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Comment: Pros and cons (from a parent) (Score 3, Interesting) 164

by King_TJ (#47946899) Attached to: The Minecraft Parent

We have 3 kids, two of whom are BIG into Minecraft. (The 3rd. one, our 11 year old daughter, just kind of played along since the other two were so into it -- but it's not really her thing.)

IMO, any of these computer games that encourage kids to actually create and think are a good thing. The "Little Big Planet" series of games on the PS3 work a similar way (but have much better graphics, as they're not trying to do the retro, early 80's block graphic look).

The original article's author seems to be implying that they're also a "win" for parents in the sense it gives kids a place to play and explore on the net that's still relatively safe. Unfortunately, I think that's less true than some people might think.

Our youngest girl (a first-grader, who was able to chat/type far above her grade level) ran across a fellow Minecraft "player" who turned out to be some kind of perv -- getting kicks out of sending her links to hard-core porn photos and videos, etc. She was still too young to really get what was going on with all of that. But we had to have a talk with her and make sure she knows never to give out ANY personal information in the game -- and have to review what she's doing in the game more closely now.

As much as there is to dislike about Sony and its money-grabbing, proprietary ways? I will say they seem to have a lot more invested in locking down the play environment - so I feel this sort of thing is less likely an issue in a game like LBP.

Comment: Re:Why dilute the brand? (Score 2) 386

by King_TJ (#47930229) Attached to: Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

I get your point, but I don't think that's the business model.

It looks to me like Tesla put out the high-dollar "elite" sports car as the first product, in order to generate enough revenue (higher profit margins on each one) to build more of a company aimed at the mass market.

So this isn't about "brand dilution" so much as the company knowing who it wants its customer to be -- and gradually lowering prices on the cars as the technology and profits from previous sales allow it to get there.

Tesla isn't trying to compete with Ferrari, Lamborghini, and the like. It wants to reach a point where it's considered a superior brand competing with brands like Nissan, Toyota, GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Comment: Yep, music sales dropped from '99 to 2009 .... (Score 1) 609

That's also the time frame when MOST people I know became disinterest / disenchanted with the new music coming out, and reverted to listening to older material instead.

I'm not saying the ease of "pirating" music with digital tools doesn't contribute to loss of music sales. It MAY (but the ease of BUYING tracks has exponentially increased too, as well as a reduction to nearly zero in costs of distribution to people -- so I'm not sure).

But quite frankly, we've regularly witnessed trends in popular music that are long overdue, here in the 2000's. As just a random few I can think of off the top of my head? We had the "rise of the alternative girl bands" (Bjork, Sarah McLaughlin, Poe, Fiona Apple, PJ Harvey, Mazzy Star, etc. etc.) in the 90's. We had the brief burst in popularity of ska and neo-swing type music (Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, etc.). Obviously, we had the huge effect of the Seattle grunge scene. Before that, we saw a rise in popularity of "modern country" and line-dancing, the era of Heavy Metal in the 80's, and a period where rock/rap fusion was popular. So what's really happened along these lines in the 2000-2014 time period?

Comment: This is NOT a problem.... User stupidity is.... (Score 1) 609

Your music library WILL contain all of the stuff you choose to put in it. That's not going to change, because that's pretty much the POINT of it!

What we've got here are a bunch of whiny people who dislike U2, throwing fits over the fact that their latest album is now a part of their collection despite not wanting it there. Well..... so what? How does this really affect you in a negative way, in the grand scheme of things? You never have to add a U2 song to a custom playlist. It doesn't delete any of your other music you already have, or prevent you from adding something new that you want. It cost you absolutely nothing. And because of the way iTunes works, you don't even have to use any disk space keeping the downloaded tracks on your Mac or iOS device. You can delete them all and it just leaves a "marker" in the cloud, saying you have the ability to download it any time.

Heck, if THAT is so intolerable? Consider exporting your music library to a standard format like MP3 (iTunes gives you the ability to make an MP3 version of any of your songs by right clicking on them, even) - and use a different program as your music manager. You could still purchase new stuff via iTunes if you wanted, and just export a copy to the player you actually use.

