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Comment Patent it and make some real cash (Score 3, Insightful) 156

Am I the only one who thinks that anyone who can make a device that pulls "2,000 liters of water a day from the atmosphere, using completely renewable energy, for at most 2 cents a liter" would be far, far better to patent the machine and then sell it themselves? The device they are describing would be so miraculous - not to mention useful - that the $2 million prize would be small change to what the inventors would get if they commercialized it.

I mean, I'm all for encouraging scientists and don't think that science should only be about making money, but for what they are describing, they really ought to be offering a /real/ prize rather than what would be comparative pocket-change to the device's actual value.

I mean, I read that the cost of desalinization in California costs ~$10,000 per person (and that's just for the cost of the building plant, not the power or the distribution); to desalinate enough water for the whole state would cost close to $400 billion dollars. A machine that could create water for 5 people (2000 liters is a little more than 500 gallons; Americans use about 100 gallons of water a day) for $40 a day would have municipalities breaking down the inventor's door. XPrize really should offer remuneration that reflects the importance and value of the invention.

Comment Content vs Eyeballs (Score 1) 40

I'm not familiar with the website in question and know nothing about it besides the description given to it in the Slashdot summary. But assuming it is even marginally accurate, I stand in saddened awe that a site which actually produces moderately interesting content ("recommendations for electronics and other gadgets that are both obsessively researched and simply presented") is purchased for a mere $30 million while something like Facebook or Twitter - which are blank slates filled with user-created nonsense - go for billions of dollars. We as a culture really need to look into our priorities...

Comment Re:2.3M? -- That'll teach them! (Score 1) 116

See, I disagree. I think the $2.3million dollar fine is appropriate for the crime, especially since it's basically also a warning that if the company keeps doing that sort of thing they're liable to receive even stiffer penalties. But I'd not really be comfortable with the government grabbing billions of dollars to stuff into their own coffers

What /isn't/ okay is that Comcast gets to keep its ill-gotten gains. I mean, if I stole something, I wouldn't just get a penalty (fine, jail-time, community service, whatever); I'd have to give up my illegally gained loot as well. So ideally, the fine should also include an order to return the fraudulently billed fees to the customers it bilked, at Comcast's cost and within a specified time period.

However, I'm not sure that such an order is within the FCC's mandate or power; it probably would require a court order.

Comment Re:Acronym collisions! (Score 1) 134

Ooh, is this the moaning about the theater experience thread? I want in on that!

Aside from the disadvantages mentioned above, theaters lack a lot of the amenities of watching a movie at home. Like a big comfy couch to slouch into (or fall asleep on), or being able to pause the movie at will if I want to go to the bathroom or get a drink, or being able to turn on the subtitles so I can actually /hear/ what the characters are saying during a big action scene. And I like being able to simply switching to a different movie if the one I've picked isn't living up to the hype or doesn't suit my current mood.

Having full control of the air conditioning is nice too; theaters are always too cold or too hot. Oh, and they almost always are too damn loud too. And don't get me started on the $10 popcorn...

Honestly, the theater experience is so sub-par that I'm always surprised to learn people still go to them. Get a big screen setup, and watch at home. If you want a social experience, invite a few friends over and then go out to dinner together afterwards.

Comment Oh no! (Score 1) 169

This is horrible! Now hackers will have access to all my spam!

Seriously, the only reason I even have/use the Yahoo email address is for websites that are so scummy I don't want to associate them with the /HOTMAIL/ account. Every now and then I take a peek and I don't think that account gets any email that /isn't/ virus-laden. Even if I wanted to use it, its interface is so ugly (with a stunning /purple/ color scheme) that my eyes were bleeding after just a few minutes. It's the cesspool of freemail providers.

Comment A shot across Verizon's bow... (Score 4, Funny) 50

This is a shot across Verizon's bow by Comcast, warning them the two will soon be in direct competition. Not for wireless service - I'm sure they'll both divvy up the country to ensure they each maintain their near-monopolies. Rather, Comcast executives were becoming worryingly upset by the comparisons between the two companies on who was providing the worst customer service. Comcast is getting into wireless telephony solely so they can show up those second-tier Verizon agents about how to /really/ screw over cell-phone customers. Because nobody fucks over customers like Comcast.

