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Comment: Re:Read: tax deduction (Score 1) 93

by arkhan_jg (#47600651) Attached to: Apple $450 Million e-Book Settlement Wins Court Approval

Under Amazon's retail agreement, the publisher's set the book price that amazon paid. Amazon then set the price for customers - amazon had various prices for books, rather than a flat rate. Some were loss leaders - a common enough tactic in the retail world, big book chains do it all the time - but amazon's ebook division was profitable on its own merits - something a DOJ investigation confirmed. That's not dumping, and there were other competitors in the ebook space that were also profitable. If the publishers weren't happy with their margins - which were comparable to other retail models - they were fully entitled to go to amazon and negotiate new retail rates individually, just like they do with other book retailers.

Apple looked at that model, saw they weren't going to make their usual profit margin, and went to the big publishers. Apple said 'we'll let you set the final customer price, we'll take 30%, and an agreement that you won't let any other seller undercut us'. The publishers saw this is as a chance to raise prices and make more profit, and stitch up amazon at the same time. The publishers went to amazon all around the same time, and said, 'these are the new terms. Agree to them, or no more ebooks'. Given Amazon then was facing a choice between no ebooks at all, and the new terms, they rolled over.

Collusion to raise prices is illegal, for very good reason - it defeats the purpose of free markets, that of delivering the best product for the lowest price. And that was what they did. Higher prices across the board, more profit for apple and the big publishers, with no improvement to the product, through collusion. If the publishers wanted higher prices, they could have charged them to amazon individually; or set up their own book store with higher prices. And that would have been competition. But they chose not to compete in the marketplace, but arrange a back-room stitchup deal to raise prices for customers. And all the publishers have now settled with the DoJ for doing so.

Apple could have competed with Amazon; there was nothing stopping them setting their own prices, and making it so easy to use that people would use them instead even if they were more expensive for some books. Or offer other value-added services. Or shock, actually compete on price, it's not like apple was some startup tight on cash! They chose not to do any of that. And now they have to pay for the harm they did - which was artificially higher prices for books. They didn't increase competition; they made a deal with the publishers to lock in a higher profit margin for themselves and nobble their competitors at the same time. That's the exact opposite of competition.

Comment: Dealbreaker (Score 2) 225

by arkhan_jg (#47105963) Attached to: Google Starts Blocking Extensions Not In the Chrome Web Store

Not that I want you stay on Chrome for any particular reason (I've gravitated to mostly using firefox myself, for other reasons) but I do use this web-store hosted extension - backstop - for blocking 'backspace sometimes blows away your entire comment instead of deleting one character' idiocy.

Comment: Re:ya (Score 5, Interesting) 282

Netflix is paying level 3, a tier 1 provider for access. All the tier 1's interconnect with each other for free (by definition) - they're basically the backbone of the internet for global transit.

Customers pay a consumer ISP, like comcast, for access to the internet, i.e. access to the tier 1 network. So both ends are paying for their connection, all they need is for both networks to be connected in a datacentre somewhere - both ISPs pay for their own equipment, and when that link gets congested, they add more/faster interconnect ports, paid for by the customers that are paying for their side of the link. And that's how it works basically everywhere except the US now.

Because Comcast, along with the other big US consumer ISPs are saying to netflix - a customer of another ISP altogether - 'nice traffic, shame if something happened to it.' And charging extra for a 'fast' path to their network. They've deliberately let the interconnect to level 3 become congested, and are refusing to upgrade it, affecting netflix and all other services that comcast customers request from level 3's network. Netflix offers to host their CDN cache servers inside comcast's network, so it does't have to all go via the level 3 interconnect, comcast refuse.

So basically comcast are singling out netflix, as a competitor to their own video services, and demanding money with menaces. Successfully.

Comcast's argument that more traffic comes in from level 3 than goes out - well duh, they're a retail ISP, and they provide much faster download connections than upload, and put restrictions on what services customers can put on that upload. Of course they're largely going to be seeing more traffic come in than go out. Netflix said they could change their client so as much traffic went up as came down, and comcast said that wouldn't make a difference, thus blowing that argument out of the water.

Given the natural and legally provisioned regional monopolies the cable companies in the US have got themselves, they've got their own customers over a barrel. They can let the interconnects go to shit, and the customers are stuck with it.

5 of the 6 permanently congested links to level 3's network are in the US. It's absolutely obvious that with the FCC unwilling to exert its existing regulatory authority, and congress' refusal to step in as it would be 'government regulating the internet', you have a textbook example of oligopoly abuse. Free markets cannot exist when monopolists abuse their market controlling power, and netflix is just the start. Enforcing regulation against monopolists abusing their position is the only practical, effective answer, and it's high time the FCC used its power to do just that.

Apply common carrier status to regional monopoly cable companies, and the sooner the better.

+ - Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support 1

Submitted by snydeq
snydeq (1272828) writes "Microsoft TechNet blog makes clear that Windows 8.1 will not be patched, and that users must get Windows 8.1 Update if they want security patches, InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reports. 'In what is surely the most customer-antagonistic move of the new Windows regime, Steve Thomas at Microsoft posted a TechNet article on Saturday stating categorically that Microsoft will no longer issue security patches for Windows 8.1, starting in May,' Leonhard writes. 'Never mind that Windows 8.1 customers are still having multiple problems with errors when trying to install the Update. At this point, there are 300 posts on the Microsoft Answers forum thread Windows 8.1 Update 1 Failing to Install with errors 0x80070020, 80073712 and 800F081F. The Answers forum is peppered with similar complaints and a wide range of errors, from 800F0092 to 80070003, for which there are no solutions from Microsoft. Never mind that Microsoft itself yanked Windows 8.1 Update from the corporate WSUS update server chute almost a week ago and still hasn't offered a replacement.'"

Comment: Re:Recycling Personalities (Score 1) 448

by arkhan_jg (#46738867) Attached to: Commenters To Dropbox CEO: Houston, We Have a Problem

At the same time, you should understand that you can't "inherit" a deficit. The idea is poppycock.

Of course you can. If you inherit an economy in recession, your tax receipts are low, and your spending on entitlements - that spending which people are legally entitled to have - neither of which can be corrected by presidential or congressional fiat. Then you add a couple of wars to that, necessitating paying those troops and for their equipment etc, another substantial expense it will take time to correct even if you start on ending the war on day 1. You have numerous other spending that is politically untouchable, as the various lobbies will end the career of any politician that touches it, so congress won't touch it with a barge pole.

Only a relatively small portion of the budget is called 'discretionary spending' for a reason. And then you have a congress that is majority controlled by a party that wants to cut taxes (on the rich, mainly) at every opportunity no matter the situation, and is prepared to shut down the government entirely if it doesn't get its way.

So you can't legally cut much of the spending, and you're under constant pressure to cut taxes, not raise them. Your predecessor left you a huge recession, a massive red ink bank bailout, huge military and entitlement spending, and a completely intransigent congress. He's a president, not the magician he would have needed to be to pull out a balanced budget on day 1. There simply wasn't the legal leeway to massively cut spending or massively raise taxes to do so.

Don't just take my word for it - have a look at this graph of obama's time of spending vs bush for some additional background.

Then you factor in that relief and stimulus spending during a recession is considered the correct economic policy to reverse the recession and end it quicker. Once the recession is over, then you can implement austerity to reduce the deficit. Doing austerity too early just worsens the recession, and we end up back in the 1930s. Borrowing money early to get through a crisis is generally considered the right thing to do from prior experience. So a balanced budget on day 1 would have been a really bad idea anyway even if it had been possible.

Comment: Re:Hardware requirements (Score 1) 641

by arkhan_jg (#46697643) Attached to: Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP

Sounds like that proprietary system that only runs on windows XP and still needs to connect to the internet, and now that's one 0-day rootkit from being f***** is working out for you much better...

FOSS doesn't mean cost free. If you wanted a non-proprietary system, you could always have paid someone to write it for you, given that 95% of the platform is already out there actually for free.

If the *cabling* to the locks is proprietary and needs you dig up the concrete to replace, then frankly, you guys didn't do your due diligence. The cabling on our new building lock system is bog standard cat5e, because it's a standard ethernet system on a physically separated network, with appropriate security to the locks in the event of physical cable compromise. Yes, it's a proprietary controller, but the management interface is standards compliant html5 so we're not tied to a given OS for management, and the controller is designed to be accessed separately from the locks network (it's currently behind a firewall and on a separate vlan). To replace it if the company goes under we swap out the standard-hole-sized locks, and controller, and pay someone to set it up. Hell, if it comes to it, we just turn it off and get some more physical keys cut.

Comment: Coincidence? (Score 3, Interesting) 70

by uassholes (#46489049) Attached to: The Earth As a Gravitational Wave Detector
December 27, 2004 at 21:30:26 UT, a burst of gamma rays from SGR 1806-20 passed through the Solar System. The burst was so powerful that it had effects on Earth's atmosphere, at a range of about 50,000 light years.
At 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, 26 December 2004, an undersea megathrust earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean which caused a tsunami which killed 250,000 people.

Comment: Re:Why the embedded "player" doesn't work (Score 1) 66

by arkhan_jg (#46423961) Attached to: Getty Images Makes 35 Million Images Free For Non-Commercial Use

You can't resize the source image, but you can resize the iframe and it will scale to fit. Scaling above the source image size will obviously lead to reduced quality/blurriness, but you can shrink it. If you want to have it be responsive design (and scale width/height due to browser size) it's fairly straightforward to chuck a little jquery at it, as is pretty common when dealing with making iframes responsive. I imagine a jquery plugin akin to fitvids.js will be along shortly to make it easier.

