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Comment: Re:why can't we go back to the old shareware syste (Score 4, Interesting) 79

why can't we go back to the old shareware system?

Because unfortunately for all of us that loathe the free + in-app micropayment model, it actually makes money. There's no way an entire ecosystem built around this model would have sprung up if everyone hated it as much as I did.

There are many, many people who download and play a huge number of free games, and never bother paying, or perhaps pay for a game rarely. Many of those people (like kids) are time rich and cash poor, so don't blink as spending ridiculous hours grinding away. There are a much smaller number of people who get addicted to these games and spend a ridiculous amount of money on in-app purchases... far more than would have ever been paid if they had just purchased the game outright. Those people are the real targets.

My only hope is that people eventually grow tired of these sleazy tactics and refuse to participate. Then again, people still waste money at casinos and buying lottery tickets, so I'm not really holding my breath. I'll just continue supporting developers that sell their games up-front for a fixed price - a model I much prefer.

Comment: Re:Bullshit Stats. (Score 1) 333

by Dutch Gun (#48428437) Attached to: As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

Because some people are actually better at their job than others? Hence, they are more valuable to the company, and can negotiate better compensation. Highly skilled work isn't like unskilled work, where you have a fixed set of job requirements which you either do or don't do properly.

As to why a great engineer should be paid less because they aren't as socially adept? You're right, they should be paid more, but how exactly would you choose to make this happen? Any solution I can think of would also stomp all over the ability of exceptional engineers to earn *more* than their less motivated colleagues (i.e. union pay grades). No thanks, not for me.

Comment: Re:Bullshit Stats. (Score 1) 333

by Dutch Gun (#48428059) Attached to: As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

You hit the mark with "children". If you compare childless women to men, the pay gap completely disappears. If sexism were the root cause of the pay gap, it seems like whether or not women had children wouldn't make a difference.

Children are a big distraction from a career if you happen to be the primary care-giver. Of course, women tend to fill that role more often than men. And obviously, childbirth is going to significantly impact a woman's career more than a man.

None of that matters, of course, since logic really has no place in this argument...

Comment: Re:By the same logic (Score 4, Insightful) 307

Agreed. The authors set up a nearly impossibly complex ethical dilemma that would freeze even a human brain into probable inaction, let alone a computer one, and then claims "See? Because a computer can't guarantee the correct outcome, we can therefore never let a computer make that decision." It seems to be almost the very definition of a straw man to me.

The entire exercise seems to be a deliberate attempt to reach this conclusion, which they helpfully spell out in case anyone missed the not-so-subtle lead: "Robots should not be designed solely or primarily to kill or harm humans."

I'm in no hurry to turn loose an army of armed robots either, but saying that you can "prove" that an algorithm can't make a fuzzy decision 100% of the time? Well, yeah, no shit. A human sure as hell can't either. But what if the computer can do it far more accurately in 99% of the cases, because it doesn't have all those pesky "I'm fearing for my life and hopped up on adrenaline so I'm going to shoot now and think later" reflexes of a human?

Comment: Re:Quantum Mechanics and Determinism (Score 1) 307

I'm not sure I'd describe a "judgement call" as being non-deterministic. It's really better described as fuzzy logic, and computers do it all the time, such as in spam filters. The difference is that humans have a lifetime of learning and context for them to help make those judgments, where most computer algorithms don't have that extended context to draw from.

I don't see how true randomness has anything to do with these sorts of decision-making processes or with quantum mechanics in general.

Comment: Re:Yawn ... (Score 3, Interesting) 157

by Dutch Gun (#48418425) Attached to: Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe

I don't think anyone is disputing that hosted online services are both useful and, in some cases, absolutely essential, especially for smaller businesses. Well, maybe some people are, but they're pretty much Luddites, so we can ignore them. It's just that in the rush to push everything to the cloud since that's seen as some sort of panacea, people tend to forget that there are serious consequences to outages, and the more you push services to the cloud, the greater the impact of those outages will be. It's essentially putting all your technological eggs in one basket.

As much as people complain about proprietary file formats, those really don't hold a candle to proprietary services as far as vendor lock-in. If the service you chose, for instance, starts to go south on a regular basis, and you've built your entire ecosystem inside a specific vendor's cloud, you could be in a world of hurt.

That being said, my feeling is that these sorts of system-wide outages are simple part of these services growing pains. Even now, keep in mind that these sorts of large-scale failures are rare enough that they make international headlines. In another five to ten years, it's going to be even rarer still. Otherwise, fewer large players will trust them for critical infrastructure over the long haul. For smallish businesses, even with occasional outages, it's still probably a net win.

Comment: It has to be entertaining (Score 2) 107

I'm afraid I don't have any specific suggestions, but if you want them to get interested in programming, it needs to be an environment that let's them build things that they're already interested in. Generally speaking, that probably means it should be relatively simple to create videogames in the environment you choose. I learned how to program in AppleBASIC on an Apple II+ as a kid, and the very first thing I tried once I reached a basic level of competence was to create a videogame. I've seen this pattern over and over. Even college students seemed to be a lot more enthusiastic about final projects if they had the option of creating games - nearly all of them opted to do so.

