×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Supreme Court OKs Stop and Search Based On Anonymous 911 Tips

tsqr Re:A boon for Parallel Construction (408 comments)

Pre-Snowden this would be called a conspiracy theory, now it actually sounds fairly reasonable.

Heh. No, it actually still sounds like a conspiracy theory.

yesterday
top

Supreme Court OKs Stop and Search Based On Anonymous 911 Tips

tsqr Re:Erratic driving does give reasonable suspicion (408 comments)

It was only after they had stopped the vehicle and actually questioned the guy that gave them further reasonable suspicion to search his vehicle, and find that he was guilty of another crime.

Well, actually the police said they smelled marijuana as they were approaching the vehicle, so they had reasonable suspicion before they even talked to the driver.

yesterday
top

Netflix Plans To Raise Prices By "$1 or $2 a Month"

tsqr Re:Repeat July 2011 (194 comments)

But why will they get new customers when they have actual competition who have lower prices? Ie, Hulu or Amazon or itunes?

Hulu Plus is $8/month, and has advertising. Sorry; ads I can get on cable. Amazon Prime is $79/year ($6.67/month), but recent tv shows and movies aren't free ($2 to $3 per episode). Amazon has less content than Netflix (by a factor of about 2), but has more, recent TV shows. As far as "more movies than are watchable in one lifetime" -- it isn't the quantity, it's whether they have what you want to see. I like foreign movies and TV shows, and the selection on Netflix is pretty good; I don't really know how Amazon is in this regard, but the unsubstantiated rumor is, not so great. As for iTunes, I have no insight.

2 days ago
top

In the US, Rich Now Work Longer Hours Than the Poor

tsqr Re:Nope (306 comments)

There are various state and federal mandated benefits that must be provided to workers who work 35+ hours a week

The only federally mandated benefits I'm aware of, aside from the impending ACA regulations, are social security, medicare, COBRA, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation insurance and those have nothing to do with the number of hours worked. Some states require disability insurance, and that is not dependent on hours worked. Of course, the only ones that cost the employee nothing are workers comp and unemployment. The astute reader may have noticed that none of these benefits actually do anything for the employee until the employee either retires, loses his job, gets injured, or works past Social Security "full retirement" age.

The federal government does not require employers to provide vacation time, holidays, sick time, or any other form of paid leave regardless of the number of hours worked. The only federally mandated leave is Family and Medical Leave, which is unpaid.

On the other hand, there are long-standing requirements for health care benefits, ACA aside. Basically, this means that if an employer chooses to offer health insurance, that insurance must cover certain specific conditions. But until the ACA employer mandate takes effect, employers are not required to offer insurance at all, and if they do offer insurance, they can make up any eligibility rules they want, including minimum hours/week.

2 days ago
top

Netflix Plans To Raise Prices By "$1 or $2 a Month"

tsqr New Customers (194 comments)

Many posters seem to have missed the part of the story that said the rate increase applies to new customers only. I suppose that some existing Netflix subscribers may quit as a result of this based on general principles or a feeling that existing subscribers will eventually feel the bite, but this is not the same sort of general price increase that caused people to drop the service in droves last time around. Personally, I don't much care either way; I like the service, and $2.00 a month is 'way below the noise floor.

2 days ago
top

Netflix Plans To Raise Prices By "$1 or $2 a Month"

tsqr Re:Repeat July 2011 (194 comments)

I'll be in the first wave myself.

If you're going to quit, you must be an existing customer, which means you won't see a rate increase. Are you going to quit as a statement of principle?

2 days ago
top

In a Hole, Golf Courses Experiment With 15-inch Holes

tsqr Re:...news for nerds.. (402 comments)

Dang it, I forgot the <sarcasm> tag again.

2 days ago
top

In a Hole, Golf Courses Experiment With 15-inch Holes

tsqr Re:...news for nerds.. (402 comments)

whats your definition of a sport?

