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Comment This is such great news for son (Score 4, Interesting) 270

My son is 13 years old and has been training to be a pilot since he was 11. He has taken off and landed a small airplane (with the PIC in the airplane with him, of course) quite a few times. It just goes to show that landing an airplane isn't as difficult as some people think it is ... it just requires focus and passion. Both of which my son has in spades when he's flying an airplane.

This news story struck me as wonderful news. My son has wanted to be a pilot since he was three years old. If you are one of the lucky few (I am not) who knew what he wanted to be for his whole life, then I envy you as much as I envy my son for having a singular great dream. The notion of drones and computerized pilots scares me because it threatens that dream. Stories in which autopilots and drones are slandered make me happy.

Comment Re:Good. (Score 1) 761

Especially if your children are at the age where they instinctively put things in their mouths, you need to watch them at all times.

Spoken like a true non-parent.

There are NO parents who watch their children "at all times". How long does it take for a child to pick something up, put it in their mouth, and swallow it? About a second, perhaps. If you really "need" to watch a toddler "at all times", think about all the things that are difficult to do because you have to be hawk-like hovering over the child like a neurotic poltergeist without even one second of inattentiveness. Things like: cooking, watching the road (instead of the child) while driving, sex, and probably most importantly, watching your other children.

Comment Re:Too Bad (Score 2) 79

Of course the banks would - they're really loaning the money to the buyout firm, not the company being bought out. The firm performing the buyout makes big money, as do the banks. The firm being bought out is stripped to the bone and charged with servicing that debt. Sometimes they survive and can be spun off into the market again for big profits. Sometimes they limp along in private ownership and make modest profits, all of which go to the buyout firm instead of being shared with public stock owners (or, god forbid, the remaining employees doing the actual work). And often they just implode. The banks take a hit on some of these deals knowing that often they turn out to be quite profitable, at least in the short term - profitable enough for them to be able to afford to write off quite a bit of bad debt.

They're sort of like corporate identity theft rings. A buyout firm is essentially using the good credit of a going business concern to take out enormous loans it couldn't get on its own. They use some of the money for buying the going concern, and then hopefully refinance that debt at lower interest rates down the road, pocketing the difference and using it as collateral for the next buyout. If the debt load implodes the legitimate business they purchased, well, that's just too bad for the American economy. The parasites are off to suck the next victim dry via identity theft. But it often works long enough for them to cash out and use the money to hijack another business.

Remember, the guys running these sham operations are paying themselves enormous salaries and bonuses, regardless of how well the identity theft operation pays out. Even if Dell implodes they still make millions in the process. The success or failure of the companies they took over only alters the magnitude of the payout, not its eventuality.

Where things get interesting is if interest rates start rising again. We've been in a long term cycle of declining interest rates essentially since the early 1980s. That's been facilitating these buyouts for decades now. These gamblers are betting that if they borrow billions today at, say, 6%, they can refinance in the future at 5% and pocket the difference, covering up for a lot of incompetence in the running of the actual businesses they've hijacked. If that changes, expect to see a slew of business that were involved in these sketchy transactions go under - the buyout firms will cut their losses and run, leaving a bunch of investors holding the bag.

Don't worry about the banks, though. If things get too bad they'll just call up Congress and request another bailout, using your retirement money.

Comment Re:I remember a story when I worked at Microsoft.. (Score 4, Interesting) 257

There was an April, 2007 article written by analyst Roger Ehrenberg called "When Will Microsoft Own Up To The Xbox 360 Bomb?". Essentially, he ran the numbers for the divisions of Microsoft where they'd stuffed their console business, and determine they'd invested over $21 billion (at that time) in the console business, and had earned a whopping $5.4 billion of cumulative operating losses in return. That didn't fully account for the Red Ring Of Death either, which apparently cost them another $1 - $5 billion.

They have had profitable quarters since then, but as far as I know they haven't come anywhere close to earning $26-$30 billion just in order to break even on their investment in the console business.

Consoles have been a money pit for Microsoft.

Worse, in order to remain competitive with Nintendo and Sony, they're going to have to sink billions more into the next-generation of consoles if they want to stay in that business (and pride pretty much dictates they have to stay in that business).

It's likely they'll never break even on their investment. They may have blocked Sony or Nintendo from becoming the de facto home entertainment hub, but it isn't clear to me that keeping their options open in that space has been worth close to $30 billion. There's also the considerable threat that Apple will waltz into that space with a compelling new offering and blow most everybody else out of contention (while spending far less than $30 billion to do it). Google and Amazon are disruptive threats as well in that space.