Comment Re:Also kicks out scores from third party purchase (Score 1) 85

This might be intentional on the part of Steam to discourage publishers - especially smaller publishers - from selling their products via HumbleBundle, Bundlestars, CDKeys or any other venue since Valve gets no (or much less) revenue from sales made outside of Steam. These other markets are important to smaller developers, who want to make their game as widely available as possible, but if it costs them recognition on Steam - the Walmart of digital PC game distribution - then they might think twice about selling anywhere but through Valve's storefront.

I'm not saying that this change to review policy was made by Valve to purposely limit developer's options but I have little doubt it was seen as an added benefit. As people become more comfortable with digital distribution, Valve is increasingly becoming less essential; there's no reason a person can't buy and download the game from any other service just as easily and many developers have considered rolling their own storefront rather than sharing their profits with Valve. Valve needs to ensure that they have enough extras to offer both developers and customers that both /want/ to use Steam rather than the alternative. This move just helps protect one of Steam's most valuable features: user reviews.

Comment Google needs to be careful (Score 3, Interesting) 241

They've shown that they don't just blindly respond to DMCA requests, that somebody is vetting them first and deciding whether or not to take down the supposedly infringing material. In the linked case, Google decided not to honor the request to remove Warner Brothers websites from their search engine, as it was obviously erroneous. Yet they do not provide the same service globally, as evidenced by the request to take down a Ubuntu torrent despite this request being farcical.

I can see this issue being used by both sides of the DMCA argument to show that Google is not handling these requests correctly. The fact that they aren't handling all DMCA requests the same leaves them open to a possible lawsuit.

Comment Doctor Who was right (Score 1) 88

Strange, to me it looks a lot like those endless rock quarries used in the innumerable low-budget sci-fi shows produced by the BBC in the '70s and '80s.

I mean, I am as excited as the next guy to see pictures of Mars and all, but "amazing vistas" these are not. It's grungy, dusty rocks not that dissimilar to what you might find on Earth, without even any funky colors we've been trained to expect from space (they need to use more red filter so people "know" its Mars ;-). Who knew that the universe subscribed to the Real is Brown philosophy?

Comment Hardware - and customer - fragmentation (Score 5, Insightful) 82

Isn't this move sacrificing one of the major advantages of owning - and developing for - a console, which is its standardized hardware? As a customer, being sure that any Playstation 4 game I buy will run on my platform without difficulties is a big plus over the uncertainty of trying to get that same game running on a PC. Similarly, as a developer, I can max out the platform's capability without worrying that some players are going to have a substandard experience because their GPU isn't up to snuff (also, I don't have to worry as much about compatibility testing because the platform is standardized). But now Sony has introduced two different tiers to the customers.

If I own an older, slower PS4, am I going to miss out on some games because my hardware can't hack it, or - even if the game is nominally compatible - am I going to have to play with poor framerates or worse graphics effects? Or is Sony going to insist developers limit themselves to the capabilities of the older hardware, in which case what advantage is there really to buying the PS4 Pro if games are going to target the lowest common denominator anyway? Meanwhile, as a developer I would hate this because now I either have to target and test against two different hardware configurations.

Consoles used to be the ultimate in plug-n-play gaming. The way things are going, playing a game on a console is going to be as troublesome as on a PC.

Comment I Prefer E-Books... mostly (Score 1) 140

I made the transition to e-books in the late '90s, starting with a huge download from Project Gutenberg onto my Palm Pilot. These days I almost entirely read books on an electronic device; for the most part, I find it far more convenient than hard-copy. It's usually lighter, easier to carry around (just slip it in the pocket!), the book stays open to the page you want whenever you put it down, and I can carry an entire library with me. The latter is extremely useful since I can finish a good book in just a few hours. I used to carry three books in my bag just to make sure I had enough reading material; now it's just the phone, which I have to carry around anyway.

Having said that, electronic books are best enjoyed if you are going to access the material linearly; that is, you start at page one and progress page by page to the end, as with most novels. I've yet to find any device or software that makes reading an eBook where you are going to bounce back and forth between pages or chapters - which is pretty much any reference book - anything but a grueling chore. Anything with multiple columns also requires a larger screen (phablet minimum, tablet preferred), whereas novels can be read on smaller devices. Regardless of the type of book, I've never found the addition of multimedia or hyperlinked information particularly welcome either.