For chucking in stock header image in a blog post and not having to screw about trying to find a CC image that suits (or risking a nastygram by ripping something off google images), it's not completely useless. Though the limited sizes of the source images I looked at mean it's not going to be useful for much more than that, and I think the DRM overhead is pretty annoying.

It's not like most of us can afford to pay stock photo rates for our personal blogs though...

Comment: Re:Vive le Galt! (Score 1) 695

by arkhan_jg (#46338571) Attached to: Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World

I've an idea. Let's look at the countries who have the happiest populations, and do what they do.

So who’s the happiest? As has been the case the past five years, that distinction goes to countries that enjoy peace, freedom, good healthcare, quality education, a functioning political system and plenty of opportunity: Norway, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand.

So capitalism, tempered with socialism. The strength of capitalism is that customers flock to the best products, and others have incentives to create them. Its biggest weakness is that a small advantage can be leveraged to a strong market position, making them successful not because they're good, but because they have too much power to dictate the market. Similarly unchecked capitalism means the wealthy use that power and money to make themselves wealthier still at everyone else's expense by rewriting the rules that benefit themselves at the direct cost of the rest.

Socialism - i.e. good public healthcare, good schools, a fair and accessible political system that works for all, not the few, a social safety net, economic regulation etc etc paid for by redistributive taxation ameliorates the rawer edge of a capitalist system, and means many have the opportunity to be happy, not just the people who lucked into being at the very top. Taken too far it can impede or even punish innovation, and there's always the risk that the people dictating who gets what become the ones who get the most.

So a hybrid system it is.

But no matter the system label, if it allows a small group to exercise all the power (religious-run states, the leaders of the only allowed political party, military dictatorships, a country run by the most wealthy) then it will be a bad system where the vast majority suffer, to serve those at the top.

Comment: Re:but i thought google was evil? (Score 2) 129

by arkhan_jg (#46312025) Attached to: Gmail's 'Unsubscribe' Tool Comes Out of the Weeds

Clearly you're not thinking hard enough like a naysayer.

Google are doing this because of their evil plan to block spam. You see, it will be popular with users sheeple, and they will flock to gmail's deceptively free service. And then the advertisers who used to send spam now have to go to google and pay for ads in gmail itself, instead of sending them and getting google to pay for the infrastructure.

And of course, google knows all about what you get in email and don't block, so they can tailor the ads just for you, and charge an even higher price!

Evil geniuses, those google people.

Comment: Re:Go Amish? (Score 5, Insightful) 664

by arkhan_jg (#46308219) Attached to: Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

Even in the aerospace industry, there are software bugs. Very few, yes, because a lot more time and money is spent to track them down. There are mechanical failures too, despite the best engineering efforts. But anything we build has the potential to be flawed somewhere in the process. That's why we still put highly trained pilots in the things, for when something goes wrong - and even then, human error causes unintended faults, sometimes catastrophically.

If a car cost as much as a jet, and drivers went through as much training as a passenger pilot - and had to have a co-driver at all times - we'd be far safer on the roads.
After all, the vast majority of car crashes are driver error. And failure modes when you're at 30mph on wheels are a lot better on the whole than when at 30,000 feet. But if we built cars to the same standard, and held drivers to the same standard as aerospace engineering, only the rich could afford to.

There's a trade off between acceptable risk, and cost. Even though the designs get safer every year, maybe we allow too much risk in drivers and their cars. But absolute flaw free cars? Impossible.

Comment: Re:There are no comments (Score 1) 410

by arkhan_jg (#46265767) Attached to: Obama To Ask For $1 Billion Climate Change Fund

It is too late to avoid major consequences. We're already going to see significant damage - worse flooding, rising sea levels, worse hurricanes, worse famines - from the CO2 and methane we've been emitting. The 2 deg C rise limit that's been agreed would be bad, but survivable, is going be very hard to hit, even if we take really radical action starting right now, i.e start shutting a lot of coal stations and not building more. It might even be impossible, even if we really, really try (note, we're not even pretending to try right now)

If we carry on as we are now though, we'll hit SIX degrees increase by the end of the century. That alone will be truly catastrophic, and likely will be bad enough to cripple us as an advanced species, let alone the billions of deaths. And that assumes we don't hit the tipping point - where the heat rise causes runaway greenhouse gas emissions (methane from permafrost, massively reduced albedo etc) - before that, at which point all bets are off that we survive at all.

TLDR; our kids and grandkids are already fucked. HOW fucked still remains up to us.

I never cheated an honest man, only rascals. They wanted something for nothing. I gave them nothing for something. -- Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil

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