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Comment Re:Music and film are essential in two senses (Score 1) 63

I'm not sure we should be dictating commercial restrictions on the supply of all creative content to an entire continent based on the three people in that continent who are studying film or music analysis.

In any case, lots of people are commenting here as if forcing sales to the entire EU to be at the same price will bring the cheaper prices to the richer nations. It seems far more likely that it will bring the more expensive prices to the poorer nations. Your "background music" licence is exactly the kind of expendable luxury that could suffer under the more uniform regime.

Comment Re:Windows is Bloated (Score 1) 95

As with a lot of annoying Microsoft things these days; the fact that you can't is more of a licensing issue than a technical one.

On the desktop, Windows 10 LTSB is the de-crapified version you actually want; but haha, volume-licensed enterprise SKUs only!

If you have the appropriate Windows Server version license; you can install "server core" or "nano server"; which have even more cut out; but while that can at least be purchased in single units; it's a fairly expensive way to declutter a workstation.

It took a while; but Microsoft did manage to disentangle a lot of the formerly mandatory bits and pieces; it's just that they seem loath to actually sell that to you unless they've exhausted all the alternatives.

Comment Re:The Cloud (Score 1) 61

This isn't the reason the cloud makes a terrible backup. The thing that you want to avoid with a backup is correlated failures: things that cause a failure of your primary store should be different from things that cause a failure of your backup. Your house burning down or thieves coming and stealing your computers will cause failures of both your original and on-site backups. It's a lot less likely that the founder of your cloud provider will be arrested for the same reason that you lose your laptop.

Remember: it only matters if your backup storage fails at the same time as your on-line storage.

Comment Re:Good or bad for customers? (Score 1) 63

Sorry, but that just isn't how economics works.

Firstly, market segmentation is absolutely routine, including by purchaser power. There are countless ways to appeal to people who can afford to spend more, and businesses do this all the time. Have you ever seen a box for a "coupon code" when you ordered something online? That's market segmentation in action. Post coupons to everyone on the poorer street in your example, and now everyone isn't paying the same price.

Secondly, as someone who actually runs some online facilities at-cost, I can tell you that it is a real problem for people in less well-off nations if your price online is the same everywhere. You can't lower the headline price because if everyone was paying the lower price then you literally couldn't afford to keep these services running at that point. However, then the people where salaries and costs of living are generally lower can't keep up, so they lose out. The kind of adjustment we're talking about here is the online equivalent of posting coupons to all the homes in the poor part of town.

The genuine, uniform market price you're talking about doesn't exist in most real markets, because most real markets are not uniform.

Comment Re:Good or bad for customers? (Score 1) 63

You're talking about a monopoly situation. For works covered by copyright, that already exists in the sense that for any given work the rightsholders can decide to offer it only via certain channels.

However, unless those works are also essential, the customer still has the option not to buy them at all, and if the price is too high they will choose to spend their money elsewhere.

Moreover, while individual works may have a monopoly supplier, most creative works will be in competition with other works for providing information, entertainment, etc. Those competitive effects also moderate pricing, preventing the kind of "extraction" model you're talking about.

Around here, Amazon won the pricing war for most CD/DVD/Blu-ray content long ago, yet today it would still be cheaper for me to binge-watch a lot of TV shows through Netflix than through buying all the box sets. Amazon's prices for buying permanent copies of films or shows I really like on disc aren't much different to what they were a few years ago when you could still easily buy the same things in bricks and mortar stores.

Comment Re:SF salaries are too low (Score 1) 327

No, he's right. To afford a standard of living comparable to what the same engineer would be able to afford elsewhere, he needs to make $500K/year. That's obviously not sustainable for his employer, which means that the rational thing to do is start moving jobs out of the bay area (which some companies have already started - Microsoft closed the bay area Microsoft Research site a year or two back, for example).

Comment Re:Poster does not understand Algebra (Score 1) 327

You can address that by having a progressive tax. In the UK, there are tax-free savings accounts that have a limited pay-in amount per year[1], income on which is exempt from income tax. You could do the same thing with a wealth tax: anything in a tax-free savings account doesn't count. You could perhaps also add an exemption for money in your primary residence, up to the median house price in your region. Beyond that, add a tax-free allowance of something like $50K and most people will pay nothing.

The real problem with such a scheme is that it's open to tax avoidance. It's fine for poor people, whose wealth is typically in cash form and so easily valued, but what about wealth held in private stocks in off-shore corporations? Those currently don't even need to be disclosed, and if they are then it's often very difficult to determine the value of the company (especially if it's a shell company that owns other shell companies that own real assets, with arbitrary levels of indirection in the middle). To make it work, you need complete financial transparency on all private companies.

[1] When they were introduced, this was about £3K, which was pretty reasonable. If you're earning 50% more than minimum wage in most of the country, you can get close to this. Now it's over £10K, which effectively makes it a tax break for the rich. Unfortunately, it doesn't roll over either, so if you have irregular income then you couldn't put in nothing one year and then £6K the next.

Comment Re:It's got nothing to do with desirability (Score 1) 327

Add to that, claiming unemployment benefits after moving also typically takes a while to set up, so you need to have enough capital to cover your cost of living for a few months if you move somewhere to look for work, rather than moving somewhere because you have a job offer. And you're not going to get a job offer before you move unless you go and visit a place to interview first, which costs in hotel bills and transport unless your prospective employer covers interview costs (which only happens for relatively high-skill jobs).

Comment Re:What does this do to content? (Score 2) 63

It seems unlikely that EU law will prevent a vendor from selling something at all in selective member states if there is a good reason not to. We looked into this issue when the EU VAT mess was the big news a couple of years ago, fearful that some sort of anti-discrimination provisions would say otherwise. The experts made some straightforward arguments that, for example, declining to sell to customers elsewhere in the EU would be OK if the costs of operating the new tax scheme were prohibitive, because that would be a strictly commercial decision. Presumably complying with the law of the land would also be considered an acceptable basis for making such a decision.

Comment Re:Good or bad for customers? (Score 1) 63

The EU is working being a common market, where it started.

That's lovely, and when the economic situation in all EU member states is similar, maybe they'll achieve it. In the meantime, it is far from clear that this is a good thing.

At least in the sort of context we're talking about here, the "real market price" you mentioned is what someone is prepared to pay for something, no more and no less. Forcing people from areas with very different economic situations to pay the same price just means a lot of things won't be accessible to people from those places that can't afford the same rates as their wealthier neighbours.

Comment Re:Mayer's failure actually WASN'T a failure... (Score 2) 155

If you look at revenues, they're sideways over the past years. So OK, she didn't turn the company around. But she took a has-been company with little really going for it and... well, kept it from going bankrupt. Given that the market cap is currently $50 billion, I think $186 million is not excessive for keeping a sinking ship afloat. Hell, who could have done it? Sure, Jobs did an amazing job turning around Apple when he came back, but it had a strong niche in OS and hardware design, and Yahoo never really had anything like that once they passed their peak. And while I'm not some sort of hard-core feminist, I think there's a bit of hypocrisy that she's taking flak for making money off mediocre performance running a mediocre, has-been company. Any number of male CEOs have had been highly compensated for driving good companies into the ground, to the point that it's hardly even news. It's just sort of expected.

Comment Re:We already had this sales pitch... (Score 1) 141

There are a few things wrong with your analysis. The first is that disk writes tend to be bursty for desktop users. You write a few hundred MBs (or a few GBs) and then drop down to an average of a few tens or hundreds of KBs per second. Spinning rust can easily keep up with the average write throughput of a typical user, it's the bursts that it has problems with. If you can buffer a few hundred MBs of writes, reorder them to reduce head movement, and then write them out behind the user, then you'll get much better performance. Obviously, this won't help for server workloads where you're I/O limited all of the time, but it will help a lot with desktop / laptop use.

The second is that one of the big bottlenecks for modern filesystems is the wait until data is safely in persistent storage. System RAM doesn't help here, because it goes away with power failure. To ensure consistency, you have to pause writing parts of an update until you've received confirmation that the previous part is written. In a conventional journaled FS, for example, you don't start writing the updates until you've confirmed that the journal has been committed to disk. With NV cache, you can get this confirmation practically instantly. If there's a power failure, then the drive just has to replay the transactions from NVRAM.

Comment Re:Unimpressive performance. (Score 1) 141

In just about any machine, you'd probably be better off with an SSD. Even in a cheap laptop, you're better off just getting an SSD and if you really need the extra space, just hook up an external drive over USB. SSDs are so much faster than any other option that trying to still use HDDs as they are cheap per gigabyte just doesn't make sense in the vast majority of cases.

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