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Comment Re:Excellent News (Score 1) 37

It would be interesting to know if the somewhat narrow 'window' of feasibility helped encourage them to stop fighting.

Actual 'Arduino' products sell at a considerable premium compared to just the relevant Atmel microcontroller with bootloader(for the minimalists) or the assorted mostly adequate clones(especially if you don't need 'shield' compatibility, the standard anonymous Chinese ebay special gets you a USB connector and handles the fiddly soldering for barely more than the price of the components); which is apparently a premium that enough people are willing to pay, either out of a desire to support the project or because the absolute cost of just buying all the official components so that things will Just Work is pretty small; but not really room enough for two confusingly similar and mutually antagonistic vendors.

Aside from merely dividing the available marketshare, having the ongoing feud spoils both the 'support the project' and the 'make life simpler by just buying everything from the official vendor' incentives; at which point you have to be pretty motivated to try to figure out who the 'real' Arduino is; rather than either just buying one of the upmarket clones from Sparkfun or Adafruit or the like(if you are relatively cost-insensitive and don't want to deal with any uncertainties) or grabbing a pack of ten of whatever washes up on ebay(if price is the main factor).

I really have no idea who was in the right on this particular feud; but that is likely part of the problem: if there is a clear winner and a clear loser(as with Xorg vs. xfree86) that is one thing; but if not, the people who are willing to pay more for a helpful and sane vendor have good reason to flee to one of the higher end clones, and anyone who wants to 'support the project' has to wade through an ugly and confusing mess to even figure out which purchase that implies.

Comment Re: sure! (Score 1) 314

Gold is undeniably a compelling leader in the "Hey, do you need an handy abstract representation of value?" market.

It is effectively impossible to counterfeit(all the metals that look kind of golden aren't nearly dense enough; Tungsten and DU have the density about right but are wrong in basically all other respects, nuclear synthesis isn't really counterfeiting but is uneconomic, it's tricky to alloy with something cheaper without being caught by even fairly primitive measurement of volume and weight; etc.), it's pretty scarce, it can be divided/combined/melted down/reshaped easily(unlike precious stones, say, where the value of two halves of a diamond is markedly lower than the value of the larger stone), people find it appealing, and so on.

The problem is just knowing what situations do, or don't, reward possessing a handy abstract representation of value. Too little civilization and you either can't find anyone willing to sell you stuff; or run into somebody who knows that the exchange rate between gold and iron is actually pretty favorable when the iron is of the right shape to stab the guy with the gold. Too much civilization and the fact that it's an inert, unproductive, comparatively cumbersome to transport/store/transact with lump of deadweight makes it a pain compared to whatever currency is being reasonably well managed at the time.

It's only in the intermediate situations, where you are developing a real market; but don't have anyone competent enough to produce worthwhile currency; or have a real market but a previously stable currency is on the rocks; where it really shines. Outside of that, it's just jewelry, anticorrosion coating, or a specific commodities position that might be useful under certain specific conditions as part of a larger portfolio.

Comment Re: sure! (Score 4, Insightful) 314

Even gold depends on the shared belief that there will be somebody else willing to accept it in exchange for goods of actual use within a survivable period of time after whatever crisis you are expecting passes. Certainly more durable than a few electronic IOUs or fiat currency issued by a nation state that is now on fire/crawling with zombies/etc; but the intrinsic utility is pretty limited. If the apocalypse needs corrosion-resistant connectors, gold has you covered; you could substitute it for lead in ballistic applications; but that's pretty much the list.

With the exception of people expecting to deal with explosions(where bunkers are a natural fit; and fairly commonly used in varying degrees of sophistication); a lot of this disaster-prep stuff falls into an unhelpful category of being both overprepared and underprepared: If you are concerned, it's pretty easy to justify enough supplies to weather a breakdown in our efficient-but-tightly-stretched supply chains; but you don't usually need a bunker to do that. If you have a crisis more serious than not being able to buy groceries for a few months in mind, however, the problem stops being "Do I have enough MREs?" and turns into "Am I set for subsistence farming and/or tribal warfare; and do I really want to bother with that shit anyway?" unpleasantly quickly.

It all seems aimed at a (not impossible; but not necessarily plausible) medium-size disaster; which will somehow be big enough that the 'stash of supplies in the basement' crowd is doomed; but small enough that your bunker isn't going to be plundered by local militias and there will be a society worth living in waiting for you when it's time to open the door again.

Comment Re:I'm confused... (Score 1) 290

While I fully agree that (while we sometimes do our best to pretend otherwise) US constitutional protections of speech are vastly better than the world's in general, even the parts not commonly considered to be despotic hellholes; and I think that letting Team Morality into the TLD business will be a clusterfuck; it isn't clear that ICANN being under US contract ensures that US standards prevail on the internet; or that the aforementioned clusterfuck is avoided.

