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Comment Re:USPS (Score 1) 239

Actually, it can be a sound business move.
Two words come to mind: vertical integration.

If they take over more components within the chain that makes their business possible, that can be a key cost reduction and allow them to compete even more fully.

The (likely?) mistake would be if they were to expand outside of their core business. In this particular example, if they were going to try and use this delivery mechanism for "more than just Amazon packages" and offer shipping options to competitors, they may expose themselves to greater chance of failure because, frankly, their core competency isn't "shipping."

Think of it this way: since FedEx/UPS are looking to make a profit, they must charge an amount that has parts X (actual costs for people, vehicles, equipment, etc. to deliver a package) plus Y (the amount to be profitable).

If the shipping is such a core part of Amazon's business (which it is), then eliminating the "Y" portion of the overall shipping costs in favor of absorbing the overhead of managing the X may boost their revenue significantly.

Given the volume they ship and how core that is to them being successful? I think it makes perfect sense for Amazon to consider eliminating the middle man and seek to deliver packages directly to their customers. The REAL question is: can they actually do it? Lots and lots and lots of logistics, planning, new systems, new solutions... plenty of opportunity to screw it up. But, IF they can manage it, then it can be a serious game-changer in Amazon's favor.

Comment Re:Netflix has a unique and obvious strategy. (Score 1) 193

Netflix is the first media company with the business model of "Give the customers exactly what they want."

My comment has nothing to do specifically with Netflix, but addresses a general pattern that is seen when there's a market leader.
When a "new guy" comes into an existing market, they can see what the leaders are doing and figure out better ways of doing the same thing. In this case, there's been reference to Netflix taking over from Blockbuster. That's because Blockbuster was one of the market leaders at that time.
So, why didn't Blockbuster continue on as leader? Because when one is leading, one doesn't have a model to emulate or follow... there isn't someone to "copy-then-do-better" because, frankly, you're the leader.

So, the leader spends a lot of time and money trying different things to figure out what the market wants. That diversity means money is spent in multiple directions... not just focused on "the one thing the market wants."
Nobody can guess correctly all the time. Eventually, competitors, who start up focused on "the one thing" start to eat away the leader's market. Eventually, that leader falls away, and a new leader (or couple of leaders) takes that spot.

Back to this topic... what will Netflix do next? They'll try and test/guess what the market will want, but won't know by watching other's. They'll either diversify too much (and lose core capability) or miss out on "the next big thing" and be racing to try and catch-up, likely too late.
That's 100% not a fault with Netflix. It is a challenge for any competitive market.

Comment Re:Where I live, OpenStreetMap is much better... (Score 5, Interesting) 263

There's a really (basic) reason why Open StreetMap has longer legs than ANY of the commercial company solutions (like Tom Tom, Nokia HERE (ex-NAVTEQ), GoogleMaps, etc).
The problem is solely one of maintenance.
How do these companies get their maps? They do so by driving over roads with equipment that collects GPS data (of varying degrees of accuracy... not important to talk about methods/accuracy for this particular point).
Think about that... when a company first launches (like Google Maps did a number of years ago), they can be "accurate" because they just drive around everywhere for the first time. That's relatively easy to track.

But then... changes happen. Roads get new construction, or there are new areas that are built up (with new roads or roads get new paths).
How does one keep track of all the changes that can happen anywhere in the world? One can't.

Well... a centralized company "can't." It is logistically improbable to keep a map up to date unless a company is planning on continuously driving every road because, frankly, it isn't notified about all the little changes that can happen anywhere; it takes a really long time to "drive every road."

It is no surprise that Google Maps has started to suffer from this. They were driving around and collecting their own data to make the maps and compete with the "other maps/navigation companies."

To that end, a concept of community supported map update (like OpenStreetMap) makes sense; I *know* when the street outside my house has changed. I can go someplace and make an update/submit information about a change when it is community based. In fact, I had to do this on several map company sites because my street was "new" for a new sub-division.

Now, with that said, there is one thing I'll say about Google Maps that might be a saving (?) grace: anyone using Google on their cell is "phoning home" a ton of information... including location (wonder how Google knows about traffic conditions when they don't have implanted sensors/cameras on the roads?). If they were to try and leverage that information, perhaps the map data can be kept up to date by (indirect) consensus based on drivers GPS intel. Of course, you won't get a lot of detail about non-popular travel points. And maybe that's the point... if they're dropping detail related to the less traveled/popular locations, that can fit with dropping their "go drive everywhere and measure it with a Google truck" plan.

