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Comment Re: If it can be played, it can be copied (Score 1) 364

They'll either wait for the crack, sneak through a licensing hole or go without. They aren't going to buy your fucking product, period.

Ah yes. The classic "everyone in the entire industry are morons who enjoy burning money" explanation.

Guess what? The people who buy DRM products, and they virtually all do, are not idiot savants who have the intellectual capability to make an AAA video game but somehow can't do basic maths when it comes to their own sales figures. I've seen one sales graph from an indie game where the sales dropped the day a crack became available, and the moment the exploit was patched, sales went back up again (it was a multiplayer game iirc).

You have to be really naive to think that everyone who pirates software is some sort of hard-core PIRACY OR DEATH ideologue. No, it turns out when the data is sifted that - surprise - 99% of them are lazy cheapskates who could easily afford the game, they'd just rather not - but if their only option is buying it then a significant number will go ahead and do so. That's sort of why companies have consistently developed DRM since, well, since the dawn of video gaming itself.

Comment Re:If it can be played, it can be copied (Score 1) 364

It is their goal and the bulk of all sales come immediately after launch. People who love piracy for some reason (presumably because they pirate games themselves) invariably treat any crack as a "win" and celebrate it, although all that does is push more developers to be console only. But they also ignore what should be obvious - nobody gives a shit if you break the DRM on an Amiga game from decades ago. It's obvious that the DRM on that game is worthless due to the age of the game. And yes, there aren't many companies living fat and easy off games they made 5 or even 10 years ago, with the possible exception of subscription MMORPGs like WoW.

The stats I've seen from when games and BluRay makers discuss piracy is that if the DRM lasts more than about a month, that's a win for them, as they can measure the difference it makes in sales. If the game is cracked after that then the lost sales are minimal. If the DRM lasts six months that counts as total victory for them.

Comment Re:Balance of power (Score 2) 55

what if they (say) operated the UK business entirely from nearby European countries. They presumably would not be bound by UK law, since they're not operating from there.

They effectively do. Google and Facebook sell to the whole of the EU from Ireland, not the UK. The only presence these companies have in the UK is offices in London and (I think for Google) Cambridge. So, some employees, basically. But that's optional. They could fire all of them and continue selling ads into the UK without issue.

Comment Re:Really??? (Score 4, Insightful) 358

Maybe it's possible to write good java code but it seems to encourage being a sloth.

Correct. It is possible to write good java code and it does encourage inefficient practices. This stands in contrast to C++ which makes it rather difficult to write good code (assuming similar algorithms and data structures in both programs), but strongly discourages or even prevents things that cause sloth-like performance. By "good code" here I mean code that is secure and doesn't crash. Complex C++ codebases are invariably riddled with various kinds of exploitable overflows or code paths that trigger segfaults that tear down the entire process. It's especially unfair that Java got a bad rap for security partly due to bugs in the C++ code in the JVM!

That said ..... things are changing. There are actually high frequency trading firms that use Java, believe it or not. Some of the things they make the JVM do are quite impressive. Java's poor perceived performance on the desktop has historically come from several areas. To name just 4:

1) Excessive memory usage leading to swap hell. Garbage collection doesn't play nice with swapping either, due to lack of the right kernel support. A big offender here is the profligate use of pointers and especially inefficient representations of strings (always UTF-16). Also, garbage collectors that were tuned to look good in benchmarks by using larger and larger heaps didn't help.

2) Poorly optimised graphics stacks. Note that if you use Linux you suffered from this very badly because you probably got OpenJDK which used an open source but much slower 2D rendering system, vs the proprietary Sun/Oracle JRE which used a proprietary but much faster licensed renderer called Ductus.

3) Older JVMs weren't well optimised and did things that made them start slowly, like storing all their code as .class files inside zip files. Also, JVMs are huge downloads.

4) Java code has historically not had access to things like vector instructions, advanced data layout and inline assembly, all of which can be exploited to give huge performance gains in things like multimedia apps.

All of these things are being tackled quite energetically by the JVM team, however. The latest JVM can now do things like deduplicate strings in the heap, and in Java 9 (in development version) there's new code that switches the character encoding of strings between Unicode and non-Unicode depending on what's needed at the time. This change is especially impressive because it not only reduces memory usage but actually makes software go faster too due to better cache utilisation and less GC pressure. There's a long term project called Valhalla to upgrade the JVM with value types, which is where C++ gets a lot of its built-in advantage from, by giving the developer better control over data layout. There's also a project called Panama which is adding support for, amongst other things, inline assembly to Java. A prototype was recently posted to the OpenJDK lists. A new open source graphics rasteriser has been built that's faster than Ductus, so even the open source only OpenJDK users will soon have faster graphics, and a new UI toolkit to replace Swing has been developed called JavaFX. It uses hardware accelerated graphics everywhere via OpenGL and DirectX.

