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Comment Yes you do (Score 1) 137

You're assuming the charge here for is a failed upgrade. The charge is for a failed forced upgrade. If Microsoft had informed users with a list of new features, what would happen in the upgrade process, and a disclaimer outlining the risks present in any upgrade, I think they would've been ok.

But they didn't do that. They did nearly everything they could to force the Win 10 upgrade down people's throats, including misclassifying it as a security update, constantly pestering people who had already said they didn't want the upgrade, and breaking long-established UI paradigms like clicking the X to dismiss a dialog, to make it the same as clicking OK. Once you inadvertently authorized the upgrade, the computer would often upgrade on its own overnight without user intervention. No information, no disclaimers. If that's how you're going to treat your users, then you deserve to be fully liable for all the problems your shenanigans cause.

OSS is fine because using it is completely voluntary. An OSS project might get into trouble if, say, Ubuntu forcibly upgraded pre-existing Ubuntu systems using sysv init to systemd. But no OSS project would be crazy enough to try that with pre-existing systems. The only reason Microsoft did it was because they knew software lock-in would prevent most users frustrated by their shenanigans from fleeing to a different OS.

Comment Most accidents have multiple causes (Score 3, Insightful) 215

Most people try to pin the blame for an accident on a single cause. Most liability laws are based on this same (erroneous) concept.

Airline accident investigations are really good at demonstrating how an entire chain of events led up to the accident. And that any single factor happening differently could've prevented the accident. e.g. The Concorde crash was caused by (1) debris on the runway from a faulty repair on a previous plane, (2) failure of the Concorde's tires when it struck the debris, (3) failure of the undercarriage to withstand tire debris striking it from a blowout at take-off speed, (4) the manufacturer not making any procedures or provisions to recover from a double engine failure on a single side because it was considered so unlikely. Any one of these things doesn't happen and the Concorde doesn't crash.

Safety systems layer multiple accident-avoidance measures on top of each other. This redundancy means that only when all of those measures fail is there an accident. Consequently, even if the self-driving car was not legally at fault, that it was involved in an accident still points to a possible problem. e.g. If I'm approaching an intersection and I have a green light, I don't just blindly pass through because the law says I have the right of way. I take a quick glance to the left and right to make sure nobody is going to run their red light, or that there aren't emergency vehicles approaching which might run the red light, or that there's nobody in the crosswalk parallel to me who might suddenly enter into my lane (cyclist falls over, dog or child runs out of crosswalk, etc).

So even if the autonomous car wasn't legally at fault, that's not the same thing as saying it did nothing wrong. There may still be lessons to learn, safety systems which were supposed to work but didn't, ways to improve the autonomous car to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Comment Re:Let's see if I have this right (Score 5, Insightful) 488

Contrary to what the pundits on the left like to believe, the GOP is not one monolithic voting bloc in fact if you explore voting history along party lines, you'll find it's the Democratic party which votes more as a bloc. (Sort by "votes with party" and it's mostly Democrats at the top.)

Half the GOP wants to replace Obamacare with Obamacare-lite, half wants to completely end government involvement in health care. That was the impasse. Ideally, the moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans would get together and come up with something, giving a middle finger to the hard left Democrats and the hard right Republicans. But the two parties are under the control of the hard left and hard right, and will ostracize any moderates who fail to toe their respective party line.

Comment Re:If I had my way... (Score 5, Insightful) 221

If I had my way, you could patent whatever you like about the device. But the moment you sell the device to someone they can do whatever they damn well want with it. As with copyright, the only thing patent protection should prevent is me from distributing copies of the device without the patent holder's permission. If I want to fill the cartridge with oatmeal and put it in my printer, it should be my right to do so by the First Sale doctrine (aka the exhaustion rule mentioned in summary).

If the patent holder wishes to claim they still control the printer and cartridge, then they didn't sell it to me. They rented it to me. And like a landlord who is responsible for repairing things that break down in a rented apartment, they are responsible for fixing the printer if it breaks for as long as they claim they control the cartridge. i.e. If they claim the control the cartridge forever, then that is the same thing as saying the printer has a transferable lifetime warranty.

