Greg's recent activity

  1. Comment on Apple Event — April 20 in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    Fair - and this seems like it's designed to push that vanguard further into the professional/creative space. Blocking unapproved software is something that really concerns me, and every step in...

    Fair - and this seems like it's designed to push that vanguard further into the professional/creative space. Blocking unapproved software is something that really concerns me, and every step in that direction affects the industry as a whole.

    7 votes
  2. Comment on Apple Event — April 20 in ~tech

    Greg
    Link
    Everything old is new again. I actually quite like the new designs, but I can't say there's anything in there I'm overly excited about. The M1 iPad Pro actively worries me because I don't like the...

    Everything old is new again.

    I actually quite like the new designs, but I can't say there's anything in there I'm overly excited about. The M1 iPad Pro actively worries me because I don't like the idea of walled-garden machines becoming accepted as people's main computer.

    9 votes
  3. Comment on Why Amazon workers sided with the company over a union in ~finance

    Greg
    Link
    Related coverage from the BBC. It's well written - factual without veering into 'enlightened centrism' territory. ... It also covers Carla Johnson's story, mentioned in the NYT article as well -...

    Related coverage from the BBC. It's well written - factual without veering into 'enlightened centrism' territory.

    "You may end up with more, the same, or less" is the message from a union info-website set up by Amazon.

    In practice, it would be highly unusual for a union to negotiate away existing perks - and of course it would be Amazon taking away the benefits.

    ...

    Critics say that much of Amazon's narrative was based around the idea that workers would have to pay the union money. However, Alabama is a Right To Work state. No worker has to pay subs. So did Amazon break the law in their messaging?

    "It's not clear" says Prof John Logan, a labour expert at San Francisco State University.

    "They are very skilled in operating in the grey areas, that's why they're so effective. You know some of what they say is clearly legal. Other things are kind of pushing the boundaries of the law - and the weakness of the law."

    It also covers Carla Johnson's story, mentioned in the NYT article as well - the logic of "this company didn't literally leave me to die of cancer where others would have done, so I won't risk rocking the boat" is one of the most dystopian things I have ever heard. Even if there are legitimate arguments to be made about the faults with unions, that really doesn't strike me as one of them.

    8 votes
  4. Comment on So, I just turned down my vaccination ... did I make a mistake? in ~health.coronavirus

    Greg
    Link Parent
    There's a clinical trial in progress in the UK to get a better picture of what happens if you mix them, although Sputnik isn't part of the test group. Obviously there are two ways to read that:...

    There's a clinical trial in progress in the UK to get a better picture of what happens if you mix them, although Sputnik isn't part of the test group. Obviously there are two ways to read that: one being "hey, they think mixing may actually be beneficial", the other being "it's currently being carefully tested on just a few hundred people, perhaps it's best that @Eric_the_Cerise didn't conduct an unsanctioned test on themself".

    6 votes
  5. Comment on There's nothing to do except gamble - NFTs, SPACs, and the future of money in ~finance

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I don't disagree with you on any of the facts, but I think there's an important part of the picture missing there. It's not just that gambling is rewarded right now, it's that hard work and...

    I don't disagree with you on any of the facts, but I think there's an important part of the picture missing there. It's not just that gambling is rewarded right now, it's that hard work and patient investing often isn't.

    You've worked hard every day, followed the same path that gave your parents a home with two kids and space for them to play, and you find yourself in your 30s with two roommates, another decade at least of student loan payments, a housing market that far outpaces your earnings even if you could save anything significant for a deposit, and $6,000 to your name in what you optimistically call a pension pot.

    Is it rational to put that $6,000 in an index fund, knowing that it won't ever amount to more than a few months worth of expenses? Perhaps. It's better than losing it entirely. But it's hard to see that as a win when you've been doing everything "right" and you've got a negative net worth, no prospect of retirement, and little meaningful belief that'll change.

    If you're in that boat and then you see the gamblers making millions, why wouldn't you join them? What do you really have to lose?

    3 votes
  6. Comment on There's nothing to do except gamble - NFTs, SPACs, and the future of money in ~finance

    Greg
    Link
    This pretty much sums it up for me. The rest of the article seemed almost too moderate - I've mentioned on here already that the entire financial system has gone far past absurdity for me. The...

    If you’re supposed to buy stocks as a bet on the future condition of a business, why would you buy stock in a brick-and-mortar retail video-game chain unless you didn’t really believe in any future at all? How different is the stock market from betting on soccer? What’s the point of investing safely when Elon Musk can create and destroy millions of dollars of value with a couple of tweets?

