Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:Start with Stem cells and.... (Score 1) 183

by mcvos (#48957275) Attached to: Telomere-Lengthening Procedure Turns Clock Back Years In Human Cells

Mutation is a normal result of human reproduction and a vital driver of evolution. You just don't want it to get so far out of hand that new babies aren't viable. Of course somewhere in our reproductive process those telomeres also have to get longer again. No idea how that works. Might be important, I guess.

Comment: Re:Quality not Amount (Score 2) 210

by mcvos (#48874291) Attached to: Tracking Down How Many (Or How Few) People Actively Use Google+

Absolutely. The quality of content is far better than on FB or Twitter. When G+ was a year old or so, an image was circulated comparing the most discussed people on 3 social networks. On Facebook and Twitter is was Rihanna and Justin Bieber, on Google+ it was Einstein. I'm regularly having interesting political, philosophical and ethical discussions there. And most importantly to me personally: it's probably the best RPG community on the Web.

Looking only at the number of public posts is fairly meaningless; lots of people share only to specific circles in order to not spam their followers on one topic with posts on a different topic. Even more people don't post much themselves, but are very active in other people's conversations. It's a social network, after all, not just a blogging platform. But people love to use the lack of public posts to shame Google for some reason.

It's not that all is perfect, though. The quality of the content took a serious hit through the integration with YouTube (home of probably the lowest quality comments on the web). And through pushing birthdays and phone numbers of my G+ contacts to my calendar and phone, Google seems eager to punish people for having any Google+ contacts at all. Google should stop fucking about and just give us more tools to manage our stream so we can follow more people on topics that interest us, without having to see their posts on topics that don't interest us.

Comment: Google+ is great (Score 2) 210

by mcvos (#48874209) Attached to: Tracking Down How Many (Or How Few) People Actively Use Google+

What sucks about Google+ is that Google tries to artificially inflate the numbers by forcing it on YouTube and other services, and they seem to be actively punishing people for using both Google+ and any other Google service, but on its own, Google+ is great. It was great during its early days before Google started to mess it up. The people who use G+ use it a lot and post far more interesting stuff on it than you're likely to see on FB or Twitter.

Google should learn to be happy with having something good, rather than ruining it by forcing it on people and then punishing them for it. And they should work to improve it further, rather than adding crap. I mean, who ever asked for polls, of all things? We want better tools to manage our stream. That's Google+'s strength, but there's so much more that could be done here. Instead we get polls.

Comment: Re:This is not the most important part of the chan (Score 2) 164

Wrong. On some estimates so far, that group is actually a minority of the small and microbusinesses affected by these measures. It certainly isn't "most".

Really. Maybe I learnt something new today, or maybe we're talking about different things. You see, I'm not talking about Grandma's Handmade Socks or the local pizza delivery service - they're not worried about cross-border commerce. These businesses are the vast majority of microbusinesses. But they are not affected by this measure.

Every small-time RPG publisher selling a few PDFs per week is affected by this. And many believe they're even affected if they don't live in the EU. Some have announced they won't be selling to EU countries anymore (which still means they need to figure out where their customers are from, of course).

Big part of the problem is that information is sparse and very late. The law may be from 2008, but most shops only heard about this a few weeks ago. So now people are panicking. Justified or not? Nobody really knows.

Comment: Re:This is not the most important part of the chan (Score 1) 164

I got the impression that this was already the rule for physical objects. And there it makes sense, because at least you know what address you're shipping it to. It'd be crazy to do this only for downloads and not for physical stuff.

By the way, the argument that is significantly hurts the common market, is a really good one. I'm sure that should be able to get some people to take a closer look at the effect of this new rule; it goes completely counter to the primary purpose of the EU. I've also heard from a number of non-EU shops that they're not going to sell to the EU anymore because of this. I think a lot of people are panicking a bit too much, but the result for EU customers is clearly a very negative one if this means they can only buy stuff from local or very large webshops.

