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Comment Re:MenuChoice and HAM (1992) (Score 4, Informative) 153 153

The Apple Menu inverts the Windows paradigm. Your Mac's desktop lists the apps installed in the filesystem (in fact the desktop is pretty much the root of the filesystem), the Apple Menu has your shortcuts. Whereas in Windows your desktop has your shortcuts, and the Start menu lists the apps installed in the filesystem.

This is a consequence of how the two OSes started out. MacOS was coded from the start as a GUI, so logically the desktop is the root of your filesystem. Windows was originally a shell running on DOS. So all your files were stored in the DOS filesystem, and originally the desktop just had shortcuts to your program and data files. (OS X complicated this somewhat since it is now a GUI running on top of a modified version of BSD Unix.)

Comment Re:The Privacy Mess is because of? (Score 2) 403 403

Anti-Microsoft, pro-Google, and no stated reason for faith in one "doing the right thing with respect to protecting the data" while the other, apparently, will not.

I own my own domain and I give each service I sign up for a unique contact email alias, which forwards to my real email address (currently I have just shy of 500 aliases). I have never received spam at In fact the vast majority of my email aliases receive no spam, indicating the vast majority of online companies are in fact keeping your private info private (at least not without anonymizing it). Contrary to what seems to be the general belief here.

The two major exceptions have been and Those two companies clearly sold my email address to marketers and spammers.

Comment Re:Simples (Score 1) 197 197

The penchant is to pee into corners, since that provides some privacy and reduces your likelihood of being seen. If you can make the walls bounce a urine stream, those two walls at 90 degrees work like a partial retroreflector. Regardless of what angle you hit the first surface, any urine sprayed at them is directed back towards the source (just not vertically, which wouldn't happen anyway due to gravity), .

Comment Re:Batteries (Score 1) 770 770

The key isn't the batteries. The Tesla battery pack is over a thousand pounds, making the Tesla S weigh as much as a SUV. That hasn't hindered it. The key is recharging the battery. The current 30-minute minimum charge time is the primary hindrance to wide-scale adoption (purchase price is too, but I'm pretty sure the government would offer incentives to get us off of oil imports). If you can get the recharge time down to 5 minutes (whether by better charging technology or simply swapping battery packs), then most people's apprehension over having an electric as their only car disappears. Right now, unless you drive very little or are incredibly conscientious about the environment, only people who can afford 2+ cars are getting EVs.

The other problem is going to be operating cost. EV advocates are doing rosy predictions based on current electricity prices, or even current overnight electricity prices. If EVs become mass-market, the huge number of them being charged overnight will flatten out the electrical consumption curve and the overnight prices will no longer be much lower than daytime prices. And if it leaks over into higher consumption during the day, overall electricity prices are going to increase as well. This is going to impact the price of everything that uses electricity, not just operating EVs. Normally the market would simply build more power plants in response, but the same people advocating EVs are blocking the most effective ways to generate power. They insist that new power generation be wind whose inconsistency would require a massive overhaul of our electrical system, or solar whose price would make the EV about the same cost to operate as a gas vehicle.

Comment Re:Good (Score 5, Insightful) 92 92

This. This needs to be made illegal. Patent licensing fees should be returned (minus reasonable administrative fees) if the patent is overturned. Force the burden of proving the patent is indeed valid back upon the patent holder. Don't force the purported violator to prove the patent is invalid.

If the USPTO could control the patents it gives out so the rate they're overturned upon challenge is low, then it makes sense to force violators to prove the patent is invalid. But because they're seemingly willing to give out patents for anything and the rate they're overturned, it makes more sense to shift the burden onto the patent applicant to take reasonable steps to make sure his patent is ironclad and will not be overturned. If the patent applicant's confidence in his own patent is so low he isn't sure it won't be overturned upon a detailed review, then that's a pretty good indication the idea isn't really worthy of a patent in the first place.

This also has the effect of making pure IP companies a high-risk business. If all you do is license patents and one of your main patents gets overturned, it could bankrupt you. But if you're actually using the patent to make stuff, then you'll have an alternate revenue stream which will allow you to survive having to pay back the licensing fees.

There is a drawback in that companies may be more willing to license specious patents, in hopes that someone else will go through the expense of fighting it. If someone else fights it and wins, you get your money back, so why should you fight it? On the patent's holder's side, this creates a multi-year potential liability in the accounting books even if you have a valid patent. A sunset period of a few years after which you can't recover licensing fees (or a graduated return period, so after say 3 years you have to pay back 50%, after 5 years 25%, after 7 years you can keep it all) would address both problems.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 147 147

You're making assumptions. Rather than run a desktop OS like Windows XP Professional, it's more likely running Windows XP Embedded, which is intended for this type of use.

