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Comment: Re:Place of Business. (Score 3, Insightful) 82

by tlambert (#47957359) Attached to: Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company?

If a US company listed in the US decided to screw its shareholders, it and the board can be held accountable in US courts.

LOL, when has that ever happened

It's happened many times; it's called "malfeasance" or "misconduct", and it's punishable as criminal fraud.

This is why corporate board members these days are all about "fiduciary responsibility", even if they have to club baby seals to death in the shallow waters where they are coated in oil from the Exxon Valdez.

Comment: Re:Comparable? Not really. (Score 2, Insightful) 82

by Animats (#47957187) Attached to: Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company?

When someone buys a share in Apple, they actually get an ownership share in Apple.

Apple, yes. Google or Facebook, no. Google and Facebook have two classes of stock. The class with all the voting rights is in both cases controlled by the founders. The publicly traded shares cannot outvote them, even if someone bought all of them.

Until recently, multiple classes of stock were prohibited for NYSE-listed companies, which tended to discourage doing this. (The classic exception was Ford, which has two classes of stock, the voting shares controlled by the Ford family. This predates that NYSE rule.)

This matters when the insiders make a big mistake and the stock starts going down. There's no way to kick them out.

Comment: Re:Was it really so bad? (Score 1) 269

by hey! (#47956707) Attached to: Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Healthcare.gov Rollout

Imagine if a state like Mississippi or Oklahoma had to get a system made? They'd hire a guy named Jom Bob from church to do it. They'd piss away the entire budget before they even found Jim Bob. They'd run it on index cards and toilet paper in type writers with no correction ink.

Well to be fair the deep-red state Kentucky had a very successful rollout of Obamacare (rebranded as "Kynect"), including it's own health insurance exchange AND medicaid expansion -- the whole Obamacare enchilada.

Under Obamacare, the federal insurance exchange was never intended to serve the entire country. In fact ideally nobody would have to use it, because states were supposed to set up their own exchanges that would better reflect the needs of their citizens than a federal one would. If you are forced to use the federal exhange, it's because politicians who run your state made that choice for you.

Of course some states have had their own exchange rollout disasters -- including blue states like Maryland and Oregon. If you're experienced with this kind of project you'd expect that. But others have had very successful rollouts, including a handful of red states like Kentucky.

Comment: Crash not computer-related (Score 5, Informative) 126

by Animats (#47955905) Attached to: Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

The Red Line crash was not computer-related. The signalling system for the Washington Metro is a classic electromechanical relay-based system. Just like the New York subways. The Red Line crash was caused by a failure of a track circuit for detecting trains, trackside equipment using an audio-frequency signal sent through the rails and shorted to the other rail by the train's wheels. All those components are pre-computer technology.

As with most railway systems, manual driving isn't enough to prevent collisions, because stopping distances are often longer than visual distances. That was the case here.

The Washington Metro had been sloppy about maintenance of trackside equipment. They do have a central computer system, and it logs what the relay-based signal systems are doing, although it can't override them. They had logs of previous failures, and should have fixed the problem.

Comment: Re:White House (Score 2) 119

by Animats (#47955101) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

the US Government use UCAVs to keep the airspace around DC clear.

Actually, the current response to airspace incursions in the DC area is an F-16 and a Coast Guard helicopter. The F-16 is in case it turns out to be hostile, and the Coast Guard helicopter is for the usual case, which is a clueless VFR pilot who needs directions. This happens several times a week. The FAA now insists that all pilots operating within 60 miles of DC (actually 60NM of the DCA VOR) take this online course. Amazingly, there are still clueless pilots wandering into this airspace, although fewer than a few years ago.

Comment: This is why you outsource manufacturing. (Score 1) 324

by tlambert (#47955059) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

This is why you outsource manufacturing.

Outsource to a big company like Foxconn or Solectron that has already invested in all the expensive equipment and processes (in both cases, some of it actually paid for by Apple), and have them do your manufacturing for you.

