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New Usage-Based Insurance Software Can Track Drivers Using Smartphones

markdavis Good driving is not grandma driving (137 comments)

>"in order to offer good driver incentives"

You can't determine if someone is a "good driver" from a phone. PERIOD. Speed, G-forces, where you are driving, when you are driving, NONE OF THAT determines if you are

1) Leaving reasonable following distance
2) In control
3) Alert and paying attention
4) Using proper signaling
5) Courteous
6) Familiar with the limits of function of the vehicle
7) Defensive/predictive

etc. They seem to think that if you brake hard, accelerate faster than some "typical norm", or corner too hard, you are a bad driver... and that simply is neither true nor fair.

about two weeks ago

States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths

markdavis Re:ridiculous comparison (217 comments)

Nicotine probably causes less harm to the human body than caffeine or sugar. Perhaps you are thinking about something else?

about three weeks ago

States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths

markdavis ridiculous comparison (217 comments)

>"Many drugs with abuse potential such as nicotine and opiates, as well as marijuana, pump up the brain's dopamine levels, which can induce feelings of euphoria."

Exactly how does one "abuse" nicotine? What ridiculous grasping to put nicotine into the same sentence as opiates and marijuana when it comes to getting "high". It is also never used for pain killing. You might as well have included caffeine and sugar in the list. It blows the credibility of the article and makes it seem totally desperate.

about three weeks ago

Coffee Naps Better For Alertness Than Coffee Or Naps Alone

markdavis Caffeine is not a solution, it is a problem (133 comments)

If wanting to be alert and have good sleep patterns, then you would do well to not use caffeine at all. It is not some miracle, it is like any other drug- it builds dependence and nothing is "free"... the energy you might gain is made up for by energy lost later.

I know this sentiment might not be a popular view (apparently) in the tech crowd, what with coffee, tea, caffeine pills, caffeinated sodas, caffeinated soap and other such nonsense.

about three weeks ago

Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

markdavis Re:Get facts straight (193 comments)

My issue is that they were comparing on-line hard drive backup to off-line bluray but with an expensive and fancy robot system. Which is not quite a "fair" comparison. The Bluray drives also have to be connected and use power. The robot uses power. A spun down stand-by hard drive uses only about 0.75 watts! That means you could have half a PETABYTE of ONLINE storage for about the power of a single traditional lightbulb.

At the rate hard drive density keeps going up, it seems optical storage just can't keep up. We have seen this happen with CD, then DVD, and now bluray. Doesn't help that the prices on bluray discs were kept way too high for far too long.

Hard drives are now 4TB for $150! Bluray is still around $1/disc for quality, but each is just 25GB. That means you need 160 discs to equal one hard drive that costs slightly less, writes and reads a hell of a lot faster, and actually takes up considerably less space.

I am not saying hard drives for backups is ideal in all cases, but it certainly is a much more attractive option in many ways.

about a month ago

Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

markdavis Get facts straight (193 comments)

>"Their data can be restored more quickly"

Than a hard drive? I think not.

> "the Blu-ray system doesn't need to be powered when the discs aren't in use, it uses 80% less power than the hard-drive arrangement, cutting overall costs in half."

Say what? When my backup hard drives are not being used, they also use zero power because they are not plugged in. And when they ARE plugged in, they "power down" after a few min of no usage, which I think is like 1% of normal power.

The density of storage for bluray is also not better than hard drives, and the writing is much slower. I also don't see how transport is so much better than laptop hard drives. Bluray MIGHT be cheaper, depending on how you value your criteria... and the discs are more rugged (if that even matters).

about a month ago

Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

markdavis Re:Stealing attention (611 comments)

I couldn't agree with your post more.

My major problem with is with ANY content- ads or not, that has autonomous animation. I can't stand it. Doesn't matter how big or small, I can't "tune out" something moving in my peripheral vision.

I wouldn't mind small and non-animated ads, without timebombs or flyouts or mouseovers, but it seems like those just don't exist anymore. So I feel I am FORCED to browse with Adblock.

about a month ago

Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone?

markdavis I am tin foil, fine. (299 comments)

>"Here's where the problem lays: It's law enforcement that's pushing so hard for these kill switches. "

Yeah, like I have been warning people for years anytime the topic comes up. Government misuse. Security nightmare when it gets hacked. Etc. They just say I am paranoid or "tin foil" or whatnot.

I guess I can remind them about my warnings over the last decade about the fed and big business spying on USA citizens. I am amazed at how little most people care about privacy/freedom.

Now, let me get back to reading this letter I got from State Farm today explaining how wonderful it will be to save "up to 5%" on my State Farm car insurance if I am willing to plug in a device that constantly tracks my braking, acceleration, turns, speed, distance, and location.

about a month ago

Email Is Not Going Anywhere

markdavis Ubiquitous Common Denominator (235 comments)

Email is the common denominator in electronic communication. Period. Nothing else can match it when it comes to being well known, compatible with everything, and even its flexibility. Spam sucks, and there are still some issues with the way people USE Email (or incorrectly use it), but it is *the* way business communicates now. I would be crippled at work without Email.

