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Comment Re:If the black cabs have a legal monopoly... (Score 1) 194

Note that mincabs are less strictly regulated than black cabs, but their prices are regulated, as are various other things (insurance that they must carry, the registration of their vehicles, requirement that the vehicles carry a taxi registration license plate, and so on). Uber is ignoring all of this regulation.

Comment Re:Monopoly on what exactly (Score 4, Informative) 194

Just saying "legal monopoly" doesn't mean much without details.

Licensed black cabs are the only vehicles that are allowed to be flagged down for in London. They're governed by Hackney Carriage laws in the UK[1] and also by some London-specific laws. Getting a license is relatively cheap (no medallion system), but does require passing a test that checks that has questions like 'what is the fastest route from A to B, assuming that it is rush hour and road X has road works?' There are 'mystery shoppers' who audit the taxi system: they flag down black cabs and take rides and, if the driver does not take the most direct route then they can lose their license. The mystery shoppers have varying ethnicities and manners of dress, and refusing to carry one will also result in a loss of the license. Black Cab drivers all know that if they break the regulations requiring them to carry anyone or try to scam a customer, then there's a chance that the customer that they're scamming may have the power to take their license on the spot.

The distinction between taxi and hackney carriage is increasingly irrelevant. I can't flag down a car owned by Generic Taxi Company #47 that's waiting near where I'm standing, but I can call the telephone number printed on the side from my mobile and have the dispatcher tell me that the car next to me is now assigned to me, and then get in. Before mobile phones were widespread, it was very different - you could only call that kind of taxi if you were near a landline (or used a public call box, which added a fairly significant amount to the cost for shortish trips). Uber and other taxi apps are the next step in this. It's now more convenient to press a couple of buttons on the phone than to flag down a passing cab, but the taxi that you get is not regulated in the same way. Uber attempts to claim that their reputation system and pricing model means that they don't need government regulation.

[1] This has caused some confusion in previous discussions: In the UK, legally speaking, a vehicle that can pick up people who flag them down on the street is called a hackney carriage, any vehicle that carries people for money is a taxi. In common usage, taxi is used for all categories.

Comment Re:None of the people I know that Like this Show.. (Score 2) 330

I don't see that. Black face is intensely offensive. Big Bang Theory only insults people without a sense of humor who can't laugh at themselves

Blackface is offensive because it insults black people be reinforcing stereotypes that are not really true outside of prejudiced perception. The big bang theory, in contrast, insults geeks by reinforcing stereotypes that are not really true outside of a prejudiced perception. It's therefore completely different and not offensive.

Comment Re:What kind of dumbass company... (Score 1) 133

Really? Where on earth do you live? I'm not sure anyone in this country still offers two-year contracts. Most people are either on pre-pay or one month rolling contracts. 18 months is about the longest, and they're rarely much cheaper than the one-month version, so there's little incentive to sign up for them (especially given that you're likely to get a better deal in six months, so being locked in for 18 months doesn't make sense even if it is cheaper at the start).

Comment Re:lesson learned (Score 1) 136

I learned to always wait for the .1 some time ago. 10.4 had a really nasty bug where, if you used File Vault (home directories were encrypted disk images), everything went fine. You could continue using the system and there were no problems. Until after the first reboot (which is something that typically happens less than once a month). At which point, the OS would be unable to mount your home directory and would give you a new, empty, one. The encrypted disk image containing your home directory was completely unusable. It later transpired that 10.3 could still mount it, so if you had an old bootable image around you could restore the data, but it caused a lot of pain. Apparently no one on Apple's QA team was using File Vault...

Comment Re:Not just MS Office (Score 1) 136

and the user has no way to "jailbreak" their Mac to allow them anyway. (That's not entirely true, there is still a method to disable this new iOS-style lockdown, but it involves booting off El Capitan install media. Which Apple doesn't distribute.)

Bullshit. Boot into recovery mode (from the recovery partition that the installer creates by default) and disable System Integrity Protection, and it's gone.

Comment Re:Genuine Quality (Score 1) 136

I'm not sure about that. I have Keynote and PowerPoint installed (and OpenOffice and LibreOffice). For lectures, I still prefer Beamer (including syntax highlighted code snippets in anything else is painful), but Keynote has nothing like the SmartArt feature of PowerPoint, which makes drawing figures a lot easier. It also doesn't have as useful guides and makes it harder to produce useful templates. These days, I generally use PowerPoint for short presentations (though for some things I find the results of Sozi much more effective than anything else for a lot of things. It's still very new and unpolished though).

Comment Re:Repeat Business, every 2-3 years? (Score 1) 123

Old Apple customers aren't a drain on Apple's financials, even in between the times they're buying new shiny Apple products, but that's Apple.

The difference between Apple and Motorola is that Apple owns the app store that they ship on their devices, Motorola ships the Google one. If someone publishes an app that needs the latest OS, then Apple has an incentive to ensure that it runs on the widest possible set of devices so that they can take their 30% cut of the sale price. If Motorola ensures that the app can run on all of their devices, then all that they're doing is adding to Google's profits.

This is why Amazon and Samsung include their own app stores. Eventually Android manufacturers will realise that they're in a low-margin business where all of the profits go to Google.

Comment Re:That was then, this is now (Score 2) 123

Right. In the UK, the sale of goods act (which was strengthened last week and extended to cover downloads and a few other things) permits you to return a product as not suitable for the purpose for which sold. That means that not doing anything promised in the ads is grounds for a full refund. Just mentioning the relevant law on a call to their support line was enough for Apple to courier a new battery out to me (which arrived at 9am the next morning) for a 3.5-year-old (our of warranty) MacBook Pro, because it was only holding 20% of its rated maximum charge and the discharge counter was significantly below the 300 charge cycles that their support pages claimed.

If someone buys a phone based on the promise of long-term support, but doesn't receive it, then they are entitled to a full refund from the seller, who is then entitled to a full refund from the manufacturer (and less likely to keep selling phones from a manufacturer if they get too many returns). I'd slightly disagree with this claim though:

Which is why consumer protection legislation exists; so corporations have more responsibility than profit mongering.

Corporations are expected to continue profit mongering, the goal of consumer protection legislation is to align incentives so that failing to take responsibility hurts the profits more than taking responsibility. Having to issue individual refunds to every Moto E customer would cost a lot more than back-porting security fixes and pushing out updates. Especially when you include the accompanying news articles.

Comment Re:What kind of dumbass company... (Score 4, Interesting) 133

Mobile phone vendors make their money selling new phones. You want a new Android, get a new phone.

Sure, but the new phone I get will be from a vendor that I can trust to support it for its lifetime. I may upgrade my phone after 2-3 years, but I'll probably hand the old one off to someone else or use it as a spare. If the phone becomes useless after 1 year, then I'll factor that in when I calculate the value of the phone - if I can amortise the cost over 4 years rather than 2, then the cost of the phone is not as good.

Your contract will be up in 2 years

What kind of idiot signs a 2-year phone contract in 2015?

Comment Re:Natural effects of a maturing field? (Score 1) 348

So long as companies have an easy route to cheaper labor, I can't see how any union/professional association is going to make a difference. Unless laws give such groups teeth, whether that's through some sort of enforced collective bargaining process, or through certification requirements, all this IT union would do is stand outside the gates and watch replacement workers from India flowing in.

Mind you, the minute you do have a professional association, that does mean certifications, which means that a lot of self-taught workers (like myself) could be screwed pretty badly unless some sort of a grandfathering mechanism is put in place.

"You show me an American who can keep his mouth shut and I'll eat him." -- Newspaperman from Frank Capra's _Meet_John_Doe_