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Comment Re:Advertising ROI (Score 2) 212

It seems like advertising is backing away a bit, with the notable exception of the web. Ad-supported cable is dying but the no-ads premiums channels like HBO are doing well, and zero-ad subscription services like Netflix are cleaning up. The tech industry does seem to have more than it's share of advertising companies masquerading as something else. And the number of multi-billion dollar acquisitions for things like chat platforms, many that have subsequently been sold at a fraction of their purchase price, is suggestive of a bubble.

Ad supported cable is dying because a la carte is forcing what was once subscription based revenue (and thus concentrating on programming for a niche) is turning into ad-based revenue (and thus programming must attract eyeballs). So programming that could count on steady subscription revenue and concentrate on the topic at hand must now switch models and alter their presentation to go after what attracts eyeballs. This is a complete change and it's why ad supported cable channels added a bunch of "drama" and other things to formerly fact-based documentary programming. That drama (faked or scripted) attracts eyeballs. The more eyeballs, the higher the ad revenue.

Subscription based services like HBO and Netflix only care about growing subscription revenue, which means they don't care about eyeball quantity - they care about attracting subscribing eyeballs only. Their programming will be directed at what their subscribing public wants and what kind of subscribing public they want to get the dollars from.

So Netflix and HBO will be making programming aimed towards that demographic. You and I feel they're "winning" because we currently are in that demographic - the people who will likely see that programming and subscribe to the service.

But the market is still ripe for ads - the Superbowl for example, gets so many eyeballs its ratings are stratospheric. Which is why it costs over $100K per SECOND of ad time during it (that's $3M for an ad spot). For comparison, a prime-time 30 second ad spot generally commands $80-150K.

Sports, in general, are the highest rated programming on TV which is why they generally pre-empt other programming - the ad dollars spent is immense.

Comment Re:Found out lots of things as a sys admin (Score 1) 121

I've believed for years that the worst thing you can ever find out is what kind of money your colleagues actually make. I've seen really gross discrepancies at every job I've ever had with idiots being paid too much and good workers being paid too little. Finding out exactly how bad this is in reality is just terrible.

Actually, the reality is the complete opposite - the worst thing to do is keep everyone's salary a secret. By making it open, you actually allow for honest discussions to take place.

Employers love keeping salaries secret because it allows for all sorts of differential salaries - keeping a good person underpaid is easy. And employees often fear revealing their salary because others may think they're overpaid, so everyone is compliant and the company saves money.

The reality is actually much different - employees who share their salaries don't think someone is overpaid, but see who is actually underpaid.

More information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Comment Re:Wasn't the C64 just a BASIC interpreter anyways (Score 2) 115

GW-BASIC and especially QBASIC had their own way of doing things, but they were essentially backwards compatible with the the 8-bit Microsoft basic found on Apple, TRS-80, and many other microcomputers of the era (as long as you didn't do machine specific graphics and sound).

it's funny, but when you think about it, all those BASICs were written by.... Microsoft.

Microsoft BASIC was built-in for most computers of the 80s, the exception being Apple which was a separate product and distinct from integer BASIC by Woz.

GW-BASIC was provided by Microsoft for PC clones which did not have ROM BASIC that the original IBM PCs had - it was a standalone interpreter.

And QBasic/'QuickBasic was its successor, again, a Microsoft product.

And which became Visual BASIC and now is the bane of developers everywhere.

Other than graphics, I think most of these BASICs were compatible mostly because one company was behind them all - Microsoft.

Comment Re:Emergency Brake? (Score 1) 492

But my new car that I just got is an auto, because they finally fixed all the problems with autos: the fuel economy is noticeably better than manuals, they shift nicely now (both in smoothness and in responsiveness), and they're reliable now

Actually, that's apparently the problem with the new autostick transmissions (the manual transmissions that are servo-controlled) - especially the double-clutch ones. Because they are essentially manual transmissions they have shift points and even though modern ones can shift in about 100ms, they still produce a noticeable jerk when they do.

Apparently customers who buy those transmissions are reporting annoyance because unlike an automatic, this is very crude and jerky and they really wanted the smoothness at which a modern automatic shifts.

And yes, autosticks are an attempt to get the convenience of an automatic with the peppiness of a manual, and has been around a long while (it's been used in racing for a long time - drivers haven't actually shifted or clutched).

Comment Re:So what should we do? (Score 1) 492

If they want to change the UI for a shifter, they should make it completely different, not make something that looks, and superficially feels the same while in actuality it's quite different. What they did is akin to wanting to have a joy-stick instead of a steering wheel, but instead of just putting in an obvious joystick, they made it look just like a steering wheel.

If you look at the picture, you're supposed to "upshift" it into Park, so you'd hit up to go from D to N, then up again to go from N to R, then up again to go from R to Park.

Which is pretty stupid, since it's just a quick shove to get it into park in every other vehicle. And even in joystick shifters, they make full use of the joystick - push IN to park (from anywhere), push UP to reverse, push DOWN to drive, push AWAY for neutral. This still leaves a pull towards you for an action - low gear, for example. The beauty of this is it's the same action to go anywhere to anywhere - if I want to go park, I push the joystick in. If I want to go from park to drive, I pull it down. If I want to reverse, just push it up. And neutral is just shove it forward away from me.

But a shifter is generally assumed that slide it away from you all the way to park it - push the button, shove all the way forward, it ends up in park.

And if you really know your car, you know which shifts don't require pushing the button - park to reverse requires it (and vice versa), reverse to neutral no (try it! most vehicles will shift from reverse to neutral without the button), but obviously, neutral to reverse requires the button. Same as neutral to drive, but some vehicles don't require drive to neutral to have the button pushed. And from drive to low gears requires the button pushed, but going from low gears to higher gears and drive, no (which requires careful shifting if your car doesn't require pushing the button to go from drive to neutral!)

Comment Re:The downside (Score 4, Informative) 81

Like the HTML5 video tag, that was supposed to free us from evil Flash, but just brought forth the unblockable autoplaying autoloading multimegabyte video ad, this isn't as great a piece of news as it might seem...

Upgrade your browser or your adblock plugin - autoplay disabling has been a staple since they started. (It is after all, just rewriting the DOM). Doing the same in Flash required blocking the entire thing.

And really, any DOM editing plugin should be able to see an ad and completely nuke it from orbit.

And if there's any sites that block visitors with adblockers (Forbes, Wired), a little DOM rewrite can have it so just enough runs to get you through but not load the ads. NoScript has replacement scripts for blocked domains, so similar technology can be created.

And most ad blockers work by blocking ad javascript (used to load flash objects). They probably already work for blocking ad javascript in HTML5.

Comment Re:The stuff is just too expensive (for now) (Score 2) 84

You could see what happens on TV sets. Now almost all models are "smart". Finding a "dumb" TV is harder and harder, and normally the firmware and the SoC are using is the same of the smarter models, only the extra features aren't enabled when on the boot the harware is not found. Being normally the "dumb" TV with smaller panel they're considered low end models are priced less. but when the "smart" and "dumb" models with the same screen size are sold, the price difference is small.

You can thank smartphone technology for that - TVs need SoCs too and while they could get by with a low end SoC, a low end SoC doesn't cost all that much less than a higher end multi-core multi-GHz one used in a smartphone. (Even the low end ones are dual core 1GHz units0.

Manufacturers love having the extra power - it makes the UI more "snappy" and it can boot faster, and the video processing can be done on the GPU rather than specialized video processing hardware controlled by the CPU (with very little increase in lag - it's still roughly a frame or two).

And when you're at this point, "smart" features are really just a software thing manufacturers can do to add value to their products for basically free. After all, the processing power is there.

Using a lower end SoC with video processor on the side costs about the same price, and they lose out on the ability to run a standard high level OS like Android on their SoC.

Qualcomm was going to introduce a video chipset at one point with all the TV inputs and a low end processor - perfect for TVs, but abandoned the plans when there was little interest

Comment Re:Dumb (Score 1) 247

Who knows? Are they going to know what features they need to add in 2017, now? What if a critical bug crops up? Wait 6-8 weeks? Why do they have large backlog of features? It is a browser.

Given I seem to get Firefox update notifications every 2 weeks or so, I'm not exactly sure what's the entire point of these 6-8 week releases.

Each update is still as disruptive as ever, so is it every 4th update now is even more disruptive or what?

Comment Re:Stupid design (Score 2) 135

This is design 101. We've been Poka-yoke-ing connectors in other industries for decades.

In fact, if you look through the datasheets for most components you will quickly realize that being able to survive reverse voltage is actually somewhat rare

Because you're supposed to build it in Most components only do one thing and do it well. You build your own protection circuit. The ECMs we use at work will take 1000V on any pin. Could you imagine how far your car would make it without any protection circuits built in?

Poka-yoke illustrates this connector pefectly - USB-C works either way so it doesn't matter which way you plug in the cable and which way it goes.

In fact, USB-C to USB-C cables are not the issue. It's USB-A to USB-C cables which cause the issues.

As for your ECU - you build them to those specs, but you pay a lot more money for an engine computer. Try to build your ECU for $5 and make a profit and you'll probably compromise a lot of things.

Comment Re:Stupid design (Score 1) 135

All power supply input pins should be protected against reverse voltage. It's simple, and comprises a single FET. See here, for instance. There's not really any excuse for failing to protect internal components against reverse voltage, other than being cheap. I think we can thank the endless race to the bottom that consumer electronics is infamous for.

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Two reasons.

Cheap is one - save on reverse polarity protection, save a few cents. When making millions of devices, it makes sense. It makes even more sense when the connector standard pretty much gives you the power you expect - e.g., a USB cable. The pins on USB are very well defined and power and ground appear on two very well known pins. Since a reverse-polarity USB plug is extremely rare, it seems reasonable to omit the protection.

The second one is the device is dropping voltage and consuming power. In standard USB with 500mA at 5V, if the MOSFET takes 1V, that's half a watt of power you're losing in the transistor. (And really, you just use a diode). USB-C with up to 100W, you're looking at losing a lot of power in your reverse protection components.

The USB plug is a pretty standardized plug with voltages appearing on specific pins. Reverse polarity connections are extremely rare since in general, the USB devices plugged into it will not work. So eliminating reverse polarity protection isn't the worst sin that could happen in a plug whose pinout and power pins are well known. Short of maliciously made devices, you should get power where you don't expect it.

Comment Re:Revoke it (Score 1) 39

I agree that they may not immediately suspend/revoke it immediately, but they should have opened an investigation. And in *two whole years*, they should have been able to establish that it was validating malware. That by itself should have been enough to revoke a developer cert, even if he also signed legit software too with it too.

So the developer has written malware for two years. How many times has Apple ran across it? None? Just because an app's been signed for two years and does bad things doesn't mean it's even on Apple's radar. Perhaps it only tickled security researcher's Macs and Apple hasn't run across it in the wild.

These certificates are used to sign apps for the developer to distribute in some way. They could be open-source apps, for commercial apps, they could be sold in stores, or given away for free online. Apple doesn't get a copy of every app signed with every certificate so there are plenty of apps Apple doesn't know about. Heck, there are probably thousands of Mac apps that users use all the time that Apple doesn't know about.

Comment Re: Revoke it (Score 1) 39

Except that Apple has been rejecting apps in the app store and delaying apps for simply competing against their apps.

So something clearly isn't right here. They have enough resources to screw over legitimate developers, but not to verify this crap?

That's only for for developers who submit apps through the app store. Using the signed certificate means you don't have to get your app approved, and you can do whatever the heck you want. It's why it exists - it allows for apps to be developed outside of Apple's reviews.

Apple could revoke the certificate, but they shouldn't use it as a way to impose an app store review by proxy.

And this app isn't distributed through the app store - it's distributed by the developer - Apple doesn't enforce that developers who buy a cert actually use some sort of store or other mechanism to distribute their software. A developer buys a certificate and is free to sign whatever the hell they want and distribute it the way they want.

So no, Apple can't review the app if it doesn't attract their attention.

Comment Re:Revoke it (Score 1) 39

No, it tells you how worthless Apple are. This is not a certificate failing, it is a management failing. Certificates themselves have all sorts of issues, but this is purely an Apple problem.

And Apple probably wants proof that it is malware. The whole reason for the certificates is so developers don't have to go through the Apple Mac App Store review - for whatever reason. Which can include shady but perfectly legal apps. Apple may reject it in the MAS, but they probably want extraordinary proof that the app is malicious over just revoking the certificate because they're not supposed to be reviewing signed apps. Otherwise it turns into a Mac App Store review by proxy.

It's likely this developer is smart and only infects a small subset of Macs so Apple doesn't have a sufficiently big sample to verify that it's bad.

There has to be a balance - and the design of gatekeeper is such that developers don't have to have their apps approved by Apple for whatever reason, but at the same time, Apple should take great care in which certificates they revoke.

Comment Re:Whatever happened to the do not call list? (Score 2) 251

Why hasn't the Do Not Call list worked? Seems there was too many loop holes and ways around the law I guess.

Because... technology.

The same technology that enables you to call home and long distance for cheap is the thing telemarketers use to bypass the DNC list. Basically, telemarketing has been offshored.

The telemarketers call using VoIP from places like India, ensuring that they do not have to follow the DNC laws (because they're not subject to US laws).

And it doesn't matter if you go after the US company responsible - they're almost always scams run by two-bit fly by night companies, so at the end of the day, they take down their company sign and hang a new one up on the van. (They almost always advertise some service, like "air duct cleaning" and they universally do a poor job of it. Or it's a real traditional scam).

So it's not a case where they're bought a loophole, it's more a case where they're using modern technology to do a run around the law.

For me, the most obvious sign is they always re-use the first 3 digits of the 7 digit number - (e.g., in 523-555-1212, the caller ID will always be 523-555-xxxx), so that's almost a dead giveaway it's a scam call.

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