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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 two weeks 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 3 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 10 months 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 10 months 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.

about a year ago
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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.

1 year,3 days
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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 a year and a half 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 a year and a half 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."

about 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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Simple.TV Lets You Share DVR'd Content With Friends: When's The Crackdown?

jfruh jfruh writes  |  yesterday

jfruh (300774) writes "Simple.TV is a DVR for over-the-air television programs with a lot of nifty functionality, and it just gained a new one: the ability to share recorded content with friends over the Internet. The question is, how long will media companies tolerate the ability to stream media to other people, even media that arrived for free over the publicly owned airwaves?"
Link to Original Source
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Chinese National Indicted Over Boeing Hacks

jfruh jfruh writes  |  2 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Su Bin, a Chinese citizen arrested in Canada, has been indicted over a series of hacks of Boeing's network in which documents pertaining the C-17 military aircraft and F-22 and F-35 fighter planes were stolen. Su allegedly communicated with hackers in China to direct the attacks using free Gmail accounts, excerpts from which were included in FBI affidavits on the case."
Link to Original Source
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British Spy Agency Ran Port Scans On Entire Nations

jfruh jfruh writes  |  2 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "As part of its so-called "Hacienda" program, the British spy agency GCHQ ran port scans for vulnerabilities across the networks of at least 27 entire countries, a German news site reveals. The site also reported that the Canadian spy agency CSEC has indentified a number of computers it could take over and use as operational relay boxes to launch attacks."
Link to Original Source
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Samsung Buys Kickstarter-Funded Internet Of Things Startup

jfruh jfruh writes  |  4 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "In September of 2012, SmartThings took to Kickstarter with the promise of delivering an "Internet of things" package to backers, including a hub device that would control various home gadgets via the user's smartphone. They aimed to raise $250,000. They got $1.2 million. And now they've been bought by Samsung for a reported $200 million, as the South Korean electronics market tries to get a foothold into this emerging market."
Link to Original Source
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Dozens Of US Tech Firms Violating Privacy Promises To EU Citizens

jfruh jfruh writes  |  5 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Since 2000, many U.S. companies have signed on to the voluntary EU Safe Harbor framework, agreeing to treat the personal data of European citizens with more care and privacy than they otherwise would. The problem, as one might expect from an entirely voluntary agreement that runs against a company's finacial interests, is that many of the companies are simply ignoring their own promises. Violators include Adobe, AOL, and Salesforce.com."
Link to Original Source
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How Seven Forward-Thinking Countries Are Teach Kids To Code

jfruh jfruh writes  |  5 days ago

jfruh (300774) writes "In South Korea, programming becomes a required subject for middle schoolers starting this year. In the UK, all state school students will need to learn to write algorithms in two languages by age 11. These are just two countries that are making a dedicated effort to inculcate a coding culture into their children, but there are a more across the world."
Link to Original Source
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DEFCON's Latest Challenge: Hacking Altruism

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about a week ago

jfruh (300774) writes "A casual observer at the latest DEFCON conference in Las Vegas might not have noticed much change from last year — still tons of leather, piercing, and body art, still groups of men gathered in darkened ballroons furiously typing commands. But this year there's a new focus: hacking not just for the lulz, but focusing specifically on highlighting comptuer security problems that have the potential to do real-world physical harm to human beings."
Link to Original Source
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DARPA Wants To Kill The Password

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Many security experts agree that our current authentication system, in which end users are forced to remember (or, more often, write down) a dizzying array of passwords is broken. DARPA, the U.S. Defense Department research arm that developed the Internet, is trying to work past the problem by eliminating passwords altogether, replacing them with biometric and other cues, using off-the-shelf technology available today."
Link to Original Source
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What Do You Do When Your Mind-Numing IT Job Should Be Automated?

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Not everyone in tech has a job like Homer Simpson, who's been replaced at various times by a brick tied to a lever and a chicken named Queenie. But many IT workers have come up against mind-numbing, repetitive tasks that probably could be automated. So: what to do about it? Well, the answer depends on how much power you have in an organization and how much your bosses respect your opinion."
Link to Original Source
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Whatever Happened To Discrete Laptop GPUs?

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "A few years ago, PC makers were falling all over each other to provide discrete GPUs in laptops that would help rival the video power of desktop machines. Today, most laptops for sale just go with integrated graphics. What happened? One possibility involves the social lives of gamers, who were the target market for such machines: LAN parties are largely being replaced by group internet gaming, making portability irrelevant."
Link to Original Source
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Lawsuit Against NetSuite Over 'Manifestly Unusable' Software Dismissed

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "NetSuite faced a potentially ugly situation in which one of its own customers sued because they said they had been bamboozled by aggressive salesmen into buying "manifestly unusable" software. The lawsuit has been settled out of court, but the message that software companies should be anxious about, according to one analyst, is that "in some cases the only way you can get a vendor's attention is to bring in a lawyer.""
Link to Original Source
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Ex-Autonomy CFO: HP Trying To Hide Truth

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "The fallout from HP's Autonomy acquisition keeps getting more dramatic. Autonomy's ex-CFO is trying to block the settlement of lawsuits that arsoe the botched deal, claiming that HP is trying to hide its "own destruction of Autonomy's success after the acquisition." HP hit back, saying the ex-CFO "was one of the chief architects of the massive fraud on HP that precipitated this litigation.""
Link to Original Source
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Looking For A Tech Job? Don't Just Sell Yourself: Market Yourself

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about two weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Most techies break out into hives at the sound of the word "marketing". But when looking for work, you need to market yourself — not just selling yourself, but letting potential employers know you exist, so they come to you."
Link to Original Source
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Critics To FTC: Why Do You Hate In-App Purchasing Freedom?

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about three weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "The FTC has moved aggressively recently against companies that make it too easy for people — especially kids — to rack up huge charges on purchases within apps. But at a dicussion panel sponsored by free-market think tank, TechFreedom, critics pushed back. Joshua Wright, an FTC commissioner who dissented in a recent settlement with Apple, says a 15-minute open purchase window produced "obvious and intuitive consumer benefits" and that the FTC "simply substituted its own judgment for a private firm's decision as to how to design a product to satisfy as many users as possible.""
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Judge: US Search Warrants Apply To Overseas Computers

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about three weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "Investigators in a criminal case want to see some emails stored on Microsoft's servers in Ireland. Microsoft has resisted, on the grounds that U.S. law enforcement doesn't have jurisdiction there, but a New York judge ruled against them, responding to prosecutors' worries that web service providers could just move information around the world to avoid investigation. The case will be appealed."
Link to Original Source
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Japan: Still At The Forefront Of Tech Innovation

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about three weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "The rapid rise of Japan's high-tech sector in the 1970s and '80s prompted widespread surprise and more than a little anxiety in the West, with many American sci-fi writers and movie makers depicting a Japanese-dominated near future. The country's economy entered a seemingly permanent recession in the 1990s and it was soon eclipsed by China as the world's #2 economy and source of Western fears about Asian dominance. But Japanese tech companies and enginners keep on innovating in areas ranging from airplanes to tuna."
Link to Original Source
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Programmers: Why Haven't You Joined The ACM?

jfruh jfruh writes  |  about three weeks ago

jfruh (300774) writes "The Association for Computing Machinery is a storied professional group for computer programmers, but its membership hasn't grown in recent years to keep pace with the industry. Vint Cerf, who recently concluded his term as ACM president, asked developers what was keeping them from signing up. Their answers: paywalled content, lack of information relevant to non-academics, and code that wasn't freely available."
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