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Comment: Re:We still have (Score 1) 65

by Dogtanian (#48895755) Attached to: Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11

Sharper Image went bankrupt in 2008, and it's now just a licensed brand name, same as Kodak and Polaroid.

Unlike Polaroid, Kodak is still (the original) Kodak. They might be relying more and more on whoring their name out, but it's still the same company, and they're still (e.g.) making film et al. I already posted a more detailed response on this subject to someone who said almost exactly the same thing.

Comment: Re:Or: (Score 1) 65

by Dogtanian (#48895721) Attached to: Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11

What is not being widely reported is that Xhibit Corp sold the customer loyalty fulfillment part of the business last year for around $20 million. This was the unit that apparently generated the vast majority of the revenue and probably all the profit. Why would a firm who expected to stay solvent sell of the unit that generated most of the revenue, a unit with guaranteed sales?

It really seems like a scam to create liquidity of the profitable assets and then screw the creditors.

Hmm. Where have I heard *that* countless times before?

(Opens Wikipedia article on the company, does text search for "private equity"...)

In 2012, SkyMall was purchased by Najafi Companies, the largest private equity firm in Arizona. In January 2015 the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

What a surprise.

Comment: Re:Surprised it didn't happen sooner (Score 1) 314

by Dogtanian (#48837887) Attached to: Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing
First off, that wasn't an apology for Radio Shack's problems, nor an attempt to say that they were blameless. From what I've read (*), the company quite clearly *has* been obviously mismanaged and directionless for a long time now, and would probably have gone under on that basis.

What I'm criticising with respect to Radio Shack- or rather with the market's use of it- is a problem with derivatives in general. It's the fact that they've become detached from the business processes that they were meant to relate to (and serve), and have become the driving force in their own right, a massively overgrown tail wagging a tiny (and irrelevant) dog.

The point is that the people on either side aren't interested in Radio Shack per se, they're interested in exploiting and using insurance policies- in effect, derivatives here- taken out against Radio Shack, bundled up, passed around and abstracted away from the business itself. And, on the opposite side, the interests of the insurance company (e.g.) in insuring against a payout, in effect a derivative in itself.

Radio Shack is still "important" in the way that the ball is important in a football game.

None of this excuses Radio Shack's own failings, in fact it says nothing about that either way. What it *was* an attack on is the financial markets creating derivatives of derivatives of derivatives that are so far detached from their original purpose as to be irrelevant. Until- as in 2008- the "real life" issues (e.g. the housing market) hidden away hit the fan and cause masses more damage thanks to the multiplying effect of derivatives, or the other way around, i.e. the use of derivatives as a plaything causes damage to the real world entity.

(*) I live in the UK, where all the Tandy stores (i.e. Radio Shack) were sold off to a mobile phone retailer around 15 years ago.

Comment: Re:No insider trading there.... (Score 1) 314

by Dogtanian (#48823295) Attached to: Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing

No insider trading there.... It was a coincidence that the stock price tanked...

I already commented elsewhere that Tandy had become little more than the football in a game of derivatives, credit default swaps, et al.

It's clear that no-one involved on either side of that cares about the business itself, beyond it being a means to an end. Nor would they have any qualms about tanking it if they were on the side that stood to benefit from such a move. Whether this would result from what would technically be called "insider trading" is relevant only in a legal sense; it's clear that a market which operates in such a way is inherently rotten, regardless.

Comment: Re:Surprised it didn't happen sooner (Score 2) 314

by Dogtanian (#48822673) Attached to: Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing
Another article which basically explains that Radio Shack's primary function is now ultimately as little more than the ball itself in a game of derivatives and credit default swaps that- as often happens- has veered far from any legitimate use of them, or having much to do with the company per se, and into borderline legalised gambling of the type that hit the fan in 2008.

As I said, Radio Shack is the ball in this; nominally the raison d'etre, but really just a means to an end of little importance in itself, like a £50 football being used in a game between Manchester United and Chelsea, players costing millions competing on behalf of clubs worth the better part of a billion each.

Comment: Kitty Litter Nuclear Explosion (Score 4, Insightful) 166

by Dogtanian (#48788803) Attached to: Nuclear Waste Accident Costs Los Alamos Contractor $57 Million
Haven't read all the linked articles through yet, but it's been mentioned in the past- and again in the articles- that one of the reasons for the explosion may have been the use of organic-based kitty litter(!) reacting badly with the materials being disposed of, and that the inorganic version should have been used.

One version I heard was that they changed the kitty litter formulation; this version suggests that they bought organic instead of inorganic kitty litter because of a typo.

Now, there's nothing wrong with using what amounts to kitty litter to do whatever it was being used for. If that does the job, fine.

But whichever of the cases described was true, a problem is that if the stuff they're buying is intended and sold as kitty litter, it's quite possible that the makers may feel at liberty to change the formulation in a way that doesn't effect its use as kitty litter, but massive alters its safety as a "nuclear waste disposal material".

