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Comment: Re:anyone remember when (Score 1) 283

by Just Some Guy (#47766407) Attached to: Seagate Ships First 8 Terabyte Hard Drive

My first computer with a hard drive was an Amiga 2000 that came with a 120MB Maxtor. I was gleeful at its blinding speed and unfathomable capacity compared to my older floppy-based system. So much so, in fact, that I spent quite a few hours brilliantly doing the AmigaDOS equivalent of cp -R /media/floppy / so that I'd never have to bother with those slow things again.

That was perhaps my first introduction to the importance of namespaces, a lesson which I carry with me unto this day.

Comment: Re: Switched double speed half capacity, realistic (Score 1) 283

by Just Some Guy (#47766277) Attached to: Seagate Ships First 8 Terabyte Hard Drive
Why would they have lower seek times? It seems like lateral, track-to-track movement would be at the same speed regardless of position. And since rotational velocity is constant, the average time for a sector in the current track to come around should be identical. What's missing from that line of thinking?

Comment: Re:By-products are not loss leaders (Score 1) 272

by sjbe (#47764599) Attached to: Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google

A by-product is something that you produce while making something else. What do Amazon and Google make that produces storage?

A by-product is formally defined as "'output from a joint production process that is minor in quantity and/or net realizable value when compared to the main products". The search and retail services that Google and Amazon respectively provide require a lot of computers and these computers invariably have an excess of hard drive capacity even if they are using storage area networks or similar. (storage is purchased as a step function so there always is some amount of excess capacity even if very small) This means that their primary product (search and retail) generates storage as a by-product. Offering storage related services is a way to recapture some of the value of this excess storage which would otherwise merely be a cost.

Do you mean to say that they need massive amounts of storage in the first place? That doesn't mean it's free.

Nobody said it was free and by-products aren't free either though they can be very very cheap sometimes. They simply aren't as valuable in the marketplace as the primary product. From an accounting standpoint it is a sunk cost - the money has already been spent for a separate purpose and any (rational) decision making about what to do with the asset going forward should not factor into the equation.

Excess capacity for any company on any product can be normally be sold very cheaply. This is how foreign companies can sometimes sell products for what seems like ludicrously low prices even without government subsidies and why accusations of dumping are hard to prove. Once the fixed costs of the product have been recovered, anything the company can sell it for after that is pure profit. They basically can sell it for as low as their variable cost without losing money. Google's variable cost on a unit of data storage is extremely low - probably no more than a few cents per megabyte if not less. It's not free but it's pretty close. A great example of excess capacity with a low cost is text messaging for cell phones. The cost to AT&T to send you a text message is very very very low because the mechanism to send the message simply rides on some gear that has to be there anyway for a separate purpose. Once the decision to put the cell tower in is made, text messages are almost pure profit even though technically they could be considered a by-product. (now their market value is high enough that by-product might not be an accurate description anymore though...)

It may well be that Google and Amazon can maintain storage cheaper than most people, because they do have a lot of it. Google, for example, has put a great deal of research into how to have tremendous amounts of mass storage as inexpensively as possible.

I'm a cost accountant and what you said here is 100% correct. They are able to achieve economies of scale that few others can match.

That takes advantage of economies of scale, and has nothing to do with by-products.

You are conflating two accounting issues that are properly separate. Google gets storage very cheaply on a per-megabyte basis because they buy huge amounts of it and have cost effective infrastructure to make use of it. They end up with large excess amounts of it because of the nature of their primary business (not data storage) which effectively makes it a by-product to Google. From an accounting standpoint this is no different than how oil refineries generate natural gas as a by-product when refining oil into gasoline. They would have to have the storage whether or not they went into the data storage business. By going into the data storage business they are attempting to get market value for that by-product rather than simply writing it down as waste. Either way that excess capacity is a by-product. Calling Google's excess data storage capacity a by-product is logically correct.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 489

Let's put this in geek terms:

You're using "free" in the RMS sense, where the market itself is liberated. You and I agree on this. A free market is one that has been liberated from monopolists and others who want to lock it down for their own benefit.

The Koch brothers want a free-as-in-BSD market where they are free to manipulate it as they see fit without allowing others to benefit.

Which freedom is more important - that of the market or that of the actors in the market? I suppose the answer boils down to your demographic. If you're one of the billionaires who doesn't want to work for a living, you probably want the latter version so that you can run roughshod over rules meant to keep one person from screwing it up for everyone. If you are literally anyone else on the entire planet, you should probably prefer the first definition.

Comment: Re:Already? (Score 1) 248

by Just Some Guy (#47758147) Attached to: New Windows Coming In Late September -- But Which One?

However, there are number of inexpensive (under $10) and free utilities that fixes the interface so that you boot to the desktop and never see it. But... most consumers wouldn't be smart enough to know this. They were forced to use the new UI.

I'm smart enough to know it, but dumb enough not to bother. I'm not an extensive UI customizer (outside of when using Linux and a tiling window manager) - you dance with the date you brought. If I'm on a Mac, I use it like a Mac because that's how all apps, settings, and utilities expect you to use it. Why fight against the current? I'll use the keyboard prefs to put the control key in the right place, but other than that, OK, today I'm a Mac user.

Same with Windows. Sure, I could install a shell that works the way I'm used to everywhere else. But that's struggling against The One True (Terrible) Way and seems futile. Worse, it means I'll only be proficient on that one particular computer, and somewhat lost when using someone else's. When in Windows, I do as the Windows does.

You can know all about the alternative interfaces and still not choose to use them. Personally, I just adopted the approach of not using Windows at all, ever, unless I absolutely have to. It's served me pretty well so far.

Comment: Everyone is a taxpayer (Score 1, Informative) 192

by sjbe (#47757377) Attached to: $75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen

Then they aren't taxpayers, are they?

Sure they are. I assure you that the priest who is fully supported by his congregation is taxed on his "earnings". A housewife still has to file and is responsible for the taxes on the spouses income even if they had no role in actually earning it. All those people still pay sales, use, gasoline, excise, etc taxes. It's essentially impossible to not be a taxpayer on some level.

Comment: Incompetent engineers (Score 1) 192

by sjbe (#47757321) Attached to: $75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen

I'm not familiar with the device, but the engineer in me want's to believe that no one would design a system with such an obvious weakness.

I run a company that makes wiring harnesses and I am an engineer (as well as an accountant) myself. I assure you that there are a LOT of idiots who would would design such a stupid system. I get to deal with some of them on a semi-regular basis.

We like to pretend here on slashdot that engineers are universally good at their job and always do quality work but I have several file cabinets full of evidence 10 feet from where I sit that proves that too many engineers are monumentally incompetent idiots. On a daily basis I see drawings that are incomplete, incorrect, badly designed, occasionally dangerous, specify incompatible or needlessly expensive parts, difficult or impossible to read, sloppy, cannot be manufactured and even just plain incoherent. I have seen precisely 7 product drawings (out of hundreds) in the last 5 years where I could build the product detailed on the print without asking even a single question or correcting some error. This is quite simply bad engineering by people who aren't very good at their jobs.

The fun part of engineering is figuring out a clever solution to a problem. The harder and less fun part of engineering (but probably the more important part) is documenting the solution in such a way that others can understand and replicate your solution and adjust/debug it if necessary. People who can write good quality work instructions are a shocking rarity even among very smart people. A lot of engineers will take easy shortcuts even when it results in a worse and more expensive product in the long run.

Comment: Government can and do earn money (Score 0) 192

by sjbe (#47756151) Attached to: $75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen

Last time I checked, the government doesn't earn money.

Not even remotely true. Governments are perfectly capable of earning money when they choose to. Governments can and do own things and can behave very much like private businesses if they want to. In China and Egypt and Russia (and many more) have huge swaths of the private economy are outright owned by the government. The fact that the US government generally refrains from trying to make a profit and behaving like a private enterprise doesn't mean they cannot or do not. For a time in the very recent past the US government literally owned GM and Chrysler which means the US government was for a time in the automobile manufacturing business.

Not to mention that a government can literally "print" money if they want to. The Federal Reserve technically makes a profit every year though that doesn't really mean much in reality.

Taxpayers do.

Some do and some do not. People who stay home to raise children often do not earn any money. Religious leaders are often supported by tithes or donations earned by others. Elected officials and judges are typically supported by taxpayers.

