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Comment You forgot something... (Score 5, Insightful) 275

I actually do see a connection to unions here - if you're not genuinely willing to walk away from a bad deal, you're not actually negotiating. Businesses know this and it sometimes results in temporary outages, such as a TV channel or the Amazon dispute with publishers. In America we hardly have unions any more, and our media reports on strikes (e.g. a railroad strike in France) with derision and as a sign of a failed system. But I see it as a sign of tough negotiations between parties who both have something to lose. Ideally, each industry would have about as many unions as it has employers, and there would be more than one of each.

I actually don't like the idea of being a faceless member of a collective, or causing a great divide between management and workers. But right now we have a situation where one side is organized and using its leverage to drive a tough bargain (with companies growing ever-larger, and more profitable), and the other is just lying down.

Comment Re:No problem. (Score 1) 137

The whole question of "which direction is the causality" is misleading in the first place; pure, uni-directional causality in situations of interest to people is almost non-existent. What we should usually look for is stable configurations ("stable" not implying "good," as in poverty), and self-reinforcing cycles (whether virtuous or vicious). Even if manipulating A causes B to change, it may also be that manipulating B would cause A to change.

Comment Rise of the middleman (Score -1, Offtopic) 176

It does bother me that the biggest money on the 'web is being made by middlemen - google, helping you find content, but they don't produce any; facebook, helping you talk to your friends. It is like banking - necessary, but annoying that the bankers always wind up richer than the buyers and sellers they are "helping."

Comment Re:Better comparison site (Score 1) 377

That's a cool format comparison, but what's wrong with the Lena image as a point of comparison either? It looks SO much better in the new format! The most annoying thing about jpg is the bias towards blocking - drawing everything as rectangles when there aren't enough bits to say otherwise. The new format loses detail - how could you not? - but doesn't have random hues and sharp right angles strewn about.

I wonder how this would translate to a video codec, because people might not care about jpg file sizes, but television signals suffer noticeably from insufficient bandwidth all the time. (Granted, switching away from h264 now would be like switching over to the metric system).

Comment Re:Advertiser hate coming in... (Score 1) 190

SomethingAwful still seems to be doing well with its pay model.

Fair enough, though I am not familiar with it. Let's include craigslist and wikipedia as examples of awesome signal-to-noise ratio that is possible when full monetization through advertising is foregone, for whatever unusual reason that is specific to each.

Comment Re:Advertiser hate coming in... (Score 1) 190

I would say, don't hate the player, hate the game. I think the ad-driven web is thoroughly corrupted, right down to clickbait headlines, and steal-and-reprint news aggregators (ahem).

But at this point there is no market for paid content on the web, or anywhere else (note the crash-and-burn of investigative journalism as a result) - nobody even remembers or can imagine what a spam-free web would look like. (Including you adblock users, since there is nothing to consume but ad-sponsored content). So it's hard to blame any single advertiser or website for playing along.

Comment Re:I'll wager it doesn't actually matter (Score 3, Informative) 190

Doesn't matter? tell that to all the millions of websites that get a 25% cut in advertising revenue because those with bot nets need to get their cut.

You assume this is to divert ad revenues to phony sites? The article disputes that:

"We found a lot of bots suddenly inflating the audience of websites we recognize that are clearly not being run by international organized crime," said Michael Tiffany, the CEO and co-founder of White Ops.

Unfortunately, the article didn't get around to explaining why spammers would inflate ad impressions on legitimate sites. Are we so sure these legitimate sites aren't clients of marketing agencies that are paid to increase the clicks, never mind how they do it?

Comment Re:MPEG-2 on RPi (Score 1) 140

I don't think it's just the licensing. I am using mplayer -dumpstream dvb://xx and the .ts files it generates don't seem compatible with most players except mplayer itself, and don't seem to work on XBMC. What would be a better option for grabbing DVB from the command-line? One requirement is for the player to be able to start replay and skip around inside the file while before it is done recording.

Comment Re:XBMC Finally? (Score 1) 140

I have a pi and found the XBMC UI to be awfully sluggish on it. The bigger problem is it can't play the mpeg-ts dumps of broadcast TV I make from mplayer, although there must be some way to make TV broadcasts playable?

The pi is also too slow to be a thin client for X if you use a WiFi usb dongle, or if you tunnel over ssh. But if you use the ethernet, open the X server on the pi to un-encrypted remote connections (DISPLAY=pi:0 firefox on the client), it is passable for web use, other than flash and videos. I use it to look at howto's in my garage.

Comment Re:It's bullshit, but it's the same bullshit as us (Score 5, Insightful) 192

But the ad-driven Internet has effectively relegated personal documents to business records. When google is already reading and adding commercials to every email, it's much harder to argue these are intended to be private, person-to-person communications. Google's multi-billion dollar business actually is snooping, and its users consent to that.

Comment Re:too late (Score 1) 280

The ability of governments to act as gatekeeper that controls and taxes voluntary commerce between willing parties is ending. Deal with it.

That is what we used to call libertarian cyber-utopianism. The basic assumption there is that technology empowers individuals (and private collectives, in the capitalist version) but not the public collective. (The "utopian" part of the assumption is that this would be good.)

Why do you think that? It seems to me that, just as much as technology empowers individuals to operate as unlicensed taxis, it empowers collectives (insurance companies and governments) to identify them (e.g. license plate recognition and cellphone tracking).

We are 20 years into the Internet age and I don't see a big net shift in individual empowerment. If anything, Big Data empowers Big Business and Big Government.

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