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Comment Stupid and dangerous (Score 1) 109

I think this idea is stupid and dangerous. Just image you have your entire house covered with this kind of wilreless plug.

With ordinary appliances you can be fairly certain they're safe if you pull the plug. With a gizmo that taps a wireless power source in your house you can never be.

If for some reason you want to do something to a device that's less than safe if it's plugged in you run a risk. If you want the device to be guaranteed shut off. e.g. because you want to clean it under the tap, or because it overheats (potentially causing a fire), or because you want to screw it open, you may have a serious problem.

If you want to ensure some sneaky piece of hardware (like a "smart" TV set with voice command operation) is really off're out of luck. If you've bought an appliance with IOT functionality that you don't want on all the time ... tough.

As I've noted before, in this age of networked machines, the real issue is control. Who controls a given piece of hardware? You or the manufacturer? The manufacturer has several ways he can monetise control over an application. Ranging from privacy intrusion to enforcement of policies.

Most ordinary people, good little consumers as they are, have already lost this contest. Their "smart" hardware can be under manufacturer control for all they know and may phone home and collect and transmit personal ("anonimised") data back to the manufacturer as that manufacturer sees fit. This basically applies to anyone who uses a smartphone, a recent car, or any kind of networked piece of electronics in "consumer mode". Only people with interest in (and expertise in) hacking and controlling their stuff can retain control.

It will also allow the manufacturer to enforce all kinds of "policies" on the user of that appliance. E.g. a printer will stop printing when the ink cartridge tells it the allotted number of prints has been reached. Regardless of how much in is left in the cartridge. Or a "smart" espresso machine that refuses to work with any but the manufacturers own coffee cups. Or a console will refuse to play a non-authorised game. Several e-readers will refuse to display files that aren't on "allowed" servers, plus they will tattle about what you read, when, and for how long. If you're unable to run Wireshark on your home network (or simply lack the time) you may never know.

This cordless plug is simply the next step towards a world where individuals' control over their home and the stuff in it is diluted and either off-loaded to whichever party thinks they can monetise a little piece of control over your personal surroundings, or routed through some piece of electronics that exercises actual control instead of the appliances' owner and balk in an emergency.

If I want an appliance to work, I'll find somewhere to plug it in.

Comment On the money (Score 2) 387

Mr. Gates is probably on the money.

Just consider this: in today's society a significant proportion of people (US citizens) are out of work. It's not that they are useless trash ... but by and large they're not worth the wages they need to support a normal life. The labour market has determined that they are surplus to requirements.

The reasons they are discarded vary.

Mostly it's competition from within. Companies always shop for the best price performance ratio. In production machinery, printers, staples, and employees. So they sort applicants and current workers by price-performance ratio, and try to make their workforce structure resemble as much as possible the optimum available in the job market. Through hire and fire policy. Maintaining that "best match" with the labour market is the main reason companies have an HR department. No hard feelings, just business.

Competition can also come from outside though. Examples are H1B visa and illegal immigrants from Mexico. Please note that there could never have been any issue whatsoever with illegal immigrants if employers weren't prepared to employ undocumented applicants. But they are ... because it benefits them directly. H1B immigrants are the clearest example of people being selected on basis of their cost/benefit ratio that I know of.

Approximately the same holds for automation. Throughout the ages, as technology advanced people were expelled from one type of function (e.g. agriculture, manufacturing, mining) and had to seek employ in another function (farmers becoming labourers, labourers going to work in the service industries, etc.). An example is the industrial revolution. Historically that has led to a massive shift in the job market (farming to industry), unemployment, a large drop in wages, terrible working conditions, misery, and widespread exploitation of people by employers. Society finally regained its equilibrium after a century or so, in part due to the threat of revolution.

The only difference is that the current technology is poised to make certain groups of people uneconomical to employ. It's not just that their jobs disappear, it's jobs of the kind they are capable of doing become prone to being automated.

Take the 6 mln. or so truckers.we have now. We can replace one third of them with self-driving trucks, at huge benefits. Now what other work would somebody who likes being a trucker be good at? Not sitting indoors and shuffling paper I suppose.

