Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:Javascript (Score 1) 466

by poemofatic (#47242933) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

The primary way that this problem is manifest is via lack of a good tool chain, which makes it more difficult to debug. A strongly typed language is easier on both human and machine parsers. The consequences of this are manifold and painful for the developer even in the majority of cases where the actual bug is not a type error.

Comment: Innumeracy strikes again! (Score 1) 298

The cost of producing a TV show is not proportional to the number of people watching it.

If the cost of producing 3 channels of TV is $250/year/household in the UK, then the cost of producing 3 channels of TV in the U.S. (with 5 times the population) would be $50/year/household. For $250/year, we could get 15 channels.

And those 15 channels would have much more quality than the 50 paid channels in basic cable. Which are mostly extreme cooking shoes, reality television voyeurism, the weather channel, and talk show re-runs.

Comment: Re:The fundamental idea (Score 1) 126

So I want to send a 0 (low bit). I put in my low bit resister. The recipient also (happens) to put in a low bit resistor (50% chance). Now, the attacker knows I wanted to send 0.

So how does this not leak half the bits of the message? You cannot say "disregard" the message after you've already sent it.

Comment: Easy to do (Score 1) 160

by poemofatic (#40166039) Attached to: Is a "Net Zero" Data Center Possible?

1. Spend $X buying bonds
2. Use a portion of the interest to pay electricity bill.
3. Re-invest remainder.

For some value of X, you will earn enough in interest to pay your energy bills.

X will *certainly* be less than the amount of money required to build your own mini-power generation facility. I understand the need for on-site emergency backup, but in terms of day-to-day operation, your own boutique power plant will be more expensive than buying power at market price from the grid.

Economies of scale, people -- we do not need to make our own shoelaces, we can buy them from someone who specializes in doing this. Energy is a commodity, and HP shouldn't be investing in expensive ways to make cheap commodities.

Comment: Re:A lot of words (Score 4, Interesting) 311

by poemofatic (#40130251) Attached to: Apple Fires Back At DoJ Over eBook Price Fixing

Copyright is not a free market and filing antitrust suits over pricing or price collusion is specious

This misunderstanding is at the heart of the matter. Copyrights grant a monopoly (and therefore the right to engage in monopoly pricing) to the copyright holder for that specific work. The fact that a work is copyrighted does not grant monopoly rights to everyone else in the production chain, nor does it allow monopoly pricing for all books. I.e. you can say "this work which I own, I only make available to bookstores and re-sellers for $20". But the publishers cannot collude together and say "All books that *we* collectively own are only available for $20", nor can the bookstores and re-sellers collude to charge a fixed premium over what they pay publishers. The bookstore does not hold any copyrights, and no individual publisher holds all copyrights. So a general increase in the price of *all* books without any corresponding increase in marginal costs, prices paid to authors, or input prices is pretty good evidence of illegal collusion, irrespective of whether any individual book is copyrighted.

So what you have here are two illegal practices:

* publishers colluding with each other to charge high prices. They should be competing with each other, setting only the prices for the works that they (individually) hold copyrights over. Then if they charge too much for sci-fi author A, you can go to publisher B who holds sci-fi author B's copyrights. If B is substitutable for A, and B will be, to some extent, then a low enough price will force the publisher of A to also lower their price. When they all get together, they can set prices for all books, and this is illegal.

* Collusion on the part of the re-sellers (e.g. apple, Amazon), who hold no copyrights. Whenever anyone says, "I will charge a fixed markup", they run the risk of being undercut by someone else who is willing to take a smaller margin. Unless the first person colludes with the (monopoly) supplier, so that whenever the competing re-seller tries to lower their markup, the supplier jacks up the price to the re-seller or refuses to supply the re-seller until the re-seller gets the message that he must charge the same fixed markup. Incidentally, this is why there were multiple lawsuits over "MSRP" -- suppliers aren't supposed to have the power to set retail prices, and retail stores need to have the right to try to undercut each other by lowering prices to the end user. But when the original good has a sole supplier, there is always the possibility of producer forcing retailers to sell for a certain price by withholding supply or charging more to those retailers that offer discounts.

Whether or not the DoJ can *prove* collusion is one thing, but looking at the behavior or prices its pretty clear that illegal collusion is occurring, this despite the fact that that books are copyrighted.

Comment: Re:Interesting technology (Score 1) 601

by poemofatic (#39998895) Attached to: Microsoft-Funded Startup Aims To Kill BitTorrent Traffic

What's wrong with classical market forces?

Classical market forces would have competition drive the price to the marginal cost of production. As the marginal cost of production for DVDs is effectively zero (or rather the price of a blank DVD), the last thing media companies and software companies want is classical market forces. That would kill them. They require monopolies, legal sanctions, and other extra-market forces in order to stay in business. That is why you have all those laws making it illegal to buy a DVD in Singapore and then sell it in the U.S., etc. It is all about blocking market forces. And the consumers are, of course, trying to evade these extra-market mechanisms.

And the same is true in any area in which there are increasing returns in the relevant quantity scales -- e.g. autos, airplanes, pharmaceuticals, utilities, chip manufacturing -- basically all of manufacturing and anything with the word "industrial" associated to it, or anything that requires large fixed investments. Big business only stay afloat to the degree that they can repress/avoid market forces from driving down price to the marginal cost of production.

Comment: Re:You Can't Repeal Murphy's Law (Score 2) 452

by poemofatic (#39906065) Attached to: Japan's Last Nuclear Reactor Shuts Down

No, you don't get to take anything away yet. Many things could happen:

1. Japan has a comparative disadvantage in energy resources and a comparative advantage in manufacturing finished goods. It is a huge net exporter of finished goods, and has lots of economic room to import more energy. One could argue that Japan *should* be importing more energy, rather than subsidizing more expensive domestic energy production. Reducing net exports by importing more would also help Japan balance its current account, which is good for everyone (including Japan).

