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Comment Re:Sad end to a great operating system (Score 1) 109

Focusing on the Alpha was also a mistake. People learned UNIX by running it on cheap machines. Even during the heyday of proprietary UNIX systems, people were learning BSD on the Amiga and then going to work on SunOS, AIX, or whatever. In the i386, Intel added the 4-ring protection model to x86 because DEC said that they needed it for VMS. Instead of porting from VAX to i386, they ported to Alpha (which only had two rings). If they'd made a cheaper uniprocessor VMS (maybe missing some of the clustering features), they'd have had an entry-level system for people to learn about the system. Instead, you had 100 people who knew UNIX for every one who knew VMS and this made it a no brainer to use UNIX.

Comment Re:Sad end to a great operating system (Score 1) 109

No, but more importantly it was never ported to the PDP-11. The Multics process and library model required a lot more from the memory management unit than most modern commodity hardware provides, whereas UNIX ran on systems with no MMU at all. You could run UNIX on a toy computer, even if you couldn't afford something that could run Multics. That's a key lesson for tech companies: watch out for competitors eating the low end of your market because economies of scale matter.

Comment Re:HBO needs to get its head back in the game (Score 1) 145

I found that once I stopped having a TV, I also stopped being bombarded with adverts for TV shows and movies, and I stopped caring about whether I was watching something new or something 5-10 years after release. I wonder how much this will become the norm as more people switch from broadcast TV to other media.

Comment If nothing happens it becomes negative feedback (Score 1) 158

Trump says X, traders jump on positions that would benefit from X to try and get out in front. However other than the speculative betting there isn't much movement. Then X doesn't happen, so there is no long term movement. The traders disengage from their positions trying to take as little loss as possible.

This happens over and over and more will learn that acting just loses you money. It's why markets don't do fuck-all in response to Alex Jones. It isn't like his message isn't out there for the world to see, and actually more widely watched than I can fathom, but they don't believe anything will happen based on it so trying to get a first mover advantage can't happen.

You only gain an advantage by getting in first if the move happens. If it doesn't, at best maybe you can get out without a loss but usually you are going to take a hit to some degree. Thus you act only on those things that are likely to generate a move.

Traditionally, things the president said would qualify. However Trump is anything but traditional. He shoots his mouth off all the time, regularly contradicts himself, and changes his mind often.

Comment Well with the "elite" schools it is often not that (Score 3, Insightful) 304

For a regular school, particularly state school, then yes it gets stacked a lot by test scores and other academic indicators. The better you do academically, the more they are interested in you and the more money they'll try to give you to get you to attend.

However the "elite" schools have a whole bunch of good old boy shit going on. If you look at admissions in to places like Harvard you find that there are some legitimately top performers who come in, but a whole lot who are not and are instead connected some way. They are kids of alums, politically connected, rich, whatever. They are the "right kind of people" and so get the invite.

That's also the reason why parents want kids to go there is the connections. You don't get a better education at Harvard overall. Any university with a good program will do at least as well, and in plenty of disciplines there are schools ranked far better. However it further gets you in to the old boys club and gets you connections to people that gets your opportunities that would not otherwise be available later in life.

Comment Re:HBO needs to get its head back in the game (Score 1) 145

The HBO subscription is only worth it if you have a peer group that also has an HBO subscription and so it's important to watch things at the same time as them. I stopped buying DVDs about 10 years ago when renting became a lot cheaper than buying, but I've recently started again with boxed sets. Even if I only watch each episode once, it's cheaper than any of the streaming options, plus they're practically DRM free (as in, the DRM is so broken that it may as well not exist) and I can copy them to a mobile device for watching on long trips. Oh, and I get to wait until there are multiple years of something before I watch it.

I do wonder a bit what would happen to the economics of TV series production if most people did this. You'd expect a TV show to make a loss for the first few years, but then be profitable over a longer time, which is a very different model from the current mode of any profits after the first year are a nice bonus, but not factored into the accounting calculations.

Comment Re:Saving the world with a Tax. (Score 5, Insightful) 266

The idea of a tax isn't as silly as you make it sound. The problem with most forms of pollution (from a purely economic standpoint) is that one person or company gains the benefits from polluting, but everyone pays the costs. This is known as an externality. Taxing pollution fixes this and means that the polluting technology becomes more expensive to operate and makes the barrier to entry for non-polluting technologies higher. If something is producing a lot of carbon dioxide but costs $5/widget, and you add a tax that amounts to $2.50/widget, then a replacement technology that doesn't emit any CO_2 but costs $7/widget is now cheaper to use. This means that you can bring it to market before you've got the economies of scale to push the price down below $5/widget.

Comment Re:solar/wind talk is spin - France vs China (Score 1) 266

Size doesn't really matter, because most renewable schemes scale with area. Population density does. France has 116/km^2, China has 145/km^2, so almost a 25% higher overall population density. That translates to a little bit less space for wind, solar, hydro and so on per capita, but not by enough to make it infeasible. Add in nuclear power, and the scaling is quite easy - building a nuclear power plant is hard, but doubling the generating capacity doesn't come close to doubling the land area, as long as you have a supply of uranium (China has uranium mines, France doesn't).

Comment Re:White Power Rangers...ASSEMBLE! (Score 1) 306

A big part of the problem is that race and wealth correlate strongly in the USA and the rhetoric from the Democrats has been about race and not poverty, even though the latter is the real problem. This leaves people who are both poor and white feeling that the party only cares about poverty when it happens to black people and, worse, that it feels middle class black people deserve more help than poor white ones. This is made even worse by the fact that there's a black President: clearly being black isn't a complete barrier to success, but being born poor often is.

Comment Re:How's that feel Texas? (Score 2) 119

The key word in the summary is 'hundreds'. It brings the total that Tesla is planning on hiring to 7,000. Nevada is giving Tesla $1.3bn over 20 years, so that works out at $65m/year, or $10K/worker. It's a pretty big gamble that the state will take $10K/year more in tax revenues per worker than if the factory were not there. They're betting that the existence of the Tesla factory will spur other job-creating manufacturing industry.

Comment Re:so old! (Score 1) 60

1. Do you have to go out of your way and invest significant time and effort to avoid the use of these Oracle-owned libraries when you want to develop software in Java?

I'm quite happy to go out of my way to not add an extra 'use expensive commercial features' flag when I invoke the JVM.

2. Are you able to write good software without the Oracle-owned libraries? (good = robust, efficient, secure, ...)

I'd first like to see an existence proof that robust, efficient, and secure software exists, but assuming that axiom, any Java program that works with OpenJDK (i.e. the reference Java implementation) will work without any Oracle-specific things.

Comment Re:Mac OS based espionage malware (Score 3, Informative) 60

It's also probably difficult to get a user to accidentally install it. Java used to be installed by default on MacOS X, then there was a thing where, on first use, it would prompt the user and ask them if they wanted it. Now there's a thing saying 'you need Java to do this, go to this web page and download and install it, then try again'. Most casual users will say 'that looks hard, I can't be bothered'.

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