When it comes to eBooks, I consider myself an outlier; nonetheless, I've converted a number of friends to eBooks, including an elderly literature professor who once swore vehemently against the new format but now reluctantly agrees there are some advantages and regularly reads on his android phone. Almost all of them still read hard-copy, but increasingly they look for the digital version first. Surprisingly, I've found more success converting older people than young, possibly because the lighter weight - and the ability to increase the font-size - are welcome additions for their age bracket.

Comment Re:Heu.. ???? (Score 4, Insightful) 400

No. Well, yes, but not in the way you think.

This isn't about Microsoft trying to "conquer" Linux. Increasingly Microsoft is less interested in maintaining operating system dominance. The OS is not a growth market, and not one that people really care too much about; they use whatever their computer (or device) comes with. Instead, Microsoft is betting big on becoming an OS-agnostic software-as-a-service company. That isn't to say that they are entirely abandoning Windows (and knowing Microsoft's legendary inter-departmental rivalries, you can bet the Windows team is fighting the rest of the company to keep their product relevant) but long-term I wouldn't be surprised to see all of Microsoft's products available on Linux, MacOS, IOS, Android and any other OS they can reach. It - not Windows dominance - is where Microsoft believes the company's future is.

Comment Reasons I'm not upgrading (Score 1) 503

In decreasing order of importance:

1) Mandatory upgrades / patches. Almost everything else in Win10 I can deal with, but this real burns me. I've been screwed over by Microsoft patches too many times in the past (not least being KB3035583 "Win10 Upgrade Notification tool") to ever accept this.

2) Privacy issues. No, Windows10 isn't as bad as was initially reported, but its defaults are still terrible, and even with it buttoned down it still leaks like a sieve... possibly worse, since I have only Microsoft's word that they aren't keylogging everything. And now you can't turn Cortona off anymore, so that data-torrent is opened right up again...

3) It has an ugly interface, where they've stupidly moved controls about for no real purpose other than to say they changed it, obfuscated commonly used controls, and removed the less-commonly used options so they can only be toggled via the registry (for now... they're recent policy change on policies indicates that even these options may go away soon). Sure, there are third-party solutions, but they don't entirely solve the problem.

4) It's very pushy with regards to using other Microsoft services, to the point where it cripples itself if you don't fully buy into the Microsoft ecosystem (try using the app store or onedrive if you don't use a microsoft log-in as your main credentials). And then there's that whole worry about the direction Microsoft is going with regards to service-based pricing...

5) Windows10 brings very little new to the table that I find of interest. It apparently boots faster, but my computer is up and running in 30 seconds already, and how often do I really reboot anyway? DirectX12 might be more exciting if there were any significant games using it. Better interactivity with an XBoxOne might matter if I owned an XBone, which I don't (and even then I doubt I'd care).

In the end, there's very little Windows10 has to offer me that earlier versions of the OS don't do as well, or better. Even if Windows10 was a compelling upgrade, I'd reconsider an OS upgrade if my current set-up is working well enough (as it is). But right now Win10 is just a little bit too ugly, too creepy and too pushy for me to want to have anything to do with it. Maybe in a few years it might be worth taking a look at but right now it seems far more bother than reward.

Comment Re:why can't people accept that things happen? (Score 1) 93

But how would informing you of the issues have been better for the company, at least short-term?

Take your Hertz example; not knowing the extent of the problem, you waited around until you got a car - and Hertz got paid. Had they told you that no vehicle would be available until 2AM, you would have taken a taxi and Hertz would have been out a rental.

Of course, long-term these attitudes can cost a company customers, who will look to their competitors rather than use a company with such poor service. But that's less of a fear when a company is large enough that the alternatives are unavailable or unpalatable (e.g., given the choice between frequenting a big-national-chain or an unknown local business, most people chose the former... especially if they themselves aren't locals). And businesses these days aren't really known for looking out for long-term problems anyway...

The short of it is that there is often very little incentive for companies to admit their shortcomings and very expensive reasons not to.

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