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Comment Factual record (Score 1) 193 193

This should depend greatly on the factual record.

Surely it should be possible that a company arranges for people to get rides from private persons. Any other ruling from the Court would be dreadful. Whether Uber is really just helping people to find a driver (or a rider), or whether it is really holding itself out as a taxi service is another matter. Similarly, it is possible that Uber could use truly independent contractors; whether Uber's current arrangements with its drivers qualifies as an employment relationship is a separate question.

What we need from the Court is a clear explanation of what will distinguish an information service helping people to find each other from a taxi service. Then the lower court should apply those rules to Uber - and if Uber doesn't like the outcome, it will be free to alter itself so as to stay on the non-a-taxi-company side of the rules, just as it can alter its agreement with its drivers so as to avoid creating an employment relationship.

Comment Not yet (Score 2) 156 156

Despite advances, these figures show that FPS in 4K is still not ready for prime-time even on top-class cards.

When there are cards that can handle it, I'll think about upgrading my 1920x1200 monitor. Until then, I'll wait it out, and so can my aging graphics card.

Part of the problem is that at higher resolutions it becomes more important to use high graphics settings (high res textures, better lighting effects, further draw distance), not less. So if you're interested in 4K gaming, you'll want to do it with everything turned up to 11. The exception to this rule is anti-aliasing, which decreases in value the higher the resolution.

Comment TV shows, a TV broadcast, or watching on a TV set? (Score 1) 244 244

Over the last ten years, time watching

Live TV broadcast: Decreased significantly, from a couple of hours a night to the News plus nothing else
TV shows I recorded from live: First up, then down. From occasional, through a couple of hours a night (PVR era) to zero (streaming catch-up TV era)
TV shows supplied as recorded: Increased significantly thanks to fibre broadband and more online sources
Movies on my TV: Decreased significantly, due to drop in quality of movies, increase in quality of scripted TV
Movies in cinema: From occasional to near-zero
Time spent in watching TV shows on monitor within three feet of my face: the same (zero) at home; but TV-show-on-iPad has entirely replaced back-of-airline-seat-movie and hotel-room-TV/movies

Overall time spent in front of my large-screen TV set watching moving images: slight decrease, mainly displaced by increased reading since buying a Kindle.

Comment Brand un-value (Score 5, Insightful) 171 171

I am loath to join the general chorus of hate for Ubisoft and EA. Complaining about these companies being too focussed on commercial success and not enough of user-entertainment/"art" seems futile: they are, first and foremost, commercial companies.

Nonetheless, considering it strictly as a commercial proposition, should the senior executives of these companies not be worried that their brand has negative value?

When I see news of a game, knowing that it is going to be published by Ubisoft - or, to a lesser extent, by EA, makes me shy away. I am less likely to buy. I am less likely to follow the hype, for fear of being sucked in by it, because I expect to be disappointed. I am less likely to engage with their product or marketing in any way, because of the poor track record that they have establish, the negative brand value that they have created.

If they bought a small publishers, and published the very same game through that new label, I would be more likely to engage with and buy their product for that reason - as long as I was not aware that Ubisoft (or EA) lay behind it. Knowing that they are there, I expect to be disappointed.. That's negative brand value in action.

This is not just a gamer whinge. I would think that was a customer reaction that ought to concern senior commercial management, and shareholders in these companies.

Comment Just insurance (Score 1) 301 301

If the driver needs to be able to step in at any moment, it's not a fully autonomous car in any meaningful sense, it's just a tech demo.

The only point of a fully autonomous car is so you don't have to drive it. This means (i) being able to concentrate on stuff other than the road, like a book, a movie, or being asleep and (ii) if you're not going to be driving it anyway, why bother acquiring the skill to do so, and the certification to prove you can? Hence, just insurance.

I really can't see the point in buying a car whose defining feature is that it can drive itself, and having to be on stand-by status to take over at any given instant. If that's what we're offered, I would say that whatever Google is capable of cooking up, we're not actually being offered a fully autonomous vehicle.

Comment The ones under my mattress are safe (Score 2) 192 192

Nothing I have heard has suggested any basic flaw in the cryptocurrency concept, or even the protocol design or software implementation for Bitcoin itself. The failure of some Bitcoin exchanges bears no more relation to the viability of Bitcoin than the failure of a bank would to the viability of a national currency (arguably even less, at least for proponents of the theory that fiat currency is inherently unstable).

Banks sometimes fail. Bitcoin exchanges, being immature businesses with little experience of implementing technical security or financial risk management, will fail more frequently. The wise will spread their risk between different stores of value, so as not to be exposed to any particular institutional failure. This could well include keeping your own wallet, in a USB stick under the mattress.