Since ICANN has no actual teeth, aside from the inconveniences of being incompatible, it is already routine for entities of various sizes; from home networks with cheapie routers whose embedded DNS servers give themselves a name friendlier than; to companies trying to keep employees off facebook at work; to the Great Firewall of China and the 'Halal Internet' of Iran; to implement a 'mostly what ICANN says; except when we disagree' assignment of internet names and numbers; and when you have legal authority(and sometimes direct ownership or control) of the ISPs, that counts for a lot.

On the Team Morality and the TLDs side; the Department of Commerce couldn't, or didn't feel like, keeping ICANN from treading the road of total insanity of allowing gTLDs to proliferate like mad. That terrible plan already has the trademark lawyers, the morality police, every last idiot with sensitive feelings about anything, and so on up in arms and likely to keep squabbling until the heat death of the universe.

If it were actually the case that ICANN is a good vehicle for advancing America's better nature worldwide; and that maintaining American operation of ICANN was instrumental to keeping it that way; I'd be 100% against letting anyone else touch it. I'm just not convinced that either of those are particularly true. It is easy, and people already do wherever they have the requisite power, to operate "ICANN, minus what I dislike" and have it stick against all but moderately determined users. Some countries do it much harder than others; with the US most enthusiastic when copyright is involved; but ICANN has zero effect on how easy it is.

Comment That depends... (Score 1) 87

I know that "That depends" is the second most frustrating answer(after "yes and no"); but it is true here.

Across what geographic area, set of topics, etc. are these minutely articles distributed?

If you consider a global scale, and a fairly wide variety of interests(not necessarily serious niche stuff; but all the sections that a major Sunday print newspaper traditionally had); one article a minute is downright patchy coverage.

If you are talking a local news outlet; or a "just the foreign events large enough to be relevant" offering; it strongly suggests that they are really, really playing hard with the 'minimum publishable unit' concept.

If the once-a-minute number is across a whole stable of publications catering to different interests; then it might be the case that once you remove the celebrity gossip they actually only publish every ten minutes; Given how few genuinely just-a-local-paper operations exist these days, the quoted publication rate is probably across a media empire that isn't expected to appeal to any single individual: it'll probably have local news for more places than any one person could live/work; cultural tidbits across more fields any one person cares about; politics from around the world, and so on.

I'd argue that there are really two better questions: Ignore the stated total output; and ask "How much are they publishing that I find worth reading?" and "Is their focus on speed killing their ability to focus?" The first question is obvious: you don't enjoy news by the pound or by the word; you enjoy news by how much you actually feel like reading. The second is slightly trickier: Mere 'data' are pretty easy to come by. The sorts of news reports that you get when you give an experienced reporter plenty of time and room to dig into a matter he is experienced with are much less so. If an outfit's metrics-driven chase after viral listicles has caused them to cancel all reporting that can't be reworded from AP feeds by interns within 20 minutes; they've hollowed themselves out and it barely matters how fast they churn out "content" because none of it will add up to anything. If they just generate a lot of material because they have a lot of people reporting; that's a different matter.

Comment Re:I'd like to hear a coherent argument (Score 3, Informative) 290

Isn't that a pretty easy one? Unless you adhere to a reading of the constitution that allows for virtually no federal government activity at all(in which case ARPA probably shouldn't have ever had the cash to spend on the project; and the Department of Commerce either shouldn't exist or should be a tiny fraction of the size and scope); the US government clearly has the authority to spend allocate DoD funds to an R&D project deemed to be of military interest; to hire somebody to handle the technical work bundled under the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority; and to transfer the contract for the same functions over to the Department of Commerce once it became clear that civilian and commercial applications of the technology were where the action is.

That doesn't mean that the US has any right to get other people to care what its DNS servers say; what media types it defines, etc; but it takes a pretty narrow reading of their powers to suggest that they don't have the authority to set up a body to publish that sort of thing in the hopes that others will adopt it because being compatible is more valuable than getting to DIY every aspect of the system.

So far as I know, nobody has ever claimed US authority over 'DNS'(indeed; back in the heady days of the .com bubble, companies trying to get users to point to their nameservers so that they could sell shitty vanity domains were a dime a dozen; and nobody even argued that US nationals had any duty to abide by ICANN-defined names and numbers; it's just that the market value of DNS servers that live in a strange world of their own turned out to be pretty limited). ICANN's authority, to the degree it has any, is founded in the fact that it's a pain in the ass to administer and maintain systems that have drifted out of compatibility with what the majority is using.

