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Comment Amiga profitability (Score 1) 205

Can't speak to the other systems (so this doesn't really invalidate your larger point), but I have to dispel the common misconception that the Amiga was anything but profitable to the end of its days. Commodore went under due to losses from the PC clone business, and Amiga production shut down when suppliers stopped delivering parts. Near the end, Amigas shipped with dealer-installed hard-drives (paid for in cash) since HD makers were among the first to get stiffed with delinquent invoices. I would posit that, under better management, the Amiga platform could have survived and have a market position similar to the Mac today.

There is a reason Amigans are so bitter about how that went down.

Comment Ad load (Score 1) 72

I recently did a quick analysis on ad-load on satellite TV (AMC, SyFy, IFC, etc.). A typical 110-minute movie will have 10 commercial breaks averaging 5 minutes, so that's 50 minutes of ads for 110 minutes of content, while some movies are padded out with ads to a 3-hour time slot. That computes to 30 to 40% ads and 60-70% content. I have to think that it really has gotten worse over the years.

I take the .avi files off my DVR and edit all those ads out, a process I have semi-automated with a spreadsheet and some scripts, and then copy them to my NAS box so they are available anytime. Often as not there is some programming promotion crawling on the bottom of the screen, but I also crop the letterboxing out so most of that is gone too.

Comment Re:Why you don't want most Things to be Intelligen (Score 1) 112

TV/VCR Combo are stupid

Heh, my combo set (which I didn't pay a dime for, and whose VCR broke long ago) can't play DVDs through the video input. The video passes through the VCR's AGC circuit whether I am using it or not, and Macrovision signal corruption creates brightness flicker as is its pathological intent. I use my xdimax Grex time-base corrector on it when I must.

I always recommend against "smart" TVs myself. To describe it succinctly, the upgrade life-cycle of a TV is much longer than the upgrade cycle of a streaming appliance. If TVs had slots for plug-in cards that would be better, but we don't really have anything like PCI or Cardbus for TV sets.

Comment Commodity hardware awaits (Score 1) 105

So, if the smartphone market has matured, commodity hardware can't be far behind. When Sammy & Apple can't get an edge on features, people will buy the cheapest and standardization drives down cost. Standardized hardware lends itself to open-source software. The biggest obstacle to flashing Sailfish on my N9 (how's that for clinging to old hardware?) is device drivers. Sailfish on iPhone hardware would be pretty cool. Small value-add shops can craft custom solutions. Imagine a local shop that can supply a phone tied, with encrypted links at the OS level, to your own cloud server, and the shop arranges for a contractor to bury the server in your backyard under 10 tons of concrete. Silicon Valley isn't interested in providing such solutions, but in a commodity world Big Data can be democratized.

Comment Re:You still own it (Score 1) 268

plenty of dead film formats

And the deadest of the all is the Kodamatic. When Polaroid sued Kodak in the 80's, the film supply disappeared. Consumers got a $50 rebate, and Kodak lost billions. So in the most prominent case of IP concerns leading to bricking a consumer device, the consumers got something. (This assumes DMCA blocks someone from providing an alternate cloud service for the Revolv.)

Comment Re:3G is terrible for all these things (Score 3, Informative) 118

If you are comparing 3G to 2G, both technologies can cut back on transmission power to conserve battery energy so there isn't much difference for a low data rate application. (I mention elswhere that long-term obsolescence, not power efficiency, is the likely motivation for using 3G.) The original post, however, was talking about short-range radio, and it simply isn't possible (as in mathematically impossible by the Shannon-Hartley theorem) for a cellular radio to push data to a tower 2 miles away without expending more energy per bit than a properly implemented short range ISM band radio hitting an in-building transponder 50 feet away. To take my previous example of a medical alert button, the mobile verison is 3x the size and needs a nightly recharge, compared to the ISM-only version which has a non-rechargeable battery that typically lasts over a year.