Modding existing games is a great place to start, because they're already starting out with something they like, and they can see results very quickly. The downside, of course, is that setting up a modding environment is often rather tricky (depends on the game, of course). Other good candidates are things which affect devices in the real world, such as controlling robotics. Lego Mindstorm comes to mind. Seeing real-world reactions from something you programmed is incredibly addictive.

I've long wished there was a quality multi-media / game development engine (2D would be fine) all in one development environment that contained a lot of sample art assets and an integrated language that's simple, robust, and safe. Many modern development environments are often too difficult to set up, unfortunately, and those "all-in-one game development" packages I've seen have been severely lacking in quality. Granted, maybe there are some good ones out there I haven't seen.

Comment: Re:Unethical? (Score 1) 185

The simple answer would be "to learn", of course. Humans are insatiably curious - gathering knowledge even if it's unlikely to benefit us directly.

Besides, I don't mean they wouldn't aim to bring back the species... I meant that I don't believe that scientists would simply dump it back into the wild without fully understanding what the impact would be.

After doing a bit of research, I actually found that they have a home waiting for them, should the species actually be brought back. It's an enclosed nature reserve in Siberia designed as something of a large-scale laboratory, with the intent of recreating the northern subarctic steppe grassland ecosystem during the last ice age. I'd wager that this place or similar parks would be the likely home of any initial populations, and would remain so until their effects on existing ecosystems could be studied in great detail.

Comment: Re:Unethical? (Score 1) 185

Rabbits, weeds, insects, and velociraptors can easily get out of hand. Giant, slow-breeding mammals are easily culled if needed. We've nearly wiped out entire species of large mammals before because of over-hunting. The dangers of them over-populating are probably about the same as the danger of modern elephants over-populating. That is, extremely low.

Besides which, we've learned plenty of painful lessons about the dangers of releasing new animals into new territories. I don't think anyone (well, anyone in a position to actually do so) is foolish to enough suggest we just fling open the Canadian ranges or Siberian wilderness to herds of wooly mammoths.

Comment: Re:Unethical? (Score 1) 185

Was anyone seriously considering releasing them into the wild, though? That's not at all what I had in mind certainly. We well understand the danger of transplanting species at this point - I learned about feral pigs destroying Hawaii's rainforests many years ago. My parents live on a small lake, and the homeowners there have to battle foreign weeds annually that threaten to swallow up everything else. Yeah, many people, especially scientists, now well understand the dangers of throwing new species into a region, because they've seen the damages caused by that first-hand.

So, no, I doubt anyone's foolish enough to do something as reckless as that. If they do start creating these animals, of course, they'd better have a plan for what to do with them. I don't think it would be impossible to create a closed-off reserve for them, in which we can make a long term study about how they might interact with the surrounding environment. I still think that would be fascinating.

Comment: Re:One has to wonder (Score 1) 106

by Dutch Gun (#48406503) Attached to: Tor Eyes Crowdfunding Campaign To Upgrade Its Hidden Services

The Cryptlocker guys, unfortunately, did a near perfect job implementing their ransom-ware and command/control net. Both the US Justice Dept and Interpol did go after them, and ultimately took down the Zeus botnet controlling the malware, even getting back all the keys for the encrypted files. Don't think for a second that the Justice Dept wouldn't have loved to catch those guys and splash it all over the front page if they could have, though.

I don't buy the conspiracy theories. You can bet the feds are still trying to track Cryptolocker guys with considerable zeal, given how much damage that software caused. I think they just hid their tracks better than the Silk Road operators.

Comment: Unethical? (Score 5, Interesting) 185

I'm curious about why one would consider this unethical? That nature had her shot and declared these animals unfit for habitation on the earth, perhaps? That this could open the door to more widespread tampering with genetics? We interfere with the "natural order" all the time, most especially when it comes to our own comfort and survival. I'm sort of curious why people would suddenly start worrying about bringing extinct animals back to life. I'll admit I haven't given this a lot of thought yet, but my initial reaction is that it seems like a fascinating opportunity if we can pull it off.

Maybe someone that opposes this on ethical grounds could enlighten me.

Comment: Re:Sexism = Sexy these days (Score 1) 635

by Dutch Gun (#48404453) Attached to: Sweden Considers Adding "Sexism" Ratings To Video Games

The exact boundary line is subjective, but it's not exactly difficult to just play it safe, especially when you're talking to the press or meeting with the public. Professional adults don't intentionally push against those sorts of boundaries unless they're trying to call attention to themselves, because it can do nothing but distract from what they're actually trying to convey. And that's exactly what happened here.

I feel a little bad for this guy, because he probably has never been to a business meeting in his life where such attire would be equally inappropriate, and probably got blindsided by this. Someone should have really given him some advice that what he was wearing wasn't appropriate, and to throw on a jacket or something.

Comment: Re:Lasers and deformable mirrors arnt expensive (Score 1) 150

I saw nothing in those links that indicates the military prefers this sort of communication to normal fiber for their US landlocked bases. I'd guess the military probably values that technology for places in which laying down permanent fiber isn't an option. For instance, when a war breaks out, there's a need to set up all sorts of bases and command headquarters in completely unpredictable or currently inaccessible places. Moreover, a laser beam can't as easily be disrupted by enemy ground forces or by bombardment. I'd bet this also has applications for ship-to-ship communications, or maybe ground to air drone as well.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.