Comment Re:Wonder why (Score 2) 201

I've lived in a couple nice areas like that inside cities. I'm also in the 80th percentile income bracket.

What's housing in the city like for people in the 50th percentile income bracket? For the typical 50th percentile person. Not the one who got lucky and snagged a rent-controlled apartment whose previous 90 year old tenant died of a heart attack and they happened to know her grand-niece so heard about the apartment being available before it was advertised. Comparisons should be made based on averages, not on extremes.

Comment Re:Before everyone piles on (Score 4, Informative) 76

This isn't a tax cheat, at least not with respect to the U.S. The only reason the IRS tried to cash in on this is because the U.S. is almost unique in the world in taxing income that its citizens/corporations make abroad. If you're a U.S. citizen and you live full-time in (say) Canada and work and earn money there, and have nothing to do with the U.S. other than having a piece of paper saying you're a U.S. citizen, the IRS still expects you to pay U.S. taxes. The U.S. has negotiated tax treaties with some countries to offset the most egregious forms of double taxation - taxes on earned income (wages) in one country can be applied as a credit for taxes in the other. So I didn't have to pay U.S. taxes on my wages since I'd already paid Canadian taxes on it (the Canadian taxes were the higher of the two). But I had to pay both U.S. and Canadian taxes on interest on my Canadian bank account, even though I was living in Canada, the money in the account was only from my Canadian job, and the money never left Canada nor entered the U.S. If I'd bought a house in Canada and made money when I sold it because it appreciated in value, the IRS would expect a cut of that.

Nearly all other countries tax based on location. If you earn money in the country, they tax it. If you earn money outside the country, it's not their concern. Even if this is a tax cheat, it really has nothing to do with the IRS, other than being a money grab simply because nonsensical U.S. law allows them to do it. The profit in Luxembourg came from Amazon's European operations. If Luxembourg or the EU wants to sue Amazon over this, then that's their legitimate right. But it has nothing to do with the U.S. nor the IRS.

Comment Re:Conflict of interest (Score 5, Interesting) 254

I've maintained that fines, tickets, and penalties (for traffic citations, violations of regulations, punitive damages from court cases, etc) should go into an escrow fund. On April 15 when everyone files their income taxes, divide the amount in the escrow fund by the number of tax returns filed (doubled for married filing jointly). That amount becomes a credit on each tax return. So basically all the money the government has collected as fines and penalties is distributed evenly to all taxpayers. That money was collected as compensation for crimes against society, and this way it gets distributed back to society.

Comment Re:Flaw of the Android Ecosystem (Score 1) 103

The problem is what you're asking for is mutually exclusive.
  • If it's open source, the carriers (the "users" of the open source code) can (and do) do whatever the hell they want - that is the whole point of open source. Extensions won't work because the carriers will simply modify the AOSP release to remove the extensions which allow Google to update Android without their consent.
  • If you want Google to be able to force carriers to update Android with the latest security patches, then it by definition is no longer "open" source.

What probably needs to happen is for the carriers to be sued for problems caused by them not passing on Google-released security updates in a timely manner.

Comment Totally abandoning their core userbase (Score 4, Interesting) 71

There are two primary reasons graphics professionals love Macs.
  • Support for color profiles. Profiles are important not just for accurate screen colors, but for previewing how something will look when printed. Like newspaper and magazine editors need to do. Like poster and billboard advertisers need to do. Like packaging artists need to do. Windows' support for color profiles is half-hearted. It still dumps your loaded color profile if the damn UAC elevation prompt pops up (their method of darkening the screen outside the dialog seems to do it). It's done this since Win 7 and Microsoft still hasn't bothered fixing it. The companies which make color profiling equipment have had to make software work-arounds for it. On the Macs it just works.
  • Resolution-agnostic fonts. This has been a part of Macs since their inception, and Apple developed Postscript based on the same concept. When you plug a monitor into a Mac, the Mac queries it for its model and dimensions. Then based on the screen size and resolution, it automatically scales fonts so that e.g. a 11 point font is the correct size. This is why layout artists love the Macs - what they see on the screen is exactly what it'll look like when printed, not just in terms of layout but also size. Postscript does the same thing except for fonts on printers. Windows doesn't even try to do this. You get that silly 100%-200% scaling option, where 100% is based entirely on resolution without any regard for screen size. This is why OS X had no problems switching to high-PPI "Retina" screens, while Windows still has problems with it. On the Macs it just works.