Also, Intel have been contributing much more advanced auto-vectorisation logic to the JVM's compilers, the Jigsaw and "minimal JVM" projects are allowing developers to statically link optimised JVMs with their app which then pre-process JARs into special file formats so the loading process is much faster, and there's also work on ahead of time compilation being done to get rid of the slowness at startup before the JITC has compiled all the code.

These are all projects that are either shipped already or in development now. The JVM guys do understand the causes of Java's slowness, they just aren't willing to sacrifice the convenience and robustness the platform offers developers in order to fix things. So, quite often, they find they have to develop new technology and do new research to find ways to have their cake and eat it.

Comment Re:stupid uk gov vs big bad corps. which is worse? (Score 5, Interesting) 55

Were quite cooperative. Not any more.

Years ago, companies like Facebook and Google had fairly cordial relationships with police departments around the western world. If a government came and said we need access to account X because we think it's engaged in child porn or terrorism, the companies asked them to fill out the right paperwork and then got on it. Sometimes they'd even tip governments off, if they spotted someone doing stuff that was clearly criminal. It wasn't really an adversarial relationship. There was an assumption of good faith on both sides. The UK was especially dependent on this kind of relationship because it has comparatively little influence over these companies, none of whom have major engineering centers or fixed assets there (the London development offices of Google and Facebook only got reasonably big very recently indeed and neither are critical to the firms).

That all changed post Snowden. You can read about this change in UK newspapers. Post Snowden these companies stopped assuming good faith and started doing everything they could to slow things down, because they were understandably upset that governments had been secretly hacking their systems and intercepting their fibre connections. Google in particular encrypted all the inter-datacenter traffic that GCHQ had been intercepting, which made the intelligence agencies dramatically less useful, as so much of the data they wanted was hosted there. Whereas previously these firms might have not worried too much if the i's and t's weren't dotted and crossed, now they insisted on it as a matter of principle. They started challenging everything automatically. Most seriously of all they started saying "the data for this account is under the control of our US subsidiary so you need to get an MLAT to access it". An MLAT is a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and is a process for one country to formally request legal help from another. The MLAT process is extremely slow and bureaucratic so Silicon Valley's newfound insistence that it always be used effectively put a halt to most of the snooping that the UK had been doing.

So now the UK wants their old powers back. What they REALLY want, of course, is for Google/Facebook/Yahoo/Apple to decrypt their wires and devices so GCHQ can go back to snaffling all of it. They know they probably can't get that though, but an automatic "we say jump, you say how high" process with no safeguards and no mutual legal assistance treaties is the next best thing.

The risk here, for the UK, is that the UK needs Silicon Valley more than SV needs the UK. It'd be very easy for Google, Facebook, Twitter etc to simply shut down their offices in London and offer the engineers a relocation package. The sales staff can be rehired elsewhere. They'd rather not do this as it'd be disruptive, but nothing in their business requires a presence in London. It's not like most companies where they have factories and other immovable assets. Google can sell services into the UK from Ireland just fine and did so for years. If the UK pushes these companies too hard there's a risk they'll simply leave. UK isn't going to block these websites. It's clear from comments by Tim Cook especially that this isn't some abstract business decision for these firms, the CEOs see it as a moral issue. Now the Twitter CEO went back to being Dorsey it's possible he'll see things the same way too. Not sure about Facebook but the cultures are fairly similar.

Comment Re:Not Bitcoin Core Developers (Score 5, Informative) 122

But Gavin has never worked on any alt coin at all. That's my point.

The definition of "alt coin" is literally an alternative coin made by creating a separate block chain. Alt coins have their own transactions, their own network, their own value and their own currency symbol. They may be based on the same code as Bitcoin or might have a different codebase, but they are not the same currency.

Redefining widely used terms is a classic propaganda technique (hence "newspeak" in 1984) and Blockstream/Bitcoin Core guys have become devils for it. Other than trying to define a patchset on top of Bitcoin Core as an "alt coin" because they disagree with it, they've also attempted to redefine the meaning of "SPV wallet" to claim no such things exist, despite the fact that the term has been used for years and the top mobile wallets on both Android and iOS describe themselves as being SPV wallets.

Comment Re:Not Bitcoin Core Developers (Score 5, Informative) 122

To avoid any confusion it should be clear that these are the developers of btcd not bitcoin core. As far as I know the only bitcoin core developer working on an altcoin is gavin andresen.

