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Comment Of course a tablet is a PC (Score 0) 577

Taking the Apple click-bait out of the equation, this sounds about right from a broad view: Tablets and "smartphones" as PCs from a decade ago or-so in terms of computing power with funny form-factors and interfaces. The Market is still trying to figure out the form factor. The mini-HDMI out on many tablets, Bluetooth keyboards and mice, styluses, and other "accessories" show this.

What do I think we're seeing? A "transformer". A tablet on-the-go, a workstation when docked. Could I be wrong? Yes. Talk to me in ten years.

Comment Give the guy a break already (Score 1) 713

The comments have been entertaining. What I read the blog as saying, over and over again, is "Hey! You no longer have an excuse to download illegal music! Songs are available for a buck a song on Amazon and iTunes! There are plenty of ways to get your digital music legitimately. Why are you ripping borrowed CDs?"

The guy sounds like every other musician I know trying to make a living. At some point, you have to sell something. This guy had the "bad luck", if you can call it that, of getting his start in the music business (by being in a signed band) before the Iternet explosion and the ability to sell his stuff direct to the public and, if his business model is good enough, make a living doing it.

In short, this guy does get it: Sell 20k people $50 worth of stuff in a year and get by on, after costs, $50k a year. The guy is also under contract to sell his existing stock at a profit (to him) of ~$0.10 a copy. That means he has to sell 20k * 500 or 1 million units. Just to get a measly $50k a year.

Comment Re:No, our science education is dismal (Score 1) 564

The biggest problem I faced was that a faction of the education bureaucracy was fiercely opposed to college prep courses (because they were elitist) and wanted to homogenize the curriculum.

This is from a pedantic point of view that truly challenging classes are a waste of resources. It's not meant to be anti-intellectual. It's meant to get students from different social classes to socially interact instead of being tracked and segregated. The idea, to paraphrase, is to get the "science geek" and the "shop flunk-out" to respect each other and help each other out, thereby raising achievement levels over-all. The problem isn't one of hard courses being elitist, but of hard courses being perceived to be taking resources from programs that are stressed. The proposed solution is one of co-mentoring. The delivery leaves much to be desired, as co-mentoring (in my opinion) only works if it's started in kindergarten and continued through-out formal schooling.

Comment Re:"Government share??" (Score 1) 373

Private enterprise almost never funds something that can not be immediately turned into a product. You can more-or-less take this as an axiom.

This means that there are vanishingly few sources of funding to perform basic R that is, the basic research that discovers new knowledge that is then refined and turned into a new product. This new product leads to competitive growth, but this growth would never have happened without the initial funding. See also: NASA (in it's hey-day). It's not that Government now has less control over what can be researched is a good or bad thing. It's that there are vanishingly few other sources of funding that fill in the gap when government does not fund basic research.

Scientists and engineers have got to eat and pay the bills, too. If you want basic R&D, pay them. It just so happens that, for economic reasons, almost the only player in funding basic R&D is The State. This is much like the argument about who should pay for autopsies. Economically, no one will pay for them as the only person who benefits from the initial outlay of cash is the dead person. ...who's dead! Everyone else benefits from the results of the autopsy. Therefore, who should pay? The only vehicle that can do something for the common good of all is The State by definition.

Comment Re:Instead of complaints, we need answers (Score 3, Interesting) 338

The Rules say that the only thing you can do is to ceaselessly lobby your Senator and get your friends, relatives, and that weird guy who asks you for change for a dollar every time you go into Dunkin' Donuts to do the same.

See my comment below, as the damage has been halted by the same person that halted a similar bill last year, a Senator from Oregon. The only way to stop this is the raise money to buy off enough Senators to keep the bill stopped.

Comment Re:Since you asked. (Score 1) 38

Makes a lot of sense to me. You answered essentially the same as I answered below: "The cloud" makes sense when you have no other infrastructure to leverage (or do not want to buy any). With growth, it becomes an interesting question: When do you move away from "the cloud"? I'd say it depends on your business model. If what you are selling is CPU-cycles and you only own the billing data, while you might never move your product out of the cloud, you just might own your billing platform and build your own gateways to the "rented" servers.

Comment Re:Whether we like it or not (Score 1) 38

That looks more like a business decision to me: paying one hosting provider vs another. I'd also question how much data is owned by your service versus your customers. If this is a "hobby", as in you're not doing anything that you might leverage with the data, then it doesn't matter one way or the other. You simply choose the least expensive hosting operation that gives you the most services. If you do need to leverage the data, I'd at least build a periodic off-siting method to own the data. That way, when you move to another site or the "cloud" evaporates, you still have data that you can turn into cash-flow.