1) iOS doesn't support color profiles. While Apple does calibrate the screens, there's no way for users to add their own color profile. No way to add a printer profile. No way to switch to AdobeRGB if/when the iOS devices get OLED screens and you want to edit the full color information captured by your DSLR.

2) iOS relies on a fixed resolution. That's why when they increased resolution on the iPhone and iPad, they had to do it by doubling the resolution. It was the only way to insure that apps written with the old resolution would still display properly. Basically they have the same problem with old apps on high-PPI screens as Windows does. (Ironically, Android does support arbitrary scaling based on PPI. So Android is more more like MacOS and OS X in this respect than iOS is.)

An iOS-based laptop may suit the needs of the casual user (browser, facebook, office apps). But it's totally unsuitable for graphics/photo/video professionals.

Comment Re:The American obsession with self-reliance (Score 1) 470

You think Americans work themselves to death? You've never visited Japan or South Korea, have you? If you sort countries by GDP per capita and GDP per hour worked, the U.S. pretty close to the top (after subtracting city-states and countries with disproportionately high oil and banking revenue), indicating that the U.S. economic system works just fine thank you. Japan and South Korea are (substantially) lower, indicating that their citizens are in fact working themselves to death - more work for less productivity.

What you're arguing is that a better quality of life (measured in time for non-productive activities) is more important than maximizing productivity. That's a legitimate qualitative argument to be making. But it's hardly "evidence of a flawed economic system."

Also bear in mind that higher productivity means a faster rate of technological progress, and technological progress also translates into higher quality of life (measured in time saved from doing undesirable non-productive activities, like washing clothes). So traveling a path of less than maximum productivity will slowly and invisibly over the years result in a lower quality of life. I'm sure people in the 1950s thought life was great, but that was because they didn't know about what technological advances the future would bring. Would you rather work fewer hours and live with 1950s technology, or work more hours and live with 2010s technology?

Americans have to get over their fear of socialism and accept that, all other things being equal, a community that works together is stronger and more prosperous than one that does not.

The problem with socialism is that it's a one size fits all solution. The reason a capitalist economy works is that lots of individual actors rapidly and thoroughly explore the solution space. Those who find better solutions become successful, while those try to set up shop with poor solutions fail and are forced to look elsewhere. I think socialism is great as a safety net (to help those who wound up trying out poor solutions to get back on their feet and try again). But never lose sight of the fact that the purpose of socialism has to be to promote capitalism, not to supplant it. Otherwise you're trading off technological progress for socio-economic stability (and stagnation)

GSM is a great example. The socialist countries enshrined GSM as the one and only digital phone standard. The U.S. was (and still is) widely reviled for allowing CDMA to compete with GSM. But when cellular data became a thing, CDMA absolutely destroyed GSM. GSM relied on giving each phone a timeslice to communicate with a tower. This meant that a tower had to divide its bandwidth among all phones, even phones which didn't need their full timeslice for data. CDMA allows all phones to transmit simultaneously, and uses orthogonal codes to tell them apart. The transmissions of the other phones then become a noise floor for each particular phone's transmissions. The phones which don't need data at that particular moment simply don't transmit, resulting in less noise and thus more bandwidth for the phones which do need data.

