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Comment Snowden files? (Score 4, Insightful) 157

"I believe that both China and Russia had access to all the files that Snowden took well before Snowden took them because they've penetrated the NSA networks where those files reside."

If Russia and China had the files before Snowden took them then they are in no meaningful way "Snowden files". They are merely a set of documents that may, or may not, overlap a portion of Snowden's files. By repeating your opinion that Russia and China have them (apparently without having to decrypt them, if they received them separately from Snowden) you are bolstering the narrative that Snowden has done damage to the government and the people of the US rather than exposing the damage done by the government of the US to the people of the US and the world.

Well done, sir.

Comment English to English translation (Score 1) 441

Living overseas for the past decade and a half, a lot of times I've described my job as "English to English translation". It's amazing how many times meetings are conducted in English because it's the only language both sides have in common-- but it is native to neither of them, and they both leave the room thinking they understood what was said, when in fact, neither did.

Comment Premise (Score 1) 249

I'm not sure the premise has been established.

"Given the hundreds of thousands of apps currently on offer, it's hard for any one app (no matter how well designed) to stand out on Apple's App Store, much less stay atop the bestseller charts for very long."

Why should either of those things be easy-- especially the latter?

Comment Anti Competitive Regulation (Score 2) 223

US telco regulation does the opposite of what such regulation is supposed to do: promote competition, preserve consumer choice, reduce prices, and increase the quality of service. Monopolies granted by municipalities to cable operators, and the deregulation of the Baby Bells, do exactly the opposite-- they protect incumbents with entrenched positions and raise barriers to entry. It's a classic case of regulatory capture on multiple levels.

The idea of municipalities now wanting to run their own ISPs, because it's so clearly a job they should be and can be doing better than the private sector-- is now resulting in lobbying groups sponsoring legislation to make it illegal to do so in order to preserve the monopolies-- is surreal to the point of absurdity.

Comment Re:Broken camera (Score 1) 264

The valid statistic is not the percentage of felonious deaths that occur as a result of shootings arising from traffic stops, but rather the percentage of traffic stops that result in shootings.

The question is-- when performing a traffic stop, how quickly should you unholster your gun? That should be based on how likely it is that a gun will become necessary during a traffic stop, not how often shootings that arose from traffic stops turned lethal-- for the COP.

You're also missing a number-- how many wrongful deaths of people other than a law enforcement officer resulted from shootings that arose from traffic stops where the driver was not actually armed or not actually a threat? I'm going to guess it was higher than 8. If so, by your logic that would seem to indicate that drivers really need to have their guns ready when police pull them over for traffic violations, because 16% of the time, when they shoot at you, you'll end up dead.

Comment Not in this case. (Score 2) 420


Nokia's market cap four years ago was $40B. Twelve years ago, it was $60B.

$7B is chump change in comparison. MS has written down entire acquisitions as worthless after spending almost as much.

Nokia was not some edgy web design garage startup trying to get acquired by one of the big boys. They WERE one of the big boys. There is no other way to describe this situation as a complete and utter failure of Nokia's management to cope with changing market conditions since 2007 and how they impacted the way Nokia did business: the migration of large portions of the revenue in the sector to smartphones, the death of Symbian, the rise of iOS and Android and their respective ecosystems.

This failure is not relative. It is absolute. What's hard to see is what MS actually gets out of this. The public rationale is nonsense. I thought it was for the patent portfolio, but that's excluded. The theory that it's to stave off impending bankruptcy, a switch to Android, or both makes a bit of sense. It might also be just so MS can exercise more control over how the market perceives WIndows Phone. They can conglomerate the financials for Nokia and Windows Phone into a larger group and cherry pick the numbers they like for release (the way they do with Skype, Xbox, and the Entertainment division.) This might stop reporting on poor Nokia device sales from reflecting badly on Windows Phone. Nokia's bankruptcy wouldn't have looked good for Windows Phone, either.

Comment Analogy (Score 1) 397

That analogy is anything but apt, and it's really difficult to address your question in absentia of any specifics.

The flying car analogy is not an example of the deleterious effects of making a process too efficient, but of unintended consequences of the circumstances that achieving that creates.

What the flying car achieves is allowing people to travel faster than ground transportation by reducing friction and utilizing three dimensional space more efficiently.

Its deleterious effects derive from the greater complexity of navigating three dimensional space, insufficient familiarity with that task among the general public, and the greater risk to drivers, passengers, and bystanders resulting from air collisions as opposed to traffic accidents.

However, you don't address this problem by not making flying cars. You address it by providing proper training, by making flying cars smarter and more autonomous than regular cars with regard to following proper procedures and avoiding accidents, and by setting and enforcing standards for manufacture, operation, and maintenance of flying cars. Those things make the flying car better by making it safer and more, rather than less, efficient (although there may certainly be some tradeoffs).

It sounds like what you are talking about is enabling the most efficient execution of a task that by itself is deleterious, and wishing to curb this tendency by making the task itself harder to achieve. I don't think your analogy fits, and at the moment I can't think of one that does. Is this so super duper top secret that you just can't actually say, without reference to specific entities, what the task is?

Comment Re:We Wish (Score 5, Interesting) 663

The reason why not is obvious. Oil companies have their place in the markets, their sunk costs invested in equipment, technology, business processes, and distribution networks. Their interest is not in getting off oil as soon as it is possible, or practical. It is to stave off that transition as long as possible, to make sure that extracting and refining oil remains profitable right up until the last possible drop that can be produced and consumed is produced and consumed.

Presumably at some point, if they want to remain in the energy business, they will themselves convert to something else so that when there is no more oil that can be practically and profitably produced, they will remain in the market by diversifying.

So there's the time when environmentalists say we should transition (now) and the time when oil companies say we should transition (when oil is no longer profitable, when they say so) and what actually happens will fall somewhere in the middle, very likely much closer to the latter than the former, because when it comes to resolving conflicts of interest between the energy sector and interests of ordinary citizens, most Western governments have a pretty terrible track record.

Comment Preaching to the choir (Score 1) 366

I'd describe it this way:

For those in the target market for whom "runs on Linux" is a positive trait, there is no need to mention that these products are based on Linux: they already know.

For those in the target market for whom "runs on Linux" means nothing, there is no value in mentioning that these products run Linux.

For those in the target market for whom "runs on Linux" is a negative trait, there is an incentive to not mention Linux.

Educating the public about what Linux is and does, and which products use it, is a goal that is largely orthogonal to the objectives of companies that want to make and sell products that use Linux. Users want to complete their tasks; if Linux can do this and the product performs well and is available at a decent price, it will succeed whether people know they are using Linux or not. If it can't, it won't, regardless of whether or not people know it uses Linux.

The value in knowing the identity of a platform comes when it becomes a broad ecosystem, the way "Windows" became shorthand for "runs all the applications you've already invested time and money in"-- those applications you bought and trained people to use in order to accomplish your assigned tasks. To some extent, iOS also has a similar identity, in that tablets running other mobile operating systems may do everything iOS devices do as well, or perhaps even better, but that means less to people who have ever-increasing stables of iOS apps they wish to continue using.

The Linux ecosystem is very deep, but is centered squarely around servers and software development, and less around general productivity, communication, or entertainment-- the things most people use computing devices for. People already use lots of devices that contain Linux all the time-- DSL routers and switches, for instance, but most of them don't know these devices run on Linux, and they don't need to.

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