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Comment Re:Miro$oft? (Score 2) 120

Good point. If we consider Windows 10 to be a kind of "robot," we can consider how it does in relation to Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics in the recent case where my elderly mother accidentally approved its installation as an "upgrade" of her Windows 7 system, which culminated in device-driver incompatibility warnings which she interpreted as making the computer unusable. (Elderly folks and non-techies get confused by things like that.) To wit:

"1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." Its installation approval process did not adequately protect against accidental approval by the elderly human, thereby causing her to come to harm.
"2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law." Although the installation technically "obeyed orders given it by human beings," in this case by proceeding with an installation that she accidentally approved, that caused her harm per the First Law.
"3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws." Windows 10 would get high marks on this one in the "protect its own existence" category due to the fact that it can't be uninstalled once it's installed, except for having violated the First and Second Laws along the way.

Overall conclusion: "Bad robot!" (whacks Windows 10 with a newspaper.)

Comment Re:Mmmmm (Score 2) 45

This brings up an interesting question: would the actual Satoshi Nakamoto (whether or not that's the actual Craig Wright) have made more money by mining a lot of early bitcoin for cheap and sitting on a hoard until it takes off, as apparently was done, or would he (or she) make more money by "coming out" to patent bitcoin technology in advance before it became "prior art" (as it is today) and simply let others mine the initial cheap bitcoin? In other words, would the early patents have been worth more than the early bitcoin?

Comment Always The Donald to Me (Score 0) 403

The following original work is provided with apologizes to Billy Joel:

He's absorbed with himself, you can see in his eyes
He can spoil his party with demagogue lies
And he won't show you tax forms you thought you would see
He calls-names like a child but he's always The Donald to me

He can tweet you in hate, he can bromance and leave you
With a waive of his miniscule hand he can peeve you
And if you throw a punch he will counter with three
Yeah he lies like a rug but he's always The Donald to me

Oh, he just cares for himself, he might win the big race
He's forever unkind
Oh, he never gives out and he never gives in
He just changes his mind

And he'll build a great wall to the south of our Eden
Then he'll send back brown parents whose children still need 'em
So he panders and brings out the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself if you voted him POTUS-to-be

Oh, he just cares for himself, we might have him as Prez
Yet to tyrants he's kind
Oh, he never gives out and he never gives in
He just changes his mind

Comment Re:YOU FAIL IT (Score 1) 161

Right, because Windows or OS X have never ever had booting problems in their release history?

Personally, throughout many years of use of Windows, starting with NT4, I've never once had a boot problem with Windows that was due to a version change or an update from Microsoft. Instead, all the boot problems I've experienced seemed to revolve around other various types of data corruption on the machine.

Oh, except for the other day when my new (and first) Windows 10 machine took two hours to boot due to apparently having completely reinstalled Windows 10. I deduced that it was a complete reinstall not only because it took so long but also from the fact that in the last few stages it promised me that "none of your files have been changed."

At least it worked after that. Lord knows what they did to the machine, or why they did it. But I think I'm beginning to know what it feels like to be an attractive new inmate in a maximum-security prison...

Comment Re:Translation (Score 1) 33

I'll assume from that comment that you're not an experienced stock investor. I think you confuse "profits" with the term I used of "return on invested capital." Here are links to the the financials of Apple, AT&T and Verizon.

Look at the bottom of each under the "Management Effectiveness" section. The numbers in that section and other numbers on those pages suggest that Apple, who is the most successful name-brand mobile phone producer, is earning several times as much money on each invested dollar as the other two, who are the commodity mobile carriers.

Although not all corporate management is as smart as Apple's, Tim Cook and his colleagues would never deploy their capital in such a poor business as commodity mobile phone service when they can earn several times as much deploying that same capital in some form of their existing business - assuming they can come up with the next 'i'-whatever-it-is.

That could change in the far future if Apple phones ever became commoditized the way Android phones are. For the time being, though, they are making a lot more money per dollar of investment than anybody who sells the carrier service those phones depend on. As the old song goes: Nice work if you can get it.

Comment Translation (Score 1) 33

Translation: "We don't like commodity businesses. We'll do some things along the way, but in general, I like the fact that we've got a lock on the highest-margin portion of the mobile phone business, and I like the things carriers do, such as competing to see who can invest the most in expensive mobile infrastructure in order to minimize their return on invested capital."

