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Comment: Inherantly anti-first-world-consumer (Score 1) 48

by RogueyWon (#48625491) Attached to: To Fight Currency Mismatches, Steam Adding Region Locking to PC Games

Ugh...

Region locks are vile practice. It's infuriating to see them creeping into PC gaming (historically a region-free platform) at a time when two of the three console developers have ditched them and the third (Nintendo) is considering dropping them. That said, it's worth reflecting on why they exist. There are, historically, two reason behind this.

The first is plain old-fashioned cultural stereotyping (which somebody being less diplomatic might call "racism"). This is the classic Nintendo reason. Big paternalist companies like Nintendo (they're not alone in this, but are the worst offenders) have this weird outlook that says that they should function as some kind of moral arbiter of what should and should not be available in each territory. Hence certain games are "not a good cultural fit for some regions" (usually a view based on offensive broad-brush stereotypes... or racism, if you prefer the more honest term) or "require alterations to be culturally appropriate" (meaning "we're going to cut the game to hell on release in some territories, because REASONS"). Happily, this particular driver behind region locking is on the decline. Sony used to buy into it every bit as much as Nintendo, but have completely washed their hands of it. Even Nintendo are considering getting out of this game. I should add that a few territories (a handful of religious-wacko countries, plus Germany and Australia - what good company they find themselves in) set up their own barriers that require these kind of locks on occasion. In those cases, the blame rests with the Governments of those countries, not the platform owners/publishers.

The second reason is more complex and is down to differential pricing. Not every currency is of the same strength or stability. The last few days have made that pretty clear, if it wasn't already. And by and large, a lot of those countries which have weak and/or unstable currencies also tend to have very high piracy rates. A lot of companies (Microsoft used to be particularly bad in this respect, but have been stepping back lately) operate under the delusion that if they sell their products really really cheap in those territories, they can get people to buy legitimately, rather than pirating their products (all the evidence to date shows this doesn't work). Problem is, when you do that, you create a huge reverse-import problem; why would a US or European consumer pay the going rate in their territory for a locally-bought copy, when they could import a Brazillian or Russian or Vietnamese copy for a fraction of the price (which probably has English-language support anyway)?

Now, in a pure free market, one of two things would happen. Either the company selling the product would have to drop its price globally, or else it would have to accept that customers in those marginal economies just couldn't, for the most part, afford its products. But we live in a world where they're allowed to circumvent the free-market at will - via region locks. So first-world consumers get to subsidise producers (usually fruitless) speculation in developing-world markets.

There's a curious mirror image of this around one particular market; Japan. See, Japanese consumers are willing to pay massively over the odds for media (movies, games, TV series both live action and animated), particularly when said media is domestically produced. Seriously, you think UK or Australian consumers pay over the odds? It's nothing to what they'll pay in Japan. And because Japan has a large media industry which has grown accustomed to being able to milk this unquestioningly loyal (and seemingly happy to be exploited) domestic market, a good chunk of it is desperate to keep said market behind a walled garden, with reverse importing from the rest of the world locked off.

So yeah... region locking... a few reasons for it, none of them good for the consumer. Truly sad to see it come to Steam (though it's been creeping in at the margins for a while now). The only alternative? Fix all regions' price to the dollar (allowing for differences in local sales taxes, which is the major difference, for instance, between US and UK prices). But then a good chunk of the world wouldn't be able to afford to buy anything like as many games.

Comment: cui bono? (Score 2) 38

by bill_mcgonigle (#48625245) Attached to: Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States?

Who benefits from banning [X]? With near certainty those are the people who bought off whoever is in power (the partisan nonsense in TFS is a smokescreen to keep you distracted). It doesn't matter if it's the UAW or the Auto Dealer's Association that is behind the corruption - you should be disgusted that politicians deign to tell you what kinds of cars you may purchase. "Yes, massa."

Comment: Are You Joking? (Score 4, Interesting) 104

by eldavojohn (#48625017) Attached to: US Links North Korea To Sony Hacking

> It is not known how the US government has determined that North Korea is the culprit

Of course it's known. The same way they established that Iraq had chemical weapons. The method is known as "because we say so".

Are you joking? I thought it was well established that there were chemical weapons in Iraq we just only found weapons designed by us, built by Europeans in factories in Iraq. And therefore the US didn't trumpet their achievements. In the case of Iraqi chemical weapons, the US established that Iraq had chemical weapons not because they said so but because Western countries had all the receipts.

Comment: Re:I'd expect Fawkes masks to start making stateme (Score 1) 166

by Tom (#48624793) Attached to: Single Group Dominates Second Round of Anti Net-Neutrality Comment Submissions

So you switched from nationalisation of certain industries to taxpayer-funded cronyism?

I don't know all the details, but basically, yes.

The Deutsche Bahn was a state-owned monopolist for long-distance rail transport (both goods and people). During the privatization craze of the 90s or so, the government decided to turn it into Deutsche Bahn AG - a private company, listed at the stock exchange.

After a short transition, the C level started to think and act like C levels do, and - with a little help of big consulting companies - decided that public transport isn't all that interesting and profitable and that they would simply use it as leverage to become a huge, global, logistics company. You can already see where it all went wrong.

In order to raise capital, the government planned to sell its shares. But to make it interesting to buyers, the company first had to become profitable. So all that I've described happened. People in small towns suddenly found out that they were not using the train enough, so train service was discontinued and the station closed. Of course, now they had to use cars more which meant more traffic, roads maintainence costs increased, more roads had to be built - as a singular entity, the government before had included all those factors and decided that train service to this town was the right decision, even if the ticket sales by themselves didn't cover costs - but if you figure in the costs of not having a train service, suddenly it does make sense. As a private company, the Deutsche Bahn AG only considered the side of the equation it owned, and that didn't show a profit.
This happened to hundreds of train lines and stations.

Total damage to the german economy - unknown. Some estimates I've read are in the billions.

Comment: Re:I'd expect Fawkes masks to start making stateme (Score 1) 166

by Tom (#48624743) Attached to: Single Group Dominates Second Round of Anti Net-Neutrality Comment Submissions

The reasons they were privatized and the like was that the other wasn't sustainable

Get a clue before you enter a discussion. Many of the companies that were privatized were doing as good or even better than the private companies that replace them today. That doesn't always mean they are or were profitable - for some things such as public transport or universities or garbage collection maybe the benefit to society should be the important factor and not ROI and shareholder value.

You are repeating the ignorant blabbering of typical right-wing americans who think that anything that's not cut-throat capitalism is automatically communism. The thought that a world inbetween the extremes could exist has never crossed your mind, has it?

The strange truth is that the very america that had McCarthyism was very interested in and actively promoting the social market economy model of western europe, because they realized that if they had attempted to install the no-hold-barred brutality of pure US capitalism, most of post-WW2 europe would have become communist by free choice.

That economic model was the synthesis (to use philosophy terms) between the two equally wrong extremes. It gave us all the advantages of free markets, free choice of jobs, private companies and competition while at the same time protecting those areas where pure capitalism does more harm than good, like health care, public transportation or natural monopolies.

Sadly, the two competing extremes didn't fail at the same time to the same degree, so we've now been janked towards the "winner", and all the advantages are slowly evaporating in favor of higher stock prices and an economy based on bubbles and bullshit.

I'm not in favour of communism at all - had capitalism failed first, the same would have happened in the other direction and we'd be equally bad of. But on almost every metric you choose, western Europe was in a better condition 30 years ago.

Comment: Re:Conservatives mostly don't like the involvement (Score 1) 166

by Tom (#48624705) Attached to: Single Group Dominates Second Round of Anti Net-Neutrality Comment Submissions

Who said anything about redoing the cabling every time you change providers you complete fucking retard?

I did, because that's what your ignorant argument would lead to.

Situation now, in almost all homes: There is one cable going to the nearest street node. This is the famous "last mile".

You want that cable owned by the ISP, which means for every home where the inhabitants are not customers of the current cable owner, either the new ISP needs to buy the cable, or put down a new one, since these are the only two ways in which he can be owner of the last mile.

If they switch ISP again, this repeats.

If a new ISP company wants to enter the market, suddenly the barriers to entry are much, much higher than they are now. Goodbye free market.

And let's talk about multi-story houses with a dozen or a hundred flats, and lots of different ISPs serving different flats...

Instead of admitting your argument was stupid, let's insult people around you who put you straight.

Going through the streets, you have a similar situation.

Not at all. The office building example is at the other end of the last mile. We're talking about the cable connecting the (office or whatever) building to the telco network in the street. Completely different things.

Comment: Re:Conservatives mostly don't like the involvement (Score 1) 166

by Tom (#48624675) Attached to: Single Group Dominates Second Round of Anti Net-Neutrality Comment Submissions

Right, because there is no other possible way to lay cable then the way they've always laid cable.

If you actually could re-invent the cable-putting industry, you'd not be posting in /., you'd be busy making your first billion. (you'd already have your first million)

Any place that had frequent changes to the cabling would either have an accessible conduit system or run the cables on poles.

You'd have to install the conduits first, which means digging up all the streets. A hunch tells me that is even less likely to happen in the near future.

Poles are not really practical in the places that the majority of the population in the west lives in. These places are called "cities". Cities are where the money is in telecommunications, so if your solution can't work in cities, it's dead in the water.

Disclaimer: I've actually worked in the telecommunications industry for 10 years.