Comment Re:3G is terrible for all these things (Score 2) 118

I think the motivation for going with 3G is due to the carriers' long term plans to phase out 2G/GPRS. These devices often have very long service lives, 15 or 20 years. A 9600 bps analog cellular modem would have been perfectly sensible in 1994, but would have been forced into obsolescence in less than 15 years.

Comment Re:3G is terrible for all these things (Score 4, Interesting) 118

Price of the 3G service can be cheap if you do it right. The usual arrangement with M2M applications (like for example a moblie version of the ive-fallen-and-cant-get-up button that I was involved in--it used an earlier UBlox module) is to arrange contract pricing in bulk. So if you know your firmware only needs an average 100 kB/day of data service, you buy a bucket of 1 GB/day to cover your 10,000 devices and bundle data service with your device.

But yeah, the battery drain issue makes this sort of device suitable only for wide-ranging mobile applications. For in-buildling/factory/campus installations a short range ISM band radio is more suitable. A tiny module isn't much help when you have to bolt it to a fat battery and decent antenna. Often a short-range radio should be included even when when a 3G module is present if doing so can keep average data consumption down and conserve battery energy.

Comment Re:Microsoft is in deep shit now! (Score 1) 295

I had something similar to your experience at an airport. I saw 5 computing devices (not counting phones): a Macbook, two iPads, and what looked like an Android tablet, plus my own Linux laptop. Not a machine in sight running Windows. That would have been unimaginable as recently as a year ago.

According to the stats I have seen, this is the year that the number of Linux systems in use (in the form of Android) will exceed Windows systems. In current sales Android is already blowing out Windows and, for that matter, everything else on Earth. The year of desktop Linux has arrived, but not in the way everyone was expecting. High fives, for now at least.

Comment N9 = Amiga + 20 yrs. (Score 2) 176

The existence of things like the Nitdroid project and Jolla/Sailfish, plus the fact that N9 matched or possibly outsold the Lumia crud despite the massive disparity in corporate support, shows how good the technology was. The last time I saw this was...ooh it hurts to type this name...the Amiga. Commodore went under, not due to poor demand for the Amiga, which was profitable to the very end, but due to massive losses in PC clones that led them to credit default with their suppliers. They couldn't get parts to build Amigas anymore.

I hope that the prevalence of open source these days gives the keepers of the Meego flame more success then the Amigans had.

Comment Re:Eliminate districts (Score 3, Interesting) 102

I like to describe it like this: First-past-the-post forces coalition building into the political parties, whereas proportional elections have coalition-building in the legislature. Gerrymandering is like coding theory: The party in control of the districts can trade margin of victory (bit error rate) for number of seats (data rate), but if you design for a large number of seats (high data rate) a small decline in popular support (signal-to-noise ratio) will cause a large number of seats to flip (catastrophic rise in bit error rate).

Comment Re:What he took away is more precious than given (Score 1) 1613

I would make a stronger point about the removal of the floppy: Apple has an indifferent attitude toward removable media generally. The iPod, as hardware, would make a perfectly serviceable external hard drive, but software support for this was thin, and we also have the absence of SD slots. The organizing principle seems to be to have iTunes managing data instead of a file manager. iTunes knows more about the (meta-)data and can handle it with more aplomb than a general purpose file manager. That comes at the cost of limiting its scope (taking things out again) to AV media and rinky-dink apps, and keeping removable media at arm's length (copy and import rather than open up and look inside); using iTunes to manage CAD files or source code would be ridiculous.

On Gnome, I don't have much complaint. With Ubuntu and a fast connection, it is very easy to add in stuff as you need it, "Golly, I need XYZ...sudo apt-get install XYZ". My bigger beef is with KDE, which seems to be built by people who have spent too much time looking at Macs in the Apple store and not enough time trying to use Macs to do actual work. More broadly, I find that everyone in the industry apes Apple too much; Apple has their niche, and serves it well, and profitably, but it can never be more than a minority of the market. Workhorse products serving the bulk of the market will be made by others.

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