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Comment Re:My psychic prediction (Score 1) 465

Example - A college can pay $75k per year for an Angel or Blackboard license, and host it locally (or contract the hosting out to Angel/BB). Or, they can adopt a F/OSS solution like Sakai, and instead of paying $75k/yr to a corporation outside of the area they can pay $75k/yr for a programmer to maintain and enhance Sakai for their needs. Dollar costs are the same. However, by hiring the programmer, that improves the local economy and keeps that money local, as opposed to sending it out of area/out of state/etc.

Except that not both options are equally efficient. The 75k spent on the proprietary product will pay support from developers that are experts in the product (after all, they built it and should be actively maintaining it), while the 75k spent on the FOSS solution will go to a local programmer who is most likely not as expert as product's authors.

There are certain cases where 'paying' for the FOSS solution could be more efficient: when the product is sufficiently popular that it is easy to find an expert to support it, or there is a for-profit company with sufficient expertise (maybe one that employs the main contributors of the project) that does provide support for the FOSS product. In these cases the open source product has a bit of an advantage in that it would be slightly more difficult for the maintainer/vendor to pull lock-in tricks on you.

Of course this assumes that the commercial and the open source products are of equal quality.


Kinect Hacked To Play Max Payne, Left 4 Dead 2 30

TechieAlizay points out a post at about a man who hacked Microsoft's Kinect to play Max Payne. "This hack was possible due to FAAST (a toolkit for Kinect), OpenNi/Nite and GlovePIE. Here's how the hacker describes the different control gestures: 'As you can see, the leaning left and right stuff is all there – and moving your body forward and back moves you back and forward. The reload and interact gestures are becoming pretty standard for me now, and pain killers are popped with an upward motion of the left hand. What makes this special though is the leg movements that activate bullet time. The result is bullet time diving for real! When this game hit just after the Matrix film came out, it caused a big stir – with Kinect augmentation it gets even better. The one thing that needs fixing is weapon select; this will be handled by the +/- buttons on the mote in future, I think.'" Another video shows Kinect controlling Left 4 Dead 2. In addition to future PC support, Microsoft is reportedly working on an official SDK. Yet another recent hack of note allows a human to control a humanoid robot with an impressive level of accuracy. Just be careful if you play the Kinect boxing game; somebody might call the police.
The Military

Navy Tests Mach 8 Electromagnetic Railgun 440

hargrand writes "Wired magazine has a story and publicly released video of the Navy test firing of a 32 megajoule electromagnetic railgun: 'Reporters were invited to watch the test at the Dalghren Naval Surface Warfare Center. A tangle of two-inch thick coaxial cables hooked up to stacks of refrigerator-sized capacitors took five minutes to power juice into a gun the size of a schoolbus built in a warehouse. With a 1.5-million-ampere spark of light and a boom audible in a room 50 feet away, the bullet left the gun at a speed of Mach 8.'"

Comment Re:If you "own" intellectual property (Score 1) 214

if you own the factory, you actually own the means of production, and therefore you actually are in power

This must be the reason that why FoxConn has a gross margin of 2.8% (previously 6.6% before the suicide workers scandal), while Apple has a margin of 41%, because Foxconn has control of manufacturing and therefore has all the power.

Having this power, FoxConn can "lock" Apple out of its factories and Apple will do absolutely nothing instead of shifting production to any number of interchangable factories not just in China but anywhere in the world. And of course, since FoxConn has all the power, if they end their partnership with Apple they will be able to sell fake Apple products because they will magically have the Apple brand and distribution channels in the West (which is still where a great deal of the money is). And using their enormous leverage of selling products at a 2% margin FoxConn will be able to attract the engineering and design talent that will come up with the next product that will render current Apple products completely obsolete.

Get over yourself. Manufacturers in China have no power unless they are actually able to sell their products for a reasonable profit, and they have even less power because they are competing in a commodity market where one manufacturer is no better than the other and only have direct access to the Chinese marketplace (which has nowhere near the amount of money as the West). Companies in the developed world, on the other hand, have direct access to rich consumers and can draw on talent not just from the advanced nations but anywhere in the world. And this will remain so, as long as the companies in the West stay ahead do not become complacent (like the American auto industry in the 80's). If the Chinese do catch up, then all the better, competition is always good. Witness how the rise of Japan, Taiwan and Korea has made electronics much, much better during the 80's and 90's.

Comment just one more issue.... (Score 1) 681

Flight 587, when it went down in Rocakway Beach, Queens, New York City, destroyed exactly one single-family home and damaged another one. And that was a direct hit of nearly an entire Airbus A300 (minus the vertical stabilizer and an engine, I believe.)

On the other hand, a small Learjet that crashed in central Mexico City set a street on fire:

Granted, the chances of something like this happening is low, but the amount of damage and terror that happens when it does means that the possibility cannot be ignored.

Comment just one more issue.... (Score 2, Insightful) 681

Now that the threat to the general public is diminished the only thing a terrorist can do to a plane now is blow it up, and to that I say: so what? It's a waste of a terrorist organization's resources, they can accomplish much better kill and terror rates on other vectors. I don't even think the TSA should be the one scanning the people at all, it should be the individual airlines. That way you can choose to pay for your security if you really want it, and competitive practices can find the optimal solution.

Don't quite agree with this. If the terrorists were able to detonate a cellphone bomb while the airplane was on approach to an airport over a city, not only would it have caused the deaths of the people on the plane but also untold damage on the ground (zoning laws that prohibit dense development around airports would reduce casualties, but major airports are still close enough to major cities for the risk to be non-zero). And the terror value of a flaming airplane exploding in a huge fireball in a city would be much, much higher than even the Mumbai attacks, even if the death rate turns out to be lower.

Comment Re:Politically connected (Score 2, Informative) 160

The problem with threatening people with death for their crimes is that they compensate by making sure that their crimes are big enough to warrant the risk of losing their life. Killing some executive does not kill the company and its drive for profit, and the one that replaces him will just commit a bigger crime that is worth the risk of being killed. And since corporations will always be driven by profit, the only real way to prevent such negligence from happening again is to make it such that such negligence that leads to damage to other people's livelihoods is _not_ profitable. Then it's in their interest not to screw up.

Comment Re:Frame of Reference Problem (Score 5, Insightful) 454

I don't even understand why this needs explanation. We all travel forward through time, and no-one needs an explanation of why we don't phase through the planet as time moves forward. Yet somehow traveling through time in a different direction (or at a different speed) will somehow cause you to end up in space. What needs asking is what does a time machine look like to the people in "normal" time when it is traveling backwards through time.

Comment Re:Sometimes free markets are a real bitch (Score 1) 797

Or you shift your manufacturing base into making more complex products such as computerized machine tools, specialized electronics, aerospace and defense products, which can only be designed and manufactured in a country with a sophisticated technology base, and then sell those (at a very high margin of course) to all the other countries that are producing high-volume, low margin products. Oh wait, that's right, you're already doing that. It is only if you want to continue making cheap, low-margin goods that you have to compete with all the other countries that do.

Comment Re:The hard way is more fun (Score 1) 590

Unless of course the additional complexity causes everything to fail even with smaller data because you didn't have enough time or manpower to properly test it. Or that you spend so much time building the complicated system that your startup/project group runs out of money and folds/is disbanded. Starting small and engineering it so that it can be migrated easily to the next level works a lot better that designing a system for a worst case that may never come up in practice.

Comment Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (Score 1) 547

The main problem about advertising "truthful" data rates is that the internet is best-effort. It's impossible to guarantee any data rate on the internet when congestion is involved. Car analogy: it's like buying a Lamborghini because it can go up to 200mph, but then complaining that you can't go above 30 during rush hour traffic. When your ISP gives you a 10mbps router when you're paying for a 20mbps connection then you can complain. Otherwise, just deal with it, it's how the internet works. Or use DSL instead of cable, as many others here have mentioned.

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