Ironically, Apple spent far, far less than $30 billion developing the iPod, iPhone and iPad, combined - a combo that's proven a money machine for Cupertino almost since the day the products were released into the market. Each one of those products could have come from Microsoft - they were certainly years ahead of Apple at one point when it came to smart phones and tablets. Redmond took their eye off of that space while chasing the console business, a decision which I think will go down as one of the biggest misallocations of resources any corporation ever made.

Comment IOS6 means surrendering some rights to free speech (Score 1) 143

I jailbreak my IOS device for one very important reason: /etc/hosts. This is VERY important to me. If I access an internet resource, there's nothing stopping it from telling my device, "Hey, also get this other resource without asking the user for permission!" In other words, it speaks on my behalf. My right to free speech also means freedom from compulsory speech. /etc/hosts means that I can control which resources are accessed on my behalf.

Apple (and all other money-making enterprises) hate this notion because it interferes with their potential profit. This is why we have to rely on jailbreaking to restore these free speech rights. My IOS5 device is jailbroken, but I cannot get an untethered jailbreak for IOS6.

IANAL. Doesn't matter. This is a philosophical issue.

Comment Users aren't that crazy about privacy (Score 1) 529

What a tragedy. Ubuntu's focus on ease of use was such a great leap forward for Linux usability. Now they've lost the plot and forgot about their constituency, instead trying to drive more and more revenue with things the user's don't actually want.

Does anyone want Facebook? How is it that Facebook is free?

When users want "privacy", they want to make sure that their location isn't tracked ... until they want to be able to share that with their friends and know where there is an available parking space. To say that by sacrificing our privacy we will have a much richer lifestyle is a tautology by this point. For example, it's happened more than once that I found someone on the Internet using a service that they didn't expressly consent to, and they were delighted that I found them because they had been looking for me and were unable to find me. What was more important -- that I respected their privacy, or that we have a newly-kindled friendship?

When RMS talks about "privacy", keep in mind the monk-like lifestyle he leads.

I'd be willing to accept an "apples and oranges" rejoinder.

Comment Re:Sturgeon's law: 90% of games are crap (Score 2) 121

I think you've nailed it - the lack of any sort of quality control will cause this thing to flame out pretty quickly. The hardware also strikes me as ridiculously anemic.

However, I could see both Apple and Amazon releasing similar devices, based on Apple's iOS and Amazon's customized version of Android respectively, and tied to their existing online stores. They could sign deals with top developers to produce software - software that could also run on their tablets in theory - and act as a filter to keep their game stores from overflowing with crap.

Their gadgets would have to sport more advanced hardware than the Ouya, but both Apple and Amazon should be capable of convincing enough people to shell out, say, $200-$300 on a console / media center to make such a platform viable.

If Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo aren't very nervous, they should be. The barriers to entry in the console business have clearly gotten a lot lower in the past five years, and there are at least a couple of large players now in a position to challenge them quite effectively without investing the billions MS, Sony and Nintendo have spent establishing their current position.

Come to think of it, Samsung is another potential threat. They don't have the online distribution power of an Apple or Amazon, but they could churn out the hardware cheaper than anyone, and they know Android inside and out.

Comment Republiclowns (Score 1, Flamebait) 578

I thought these Republican idiots were supposed to be great businessmen and job creators. So how is it the Kenyan socialist communist fascist Marxist Muslim empty chair community organizer ran a campaign that outfoxed and outplayed them at every turn, even without having an entire media empire (Rupert Murdoch) spewing favorable propaganda 24/7 for free?

You'd almost think these Republican business geniuses were really a bunch of incompetent, thieving rich idiots who couldn't run a successful taco stand without help from their daddy's buddies and generous taxpayer subsidies coming from people who, you know, actually work for a living.

Comment Re:Math (Score 2) 576

>2.4% *is* a small difference.

By the standards of modern Presidential elections it's not that small. Bush won in 2004 with only a 2.46% margin - lower than Obama's 2.5% now being reported - and had the audacity to call his re-election a "mandate". Of course, this is the same guy who "won" with a -0.51% margin in 2000.

Carter only won with a 2.06% margin. Nixon came into his first term on a 0.70% margin. Kennedy bagged a 0.17% margin.

At the other extreme, Nixon blew away McGovern with a 23.15% margin, although that second term didn't exactly turn out the way the Republicans expected...

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