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Comment: That depends.... (Score 1) 567

by King_TJ (#49177959) Attached to: Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial

As others said, there's not necessarily a guarantee Russia wouldn't decide to use Snowden as a bargaining chip or sorts, turning him over to the U.S. govt. at a very inopportune time for him to get any hope of justice. Surely, that's in the back of his head as at least a lingering possibility?

Also, he has quite a bit of support in the U.S. from people who think he's a hero, not a criminal. (Not everyone makes the front cover of Wired magazine, covered in a positive way.) Our current folks in political office may not care for him -- but *if* he could negotiate a high profile trial here, at least there would be a LOT of eyeballs watching, concerned that he received a fair outcome.

I'm positive he'd instantly find work in the private sector too, doing infosec of some sort.

Comment: I'm thinking Azure here? (Score 2) 202

by King_TJ (#49177021) Attached to: What Would Minecraft 2 Look Like Under Microsoft?

I just attended a seminar today where a couple of Microsoft people gave presentations. One thing that they made pretty clear is that Microsoft's Azure "cloud" is a HUGE part of their future business model.

Right now, when you ask the typical MS user if they can name 3 things Azure does, they usually get stuck naming even one item. But one of these days, Microsoft hopes to embrace the software as subscription model to the point where practically everyone will just pay for Azure to spin up and host whatever servers they wish, vs. trying to run their own on their own hardware, in-house.

They've also made a big deal in their recent marketing about the Titanfall game running on Azure -- and I'm sure there will be more of this to come. If they do a Minecraft sequel, I'd suspect it will be designed so people can easily host Minecraft servers on Azure (probably with a friendly web front-end to create and configure them?). Maybe that will be the ONLY authorized way to do it?

Comment: How do they know they're getting paid fairly? (Score 2) 142

by King_TJ (#49167039) Attached to: Unreal Engine 4 Is Now Free

I think this is a great strategy, but how would Epic Games know what a developer's gross income was, year after year, on a particular game title?
Is this a matter of Epic trusting them to report it honestly, or is it part of contractual terms where you're required to supply them with your tax records each year, or what?

Comment: Couldn't this be handled with dual firmware? (Score 1) 320

by King_TJ (#49161143) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

I'm thinking this might be similar to what some of the video card manufacturers have done (such as with the R9280X cards), where a physical DIP switch on the card selects between firmware flash A or B. If you suspected corruption, you could flip the switch to use the alternate, which presumably would be loaded from the factory with good, working firmware of whatever version was most recent at the time the product was manufactured.

I suppose this would technically only give you "one shot" at recovering from a firmware hack ... but better than nothing, right? And in the meantime, it would give protection to people from such things as a corrupt flash update or a way to do an easy A/B comparison between 2 firmware revisions.

Comment: So will it finish successfully without crashing? (Score 1) 52

I know that sounds a little snarky .... but that's been one of my issues with the Civ games for quite some time. It seems like as you get into the "thick" of the game, with a lot of units occupying more and more space -- the system resources taken get pretty large. It often leads to slowdowns and a freeze-up or crash before the game can be completed.

Comment: re: unrealistic activity in games (Score 1) 159

by King_TJ (#49151855) Attached to: Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected?

The difference, IMO, is that obtaining a real guitar to play with one of these games is really not much more "out of reach" than getting the plastic toy version.

If you want to play a sport like football, you have to gather together a willing team of players. If you want to drive a real car on a racetrack, that involves some expense and a suitable car. Chuck rocks at pigs? Umm.... sure, if you have a handy pig pen to go visit at whatever hour of day or night you're ready to play that game, and you have an ample supply of rocks to throw, plus nobody who'll call the cops on you.

Comment: As a former guitarist myself.... (Score 1) 159

by King_TJ (#49151817) Attached to: Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected?

I never had much interest in the Guitar Hero franchise, because meh.... playing a fake plastic guitar with buttons similar to the old "Simon" game I had as a pre-teen seems rather pointless. People put all that effort into mastering it and it's a useless skill for anything else. Why bother?

