that the way to get onto the tenure track is to publish impressive research, but the lower-level jobs often don't allow you the time to do it.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Facebook, Twitter For Business, Is It Worth the Privacy Trade-Off?

jfruh Yes, and use a one-time-only address (158 comments)

Having a social media presence is pretty crucial to doing the sort of freelance work you're describing, since so much of how you get business happens via word of mouth (and so much of "word of mouth" happens on social media).

One of the simplest things you can do to protect your privacy is to create an email addres that you *only* use for social media accounts (like, a special gmail address that just forwards mail to your regular adress, or maybe facebook@yourdomain.com if you own your own domain). This rather horrifying article from the WSJ about the way that social media tracking work makes clear that your email address is a big part of how your identity is tracked online. If they can't match the email address you use for your Facebook login with any other aspects of your online identity, you have some protections.

If you're using them strictly as a business tool, I wouldn't worry too much about photos -- I do think it's helpful to have a photo of yourself, especially in a one-to-one business like freelance photography. You can set your Facebook account so other people can't tag you in their photos.

about 2 years ago
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How Websites Know Your Email Address the First Time You Visit

jfruh Wall Street Journal has more details (184 comments)

The Wall Street Journal had a big article about this practice, which is not new and is fully mainstream among U.S. companies. The article contains this COMPLETELY AMAZING quote" "Dataium [a company that facilitates this tracking] said that shoppers' Web browsing is still anonymous, even though it can be tied to their names. "

about 2 years ago
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Why Can't Industry Design an Affordable Hearing Aid?

jfruh Re:Because it's a medical device. (549 comments)

But in the end it's because the manufacturers have figured out what the highest price an average insurance company will pay...

This actually isn't true, at least in the United States. Very few health insurance plans pay for hearing aids, and I don't believe their included in the mandated coverage under the ACA either.

about 2 years ago
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Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ Scores In the Twenty-First Century

jfruh Re:Definition of "smart" (421 comments)

Sorry this is uncited, but I remember reading about an IQ test that western researchers tried to give to residents of a rural African village sometime in the mid-to-late 20th century. Most of the villagers were illiterate, so the crux was developing a test that didn't involve reading or writing. One of the test items involved a bunch of abstract shapes that had been molded out of clay; the villagers were told to match the shapes that "went together." Most of them "failed" this part of the test, because the researchers' definition of "passing" would be to match up shapes that looked alike, whereas the villagers tried to interpret the shapes as real objects and group them functionally, e.g., they matched spherical objects that looked like fruit to long, thin objects that looked like knives.

about 2 years ago
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AT&T Promises To Expand LTE To More US Markets

jfruh Re:How about percentage of the LAND AREA? (105 comments)

The whole POINT of wireless is that you can use it when you're ON THE ROAD, somewhere OUT OF A CITY, or otherwise anywhere but parked at home or the office. The carriers seem to have lost track of that.

Er, you realize that the vast majority of people, even when they're on the road and out of their home/office, are going other places where people live, right? Usually in their own city? For most people, I'd wager that the huge majority of their cell phone calls are made within a half-hour drive from their house.

about 2 years ago
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The Nation Is Losing Its Toolbox

jfruh revealing conversation with my stepfather (525 comments)

I had a conversation with my step-father a few months ago (he's 71) when he was talking about how when he was a teenager and young adult he used to tinker with his cars all the time, trying to squeeze a bit more performance out of it. Now, of course, he never opens his car's hood. "Do you miss it?" I asked him. "Of course not," he said. "Those cars were garbage. They lasted half as long as the new models, and the reason we were always tinkering with them is that stuff went wrong with them so often that you couldn't afford to take it to the mechanic for every little thing."

more than 2 years ago
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It Costs $450 In Marketing To Make Someone Buy a $49 Nokia Lumia

jfruh Re:Subsidized price (363 comments)

"Windows" and "Microsoft" are not positive brands. You attach "Windows" to something, and people immediately think of their home PC. That is not a good thing given how awful the average home PC is.