Take the car industry. Plants today are highly robotised. Cheaper, better, more flexible. More automobile workers surplus to requirements. What type of work would they be good at? What kind of work are they trained for?

Take scores of people in administrative functions like the insurance industry. Doing administration and processing claims can increasingly be done by software. AI or not. Lets replace them. Miners (remember those hopeful Trump voters in mining villages) are on the way out because coal is being pushed out of the market and not coming back.

Take ready made products. Those can be made far cheaper abroad and then shipped to the US. Despite the little temper tantrums by Pres. Trump and his supporters it's not economically feasible for the US to stop that. Other economies would overtake the US and start dominating it. So it's probably not going to happen to any meaningful degree for any meaningful length of time.

The list of labour displacing developments goes on. And on.

All this wouldn't be a problem if we could readily think of other (paid !) work we could let the freshly turned-surplus-to-requirements workers do. But can we? Really?

I don't see it and I'm no longer optimistic we will think of something genuinely new.

In any event, we have limited options to respond.

We could delay or even *temporarily) halt the economic mechanisms that push workers into the surplus bin. And cut our own throat, economically speaking.

We could simply tell the unemployed to drop dead. Dangerous. Gives civil unrest, increased crime rates, and allows even more people like Trump and Bannon to float to the top.

We could provide unemployment benefits for those discarded by the labour market and put them into storage until they're needed.

By and large I think it will be option 3.

Only ... providing lots more employment benefits will cost money. Lots of money. Where to get that without wrecking the economy? Well, a tax on robots and other job-replacing technology is a start.

If just about anybody but Bill Gates had put this idea forward, they would have been trounced as socialists, pinko's, bleeding heart liberals, etc. When Mr. Gates says it ... some people actually start to think. That's good.

I'm sure that a tax on robots is something that can easily be done in ways that cause more harm than good ... but I'm not convinced a way to do it right doesn't exist. So lets give Mr. Gates's idea the courtesy of a thorough study, shall we?

It wouldn't be the first time he saw a trend that everybody else didn't (until it was upon them).

Comment Use the Slashdor moderating system perhaps? (Score 1) 477

It's true. Lots of people post absolute trash that's not even worth the time required to skip, and clutters up threads. The question is how to purge the garbage without stifling informed dissent.

One of the things I like about Slashdot is its moderating system and the differentiation between AC posts and those by re-used nyms in addition to its folding structure. Makes it easy to skip lowly valued posts (which usually turn out to be trash). That does a fair job of helping to sift the grain from the chaff.

Why not try Slashdot's moderating system?

Comment Re:Kindly read the stuff you quote first (Score 1) 660


Kindly read the stuff you quote first

That's just your problem - I did.

Good good good. I see you're ready for the next course then: reading comprehension. Comes after reading. You're making progress here !

If you'd just read my post, you might notice that I don't claim you'll jump into the top 1% as a result of a university education.

See above. Bootstrap bullshit is still bullshit.

Sorry, but I think that bootstrap statistics is a bit too advanced at this point. Let's focus on percentiles for now. I think that subject still needs some work.

American kids have all the opportunities they need to go to university

Not without people like you sneering at them a second time for taking out student loans they couldn't afford, if their degree/career choice doesn't pay out.

I would never do that. Fortunately all Ivy Leage universities offer grants. See e.g. Means tuition plus living costs are paid for you, without the need to take out a loan. Of course you need to be exceptional to very very good (I personally don't think I would have qualified). So let's skip the subject of scholarships ... I can see why that might not be applicable in your case ... and discuss tuition fees.

For the top schools they're horrendous, meaning you fall into a great big black hole if you don't finish the course. I'd be plenty scared of that myself. So yes, you have a point there.

There are some universities that charge relatively low fees though: see here.

If you're hard up for cash there are universities for "ordinary" folk that also provide full tuition, sometimes supplemented by 15 hr a week plus 40 hr workweeks during breaks. See here: Not the easiest route, and you need to show financial need, but doable.

