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Comment Re:Why would you want tech companies in the downto (Score 1) 204

Offices, yes, but offices for things like lawyers or accountants or maybe dentists or barbers—the sorts of offices that normal people would visit on a regular basis. They're not retail, but they're still in the overarching "personal services" category of businesses. Banks also fall into that category (as long as they're branches and not just bank office buildings).

Those sorts of businesses need to be clustered together because they depend on mutual business for their success. For example, restaurants do well when they are near movie theaters (particularly if they have pizza by the slice and other quick food) because kids want to grab something quick to eat before (or after) seeing a movie. Downtowns work when their businesses complement one another.

Tech firms don't belong in the core part of the downtown for the same reason that manufacturing plants don't belong there. Non-employees don't go downtown to visit a Google or Apple or Cisco office. Those sorts of offices should be within a reasonable distance from at least some services (particularly food) because that makes life easier for the workers, but such businesses can easily be a few blocks removed from the main strip without adversely affecting the success of the business. And if they start using space that would normally be used by retail and personal services businesses, they start to adversely affect those other businesses, eventually leading to the total collapse of the downtown area.

Comment Re:Solution: build some buildings (Score 1) 204

That pretty much sums it up, yes, but there's a lot more wrong than that.

  • Prop 13 means that homeowners can't afford to move closer to where they work, because they would get hit by huge property tax penalties. Meanwhile, rental property owners often keep homes for decades and thus don't pay their fair share based on market prices.
  • Businesses bizarrely think everyone wants to live in San Francisco, or at best in various places down the peninsula and in the South Bay. Meanwhile, half their workers are commuting in from Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Morgan Hill/Gilroy, Watsonville/Salinas, Monterey, etc. because there are no tech companies near where they can afford to buy a home.
  • Because businesses build in areas where no one lives, there are no urban services near the workplace. So every business has to come up with its own meal program because there aren't any restaurants within walking distance. And even if there were residents, restaurants still couldn't afford to locate in those areas because the businesses are all crammed into one tiny little part of the region.

If I were in charge of Cupertino, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, etc., I would require a minimum of a 20:1 ratio between new residential square footage and new commercial square footage, to force more businesses to locate in areas farther from that geographical core and make more housing available for the businesses that already exist. Unfortunately, the city governments like the taxes that they get from big businesses, so they won't do that. And the result is the mess we have now.

Comment Why would you want tech companies in the downtown? (Score 3, Informative) 204

The purpose of a downtown is to be a shopping and restaurant district. If you clog the place up with a bunch of tech firms, the city ceases to be viable for its residents. There's nothing nefarious here; there's just a desire for Palo Alto to remain a normal city with actual residents mixed in with those tech firms, rather than becoming just a place that people commute to.

Comment Re: Lighten up (Score 1) 404

I would argue that Newtonian physics was considered "proven" until more accurate measurements proved that our understanding was incomplete....

Besides, it isn't necessarily a violation of the law of conservation of energy if, for example, energy appears in one place and disappears somewhere else, or possibly somewhen else.

Comment Re: Lighten up (Score 4, Insightful) 404

No, there are no "loopholes" in the Physical Laws.

There are a lot of loopholes in the physical laws. Fifty years ago, if you had told someone that you could take a ceramic insulator and turn it into a near-zero-resistance conductor by cooling it to near absolute zero, they would have assumed you were wrong—the laws of electricity as known at the time just didn't allow for that. And if you told them that you could float magnets on top of such a superconductor, they'd have hauled you off to a sanitarium.

A hundred years ago, if you could have somehow launched GPS satellites, everyone would think that the clocks were broken, because the time would keep drifting due to relativistic effects, and that concept didn't exist yet.

We're constantly learning new exceptions to the established rules, and we have been doing so throughout all of our planet's history, from the moment we discovered that you could bang two rocks together and start a fire. It is thus utterly ridiculous to assume that at this particular point in history, we magically haver reached the pinnacle of human understanding.

Now don't get me wrong here; this supposed "EM drive" is probably bogus. There's probably some particle emission caused by electrical charge propagation through the material or some other similar curiosity. But it isn't impossible that this is something new that we don't know about—just very, very unlikely. And there's also a very slight possibility that we might learn something new about the physics of matter or gravity or who-knows-what-else from studying this, so either way, it is fascinating, and should not just be dismissed as a hoax out of hand until we know why it is happening and whether the answer to that question tells us something new that we didn't know before.

Comment Re:well then, hand them a sat phone (Score 2) 189

Is that analogy supposed to rest on the idea they don't already have satellite phones?

Worse. It rests on the idea that Twitter knows who the terrorists are.

Providing something to someone in good faith isn't a crime even if they later turn out to be a terrorist, as a rule. I mean sure, if you provide a firearm, you'd probably better have done due diligence, and if you send money to a charity in the Middle East, it is probably a good idea to do so, though not legally required. However, AT&T isn't committing a crime if they give cell service to somebody merely because they later find out that the person used that phone to commit an act of terror. The same applies here.

