I don't really think the used games are generally only getting discounted by 10%? I've bought a number of used games at GameStop over the years, and typically, I pick them up for no more than $15-35 each. They're also typically titles I'm specifically seeking (because, for example, one of our kids is asking for it), and they're not even readily available on the new market anymore. (Might still be in production, but most retail stores don't bother to stock it on their shelves anymore due to waning interest.)
Until I was asked to write a few tech. articles on bitcoin and other virtual currencies last year, I didn't really pay a lot of attention to them. But I've learned that high end ATI video cards are pretty much the "engines" required for any respectable bitcoin/litecoin mining rig to work successfully.
(As a rule, nVidia cards have been ignored as "not as good of performers as ATI" for this specific use -- though I wonder how this GTX 780 would do?)
People building these mining rigs generally cram 3 - 4 of the cards on one motherboard, and run several identically configured machines at a time -- meaning a pretty hefty investment in video boards. It makes me wonder if this isn't really a significant reason for the sales of the more costly models, as opposed to the audience you'd assume was buying them -- 3D gamers?
Not saying I totally disagree with you, but there's SO much going on by way of invading privacy and data-mining people's info, it's impossible to keep up with all of it. People become numb to it after so long. We're at the point now where people only get concerned when they see a very serious and obvious threat. (EG. Word comes out that everyone you know who uses a credit card to buy groceries from a certain store winds up with mysterious charges on their card a month or two later.)
The fact that Skype probably leaks your conversations to law enforcement officials on demand? Disturbing -- yet ultimately kind of a thing when you consider Skype is free to use (at least for a pure Skype to Skype call) and totally optional to use in the first place. I mean, my workplace isn't going to stop taking advantage of it as a free solution to video teleconferencing two meeting rooms in different cities together over it. (Not unless we start holding meetings about illegal operations or something,anyway!) It provides real cost savings and solves a real problem for us, and there's no immediate reason that we'd be worried that law enforcement would WANT to listen in to what we're saying on those calls.
XBox 1? Probably more of the same. People aren't going to have a big issue with it needing "always on" Internet connections if that's what they're already paying for at home anyway with their broadband. You worried the XBox might reveal something it's not supposed to? Unplug it during that time. Whatever....
That's definitely the buzz going around the net.... That between Sony and Microsoft both moving to digital game downloads and no physical optical media to buy anymore, it will be the end of the used game shops.
Of course, I can see something else happening too.... There's a pretty massive collection of existing, used titles out there, just like there are plenty of used music CDs in circulation (even if no more were produced starting today).
It may turn out that the interest in "vintage" consoles and games increases, and rather like antique shops, the used game shops stick around indefinitely. (I could see a pretty good market developing for refurbishing and repairing older consoles too. Maybe each GameStop would have a tech. working full-time in the back room so you could drop off that PS3 or XBox 360 for service work, ready to pick back up the next afternoon?)
Already, the web sites like ArsTechnica who got previews of the new PS4 commented that the graphics were really only incrementally better than what we see now. We've reached a point where most game titles look "good enough" with today's hardware. It's tough to really amaze people to the point the audio/visual portion motivates them to spend hundreds and start over collecting new game titles. (I think to pull that off, you'd need a console that made all the games truly look just like live video/movie footage. Get it to where the stuff we're used to seeing as opening or cut scenes is actually the entire game. Until then? Nah, Microsoft has to sell the new console based on gimmicks like voice commands.)
One of my friends started his own venture capital business years ago, after a long career in corporate I.T. (He focuses on funding educational related projects.)
We were talking a bit about the recent changes at Yahoo, and I know his opinion is that the Tumblr purchase is ill-advised. and looks like it cost the company pretty much all of the available capital it had to spend. After that, I don't think Yahoo is in a financial position to do much more in the way of acquiring anything else. They've got to make do with revamping what they already own (and maybe they think talent obtained from Tumbler will help towards that end?).
The thing is, Yahoo spent FAR too long concerning themselves with convincing people their "branding" was still relevant, and thought they could somehow "win" simply by reminding folks to consider them for search queries. (Remember all the annoying "Yaaaaahhhhhoooooooo!" ads on TV?)
Now, even if the current CEO is trying to make serious changes, I think it's going to be too little, too late. Figuring out a way to monetize Tumblr is a full-time job in itself -- and one you MIGHT want to take on if you were an otherwise profitable and successful company. But Yahoo seems like they just bought themselves a big database of porn and pet pictures that has a relatively short shelf-life, before it's not "trendy" to use anymore and the user-base moves on to something else.
