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Comment Re:Fans' Vote Was No Award (Score 1) 1030

There is an externality that may have increased the Hugo vote count. There was also a hotly contested race this year to choose the site for the 2017 Worldcon. (Helsinki defeated DC, Montreal, and Nippon.) To vote for that, you had to become at least a supporting member of Sasquan and then also pay an additional site selection voting fee, that additional fee also gets you a supporting membership for the winning Worldcon bid. There were probably some people who were mostly interested in voting for the Worldcon site, but having already paid to be a Sasquan member decided to also cast a Hugo ballot.

In contrast, last year's site selection vote was essentially unopposed. Kansas City had no serious competitor, in part because 2016 is the 40th anniversary of the first Worldcon in Kansas City, a very popular con that had Robert Heinlein as guest of honor. Thus site selection did not have as large a role in getting people to join the 2014 Worldcon, Loncon 3.

Comment Application RAM usage is not a constant (Score 1) 350

Measuring the RAM usage of some applications is tricky because the application adapts to how much RAM is available. Chrome with lots of open tabs is a notable example. If you have tons of memory it will keep all the tabs in RAM fully rendered; switching to another tab is very fast. If you start to run short of memory it will start to discard the rendered versions of tabs; if you switch back to a tab like that Chrome now has to redo the layout, and that takes a bit longer. If things get really desperate it will even throw away the page source (unlikely on a computer but it does happen on the mobile version), which means a reload and possibly a long wait.

Comment Re:As much as possible (Score 1) 350

It's also the fact that the sample sets keep getting bigger, which gets you modest but real gains in quality. Some virtual instruments are now using multi-samples - sample sets where the instrument is recorded at different volumes/intensities - to get a more accurate model. There are now grand piano sample sets that are over a gigabyte - and that's just ONE instrument.

Comment Want us to stop blocking? Make them less annoying (Score 1) 519

The reason people block ads is that the advertisers have gone overboard with intrusive advertising. Popup windows are annoying and malfunction on some combinations of hardware and browser. Autoplay videos make your browser crawl, suck up huge amounts of bandwidth, and if the audio also autoplays they annoy everyone around you. Ads that deliver malware to your computer clearly must be blocked. Finally, there are the privacy implications of ad tracking.

If advertising was limited to text and static banners, I wouldn't bother to block it. I don't want the online ad industry to die, I want the online ad industry to return to 1998.

Comment Re:But Republicans are for market forces... (Score 1) 319

Read up about natural monopolies. There are plenty of places where there simply isn't enough population density to support a second set of infrastructure. Heck, there are places that don't even have enough population to support ONE set of wires, and only have service because of government subsidies or mandates.

Comment Re:Uber has huge infrastructure investments (Score 1) 206

Most likely, the profitable markets are ones where they have been operating for a while; they have an established base of passengers and drivers and aren't spending a lot of money to acquire them. The unprofitable markets are ones where they are spending a lot of marketing money to get started or spending a lot on legal defense. There will probably also turn out to be some markets where there just isn't enough demand or a large enough pool of drivers interested in working for Uber to make the service work, and the company will end up abandoning those markets.

Comment Re:Uber has huge infrastructure investments (Score 1) 206

Having difficulty getting a taxi is a frequent problem in many US cities. The root cause of the problem is the artificial scarcity of taxis caused by the medallion system. The number of licenses available does not meet the demand. The problem is that once that system is in place and the market value of medallions has become substantial, the medallion holders have a huge vested interest in the system and it is therefore difficult to change. (The market price of medallions in New York City got close to a MILLION dollars before Uber came along and started to reduce their value. Their value has fallen by over 50% and continues to fall.)

I believe there is some need for government oversight of taxis and competing services like Uber, but that the medallion system is fundamentally broken. It should be replaced by a system that issues an unlimited supply of licenses for a modest annual fee - enough to cover inspection of vehicles, background checks of drivers, tests of taxi meters in vehicles that continue to use them, assuring that all vehicles are covered by adequate insurance, and resources to investigate and act if there are problems with issues like disabled accessibility or racial discrimination. Such licenses should be issued regionally rather than by individual cities and towns. Drivers of existing taxis as well as drivers for new companies like Uber and Lyft should be required to get them.

Uber has fundamentally improved the experience of getting a ride in a few ways. Most importantly, they have removed the handling of money from the in-car environment, removing a substantial risk for both drivers and passengers. Also, knowing the cost of your ride before you enter the vehicle is a plus. Uber pricing is variable because of surge pricing, but you are given a current price when you book and that's what you pay. The cost of a regular taxi ride is unpredictable, because you don't know how long the ride will take (rates are usually based on both time and mileage) or which route the driver will choose to take.

Comment Re:Amazon... (Score 1) 206

Uber has substantial marketing expenses. For example, there are all those free rides that they give to first time users. The drivers are still getting their normal pay for those rides; it's coming out of Uber's marketing budget. Here in Boston they have also been running radio ads to recruit drivers.

Then there is all the money they are spending on lawyers.

Comment Re:Microsoft (Score 1) 200

That version of MeeGo has had at least three more years of development since Nokia abandoned it. The version they gave up on was not yet ready for prime time. Even now, availability of native MeeGo apps is very limited, though they have added the ability to run Android apps so you can actually use your phone for something besides making phone calls.

Comment Re:Microsoft (Score 1) 200

Nokia never really had a dominant market position in smartphones. They did have a huge share of phones running Symbian, but most of them didn't have sufficient processing power or display real estate to be used in the way that we now use what we think of as smartphones. They were really feature phones with a limited capability to download and run apps.

Comment Re:Only 1/3rd the power needs for the roof? (Score 1) 466

Part of it is how your house is designed. If you have a multistory house as is typical here in New England, you don't have a lot of roof for the amount of floor space you have. And what roof you do have is likely to be broken up by dormers, leaving even less space for solar panels. If you have a single story house with an unbroken roof line as is common in some areas and your house faces north/south, you're likely to be able to generate a lot more of your electricity needs.

Comment Re:Climate change is for cows (Score 1) 299

Sadly, I have no mod points to move this back up. This post should not have been modded down.

There has been a spate of cow posts here on Slashdot recently, usually as part of a first comment attempt. But this one is different for two reasons: it's not the canonical MOOOOO post, and the OP is ACTUALLY ABOUT COWS. So it should have been modded up as a comment on the cow meme, not modded down.

Comment Re:How about this... (Score 1) 184

People's internet connections are already straining to stream 1080p video. And even so, the quality of existing 1080p streams is mediocre; visual artifacts are often easy to spot. It is possible to get better looking 1080p video by using more bits; broadcast HD and Blu-Ray both do that. Blu-Ray and streams are mostly encoded with H.264; broadcast digital TV in the US is at a disadvantage because it uses MPEG-2 but it uses enough bits to more than overcome the disadvantage relative to streamed video.

4K ups the ante. For a given level of freedom from artifacts you need about four times as many bits; the exact ratio depends on the content and how well it compresses. The majority of home internet connections aren't up to the challenge of carrying even one 4K stream, let alone multiple streams as you might have in a family or a group household; nor is the rest of the infrastructure of a typical ISP. Using a better codec decreases the number of bits that need to be sent.

And 4K is not the end point. That level of resolution may be adequate for content that you only view at a typical screen distance (as we look at a movie screen, TV set, or computer monitor), but more immersive forms of video such as video walls, where we might look closely at a small part of the picture, will require even higher levels of resolution.

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