This is exactly the kind of manipulative nonsense that has been infuriating developers and driving them away from Bitcoin.

"phantomcircuit" is Patrick Strateman, an employee of a company called Blockstream. Blockstream employs many of the developers who work on Bitcoin Core, which is the de-facto standard node implementation, descended from the original code written by Satoshi. When Satoshi left, he handed the project on to a guy named Gavin Andresen.

Gavin later handed on the project again to another guy, and under that guys non-existent leadership (he rarely if ever even posts to his own developer mailing list) the project started making decisions that upset many people, most notably, they decided that the block chain should retain a hard-coded limit on block sizes that was originally put in as a temporary hack, with the result that the block chain is currently full - Bitcoin cannot process any more transactions/second than it presently does and payments have started to break as a result.

So Gavin and myself created a fork of Core called XT to give people and miners the option that Bitcoin Core had decided to refuse them. It is exactly the same software as Core, but with extra patches that cause it to cast a vote for raising the limit. If 75% of blocks vote for the increase, then blocks can get bigger after that point.

Unfortunately, Blockstream and Bitcoin Core developers do not believe the user community should have a choice. So they decided to claim that Bitcoin XT is "not bitcoin" or put another way, any source fork that they disagree with "isn't bitcoin", even if it uses the same block chain, sends the same coins, speaks the same protocol and from the users perspective is indistinguishable from Core. They have decided that more or less any bullshit is acceptable in order to bring about what they want - a project that is theoretically open source, but which cannot actually be forked. These tactics include DDoS attacks on any computer that runs XT and extensive censorship of community forums and websites.

The comment I'm replying to is a classic example of this kind of BS in action. Strateman says he wants to "avoid confusion" and then immediately claims Gavin isn't working on Bitcoin anymore, even though in fact Gavin has only ever worked on Bitcoin and has never worked on an alt coin.

When the Decred guys talk about "governance issues", that's a polite way of saying that people like phantomcircuit and his employers have gone crazy and can't be trusted anymore.

Comment Re:Respect (Score 1) 123

Uber also routinely breaks numerous law put in place to protect consumers and citizens, often as a result of hard-won experience. Not sure what the legal or moral justification for that is, other than "I wanna".

The rationale is that many of those laws have nothing to do with consumer protection, and of the ones that are, most of them can be done better by Uber itself.

For instance, the problem of asshole drivers who scam riders by taking long routes could be fixed by a regulator having a bigass PDF on their website that requires you to fill it out with a bunch of ID numbers, get it notarised and then submit it by post to the regulator. Or it could be fixed by having a mobile app that calculates the right routes and charges the correct amount automatically, combined with star ratings. The advantage of the latter being that it protects drivers against asshole customers too, something regulators rarely care about (they protect the taxi firms but that's not the same thing as protecting the drivers).

Uber doesn't ignore taxi regulations because out of sheer bloody-mindedness. They ignore them because it's obvious that there are often better ways to do things, and all too often taxi regulators are about the least dynamic group of people out there.

Comment Re:You mean I can't pretend my content is real? (Score 1) 120

Either that or if the acceptable ads don't pay enough, then show the regular annoying ads to people who don't use adblock and show acceptable ads to adblock users

Um, if they could detect people who used adblock and customise content for them, many sites would just block those users outright rather than put up with the complexity of two ways to manage ads. And then the adblock guys would see that as an "attack" and fix it.

Advertising seems to currently heading down through a death cycle just like it was at the start of the 2000's until AdSense came along. I don't see text ads all that often these days, it's all massive animated-reveal video ads. Between that and the stupid EU cookie warnings the web is killing itself, using it is like hacking through a jungle filled with vines and mosquitos in the search for great content. I don't use adblock and never have because viewing the website as the owners intended it is a part of the social contract - I get their content for free and in return, I agree to their terms. But that doesn't mean I like it.

The risk is that these issues will result in someone producing a much better platform than the web, but that's proprietary (though I guess that the web is now entirely driven by Google/Microsoft/Mozilla but Mozilla is dying, a single big company instead of three wouldn't be a huge difference). If it had some sort of monetisation or micropayments built in, along with ways to reduce costs, that could pose a big competitive challenge.

Alternatively, a search engine that ranked pages partly by how much advertising they had, would also be something that could pose a challenge to Google.

Comment Re:Not just a tax issue, but unfair competition (Score 1) 456

The EU is hoping to fix it by requiring tax to be paid based on the amount of business done in each member state, regardless of where the profit goes.