I don't work for Google, so I can't speak directly for their strategy.
It just seems to fit a common problem with keeping any map up-to-date. How any company can keep an eye on relevant changes in a timely fashion?
Looks like they've given up on trying to "get it all" and are falling back on easy data from the Google hive mind. 8/

Comment Could this be misdirection? (Score 1) 182

I don't wear a tinfoil hat, but in reading all of the comments that effectively say, "Good! They shouldn't have access to my data! F-Off!" it highlights an assumption:
it seems that a lot of people are assuming that, because the government is asking for companies to disallow the encryption, it is because they can't break it (and are being defeated by it).
However, it could be a clever lie. What if in publishing this type of rhetoric they're hiding the fact that they can do something about encrypted communication?
Why broadcast the message, "Hey, if you go use WhatsApp, we can't possibly listen in on your conversation."
Why bother saying it at all vs letting paranoia and uncertainty work against the "bad guys?"

Not knowing if the communication is safe (or not) could be more effective at preventing bad guys from using it.
Instead, sending the message that it IS safe because it can't be cracked by "good guys" would encourage its use.
It feels more like propaganda than admission of limitation.

Comment Re:Why even 3? (Score 4, Informative) 96

The article is misleading. It talks about how it can be used to "identify someone." And with all the talk about privacy, it implies the identification of an individual.

But, reading through it closely, they aren't talking about identifying a specific someone; the information isn't enough to say Not_Wiggins made these purchases.
Instead, it focuses on identifying characteristics of purchasers and then extending it to see what other behavior purchasers in those groups would make.

In the article example, they talked about someone making a purchase at both a bakery and a restaurant within a short time period. Finding that they had one such instance, named him Scott, then looked to see what other behaviors "Scott" had. By extending that logic, they are saying "look at the group of people who typically shop at a bakery and a restaurant... then you know those people are typically also interested in shoes."

The example is a bit silly, but that's what they're saying.

They're talking about documenting patterns of behavior on purchasing decisions.
This article really isn't about loss of anonymity. It is about using anonymized credit card transactions to develop definitions of "user groups" and predicting their shared behavior pattern.

To me, it seems more like the equivalent of tell us what music you like, we'll compare it against what others who also have the same "likes" have said, and give you options for things that might fit your tastes.

In this instance, it is: tell us what purchases you've made, we'll compare it against similar purchases that others have made, and we can predict what other purchases you might want/like that you haven't made yet.

Comment Re:Error in summary ? (Score 4, Insightful) 307

And to extend your point...
Before Nokia, it was Motorola that made the best phones on the market.
But, they stagnated and Nokia took it over with their innovation.
After building their market, Nokia stagnated and others started taking over from them (Samsung comes to mind).

One can't always be the market leader because of the load of work on the company.
Being the biggest/best producer of something requires a company to supply a lot of product to meet that demand. So, a lot of resource is spent just on maintaining supply required by being in 1st place.
That doesn't leave as much resource or insight into "what to develop next." The leader in a market doesn't have someone else to look at to see what they need to develop... they can only look to themselves.

Competitors behind/outside of the market leader have the opportunity to see what directions that leader is trying out and to follow in step... focusing on how to take those concepts that seem to work and build upon them.

Innovate or replicate... two main strategies of product growth and success for a business.

If you're the leader, you have to innovate to keep your lead. Replicating a competitors innovation means "you're falling behind" and appear to be "failing" (whether that is true or not... it tends to be the perspective of the market).
As a competitor, you can innovate and/or replicate (and improve) to capture some of that market away from the leader.
Constant correct innovation is impossible to maintain forever for a single business.

Comment Re:How is text messages different than data ?????? (Score 1) 348

And to add to your answer: in GSM systems, SMS piggy-backs on existing required signaling that is needed for identifying when a cell phone comes into a cell tower's signal reach.

So, how much does it cost a GSM provider to provide SMS service on top of cellular? $0.

They expand the radio capability as they get new subscribers, sure... but that's to handle additional phone calls.

There is no such thing as a separate cost to expand SMS capability.

Messaging is darn near *pure profit* for a telecom company.

Whether I send 0 messages, 10 messages, or 1000 messages... it is opportunistic sending (meaning, if all the channels capable of transmitting that data are currently occupied, then my phone waits until the next round of signaling.) This is why messaging isn't guaranteed to be instantaneous.
Most users assume the other person is a little slower to respond, but that isn't always the case.

My personal hope is that, with this type of revenue/cost disparity, these companies are at least using the extra money to subsidize other services (eg, making phone minutes cheaper because, frankly, those *are* tied directly to equipment/operational costs).
Guess that's part of the "secret formula" for how to be a profitable telecom company. ;)

Comment Re:Touch typing defense (Score 3, Insightful) 157

It looks likely you were mostly joking (so, that makes me feel equally bad about admitting this).
But, when putting in my PIN, I typically rest several fingers on different numbers, move my hand around, and punch my PIN in that way, obscuring what I'm doing (not the typical one finger, one press approach).

