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Comment Re:Some people are just naturally contrarian (Score 1) 355

I'll defend Winamp a bit on this front for a few reasons...

1. The download installer is 10MB. A kitchen-sink installation is 50MB. In 2017. The installer for VLC is 30MB, and a kitchen sink install of that is 122MB. iTunes is over 100MB for the installer. Winamp may be bigger than it used to be, but it's still very comfortably on the left of the bell curve - its full installer takes less disk space than the amount of RAM needed by the Pandora website.
2. They've got a custom installer. Don't want the visualizations or CD ripper support or video playback modules? You can opt out of installing them. The 'lite' profile is under 10MB installed. It doesn't play video or support 'modern' skins or have a media library, but if that's a feature rather than a bug, it far eschews iTunes's utter lack of custom install options (oh, you don't have an iPhone and didn't want five services starting with your computer now? sucks to be you!).
3. Truly opt-out of data collection.
4. I don't ever think I've had Winamp crash.
5. Though I hate the Bento skin and its propensity to assume I want the library displayed rather than a small windowshade, every version for the last 20 years has shipped with the 'classic' skin, and short of the added menu options, has looked and worked exactly the same, requiring zero relearning on the part of the user unless they explicitly wished to use a different skin.

So no, the new versions haven't been coded by demoscene savants who could have fit it on a floppy disk with room to spare, but it's still relatively small, functional, stable, and familiar - adjectives that are very infrequent to use when describing most software today.

Comment Re:But it's a very well known fact... (Score 2) 618

Because all the places that are non-metric are still intuitive to Americans. An inch is about the length of your thumb. A foot is about the length of your foot. A cup is about as much as a tea cup, and twice that you have what fits in pint glass. 0-100 degrees Fahrenheit covers the comfortable livable temperature of humans, and thus is very convenient for telling the weather (which is what 90% of what all non-cooking Americans use temperature for).

Anything that requires precision is already metric. Chemistry, engineering, etc.

Everything except screws, nuts, and bolts. We have a screwy double-measure system that drives me bonkers.

Comment Re: No. (Score 2) 198

I don't see the same longevity in Facebook as Google. When more grannies are on Facebook than 18 year olds, won't they lose their cool factor and become another MySpace?

Well, that depends. Off the top of my head, here were Myspace's problems:

-Their IM client never worked.
-They allowed raw HTML pasting, which meant that MySpace pages were filled with gobs and gobs of glitter graphics and terrible CSS that made each page a different style of navigation.
-Their advertising consisted of "punch the monkey" banner ads, but they were serving up massive amounts of internet traffic. They didn't have much in the way of user profiles or 'brand pages' with which to monetize.
-As much as Facebook and Twitter get ire when they change the UI, Myspace never seemed to attempt to do so...until they deleted everyone's data...then restored about half of it years later.
-It predated the critical mass of smartphones (yes, there was a Blackberry app...and very little to do with it) and failed to keep users engaged over time.
-It didn't have the userbase Facebook has.

Facebook will probably experience a slow decline, but even if grannies become the prevalent demographic, I don't think Facebook cares as much about their 'cool factor', as long as the people who use the site have good click-through rates or profiles marketers are willing to pay for. However, its sheer pervasiveness and market saturation means that it's basically the "lowest common denominator" of social networks. Snapchat may be the cool thing right now, but Facebook users outnumber them by over 10:1.

Will something else take over? Well, that relies on two things: sufficient dissatisfaction with Facebook, and a comparable competitor to take up the slack. Myspace wouldn't have experienced its mass exodus if Facebook wasn't waiting in the wings to give everyone a home, along with additional functionality - in Facebook's case, it was possible to interact with it via text message, which was a big deal when flip phones and 'feature phones' still well-outnumbered smartphones.

The question for the first part is what it would take to make people dissatisfied with Facebook. UI changes haven't done it, privacy implications haven't done it, political backlash hasn't done it, the Messenger debacle didn't do it's rather tough to tell what the breaking point would be for Facebook...but let's say that whatever it was, happened. What would the competitor have to have in order to cause a migration? I can't believe it would take more than a month to conjure up an app/website combination that had one-to-many messaging, one-to-one messaging, image sharing, and location sharing. Besides "it's not Facebook", what would the incentive be? Instagram has had a decent amount of success due to ease-of-use and filters. Snapchat became popular because of its fun face changers and 24-hour limit. Whatever Facebook++ has, it'll need to do something desirable that isn't already being done, and have lots of people migrate to it.

Comment Re:Napster Approach (Score 1) 156

worked great, Napster became the most dominant platform for legitimate music downloads.

Yes, yes, haha, Napster didn't own the market...but I submit that this was primarily because of colossally bad timing more than anything else.
Napster 'went legit' in 2003. In 2003, 802.11b was new, exciting, and expensive, and iPod/iTunes had just come to the PC. The RIAA was still trying to figure out how to combat Kazaa, Windows 2000 was still the preferred version of Windows because 'XP' stood for 'Xtra Problems', an 80GB hard disk was like 8TB now, and cellular data was billed per-minute and ran at 28.8kbps if you were lucky - and you were almost guaranteed to be tethering to a laptop. There was no Youtube, no Spotify, and no Pandora...because there were no 'apps', unless you count what was run on the Cybiko, also ahead of its time (despite its use of a serial cable).

The RIAA was all-in on DRM, and Apple would neither license FairPlay, nor would they allow DRM'd WMA files on iPods. In the coming years, the iPod would basically be the standard in portable audio players; it was basically 80% Apple, with the other 20% split between Creative, iRiver, Sandisk, and everyone else who was making MP3 players...and only a subset of players by those manufacturers could support Microsoft's DRM. So, Napster was trying to compete with Apple when Apple cornered the hardware market and wouldn't let Napster's music play on it. That simply wasn't going to work out too well.

Then, Napster preempted Spotify by five years, in a pre-iPhone, pre-cellular data world - $15/month allowed for users to download as many music files as they wanted onto their devices, and they would work for 30 days. Slashdot decryed the Janus DRM that enabled this sytem to exist, but really there is no meaningful way to have digital rentals without DRM. No matter; Dell and Creative made a handful of players that worked with it (sidebar: the Creative Zen Vision:M was/is an epic portable media player and could have been #2 to the iPod if they didn't make some really dumb design choices), so basically the use of the service was contingent on users explicitly purchasing compatible hardware, but by then the iPod and iTunes were so well-entrenched that its potential market was "people who didn't buy an iPod and who also didn't have a philosophical objection to DRM files in the context of a rental and who also were willing to pay for stuff rather than downloading from Limewire", like, 6 people...and yes, I was one of them.

So, now we have Youtube streaming taking up the I-have-no-money-but-want-to-hear-this-song-in-particular folks, Spotify taking up the rent-any-song market, and Apple/Amazon/Google selling tracks for $1 a pop for those who want MP3/AAC downloads. Laugh all you want at how Napster wasn't able to achieve success, but these services owe a lot of their success to Napster doing it first.

Submission + - Police violently drag man from United plane after reportedly overbooked flight (

Mr.Intel writes: On Sunday, a United Airlines passenger was pulled from his plane seat and dragged off the aircraft — because the airline had overbooked the flight. Several passengers captured the scene and the disturbing footage appears to show that the man was left bleeding from the mouth after his face was smashed against an arm rest during the scuffle. Security are seen wrenching the man from his seat and then dragging him down the aisle and off the plane.

United Airlines gave us this response:

“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation.”

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PL/I -- "the fatal disease" -- belongs more to the problem set than to the solution set. -- Edsger W. Dijkstra, SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 17, Number 5