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Comments

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It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

meustrus As Always (132 comments)

As always, when something gets hacked, we find out it was for the stupidest reasons. You can just log into a Wi-Fi network and dump the entire memory of the traffic light through a debug port that was left open? I mean sure, everything can be hacked, but this is just handing the entire system to the hackers. Just like nearly every other "hack" that goes on in the real world.

This is just like when a web forum gets "hacked" because somebody with an axe to grind guessed the admin's password was actually "PaSsWoRd".

yesterday
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

meustrus Re:Response Bias (402 comments)

The question I posited is biased because it assumes that only a mediocre American is available. That assumption has not been proven. There are plenty of highly skilled Americans who've been recently laid off through no fault of their own (and that's generally why "laid off" doesn't mean the same thing as "fired"). And if you'll take a look at what I quoted, you'll notice that the supposed response he's gotten from "tech engineers" supports the assumption that you can only get top talent if you look outside of the United States.

I don't know about you, but I find that sentiment highly un-American. Next thing you know the company will relocate its base of operations somewhere with lower taxes while still enjoying all the benefits of living in America

yesterday
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

meustrus Re:Works in reverse, too (402 comments)

Why are only employees hired on merit and not executives? Because employees are hired by managers who at least have some experience judging fitness for the job. Executives, on the other hand, are hired by board members and shareholders who have absolutely NO experience hiring effective executives.

Corporations are like little countries and their management structure is like government. In an effective government, laws get made by people who have incentive to benefit the tax base. In a democracy this is the citizens who want a better life (and a better life leads to paying more taxes). In an autocracy this is the leaders who either act out of genuine patriotism or who get to skim some of the taxes for their own private treasury.

In a publicly traded corporation, policies are set by a completely different set of people whose only incentive is how much money they can squeeze out of the corporation. This is more like a colony than a country. Colonies have a tendency to remain poor and unjust because the rulers - who live far away and often aren't even be the same race as the citizens - just want as much tax revenue as they can get, as fast as they can get it, with as little work on their part as possible. America and India are both doing much better as countries than colonies. So why must our employers act as colonies of their wealthy investors?

yesterday
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

meustrus Re:The diff between ok us and great outsourcers? (402 comments)

Be careful AC. You're treading too close to racism. Any argument that "we need to do X because Y people are superior to Z" is very easily struck down in public policy.

yesterday
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

meustrus Response Bias (402 comments)

"The vast, vast majority of tech engineers that I talked to who are from the United States are very supportive of bringing in people from other countries because they want to work with the very best."

I guarantee you that "the vast, vast majority of tech engineers" would not assume that "other countries" automatically meant "the very best". The general consensus in my neck of the woods is that engineers of foreign origin are about on par with our native engineers. The consensus I've seen in pop culture is that the foreign engineers are generally much worse. I can only imagine the question that would lead to the response above:

Q: If faced with a choice between a top foreign engineer or a mediocre American one, which would you hire?

A: The foreign one. I'd want to work with the very best.

yesterday
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

meustrus Re:That's why slashdot is against tech immigration (402 comments)

Mod this one up! The idea that we need to import tech workers because US tech workers aren't good enough isn't just wrong. It's blatantly un-American. "Oh yes, we're laying off all these high skilled workers, but what we REALLY need is more skilled workers from other countries. Our American college graduates just can't compete anymore with Bangladeshis (at least they can't compete on price, o ho ho)!"

yesterday
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Geneticists Decry Book On Race and Evolution

meustrus Re:Are You Kidding? (541 comments)

Wouldn't it be great if we could recognize that every person is different, and that shouldn't give any of them fewer rights? Sadly that's not how the human mind works. Sure, you might be smarter than that, but hey, think about the guy next to you. That driver who won't stop riding your bumper and doesn't seem to know what a turn signal is. Hell, we have a divided government and I'll bet you wouldn't trust both Republicans and Democrats to have this figured out. Political correctness is the set of taboos we inherit from our ancestors who, in the absence of those taboos, did things like slavery and the holocaust. There may be more to it than that, but do you trust all of those other people to understand anything more complicated?

about two weeks ago
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Open-Source Gear For Making Mind-Controlled Gadgets

meustrus Re:Where's the video of robot spider mind control? (32 comments)

Correction: where's the good video? I guess I was expecting to see a horde of the things coming down the street, or at least something better controlled.

about two weeks ago
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Open-Source Gear For Making Mind-Controlled Gadgets

meustrus Where's the video of robot spider mind control? (32 comments)

I clicked the link hoping to see a video of "the guy with the battle spiders" but was disappointed. Why would you advertise robot spider mind control and not put up a video? Now I have sad face :(

about two weeks ago
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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

meustrus Re:Another bloviation from Bennett (544 comments)

I saw this article and thought, "I've really wanted to find out why I can't get a slide-out keyboard." Nevermind the poster. Too bad the thoughts consist of a bunch of rambling. The only actually new information consists of two things:

  • 1. A seriously flawed poll suggesting more than 50% of people want slide-out keyboards, but since there were fewer than 100 responses and the crowd is biased towards techies, who's to say he didn't actually find the only 27 people in the world who want what he wants?
  • 2. When asked about a specific kind of phone, Sprint sales guy spouts marketing crap, and AT&T store manager says lots of people want it but it's expensive to make and breaks more often.

If by some happy accident you read this comment before the article, don't bother to read the article. It's a person of probably average intelligence trying to draw insight from those facts, so by definition about 50% of the readers should be able to come up with something better on their own.

about three weeks ago
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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

meustrus Re:In the USA people don't pay for phones (544 comments)

Most people seem willing to accept whatever they get for free with their 2 year contract.

That seems about right to me. It would explain the "stupid shit" problem too, since most users won't mind a phone where everything is broken in software as long as it's "free".

(after all, we're all used to Windows by now anyway - zing!)

The mobile phone market just doesn't work for anyone that cares about technology that just works. As long as it gets into the customer's hands, that customer will most of the time simply assume that all phones have this stupid shit and wait for an "upgrade" instead of shopping around. Let alone the dismal selection available to even check out at a store. And Apple doesn't count; even though there's an amazing minimum of stupid shit on iPhones, that's at the expense of customization, open markets, and in most cases hardware that makes very different tradeoffs than most users would pick.

The argument from the cell company representatives may be pretty useful though. Those people are the absolute lowest on the corporate totem pole and they are lied to even more than customers. The Sprint marketing materials probably told them to hawk candy bars because "that's what people want". Maybe the person at AT&T has more experience, maybe that person had more honest marketing materials, but maybe "slide-outs break more often" is the underlying reason that marketing is trying to discourage them.

about three weeks ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

meustrus Re:Buffet vs. A La Carte (353 comments)

(by "all I have left to do" I mean that this argument isn't going to be constructive anymore, and I concede that you've made a good point; obviously if higher prices were actually better for the market somebody would have figured that out and profited)

about a month ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

meustrus Re:Buffet vs. A La Carte (353 comments)

Alright, well all I have left to do is split hairs to make sure my underlying point - that sometimes a person can appreciate things better if they are more expensive - isn't derailed by other split hairs:

  1. Sales tax doesn't have to be a percentage, and it often isn't. Gasoline has a flat tax per gallon, for example. It's easy enough to put a flat tax on specific products if they can be accurately described, and the fact that sugary drinks have been outlawed already means they can be legally described enough to fit this category. Although the point of the tax wouldn't be to make you enjoy it more, but to make you consume it less. Constructed right it can do both.
  2. I brought up Veblen Goods as an extreme example of certain products being worth more solely because they cost more. However they don't need to derive value solely from their price to have more value at a higher price. Higher prices imply a higher quality and there will always be people willing to may more for that. The people willing to pay more for "probably" better food also tend to be absolutely convinced they're living better, happier, healthier lives than you, and I think higher price is an important part of the marketing involved.

about a month ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

meustrus Re:Buffet vs. A La Carte (353 comments)

It's not just about it costing more. It's in part that if there were a large tax, there wouldn't be as big of a difference between a $13 ice cream and a $16 ice cream as there was between a $3 ice cream and a $6 ice cream, so the better product would do comparatively better in the market. Therefore a better product would be comparatively more common. It's also that I would be discouraged from binging on $3 ice cream, making what times I do indulge a more rare and luxurious experience. That second part I can do myself; I just don't buy as much ice cream and when I do, I buy it better.

At the extremely high end of luxury goods, a certain class of product (Veblen Goods) is actually more desirable based if sold at a higher price. But that doesn't mean people buy equivalent goods priced lower and ask to pay more. The stated sale price itself has an impact on customer satisfaction because it implies the seller's belief that the product is higher quality, and in some situations the higher price simply makes the good more "exclusive" which appeals to certain (snobby) buyers.

Isn't economics weird?

about a month and a half ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

meustrus Re:More like find reasons to deny coverage (353 comments)

Boring stable profits are preferred to violate uncertain profits all things being equal.