    This pretty much sums it up for me. The rest of the article seemed almost too moderate - I've mentioned on here already that the entire financial system has gone far past absurdity for me. The emperor is doing naked cartwheels and the only rational response is to join in.

    I did find this article fascinating. It's linked from the words "get rich quick", just before the section I quoted above.

    I've cherry-picked more than I intended below, and I really would recommend just reading it in full, but I wanted to highlight the mismatch between the author's infuriating, blasé privilege (who cares about $200k), her human moments (hey, I can pay for $10 shipping), and her genuine flashes of insight (why do I get rewarded for being in the right place at the right time).

    Where's the value in hard work when the rewards and punishments are dished out almost at random? If most people grind for decades with nothing to show for it, why not gamble?

    I thought that I’d make a little bit from an IPO, maybe $200,000. You don’t think much about $200,000; it’s not life-changing.

    ...

    I’m not a generous person; I’m incredibly frugal. Now, my floodgates of generosity can finally open. My sister’s love language is gift-receiving, so I got her a candle from a local boutique. The shipping cost $10. Normally, I wouldn’t pay to ship, but now I’m like, No matter. I’ll pay the $10. It’s been a lot of minor expenses. Like, I bought a boutique cheese from the farmers’ market for $15. Before, I’d be like, That’s a ridiculous amount to spend on cheese. I don’t even like cheese that much.

    ...

    For me, the whole thing about the money is that I just want to afford the lifestyle I grew up with.

    ...

    My job, it’s all narrative. I don’t build anything. I don’t do any math equations. I’m corralling a bunch of pieces together, so in reality I’m doing everything and I’m doing nothing. It’s all about the perception of how you’re doing. It’s very intangible. So I constantly ask myself, Do I deserve this money? Why would I deserve this? It’s not necessarily an accomplishment to become rich from your company doing an IPO. It’s luck — I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It’s not like I’m any smarter than the tens of thousands of people who have my job at other companies.

    ...

    Being a tech worker is not like banking, where you know you’re not doing good for society. A lot of tech workers delude themselves into thinking they’re being “mission oriented.” I was never quite delusional enough to believe that. I was just hoping I didn’t do net harm, which in itself is hard to avoid in this industry.

    ...

    My mom has gotten bitter. She said, “You’re going to have more money than your dad and I combined, and we’ve worked all our lives.”

    4 votes
  7. Comment on $7.5B in stolen Bitcoin from 2016 Bitfinex Hack has just been moved in ~finance

    Greg
    Link Parent
    At current valuation it's one of the biggest thefts of any kind, ever, which is kind of fascinating to me. Largest ever bank robberies don't come close, and even the implausibly large fictional...

    At current valuation it's one of the biggest thefts of any kind, ever, which is kind of fascinating to me. Largest ever bank robberies don't come close, and even the implausibly large fictional heist in Die Hard is only one fifth of this ($640m in 1988, ~$1.5b inflation adjusted).

    2 votes
  8. Comment on What does analog have that digital doesn't? in ~talk

    Greg
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    I was reading about this the other week, and it turns out the Library of Congress has done a bit of research [PDF] on real and simulated CD ageing. It's still kind of a best guess, but it was cool...

    I was reading about this the other week, and it turns out the Library of Congress has done a bit of research [PDF] on real and simulated CD ageing. It's still kind of a best guess, but it was cool to see some numbers either way.

    They calculated a mean expected lifespan of 776 years at room temperature, which is much higher than I would have expected, although there's significant variance there and they pointed out that batch and manufacturing process have a huge impact on longevity: certain discs from a specific factory and time period are likely to have oxidised within 30 years, and they're already seeing that in their collection.

    It also turns out that storing them in a normal fridge can apparently extend the lifespan by a factor of 25. Keeping them in your car over summer does the exact opposite. I'd probably have been able to intuit that heat makes plastic go bad faster, but the difference between 5°C and room temperature being measured in centuries is way outside what I would have expected.

    3 votes
  9. Comment on What does analog have that digital doesn't? in ~talk

    Greg
    Link Parent
    You've put words into my mouth far more succinctly and clearly than that giant ramble I posted below! Totally with you on this.

    You've put words into my mouth far more succinctly and clearly than that giant ramble I posted below! Totally with you on this.

    4 votes
  10. Comment on What does analog have that digital doesn't? in ~talk

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I might have to disappoint you a bit on this one - I got sidetracked into rhapsodising about kitchen appliances, and I'm definitely a proponent of not having the network or complex software...

