49 posts • joined Tuesday 27th January 2009 21:36 GMT
Tech bubbles FTW
Tech bubbles have been shown to be a Good Thing. The open question is whether bitcoin is a tech bubble or an asset bubble. One missing ingredient appears to be competition. There are no significant other competitors in this space, to my knowledge, unless you count the myriad other means of electronic financial transaction, in which case Bitcoin is more of an asset bubble.
Tech bubbles have an interesting profile, as I learned in my own economics classes and research. Almost without exception, they go the same way. Just prior to the collapse, there are a large number of competitors - there were by some counts over 1000 automobile makers in the early part of the 20th century.
When the bubble bursts, 90% or more of the competitors fail, leaving only those lucky and strong enough to survive. By 1933 there were only a dozen or so automobile makers in the US, and only about 1/2 of those survived the Depression, the war, and the 1950s. The interesting thing is that after 10 years, invariably the market that collapsed is at least four times the size at the peak of the bubble. By then the technology has become an essential part of the economy and raised our standard of living.
If you read closely, IBM was paid $37m - still a big increase but not the $400 million or the $836 million - that big money was probably almost entirely internal - i.e. union & management - costs. So no, this is not 'evil big company screwing naive government agency'. This is just 'SAP is a PITA'.
This type of overrun seems to happen a lot in big SAP systems implementations - the same may be true of PeopleSoft and Oracle, I don't know. People do not realize that 'computerizing' business practices (which is what SAP is basically doing) is a huge undertaking, especially when the organization is large and the business rules are complex, as these Aussie 'wage and work systems' apparently are. You have no idea how complicated your business is until you try to write down the process in the level of gory detail that is required to automate it.
A company I used to work at, with 65,000 employees split between US and international did the SAP thing. Their original plan was to roll out in the US first, then do international. The whole project was to take a year or two (I forget) and about $300 million, of which IIRC $30-$50 million was to go to the vendor (software, hardware, services). By the time the US was done it had taken five years, the cost was over $1 billion. The company cancelled the international rollout, and SAP stock dropped significantly the next day. The additional costs were almost entirely internal labor and training.
<quote>Coca-Cola might call themselves the Real Thing but they weren't the inventors of cola beverages</quote>
Well, actuually, apparently they were (or actually the guy who created the original recipe, that was later bought by some folks who created the company, or some such). It's kind of an interesting story. The real recipe is still a 'secret' though there are several pretty good possible candidates for the original recipe. And it still has extract of coca leaf in it. There is a factory near NYC (IIRC) that has the only federal license to process coca leaf, removing the cocaine from it so it can be used in Coca Cola.
Re: How to make the world a better place
"Our morality as a society is what's legal."
Actually that's a fallacy. Unfortunately it's a fallacy that too many believe. It's fairly easy to demonstrate that morality or ethics can not be derived from law. (Or if you prefer to get geeky, consider the legal system as an example of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem). The law must be derived from ethics and morality. There is no way to construct a legal system that can cover all possible cases. A large fraction of human endeavour can be construed either way, and in many cases it is difficult or impossible to determine either legality or morality, such as the classic, "Would it have been moral, ethical or legal to kill Hitler as a child?"
Just one example, from an actual accounting ethics textbook: In the US, a business that leases something (equipment, a building, whatever) can treat it as a capital lease or an operating lease. The choice affects the way things are depreciated, and otherwise treated with regard to taxes and the balance sheet (and thus profits, assets, etc.). The decision is based on one's intended use. Thus, an accountant can either pick the one that saves the most money, or the ethical choice, which is to determine what the actual intended use is, and choose the appropriate method. IOW, both methods are 'legal' but depending on the situation.
Re: >Not me... I have a ute.
No, he's from the Bronx, and talking about his teen-age kid.
between 15 and 10 years ago or so I was buying quite a few drives, and was buying the 10,000 and 15,000 RPM drives not too long after they came out - just long enough that the heat problems were pretty well dealt with. Back then Seagate SCSI drives were the best in speed and reliability (we did cook a couple of the 15,000 drives early on though.) I haven't bought any drives in the last few years so I haven't kept up with the industry. Are Seagates no longer the 'expensive but reliable and fast' brand?
The article talks about many of your doubts. Using air cooling, there are two very big costs - it is necessary to move a lot of air through, so the fans use a lot of energy (which also adds more heat). And in order to be as effective as possible, the air is usually air conditioned or chilled, which increases the energy used by another 50% or so.
A liquid coolant is thousands of times more effective at conducting heat away from components, so such as system only needs to move small amounts of liquid. Then, once the liquid is moved to the area where the heat can be transferred out of the system (fins, plates, whatever), the surface area of the heat exchanger can be much larger so again no fans are needed.
In the transformers hanging on poles outside your house, a pure convective system (no pumps) circulates liquid coolant up through the copper coils then down through the fins or tubes on the outside of the transformer, letting the heat itself do the work of circulation.
As you say, server farms are going to be the place where this is most cost-effective, but with the amount of wasted space inside a 'tower' for example (much of which is due to the need to move vast quantities of air around quickly), I think a tower or desktop designed for this, perhaps with fins on the back and/or top, might well be the same overall size as your existing machine. And with the convective flow, you would lose the noise and power loss of the fan(s).
I have occasionally wondered why laptop makers don't either put the CPU/GPU behind the screen, or run a heat pipe from the CPU up through the hinges to a radiator on the back of the screen.
Server in a tank
I think you have the right picture - the first one done AFAIK was the Cray II, which sat in a tank of Fluorinert. But as you alluded, hard drives must have to be handled differently. I think all 'normal' hard drives have a way for equalizing air pressure inside and outside - the heads 'fly' on a microscopic layer of air. So the hard drives would have to be designed to live 'underwater'. If they were, they would be one of the four components that would most benefit from liquid cooling - the CPU, GPU, power supply and hard drives generate most of the heat.
The advantage is better cooling of very hot components
The biggest problem in computers is a few very hot components. For example, the heat density of a modern CPU chip is actually higher than the Calrod element in your electric stove (i.e., the BTUs emitted per square cm per hour). Air is not a particularly effective medium for pulling that heat away - even water is many times better than air IIRC. And a liquid has more heat capacity - it takes many times more energy to heat it one degree than to heat the air one degree. Among other advantages, because it is so much better at its job, it doesn't have to be circulated at such high speeds, it takes much less volume, and so the energy cost of moving it around is much less.
All of those big power transformers you see on your power utility lines are liquid-filled. In most cases they don't even require pumps - a well-designed convection system circulates the liquid up through the transformer coils and then out and down through vanes on the sides of the 'tank'.
Been looking for a waterproof phone for a couple of years
Why should dropping a phone in the sink (or, heaven forfend, the toilet) break it and void the warranty?!!!
I like to sail on boats, where it's possible to get 'splooshed' by a wave and be effectively underwater for several seconds, or even fall off the boat and swim around for a few minutes. I'd like to have my phone with me so I can use it for 'quickie' weather and chart lookups. Being on boats pretty much assures the humidity is going to be high all the time.
I did not want to have to use one of those aftermarket cases. So for two years I looked, and waited. The Casio Commando met my specs, but was out of date, old, slow, with a small screen. I need something that meets the Commando specs - five foot drop, 3 feet (1 meter) immersion for at least 20-30 minutes. 10 meters would be better - I have an Olympus camera (u770, earlier model) that can handle 10 meters, why not a phone?
There are some waterproof phones available in Japan for the Japanese market, but who wants a phone that has everything in Japanese? And nothing is available here that does any better than 'splashproof'.
I finally gave up when my old phone started wheezing. I bought a Droid Razr M. Maybe I'll go for the coating eventually. Or maybe, by the time the Razr is old, somebody will have come up with a new model that actually meets the everyday use of most people!
Re: Truer than most people realize
See also "Biologically Closed Electrical Circuits" by Bjorn Nordenstrom. The original book with exhaustive treatment of the original research is very expensive (check out your university's medical school library for copy) but there are some books oriented more toward the popular/non-research reader.
Lasers writing on the retina - already patented
Micro Vision Systems has had the patent for using lasers to write on the retina since the early 1990s, licensed IIRC from Washington State University. The original patents may actually have expired by now but I think there are numerous follow-on patents.
Re: To be fair...
As somebody once said, "If you're not paying for the product, you are the product." For Google and its paying advertising customers, you are the product.
Funny you should mention Lloyd's ...