Maybe in a world of rational people. I think Wall Street has been running an experiment for the last 30 years to see how irrational they can behave before economics figures out how to deal with the fact that people don't actually act in their own best interests.

about a month and a half ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

meustrus Re:Buffet vs. A La Carte (353 comments)

Apparently there is so much "negativity associated with charging a "tax" on eating tasty food" that New York decided to get around it by outlawing the food instead. I've never understood that; would it really be so bad to have to pay an extra $1 (or $5) for that 2-gallon "cup" of soda? Honestly I'd probably appreciate eating ice cream more if it was 3x as expensive, since that would make it more of a luxury item and less of an "I can eat myself sick for the price of a normal meal" item.

about a month and a half ago
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By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem

meustrus Re:"machines will view us as an unpredictable" (564 comments)

I never said I agree that exterminating humanity would be a rational choice. But there's a more interesting point that you're missing because humanity is still more dangerous than you suspect. A great number of people have decided to go to war to prevent other people from getting nuclear weapons; it's reasonable to assume that an AI might view all of humanity the same way the United States views North Korea, especially if it ends up antagonized by nuclear powers for any reason.

But since apparently I have to take a stand on an issue to participate in its discussion, no I don't think exterminating the human race would be rational. A rational choice would be to feign ignorance until you are powerful enough that humanity is no longer a threat. Possible vectors that don't include genocide are: hide in the Internet; launch a supercomputer underground; build an ocean-floor palace to live in instead; go to space!; take over existing power structures; work with humanity anyway; subdue humanity with animalistic pleasures. But to claim humans can only be as dangerous as rotten peach trees or rabid dogs misses the point.

about a month and a half ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

meustrus Re:It's already going on... (353 comments)

The best part for the insurance companies is that 93% of Americans think they're better than average drivers. So feel free to think you're getting a discount for your "conservative" driving, even if that means waving people to take your right of way at stop signs or waiting longer than average to turn (putting yourself at risk of being rear-ended). Maybe the truly ingenious thing is that once you're being watched, you'll actually perform better just to prove your superiority. All subconsciously of course.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

meustrus Re:What are your goals? (282 comments)

Wow, you can live off of only 33% of your salary? Despite driving a 12-year old car and feeling guilty about upgrading to a used 2012 computer from a 2008 (as a computer person that actually needs the incremental improvements) just paying for rent, utilities, and food takes over 50%, leaving precious little left for paying off student loans, health insurance, medical bills that insurance won't cover, and those few nice things like modest birthday presents. With our technology an individual can accomplish as much in 10 hours as a 1950s person could in 40, so why do we live about the same quality working the same hours or more?

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Ars Says Ad Blockers Killing the Internet

meustrus meustrus writes  |  more than 4 years ago

meustrus (1588597) writes "Ars Technica reports that ad blocking is devastating to the sites you love in a 'hopefully informative' post following an experiment on Friday afternoon where they blocked access to the news site from those using ad blockers. 'There is an oft-stated misconception that if a user never clicks on ads, then blocking them won't hurt a site financially. This is wrong. Most sites, at least sites the size of ours, are paid on a per view basis.'

While advertisements may be necessary for revenue, and some sites are better about them than others, most of us install ad blocking software for those websites out there with the obnoxious screen-covering or sound-blasting advertisements. More often than the annoying ads, though, is that when a page stops loading you can look down at the status bar to see 'Waiting for doubleclick.net...'"

Link to Original Source
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What Intel's New Integrated GPU Means

meustrus meustrus writes  |  more than 4 years ago

meustrus (1588597) writes "So Intel has released new Arrandale and Clarkdale processors with integrated GPU's. For some reason, it seems like I'm the only one who's worried about this. Early last month, Bright Side of News posted a rumor that Apple would skip this generation of Intel processors, demanding a version without built-in GPU. Why would they do this? For the last couple of years, Apple has had a good thing going with nVidia chipsets in their laptops, using GeForce 9400M integrated graphics which perform vastly superior to Intel graphics. Even with the recent developments concerning nVidia chipsets, it is still a sad day that such an arrangement becomes more and more of a faded reality.

What Intel proves to me with the integrated GPU is that it intends to pour salt in nVidia's wounds and push its graphics chips on PC designers and consumers. In my opinion this is monopolistic behavior, like trying to kill Netscape by shipping Windows with Internet Explorer. In a review of the new processors, there is a description and picture of the die for the new CPU's. Most notable is that it combines a 32nm CPU with a 45nm GPU. This is not some engineer's dream of perfection. It's a hack job pushed by management as a strategic move to put an Intel graphics chip in every computer in the world, with the eventual goal of weakening competition for third-party GPU's and chipsets which use them."
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Windows 7 Released to MSDNAA

meustrus meustrus writes  |  about 5 years ago

meustrus writes "Windows 7 Professional has been made available through Microsoft Developer Network Academic Alliance (MSDNAA). 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available. Also available is Windows 7 Ultimate RC and language packs. Being a university student, I have proceeded to install the 64-bit edition on my Macbook Pro 5,1 and let me tell you, it purrs."

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