    I might have to disappoint you a bit on this one - I got sidetracked into rhapsodising about kitchen appliances, and I'm definitely a proponent of not having the network or complex software tightly integrated with the machinery, and especially not coupling hardware functionality to third party services or proprietary protocols, but then adding the network separately is something I only go to the effort of doing when I think it'll really help me.

    If I need to touch the appliance as part of the process anyway (food into the oven, clothes into the washing machine, etc.) then I probably won't feel a benefit from remote control. That said, if I did have a reason to really want a smart washing machine, I'd probably be looking for a commercial model with a serial port or similar and then hooking that into the network with a Raspberry Pi.

    The irony here is that a lot of the things I'm in favour of (simple, modular, wired or line-of-sight interfaces) were standardised decades ago when they were the only option. All I'm really advocating for is to keep using them rather than moving to integrated proprietary systems.


    Some of the things I do have set up that I'm really happy with:

    • Air conditioning

    High quality fitted unit, networked IR blaster to control it. Totally straightforward, with exactly the separation of concerns you want.

    • Heating

    It's interesting that you guys were talking about how to separate out the thermostat part from the smart part. For me, the thermostat is the comparatively cheap, replaceable interface to the much larger and more expensive heating system. I've got a solid combi boiler which is wired directly in to the underfloor heating pump - the thermostat then just wires in to the boiler the same way whether its networked or self-contained.

    • Lighting

    I'm seeing more proprietary fittings and switch replacements and integrated spotlights come on to the market, especially as LEDs give the ability to play around with the format more - pretty much all of them come with a total vendor lock in. I've got modular power rails so I can move things around, standard E27 fittings just like we've been using for over a century, and all the smart tech constrained to the bulb itself.

    • Speakers

    Oh god, speakers. A good set will last a lifetime, but we're bundling them with voice assistants in the cloud and hoping those servers don't get turned off. These are probably the easiest to keep separate, and a lot of people do it without even thinking: two wires to the amp, a 3.5mm jack to whatever electronics your heart desires.

    • TV

    It's technically smart because they all are. Ignore the smart part, run everything through a computer plugged into the HDMI port.

    5 votes
  11. Comment on What does analog have that digital doesn't? in ~talk

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I think that software/network bit is the real killer - even if it's not explicitly planned obsolescence, there are so, so many things out there now that tightly couple a piece of long-lived...

    I think that software/network bit is the real killer - even if it's not explicitly planned obsolescence, there are so, so many things out there now that tightly couple a piece of long-lived hardware to a server somewhere that may or may not be taken down, or an app that may not load on your new phone, or an ecosystem that'll just drift away from working with your other devices.

    Technically not an analogue/digital divide beyond the fact that analogue devices are inherently immune, I know, but it is one that I think is becoming an increasing issue.

    6 votes
  12. Comment on What does analog have that digital doesn't? in ~talk

    Greg
    Link Parent
    As a rule of thumb, I'd say go for Miele or Bosch. Miele have a reputation for incredible quality which is entirely deserved, and a reputation for being expensive which is... sort of deserved*....

    As a rule of thumb, I'd say go for Miele or Bosch.

    Miele have a reputation for incredible quality which is entirely deserved, and a reputation for being expensive which is... sort of deserved*. They don't make anything cheap, but in my experience that means even their base models outperform the top of the range from pretty much everyone else, so you need to compare accordingly. The entry point might be twice what you'd pay for a low-quality budget option, but it's often actually cheaper than something flashier from, say, Samsung while doing a far better job of its core task.

    Even so, I've limited myself to just the more complex items from them: oven, washing machine, and vacuum cleaner. Those are all things where I'll actually appreciate real precision and attention to detail: the heft and balance of the oven door and shelves, the consistent power of the vacuum, the quietness of the washer even when it's spinning fully loaded (turns out the thing literally weighs twice as much as most on the market - the delivery guys put in an absolutely heroic effort when they found that one out). There's just a genuine joy in using something that's been built to serve a purpose and serve it well, and it's a powerful antidote to all the little daily frustrations from things that were built with the bare minimum care and attention needed not to physically fall apart.

    Fridge and microwave, for me, are just a box that gets cold and a box that gets hot, respectively. I want them to work and be built well, but they're too utilitarian to spark that kind of joy in me. I went with Bosch for both, the pricing was good, and they do their jobs with no sign that they'll ever stop. The fridge has a single set of buttons that I've never needed to touch, the microwave has six power settings and a physical dial to spin the time up or down. I couldn't give better praise than that.