... because that's what a company I'm involved in, the Space Finance Group (http://spacefinancegroup.com) is looking at - assisting in finance and management for emerging space development - related companies. I dearly hope we become as successful as Lloyd's! :)
Actually our first project is a Kickstarter project for the National Space Society (http://nss.org/), to produce a series of videos promoting the importance and opportunity that space development presents - space based technologies may change the world economy and the standard of living as much as the 'discovery' of the Americas. The Kickstarter project, called "Our future in Space" is at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/351762534/our-future-in-space-a-national-space-society-video .
Re: You have to admire the cheek
I think that if the holiday is structured right, it could be great. For example, the money repatriated might be required to be invested over the next several years (i.e. not all at once) in new tech startups in the US, or in US venture funds. This could result in a burst of new technology reminiscent of the 1980s that came out of the R&D tax credit - a substantial part of the companies that grew out of the Internet (before the dotcoms), such as Sun, Oracle, and many others were in large part funded by investors taking advantage of that tax credit.
This time around the investments might be directed by the holiday rules into biotech, accessible computing, space development and maybe advanced transportation - maglev rail maybe?
This would require the politicians to actually use some sense in building such a tax holiday scheme, which is admittedly a low probability scenario.
I think it would be cool to adapt a nerf gun to one of these. It would be great to have aerial wars with several of these. Or, if one wanted some serious marking, paintball guns! :D A good paintball hit might even cause some flight handling challenges but I don't think would necessarily knock the thing out of action.
Does any other animal punch?
It seems to me that all other animals use a motion akin to slapping - a bear or a lion will remove your nearest body part with one swipe of an open paw, claws out. Of all animals I can think of, only humans use the punching motion. (I'm not sure about kangaroos though). So this observation fits with the hypothesis.
Also, the fact that we modern humans _mostly_ are likely to break something when punching is more about how life has gotten more civilized than the inherent structure. The big, burly street-fighting-man type has largely gone out of style (with the possible exception of Russian drivers in car accidents on YouTube). Nowadays few folks are brought up needing the kind of strength and callouses that would have been necessary to defend one's home and family, even a few centuries ago much less a few millennia.
Sometimes good management has nothing to do with technical prowess
Without regard to any of the specifics of the MS case, I would reserve judgment. She may be a very good manager, _if_ she can successfully enlist her technical people to work together. (From what I hear this may not be a Microsoft characteristic, but hey.)
The best manager I ever had came from a prototype production management group, taking over a demoralized engineering group (the previous manager was a tinpot dictator, and was tossed out after a sexual harassment suit, which was well deserved.) The first thing she said was, "I know that you folks know what you are doing, and want to do the best job you can. My job is to help you do that - to provide the tools and environment you need, and to intercede and work with other managers when you have problems with other groups." She was supportive and allowed us to do the right thing technically, using a consensus approach. I learned a lot about management from her. I have used various forms of consensus methods to allow my groups to work out the best technical solution. This has generally resulted in excellent morale, excellent products often under budget and early.
SW will just move to a higher level
EEs have been trying to work themselves out of a job for 100 years, by coming up with every faster, more integrated parts. But each improvement increases the utility of the products, so EEs just move to the next higher level f integration. Once it was plugging tubes or transistors together to make a flip-flop. Now it's wiring several million flip-flops (in the form of a CPU chip) together with another several billion flip-flops (in the form of memory chips).
Being the first trip, it makes sense to be excessively careful. They _really_ don't want to mess this up. Consider that NASA built an entire space shuttle (Enterprise) for in-atmosphere testing of flight, landing, etc. Just to make sure that the theory and the practice are as close as possible to the same.
I get the impression that it's not NASA but Space-X taking this delay, in which case good for them. They are taking the responsibility of being sure, not just doing another test because NASA wants them too. We all know what happens when we build and ship software to a schedule, rather than "when it's done".
My 2c: This is one more example of many recent ones, of the essential genius of the 'American' success story - although I don't for a minute think this will be an American-only adventure. But those who settled in America came here because they were willing to risk themselves, their families, everything, to leap into the unknown. For a while we used the US government as our vehicle to express our ever-outward way of looking at things, but now at last we have begun to think of the 'space race' no longer in terms of one government vs. another, but instead of many individual entities, sponsored by many different institutions, truly 'going where no man has gone before'. China, Russia, US, India governments will no longer be competing with just each other, but with hundreds of entrepreneurs cooperating and competing. Soon the governments will be too busy regulating to bother competing.
