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Comment: Re: So? (Score 1, Insightful) 62

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46837773) Attached to: Panel Says U.S. Not Ready For Inevitable Arctic Oil Spill

Canadian here. Keep your donation.

Unpleasantly enough, gathering crude oil from floating slicks and contaminated beaches might actually be less destructive than extracting it from tar sands... Luckily, with the Harper Regime's war on science going better than most wars on abstract concepts, we should be spared the knowledge of whether or not that's true.

Comment: Re:One simple reason for this (Score 1) 327

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46833063) Attached to: iPad Fever Is Officially Cooling
That certainly seems logical for music and movies and the like; but it seems like Apple is playing close to the limits with software: you want your complements to be cheap, if you have any say over the matter; but you don't really want them to feel cheap; because they are still a part of using your product.

The distinctly flea-market atmosphere of the app store leaves a bit of a smell on the overall quality of using iOS. Arguably, the same issue is becoming apparent on the hardware side for Microsoft and Intel. MS didn't design and release the 'Surface' just because they though that their OEMs were doing a wonderful job in selling their OS in the tablet market, and Intel basically started their whole 'Ultrabook' thing as a "Damn it guys, why can't you release a competent macbook air?" shove to the PC market.

To the degree that they can do so without changing the feel, Apple is better off with cheaper complements (particularly for things like music and movies that are already made and released for other platforms and it's mostly a fight over the third party's margins on ITMS, not the overall production values); but you can only push your complements so far before they start to suck more.

Comment: Re:One simple reason for this (Score 4, Insightful) 327

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46832775) Attached to: iPad Fever Is Officially Cooling
Oh, I have no interest in defending Apple's status as good value for money(sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't, if your desires don't match their preferred configurations, they are very unlikely to be). Aside from that being a tedious argument (and my being one of the people who Apple isn't interested in serving), it's orthogonal to my intended observation:

In the PC hardware market, and now in the 'app store', it is very easy to buy less product than you actually need/want, especially if you don't have a clear idea of what that is, or you want something that happens to be early on the chopping block when it's cost-cutting time. This makes people who aren't clear on what they want, or who suffer from excessive time discounting and fall for low introductory pricing (see also, 'No money down!' and 'free with 2 year contract!'), unhappy. If it gets especially severe, even people who are clear on what they want can suffer, because the features they want suffer a vicious cycle of reduced marketshare, increased prices because of lower economies of scale, and further reduced marketshare (seen many 16:10 monitors recently?).

It's interesting to see this happen in Apple's precious little 'App Store', since they have very tight control over its terms(they could, say, have refused to add in-app purchases) and only jailbroken devices and developers can even execute software they don't approve, so there are no commercially relevant 3rd party channels. Even in the face of substantial pressure, they've always been aggressively against it in hardware, and yet they sit and watch it happen under their very noses in their own walled garden on the software side.

It's also somewhat interesting in comparison with their handling of books, music, and video. Set up an illegal cartel with all major book publishers in order to fix a higher sale price; but voluntarily set the minimum price for software at free or 99 cents, rather than higher? It's a curious difference.

Comment: Re:Game theory in action (Score 1) 96

My impression (given that they also dedicate a certain amount of time and trouble to hunting bot-herders and assorted similar types) is that Microsoft takes an interest in things that facilitate malware distribution, since their customers often take the hit (not necessarily because of an MS zero day; lots of systems running well behind on patches and users clicking on trojans and merrily executing them, along with anything Adobe or Java related).

An issue that causes lots of accounts to be compromised on various popular social networking and email type sites? That will mean tons of particularly convincing malware links getting sent out to people's entire contact lists.

Comment: Re:Ah industry initiatives. (Score 1) 96

It's conceivable that it's just a fit of temper (team OpenBSD certainly did not sound happy about what team OpenSSL had been up to); but it's also quite likely that they are doing it this way because they want it to happen. You can contribute something; but if the maintainers don't accept it, it just sits there. If you and the maintainers disagree on some important points, or they have a strong NIH attitude, this condition may continue indefinitely. If you fork, it's your problem now; but you do get to accept your own preferred solution.

Comment: Re:Short sighted hindsight (Score 2) 96

Most likely because their motivation is the (belated; but logical) recognition that it's cheaper to support OSS projects that you use than it is to bear the risk of having them fail or maintain a full in-house fork all by yourself. It's not really a fund dedicated to 'more and better OSS generally'; but an attempt to share (to some degree) the cost of improving and maintaining the stuff that they already use or already depend on in some way.

