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Comment: Licensing, mostly (Score 2) 56

by swillden (#49632065) Attached to: Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded?

It was because Linux more or less worked, and people could use it and add to it because of the GPL. The competitors all had problems:

* Minix was cheap but not free, and couldn't be redistributed with modifications. People worked around that by maintaining patch sets, but that was even more painful then than it is now (we have better tools now).
* The BSDs were in a quagmire of legal uncertainty and competing claims. Nobody knew for sure if BSD was free or not, so everyone assumed it wasn't.
* Xenix: Not free.
* Microsoft: Are you kidding me?
* SYSV: Not free
* HURD: Didn't work, and had such an elegant architecture that it wasn't clear if it could ever work.

That was the space when Linus Torvalds started hacking around (except HURD didn't even exist yet). If he'd been able to hack on Minix, he would have. But the license prevented it, so he took the opportunity to start his own. Lots of other people saw exactly the same situation and joined him in hacking on something that (a) worked, more or less and (b) they could hack on.

It's not that Linux lucked out and the rest of the competition failed. There was no other competition that satisfied the requirements of being free and hackable. It was also important that Linus was an excellent Benevolent Dictator that gave people few reasons to fork. Actually, on that last point it's rather impressive that Linus is still in charge, even after it's become an incredibly valuable property, used and contributed to by lots of megacorps.

Comment: Re:nonsense (Score 1) 340

by jfengel (#49630551) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery

Americans really do seem to see themselves as "temporarily embarrassed millionaires". Everybody wants to defend their right to access things for money, even if practically nobody actually has that money, because they will some day soon. They're willing to do anything to preserve their rights once they get rich, including things that will actually cost them a lot of money right now.

I honestly don't know if a single payer plan would be best for America. But the majority of the arguments I hear against it are laughable. The country got to be rich and powerful by innovation and thought, but it seems simultaneously dominated by superstitious thinking.

Comment: Re: nonsense (Score 4, Insightful) 340

by Rei (#49630453) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery

Really? We in countries with single payer are clamouring for a system more like America's? That's fresh. America's healthcare system is a boogieman concept here, the sort of thing that one scares voters with - "my opponent's policies will make out healthcare system end up like America's!" Even conservative Americaphiles are usually scared of it.

Comment: Re:Not forced... (Score 1) 211

by jmauro (#49628375) Attached to: Uber Forced Out of Kansas

It would require them to say that the drivers are employees and not independent contractors to self-insure. Once they say the drivers are employees in Kansas could then be used in all the other jurisdictions in the US that are pressing the issue.

Making them employees would shift the risk from the drivers onto Uber, which would be catastrophic to Uber's business model.

They could also form an insurance arm and sell insurance, but they couldn't force their drivers to buy it (since they are independent contractors) and it would open them up to a whole host of other regulatory issues.

Comment: Re:Is this Google's fault? Yes. (Score 2) 352

by swillden (#49628363) Attached to: Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer

They can prioritize all they want, but no one wants to pay for the carrier certification of thee modified SDRs, particularly when using a T-Zone on a Snapdragon chip in order to run the baseband, and the FCC demands that the SDR be certified as a unit (software + hardware). That's a carrier certifiiation per carrier, per country, per device, per version update.

Heh. That isn't the problem. Unfortunately, I can't explain in more detail, because my conversations with carriers are confidential.

Also no carrier using a contract lock-in revenue model is going to provide an update that doesn't lock you into a new contract

Also not the problem, and I also can't explain. I'll just point out that the carriers have so successfully branded Android as their own that many consumers see the failure to upgrade as the carriers' fault. The carriers aren't blind to this, or what it costs them.

You should also be aware that the image that's shipped by the OEM is often not even buildable by Google engineers

Why yes, Terry, as a Google Android engineer I'm quite aware of this :-)

Except you should replace "often" with "never". Or at least "almost never". There may be some exceptions, though I've never heard of one.

apart from the fact that the devices used during development are generally signature neutered

A bigger issue is that the devices used during development are Nexus devices, not OEM devices. We never see those, either the hardware details, or the code that OEMs build after all of their customization.

Seriously, one of the smartest things that Apple did was keep the baseband processor separate from the application processor so that there was no telecom recertification required, unless they were explicitly hacking the baseband for some reason

That does make a lot of sense, but I don't think it's actually relevant to the problem. The carriers validate a lot more than just telecom functionality on devices that carry their brand.

Comment: Re:My experience (Score 1) 352

by swillden (#49628225) Attached to: Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer

So, is mute still under power button? Cause it does not make sense to move airplane mode from there and leave mute, data network mode and the rest there. Airplane mode is a mute for the radio.

No, mute was moved to the volume button, and enhanced to allow silencing of all but alarms (which is what mute always did) or complete silencing. I think it makes sense to put muting of audio on the audio volume control.

Comment: Re:Is this Google's fault? (Score 1) 352

by swillden (#49628209) Attached to: Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer

Didn't older Nexus devices get releases at the same time we heard about them? My Nexus 6 and 7 did not. That took months. Hell, I bought these two Nexus devices (in part) because I thought it'd mean I'd get stuff promptly. Though, for perspective, AT&T and Samsung took well OVER A YEAR to release Android updates... which compelled me to switch.