And, I predict, in not too many years the U.N. will have to establish an orbital 'Coast Guard' to enforce rules of transit, maintain short term orbital priorities, handle rescues of vessels and people, and prevent/reduce pollution of orbital, lunar and near-Earth space.
As for the mining aspects, I figured out a while back that, in addition to the well-described water ideas above, asteroid metals will be most valuable in constructing and expanding the infrastructure in space. A single nickel-iron asteroid of a few hundred feet in diameter, plus a similar amount of carbonaceous asteroid, could provide the materials for a huge number of steel vessels.
One area that has been only slightly researched is pure-vacuum microgravity manufacturing of various electronic and exotic materials. There will be research centers (private or public?) in orbit and on the Moon. The cost of dropping such products down to Earth would be small relative to their value. (How easy is it to make large sheets of graphene in microgravity? Nobody knows.) And there will undoubtedly be whole categories of new materials and products that can only be made in that environment, or on the Moon. So there is some hope for a reasonable trade balance in the long run.
Heck, we were all talking about "wouldn't it be cool if we could ..." multi-touch back in the 1980s, but the hardware tech wasn't there to make it feasible at the time. There was some successful work in (IIRC) the late 80s to allow 'brush strokes' that depended on the area of contact on a tablet. As noted above, this advance wasn't all that big. However, his methodology to make it possible might have been significant.
I predict someone will make it true within two years
(Actually I think one year might be enough). First, background: in this article <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/09/23/the-first-ever-flight-of-a-pedal-powered-wing-flapping-vehicle/">http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/09/23/the-first-ever-flight-of-a-pedal-powered-wing-flapping-vehicle/</a> documents a successful human-powered ornithopter flight driven by a bicycle linkage. Human powered flight is using at best about 1.2 KW of power. So that is a reasonable minimum constraint. Let's use 3 KW as a reasonable minimum power-augmented system.
I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation. I looked this up: a 2400 watt-hour lithium battery (cost $3000) weighs about 40 lbs. I don't know if they are the right kind, but 750 watt servo motors weigh about 7 lbs. each, so four of them would be about 30 lbs. Assume a wing span area similar to that of an ultralight (but probably a different shape) I figure another four smaller servo motors, so add another 30 lbs. for those plus miscellaneous wiring, controls, sensors, etc. for a total weight of about 100 lbs. plus that of the rider.
I assume that the control systems are just an engineering and software question. There are some interesting physics challenges in the framework to prevent the guy whose arms are stretched out from having them bent backwards and ripped from their sockets. But the ability to build an ornithopter airframe that carries 300 lbs. of rider-plus-power is essentially proven.
So, bottom line - this is a reasonable high school or college physics or engineering class exercise. I hope to see successful prototypes within a year or two, and commercial versions in another year or two. The movie maker was smarter than he knew - he has single-handedly invented, or at least inspired, a new sport. Within a few years folks will have perfected these systems to the point where birdlike flare landings and wing folding systems will be available.
Sorry to be a stuffed shirt about this, but all along I've been of the opinion that PARIS, wonderful as it is and an accomplishment to be proud of, is a model airplane but not, IMHO, a 'paper airplane'. Paper airplanes are folded out of one, possibly two, pieces of paper - not constructed out of numerous frames and such like a real airplane. And glue is right out. A paperclip or two for balance, and tape in a few judiciously selected spots would be OK. And I would be generous enough to allow some extra tape to hold the electronics package in place.
Back in my misspent youth, my brother and I built a real paper airplane about six feet long, made in the traditional way, and flew it off the top of a water tower. So it's certainly possible to build a real paper airplane in the size necessary to carry camera and transmitter etc. It would require some engineering studies, such as how to use folds to provide stiffness and dynamically stable flight.
So, congrats, but I think there is still room for a record-breaking attempt with a real origami-style paper airplane. And I hope you folks take up this challenge for your next try! :D
More power to Meg
I hope it works out. Perhaps Meg is what HP has bee looking for - a leader with both executive capability and vision. I had been putting off getting a new phone for months, waiting to see if the new one had proper hardware to match the OS, when the cancellation came. And I missed the TouchPad firesale (by about 40 seconds, apparently). I may pick one up on E-bay and make some guy a quick $200 profit. I don't even need a tablet, particularly but I'd like to try the TouchPad.
