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Comment Re:I'm an OK violinist (Score 5, Informative) 469

"Few multiples" of $10K won't buy you much in the range of around half the orchestral instruments. You'd be flat out trying to pay $30K for a pair of Clarinets or a trumpet, but the less popular instruments can get very, very pricey. As a bassoonist, many of our top of the line instruments are rather expensive. A good Fox or Heckel will be around $30K - 50K USD before custom keywork is factored in (can add up to $10K to the base price). My Fox Contra was, 10 years ago USD $30K so it would be significantly more than that to replace it now. If I was to purchase the same instruments here in Oz about triple that price in AUD.

Double basses and 'cellos also are upwards of $50K in the USA for good ones. Harpsichords also up over $30K for a reasonable one that wasn't assembled from a kit (lots in kit form for $15-20K). Harps also waaay up there in price. That's just from instruments I'm personally familiar with that I either play or someone in my family plays.

Comment Re:good riddance (Score 1) 146

Don't blame the FDA...
Due to the structure of the 1938 Food Drug and Cosmetic act which established the FDA, it is not permitted to regulate homeopathic drugs in the same way as "normal" drugs. This is a registry of homeopathic drugs and if a drug is on there but is not a "normal" drug, the FDA can only regulate that it is manufactured safely, similar to food, not whether it is effective at treating disease. That is why you see this kind of labeling on such products:

A product's compliance with requirements of the HPUS, USP, or NF does not establish that it has been shown by appropriate means to be safe, effective, and not misbranded for its intended use.

All the FDA can do is go after companies that market non-homeopathic drugs (i.e. "normal" drugs) as homeopathic, like HCG.

Comment Re:offensive arrogance (Score 1) 146

No, of course I'm not worried, I think it would be great....

I am truly stunned by this. A self-interpreted home-made CT scan is an unalloyed good? Notwithstanding the radiation to get there, without serious testing, you have no idea how accurate the thing is (back to the FDA's repeated requests to 23andMe).

Allowing the heroic assumption that the Garage-scan-o-matic things actually give accurate results, are you also saying you think the majority of people have the education and knowledge to make heads or tails of what might a slightly larger appearance of the brachiocephalic artery might mean for them? Or that they have any idea what to do about it?

Are you going to try to pass laws against skin, testicle, and breast self-exams because people might be confused by the lumps and spots they might discover?

That's not what I propose nor what the FDA is doing. If someone tries to sell an automated system to tell people what those lumps and spots mean (particularly if they use the term "risk") you'd better believe I would demand enforcement of the existing laws that say that the seller must prove that their system works in order to sell it.

Some doctors do, others are dumber as dirt.

Sure, doctors are people and there are all kinds of them. But at the very least they have had a rigorous education, and following that a series of experiences in trying to understand the confusing mishmash of information about people's health conditions and make judgments about a course of action to follow.

Since this post is entitled "offensive arrogance", let me just ask if you really think that education and experience means nothing. And if so, does it mean nothing when an engineer used his or experience to say a piece of software is poorly architected, or that car can be hacked, or there is inadequate review of security? After all, I can read Slashdot to get the answers I need or check something out from github to fix the problem...

There is a role for experts and there are some things that are dangerous enough that an expert's opinion should be required, whether that's a doctor, an engineer, or policeman.

Comment Re:offensive arrogance (Score 1) 146

Fortunately, this kind of FDA stupidity is not going to work long term: people are simply going to get their entire genomes sequenced, and there will be a huge number of free tools and web sites for searching for disease associations, ancestry, and relatives.

Let me recast this just a bit to illustrate the problem:

Fortunately, in the long term, 3D printing will allow people to create their own CT scanners, and there will be a huge number of free tools and websites for searching for tumors, heart defects, and bone density.

Are you at all worried about what people will do with their homemade CT scanners?
Perhaps doctors know a little bit about reacting to that kind of data (and the uncertainties in it) and making good decisions about it?

