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Comment: Re:No alternatives. (Score 2) 227

by tlhIngan (#47732389) Attached to: When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

The only way to flee is to have an alternative. And despite all of the wanna-bes, there are no real quality alternatives.

Or network effects make alternatives less attractive.

Take eBay for example. The network effect makes it such that despite its fees and policies, it remains the #1 site for buy and selling goods.

Sure other sites have started up and are better in many ways, but you see complaints from buyers along the lines of "If I wanted to pay eBay prices, I'd use eBay!" and complaints from sellers of "Buyers are always lowballing me - they refues to pay what I'd get on eBay!". Well, yeah, the network effect is such that buyers KNOW they're using a lesser site so they hope to get bargains (or else they'd just save the effort and use eBay) and sellers are using it hoping to use the lower rates to make more money (but expecting the same prices as eBay). This ends up with auction sites basically dying because sellers want eBay prices despite lower demand, and buyers want cheaper prices because of relative obscurity (again, if they wanted to pay eBay pricing, they'd just use eBay).

Facebook and the others are the same thing - you want me to use your network, but all my friends are on Facebook, so I'd just be making extra work for myself to use your network. You'd better have a compelling reason for me to do twice as much work. (See G+).

It only works if you have the network effect going for you. Something like Amazon doesn't, because I can buy a DVD from them, or a DVD from, so the two are fungible.

eBay is not fungible with any other auction site. Facebook and G+ are not fungible (for most people) - you cannot take a user of one site, transplant them to the other and expect things to go just fine. Amazon and Walmart are, since it doesn't matter where you get your product from - you just use free shipping and pick the one that has the lowest price.

Comment: Re:Another Angle (Score 1) 114

by tlhIngan (#47730625) Attached to: NSA Agents Leak Tor Bugs To Developers

Am I alone in thinking that the NSA doesn't really care about exploiting flaws in TOR but rather is more interested in encouraging its use because they've exploited something else?

I think the NSA encourages TOR use, to be honest - they used to, or still run, one of the largest set of exit nodes, for the sole purpose of monitoring traffic. (Most Tor users don't really care about the private tor stuff, they just want their "anonymous facebook" and "anonymous G+" without gubmint spying)

I mean, unless one keeps their traffic solely within the Tor network, monitoring exit nodes quickly becomes a way to identify people and their traffic.

Comment: Re:people charge of traffic lights are engineers b (Score 1) 135

by tlhIngan (#47730563) Attached to: It's Easy To Hack Traffic Lights

You would be surprised how conditioned you can become to traffic patterns always being a certain way. I nearly caused an accident last week when I turned left in front of a car that was going straight. I am a good driver... why did I do that? The intersection was where two small neighborhood roads intersect the main road. After I screwed up, I realized that In the last 25 years, I had _never_ seen a car go straight through that particular intersection. I unconsciously assumed that he was waiting for the light so that he could turn left, like cars always do.

The intersection on our street has two lanes on the cross street - one dedicated right-turn lane, and a combined left-turn/straight-through lane.

We usually go straight through, but it's some where we never go through without being cautious because a straight-through/left-turn lane is a rarity. It's usually more common as a left-turn, and a right-turn/straight lane. People just don't seem to understand that after the car turns left, the car behind might want to go straight.

We've nearly had accidents where people would assume we'd be turning left.

Had a right-turn from the main road assume the same thing - the light was red, we headed straight, and the guy never looked to his left and continued making the right turn. He never figured out that people might not be turning and didn't look.

These days more traffic goes through there so people are more used to not assuming that most people turn. But geez.

It's apparently common enough that it's why they have "Traffic Pattern Changed" signs to warn drivers that they've mucked with the lights, lanes, etc.

+ - FCC warned not to take actions a Republican-led FCC would dislike->

Submitted by tlhIngan
tlhIngan (30335) writes "Municipal broadband is in the news again — this time Chief of Staff Matthew Berry, speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures, has endorsed states' right to ban municipal broadband networks and warned the (Democrat-led) FCC to not do anything that a future Republican led FCC would dislike. The argument is that municipal broadband discourages private investment in broadband communications, that taxpayer-funded projects are barriers to future infrastructure investment."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:The song says (Score 1) 29

by tlhIngan (#47723245) Attached to: How Game Developers Turn Kickstarter Failure Into Success

But the fact that 7200 games failed to hit their goal doesn't mean anything by itself. Maybe they were horrible at "selling" their idea, or had unrealistic financial goals, or kickstarted too soon, etc.

Or too ambitious.

I participated in two projects that had four kickstarters - two failed, two succeeded. Each project had one failed (the first one) and one success, on the same project.

The difference was easy - the failed ones were too ambitious - too much pie in the sky and too broad a scope. So when they failed, the went away, thought things through, then a few months later, they re-launched with a narrower scope, more focused product, etc.

They simply took the reasons for failure to heart, redesigned things around, tried to cut back on what they were offering and narrowed things down to the point where they could ask for less money (you're far more likely to succeed if you only need a couple hundred thousand than a million), make timelines more realistic, focus the presentation on more specifics and give a general "yes, we can do it" sense of realism.

And to be honest, 1-in-4 success is fairly high, I've seen fairly terrible Kickstarters that amount to "look at what I programmed in a day! Give me money!"

Comment: Re:Bad Study (Score 1) 544

by tlhIngan (#47721299) Attached to: Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

A good study would provide a description of what the internet would look like without ads. My intuition is that I'd be just fine with the only content available being content that did not seek a revenue stream. I thought the internet was better back then anyway.

It's also a pointless study because it's never going to happen. I'd guess the only reason it was done is to support the idea that ad blockers and no script are "bad". Oh wait it was conducted by an ad platform.

It's basically a study that shows how much revenue per user a web site can get.

It's also completely impractical because when you add in the costs of actually transacting, it'll far outweigh the $230 a year. I mean, even if everyone basically replaced their ads with paid content gateways, just managing all the payments and such will easily add quite a bit to it. I visit a webpage once, the page gets 1 cent for the visit, but to process that payment would add another 50 cents to that mix.

I visit /. daily and perhaps it generates $20/year, which is easy to manage subscription wise since transactions would just add a few more cents on top of that.

Then there's the whole payment system thing. You think each website can manage their own payment scheme? Think of the ripe opportunities for hacking and downloading the payment databases. Companies with interests in keeping private data private can't do it. Imagine Joe Schmoe with a blog - is he going to care that someone downloads his database?

I'm not so sure about a "good internet" back then - having used it since 1995, I can say until the .com boom, researching wasn't all that much different - you still headed to the library to use books and encyclopaedias (no Wikipedia), if you needed to download a driver you had to write (longhand) to the company and they'd send you a disk for $5 and return postage (and wait a couple of weeks), etc.

Comment: Re:The memo you are about to see (Score 1) 159

by tlhIngan (#47721199) Attached to: Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills

Which is the whole point. The company gives explicit instructions that personal cell phones are not to be used or authorized. You have to find something alternative (pay phone, calling card, tin cans...). Now if you happen to still use your personal cell phone for a call, you're breaking policy. They won't know [wink wink] that you're using your personal cell phone for convenience unless you happen to try to get reimbursed for it. And if you try, well, that results in some type of reprimand/discipline since you violated company policy.

And the flip side is, it means if you're off the clock, you're not obligated to answer or make phone calls even if they schedule the meeting.

Because if you have to drive to a payphone (not unusual these days) then that incurs business mileage and time. And hey, those things are reimbursable now.

So if the business is too cheap to pay for that part of your expenses, then the flip side is if they need to make an off-hours call, participation is now completely optional

My dad was talking to their IT guys about BYOD and all that. His conclusion is he'd rather bring two phones than use a non-reimbursed personal phone. Or to use his work phone for personal (local) calls so the only thing it ends up costing is airtime. (It doesn't really matter that he went over - his business:home usage of that phone was like 99:1 or so and he consistently did hundreds of minutes every month).

Comment: Re:Sad we need to think about this, but we do. (Score 1) 297

Except that Apple did it on the encouragement of government, and it requires you to both have Find your IPhone turned on (i.e., you can disable the kill switch) and you to log into iCloud to actually do it.

Apple's kill switch consists of nothing more than two things - blocking operations that allow resale of the phone without a password, and allowing the ability to remote kill it.

The first prevents anyone from reloading the OS, disabling the use of the key, etc. without the appropriate account and password. This includes the option of clicking "Restore" in iTunes, using DFU mode (in an attempt to bypass this). This already limits the resale value because if you screw up the iPhone, you can't restore it - the instant you do, it'll demand the original iCloud account and password. If you put in a passcode where it wipes itself, the guy ends up with a brick - you can't restore it after not getting in.

The second lets you accelerate the process because if you click "wipe iPhone" it wipes the phone and it requires restoration. Which requires the password.

Hell, Apple should decouple the need for iCloud/Find my iPhone from this so you can have local protection only without a remote kill ability.

Comment: Re:Something in this? (Score 1) 105

by tlhIngan (#47716035) Attached to: Do Readers Absorb Less On Kindles Than On Paper? Not Necessarily

I think the problem isn't the kindle, it's what the kindle provides.

When you read a book, you pretty much read A book, because you generally only carried one instead of dozens as physical carrying capacity was a limited resource.

But with kindle, you can carry dozens of ebooks, and be in the middle of many of them at the same time. If anything, that leads to mass confusion from trying to keep all the plots straight.

If I kept reading one book at a time (I read on my iPad using iBooks, btw) I get the story just fine. But when I jump around a half dozen books, it gets confusing quick.

Comment: Re:Logged in to email? (Score 3, Informative) 115

by tlhIngan (#47714771) Attached to: 51% of Computer Users Share Passwords

Ah. I could have sworn that when I set up proper locking mechanisms on the phone that there wasn't any option to call. I just tried it again, though, and there is an "Emergency Call" text. For a test, I tried using my cell phone to call my work number and it said that this number wasn't an emergency number. My next question would be how would I specify certain emergency numbers? (This way, if my child has my phone and needs to call a relative that they know the number of, they can without having to know my unlock code and thus having full access to the phone.)

You can't.

The emergency call is for calling emergency numbers. It's a small list - 911, 999, 111, 122, etc. In fact, I think on modern cellphones, you can call ANY emergency number and it'll connect you to emergency services. So in North America, if you dial 999 (Europe emergency) you will connect with 911 automatically - the phone interprets the number as emergency and basically does a emergency dial (it's a special control code so the tower will kick someone off if it needs to in order to connect you).

It's not a huge list of numbers, and it's coded into the software as it has to recognize if you're calling emergency services and to place it as a high-priority call on the network.

And no, it doesn't include your relatives number - that's not the intent. The intent is to be able to make a call to emergency services regardless of lock screen status, service status, etc. (It's how those used cellphone charities work - they collect deactivated cellphones for people so they have a way to get to emergency services).

Comment: Re:How the Patent System Destroys Innovation (Score 2) 96

by tlhIngan (#47712391) Attached to: How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

Fixed that for you.

"Patent trolls" is a propaganda term. It implies that there's a right and wrong way to own patents. In reality it's just that: Owning patents. Patents are a monopoly on ideas. That's the problem.

Except there is nothing new. History repeats itself - we've been through these patent litigation storms for hundreds of years now. Probably amongst the earliest was the sewing machine where there were so many patents, and plenty of overlapping ones that it was impossible to make a sewing machine at all because there were just too many patents.

So Singer basically bought up all the patents - through force if necessary. And then they started licensing it to maufacturers to make sewing machines. If you had a patent, the consortium would basically crush you. (Effectively one of the first patent pools).

It repeats again for the automobile as well - so many innovations in such a short period of time that patent lawsuits were being filed all over the place.

And sure, it's computers this time around, but the tune's been the same for hundreds of years. And I'm certain there's been plenty of other patent wars.

And I won't say it stifles innovation - patents enhance innovations by getting people to be creative and work around them. I mean, if Apple's rounded corner patent didn't exist, Android would just be another iOS clone in the end. Instead, Google saw what they need to avoid it (it's a design patent, so ALL aspects must be copied) and realized as long as they don't have a grid of icons with a static bottom part, they're golden. Hence the app launcher and home screen (with widgets, getting rid of the grid of icons).

And stuff like patent pools also arose, because if you can't have something, people will actually try to find ways around that. Patents blocking the manufacture of sewing machines? Well, demand's there for the things, so there has to be a way around the current problem. Innovation!

If we didn't have it, we'd rapidly converge on uniformity as everyone just copies everyone else so in the end it's all identical in the end (because copying is faster cheaper easier than innovating).

Comment: Re:Photographic law precedence (Score 1) 197

by tlhIngan (#47706089) Attached to: Phoenix Introduces Draft Ordinance To Criminalize Certain Drone Uses

Perhaps empowering people to enforce for themselves: "to interfere with or damage a drone operating over your property or engaged in warrantless surveillence of your propertry, shall be a violation punishable by up to $1 for each occurence". Make it legal by making it illegal. Sort of a cheap drone-hunting license.

Except most creeper drones won't fly over your property - they'll really be "cameras on really really really tall ladders looking down". So your law wouldn't work because they'd fly around your property.

Comment: Re:The obvious /. question... (Score 4, Informative) 215

by tlhIngan (#47706033) Attached to: New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

Unfortunately, you're assuming they will adhere directly to the spec. I happen to have first hand experience at dealing with HP's horrible firmware and can say this will be among the most locked down PCs you can possibly own. Like putting in your own network card, 3G modem, or anything else? Not without HP's blessing you can't. Good at modifying a BIOS? Hope you can break their RSA 2048 bit lock they put in place...

it's not the spec, actually. Manufacturers are free to not give you the option of allowing non-secure boot or storing your own keys.

However, if you want to put a Designed for Microsoft Windows sticker on your laptop to show it's well, capable of running Windows, you MUST have the option. It's a requirement to have the Windows certification.

Comment: Re:Still... (Score 4, Informative) 192

by tlhIngan (#47703853) Attached to: C++14 Is Set In Stone

...using c. Although I do like to comment thusly, and so prefer a compiler that understands at least basic c++: // comment

I like to stay as close to the metal as I can get. I'd use assembler, but many of my projects are cross platform, so c it is.

End of Line terminated comments ("//") actually are in the C spec as part of C99. And while it did take GCC a little while for that to be accepted in C mode, most other commercial compilers accepted them just fine. (C++ is not completely compatible with C, mind you, unlike Obj-C which is fully C compatible. This can cause issues if you try to compile C code using a C++ compiler rather than a C/C++ compiler)

Now, one interesting thing in C++14 is binary literals (using "0b" a la "0x" for hex). That seems handy, though it would be more appropriate to be in C than C++ as C generally needs that sort of specification. Though, annoyingly, they didn't seem to allow use of something like _ to break long literals up into human-readable groups. I mean, a 32-bit string of bits is already hard enough to visually see, allowing the use of something like "_" in the string to help arbitrarily break up and group long constants would be helpful. (Even in hex it would be useful when doing 64-bit values).

E.g., would you rather try to see which bit is set in a string like "0b001011010011011101011100" or have it broken up like "0b0010_1101_0011_0111_0101_1100" or "0b00101101_00110111_01011100". If it's a bit field, you may even want "0b001011_010011011_01_0_111_0_0" if breaking it into fields has meaning.

Such a small change to help readability...

Comment: Re:So I'm confused... (Score 4, Informative) 69

by tlhIngan (#47703751) Attached to: Iceland's Seismic Activity: A Repeat Show for Atmospheric Ash?

In fact, by the end of the last event, I believe it has been established that those ash clouds do not harm the air planes, and you can just fly through them without worry (Airplane companies' CEOs got together to do a fly-through to inspire confidence). Anyone got more detail on that?

Actually, more to the point, that the ash cloud has dissipated so there's less of a threat. Because this was at the end of it and air traffic had been shut down for over a week and a half, so people were skeptical that things have changed so much that you couldn't fly yesterday, but you can today. (Plus, airline finances are such that if you're not flying them, you're losing money, so the CEOs were really desperate to get moving again and stem the losses).

Volcanic ash is still nasty stuff - it erodes surfaces and glasses up in engines, which causes them to fail. In fact we didn't know about ash clouds until the late 1970s when a 747 was barely able to land in Indonesia after all of its engines failed and won't restart (until the engines cooled to the point the glassed ash broke off AND they were below the ash cloud and could restore limited power). And on landing, they realized they couldn't see out the front windshield because the ash was like sandpaper to it.

The CEO show was basically to say that there wasn't enough ash to down your plane anymore and that it was safe to travel again. (Though I'm sure they probably called for extra inspections because of buildup could cause a failure later on down the line).

There is worldwide monitoring of ash clouds and all that because of that accident because it's still harmful. It doesn't happen TOO often that air travel has be diverted because of volcanic activity, but it's still something pilots avoid.

After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be found on the bench.