If that's not to your liking, then lets discuss alternatives. For example: getting an education through the military. See here:

That's decidedly not for everyone. You'll need to enlist, you need prove yourself to the military (not the easiest proposition) and you bind yourself to complete your term of service, regardless of whether you pass the course. See here: If you don't mind serving in the military (risk of being send abroad and shot at, must adapt to life in the military) in return for a scholarship (and are confident that you can actually do it), it's a really nice deal.

So, in summary, there are four ways to go to university if you're hard up for cash and don't want to risk a huge loan: (1) through a scholarship or grant (requires high to exceptional talent) (2) by choosing a less well-known university added to (slightly) above average talent and hard work (3) the military, (requires special aptitude). (4) Choosing an inexpensive university and working on-and-off (quite hard, but not impossible).

You're an alcoholic, cocaine abusing draft dodger with a 2.0 gpa? To the White House with you - after being handed a few multimillion dollar businesses to run into the ground, because of your last name.

Yes, that's right. I applied to the White House with evidence of the abovementioned qualifications but it appears there can be only one President at the time and that position was already taken. Boy do I feel out of luck now.

Comment Ban temporary lifted for the wrong reasons (Score 5, Insightful) 476

Whilst I'm happy that the ban has been rescinded (at least in part and until mr. Trump files an appeal with the Supreme Court after he has molded it to his liking) I feel it's for the wrong reasons.

Not one word about translators and guides for the US army in Iraq who have served faithfully and got a visa after intense vetting as a reward. Not one word about the reliability of the vetting procedures already in place, the probability of inadvertently admitting terrorists on visa already issued or about substituting security theatre for security. Not one word about the justification (or lack thereof) of a measure that hits people who have lived here for 10+ years without problems and can't travel abroad because they'll be stopped at the border.

No. The only thing that counted was: Washington state filed a complaint that companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks (not people !) have suffered immediate and irreparable (financial) loss. That was decisive.

Ugh. I'm getting a drink.

Comment Kindly read the stuff you quote first (Score 1) 660


Whilst I could have typed the text you suggest, I didn't because it's not what I mean and in no way equivalent to what I wrote.

If you'd just read my post, you might notice that I don't claim you'll jump into the top 1% as a result of a university education. I do claim that American culture works against success at university, which is true, that American students aren't very motivated to study "hard" (STEM) subjects, which is true, and that foreign students we get here are, which is also true.

Your post can in fact be used to illustrate the point. The blog in the Washington Post you refer to fails to support your claim in several ways.

First it refers to income percentiles, not absolute income. Whilst I would dearly love to claim otherwise, successfully completing one of our university courses does not in itself catapult you into the top income brackets. Being a lawyer, doctor, engineer, researcher doesn't (barring exceptions of course). Going into business or banking does that. The mere fact that you automatically associate success with income percentiles and pronounce upward mobility a failure based on what probability you have to enter the top percentiles illustrates my point. Chinese and Indian students consider becoming assistant professor at a reputable university, or researcher in industry, or a good consultant or generally a definite success. You apparently don't.

Second the graph you refer to only shows that the distribution of which income percentile you'll end up in, depending on how rich your parents were, is skewed. Whilst it does point to rich kids having an advantage, it also shows that 67% of college graduates end up in above-average (actually 40% plus percentile) income categories versus 49% of rich high-school dropouts. Score one for education I'd say.

In third place, have a look at Figure 11: social mobility matrix, college graduate in the Reeves and Sawhill (working) paper your blog reference is based on:

It shows the strong positive influence of getting a college degree. Note also that the figures those graphs display are based on simulation model outcomes (not observations !), but I'm prepared to accept them as valid for the moment (until proven otherwise).

Can we perhaps get back to the topic at hand now? The question was: do we need universities to "educate American kids first" (i.e. throw overseas students out)?

The answer remains: NO.

American kids have all the opportunities they need to go to university, but then (for various and sometimes quite valid reasons) decide not to. Relieving the disadvantage of an American education and participating in American culture might be a start however.

Comment Find American kids who want to be trained first (Score 1) 660

A passable university education is open to just about every American (although you need to be very bright and/or very rich to enter the top schools). If you have it in you to shine, that will come out in just about any university (after which you can often switch to a better school if you want). That's not the bottleneck.