Notice that in Nokia's big first wave of ads for the Lumia (the "beta testing is over" ads with Chris Parnell, aka 30 Rock's Dr. Spaceman), nobody ever says the words "Microsoft" or "Windows".

more than 2 years ago
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Data Center Staff Will Sleep Among the Racks For London Olympics

jfruh I'm sorry, this is ridiculous (210 comments)

There's such a fucked-up culture, particularly in tech, that you aren't hard-core unless you're sacrificing your life and health for work. It's a two-week event: would it kill the employer to pay a bit more to bring on extra staff to work the overnight shift?

more than 2 years ago
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Television Next In Line For Industry-Wide Shakeup?

jfruh TV is not about picture quality (381 comments)

If TV is about picture quality, why does my wife watch Modern Family on the 15-inch screen on her laptop in our office and not on the 40-inch HD TV we have downstairs in the living room? Oh, right, because it's super easy for her to legally watch episodes whenever she wants via ABC's Web site in a browser, whereas doing so on our TV varies between "a pain in the ass" and "impossible."

The company that solves this problem will make millions, and it won't be a company that's convinced that all people want is ever-sharper video.

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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Ex-Nokia Staffers At Microsoft Brace For Wave Of Layoffs

jfruh jfruh writes  |  2 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "As Microsoft's planned mass layoffs — which were announced months ago though no details as to exactly who will be laid off were clear at the time — kick into high gear, it is looking more and more like former Nokia staffers will be feeling the brunt of the purge. Rumor is that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella never thought the Nokia merger was a good idea inthe first place, and may be looking to get out of the handset business Microsoft so recently got into."
Link to Original Source
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College Students: Want To Earn More? Take A COBOL Class

jfruh jfruh writes  |  3 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "With a lot of debate over the value of a college education, here's a data point students can use: at one Texas college, students who took an elective COBOL class earned on average $10,000 more a year upon graduation than classmates who hadn't. COBOL, dropped from many curricula years ago as an outdated language, is tenaciously holding on in the industry, as many universities are belatedly starting to realize."
Link to Original Source
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Facebook Leads Coalition To Make Open Source Easier For Corporations To Use

jfruh jfruh writes  |  3 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Open source code are used by just about every large organization in existence, but sometimes it's difficult to sync up the ad hoc nature of open source project management with the needs of large companies. Now Facebook is spearheading a group called TODO, with sign-on from other industry giants, to help make open source easier to manage. TODO will help identify actively maintained open source projects that are ready for prime-time use, and also exhange best practices among members."
Link to Original Source
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The Weird Cell Phones Of 2004

jfruh jfruh writes  |  4 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "2014 may be the golden age of smartphones, as handset companies have a handle on what people want and are selling it to them by the million. Ten years ago, though, the landscape was weirder and more interesting, with a host of Asian handset manufacturers trying to one up each other on new and sometimes bizarre features. Offerings ranged from the ahead-of-their-times (TV on your phone ... via a satellite connection) to the laughable (a phone you could hold against your forehead to take your temperature)."
Link to Original Source
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HP Pleads Guilty To Bribing Russian Officials

jfruh jfruh writes  |  5 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Hewlett-Packard has admitted in a U.S. court that its Russian subsidiary paid millions in bribes to Russian officials in order to win a contract. The scheme involves selling HP products to a reseller and then buying them back, with money shuffled through various shell corporations and proceeds spent on 'luxury automobiles, expensive jewelry, clothing, furniture and various other items' by Russian officials. Ironically, the contract HP was going for was with the Russian federal prosecutor's office."
Link to Original Source
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Matrox Returns With Graphic Card That Can Drive Six 4K Displays

jfruh jfruh writes  |  5 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "If you were a gamer in the '90s, you remember the time when owning a Matrox Millennium card meant you were hardcore. Since then, the company has retreated into specialized niches, supporting high-end applications on desktops and owning only a tiny market share, but it's making a bold bid for a comback: a passively cooled AMD-based graphics card that can support up to six 4K displays simultaneously."
Link to Original Source
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HP Buys Cloud Provider, Gets Marten Mickos To Head Its Cloud Division

