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Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

pla Data != knowledge (152 comments)

During Windows 8 testing, Microsoft said that they had data showing Start Menu usage had dropped, but it seems that the tools they were using at the time weren't as evolved as the new 'Asimov' monitor.

No, Microsoft, wrong conclusion. See, your data told you the $deity's own truth, that start menu usage has dropped. Most people pretty much use desktop shortcuts 90% of the time, so your stupid fisher-price jolly candylike tiles may look like crap but don't seriously impact that specific usage pattern. More accurate data collection won't change that.

What your data didn't tell you? That remaining 10% of the time doesn't just mean people "forgot" they had a shortcut and decided to use the start menu for the fun of it. Using the start menu drastically beats having to hunt down actual executables somewhere on the HDD, particularly for administrative-type tasks that might go six folders deep into the Windows directory, and have insanely long command-line arguments as a bonus (ie, a lot of the control panel apps).

Data doesn't equal knowledge. The stats can tell you "how often", but not "why".

1 hour ago

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

pla Re:You raise? Call, mofo! (366 comments)

How are they supposed to make money if they can't have the price arbitrage?

Net metering already gives them price arbitrage, as I've said over and over. During the day they buy from me at standard offer, and sell at peak usage rates; then at night they buy from the ultra-cheap baseline capacity generators and sell to me at standard offer rates. The KWH may "net" under that scenario, but make no mistake, the dollars do not and the utilities make a fortune off it. They just want even more.

Renewables demand a smart, gear and maintenance intensive grid

National security - The real kind, not the political theatre kind - Demands a smart gear and maintenance intensive grid. That we don't already have one that can easily handle distributed generation speaks volumes about what the utilities have spent the past century doing with all those profits.

but the money for all that investment to the tune of tens if not hundreds of billions apparently is supposed to fall out of the sky.

You missed the part where their biggest fear involves millions of private citizens paying tens of thousands of dollars each to upgrade one tiny section of the grid at a time. That works out to half a trillion dollars. How much more do you want?

5 hours ago

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

pla Re:You raise? Call, mofo! (366 comments)

Hmm. $5,000 up-front in order save $14/month?

Not "just" $14/month - Did you miss the part about the utilities wanting to do away with net metering, an arrangement that lets the power companies resell my nice cheap standard-rate excess capacity at peak-usage rates? Yet still selling a similar load of nice cheap off-peak hours back to me? "I'll pay you to roll this boulder up that hill; but then I'll take a turn, and you can pay me the same to roll it back down!"

That would effectively make solar financially pointless for most middle class people (the ones who can both afford solar yet still have an incentive to save on their electric bill; the ones who work and therefore don't use much electricity in the middle of the day). So try more like $140 (though that obviously depends where you live), your normal electric bill minus 10-15%. That works out to more like a 2.9-year payback, rather than 29.

5 hours ago

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

pla Re:The obvious solution will meet fierce resistanc (366 comments)

Pay solar at wholesale rates, or, make grid interconnect a separate fee, and charge them for that.

Grid interconnects already appear as a separate fee in most places. Perhaps not at its fair market value, but go fuck a goat if you think I'll pay over a dollar per KW for my occasional nighttime use.

Solar advocates, of course, can't stand the idea they should actually have to pay for the delivery of goods and services, even if it costs them a measely five bucks a month

Try $14, for me. And yeah, I consider that fair. Ending net metering and charging me when they resell my peak-demand production for 10x what they pay me for it? Yeah, I can afford batteries, can they afford every other house going off-grid?


Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

pla You raise? Call, mofo! (366 comments)

Dear electric companies:

Your time on this planet as profitable private entities has come to an end. Rejoice! You had a good run. But it has ended.

If you succeed in eliminating net metering... Honestly, I bought a $20k solar installation; do you really think I'll put up with your bullshit instead of spending another $5k on batteries and going totally off-grid, costing you even your scammy $14/month "connection charge"?

Think about this long and hard, boys. Right now, you get peak-usage power from me at your totally fictional "residential standard rate", that you turn around and sell to time-of-day commercial customers for 10x what you pay me for it. Which of us do you really think will suffer more if I tell you to come get your meter and shove it up your CEO's ass?


Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?

pla Re:Bzzzzt:: wrong! (182 comments)

As a business owner, I can tell you that training is wildly expensive.

As an engineer, I can tell you that not training is much, much more expensive.

The last training my employer sent me to, this past spring, cost them a bit under $3000 total. For that $3000, they can:
1) now brag that they have a Foo(tm) certified developer working on the project (quite possibly worth far more than that $3k by itself), and
2) I can now actually do some key parts of the project without wasting a month or three bootstrapping the same info I learned in a week.

And just to put #2 in perspective, I cost my employer almost that much per week. You want "wildly expensive"? Waste a month of my productive time. That sort of short-sighted penny-pinching gets expensive fast. Yes, sending me off for training costs more than the list price of the training; it has an ROI many, many times that upfront cost, however.

As a former employee, I can tell you that conferences - on the whole - are wasted time and money for the employer.

Then you've gone to the wrong sort of conferences. I have yet to go to a conference that didn't help my employer more than having my butt in a chair for a week (and yeah, you could easily twist that into an obvious slam). And as a bonus, yes, conferences do offer a bit of a mini-vacation, so I come back refreshed and excited, on top of whatever more academic or networking-related benefits I get from going.

That said, I will agree with you and others who deride the FP's implied sense of entitlement. If my employer didn't see the value in improving the breadth of their in-house expertise, hey, their call; though I can promise that hell would get chilly before they directly benefited from anything I pay for out of my own pocket (fortunately not a problem at the moment - my current employer has a truly awesome continuing education program, and as long as I'll put in the time, they'll put in the dime for just about anything even remotely reasonable).

about a week ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer?

pla Adapt or go crazy. Simple as that. (275 comments)

I constantly wonder how they became this way.

Someday, you will get a project with physically (or at least, mathematically) impossible requirements. You will, rightly, point this out. You will end up needing to doing it anyway.

This won't happen just once. Over the course of your career, you will literally lose count of the number of such requests.

You therefore have two choices - Stop caring, or have an aneurysm from frustration and rage.

Note, however, that you don't need to lose your love of coding. You just need to learn to accept, with a calm and detached indifference, that your paycheck requires you to write defective-by-design code. If it helps, you can make little games out of it - As one of my personal favorites, I write the code to function correctly and then, as the last step before showing something to the user, I throw it all away and replace the results with the requested garbage.

about two weeks ago

Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem

pla Re:Reporting bias? (460 comments)

I've got to think that women are more likely to actually report sexual harassment than men are.

I don't think that rates of reporting substantially undermine the presence of a problem, but I do have to agree with you.

Men learn from a young age that we crave sex, think about it constantly, would bang anything with enough paper bags available, blah blah blah. And while most of us realize that doesn't actually hold true, we tend to passively accept it as part of our social identity. Thus, when some troll-woman flirts a little too shamelessly or even grabs your ass as you walk by (which in this study would have counted as an assault), we just brush it off and even take it as flattering (even while thinking "do... NOT... want!").

I would therefore agree that we very likely see a serious reporting bias here that tips the scales toward the female side. That said, where do we draw the line (for both genders) between "testing the waters" and "harassment"? Clearly it doesn't "hurt" those men who just brush it off and move on with their day; do we seriously accept, in the modern world, that females count as emotionally weaker and unable to bear similar compliments from ugly guys?

Personally, I consider this issue more complex than "just don't do it" (which will no doubt enrage the SJWs, but, fuck 'em)... We exist as a sexual species, and no amount of social conditioning can change that fact; on the flip side of that, clearly some people don't get the fact that "no" doesn't mean "try again later".

about two weeks ago

U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music'

pla Re:Cross between a music album and a video game (358 comments)

It appears that U2 and Apple are proposing an interactive album format that combines the music of a record album with the interactivity of a video game.

Jokes aside, they did stress the "interactive" part of this as a key feature.