The problem is: most American kids don't want to study any "hard" subjects.

Part of the reason is that they're saddled with serious deficiencies in high school (which they've got to make up for when they get to university through ... you got it ... steep learning curves and hard work).

Part of the reason is that American culture doesn't sit well with concentration and intellectual endeavours. Students need "encouragement" to switch off their g*dforsaken cellphones during lectures and in class. Many American students have trouble sitting still in a library and concentrating on their studies for single hour without fiddling with their phones, peeking at social media sites, or having background music in their ears all the time. That isn't conducive to STEM subjects at all, although people with lots of talent manage to shrug off that particular handicap.

Last but not least, many students (correctly) perceive that taking a tough STEM subject only sets them for a future as a cubicle-dwelling engineer, to be outsourced, downsized and off-shored by other students they partied with at university (who went for an MBA and were then appointed as their manager). Given the high cost of failing the course (or even getting low to really mediocre grades) and the higher-than-average probability of having this happen to them, the decision _not_ to pursue a STEM subject has certain rational underpinnings.

I'm sure the AC who did the parent post has never walked around, say, the graduate studies area at MIT, Stanford, UCI, Caltech or wherever. Half the graduate students at least are foreign. Simply because they're bright, motivated, and hard-working. Block those from coming and you lose half the brainpower. And half your competitive advantage as a university.

So, no. It's a lot more complicated than Trumpian bellygood duckspeak of "American kids First" suggests.

American kids have all the opportunities they need for STEM studies. What they require is better career prospects, more appreciation, and mitigation of the handicaps imposed by their culture and the high schools they're sent to.

Comment Confusion, illogic, and belligerence (Score 0) 437


Your response has all the confusion, illogic and belligerence of a typical Trump supporter.

(1) If the objective really were to protect the US job market in the most efficient way ... then mr. Trump would simply have reduced the quota for H1-B visa. Only he didn't. Or he would have ensured that H1-B visa applicants get the same salary as US workers (removing their economic advantage in one sweep and pricing them out of the market). He didn't.

(2) If he wanted to protect the US job market from foreign competition within hours, rather than waiting for the visa application process to have an effect, he would have had someone find out what the largest contingent of immigrants is and he would have retracted some of the H1-B visa from India or China. He didn't.

(3) If he'd wanted to "protect" US security, he would still have admitted e.g. those with a valid visa who _served the US army_ as interpreters and guides for years (thereby risking their lives and that of their families) ... went through an intensive screening process ... and finally got a visa as reward for their services. He didn't. He hung them all out to dry and sent a message to the world: "America's word is worth *nothing*. Don't trust its promises, and don't serve its cause when it asks for assistance because no matter what you're promised the next (or current) president might wipe his backside with promises made". Well done mr. Trump. America needs no credibility and no friends ... after all ... you can't *have* any friends if it's "America First", right?

So it's more than likely he wasn't trying to "protect" anything but his right-wing image. He is also (as usual) trying to bait the powerless by slashing something they need... and waiting for those duped to raise their voice so he can double down on what he did, trample on them, and gloat.

Coming from him ... we understand. It's who the man was, is, and ever will be.

What gets me however is those supporters trying to justify his mean-spirited stupidity. Not be being smart, tough, creative, and shameless (like Mrs. Conway) but simply by totally confusing the issue so that meaningful discourse is swamped by people using caps to make a point that isn't.

Comment Gratuitous speculation (Score 2) 216


It's safe to say that your post is based on gratuitous speculation.

Reading the linked articles it appears that the man had done things, notably moving heavy objects and exiting the house through his bedroom window, alledgedly between the start of the fire and him leaving the building, that were inconsistent with a cardiologist's estimate, on examination of the pacemaker data, of his body's maximum power output around that time. That's a pretty solid piece of evidence.

The obvious conclusions is that this man moved his stuff out of the house _before_ the sire started, simply because he'd have to spread the required power output over a longer period than he left had when he reported the fire..