    *This is all from a European point of view, so US pricing may be higher. We should be talking hundreds here, not thousands - although it's easy to stumble into their high end sections and see the latter: in my opinion that's far into diminishing returns.

    18 votes
  13. Comment on What does analog have that digital doesn't? in ~talk

    Greg
    Link Parent
    By most people's standards my home contains an entirely unreasonable amount of automation and general tech, but I have a firm rule about separating the computer parts from the moving parts. I also...

    By most people's standards my home contains an entirely unreasonable amount of automation and general tech, but I have a firm rule about separating the computer parts from the moving parts. I also try to stick to large appliances from manufacturers who made their name in things that go clunk rather than things that go beep.

    It's definitely something that I'm only able to do thanks to the dual luxuries of having my own place to fit out as I choose, and of paying more up-front where necessary, but it's been an absolute joy so far. The stuff with a 20+ year lifespan is all built like a tank, and the stuff that makes it smart lives in separate, cheap boxes that can be replaced if they die in year two.

    13 votes
  14. Comment on What does analog have that digital doesn't? in ~talk

    Greg
    Link Parent
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams This one rings particularly true because I own the phone that they tried that exact interface with - thankfully it didn't catch on. I comfort...

    A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha radio wave bands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive--you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.

    • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

    This one rings particularly true because I own the phone that they tried that exact interface with - thankfully it didn't catch on.

    I comfort myself by thinking that we now have more tools for a good designer to play with: where once you had no choice but to have an expanse of rarely-used clicky switches to cover every eventuality, we can now have a touchscreen plus a handful of switches and dials for the key details. We just have to hope that the people creating the product understand this.

    11 votes
  15. Comment on Linus Tech Tips accidentally became a top 1% OnlyFans creator in ~tech

    Greg
    Link
    After posting an April fools video about moving onto OnlyFans, and actually creating a channel to really sell the joke, they apparently cleared over $15,000 in a day. Linus seems exactly as...

    After posting an April fools video about moving onto OnlyFans, and actually creating a channel to really sell the joke, they apparently cleared over $15,000 in a day.

    Linus seems exactly as entertainingly perplexed as you'd expect someone to be when a joke gets out of hand like this, and it was interesting to get a bit of an inside view of how the platform actually works.

    10 votes
  16. Comment on Comcast nightmare: Six months without Internet despite $5,000 payment in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    This is the one that really got me. It'd be funny if it weren't so infuriating: I'm getting all kinds of 'wacky sitcom misadventure' vibes, with the dude creating a diversion and then sneaking out...

    One installer arrived at the house and, Koll told Ars, "said, 'I need to go find out where your service line is,' and then he disappeared. He never came back.

    This is the one that really got me. It'd be funny if it weren't so infuriating: I'm getting all kinds of 'wacky sitcom misadventure' vibes, with the dude creating a diversion and then sneaking out of a window and disappearing into the dead of night.

    It blows my mind that at one end of the spectrum you've got retail workers who apparently can't risk making even the simplest statement of fact to a customer if it might offend them, and then at the other you've got people who can physically go to a job site, tell the customer they'll be back in a minute, and then just drive off with impunity.

    7 votes
  17. Comment on This is "Not a Wheelchair" - Introducing the Rig in ~tech

    Greg
    Link
    I absolutely love this! it looks incredibly fun to use, it provides accessibility where it previously wasn't available, and perhaps most of all there's just something incredibly satisfying in...

    I absolutely love this! it looks incredibly fun to use, it provides accessibility where it previously wasn't available, and perhaps most of all there's just something incredibly satisfying in looking at an existing solution and saying "I can do a better job for half the price" - and then succeeding.

    2 votes
  18. Comment on Signal adds a beta test for a payments system with cryptocurrency MobileCoin in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    If nothing else, just announcing this has made some people a fuckton of money. MobileCoin has gone up 10x in a week, with $90m traded today.

    If nothing else, just announcing this has made some people a fuckton of money. MobileCoin has gone up 10x in a week, with $90m traded today.

    9 votes
  19. Comment on Is it ethical for services to exclude those without internet access? in ~talk

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I was vaguely wondering about the idea of some kind of centralised "call center for the internet" service, maybe government run, that could remove the need for every organisation to maintain an...

    I was vaguely wondering about the idea of some kind of centralised "call center for the internet" service, maybe government run, that could remove the need for every organisation to maintain an individual offline presence: allow those who can't get access for whatever reason to just call up and have someone do the task on their behalf.

    The ticketing issue throws a spanner in the works there because it's not just about achieving the task, it's about having the device with you as well (if I'm understanding correctly?).

    1 vote