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Comment Re:Why would Disney do this? (Score 1) 213

So why try to save a few bucks outsourcing? I don't get it, the money saved is literally insignificant to them.

Because the sole reason for corporations to exist is to maximize profits for the owners. There is no such thing as 'insignificant' when it comes to profit and greed.

Because the decision makers only benefit from an increase in the profits. The bulk of the decision makers' compensation is dependent on a rise in the stock price, and the stock price depends on increased profits. Stable or slowly increasing profits are not sufficient.

Comment Re: Religion (Score 2) 518

Actually, this is a good example of the strength of a true democracy and even a civil society

I think it's an illustration about how California's initiative system is broken. It should be easy to stop an initiative that is clearly unconstitutional, but instead much time and money is wasted by letting them linger. Californians will even vote in unconstitutional initiatives and then act surprised when courts strike them down. Bad initiatives should get caught sooner.

I'm definitely not arguing that California's system is great, but in this case, it's pretty good. If you're arguing that it should be easy to stop really, really bad proposals without wasting too much time and money, then this is the poster child case for that. The only real money spent on this was the $200 paid by the guy who thought of the idea. The guy also has to foot the bill to gather 365,880 signatures. The article opines that 365,880 is a low threshold, but I would argue that this guy not only wouldn't find more than a handful of people willing to sign such a crazy proposal, he probably won't even bother trying. Thus, the process with minimal cost to the state has struck down a really bad idea while preserving freedom of political thought by not allowing any single individual to decide what should or should not be proposed. This is the way it should be.

Comment Re: Religion (Score 3, Insightful) 518

California proposal to legalize killing gays hard to stop

Actually, this is a good example of the strength of a true democracy and even a civil society. The title of the article is quite misleading. The California attorney general cannot prevent the proposal writer from proceeding to the signature gathering stage. That's good, i.e., that ideas, even the crazy ones, can be stomped out by a single person. At that point, no one (including those that are anti-gay) will sign his petition, and it will die. This is exactly how the system should work.

We can only dream that such a scenario would be possible in ISIS or even most moderate Muslim countries.

Comment Re:Quicker (Score 1) 488

At least with Daesh, you're better off as a Christian or Jew, where you can get away with surrendering and paying taxes, than as a "moderate Muslim", where you're likely to be declared an apostate and murdered.

I don't know the relative likelihood of death based on religious identification, but I'm skeptical that the Islamic State would be so "gracious" towards Christians and Jews. There are at least reports of Christians killed for the sin of being Christian.

This is perhaps one area where ISIS has succeeded -- in convincing some outsiders of the relative beneficence of the self-proclaimed caliphate.

Comment Re:Quicker (Score 1) 488

FTFY. Not-so-fun fact: If you are killed by an Islamist terrorist, you are eight times more likely to be Muslim than non-Muslim.

Islamist terrorists tend to kill mostly Muslims in Muslim countries and mostly Westerners in Western countries. There are more Muslim casualties because most of the killings occur in Muslim countries.

Should Westerners be afraid of risks that are relatively lower? Well, it depends on what you're comparing to. The per capita risk for Westerners is lower compared to the risk for a different country but is higher compared to the risk in the past. For Westerners who never had an intention of traveling to those different countries, only the second risk comparison is pertinent.

Comment Re:Self encrypting hard drives are WORSE! (Score 2) 73

Self encrypting hard drives require trusting the code in the drive to be correct. While there are places people are willing to trust proprietary code, this should not be one of them. Proprietary code creates a "break once, own anywhere" setup, in the one place where that is the most ludicrous thing.

True, you have to trust the closed source firmware to do the right thing. This is hard to get around.

Who has the keys? Does the manufacturer have the keys?

Keys are generated by the device, so the manufacturer doesn't know the keys.

Then we have another problem- even IF the key is properly maintained, and even IF the manufacturer doesn't have a cabinet full of keys, how did they generate those keys? How is their random number generator? Remember, it's going to be just ONE target for an attacker here, since the keys all have a common source, so any mistakes are much more likely to be discovered, and much more likely to function.

In generating random keys, a mechanical HDD (not sure about SSDs) is perhaps ideal for generating randomness (there are patents on this). It can quickly generate true random keys without worrying about seeding entropy to generate pseudo-random keys.

Comment Re:If... (Score 1) 363

However, if you read the article, you'll see that the authors of the department-assigned text are the chair and vice-chair of the department. Which is largely unethical in my opinion. (But don't get me started on ethics and the textbook industry...)

Having the textbook authors mandate purchase of their book is blatantly unethical. So, the authors attempted to shield their lack of ethics by recusing themselves from the textbook selection process. However, the members of the selection committee are still fully cognizant that they are deciding whether to take money away from their bosses. So, despite the recusal, the situation is still unethical, just in a more hidden way.

This situation has parallels to the issue of sexual consent between superiors and subordinates. Due to the ability of the superiors to retaliate, subordinates are assumed to lack the ability to freely give consent in any situation. Such is the case with the textbook committee. Because there is no way to remove the threat of retaliation, they are effectively unable to freely voice their opinions.

Comment Re:Zoning is key... (Score 1) 259

But I think you'd agree that Taiwan's "mixed zoning" habits are much more conducive to walkable communities, no?

I totally agree. I like walking around in Taipei. I even like walking around in New York City. The one additional thing I'll throw in is that even in Taiwan, not all cities are like Taipei. In smaller but still large cities like Taoyuan, walking may not be as pleasant, convenient, or safe, with uneven, weird, or sometimes missing sidewalks. Walking around with small kids or elderly folk requires more caution.

Comment Re:Zoning is key... (Score 1) 259

Taipei has made remarkable progress with public transit, but it was always a very walkable city. The main reason is zoning (or lack thereof), which allows businesses and residences to co-mingle. In most Taiwanese cities, you're literally never more than a few hundred meters away from a 7-11 or Family Mart, and there's an ample scattering of supermarkets, eateries, and other shops in between.

What you say is true. However, in addition to public transit, taxi service is convenient and cheap. Meanwhile, driving a car is not that convenient, with relatively slow speeds, frequent congestion, constant dodging of scooters (thinking of lane splitting where the scooters get to dynamically determine where the lanes are), and a scarcity of parking spaces.

Comment What is the dependence on geography? (Score 2, Insightful) 242

I think it would be interesting to see the breakdown of survey results by country and region. If I live in the New York City area, I could see potentially going without a car due to viable alternative transportation options. If I live in Silicon Valley and already drive a car to work, it would be completely unacceptable to not have a car, as that would increase weekly travel times by 10-15 hours, i.e., an order of magnitude more travel time and several orders of magnitude more frustration. I imagine that Denmark and Germany and probably even China skew the numbers toward the New York City type of response.

It would probably also be interesting to see the breakdown by age. I'm older in age and always choose to use a larger screen whenever possible. It would slightly bother me to give up my smartphone, but it would be unacceptable to me to lose my PC. The viewing and GUI interaction experience with a PC is way better and having to use a smartphone as my sole access to the web would make me go crazy.

Comment Re:What's in a patent? (Score 1) 76

Actually, I miscalculated, since the bulk of the patent count has occurred in the past few years. He has 3000 patent submissions that are still under examination. If we estimate conservatively that those submissions occurred in the last 10 years (i.e., that some of the patents have take that long to receive a determination), then he has submitted an average of 300 patent applications per year over the last 10 years. Forget about the actual idea conception, the paperwork alone is daunting.

Comment What's in a patent? (Score 5, Insightful) 76

1085 patents granted and 3000 more submitted. That's 4085 patents. Assuming that he's worked on patents for 50 years, that's an average of over 80 patents per year. That's a lot of patents. The implication of the such a large number of patents is that all the patents are equally valuable. However, I'm not sure it's humanly possible to perform the work for 80 valuable patents per year.

This reminds me of Jan Hendrik Schön, who made waves with 60 publications over 2 years, including 15 in leading journals such as Science and Nature. It was eventually determined that he made up important data for his papers, leading to retraction of many of his papers and even his PhD degree.

I'm not suggesting that there's any fraud in the case of Mr. Wood. Rather, there are many very common and even accepted ways to accumulate a huge number of patents. It's not unthinkable that many/most of the patents are
(1) work mostly performed by others for which he provided guidance, review, or management,
(2) black-box patents that describe what should be done instead of providing sufficient detail to allow someone else skilled in the art to actually utilize the idea, or
(3) incremental ideas based on existing patents or prior art.

It may very well be that Mr. Wood is a genius that has contributed significantly to science and technology and has made a difference in the world. However, the number of patents is not a believable metric of that contribution. To convince me that he is a genius requires only a description of his impactful ideas, as encapsulated in a few (or even one or zero) patents. The large number of patents simply invites skepticism.

Comment Re:That's what Nokia, Moto, and Microsoft said (Score 1) 535

There are no car foundries or car part vendors that Apple can impose one-sided manufacturing or sourcing agreements with.

Uhh, GM, Ford, BMW, etc. already do and have far less cash on hand than Apple does to throw around. There are literally hundreds of parts suppliers in the world that would bend over backwards for Apple money!

GM, Ford et al. are lucky to reach 20% gross margins. Apple would struggle to equal those margins because it can't guarantee volumes similar to the incumbents. Phone suppliers sell their souls to Apple because of the volumes and because there are no viable alternatives. Apple will have neither of those advantages in the auto world.

Comment Re:That's what Nokia, Moto, and Microsoft said (Score 1) 535

There are no car foundries or car part vendors

There are tens of thousands of them actually, from everything from the screws to the thermostats, to the wiring harnesses, brakes, tires, seats, radios, speakers, steering wheels. How many parts do you think GM/Ford actually MAKES vs just assembles?

Actually, my full, unedited statement was "There are no car foundries or car part vendors that Apple can impose one-sided manufacturing or sourcing agreements with." That is a completely true statement. A huge component of Apple's financial success is the ability (ala Walmart, Costco, etc.) to squeeze vendor margins in order to gain an advantage relative to competitors. This will not be possible with cars.

Comment Re:That's what Nokia, Moto, and Microsoft said (Score 4, Insightful) 535

Apple specializes in selling to the hipster market, so their hipstermobile will probably have more in common with a Smart Car than a traditional automobile. Basically a golf cart with doors. It will cost $4,500 to manufacture, be marketed as saving the world, cost $19,999 at retail, and sell like hotcakes to a certain demographic.

Yes, but manufacturing a car with 75% gross margins will be a bit tricky, since typical auto gross margins are less than 20% with large volume.

And the $4500 manufacturing cost will be equally challenging. There are no car foundries or car part vendors that Apple can impose one-sided manufacturing or sourcing agreements with.

And Apple would have to contend with the same logistic and legal distribution hurdles that Tesla is facing.

A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.