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Comment Re:It's profitable (Score 4, Insightful) 226

What we really need is to put some pressure on advertising companies to stop allowing anyone to run unvetted, arbitrary Javscript code in served advertisements. How stupidly dangerous is that? It's like using a flamethrower to take down a hornet's nest. Yes, it works, but it's a ridiculous amount of overkill, and can be insanely dangerous if pointed at the wrong target. It's in the advertising agencies own interest to clean up it's act. At some point, most people are going to figure out that it's simply too dangerous to run a web browser without noscript or an ad blocker.

Honestly, the only way I can think of putting enough pressure on them is for as many people as possible to install ad-blockers. Once they get the hint that they need to back down, they can come up with some more creative solutions. For instance, introduce a specialized tag in HTML that allows the display of a static image, embedded links, and some anonymous token to help count unique visitors, but NO JAVASCRIPT. It's the notion of running arbitrary script that's so insanely dangerous. Plus, a tag like this would help to ensure that ads don't misbehave, like popping up, animating, or playing audio or video.

Or, ad agencies can be more responsible and run curated ads, with only vetted Javascript in pre-packaged modules, rather than letting anyone execute code from anywhere in the world. There are solutions out there, but no agency wants to be the first to tie their own hands. Honestly, I don't care at this point. It's their fault it's come to this in the first place. Something's got to change.

Comment Re:It can't. (Score 5, Interesting) 93

There's something I've never figured out about this particular theory. All life, even some sort of "patient zero" alien life, had to arise from non-organic substances somewhere, right? If it can happen once, then it should be able to happen any number of times given a set of similar conditions. Given the size of the universe, and even our own galaxy, that's like to be a *lot* of places.

As such, why would anyone think it's more plausible for a chunk of life to hitch a ride on some piece of space debris, and then survive re-entry on a coincidentally habitable planet on which it can flourish... than for life to have sprung into existence here, where obviously conditions were optimal for it (or at least life as we know it)?

I have to wonder if the enthusiasm for this theory is partially based on the admittedly exciting prospect that we could be the descendants of exotic alien lifeforms rather than some homegrown slime mold.

Comment EA makes a lot of games (Score 1) 106

Comparing EA and Rovio is silly. Rovio has one product and a couple of other tiny ones. An accurate comparison of Rovio would be to one of EA's development studios, not to all of EA itself.

260 people is a ton for a studio. Even if you look at the really big studios working on the really big titles for EA and Activision, it is usually only a couple hundred people at most. That's to produce things like Battlefield (and it's associated engine, which is quite advanced) not to produce a silly mobile game where you fling birds at pigs.

It sounds like Rovio had way more people than could be useful.

Comment Re:not like 2001 (Score 0) 106

I think the big difference is that there was a big rush to get on the web during the dot-com boom, and the established players actually didn't care AT ALL about revenue (as the old joke went). They just wanted presence of some sort. The problem was, no one really knew what you could actually do with the internet. Everyone just knew that it was important to get on board fast, and a gazillion e-prospectors showed up with all sorts of pie-in-the-cloud ideas that simply weren't sustainable.

Nowadays, the market and investors have a bit more experience. We still saw some seriously overvaluing (IMO), and now we've seen a correction, likely induced by a slump in the Chinese economy. That's actually a good thing, because long-term periods without the occasional correction tends to lead up to much larger corrections, even over-corrections or outright crashes.

I don't see this as any sort of a crash at all, just a more realistic outlook of where we probably should have been all along. We might even see a few additional corrections in the near future. How long have people been talking about the "tech bubble"? This really shouldn't have surprised anyone in the know. It was just a question of *when* it was going to happen.

Comment Re:/facepalm (Score -1, Troll) 413

Yeah, I do. Not because I implicitly trust Microsoft, but I don't believe it's possible for it to stay hidden, and I think they know that. Moreover, I simply don't see any good reason for them to nefariously snoop on people. I mean, they're going to have hundreds of millions of people that will choose not to opt-out of these sorts of services that keep all their data in Microsoft's cloud. Hell, Microsoft already has my credit card on file. What possible reason would they have to scan my computer and invade my privacy? It just makes no sense to me.

Comment Sad Birds (Score 5, Interesting) 106

Interesting... so Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds, is laying another 260 employees. Let me put that in perspective for you: I've been in videogame development for the last several decades, working on games ranging from bargain-bin titles to well-known MMOs. I've worked at companies with a dozen employees, and nave *never* been at a company with more than a couple hundred total employees (excluding parent company).

I'm just trying to figure out exactly were they doing with all those people... Does it actually require dozens of people to create an Angry Birds game? I'm having a hard time figuring out what they actually *did* with so many people. They happened to strike gold with Angry Birds, and they must have deluded themselves into believing they could strike gold with each subsequent swing of the pickaxe. Oops, the world has moved on to Candy Crush.

If they wisely invested their incredible earnings, they could have created a much smaller company that would have nearly infinite financial backing to do whatever they wanted. Instead, they succumbed to the temptation to grow into a giant by pretending that they could release the same product an infinite number of times. Now the entire world has played and grown tired of Angry Birds, so there's nothing left to fall back on.

Comment Re:/facepalm (Score 0) 413

Microsoft stinks at communication, and has for a very long time. I think that explains a lot right there. I agree that MS could and should be much better at being better at communicating some of this stuff. That being said, I think they've been fairly up-front about what options are available for privacy. And if you actually care to read all 30 pages (or whatever) of their EULA, it's spelled out in pretty excruciating detail. Note that there have been some click-bait articles that have taken some of those details out of context as well.

As far as the recent flap about keyloggers, spyware... Almost all of that can be explained by context. Keep in mind that Windows 10 agreements now cover ALL devices, including tablets and mobile. Some of the "scarier" sounding language about keyloggers and learning what how you right can be attributed to on-screen keyboards which need to learn your writing style to create accurate predictive algorithms, and there's also a new component that automatically transcribes handwriting - again, it has to do this by watching how and what you're writing to tailor itself to your tendencies. If you want these capabilities to follow you from device to device (and I'd bet most people do), then it need to be synchronized by a cloud network. And as for MS recording input from webcams and microphones, or recording what you type... uh, yeah, no kidding. That's how Cortana works. Her "smarts" are relying a great deal on the indexed answers that the Bing search engine has stored, as well as some specialty knowledge that she's learned by scanning your personal data. And she can answer those questions from anywhere, because that information is stored in Microsoft's servers.

Telemetry updates for improving updates? Yep, easy to explain. According to Paul Thurrott (Windows Weekly podcast), Microsoft was actually offering Windows 10 updates *first* to those who had the most well-tested configurations. That is, all their PC hardware had certified drivers for Windows 10, so they were expected to have a trouble-free update. Updates were then rolled out to subsequently less well-tested configurations. How exactly do you think MS would be preparing for an in-place update like this of a billion computers worldwide with millions of unique configurations? Yeah, I'd think they were gathering some telemetry from users about hardware and drivers so they could test the most common configurations.

So, no, I don't buy into the hysteria. Are there legitimate concerns about some of this stuff? Sure, absolutely. But I'm not going to jump to oddball conclusions that, at this point at least, are pure speculation. If you apply a bit of common sense, there are perfectly rational explanations for everything we've seen so far.

Comment Re:/facepalm (Score 1, Insightful) 413

Well, don't worry. This is pretty much guaranteed to happen with each new release of Windows. Also, the article isn't as hysterical as the headline makes it out to be. I think it's a good thing for people to be made away of all the privacy controls and their implications.

There are some serious and legitimate privacy concerns, but nearly every single privacy invasive feature can be turned off, and that's really important. What's the downside? There are some features that rely on the ability to talk to Microsoft servers and read various personal data, like e-mail, calendars, and contacts. A personal digital assistant like Cortana needs to know a LOT about you to be effective. Another one is cloud synchronization - obviously, if you want your various PCs and devices to be synchronized automatically, personal data will need to be stored in Microsoft servers so they can be transferred between your machines. Whether you consider those "privacy invading" or "neat new features" (or both) largely depends on your perspective.

We've heard reports about a few services still communicating with MS servers. This isn't exactly a huge concern to me, as I'd expect a few things like activation and updates to still talk to MS. There may be a few other things that slip through the cracks (like start menu tiles still refreshing even though they're all removed), but it doesn't have the feel of anything malicious to me. Others may choose to believe the worst, of course.

One of the big issues for me is the forced updates, because that has serious implications regarding stability (I've personally had to roll back a seriously bugged Nvidia driver until it was fixed many months later). We've already seen problems with this, so it's not really a theoretical concern. I've heard Microsoft may be backing down a bit, acknowledging that people need to be able to block known bad updates / drivers, and have released a standalone tool that can do this. My bet is that this will later be integrated into Windows myself, but at least it's possible now.

I'm not a big believer in conspiracy theories about MS scanning your drive and sending your personal data away. What's the motivation? Plenty of people will gladly opt in (or more accurately, choose not to opt-out) just to get the convenience of automatic cloud backups, synchronization, and an intelligent digital assistant. They're not going to care about the minority of people that are privacy-concerned enough to shut off all those features. They stand to lose FAR more in lawsuits, lost consumer confidence, and political probes than whatever they might gain from it.

Comment Re:Why so complicated? (Score 5, Insightful) 109

It is literally a circular network connected to one CPU and a bunch of dumb nodes.
Each node has a network ID. They can pass messages and only the nodes that are listening for it will get it.
High bandwidth data bus for it.
Why is that so complex?

Anything can be made to sound easy by describing the overall concept in a few sentences. Devices are built in the real world, not on a whiteboard, and here in real world, the devil is in the details.

The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.