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Comment Free / share ware was a reaction to a need (Score 3, Interesting) 482

Early software was written because the author needed to perform a function that existing software didn't address: either in terms of utility or quality.

The PC magnified this need, with millions being sold but only crappy commercial software to run on it. Whether the free/share-ware in question was a Windows app or a different O/S, the same voids were filled for the same reasons. (If Windows software had started out as low-cost and high quality, would freeware have become so popular? Discuss.)

The argument now is whether that phase is over. Do we have enough apps? Can we (users) do all the things that we wish to, with the software that is available to us, now? Do we prefer to spend 99 on an app that has "star" ratings, user feedback, integrated installation is (almost) guaranteed not to make our hardware die, send SPAM or steal our data - or do we prefer to download something for zero cost and then spend hours trying to configure it and bend it to our will?

Comment Simple solutions suggested - easy to harden (Score 2, Insightful) 404

When I read the report, the list of mitigations it offers seems like the every-day advice that all computer security outfits continually tell all their users and admins to do.

If the degree of "russian hacking" can be so easily foiled, it doesn't sound much like they were using master criminals or IT experts - just script-kiddie stuff that follows people around the internet every day. One would hope that if they have solid evidence that this originated ONLY from the russian intelligence services that they are a lot more certain of it than they appear to make out here. If that was the case, it seems like the fix is easy and well known.

One also assumes that the US intelligence services are doing exactly the same to the "bad guys" and are getting similar sorts of results.

Of course the more interesting question would be: If this is what they discovered what about all the advanced hacking that they haven't uncovered - both in techniques and targets? If an election can be hacked so easily, what are the REAL experts influencing and stealing?

Comment Re:Do like them thar foreigners - PLEASE DON'T (Score 1) 295

My recent Amazon deliver resulted in a $1200 (exchange rate equivalent) TV being left in a shop 6 miles away.

I knew it was on its way from the Amazon tracking, but the lovely deliver person at S**R just dropped it where it was convenient and headed on his (or her) way. I got a call from the shopkeeper who found my phone number on the label stuck to the manufacturer's carton, that said exactly what it was. Luckily, he was honest and let me know or he could have had a very nice christmas present.

Even now, 2 weeks later, Amazon still shows the package as undelivered.

Comment Win or earn? (Score 1) 406

After all, there are numerous high-profile billionaires who haven't called it quits despite possessing the luxury to retire

I think whoever wrote this has missed the point.

For these gazillionaires "work" is just another way to pass the time. It doesn't provide them (any more) with the necessary money to live on, so they have other goals for the work they do and the money they earn. Whether that is a rather adolescent "measuring up" contest, a messianic attitude to life, the desire to go down in history as past philanthropists have, or merely to have Mars' capital city named after them is irrelevant.

I would suggest that lottery winners (to take a simple example) who return to work when they have the means to live comfortably are showing a monumental lack of imagination or simply are scared of change - the unknown life of a rich person and the choices it requires. However, for most people the idea of not having to perform in the daily 9 - 5 is all they would wish for.

Comment How many bits? (Score -1) 103

To achieve a one million - to - one ratio, requires 20 bits.

Now, I'm not conversant with the niceties of contrast ratio marketing (though I don't doubt it IS just marketing). But could this actually be usable, given the bit-depth of TV electronics and the dynamic range of digital video content?

It would also require a viewing room where the ambient light level was below the darkest "dark" from the screen, or the contrast ratio becomes (even more?) meaningless. I do hope this TV doesn't come with an illuminated on/off indicator, as that would surely make a mockery of any real-world experience.

Comment Re:!Revolution (Score 2) 274

None of these revolutions happened overnight.

And none of them happened with the over-priced, feature-poor, unreliable, first generation products that were available at the start.

Maybe one day there will be a device that can trace it's origins back to the slow, wobbly, objects that squirt little bits of plastic into barely recognisable shapes that we call "3-D printers". But those breakthrough machines will be much easier to use, they will not be restricted to making the sort of crap that a low-cost foreign manufacturer would be ashamed of and they will be designed to meet an actual need: not as a showcase of "because we can ... isn't it Kule?" (answer: no)

Comment Ethics and intent (Score 2) 280

This piece isn't about the code per. se. It is about the use it is put to.

Some people might set out to write software that is ONLY usable for malevolent purposes - and they could be fully aware of this when they do the job and deliver the result. Just like some people will work in cigarette factories. Or design more "efficient" land mines.

However, the vast majority of software that is used for evil can also be used for good. Take GPS for example. It can be used to guide ambulances to accident victims and it can be used to guide missiles to their targets (it can also be used to make those missiles more accurate thereby reducing collateral damage - go figure).

Is the person who invented the for() loop responsible for all the unknown uses it is put to? Is the team that fixes a bug in car's firmware responsible for saving lives? These are unknowable points. The best that programmers (and testers and designers) can do is to produce high quality work, that fits within their ethical framework. Then sleep easy at night.

Comment Re:Missing the point.. (Score 1) 540

The GOOD thing is that with lower production costs, it will become less costly to live so maybe these things will balance out as they always have in the past. The future economy, though, looks like it will be vastly different than what we have today.

Not really. For many people the base-cost of living: the rent, the energy bills, the property taxes, the children - those will all continue at the same levels as before. Many families, especially the low-paid, have very little discretionary income so the lower production costs (not including the raw material, marketing, and development costs) of non-essential consumables will have very little impact on their household budgets.

Comment Passive works, active doesn't (Score 1) 182

It's really easy to imagine that games would permeate our lives much the way digital music does today.

There is no action (air guitar notwithstanding) needed to have music playing. Although when I visited a Disney Store once I was confronted with "music" playing the entire time. That (the wrong type of music) is a living hell.

But back to games. While we can live with music, we cannot passively play a game. A game needs input and the "twichy" ones need fast reactions which implies paying attention all the time. This is clearly impractical.

I would suggest that either this guy has a radically different view of what future "games" will be like, or he was making this stuff up as he went along.

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