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Comment That's because the apps are all rubbish...so far (Score 1) 210

Speaking as an Echo owner, I've found that most of the apps I've found have been rubbish (translation: garbage). But that's not all that surprising: this is a completely new paradigm, on a par with WIMP. It's hardly surprising that
i) developers haven't yet really discovered what works well, nor have users discovered and popularised them; and
ii) the marketplace is flooded with junk, because it hasn't yet found a bedrock of solid, popular, useful stuff.

But it'll come. I keep my Echo in the kitchen, and setting a timer by voice is useful, if trivial. And I frequently use Spotify and TuneIn Radio to choose music.
I have little doubt that more will come in time. I think that voice control confirming the invention-hype-disappointment-delivery-equilibrium curve, and after a lot of users got acquired it as a Christmas gift during the hype phase, we're now in disappointment.

Similarly, people overestimate the impact of a new technology in the short run (which leads to the disappointment) but underestimate it in the long wrong. Voice will be no different.

Comment There's a lot of hate on both sides (Score 2) 657

I wonder what the people supporting this will say when the Trump-et crowd hounds someone out of their job for donating to the "racist, segregationist, pro-violence-on-cops Black Lives Matter hate group"?

You don't think that's a fair description of BLM? Try explaining your reasons to the baying mob.

No, these attacks on Luckey, Brendan Eich and so forth aren't censorship, exactly, but they are certainly intimidation, and an attempt to move certain political positions outside the realm of legitimate discussion. That's not something I welcome, and nor will the people doing it when they discover their opponents can do it to them as well.

Comment Expenditure (Score 1) 760

Quite apart from all the rest, the claim that not taxing something (in this example, capital gains) counts as an "expenditure" really irritates me each time I see it. It proceeds from the assumption that all wealth belongs to the government, which has to decide how much to allow the governed to control and how much it can better allocate itself. In other words, it is fundamentally hostile to the concept of private property as a moral statement.

Comment Who will be in control? (Score 5, Insightful) 183

The story summary wrongly gives the impression that the US is forever interfering in ICANN's affairs. This is simply not true: while it does retain an oversight function, it has never used that to interfere in ICANN's operational matters. It does have ultimate oversight authority, and so is in theory the final recourse if ICANN should go off the rails. The question is, if the US gives that up, who gets the final say?

ICANN is a body that has power that Slashdotters should care about. It writes rules into the contracts it has with top level domain Registries, rules that individual domain registrants must obey. Mostly these rules are technical not policy, but that is changing. ICANN has long required domain registrants to submit to ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy, which allows trademark owners to claim domains that are said to infringe their trademarks, even though the UDRP does not provide all the defences to trademark that ordinary law offers.

The UDRP is pretty much a settled part of ICANN's scope. But there are plenty of other interests (copyright owners, child protection campaigns, law enforcement groups from around the world) that would like ICANN to impose the rules they prefer on domain registrants too. And they're actively lobbying ICANN right now, have been for years.

Under US oversight, there was a principled commitment to the openness of the Internet, and the possibility of an ultimate recourse to Congress if these lobbyists capture ICANN. When that oversight disappears, it will be crucial to have enshrined in ICANN's constitution effective and enforceable means to constrain ICANN from scope creep. Arguments about that are what is delaying the removal of US oversight, with intellectual property lawyers and foreign governments fighting hard to give ICANN a broad Mission that allows it to implement their demands.

Comment Look after your parents, they looked after you (Score 1) 193

Giving birth to you entitles your mother to lifetime tech support. That's just the way it is.

Feel free to guide them to a Mac or an iPad or a chrome book, or whatever both meets their needs and lessens this burden. But you need to be there for the if they need you, on this and other things too.

Comment Factual record (Score 1) 193

This should depend greatly on the factual record.

Surely it should be possible that a company arranges for people to get rides from private persons. Any other ruling from the Court would be dreadful. Whether Uber is really just helping people to find a driver (or a rider), or whether it is really holding itself out as a taxi service is another matter. Similarly, it is possible that Uber could use truly independent contractors; whether Uber's current arrangements with its drivers qualifies as an employment relationship is a separate question.

