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Comment: Re:Isn't this Apple's entire shtick ? (Score 1) 275

by plover (#47502417) Attached to: Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be

All components have a cost, including the software. Let's say LG can include CrapKeyboard 1.0 for free, and GoodKeyboard 3.7 for $0.05/unit. Guess which one they're going to include?

Yes, phone pricing is broken down to that level. The cost of the supported software is a lot higher than the cost of the no-longer-supported software, because they're still paying the developers to support it. As long as CrapKeyboard used to work at least halfway decently (and it must have, because it was in the old production line), throw it in there.

It's a pretty simple explanation, actually.

Comment: PCI-DSS (Score 5, Insightful) 196

As an organisation accredited to be following PCI-DSS, we would be crucified if the PCI auditor found us holding the PAN (the long number on the front of your credit card, PAN = primary account number) in plain text. Surely the airlines/booking agents should not be passing the PAN to anyone else if they are following PCI-DSS (which is mandatory if you want to accept card payments)?

Comment: Re:I disagree (Score 2) 236

by Alioth (#47487919) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

You might not be terrible at math. I thought I was terrible at math (I'm also a software developer). I also thought I was only good at discrete mathematics (which was a course I took during my university degree, heavily related to programming and CS). Furthermore I thought I was terrible at learning human languages, after having had 7 years of compulsory French at school and not being able to form a coherent sentence in French.

It turned out I was wrong on two counts:

A while back I started learning Spanish. The way I was being taught now was in a fun and easy way. I was also self motivated. In six months after starting, I could actually use some of it and knew more Spanish than I did French from 7 years of French lessons. 14 months after starting I was giving a technical talk in Spain (with an admittedly terrible accent and many grammar errors). Later today I'm off to Spain to help organise RetroEuskal with a bunch of Spanish friends. I started learning Spanish in my mid-30s, not as a kid. I learned it far faster than I would have as a child.

More recently I realised I needed better mathematics skills to be able to do more complex things in my electronics hobby, so I took an algebra course on Coursera. At school I had pretty much flat out failed algebra. In fact I was put into the lower maths set with all the thick kids (where you could only score a C at most in the GCSE, the exam we take at age 16) because both myself and my teachers were convinced that I was bad at the subject. But doing algebra in a course that was interactive, fun and gave instant results - I passed that with a distinction. I then did a pre-calculus course, and passed that with a distinction. I then did Jim Fowler's (Ohio State University) calculus 1 course on Coursera and passed that with a distinction too.

So it turns out that I was wrong about myself. In reality I was not bad at maths nor human languages. Now I admit I will probably never be a mathematician or linguist, but I can now do two things I never thought I ever would be able to. The reason I never succeeded at these things at school was because they were taught in a very boring and overly complex manner, and I was also pathologically lazy and didn't pay enough attention. The reason I succeeded now is due to having more motivation to do it and being exposed to teaching methods that inspire, and that aren't just hours of boredom.

Furthermore, while I don't usually use calculus or algebra in my day job, I have found that learning these things has improved the way I approach a problem.

Comment: Re:Hindsight's twenty-twenty (Score 1) 161

by plover (#47487155) Attached to: Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

Of course they were failing. They were failing in 2011, and they knew it, and in case they didn't know it, their CEO told them so. Go re-read their CEO's Burning Platform memo in case you had forgotten how badly they were doing.

In 2007, Apple stepped in and not only did they define a new high-end smartphone market, they owned it, and shared it with nobody. Nokia went from sharing the top-of-the-line smartphone market with Blackberry to a middle-of-the-road smartphone company, and they did it without moving a step. About a year later Google delivered Android, which redefined and then completely dominated the low-end smartphone market. Meanwhile, Nokia delivered nothing new. Nothing. They feebly tried to do something with Maemo (and later MeeGo), but couldn't even ship it. This was about 2009. And Android makers didn't stop there, either. The Galaxy S (as you mentioned) came out in 2010, pushing the out of the low-end smartphone market into Apple's market, and that was the herald for Nokia's decline. In 2010.

Meanwhile, MediaTek had shipped a reference design for low-end phones in 2008. Any plant in Shenzhen could now produce a cheap handset for about $10, so they did, filling shipping containers with the cheap phones that have become ubiquitous in the developing world. Nokia couldn't ship a cheap phone for twice that price. When you're buying cheap phones, you're going to pay the lowest price - so the cost-conscious consumers immediately abandoned Nokia's low end.

All this happened from 2007 through about 2010. Elop's memo came out in 2011, just after Android sales had exceeded theirs for the first time, signalling the end of Nokia's relevance in the marketplace. Nokia's marketshare continued to decline, as they shipped nothing noteworthy. By last year, Nokia was barely remembered as that company that used to make phones before iPhones came out.

Microsoft drove them into the ground at high speed.

That is completely wrong. Microsoft bought them in September of 2013. According to my calendar, that was last year. "Failing" is a polite word for the dire straits Nokia was in at that time. Microsoft didn't drive them any place they hadn't already gone themselves. Perhaps you're confusing the sale of Nokia with the agreement Nokia made to adopt Windows 8 for the cash they needed to keep the lights on. Nokia had already failed to deliver Maemo, which had been in the works since before the introduction of the iPhone. Nokia was incapable of delivering a smartphone OS. They had four years and couldn't do it. MeeGo might have eventually done something for them, but it would have been an even smaller market than Microsoft could deliver.

Let me repeat: Nokia needed Microsoft's cash just to stay in business, back in 2011. That is not the sign of a healthy company.

All that and I still have to say the Microsoft phone is not a terrible device. Nokia put a really nice camera in there, the battery life is good, the screen is clear, and the device is really well made. But the Windows app store is sadly lacking, and Cortana is certainly not yet at the caliber of Siri. It's still just an also-ran in the phone market.

Microsoft had nothing to do with Nokia's decline. Nokia did that to themselves by standing perfectly still, while the entire market passed them by on both sides. Microsoft just picked them up for the scrap value.

Comment: Re:Hindsight's twenty-twenty (Score 5, Interesting) 161

by plover (#47479401) Attached to: Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

Microsoft has done some really brilliant things as of late. They've wholeheartedly adopted automated testing for everything. I don't know if they have any product teams that aren't Agile, or aren't doing test driven development. I recently asked a product manager about his product's defect backlog, and he shot me with a cold stare: "We don't have any known defects in our product. As soon as a bug report arrives, the entire team drops what they're doing, and within 15 minutes a developer is working on repro'ing it, and it's fixed within a day. These are very rare occurrences." This was for a million line shrink-wrapped product.

Although it's taking them a long time to turn their teams around, Microsoft finally knows how to engineer code right, and they are quite willing to share with anyone willing to listen. But too many of their clients don't listen, too many of their vendors and suppliers don't listen (driver bugs, etc), too many of their own internal teams are still dragging legacy code bases forward, and they still have a long history of bugs that we all remember. Another problem they have is economic: their primary competition is their old products, like Office 2007, which are good enough for most businesses and students. They really want to get everyone on their Azure cloud, using Office365, live, OneCloud, and to rent computing resources from them, and that's driving a lot of their products in an unnatural direction for their consumers.

Their marketing people haven't helped. Windows RT? Really, they had to emulate Apple's walled garden? The closed iOS ecosystem is about the worst thing Apple ever did to their customers, The Apple tax sucks 30% from every dollar spent on the platform, and there's virtually no escape. And because we all know it sucks, we won't willingly jump into it again - so Microsoft loses even more.

Their forays into other platforms have been abysmal: Ford's SYNC is a crime against drivers. They bought a failing phone company for their hardware, turned out walled garden phones, and nobody showed up. Their previous attempts at embedded systems make people WinCE. And because they start everything out as closed source, and try to contain their own stuff, they see every product as a battle entering competition to the death, instead of an opportunity to cooperate. That got them a long way, and made them a lot of money, but now there are good alternatives, and nobody gives a damn anymore. The stuff they're producing now will all be too much, but way too late.

Comment: Re:What is BSD good for? (Score 1) 77

by epine (#47479327) Attached to: FreeBSD 9.3 Released

So I am honestly asking, what is BSD good for.

When exactly did "honestly" become a synonym for living under a rock? This question comes up on almost every thread where FreeBSD is mentioned, though granted this is barely more often than its major releases.

The first answer in every such thread for years now is always ZFS, but actually this just disguises how many people have been using it for years or decades and just plain like the way FreeBSD does things even if nine out of ten, or ninety nine out of a hundred, or nine hundred and ninety nine out of a thousand have different tastes.

I get intensely piqued over the implication that there's a nuisance hurdle that needs to be cleared just for existing. When "honestly" becomes a cover story for living under a rock (or an equivalent not-be-bothered-hood) this ultimately seems to resonate as the main implication.

It's especially irritating when FreeBSD predates all the Johnny-come-latelies. It would have needed to be clairvoyant to have correctly decided to not exist, so as not to strain the reputational resources of open source groupthink.

I used to use an axe, but I stopped using it when I had to cut down a tree ten-feet wide at the base. I am presently using a Husqvarna and I am perfectly happy with it but for some reason the axe retains a magical "hard core" allure. So I am honestly asking, what is an axe good for?

Comment: Re:IBM (Score 1) 379

by Alioth (#47474769) Attached to: Microsoft CEO To Slash 18,000 Jobs, 12,500 From Nokia To Go

None of the stuff he lists is particularly time expensive.

Cooking? It's fun anyway, and there's no need to cook a five star gourmet meal every meal. Most days just simple, good tasting food - 5 or 10 minutes prep and cooking time.

Car? Even an old car doesn't need that much time spent on it. I've just finished with my nearly 20 year old Audi, I spent about an hour or two PER YEAR on maintenance.

Not buying shit? This actually gives you MORE time not less since you're not driving to and from a shop and browsing for stuff you probably don't actually need.

"Who cares if it doesn't do anything? It was made with our new Triple-Iso-Bifurcated-Krypton-Gate-MOS process ..."