Rocksmith did interest me, because it was all about actually learning songs using your favorite electric guitar. But only a few minutes into that one, I realized I wasn't getting into it either. I like what they tried to do with it, but like others here said -- why no standard guitar tablature? The whole scrolling neck thing works for Guitar Hero, but I found it pretty disorienting and non-intuitive for learning music on a real guitar. Maybe offer a toggle between views/modes at least?

Also, maybe it's just me ... but I feel like the era of the "guitar god" and stadium rock is pretty much behind us. These games still cling to that theme, that you're trying to play bigger and bigger live shows, seeking the applause of the fans, etc. etc. But do people even really relate to that anymore? I guess it's one mechanism to try to make the game rewarding -- but part of me feels too old for that nonsense. I want a game that makes practicing songs and new guitar techniques fun, but without making me pretend I'm 25 years younger and striving to make it big in the era of 80's hair metal.

Comment: Umm.... no. (Score 1) 366

by King_TJ (#49131029) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Net metering doesn't force the utility to provide a service without getting compensated for it. Here in Maryland, I'm billed for the transport costs to move the power BOTH to or FROM my residence. So I have to cover a cost of my generated solar power getting pushed back out over their lines.

As I also pointed out, if the utilities were more forward-thinking and less resistant to change, they'd embrace PV solar as a useful addition to their overall system. There are pretty large losses involved in transporting power long distances to customers from the central power generation plant. That's why you see those big structures surrounded by chain link fence. They contain transformers needed to step up the voltage to compensate for resistive losses going over miles of copper wire on the poles.

If they've got people scattered about with small solar power generation capabilities on their roofs, they can purchase and immediately resell excess power generated there and avoid the big transmission losses.

I completely agree that this stuff requires some coordination with the utility company, for best results. As it is, you can't even get a solar system up and running without filling out a lot of paperwork, undergoing an inspection, and waiting for an approval from the utility though. So the ball is in their court in this respect. (They DO have first-hand knowledge of exactly where the solar systems will go online and how much power they're capable of generating.)

Most likely, what will happen is when particular neighborhoods reach a certain saturation level of solar installation, the power company will have to say - "Sorry... We won't approve any more new systems here with more than X amount of generation capacity because we've got all we need for this geographic area."

Comment: Re:Net metering is unstustainable (Score 1) 366

by King_TJ (#49130903) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

You're correct, except in reality, those of us adopting PV solar right now aren't really so much expecting the utility company to act as a battery as we expect that they'll be able to immediately redirect/resell the excess electricity we generate to another customer nearby.

I believe a recent statistic said solar adoption would, in fact, work nicely this way in any given neighborhood until it exceeds at least a threshold of around 8%?

In my own town, for example ... we have a population of roughly 6,000. As far as I'm aware, there are only approximately 5 residences using PV solar. (I think the city makes some use of solar as well for the water treatment plant, but that's probably NOT a situation where they're generating more than they're using and expecting repayment for excess generation!) Even if you assume you've got 3 or 4 (or more) people living in one residence in some cases, and a number of people in apartment complexes? It's clear we haven't hit the saturation point yet where more people are making power than want to use it at that same time.

If the utility company can resell the power I generate and push back out over the wires connected to my house, that's power they don't have to generate themselves AND transmit a relatively long distance, running it through "step up" transformers and so on to offset losses from the electrical resistance of the long run of wire. In that sense, it should be valuable to them -- not something inherently "bad" or "problematic".

Comment: Re:If he chose to Kickstart "Me and My Broken Hear (Score 1) 305

by King_TJ (#49114773) Attached to: Pandora Pays Artists $0.001 Per Stream, Thinks This Is "Very Fair"

Crowdfunding albums has been done before. I'm pretty sure RadioHead tried this with a recent album, as did Nine Inch Nails. David Bowie may have done so too? (Just going by memory here ...)

