Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment: Shipping costs (Score 4, Informative) 35

by sjbe (#49775653) Attached to: Hot Topic To Buy ThinkGeek Parent Company Geeknet

plus $7.00 shipping (more than it actually costs to ship).

Actually that's probably pretty close to their actual cost to ship an item like that. Couriers like Fedex and UPS charge by weight (or dimensional weight) and discounts to shippers are based almost entirely on volume. Thinkgeek doesn't do the kind of volume Amazon does and won't get the kind of discounts Amazon gets. So I'd expect their freight cost to be $5-7 or so for an item like that for ground service with tracking. Then you have to consider handling. They have to pay for a box and stuffing which will probably cost between $0.50-1.00 and they have to pay someone to put the item in the box, seal it, and ship it which is probably another $0.30-0.75. Frankly $7 isn't shocking at all.

People have gotten spoiled on freight costs but I used to own a company that would ship several hundred packages a week and $7 shipping and handling for delivery by UPS or similar is pretty much what you should expect to pay from anyone who isn't a very large company that ships thousands of packages a day.

Comment: A few facts (Score 1) 82

by sjbe (#49775449) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

No, you can't merge with Comcast. That would be too big of a company....suuuure, you can merge with Charter! That's fine.

First, the merger hasn't been approved yet. Second, Comcast is larger than TWC and Charter combined. TWC+Charter is roughly the same size as Comcast and in theory could be a competitor though in practice I doubt that would be the case. Third, Comcast owns content like NBC. TWC and Charter do not.

Comment: Not the same companies (Score 1) 82

by sjbe (#49775439) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

Surely Time Warner has learned the lesson of not being bought for funny money stock?

Time Warner Cable is not the same company as Time Warner Inc. They have been separate enterprises since 2009.

Because when AOL bought them with trumped up stock, somehow AOL was worth more than an entity with cable, programming,network infrastructure, move studios.

The two transactions couldn't be more different. In addition the buying entity here is Charter Communications, not TWC.

Comment: Governments contract private companies. (Score 2) 82

by sjbe (#49775417) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

Government is NOT the answer in most cases

Most cases of what? Infrastructure? Government is the ONLY practical solution for a wide array of infrastructure projects. Roads, airports, passenger rail, ports, are all done primarily through governments. Telecom companies and utilities are typically private but heavily regulated. Power generation? Regulated. Bridges and dams? Regulated and contracted out. The blanket assertion that government is never the best option is not supported by the actual facts. Governments are often the best solution for when market incentives fail and they often fail in infrastructure which is what the internet has become.

Having government manage a rapidly change highly technical bit of infrastructure does not seem like a good idea to me.

That's why governments rarely do such things themselves. What happens is you pay taxes to the government and the government contracts out the services to a competitive bidding process among private companies. The government doesn't pave your roads (usually), it manages the company that does. The advantage of this is that the government's incentives are (more) aligned with the taxpayer and it provides a means to accomplish things that otherwise either wouldn't get done or would be done insufficiently or badly if profit motives were the only factor in play.

Comment: Automatic presumption of govt incompetence... (Score 2) 82

by sjbe (#49775379) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

Yea, letting the government manage the high tech infrastructure is a recipe for success, not!

Why do you presume that the government would be any less effective than corporations? This meme that government is automatically incompetent is tiresome and demonstrably false in numerous circumstances. I have precisely one practical ISP option where I live (Comcast) and I assure you that their customer "service" is less than amazing and their prices are not even close to cheap. Would a government run ISP be any worse? Maybe, maybe not. I could see it going either way. Your assumption that they would be automatically incompetent "because, government" is both unproven and illogical. Government tends to be a good choice for things where market incentives break down, including infrastructure. Guess what? Market incentives aren't getting the job done in the ISP market for a lot of people. I have to pay a lot of money for a relatively slow connection to my choice of a single company. I doubt the government would be any worse to be honest.