For me, it was about making it tough for someone with a video camera set up to watch the ATM to figure out what my PIN is based on finger movement alone.

I suppose to that end, would getting the heat signature really be that superior to having a video camera set up with a telephoto lens?
And if we were ever worried about heat signature, wouldn't simply wearing gloves defeat this "potential attack?"

Seems someone has figured out a complex way of collecting PINs.

Why not set up a loop of wire and, based on the different lengths of connection between electricity that flows from pressed keys to the processor, infer which key is pressed?

Right... it would cost more in time, money, and effort than one could make simply waiting for someone to walk up and rob with a gun.

Comment Re:Duke Nukem Fore.. eh.. (Score 1) 422

I'm not affiliated with the project, but someone was motivated enough to take that classic memory and update it (somewhat) for the modern world.
No, you won't mistake it for a recent game release, but it is a great way to experience the classic again without as much of the dated graphics.
Highly recommend Duke Nukem 3D HRP (High-Resolution Pack)!

Comment Re:again? (Score 2) 319

Interesting experience for me with Comcast.
I had considered going the Business Class route because, frankly, it would be "the right thing to do" since I host a mail server.
Here was the rub: while I was able to get a Business account, they assign a dynamic IP. Well, first problem I ran into was related to email; Comcast Business dynamic IPs are in a ton of RBL's, hence email delivery is stopped.
Called Comcast to ask them about it. Oh, for $15 more a month a could get a static IP, and THEN they'd help with blacklisting.
What about the residential solution where one just uses the Comcast email relay as a smarthost? Nope... not available for Business Class users.
So, it was either $75/month just to accommodate the email portion of service, or being a $45/month (with other services) and "abuse" them.

If you do email and are tempted to go the business class route, be aware of these "limitations" before making the jump. Or, expect to pay for external email relay (such as is offered through

Of the irony... the home user version is much more "business friendly" than the business version!

Comment Re:Maybe they did it wrong... (Score 1) 395

It isn't that requirements shouldn't be re-evaluated or should never change... this principle of accepting change in Agile makes perfect sense in the context of "providing a solution that meets the actual need."

The challenge comes in with education of the non-implementers who have been sold on their development teams utilizing this methodology.

My experience with "Agile" (can't say the intended way, just the way it has been bastardized) can be summarized with this anecdote: Business guy comes in and wants to fundamentally change what is being delivered for a project. And, no... the "deadline" for when the project is needed isn't changing. But, that should be ok, right? Because Agile allows for changing requirements even late in development.

Don't get me wrong. Agile vs Waterfall (for some project types) is vastly superior. Delivering incremental, meaningful software frequently can help the business evaluate if what was asked for is on the right track or not. But, in my experience, rarely does the whole team understand the use/application of this methodology. People understand in Waterfall "if I don't get the requirements right, it is my fault" because it has been around for a long time and is widely implemented across many industries.

Even with 10 years, Agile methodology hasn't seeped into enough minds cross-discipline to reach this same tipping point. Until that happens, I see Agile representing both/either "we can change it whenever with no consequences" (which ISN'T what Agile is about) and "we can do complete development without the pain of any sort of documentation" (the mis-perception that it completely eliminates culpability for the business for not defining what is needed).
Just my $.02.

Comment Re:"Leaked"? (Score 1) 278

I believe the US is the same.
Interestingly, I just had to take my cat into the vet for surgery. They actually asked for SSN on the form (but mentioned it was optional). I mean... FOR THE VET?!? The abuse of SSN in the US is quite rampant despite there being a fairly clear rule about what SSN is meant to be used for *only*. 8/

Comment Re:"Leaked"? (Score 1) 278

For many years now, when someone asks me for information, my first thought is not to give the information, but to consider why I don't want to give it to that person. And I don't consider myself particularly paranoid with respect to what I share.

Can totally relate to this. Probably the most "abused" personally identifying information in the U.S. is Social Security Number.

I was under the impression that it was meant only as a means of identifying you for taxes and (of course) social security benefits. It was not meant to be used for any other purpose.

And yet, for school loans, bank accounts (that don't have any interest), and even my dentist want it because, to them, it is a unique identifier.

I had debated if I should refuse to give them that information or just comply. To my shame, I have simply complied. I tried, at first, to argue it. But there were only so many times I could tolerate the "but, the system requires it... I don't know what to do about your objection" situations that I eventually gave up knowing that, someday, it would likely come back to haunt me.

But then I figured, it would haunt everybody, so perhaps I could shift the responsibility to a future "savior."
This isn't anything to be proud of, but "giving in" has certainly made life easier.

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