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Comment Unwarranted backlash (Score 1) 556

Backlash on slashdot was inevitable, and that is perhaps a good thing. Thankfully, people who care about privacy and freedom still exist.

But here's the thing: Where I live, to get a phone (by which I really mean a SIM), prepaid or postpaid, requires submission of documents with ID proof, address proof,, etc. The telco carries out verification and only when all conditions are met are SIMs given out and the connections activated. It hasn't really hurt anyone and has made sure that any phone used for any terrorist activity can be traced back to some address.

My country has been hit by terrorism long before US or Europe were. And regularly. Mobiles made communication much easier for the perpetrators, enabled them to hide better. So the govt put in place these rules, found gaps, closed them, and so on over the course of a decade. You even have to show ID in cybercafes here, and name, address and phone numbers are recorded by the cafe owner should they be required later for investigation.

Today, it is mighty tough to get a phone fraudulently. Phones can be stolen. But stolen phones can quickly be blocked too. All you have to do is inform the telco. You could use fraudulent ID and address proofs, but then, verification would hold your connection up. Or getting verification marked successful will require the connivance of multiple people. All of this raises the degree of difficulty to acquire a so--called 'burner' connection.

Having lived in this regime for so long, I don't really see it as a big issue. You don't switch between operators regularly and so there should be no need to go through the rigmarole all that much. What the US seems to be proposing is in fact quite lax compared to here in India.

Comment Re:Good news - now Novartis will make generics :-) (Score 1) 288

A legal framework is needed to separate R&D in pharma from manufacturing and marketing. The R&D companies license the drug to whoever applies. Competition will keep the marketing and production company costs down to an optimal level thus saving money. Pharma marketing has massive budgets. I know of doctors travelling abroad every 15-20 days for lavish Pharma sponsored 'conferences' in exotic locations. Many malpractices exist in the whole Pharma marketing ecosystem that put the IT industry to shame in their sheer scale and audacity. Curbing them will definitely cut costs.

On the other hand, pharma R&D will make its money solely from creating new drugs and licensing fees. Their primary incentive will be to keep revenues flowing from licensing, therefore creating new drugs rapidly. The only issue to be resolved is the licensing fee R&D can charge for each new drug. I am sure a proper regulatory framework can come up with something that ensures good incentives for companies doing R&D, keeping net returns well above the pharma industry average to incentivize setting up of a lot of R&D companies. More competing R&D companies will mean more innovation and lower licensing fees too.

Finally, the Time correspondent in Delhi will basically have heard the pro-pharma argument from a PR company and leant towards it. You will be surprised how many journalists can be fed material so easily.

Comment Re:yeay four sensors (Score 1) 170

There are several colours that do not reproduce well in CMYK. Some expensive, usually large format, printers use additional custom inks to improve the quality of output. But these are not '8 colour' printers as they are claimed to be. They just have 8 inks being applied to the print medium to reproduce the artwork instead of the regular 4.

Comment Re:How to decide the fate of helium (Score 1) 589

When I was a kid, we could get plenty of hydrogen filled balloons. We would tie up a few of them together and then suspend a bit of burning plastic bag from the balloons at night and release them. In the darkness of the night, the sight of something burning while rising up in the air looked quite eerie. And when the heat from the burning plastic bag was enough to rupture the balloon, BOOM!

The show was spectacular. But now that I think about it, we were lucky to not have had one of those balloons blow up in our faces.

Comment Re:I laught at the western countries when I look (Score 1) 209

Seriously? You didn't see the sun directly in India for five weeks in peak summer? What was the reason? Black smoke clouds all over the country? Which are these fantastic regions you went through? Gee I wonder how the wood we use to cook our food grows at all, considering the sun has not been visible in summer for 5 weeks! Temperatures in some parts of India are currently beyond 47 degrees C. Let me know how that happens without a sun visible.

For your information, much of urban India uses LPG to cook food. It is far more convenient, safe and cheap. Cities like Mumbai and Delhi have piped gas even. Even small towns have LPG. Spends on fuel in India as a proportion of income are far higher. So we tend to be far more frugal with our use of electricity, gas, petrol and all other natural resources.

Comment Re:you steer by leaning, not turning the handlebar (Score 1) 114

Should one of the reasons not be the curvature of the tire cross section itself? As you lean to a side, the inner side of the tire has a smaller radius than the outer side. This will cause the vehicle to turn, won't it? Think about high speed race tracks and cars turning at high speed or think about trains and how curves are handled by them.

Comment Re:Who watches the Watchman? (Score 1) 225

If you lived in India, you would know that what WikiLeaks cables say is far closer to the truth than what the government and the people accused of bribery have been saying. Most replies from ministers and officials have been dodgy on the issue. During this very vote, MPs from the opposition had waved bundles of cash in parliament they claimed were offered by ruling part officials to vote for the India US Nuclear Deal.

Millions of dollars float about in the political arena in the country, flowing from one politician to the next in a manner perhaps not even seen in the US. A recent scam involving telecom spectrum was estimated to cost the government 1,700,000 million rupees.

Most politicians are seriously rich. They, with the help of the government that they run, grab millions of dollars worth of prime government land for themselves illegally and for free. The politicians get their money from their own businesses that have managed to snag quick regulatory clearances despite major violations, from government tenders that they actively fix and have their own businesses win at high costs, from government officials (including the police)who send up part of their bribery earnings as tributes in return for political support, from businessmen who want politicians and the government to look away while they are upto naughty things, and so on. Whistleblowers are ruthlessly silenced.

You see how politicians and the government are central to the entire mess. If I was an Indian, I would trust WikiLeaks more than these people anytime.

Comment Re:Dual/Triple boot (Score 1) 601

It will make phones more expensive. Remember, you need bigger ROM, support for two OSes and all the stuff that most people don't want or care about but drives costs up anyway.

Remember, the unsubsidized retail cost of a smartphone in India is the same, if not higher, when compared to the rest of the so-called developed nations. So, a phone that costs 500 Dollars in the US costs something like 25,000 Indian Rupees. And in India, people actually pay for their phones upfront, unlike in the US where people usually pay something like 20% of the cost upfront and the rest over the period of the contract.

And average incomes in India are an more than an order of magnitude lower than in the US. So, costs are important.

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