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about a week ago

jfruh (300774) writes "In 2010, HP tried to buy its way into the analytics game by shelling out billions for Autonomy, a deal that was a famous disaster. But that isn't stopping the company from making big buys: it will be buying Eucalyptus, a cloud provider headed by ex MySQL AB CEO Marten Mickos, and bringing Mickos in to head the new HP Cloud division."
Link to Original Source
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Verizon To Roll Out Mobile TV Service In 2015

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about a week ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Remember when Intel was going to be the next big TV provider, but then realized that was hard and sold the business to Verizon? Well, Verizon is announcing what it's doing with it: a "mobile TV service" that will bring the big four broadcast networks plus "custom channels" to subscribers. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was light on details, but said that the service wouldn't compete traditional pay TV offerings like Verizon's own FiOS, which probably means that it will be restricted to mobile devices only."
Link to Original Source
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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about a week ago

jfruh (300774) writes "If you send an email to support-de@google.com, Google's German support address, you'll receive an automatic reply informing you that Google will not respond to or even read your message, due to the large number of emails received at that address. Now a German court has ruled that this is an unacceptable response, based on a German law saying that companies must provide a means for customers to communicate with them."
Link to Original Source
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Top EU Court: Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Publishers' Permission

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about a week ago

jfruh (300774) writes "The top European court has ruled that libraries have the right to digitize the contents of the books in their collections, even if the copyright holders on those books don't want them to. There's a catch, though: those digitized versions can only be accessed on dedicated terminals in the library itself. If library patrons want to print the book out or download it to a thumb drive, they will need to pay the publisher."
Link to Original Source
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Tablet Sales Poised To Decline For The First Time Ever

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Tablets have been the hottest product category in tech over the past five years, but a China-based analyst focused on the LCD supply chain thinks that's all about to change. WitsView predicts that tablet shipments will drop 1.8 percent this year compared to last year, and that conventional laptops will see an uptick in sales. Are tablets the new netbooks?"
Link to Original Source
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Study: Heartbleed Flaw Was Unknown Before Its Public Disclosure

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "When the devastating Heartbleed flaw was publicized earlier this year, there was a lot of concern that the NSA and other security agencies had been exploiting it for years. But a new academic study concludes that the first people to discover the flaw were the ones who publicized it, and that it hadn't been used in the wild before that point."
Link to Original Source
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Wearable Tech's Achilles Heel: Battery Life

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "In a few hours, Apple is probably going to announce an iWatch or some other form of wearable tech. But the previously most anticipated wearable is already here — the stylish Moto 360 smartwatch — and it ludicrously needs to be charged more than once a day. It may be that battery life will emerge as the most important aspect of the wearable fight. Jawbone is tweaking the algorithms its UP fitness tracker uses in order to reduce power consumption, for instance."
Link to Original Source
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Chinese Man Sues State-Owned Cell Phone Company For Blocking Google

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "China is notorious for censoring the Internet for its citizens, and access in the country became particularly spotty last year as the government tried to block any commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Tiannamen Square massacre. But now one Chinese man is striking back through the courts. A 26-year-old legal practitioner is suing his cell phone company, the government-owned China Unicom, and demanding a refund for periods in which he was unable to access Gmail or Google's Hong Kong search page."
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Microsoft Takes Down Slideshow-Building Tool After Getty Images Lawsuit

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Slideshows are an increasingly popular (and, for publishers, lucrative) web content genre. So why not automate their production? Microsoft had a beta tool that was part of Bing Image Search that did just that, but took it down in the face of a lawsuit from Getty Images. It turns out that, unlike a human web content producer, Bing couldn't distinguish between images publishers have the rights to use and images they didn't."
Link to Original Source
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Salesforce.com: Business Apps For Wearables Are The Next Big Thing

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Does the idea of a smartwatch with "Clock In" and "Clock Out" buttons fill you with techo-efficiency glee or Orwellian panopticon dread? Either way, if you believe Salesforce.com, business apps for wearable devices like smartwatches and Google Glass are going to be a very important part of those ecosystems in the immediate future. Of course, Salesforce is investing resources in that area, so you'd expect them to say that."
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