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

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Re:Free Enterprise (Score 2) 184

by sirlark (#48562127) Attached to: Swedish Police Raid the Pirate Bay Again

While I agree with most of what you say, including your conclusion that the complete removal of copyright will mean de facto replacement by a patronage system, you miss two crucial points. Firstly, the fundamental difference between the arts in before the 19th century and today is that the distribution costs are now negligible, especially if the distribution is digital, but even if the distribution is physical. It costs less to produce most art in physical form and more importantly to reproduce than ever before in human history, yet prices do not come down. There's also a clear divorce between production costs and retail costs. A new DVD from a block buster movie with a budget in the 100's of millions costs the same or less to buy than the latest top 10 CDs with production budgets in the 10's of millions. Consumers get this, they understand they're being screwed by the CD producers. They're being charged what the CD producers think the market will bear... except clearly the market won't bear it, because piracy is rampant. Music producers (especially) love to harp on about lost sales, but flat out refuse to consider piracy as market indicator. Let's assume there were a full proof way prevent piracy. Sales would stay pretty flat, or I suspect drop a fair bit. People pirate way more than they could ever afford to buy, and if suddenly forced to buy everything, they would pick and choose a lot more, like back in the 80's and early 90's when kids saved their pocket money to buy that one album they'd been eyeing for three months. Concert and performance revenue would probably fall off (except for really big, well publicised, acts, i.e. the guys who are already coining it) because of lack of exposure. CD prices would be forced down. Lack of exposure is why I think CD sales might actually drop in this scenario. The same argument holds for other types of digitally reproducible art.

Secondly, the content-creation (for want of a better term) industry is a lot like the the professional sports industry. We only really here about the super stars, who are 1% of all the attempts at success. The current copyright regime is already in effect a patronage system, except the "rich dudes" are rich corporations who decide who they will promote. Yes consumers can vote with their money, which only constrains who will be promoted to largely popular inoffensive artists, whereas in a true patronage system the individual tastes of the rich dudes funded a wider variety of creative efforts. There are also a lot more "rich dudes" now than ever before. They're called the middle class. They have a fair amount of disposable income. No single person in the middle class has the money to fund an artist in the same way as traditional patronage systems, but there are vastly more potential consumers for art than ever before in human history, and what's more is the skills required to reproduce a performance and the costs involved are way less than before too, allowing artists to either manage distribution themselves, or pay substantially less than previously to someone else to do it for them.

I view piracy as a form of civil disobedience protesting inflated prices. If digital content were reduced to 25% I'm pretty sure sales would more than quadruple. Also, considering the percentages the artists get paid, they're getting screwed the least by piracy. I know that there are plenty of other people involved in music and film production, but for the most part, they all get paid salaries, not royalties. So they're not getting screwed by piracy.

P.S. I'm viewing things from a South African perspective, where minimum wage is approximately $1 an hour and new release DVDs cost about $18 ~ $25, and a new CD will set you back around $20. E-books range widely from $1 to $15, and physical books are minimum of $25 hard cover, $12 paperback. At minimum wage South Africans have to work 2 and a half days to afford a DVD/CD/Ebook/book.

Comment: Re:Something we don't really need (Score 2) 30

Main advantage: I want a phone with everything... Best camera, biggest storage best screen. Right now, that cost's me bout $1000 in my country before the reverse subsidizations kick in. I say reverse, because in my country, buying a phone on plan costs more over time than buying the phone outright upfront for the more expensive phones, taking into account the costs of the plan without any phone. That's a BIG layout where I'm from, but if I can buy those components over time and upgrade according to my own priority list, I can assemble the phone within my budget. Better, after two years roll by, I only have to upgrade the components which are underpowered for me. The screen won't degrade over time, so I can keep that. The battery might need replacement, and the camera upgrading. Chances are a quad-core will still be sufficient in 2 years, if PC's are anything to go by. Wifi, bluetooth, NFC, qi charging, etc... once they're in, they won't need upgrading for a while.

Comment: Re: Oracle (Score 2) 146

by sirlark (#48109331) Attached to: Google Takes the Fight With Oracle To the Supreme Court

It does NOT require creativity. It requires logic. I do this for a living too, and have done so for 30 years. Two people trying to solve the same problem (developing a communications protocol, because that's what an API is) are almost always going to come up with the same solution. Even if they don't, the number of possible solutions is small, and it's NOT a creative choice picking one above the other, it's a technical choice.

Comment: Charge for fixed costs (Score 1) 488

by sirlark (#48025819) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
Where I live, one pays a hefty deposit when your are connected to the grid in a residential property (refunded when you sell, paid when you buy). In addition, one is charged a flat monthly connection fee plus a usage based fee. It sound like the utilities just need to (a) start charging a monthly connection fee to cover their fixed costs, and (b) if they are already charging this, increase that fee accordingly as renewable power generation increases. If someone doesn't want to pay the connection fee, and feels they can get by on power generated by themselves alone, they can disconnect from the grid.

