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California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

johnlcallaway So sad ... (232 comments)

... that we have to pay for features based on the lowest common denominator. Another law from the idiots in California that impact everyone, regardless of where they live.

Wish that San Francisco earthquake had been just a little bit stronger .. and sliced San Diego, LA and San Francisco into the ocean. Ok .. maybe not San Francisco, it's a pretty cool town. The other two are cesspools and I try to avoid them whenever I have to make trips that way.


Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills

johnlcallaway What BS (159 comments)

Following that logic, they should also be required to help pay for my network at home, part of the cost of my desktop, and my work clothes, since they have required me to have all three.

My compensation requirement when I look for a job is dependent upon my work requirements, I don't have to work for a company that won't pay for my internet connection, provide a support computer, or pay for business wear. I choose to work for the company I work for because they compensate me enough that I can take care of those requirements. I'm not one of those people that see 'free stuff' in these rulings. Instead, I see increased costs that will be passed on to the consumer.

Several years ago, a company paid for my relocation. Instead of having a list of onerous rules and requiring detailed record keeping, they gave me a flat fee based on my salary. Funny thing about that, I found the cheapest way to move and pocketed the rest. May or may not have saved the company money, but it sure made my life easier. And no one at the office had to deal with the paperwork, pouring over every receipt to make sure it was allowed. My guess is that the company found, in the long run, that it was cheaper to do it that way. It was their choice, their freedom to decide how to handle relocation. As most company benefits (including medical) should be. That's how a free market economy works, by providing choices and letting competition settle things. Companies with the best benefits/pay/work environment get the brightest and smartest. If someone works for a company with poor benefits/pay/work environment ...maybe it's their lack of marketable skills or motivation that keeps them there.

My company currently does provide support phones because some idiot in security won't let us use Touchdown on our Android phones to get our email. So they give me a useless piece-of-shit iPhone (small screen, no back button, can't install apps on it because of security). Which sits on my desk at home, plugged into a charger and never used. I setup Google voice to forward calls to my Android phone, and setup rules to forward emails from important people to my Android phone. The company spends $$ a month for phones for many employees that don't even use them. I'm can get an iPhone through my service provider, and they will pay for the monthly service if I choose to. But then I have to have a phone with fewer useful features than my Samsung S4, which I prefer (as do many ex-iPhone users that I know of).

Yet more bullshit rules from the land of nanny-government.

about a week ago

Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

johnlcallaway Define 'beat' (165 comments)

'Trumps' means there are a list of requirements and measurable facts. Since I haven't been to a library in years, they don't 'trump' Kindle for me.

The library may have more books, but as long as there are books I want to read on Amazon, it's kinda irrelevant. When I can carry a large selection of reference books and entertainment inside every device I have, Amazon wins. I'm sure both places offer items not offered by the other one. The library has rarely carried technical books for anything related to computers that was anything near current. I might be able to look at a book covering the history of computers, but it's doubtful they will have the latest Oracle or Java or iOS or Android development book for the latest release. I'm sure other people in other fields (medical, legal, etc) probably have similar issues with the library.

The library serves a tax-supported purpose by providing a place for those without means or skills the opportunity to read a wide variety of material and have access to a wide range of technical, educational, and self-improvement resources with assistance. It also provides a place for people who like books and can buy them, to not have to buy them. Saves building up stockpiles of dead trees in the basement.

But it only 'trumps' Amazon within a very constrained requirements list created by one person that identifies a small group of people that benefit from the library. A person that probably decided to prove that libraries are still relevant (they are) and wanted to justify that cause. While I agree her argument is valid when used to justify funding libraries, stating that libraries 'trumps' Kindle is a personal opinion and not a fact.

about two weeks ago

Giant Greek Tomb Discovered

johnlcallaway Re:meh (164 comments)

It is expensive and has low return trying to convert 95% (statistic made up) of a country's population to another standard. Both systems are taught both in school, and people choose to use the one that is most prevalent, although both units show up in many products. Both systems require rote memorization and can be confusing (deca/deci for example).

And of course, those in favor of the metric system often conveniently forget to mention that conversions are not all purely powers of ten. When dealing with data, it's often powers of 2, making conversion not so simple there either. And time is still difficult to deal with. It seems the advocates are willing to deal with some difficult conversion, but can't do math well enough in their head for others.

It may be simple for you to shift decimal points, but it's also rarely necessary to convert feet to yards, let alone inches to miles. No one needs to determine how many feet/hour or inches/second while they are driving. Try converting kilometers/hour to meters per second in your head, you can't just shift decimal points.

One conversion used the most by Americans is in cooking, converting cups to quarts or teaspoons to tablespoons. But even that is rarely used since it's pretty damn easy to measure out 4 cups instead of 1 quart. Doubling recipes is pretty easy, although some are fraction-challenged. Tripling or quadrupling can be difficult, but most rarely need to do it.

Probably the most difficult is converting square or cubic measurements, since those tend to gum up the works pretty well. Converting cubic inches to cubic feet, or cubic feet to cubic yards is cumbersome. When I want accuracy, I use the calculator that is on my phone.

Exact values probably aren't always necessary when converting between systems either It's pretty simple to estimate from one system to the other. One can multiply or divide by 2 to convert kilograms and pounds, a meter and a yard are pretty close, as are a liter and a pint. Convert Kilometers to miles is the hardest at 0.6, but it's pretty simple to convert miles to kilometers (add half again as much).

But we rarely have to do that in the US because everything is labeled in imperial units. If you are reading our stuff, learn to convert.

And the same goes for Americans reading your stuff. We no more need to cater to you than you need to cater to us.

about two weeks ago

Big Bang Actors To Earn $1M Per Episode

johnlcallaway Re:They are the rich (442 comments)

And the show really isn't that funny.

Penny has nice tits though.

Another reply from the 'I'm a nerd who lives in my mom's basement' crowd. Show ring a little too true for your tastes?? Do you really think coffee means coffee?? Have no social life?? Look forward to your trips to the comic book store???

Or is it just a little too much over your head that you don't get the jokes.

I personally find it hilarious, even though I suffer from sometimes feeling like parts of my life are being made fun of. I once told a girl who asked me back to her apartment for coffee that I prefer tea, and proceeded to go home. That stings a little bit whenever I see the episode about the guys not knowing that coffee doesn't always mean coffee.

about three weeks ago

Big Bang Actors To Earn $1M Per Episode

johnlcallaway Re:They are the rich (442 comments)

In some states, checks expire after 6 months, at which time the cash and name of the person issued must be turned over to the state. At that point, they are considered 'abandoned', and the state keeps a record of who it belongs to. The state publishes those names in newspapers, and now on web sites. I have received money myself from finding my name in a newspaper and contacting the state, it was a check I either never cashed or possibly never received.

Several years ago, I worked for a company in Maine that routinely had it's payroll audited by the state to make sure they were turning the funds over. There was a guy that worked on the shop floor that routinely did not cash his paycheck, the company was constantly reissuing him checks because they expired.

I don't know what happens if someone cashes a check that's been turned over to the state. I assume that when those funds are turned over, the check has a stop put on it. So while a bank might still initially accept it for deposit, it might be rejected by the issuing bank and cause all kinds of grief.

about three weeks ago

The CIA Does Las Vegas

johnlcallaway Or maybe ... (124 comments)

... most people really don't give a shit about what Snowden revealed. Most people already suspected it and didn't give a shit. A few privacy-fanatics cared and screamed a lot. I wasn't surprised by it, and understand how it's being used and am not terribly upset.

It's funny .. 60 years ago, when people went to the store, people loved it when the store owner stocked their favorite things because he knew they bought them. Everyone in the neighborhood watched our kids, and if little Johnny did something wrong, they told his parents. We all knew everyone, and news spread through town like wildfire. We had party lines that people could listen into our conversations without us knowing it. It was considered rude, but people still did it.

Sixty years later, everyone demands privacy. Google is evil if they scan our emails and provide ads for what we want. Cameras on the street corner are evil because we don't want to be watched. License plate scanners are an invasion of privacy and are just evil incarnate.

I get it that it's because it's the government or a large businesses instead of our neighbors or the store down the street. And the ability to do bad things with all that data exists.

But let's look at other things. Because of the government keeping private information, we now have a huge database of people convicted of sex crimes available telling anyone where they live. It doesn't make any difference how small their crime was, it's available for the rest of their life. No one seems to mind that invasion of privacy. We can go online and see what major contributions Bill Gates makes, or anyone that makes contributions over a certain amount. I can see how many times that house across the street has been sold, what they pay for property taxes, and what it's worth. License plate scanners routinely catch people without car insurance, I have been one of them (actually .. I did have it, it was a clerical error.) Everyone has a camera phone now, and anyone can have their picture taken with a time stamp and GPS location at any time.

Oh wait .. that's all OK because it's for the 'common good'. And 'transparent government'. Or because people love to take selfies.

We let the privacy genie out of the bottle decades ago, we've just gotten much better at it since then. The people whining are only whining about the lack of privacy for things they are sensitive about, and I'm sure take advantage of other aspects of loss of privacy and don't think twice about it because it doesn't affect them.

Yawn .. nothing new to see here. Move along.

about a month ago

Dropbox Head Responds To Snowden Claims About Privacy

johnlcallaway What idiocy (176 comments)

Anyone that posts anything on the Internet (i.e. on another person's computer and network) and demands privacy or security is a moron. You can ask .. but no one is obligated to give it to you. Becoming indignant or angry because they won't is just about the most self-centered and egotistical thing I can think of, thinking someone else owes you something. Why should they?? Because you demanded it?? What do you have to offer in return beyond shutting your mouth??

It's their decision and theirs alone. You want things private and secure, keep them on your own computer. Unplugged from any network.

Anything else is up for grabs.

about a month ago

States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

johnlcallaway When y ou find the other study ... (778 comments)

... the one that was done with a 'double blind' testing system, I'll pay attention to the results. Until then, there are far too many factors to establish any true cause/effect.

But I do know this ... living on a minimum wage salary has NEVER, in my entire 35 years in the labor force, been a 'living wage'. That's why most people learn new stuff and don't stay in it for more than a few months.

Or until they get motivated enough to find something else so they can move out of their mom's basement.

I have little sympathy for someone that can't find anything but a minimum wage job and then have to stay in it. I remember a few years ago when I saw a sign at a local fast-food place advertising a starting salary over $9/hour, a full $2 higher than the minimum wage at the time. When I looked behind the counter, I understood why, the staff was actually WORKING. The owner could afford the higher salary because he needed fewer people because they worked harder.

People with good attitudes and a willingness to learn don't make minimum wage for very long. People with limited skills who aren't very self-motivated do.

That's called 'competition' and it works very well. Subsidies (that is, paying more for something than it's worth) rarely work in the long term. They become crutches and excuses. The US has a long history of such failures .. student loans (increases tuition costs, created a price spiral, saddled thousands with high debt), housing subsidies (increased house prices and created a bubble), Cash for Clunkers (didn't do a damn thing), farm subsidies (can't get rid of the hidden tax that all US citizens that pay taxes pay for that ends up costing 50% of the population almost 3 times what the actual subsidy would be to them in terms of taxes and national debt), etc.

Too bad we haven't learned from these mistakes..

about a month ago

UN Report Finds NSA Mass Surveillance Likely Violated Human Rights

johnlcallaway And in other news ... (261 comments)

... the UN will continue to be inconsequential in any affairs other than sucking funds from wealthy countries and offering crazy world leaders a place to get publicity.

about a month ago

Geographic Segregation By Education

johnlcallaway And in other news ... (230 comments)

... people that make more money buy nice things, live in nicer houses, and send their kinds to nicer schools.

Someone actually spent money on this?? Go to Maine and look at old mill towns like Saco/Biddeford and Lewiston/Auborn. Mill towns, where the wealthy lived on one side of the river, and the mill workers lived on the other.

I would say it's obvious to most people and no study was needed, but I guess someone has to justify their wasted college education by getting paid with government subsidized studies so they can live in the nicer part of town.

about a month and a half ago

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

johnlcallaway Re:Supreme Court did *not* say corps are people .. (1330 comments)

Bzzzt!!! Wrong.

Individuals can be sued of fraud or criminal intent can be proven, not matter what protection the corporation has for it's assets. Martha Stewart went to jail because she lied under oath, not because she broke insider trading laws.

The same is true of corporations. If groups of people in a corporation conspire to dump waste into the environment, they can be sent to jail for it. Same goes for any other actions of a corporation.

about 2 months ago

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

johnlcallaway Re:A win for freedom (1330 comments)

It's a company. It's someone's choice to work there as well as someone's choice to offer them a job. Telling a company what benefits they have to offer is the one of the most un-American things I can think of. It wholly defeats the concept of capitalism and competition. This is the same shit that has caused half of Europe to become almost bankrupt by telling people things like when they have to retire and how many hours a week they are allowed to work. It's the same shit that has created socialist, entitlement riddled countries that can't afford half of their social programs.