GSM was vastly inferior at data transmission than CDMA. Within a year GSM threw in the towel and licensed CDMA and added it to the spec (the 3G data standards on GSM mostly used wideband CDMA). If the U.S. had followed the socialist countries and required GSM, our cellular data speeds today would probably be around 1 Mbps. And we probably wouldn't be where we are today with LTE because most LTE implementations use OFDMA - orthogonal frequencies instead of orthogonal codes. CDMA paved the way for LTE by acting as proof of concept that this bizarre "everyone talks at once and we'll use orthogonal x to tell them apart" idea actually works and could scale into a nation-wide network.

Comment Re:Interesting how few controls there are (Score 2) 129

How do people fall for phishing scams anymore? Everyone has to know this by now -- never trust email requesting you to do anything involving linking to a website, sending money, etc. This could have all been resolved by someone calling and asking if they should really pay this $8 million "invoice" with an irreversible wire transfer.

I've done the accounting for a $2 million/yr company and I think I can answer that. When you pay your home bills you probably only have one or two dozen every month. The company averaged about 150 bills a month. Roughly half were recurring, half were one-time purchases and reimbursements.

It's *very* easy to slip a fraudulent bill into the one-time purchases category. I was fairly paranoid and would take the extra 10 min to 1 hour to track someone in the company down and ask them if a bill was legit, even if it meant staying late to finish my other work. So I like to think I didn't fall for any fake ones, but I honestly don't know. Immediately after I was promoted and someone else took over the accounting, my replacement fell for a fake magazine subscription bill made out to look like a renewal invoice. (Yes, getting phishing attempts by postal mail is common if you run a company.) And this was before it became common for invoices to be sent by email - where you can make a perfect digital duplicate of invoices that a legit company would use.

When you're put into a position where you must pay 100% of legit bills, but also have to try to avoid 100% of fraudulent bills, it's inevitable that some fakes will slip through. Some of the other responses denigrate people who fall for these scams. Unless you go through your spam folder every day and manually check every spam mail to make sure nothing legit has been misclassified, you don't know what you're talking about. I used to think those "attempted delivery of your package failed" and "here are the sales projections you requested" malware emails were stupid and easy to avoid. Until I got support calls from people who fell for them - a guy whose job at the company was tracking shipments and receiving deliveries, and a woman whose job was to collect and summarize sales projections from her marketing staff. That's when I realized these malware emails weren't "obvious and transparent". My job profile simply did not fit that of the intended target.

The problem isn't stupid people falling for this type of scam. The "problem" is the purchaser of an item and the payer for that item being different people, so there's no direct and immediate feedback available to confirm that a bill is legit. All those expense forms, reimbursement forms, and requisition forms that people always complain about having to fill out are attempts to remedy this problem.

Comment Human directions are more intuitive (Score 1) 158

There's not much difference between my self-plotted route and the GPS route on when the roads are laid down in a grid. But a city nearby where I live has lots of curvy and bendy roads. When I plot a route on my own using a map, I tend to use intuitive directions - take a road until I'd pass the destination, turn, take the second road until I'd pass the destination, turn, take the third road until I'd pass the destination, etc. Basically, unravel the twisty roads into a quasi-grid, and plot a route along that grid. When I let the GPS plot the route, it comes up with seemingly-crazy directions where I change to a parallel road halfway to the destination for no reason than because it shaves 0.1 miles off the distance.

A similar thing happens with subway maps. At first subways tried using geographically accurate maps. But they soon found that subway riders had trouble learning the stops and when to get off. So they simplified the maps by straightening out a lot of the kinks and curves. The result is no longer geographically accurate, but is a lot easier for people to remember.

Comment Not this again (Score 2) 319

I remember my teacher mentioning the controversy over map projections when I was in elementary school in the 1970s.

The problem isn't the map projections. The problem is people's insistence on believing there is always one and only one best solution. There isn't. Different map projections are best for different applications. I see the same flawed reasoning all the time when people ask me for help buying a computer - "What's the best laptop?" There isn't a single best laptop. There's a best laptop for you, there's a best laptop for me, there's a best laptop for Fred in accounting. But they are all probably different laptops. You have to prioritize what's important for what you want to do, then pick the best solution based on those priorities.

The same thing happens with election systems. Turns out all methods of voting are flawed in some way.

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