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Comment Re:I always use my home as an example (Score 1) 97

"The other one is an unfounded and as-yet unsupported belief that autonomous vehicles will eliminate traffic deaths and accidents."

Not eliminate. Reduce.

It's a reasonable expectation I think. Long term, anyway. Autonomous cars probably aren't going to speed, run red lights, try to beat trains to level crossings, etc, etc, etc. Yes, there will be a large number of accidents -- some serious, some fatal -- while the cars learn to recognize open manhole covers, moose, hand lettered signs that say "BRIDGE OUT". But learn they will.

It'll be interesting to see how "Silicon Valley" folks handle a domain where they are successfully sued for the damages caused by their screw-ups. Because they ARE going to be sued. And they are going to lose a lot of those suits. My guess is that they are not going to like it.

Comment Re:Peter Thiel didn't bankrupt Gawker (Score 0) 113

Bankruptcy was an absurd punishment over a celebrity sex tape.

This was never about a sex tape. It was about Thiel being pissed about an expose of homophobia within silicon valley in which he was outed. The original article Gawker published about him was actually, ironically enough, relatively good journalism, about a matter of legitimate public interest, only partially spoiled by Gawker's carelessness.

You may want billionaires to dictate who can and who can't write the news. Me? I'd rather not live in a thielocracy.

Comment (sorta) down to socioeconomics (Score 1) 125

Put your money where you feel it's best-served... giving your money to companies that support (possibly) repressive and/or un-environmental policies need not be given more strength.

If you're an older person that feels companies routinely practice this policy, then don't buy their product.

There's more than one reason I don't shop at Wal-Mart... Whole Foods just made my shit-list.

The worst part is, and I understand this all-too-well, how does one get internet without supporting Comcast, AT&T, etc.?

Comment Re:I can say this despite liking the iPhone (Score 1) 199

In this case, form is function--part of the function of a mobile phone is to be portable. I'm not saying that they shouldn't have been more careful with it--supposedly the 6s is less bendable, which means they could design it to be strong AND skinny, if they want--but part of what I want in my phone is for it to be as invisible to me as possible when I'm not actually carrying it.

Whether or not that meets your goal for 'function' is another question. I can easily see other people wanting a phone that's considerably more robust. With the thinnest case I could find, I've had my 6 for two years, dropped it many times and not had any breakage problems. (I do have a faint blue streak in the middle of my screen which Apple tells me may be due to excessive pressure on that spot, but as its cosmetic and not a functional problem, they won't do anything about it.)

We don't all have the same functionality goals. It's part of your job as a consumer to decide if your idea of function lines up with the manufacturer's.

(It's worth noting that sometimes form is exactly the function--jewellery and other fashion items and ornaments are a good example of this. Do not denigrate people that carry phones for a reason that also has to do with fashion; for them, that's ALSO part of its function. It's not up to anyone else to decide if that's a worthwhile use or not. Even nerds carry things for 'fashion' reasons--sometimes we pick something that's objectively the ugliest, bulkiest, whateverest item to telegraph that we're the nerdiest kid on the block to all the other nerds. There's nothing wrong with that either.)

Comment Re:Just no (Score 1) 142

Everything you've just said is why it'll blow up in their faces, and Facebook will start the uncomfortable process of announcing year on year losses of users.

They're essentially duplicating Twitter's mistakes, and not recognizing they were mistakes. Some years ago, Twitter decided to keep tweaking their service. @ replies were hidden. Trending Topics was no longer annotated. Then oodles of JS was added to their service, making it clumsy and unreliable.

Then came the real killers, images and previews. We went, overnight, from a service where everyone saw 15-20 tweets on their screens, enough to follow a conversation, to a situation where most can only see 3-5. Remember, we're talking about 140 characters of actual content per tweet here. The 3-5 was because lots of tweets would now include the headline of the article they're linking to (which would typically ALSO be in the tweet message itself), and because tweets would now frequently have images attached and have a honking great big preview there.

The people who liked Twitter suddenly found that the giant conversation part of it no longer existed. They started to bleed off. The people who used Twitter to follow celebrities continued to use it, but had no great incentive to stay.

More recently, we've seen bizarre attempts to implement message threading that were worse than the clumsy hacks we'd seen before, and even randomizing - sorry, algorithmically reorganizing the timelines.

And so Twitter started to suffer serious churn. Because it added features that nobody had asked for, nobody wants, and that harm the service for end users.

Who is asking for autoplaying videos? Who is asking for autoplaying SOUND attached to those videos? Who is asking for messages to be sorted into a semi-random order? Who asked for videos in the first place?