Comment Re:Whether we like it or not (Score 1) 38

Easy... You use "the cloud" for speed: When you need to turn an idea into a product in a *very* short amount of time and you have no other infrastructure to leverage. A lot of businesses have IT staff and have already sunk costs into the needed infrastructure. The sales pitch is that "the cloud" is better than owning infrastructure. And that's where the real arguments start.

Comment Re:Free OS, free software (Score 1) 434

I worked in Clemmer's lab at IU a few years ago as a programmer, and to be honest, what we used was a mix of proprietary, University owned, and open source software. Me? I was the person writing the University-owned software. The real answer is that there isn't time to find open source versions of everything and, frankly, it doesn't exist for the commercial equipment. The project I was working on was building a Mass Spec (IMS^n-MS) and it used a mix of software from various sources. What matters is the reproducibility of the results, and the details of exact code versions are better left footnoted, so that when someone attempts to duplicate the results, they aren't tempted to use the exact same software. This allows gauging to see if someone didn't "cook" the software to get the results expected.

Comment Re:Ok, let's see (Score 2, Insightful) 295

Why does Microsoft think that search is such an important thing

This goes into philosophy of how a business profits from the Internet. There are basically two ways: creating content for people to buy, or telling people how to get to content and selling the re-direction as a service be it to advertisers or any other buyer. Theoretically, someone could charge directly for Search itself.

Google built the most successful business model of telling people how to find stuff. And that is why Microsoft thinks that Search is so important. Microsoft makes money on selling people their content. That business is old-growth and stable. Which, in business, means that it is subject to atrophy and decay. To quote Ray Kroc, the man who understood business as well as anyone (He bought McDonald's from the McDonald brothers and grew it into the behemoth it is today), "When you're green you're growing. When you're not, you're not."

Microsoft has to keep trying to find ways to grow their business. Owning a piece of the search infrastructure, even if it's not being used but is available, is part of their growth strategy. Microsoft doesn't have to dominate. They just have to offer a compelling alternative to Google. Whether they do or not is beyond the scope of this comment.

Comment Bugtracker.NET (Score 1) 428

I know nothing of your budget or what machines you are running, so take what I say as a "I'm running a Microsoft shop" centric answer. Bugtracker.net is a pretty good solution that will allow you, with some fiddling about a bit, to empower your users to submit requests and for you to assign tasks and priorities for little or no cost on top of what you already have invested.

If you aren't a Microsoft-centric shop, any good bug tracking platform will do. Think of them more as issue trackers. Add a wiki, if needed.


Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby, Sun-Like Star 242

likuidkewl writes "Two super-earths, 5 and 7.5 times the size of our home, were found to be orbiting 61 Virginis a mere 28 light years away. 'These detections indicate that low-mass planets are quite common around nearby stars. The discovery of potentially habitable nearby worlds may be just a few years away,' said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Among hundreds of our nearest stellar neighbors, 61 Vir stands out as being the most nearly similar to the Sun in terms of age, mass, and other essential properties."

Comment Re:Explained by a Simple Formula (Score 1) 944

Just to add an argument to support and abet:

OSS (I'm not going to call it free because, cost-wise, it ain't) actually creates a Free Market in software. What OSS does is increase by orders of magnitude to a prospective buyer the amount of information available to her about the transaction of buying software. And yes, I'm saying that OSS software is bought. If by the amount of time used to implement it, if nothing else.

Therefore, OSS is even more important to the market as a device the reduces the costs of entry and increases the perfection of available information than it is as an actual good or service. The fact that much of it is of high value as a good or service is simply a bonus.

This argument also, by the way, demonstrates how OSS increases the value of a proprietary platform. The value of a proprietary platform is equivalent to (at minimum) the value of it's OSS equivalent. Therefore (using a cost example) if Microsoft Office costs $679.95 for the Ultimate Edition, that price is, in part, informed by the value of OpenOffice as a competitor.

Comment I Don't (Just) Program in My Spare Time (Score 5, Interesting) 619

168 comments in, probably no one is going to read this. Still, I'll say it anyway.

I wouldn't hire someone who had no interest what-so-ever programming in their spare time. That said, I also wouldn't hire someone that does nothing else but program in their spare time. I'm not looking for someone that can solve a general problem (what do I do when I'm not working?) in a specific way. I want a hint that the person I'm talking with during an interview has other interests. I don't want to know what they are. That leads to information I'm not supposed to know during an interview. I just want them to give me an assurance that they are a well-rounded person with other pursuits.

Myself? Of course I program in my spare time. I also collect books, smoke and collect tobacco pipes, play RPGs (the pen and paper kind) with my friends, play computer games, cook... the list of things I do in my spare time is endless. That's what I'm looking for, because someone who doesn't lack for things to do in their spare time most liely comes with several approaches to solving new problems and that's the type of person I'm looking to hire.

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I think there's a world market for about five computers. -- attr. Thomas J. Watson (Chairman of the Board, IBM), 1943