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Comment Re:£35 to sell (expenses only), ~£900 (Score 1) 53

The UK has a nontrivial donor shortage for a reason; but I suspect that their handling charges aren't actually all that exorbitant.

Unless you are just running some back alley turkey baster clinic, the expectation is that you will get a full medical history on the donors(both to avoid unpleasant heritable conditions and to keep STIs out of the system); do QA on the donations for sperm count, motility, absence of malformation; tests for any STIs; and finally prepare for cryopreservation until somebody wants the stuff.

It's not as cutting edge as it used to be, so there is probably heavier use of cheap lab techs and automation rather than MDs and PhDs doing bench work; but rigorous handling of biological material for administration to human patients isn't inexpensive.

Comment This is bullshit. (Score 1) 53

I realize that 'apps' are the future and all; but "a sperm bank is now an app" is pure nonsense. A sperm bank took their existing search tools, as provided on the only-for-old-people-and-desktops "web" and wrapped it in an interface more suitable for finger painting. I'm pretty sure that their big cryogenic storage facility didn't migrate to the cloud at the same time. Why is this even a story?

Comment Re:lolwut? (Score 1) 96

Especially since most, though not all, of the flash-using sites have been using a flash player to display an .flv or .mp4 served over HTTP anyway, since flash's DRM was mostly too pitiful to bother with and HTTP is more likely than RTMP or similar to Just Work with the various bits and pieces of your web infrastructure.

There might be some nontrivial changes(though mostly from more exotic to less exotic, so not hugely interesting) if you were going from RTMP or a similar streaming oriented format to serving up video files over HTTP; but the 'produce own ugly and nonstandard controls; do some weaksauce obfuscation to annoy people trying to get an offline copy of the video' is not terribly exciting.

Comment Re:Apples and Oranges (Score 3, Interesting) 205

Speaking of getting a free built-in KVM console; has anyone ever built a laptop that can act as a KVM? Have a video-in(probably VGA, since that's the lowest-common-denominator and can usually be relied on to exist when you are crash-carting) and a USB slave port; with a button that toggles between normal laptop operation and displaying the video-in on the internal LCD and exposing the keyboard and trackpad/point as USB HID devices on the USB slave port.

Comment Umm... (Score 4, Insightful) 205

Substantially more expensive computer is faster? You don't say...

Next you'll tell me that I can get larger hard drives just by paying more for them; or shovel more packets by telling my vendor to include 10gigE instead of the default gigE NIC.

Snark aside, it looks like they have a perfectly solid little x86 SBC there; but outperforming something that costs 1/3 to 1/4 as much as you do is 'occupying a different niche' not 'destroying'.

Comment Re:No matter how clueless we are ... (Score 1) 259

In the same deeply unhelpful sense that you can argue that all areas of science are in principle reducible to physics there might be such deep connections. It's just that they will probably end up being about as useful. There's a whole genre of nerd-mysticism to be found in areas where claims of fundamental unity can be plausibly advanced; but cannot be made to yield anything of interest or utility. Mystics love transcendent unity that dissolves all mundane apparent complexity; and going a little overboard about the descriptive utility of mathematical models is one way to do that.

Comment Who let the CS kids into the Hubris Reserve? (Score 3, Informative) 259

What could possibly go wrong? After all, it's proven totally trivial to eradicate bugs in software(that's why nobody uses systems that haven't been formally verified; it's such an easy step that you'd be crazy to skip it!); so it should be easy enough to extend our victories in that field to vastly more complex biological systems that lack many of the convenient mathematical properties built into the abstractions we use for computing.

Seriously guys; I'm glad you care about curing cancer and all; but what flavor of insanity drives this level of optimism about your chances?

Comment So... (Score 1, Flamebait) 97

So, if I understand this story correctly, Xiaomi is just doing what those benevolent western tech companies do; except their implementation is absurdly shoddy.

The total lack of package validation or SSL is pretty amateur hour; but the fact that your phone's vendor never really loosens its grip(until the day it gets bored of providing updates and just pretends it never sold the device) isn't something that started with sinister Chinese intrigue. "Google Play Services" can probably afford better software engineers; but it has capabilities at least as expansive.

Comment Re:Seems logical enough. (Score 1) 168

I agree with you on the list of desireable phone traits; I'd also like to buy such a device; but the Android market appears to be suffering much the same effect that the Wintel laptop market did(and still does to a lesser degree; though vendors have been forced to clean up their act a bit lately):

When it is very hard to distinguish your product, except on price, corners tend to be cut on everything that isn't easily visible on the spec sheet or the showroom floor. With laptops prices stayed low and CPU speeds high; but screen quality, build durability, adequate RAM, etc. suffered. It was pretty amazing just how cheap you could get a working laptop; but it actively became harder to get a good one. Handsets have suffered similarly: non-Google OEMs appear to actively loath providing software support after a product ships; and even the 'Nexus' devices don't exactly enjoy long lifespans, while generally being bereft of handy features like microSD slots, dual SIMs, removable batteries, etc.