Nobody. People will leave Facebook. Not immediately. But give it two years, and you'll start to see the first signs their membership is over the peak, and beginning the descent to has-been website status.

Comment Re:eh (Score 1) 305

The article is about the kernel, not the distros, which vary wildly. (This is also why it's a shame GNU/Linux, as a term, didn't catch on, leaving aside Stallman's feelings. Everyone hears "Linux" and automatically assumes someone is talking about the entire operating system, when it's also the name of the kernel. See also Java, which has similar problems.)

Comment Re:A minor ephiphany (Score 1) 319

Well, I'd probably use csv. But few folks outside of IT have any idea what it is. And, in fairness xls does allow formulas and allow plots to be specified. If your journal publishes other kinds of papers besides those dealing with lengthy lists of gene codes, maybe xls is a suitable one-size-fits-all data archive format ... maybe ... I guess ...

Comment Re:*The* Quickest, Not *Its* Quickest (Score 1) 171

Except this vehicle goes fast in a straight line, handles pretty well (not supercar well, but for 4 door? Definitely.) is ALL electric, seats 7, and is pretty close to being able to drive itself. And your numbers are off by 10x, it was $450M, not $4.9B. Due 2022, paid off in full in 2013.

I think they have earned the right to bleat on a bit.

Comment A minor ephiphany (Score 5, Insightful) 319

Without diminishing the other comments, it crossed my mind that the issue here is probably not whether Excel was used in the research. It's one of getting backup (supplementary) data into publishable form. That'd occur after the authors(s) had written their paper using their normal toolset for their work and gotten the paper through review. At this point, they are supposed to package up their data in some format dictated by the journal they are publishing in. Apparently .xls is an acceptable format -- which is not irrational. The format is documented and widely supported.

Anyway, the authors are just cleaning up and getting on with their lives -- cleaning the glassware (if any), paying any bills, archiving their data and scripts, returning borrowed equipment, etc. They are going to convert their data to .xls using whatever quick and dirty tool they can find. I doubt they are going to type tens of thousands of genome codes in manually. They'll use some tool they got from a buddy or write something themselves in Perl or Python or whatever scripting language they know. And they'll check the output to make sure that Excel loads it and that it's about the right length and that the first page or so and the last page look reasonable. And off it goes.

I don't think most folks outside of IT (and probably most in IT) are all that aware of Excel's flaky and sometimes bizarre data conversions. And, assuming that there's an unambiguous one to one translation between gene codes and excel mangled gene codes, this probably isn't a big deal. Anyone using the archived data will scratch their heads, maybe ask around, figure out what's happened, fix the data, and get on with THEIR research.

Comment Re:There's a simpler answer to this (Score 1) 184

I disagree about the "openness being a disadvantage." Seriously, name one thing that the carriers/OEMs do, in terms of software, that adds any significant value. I throw down the gauntlet.

The source cheaper hardware that require different (software) drivers. It adds significant value because they make their products more affordable to people who can't pay $700 for a smart phone. This is why Android is 80% of the smart phone market, and also why it's horribly fragmented. The openness is obviously both an advantage and disadvantage - cheaper phones, more market share, but a nightmare for cutting edge app developers to deal with.

Comment Re:There's a simpler answer to this (Score 1) 184

That's great in theory, but in practice it's horribly restrictive to app developers that want some basic level of consistency among devices. It has nothing to do with "bling" and everything to do with support for all of the apps you use.

More than 10% of our Android app users are still on API 17 or earlier (*4* year old OS). We want to drop support for those devices but 10% is non trivial.

On the other hand, we stopped supporting iOS 6 (also released 4 years ago) so long ago I can't remember, and have required iOS 8 (released 2 years ago) since early this year with no complaints. We are planning on requiring iOS 9 in the next release (otherwise known as THE LATEST until 10 is released this fall) since Apple did not drop support for any devices with the new version.

Comment Re:The actual proposal (Score 1) 184

The article is right that money talks, but to think they'd give any to an OEM. Ha.

Yep, that basically summarizes the whole problem. Money is the solution, Google doesn't want to share, and so OEMs have no incentive to keep their devices up to date.

And why should they? It's the same problem with all "smart" devices - phones, TVs, set top boxes, etc. Any development effort spent on updating last year's devices is expense with no reward. If Google wants to keep Android devices on the latest version the hardware supports they need to create an incentive for OEMs to spend money to do so.

The obvious solution is some sort of revenue sharing on Google Play and Ads. Until they suck it up and share some of the $$$ they are making, Android will always be horribly fragmented.

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"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment." -- Richard P. Feynman