You apparently completely missed my point. No, Google doesn't arrange to upgrade the Nexus devices as soon as the new release is announced, for the reasons I explained.

The state of it all is really quite absurd, either way.

Actually, with all respect, it's your expectations that are absurd. I understand why you have them, because you see other single-player device lines (notably iOS devices) which can delay announcement until the release is ready for devices. But there's really no way that could work in the Android ecosystem. Engineering takes time, and there's quite a lot of work to be done after the core OS version is fully baked. Google can't use its position as the source of the core OS to give the Nexus line too much of a leg up because the Nexus devices compete with the partners' devices.

Comment: Re:Is this Google's fault? (Score 1) 352

by swillden (#49628163) Attached to: Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer

If Google is going to hold back on pushing updates to appease partners, why bother having them in the first place?

It's a balance. Google walks a fine line with its partners, and the Nexus line is a major potential conflict point, because Google is competing directly with its partners, and doesn't care about making a profit (though the OEM that actually manufactures the device wants one). So, yes, Nexus is Google's tool for pushing the OEMs around, but it has to be applied with sensitivity.

They are *great* tablets (except for the new 9" model which, IMHO, is a dog.)

I quite like my Nexus 9. Though maybe I'd like it less if I had to pay for it, not sure. I still have my N7 around, but I find I use it less and less.

Comment: Re:Is this Google's fault? (Score 1) 352

by swillden (#49628111) Attached to: Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer

But the development process is closed, the problem is that they develop the software and don't work with the hardware vendors, this is part of the problem.

We do work with the hardware vendors and they have access to the under-development code. But most of them (quite sensibly, IMO) hold off doing very much until quite late in the product cycle, because change is fast and furious and they don't want to spend a lot of time spinning doing work they just have to redo.

If the OEMs were involved in the development process you would have the hardware and software components better matched and optimized and also a more timely release.

I don't know what you mean by "better matched". Android is specifically not tailored to any particular hardware. That's by design, and it's a good thing. Certainly there are some down sides, but its what makes the vibrant, competitive ecosystem possible, and that ecosystem is why Android's market share is what it is, because it serves consumers.

As for a more "timely" release, I think we already do pretty much everything that can be done, short of inviting all of the vendors to participate in design process. Many of my colleagues previously worked for various hardware vendors before joining Google, and they assure me that would be an absolute disaster for various reasons, not least because design by committee doesn't work -- especially when many of the committee members are deeply self-interested and mutually antagonistic.

Google has a lot of smart people who fully understand these problems and want to find solutions. You can be pretty certain that all of the low-hanging fruit was picked long ago.

Comment: Re:Is this Google's fault? (Score 2) 352

by swillden (#49628043) Attached to: Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer

True, but on the other hand many, if not most, OEMs never update their Android phones.

The major OEMs usually deliver one or two upgrades, and all of them do some number of updates for security fixes. But I'm quibbling, because while your statement isn't literally true it is essentially true. Devices stop getting upgrades and updates way too quickly, and none of the OEMs have any official policy stating even as much as they do, so you really have no idea (to be fair, Apple also has no official upgrade or update policy, though they do a better job).

And a lot of phones are shipped with an out of date OS!

Especially at the low end. There are a lot of very cheap phones being sold with Gingerbread, at least in terms of number of models. I don't think volume is actually very high.

I thought the 'Google One' edition phones were a good push towards trying to solve the problem (if only by shaming the OEMs), but they've died off.

The Android Ones phones are a push toward solving the problem in one market. They're low-end phones that are shipped with the most current OS and updated directly by Google. That project is still in its infancy, though, and may never come to the "first world". For the developed world, Nexus is the line Google uses to shame the OEMs, but the story has been less than stellar there, though better than most OEMs do. Nexus 4 and above have all gotten Lollipop but that only takes us back to 2012. I think Galaxy Nexus would probably also have gotten Lollipop, but the SoC vendor leaving the business made it impossible to upgrade it past Jelly Bean. The 2012 Nexus 7 got the upgrade, but runs so poorly with it that many people prefer to go back. And Google also has no official upgrade or update policy.

So, absolutely there's a problem. But it's not the lag between announcement and upgrade, it's the rapidity with which devices fall out of support and the lack of any committed support policies from OEMs that customers could use to ensure they won't have that problem (and to motivate OEMs to provide support for longer periods of time).

Comment: Re:We warned France not to follow our mistakes (Score 1) 170

by thesupraman (#49627465) Attached to: French Version of 'Patriot Act' Becomes Law

May I suggest, Zondar the Mindless, that you look up 'Sarcasm' in a dictionary.. you remember that woosh you heard a while ago above your head? That was something flying over you..

Of COURSE a reduction in privacy is a loss of freedom, that is the point. Sigh.
Let me guess, you are American? My mistake for not punching the message violently into your consciousness..

Parts that positively cannot be assembled in improper order will be.