To solve this latency problem, most well-designed websites use a single large GIF or PNG for all their tiny CSS images, then slice the image to indicate each independent icon, border, etc. This not only reduces the total image overhead but also greatly reduces the total number of 304s to receive.
You can read about these techniques in more detail at the very bottom of this tutorial under the header labeled Timelapse "Holy Grail"? Sunset, Sunrise, Day to Night Transitions.
Android Market apps are mostly super cheap. Who can't afford $1 on a game they'll play for a few days non-stop? Or a few bucks on a ROM management app? Prices for most paid apps are so low that I imagine that the largest barrier to entry is not price, but the effort required to set up one or more credit cards. My hypothesis, for that reason, is that a large portion of the piracy comes from the age 15-20 crowd who have fancy phones and lots of free time to figure out piracy options, but no credit card(s).
Google can greatly reduce this kind of piracy by working out pricing deals with the carriers to allow charges to appear on phone bills. How else would the ringtone industry thrive as it has? Verizon certainly doesn't offer a direct-bill Android Market option. Maybe this is already the case on other carriers? How does piracy compare in those cases?
Another annoyance of the Market is currency conversion. I've bought apps for sale in both Yen and Euros, and for those purchases I had to set up a Visa card since my AMEX didn't support foreign purchases (on the Market, at least). Most users don't want to deal with that kind of crap
This is true until they release a first-party game with the update included as a requirement. For example, Super Mario Galaxy 2 includes the 4.2 system update and requires you to update your system before you can play the game
Homebrew users know to avoid system updates at all costs, so the only people affected by them are people who have not yet hacked their Wii. Once updated, though, those people will have a harder time installing homebrew should they choose to try it.
1) Lot's of software engineers do get paid by the hour, for similar reasons. It's not really always predictable work.
2) A lawyer has to deal with opposing counsel screwing up with his work. Usually software engineers don't have to deal with sentient beings in their computer adding bugs.
3) There is a huge difference in information accessibility. The information you need to know to, say, write a program is there and (relatively) easily accessible to you. The information you need to build a case may be in the minds and desks and file cabinets of someone who has every incentive to try to keep it from you. You may not have any idea until you get far into the discovery process how much a case will actually cost to litigate.
Laws are written by lawyers, voted in by politicians (80% of which are/were lawyers), and judged by judges who were lawyers.
Loopholes and vague wording are things that lawyers are GOOD at creating in our system. They are lawyers, they are supposed to be smart enough to make laws very clear; yet wherever you look, laws are written with loopholes and vague wording that permit loads of points of contention to which lawyers must be hired to resolve...
The law tries to be clear, but it never can be because it's fundamentally trying to encode all sorts of fuzzy human emotions/motivations/tendencies, etc.
Let's take your lawyer-free utopia. Rules are crystal clear and the process of checking whether a rule has been followed is straightforward and mechanical. How do you handle something like a fair use rule? A 30 second time limit? What if it's a 35 second clip that's on quietly in the background of an Indie movie? What if it's a 15 second clip of an advertisement lifted directly from a competing company's ad?
Look at laws that have crystal clear applications: statutory rape laws. Did they have sex? If yes, is she under 17? If yes, then guilty! No mind that it was her 18 year old boyfriend. How about drug possession? No need for judges to do the sentencing, we can simply make sentencing mechanical. 10 years for 10 grams, 100 years for 100 grams. No need to consider stuff like that the same amount of LSD can weigh a ton more when it's dissolved in sugar cubes rather than blotter paper.
The criminal justice system is one of those areas where lawyers and judges have been taken out of the loop, with 95% of cases being disposed of quickly through plea bargaining and sentencing being dictated by tables and formulas. It is also one of the most completely messed up, random, and downright unfair areas of the law.
MIT's strategy is very interesting. Several groups (like our team) have been forming their teams for weeks, but MIT appeared on the scene just today, and it's fascinating that they got a front-page Slashdot plug. I give them lots of credit for flooding the scene with mentions in such a short time. Whereas some teams give their winnings to charity (like ours), others entice balloon spotters with cash portions of the earnings, and MIT has decided to do a little of both.
DARPA is the sole decider of how difficult this competition will be. Will they place the balloons in dense urban areas, or will the launch them in small rural communities?
Best of luck to all the teams tomorrow, MIT included. I hope that the contest winner will write a paper describing their strategy, both in network-building and in launch-day data collection.
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