In any case, I think the concern with going this route is that once the novelty of doing it wears off, you'll quickly have little more than a "race to the bottom", where artists everywhere are releasing works this way, and people won't contribute much money at all to any one project. (The early adopters of the model did well with it, primarily because people were paying them the "going rate" for albums, or more in some cases, as a show of support for trying the new business model and taking risks.)

Again, I'm not really sure what the answer is with all of this? Many, many years ago, musicians were "professionals for hire" -- LONG before it was even possible to record audio. The wealthy paid them to do live gigs at their parties and what-not, and that was pretty much the extent of how profit was made from it. Maybe we're headed back that way, where live concerts are the only practical way to profit from making music -- and anything else is simply done to market your music and get your "brand" out there?

Truthfully, I don't even know that I care? I love music and I used to even play guitar in a local band for a couple years (long time ago). Part of me thinks our society is poorer for eliminating the possibility (however faint) that some teens jamming together in a garage can aspire to become stars, making millions, if they just believe in themselves and doggedly keep practicing and playing, playing, playing. But another part of me knows that's exactly why I got out of the music scene too. The writing was on the wall that this wasn't going to be a good living for many people at all, as technology progressed and things changed. (First, we saw the decline of the radio DJ who was allowed to run his/her own show, playing whatever he/she liked. Then we saw the major labels implode (deservedly, basically). And just as the indie labels and individual entrepreneurs were picking up the pieces and going DYI -- things went to digital streaming for "all you want to listen to for $10 a month" services.

Comment: Re:We DO know enough (Score 1) 675

by King_TJ (#49112439) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge

I see you posted anonymous. Nice.... so you can't even sign your name to your opinion on this topic?

The "flat earth" debate has long ceased to be a debate because it's essentially PROVEN at this point that the planet is, indeed, a sphere. (The only people still denying it are a very SMALL portion of the population who may well do so just to be contrary, vs. having a true belief in it.)

I'm not whining and fussing about a few dollars coming from my pocket, at all. I *am*, however, saying, there's a LOT of B.S. going around, especially in areas like "alternative energy solutions" right now.

I actually HAVE a PV solar system I purchased for our house, outright -- and that cost me more than "a few dollars". Even so, I'd happily tell anyone who asks how much total B.S. and nonsense is promised by the "Eco Green, pro solar" crowd and adjust their expectations before they commit to a solar loan or purchase.

It's *only* via artificially manufactured govt. subsidies that this stuff makes good financial sense for most customers. It's NOT cost effective on its own, especially when you consider the costs they don't like to talk about -- such as labor to disassemble a whole solar system from your roof, in order to replace roofing shingles that are at the end of their useful life, or the cost to replace a dying inverter outside of the warranty period (typically less than HALF the warranty length offered on your panels themselves).

A serious change would involve building new, safer nuclear power plants and using those to generate all of our energy needs where options like hydroelectric weren't viable options. Guess what though? That's not really profitable for the special interests getting big payouts from technologies like solar right now, so that's not up for so much real discussion.....

Comment: Great point, but I will say .... (Score 1) 305

by King_TJ (#49112281) Attached to: Pandora Pays Artists $0.001 Per Stream, Thinks This Is "Very Fair"

One of the current issues for music recording artists is that we've essentially removed the traditional method of getting paid for producing a new album. A painter hopes to initially make $'s on the first sale of a new painting. So he/she doesn't really concern him/herself with the concept of "pay per view" after the fact.

These days, most musicians either invest their own money into production and distribution of a new album, or they sign with a record label who may loan them some money as part of a contract, but it's subject to being repaid by selling enough albums to pay the loan off.

Unfortunately, music streaming services severely cut into the number of people interested in buying the album, yet the streaming is apparently barely paying the artists anything.

So how do we fix it? I'm not necessarily arguing that we need to pay more for streaming, or in turn those companies should pay the artists more of a "cut". But I'm saying there's a transition in progress away from people actually buying new music that's released, and towards an expectation of being able to listen to it, on demand, via the Internet.