Comment: Not really a tax increase (Score 2) 164

The summary calls it a tax increase, but the tax rates aren't changing (or if they are, it's up to the individual member states, not the EU). What the EU is doing is closing a tax loophole that allows big companies (Amazon and the like) to put their European office in a tax haven so they don't have to pay any sales tax in the EU. But now they have to pay the VAT rate in the country where the customer is, rather than where their own office is.

In principle that's totally reasonable. What upsets a lot of people about this new rule is that small time PDF publishers may have to register for sales tax in 28 countries as well as collect data on where their customers are (and the rules for that are really confusing) and keep that data for 10 years, when previously they didn't have to know anything about their customers (because they just downloaded the thing, and payment was handled by a payment provider), and they didn't even have to pay any VAT at all because they were below their countries VAT limit, due to their low volume of sales. The new rule doesn't seem to specify any minimum.

Comment: Re:Cheaper (Score 1) 349

by mcvos (#48705065) Attached to: United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

But the cheap option here is the direct connection over the hub. It's the longer flight with the layover on the very same hub, where you still end up in the same plane, that's mysteriously cheaper than the one directly from the hub. It's as if the Brussels-Schiphol part has negative value.

Comment: Re:Cheaper (Score 1) 349

by mcvos (#48700077) Attached to: United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

Here in the USA it's all about screwing the traveller.

If this was true, why are the airlines constantly teetering on the edge of bankruptcy with razor-thin margins? They should be rolling in cash, and they're not. Why?

Because screwing the customer is actually not such a smart business plan as some business men seem to think. Screw your customers and they screw you right back.

Comment: Re:Cheaper (Score 1) 349

by mcvos (#48700067) Attached to: United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

Not entirely true. I've heard that the same thing has been true (and might still be) when travelling Brussels-Schiphol-USA. That is sometimes cheaper than simply Schiphol-USA, even on the same plane. Or maybe the EU has put a stop to this. It's certainly a sign of weird pricing shenanigans going on, and the EU is generally not a big fan of that.

Comment: Correcting the crappy summary (Score 4, Insightful) 183

by mcvos (#48572497) Attached to: Google News To Shut Down In Spain On December 16th

Some big errors in the summary:

The decision of Google comes as response to new Spanish legislation that gives publishers the right to claim compensation for republishing any part of their content.

No, if this was the case, it'd just be a rehash of the German situation. No, the problem here is that it gives publishers the obligation to claim compensation. This law is specifically designed to prevent the German situation. So other newspapers can't decide they'd rather have Google's traffic anyway, and thereby undermine this boycott of Google News.

It also fixes another problem that big Spanish newspapers had: on Google News, you could just as easily find small, independent news sites that were critical of the current (conservative) government, as the sites of the major newspapers (which are mostly supportive of the government). Outside Google News, the small press is a lot harder to find. This law removes competition for the big guys as well as criticism about the government. Win-win for big corps and the government. Lose for the people and the small independent press.


This follows news of services of startup Uber being forbidden in countries like Spain as well as Germany and some city councils worldwide like Delhi, or other services like AirBnb being put under pressure to cope with local laws in other jurisdictions.

This issue has nothing to do with Uber and Airbnb not complying with local laws. There is nothing wrong with foreign companies having to obey local laws in they want to operate there. This, however, is a new law that will hurt the small Spanish press (Google won't be hurt that much, since they don't make money on Google News anyway).

By the way complaints against Uber and Airbnb (which should have been irrelevant to this story but now aren't because of the stupid summary) are not that unreasonable; they're side-stepping consumer-protection regulations that exist for good reasons. In some places they're also side-stepping monopolies or cartels, which is great of course, but some of the laws they're running afoul of are actually good laws.

As a final word, Uber are by now well known to be a bunch of thugs who need to go out of business as soon as possible.

You will have a head crash on your private pack.