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Comment: Re:Edge routers are expensive (Score 1) 84

by dgatwood (#47924071) Attached to: Why Is It Taking So Long To Secure Internet Routing?

I keep thinking that if an ISP really wanted to cut costs, they could proactively monitor their network for problems:

  • Provide the CPE preconfigured, at no additional cost to the customer. (Build the hardware cost into the price of service.)
  • Ensure that the CPE keeps a persistent capacitor-backed log across reboots. If the reboot was caused by anything other than the customer yanking the cord out of the wall or a power outage, send that failure info upstream. Upon multiple failures in less than a few weeks, assume that the customer's CPE is failing, and call the customer with a robocall to tell them that you're mailing them new CPE to improve the quality of their service.
  • Detect frequent disconnects and reconnects, monitor the line for high error rates, etc. and when you see this happening, treat it the same way you treat a CPE failure.
  • If the new hardware behaves the same way, silently schedule a truck roll to fix the lines.

If done correctly (and if clearly advertised by the ISP so that users would know that they didn't need to call to report any outages), it would eliminate the need for all customer service except for billing, and a decent online billing system could significantly reduce the need for that as well.

Comment: Re:Article shows fundamental lack of understanding (Score 2) 180

by dgatwood (#47921615) Attached to: Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

They won't see people switching to Swift uniformly. There are trillions of lines of code written in Objective-C, and programmers already know it and are comfortable with it. There are no tools for migrating code from Objective-C to Swift, much less the hodgepodge of mixed C, Objective-C, and sometimes C++ that quite frequently occurs in real-world apps, so for the foreseeable future, you'd end up just adding Swift to your existing apps, which means you now have three or four languages mixed in one app instead of two or three, and now one of them looks completely different than the others. I just don't see very many developers seriously considering adopting Swift without a robust translator tool in place.

I do, however, expect to see Swift become the language of choice for new programmers who are coming from scripting languages like Python and Ruby, because it is more like what they're used to. In the long term, they'll outnumber the Objective-C developers, but the big, expensive apps will still mostly be written in Objective-C, simply because most of them will be new versions of apps that already exist.

BTW, Apple never really treated Java like a first-class citizen; it was always a half-hearted bolt-on language. My gut says that they added Java support under the belief that more developers knew Java than Objective-C, so it would attract developers to the platform faster. In practice, however, almost nobody ever really adopted it, so it withered on the vine. Since then, they have shipped and subsequently dropped bridges for both Ruby and Python.

Any implication that Swift will supplant Objective-C like Objective-C supplanted Java requires revisionist history. Objective-C supplanted C, not Java. Java was never even in the running. And Objective-C still hasn't supplanted C. You'll still find tons of application code for OS X written in C even after nearly a decade and a half of Apple encouraging developers to move away from C and towards Objective-C. (Mind you, most of the UI code is in Objective-C at this point.) And that's when moving to a language that's close enough to C that you don't have to retrain all your programmers.

Compared with the C to Objective-C transition, any transition from Objective-C to Swift is likely to occur at a speed that can only be described as glacial. IMO, unless Apple miraculously makes the translation process nearly painless, they'll be lucky to be able to get rid of Objective C significantly before the dawn of the next century. I just don't see it happening, for precisely the same reason that nine years after Rails, there are still a couple orders of magnitude more websites built with PHP. If a language doesn't cause insane amounts of pain (e.g. Perl), people are reluctant to leave it and rewrite everything in another language just to obtain a marginal improvement in programmer comfort.

Comment: Re: Apple not in my best interests either (Score 1) 180

by dgatwood (#47919715) Attached to: Why Apple Should Open-Source Swift -- But Won't

No, they're saying Apple switched because GCC's core wasn't designed in a way that made it easy to extend the Objective-C bits in the way that Apple wanted. And that could well be part of it—I'm not sure.

But I think a bigger reason was that Apple could use Clang to make Xcode better, whereas GCC's parsing libraries were A. pretty tightly coupled to GCC (making it technically difficult to reuse them) and B. licensed under a license that made linking them into non-open-source software problematic at best.

Comment: Re:Will continue to be developed for other platfor (Score 2) 326

by dgatwood (#47911603) Attached to: Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Maker Mojang For $2.5 Billion

And you know what Mojang's opinion means at this point? Absolutely NOTHING. They can't tell their new owner to honor their intended promises, even if it were written into the deal. All they have to do is replace the boss with someone willing to change the company on Microsoft's behalf and POOF! It's happened with every other developer that's been bought out thus far that came out and said they were told/promised nothing would be changing.

Depends on how good their lawyers are. If they write into the contract a term that says that all rights revert to the original authors if the new owner violates such a term, then yes, they can force the new owners to honor those promises.

Comment: Re: +-2000 deaths? (Score 3, Interesting) 119

by dgatwood (#47899259) Attached to: US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola

Ebola may not be easy to transmit, but it sure as heck isn't hard to transmit. It's not pedantically known to be airborne, but it is believed to be spread by droplets (e.g. sneezes). There's a very, very, very fine line between the two.

And yes, I can provide citations if you'd like, but it's not like they're very hard to find with a Google search.

Comment: Re:CDC guilty of correlation == causation (Score 1) 291

by dgatwood (#47893635) Attached to: Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

The leg pains have nothing to do with exercise or DVTs. Statins are known to cause severe muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis) if too much of it stays in your system for too long a period of time. The pharmaceutical companies say that this side effect is relatively rare, but even if the claimed half a percent is correct, that still adds up to a lot of people when you're talking about a medicine that's as overprescribed as statins are.

Comment: Re:The war that no one wanted (Score 1) 471

by dgatwood (#47875075) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

And although the drop happened more slowly, the iPad line, originally starting at $499, now starts at $299 in a smaller form factor, or $399 in a full-size version. One reason its price wasn't inflated much at launch is that it was relatively mature technology when first released—other than software differences, it's basically an iPod Touch or iPhone with a larger screen, and as we all know, making things bigger is a lot easier than making them smaller. :-)

Comment: Re:The war that no one wanted (Score 1) 471

by dgatwood (#47874967) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

I don't think Apple generally reduces prices. Usually they keep the price and margin steady but improve the hardware.

Let's see.

  • The iPod started at $400. Within a year or so, the price had dropped to $300. Four years later, you could get one for $200, and $150 just a year after that.
  • The original iPhone started at $500 and $600 (subsidized price). Within a couple of months, they killed the $500 version and lowered the $600 version to $400. One year later, they released the iPhone 3G that started at $200 (for the same capacity as the original $600 version). And of course, you can now get much better iPhone hardware for free.

So then there may be hope for this product, because somewhere out there is a richer/foolhardier version of yourself who thinks of $350 just like you think of $100.

Doubtful. I'm in the Silicon Valley, where we already think of $350 like an average person thinks of $100. It's hard for most people to justify spending more for an accessory than they spent on the phone they're using it with. :-)

Like I said, I'll probably buy one after the inevitable price drop.

Comment: Re:The war that no one wanted (Score 2) 471

by dgatwood (#47874127) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

If price is the only hurdle, then Apple will be fine. Your line of $100 is someone else's line at $350.

Not necessarily. I drew my line at $100, too, and I've spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 on a watch before. Based on Apple's product history, there are likely to be several major differences between this and a nice watch that diminish its value from my perspective:

  • Most people who can afford a nice watch already own one. So to justify its cost, it would need to be worth as much as its purchase price plus the cost of the nice watch you'll no longer be using. For me, with an atomic-clock-synchronized watch, that's a hard problem to overcome.
  • Nice watches that cost $300 typically have warranties that start at five years, because people wear them for decades. This will probably have a one-year warranty.
  • Nice watches will be usable for decades. You can expect this one to become unsupported in the first OS after its third birthday. At that point, its usefulness will begin to diminish rapidly, as the unpatched security holes and lack of new app support turn it into an anachronism.
  • Nice watches are timeless in their design. Their design changes at a speed that can only be described as glacial by tech standards. I'd expect this watch, by contrast, to be supplanted by a thinner version within about a year.
  • Nice watches don't have to be charged every night, or even every couple of days. This watch would mean one more device-specific charge cable to carry with me on every trip, one more poorly made cable to break where the wire goes into the plug on either end, one more power outlet that I have to find in a hotel that tries to hide them from you, one more outlet adapter if I'm in Europe, one more thing to remember to pick up when I leave.... Every extra rechargeable device adds a lot of hassle.

This is how I arrived at a hundred bucks—maybe $125 if it had a camera and reliably ran for at least two or three weeks on a single charge. Mind you, this is all speculation about a product that doesn't exist yet, so there's a small chance that Apple will prove me wrong on many of these points.

Of course, what most folks here are missing is that this is a first-generation product. Apple builds those mostly as a proof of concept. Not many people buy them, but the products get them real-world testing, and they get a year or so to find ways to cut manufacturing costs. Then, they release a second-generation product at a third the price, and pull in several times the volume. For me, it will start to be interesting at that point.

But I'm not sure I'd bother wearing it after the first few days even if it was given to me. That is a bigger problem than "too expensive".

As one of the few people on Slashdot who still wears a watch, I'd definitely use one, but I can't see myself buying the first generation—particularly given that you just know they're working on a second-generation version with a camera, and if they release such a product, the resale value on the first-generation version will drop to almost nothing.

"Most of us, when all is said and done, like what we like and make up reasons for it afterwards." -- Soren F. Petersen

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