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Comment Re:Uh huh (Score 1) 570

And I strongly doubt that any of the remaining Unixes are more capable in any meaningful way. Each have their own cool features, to be sure (eg Sun's SAM), but Linux isn't exactly a tiny little featureless wisp of a thing. If you have a specific need that a proprietary Unix can serve better than Linux, that'd look pretty attractive. Most businesses don't have any especially difficult specials needs that someone else hasn't already solved better with Linux, though.

Comment Re:Not dead yet (Score 1) 236

Nail meet head. One of the things folks here on Slashdot don't seem to grasp is that one of the key preconditions for a drive in theater to be successful is cheap land near a population center. But if it's near enough to drive to, it's near enough that suburbia is eventually going to swallow it - this raises the value of land above the income available from the theater. A few might continue to run the theater out of habit or love, but most are not going to leave cash on the table.
There are in fact people buying or starting up drive-in theaters whose basic business plan is to generate enough income from the theater to pay the mortgage and tax bill until development reaches them and the value of the land increases. The drive-in 'revival' seen in some spots recently (because of the drop in property values after the 2008 crash) is a direct result of this.

Comment Re:Drive-In Revival (Score 1) 236

Uhh, that's a tautology there, friend. If someone found a way to buck a declining trend, then everyone else is indeed fucked up, because they are declining while the other guy is succeeding.

Only if the circumstances are identical or nearly so. Consider the theater near me who is struggling because suburbia has gradually crept out and surrounded him... resulting in a much higher tax bill. (One of the key preconditions for a successful drive-in is cheap land near a population center.)
What is he supposed to do? He can't add showings. He can't add screens. He can't raise the cost of his concessions much without inducing more people to bring their own. He can't raise ticket prices much without driving away the carloads of families who are his bread and butter. He's already running a flea market on Saturday and Sunday. He can't move because low density sprawl and zoning and land use regulations mean the only available places are much too far from a significant concentration of population....
So it's easy to say "oh, just copy everyone else" (when you don't understand the specific situation, let alone the economics of the industry), but it's much harder in reality to actually do so.

Comment Re:The Bitcoin slimeball problem (Score 1) 223

Bitcoin could have been a useful petty cash system for the Internet. If you could buy song downloads or MMORPG game items with it, it would be convenient and widely used.

Not really. I already have dollars, so to pay in Bitcoins I first have to find a way to get Bitcoins. So I either incur a loss due to exchange fees or pay a whole heap of dollars upfront for a mining rig, or find something to do that other people will pay me Bitcoins for. All three of which are much more inconvenient or difficult than simply paying dollars in the first place. The same principle also applies to the people accepting Bitcoins - generally their expenses are off the 'net (rent, power, water, insurance) are paid in dollars (or whatever their local currency is), so they have to go to the extra expense and inconvenience of exchanging the Bitcoins they've been paid into dollars they can pay with. Not to mention the headache and expense of trying to keep accounts in two different currencies.)

Comment Now to make it cool (Score 1) 214

The video demonstrates that it actually works. He's added about 2000 invented words to the vocabulary, most of which are either shortcuts for strings or navigational commands. This might be useful for doing technical work on smartphones, where typing sucks.

One area where this has potential is 3D animation and engineering software. There, you're constantly going back and forth between pointing at geometry and other input. There are various ways to do this, but voice input hasn't been used effectively yet.

It seems dweebish, but then, I never thought the day would come when about half the population would be walking around looking at 3" screens.

Comment Crap online courses (Score 4, Interesting) 163

There are a lot of junk online courses out there. A lot of them are simply videos of lectures, repurposed as "online courses". Stanford does a lot of that. Their original machine learning class was like that, and it is painful. Especially since the instructor's blackboard writing (yes, it's video of a real chalk blackboard) is messy. This in a field which has its own unique (and not very good) notation.

Khan Academy has courses which consist of a color etch-a-sketch display of the instructor's writing plus a voice-over. I viewed the lectures for forces and torques recently. The instructor had clockwise and counterclockwise reversed, used a multiply symbol where he needed an add, and went from talking about a body in free space to one pinned at a pivot point without mentioning that he'd shifted. Not only is the production value very low, nobody is reviewing that stuff, or even proofreading it.

MIT's course on rotating electrical machinery is basically the class notes from a course. There are a few drawings, then endless math derivations. You don't get the labs online.

I've seen some good online courses, but most of this stuff is a low-budget conversion of old lecture and notes.

Comment The Bitcoin slimeball problem (Score 3, Insightful) 223

Bitcoin would be useful if it weren't such a slimeball magnet. The basic feature of Bitcoins is irrevocable unidirectional funds transfer between anonymous remote parties. This is the scammer's dream. Scammers don't have to worry too much about the marks coming after them with cops or baseball bats. So just about every financial scheme known has been tried in the tiny Bitcoin world in the last two years.

Even the "legitimate" Bitcoin companies are flakes. Most of the "online wallet" companies turned out to be scams. Several of the "exchanges" turned out to be scams. The previous market leader, Mt. Gox, stopped paying out on US dollar withdrawals two months ago. (Whether they're broke, incompetent, or persecuted is a subject of active debate. They claim problems with their banking relationships that prevent withdrawals, but continue to accept deposits.)

Bitcoin could have been a useful petty cash system for the Internet. If you could buy song downloads or MMORPG game items with it, it would be convenient and widely used. But that's not happening. You can buy WordPress hosted blog upgrades with Bitcoins, but that's about the most mainstream thing you can do.

Comment Re:I'm out. Thank God (Score 3, Informative) 223

Way back when, I placed a pre-order on a small BitCoin miner from Butterfly Labs. Later they sent me an e-mail wanting to know if I wanted to continue with the order, or get a refund back to my PayPal account. I chose the refund. Thank God!

Good move. Butterfly Labs has a large number of angry customers on the Bitcoin forums. They deliver months late or not at all. The Bitcoin "difficulty" level is now increasing so fast that late hardware is unprofitable when delivered.

Comment Re:Not dead yet (Score 0) 236

Watching movies outdoors is still pretty popular, so if they're run properly, offering a social experience that people can't get in the living room or crowded into theater rows, there's no reason drive-ins can't stay in business.

I always love the Slashdot crowd - they know so much more than actual business owners. If you're so smart why don't you take a crack at explaining why the facts are contrary to your opinion?

Comment Re:Dude... (Score 1) 236

Drive in theaters and theaters in general are not popular because for many people the additional cost is not reflected in additional quality and user experience.

For not being popular... why are there nearly twice as many screens as there were twenty five years ago? How did the top five movies released in 2012 collectively gross two billion dollars? Who bought the 1.37 billion movie tickets sold in the US in 2012?

That said implying the outdoor theatre is dead simply because operators are making a rational decision not to invest in their firms is a bit overreaching. There are two theaters in my city that show live and filmed entertainment. They are both free. They are both jam packed.

Brace yourself - I have a shocker for you... "your city" != "all of the US". (In fact, I suspect it's not even close to being typical.)

Comment Re:Guess It's Too Late (Score 1) 236

I've been noticing these places closing over the course of the last 30 years though.

They've been dying much longer than that... They really only ever had about four or five peak years in the late 50's/early 60's. Though there's a lot of nostalgia for them, they never were anything but a small minority of the total number of screens in the US.

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The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow