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Comment Re:Wow... this is so 1990's except nobody cared (Score 1) 122

Qualified people will have major incentives to produce contributions and have them accepted and be accredited for that work

Is this because of the prestige (including career benefits) of contributing to "the" textbook for that subject?

I agree wholeheartedly on the benefits of open-source textbooks, just like open-source software. However, if top-quality contributions aren't being commonly donated, I'd have no trouble having the books cost something. That is, while there would be freedom to create and distribute derivative works, both these and the originals wouldn't have the freedom to read without paying. The problem would be enforcing this, as broke students would tend to free-ride if there were no consequences. This is unlike business users of open commercial software, where there's more pressure to obey the licence.

Comment Re:Commodore PET (Score 1) 856

My VIC-20 was also bought with paper run money — several years worth for a computer that was at the time the cheapest ever (except maybe the ZX-80, but I was a 6502 guy). I lusted after the Atari 400 & 800 (and Apple ][), but they were much more expensive here.

And yes, one had a good lesson in impermanence when a program was lost due to the unreliability of cassette storage, or through accidentally knocking the power plug out of the wall. However the Commodore cassette storage may have been better than Atari's because it recorded multiple copies. I still have my tapes, and last year managed to read back some PET programs using an audio-to-data program I found on the Net.

No floppy until an Amiga in 1986.

Comment Re:Commodore PET (Score 1) 856

You spoiled brats with your C64s with floppy drives and your VIC-20s... you had it too easy. The original Commodore PET had 8K of RAM, a 40x25 character display, and storage on a cassette tape.

Fun memories:

I started on the PET as well, hired during the school holidays.

My first purchase was a VIC-20, which, with its 22-column display, was no spoiling after the 40-column PET.

Comment Unwise to play by the rules? (Score 5, Interesting) 215

No means no in the personal space, but most of the big Internet companies were built on breaking the rules: Google and YouTube were built on copyright infringement, Facebook was built on privacy violations, Uber and Airbnb respectively ignore local transport and accommodation laws, PayPal violated credit card company agreements, Amazon aggressively imposes patents and parity-pricing agreements, and Snapchat has thrived from illicit activity by children, not to mention all those boosted to critical mass through illegal spam.

But once established, it's both feasible and desirable to show a kinder front.

Comment Re:Sounds like China alright (Score 2) 85

Companies like these know that support is their biggest cost. Their aim is to have their products bought because they are a cheap and readily-available option that promises to do what people want. How well they do this isn't important if they can get customers past a return impetus, and if they can rely on few customers seeing a product review or security alert. They then make it hard to contact and converse with support, like your experience, but also often by not having a website, an English website, or an email address, or even by not listing a manufacturer on their packaging.

There's so much potential for Chinese/Taiwanese companies that can be both reasonably priced and keen on both quality and customer service.

Comment Re: Per Capita Numbers? (Score 1) 164

I didn't say it was a good thing. But the government doesn't study how many people are receiving OTA TV out of the goodness of their hearts. They will sell (sorry license) that spectrum just as soon as the viewer numbers are low enough.

The networks are just as eager to dump OTA and move entirely to technologies that give them more control and more data (less freedom and more spying for the viewers).

Comment Re:PayPal is not as good as other payment methods (Score 1) 141

Direct bank account to bank account transfers are cheaper than cards, and are getting cheaper and quicker.

In Australia these are free, but currently take 12-48 hours (only on business days). Later this year an instant (and still free?) system is coming in.

I don't know whether ACH in the US is developing along the same lines, but it has the potential to kill off debit cards, especially if the card companies can no longer hide their fees from customers by banning vendor surcharges.

Comment Re:PayPal is not as good as other payment methods (Score 1) 141

Are PayPal's fees well beyond your cost of handling checks or cash? Are you seeing an increased demand for card payments? I'd guess that card payments would be a much larger fraction of your business if your customers could just tap their card or phone rather than swipe/insert & enter-PIN/sign.

Comment Re:PayPal is not as good as other payment methods (Score 2) 141

With these new conditions, if you still dissuade your customers from using PayPal, you risk having PayPal cut you off.

In Australia, it's illegal for companies to ban reasonable surcharges, so PayPal can't stop vendors adding a surcharge to recoup the PayPal fees, to prevent PayPal cross-subsidising other payment methods. But elsewhere they can impose this sort of parity clause that Amazon is so famous for, using their muscle to gain immunity from fee hikes, and as a way to make all sellers pay for buyer protection.

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