If having organic matter in your kitty litter could inadvertantly turn the nuclear material into a form of radioactive explosive, then you should be damn sure that you're getting the inorganic formulation from a supplier that can guarantee that this is what you're getting. It won't be called "kitty litter" even if that's what- in effect- it is, and it'll probably cost a lot more, but the supplier will (or should be) in the s*** if they supply the wrong type, whereas are Los Alamos going to sue "Pets R Us" for causing a nuclear explosion even if they *did* inadvertantly put organic in an inorganic bag, or change the formulation with insufficient notice (or whatever)?

So this is why (e.g.) the military (for example) might pay a lot more for a given item than you or I might pay over the counter. That, and the fact that they're probably diverting the money to some dubious black ops...!

Comment: Re:"We've reached out to Netflix" (Score 1) 121

by Dogtanian (#48739057) Attached to: Netflix Begins Blocking Users Who Bypass Region Locks
Sorry, but if that's what it's meant to mean, it's a pretty opaque and obnoxiously PR-ish choice of words. Whether or not it's come (or is coming) into common currency doesn't change the fact that it's recent enough that most people using it probably chose to do so, or did so under the influence of too much PR bullshit.

There may be a case for a short and snappy phrase intended to concisely convey the meaning you describe, but f*****g "reaching out" sure as hell aren't the words I'd have chosen to do so.

Comment: "We've reached out to Netflix" (Score 2, Insightful) 121

by Dogtanian (#48731947) Attached to: Netflix Begins Blocking Users Who Bypass Region Locks

We've reached out to Netflix to verify what it's doing

Urgh... this makes me think of that famous quote. Seriously, why the **** are Engadget using this obnoxious phrase instead of simply saying "we've contacted Netflix" or something similar?

It's the current favoured stock weasel-worded pseudo-touchy-feely (but in fact, insultingly off-the-shelf) bullshit phrase corporate PR use to sound like they *suddenly* give a f*** about a pissed-off customer they're having to contact, er... "reach out to" in response to some massive PR disaster they didn't expect.

But why would a "proper" news source feel the need to use the same irritating phrase when *they're* not the putative offending party on the defensive, but rather the people investigating the problem?

Unless this is an example of the phrase "if you lie down with dogs [i.e. hang around too many PR weasels], you get up with fleas".

Comment: Re:MicroSD card? (Score 1) 325

by Dogtanian (#48717315) Attached to: Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit For Shrinking Storage Space In iOS 8

Similarly when Apple got rid of the floppy drive [..] there were adapters available for the (very) few people who actually needed them, and in all cases despite the massive FUD being produced everything worked just fine.

Given that almost every first-generation iMac I saw had an external floppy drive attached anyway, it suggests that "the very few people who actually needed" floppy drives when Apple dropped them (circa 1998) was "just about everyone" and that Apple jumped the gun.

This is hardly surprising. The intended use of the Internet to transfer files wasn't a sufficient replacement as- back then- not everyone had Internet connectivity and those that did were mostly on dial-up. The optical drive was only a reader, presumably due to the fact that back then writers were getting cheaper but still nowhere near cheap enough to be added to all lower end models without significantly increasing the price. And USB flash drives wouldn't get "no brainer" cheap for another several years.

So, no. The much vaunted "Apple showed their foresight by ditching floppies" was a red herring if everyone needed to rush out and hang an external drive off the USB port anyway.

Comment: Re:All the Cherry info you'd ever want... (Score 1) 190

by Dogtanian (#48684493) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

Even the IBM Model M keyboard switches had more resistance if memory serves correctly

I can quite believe that; from my (brief) memories of the Model M, the resistance was noticable (and disconcerting in its positioning) for me anyway.

I suspect that if- like you- one learned to type on a mechanical typewriter, the Model M will feel better and more natural. I didn't, and that's possibly why I didn't like it (and- I suspect- most people used to lighter computer keyboards probably won't like it either).

Comment: Re:Programming keyboard (Score 5, Informative) 190

by Dogtanian (#48684049) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

As a software developer, I have to admit I avoid mechanical keyboards like the plague, they require more force to type, they're louder (a really BAD thing when you're blazing out code), they take more time to press and debounce, and they cost ~600% more than a scissor switch keyboard (that has none of those problems if you have a typical 2mm travel vector on your keys, 200% less than most mechanical keyboards).

Speaking as someone who *does* own (and am typing this on) a mechanical keyboard, I'll still say that membrane keyboards get unfairly disparaged, and that some are very nice to type on.

Some (emphasis "some") of the cheapest models are ******* horrible, true, but the one I have at work is actually pretty good even though that itself is a cheap one.

The best membrane keyboards I've used are miles better than the worst mechanical ones. And the scissor/membrane job on my old Compaq Armada laptop had a very pleasant, low-travel feel to them.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of it's what you're used to.