LTFR reactor would minimize potential radiation issues
I don't know if they would work as well as Uranium reactors, but if a nuclear rocket could be based on the LTFR molten salt reactor, nearly all the fissile material could be Thorium, which presents a much smaller risk of radioactive contamination in the event of a catastrophic failure. This might obviate one of the major objections to nuclear rockets.
If I understand correctly, the ability of a nuclear reactor to provide the necessary energy for a long period of time with a small fuel mass means that a much larger amount of propellant (the stuff shipped out the back) could be carried instead of chemical fuel. This means that a long, slow thrust could be used instead of the present method of maximum thrust for a very short time.
So it's true then ...
We're all gonna die!
In fairness, the old TVs were not easy to adjust
All those controls for audio, color, brightness, alignment, etc. were behind tiny little holes in the back panel. So I wouldn't call those 'simple'.
Also, in the US at least, there were two knobs for VHF (channels 2-12, of which every other one could be used) and UHF (13-80 or something). The UHF one only worked when the VHF knob was set to the non-channel that designated UHF. And you had to ACTUALLY GET UP OFF THE COUCH to change the channel!! Oh the humanity!
I use OOo (and now LO) all the time, but for one project at work I had to switch to MS Excel, well into the development process. I even had to scrounge up a Windows PC to do it. The problem was that I was building a large workbook with a series of forms, to be used by employees of our clients. Unfortunately form elements such as buttons and checkboxes are handled quite differently in the two systems. There is no way to make a button or checkbox in OOo/Lo work the same way as in MS Excel. So I had to move the entire project to the Windows box, which now takes up space in my cube for most of the year.
It would be very nice if LO or OOo would have an option to make form controls compatible with MS Excel.
Boeing and Airbus have different philosophies re human control
I don't recall the details and I'm too lazy to look it up, but I have read articles about the different philosophies embedded in the two companies' design rules. If I recall correctly, Boeing essentially trusts the pilots more than Airbus - the pilot is the final authority. He/she has the ability to override (some/all?) controls in ways that _might_ damage the aircraft, but also as a result has more ability to force the airplane to do what's necessary when the automated systems are screwing up. It supposedly goes back to Boeing's military heritage, where getting your own ass home might be more important than preventing the wings from being bent. (Many WWII fighter planes had a 'war emergency' power setting, which provided another boost of horsepower from the engines, but required an engine rebuild as soon as you got back to base.)
In summary, it's about who/what is the final authority - the pilot or the computer. I can't say definitively which is the best approach, but I'm inclined to go with the pilot most of the time - but this does demand that the pilot know enough to be trusted with that authority.
But, as I noted, I could have misremembered the whole thing.
Internal short in the battery?
Li batteries are not just a lump of stuff, they have their own internal electronics, which can go bad. The battery might have shorted out internally, resulting in a current flow limited only by the small internal resistance. This could easily result in smoke, fire or even explosion - it's happened before in laptops and other products. This article: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/dell-battery-fire.htm has info on the 2006 recall. I don't know if the Apple batteries are the same kind (in fact I doubt it) but there is still a lot of energy stored in those little things.
The NeXT had a TI DSP display processor
The NeXT machines (1988-1992, more or less) had a 25 or 33 MHz 68000-series microprocessor, and a TI DSP to process the Display Postscript display instructions. In 1999-2000 I compared a 25MHz NeXTstation to the latest and greatest desktop Macintosh machines, and for regular workstation use - flipping windows around the screen, scrolling text, drawing pictures, etc. - the old NeXTstation seemed at least as fast (although it only did 2-bit greyscale, not color). But, compile time was abysmal compared to modern machines - I regularly had compiles that ran all night. The DSP was accessible from source code but I never tried to do anything with it.
(First I'll note that for customer service, T-Mobile regularly wins kudos as the best in the US, but coverage - not so much.)
An article in the Friday Wall Street Journal on this topic mentions not only $4 billion set aside by AT&T to be paid to T-Mobile - $3 billion cash plus $1 billion in spectrum (both good for T-Mobile), but one other very important item not in the AT&T announcement - AT&T agreed to give T-Mobile roaming access to their wireless network. This is perhaps the most important 'win' for T-Mobile - it could change the coverage dynamic, and make them a viable player. Imagine T-Mobile with the same coverage as AT&T, and T-Mobile's superior customer service. So I think that overall T-Mobile wins for playing footsie with AT&T, and possibly going home with everything they need to survive and succeed. There are many other factors, of course, but using my own example, I would never go back to T-Mobile if it becomes a part of AT&T, but if they can provide the necessary coverage and stay independent, I'd go back in a 'New York minute'.
Monopoly is not illegal.
WRT Old Handle's note on monopoly, the US Government is not 'supposed' to stop monopolies, but only to prevent them from abusing their monopoly power. At present (whether one agrees with the principle or not) it is not illegal for a company to have 99.999% of a market, if they achieve and maintain it using fair business practices. Of course, YMMV - and IMHO, the present monopoly law is insufficient and does not reflect more modern understanding of the fluid dynamics of markets and dominance.
International rocketry - a sign of our advances
I find it interesting and optimistic that the launch vehicle was an 'American' Atlas, powered by a 'Russian' rocket engine. Even better, this level of cooperation among nations is no longer news. No doubt there were components large and small built by companies in many countries. Who could have imagined 20 or 30 years ago, that such a thing could be built? Despite all the doom-and-gloom that pervades (and will probably always pervade) the media about how terrible things are, we have come a long way. My favorite throw-away line: "Progress occurs."
I don't know the details, but at first glance it seems that a very simple workaround exists - rename the binary and/or move it to a different directory. I don't know if su checks on its own location and name, so that might be an issue. It doesn't seem likely that the OS is going to take the time to look throughout the system for any binaries with a particular pattern that implies 'su' potential in the file.
So, what's a "drawf"?
Would that be a dwarf made from tachyons? :D
telephone directory? what's that?
For that matter, what's a telephone? Is that doohickey where all the addresses are numbers, and every time you move you have to get a new number? And you can't converse unless the other person is also connected at the same time? I've heard of those. I didn't know they still made them!
Seriously, I don't have a home phone, haven't seen a phone book in years. I only actually talk on my cell about every 3rd day, for a few minutes. But I'm sitting on my boat, typing on a laptop connected via Verizon Broadband and a Wifi router.
Levi's no great deal
Count the belt loops. Levi's => five belt loops; $13 jeans from Costco or Walmart => seven belt loops. Seven belt loops means the jeans hang better and the belt doesn't ride up over the top of the pant. IOW, Costco and Walmart are better quality. I've found that the Costco & Walmart jeans fit better and last longer too
I think (but haven't checked) that Levi's are lighter weight denim. I also don't know if Levi's still use rivets. Rivets and thicker denim were the key features that made the original Levi's popular in the gold fields in California.
Designer labels at one time meant better quality but that has not been generally true for three decades.
Also, people who ride horses don't buy Levi's because Levi's put the thick french seam on the inseam, where it chafes. Wranglers put it on the outside. So IMHO at this time Levi's are just riding on the trademark, being bought by people who don't really look for quality but look for the name.
Losses are already on the books
The Moto losses have already occurred, and are on the books. Moto couldn't take advantage of the carry forward, as they didn't have profits to offset. So for Google it's more like a discount on the price. Moto may still continue to lose money, but I suspect Google will either sell off or turn around those bits ASAP.
What I'd like to see is Google using the Moto tech as a kind of semi-open strategy to benefit their Android customers, improving technology, improving interoperability and reducing costs for their entire customer base. That could take Android to a new level, and might end concerns on the part of their customer base about Google competing with their customers.
Agree - narrow DNS breadth, don't widen it
I totally agree. In fact, two years ago (IIRC) I sent an email to ICANN proposing essentially what you describe as far as country-locality.
"Personally, I think they should get rid of about 99% of the .com, .org, and .net names - if you are not TRULY international, you register in a local domain: US wide business, you register in .com.us, Kansas wide business, you register in .com.ks.us, UK wide, .co.uk, etc. If you are NOT a network provider, you don't get .net.*, if you are NOT a non-profit, you don't get .org.*."
Of course, at this late date, such a change would cause serious loss of revenue for a bunch of lucky micro-nations with TLDs such as .tv. I recall when the original rules regarding .net and .org were dropped, more-or-less casually (about 1997, IIRC). At that time ICANN was
a tiny, underfunded bunch of geeks and had insufficient means to enforce, so they just gave up. But now that the internet is big business, there's no reason they couldn't - except for the disruption that it would cause now. That horse has left the barn. I suppose there could be a five year transition period during which the old .net, .com, .org domains would be transitioned into country-based domains, and those cames would eventually eliminated entirely. Then with the already-in-use smart searches and domain handling, if someone types in "McDonalds" then the most likely match would be the one on the street nearest you.
that won't work
Having all countries charge the same tax is essentially the same as requiring all office buildings to charge the same rent per square foot. Needless to say, this makes no sense. Every office building manager makes a decision based on the market, the characteristics of the building (condition, location, amenities, etc.), and tries to get tenants in. If they charge too little, they will lost money, and if they charge too much they will lose tenants and eventually lose money. Of course, if the building is fully rented, then there will be more work for those who maintain the building and services within.
Similarly, nations can charge whatever the market will bear. If they charge too much or impose too many costly regulatory burdens, businesses will relocate away, revenues will drop and unemployment will rise. If they charge too little (or don't provide a sufficient regulatory regime), the cost of the various government services will not be covered by the 'rent' (taxes) and by the income derived from the service businesses and workers that were depending on the business that moved. (In the simplest most extreme case, the fumes from the business kills all the workers, and the business fails.) Of course governments are slow to respond to the market, and full of idealists of varying stripes who think that they have the true word and resist responding to the market if it disagrees with their theories.
Pretty standard way of increasing yield
I haven't RTFA, but I suspect that there is a slower cycle time related to syncing around the torus.
Also, I think that if they promise 17 cores and build 18, they can still sell chips with one dead core as a full product. Similarly, hard drives are generally sold as having a capacity based on N sectors (or blocks) when there are actually N+ sectors, and the dead blocks are just marked out. So in that sense, it does increase yields. That's my thought, anyway.
This would be a great application of LFTR
I happened to be thinking about this earlier today - the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor technology might be a great candidate for this application. Among other things it has the great advantage of the ability to alter the heat output almost instantly - we have seen in recent days the great disadvantage of solid fuel reactors, the fact that they can not be just 'turned off'. An LFTR can be literally turned off - the original one at Oak Ridge was normally turned off every night when the researchers went home! As a liquid-based system, the flow rate can be adjusted constantly to provide the desired amount of heat and power, which would greatly simplify the management of thrust.
Also the LFTR does not require a pressure vessel, so it would greatly reduce the required mass, for better efficiency.
LFTRs also have minimal radioactive waste (so much less risk of radioactive pollution in the event of an accident or hostile action), and do not generate large amounts of weapons material that might be stolen and used for evil purposes.
Even better - hunting & gathering
... or just gathering. Wouldn't want to kill critters just to feed ourselves! ;) And even subsistence farming does tremendous damage to the local ecology. Better just pick berries, and not too many!
The only problem with these plans is the need for 99.9995% of us to disappear, and the inclination of nearly all of us to say, "OK, you first!" :D
More troll patents
Several of the Apple patents/applications noted here are almost certainly subject to prior art, unless the mere fact of using a finger instead of a mouse makes it a new tech.
We were using mouse acceleration, motion slope and other characteristics to determine what to do clear back in the mid-1980's. Every device I own has examples of multiple devices and actions having the same effects. How is spreading one's fingers apart different from using the mouse to move alternate corners of a box - like any art program, such as GIMP? In some cases something like 'alt-drag' moves the box from a single static corner, or all sides from a center point, preserving aspect ratio or not.
It seems to me that these are examples of 'throw it at the wall and see if it sticks' patent applications. I hope the Pre succeeds, and Palm defeats any attempts to extract excessive licensing fees, especially from such trivial patents.
There is an elemental unfairness about software patents having been brought into play after 1986, when so many truly major innovations had already been down the pike - B-trees, linked lists, virtual memory, time-sharing, client-server, almost everything having to do with network protocols such as TCP/IP, dynamic linking, GUI, windowing, bitmap displays, bit-blit, morphing, LISP, ASCII, relocatable code, several hundred useful graphic algorithms, ... the list goes on.
The people who created the computer industry did their work without the potential for revenue from patents, and that is one reason why the art progressed so quickly. I was only a minor (teensy) player, and could have acquired a hundred or so patents, were it possible at the time. Now we have companies bullying each other over patents regarding which direction to move one's finger. They should all put 1% of their revenues into a fund to repay all those geniuses that made their business possible.