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Comment This is a new but well understood business model (Score 1) 161

This is a new (in the last year or so) "freemium" business model which is turing out to be a very lucrative way for developers to make money in the new App Store mobile gaming world. It is all explained quite well in this blog post:


Most of these games don't require you to make in-app purchases to continue in the game, they just allow you to buy items to proceed in the game faster. Because the games are free, the developers get vastly more distribution of their games than if they were paid, and even though only a small minority pay for in-app purchases, the developers can make a significant amount of money off of them. This ends up being a win-win: developers get paid and get lots of exposure for their hard work and potentially millions of people get quality games for free which is subsidized by a small number of people with more money than time on their hands who want to proceed faster in the games.


Student Orchestra Performs Music With iPhones 65

A course at the University of Michigan ends with a live concert featuring students using iPhones as instruments. “Building a Mobile Phone Ensemble“ teaches students to code musical instruments for the iPhone, using the Apple-provided software-development kit. Georg Essl, assistant professor of computer science and music, says, "What’s interesting is we blend the whole process. We start from nothing. We teach the programming of iPhones for multimedia stuff, and then we teach students to build their own instruments.”

Comment Re:Incompetent MD (Score 1) 423

You and your wife should read this Wired article. While it's a bit heavy-handed, it has a lot of good information about the widespread misconceptions about vaccines.


The bottom line is that there is risk in everything and the dangers from getting a disease are much, much higher than any possible dangers from a vaccine for that disease.

Comment *yawn* (Score 2, Informative) 157

When I worked at Xoom.com (of the "free homepages" fame ala geocities) over 10 years ago, we had several people on staff with the same job. But instead of 'porn cops' we jokingly referred to them as 'porn whackers'. The biggest reason for having people paid to go through this stuff was to remove kiddie porn and report it to the FBI.


Scientists Isolate and Treat Parasite Causing Decline in Honey Bee Population 182

In a recent report, a team of scientists from Spain claims to have isolated and treated the parasite causing honey bee depopulation syndrome. Their hope is to prevent the continued decline of honey bee populations in Europe and the US. "The loss of honey bees could have an enormous horticultural and economic impact worldwide. Honeybees are important pollinators of crops, fruit and wild flowers and are indispensable for a sustainable and profitable agriculture as well as for the maintenance of the non-agricultural ecosystem. Honeybees are attacked by numerous pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites."

Swedish Tax Office Targets Webcam Strippers 384

Sweden's tax authorities are cracking down on unreported webcam stripper income. They estimate that hundreds of Swedish women are dodging the law, resulting in a tax loss of about 40m Swedish kronor (£3.3m) annually. The search involves tax officials examining stripper websites, hours upon hours, for completely legitimate purposes. A slightly disheveled project leader said 200 Swedish strippers had been investigated so far, adding the total could be as much as 500. "They are young girls, we can see from the photos. We think that perhaps they are not well informed about the rules," he said.

Comment Re:Or they're terrified (Score 1) 921

I dunno about you, but I do know that my plan is to live forever. Everything is going according to plan so far.
Do you Gentoo!? [gentoo.org]

I always wondered what type of people run Gentoo. Now it makes sense. I guess if I was planning on living forever I might not mind wasting all that time recompiling every fucking package. :-)

Comment Re:Mr. Anecdote (Score 1) 357

I have read Outliers, but haven't yet read Blink or the Tipping Point, and I have to say that your assumptions of how Outliers is structured are spot on.

As a human, I found many of the anecdotes in the book very interesting and they all seemed to confirm the point that he was trying to make. But as an engineer, I found it unfortunate that he spent almost no time critically evaluating any of his points, even when there were obvious objections or alternative explanations that could be explored and possibly debunked, making his point that much more convincing. Instead, he spent lots of time setting up these somewhat weak arguments and moving onto the next point without playing devil's advocate at all.

I think this lack of vetting ultimately hurts the points he tries to make in his book, but I think overall that the anecdotes are interesting enough to make the book a worthwhile read. If he was a scientist attempting to convince other scientists of his theories, I would say that he failed miserably. However, Gladwell is not a scientist, he's an author trying to write an entertaining non-fiction book through storytelling, and I think he successfully achieves this goal.

Comment Re:No Ads (Score 1) 375

Unfortunately their restrictions aren't arbitrary, they are likely contractual. TV has 50+ years of history of complicated content distribution rights. They involve lots of contracts and lawyers who make sure everyone involved in creating a TV show get paid. In general all of these contractual rights get in the way of things like newly emerging technologies, but without these contracts we probably wouldn't have any of the rich content available on TV today.

Content producers make new content. Then they sell the rights to TV networks to broadcast the content over their TV networks in contracts in which all of the writers, actors, crew, etc. get paid every time that show airs. Within the last 5 years or so content producers are also selling Internet broadcasting rights to Hulu and other websites, but the economics are quite different because you can technically watch any show at any time on demand over the Internet. Not to mention the immaturity of Internet video advertising which likely makes the pricing of the ads much different as well.

Now when there is an easy way for an Internet broadcast to show up on someone's TV (like with Boxee), all of a sudden there is somewhat of a gray area as to what contract should be honored and what residuals should be paid. When the contracts were made the content producers were probably thinking, "OK, I get paid X when someone watches my show on TV and Y when someone watches it on a computer." When they found out that people could watch an Internet broadcast easily on their TV in their living room, they probably had their lawyers call Hulu's lawyers so that they could work out the details. Hulu's lawyers probably came up with the idea that the easiest thing to do in the short term was to attempt to disallow the easy way for people to watch Internet broadcast content on their TV. No this isn't very friendly to the viewer, but they are likely more concerned with their contractual obligations with the content providers than they are with pissing off a small set of tech savvy viewers.

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