Comment: All the Cherry info you'd ever want... (Score 2) 190

by Dogtanian (#48684025) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

I forget the brand name of my keyboard, but I sprang for a cheap one with Cherry MX Black switches.

The mechanical keyboard I bought almost ten years ago has Cherry MX Black switches apparently. It's certainly lasted, but although I'm still using it to type this message on, I've always felt that the spring resistance was just a *little* too stiff to be truly pleasurable to touch-type on. (Something I've since read elsewhere).

The Cherry MX Red has the same "linear" key action I bought the Black-based keyboard for, but with less resistance, and having used a Red-based keyboard, it's closer to what I had in mind when I bought the Black one (mail order). Mind you, the Red switches apparently weren't around back then anyway.

Cherry MX Reds are supposedly too sensitive for touch-typing, and intended for gaming keyboards, but I (as a non-gamer) am still considering buying one.

Of course, all the above is a matter of personal preference; if possible, you should always try out a mechanical keyboard- or at least one based on the same technology- if the feel of it is important. (And you probably wouldn't be bothering to buy a mechanical one if it wasn't!)

FWIW, while I was researching new keyboards a couple of months back, I came across these, both of which are useful in explaining the different types of Cherry switch:-

An introduction to Cherry MX mechanical switches

Cherry MX overview

Note that these colour codings only apply to official Cherry switches, not unofficial clones derived from their patent-expired design. For example, Razer commissioned a custom "green" switch from another manufacturer, which is apparently similar to the official Cherry MX Blue (rather than the Cherry MX Green).

Comment: Re:There is only one.... Model M (Score 3, Interesting) 190

by Dogtanian (#48683931) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared
Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but Model Ms- and the "clicky" style mechanism aren't the be all and end all of mechanical keyboards, and I'm sure that the endless raving about them is due to the fact that the people who *do* like them seem to be disproportionately vocal about it! As I commented a couple of months back:-

I briefly used what I realise (in retrospect) was a Model M keyboard at a job I had in the late-90s. At the time I found the fact the resistance was half way down and very obviously "click switchy" (i.e. requires relatively high amount of pressure to get through, then suddenly breaks) to be strange and unnatural. I'm no millennial membrane-weaned weenie; I'd been using computers since the 80s, most of which had mechanical keyboards back then, and while some had been mediocre, some I really liked. They all went "tap" at the bottom, unlike this weird and unsatisfactory action. I have to say that Model M did nothing for me, and I'd no desire to return to it.

When I bought a Cherry mechanical keyboard for myself, I intentionally avoided the ones with the Model M style force gradients in favour of the ones that go "tap" at the bottom.

I've said it before here, and I'll say it again- the people who like Model Ms seem to *really* like them, but I'm convinced that the majority of people who didn't grow up using that keyboard or anything like it would- at best- find it an acquired taste, and probably be happier with one of the better membrane jobs (sacrilege!) or a mechanical keyboard with a more regular action.

I also think that membrane keyboards nowadays aren't that bad. Maybe I'm just used to them, but while I've come across some truly horrible examples at the dirt-cheap end, I've also come across some that were quite pleasant to use (and oddly, were also dirt-cheap models). Still not quite as good as the best- in my judgement- mechanical keyboards, but much better than the mechanical keyboards on some 80s home computers.

Anyway, back to the Model M. Yes, it feels "expensive" and "well made" in that it's obviously mechanical, and heavy, but that doesn't make it that great to type on IMHO (any more than I'm going to deny that my membrane keyboard at work is okay, simply because it's cheap). Some people think they're really great, and that's fine, they're entitled to their opinion. However, given that the borderline fetishisation from a disproportionately vocal number of fanboys might give others the impression the Model M was the be all and end all, I'm quite happy in balancing things out by saying I don't think they were all that, to be honest.

Comment: Re:Kodak died with Kodachrome (Score 1) 94

by Dogtanian (#48677361) Attached to: Kodak-Branded Smartphones On the Way
Addendum; More seriously, Kodak appears to have quietly discontinued *all* its slide films around three years ago:-

It wasn't immediately obvious, especially as they'd been discontinuing variants and paring down the range for years prior, but it appears that the slide films they discontinued that time were *the only ones remaining*, "I’m confirming that we did send a notice to dealers today that we will be discontinuing our three slide films" (not simply "discontinuing three slide films").

Given that there's no mention of slide films on their site any more (go there and see if you can find any (*)) and no sign of new stock available through retailers, it's pretty clear that they managed something far more significant than the discontinuation of Kodachrome itself with far, *far* fewer people noticing.

Huge irony is that Fujifilm- who were much more willing to move into the digital age and thus prospered whereas Kodak didn't- still sells slide film, along with traditional colour and black-and-white negative and instant (Polaroid-style) film.

(*) Colour and black-and-white negative films listed, but no transparency:-

The difference between reality and unreality is that reality has so little to recommend it. -- Allan Sherman