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Comment Re:Xbox is a foothold in the living room (Score 1) 404

Why on earth would they sell that off? Makes absolutely no sense. This type of reporting is totally and utterly a pile of crap. Must be a slow news day and this guy has an article quota to keep.

Keep in mind that IT writers make bold predictions. It writers have been predicting "the end of the PC" for more than 10 years now. Back when the first abysmal failure tablets came out in the very early 2000s that writers were saying that the PC was dead and tablets were the future. They missed on that. It took Apple to make the devices successful as nobody before them had a clue on how to do it, including Microsoft. Yes, it eventually did happen, but not when the writers all said it would.

Anyway, whether the blogger is correct or not remains to be seen. But here's his line of reasoning.
1) Microsoft bet the company on Win 8. It lost that bet. The financial implications of this will be disastrous to Microsoft.
2) Microsoft only knows how to make money on Windows and Office, so it will conclude that it needs to keep those going to make money, even though that will be proven to be a losing strategy in hindsight.
3) At least 50% of the company will be laid off in the upcoming years as a cost savings measure.
4) Anything losing money is getting closed down.
5) The entertainment division will be sold as it will be viewed as a distraction to the goal of item #2 above.
6) As business shifts to the cloud, Microsoft will suffer and its inability to build compelling cloud solutions will cause it to drop even further.

It's just a guess, and that's what IT writers do. They try to guess the future. If he is right, well, it looks like he'll be able to be the first one to say "I told you so". I tend to be more skeptical about trends that IT writers see as unstoppable, so I think that Microsoft may well be able to survive Win 8 being a failure.

Comment Re:Interesting Enigma (Score 1) 132

Although I didnt see it first hand, the health care is legendary.

One of the reasons for this is that Cuba has for years told everybody how "great" their health care is. It's just human nature that if you keep telling everyone who will listen over and over again that you are really good at something, they will eventually believe it. I'm sure that Cuban doctors do get good quality training, but I don't read about them being in the forefront of any new techniques and I do know that the US embargo has a big impact on their medical supplies. I think they do have competent doctors who make the best of the situation they're in, but I've also read about how various doctors have started driving taxis because they could make more money that way. Cuba treats their doctors just the same as the old Soviet Union did - they are respected members of their society, but they don't have a particularly good standard of living.

Comment My experience with France (Score 3, Interesting) 196

I used to work in the US office of a French company. Our subsidiary was not well known in North America, but it was well known in Europe and some other places. I have a real love/hate relationship with the French. On one hand, there's a lot to like about the country and its culture. On the other hand, the bad stuff that makes you, as a foreigner, hate them is really bad. They are very difficult people to make meaningful friendships with. My experience is that they are really good actors and excel at pretending that you and your friendship is important to them, but in reality, not so much. Almost every American I know who moved over there to work in one of our 2 main offices in France got discouraged with the whole thing and eventually moved back pretty jaded about the experience. The French will look out for their countrymen above all others. They may not say it, but yes, they do think that everybody in the world who is not French is inferior to them. This is one of the reasons that they look to target foreign companies like this. In their heart of hearts, they just don't respect foreign companies.

I'm not claiming to be an expert in French politics, but they've had a lot of bad choices for leadership in recent years. Le Pen scared everybody by making it to the final round of the elections and basically everybody had to vote for Sarkozy. Sarkozy seems to be fairly smart, but he's got a huge ego and he kept making the news for things that had nothing to do with politics. Sarkozy pissed off just enough voters that coupled with Francois Hollande's campaign of "Let's tax the rich so everybody can retire early!", Hollande won. Hollande seems to be a bit out of touch with modern realities and he seems to think that he can simply tax the rich and they'll willingly pay and he can restore the old welfare state that made it impossible to fire French citizens and let people retire at age 60. A good number of French citizens are probably out of touch with reality too since they voted for him. So given that Hollande has an unrealistic goal that requires raising vast amounts of money and the French don't really respect foreigners anyway, going after foreign companies seems obvious. If I remember correctly, some years ago when Ebay got in trouble in France for not blocking listings of Nazi memorabilia, the original French government argument was that Ebay couldn't allow such items to be sold anywhere in the world before they backed down to only asking them to block such in France. So it's no surprise to me at all that France thinks they can tell Google, etc. to pay up and they'll do it.

Comment Thank you (Score 2) 633

People around here always seem to forget that many of the submitters lack the ability to correctly interpret what they read, so article summaries are often quite misleading. I was just about to comment that things may not at all be what they seem, when I read your post. Thanks for that. I have lost count of how many time are article will say something and the submitter will come to exact opposite conclusion of the point that the article is trying to make.