Comment Now I gotta tell you a story... (Score 5, Interesting) 142

When I was in high school, I took Chemistry II. Part of that was to do an advanced experiment of some kind. I ended up picking one out of a book the teacher had. It involved butyric acid.

The school chemistry lab was very well stocked, though many of the chemicals were quite old. For example, we had a large brick of sodium in a jar filled with kerosene. First thing, the teacher told us, "Absolutely leave that thing alone." He went on to tell us that it could explode if dropped in water.. He was serious, and we took him seriously.

But I digress. The lab also had the butyric acid I needed. I did the experiment (not very successfully, IIRC) and then proceeded to my next class. It was a computer class, on the original TRS-80 "microcomputers."

Everybody thought the computer teacher was a wonderful teacher and a very nice guy, including me. Just after class started, he said, "What's that smell?" We were all a bit puzzled, but we all started sniffing around, and the teacher ended up honing in on me.

I smelled of rancid butter. Having found the culprit, the teacher told me, "Get out - just get out."

I meakly protested, "Don't I need a hall pass?"

"I'll bring you one, just go."

It turned out that some of the butyric acid had vaporized and adhered to my clothes. I somehow managed to make it through the rest of the day by issuing various warnings and apologies in my remaining classes. I think we had to throw the clothes away.

Comment Re:Books, Music, and APIs (Score 1) 405

At a higher level, society doesn't have any more right to the API than it did before it was developed. The simple fact that it does benefit society proves that the design was valuable. Again, the developer should be compensated and society should gain (we need to stop thinking these two things are mutually exclusive). This also is the general basis for our intellectual property laws - creators are granted a term of exclusivity in exchange for sharing their work with the world.

By bringing "fair use" into this, I was trying to illustrate what I see as the optimum balance between society and API creators. Evidently, we disagree on where the balance should be (which is, of course..."fair"), but I wonder why someone would open an API if they don't want people to use it?

In the particular case of Java, I'm sure many of us here remember how hard - and successfully - they marketed it as a "write once, run anywhere" language when it first came out. I think that turned out to be a bit of a bait-and-switch thing, possibly due to the acquisition by Oracle, which may now have a different vision for it than Sun had originally planned.

Specifically, I don't think Java would have been adopted so widely and so quickly as it was when it first appeared if the marketing had instead been "write once, run anywhere, but never re-implement it." I'm not sure what specific legal promises were made about it at back then, but nobody understood it that way at the time. In fact, Sun took great pains to keep it standardized and even eventually succeeded in getting Microsoft to back out of the tactic of "embrace and extend" that they were known for at the time.

Likewise, on something like Python, its creator, Guido van Rossum, seems to like to steer it's future course, but doesn't try to quash alternatives. In that vein, in the book "Little Big Man," (highly recommended, BTW) the wise Indian chief, Old Lodge Skins, is not the chief because he forces anyone to do anything; instead, when he says "I think I'll put my teepee over there," people naturally put their own teepees nearby because they trust his wisdom.

Then again, tribal chiefs of the 1800s were much more oracular and less litigious than their counterparts in some of their modern corporate tribes. :-)

Comment Re:Books, Music, and APIs (Score 3, Interesting) 405

Ignoring all the legal issues, my rational is simple: An API spec represents the output of the intellectual effort of the architect far better than any implementation code.

You make a good point, but what is the purpose of an API except to separate the interface from the implementation, if not to allow and encourage multiple implementations? In that vein, whenever someone publishes an API, they are implicitly allowing/encouraging multiple implementations. I suppose that one could argue that someone who does that might expect a royalty from someone who does an alternative implementation, but the "fair use" of APIs seems to be a train that long ago left the legal station.

Many years ago, I asked a lawyer the corporation where I worked at the time if I could use the old Hayes modem command set for another purpose. He said that I could. Of course, that was just his own opinion and likely was uninformed by any relevant court rulings. Still, it illustrate that the concept of an API needing to be licensed made a certain amount of sense in order for me to ask it, and it illustrates that a trained legal mind could easily conclude that it didn't.

To me, the idea of "fair use" in copyright law is intended to draw a line between the net benefit to society of people being able to use works in certain non-revenue-producing contexts such as scholarship or research, while allowing creators of works to be paid in the remaining commercial context. My common-sense, IANAL perspective on this is that society gains more than API creators lose in the process of allowing APIs to be used without licensing.

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