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Comment: Re:Early fragmentation (Score 1) 488

by epine (#48918565) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

Turbo Pascal became insanely popular on single-tasking systems because it was much easier to use.

Many aspiring programmers were ruined by precisely this ease of use, getting into the habit of massaging compiler complaints out of their code base with their fingers instead of their brains.

In C, if your compiler complains about an unsafe comparison between signed and unsigned, one can eliminate that complaint pretty quickly by tossing in a cast operator. Eliminating a braino ... not so fast.

GUI-facing code often benefited from the rapid turn-around cycle of a "turbo" IDE, whereas algorithmic code typically didn't.

Comment: Re:So what will this accomplish? (Score 2, Insightful) 154

by danheskett (#48915433) Attached to: Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

Why is this rated 5? Yes, paying drivers more *might* slightly increase supply but my guess is that the number of drivers is somewhat

You guess? Well lets just throw out the Iron Clad Law of Supply & Demand, on which almost all of the worlds productive economy is based, because you guess.

fixed so without also charging passengers more you do nothing on the demand side. The point of demand pricing is to reduce demand
so that you don't overwhelm the relatively fixed supply. If your goal is to always have cars available, then increasing the price while
paying the drivers the same would actually be a better solution than increasing the pay while charging the same but that would also be
idiotic.

You cannot look at one side of the equation.

When demand is up, there are only two options. Option number one is shortages (of supply). Option number two is that supply must increase.
When supply is down, there are only two options. Option number one is shortages (of demand). Option number two is that supply must decrease.

In either case, the solution is price elasticity. When the price drops, because supply is too high or demand is too low, drivers will drop out of the market. When the price raises, because supply is too low or demand is too high, drivers will enter the market.

Uber has a flexible work force, and it is no way fixed. They also posses 100% more information about the market and their drivers than you do, or the AG does.

This is the case of government using consumer protection laws in a way that will hurt consumers. Economics and the market are not friendly, but they do produce desirable outcomes. If the desirable outcome is fairness, than what the government and AG are doing will produce a fair outcome - everyone regardless of ability to pay will have an equal chance of getting or not getting a car, based on random luck, your skin color, or whatever else motivates you.

If the outcome is to provide as many rides possible, this requires a market with supply and demand efficiency. By curbing supply efficiency by limiting price elasticity, you provide fewer rides than the market will optimally support. If you are frequent driver, you know that by going to where the demand is, to when the demand is, will produce more and more profitable rides. If you are a rider, you know that by relying on Uber during exceptionally busy times, you will only be able to get a ride by paying far more than you would otherwise.

This is really a great case of the nanny government stepping into a situation which is drastically over it's head, in the name of "fairness". Fairness is not an economic goal, it's a social goal, and it's stupid to try to enforce a social goal like this on the very tail end of the policy stack.

Comment: Re: What did you expect? (Score 3, Insightful) 197

by grub (#48903763) Attached to: Google Handed To FBI 3 Wikileaks Staffers' Emails, Digital Data
PGP/GPG is much easier to use these days than it was in the 90's. Plugins exist for many mail clients that do the heavy lifting in the background.

Friends and family are surely tired of my tinfoil hat, they just do not seem to care about their privacy. Many say the "I have nothing to hide" line.

Comment: another booking at the Hobbit Hotel (Score 1) 820

by epine (#48887479) Attached to: Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

If you don't notice a flashing green light barely in your peripheral vision I would start to wonder if you ought to be driving at all.

At my height, the steering wheel blocks out half the dashboard. And, no, I can't fix this problem with a phone book (even if such a thing was still available).

My problem is that I'm forced to recline to a halfway recumbent position to keep from mashing my head into the ceiling.

In many vehicles I end up reclined so far back that I can barely reach the steering wheel. And, no, this is not because I have short arms. It's because the rear passenger window has now entered my peripheral vision. If this strikes you as strange, then I suspect it's been a long while since you spent any quality time with sin/cosine. (I have a wine bottle a mere 2" too tall for one of my cupboard shelves. If I tilt it to 45 degrees it fits just fine.)

So then I have to crank the seat forward until my knees are striking the front dashboard. Strangely, I don't find this uncomfortable for my legs, unless I wish to move them.

My peripheral vision is now roughly oriented toward the driver's seat-belt pulley, and my eye level is horizontal to the tint line on the windscreen. By the time I get the steering adjusted to a comfortable position, it's almost a certainty that half the dashboard is occluded by the top half of the steering wheel.

I can't see stop lights, either, if I'm first to the light and I've pulled up to the stop line, unless I use the old ear-to-shoulder trick—or I spot some other aspect of the intersection control synchronized to the light I'm waiting on.

What look like large vehicles from the outside are usually just as bad. Sure, the cabin height is increased, but usually they take most of it away with a higher seat height (to better accommodate all those fancy seat motors whose very existence makes the seating position you most desire impossible to achieve).

You should book a week sometime in the Hobbit Hotel. It will do wonders for your imagination concerning the circumstances that others face. Probably you should do this before participating in the design of any mechanical thing to be used by anyone other than a jet fighter pilot (whose physiques are carefully restricted to the design environment).

Comment: Re:Censorship? (Score 1) 420

by epine (#48885977) Attached to: Blogger Who Revealed GOP Leader's KKK Ties Had Home Internet Lines Cut

Actions sometimes send messages, but they are not speech.