I can't speak for all Slashdotters, but personally, I listen to music primarily at times that I can't interact with it (beyond the mostly-passive* act of "listening to it") - In the car, at work, while mowing the lawn, etc. When I actually have the spare time and attention to interact with something, I will usually chose to interact with other humans, or actual video games, or playing with the cats, etc. I may still have music on, but I don't "interact" with it.

I would therefore have to consider this a complete non-starter. At least Neil Young's boondoggle actually did have some technical merit (while completely ignoring the reality that 99.9% of people will take "good enough" over "perfect" if it saves them a single penny). This? The "solution in need of a problem" trope gets somewhat overused, but it definitely applied here in full force.

* Yes, I do get that some music requires actively listening to it to fully appreciate it. U2 ain't that.

about two weeks ago

Alice Is Killing Trolls But Patent Lawyers Will Strike Back

pla Bring it, "Draftsmen"! (92 comments)

because as you and I have seen over the years, every time there's a court ruling it just means that you have to word the patent claims differently.

Good! Let 'em try to twist it into something still allowed but borderline, like business method patents - That knife cuts both ways, and for enduring a few more years of patent abuse, perhaps we can finally get those banned as well.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

pla Yes, and "just say no". (232 comments)

I suspect we've all encountered managers that don't grasp the difference between "managing" and "intimidation". But after your first job out of college, you will discover that you have better things to do with your life than burn the candle at both ends for a crappy job.

More importantly, the "death-march" style of project management doesn't produce good results. What you describe can't become the norm, simply because any company that uses it will find itself internally paralyzed, completely unable to adapt to a changing market. When individual projects stretch on for longer than the company's strategic plan, the threat of firings doesn't really mean much because none of you will still work there in five years.

Find a new job today and save your sanity.

about two weeks ago

How Governments Are Getting Around the UN's Ban On Blinding Laser Weapons

pla Re:Not much different than the fire starting laser (180 comments)

How is blinding someone with a laser worse than killing or maiming them with a bullet?

This world holds a lot of horrors worse than death for our tribe of domesticated monkeys. Personally, I would rather die than go blind... But of course, given that we as a society regularly allow the infirm to live past birth, holding such a belief has become gauche to an extreme. Handbasket, please.

That said, this has nothing to do with issues of morality and mercy, and everything to do with military logistics. A dead enemy merely means one less fighter for the other side. A crippled one still means one less fighter, but also means risking still-tactically-useful men getting him out of combat, then wasting precious medical resources providing immediate treatment, and then (in most civilized countries) supporting him for the rest of his life.

about two weeks ago

High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

pla The other question that needs to be asked (600 comments)

Was that 99.99% test done on a fire arm that has been used much?

If you check out the pics in TFA, you'll see that not only didn't they test fire this the hundreds of thousands of times it would take to come up with that claim of accuracy - This "proof of concept" wouldn't ever work in a real gun.

Apparently, this genius 17YO knows so little about the functioning of an actual gun that he simply filled the receiver with electronics (because nothing important goes in all that empty space) and produced what amounts a gun-shaped fingerprint reader. Because, y'know, who needs all those silly little things like springs or hammers or firing pins or magazines to also fit inside a working gun?

about two weeks ago

High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

pla Re:Reliability is key. (600 comments)

Guns must not be simply reliable. They must be infallible. They must work instantly, every time. Otherwise, any gun is useless. See how fucking idiotic that sounds?

It doesn't sound idiotic at all. Yes, the real world means that you will have some measurable failures-to-fire. Also IN THE REAL WORLD, quality ammo in a well-maintained gun simply doesn't fail. You'll see less than one FTF in a thousand, and that one will only happen after a long day at the range with the gun completely fouled. And even then, a tap-rack-bang will usually clear it (as opposed to a dead battery, which would mean a dead you when you have two seconds before a home invader gets from the door to you).

So yes, guns MUST be as close to infallible as possible. We have to accept the constraints of the real world, but adding a functionally unnecessary point of failure amounts to nothing short of suicidal.

about two weeks ago

High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

pla Re: Great one more fail (600 comments)

What I will say is I don't understand why folks are against the development of these sorts of things. As long as it's not government mandated as the only way to get a usable tool then let it compete in the market.