Flickr really was a significantly good service they owned. I knew quite a few photographers who religiously uploaded their work to Flickr (typically with a Pro account since they wanted more storage space and ability to put full resolution photos up). But as they let it stagnate, all sorts of other "Johnny come lately" photo sharing services popped up -- many integrated real tightly with mobile phones, which have become the #1 device used to take photos in the first place.
The press-conference "slam" against pro photographers tells me Yahoo still thinks it needs to cater to the mainstream -- exactly the group they'll have the most competition with. Bad move. If they really enhanced a paid, "Pro" side of the service and kept it cheaper than alternatives -- I know a LOT of people who have at least a second job dealing in photography who'd sign up and use it.
Email is a non-starter at this point. Lots of us still have yahoo email accounts, but it's very often just because of old partnerships they struck with ISPs like the regional Bell telephone companies and later AT&T. You ordered your DSL service? You got a Yahoo email with it. Yahoo Groups had a good run but again, they let it pretty much die off. I used to use it occasionally until the groups all seemed to fill rapidly with spam, and upload/download speeds on attachments got so pitifully slow, you wondered if the whole thing ran on an old Pentium 3 in someone's basement. They only get search queries, by and large, because they manage to work deals to keep it a "default" search engine in various programs. None of their stuff really stands out as a tool you want to use that you can't get elsewhere.
Sure... but even if they really DO care, who's to say they just weren't successful at keeping your info safe anyway?
I've been saying for years now that "computer security" is largely a sham. Time and time again we find out that the biggest manufacturers of anti-virus software are companies run by shifty individuals with poor coding abilities, and respected makers of firewall appliances and routers sourced components from countries like China which had back-doors built into them at the processor level. Encryption schemes provided by all the big commercials software makers are suspect too, since U.S. govt. seems to demand they give them "keys" to break in, if needed.
Look at the stream of security flaws being found in Java, and think about how often it gets used in the design of web applications.
How many web sites run on IIS -- another product historically full of security holes?
There's a LOT of money to be made by promising people you can help secure their systems, and as long as nobody really TRIES to get past whatever you put in place, you can brag about its "100% effectiveness". Anyone trying to do e-commerce business online has a primary goal of generating a profit selling the goods or services they're concentrating on providing. So right off the bat, these people are simply NOT going to have the time to invest a whole lot into securing customer data. They're going to go with the existing "pre fab" tools and products that are advertised as secure and recommended by others. When it turns out one of those isn't so great after all -- oops, there goes your private data again!
I think you really DO have to place the lion's share of the blame with the thieves - which include both the hackers who took the data, AND the "computer security" folks who made a small fortune selling half-baked products and services to people trying to achieve security.
Only partially a fair comment, IMO. Today's internet is VERY much privately funded, even if the original internet was just a government project for military and research lab use.
Is your broadband connection provided to you by your local government and paid for out of your taxes, or do you receive a bill for it from a private ISP?
No.... Star Trek is certainly not real, yet it was science fiction designed to convey numerous important (and often complex or "deep") messages and concepts. If it was just another war movie staged in outer space, it would never have lasted more than a few seasons on TV.
If you think about it, the vast majority of us, today, spend many hours of each day employed doing some type of work we'd really rather not do. Why do we do it then? For the money! But why the interest in the money? Because it's the bartering tool of choice in our society to purchase what we need to survive (as well as what we want for entertainment and relaxation purposes).
Most people idolize the very wealthy not so much because of whatever great accomplishments they might have made which gave them their wealth, but out of envy of the improved lifestyle it lets them have.
If we can truly reach a stage where everything we need or want is possible to do with machines/robots, and humans no longer need to have "jobs" - there's no reason to assume that's a bad thing. In my mind, that Star Trek world without money is one very possible outcome.
Now, the issue that we'll surely have in the process would be due to the usual suspects, such as "greed". In the transition period of robot-ization, you're inevitably going to have to go through a stage where it's POSSIBLE to produce certain goods or provide certain services cheaply with them, but ONLY if you're already wealthy enough to invest in the technology. That means you're looking at even more "class division" between the rich and the poor, if this technology is only available to make the rich even richer.
I mean - even if such things as 3D printing advance to the point where you can produce really nice replicas of even the most complex items (and do so quickly), you've still got the need for the "ink" used, not to mention access to the data files containing the raw information to feed the printer. (Star Trek conveniently side-steps this dilemma with the fictional replicator that creates objects out of thin air, by assembling them almost instantaneously at the atomic level - using an energy source that's essentially free to tap into, as well.) Greed will ensure that at least some of the best data files for making 3D printables are held by only a select few......
Oh, I agree with you there. But Microsoft, IMO, lacked in the creativity department for a LONG time. I don't really look for a Microsoft solution if I'm expecting a creative, new way of accomplishing tasks. I consider MS stuff more of "staple items". About as exciting to use as a loaf of bread or carton of eggs is to buy at the store -- but just as popular and practical.