Comment: Re:Wildly premature question (Score 1) 81

by Bruce Perens (#48620117) Attached to: SpaceX To Attempt Falcon 9 Landing On Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship

If we look at jet aircraft, wear depends on the airframe and the engines, and the airframe seems to be the number of pressurize/depressurize cycles as well as the running hours. Engines get swapped out routinely but when the airframe has enough stress it's time to retire the aircraft lest it suffer catastrophic failure. Rockets are different in scale (much greater stresses) but we can expect the failure points due to age to be those two, with the addition of one main rocket-specific failure point: cryogenic tanks.

How long each will be reliable can be established using ground-based environmental testing. Nobody has the numbers for Falcon 9R yet.

Weight vs. reusable life will become a design decision in rocket design.

Comment: Re:Meaningless (Score 2) 151

by plover (#48619637) Attached to: Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

I'd love to be able to publish these statistics for our organization, (I'd estimate we have close to a quarter million drives in the field) but there is a big hurdle in the way: legal liability. If I was to say something negative about Western-Sea-Tachi drives, their lawyers might call our lawyers, and we could easily spend a million in court fees.

The thing I think would be interesting is that we have a completely arbitrary mix of drives, based on drive availability over the last 6 years or so. We also have a mix of different service companies who replace the drives in our workstations. Our contract is such that we don't control the brands, or even the sizes, as long as they meet or exceed our specs. As a service organization, they're responsible for picking the cheapest option for themselves. If our spec says "40 GB minimum", and they can't get anything smaller than 500GB, they'll buy those. If 1TB drives are cheaper than 500GB drives, they'll buy those. And if we're paying them $X/machine/year for service, they can do the reliability decisions on their own, so if they think some premium drives will last two years longer than stock drives, they might be able to avoid an extra service call on each machine if they spend $Y extra per drive. I expect these service organizations all have their preferred drives, but that's not data they're likely to share with their competitors on the service-contract circuit.

Comment: Re:Man, am I old ... (Score 1) 151

by plover (#48619391) Attached to: Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

I don't take pictures for "posterity", or for people who outlive me. I take pictures for me, and my family, for now. While I only have thousands of total pictures, (not 10,000 per month) I can still find the pictures I want on my hard drives. So when I die, if some future grandchild wants to trawl through those terabytes in the vain hopes of finding a good picture of a great-great-grandparent they never met, why should I care? What difference would that make to me, today, in how I choose to save or discard photos?

Comment: Re:I'd expect Fawkes masks to start making stateme (Score 5, Interesting) 166

by Tom (#48615431) Attached to: Single Group Dominates Second Round of Anti Net-Neutrality Comment Submissions

Second all of that from Germany.

Energy companies - privatized. Prices have gone up, service is still good mostly because of government regulations, the market is now largely dominated by less than 5 big energy companies. Only recently thanks to renewable energy have smaller, local players re-emerged.

Public transport - long distance privatized. Service down, delays up, lots of smaller stations have been closed and lines discontinued, government subsidizes the whole thing still.

Telecommunications - privatized. Looked like a success for many years, but now that the old monopolist has stopped being a dominant player (it wasn't broken down like AT&T), service is going down the drain and prices are secretly climbing (base fees are low, nobody dares being the first to raise them, but they're all adding all kinds of additional charges, reducing service for the base fee so you have to buy a higher contract for the same, etc.)

Pensions - being dismantled as we look. We had a great state pension system. It survived both world wars and managed to pay out pensions even when the rest of Germany was flat broke. Heck, even in the few years after WW2 when Germany didn't exist at all and it was just an occupied zone. Now the state pension system is being systematically dismantled by politics while private pension funds and insurances work hard to convince you that you absolutely need them or you'll be poor when you are old.

The examples go on and on and on. In the end, it is quite clear that what my old philosophy teacher in school said was right: capitalism, communism, fascism, extremism, islamism, doesn't matter, be aware of everything that ends with -ism.

The free market is a cute idea and it works great for trade. But don't make it a religion. Many human endeavours are not trade and not suitable to be treated like that. I hope we all agree that things like art and love fall into that category, so we should be open to at least discussing if health, transportation and communications might fall into it as well.

The same is true for communism. The idea that every is equal is great for politics, and a lot of what's wrong in the west today is caused by our hidden abolishing of the "one vote per citizen" rule by allowing campaign financing to dominate the results instead of votes. But again there are lots of areas where treating everyone the same is not the right approach. Education, science, sports and business are all places where it's good if people start out with equal chances, but as their talents and abilities emerge, they need to be treated differently. And planned economy has been pretty much proved to be a disaster, too.

In every other -ism you will always find at least one small grain of truth. Maybe even ISIS has a right idea in its idiology somewhere. The problem is always if you think you can explain the whole world by one truth, one interpretation, one approach.
But religion doesn't built space ships, and science doesn't write operas, and capitalism doesn't create families.

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