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Comment: Re:3G is terrible for all these things (Score 3, Informative) 118

by The Conductor (#48016889) Attached to: World's Smallest 3G Module Will Connect Everything To the Internet
If you are comparing 3G to 2G, both technologies can cut back on transmission power to conserve battery energy so there isn't much difference for a low data rate application. (I mention elswhere that long-term obsolescence, not power efficiency, is the likely motivation for using 3G.) The original post, however, was talking about short-range radio, and it simply isn't possible (as in mathematically impossible by the Shannon-Hartley theorem) for a cellular radio to push data to a tower 2 miles away without expending more energy per bit than a properly implemented short range ISM band radio hitting an in-building transponder 50 feet away. To take my previous example of a medical alert button, the mobile verison is 3x the size and needs a nightly recharge, compared to the ISM-only version which has a non-rechargeable battery that typically lasts over a year.

Comment: Re:3G is terrible for all these things (Score 2) 118

by The Conductor (#48016135) Attached to: World's Smallest 3G Module Will Connect Everything To the Internet
I think the motivation for going with 3G is due to the carriers' long term plans to phase out 2G/GPRS. These devices often have very long service lives, 15 or 20 years. A 9600 bps analog cellular modem would have been perfectly sensible in 1994, but would have been forced into obsolescence in less than 15 years.

Comment: Re:3G is terrible for all these things (Score 4, Interesting) 118

by The Conductor (#48016111) Attached to: World's Smallest 3G Module Will Connect Everything To the Internet

Price of the 3G service can be cheap if you do it right. The usual arrangement with M2M applications (like for example a moblie version of the ive-fallen-and-cant-get-up button that I was involved in--it used an earlier UBlox module) is to arrange contract pricing in bulk. So if you know your firmware only needs an average 100 kB/day of data service, you buy a bucket of 1 GB/day to cover your 10,000 devices and bundle data service with your device.

But yeah, the battery drain issue makes this sort of device suitable only for wide-ranging mobile applications. For in-buildling/factory/campus installations a short range ISM band radio is more suitable. A tiny module isn't much help when you have to bolt it to a fat battery and decent antenna. Often a short-range radio should be included even when when a 3G module is present if doing so can keep average data consumption down and conserve battery energy.

Comment: Re:Microsoft is in deep shit now! (Score 1) 295

by The Conductor (#43515455) Attached to: Microsoft CFO Quits

I had something similar to your experience at an airport. I saw 5 computing devices (not counting phones): a Macbook, two iPads, and what looked like an Android tablet, plus my own Linux laptop. Not a machine in sight running Windows. That would have been unimaginable as recently as a year ago.

According to the stats I have seen, this is the year that the number of Linux systems in use (in the form of Android) will exceed Windows systems. In current sales Android is already blowing out Windows and, for that matter, everything else on Earth. The year of desktop Linux has arrived, but not in the way everyone was expecting. High fives, for now at least.

Comment: N9 = Amiga + 20 yrs. (Score 2) 176

by The Conductor (#42464117) Attached to: Nokia N9: the World's Most Underrated Smartphone?

The existence of things like the Nitdroid project and Jolla/Sailfish, plus the fact that N9 matched or possibly outsold the Lumia crud despite the massive disparity in corporate support, shows how good the technology was. The last time I saw this was...ooh it hurts to type this name...the Amiga. Commodore went under, not due to poor demand for the Amiga, which was profitable to the very end, but due to massive losses in PC clones that led them to credit default with their suppliers. They couldn't get parts to build Amigas anymore.

I hope that the prevalence of open source these days gives the keepers of the Meego flame more success then the Amigans had.

Comment: Re:The math is simple (Score 1) 270

by The Conductor (#39488779) Attached to: Why Gay Men Are Worth So Much To Facebook
I have always maintained that the existence of Target is a response to K-Mart trying to slug it out with Walmart on price, and losing, instead of building brand-equity and following their demographic upmarket into higher margin retailing (like Sears, who bought them, or Radio Shack, or JC Penney, etc.).

Comment: Re:Eliminate districts (Score 3, Interesting) 102

by The Conductor (#38119558) Attached to: Open Source Tool Lets Anyone Redistrict New York
I like to describe it like this: First-past-the-post forces coalition building into the political parties, whereas proportional elections have coalition-building in the legislature. Gerrymandering is like coding theory: The party in control of the districts can trade margin of victory (bit error rate) for number of seats (data rate), but if you design for a large number of seats (high data rate) a small decline in popular support (signal-to-noise ratio) will cause a large number of seats to flip (catastrophic rise in bit error rate).