Why? Because at least one state HAS already mandated it - New Jersey passed that one in 2002, and only the lack of any viable commercial tech has blocked the enforcement of such mandates. And worse, Eric Holder (yes, that Eric Holder) publicly stated that he considers NJ's law a model for future NATIONAL policy.

I don't think even the most paranoid gun-nuts have a serious moral objection to safer guns. Until such tech exists as to allow "smart" guns to have four properties, however, I will cling to my dumb ol' guns to my last breath:
1) No batteries.
2) Lower false NEGATIVE rate ("99.99%" from TFA makes a great soundbite but means fuck-all without qualifiers) than a dumb gun's normal failure-to-fire rate (which with quality ammo and a well-maintained gun comes to pretty damned near zero).
3) No slower than existing draw-rack-point-click. I would even say, if fingerprint-based, the sensor MUST go on the trigger itself and detect a thin stripe of index fingertop.
4) No remote disabling, PERIOD. If the police can do it, so can home invaders.

/ OT: Why the hell doesn't bolding work on Beta? And Dice really wonders why we hate it?

about two weeks ago

German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

pla Re:define "customer" (290 comments)

A customer is someone who receives a service from a company, even if the (monetary) price for that service is zero.

No. Don't mistake "users" for "customers". They do not mean the same thing, and you conflate the two at great risk to your productivity, your profitability, and your sanity.

The fact that random people can read my blog in no way makes them "customers". The fact that Google makes money on their websites while I make nothing and use mine as a soapbox has no relevance - I ignore email from German users too (mostly because I can't read them). Come and get me, polizei!

about three weeks ago

U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data

pla Re:Too Bad They Didn't Pull a Lavabit (223 comments)

It would've gone on long enough for something to happen.

For what to happen, exactly?

"We the People" count as fucking sheep, more concerned with Kardashians than the Constitution. What exactly do you think more awareness of the problem would have gotten us?

The general public now knows about the NSA's spying programs, just like they learned about Bush (senior)'s CIA running the global drug trade to arm the Taliban 30 years ago, just like they learned about J. Edgar's FBI's CoIntelPro 30 years before that, just like they put Joe Kennedy in charge of the SEC 30 years before that. And yet... Do you see Keith Alexander's head on a pike in a conspicuous public place? Do you see the entire agency disbanded for breach of public trust, and everyone who ever worked there rendered unemployable due to the taint on their resumes?

No. No, you don't. Because we deserve the government we have. We exist as a nation run by bread and circuses, and we like it.

/ Dear $Deity - You can send that asteroid any time now... Perhaps the intelligent dragonfly empire 100 million years from now will do better than the domesticated apes did.

about three weeks ago

U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data

pla Re:Classic conflict of interest (223 comments)

The judges in these kind of cases are appointed by the executive, the same branch of government they are supposed to keep in check.

Remember, kids - Nothing says "legitimate democratic government" like extortionate secret courts!

Un-fucking believable. Well, no, entirely too believable. On the bright side, federal judges get appointed for life, so we have a very straightforward recall procedure.

/ 28 USC section 375, of course - What did you think I meant?

about three weeks ago

X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

pla Re:Made in America (145 comments)

I figure the best strategy is to have a gun and a well-prepared neighbor. However, I'm too lazy even for that level of preparation.

Bad idea - Any "well prepared" neighbor probably has more guns, and more familiarity with using them, than you do. And while it only takes one lucky shot to take him out by surprise, you can pretty much bet your life (literally) that the Missus and little Timmy also know the right end of the barrel from the wrong.

(Not trying to sound like a "tough guy" here - I don't count as any sort of crackpot survivalist, just a rural geek; but I do know a few, and would do my best to avoid them in a doomsday scenario - Made of meat, dontchaknow?)

about three weeks ago

Accused Ottawa Cyberbully Facing 181 Charges Apologizes

pla Re:Right. (140 comments)

You'd never do it to strike a deal with the prosecutor to get a lesser sentence because the evidence they have on you is incontrovertible?