If the current music situation was more equivalent to how a da Vinci type would get compensated, we'd have a system in place where anyone providing the music streaming (equivalent to "public viewing of the painting") would have to pay thousands of dollars, up front, first, to own each song. (Perhaps that would mean each service would have "exclusives" on individual songs or whole albums they purchased.)

Comment: re: your uncle (Score 2) 675

by King_TJ (#49108941) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge

Honestly? I probably have a whole list of people who it would be interesting to introduce to your uncle, then.

I've almost lost count of the number of times I've watched someone with no real scientific background in the field make a blanket statement declaring anyone who doesn't believe in climate change/global warming is clearly an idiot.

The fact is, things are much different than that. Quite a few folks who are FAR from being idiots think it's fear-mongering, misplaced nonsense. (I'm certainly no climate expert myself, but I think I fall someplace on the spectrum far from "clueless idiot" -- and I've read enough compelling information from both sides of the argument to feel like the "best stance" to take is one of questioning everything. If we're talking about pretty painless changes we can do, such as substitution of one chemical for another in a product, to reduce the ozone layer depletion - great. Why not? But demanding people spend billions of dollars to try to "fix" the whole climate situation? That just seems like a REALLY tall order for something that reeks of special interest agendas, right now, especially when we don't even have a consensus on a solution that would definitely reverse the claimed problem and revert it to "normal" in a useful time-frame.

Comment: Meh.... This isn't that surprising, really. (Score 2) 237

by King_TJ (#49101545) Attached to: Ten Lies T-Mobile Told Me About My Data Plan

I'm a fairly satisfied T-Mobile customer, but one thing I've found with them consistently is ANY time they offer a new feature, service plan or offer - the customer service folks are untrained on it for months and the handling of it is very inconsistent.

I'm actually on wi-fi often enough so I never use that much LTE data in a month. For me, the "data stash" offer wasn't worth paying for a more expensive plan to get it. But yes, it would follow the trend I've seen with T-Mobile for them to have bugs in tracking it properly, phone reps who don't understand how their own web site works with regards to it, etc.

When they first started offering those "pay only x$ down and make interest free payments over 24 months for your new device" offers, they were all mixed up too. People were going in or buying online and getting wildly different results as to how much money (if any) had to be put down for the initial purchase. (Eventually, they seemed to iron that out, with some kind of internal credit score based system that still keeps you guessing a bit until you get final word -- but is fairly consistent.) When my workplace signed on so employees buying T-Mobile for personal devices could qualify for a corporate discount, they had that all mixed up too. The retail T-Mobile stores couldn't tell me if I'd get the discount or not when adding a new iPad to a data plan, etc.

I've just learned with T-Mobile to "go with the flow" basically. Pay your bill on time and if they hype up anything new that involves a plan change -- give it 2-3 months before you do it for the least amount of hassle and confusion. All in all, they've saved me a lot of money over using AT&T or Verizon, and gave me better phone handset options and more "extras" than Sprint ever did. They just rolled out LTE service in my town too, which I've been waiting and hoping for, for about a year now. (I mainly use my LTE data at work or on the commute, so it hasn't been a really big issue ... but it's nice to finally have the same level of service at home.)

Comment: Predestined to fail otherwise, then? (Score 1) 307

by King_TJ (#49075067) Attached to: The Software Revolution

I can't disagree with the above statement enough!

Sorry, but there are *always* alternatives. We have enough technology to perform most farming with automation anyway.

The PhD who has to apply at McDonalds? Sure, that happens... but that's a result of education not automatically equating to value in the marketplace. Quite a few PhD's and folks with Masters' degrees I've met are chronically underemployed or unemployed. The reason? They believe people "owe" them a high paying job because they completed the education. They aren't necessarily very good with people skills, or motivated to accept anything in the way of a career position outside of a very narrow, specific thing they think they want to do.

Our educational system is happy to provide an education that's largely only useful in the "work world" as a way to become a teacher .

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.