Even today, and for years now, DNS servers and other infrastructure routinely flout ICANN in situations where the benefits are greater than the costs(oddball hostnames on LANs; lazy content blocking by providing bogus IPs for sites you don't want users getting to, just choosing your own damn port because you feel like running your protocol on it, etc.) They pay more attention in places where incompatibility would hurt more: competing claims on various TLDs would get to be quite a mess; your life would really suck if your pet flavor of IP starts to differ enough that you need custom routing hardware, that sort of thing.

Nobody needs ICANN's blessing to just ignore them; but it's pretty easy to justify the Department of Commerce paying some people to be DNS jockeys.

Comment I'm confused... (Score 4, Insightful) 290

Even if one considers the ICANN handoff to be a terrible plan; that still leaves the "and a state would have standing to block this why exactly?" problem unsolved.

I'm having trouble thinking of a reading of the constitution where one of the several states gets to stop the feds from making a change in management to a Department of Commerce contractor(handling a job previously done by a DoD contractor) overseeing the outgrowth of a federal military research project.

It'd be like Vermont going to court because they think that selling F-15s to the Saudis is a terrible plan. They may well be entirely correct; but even pretty minimalist readings of the constitution tend to give the feds most of the foreign policy power.

I'm deeply unclear on what the world thinks they'll get from ICANN that they haven't under US administration; and also unclear on what we have to gain from changing the situation; but I'm still baffled as to what possible standing state governments have on the issue.

Comment Re:£35 to sell (expenses only), ~£900 (Score 1) 65

Privacy policy. The UK, among certain others, substantially limits the degree of anonymity a donor is allowed to preserve(with respect to the recipients and the children produced; the sperm bank always wants to know a fair bit about the donor); and the trend has been toward even further emphasis on the 'right' of the child to know about their parentage; which makes even the people who are OK with the current level of information jumpy about what might happen in the future and be retroactively imposed on them.

It's not terribly hard to pay people enough to masturbate into a cup, even after you impose the various restrictions that the state of the tech(sperm counts, motility) and the state of the demand(height, educational attainment, absence of unpleasant genetic conditions) create. It is...less simple... to pay people enough to deal with the possibility that at least one mystery child might end up knocking on the door and calling them daddy in a decade or two.

Comment Re:£35 to sell (expenses only), ~£900 (Score 1) 65

The UK has a nontrivial donor shortage for a reason; but I suspect that their handling charges aren't actually all that exorbitant.

Unless you are just running some back alley turkey baster clinic, the expectation is that you will get a full medical history on the donors(both to avoid unpleasant heritable conditions and to keep STIs out of the system); do QA on the donations for sperm count, motility, absence of malformation; tests for any STIs; and finally prepare for cryopreservation until somebody wants the stuff.

It's not as cutting edge as it used to be, so there is probably heavier use of cheap lab techs and automation rather than MDs and PhDs doing bench work; but rigorous handling of biological material for administration to human patients isn't inexpensive.

Comment This is bullshit. (Score 1) 65

I realize that 'apps' are the future and all; but "a sperm bank is now an app" is pure nonsense. A sperm bank took their existing search tools, as provided on the only-for-old-people-and-desktops "web" and wrapped it in an interface more suitable for finger painting. I'm pretty sure that their big cryogenic storage facility didn't migrate to the cloud at the same time. Why is this even a story?

Comment Re:lolwut? (Score 1) 96

Especially since most, though not all, of the flash-using sites have been using a flash player to display an .flv or .mp4 served over HTTP anyway, since flash's DRM was mostly too pitiful to bother with and HTTP is more likely than RTMP or similar to Just Work with the various bits and pieces of your web infrastructure.

There might be some nontrivial changes(though mostly from more exotic to less exotic, so not hugely interesting) if you were going from RTMP or a similar streaming oriented format to serving up video files over HTTP; but the 'produce own ugly and nonstandard controls; do some weaksauce obfuscation to annoy people trying to get an offline copy of the video' is not terribly exciting.

Comment Re:Apples and Oranges (Score 3, Interesting) 205

Speaking of getting a free built-in KVM console; has anyone ever built a laptop that can act as a KVM? Have a video-in(probably VGA, since that's the lowest-common-denominator and can usually be relied on to exist when you are crash-carting) and a USB slave port; with a button that toggles between normal laptop operation and displaying the video-in on the internal LCD and exposing the keyboard and trackpad/point as USB HID devices on the USB slave port.

Comment Umm... (Score 4, Insightful) 205

Substantially more expensive computer is faster? You don't say...

Next you'll tell me that I can get larger hard drives just by paying more for them; or shovel more packets by telling my vendor to include 10gigE instead of the default gigE NIC.

Snark aside, it looks like they have a perfectly solid little x86 SBC there; but outperforming something that costs 1/3 to 1/4 as much as you do is 'occupying a different niche' not 'destroying'.

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