Entering a guilty plea differs from offering an unsolicited apology. Sure, I might pragmatically enter a guilty plea, but the idea of any sort of sincere apology after engaging in a decade long campaign of harassment? It just doesn't even make sense.

I don't know if Canada has a version of the "insanity" defense, and I know that very rarely works in the US, but I'd have to say that no sane person would waste that much time systematically trashing their former coworkers over a stupid job. That dude snapped - I'd call his coworkers lucky he didn't literally hunt them down one by one and torture them to death in his basement.

about three weeks ago



French anti-piracy logo uses pirated fonts

pla pla writes  |  more than 4 years ago

pla (258480) writes "Cory Doctorow reports (and FontFeed confirms, with better fact-checking) that the French governmental agency in charge of enforcing their new "Three Strikes" Law, Hadopi, has made use of not just one, but two unlicensed fonts in their official logo.

One of these, "Bienvenue", exists only as a privately owned font designed exclusively for France Telecom with no licensing terms available whatsoever. Hadopi claims they never intended that version of the logo for release — Despite having registered it (complete with infringing fonts) as a trademark two months ago. For the other font used in their logo (including both the original and the replacement), "Bliss", they didn't purchase a license to use it until the very day they found it necessary to release a non-infringing replacement logo."



Call me paranoid, but...

pla pla writes  |  more than 8 years ago So today I posted a little off-the-cuff comment about parenting and video-games... Nothing major, though undeniably strongly opinionated. Agree or disagree as you will - Not the point of this journal entry.

First mod to it, troll. Okay, I think, I've gotten an awfully lot of those lately to posts I clearly didn't mean as trolling or flamebait, but whatever, perhaps I have an anti-fanboi.

Then later, I got two interestings and an insightful. Okay, not bad, that at least pushes me up to a +2, which with my karma bonus gives a total score of 4. Which it did indeed show.

Now, a few hours later I check back again, and see a total score of two, still with the same breakdown of a troll, an insightful, and two interestings. Biggest difference, my karma bonus has vanished (though my account still shows me as having excellent karma, so not like I magically lost my good karma between 4:30pm and 8:15pm).

So... As the subject line says, "call me paranoid, but" who has the power to change that? Do we have editors seriously abusing their powers, going around making Slashdot's moderation system even less meaningful than its normal, defective, modstorm-prone state?

I'd really like to know... I've written 1858 posts to Slashdot in the past few years, on the presumption that, except for the Gods correcting truly egregious abuses, the moderation system at least works at face value. If every slave-labor underling working at /. can just up and steal karma from posts that hit on one of their peeves, I'd like to know not to waste any more of my life contributing to a lost cause...


Interesting ratings...

pla pla writes  |  more than 11 years ago "Score:-1, Insightful"

I can only say, "WTF"? How does an insightful comment get a -1?

Heh. If I took this seriously, I might feel somewhat concerned by the logic behind that.

Overall, though, I find it more *amusing* that one person's "insightful" equals another's "flamebait" or "troll". I can understand reduntant, or overrated, but flamebait and troll seem mutually exclusive from any positive mods whatsoever.

Strange world we live in. Well... No, just strange people in it. ;-)


Wow, I have fans! (And freaks...)

pla pla writes  |  more than 11 years ago So, my first /. journal entry. Forgive the me-centric nature of it, but I just spent a few minutes wandering around my preferences page, and noticed all sorts of cool things.

Most interestingly, I actually have fans and freaks! Eerie.

I don't quite know *how* I got them, since I did a quick perusal of their posting history, and we don't seem to have any obvious threads in common. Do people just randomly add others to their friends and foes list?

Oh, and I seem to have moderator points once again. In all the years I've used Slashdot, I got my first moderator points only a few months ago. Now, this latest set of points makes my third (fourth?) time.

So, in other news, I managed to get a comment of mine modded out of existance today. So what have I learned from slashdot? One, don't say anything bad about Apple - those fans get *vicious*, even about very guarded criticism. And two, in a forum of mostly geeks, don't attack science (the institution, not the techniques) as little more than a modern religion, complete with priests, acolytes, and inviolable holy doctrine.

Hmm, okay. I guess I'll stop now.

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