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Comment: Re:Ageing can be seen as a treatable disease. (Score 1) 368

by tlambert (#47967325) Attached to: Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

Global warming was caused by a simple thing: too damned many people consuming energy on this rock, and it gets worse every year.

I thought the cause was our unwillingness to reengineer the orbit of Earth to be a teensy bit further out. IT's not like we aren't going to have to do that anyway, as soon as the solar expansion phase starts in a bit...

Comment: Probably not (Score 2) 72

by IamTheRealMike (#47962953) Attached to: Researchers Propose a Revocable Identity-Based Encryption Scheme

whether (in light of what's known) default strong encryption for everything is something users should just get whether they like it or not.

There are many unsolved problems for making strong end to end secured communications work. Key management is only one. A bigger and even more complicated problem is that people derive significant benefits from sharing their message contents with big, powerful third parties, for example spam filtering, importance filtering, ability to search 10 years of email from a cheap battery powered device, ability to receive messages when all personal devices are offline, ability to reset passwords if they are forgotten and so on.

To make truly end to end communication ubiquitous you would have to find a way to recreate all these features in the purely decentralised end to end context. Otherwise "giving" e2e crypto to people "whether they like it or not" is a quick way to find an angry mob with pitchforks outside your house. A lot of people care a lot more about those features than (somewhat theoretical) privacy against the NSA.

Comment: Re:Comparable? Not really. (Score 1) 111

by tlambert (#47961799) Attached to: Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company?

Yeah, there's long term downside risk to the stock as a straight financial instrument (along with significant historical upside), but you know what? I don't really feel the need to destroy things just because that's they path to my highest ROI over time.

Which leads the question, how do we force management to stop aiming at short-term decisions that destroy companies/greater profits over the longer period?

My personal suggestion? Keep investors away from decisions impacting the day to day operations of the company. One good way of accomplishing this is having two classes of stock, voting and non-voting, and keeping the voting stock in the hands of people who care about the long term interests of the company. :)

Comment: The problem is the Windows 98 SP2 effect. (Score 2) 484

by tlambert (#47960487) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?

Apple devices "degrade" with OS updates in the same way that Windows updates do on PCs, gradually. But even after an Apple starts no being upgradeable to the latest OS release, it stays useful for years to come. My mother is still using my hand-me-down 2002 desk-lamp iMac, which has the old PowerPC processor.

The problem is the Windows 98 SP2 effect.

The last service pack supporting Windows 98 turned it from a usable system into utter buggy crashing heap of crap, at coincidentally the same time they started trying to sell you Windows XP.

Note that generally I don't think this is an intention destruction of usability on the part of Microsoft (or Apple), I just think that all their testing takes place on newer hardware, better than what the user is actually using, and so the usability test engineers just never see how terrible it's going to be on (nominally) supported older devices.

Comment: Re:Comparable? Not really. (Score 1) 111

by tlambert (#47958755) 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.

It also matters when someone has built something of value, and then becomes publicly traded, since it keeps the financial vampires from descending on the company and sucking the blood out of it, leaving a husk which dies in 6 months. That's what's currently going on with the OliveGarden proxy fight, where a funds group has acquired a large position in the company, and now wants to spin off the real estate holdings to a separate company (taking about $1B in the $2.5B value portfolio as a one time dividend, and putting in their own sock puppets on the board to short-term pump the stock by changing employee mix, etc.).

The problem with Google and Facebook maintaining one class of stock is ISOs/RSUs. Stock given as incentives to employees, after the vesting period, can be sold on the open market, and if that stock position becomes larger than the founders, then the people who made the decisions that created the large value in the first place are no longer in control, and Gordon Gecko (or Carl Icahn) can come in and do what's best short term for the shareholders, rather than what's best long term for the shareholders, company, employees, and customers.

Who do I trust more to make the best decisions not totally motivated by short term profit, Carl Icahn, or Larry, Sergey, and Eric?

Yeah, there's long term downside risk to the stock as a straight financial instrument (along with significant historical upside), but you know what? I don't really feel the need to destroy things just because that's they path to my highest ROI over time.

For better or worse, I'd rather have the founders, not Wall Street, making the decisions that guide the future of the thing they built.

Comment: Re:Place of Business. (Score 4, Insightful) 111

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: This is why you outsource manufacturing. (Score 1) 387

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) 387

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: Re:The over-65's swung it for No (Score 2) 471

by IamTheRealMike (#47948465) Attached to: Scotland Votes No To Independence

Ouch. I've seen quite a few family breakup analogies, but this is the first time I saw Scotland be the child instead of the spouse.

If we're going analogise a country to a person, actually I'd say it's pretty natural to seek out unions even though they involve giving up some independence. That's why people get married. That's why the EU keeps growing. Even the most perfect couples don't always agree all the time, but they find ways to figure it out because it's better together than apart. Divorces are universally considered a tragedy in our culture exactly because we recognise that unions bring strength: when one partner stumbles, the other is there to help.

Salmond's behaviour with Scotland has been like going to a wife in a working marriage where decisions are taken together and telling her constantly, repeatedly, that she's too good for the man she's with. That her husband treats her unfairly. That she's oppressed by him. That everything wrong in her life is her husbands fault. She didn't get the promotion she wanted? Husband's fault. She doesn't get enough attention? Husband's fault. She can't afford the clothes she wants? Husband's fault. He's just so unfair. How could she not be better off without him? She's strong and pure and good and she needs to break up with this loser.

Oh, the husband objects? He doesn't want a divorce? That's just bullying. He's promising to give her more say? It's just lies. He's asking how she'll pay the rent without him? Scaremongering. Of course you can pay the rent. Sure you may not earn enough to pay all the bills each month and you've both been relying on the credit card, but selling off the family silver will take care of that.

I could go on but you get the idea. The ultimate legacy of Salmond's failed campaign is that a significant chunk of the Scottish population has bought into the idea that they're somehow superior or morally better than the emotionally deformed English, whereas such feelings were not previously widespread. This is a toxic legacy that could take generations to resolve. It will certainly not make anything easier in future.

Comment: Given the relative percentages... (Score 1) 456

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) 260

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.

"I'm a mean green mother from outer space" -- Audrey II, The Little Shop of Horrors