Comment Maybe not so great (Score 1) 97 97

There's an interesting analysis from copyright lawyer Innocenzo Genna that suggests this may not be such good news for the Internet as it seems at first glance.

The copyright-controlled activity that was under discussion was "communicating a copyright work to the public". The court decided that hyperlinking was communicating the work to the public, but ruled that it was still permitted by way of exception, because the work has already been communicated to the same public. According to Genna, this still brings hyperlinking within the sphere of copyright law, which is dangerous for the future. It would have been much better if the court had decided that linking is not "communicating the work", but just pointing to somewhere else where the work is communicated; this would have left much less scope for more restrictive rulings in other hyperlinking cases.

Comment Problems with .uk (Score 4, Informative) 110 110

Part of the problem was one of precedence: many holders of domains under .co.uk, .org.uk and several other existing subdomains were happy with the idea of getting a shorter domain - but very unhappy with the thought that they might lose it to a competing domain owner with the same name in a different sub-domain - or even to a trademark holder with no exact equivalent at the moment.

Another part of the problem was Nominet's proposal for "security". In the name of building "trust and confidence in .uk" Nominet had proposed to extend itself from traditional registry options to scanning websites for malware, and using its power to suspend domains to enforce clean-up. Not surprisingly, this was controversial.

Note also that Nominet has said it might come back with some variant of these proposals later, perhaps extending its "security" scheme to all the existing .uk domains.

Comment Thanks, since Chips and Dips (Score 1) 229 229

I've been reading since a friend referred me to an interesting rant site called Chips and Dips. I guess he must have found it on "What's new on the Internet" or something. So, to CmdrTaco and all the team that followed, a big Thank You for one of three sites I still check every day.

Comment Anonymous Speech, First Amendment? (Score 1) 165 165

Let's set aside the quibbles, and for the sake of argument just roll with the notion that these writers are mere shills for the Oracle and Google, respectively (after all, that's the notion that clearly lies behind this ruling).

Isn't the right to speak anonymously protected by the First Amendment? Doesn't that protection extend to Oracle and Google too?

(I know corporate speech isn't as vigorously protected under the First Amendment, but it is still protected somewhat. And this speech isn't advertising (as with most limitations on corporate speech), it's closer to legal/political commentary).

I would be most interested to see this in SCOTUS.

Comment Re:2 kW enough? (Score 0) 137 137

2kW is an "average home"? Seriously?

My induction cooktop has a rated load of 11kW!

Rated loads on some other devices:
PC power supply: 800W
Plasma TV: 420W
Home cinema amp: 870W
Stereo amp: 800W

I also have an electric oven (two actually), a washer-dryer and a dishwasher. It is by no means inconceivable that all these devices would be running simultaneously. And that's without counting the multiplicity of relatively low power devices, which will all add up.

In common with most British people I don't have air-con. The heating is gas powered, but for many people in apartments it will be electric.

Now I know a lot of people will cook with gas, and my entertainment system is more than many people may have (although I imagine it's not unusual amongst slashdotters). And of course this gear won't draw the full rated load in normal use. Nonetheless, it seems pretty clear that a 2kW supply certainly couldn't power my home. Am I so atypical?

Comment Poor negotiation is not best fixed technically (Score 3, Insightful) 209 209

I agree. You're trying to solve a commercial issue (and possible mistake) with a (poor) technical solution.

As you describe it, the original contract wanted the data destroyed at the end of the contract term. You've just had the contract *renewed*, which is another word for "extended". Why exactly would anyone want the data destroyed in mid-contract?

Your contact negotiators ought to have realised that the government didn't need you to destroy the data until the end of the new contract, and written that into the new contract, thereby over-riding the old one. More than saving you the money, it was one of your advantages as the incumbent contractor: compared with a competitor, you could perform the second contract term at lower cost simply because you could off-set the data destruction cost for which you were already contracted simply by writing into the new contract permission to defer that destruction! This would allow you to underbid any potential competitor - or if there is no likely competitor, writing deferral in would be a straight profit to you at no cost to the customer. That kind of win-win is *exactly* what your contract negotiators are paid to spot and capitalise on.

As poster above says, your contract office can still possibly rescue this by simply writing and asking for permission to not destroy the data until the end of the renewed contract term. All the same, missing this at contract negotiation time is something that should come up in somebody's annual performance assessment.

A large number of installed systems work by fiat. That is, they work by being declared to work. -- Anatol Holt

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