The incremental cost ends up pretty tiny, relative to COGS, and you get a better finished product at only a fractionally higher cost than if you were stupid enough to do your own manufacturing. The argument in the article only holds up if you are stupidly building the widgets yourself.

Comment: "How do you explain..." (Score 1) 324

by tlambert (#47955035) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

"How do you explain..."

I don't really follow Microsoft acquisitions enough to speculate on their reasoning, but the Facebook reasoning was pretty obviously that the WhatsApp company cost (predominantly non-US) telephone companies $19B in per-SMS charged revenue over a period of 2 years, and it therefore gave Facebook some incredible leverage with those phone companies to make the purchase in such a way that a small group of phone companies couldn't drive WhatsApp out of business by increasing data costs to compensate (which would hurt Facebook.

Comment: Some info seems bogus (Score 1) 324

by Animats (#47954977) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

Some of that info seems bogus. 10,000 CNC mills? Unlikely. 10,000 CNC machines of all types across all of Apple manufacturing, maybe.

There's a nice video about how Apple machines a round can for their round desktop computer. They're going through a lot of steps to make a can, yet they're doing it in a low-volume way. Here's how soft drink cans are made. Same shape, but much higher production volume.

Apple is doing this to justify charging $2700 for an x86-64 machine with midrange specs.

Comment: Re:Google's storage (Score 4, Interesting) 324

by Animats (#47954875) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

There are amusing efforts to sell disk drives to Google. Near Google HQ there is a movie theater complex. I once saw an ad run before a movie. Two minutes of sales pitch for bulk purchases of enterprise hard drives, with lots of technical detail. Clearly this was addressed to a very specific audience.

Comment: Given the relative percentages... (Score 1) 437

by tlambert (#47947675) Attached to: Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem

Given the relative percentages... it's likely that the "harassment escalating to assault" numbers for the men is underreported by a factor of 2.5, which would be about on a par with the underreporting of men being raped in the general population. There's a real cultural stigma to reporting by men, who are, by stereotype and therefore societal norms, "supposed to be" on the other end of the power equation.

Comment: They've already screwed the pooch. (Score 2, Informative) 242

by tlambert (#47947609) Attached to: TrueCrypt Gets a New Life, New Name

They've already screwed the pooch.

They've published the source archive under the original TrueCrypt license. As a result, unless there's a legal entity (person or company) to which all contributors make an assignment of rights, or they keep the commit rights down to a "select group" that has agreed already to relicense the code, they will not be able to later release the code under an alternate license, since all contributions will be derivative works and subject to the TrueCrypt license (as the TrueCrypt license still in the source tree makes clear).

The way you do these things is: sanitize, relicense, THEN announce. Anyone who wants to contribute as a result of the announcement can't, without addressing the relicensing issue without having already picked a new license.

Comment: Re:"Affluent and accomplished" not the criterion (Score 4, Interesting) 175

by Animats (#47947465) Attached to: Netropolitan Is a Facebook For the Affluent, and It's Only $9000 To Join

Frankly speaking, I'm mostly surprised that this doesn't already exist.

It does. There's a Craiglist-type feature on Bloomberg trading info terminals. Yachts, rentals in the Hamptons, that sort of thing. You can message other people via the Bloomberg system if you see something you like.

There's a paid social network for rich conservatives. This is independent, not a Bloomberg thing. It's only $5/month, which is apparently enough to keep the noise level down.

There's a persistent rumor that there are special news sources for rich people. There are, but they're very narrow. There are lots of newsletters you can buy for $50 to $1000 a month that provide detailed coverage of obscure business subjects. If you really need to know what's going on with bulk carrier leasing, oil drilling equipment activity, or wafer fab capacity shortages, there's a newsletter for that. Offshore Alert, which covers offshore scams, is one of the more readable ones, and you can see the first few lines of each story for free. There are expensive newsletters devoted to security and terrorism, which give the illusion of inside information, but they tend to be marketing tools aimed at rich paranoids.

If you want to know what's going on in the world, read The Economist. After you've been reading it for a year, you'll have a good understanding of how the world works.

ASHes to ASHes, DOS to DOS.

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