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Comment: Re:Best money Tom Steyer ever spent (Score 1) 429

by Dixie_Flatline (#49127979) Attached to: Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

There are about 300 spills a year from pipelines. You can do the googling yourself, but that's how many spills were considered 'significant' in the USA in 2014.

I tried to find a source that isn't obviously left-wing so you wouldn't reject it out of hand:

Admittedly, every single method of transporting oil is bad, and all of them lead to environmental problems and costs. So while pipelines may be 'best'--for some meagre definition of 'best'--there is an absolute amount of damage that's done. Conventional bombs are 'safer' if you drop them on my house than nuclear bombs, but it's a distinction without a difference when it comes to whether or not my house is still there.

Maybe the maintenance is as good as we could hope (I doubt it; we're talking about fallible humans and corporations with a bottom line), but this isn't exactly a solved engineering problem.

Nobody really knows how bad a bitumen spill would be. There's a lot of extra chemicals in there to keep it diluted and flowing.

In the end, one catastrophe a year is too many, even if it seems like 20 years later maybe things would be okay. I'm dubious about that number; 25 years after the Exxon Valdez spill, Prince Edward Sound is *mostly* recovered but still has problems. 20-30 years is a big chunk of time to humans, and we still have to live in this world.

Comment: Re:Best money Tom Steyer ever spent (Score 1) 429

by Dixie_Flatline (#49127863) Attached to: Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

No, not really. Almost everyone outside of Alberta is either ambivalent or pretty much against the pipeline. The tar sands are a disaster enough without giving more incentives to them to mine more bitumen.

I'm delighted to hear that he vetoed the pipeline. Of all the ways to produce oil, the tar sands are among the worst. They use an enormous amount of (fresh) water and energy. There are significant pipeline breaches every few weeks. Some you hear about, some you don't. A pipeline that long, well, I don't give it much of a chance of running for its intended lifetime without a leak. As a former Albertan, I find the idea of a bitumen slurry being dumped on the prairies really sad. I can't imagine it would be any better once it crosses the border.

I think this is great news.

Comment: Re:Artists paid 16 times as much for Spotify than (Score 1) 303

No, actually, I'm not. I'm assuming that people would put that $10 towards a specific album and thus, a specific artist. If I stream dozens or hundreds of artists a month, the $10 is really diluted, so even if I spent most of my time listening to one artist, they necessarily won't have made as much money off of me as they would've if I'd bought their album.

Comment: Re:Artists paid 16 times as much for Spotify than (Score 1) 303

Well, I mean, to a certain extent I agree. But you and I are having this conversation, which means that we've thought about it. Spotify and services like it mask the conversation from the public. They think that the artists are getting paid an amount commensurate with their skill, and roughly corresponding to the amount that the public enjoys the artist's music. If you ask someone what they think a band gets paid from a streaming service, I'm sure they'll tell you a figure that's much higher than it actually is. To an extent, it even removes the ability of people to vote with their dollars. When $10/month is being split between dozens of artists, even the person that comes out on top is poor. In the end, it may end up backfiring on the streaming services. If bands decide they can make more money doing releases on BandCamp and Spotify is undermining their album sales, maybe they'll pull out of the streaming services to sell fewer albums, but still make more money doing it.

But on a more philosophical level, I think it's sad that art is reduced to a mere calculation and balance sheet. I paid $10 for some albums and I've gotten joy out of them that can't be defined in dollar terms. In a very fundamental way, a lot of music shapes the way we interact with the world. I mean that very literally; music changes and shapes your brain as you listen to it. Emotion and music are tightly interwoven. It's a surprise when you meet someone that takes no enjoyment in music at all.

So while there's a fundamental truth to what you say, driving potential artists away from what could be a workable career doesn't really benefit us. If streaming revenues were enough to make up a decent, middle-ish class living, I don't think I'd argue with you. But these streaming revenues aren't enough to do anything other than have making music as a hobby, and really undermine important album sales. I'm sure there will be lots of artists that continue to make music and live in poverty--that's been true through the ages--but the promise of the age we live in was that MORE artists would be able to reach more people and more EASILY make a living.

Comment: Re:Artists paid 16 times as much for Spotify than (Score 4, Insightful) 303

While true, it's irrelevant for two reasons:

1) The radio doesn't play the songs you want on demand; and
2) The radio is effectively a way to drive album sales. Spotify is a REPLACEMENT for the album.