A game in which the spectators are able to scream at the top of their lungs, throw cups of beer at the officials, blast air horns, toot vuvuzelas, and/or wave fun noodles while the contestants are trying to concentrate on scoring points. Golf, tennis, and bowling are examples of competitive games that could be considered sports if one or more of these elements were present.

3 days ago
top

Vintage 1960s Era Film Shows IRS Defending Its Use of Computers

tsqr Re:Uproar? (146 comments)

So are values such an interest paid to the bank, and income from stocks not pre-filled?

Nope. You get the blank forms from the government, W-2 (employer statements containing income and withholding numbers), and statements from banks and investment firms. Employers and banks and such are required by law to deliver the tax statements by the end of January each year, but it's not uncommon for financial institutions to be significantly late (this is a popular reason for the filing of extensions). Lots of opportunities for transpositions and transcription errors as you manually copy numbers from one form to another. Must be really fun for people who suffer from dyslexia.

I've been filing my taxes electronically for years, and quite frankly, I can't remember whether the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board are even sending me the instruction booklets and blank forms any more (which would be fine, as they would just go directly into the trash).

about a week ago
top

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

tsqr Re:Militia, then vs now (1615 comments)

Who said anything about an ideal "free" society?. Society is not based upon the idea of depriving people of their rights, but it is at least partially based upon discouraging behavior that works against the goals of society. You seem to have "rights" and "human behavior" a little confused. I'm pretty sure there has never been a Constitutionally or statutorily guaranteed right in the USA for average citizens to commit murder.

about a week ago
top

Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

tsqr Re:Militia, then vs now (1615 comments)

strict Constitutionalists in the U.S. believe the Constitution brooks no amending, somehow it was born of immaculate conception and henceforth shall remain ever as is until fossilized.

No. Strict Constitutionalists don't have any problem with amending the Constitution by the Constitutionally established processes. They do, however, have a problem with ignoring the Constitution.

It always amuses me when people who raged against depriving one class of people of their rights (see Proposition 8), are so eager to deprive another class of people of their rights. And please -- resist the temptation to go off on an off-topic rant about human rights. I voted against Prop 8.

about a week ago
top

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

tsqr Re:I just use TurboTax (386 comments)

If you're getting refunds, you have too much withheld, and are giving the government an interest-free loan.

$500 refund means an average "loan" of $250 for the year. At today's interest rates, that means I lose about $2.00 over the course of the year. Kind of gets lost in the noise when your total taxes exceed $20K.

about a week ago
top

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

tsqr Re:It's better in the UK (386 comments)

Better that taxes cause a little pain. It reminds me once a year how screwed up our tax system is. If they make it too easy, people will forget about how much is being skimmed off their paychecks.

I'd mod you up if I hadn't already commented. Turbo Tax makes the process pretty painless, but looking at that "total taxes paid" figure is always an eye-opener.

about a week ago
top

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

tsqr Re:Prefilled, confirm by SMS (386 comments)

so you never get tempted to spend the government's money.

You know, I really don't object to having to pay taxes, but I have never considered it to be "the government's money", because they wouldn't get any of it unless I worked hard to have it available for them in the first place. The annual tax-filing fiesta is really the only time I get a meaningful look at how much I pay for the government services I receive. Well, mostly the government services received by those less fortunate than me, but that's OK; I'd rather be paying for services I don't use than be dependent on those services. I'd rather go through the filing process and be aware of the total bill, than to have it done automatically and be blissfully unaware. Looking at the deductions on my paycheck just don't have the same impact as crunching the numbers and looking at the annual total.

about a week ago
top

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

tsqr Re:I just use TurboTax (386 comments)

I figured my taxes manually and filed via snail mail for many, years. Then one year I had a dyslexic moment and entered the amount for excess social security withholding on the wrong line (I think it was the line for Railroad Retirement?). The chaos that ensued and the degree of difficulty involved in assuring the IRS that I wasn't trying to cheat, convinced me that it was worth the small cost of Turbo Tax to make sure it never happened again. For the past 5 years I've e-filed and received both Fed and State refunds in February.