Comment Re:There is no compulsion on Rennard... (Score 2) 57

Whose laws? When a country has multiple groups claiming to be the government which set do you follow?

What about when the government is obviously not legitimate?

Orange basically goes where nobody else wants to go or where no sane company would ever operate to get money. They haven't really been able to compete very well with bigger, established players in more developed countries (with some exceptions) so they look for what you might call "garbage revenue streams" by going where there's little to no competition. Given that, they're likely to listen to anybody in charge and not ask questions if they think that doing so will preserve their revenue streams. This leads to a bit of a balancing act where they can't completely turn their backs on the people in charge and get kicked out of the country, but they also can't be completely irresponsible to their customer base either for fear of losing customers. But if they think that turning off the network today will enable them to get paid tomorrow, they'll do it.

Comment Re:Simply put.. (Score 5, Interesting) 328

If you win against a computer you are cheating

I thought it was more if you win playing the same moves that a computer would make you are cheating.

This presupposes that computers play chess differently to humans. My understanding with chess is that there are certain 'stock' moves, openings and such like, that players memorize and use to their advantage. What if someone has set up positions and studied a computer response to those positions or play, would repeating the learned computer moves be the equivalent of cheating? What impact does an eidetic memory have on this where a person is able recall those positions and moves exactly?

I can comment a bit at this. I used to play in chess tournaments in my state some years ago. I was at a very low level in most of them. To put it in simple terms, I was about as far away in talent from the best players in my state (not my country or the world, but just my state) as I could be. I gave up playing chess because bluntly put, computers ruined it. You are right that players memorize openings. The list of known openings and known variations of those openings is staggering. Honestly, it's more than most people can memorize. Back in the 1990s when I played, it was unusual for a known opening to go beyond maybe 7 or so moves before you "got out of book" as they put it and responses started to deviate from known ones. Keep in mind that while you could always deviate very early from known responses, the odds of such being successful were quite low as if the move was really any good, it would already be known. Now add to this the knowledge that since white moves first, he controls the game. So if I as a player think "I'm really hoping white opens with e4 as I've been dying to try out the black side of this variation of the Ruy Lopez", white may open with d4, destroying my chance to defend an e4 opening. Even if white opens with e4 as I hope, on his 2nd move he may prevent the Ruy Lopez variation that I wanted to play. So you can see that what you have to learn is quite enormous because when you play black,you have to be prepared for all kinds of openings that you may not ever play when you have the white pieces.

Computer analysis took to openings to deeper levels of known good responses. So an opening that used to be maybe 7 moves long before you got out of book was now 13-14 moves long. At some point it just becomes impossible to keep up. To be honest with you, I put a lot of time into trying to improve and I really didn't make much progress. It was already tough enough for me to keep up before computers got involved and I just gave up as I felt like I was getting left further and further behind. To be honest with you, a lot of the tournaments weren't much fun. A lot of the guys who showed up to them were really weird. It made me question whether I really wanted to spend a lot of time getting better at something that attracted defective people to it. It's not unheard of for guys to be exceptionally good at chess and be homeless because they can't keep a job. Fischer himself was a genius player but if there was ever a crazier World Champion than him, I don't know who that would be.

Comment Re:Malice (Score 1) 151

I don't know that someone triggering a $12.8 million bonus payout for themselves can be adequately explained by stupidity. I don't know of a lot of Mr. Bean-like millionaires that just stupidly stumbled into wealth

In general this is true, but the ones who just stupidly stumbled into wealth seem to buy professional sports teams in the USA. Each of the four major sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) has owners who make you scratch your head and ask "How on earth could somebody that stupid be so rich?" In some cases it's simply that dad was a genius and rich and junior just inherited his money.

Comment Why Swartz faced charges (Score 1) 382

Swartz decided that the JSTOR information should be free. They charged for access to it. His copying of the articles violated their terms of service (they don't even let paying customers do what he did in terms of downloading that volume of articles). He used MIT's paid for access to JSTOR to vilated JSTOR's terms of service. He put JSTOR's business at risk by downloading large amounts of articles that could be freely distributed. Basically he had a philosophical disagreement with JSTOR and decided that he was a one man army who could secretly destroy their business and get away with it. He hid his face with a bicycle helmet when accessing the closet (it's my understanding that legally this shows he knew what he was doing was wrong) and continued to attempt to access the data, even when JSTOR fought back by limiting MIT access. His downloads were large enough to disrupt other users of JSTOR. All of this is in the criminal complaint. Look, there are plenty of companies that I don't like or disagree with and I don't buy their products. But trying to drive someone out of business and tampering with their income got the US government interested and perhaps (it's arguable) led to overzealousness in the prosecution, but that's why he faced serious charges. Whether you like what JSTOR does or not, there is nothing illegal in the USA about their business and trying to destroy that business via unauthorized access isn't legal.

