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Comment: Re:Pangolin? (Score 2) 543

by shogarth (#39810167) Attached to: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Out; Unity Gets a Second Chance

Apple fails at hardware revision names, though. My Air is simply called a Macbook Air, even though it's the fourth generation. The new iPad is simply called "iPad". And yet the iPhone has a name, so this lack of hardware naming is inconsistent. Of course, I expect them to remedy this--but in the wrong direction.

I think Apple is still scarred from the mess they created in the mid 1990's. Who can forget their crystal clear lineup of systems

  • Macintosh Classic
  • Macintosh LC
  • Macintosh II
  • Macintosh Quadra
  • Macintosh Performa
  • Macintosh Centris
  • Macintosh PowerBook

each of which had a variety of model numbers and frequently comparable configurations. It left the company so scared (and scarred) that you practically have to look up the serial number to tell how old a given box is.

Comment: Shades of a failed experiment (Score 5, Interesting) 157

by shogarth (#39649875) Attached to: Coming to an Ice Cream Shop Near You: Soft Serve Beer

This reminds me of a time we were in the field and our beer got unappetizingly warm. Due to the kind of work we were doing, we had plenty of liquid nitrogen but insufficient refrigerator space for our liquid refreshments. One evening a member of the team decided he wanted a very cold Guinness and so poured about 250 ml of liquid nitrogen into his glass of beer.

Of course the nitrogen changed state but the surprise (to us anyway) was that the gas caused the beer to freeze sightly slower that it foamed. Within a few seconds, there was a meter or so of frozen beer foam standing up out of the glass. It was completely undrinkable (being in solid form), but wasn't bad if eaten with a spoon; which had to happen quickly as it started to melt immediately.

Moral: Don't send a bunch of twenty-something researchers into the desert for weeks on end without proper cooling equipment.

Comment: Re:Of course (Score 5, Informative) 395

Not so much. Those were created while this whole Internet thing was a DoD/DoE/NSF (and other TLA) plaything. Anyone expecting that there would be a neutral, internationally managed jurisdiction was being idealistic and/or naive.

The problem is that governments have an established interest in and right to set the ground rules within their respective jurisdictions. For most of the internet, that comes down to boxes in their physical territory and the relevant CcTLD. The US has a first-mover advantage (or headache) in that they also created the .ORG, .NET, .COM, .MIL, and .EDU zones and can make a reasonable jurisdictional claim to them.

This is also why I think the open registration for TLDs is a bad idea. These jurisdictional issues are complicated enough (and will likely require a treaty or two to work out) without corporations in one country registering a TLD from a registrar in another to use for business worldwide. It's similar to the problem that had to be worked out internationally as corporate legal fictions became the norm in international commerce.

Comment: Re:Not really a moving narrative (Score 1) 236

by shogarth (#35226040) Attached to: The True Cost of Publishing On the Amazon Kindle

I beg to differ. Amazon does not have a monopoly on *anything* other than the manufacture of Kindles. However, this is just one of many types of eReaders (the actual market in question). Their goal is to maximize profit but they have to work within the ecosystem of publishers, competing retailers, and devices.

Before you snort and storm off, think about this. Fifteen years ago, Amazon was a nothing upstart going against some of the biggest and laziest incumbent retailers (I'm talking about the handful of music and book chains that dominated distribution in the US). They won that round by offering buyers what they wanted at prices that were better. As a company, they are more aware than most about how vulnerable a large incumbent can be to changes in its ecosystem. They are trying to find a product that will keep them relevant a decade from now.

What Amazon is doing is insisting on a piece of the action as the reseller (which every reseller does) and something extra for the distribution of bits. As I said before, that distribution fee may not be reasonable by any particular person's definition and is a reasonable subject for debate. <aside> Anything more than 15% above their wholesale rates (an overhead charge) seems excessive to *me* </aside> However, the only opinion that matters here is that of the publisher considering using Amazon as an e-document distributor. If Amazon's cost structure allows that organization to meet its revenue goals while keeping prices down to something consumers will accept, then it is good enough. If not, then the publisher will do something else (go elsewhere, beat on Amazon to reduce their cut, etc.). My point is that the publisher is the only one with the historical data to decide if the money is right. Some will and some won't.

This is also not to say the users are not getting screwed. That is a different question and involves what is a reasonable price to pay for an electronic, possibly DRM infected version of content you can also buy in dead-tree format. I tend to think that $9 is unreasonable for a paperback (and unconscionable for an electronic version) of entertainment prose. The question here to consider is "Who is screwing the customer?" I tend to think there is enough greed in enough places (publishers, advertising agencies, agents, resellers, authors, etc.) to spread the blame widely and thinly.

