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Comment: Re:Will continue to be developed for other platfor (Score 2) 286

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) 290

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.

Comment: Re:Any removable storage yet? (Score 1) 729

by dgatwood (#47866857) Attached to: Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

And no, at least in my book, removable storage is just a "nice to have". It makes archiving a little easier, assuming it is robust, but otherwise it makes little difference. With that said, I'm not actively engaged in ENG/EFP work. If I were, I might find it more important than I do now.

Comment: Re:Any removable storage yet? (Score 1) 729

by dgatwood (#47866833) Attached to: Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

I'm just guessing, of course, but I strongly suspect you have never sold a picture or video, so why do you think your judgement on what makes a toy is remotely valid? When you make your first photo sale to NatGeo or feature film you let us know.

Speaking as someone who spent many years shooting video and selling it, I agree with the GP's assessment. The lack of an optical zoom makes cell phones good enough for selfies and pictures of cats—arguably, maybe even for basic portraiture—but completely useless for a wide range of videography and photography purposes:

  • You can't use them to usefully shoot a concert, stage play, dance recital, or any of the things that clued-in folks still use camcorders for, because all you'll see is a tiny white smudge where your kid should be. And if you walk out on stage to get close enough, they'll eject you from the theater.
  • And you can't shoot photos of birds in flight, or go whale watching with them, or do pretty much any other kind of nature photography unless you get spectacularly lucky.
  • You can't realistically do news gathering with them unless you have a mob of a thousand people who can all be in different places just in case the interesting action happens to occur near those spots.

So essentially, the fact that most people don't use camcorders anymore doesn't mean that phones have gotten good enough, but rather that most camcorder users never took the time to learn how to use their gear in the first place, and thus don't know the difference. For anyone who took the time to learn how to zoom, cell phones really are toys by comparison.

That's not to say that people don't get lucky and take some amazingly cool photos with phones on occasion, and that's not to say that you can't create an artificial shooting environment where a cell phone would be a usable tool, but in the real world, you'll still be missing 90% or more of the great shots because you're too limited by the hardware.

When cell phones become at least a usable approximation of a 24–105mm lens on a DSLR (without being a low-res, digitally zoomed mess), they'll graduate from toys to tools in my book. Until then, it's worth the extra weight of my 6D and my bag of L glass if I know I'm going to be taking pictures, and it's worth the weight of my XH-A1 and a video tripod if I'm shooting video.

Comment: Re:CC system is flawed (Score 1) 111

by dgatwood (#47864463) Attached to: Home Depot Confirms Breach of Its Payment Systems

No, it really isn't easier than that. If an attacker is in control of the device that controls the screen, they can make it show you anything that they want, including showing the right text for the transaction you're actually making. Then, when you enter the PIN, they can perform your transaction, and repeat the process for a second one using the PIN data that they already captured. If a device vendor manages to somehow make it physically impossible to perform two transactions without entering the PIN twice, they could display something that looks like a legitimate error message (e.g. a communication error), causing the user to enter the PIN twice. Either way, you've gained nothing.

For that matter, they could show you your actual purchase, but really perform a transaction for airline tickets to Barbados, then not perform your actual purchase, but tell the register that they did. Then, to make the balance sheets look right from the store's perspective, they could add ten cents to the next few dozen transactions to cover the cost of your actual purchase. The error would only be caught on the store side through a thorough audit, and because the stolen card would not have a transaction for the store, there would be nothing suspicious about the transactions to draw the CC companies' attention towards that store, because after all, no consumer is likely to notice a missing transaction.

Securing the transaction between the consumer and the bank is hard, because the merchant's systems are inherently untrusted. The second that display screen ceases to be absolutely trusted, you've lost the security battle.

You can bring any calculator you like to the midterm, as long as it doesn't dim the lights when you turn it on. -- Hepler, Systems Design 182