2. Japan might fund more fusion research, which is a good thing. Or, it might fund other types of alternative fuel research.

3. Japan might spend more resources on energy conservation, which is also a good thing, as this tends to improve efficiency.

The end of fission power in Japan does not mean it is auto-magically transported back to the stone age.

Comment: Re:well... (Score 1) 311

by poemofatic (#39469085) Attached to: US Puts Tariff On Chinese Solar Panels

You can read about definitions on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balance_of_payments

For the specific case of China as an example of export-led growth strategies, I recommend Michael Pettis's blog, who is a former trader and current professor of finance and Beijing Univ. http://www.mpettis.com/ You can start here:

http://www.mpettis.com/2011/08/17/foreign-capital-go-home/
http://www.mpettis.com/2011/05/31/trade-and-the-rmb/

Paul Krugman has also blogged about these issues, or you could just pick up some books and read.

Comment: Re:well... (Score 4, Insightful) 311

by poemofatic (#39462789) Attached to: US Puts Tariff On Chinese Solar Panels

Stop thinking in terms of money.

First, China is not "wasting" our money, as USD is not legal tender there. In order to provide subsidies to local manufacturers, they do it with their own money, of which they have an unlimited amount, just as the USG has an unlimited amount of its own scrip. We do not live in a gold standard world in which china can obtain a gold coin from the U.S., ship that coin across the ocean, and then pay that coin to a local firm in exchange for domestically made goods. All net trade income received by China must be immediately re-invested in the purchase of U.S. assets (bonds), and the forex rates adjust to ensure that this always happens. It is not a choice, but a mathematical fact that the current account plus the capital account sum to zero. There is no "extra" trade income that can be used to purchase chinese goods.

More importantly, the real wealth of a nation is not measured by how much scrip a government is able to tax away. That would be silly, as government first issues the scrip and then passes laws to tax it back. That's not a measure of wealth. Real wealth is a nation's productivity. That means both quantity and quality of output that can be produced per unit of effort. The Chinese recognize this and are trying to improve their own capital stock.They are trying to build real wealth. If a byproduct is the erosion of productive capacity in the U.S., then this means the U.S. becomes poorer. But not by design, and not as a requirement, it's a just a by-product due to the interplay between financial profits and real wealth. Note that we are not talking about money -- I'm sure U.S. firms can earn large profits if they are given very cheap inputs, at least in financial terms. But if our real productivity capacity is diminished as a result, then we as a nation *do* become poorer.

In a for-profit world, investors invest in those things that earn a return, independently of whether this investment is beneficial to the nation as a whole or succeeds in increasing productivity. See, for example, our wonderful financial system. So the Chinese government, if it believes that it needs to acquire capital in some industry, waves its hands and makes investing in that industry more profitable (in terms of money) for its own people. It's able to do this because, as has already been mentioned, the Chinese government has an unlimited supply of its own scrip to spend, as do all governments that use fiat currencies.

Whether this move actually pays off for China or not is questionable. If you are a market-zealot, then you believe that any government interference will cause misallocation of resources and China would be even more productive without it. But China seems to have a track record of achieving rapid economic growth by intervening in industries and subsidizing the ones it believes will lead to the highest productivity gains. And not only China, but many nations follow this model. Nations with "hands off" governments tend not to have clean drinking water, universities, or a developed economy. Of course, that doesn't mean that every intervention is good. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The real world track record doesn't cleanly support one political philosophy over another.

In either case, whether or not the Chinese succeed in making themselves more productive by printing up their own money and giving it to politically favored entrepreneurs, this is an experiment that is not happening with "our" money, but with their money and their own economy. The problem arises when it spills over to the U.S. (or EU) economy. In that case, there is nothing wrong with the U.S. government raising the costs of doing business for the same Chinese entrepreneurs who had their own costs lowered by their own government. And with a billion people, you would think that China would be able to develop domestic industries without selling into the U.S. market. After all, there is also some need for energy in China. So ask yourself why do they need to sell to America? It is not because "we have the money". We just have pieces of paper, and they have their own paper. They can't use our paper except to buy our goods and we cant use their paper except to buy their goods. So it's retarded to say that they can't pay their own workers to produce something because they need more U.S. currency to do it. Rather, the Chinese government, by subsidizing exporters, is effectively taxing firms that do not export but sell to the domestic market. After a certain point, those subsidies/taxes are so large that a large portion of a nation's business needs to export in order to be profitable. So one side effect of an export led growth model is that your own prices become so distorted that it becomes unaffordable (in the financial sense) to sell to your own people goods that they need. But the Chinese are not doing anything with "our money". They are running a grand experiment on their own people, which is conducted with their own money and their own capital stock.

Comment: Re:So this is different from prior attempts how? (Score 4, Insightful) 300

by poemofatic (#38065990) Attached to: RIAA Doesn't Like the "Used Digital Music" Business

But purchasers of books take resale value into account, so destroying the used book market may well mean that demand for books *decreases*:

I've known people who buy (low brow) books to read once and then re-sell. It is a cost/convenience trade off. They could go to the library, but that's a hassle. Say the hassle is worth $8 bucks to them. They buy a book for $12, read it, and sell it back for $4.

They are paying $8 in order to not deal with the library.

Destroy the used book market, and now they need to pay $12 to read that low-brow book once. If it's not worth it, then they don't buy, and overall book demand may decrease. Detroit learned this lesson the hard way when they had the bright idea of building cars that weren't meant to last long enough to have a high re-sale value. The net result was *not* an increased demand for the product.

The absent ones are always at fault.

Working...