What we need from the Court is a clear explanation of what will distinguish an information service helping people to find each other from a taxi service. Then the lower court should apply those rules to Uber - and if Uber doesn't like the outcome, it will be free to alter itself so as to stay on the non-a-taxi-company side of the rules, just as it can alter its agreement with its drivers so as to avoid creating an employment relationship.

Comment Not yet (Score 2) 156

Despite advances, these figures show that FPS in 4K is still not ready for prime-time even on top-class cards.

When there are cards that can handle it, I'll think about upgrading my 1920x1200 monitor. Until then, I'll wait it out, and so can my aging graphics card.

Part of the problem is that at higher resolutions it becomes more important to use high graphics settings (high res textures, better lighting effects, further draw distance), not less. So if you're interested in 4K gaming, you'll want to do it with everything turned up to 11. The exception to this rule is anti-aliasing, which decreases in value the higher the resolution.

Comment TV shows, a TV broadcast, or watching on a TV set? (Score 1) 244

Over the last ten years, time watching

Live TV broadcast: Decreased significantly, from a couple of hours a night to the News plus nothing else
TV shows I recorded from live: First up, then down. From occasional, through a couple of hours a night (PVR era) to zero (streaming catch-up TV era)
TV shows supplied as recorded: Increased significantly thanks to fibre broadband and more online sources
Movies on my TV: Decreased significantly, due to drop in quality of movies, increase in quality of scripted TV
Movies in cinema: From occasional to near-zero
Time spent in watching TV shows on monitor within three feet of my face: the same (zero) at home; but TV-show-on-iPad has entirely replaced back-of-airline-seat-movie and hotel-room-TV/movies

Overall time spent in front of my large-screen TV set watching moving images: slight decrease, mainly displaced by increased reading since buying a Kindle.

Comment Brand un-value (Score 5, Insightful) 171

I am loath to join the general chorus of hate for Ubisoft and EA. Complaining about these companies being too focussed on commercial success and not enough of user-entertainment/"art" seems futile: they are, first and foremost, commercial companies.

Nonetheless, considering it strictly as a commercial proposition, should the senior executives of these companies not be worried that their brand has negative value?

When I see news of a game, knowing that it is going to be published by Ubisoft - or, to a lesser extent, by EA, makes me shy away. I am less likely to buy. I am less likely to follow the hype, for fear of being sucked in by it, because I expect to be disappointed. I am less likely to engage with their product or marketing in any way, because of the poor track record that they have establish, the negative brand value that they have created.

If they bought a small publishers, and published the very same game through that new label, I would be more likely to engage with and buy their product for that reason - as long as I was not aware that Ubisoft (or EA) lay behind it. Knowing that they are there, I expect to be disappointed.. That's negative brand value in action.

This is not just a gamer whinge. I would think that was a customer reaction that ought to concern senior commercial management, and shareholders in these companies.

Comment Just insurance (Score 1) 301

If the driver needs to be able to step in at any moment, it's not a fully autonomous car in any meaningful sense, it's just a tech demo.

The only point of a fully autonomous car is so you don't have to drive it. This means (i) being able to concentrate on stuff other than the road, like a book, a movie, or being asleep and (ii) if you're not going to be driving it anyway, why bother acquiring the skill to do so, and the certification to prove you can? Hence, just insurance.

I really can't see the point in buying a car whose defining feature is that it can drive itself, and having to be on stand-by status to take over at any given instant. If that's what we're offered, I would say that whatever Google is capable of cooking up, we're not actually being offered a fully autonomous vehicle.

Comment The ones under my mattress are safe (Score 2) 192

Nothing I have heard has suggested any basic flaw in the cryptocurrency concept, or even the protocol design or software implementation for Bitcoin itself. The failure of some Bitcoin exchanges bears no more relation to the viability of Bitcoin than the failure of a bank would to the viability of a national currency (arguably even less, at least for proponents of the theory that fiat currency is inherently unstable).

Banks sometimes fail. Bitcoin exchanges, being immature businesses with little experience of implementing technical security or financial risk management, will fail more frequently. The wise will spread their risk between different stores of value, so as not to be exposed to any particular institutional failure. This could well include keeping your own wallet, in a USB stick under the mattress.

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