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Comment Re:Wi-Fi-only Kindle (Score 1) 134

I have, and love, a gen-2 Kindle. Use the 3G support all the time, but not for the general purpose browser.

I travel extensively (100,000 miles a year or so), and us the Kindle as my primary method of reading books (1-2 books a week on average). I can't tell you how many times I've been sitting in an airplane seat while they finish boarding the plane, and remembering that I'd like to read a particular book - or see someone carrying a book that I'd like to read - or see a review of a book in the in-flight magazine that I'd like to read - and I can jump on the Amazon store, purchase it, and have it downloaded in less than a minute. That's a big feature for me.

Admittedly, there are others that can get by without the 3G support, so it's great that they're offering both options.

Comment Re:MMmmmm... my head will explode. (Score 3, Insightful) 149

There's another option entirely - we know the limitations and are OK with it.

I own a Kindle, and was well aware of the DRM restrictions before I bought it. Sure, there are lots of people who have plenty of perfectly legitimate gripes about the DRM, and it *will* restrict them from doing things that they want to do. So they don't purchase it... fine. No problem.

I like the Kindle, and the DRM doesn't prevent me from doing anything I want to do. I wanted an easy way to buy and carry books with me when I travel, and the Kindle does that for me. I don't tend to re-read books when I'm done with them, so if the Kindle service suddenly died, I wouldn't be too broken up about it. Sure there was the initial investment in the reader - but at least for me, the cost was reasonably trivial. I mean, I spend more on bar tabs in a month than I did on the Kindle. The fact that the books I purchase and read are a bit cheaper in electronic version, I've probably saved 25% of the cost of the reader in the few months I've owned it. After a year, it's a break even proposition if you're only looking at the total costs. But for that initial investment, I got the convenience of the reader and the opportunity to read a whole lot more than I would have otherwise. Win-win, in my book.


UI Customization and Capital Ships In Jumpgate Evolution 41

ZAM got a chance to speak with NetDevil's Scott Brown at the recent LOGIN 2009 conference about various aspects of upcoming space MMO Jumpgate Evolution. He mentioned that massive ships will be limited in scope and role to begin with, but may expand and evolve as they figure out what users like. He also made some interesting comments about UI customization: "We built it with the goal of letting people mod the UI. There's still a little bit more work to do that, so I don't know if it'll be ready at launch, but all of our UI is built in Flash. This is with the idea that anybody can build something with Flash and put it in the game. Now, there are problems, for example, if you do certain things in Flash that might cause the game to perform really slowly. We've still got to figure out how to educate people or how we verify this so that you don't make a mod that I download and my game experience is destroyed. We want it to be easier than that. I think that there will be some work to do, but the goal is that, eventually, people will be able to, using Flash, make their own UI."

Comment 50,000 web servers, not physical servers (Score 3, Insightful) 106

They're using Netcraft to prove their server count - which reports on IP addresses. Just because there are 50,000 IP addresses responding to port 80, doesn't mean they have 50,000 boxes. The shared hosting arrangements can easily have dozens and dozens of "servers" operating on the same physical box.

Yes, it's still impressive... but not as impressive as it would first appear.

Comment Re:The USA: Developing Country (Score 1) 1385

Wait, were you talking about flying in the first example?

If you're getting anal probed for an hour, you're doing something wrong. I fly about 50k miles a year, and it's rare that I spend more than 10 minutes these days getting through security. On the occasions that I have to clear a major airport at the rush (try leaving Washington Dulles on a Thursday afternoon around 4:00pm), it might take 30-45 minutes. On the whole, however, my average security wait time is somewhere in the 15 minute range.

I'm not a huge fan of the security theater at the airports these days, but they've gotten their act together pretty well in most places to get you through quickly.

Comment Re:The USA: Developing Country (Score 1) 1385

It's actually very clear....

Europe doesn't have any one entity controlling their rail. Each country and/or cooperative group handles their own and does it well. You couldn't efficiently run an "Amtrak" kind of system that covered all of Europe.

In the heyday of rail travel in the United States, you actually had a pretty similar system. Lots of competing, regional rail systems that you could choose from depending on where you were and where you were going - just like you do in Europe today. Because each region is relatively autonomous, they can do their own region well and let someone else figure out how do the others.

Once you put one big mess of an organization in charge of trying to run it all, and making the profitable regions subsidize the unprofitable ones, the whole thing spirals out of control.

Comment Re:The USA: Developing Country (Score 1) 1385

Assuming that your travel takes you within a 300 mile radius (I travel by air about 50,000 miles per year, mostly within the US and Canada, and very few of those trips are within 300 miles), *and* everywhere you want to go is served by the rail system to within 10 minutes of a subway or bus, sure. Unfortunately, even with this plan, that won't happen.

Your numbers are fairly compelling, for those 300 mile trips. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a well run, efficient, high-speed train system.

I live in the Dallas area. If I was going to, say, Houston - that's right inside your 300 mile radius. As I've done this trip a number of times, it looks something like this:

Drive to airport, park, shuttle to terminal, check-in, security : 60 minutes
Wait for boarding: 30 minutes
Taxi: 15 minutes
Flight: 45 minutes
Taxi: 15 minutes
Deplane, get to rental car: 30 minutes


Estimate for rail:
Drive to train station, park, check-in, security : 45 minutes
Wait for boarding: 30 minutes
Trip at 300mph: 60 minutes
Unload, get to rental car: 15 minutes
(I'm assuming that with a well run high speed train into Houston, rental car agencies would set up shop at/near the station just like they do at airports)


In other words, my expectation is that they'd be about the same. The rail experience would have to offer something that air-travel doesn't; cost, comfort, service, etc.

In this scenario, were the prices similar, I'd probably take the train. Better scenery, similar time, less stress, most likely more comfortable. I'd even take it if it were an hour longer given those factors (though it would have to be a cheaper option at that point).

The problem is, no one has yet be able to do a passenger rail system in the US that competes on cost with the airlines. Amtrak is very expensive, takes way too long, and is really (in my opinion) only an option on long trips for people who refuse to or cannot fly. With Amtrak as a comparison, the tickets would be twice as much and on-time half as much (which is saying something).

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