Comment Calm down there, chief (Score 1) 174

As pointed out, Saipan is US territory but it has special visa rules. Basically it's easier for Asian people to get visas to go there and a few other US territories in Asia than the US mainland. Also, those Pacific US territories have sketchy reputations and there have been allegations of slave labor factories operating there, so I'm sure he thought nothing of being asked to go there. I'm sure that those who approved his visa did so under orders from their superiors. I have a lot of personal issues with how the US government operates its visa policy and how sometimes even family members of legal immigrants can't get visas to visit here, but I don't see any crime being done here by approving a visa application - as long as the approver wasn't paid by the applicant to do so. Finally, your assumption that no US law was broken is likely false. I'm sure that he had US customers. Anytime some one gets rich off piracy, Uncle Sam gets really interested in that person.

Less you be too sanctimonious, please understand that many EU countries prosecute supposed "violations" of their laws that don't even take place on their own territory. France threatened to close down Ebay because (gasp) it's legal for people in the US to sell Nazi memorabilia from World War II and they made Ebay provide filters so French people can't see such items. The sellers in question were not even marketing their items to French citizens and in fact probably expected only US buyers to purchase them.

Comment Why I'm sure the USPTO is not sincere (Score 1) 209

As someone who worked for the US federal government in my first job after graduating from college, I'm pretty sure the USPTO is not sincere at all in holding this conference and wanting to "fix" things. Oh some well connected rich company may have reached some upper level USPTO exec and maybe got that person on board with this, but nothing will ever happen in reality. Fixing the system would lead to fewer patents. Fewer patents would lead to fewer employees over time. Fewer employees leads to fewer managers. I am sure that all the managers are looking out for each other just like they did where I worked. And with fewer employees and fewer managers, a smaller budget will follow. Plus, by basically just approving darn near every application that comes their way, they generate a lot of money and Uncle Sam likes making money. I'm sure those who go will get a warm fuzzy that things will change and maybe even some of the USPTO people will really be sincere about wanting to make things better, but I bet it never happens.

Comment Re:Summary (Score 1) 227

Looks like baseball player Kurt Schilling (who apparently was very good at baseball) decided to start a video game studio, who knows why.

Actually the "why" is known. Hubris. Schilling has an ego the size of Texas. Think Rush Limbaugh who happens to pitch major league baseball and you've got an idea. Schilling was very good at his sport and is on the bubble for the Hall of Fame, meaning you can make a case both for and against him going into the Hall. But you have to be really good to even be on the bubble.

Schilling's arrogance made him a great pitcher but in real life he sees everything in black and white. There are no gray areas to him. People that agree with him are smart. Everyone that disagrees with him, he thinks is an idiot. And he'll tell them to their faces. Basically he realized that a lot of money could still be made via role playing games. Since he concluded that he was a genius and there was a business opportunity in front of him, there was simply no way the combination could fail to work because him being a genius would overcome any limitations or lack of experience he personally had. Not to digress, but honestly, if you see some smart ass punk kid like Zuckerberg drop out of college and become a billionaire, I do kind of understand how a guy with a big ego might think "I can do that too!". So since he has self-confidence to a level almost bordering on delusion he found the one sucker who would give him the money he needed without any strings attached.

Comment Depends on your definition of "major ad campaign" (Score 1) 372

In the USA, I'm not sure I can agree with the original post saying that it's "without any major advertising campaign". I've seen ads on TV for it. I guess it depends on what the OP means by the term. If you want to argue that Google hasn't run their ads into the ground like Samsung does for its phones where they will sometimes show the exact same ad twice during the same 2-4 minute commercial break and show it at least once in all 3 breaks during a 30 minute segment, then yes, I agree with that. Google runs enough ads to get it noticed without making you hate the product like Samsung does.

Comment Re:This product is a game changer. (Score 1) 169

I really don't know about how many people want to spend $1000 for a "gaming supercomputer" as you call it. A significant portion of game players are teenagers and younger and it is simply not realistic to expect parents to willing cough up that much money. It's one thing to be an adult and be willing to spend this kind of money and it's something else to expect average parents to do it.