The problem they've had with products like Windows ME and Vista is an inability to deliver even on THAT. To keep with the loaf of bread analogy, it's like they discontinued their line of bread and replaced it with "New, improved!" versions which no longer came pre-sliced, had a bag that wouldn't re-seal properly, and some of the bread was stale as soon as the buyer got it home.
All I'm saying is, I think Windows 7 was honestly a good, solid OS. Sure, some people dislike it and that's fine... There are other options out there for them. But by and large, it did what it was supposed to do and didn't crash much. Windows 8 would be a worthy successor if it did nothing more than improved on performance and resource usage while adding support for some newer technologies. It was the MS attempt at "getting creative" which ruined it, a la Metro UI.
The truth of the matter is, beneath the surface, Windows 8 is a respectable improvement on Windows 7. Even as an outspoken hater of Windows 8, I have to admit this after having run both OS's side by side on a number of machines.
Windows 8 has a lot of optimization in it, so it performs better than 7 - especially on older/marginal hardware. (I suspect the effort was made in this area because Microsoft was concerned that Win 8 adoption would suffer if people decided their older machines weren't going to handle the upgrade very well.)
For example, I have an old Dell Latitude D420 here... one of the early attempts at an "Ultrabook". It only has 2GB of RAM in it, and its hard drive is a SLOW drive of the same type Apple used in the iPod Classics. It was designed for Windows XP. Interestingly, it runs Windows 8 pretty well. The slow hard drive means you have to wait a little while for it to do the initial boot -- especially if you just performed some Windows updates and it's grinding through the final stage of those during the subsequent boot. But other than that, you almost wouldn't realize you're not using it on a much newer, more capable machine.
The *real* reason most of us (myself included) can't stand using 8 is the Metro UI they insisted on bolting onto the front of it. Everyone I talk to who tries to defend Win 8 talks of the ways to patch it to boot to the Windows 7 style desktop and/or put back a START button. I'd say that's generally not a bad work-around, except the reorganization of configuration settings on the sliding side menus is really annoying too. I don't see how any of that improves the user experience. It only forces people to re-learn how to get to all the functions they've had years to get used to.
So all MS needs to do here, if they can admit they screwed up, is to back out all the Metro stuff. If they simply gave users the OPTION to run an update that allowed a "Windows 7 style" configuration for 8, or the new style -- that would be ideal, IMO. I'm sure some people do like the tiled interface and Metro apps, and there's no reason to throw out all of that code completely. Just let each user decide which way they prefer to set it up.
The secret to this is, slap together some nonsense game title in minutes and then download the pirated version of Game Dev Tycoon. Laugh as you earned a free game just for letting people download your non-working junk code!
the bottom line is, LEGALLY speaking, you can implement all the DRM you like on whatever digital content you wish to put out there. All the community (such as the Slashdot crowd here) can do is give you opinions on how ethical or smart such a thing is.
IMO, you're rarely going to find someone trying to make a living doing "creative" things who doesn't like the idea of "locking them down" in some fashion. Sometimes, it's not even the creator, but the purchaser who enforces it! For example, I work for a firm that puts together marketing and creative ad campaigns, plans shows and expos, etc. Even though everything we produce is original material our team came up with and saw through to completion, we're not even allowed to display any of our work on our corporate web site! Our clients practically always demand we sign a contract with them preventing us from sharing what was done.
But as someone who has dabbled on both sides of the fence (as a musician trying to produce material, and currently as a typical content consumer), I'm convinced DRM is a universally bad idea.
The original article's statement that, "In my eyes, when people stop getting paid for what they do, they'll stop doing it." is a big part of the problem. A true artist creates because he or she feels a basic need to do so. Most of the time, whether one is a musician, a sculptor, a painter or an author -- profit is FAR from a sure thing in the beginning. These people produce a lot of material at what's usually a net LOSS for them. (Why do you think you almost always hear musicians tell stories of the crappy jobs they had to work to pay the bills while they performed their music at night, for years?) A good friend of mine is an aspiring author, but he works both a day job for the government and teaches kids Karate on the side for income. His books are his passion, not his income source.
Now, I fully understand and agree that these people are all essentially gambling / hoping that all their time spent on their art will pay off in the long haul
The truth is, I think we have too many people in the arts who are doing it for the wrong reasons! That's why so much modern music is mediocre, and why so many video games are just rehashes of the same formula. If you're motivated by "getting paid", you need to go work in a job where you earn a guaranteed paycheck for every hour of time you spend working, or an annual salary paid out in bi-weekly installments.
It's just opinion, but I truly believe that the only "right" way to pursue an art (such as music) is to do it out of the pure need to create the best work you can possibly create, and share it with others who get enjoyment from it. If you're good enough at that, people start taking an interest in compensating you financially for it. Great... but don't let that change anything for you. Don't stop to "count your money" or you'll become a lesser quality artist for it.
To be fair, I have to disagree somewhat.
When I moved into the townhouse our family is in now, I bought a lot of IKEA furniture (vs. trying to deal with dis-assembly and moving of existing stuff that wasn't worth the moving expenses to transport anyway).
As I started putting a number of items together, I realized they have a number of common methods of assembly. For example, a dresser, a nightstand or a bed with drawers underneath generally uses the exact same hardware and the same assembly concepts to build the drawers and attach the needed rails.
They tend to use a similar method for constructing a frame for a bookshelf or the "shell" of a dresser or nightstand too.
So once you've worked with a couple of these common items of theirs, you get pretty proficient with the bulk of assembly of other IKEA products using those concepts (the cogs go in all the larger circular holes, and the wood pegs go in all the medium sized holes that aren't drilled all the way through, while the metal pegs screw into the smaller, adjacent, partially-drilled through holes, etc. etc.)
That doesn't mean anyone complaining about putting IKEA together is an idiot who can barely work the microwave or clothes washer! I bought one of their queen size platform beds with a separate headboard with storage cubbies in it, and the thing was a relative beast to assemble. I easily spent the majority of my day on it. A Malm chest usually comes in one box and you can slap it together in 30 minutes. This was something like 5-6 big boxes worth of parts, and involved some assembly that was a real challenge to do by myself. (Sure, with 2 people, it would be easier -- but you don't always have that second person handy to stand around and hold parts for you throughout the afternoon, as needed.)
IMO, that's arguably the BEST part of the whole bitcoin thing! It's a working experiment in creating a new, world-wide currency free of any central banking controls.
Right now, we're seeing ALL of the quirks and roadblocks one could imagine, ranging from security hacks and issues to questions about when a currency truly becomes a currency versus an investment (like a stock purchase). For that matter, there are still some who propose the suggestion that the entire thing could even be a gigantic scam. (After all, nobody seems to know who really created the whole thing. It's a complex enough system that, I suppose, it's at least theoretically possible that there's a component of all of it we don't know about yet; some way for its creator to manipulate the currency flow in a way to benefit him financially when he decides the time is right to pull the trigger on it.)
Complaints about the environmental impact of CPU/GPIU time used to keep it going are very premature, IMO, since it's probably a great investment in running the experiment, so far. By the time bitcoin goes completely mainstream as a primary source of currency (if it even does?), we'll be generations ahead in computer power, as always happens with time. Perhaps as bitcoin demand rises, the whole mathematical model would even be adjusted to make mining new coins a little less processor intensive, to prevent massive deflation.
I don't think you're quite correct in the belief that Hawking thinks the human race has no purpose. If that were true, why would he have ever cared to become a scientist in the first place? I mean, why bother learning how things work if there's ultimately no advantage in knowing anyway?
We may indeed be here because of pure chance (as opposed to some concept of a supreme being which created all of us according to a plan). But that doesn't negate the fact that we're capable of rational thought, as well as having certain preservation instincts and a desire to learn.
It appears to me, at least, that in a largely randomly created universe, we're the one thing in it with the ability to create order out of the chaos.
When you state that "our contributions to the universe are no more important than that of an amoeba", I counter that such a view is irrelevant to the point. Yes, if you look at the entire universe and the effects the human race has had on the formation of new stars or the alignment of the planets -- then forces of nature like gravity are apparently FAR more significant contributors than we humans are. But why would we feel a need to contribute to the universe in the first place? (We're not even sure any other intelligent species exists which could research and comprehend what our race did after we were gone.)
I think we're driven to create, explore, research and document, and even care for other animals we find on Earth because it pleases us to do so. We have the ability to procreate, and therefore a measure of vested interest in trying to improve things for the next generation. We also have a desire to interact with other humans in mutually beneficial ways -- a desire which tends to amplify all of these individual wants or desires. (It pleases us to share a thing of beauty with other humans who express an appreciation for it, hence art and music.)
Ultimately, any of us could just commit suicide tomorrow, deciding "there's really no point in going on and using more of the planet's resources up" -- and some do. But it's a very small percentage of the overall human race, and we certainly create new babies at a rate greater than that of those who decide to "check out".
So IMO, Hawking is simply fulfilling his needs as almost all of us are trying to do. He publishes books to fulfill his need to share his knowledge and maybe even for the sake of gaining notoriety/fame. Why? Just as easy to ask "Why not?"