As I understand it, this whole "promotion" cost Apple hundreds of millions of dollars to pull off -- and was likely only something negotiated courtesy of the recent acquisition of Beats and the inside connections they had with the music industry. I really don't think you're going to see this happening regularly.

Comment: It's not just the fact GM has the recalls! (Score 4, Informative) 185

by King_TJ (#47851793) Attached to: GM To Introduce Hands-Free Driving In Cadillac Model

What scares me (and I just traded in a 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe that I've owned for several years) is the way GM often decides to rectify the problems they find!

For example? Have you seen the correction they gave Cadillac owners for the ignition switch recall?! Instead of anything you'd assume GM would do (like replacing the lock cylinder with a newer revision that can't accidentally get twisted out of the "run" position while the gear selector is in "Drive"?), the recall involves issuing owners a new set of keyfobs! That's right! GM decided that by changing the way the physical key attaches to the rectangular fob, they'd give you a setup where it's less likely to put as much leverage on the ignition switch with keys hanging from it! Anyone can do this "recall" themselves with 50 cents worth of keyring parts from the local hardware store!

Thankfully, my CTS had electronic push button start, so that recall didn't even apply to me. But only a week after I traded the car in, I received a different recall notice about a problem where vibrations in the driveline (that apparently worsen as some of the lubricating grease disappears) can trick a side airbag sensor into thinking there was a crash and accidentally going off). BTW, *that* recall notice also informed me not to take my car in right away for it, as GM didn't even have the replacement parts in stock yet for that one!

Comment: Voliunteer workers for the IRS? (Score 4, Insightful) 246

by King_TJ (#47844235) Attached to: Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

I don't get this at all?

If a business has avoided paying some taxes *legally* and citizens are angry about it? The proper channel to go through is protesting the government that allowed it.

Any "for profit" business has the responsibility to maximize profits for the sake of its continued existence and growth, and as a duty to its stockholders if it was publicly held. Therefore, it would be irresponsible of it NOT to take advantage of legal tax loopholes or tactics to minimize costs.

It sounds like some people have the idea that they can "shame" businesses into volunteering to pay more tax than they're legally required to pay. I'm not saying that might not have a small measure of success in some situations -- but you'd probably achieve similar results by just randomly picketing ANY profitable business and demanding they give more to charity, or pay more of their profits to improve the local area, or ??

The crux of the problem here is the way the laws are written, so only your legislators can correct it.

Comment: Re:What is the Tesla strategy? (Score 1) 157

by King_TJ (#47827669) Attached to: Tesla's Next Auto-Dealer Battleground State: Georgia

I could be wrong, but I doubt the Tesla strategy is quite what you've stated?

At best, it might be ONE factor supporting the strategy. But I think the *primary* motivation of doing their own sales and bypassing dealerships is simply cutting out the red tape and middle-men.

The fact the dealers sell more than one brand seems pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things to me? First of all, most dealers have used cars lots that carry whatever they get in trade to resell. That will include Tesla vehicles in the mix, as they get traded in -- and Tesla has no way to prevent that. But beyond that? Most dealers still only carry 2 to 3 brands, at most, of new vehicles. Customers tend to have a good idea what they want before setting foot on the dealer lots, and select a dealership they know carries the brand they're thinking about buying. I'm sure it happens, but I've never witnessed someone go into, say, a "Hyundai and Suzuki dealership", looking at Hyundai, and have a salesman talk them into one of the Suzukis instead. Most of the time, the dealerships are even designed so the different brands they sell are partitioned off into different areas of the building, giving you the feeling you've stepped out of one business and into another as you cross over to look at the other brand. It's not really conducive to encouraging you to ping-pong between the brands while shopping.

Personally, I love what Tesla's trying to do! But just saying, I think it's more about retaining full control of the sales and customer service experience than it is a concern that traditional dealerships will steer interested buyers towards gasoline powered competitors.

Comment: You don't need LEGISLATION for this petty issue! (Score 1) 253

by King_TJ (#47816707) Attached to: Why Phone Stores Should Stockpile Replacements

The *real* problem goes far deeper, my friend. If the cellular companies in America didn't standardize on selling the handsets instead of the service, none of this would even matter anymore!

