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Comment It's hard to believe. (Score 2) 57

The amount of data you need assemble a global navigation system is enormous. You don't hire some intern to transcribe data out of Wikipedia, you license it from companies like Tele Atlas.

Now for geographic place names you'd turn to sources like the USGS GNIS system for the US, whatever the local equivalent of GNIS is, or for places that don't have that datasets like GNIS the DoD's Defense Mapping Agency.

It can't possibly be that Bing gets their place/position data mainly from Wikipedia. The only thing I can think is that they did some kind of union of all the geographic name sources they could find in order to maximize the chance of getting a hit on a place name search, and somehow screwed up prioritizing the most reliable sources first.

Comment Re:Sour Grapes (Score 1) 78

Actually, try #3. That's the only term that is generic enough to encompass both the individual recording artists (regardless of the degree of artistry) and the record companies that represent them. I'm talking collectively about everyone involved in the process of bringing that content to market who might plausibly be involved in the decision-making process.

Comment Re:Epinephrine cost per dose in about 50 cents (Score 2) 256

Well, it's the very fact that the alternative is, possibly, death that makes it possible for a company to do this. This thing occupies a peculiar corner case where the demand is modest, but inelastic.

This means a monopolist can milk the market by raising the price to insane levels, but because the market is small no competitor wants to enter it. Were the market to become competitive it is so small that the newly entered competitors wouldn't make much off their efforts. This is contrasted with statins, which are blockbuster drugs. You don't need a very large slice of that pie for the slice to be very large indeed.

The same thing happened last year with Duraprim. If you have toxoplasmosis, you absolutely have to have it. But how many people get toxoplasmosis?

Comment Re:Useful for desalination plants? (Score 1) 78

Well, to answer your question, of course if we covered the entire ocean, or significant fractions of it, sure there'd be undesirable ecological effects. Just like anything else that is scaled up endlessly without allowance for what economists call "externalities".

If you could internalize all externalities then the market would provide a perfect solution without any kind of regulation whatsoever. But since nobody knows how to do that, then I imagine that you'll get two regimes: (1) do whatever you want as long as you grease the the correct palms (in authoritarian states like China) or (2) go through the rigmarole of doing environmental impact studies before getting permits to beuild (in democratic societies).

Comment Re:Useful for desalination plants? (Score 4, Insightful) 78

I should think not -- at least not in the way you're probably thinking.

The device consists of a wicking layer topped by a light-absorbing layer. This boils water, which produces more or less pure steam. It also leaves the minerals from the water in the wicking layer. If you take distilled water directly away from the device and replace it with fresh seawater, those minerals will build up until the layer is no longer absorbent. On the other hand if all you want is the heat, you run the steam-distilled water through a heat exchanger and return it to the wicking layer, reconstituting the original water.

So it'd probably wouldn't work to use this directly as a steam distiller. However you could use the heat you collect to run a separate steam distiller. That would be very inefficient, but the thing about "renewables" is that conversion efficiency is less important than low installation and operation cost, because you're not paying for your feedstock of energy; any sunshine you don't use would have been wasted anyway. So while it seems physically possible to use this device to power a desalinization plant, whether it makes economic sense depends on whether this is actually the cheapest way to run a plant.

Comment Re:Numbers not adding up... (Score 1) 166

You have k(a) Android devices and k(i) failed devices. k(i) divided by n(i) gives you 58%.

No, that's what failure rate is supposed to mean. However, what the numbers actually said are:

  • iPhone 6 had the highest failure rate of 29%
  • iOS devices as a whole had a failure rate of 58%

These two statements cannot both be true simultaneously by any proper definition of "failure rate". The iPhone 6 is a subset of all iOS devices. The claim is made that its failure rate was 29%. For the failure rate of all iOS devices to be 58%, that would mean that at least one iOS device must have a failure rate greater than 58% to pull the average up from 29% to 58%, which contradicts the statement that the iPhone 6 had the highest failure rate at 29%.

Q.E.D.

The only way you could even halfway make those numbers plausible would be if you erroneously divided the iPhone numbers by either the total number of iOS devices or worse, the total number of devices. Either of those approaches makes the numbers meaningless because you don't know the relationship between... to use your terminology... k(i) and n(i) at that point.

In your ramblings, you fail to consider that the vast majority of people who want to avoid expensive shipping charges will often bring their unit into a store... which eliminates many of the simpler problems.

The vast majority of people who want to avoid expensive shipping charges will Google the problem and find an answer themselves. People go to a store when that fails.

Comment Re:Sour Grapes (Score 4, Insightful) 78

I don't really understand how this benefits Spotify as it doesn't improve the service in any way that I can see, and such a move likely makes it worse for users for petty business reasons that have nothing to do with the users.

In the short term, the only negative impact would be if the songs they're demoting are extremely popular and if the public perceives their absence as a loss in quality. Given the size of the musical corpus these days, that seems unlikely.

In the long term, this serves notice to content creators that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Normally, those content creators would have to balance the cost of exclusivity (fewer plays on those exclusive songs) against the benefits (presumably dramatically improved promotion and possibly higher royalty per click. With this policy in place, those content creators have to factor in the loss of the vast majority of their income from the other providers—not just on new content, but also on old content. That significantly changes the balance in a way that discourages these exclusive deals.

And that's a good thing. Vendor exclusivity is inherently anti-consumer.

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