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Comment Buying stuff? (Score 1) 102

If you thought buying stuff was hard on a cell phone, try doing your homework on your cell phone. You laugh. But I seriously see an increasing number of college students today trying to finish their online homework assignments using their cell phones. Interestingly, usually these are the ones that score rather poorly on assignments. I cannot imagine how someone can possibly think that doing homework on their cell phone is a good idea.

Comment OS X / Ubuntu / Windows 7 (Score 1) 326

My primary desktop system in the office is a 2015 Retina Macbook Pro 15" (El Capitan), with dual 17" external displays connected (total of 3 displays counting the onboard screen). I also have a separate Windows 7 Lenovo Thinkpad that I use for teaching (since it has the stylus and touch screen that Apple does not support). I also administer a small computing laboratory consisting of five Dell Optiplex workstations running Ubuntu 14. At home, I have a 27" iMac running El Capitan, with about 10 TB of external disk storage.

Comment How many of us are actually calling tech support? (Score 1) 209

I think most of these complaints about tech support being "unbearable", while legitimate complaints, are things most of us that are fairly technologically literate don't have to deal with often. Why? Because the methods most of us geeks use to solve problems are the logical ones -- if something doesn't work as expected, as Google it and see if someone else experienced the same thing, or check the manual (gasp!). If something is defective, we RMA it back to the manufacturer and get a new one, and don't waste hours on tech support calls. If the product is something we use for business, the company will probably have a service contract and we'll talk to someone right away if needed. If, for some reason, we have to call tech support, we'll call and put the phone on speakerphone while the annoying advertising muzak plays in the background while we go about our business solving other problems, so when somebody finally picks up the phone, we start talking. 95% of the people that call the mainstream tech support lines are mainly the technologically illiterate folks that couldn't identify an SD card from an HDMI cable if it hit them in the face. The people that have the unfortunate task of having to talk with these people, realize that the process of actually educating them is futile, and make every effort to get them off the phone as quickly as possible, so that they have more time to solve the problems of the 5% of the people calling that actually know their ass from a hole in the ground.

Comment Why? (Score 3, Insightful) 65

My car automatically connects to my phone via Bluetooth every time I get in. I can listen to mp3 music over the car stereo, talk to someone via hands free, or even listen to pandora over the phone's LTE connection (though I have enough mp3s that I don't have to). I can even use the phone's GPS to tell me where I am and give me instructions through the car stereo on where I need to go. I don't need an extra monthly bill so that the car has its own connection. But capitalists love connected cars because the auto manufacturers can advertise the next generation "connected automobile" and the wireless companies get another monthly revenue stream. They're also hopeful on marketing this to parents so that they can have an internet connection available for their kids to watch Netflix or play games on long family trips instead of actually having to ***gasp*** socialize and interact with them.

Comment Copyright infringement vs. Extortion (Score 4, Insightful) 56

Sci-Hub is clearly engaging in copyright infringement by the definition of the law as written. But one could make a very good argument that Elsevier is also engaging in Extortion as well, by charging as much as $30-35 per paper to download a PDF. Is there any data out there on how many people actually pay these fees? Most people with access at a Carnegie Research I institution don't need to pay the fees, but there are a lot of smaller academic institutions whose libraries don't have the resources to subscribe to everything. The options are either email the author and ask for them to send you a copy (most of the time, this works), contact a colleague at another institution and ask them to send you a copy (many academics will do this for friends and collaborators), visit Sci-Hub and download it yourself, or pay the extortion fee and obtain it. Three of these options violate copyright laws as written, but the first two options have the advantage of maintaining contact with other researchers in your field and increasing communication, which can help your career. Do we really want to stifle this all in the name of making a few extra bucks for the publishing companies so that their stock can go up a quarter of a point?

Comment Re:This is why America needs President Trump (Score 2, Insightful) 284

Trump himself has used and abused the H1B visa system, and he's admitted it. Why? Because as a businessman himself, even he recognizes the opportunity to save money by importing cheaper foreign labor. Anyone that believes that Trump is somehow going to change his ways and be America's great labor force "savior" is just delusional.

Comment $30-$35 an article? (Score 1) 191

Who exactly made the decision that the going rate for a single scientific journal article was $30-35? That seems to be way too high. And who actually pays for that? Does anybody? Is there any data on how many of these exorbitant, highway robbery fees are actually paid? I seem to recall back in the 80s and 90s when doing research papers in the library, before things were online, students would keep a library copy card handy with maybe $25 or $50 on it to cover copying of journal articles needed for research. Because the copier would charge something like 5 or 10 cents per page. Students would readily pay this because it was easily explainable since you were getting a hard copy on paper. Now, with notebook computers and the like, you don't need to pay for copies, and you can print PDFs at home on your own printer (where you budget to buy paper by the ream. But even back in the 80s and 90s, part of that copying fee of 5 to 10 cents per page was for the copyright royalty fees to the publishers (the library still has to subscribe to the journal). I think if publishers would find a way to make their journals available for 50 cents to $1 per article, and also find a way for students and faculty to keep a small account somewhere for this, as opposed to having a separate account for every journal, they would see that more people are more than willing to pay a relatively modest fee for access to these journals. But I'm not sure if we can go back to that, either. Publishers may very well have burned all the bridges by extorting us with completely unreasonable fees in the interest of making their stock go up a quarter of a point. Ain't capitalism great?

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