In a more sane scenario, you'd simply buy a used cellphone off Amazon or eBay, or off a buddy, or a classified ad in the local newspaper ... whatever. It wouldn't matter what make or model you selected. You'd bring it in and say, "I'd like to put THIS phone on my plan, please?" and they'd do it. (Heck, maybe they'd even charge you $10 or $15 for their time to have to go in the computer and update the information. Fair enough.) Phones wouldn't be "carrier subsidized" and marketed to death as a reason you should go with Verizon, AT&T or whoever.... and "carrier locking" phones to only work on their network wouldn't exist either.

Sure, you *might* still opt to buy insurance for your particular cellphone? But chances are, if things worked like I described above -- it wouldn't make a lot of sense except for the most expensive of handsets. (Despite the millions of cellphones produced every year, the current system makes almost half of them unusable with your current phone carrier and contract, right off the bat, because you need GSM or CDMA depending on who you're using. Then you've got all the carrier locked phones out there that you can't use, thanks to an artificial restriction placed on them. And with some of the "second tier" carriers like Cricket Wireless - they opted to use at least one special frequency band that isn't supported on many phones at all, other than the ones they provide you with.)

Comment: Why'd he leave the iPod Touch in his truck though? (Score 2) 194

by King_TJ (#47756075) Attached to: $75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen

Does it seem odd to anyone else that he'd be fine with leaving the device in his truck's center console overnight that's required to make use of one of his arms?

"Pretty sure I won't come up with ANY need to use my other arm for the rest of the night.... Maybe I'll go fetch the controller tomorrow?"

Comment: re: nuclear waste (Score 1, Insightful) 249

by King_TJ (#47697865) Attached to: The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise

Agree completely with your comments, although the nuclear waste issue still strikes me as one that few people are taking seriously enough. The reaction is always the same, "Don't load that stuff on a train that travels through MY city!" "Don't bury that stuff anywhere near MY place!" So it winds up sitting right where it started, on-site at the plant, where it's, to say the least, not an ideal storage location.

We've seen a lot of technical innovation in the last 50 years or so, which makes me question why we can't seriously look into developing a new type of power generator that can use all of this "spent" radioactive waste as fuel? Even if the costs to construct it were prohibitive in the sense of it generating enough electricity to be profitable? It would seem to be a cheap solution as a place to put waste coming from the existing reactors.

As long as the nuclear waste contains so much energy, it's this dangerous to handle or store -- that means there's got to be untapped potential left in it.

Comment: re: Titan (Score 0) 146

by King_TJ (#47677285) Attached to: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Launches Nov. 13th

Hmm... ok. Can I ask what Titan's overall theme is supposed to be?

Personally, I have pretty much zero interest in these MMORPGs with traditional "fantasy" characters and scenarios. I played Warcraft 1 through 3 back in the day and enjoyed them at the time, mind you. But games like WoW don't really do it for me; definitely not to the extent where I'd pay for a continuing membership to keep playing and commit that much of a time investment.

If Titan goes with a science-fiction, futuristic theme, I might take more interest.

Comment: Two different issues, network-wise, IMO .... (Score 4, Insightful) 147

by King_TJ (#47665183) Attached to: T-Mobile To Throttle Customers Who Use Unlimited LTE Data For Torrents/P2P

My first thought is, too many people out there want to act like "net neutrality" should mean free, unlimited use of all services whenever the carrier promises some sort of flat rate option.

More realistically, I think people need to differentiate between hard line based services and OTA services, which are currently far more expensive to maintain and to support high bandwidth over.

While I'd be very upset to find my cable company or a service providing broadband over fiber like we have at work was throttling us for using bit-torrent protocol or for "using the service with unauthorized devices" -- I don't have the same issue with it happening on a cellular LTE connection.

I think there has to be some level of understanding of the underlying limitations of the technology in place. When I use cellular data, I know up-front that I'm sharing a finite amount of bandwidth with everyone else in an X square mile area is on the service, using that same tower. That's just the nature of the beast -- and it's what gives me the ability to stay connected while very mobile, doing things I'd never be able to do at all otherwise, without traveling to a specific place with a landline connection.