Until someone figures out how to make "Will be rock solid, and easy to repair if needed, in hardware and software, for 8 years" appear prominently on the spec sheet and drive customer buying decisions, anyone who tries to improve quality runs the strong risk of being wiped out by incrementally cheaper and/or flashier products that will be obsolete much faster.

Comment Re:Number of ARM chips year (Score 4, Insightful) 65

ARM presumably makes more money on the big ones, especially if they also license the GPU; but the 'Cortex-M' low power/small size microcontrollers ship in heroic quantities compared to the 'Cortex-A' application processors that actually get mentioned on the spec sheets of various cellphones and tablets. There are also the 'Cortex-R' designs aimed at tasks with hard real time constraints; those are rarely mentioned but ubiquitious in cell modems and the like.

Then you have the 3rd party designs that are ISA compatble rather than directly licenses of ARM designs, Apple and Qualcomm certainly ship a fair few of those.

15 billion may be a bit high; but 15 million probably doesn't even cover a year of new cellphones.

That said, it's exactly this ubiquity and versatility that makes me wonder what SoftBank is thinking in actually buying ARM. ARM does licensing, so if you want a CPU for your application with more customization than just buying a reel of somebody's ready-to-go silicon, they'll sell you a license on pretty favorable terms. Definitely cheaper than paying ~45% over market price to buy out the whole company. If you want the right to do your own thing with their ISA, or want them to design something to fit your particular niche, that'll cost more than a cookie-cutter license; but still substantially less than buying them out.

Plus, since their business is licensing, buying them out is more or less assured to make all their existing customers nervous: what is the new management going to do? Are they going to plunder ARM's design talent for their own pet projects? Start monkeying with license fees, release schedules, etc. to gain competitive advantage for their own products in other markets?

I freely admit that I'm no genius of the silicon supply chain; but my impression was always that ARM's success was a kind of 'for profit development consortium': They aren't running a charity; but they offer solid engineering and reasonable prices to basically everyone who comes knocking, which has made ARM a de-facto standard for a wide range of situations where a company needs a CPU to embed in their product and doesn't want to DIY a proprietary freakshow; or invest the resources necessary to deliver a competitive, updated, SPARC core or the like. Since ARM sells to everyone, they amortize engineering costs across a zillion units; and their licensees can mostly rest easy knowing that ARM, who doesn't have any real direct involvement in selling SoCs or phones, or products in other markets, isn't going to start turning the screws on their licencees in an attempt to boost their own product lines.

This laid-back attitude probably contributed to having a stock price low enough to be an acquisition target; but it also helps them make all the sales they do. If people wanted to deal with an arrogant, dangerous; but very skillful single-source, they could buy Intel silicon. If they wanted to go it alone, SPARC is free for the implementing and MIPS is practically begging people to use their ISA. So far, ARM's combination of greater engineering support than the do-it-yourself options, and greater friendliness and better prices than the Intel options have proven very popular. Now that SoftBank needs to recoup a substantial investment and do whatever they had in mind when the purchased ARM, though, is that state of affairs going to persist?

Comment Seems logical enough. (Score 4, Insightful) 168

Many of the handset OEMs have direct experience with being box-stuffers for Wintel PCs; and the ones that don't have had plenty of time to observe the ones that do.

Moral of the story, you are a low-margin, interchangeable, and largely expendable partner if you don't provide either the OS or the high-value components; with conditions moderately better for companies that can at least make money on SoCs or screens or batteries.

Plus, some vendors still cherish the delusion(despite 'smartphone' having been a thing for some years now) that phones are just 'consumer electronics' and so consumers will dutifully consume them based on the 'features' the vendor shoves in to differentiate the product, rather than just loading the applications that provide the features they want, as with a real computer.

Now, while I can't exactly blame the handset OEMs for wanting to avoid being just board stuffers who basically exist just to install Google's OS on Qualcomm's hardware; they have the crippling little problem that you can't put yourself in the position of being a value-added software contributor just by wanting to, or just by shipping software. You have to not suck at it. And that...hasn't exactly happened. Even after years of trying, OEM bloatware is considered to be doing atypically well when reviews describe it as 'subtle' or 'inoffensive' compared to stock Android.

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