If you want to talk about a dying communications technology, that would be facsimile. Our fax volume is a small fraction of what it once was. Still important to have around, but people go out of their way to avoid it now. We have large scan-to-PDF-EMail copiers all over, making it so much more convenient, too.

about a month ago

Netflix Now Works On Linux With HTML5 DRM Video Support In Chrome

markdavis Re:Why is (201 comments)

If it is browser based, is it really THAT hard to "support"? Just wondering.

BTW- as far as I am aware, no distro includes or supports Chrome, anyway... only Chromium (which is open source).

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?

markdavis LOVE 'em with Toastman (427 comments)

I really love my WRT54GL running Toastman Tomato. "It just works"- it is rock solid and does what I want. Sure it is not super fast, but for regular stuff it is fine. I liked it so much I installed dozens of them at work and directed my friends and family to use them also.

I need to knock on wood... not a SINGLE one has failed or had problems. They stay up "forever" without hanging or needed to be reset, even after seeing tons of various devices connected. Plus they were dirt cheap and have real antennas and with real connectors (so I can and do use different antennas for different applications). Just don't use the stock firmware- it is unreliable. It freaks me out that you can still actually buy the ancient things-- they are just that popular.

It is a tall order to find a suitable, more modern replacement. I have been on the lookout but haven't seen anything quite at the same level that could "carry on the torch". Some say Buffalo.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

markdavis Re:Bill $10K up front and 50K a year (194 comments)

>"Have a full time tech on site with that and bill each patient health insurance a monthly or daily or per use fee. That is how most things healthcare marketplace work."

I work in healthcare, and no insurance company is going to cover such things unless it was legitimately part of a communications rehab program or something (supervised by a speech pathologist).

>"Well we just bulk bill it as some other thing or change the home and they deal with the billing."

That sounds remarkably like fraud which can lead to fines, closed businesses, and people thrown in jail.

about a month and a half ago

Fixing a 7,000-Ton Drill

markdavis Re:Viaduct?? (101 comments)

>" What if they dig the tunnel, then build a lifted "bridge" viaduct inside this tunnel? WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?"

UG!!!! I can't handle such a possibility!

about a month and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: IT Personnel As Ostriches?

markdavis part of the job (246 comments)

First, I wouldn't say a "50ish" people company is "mid-sized" :) But that isn't really your question.

I can only speak for myself- I can and do see things that are confidential. It is pretty much impossible for me not to. I deal with it by focusing only on my work. Most of the time I don't even really "see" what it is I am looking at... intentionally glancing away or closing things that are not part of the scope of my assistance. Unfortunately that doesn't always work and am exposed to things that get "registered" in my mind. Sometimes I see things that are disappointing or disturbing... but it is my job to retain confidentiality; that is part of being a professional.

The hard parts come when/if I see something that is:

1) Against our IT policies (mostly security practices)
2) Against company policy
3) Against the law
4) Immoral

Thankfully, after doing this for 27+ years, I have yet to consciously run into anything illegal or immoral. I have run into things against policy and there have been times I had to report it or deal with it... just depends on how severe it was.

Think of it this way- it could be MUCH worse... you could be a defense lawyer.

about a month and a half ago

Fixing a 7,000-Ton Drill

markdavis Viaduct?? (101 comments)

>"During an effort to drill a viaduct beneath downtown Seattle"

Viaduct? How is digging/drilling a tunnel a viaduct? "A viaduct is a bridge composed of several small spans for crossing a valley or a gorge." You cannot drill a viaduct.

They are digging a TUNNEL under Seattle for a car highway as an alternative to an old, damaged viaduct.

about a month and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality?

markdavis Security and freedom are not convenient (190 comments)

This is a classic case of people valuing convenience over everything else:

* Responsibility
* Anonymity
* Security
* Reliability
* Accountability
* Accuracy

Electronic voting machines and on-line voting severely erode or completely disregard one or more of the above concepts. Voting is part of the democratic process, which equates to freedom. Freedom is neither free nor easy.... neither is security.

about a month and a half ago

French Provider Free Could Buy US Branch of T-Mobile

markdavis Please NO (111 comments)

Please everyone just leave T-Mobile alone. They are doing great the last few years. I don't want them ruined by Sprint or Iliad or Dish or anyone else!

Competition is good and T-Mobile is proof of it. Even if you don't use T-Mobile and never will, you have STILL BENEFITED from many of the things they have done lately which have been forcing other carriers to make changes.