Comment: Re:What he took away is more precious than given (Score 1) 1613

by The Conductor (#37625314) Attached to: Steve Jobs Dead At 56

I would make a stronger point about the removal of the floppy: Apple has an indifferent attitude toward removable media generally. The iPod, as hardware, would make a perfectly serviceable external hard drive, but software support for this was thin, and we also have the absence of SD slots. The organizing principle seems to be to have iTunes managing data instead of a file manager. iTunes knows more about the (meta-)data and can handle it with more aplomb than a general purpose file manager. That comes at the cost of limiting its scope (taking things out again) to AV media and rinky-dink apps, and keeping removable media at arm's length (copy and import rather than open up and look inside); using iTunes to manage CAD files or source code would be ridiculous.

On Gnome, I don't have much complaint. With Ubuntu and a fast connection, it is very easy to add in stuff as you need it, "Golly, I need XYZ...sudo apt-get install XYZ". My bigger beef is with KDE, which seems to be built by people who have spent too much time looking at Macs in the Apple store and not enough time trying to use Macs to do actual work. More broadly, I find that everyone in the industry apes Apple too much; Apple has their niche, and serves it well, and profitably, but it can never be more than a minority of the market. Workhorse products serving the bulk of the market will be made by others.

Comment: Re:What he took away is more precious than given (Score 2) 1613

by The Conductor (#37621736) Attached to: Steve Jobs Dead At 56

That is sort of the crux though. Steve Jobs takes things out: the SD slot, the keyboard, the command prompt, the floppy drive. Taking stuff out makes it possible to simplfy the user interface. If anyone else did this, the product would fail in the market for being feature-poor, but he could get away with it because he was trusted (by some, not all) to do it well. Granted, some of the stuff Jobs took out should have been left in, the lack of fan on the early Macs comes to mind. That is the charisma, the RDF, or maybe just street cred for having introduced the Mac. Whatever it is, it accrued to him personally, not to Apple as an organization which went adrift whae he was gone.

That also explains the stupid holy wars that surround Apple:

  • Look at Apple's new product! It is so innovative and easy to use! (Because he took stuff out and simplified)
  • It is not innovative! Everything there was already done by others. (True, but that is not what makes it easy to use)
  • Apple's stuff is merely a toy! (It is lacking certain features, but that is the price of simplicity. You are not the intended market.)
  • Apple is an industry leader! Everyone copies them! (Now everyone else can take those things out without being accused of being feature-poor.)

Comment: Re:What he took away is more precious than given (Score 1) 1613

by The Conductor (#37621142) Attached to: Steve Jobs Dead At 56

I would say the walled garden metaphor misses the point, or at least it gets taken too far. A better way to think about it is delegation and trust. With Linux, you can, in principle, trust no one and collect all the cource code yourself and compile it. The next step is to delegate the job of compiling code to a distro, trusting them (or for Slackware, Pat) to use only open source software in keeping with the distro's community values. Various other relationships can go from there: you presumably trust your employer-provided laptop not to spy on you, and they trust you not to improperly divulge company information on it.

I would say that Steve Job's real innovation was to be cognizant of this delegation of trust, and he was good at getting people to buy in: Call it Charisma or the RDF. Apple products are offered as a package deal, take it or leave it. If you want the nice ease of use and aesthetic package, you have to play by Apple's rules. No modding, no tinkering, no exceptions, no whining. I never cared for the deal and always walked away, but I would admit that it is appropriate for some (most notably the very old and very young).

Comment: Yahoo Mail (Score 2) 283

by The Conductor (#37024106) Attached to: Are Google's Best Days Behind It?

Yahoo, well, can't say I have an opinion of what it is like now, haven't used it since 2004. Does it still exist?

A few months ago, I did an analysis of the list of parents' email addresses from the school drama club. Yahoo was the most common provider with about a third of them. After that was the local DSL or cable ISP. Third place was people using work email addresses. GMail was fourth at about 15%. Then Hotmail/Live. Only about 1%, myself and one other person, were using a paid 3rd party service. For the record, I use usermail.com and am very happy with them, and seldom use my Gmail account.

What conclusions can be drawn from that? I would say Yahoo-email's first-mover advantage is much more durable than Friendster's or Myspace's was. Or perhaps Facebook's is. I would think that a survey of younger people would have fewer yahoosiers and more GMailers

Comment: Re:Still time to challenge- not issued yet (Score 1) 325

by The Conductor (#36798864) Attached to: Company Claims Ownership of Digital Messaging
Apparently, they need publicity to fleece some investors, to get the money they need to hire lawyers, to then execute their business plan of robbing everyone else. Multiple layers of corruption! Who here thinks the investors will get any return after the management insiders extract their bonuses?

Comment: Re:Prior Art? (Score 4, Insightful) 325

by The Conductor (#36795368) Attached to: Company Claims Ownership of Digital Messaging
Not as old as SMTP, but older than ICQ, is the text-based talk program, which goes back to at least 4.2 BSD. And IRC and similar BBS type programs, as well as the VAX/VMS phone program, go back to the 80's at least. I know VMS phone had notification; can't remember if it had presence though.

"Those who will be able to conquer software will be able to conquer the world." -- Tadahiro Sekimoto, president, NEC Corp.

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