They already are doing this with VAT. It's a disaster and trying to extend it to corporation tax would be a fail of epic proportions.

The problem is what does "amount of business done" mean? OK, a guy in the UK walks into a phone shop and buys an iPhone. Was that business "done" in the UK? Or in China where the device was manufactured? Or in California where it was designed? Now think about the case of a company like Google. You click an ad in the UK, which triggers a payment from a company based in Sweden to Google Ireland and the ad click was processed in a datacenter in Germany by software written by a team split between Switzerland and California. This is not a hypothetical scenario.

So how the heck do you split up such a thing and calculate the "amount of business done" in each country? There are currently rules and ways of doing that, but no matter how such rules are defined, I can guarantee that your local government will always want more.

Comment Re:Not just a tax issue, but unfair competition (Score 1) 456

Basically the UK is asking its companies to pay huge taxes and then compete against companies that don't.

No they are not. Apple pays a large amount of tax in the USA, the idea that Apple doesn't pay tax is pure propaganda. They don't pay much corporation tax in the UK but hey, guess what, that's because they're not a British company! It's really not that hard to understand.

Companies in the EU can earn a lot of money in America and then bring it home to the EU as well - this isn't some unique trick that only Apple can exploit. But there's much less need for weird tax arrangements if you're a UK or EU company because these countries don't double tax foreign earned income. If you earn money in Hong Kong and the Chinese government taxes it, then when you bring that money back to the UK, you don't pay tax on it again. The USA doesn't do this (almost uniquely in the world) and as such, US companies end up not bringing the money home. They leave it piling up outside the borders.

Comment Re:Money for nothin... (Score 1) 456

Money paid out in dividends is not "making the rich richer", that's way too categorical. Apple stock is held by all sorts of institutional investors, like pension funds. The money Apple pays out in divvies, does quite directly get spent into the economy in all sorts of ways.

Meanwhile the money piling up in Bermuda or wherever isn't going to stay there, and isn't doing anything whilst it's parked. All it's doing is waiting for the day Apple can use it. It may be that they never figure out a way to use it, and as Cook doesn't have a messiah complex like Jobs did, Cook is much more likely to pay that money out in dividends (and has already done so for some of it). But eventually that money will get spent somewhere, and then it will get taxed. The only question is where does it get spent and at what rate.

The thing to bear in mind is that you can't (or rather shouldn't) make tax laws that apply to specific named companies. You cannot actually make an Apple tax or a Google tax, you have to write tax codes that apply to all companies. And US tax law is very problematic. For every Apple that seems to be "abusing" the system because they could afford to pay lots in tax, there's a little known US company that's struggling to compete in the world market, and having their income taxed twice would make them hopelessly uncompetitive. And that's what this is all about - the US desire to tax income that's already been taxed when it was earned abroad.

Comment Re:Where are the standards?? (Score 1) 134

Why would that make a difference? If your XMPP provider is blocked by your telco, then you're still out of luck. You can't simply move between servers at will, XMPP doesn't work like that because your server name is encoded in your identity. And anyway, WhatsApp uses XMPP under the hood (or used to) - it's essentially just a really big provider.

Comment Re:Cars beat trains (Score 1) 211

The figures stated in the article can theoretically be accurate, if you assume a truly massive and very modern rail line. For example, the Crossrail project (in London) will have trains that can carry 1,500 people and could theoretically be pushed up to 32-33 trains per hour. That gets you to the 50,000 passengers per hour figure the summary appears to be using.

But still, the story is a lot more complex than the "trains have 2x throughput of roads" claim. For one, it seems that a train every 90 seconds is about the maximum rate you can push a rail line. For another the cited capacity for roads is per lane, not per road. And for yet another highway capacity depends a lot on the speeds the vehicles are going at. Lower speeds equals faster capacity, but of course, that does not apply to trains where adding additional trains doesn't change their speed assuming modern computer controlled signalling.

It's rare for train systems to reach figures as high as 50k passengers per hour, but in busy metro areas like London, Paris, Tokyo etc it is absolutely not impossible.

Comment Re:Here's my theory (Score 2) 418

When Firefox was new it was considered a controversial skunkworks project. The idea that Mozilla might not be an integrated suite anymore upset a lot of the existing users, believe it or not, especially as Firefox bore a rather strong resemblance to the primary competitor at the time..... Internet Explorer.

Firefox is caught between the rock and the hard place that many products get stuck in: a competitor comes along that leapfrogs them with a design that appeals to the majority of the market. But it also is disliked by a minority of the market. They pretty quickly lose the majority to the competitor and are left with the ever-shrinking minority that vocally disagree with any change.

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