Non-verbal actions are not speech (excepting deaf people and Italians and anyone with secure tenure in hard rock D-block and postural nuance of a clever hostage being photographed by his or her kidnapper), but often they are speech acts (in cases too far multitudinous to list here).

Comment: Re:Not about code (Score 1) 307

by danheskett (#48878609) Attached to: Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

When Apple's prices change (actually, has that happened in the last few years? I think the price has been steady for a while) the market doesn't reconfigure around that price.

Apple has effectively raised prices. The Iphone 5 and 6 lines both have less stuff (namely, storage) for the same amount of money. This is a price increase in everything but optics. While prices should be declining, they are actually stagnant (while adding higher price points).

Apple's control extends only to their own product

No, I don't think this is true. Cell phone sales slow and crawl for all carriers and brands before a new Apple product announcement or release. Additionally, what's unusual, is that typically if there is a constrained supply of a product, some of the unfilled demand bleeds off into other competing products. Like, around Xmas, you go to the store, Toy X is gone off the shelf. Do you give no present? Nope. You substitute a competing product. There is surprisingly little of this in cell phones. One good theory why is because of platform lock-in. In this way, Apple is able to constrain the ability to switch to a competing product effectively. It produces a magnifying effect to their market share. This is very similar to the tying claims that Microsoft go in trouble with in the 90's.

If Apple disappeared tomorrow, the world would still have smartphone manufacturers.

This is true, but not that relevant. There's always another dog.

The only way this monopoly argument could hold water is if we decide that Android and the handsets it runs on should be considered a completely different category of product.

I don't think this is true. Android is not a thing you buy, just like iOS is not something you buy. You buy the phone, with the OS. So for comparison purposes, you can't say it's "Android v. iOS". It has to be handsets for the iPhone. Until you can reasonably buy phone OS's, really, there is no such thing as a market for Android the platform. Since the platform is so fragmented, switching between Android platforms is non-trivial.

In this regard iPhone is a huge market leader and has a greater share than competing products. And that gulf is wide enough that in other industries, combined with the market power, there is a reasonable case to be made that Apple has monopoly control of the smartphone market in the US.

Comment: Re:Not about code (Score 1) 307

by danheskett (#48876779) Attached to: Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

As people are always delighted to point out, Apple's market share is by no means the majority. Apple isn't a utility.

I agree, but only for now. In the future, if they are running a communication service over a public utility (i.e. regulated internet access), it certainly seems iMessage is exactly like other communication services over regulated infrastructure, namely phone service. Carriers can't lock out each other from similiar over the air services, like SMS, for the same reason.

BlackBerry missed the boat about a dozen times at this point and that's their fault, not Apple's.
Yeah, BB is totally irrelevant to the meat of the discussion. They are screwed.

As far as Apple and monopoly power, it's an interest case. A company does not need to have X% of a market to have a monopoly. Companies have monopoly power with much smaller shares. In some industries, a company can have monopoly power with even 20% of the market. In terms of Smartphones, it's often seen as "Google v. Apple". But really, Google is just a small player. Just because Android runs on many smartphones, does not mean that Google is a direct actor in the market. Apple competes with partnerships of Google/Handset maker. If you were to look at share in this light, I think Apple is by far the largest player. (But I can't find any numbers. Last I found was in mid-2014, with Apple around 40% and Google around 45% and everyone else doing the rest).

The key elements of Apple's monopoly power are there though: they can effectively set prices in the market, they have the ability to raise or lower production to affect prices and availability of the good, they can suppress or increase the market by withholding or releasing products. This last one is important.

This is an interesting time to see what happens with Apple. The practices and behavior of Apple right now are not far off from where MS got itself into trouble in the 1990's. Especially with regards to bundling, tying, and price controls.

Comment: Re:Please develop for my dying platform! (Score 1) 307

by danheskett (#48876647) Attached to: Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

Yeah, it's close to those examples.

The phone analogy almost fits, in that after the phone monopoly was ended, they really did have to open up the service to any phone. The difference being a phone has no operating system (at the time), it was just an electro-mechnical device operating to common standard.

The wording is just really bizarre. Downloading a service.

Comment: Re:Please develop for my dying platform! (Score 1) 307

by danheskett (#48875645) Attached to: Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

"Net Neutrality means mandating that developers and services must create something that works on your dying platform? Does that mean that NetFlix will have to make sure it works with Symbian too? How about PocketPC 2003?"

I am not sure that's what he is saying.

Partly because he uses phrases like "downloading the service".

Comment: Not about code (Score 0, Troll) 307

by danheskett (#48875639) Attached to: Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

"Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system."

The application layer doesn't necessarily mean code, it means making the application layer, as well as the content layer, available to outside developers, to facilitate a non-discriminatory policy of open content access.

I think there was a big leap made here from "open access" to "force app developers to write code for Blackberry".

Chen has a strong point Apple's iMessage service, which is proprietary and closed. It is odd to imagine iMessage running over regulated, public utility internet access while at the same time using patents and copyright and trademark law to prevent interoperability. If Apple is going to run a communications service over a public utility, and use monopoly tactics like lock-in and tying, why should that be permitted?

Friction is a drag.

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