It used to be that it was worth it to play your songs on the radio (even at a loss) because people that liked your one song might want to hear the 10 hours you wrote--that would never be heard on the radio--and spend $10 on the album.

Now you pay Spotify $10/month for unlimited access to the entire album. To the entirety of the artist's catalogue. To the entirety of all the included artists' catalogues.

This is obviously and trivially less money than any one of those artists would make previously from you if you liked their music. Perhaps the argument could be made that more people are listening and giving a tiny amount of money to each artist, but I rather think that given the stats I've seen, this isn't even close to true.

This is much different from the time when people were pirating albums, since many fans would go out and buy an album that they downloaded because they wanted to support the artist. Now people feel that because they're paying $10 to Spotify or Rdio that they ARE supporting the artist. They're not going to pay for a subscription AND an album. That's exactly the opposite of the point of these services.

They need a new model. Streaming on its own for $10/month is clearly not enough money to go around. Spotify has infrastructure costs and has been bleeding money (I think they had a break-even or profitable quarter just recently?). Meanwhile, they also need to distribute the remainder of the already paltry $10 between a zillion artists. It makes no sense.

Comment: Re:Journalists always want to sound dramatic (Score 1) 271

by Dixie_Flatline (#49049257) Attached to: Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End

And slashdotters are always eager to comment without reading the source material. There's a big difference between saying that Google is doomed (that's not what this article says) and Google may not be able to stay at the top (that's much closer to what this article says).

Thompson's original article predicts no doom or gloom for Google.

Comment: Re:Mixed feelings (Score 1) 271

by Dixie_Flatline (#49049239) Attached to: Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End

This ad, ultimately, does all those things. I mean, it's cat food. It's there to feed your cat. In each video, there's a moment where the cats eat the cat food very happily, but the ad doesn't spend a lot of time screaming 'BUY FRISKIES' at you. It just shows some happy cats eating food. The benefits are that your cat is happy. It will cost about as much as cat food costs, one presumes, since they're not advertising it as up-scale gold cat food.

I'm not going to buy Friskies cat food. I buy food from the vet, and I know perfectly well that Friskies is garbage. But advertising allows content to get made--it's the basis of the last 50 years of TV production. So if they're going to make entertainment that's entertaining first and a small ad spot second, I'm okay with it.

But regardless of your personal views on the matter, that's a big pot of money sitting there that's ready for taking. In the context of the original story, it means that Google is passing up a lot of money that SOMEONE will grab.

Comment: Re:Mixed feelings (Score 2) 271

by Dixie_Flatline (#49048045) Attached to: Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End

Honestly, I don't think they are, when they're good.

For instance, the 'Dear Kitten' videos are brilliant. I love kittens. I love the way zFrank makes videos. So he made some videos for BuzzFeed and Friskies. I watch them gladly and of my own volition. Friskies only just barely puts their mark on the video, and I'm compelled to watch it and share it because the content itself is so worth watching. That's the kind of ad Thompson is talking about.

BuzzFeed is the king of that kind of advertising. A lot of their content is annoying, but it gets shared, and it makes them money.

Thompson's argument is mainly that that's the future of advertising, and Google's ability to capture those advertising dollars is incredibly limited. They can't make a Friskies video like that--that runs counter to all the ways they do business. It doesn't mean Google won't continue to be huge and rich, just that over time, other companies will surpass them.

Comment: Re:Oh, to have such a fail... (Score 1) 271

by Dixie_Flatline (#49048003) Attached to: Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End

There isn't any gloom and doom in Thompson's article. Not really. He's not arguing that Google is on the ropes, merely that it won't be able to hold its position at the top. There's a big gulf in between.

And he's probably right. Not because Google is doing badly, but because the size of the advertising market is *enormous*, and Google's current strategy limits its ability to capture more than a certain amount of that market. Over time, Google may find itself swamped by other companies (Facebook, for instance). This isn't because Google is bad, it's because other ways of making money in advertising have broader reach and make more money. I haven't seen any evidence that Google is willing to cannibalize its own business in the short run so that it can make a longer-term bet--that's an Apple strategy, and not many companies do it. Apple didn't care that iPhone sales would tank iPod sales, even when the iPod was a huge money-maker. They knew that they were trading one for the other, and it would be a good long-run bet.