Comment Re:good riddance (Score 2) 146

The FDA made them stop because doctors dislike being cut out of the loop, and insurance companies like being cut out of the loop even less than the doctors, and they would prefer to have you get the data through a disclosure mechanism which gives your insurance company better actuarial information.

This sounds like one of those ads at the bottom of blogs "New service that doctors hate!!1". Seriously though, do you have any evidence for these claims?

The FDA asked a 23andMe a simple question - show us the evidence that when you say that a person has an elevated risk of say, death, that that claim is true. Then they talked 23andMe 14 times over a couple years, then waited 11 months with no reply. Then they made them stop making those claims. So where is that the ravening hordes of doctors and insurers fit in there?

Now imagine that 23andMe said the person was at low risk of death (like from heart disease) and that turned out to be ahem... mildly inaccurate. Was that the part the doctors hate?

Notes that if 23andMe sticks to providing raw data, they are not making medical claims. Ravening hordes begone!

Comment Re:Don't they have an fiber to the node cable netw (Score 1) 229

Friend of mine just moved into a new house that has NBN on it in NW Sydney. Fibre goes all the way to a termination box inside the garage and then he has standard cat6 ethernet ports connected to the fibre modem. No ability to have a fibre switch in there according to him.

Comment Re:Supply and Demand (Score 1) 417

Interesting point. Both companies are known to employ armies of MBAs, so they are surely doing a lot of sophisticated analysis on their pricing and margins.

Microsoft is reputedly a profoundly different place than it was in the nineties, and the tell is that is a way, way harder place to work in. Some of that is doubtless from the usual process cruft you hear about in big organizations - territoriality, old habits that nobody changes, too many queen bees for the drones in a hive, etc.

But I also wouldn't forget about the consent degree - that makes the cautious thing to do to never have the appearance of exploiting one dominance in one market to move into another.

I'd be surprised if any 'softies with knowledge of this are either not on /. or are not able to say anything, but I'd sure be curious to have been a fly on the wall in those meetings...

Comment Re:Downgrade rights (Score 1) 671

Major problem there is the same as the mobile market - you have to write very fundamentally different code for a mobile and desktop. Some fascinating figures came out of this year's Siggraph. On the desktop you typically have up to 300W of power dedicated to graphics hardware. On a mobile device you have at most 1W (phone) or 5W (tablet). Those numbers will _never_ go up because anything more than that starts to fry your pocket or hand. So, the optimisation techniques that one uses to write a desktop app or game are extremely different to those written for a mobile device. There's just no getting around that at all.

One of the other interesting factors is that from a developer and graphics perspective now, except for the desktop gaming market, D3D is all but gone. I saw one mention of D3D at Siggraph this year, and that was because the chair of the panel was from MS. All those tablet/phone game writers were way over in the OpenGL ES camp. MS is trying to force the issue again like it's 1999 and now allowing OpenGL drivers on Win8, so you'll see how quickly the game studios will react to that - Even Valve were demoing OpenGL games this year that had better performance on Linux than on Windows on the same hardware according to their statements at one talk. Apart from business desktops, I don't see much more future market for the Microsoft and PCs. The games of interest are now appearing on mobiles and those developers are definitely not in the MS camp.

Summed up, it's a failed strategy and will do more to make people move away from MS than towards it.

Comment Re:I trust my life to Boeing every time I fly (Score 4, Informative) 334

In the 90s, the FDA realized that even if it could see the could, there was no way it could realistically audit code for all the devices it is required to review annually. So they switch from attempting to verify devices directly to insisting that devices be design and developed under a very high quality engineering paradigm.

So instead of looking at code trying to find problems, what they do is demand artifacts of a very disciplined design development and test process, reasoning that if people are in fact actually writing out test cases, doing internal code reviews with documented changes arising from them, maintaining requirements traceability matrices linking each line of code to a user requirement and then a lower level system requirement, then that process will result in better code than the FDA could accomplish by their own audit or that of a 3rd party. So the woman should be asking to see the details of the company's FDA submission, presumably under NDA from the company.