Just today:
"T-Mobile posted its second quarter earnings today, and the carrier is continuing momentum as far as customer acquisition is concerned. The Uncarrier managed to add an additional 1.5 million customers in the second quarter, which makes it the fifth consecutive quarter in which the carrier added more than 1 million subscribers. The influx of new customers meant that T-Mobile's revenue rose by 15.4 percent to $7.2 billion. 50 million total subscribers now."

about a month and a half ago

Are Tethers the Answer To the Safety Issues of Follow-Me Drone Technology?

markdavis Article has nothing to do with safety (88 comments)

Perhaps I missed something, but the linked article (and also the Fotokite product/site) has absolutely nothing to do with safety. It talks about privacy/transparency.

A tether to a person on the ground only makes the devices even more unsafe, as they now get tangled with each other and other environmental hazards. Perhaps it would limit its range (which is not mentioned in the article), but a heavy device falling is a heavy device falling.

One thing that would increase drone safety would be an automatic parachute so when they do collide or lose power or go ape crazy, it can more softly return to earth.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

markdavis Re:Job Hopping (282 comments)

This is a reply not just to you, but to several similar posts at once:

1) I don't have trouble maintaining employees, and it is precisely because I am careful to hire someone that won't quickly leave.

2) We don't have the best pay nor all that much room for positional growth, but it is a great environment and very stable. I am careful to disclose as much as possible about the goods and bads of the position so there are no unreasonable expectations.

3) I don't count contract work as job hopping. It is not the same thing, and it is usually apparent based on the resume.

4) The type of positions I am hiring for are not project oriented as many posts have assumed. It is departmental management, training, systems administration, and support.

5) I agree that people should be moving on if they are stagnating, but I can't have that be every 1 to 2 years, we simply don't have the resources to deal with that type of turnover in a small company.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

markdavis Job Hopping (282 comments)

I can tell you now than when I am hiring and looking at resumes and see 1 year, 2 years, 1.5 years, 9 months, I label it is a "job hopper" and throw it in the "least likely to consider" pile. And a CRAPLOAD of the resumes are that way, regardless of the position. Many things come to mind when I see that "hopping"- maybe they are just using each job as a stepping stone to get more money or experience, maybe there is something wrong with them and they can't keep a job, or perhaps they are too easily bored.

As an employer, hiring a new employee is a HUGE amount of time and financial drain on my department. Regardless of what somebody does know or thinks they know, I rarely get full productivity from someone until perhaps a year (sometimes less, sometimes more). If they are looking for such temporary employment, I need them to just look elsewhere.... I need some reasonable return on my investment.

I don't expect people to stay at a job for decades anymore (although there is nothing wrong with that... I have 25 years now with the same company) and I know sometimes a job is just not a good fit. But turnover in a small department can be devastating. If I were to see the same resume with 5 years, 3 years, 6 years, that looks FAR more attractive.

about 2 months ago



Yahoo Changes IM Servers- Incompatible with Pidgin

markdavis markdavis writes  |  more than 4 years ago

markdavis (642305) writes "As of June 17, 2009, many Pidgin users are having trouble connecting to Yahoo! IM accounts because Yahoo! seems to be upgrading their servers to a new version of their software. The new version requires a new authentication method and the latest version of Pidgin does not support this new authentication method. The next version, 2.6.0, will, but it has not yet been released. The only current workaround is to manually select a "pager server" that hasn't been upgraded yet. Some people will not notice this problem until they disconnect. Others have noted that GAIM appears to be unaffected yet Kopete *is* affected."

markdavis markdavis writes  |  more than 7 years ago

markdavis writes "For Linux to really succeed in business, it must have support by vendors for the core financial applications (General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Payroll/HR) first.

I am the IT Director for a long-term-care medical facility (400 employees) and found out a few weeks ago that the vendor that supplies our GL, AP, HR, and Payroll software is dropping support for our platform (Linux) in November (after using them for four years). They code in Progress and have decided to convert to a proprietary web GUI (IIS + IE6 + ActiveX) rather than use Progress + Apache + any browser. This means we either abandon Linux or we are in the market for new accounting software modules (I bet you know which is my preferred choice).

All businesses require the core accounting functions, mentioned above. Most companies also require "industry specific" software which is customized for their industry. For example, in healthcare, AR (Accounts Receivable) is VERY different from all other industries. It is 2007, so hopefully the Linux choices for at least the core, non-industry specific financial software have improved since our last search, four years ago.

I have been working on an RFI/RFP (Request for Information/Proposal) and identifying as many possible vendors as possible. I have searched through hundreds of vendors so far and identified 39 possibilities, but could always use more.

Hence the questions: Do any other slashdotters use Linux server AND client (or web browser under Linux) software for financials in a medium or smaller/medium sized organization? If so, what do you use? Do you like it? Problems? Any advice (other than "give it up")?"


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