Comment: Not really a moving narrative (Score 4, Interesting) 236

by shogarth (#35223580) Attached to: The True Cost of Publishing On the Amazon Kindle

There are two things to consider here

1.) Amazon is handling the distribution. If their formula is unreasonable, that is something to kick around but they do need to cover those costs.

2.) The publishers probably cannot "pop it in the mail" for less. The article's author is forgetting about or intentionally ignoring the printing costs.

At the end of the day, the question has to be "Is the publisher getting a better or worse return?" This article (and most others on this subject) neglect that issue entirely. It's easy to bash at Apple's or Amazon's costing formula. It's much harder (and would display a lot of the publishers' proprietary data) to discuss the real fiscal impact on the publishing industry.

Comment: Unsurprising, really (Score 1) 159

by shogarth (#33910338) Attached to: Study Shows Babies Think Friendly Robots Are Sentient
My daughter is almost three years-old. One of the most interesting things to observe is how she classifies her world. When she was 18 months old she would have classified a robot as sentient; she thought almost everything was alive (sort of a toddler version of pantheism). If it was a friendly robot, that would have put it in the realm of the three dogs and cat which she was already familiar with.
Handhelds

The Coming Onslaught of iPad Competitors 497

Posted by timothy
from the let's-back-off-from-the-k-word dept.
harrymcc writes "The iPad is selling as well as it is in part because no large manufacturer has had a direct rival out yet. But boy, is that going to change in the next few months. Over at Technologizer, I rounded up known information on 32 current and future tablet computing devices, from potentially worthy iPad competitors to wannabees to interesting specialty devices. By early 2011 these things are going to be everywhere, and it'll be fascinating to see how they fare." Related: the tablet-type device I've been watching most eagerly, Notion Ink's Adam, seems to finally have a realistic manufacturing prediction and price range (by November; up to $498 for the version with 3G and Pixel Qi screen).
Image

Antidepressants In the Water Are Making Shrimp Suicidal 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the crustacean-frustration dept.
Antidepressants may help a lot of people get up in the morning but new research shows they are making shrimp swim into that big bowl of cocktail sauce in the sky. Alex Ford, a marine biologist at the University of Portsmouth, found that shrimp exposed to the antidepressant fluoxetine are 5 times more likely to swim towards light instead of away from it. Shrimp usually swim away from light as it is associated with birds or fishermen.
Security

Dot-Org TLD Signed For DNSSEC 58

Posted by timothy
from the not-passing-on-costs-is-a-neat-trick dept.
graychase writes "A major milestone is reached as the first major top-level domain (.org) is now secured with DNSSEC. The expense to .org for implementing DNSSEC on its infrastructure and operations has not been a small one. While specific figures as to the cost of DNSSEC implementation haven't been released, Afilias, which is the technical operator of the .org registry, told InternetNews.com in 2009 that the DNSSEC implementation would be a multi-million-dollar effort. The cost isn't going to be passed on by .org to domain registrars. The move toward securing the .org registry with DNS security started in September 2008, following the Kaminsky DNS flaw disclosure."
Google

YouTube Granted Safe Harbor From Viacom 107

Posted by timothy
from the can't-they-all-merge-and-then-shut-up? dept.
eldavojohn writes "It's an old case, but there was an interesting development today when a judge ruled that YouTube is protected from Viacom by the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, since YouTube helps rights owners manage their rights online and works cooperatively with entities like Viacom. Google's calling it a victory, but I'm not sure if Viacom will take this without a fight."

Comment: Re:ALL copyright is a restriction on free speech. (Score 1) 431

by shogarth (#32655722) Attached to: Court Takes Away Some of the Public Domain
I tend to agree. Challenging this as a 1st Amendment issue is probably the weakest legal argument. It seems that the ex post facto violation would be stronger. Even more powerful would be to challenge this under the 5th amendment (unlawful taking) since property (in the form of legal, derivative works based on the public domain materials) is being rendered valueless.
Wikipedia

Wikipedia Is Not Amused By Entry For xkcd-Coined Word 553

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-confuse-me-for-one-frobnitzjibber dept.
ObsessiveMathsFreak writes "Today's xkcd comic introduced an unusual word — malamanteau — by giving its supposed definition on Wikipedia. The only trouble is that the word (as well as its supposed wiki page) did not in fact exist. Naturally, much ado ensued at the supposed wiki page, which was swiftly created in response to the comic. This article has more on how the comic and the confusion it caused have put the Net in a tizzy. It turns out that a malamanteau is a portmanteau of portmanteau and malapropism, but also a malapropism of portmanteau. All this puts Wikipedia in the confusing position of not allowing a page for an undefined word whose meaning is defined via the Wikipedia page for that word — and now I have to lie down for a moment."

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