Tell you what .. let's do this. Companies will stop contributing anything to the pool and let employees decide what coverage they want, which of course will set the amount of premiums they have to contribute. Then see what level of benefits they set. Do you honestly think they will spend the money for elective medications, like birth control?? And unlimited medical procedures?? And 100% coverage of everything?? Seems to me if quality health care is a right, then they should enable all of those things and pay the very high rates associated with it, just as they are expecting the company to do it.

But of course not, they will pick a number that is somewhat affordable, and accept the risks involved in the things they cannot afford.

It's easy spending another person or company's money, isn't it. It's tougher when it comes out of your own pocket.

If you want to depend on the government for your stuff, go ahead. Ask the people at the VA how well that worked. I prefer to be responsible and make my own decisions. I'll use government benefits if they are available and I'm eligible, but I'm not going to make long-term decisions assuming they will be there.

about 2 months ago

First Phone Out of Microsoft-Nokia -- and It's an Android

johnlcallaway Re:So what? (193 comments)

If the vast majority of people upgrade their phone every few years to a new model, the ability to upgrade the OS is irrelevant for that same vast majority of people since they get an upgraded OS on the new phone,

If most OS upgrades only offer small, incremental changes, the ability to upgrade the OS becomes unnecessary for the vast majority of users because they aren't really that important to most.

If phone hardware changes dramatically in newer models and you can only get new features because of new hardware, the desire to upgrade causes many to do so, and the need to upgrade the OS becomes irrelevant except when upgrading phones.

If people are willing to pay an extra $20/month to never have a phone that is more than one year old, the ability to upgrade the OS becomes irrelevant to the vast majority of users.

And no one cares about the few techies that stamp their feet and want OS upgrades immediately.

about 2 months ago

Chinese Gov't Reveals Microsoft's Secret List of Android-Killer Patents

johnlcallaway Re:Competition, Microsoft style (140 comments)

I think Apple is starting to be in the same boat. They had a coolness monopoly that many people used to make decisions based on a 'cool' factor rather than on usable features/functions. For instance, zooming on a web page was 'cool', even if it still wasn't practical to use the phone to view large numbers of web pages because of the small screen (pre-mobile web page world). My daughter snatched up on of the original iPhones right away, partly because she thought the zoom ability was cool. I stuck with my Android. Now, she has switched and vows never to go back.

After receiving an iPhone from work, it's amazing to me that anyone even buys them. It sits in my pocket, next to my S4, and is only used to view work email because of it's limited screen size, inferior built-in soft keyboards, and substandard/non-intuitive navigation features. (We are not allowed to install Touchdown and connect to the email servers, so they give us iPhones instead.)

Apple now thinks that getting into the 'connected' world is the way to go. They think that people will buy iPhones simply because of cool toys that can connect to bikes and golf clubs and such. It's kinda innovative, but like things all Apple, it's based on things other people are already doing. Just 'cooled up'. I wouldn't be surprised if they will own the patents and protocols and make it difficult for other companies to get in on it.

Meanwhile, Android will continue to be fragmented, which drives the ability for thousands of companies to complete and innovate.

Apple's only saving grace is their margin is so high they don't need market share.

They just need their iDrones to keep buying and drinking the Koolaid.

about 2 months ago

The Ethics Cloud Over Ballmer's $2 Billion B-Ball Buy

johnlcallaway The only losers are the players?? (398 comments)

Wow .. I wish I could be a loser to the tune of a million or two a year.

What a great opportunity to take something said in private, blow it all out of proportion, just to make a social statement. I hope I never become rich and famous and have to worry about someone illegally taping a private conversation and making it public so everyone can throw a hissy-fit. As long as I'm just a regular person, my special friends won't have an opportunity to blackmail me for something so ridiculous.

It is NOT illegal to be a racist. It is NOT illegal to have private racist thoughts. It is illegal to discriminate.

One can attack actions, but it is Orwellian to attack private comments. Everyone on here that whines about privacy should be shouting at the treetops against this invasion of privacy.

about 3 months ago

Apple Says Many Users 'Bought an Android Phone By Mistake'

johnlcallaway Re:It true !!!! (711 comments)

My 'mistake' was the other way, I was forced to get an Apple phone as part of my job, and I think it sucks. Fortunately, I don't have to use it much, just carry it and check email because they refuse to let Android phones connect to get mail. They would rather pay every month for a phone for a hundred people than spend $25 for Touchdown. Or let us even buy it ourselves and connect.