And this isn't even an ongoing service except for the existence of a particular account and the ability to look up the IP address for that account. So this is more like selling someone a set of walkie talkies. Once you've sold them, you can't readily take them back just because you later find out that they are terrorists. And the law can't reasonably expect you to do so. More to the point, it does not expect you to do so.

The best that the government can do is insist that Twitter shut down access to an account that they suspect is terror-related. And if they do that, Twitter will undoubtedly deactivate it. But the government apparently doesn't want to do that, as evidenced by the fact that they have not done so. We could speculate about whether the government's decision is based on futility (because a new account would just spring up five minutes later) or some actual security-related reason, but from the perspective of a prosecution of Twitter for giving material support, the government's reasons for not demanding account closure are irrelevant. The mere fact that the government did not tell them that a particular account is that of a suspected terrorist is a sufficiently airtight defense against those charges.

Comment Re:Money (Score 1) 527

Except that Apple has a presence in multiple European countries, and there's no reason to believe that they saved much money by doing their accouning and money storage in one country instead of several, if you take the tax break out of the picture. It may be that Ireland got exactly as much as they otherwise would have, and that most of the taxes would have been paid in their Munich or Paris offices instead. If so, Ireland got those jobs in return for taking money out of the coffers of other countries—effectively free from their perspective.

Comment Re:RAID is not backup (Score 1) 360

Nonsense. One order of magnitude more, at most. On-line storage costs are on the order of $100 per TB per year.

I was going based on my experience with AWS, which is about $30 per TB per month for spinning storage, or $360 per TB per year. An 8 TB hard drive should typically last you about five years, and costs about $250, or about $6.25 per terabyte per year. That isn't quite two orders of magnitude, but it is pretty close. Of course if you're willing to wait several hours to start getting your data back, you can use glacier storage, and that's cheaper, but there are tradeoffs. :-)

Upload time sucks, but only for the initial upload, which I did two years ago. After that, incremental additions are pretty negligible.

Must be nice. I backed up over 12 GB Sunday night, and that was only one week worth of incremental backups for my personal laptop. Over my DSL connection (soon to be retired), that would have taken two days. It would take several hours even over my new cable modem service. It took five minutes to back up locally. That time difference makes the difference between me being willing to back up regularly and never backing up.

Obviously, YMMV, but I would imagine that somebody with multiple terabytes of personal data is probably either a photographer or videographer, and therefore has the same sorts of nightmare backups that I do. But I'm just guessing here. For all I know, it could be a porn collection. :-)

Comment Re:RAID is not backup (Score 1) 360

Online backup is cheap. Most start at ~$60 a year for unlimited backup.

I'm having a hard time believing that $5 per month is even possible for anything approaching truly unlimited storage. Just storing 2 TB on Amazon glacier storage would cost three times that much. I assume they count on most of their users treating unlimited as tens of gigabytes. If everybody were storing 2 TB, I'd expect those numbers to go way, way up.

But even if you assume that $5 is your total cost from the cloud provider, that still isn't your total cost. After all, time has value, plus your internet connection costs money. Backing up 2 TB over a typical home Internet connection can take anywhere from many days up to years, which means if your storage needs are that large, you're going to want a faster Internet connection or you'll lose your mind. Tack on another $30 a month for that.

In addition, storing your backup in the same location as your main copy is not smart, even if it is in a bunker or fire proof safe.

Hence my suggestion of periodically cloning your RAID and keeping the clone at work.

Comment Re:RAID is not backup (Score 3, Informative) 360

The problem with cloud-based solutions is that the cost for backing up several terabytes of data is typically several orders of magnitude higher than building your own RAID array, and the performance of Internet-based backup absolutely sucks beyond measure unless you're the sort of person whose data needs are measured in tens of megabytes.

  • To back up 2 TB over a typical cable modem (say 3 megabit upload speed) will take you 61 days. Over typical DSL (300 kilobits per second), it will take almost two years.
  • If you lose your original copy, getting the data back will be almost as painful. On a fairly fast cable modem (30 mbps), assuming the cloud-based backup server can completely saturate your downlink (which is by no means guaranteed), it will take you 6 days of continuous downloading to restore the backup. Over 3 megabit DSL, again, that number goes up to 60 days.

The ideal solution, if you can pull it off, would be to build a small concrete bunker in your yard, run power out to it, put a UPS and power conditioner in there to protect against bad power, put a RAID array in there, wire it with Ethernet to your house underground, put a watertight door on the thing, add a power cutoff that shuts down power if water does get inside (e.g. a GFI breaker and an unused extension cord whose output end is lower than your equipment), and hope for the best.

But more realistically, I would tend to suggest an IOSafe fireproof RAID array loaded up with five 6 TB drives (or maybe even 8 TB drives). Put it in a closet somewhere, and hope for the best. If you want to increase your protection a bit, you could also get two RAID expansion cabinets, store them at work, and periodically bring one home, clone your main RAID array to it, and bring it back

Comment Re:Sour Grapes (Score 1) 85

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:Numbers not adding up... (Score 1) 175

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%.


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) 85

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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