Comment I think you're asking the wrong crowd (Score 3, Insightful) 307

I understand why you asked for advice, but I think your reasoning is flawed (ie. your assumption that Slashdotters would know technical stuff about typing). As an IT worker who can type at a good (for an IT guy) rate, my observation is that I am lots faster than most IT people and I am not even close to being fast enough to do secretarial work. Most IT people are terrible at typing. It's not that uncommon to find 2 finger typists in IT. Since a lot of Slashdotters are IT geeks, you're asking the wrong folks to begin with. I'm sure we'll get a few people to post who are the exception to the rule, but again, they are the exceptions.

Dvorak has its detractors and fans. You'll likely get some who swear that only by using it can you achieve your goal and they will possibly cite some studies to back this up. Then others will cite their own studies that show that QWERTY is even faster than Dvorak. I've seen QWERTY vs. Dvorak religious wars here and I doubt that you'll come away convinced of anything.

Comment Russian and Chinese are stupid suggestions (Score 5, Informative) 514

I have studied other languages. I've got a talent for it. I'm just going to be honest with you, which is better than some of unrealistic answers you've been given so far.

The problem with Chinese is the tones. Depending on your genetic material, as an adult you may find it very difficult to come to grips with them. Or it could be easy for you. But I can promise you that for every person for whom it is easy, there are tons of native English speakers who will never be able to deal with it successfully. The grammar in Chinese is pretty easy for the most part, which is good, but the tones are the killer. I am always amazed at how people suggest learning Mandarin or Cantonese without any regard to the difficulty that speakers of non-tonal languages will have. And you need to understand that as an adult unless you want to devote the next decades of your life to constant work at it, you will never learn Chinese characters. Yes, you could learn pinyin but that's not really all that practical honestly. So for all practical purposes you will be illiterate in Chinese, even if you learn to speak it well. Yes, you can use programs to translate your pinyin into the characters and vice-versa, but how practical is that on the streets of Beijing?

Yes, if you want to engage in questionable activities then Russian would be a good choice, but I can tell you that most native English speakers fail at their attempts to learn it. I'm one of the exceptions. Russian grammar is quite complex. It is an inflected language and that's the complexity. What this means to people not familiar with linguistic terms is that Russian nouns and adjectives change their spelling depending on how they are used in a sentence. Russian adjectives have up to 24 forms - 6 cases X 4 forms per case (singular masculine, singular feminine, singular neuter, plural). The good news is that some of the forms overlap so in reality there are usually "only" 19 or so forms to learn. Ha ha. Nouns have singular and plural forms to learn. Given how in the USA most English grammar instruction is over forever in public schools after 8th grade, you really have no idea how challenging it is for someone who doesn't even know what an indirect object is in English to try to understand something like the dative or genitive case. Without a proper understanding of the cases in Russian and memorization of the various forms of nouns and adjectives under them, you'll never make any progress at learning it. Outside of the ex-USSR it's generally pretty useless. I get some kicks out the "wow" factor of being able to impress people that I can speak it and I've done some traveling in the ex-USSR where I used it every day, but in the IT world it's been almost useless. Then again, I'm not a leet haxor. I can tell you that learning Cyrillic is very easy and that will absolutely not be the problem in learning Russian, but the grammar will separate the men from the boys. If you can believe this, from a grammatical standpoint most of the Slavic based languages are actually harder to learn than Russian, with Bulgarian/Macedonian being an exception.

English is really the most useful language to know. If I had to recommend another language, Spanish is generally the easiest one for English speakers to learn. Portuguese is not bad either. French would be next, followed by Italian and German and then pretty much everything else. The further English speakers get from Western Europe in the languages they want to learn, the more difficult it will be. I've found that the older you are, the harder you have to work at learning another language and most adults aren't willing to do the hard work necessary to succeed. Unless you are some language learning genius (unlikely), you will need to do about an hour a day, 5 days a week for about a year to achieve any kind of reasonable proficiency. And it's like climbing a hill. Once you get to the top, it's much easier to get down, but many give up on the way to the top because progress is so slow that they decide it's not for them. It could be many months of hard and constant work before you start to make any real progress. Most people give up before they get over the top and it starts to get easier. Unless you are going to work for a foreign company that uses the language you learn or in a country that speaks it, there's not a lot to be gained by learning it. I do some foreign travel so being able to speak more than English is useful to me.

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