I could have given up my Samsung phone completely and bought my own iPhone, which the company would have paid for and then paid for my monthly service. I'd rather pay the $40/month for my Samsung phone that have to use an Apple phone. I find the interface sorely lacking compared to Android, the screen is tiny, and WTF ... no back button?? No Swype keyboard built in? No on-screen folders? Now I understand why when my daughter switched from her iPhone to her Samsung she vowed never to go back.

One of the worst phones I've ever used. I suppose it was great when it came out, but they seem to have been left behind in features and options.

Let the iDrone comments begin .....

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful?

johnlcallaway Any small business (158 comments)

My wife is a bookkeeper for a small non-profit. She asked me to help her automate some reports, which required me to know Windows, Crystal Reports, how to use window's task scheduler, and a fair amount of Oracle skill to hack the back end. As I was working on it, she mentioned that she wished she new SQL so she could use Crystal Reports better.

While I was working on the system, I noticed that the method they use to backup Oracle isn't a good, solid method. I'm going to try to understand what they are doing a little better, and if I still feel it's substandard, I might try to implement a more acceptable method.

If my wife had more IT skills, she could do a lot of these things herself. I already have significant accounting skills that I've earned over the years working with accounting departments, so it wouldn't take too much for me to get an accounting technical degree and become a bookkeeper.

So while I think there are many places where IT skills come in handy, any person expecting to make an IT-like salary doing so will probably be disappointed. And I doubt if I would be very challenged in a job where many of the tasks are simple data entry tasks, with only occasional needs for higher levels of skills.

All that being said, I have contemplated getting an accounting degree and provide accounting services when I retire in 5-10 years. It's something that I can do part time, doesn't require the huge investment in keeping up-to-date like being in IT or being a CPA. But I doubt if I'll be able to maintain the same salary/benefit level that I do today. So it's a two edged sword, I can leverage my IT skills to provide better accounting services than some, but I'll never be able to justify the same salary unless I become a CPA.

Not a problem if I'm retired and have retirement income that I'm only interested in supplementing. Or I have paid off my house, credit cards, and any other debt and have reduced my income needs significantly.

I think whether or not someone can leverage an IT background into a new job depends on a lot more than just learning a new trade.

about 3 months ago

NSA Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images

johnlcallaway Only a fool ... (136 comments)

... posts pictures on the web and expects them to be private.

Only a moron would find it surprising that government agencies aren't looking at them.

about 3 months ago

Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Would Not Get a Fair Trial – and Kerry Is Wrong

johnlcallaway Why should anyone get bail ... (519 comments)

... that has proven to be a flight risk?? What, on his 'word' that he'll show up in court?? His personal guarantee that if the trial starts to go the wrong way, he won't take off again??

Snowden will get a fair trial, and then be thrown in jail for the crimes he has already confessed publicly to doing.

about 3 months ago



Google removes guns and ammo from Google Shopping

johnlcallaway johnlcallaway writes  |  more than 2 years ago

johnlcallaway writes "Google has decided to remove guns and ammo from it's Google Shopping system. From the article:
Google sent out an email to Google Adwords customers saying that they are going to pull all Google Shopping results for guns, ammunition, gun optics and gun accessories (Shopping results, not general search results).

I tried 'rifle sling' and was able to get results. But 'beretta' and 'ruger' yielded nothing. I'm not sure what reason they have, part of the letter sent to vendors talks about safety and legal items, yet knives and cricket bats still show up, and the last time I checked, people can kill other people with those items. And I think guns and ammo are legal in all 50 states, to varying degrees.

So what is the real reason?? Something as innocent as an over-reaction to complaints from users about accidental display of gun related ads maybe?? Or someone just forcing their beliefs on everyone else?"

Link to Original Source

Google does not hand tune search rules

johnlcallaway johnlcallaway writes  |  more than 6 years ago

johnlcallaway (165670) writes "Cnet has this short article about a google fellow blog. Amit Singhal posts an introduction to Google ranking and points out three Google philosophies:
  • Best locally relevant results served globally.
  • Keep it simple.
  • No manual intervention.

Which begs the question ... if an algorithm is hand-tuned, is that manual intervention?? Amit answers that question this way.

The second reason we have a principle against manually adjusting our results is that often a broken query is just a symptom of a potential improvement to be made to our ranking algorithm. Improving the underlying algorithm not only improves that one query, it improves an entire class of queries, and often for all languages. I should add, however, that there are clear written policies for websites recommended by Google, and we do take action on sites that are in violation of our policies or for a small number of other reasons (e.g. legal requirements, child porn, viruses/malware, etc).



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