Now, whether the FDA is employing Design Control in a strict enough way is definitely a fair question - in particular the 510k (predicate device) submission process has left a lot of loopholes (due to its risk class, a pacemaker does not go through 510k, it goes through the more demanding PMA process). But to suggest that she or someone she hires will just be able to wade through the code to decide if she thinks it's high quality seems to me more like grandstanding than anything else.

Comment Re:And the other reason is... (Score 1) 397

They did, however, manage to tie the stuff down and limited them in ways unprecedented. In that way, Apple definitely did something new, but that's not something people actually WANT.

Stack trace: Your input statement raised a parsing exception at "people". You != people at large.

People (at large) did in fact want stuff "tied down and limited", because without that, they had to figure out how to wander through 100000 ways of doing one simple thing they wanted to do. How I get out of this app? How do I get to my email? If you don't know anything about OSes or apps or even really up from down, you can figure out how to press the center button on the iPhone enough times to get back to an icon you recognize.

Second, by reducing complexity, Apple made it manageable to have the OS drive the phone experience, rather than the hardware driving the experience, which had been the case up to that point (though BlackBerries might strain my theory a bit). This plus sandboxing the hell out of everything in turn made it possible to put software on the phone and have a reasonable expectation that it will work, and voile you can now sell software downloads. I bought an iPhone after having a WinCE device, and despite having been a Linux admin, a quasi-DBA, etc, I couldn't get apps to install on that damn WinCE crap. I could on the iPhone. So that's what the iPhone delivered. Do other OSes do that now, absolutely yes. Are there drawbacks to Apple's design choices in iOS? Also yes, and these are particularly glaring with the iPad (the level of sandboxing really reduces utility of the iPad, IMHO).

But like it or not, Apple the first to figure out how to make a OS/user experience-centric phone for the average Joe or Jane. I suspect that it will be very hard to dislodge them from their perch, just as ostensibly better OSes couldn't get rid of Windows on the desktop.

Comment Re:What exactly is Mozilla spending $100M on? (Score 1) 644

Interesting, from the CFO's LinkedIn profile

MOZILLA - 2005 - present
--Called in to create the financial structure for Mozilla Corporation (

Business Week's profile of them:

Mozilla Corporation provides Internet solutions. It offers Firefox, a Web browser; Thunderbird 2, an email application; Raindrop, a prototype messaging tool, which enables users to manage a stream of messages coming from sources, such as Twitter and Facebook into their email; and Rainbow, a developer prototype that brings video and audio recording to Firefox 4. The company also provides Bugzilla, a bug tracking system that helps users to manage software development; Camino, a Web browser; and SeaMonkey, an application containing a Web browser, HTML editor, and Web development tools, as well as solutions for mobile phones. In addition, it operates an online store that provides apparel. The company is based in Mountain View, California. Mozilla Corporation operates as a subsidiary of Mozilla Foundation.

Dunno, I guess they're keeping those 500 people busy, but like a lot of things in this space, I just don't quite get it. Maybe I just don't do the things they're trying to address...

Comment What exactly is Mozilla spending $100M on? (Score 4, Insightful) 644

Does anyone know where the money they get from Google goes? Aren't they a non-profit that's freely distributing a community-developed piece of software? If so, why does this cost anything more than a couple million a year? That's what their financial statements from 2009 (latest available from their website) talk about: 10 people and ~ $1.5M in budget. That seems pretty reasonable to me to run a product with as broad a user base as Firefox.

But $100M??? Assuming an average salary of $100K, that's 1000 people. Are there really 1000 people working at Mozilla? If so, what are they doing?

Or are they really spending as much as Nike and Coke on marketing? Do they have a big pile of cash in bank? Can someone help me understand, cause right now I don't see how the math adds up...

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly