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Comment Re:touchpad firesale hopefully good for webos (Score 1) 181

I think SCHeckler's point was that $150 - $200 was the right price to sell it at, given what the TouchPad provided. The fact that it cost HP $318 to make something which only had $200 of value to the customer... just shows why selling it at an even higher cost wasn't going to fix anything. They chose the other obvious option, and stopped selling it.

I'd agree that lack of apps was a problem, but only at the $500 price point. Look at how crazily it sold at $99 (and still successfully reselling on ebay for $200)... all of that is happening with the near *promise* of no new apps, and the vaguest homebrew mutterings of "I wonder if we can port Android". I'd argue the lack of apps becomes an increasing concern only when the price starts making the customer think "what else am I getting, besides a ereader / browser?". Which seems to happen around $300.

Not that it's impossible to move tablets without a major app ecosystem. HP had two other choices besides give up: make a cheaper tablet (as you pointed out, that probably wouldn't have worked); or follow the XBox strategy: sell drastically under cost to flood the market, then ramp up the price on the next gen TouchPad2. The gamble is that the initial glut would grow the marketplace to the point that people looking to pay $500 decide the TouchPad2 has enough apps to make it worth it.

For some reason, they tried to start *out* at that point, selling the premium, without any carrot to pull people in. They should have worked their way up to it; but seemed too risk averse to invest the money needed to carve out the mindshare. Not that there's anything wrong with being risk averse, but why did they even try the half-assed way, when the figures should have blatantly showed it was an all or nothing situation?

Comment SQLAlchemy (Score 2) 111

While I'd like to it not be the case, I'd have to agree with you about the general not-quite-there-yet state of dynamic frameworks. That said, Django's custom ORM leaves much to be desired. Next time you decide to give a python framework a try, pick one which uses SQLAlchemy as it's ORM layer. You'll find it to be a much more sophisticated library (similar to Java's Hibernate). In particular, it has all the features you just mentioned. Not integrating SQLAlchemy is one of the main things that keeps me from using Django... any other ORM layer in Python seems doomed to play catch-up.

Comment Re:NASA you are officailly bush league (Score 3, Insightful) 48

Actually, I'd be relatively ok with us fighting in space, if it meant we were trying to get into space to begin with.
Consider a hypothetical moon colony -
  • * War requires developing countermeasures for missles and kinetic weapons - these are already needed to protect the colony from asteroids.
  • * War requires radiation-hardening the colony against EM weapons - this is already needed to protect against solar flares and the like.
  • * War requires developing more agile, efficient drives in order to out-maneuver the enemy? This just helps us colonize further.

Much as a I'd like space to be nice and peaceful, that doesn't seem to be in our natures right now - and just shifting the theater of conflict to space would put the well-funded military R&D pipelines on track to developing numerous technologies that we were going to need anyways - but they'd do it faster than if the goal was peaceful colonization, since it's now a matter of "national pride".

Comment Re:Get another ISP! (Score 1) 379

Regarding Google - actually, yes, there is implied consent. robots.txt and nofollow links can easily be added to any website, to tell Googlebot and others to go away. And they will - or then they probably would be wandering into (c) infringing - or at least some form of illegal use of resources (for trawling the site).

Comment Re:And your point is???? (Score 5, Insightful) 344

I think his underlying point was that many of us users do (or will) miss the old choices.

I used to prefer KDE 3. Then KDE4 came along and replaced it; and the new design just made too many fixed assumptions about things I wanted to configure, and constantly threw in my face things I didn't want to *have* to configure. I never really cared about the stability / completness issue of the early 4.x series - I respect it took a while to refactor all that code. Still, with the fundamental interface changes they made, even today, I just don't want to use KDE4.

So I migrated to Gnome 2. I liked it ok. It's not as configurable, but I could get it close enough to how I like to do things. But instead of polishing it, and fleshing out the details, Gnome seems obsessed with removing features unless 80% of the users are using it (and everyone has some feature that's in that 20% category, so it slowly annoys the whole userbase). But it's at least currently usuable for me.

Now Gnome3 comes along. I appreciate everyone's trying to improve the desktop metaphor. But personally, I'm a spacial person - I remember where my virtual desktops are relative to eachother, what windows I put where, it maps nicely to an actual desktop you just can see only a part of. Gnome3's workspaces break that spacial mapping for me, and make it much harder to use.

And then there's XFCE. I like XFCE, it's been hanging on for a long time. But I'd like a little more integration and polish than it offers (I respect the fact that they're trying to be minimal. They've done a great job, given their goals).

