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Comment: Games? (Score 4, Interesting) 136

by nine-times (#49547273) Attached to: Apple Watch Launches

Ars has an article about the difficulty of making games for the Apple Watch

Honestly, I think games are a bit of a stretch. Maybe I'm just a stupid old man, but I kind of feel like smart-watches should do very little, but everything they do, they should do in a simple, obvious, transparent manner. If you want to play games, just pull out your phone.

Now of course someone is going to say, "What's wrong with extra functionality? If you don't want it, just don't use it." All I would say is, if I had my say in the design, I'd make the UI as simple as possible, and make the battery last as long as possible. Adding a bunch of unnecessary features and games that require a bunch of processing power are likely to run contrary to both of those goals. If you gave me the choice of being able to play Angry Birds on my watch, or shaving off a couple of ounces while extending battery life for 5 hours, I'd definitely choose the latter.

Comment: Re:Good Business or Empire Building? (Score 1) 109

by swb (#49545821) Attached to: Comcast Officially Gives Up On TWC Merger

I don't disagree that blocking was the right choice. What I question was whether Comcast's current monopoly practices in the face of pressure across all business sectors (some more than others) are enough to make this merger make sense as a strategic business decision.

2-3 years ago where I live, you had a "choice" of high speed Internet -- DSL from CenturyLink, permanently stuck in the sub-2 Mbit/sec range or Comcast at 10+. A local Internet provider has been wiring part of the city for fiber -- it's a pretty small area now, but they just announced an expansion and are even offer 10 gig. CenturyLink has been running fiber in residential neighborhoods over the past month.

So by the end of the year, it's possible that there will be far better choices than Comcast for high speed Internet. Obviously this isn't enough, only one place, limited availability, etc, but it shows that other providers "get it" and see that Comcast is ripe for the picking.

I think the pressures on Comcast's cable TV service are even greater from Netflix, Amazon, HBO's new streaming option, selective download services like iTunes, Roku "channels" and so on. You can get most content now without cable.

I'd be most worried if I was Comcast about the original content. Most of what underpins cable is having content, and it may not be unlikely that in the near future the content people want isn't even available on Comcast or any other cable service at all.

Comment: Re:Good Business or Empire Building? (Score 2) 109

by swb (#49544749) Attached to: Comcast Officially Gives Up On TWC Merger

My sense is that it maybe wasn't good business.

The sectors represented by Comcast (content, cable, internet) all face a ton of pressure from various competition. Amazon and Netflix are actively creating content and building alliances with production companies. Cable is being decimated by streaming and downloadable content (accelerated by excessive cable pricing and poor customer service). Even Internet is showing signs of competition from municipal broadband and other providers -- CenturyLink, who is just about as awful as Comcast from a customer service perspective, just ran fiber optic cable down the poles behind my residential address. The utility guy I quizzed said it was for residential high speed internet.

The only way this deal made any sense was as a holding action -- give Comcast a bigger local monopoly slice and hope that they can milk the customer base and Netflix, et al, for enough cash that they can keep the wheel turning. Regulatory pressure, net neutrality, etc may even have limited that strategy, at least on the milk-the-content-providers department.

Mergers are expensive, from the deal costs to the business integration side and I really question whether at the speed their markets are changing that they can maintain customers and margins long enough to profit from the merger.

It also makes the business a lot bigger, which makes it slower to adapt and innovate, especially when it represents a sector that has traditionally relied on monopoly power and not innovation. Being a bigger dinosaur didn't help the dinosaurs.

Comment: Re:Being a less than ideal social fit... (Score 1) 320

by swb (#49544153) Attached to: Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit

I think your reasoning makes sense from a team productivity perspective, but I agree with the other poster that such practices when they involve cultural behavior and can be (even remotely) attributed to race, age, etc would be considered illegal and discriminatory. And you might even argue if your team is so easily disrupted by "differences" like this that they may not be the greatest overall employees (naive, narrow-minded, unworldly, inexperienced...), either.

The funny thing is I have heard many complaints from people I know about business not caring at all about the productivity friction caused by hires -- not just "hey, learn to get along with someone different" but actively ignoring/denying that the conflicts even exist.

I had a friend who worked at a local hospital system's IT department. About 3/4 of the workforce was native born Americans of various ages and genders and about 1/4 were south Asians. More than a few of the south asians had simply awful personal hygiene -- they smelled like bathing was only an occasional afterthought.

Numerous employees complained to line management and then HR. Line management ignored it because the employees were OK producers and apparently inexpensive. HR tried to gloss it over until one of the employees brought in some kind of note from a doctor who said that she was extra sensitive to odors. HR finally came up with a list of the worst offenders hygiene wise and told them there had been complaints and that "as a hospital system, we have a vested interest in cleanliness and hygiene and expect employees to respect the standards of cleanliness."

I think about half "cleaned up" their act and the rest just got moved to some corner of the office.

I've also seen kind of the reverse, at a college I did some consulting at there was a "clique" of Vietnamese employees there with long tenure but awful skills. They often spoke to each other in Vietnamese and seemed to use their tenure/culture as a way to edge out other employees despite the total lack of skills and abilities. The result was the other employees (mostly white, but one hispanic) ALSO cliqued up and these two groups did not cooperate well at all -- there was often real hostility between the two. When one of the Vietnamese fucked up a wireless config and blackholed half the wireless traffic, one of the non-Vietnamese taunted her verbally about fixing the problem "So are you buying us all lunch if you can't fix this in an hour?" The manager seemed to ignore it all.

Comment: Re: ipv6 (Score 1) 380

by toddestan (#49542269) Attached to: Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

No they didn't. Or at least if they did, they never released them. There was a download for IPv6 on WIndows 2000, which they called a "preview" and not officially supported. Windows XP had it built in but you had to install it. It was still not 100% there in XP yet (for example you couldn't do DNS over IPv6... which was kind of a deal breaker). The first version of Windows that really properly supported IPv6 was Vista.

Comment: Re:You no longer own a car (Score 1) 649

by toddestan (#49541687) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

That was incentivization, not restrictive action. It's one thing to help someone replace an old car and another to disallow them for daily use...

Actually, it was both. It would have just been incentivization if it was just a rebate on a new, fuel efficient car. But since it also required that the car that was turned in be destroyed (as opposed to being resold as used) it also removed a bunch of older cars from the road. Now, the first part I didn't mind so much, but in my opinion the government should not be using my taxpayer dollars to buy up perfectly usable vehicles and intentionally destroy them.

Comment: Maybe investors are just wising up (Score 2) 99

by swb (#49541035) Attached to: Bloomberg Report Suggests Comcast & Time Warner Merger Dead

I'm kind of surprised that this deal had investor support. The larger business model is under attack on many fronts, content delivery by streaming video, Internet by municipal-backed and private fiber vendors who are seeing opportunity -- CenturyLink, one of the few companies who compete with Comcast for poor service, just strung fiber optic cabling on the poles behind my house which is supposed to support gigabit residential Internet speeds. And even NBCUniversal's strength in content creation is under assault by Netflix and Amazon original productions.

Even if you assume greater profits from increased monopoly abuse by a combined Comcast/TWC, huge mergers face big costs internally and I'd question whether they will have time enough even as a monopoly to recoup those costs and the investment expenses of the merger deal itself.

Plus, the larger the entity, the less it is able to adapt to the huge changes sweeping the video content and Internet markets. Cable is already a dinosaur, being a bigger dinosaur has never proven helpful.

Comment: Non Sequitor (Score 5, Insightful) 327

by eldavojohn (#49539223) Attached to: Drone Killed Hostages From U.S. and Italy, Drawing Obama Apology

I'm not disappointed at all. Drones are so much better than actually invading Pakistan, and reduces the number of kids that get killed in war.

I never got the hate for drones in the first place. Why would you want to launch a ground invasion instead, which means MORE kids getting killed?

Sure, if you want to kill someone, you're right. I think the argument against drones is that if you push a button and someone dies on the other side of the Earth and you didn't have to go to war to do that ... well, fast forward two years and you're just sitting there hitting that button all day long. "The quarter solution" or whatever you want to call it is still resulting in deaths and, as we can see here, we're not 100% sure whose deaths that button is causing. Even if we study the targets really really hard.

And since Pakistan refuses to own their Al Queda problem, we have to take care of it for them.

No, no we don't. You might say "Al Queda hit us now we must hunt them to the ends of the Earth" but it doesn't mean that diplomacy and sovereignty just get flushed down the toilet. Those country borders will still persist despite all your shiny new self-appointed world police officer badges. Let me see if I can explain this to you: If David Koresh had set off bombs in a Beijing subway and then drones lit up Waco like the fourth of July and most of the deaths were Branch Davidians, how would you personally feel about that? Likewise, if Al Queda is our problem and we do that, we start to get more problems. Now, that said, it's completely true that Pakistan's leadership has privately condoned these strikes while publicly lambasting the US but that's a whole different problem.

Also, we must always assume that war = killing kids. The fact that people think kids shouldn't be killed in war basically gives people more of an incentive to go to war in the first place. When Bush invaded Iraq, the public should have asked "OK, how many kids are we expected to kill?" Because all war means killing kids. There has never been a war without killing kids.

The worst people are the ones that romanticize war, by saying war is clean and happy and everyone shakes hands at the end. War is the worst, most horrible thing, and we need to make sure people understand that, or they'll continue to promote war.

Yep, think of the children -- that's why we should use drone strikes, right? Look, war means death. Death doesn't discriminate and neither does war. If you're hung up on it being okay to take a life the second that male turns 18, you're pretty much morally helpless anyway. War is bad. Drone strikes are bad. There's enough bad in there for them both to be bad. This isn't some false dichotomy where it's one or the other. It's only one or the other if you're hellbent on killing people.

News flash: you can argue against drone strikes and also be opposed to war at the same time. It does not logically follow that since you're against drone strikes, you're pro war and pro killing children. That's the most unsound and absurd flow of logic I've seen in quite some time.

Comment: Re:Automated sorting of mail and metadata? (Score 2) 63

by swb (#49538407) Attached to: New Privacy Concerns About US Program That Can Track Snail Mail

There are four things government is in a position to do better than anyone else: military defense, law enforcement, public works, and the erosion of liberty.

I don't know, the experience with company towns makes me think big business can do erosion of liberty on par with the government and with greater efficiency.

Comment: Re:Google should just buy Sprint and T-Mo (Score 1) 111

by swb (#49538259) Attached to: Google Launches Project Fi Mobile Phone Service

1.) There's not a lot of "optimizing" to be done since they overlap in most areas already.
2.) Sprint is a mixture of CDMA and LTE. T-Mobile is a mixture of GSM (HSPA) and a smattering of LTE. That's plenty of different technologies to support which means you might not even be able to ditch your overlapping tower leases, which is the main cost savings when consolidating carriers.
3.) Why do you think Sprint and T-Mobile are significantly cheaper than AT&T and Verizon? Because they spend much less on their networks, especially once you get outside the big cities. If Google were to actually improve their networks to the point of being competitive with the "big two," they couldn't afford to offer plans at these prices.

I think of optimizing as:

* Sunset CDMA support. Gone in 18 months. Shift everything to GSM/LTE. T-Mobile's network is there already, Sprint halfway. Too bad so sad for low end consumers hanging onto CDMA devices.
* In areas with maximal overlap, eliminating both CDMA and duplicated services may allow for better coverage in areas where both carriers have weaker coverage. If you can eliminate 40% of your coverage because its duplicated you should be able to expand your coverage by 20% at about the same cost basis. I don't think they would have to immediately become ATT/VZW sized in coverage, even small improvements would help.

4.) The last two times somebody tried to buy T-Mobile, (AT&T in 2011 and Sprint just last year - remember that?) the FCC smacked them down on anti-trust concerns over having only three nationwide carriers. Not likely to change, especially given that Google has its own anti-trust issues from time to time...

Depends on how Google did it. I think if they did it with transparency as a wholly-owned but independent subsidiary that was device and service agnostic (ie, not favoring Android or Google products) and did it with the same kind of "new pricing model" fanfare they might gain some traction. I think people are almost as sick of cell phone gouging as they are of cable gouging and there may be some approval for a combination that was poised to break the model. Just combining Sprint and T-Mobile as yet another cell phone company operating the same way as ever isn't appealing. Creating a real competitor doing this differently is.

Comment: No, This Is Important for People to See (Score 5, Insightful) 252

by eldavojohn (#49536145) Attached to: Wellness App Author Lied About Cancer Diagnosis

Wait. A person who made dubious claims that had no scientific backing to them was actually lying? What next? Water is wet?!!

I think pretty much everyone but the nutjob, true believers in psuedo-science knew all along that this woman was lying.

So you're saying everyone knew she was lying about her charity donations as well? Or was it only the charities that knew that? From the article:

The 26-year-old's popular recipe app, which costs $3.79, has been downloaded 300,000 times and is being developed as one of the first apps for the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch. Her debut cook book The Whole Pantry, published by Penguin in Australia last year, will soon hit shelves in the United States and Britain.

So you're saying the 300,000 downloads are by people that knew they were downloading the app architected by a liar? And they were paying $3.79 to Apple and this liar for a recipe app that contain recipes that someone lied about helping her cure cancer? And you're saying that everyone at Apple that featured her app on the Apple Watch knew they were showing a snake oil app on their brand new shiny device? And that the people at Penguin did all their fact checking on any additional information this cookbook might contain about Belle Gibson's alleged cancer survival? And that everybody involved in these events know society's been parading around a fucking liar and rewarding her with cash money while she basically capitalizes on a horrendous disease that afflicts millions of people worldwide ... that she never had?

No, this is not the same as "water is wet" and it needs to be shown that holistic medicine is temporarily propped up on a bed of anecdotal lies ... anybody who accepts it as the sole cure for their ailment is putting their health in the hands of such charlatans and quacks.

Comment: Re:Dubious (Score 1) 668

by nine-times (#49535983) Attached to: Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden

I am well beyond millennial status and I approve of what Snowden did so I am not sure I believe the survey results.

Nobody is saying the survey conclusively proves that nobody approves of Snowden's actions. That's not how these things work. The summary says:

Among those aged 35-44, some 34 percent have positive attitudes toward him. For the 45-54 age cohort, the figure is 28 percent, and it drops to 26 percent among Americans over age 55, U.S. News reported.

So even if this survey is accurate, that still leaves a significant percentage of people in those age ranges who do have positive attitudes. In that context, it doesn't really make sense to say, "Well I'm in that age group and I have positive attitudes, so this survey must not be accurate." Maybe you're just part of the minority.

Of course, the survey could be inaccurate or misleading. Most polls are.

There are no data that cannot be plotted on a straight line if the axis are chosen correctly.