As far as I can estimate such thiings (IANAL, etc.), this would be pretty convincing to a jury. Regardless of the quality of his legal defense.

Comment Re:Consumer versus corporatetems maintenance for y (Score 1) 498


Pleased to be of service in helping to bring you up to speed with modern thinking on the proper relationship between copyright owner and license purchaser.

You might be a bit behind the times on the vasselage ceremony of course. There's no vasselage ceremony anymore, except perhaps for really major accounts. The last one being the one with IBM on November 6, 1980 (see e.g. )

That has all been superseded by the EULA. Rollout of a new EULA remains an impressive ceremony though. Sometimes even a Vice President attends. In rare cases a Senior Vice President.

The vasselage ceremony you're yearning for has been superseded by a button-click. Sorry.

Perhaps Microsoft will, on request, organise mass vasselage ceremonies across the country. You may petition them for it (after crossing their palm with silver).

Comment Liability for patches (Score 1) 498


I was thinking along these ( ) lines. If companies can incur liability for not applying patches in a timely manner, then Microsoft can conceivably incur liability for not providing them. That was in 2003.

Microsoft have been actively considering the issue. Even if their legal department is doing a good job of keeping would-be plaintiffs at arms length. See also here: ( [note: paywall].

I am not a lawyer of course, but I have a lively interest in many things legal ... especially insofar as they pertain to liability.

If I were in Microsoft's position, I'd probably listen to legal counsel as they advised me to minimise my exposure to potential claims, simply by showing due dilligence in providing patches. Regardless of the quality of the underlying software and the quality of the patches, being able to show due dilligence to a jury will make it that much more difficult for any claimant to strike paydirt. Plus it's good to keep control over your product. If you can do maintenance, you can do telemetry.You never know when it comes in handy.

Comment Consumer versus corporatetems maintenance for you. (Score 4, Insightful) 498

I wonder if you're running a retail version of MS Windows or a corporate one.

As far as I'm aware the difference is that with the retail version, Miscrosoft takes the view that it has to perform system maintenance (like updates) for you. As part of what you buy. Of course, in such a setting it makes no sense to allow the end-user to postpone updates or any other systems maintenance. Microsoft might get sued if it doesn't patch certain vulnerabilities in time, so it can't have end-users interfering with its maintenance work. That's a conscious decision on Microsoft's part.

With the corporate edition (as far as I'm aware) the IT department is in control, and IT (no pun intended) determines what when where and how updates will take place. Not you (the end user). Not Microsoft. The company IT department. Of course, the average IT department will honour requests that it should not interrupt ongoing work by users ... so it may offer them the standard option to delay updates (for at most 48 hours or so). Servers and such are under even tighter control by IT. Simply because most corporations will not accept anything less. Their interest in continuity of production is paramount and they have the means and the incentive to enforce their preferences. Most private customers don't.

What this illustrates is a shift from the classic "I own it so I control it" idea to the "you're buying a service from us and we'll license you our software to deliver it - just don't get any funny notions about ownership" idea.

It all depends on what packge you buy how you're treated. Buy a consumer grade package, get consumer grade treatment. You're lucky they don't display adds (yet) while updating and then require you to press a button every minute (or they'll stop the updating process until you do).

Comment Re:Hey look! (Score 4, Insightful) 199

At first I was a bit excited. Compiling a fancy high level language to C or C++? Sounds interesting, right?

Then I clicked through from the standard Slashdot post to the Infoworld article to see what was really going on.

Nothing good.

(1) The language is (after _10_ years of effort) in release version 0.16 (2) under the heading of "What it takes to get to 1.0" we get: "[...] Nim's biggest disadvantage right now is the relatively small community of users involved in its development -- an understandable drawback given its status as an independent work. Development is led by the language's creator, Andreas Rumpf, but it's not a full-time effort. Compiler bugs still pop up regularly. Even moderately old code examples may no longer be useful due to changes, and it can be hard to find out what those changes are without closely following the project's development. [...]"

Right. I've heard enough. Keep that crap and don't bother posting until you've got version 1.0 done.

I would be interested in a tool, not in yet another half-baked DIY project.

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