Comment: Re:My opinion on the matter. (Score 1) 779

by Just Some Guy (#47751315) Attached to: Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

My story: Been using Linux and BSD heavily since the 90s. I don't really care if you spell "restart foo" as "/etc/init.d/foo restart", "/usr/local/etc/rc.d/ restart" "service foo restart", "systemctl restart foo", or just "pkill foo && foo". As an end user of the init systems, those are fungible.

As a developer of things that uses the init systems, there's a huge difference. SysV and BSD inits are close enough in functionality that if you learn one, you can pick up the other. systemd changes that totally, in ways that many of us aren't convinced are actually better. I love learning new stuff! I just changed jobs to learn new stuff! New stuff is cool... but only as long as there's a reason for it. I don't see systemd as being advantageous, at least on the server machines where I spend my days.

I'll be happy to pick up systemd if and when 1) there's no alternative short of maintaining my own private Debian fork, or 2) I can see a reason I'd want to rip out the tried and true, Unix-philosophy-conformant "do one thing and do it well" init systems we have today. As of this moment, systemd seems to do way too much. Given that it's a single point of failure for an entire host, that makes me distrustful.

Comment: Re:BTSync (Score 1) 272

by Just Some Guy (#47750669) Attached to: Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google

I bought a Synology NAS and it comes with something called Cloud Station, which is basically Dropbox. You install the client on your machines and it keeps your ~/CloudStation folder in sync with your own NAS. Your data never leaves your personal control. I currently have about 4TB of open storage, which is a little more than the 8GB or so of Dropbox I've accumulated over the years.

I'm sure other NASes offer similar arrangements. Pick one you like, install it, then forget the whole idea of paying some company $$$ per month and praying they care about your privacy.

Comment: Re:Dangers of extrapolation (Score 1) 143

by sjbe (#47750355) Attached to: Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

Wouldn't the Air BnB customer feedback system take care of hosts who were "bad actors"?

Not necessarily and only after the fact. A hotel chain has a reputation to maintain and generally they are operating as ongoing concerns. AirBnB users (both guests and renters) are under no such long term pressures.

It seems the government is only concerned about the bad actors from the standpoint of violation of their tax and monopoly preservation regulations.

I think that is overly cynical. The government and its elected officials generally do care that the people under their care are safe and happy, even if their ultimate motivation is just to get re-elected rather than some deep level of humanity. And a government being concerned about attempts to circumvent their powers of taxation shouldn't be terribly surprising. Taxing travelers is a great way to bring money into the area from outside without having to tax the people that elect them. Shouldn't shock anyone that such an easy taxation target would be valued highly by government officials who want to get re-elected.

If a housing unit is safe for rental for the long term, it should be safe for short term guests so I doubt that there are any genuine safety concerns.

That is true but not really relevant. If someone is considering a long term stay, chances are they are going to look the place over in person before any money changes hands. Not so with a short term hotel-style stay where you will be in and out in a short amount of time. I'm not saying AirBnB is a bad thing but what you are saying is a false equivalency in most cases. There are some serious issues to think about here is all I'm saying.

Comment: Dangers of extrapolation (Score 1) 143

by sjbe (#47748575) Attached to: Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

I've used Airbnb and never had a shady experience.

So clearly we can extrapolate from your experience that no one ever has had or will have a problem... [/sarcasm]

Look, most people probably will never have a problem because most people are decent law abiding sorts. Those aren't who we are worried about. It's the few really bad ones that hurt, steal from or defraud or otherwise harm someone. If your experiences have been great, that is wonderful but that doesn't mean it isn't worth worrying about both for the visitor and the host. If you want to take the risks involved in using a service like AirBnB I have no problem with that but that doesn't mean there aren't some very important public health and safety considerations to address.

Comment: Pick your battles (Score 2) 147

by sjbe (#47747805) Attached to: Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

Proper use of terminology is important in science and engineering.

When we get to any actual science or engineering then I will pretend to care. Until then it really is not important in a forum like slashdot to anyone but a few overly pedantic people who don't know when to pick their battles. Just because people here generally care about science and engineering doesn't mean we can't deal with a little obvious imprecision in a description of a shape. No one will be negatively affected by the fact that it isn't truly a torus and most of us are well aware that it isn't actually a torus by the proper defintion. It's like pointing out that the Saint Louis Arch is actually a catenary instead of a parabola as is commonly assumed. Interesting but ultimately not genuinely important 99.999999999% of the time.

Why did the Roman Empire collapse? What is the Latin for office automation?