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Comment Old guy here ... (Score 1) 519

I am from an age when advertisement blocking wasn't dreamed of, let alone possible. I remember when sites used to run tons of animated GIF ads and could support themselves on ad revenue alone. I didn't begrudge them this; I was dirt poor, and it was the only way I could get content and services.

Two things that emerged are what are driving ad-blocking and killing ad-based revenue:
-- Bulk reselling of "anonymized" data which can accurately fingerprint a specific user and/or device simply by device configuration and browsing habits (and, if you believe the hype, by typing "fingerprints").
-- Advertisement placement auctioning: the advertising companies' system of being able to auction a specific client's advertisement space in the browser on the (supposedly) relevant page.

These wouldn't even be so bad if:
-- advertisement data collected were "opt-in" and incentivized. Instead, it isn't even opt-out, and the "incentive" given to people is to use "free" services which allow companies to collect even more targeted data from customers (effectively turning them into the product, rather than the target).
-- the advertising auctions (which are entirely automated and are supposed to occur during the short period during page load) weren't intentionally lengthened to allow for profitable bids every time, but at a cost to the user visiting the site, more often than not blocking other page elements from loading while advertising connections are "loading", but not really, just delaying the page until someone meets their price and then releasing the stranglehold on the legitimate process of loading the webpage.

Ad-blockers damage both of these tactics by not letting browsers even accept connections to known ad servers. It isn't really that people are more savvy about privacy, although a growing number are, especially with all of the data breaches happening with the various companies holding this aggregated information about a great many people. It is more that their web functions better without interference from advertising.
Anecdotal and personal experience has taught me that ad-blocking on all pages, even those to whom I would actually want to receive advertising revenue through my efforts, speeds my pageloads up. One good example of this is http://mangastream.com/ . Whitelisting their pages in my ad-blocker plug-in made reading a manga nearly impossible (pages taking 1-3 minutes to load). I had to block ads on that site again in order to read a flippin' manga!

People aren't flocking in droves to ad-blocking because they don't like the ads. Most couldn't care less about ads.
People don't want to have to wait on content they want to read or view just because ad companies hold sites by the nuts for the privilege of being able to show content to consumers without directly charging them.

Advertisement itself needs to change, or it will cease to exist specifically due to the way it affects the medium that carries it.

Comment Am I the only one who thought ... (Score 1) 520

Am I the only one who thought of Project Valkyrie (not the World War II project, the interstellar one) as being a comparatively cheap and easy solution for deflecting or destroying meteors headed for Earth with little advance time?

With only a few modifications (most notably, removing the passenger compartment), a rocket-propelled antimatter delivery system with sufficient antimatter (say, 10 Kg, magnetically isolated) dragging a tungsten shield (20cm thick, say a 20ft diameter disk) a fair distance away (50 meters) would produce upon impact a matter-annihilating explosion of gamma radiation with a yield of approximately 400 megatons (depending on the annihilation percentage), with most of that force being diverted away from the Earth (the tungsten shield absorbing what heads for Earth due to tactical trajectory placement (alignment before impact with the shield being directly between Earth and the meteor creating an umbra).

Another side effect: that much ionizing gamma radiation would undoubtedly weaken the meteor's base components on a molecular scale, making the object much more susceptible to break-up and frictional heat destruction if any of it hit the atmosphere.

Having that much antimatter on hand may be an issue, since, according to the last news article I read about it, 10Kg would be about half of the antimatter currently available on Earth, but the parts already exist, and casting a tungsten disk that size is only a matter of cost, not time. The Newtonian backlash on the tungsten disk would propel it back towards the Earth, but I would rather have a 20ft diameter disk coming at the Earth instead of a house-sized chunk of iron and nickel, wouldn't you?

I don't really see a downside to the plan except lead time.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Comment One good sci-fi/fantasy book for a child of 8 ... (Score 1) 726

The Girl With the Silver Eyes is a good intro due to good and simple vocabulary explained in the book and a reasonably compelling story that is relatable.
But, as with all recommendations for children, I strongly advise any parent to read the book themselves before handing it over to their kid, because a parent may not know everything about their child, but they are still the best judge of skill level and censor for the inappropriate.

Comment Ironic... (Score 1) 62

I used to work for U-verse as a Tier 2 Specialist, and the XBox 360 as a set-top box was in development as of 2 years ago, the back-end MAC recognition and Xbox 360 Dashboard upgrades were already in place a year ago. In short, there was no real reason for this upgrade to have been released now instead of a year ago (all real testing is done in field anyway, because AT&T friendly Alpha communities do not give a diverse enough sample for real world testing). I do like the fact that the XBox 360 has better HDMI (Motorola and Cisco STBs have known HDMI picture and sound issues, but that may be due to HDMI version incompatibility issues from the TVs and PC monitors).

What AT&T really needs is an increase in the robustness of the Windows CE STB firmware (yes, I can confirm that they do run a modified version of Windows CE; in fact, they use Microsoft MPEG2 and 4 compressions for the video, both SD and HD, upgraded regularly via firmware pushes) to allow support agents to troubleshoot problems with a picture preview (if the STB is even booted to the point of receiving programming). In the support center in which I worked, 95% of the employees hadn't ever actually seen the hardware or content that U-verse provides (aside from pictures).

In my opinion (call me an insider or uneducated, I don't really care), the U-verse customer experience suffers from the fact that U-verse support agents rarely, if ever, get hands-on experience with the hardware and content that they are supposed to be supporting (no matter what neato upgrades AT&T decides to offer, usually at an additional charge).

Add to that the fact that the vast majority of support agents for AT&T are contract employees instead of perm, the turnover rate was horrendous at my support center, support centers are now being forced to upsell with a quota attached (remember, U-verse only exists to make money for the wireless side of AT&T), and loss mitigation (the amount of people who would have canceled had their problem not been solved by tech support) isn't even factored in, and you can color me surprised that U-verse even made it to 1 million customers.

Comment Another fan-made Zelda "Movie" (Score 1) 222

Hey, did anyone here ever see the ign.com April Fools joke trailer for 2008? Watch it here. Compare this with the YouTube trailer for The Hero of Time movie (alternate version). You will immediately notice a difference in quality (in IGN's favor). Nintendo probably didn't pursue IGN for their joke trailer, but that may be due to the fact that IGN wasn't actually making a movie, just an April Fools trailer. But, if I were Nintendo, and I were inclined to grant trademark lenience, having seen both of these samples, I would choose the IGN version, because the Hero of Time movie looks puerile by comparison (and, yes, I do mean that it looks like a child filmed and post-produced it).

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