It may be intended for this type of use, but is highly inappropriate. The reason companies use XP Embedded (arguably the only reason XP Embedded ever managed to gain any market share in embedded systems) is because you can write software for it using the Windows API. In other words, you can tap into the millions of software developers out there who know how to write Windows programs, instead of the few tens of thousands proficient in more robust embedded OSes like VxWorks. Larger supply = lower prices, so you can hire your programmers for cheaper.

The problem of course is that you're highly likely to hire a programmer who doesn't know squat about writing software for an embedded system. i.e. Something which will never get system updates or bug fixes. Their coding will be sloppier, they won't think about all the possible issues and corner cases like a skilled embedded software developer will, and the emphasis will be on getting the job done quickly and cheaply. So while it's not a desktop OS, its use allows (and in fact encourages) management to cut costs by hiring pimple-faced programmers whose only experience is in writing desktop software. Which appears to be the case here (the vulnerability is in the software running atop the OS).

Comment Re:Skylake is two weeks away (Score 1) 75 75

Skylake has same CPU performance, and slower GPU (no eDRAM). And version 1.0 motherboards. Your advice is sound, but mostly if you don't need/care about the GPU

Why would you care about the GPU on a desktop? If you don't want to bother with a graphics card and want to use integrated graphics, use a regular Broadwell or Skylake i7. If you need a GPU, add a graphics card.

Iris Pro sorta kinda makes sense on laptops - slightly better than integrated performance for slightly more power consumption, without having to jump up to the power draw of a discrete GPU and messing around with switchable graphics. But I haven't seen a use case for Iris Pro on the desktop.

Comment Re:Interesting (Score 1) 70 70

While cataract surgery isn't a big deal, it still is surgery, requiring cutting of the eye, replacing the lens, etc.

Part of the aging process of the eye also makes it stiffer, producing presbyopia (Far sightedness). I wonder if these drops will also affect that as well.

Part of the problem with cataract surgery is that a fixed lens is inserted in place of your natural, flexible lens. This means your focus is fixed after the surgery, usually on far objects, and you are totally dependent on glasses for near vision.

This isn't a big deal for elderly people who are already badly farsighted (who also get most cataracts). But drops which dissolve cataracts would be a substantial boon for younger people who still have flexible lenses but are afflicted with cataracts. (I've heard of newer replacement lenses which are affixed to the muscles in your iris and can focus just like your natural lenses can. But I've been unable to find any follow-up info on them.)

Comment Re:BBC / other state broadcasters? (Score 2) 132 132

The content is already produced. Limiting its distribution doesn't benefit the people who paid for it it any way.
Information is a strange beast in that way. Distributing it costs next to nothing. Limiting the distribution takes away a lot of value from a lot of people.
The argument for copyright is that content wouldn't be produced if it wasn't possible to capitalize on it, but here we have content being produced despite it not being capitalized on.

It's more nuanced than that. The state-funded model is that the content is pre-paid. The staff at the BBC is effectively being hired by the State to produce the content. They get paid for it ahead of time at a price they've agreed to (usually their salaries, and various equipment and travel costs at market prices). Once it's produced it's already been paid for, so there is nothing lost by freely distributing it.

The copyright model is that content is post-paid. The individual or independent studio puts up their own money (or borrows it from investors whom they can convince this is a worthwhile project) to produce the project. They are then relying on sales post-production to recoup the production costs and hopefully some profit.

The difference is (1) the decision of what should be produced, and (2) risk in case the production is a flop. In the State-run case, the State decides what gets produced, and the State absorbs the losses if the production is a flop. In the copyright model, the individual (person or organization) decides what gets produced, and they absorb the losses if the production is a flop. Now, I probably agree with most people here that copyright terms have gotten extended to outrageous durations. But that doesn't mean the idea is not in itself sound. If you take away the ability for people to get paid post-production (by eliminating copyright), then the amount of creative production will decrease unless some sort of insurance industry springs up which which absorbs the risk of a failure in exchange for decision power for what gets produced (i.e. they screen your proposed movie before deciding to insure your production). The only time there's a real problem is when (1) and (2) get allocated to different entities. Like what the RIAA does - they decide what gets produced, but their contracts place the financial burden of a failure almost entirely upon the artists. In fact most things that Go Wrong with the world can be traced back to people separating the risk associated with decisions from the power to make those decisions.

Note that this is not necessarily a State vs individual thing. Ever since scanners and photo printers pretty much destroyed the model of shooting the wedding for free and selling the prints, wedding photographers have pretty much shifted to a for-hire business model. You hire the photographer for a fixed amount to shoot the wedding, and they give you the pictures. It's pre-paid endeavor, but being done at the individual level rather than State level.

Comment Re:Meta data? (Score 1) 292 292

In other states annotations are published and sold by a third party, like WestLaw. The difference here is Georgia owns the annotations itself and sells them to lawyers. If it's no longer worthwhile to do so, what will happen is Georgia will stop commissioning LexisNexis to produce the annotated code, LexisNexis will do it itself and sell copies to both lawyers and the state of Georgia, which will purchase them for judges and prosecutors. Malamud will definitely not win publishing annotations copyrighted by LexisNexis, and now instead of the annotations being revenue neutral (or profitable), the profits will all go to LexisNexis. So, meh.

I believe the issue here is that some people (probably Malamud included) believe court cases are a matter of public record, and as such the annotations themselves should not be copyrightable (they should be public domain).* i.e. If the government is "owns the annotations itself", then as a public entity the annotations are public domain and not copyrightable, and thus freely redistributable. That this activity should be funded out of the State's general budget, and not used as a source of revenue (except perhaps to recoup publishing costs if lawyers order a big stack of papers).

Note that this approach also "solves" the problem of hiring a company to write the law. e.g. The building code in many jurisdictions is written by a civil engineering company expert in the trade. It is then copyrighted, and anyone who wishes to build something in compliance with the law then has to buy a copy of the building code from the engineering company - they can't get it for free even though it's the law. Leading to the perverse possibility of violating a law you could not know about because you couldn't afford to buy a copy. If as a matter of course, if States paid a lump sum to the engineering company to write that law (basically a work for hire), then they could release it into the public domain so citizens wouldn't have to buy a copy of the law to obey it.

* (I'm not even sure a list of links is copyrightable in the first place. It seems to fail the "collection of facts" threshold used in the U.S. for copyrightable lists.)

Comment Re:How about where you can find electric outlets? (Score 1) 40 40

You used to be able to buy a spare battery if your usage dictated you frequently may be away from an outlet (recharge) for an indeterminate period of time. But then people who cared more about form over function dictated that such usage patterns were unimportant, and the swappable battery was sacrificed to make these devices one or two mm thinner.

Comment Re:He didn't prove any flaw (yet) (Score 1) 158 158

The range of the fast key for the trunk sensor is very short, not more than 2 or 3 feet centered in the back of the trunk.

The MO of the thieves unlocking the cars with keyless entry FOBs is that they're using some kind of transmitter/amplifier. It basically acts like a man in the middle, rebroadcasting signals from the car and FOB at higher power to greatly increase the range.

It all boils down to a foolish decision by automakers that there was always a 100% correlation between signal strength and distance. If the thief watches you walking away from your car and they've got a directional antenna mounted to this thing (and your car is parked in a location where the antenna wouldn't attract attention), then you could be hundreds of meters away and they can still get into your car.

Comment Re:Negotiating salaries is for the birds. (Score 1) 429 429

The problem is, something like 90% of people think they're above average. So you'd end up with 90% of the employees demanding that they be paid more than the average for their position.* Which would raise the average, which would lead a bunch of people who used to get paid more than average now getting paid less, which would lead to them demanding more pay, which would raise the average, etc. At some point the company would draw the line, leaving ~40% of their employees dissatisfied and convinced that they're being underpaid even if they are in fact being paid the correct amount for their abilities.

The market can't solve something like this because it relies on people making rational decisions. 90% of people believing they're above average is irrational. Rather than try to confront that irrationality, employers choose to side-step it by keeping employees ignorant of where their pay stands.

* (I truly hope I am wrong about this, since the taboo against discussing your salary always seemed weird to me. But watching the risks people take while driving because they think they're a better than average driver, I'm not optimistic.)

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 483 483

because they haven't yet paid for the eventual disposal of the waste

France reprocesses spent nuclear fuel. So unlike countries where the anti-nuclear lobby has made sure that spent fuel gets classified as "waste" with huge disposal costs to try to make nuclear unattractive and uneconomical, France just turns it into more fuel for its nuclear plants. Only about 3% of what other countries call "nuclear waste" gets turned into actual waste. The rest is converted back into more fuel.

"Well hello there Charlie Brown, you blockhead." -- Lucy Van Pelt