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Comment immune system flanked (Score 1) 255

Who knew that fact checking was an essential component of the human immune system?

Unbeknownst to him, all is not well in the harem. His wife and one of his mistresses are independently plotting his demise. The wife poisons the water in his canteen, while the mistress punctures the canteen so that the water slowly leaks out.

The Sheik sets out on the journey. After a few miles he feels parched. He unscrews the cap on his canteen and finds, much to his displeasure, that it is empty. He soon dies of dehydration.

Question: who caused the Utahan fracker's death, the wolf-calling media bias Republican or the relative-identity-politics Democrat?

Moral of the story: no time like the present to grease the squeaky wheels. And if that doesn't work, concrete shoes.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Yes, so much depends upon one yellowish-green wheel to muck the mules, situated at the goddamn factual (and spectral) midline.

Comment use the Semantic Scholar, Luke (Score 2) 66

I've been waiting for a good opportunity to take this new toy out for a spin. Semantic Scholar claims to have brain science almost completely covered.

* author search

Not bad.

* topic search

Not blindingly great. But the third link down is a primary hit.

Theory of Connectivity: Nature and Nurture of Cell Assemblies and Cognitive Computation

There's not a lot of related material here that I'd have gone chasing after the hard way. Apparently, either this research result or this search engine is still too new.

Nevertheless, I retain high hopes.

Comment Re:another editor fail (Score 1) 82

I've always wanted a job that involved no physical labor and no mental labor and no oversight of performance.

Too bad others felt the same way, as we're getting exactly that. I've never wanted such a job. The job I've always wanted is the one where I'm in flow for six hours at a stretch (at least once per day), there are more feedback loops than you can shake a stick at, mainly anchored in equally competent peers who likewise wouldn't have it any other way.

NASA, during the Apollo program, had many pockets of competence where The Right Stuff stretched as far as the eye could see.

9 Project Management Lessons Learned from the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Delegating to people who don't have experience with a certain task may seem counterintuitive, but it was something Apollo project managers actively encouraged — in fact, the average age of the entire Operations team was just 26, most fresh out of college. NASA gave someone a problem and the freedom to run with it, and the results speak for themselves.

Yes, parts of NASA on the ground basically looked like this.

Imagine the caliber of people you need to hire by default to make this strategy viable.

Gerald Weinberg's second rule of acquisition:

        (2) No matter how it looks at first, it's always a people problem.

Moral of the story: hire only those who dream for the stars, the kind of stars where Easy Street has no name.

Comment when the elephant craps on a haystack (Score 1) 448

When the elephant craps on a haystack, finding the needle is even less fun. When the elephant deliberately binges on legumes and kelp and sun-ripened fish sauce for the sole purpose of defiling the haystack, this thread—so far as I managed to get— is the end result.

So thanks to the first ten posts I skimmed for tilting the payoff matrix so far towards rational ignorance and learned helplessness that even my three adult decades of burly and well-callused sanity is squeaking like a little girl, blubbering like a baby, and asking for a day pass.

It's official. I call "uncle".

Comment Re:As soon as we get a legitimate source like Netf (Score 1) 69

Right, but most people aren't students, and $10/month for access to a library the size of Netflix is still vastly cheaper than buying everything a typical subscriber might watch there the way you had to before the streaming library services were around.

I might also wonder what anyone who is watching enough stuff to need $60+/month of subscriptions to that many different services at once is actually doing with their lives, but that's a different question.

Comment Re:Define "fit for business" (Score 1) 117

If we were talking about updates to the Enterprise version of 7 or 8.1, which organisations might already have deployed widely, presumably it would be tougher for those organisations to justify the switch. Maybe only those who were concerned about serious legal/regulatory issues would do so. But then in that situation, the sysadmins could just block the other updates they didn't want, so concerns about updates introducing ads or removing features or whatever don't really apply.

The thing with Windows 10 is that it's a big upgrade anyway. Enterprise-scale IT departments are already going to need plans for a full migration if they want to go to Win 10 Enterprise. They're already going to have to check compatibility with all the software they rely on, maybe upgrade some of their hardware, and so on. So the cost of accepting Windows 10 if Microsoft were also to push stuff like telemetry and automatic updates in the Enterprise edition would just be that much higher.

Comment Re:Define "fit for business" (Score 1) 117

What large corporate IT department has their executives running any version of Windows Pro on their laptops, rather than Enterprise connected to their centralised update servers etc?

What corporate IT department has allowed any machines under their control, even running Windows 7/8/8.1 Pro if it's a smaller organisation, to deploy the telemetry updates?

Comment Re:Define "fit for business" (Score 1) 117

I don't disagree with you on the being run by humans and having inertia aspects. I just think you're underestimating how damaging trying to force known data leaks and uncontrolled software into a large organisation would be.

The data leak aspect is a concern for the lawyers, as well as the obvious underlying security implications. I'm only involved with smaller businesses, which previously used Pro versions of Windows, but even we don't seem to be able to move to Windows 10 without risking violating various data protection laws, NDAs, and so on. What happens to larger businesses, particularly those who work in regulated industries and who really do get audited from time to time, if Windows 10 Enterprise imposes the same vulnerability?

The forced upgrades also have obvious stability and reliability implications. Microsoft has long provided tools for corporate system administrators to manage large numbers of Windows desktops and deploy updates (or not) according to their own schedules and testing requirements. I have never encountered a large organisation using Windows whose administrators do not use these tools, and the answer to many problems with Windows updates for these organisations has essentially been "If it took out the 10 dummy PCs in the test lab, don't deploy it to the rest of the organisation". Again, if Windows 10 Enterprise took away that flexibility and allowed (or required) users to start upgrading their own systems, I can't imagine corporate IT tolerating that at all.

In short, it doesn't necessarily take an incredible amount of silly things to tip the balance. Even one or two things will still do it, if those things are silly enough.

Comment Re:Define "fit for business" (Score 1) 117

No I just think you are being unrealistic about the "care factor" of those execs you think will send in the lawyers with guns blazing.

If Microsoft introduced mandatory telemetry, spyware, upgrades, ads etc. in Windows 10 Enterprise, in the same way that they have in Home and Pro, I imagine a fair number of those lawyers would be the ones demanding that their business didn't move to Windows 10 Enterprise, right next to the senior IT staff.

It has happened more than once already.

In rather different circumstances, and relatively rarely even then. Now compare how often it's happened with how often there has been a credible threat of it happening until someone from a big software company offered someone from a big customer a much, much better deal to prevent it.

Comment Re:Define "fit for business" (Score 1) 117

It's simple economics. There's a significant cost to any technology migration in an organisation of that scale, and there's also typically a significant cost to relying on systems for longer than they're well suited for the job. As you imply yourself, this is true whether you're talking about updating to a newer product from the same supplier or you're talking about switching to a different supplier. There is rarely such a thing as being truly locked in for large enterprises, there is only when the cost of switching becomes lower than the costs of upgrading and of keeping the current system.

One of the biggest strategic problems Microsoft has to deal with is the reality that even in huge organisations, the trend in recent years has been back towards more centralised systems, with thin client applications or web interfaces for access. Windows-only software is certainly still a factor, but it's becoming less of a limiting one as time goes by. That means the cost of switching is already lowering, relative to the cost of a full-scale OS upgrade across the organisation. If Microsoft started doing silly things with Windows 10 that made that full-scale upgrade a problem, it would swing the needle further, and at some point it would tip the balance.

Comment Re:As soon as we get a legitimate source like Netf (Score 1) 69

You say that, but annual fees for the services we subscribe to in my household work out far less than the cost of buying all those shows and movies on DVD would have been a few years earlier. The gap is even wider once you take into account the not-sure things that you could try because they were on a streaming service and it wouldn't cost you any more if you gave up ten minutes in.

I still buy a load of stuff on DVD/Blu-ray, but those are the things I want to keep, because I don't trust the likes of Netflix not to renegotiate some licensing deal and remove a show I'm enjoying in the middle of a season. In terms of financial cost, for the kinds of shows and movies I'll probably only ever watch once anyway, the streaming services are still way cheaper for frequent viewers even if they have to sign up for a few different ones.

Comment Re:When I meet a copyright owner (Score 1) 69

until you made clear that they're downloading it from you, presumably the authorized distributor.

No, we are the people who create the content in question, and who run the library site providing access to it. No-one else is involved here or taking a cut as a distributor.

So...they downloaded exactly as much as they're allowed to, and then once allowed again, started again? Didn't hack your system, didn't go off to torrent it instead? And they're doing...what wrong again? How do you know how they're using it and if such use is "normally"?