This isn't to say that Google won't do that, or that Google is necessarily forced into what Thompson feels is its destiny, merely that that's the trajectory they're broadcasting right now.

Comment: Re:so... (Score 1) 271

by Dixie_Flatline (#49047927) Attached to: Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End

Actually, if you go to Thompson's site and actually read the source article, he says very clearly that he doesn't think Google is going anywhere. The thesis isn't that Google is DOOMED, it's that Google's time AT THE TOP is limited. Those are two vastly different things.

Ben Thompson is a really thoughtful writer, and this game of telephone that we're seeing by Manjoo writing about Thompson's article has clearly caused confusion.

This isn't a doomer article, honestly.

Comment: Re:Avoiding bottlenecks (Score 1) 63

by Dixie_Flatline (#48958159) Attached to: MIT Randomizes Tasks To Speed Massive Multicore Processors

Keeping in mind that I'm NOT a programmer that has spent a lot of time thinking about this...

But pre-distributing tasks just sounds like a queue becoming many little queues without any particular advantage. Moreover, if you're not sure when a processor is going to be done its work, pre-assigning work may lead to bigger bottlenecks and starvation. If you try to pre-analyse the tasks so you know how much work is needed, you're effectively wasting cycles on a problem that doesn't need to be solved--it's almost pure overhead, since the analysis could be part of the solution.

I'd have to read the paper to see exactly how they're getting such a huge speedup here. The graph is nice (and I believe it) but the explanation in the article isn't very satisfying.

Comment: Re: Different markets... (Score 1) 458

by Dixie_Flatline (#48947735) Attached to: How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

God, this is such obnoxious bullshit.

I buy Apple products because they work better than other products I could be paying for. I did a CS degree. I've been making console video games for almost fifteen years. I've run my own mail server, installed Slackware and free BSD on cobbled together beige boxes.

I buy macs because I was sick of coming home from work and doing more work. I wanted to sit in front of my computer and have it do things, not endlessly tinker with it. I've gotten over the need to configure every last widget. It's just not anything I'm interested in anymore. Don't tell me I'm doing it because I'm thinking of my computer or phone as 'jewellery'. I'm the same way with my bicycles. I want my time with my bike to be about riding, not wrenching.

And having run lots of things over the years, the system that has the least work for the most utility has remained Apple for me. Maybe you've got different needs. I have friends that literally can't do the thing they need on an iPhone, so they buy a different phone.

Is there status hunting in the phone market? Definitely. Is it the main driver of people to iPhones? I don't think so. Do you have counter evidence? If you do, put up or shut up. Stop being so patronising.

Comment: Re:Anecdotal Example (Score 1) 120

by Dixie_Flatline (#48941811) Attached to: Wi-Fi Issues Continue For OS X Users Despite Updates

If they do patch it, I greatly suspect that if you bring your laptop into an Apple store, they'll do an upgrade/patch/swap for you there.

Still, this is pretty much garbage. I haven't had these problems, but my iMac and Mac Mini aren't the most cutting edge hardware. I wonder what combination of hardware and software is causing issues here.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 98

by Dixie_Flatline (#48934669) Attached to: Canada Upholds Net Neutrality Rules In Wireless TV Case

It's a miracle because those commercials are lip-service. There are a bunch of things they could legislate fairly quickly that would force competition in the space, but it's unclear that they're really interested. They're budging a bit because popular opinion is so vociferous, but they're not what I'd call a tech-savvy government. They're decidedly anti-science and they're incredibly secretive. They don't even LIKE the CRTC.

That said, I don't really have a good sense of what the other parties would do. In general, they tend to be even MORE protectionist (Bell, Rogers and Telus are garbage, but they ARE Canadian) even at the expense of competition.

But this is what you get when most of the people running for office (and winning) are old white lawyers. They don't know what's going on, and they're not interested in learning. The current Minister of Science and Technology was an *insurance broker*. I'm sure he's doing what he can, but it's a deep pity that there aren't any scientists or technology people in those Ministerial positions.

"An entire fraternity of strapping Wall-Street-bound youth. Hell - this is going to be a blood bath!" -- Post Bros. Comics