Can you imagine how responsive a government run infrastructure would have been to say the Netflix issues that plagued Verizon customers?

I can imagine it potentially being quite a bit better since the government wouldn't be trying to chisel Netflix out of a cut of their profits. Corporations, particularly monopolies are noted for being less than responsive. And in fact we have to have government oversight of them precisely because the company's profit motive tends to conflict directly with incentives for good customer service.

Maybe what's needed is to separate the "providers" from the companies that own the infrastructure.

That's a good idea but it doesn't fully address the problem. Infrastructure companies would still be tempted to charge a "toll" to prioritize traffic so regulation or competition is needed. Since competition is a practical impossibility in a lot of places (expensive to have multiple wires to rural locations) then regulation becomes necessary.

Comment: Nothing new here (Score 2) 200

by sjbe (#49774701) Attached to: Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed?

The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.

That has ALWAYS been true. In fact just about the only way to make a name for yourself in science is to show that someone else is wrong about something. Einstein is famous because he showed how Newton was wrong. We put forward hypothesis, test them and (in what should be a surprise to no one) most of them ultimately turn out to be wrong or defective in some way. As a general rule that is both acceptable (to a point) and expected.

Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.

Again, why the notion that any of this is somehow new?

Can bad scientific practices be fixed? Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivized to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivized to be productive and innovative.

Bullshit they aren't incentivized to be right. Being right is hugely incentivized. The problem is that it is hard to be right about something that is actually complicated and meaningful. So we have to break big problems up into little problems and most of those aren't consequential and many are going to turn out to be wrong or dead ends. Not every bit of science is going to be of world altering importance. Some people are doing some shady things to earn a paycheck and stay in the game but they tend to get found out in due time. Science is remarkably effective in weeding out bad data over time.

Comment: Re:get the phone apps syncing with desktop Firefox (Score 1) 81

That's my 2 cents, it merely takes $20M to implement.

Plus a lot more to operate the data centers needed to store and sync all that data around. For Mozilla to build that they'd have to find some way to pay for it. Given that people are generally not willing to pay monthly fees for that sort of service, advertising is the obvious option. But to make the advertising effective, it needs to be targeted, so...

Comment: Re: Why do this in the first place? (Score 1) 81

I have a better idea: Just use Android, only write a drop in replacement for Play Services. Pull an Amazon, only invite other OEMs to the party so that they sell your devices, and no walled garden.

How would this be attractive to OEMs? Google already offers an extremely well-developed open ecosystem. Amazon wanted to have their own walled garden, but you're assuming there are OEMs that don't want to do that, but want to have a different ecosystem, and want it enough to be willing to accept smaller sales numbers. What would make them want to do that?

Comment: Re:Different perspectives... (Score 1) 202

by swillden (#49774123) Attached to: Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn

I think unrealistic portrayals of sex create bigger problems than those other examples you cite -- though they are problems. The reason I think that is that the other unrealistic portrayals don't affect core human relationships to the same degree. I hope I'm wrong, actually. We'll know in a generation or so.

Comment: Re:Ask Abu Hamsa about allowed speech and the USA. (Score 1) 202

by swillden (#49774091) Attached to: Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn

One more point: I find your choice of example to be odd, because the US charges against Hamsa have nothing to do with speech; they're about kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder. The UK's charges against Hamsa are largely speech-related.

Manning or Snowden would have been better examples.

Comment: Re:Ask Abu Hamsa about allowed speech and the USA. (Score 1) 202

by swillden (#49774065) Attached to: Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn
Oh, I'm not claiming there are no problems. Clearly the US does have some big issues at present with some particular forms of restriction of free speech. I'm fairly confident that will get sorted out over the course of the next couple of decades, though. The pendulum is swinging that direction. Not that perfection will ever be achieved, but there really is a strong bias towards protecting freedom of expression.

You can't go home again, unless you set $HOME.