But all that comes down to the fact that, for me and others: linux may be choice, but I feel like my choices are being taken away, as when Gnome2 goes away to bitrot, there won't be a desktop that I consider usuable. And forking and picking up the codebase of one of these environments is just way too big a task for individual coders - the only way it'll happen is if one of the projects has a schism, and they all seem way too in agreement for that to happen.

It feels like we're heading towards 15 years ago, when all the desktop environments were either incomplete, or different for different's sake.

Comment Re:Maximize profit (Score 1) 591

That's what they said, and they are serious.

The article contends that a strategy to maximize profits in developed countries has two effects: maximizes profits globally, and fosters piracy in undeveloped countries. You seem to have focused on the first effect, and are wondered at how that could be bad thing for business... but you missed the second effect.

Their idea is that If the strategy fosters a thriving pirate market, then in the long run that market will grow large enough to hurt the legitimate market (even in developed countries)... which in the long run will cause the strategy to actual undermine profits, both locally and globally. So even though it will seem like a "success" during the short run, it will have to be abandoned at some point.

If the study is correct, I'd say the optimal path would in fact be a hybrid - start out targeting the developed market, but watch the pirate market, and do drastic price drops in that market before it gets established. That way, the company maximizes short-term profit in developed countries, but retains control of the world-wide market in the long run. And long-term market control is definitely more important, else competitors and piracy will drive your price below a sustainable level.

Comment Re:Link to Original Article (Score 2) 151

It seems to me that our general body of knowledge is growing so large, and economic competition is so fierce, that people are being forced to specialize on particular areas, to the point that they lack even introductory knowledge about other fields of study. Case in point: this paper, where a doctor basically rediscovered calculus.


iPhone Alarm Bug Leads To Mass European Sleep-in 487

nk497 writes "A flaw in the alarm clock in iPhone 4s gave Europeans a bit of a lie-in this morning. While the Apple handsets automatically adjusted to daylight savings time, a bug in the alarm system meant many were woken up an hour later than they should have been, after clocks rolled back over the weekend. Annoyingly, Australia was hit by a similar problem last month, but Apple failed to fix the problem or even warn users. American Apple fans, consider yourselves warned. The iOS4 bug can apparently be avoided by using one-off alarms, rather than pre-set regular wake-up calls."

Comment WebOS ? (Score 1) 342

I wouldn't say it's the only one worth using. Palm's (now HP's) WebOS is also linux-based, supports js, java, c++ based apps, and they are actively supporting the open-source community, even to the point of actively documenting how to (officially) gain root access. Not to mention much better multi-tasking support.

So don't feel like Android is the only remaining underdog to compete w/ Apple... Android itself is a rather closed environment compared to the alternatives that are also out there.

Comment Re:Wait... (Score 5, Informative) 315

Indeed! Just to clarify things for the AC above...

This is an issue of the authors of some code demanding "adhere to our license or get rid of our code". Which I think everyone can understand the need to honor, if just as a matter of "do unto others, or else".

DeCSS is a completely different case. The code was written by a Norwegian named Jon Johansen, who not only did the cryptographic research to invent the algorithm in the first place, but wrote the code and then released it to the world. Copyright-wise, the code is legally open-source. And for all countries except the US, the code is legal for use. So for anyone outside the US, there aren't any legal problems with the code. And VLC isn't a US-developed piece of software (though to help Americans, DeCSS is distributed as a separate library under many linux distributions).

The only thing which taints the algorithm in the US is the "DCMA" law, which outlawed the use of any algorithms which circumvent a "copy protection scheme". The law is so broad that almost *anything* which alters the encoding of data (ROT13, etc) is a copy protection scheme; despite the fact that encrypting a DVD in no way prevents you from making copies of it (copies of encrypted bits play just like the original). So the DVD "CSS" encryption scheme doesn't even stop copying, yet it's able to wrap itself in the legal mantle the DCMA provides. What CSS *does* do is prevent you from playing a DVD unless the software author has paid a license fee to the people who created CSS (NOTE: not the people who creating the video codec it uses, that's just MPEG2). So all it does is stop you from making use of your fair use rights under US copyright law. It's your DVD, you have a right to play it, sell it, etc.

Now, you might argue that the DCMA, while unjust, is still the law, and Americans should abide by it. And that's a whole can of worms to which Slashdot has devoted many pages of discussion over the last decade. But initially, the effects of the DMCA were broader: worldwide, there were *no* open source DVD players. Period. Because the CSS algorithm wasn't even available in source form anywhere. DVD player authors worldwide had to pay a license just to link in a binary-only library. That is, until Jon Johansen (and cohorts) successfully reverse engineered the algorithm in a completely-legal-for-Norway manner (he was tried in court and found innocent of any wrongdoing). Thus allowing the rest of the world to watch dvds without having to pay money under a racket created by a US-only law.