It's a subscription model for online browsing of the library. (Think Netflix, Spotify, and so on.) Downloading for permanent storage and offline viewing is not allowed. This is all clearly and explicitly stated in our terms, and I suppose that real-time element is our version of an "all you can eat" restaurant bringing you your eighth course on request, but politely refusing you a doggy back to take leftovers home with you.

A small number of people join the library, and then right before the end of their first billing period, they start going down the index and grabbing everything they can, in order, until they're blocked, at a rate many times faster than any normal user navigates. The outlier here is very, very obvious -- we're talking orders of magnitude. And -- here's the kicker -- at that rate, they would have to be consuming the audio/video content at several times its normal speed just to keep up. And they're doing this for extended periods, and trying again after each time they get blocked, for say the last week in the quarter. Now, if you still think those people are accessing the content of the library online, I know a Nigerian price with a great deal to offer you.

As for why we allow people to do that, well, the alternatives to the limits we do impose would mostly use some sort of heuristic to identify suspicious behaviour more aggressively and throttle it earlier and/or supply the content via some sort of DRM scheme. Obviously either of those might screw genuine users if something went wrong, and put simply, we don't want to risk doing that.

Why on Earth does your system let people do that, if you don't want them to do that? ... (Whoever made the statement to you about DRM is a moron, it's not effective anyway and would drive away your users.)

The person who made the statement about DRM to us may have been a moron, as you put it, and DRM may or may not be effective, but this is the reality that a small content provider faces on the web today. So if someone like the original AC I replied to here wants to come along and claim that they'll start respecting copyrights when the quid pro quo is honoured, I'd like to know what they think about a situation like ours or how they think what we do justifies what other people try to do to us. Or, y'know, it could just be that some people say that because they want to claim anyone with a business model involving copyright deserves to be abused, as apparently a small but noticeable number of people who join our library do.

When it comes down to it, you can't know why anyone downloaded such and such thing.

See, that's the thing. In cases like this, the rip-off behaviour is so obvious that we really can.

As a final point, please consider that the position you've taken and the incorrect assumptions you've made in your post here and in particular casually dismissive comments like "just be glad you're being paid" are exactly why larger content providers routinely use obnoxious DRM schemes and file aggressive legal actions and lobby for punitive copyright laws.

I think it's fair to say that we're about as reasonable and transparent as you could possibly be for a site that provides content and charges for it. We do a lot of work because it's something we care about. The money coming in basically covers the operating expenses and it's a fraction of what it would cost to get material of the quality we produce from other sources. Typically we only act against the most blatant and egregious violations of our terms. And yet, just like the original AC, it seems you still assumed the worst of us and made us out to be the bad guys.

You seem like you're genuinely trying to be reasonable here, which is more than some people are where copyright is concerned, so what lesson should people like us learn from your reaction? Should we explicitly impose hard limits on how much of our library a user can enjoy, and risk spoiling it for a legitimate user who happens to cross over whatever arbitrary threshold we impose? Should we adopt DRM anyway, and just hope that it doesn't interfere too often with legitimate users?

It's easy to stand at the back and look for loopholes where the evil rightsholders are screwing the entirely honest and always considerate user base, but the reality is that if we didn't charge something for the library we make, we couldn't afford to run it at our scale, and the overwhelming majority of our members would miss out on content they enjoy, a loss for everyone. So, what precisely would you have us do when someone is flagrantly ripping us off?

Comment Re:Define "fit for business" (Score 1) 117

You're kidding, right?

If this is a large Fortune 500 business we're talking about, it's probably a household name with many thousands of staff. If Microsoft try to screw them, a few executives from that business are going to have some pleasant conversations over golf with people who also happen to work at a senior level for alternative suppliers like Apple and Red Hat.

First, they're going to cut a nice deal for enterprise-scale everything, because any business that size is worth serious money. Score a win for both the business (big cost savings) and the suppliers (big new customer).

Next, those alternative suppliers like Apple and Red Hat are going to make nice press releases touting their new Fortune 500 customer. Those press releases are going to feature quotes from C-level executives at the Fortune 500 saying how happy they are and what a great supplier they've got. There will be white papers with case studies showing off how much better the big organisation is doing now they've switched to the new supplier.

If this happens once, it's already bad for Microsoft. If it becomes more of a pattern than an isolated incident, the big consultancies and industry commentators are going to start paying attention and using the same sorts of quotes in their own analysis, and that in turn is going to influence other senior executives at other big organisations who are also unhappy with being given the finger by a supplier and interested in what their other options might be.

If you think I'm kidding about all of this, I invite you to research the order-of-magnitude reductions in licence fees that certain big name software companies offer to their enterprise customers in this kind of situation to keep them on side. That is how much these giant customers are worth to them, and the same customers are worth just as much to other potential suppliers who have the scale to operate at that level too. Or you could just notice that Windows 10 Enterprise is basically a totally different product to Windows 10 Home, which doesn't require the telemetry, updates, and so on that have been so controversial, and ask yourself why Microsoft did that.

Comment Re:When I meet a copyright owner (Score 1) 69

I have some sympathy with this argument when it's applied to Big Media who chase grannies with no Internet connection for settlements or who supply their content with system-destroying broken DRM systems or activation measures that don't work and stop someone enjoying what they paid for.

On the other hand, I'm part of a team running a small library of original online content, which is produced with considerable work and at considerable cost by enthusiasts who don't make any seriously money from the membership fees. I think a lot of the anti-copyright people around these parts might be amazed at the excuses and rationalisations that people will give you for blatantly trying to rip off your whole library, even if you just send them a friendly message to make it clear that you know what they're doing and remind them politely that it's not allowed.

I've seen someone literally sit at their computer for several hours a day for several days in a row, downloading large numbers of files they couldn't possible be using normally, only stopping each time our rate limiter kicked in and blocked further downloads for a while. I've had someone tell me that if we don't want people to download and share our stuff, we should supply it using DRM, and if we don't then it's our fault and they don't see anything wrong with what they were doing.

Fortunately, most people are quite honest, at least with a little site like ours. We in turn have never liked the idea of using technologies that might accidentally spoil a legitimate customer's enjoyment of the library, and we still don't. Up to a point, we can just ignore the attempts at ripping us off the same way you might ignore anyone else you don't approve of or like very much.

But the kind of person who not only thinks it's OK to come along and just blatantly rip off original content that a few people spent a lot of time and money creating, but who is also then totally unrepentant or even aggressive when called out on it, is enough to make blood boil. I will truly have no sympathy the first time we get frustrated enough to throw the legal book at one of those people, and they're crazy if they don't think we would have an open-and-shut case against them. Under the kind of punitive copyright laws that exist in a lot of countries now, we'd probably make a lot of money from the damages in some of these cases, too.

In that context, some sort of official "No, really, you should understand that this would be illegal and if you're doing it there might be consequences" mechanism might actually be better even for the offending parties than leaving the rightsholders no middle ground so they jump straight into call-the-lawyer territory. The problem comes when such a system isn't just a friendly(ish) warning but has more serious consequences like causing ISPs to reduce service to repeat "offenders" even though the notifications are only based on suspected or alleged infringement.

Comment mixed emotions (Score 3, Informative) 92

I purchased two Pebble watches as part of the original Kickstarter. One failed within a year (we were too distracted at the time to pursue a warranty claim), the other one is still "ticking".

Custom programming my own non-24-hour sleep-wake calendar was a big step for me in finding a cure. It finally put my metabolic reality on equal footing with the world around me, so that I could properly track each on its own terms.

I will always remember my Pebble watch as a life-changing event.

That said, I had doubts about Eric Migicovsky as a venture capitalist right from the beginning. When the original watch was delayed (I've done electronics fabrication before, it's far from easy with so much at stake on a new product) Eric obviously got some advice to keep reality close to the vest, and thus his public comments fell far short of the mark, given the situation. It's actually a flaw in the Kickstarter program that your promised delivery date is locked in stone prior to discovering you've got a landslide on your hands. (How to manage around that, I've never quite figured out. Kickstarter mainly appeals to flighty dreamers—too much honesty could seriously damp the lemming effect.) For my money, Eric failed the test of knowing when and where to draw the line on taking good advice. Any damn fool can advise you to keep your PR powder dry. Actual VC talent is required to know when to blow these damn fools off and venture out into the dangerous territory of actual honesty, while your users still care.

As for the watch itself, I'm still actually using my Pebble watch, for a single reason. Cure now in hand, in bottle form, I continue to wear my watch because its vibrate alarm is harder for me to ignore or forget than any other watch/phone I've had before, so I really do take my sustained-release melatonin at exactly the right time of day, each and every day, without fail.

I turned off BT completely after Fitness App Runkeeper Secretly Tracks Users At All Times, Sends Data to Advertisers because at this level of vigilance investment, extra battery life on both sides was more important than e-mail notification (and I hate pulling out my phone just to check a quick message).


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