Anyone keeping torrent downloads going on a regular basis over LTE really is just mis-using the service. Sure, there are probably some who live in rural areas who will complain they have no other faster options. But the bottom line is, cellular companies intend their data services to be used primarily in conjunction with their phone handsets, as a way to keep them connected for the Internet tasks you'd most commonly want to do on a phone. They also sell data cards and USB modems, but pretty much always with some strict limits on monthly data usage, or at the very least -- with an "unlimited" plan that contains a lot of exceptions to what unlimited means in that context.

Really, the only viable alternative is to wind up with pricing like the satellite internet services do; strict monthly usage caps with per megabyte overage fees on top of it. I think it's clear that the majority of customers vastly prefer just paying a reasonable, fixed monthly rate with a promise that "under typical usage scenarios, you can just use the thing whenever you like without worrying about extra costs for data".

Comment: re: uncomfortable using either one? (Score 3, Interesting) 125

by King_TJ (#47654553) Attached to: The Fiercest Rivalry In Tech: Uber vs. Lyft

I agree that underhanded tactics make them both look bad, but personal experience using Uber, at least, tells me the service is typically quite good.

In Virginia, both Lyft and Uber were allowed to start legally operating again, under a specific set of rules:

- They must meet a set of regulations to promote passenger safety, have appropriate insurance and comply with Virginia laws.
- The companies agreed to run background checks of drivers, including criminal and driving histories
- Drivers must have a valid driver’s license and must be 21 or older. Their vehicles must be four-door, carry no more than seven passengers at time and must have a valid registration and inspection.
- The companies and the state also agreed on checks on rate transparency and documentation. And drivers are not allowed to accept street hails.

I think all of this sounds pretty reasonable, and IMO, it's fair to consider them a new way of doing business, vs. the traditional taxi cab services.

Comment: I actually voted for "my own town" on this one.... (Score 2) 246

by King_TJ (#47646999) Attached to: I'd most like to (personally) explore:

We recently moved (only a couple month ago), and while it's a small town we're in, I'm still discovering new things all the time. It feels a bit foolish for me to spend a lot of money traveling to distant places to explore them, when I can't even say I feel like I'm an expert on what's in my own home-town yet!

Comment: IMO, they're trying to solve a niche problem .... (Score 1) 337

by King_TJ (#47646955) Attached to: Microsoft Surface Drowning?

When you watch the latest ads, Microsoft is trying to communicate a message that the new Surface Pro 3 is a device for Mac users who own (and have to carry around) both an iPad and a Macbook Air.

Essentially, they're conceding that Apple is still the "one to beat" in the tablet market -- and they think their best shot at improved sales is cannibalizing sales to people who invested in the Mac ecosystem with multiple portable devices already.

To me, that says "niche player"!

I think almost everyone agrees that the Surface has good hardware specs. Essentially, you can order it configured with all of the same options you can get in an Macbook Air (up to 8GB of RAM and an Intel core i5 or i7 CPU), so it would be no surprise if it performed every bit as well as one of those.

The problem is, MS still wants you to believe you should pay the high price of a Surface Pro 3 (compared to an iPad at least), because it will do double duty as your tablet and your laptop computer. I'd say that's not so compelling! I own an iPad Air with wifi and cellular data, and I also own a Macbook Pro notebook (issued to me by my employer). I take the iPad Air with me all the time when commuting to/from work, but I use it for things like reading the digital version of the morning newspaper, checking my new email, and maybe playing a casual game like Words with Friends. My notebook stays in a dock at work unless I know I'm going to some destination where I want a full blown computer setup for some length of time (like a business trip or a vacation, where I'll use it in the hotel room).

I'd rather not carry around a device with a keyboard attached if I'm just using it for reading and a little bit of web browsing, and I like the fact that even if my iPad gets broken or stolen, I have all of the really important data back on the notebook computer -- so it's not a big problem.

In a scenario where I was really going to be doing a lot of mobile work? It'd also be a plus to own and have BOTH devices with me, since that means at least double the battery life available to me without a need to recharge.

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