Comment: It's complicated (Score 1) 159

by sirlark (#48014439) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Software Issue Tracking Transparency - Good Or Bad?
First of all, if you are developing a proprietary software product, you're legal department might want to weigh in on the exposure of code via submitted patches on a public bugzilla database. Secondly, if you're developing an ERP system, you have a LOT of established, mature, and tested (which will be interpreted by the PHBs looking to buy your product as "bug free") competitors out there. in this case exposing the bug database HIGHLIGHTS your products immaturity, which is probably a bad thing for sales. That said sales should realise they are marketing an immature product. Presumably your product has other differentiating points that will help it gain market share, and I'm assuming lower price is probably one of the main selling points. Sales cannot hide the fact your product is immature, but they do have a point asking you not to go around highlighting it. The last thing, is to do an in depth analysis of the costs of running the public database, versus the costs of sanitizing reports on a regular basis plus the added burden of support staff to manage the bug database on behalf of clients. The bean counters are aware of the fact that there should be staff dedicated to shielding customers from the ugliness of the development process, and that those people shouldn't be developers, because developers cost more per hour... right? All in all, the gory details on your side will determine whether it's good business to continue in an open manner, or seal things up...

Comment: Re:Privacy is an illusion (Score 4, Interesting) 124

by sirlark (#47640873) Attached to: John McAfee Airs His Beefs About Privacy In Def Con Surprise Talk

The only thing we have going for us, is that the vast majority of us won't raise the eyebrows of any government employees in our lifetimes. The sad part is that a lonely few will, and they'll be dealt with unfairly and harshly.

Which means it falls to us as the vast majority to hold those who abuse their governmental power to account when they deal with someone unfairly. A duty, I'm sad to say, we are all falling woefully short of...

And before anyone bitches about me just bitching, here is the first and most important step you can take. Inform Yourself! Check your putative representative's voting records, and compare it to what he's saying. Go out and but a newspaper from the "other side", to get balanced view of things. Challenge your friends when they make wild, or even just unsubstantiated, statements. A phrase I like personally (from CSI) "state your source". It's gentle, and mostly non-offensive, and goes down well as a pop-culture reference. And lastly, if you don't have the resources to fact check something, suggest it to a fact checking agency. They don't work for free often, but if you put something on their radar, they can at least look in to it when some suitably close paid for work comes in. Better yet, tip off the opposing politician's campaign, and get them to pay for it.

+ - Fuel saving car->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Ever made someone do a double take? You will now. The new 2015 Camry styling is impossible to ignore, with bold, aggressive hood lines and a striking new front grille. From now on, people won’t just be talking about all that technology, safety and quality engineering. They’ll be too busy asking “Who was that?""
Link to Original Source

Comment: Sell BandWIDTH not data (Score 3) 316

by sirlark (#47612361) Attached to: Verizon Throttles Data To "Provide Incentive To Limit Usage"
What I don't understand is why they don't just make everyone's life easier and sell the unlimited plans by bandwidth, not 'data limit', i.e. unlimited 1Gb/s costs X, unlimited 2Gb/s costs more etc. Pay for your speed, and never sell more than some fraction of a towers total bandwidth, so that two or three big down loaders at once don't clobber everyone else.

+ - Nasa approves 'impossible' space engine design that apparently violates the laws-> 4

Submitted by sirlark
sirlark (1676276) writes "In a quiet announcement that has sent shockwaves through the scientific world, Nasa has cautiously given its seal of approval to a new type of “impossible” engine that could revolutionize space travel.

In a paper published by the agency’s experimental Eagleworks Laboratories, Nasa engineers confirmed that they had produced tiny amounts of thrust from an engine without propellant – an apparent violation of the conservation of momentum; the law of physics that states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:How many drivers? (Score 1) 84

by sirlark (#47588059) Attached to: Driverless Buses Ruled Out For London, For Now
I agree that the distribution of the benefits of progress is a big problem, but consider also the distribution of losses. By its very nature, technological progress tends to cut low-skilled jobs, because those are the easiest to automate. In general, when progress happens it means we as a society have to become more educated just to get on the bottom of the employment ladder. If anything, the distribution of benefits should be generously apportioned towards creating and extending free education up to graduate level at least. When driver-less cars come into widespread usage, there will be some replacement of lost jobs with other ones: maintenance of driver-less cars, design and production of apps/entertainment systems for driver-less cars, etc. Those are all skilled labour positions. However, there's one thing that doesn't require any skill. Owning a car. And owning a driver-less car allows a single taxi operator to run multiple vehicles. Sure it requires a capital investment, but the point is, it doesn't remove the income stream entirely, in fact, it might even allow more income if handled correctly.

Comment: Re:Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 241

by sirlark (#47487865) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Higher Math is not necessary in all fields of programming but it is certainly very necessary in many.

... which means that higher maths is really domain specific, and not necessary for programming. Otherwise I could say the accounting or biochemistry were necessary to learn to program, if that's the field I started out in learning to program

Hold on to the root.

Working...