about a week ago
top

IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

tsqr Re:This happened to my wife (631 comments)

the Republicans only too willing to attribute it to the the Evil Obama

This little gem is in Section 14219 of the "Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008". You may recall that the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate back then. So maybe attributing it to the Evil Obama isn't that far off the mark.

about a week ago
top

This 1981 BYTE Magazine Cover Explains Why We're So Bad At Tech Predictions

tsqr Re:It was a "joke" back then (275 comments)

And yet, some sci-fi authors have shown amazing technology foresight. In the dystopian novel "Shockwave Rider" (1975), John Brunner coined the term "worm" to describe a malicious program that propagates itself through a computer network. And though he failed to predict the smartphone, his protagonist uses public phone terminals to hack government computer systems and create new identities for himself. Really, a remarkable book.

about two weeks ago
top

This 1981 BYTE Magazine Cover Explains Why We're So Bad At Tech Predictions

tsqr Re:It was a "joke" back then (275 comments)

they get one invention or innovation right, but every invention and innovation has to be understood in the context of the million other inventions, innovations, and social changes that surround it.

In "The World Set Free" (published in 1914), H. G. Wells described a devastating nuclear weapon that continued to "explode" over a period of days or weeks. Very advanced technology, indeed. But they were launched by hand, from biplanes, after the pilot initiated the reaction by biting a fuse.

about two weeks ago
top

Google Buys Drone Maker Titan Aerospace

tsqr Re:Live Google Maps? (41 comments)

I think the families of Malaysian Flight 370 might have something to say about that.

I'm sure they would, but the original question was about Google Earth, not ISR.

If you want continuous coverage of all the world's oceans (you would, right; who knows where the next aircraft would disappear to?), then the coverage area balloons from 57.3 million square miles, to about 197 square miles. So, roughly quadruple the number of aircraft required to about 1200. Unit cost would be somewhere between $5 million and $10 million; at the lower number figure $6 billion or so just for the aircraft. Add in ground support equipment, control equipment and people to run the system, and you're starting to talk about some real money. In the history of commercial aviation, a total of 4 commercial passenger airliners have been lost (by which I mean, they disappeared and no trace was ever found), not counting MH370. If MH370 is never found, it will be the first to be lost since 1962.

about two weeks ago
top

Google Buys Drone Maker Titan Aerospace

tsqr Re:Live Google Maps? (41 comments)

If they send up enough sats, could they make google maps realtime?

Realtime sounds like you're asking for the video edition of Google Earth. Let's assume you meant "updated frequently" instead. We'll also assume you're not interested in continuously updated images of empty ocean.

Land surface area of our planet is about 57.3 million square miles. An aircraft at 65,000 ft has an observable "footprint" of a circle 600 miles in diameter; that's about 283,000 square miles. So at first blush, it looks like you'd need 203 or so aircraft to cover the land area. But you'd need substantially more aircraft, because equal-sized circles don't pack without a lot of overlap (for example, with a hexagonal pattern, 14 circles of unit diameter are required to cover a rectangle of 8 square units); aside from that, you probably aren't going to get usable imagery at the extreme edges of the footprint. There's also the inefficiency involved in covering small, isolated islands. You can get by with fewer aircraft if you can live with a lower refresh rate and can have each aircraft orbit with a wide radius rather than try to stay in one location. On the other hand, you're going to need a lot of spare aircraft, because even though they're solar powered, they depend on things like motors and batteries and servo actuators to stay aloft and operate through the night time and stay on station, and those things don't last forever.

Then there's the issue of single-event upsets and single-event latchups, which can be a major problem at the altitudes we're talking about. It's also very cold at 65,000 ft, so a lot of stuff that would be OK at the surface is going to have to be heated to stay operational at altitude, which means more batteries and a bigger solar array. Then, although their routine operation would be autonomous, there will have to be some level of human monitoring, because you'd sort of like to avoid having airplanes full of lithium batteries falling into urban areas.

So yeah, it could be done in theory. In practice, it might be too expensive.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

tsqr hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

tsqr has no journal entries.

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...