Comment: Re:One simple reason for this (Score 3, Insightful) 327

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46832091) Attached to: iPad Fever Is Officially Cooling

Apps are becoming progressively worse, not better, over time. In the early days there were a lot of cool apps written by people who just wanted to write cool apps for a cool new tool.

Now with the preverse incentives of the app market, the app store is saturated by apps trying to squeeze a maximum amount of money for a dwindling amount of useful application.

Ironically, that's basically the same squeeze that Apple has traditionally profited by avoiding in the hardware market:

The customers says "I want a cheap computer!".

Apple says "No, you want a low price tag; but the computer you want actually costs $1000, no less."

HP/Dell/Acer/etc. says "We got the price down to $300! 1366x768 is 'HD', right, even on a 15 inch screen?"

In a great many cases, Apple has been correct: users shop for price; but getting the price they want also involves getting a product that dissatisfies them, often in a series of unpleasant surprises over time. They do give up serving some customers by refusing to hit lower price points(oh, you wanted to get an i3 rather than an i5 or i7 and spend the savings on a better GPU? That's too bad.); but they force their customers to buy what they suspect is the product they actually want, rather than the price they actually want.

In the app store, of course, you have the same knife-fight-in-a-telephone-booth margins, and this has led to exactly the same gnawing, incremental, suck. Sure, everything is Free! or Only 99 cents!; but the amount of sheer crap and apps that spring a series of disappointments and annoyances and nickle-and-dime attempts on you is really grating.

As with hardware, this ultimately makes people less happy. The demands of 'app' pricing are such that it's very hard to actually move units if you just let the user pay once, upfront, and then live happily ever after; but a dollar worth of software isn't going to be pretty unless it either sells a zillion units(since copying is more or less free, though support isn't), or it actually has a hidden higher price tag, which is a dirty and unpleasant game even if you would have been willing to just pay that much upfront.

It would be interesting to know how the story went inside Apple HQ as they added things like in-app purchases, set minimum prices/price increments/etc. for the store, and so on. Did they fail to foresee the problem? Saw it coming but figured that so long as their platform and hardware remained nicer it wouldn't hurt them since it would happen to the competition as well? Felt forced into it? (if so, by Android? by online/partially online stuff that got money out of users on the desktop/browser side and offered free mobile clients? by concern over some other potential competitor?)

Comment: Re:I kinda like it (Score 1) 124

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46831707) Attached to: Band Releases Album As Linux Kernel Module
I'd argue that cassette deserved to die; but for the same reason that it previously deserved to live:

Cassette tape was always the shitty compromise format; but that meant that it had to have compensating virtues: vastly more compact and cheap than reel-to-reel, substantially more compact and portable than vinyl(and a lot more writable, on nearly anything capable of playing it, notably unlike vinyl or even CDs until burners became cheap substantially later); and cheaper, more widely available, and better adopted than any of the minidisc flavors. The fidelity was pretty dreadful, rewinding was a nuisance, and unwinding damaged tape trapped inside the playback mechanism was worse; but if you wanted something writable and portable, there wasn't too much else to be had.

Now, of course, We Have The Technology, and you can get all of tape's virtues with none of its vices(a $10 mystery-brand "MP4 Player" with an eccentric and poorly localized interface will probably treat you better...), so I have no idea whatsoever why anybody would touch one, except to get something on it into a saner format before it rots; definitely not a medium that inspires nostalgia; but 'cheap, convenient, awful' is exactly the sort of technology that keeps the world running, and tape once was that. Now it's not.

Comment: Re:GPL? (Score 1) 124

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#46831581) Attached to: Band Releases Album As Linux Kernel Module

The GPL only applies to distribution. AFAIK you can install any software of any license of your liking in your computer.

Kernel tainting isn't a legal thing, it's one of the kernel sysctls(the 'tainted' section). One of the ways to cause nonzero taint is with a non-GPL kernel module; but various other categories of "If you are doing one of these things, we don't want to hear your damn bug report because it is likely to be hopeless and/or not our problem" also have taint codes.

You are still free to do things that taint the kernel; but if something has a taint code, there is a strong suggestion of 'not recommended, on your own head be it'.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun