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Comment Re:bastard theives (Score 1) 82

I don't know if it's intentionally designed into the system, or if it's just a happy accident for them. The pattern seems to be to continue charging people for things like modems and set-top boxes and hope that they don't notice for six months, and then offer to refund three months of charges as a "goodwill gesture" or some other nonsense that makes it sound like they're doing you a favor.

I haven't had this myself, but my brother cancelled his cable TV service and gathered up the equipment and turned it in to the local office. For the first couple of months, they continued to bill him full price, apparently having neglected to actually cancel his account. Unfortunately, he had given them access to his checking account, so they just took the money. When he called to complain, they said they had now cancelled his account and it would take 6-8 weeks to refund him. This happened a few times, and then they finally agreed that his account was cancelled, but then started charging him for not returning the equipment. This went on for another couple of months. In all of this, they managed to overdraft his checking account at least once. It was a mess.

Comment Re:One hour: (Score 1) 138

Fine. But the answer isn't for the legislature to pass a law. It's for teachers to pick up a great program that works some programming skills into their normal lessons. Get a little bit of coding into a few lessons that actually mean something to the kids, rather than having a special hour where you baffle them with programming bullshit. And in that scenario, all we need to do is spend a little money developing classroom curricula for teachers who can use them to teach a lesson+programming.

Comment Re:Witness the Wastelandroid (Score 1) 130

I don't spend a lot of money on apps in a given year. Most often, $0. But I don't think it's because I'm cheap; I just don't spend a lot of time interacting with my phone. Most of my data usage is from tethering my laptop while traveling. I've had the (Android) phone for around 3-4 years. In that time, I have installed roughly seven apps that didn't come with the phone. They were all free, but four of them were created by megacorps and the other three are rarely used, tiny freebies that never advertise or ask for money. I just don't have any motivation to go out and browse the app marketplace to find and purchase software that I'm unlikely to use.

Comment Re:So what are we to do? (Score 1) 77

Yeah, so my taxes, including all relevant forms sent to me and a PDF of my final return, are stored on my primary computer's hard drive. In order to steal them, someone has to come to my house and steal my computer. And probably everything else of value that I own. And most burglars probably aren't that interested in income tax fraud schemes. They're making their money hocking my TV, not committing secondary white-collar crimes.

Comment Re:What the heck is "BCE"? What's wrong with "BC"? (Score 2) 118

The first documented instance of the Vulgaris Aerae (Vulgar Era, meaning “Common Era”) being used interchangeably with Anno Domini was featured in Latin works by Johannes Kepler in 1615, 1616, and 1617. The English version of phrase later appeared in 1635 in an English translation of Kepler’s 1615 work. (In the mid-seventeenth century the English “vulgar” took on a new definition of “coarse,” but it wouldn’t be until this “coarse/unrefined” definition would become more common in the 20th century that referring to the Vulgar Era would cease.) [1]

It's not like this is a new thing. And it really doesn't matter in ordinary conversation, at least for most of us. But when publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, it makes sense to use the terminology of science, which does not recognize Jesus as "Christ" with all of the associated baggage.


Comment Re: It's houses, dummy (Score 5, Insightful) 490

In 1977, the median income for a 30-year-old man was about $10,000, or $41,500 adjusted for inflation [1]. Today, the median income for a 30-year-old man is about $35,000 [1]. The median home sale price in 1977 was about $49,000, or $203,000 inflation-adjusted [2]. The median home sale price today is about $325,000 [2]. In 1977, a 4-year college degree at an in-state, public institution cost less than $4,000, or about $16,000 inflation-adjusted for tuition and fees [3]. Today, that's $38,600.

These are only a few rough indicators, but the point is this: a millennial or gen-xer today makes 84% in real terms of what his counterpart did in 1977; his education costs more than twice as much and has gone from something he could pay for completely with a summer job to more than a full year's salary; the house he's looking at has gone from 4 years' salary to nearly 10 years', and a 20% down payment has gone from about 3 months' salary to about two years'.

These, for example, are reasons that millennials have it tougher than previous generations.


Comment Re:Prepare for deluge of stupid (Score 2) 481

I am a scientist who has done some work on climate change issues. I usually completely ignore Slashdot stories about climate because I know that the whole comment thread will be people repeating the same arguments to each other about whether or not climate change exists, or is anthropogenic, or is a bad thing, or whatever. What value is there in repeating these stale talking points to each other over and over again? How many of the deniers are just trolls who don't care one way or another, but enjoy baiting others with long-debunked claims and other alternative facts?

At any rate, that may be one reason you see so many deniers here. Many of us who are persuaded by the evidence are already so far past the Slashdot-level conversation, there's practically no point in participating.

Comment Re:Technical Debt (Score 2) 141

I think it'll be a super hard sell to get them to do a hard reboot on their whole system. But why not begin introducing a service oriented architecture that could be gradually rolled out and replace systems incrementally? Start with the most fragile systems and linkages and rebuild the whole system in situ?

I mean, I know it'll be more complicated than that simple statement, but at least it's a better plan than trying to install better and better windproofing to prevent the house of cards from toppling.

Comment Re:When will it change? (Score 5, Insightful) 141

In fact, to enhance upon my reply from a few minutes ago, it appears that in 2006, Delta outsourced its IT operations to IBM [1]. It was a seven year agreement, so I don't know who does it now. But I doubt it's Delta.

Assuming this is still the situation: I don't know on what continent Delta's IT people are stationed at this point, but that's hardly the issue. The issue is, wherever they are, they aren't competently managing Delta's IT infrastructure. They had a similarly airline-grounding outage in August, about six months ago.

If management were able to recognize the value of investment in IT, they could have taken steps over the years to develop a system that isn't this fragile. Presumably, back in 2006, when they went into bankruptcy, someone convinced them that IT wasn't a "core competency" because it would save the airline a bunch of money to outsource it. Since then, they've been accumulating tech debt because nobody at HQ actually owns IT anymore... they think it's just a service that they pay for. It doesn't appear to be working out for them.


Comment When will it change? (Score 3, Insightful) 141

How long can the airlines go on like this? Somewhere in office buildings around the country, there are MBAs and accountants working for various airlines who have compared the cost of in-house IT with the cost of outsourcing, and they all once decided that outsourcing was best. Somehow, I doubt they've included in their calculations the true frequency (and therefore cost) of IT failures that ground the entire airline for days. As these events stack up, these guys are going to have to re-evaluate their models for predicting the frequency and severity of failures, and at some point it's going to look like a good idea to have a real IT staff on-hand to keep systems working in the first place, and to deal with it when shit hits the fan.

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