And *thats* where DeCSS came from, and why it's nothing like this situation, which (while foot-and-bullet stupid) is perfectly within all internationally recognized rights of the authors.

Comment Re:The real problem with centralized records (Score 2, Informative) 98

I agree with you: decentralized is fine; and decentralized + PKI would be even nicer security wise. And as a patient, I'd trust it over a central system for all the reasons mentioned elsewhere in this discussion.

My main point was that while PKI is optional for decentralized PHR, in order to develop a centralized PHR system like Google Health, you pretty much *have* to have PKI before the doctors will use your system. The lack of trust is a design flaw which, somehow, I don't think any of the centralized phr developers have even realized that they have, much less that PKI would fix it... otherwise they'd be hawking it at the forefront of their advertisements to doctors. I'm not really sure how they missed the trust issue, because it's the first thing the doctors I work with mentioned after they heard about Google Health.

BTW, those are some nice links regarding PKI, thanks for them! Going to have to look into how I can put that stuff to use.

Comment Re:The real problem with centralized records (Score 4, Informative) 98

It occurs to me I used a bunch of industry specific acronyms in the above post; let me define 'em...

PHR - patient health records

PHI - protected heath information - mostly equivalent to PHR, but sometimes with private doctor-to-doctor discussions (such as a patient's drug seeking habits)

EMR - electronic medical records - "EMR" software as a class basically is the eletronic equivalent of the wall of paper charts in your doctor's office. most PHR exchange will happen between these types of systems, or be printed out, edited, and faxed (sometimes to another EMR).

credentialling / credentials management - tracking of doctor licenses, certifications, etc... this stuff is personal information about the doctors (ssn, etc) that's flying around between their office, the govt, and insurance companies.

NPI / NPIDB - National Practitioner Data Bank - government database of the public parts of a doctor's credentials; that's trying to unify and replace all the others that are out there (UPIN, Medicaid, Medicare, DEA). It's in use, but the information frequently is years out of date, even with the best intent of all involved.

Comment The real problem with centralized records (Score 5, Insightful) 98

I work for a company that produces various types of medical records management software (credentials management, PHI document exchange, EMR); and I've spent a lot of time talking to a number of doctors, both tech-saavy and not so much. That disclaimed...

Let me tell you what the key problem is with electronic medical records: they are legally the property of the patient, but no doctor can (or will) trust the important details of such records unless they come from another doctor, and have a verifiable history leading back to that doctor. Not that they don't believe the part that lists a patient's allergies, but when the medical record says the patient has a debilitating disease which *requires* they be given morphine and lots of it, the doctor has to be able to verify the patient didn't just fake a record for a quick drug fix.

This leads to an interesting state electronically: if data records are to be centralized, a public key system must be set up, tied to each doctor, allowing them to both contribute & authenticate records, and allowing the patient to do the same (but the patient contributions will have to remain "untrusted" medically). You can have centralization without a public key system, but then you're just trusting the gatekeeper to never mess up, get hacked, or paid off. And even if you'd set up such a system which you know (as a programmer/cryptographer) can be made to work... you have to get the doctors to trust it as well; as given how seriously most of them take the responsibility to safeguard their patient's records, that's a hard sell even to a tech-saavy doctor.

Which is why the only major movement we've had in adoption of electronic records has been a decentralized one... doctors are converting their offices to use electronic systems internally, exchange information electronically; but always records are transmitted in a p2p fashion (whether by email, fax, courier, etc); allowing the receiving doctor to trust the veracity of the information (at least as far as they trust the originating doctor); without requiring them to trust the patient.

Google Health is merely one of the most prominent "my PHR online" projects out there, but the problem they are faced with solving is not merely legal or luddite based, but a issue of cryptographic trust in it's truest sense.

And that's not to mention that centralization of medical records creates a much more attractive point of failure for all kinds of things (such identity theft, if merely for the purposes of using some else's insurance),
and even if a public key system is implemented, the doctor (and staff) are handing off part of their trust to a central database... and given the mess of outdated information the NPI registry contains, they are loath to believe in such a system.

disclaimer: my company has a number of ongoing projects in this field, but my assessment here is pretty well unbiased architecture and adoption-wise as far as I know, we have a number of pokers in the fire fitting most of the above scenarios.

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