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Comment: Re:Updates are uneconomical (Score 1) 318

by reversible physicist (#42961281) Attached to: Fragmentation Leads To Android Insecurities

NB: This is exactly the model that Apple also uses, in not providing newer versions of Mac OS X for hardware they are no longer manufacturing.

Actually, Apple supports it's Mac hardware with new versions of OS X for several years after it stops making it, and then continues to release bug patches and security releases for old OS's for awhile longer. And since it has adopted the strategy of making their old designs their low-end phones, old phone hardware lives for many years!

On the other hand, handset vendors that productize via carriers can't worry much about customer satisfaction with old devices, because they have no way to get carriers to release new versions for old handsets. So the situations aren't really parallel.

Comment: Re:Blood in the Water (Score 1) 327

by reversible physicist (#40706403) Attached to: Microsoft Posts First Quarterly Loss Ever
If I were an MS investor, I would take this as a sign that decision making at MS is not very impressive lately. So far they haven't made much progress breaking into online and mobile, and their old cash cows will dry up eventually. Maybe Windows 8 and Surface will be their big breakthrough in mobile, but I doubt it. Windows has a lot of momentum and so MS will probably get several tries at this, but I think they're going to have to make some difficult changes in business model and corporate culture to succeed.

Comment: Re:"the loss stems from..." (Score 2) 327

by reversible physicist (#40705995) Attached to: Microsoft Posts First Quarterly Loss Ever
The ad acquisition was intended to help their online businesses, which lost $2 billion in the past year, and is instead a complete write-off. They have several other big bets that could fail, including Bing and their Windows 8 move into mobile. If these fail, there will be more big write-offs.

Comment: end all patents (Score 1) 85

by reversible physicist (#40705457) Attached to: Patents On Genes: Round Two
Genetic patents are the ultimate software patents, since our genetic code is the program for building us. And these days there is no sharp distinction between software and hardware, since there is so much software that replaces what used to be done with hardware (electronic ignition, calculator, programmable gate arrays, firmware). So I think the real problem is the idea of a patent, period. In this technological age, it's unnecessary to award monopolies to encourage innovation, and secrets don't last long. The whole patent system should simply be shut down: no new patents, and twenty years from now it will be gone.

Comment: Re:A patent troll public shaming. Interesting (Score 1, Insightful) 278

by reversible physicist (#40692389) Attached to: Apple Must Publicly Post That Samsung Did Not Copy iPad

A patent troll is a non-practicing entity. I understand that you feel patents are a bad idea. I do too. But that doesn't make Apple a troll. Many other derogatory terms are available!

Objectively, it seems that Samsung has followed the very successful business strategy of making phones (and less successfully tablets) that look a lot like market leading Apple products. Apple has tried to use the patent system to prevent this, and this has been, I think, a PR disaster (and not very effective). Since this is exactly what all the billions spent on patents is supposed to enable, maybe big tech corporations will get sick of patents and patent wars and get the whole system abolished. One can hope!

Comment: Re:Apple (Score 1) 229

iPhone is the overwhelmingly common device in enterprise right now, largely because of BYOD. Ironically, some claim that Blackberry is slightly more secure than iOS because it is more obscure (less popular)! It is pretty universally acknowledged that Android currently comes in last when it comes to enterprise security.

Comment: Myth (Score 1) 292

by reversible physicist (#39761035) Attached to: Beneath Africa, Survey Finds 'Huge' Water Reserves
With enough energy, we could distill sea water. Therefore pure fresh water is not a finite resource that must limit the earth's population anytime soon. This is a myth. There is also not (in principle) an energy shortage -- just technical obstacles to using more of the solar and geothermal energy that are available in such staggering abundance (compared to our current energy usage).

Comment: Re:Hope and change (Score 1) 338

There are some real differences. For one, the Republican view that government should redistribute money to the wealthy, and not the other way around, is winning. This continues despite a financial crisis caused largely by people with too much money and influence. Ironically, the rich have historically done much better on average when there has been less inequality.

And you're repeating very old stereotypes here. Democrats had a large budget surplus under Clinton, and there was a real danger that the US would pay off it's national debt. We were saved from that by Bush.

And finally, as a scientist, I am deeply disturbed by the conservative rejection of science. This has been extensively documented, and is driving the Republican party crazy. Evidence must matter, or we'll experience the dark side of the evolution they don't believe in.

Comment: Re:Since nobody has mentioned him yet, Lester Del (Score 1) 1244

My favorite Del Rey is The Runaway Robot, which I still find very readable. It's written from the viewpoint of a robot that is a companion/servant for a young boy and gets sold when his family moves back to Earth. It would still make a wonderful movie! Interestingly, this wasn't actually written by Del Rey, but just outlined by him and ghost written by Paul W. Fairman. Perhaps that's why Del Rey didn't republish it.

Comment: useful click bait (Score 1) 744

Completely agree. Apple is actually probably the best of the tech companies in terms of monitoring working conditions in China, but a bit of heat will make them try much harder. One piece of evidence that news media don't really care about the issues is the recent coverage of the workers who threatened mass suicide at a Chinese factory making Xbox's. This was almost universally reported as, "workers at Apple manufacturer Foxconn..." without even mentioning Microsoft.

I'm also dismayed at the way that this story is linked to bringing jobs home. Poor Chinese desperately need these shitty jobs to stay alive and to find a path out of poverty, and keeping the devices they make affordable has stimulated a lot of really good jobs here. For example, Apple has paid more than $2 billion in the past year to hundreds of thousands of software developers in their App store.

Comment: did you actually try an iPad? (Score 3, Informative) 254

by reversible physicist (#37137332) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Ebook Reader for Scientific Papers?

3. ipad (1 & 2). Really good PDF rendering and pages turn fast. Downsides are: a) No easy way to transfer documents. Some may consider iTunes easy to work. I do not. b) Lower resolutio and physical size of the display when compared to Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and other similar Android devices.

You don't need to use iTunes to transfer PDFs. There are several hundred PDF readers written specifically for the iPad. I've only tried a few of them but my favorites are Papers, GoodReader and AirSharing, none of which require you to use iTunes for transferring files. Direct access to servers, including mail servers and dropbox, is common. Did you actually try an iPad?

Comment: Who cares where the iPad is assembled? (Score 2) 628

by reversible physicist (#35845760) Attached to: Jesse Jackson, Jr. Pins US Job Losses On iPad

Outsourcing iPad manufacturing to low wage workers in China is hardly the problem. According to iSuppli, each iPad 2 costs $9 to assemble. This is only 3% of the overall manufacturing cost -- the rest is in parts that are made all over the world.

The US benefits at least as much as anyone else from the availability of cheap electronics -- both for consumers and for industry. Unless we are prepared to make all electronics dramatically more expensive, we have to let the market decide who makes the parts that go into our devices. If we're designing the device, and writing software for it, and building new companies and industries around it, that seems like a pretty good contribution to the US economy.

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