Should go well with some P-code and #deadbeef. Maybe followed by tea (or java) and cake (Raspberry Pi was too obvious)
2507 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Should go well with some P-code and #deadbeef. Maybe followed by tea (or java) and cake (Raspberry Pi was too obvious)
> the suppliers of heavy equipment sell sealed-box products that are sold as just working.
And if only more IT kit was like that.
The most reliable kit in most datacentres is that insignificant little box in the corner that runs a dedicated application on top of NT, or Solaris 6. Nobody knows how it works, they just know that the supplier "deals with it" and won't allow anyone else to log in, upgrade the hardware, touch any of its cables or sometimes even reboot it. It has been there since Y2k (or beyond) and just works.
The secret to these boxes is that they are dedicated: they do one thing only, have zero flexibility and no scope for alterations or customsation. But when they are properly designed, from a sensible specification that was implemented by capable people and neither over-sold nor prematurely released (before testing AND bug fixing had been completed) then they are world-beaters. No Patch Tuesdays for them!
However, we IT people aren't used to systems that are stable. We assume that everything arrives broken and that it's 3-5 year lifespan will be spent working around its shortcomings and trying (often: failing) getting it to meet the specification that was originally written on the brochure that the CIO saw, read and bought. The best we can hope for is that these "heavy equipment" manufacturers place as much store in the reputation of their software products as they do in their hardware, and also that they are steadfast in their demands that unqualified IT people don't go anywhere near it.
The difficulty is that to get rock-steady systems, you will never be talking about being at the leading-edge. Instead of implementing the latest and greatest stuff that comes out of a 6 month-old startup (soon to be a 7 month-old foldup or sell-out), the secret will be to not even look at tech that isn't a few years old, has got some thousands (or for the IoT: millions) of units delivered and working and to never, ever make any changes to the thing's external networking environment once it's been installed.
If that means we're going to have to start getting things right at the first attempt and then not changing them, so be it. it can be done - just ask the makers of all those little boxes in the corner.
I don't know about an iCar, but I do like the idea of coupling a phone to a Tesla's 85kWHr battery and having a device that you only need to charge once a year (or, come to that: run your house for a week). Though you might need a shopping trolley to haul it around in - just so long as it doesn't catch fire.
shouldn't that read: The tech is said to
simplify be "overly complicated and annoying"
Given that it requires a PC with speakers and the sound enabled (surely the very first thing users in offices do is rip out the speakers and/or disable all sounds). Plus a smartphone with it's microphone available to hear this (and presumably everything else that is within hearing distance - a built in bug? how marvelous) and without the sound being muffled by, say, a trouser/jacket pocket or handbag and the environment being sufficiently noise-free.
I would expect that this technology is neither disability-friendly, universally applicable nor 100% reliable. So all systems where is is used will have to have passwords as a fallback (sorreeeee, I can't log in until my phone has recharged ... ooops, I can't use this app as I'm on the phone, whoops: I appear to have left my phone at home/in the car/on the bus). Added to which is the faff of having to dig out your phone every time you want to log in. So it will hardly ever be a person's first choice of authentication and will therefore very quickly be sidelined and then ignored.
Hopefully Google bought the company as a public service and will now bury it to reduce the number of annoyances foisted on us in the name of technology.
I know where my passwords are written down.
Seriously, most websites that ask for passwords don't need them - or only need trivial examples as what they "protect" is, to all intents and purposes, worthless. For these sites: the overwhelming majority of sites, keeping the same passwords for all of them and never changing it is perfectly reasonable. Provided websites continue to allow anonymity: i.e. anyone can set up an account using any old "nickname" that hasn't already been used, there isn't even any reputational damage if a bad person does hijack your account.
There are some sites: banks, any website that you make payments to/from, HMRC, places where you expose contact information to people you know (since you owe them a duty of care) where it is wise to keep passwords under wraps - and not use the same one that you would on snailracers.com snail fanciers forum. However, for those a solid password is at least as good as trying to remember a location (who would NOT choose the location of their house, or the bank branch in question?) and is easier to record, if you have a geographically based password system like mine.
> the BBC has the greatest wildlife and science documentaries in the world by several light-years. ...
> I would be out on the street with Molotov cocktails if they attempted to take one penny away from these
Better get the firebombs ready then. Their latest financial statement (for 2012/2013) shows that BBC2 had it's funding cut by £6M (that's a lot of "one penny"'s) compared to the previous year and BBC4 suffered a £2½M cut. BBC1 on the other hand (not known for its documentaries: science, wildlife or otherwise) gained over £120 Mil. Even though the corporation as a whole received £50M less than the previous year.
It would appear that Strictly (that is a BBC show, isn't it?) is where the funding is going and "serious" programmes are being cut to pay for it.
> The BBC License Fee is not a tax. The clue's in the name.
It's a tax. Merely changing the name fools nobody (well, almost nobody - just ask the people who live near
Windscale Sellafield). As for the wiki-gasm about the BBC's legal status? Well, nobody cares about that distinction, either.
As for why the tax is unfair, it's a shame you never managed to read past my second sentence or you would have seen the reason why that is.
So you don't have a TV - that's nice, if irrelevant. Some people choose to go without carbs, or meat, or clothes¹ too.. Does that mean they are "luxury" items? No of course it doesn't. So far as having a TV is concerned for a lot of the lowest paid workers, and those who don't/won't/can't work a TV is a necessity. If you have children there is nothing comparable to keep them occupied. The same can be said for adults, too, especially the housebound - if you can't afford other ways of occupying your "leisure" time, then a TV is vital. That's one reason why you find TVs in all parts of the world from Manhattan to Somalia. People are willing to forgo better food in order to have some source information and a way to add a little "sunshine" into their lives.
 The naked rambler.
The BBC tax is unfair (technically: regressive). The reason being that everyone pays the same amount, irrespective of their ability to pay. The modern trend with taxation is for the rich to pay more than the poor. Sure, there are some subsidies available with the BBC licence fee, such as a 50% reduction for the blind, but otherwise if you're on the minimum wage you pay the same licence fee as if you earn a million a year.
As far as hypothecation goes (tax paid to finance a specific thing), yes it is - and that level of transparency is good.
However, once the money gets given to the BBC, all transparency is lost. Who decides whether "our (TV) taxes" should be spent on a new costume drama, or adding stuff to their website, sending hundreds of staff on a foreign "jolly" to cover an event, or pissed against the wall on a digitisation plan that was totally mismanaged? The public pay billions every year for all these things, but the democratic process fails completely in giving us any say on where "our" money gets spent, or who gets to spend it.
> leave the cooking shows and talent shows to the private sector.
Best idea in a long time.
The basic problem the independent channels have is the failure to attract an audience. Why is this? becaase every soddin' 20 minutes they interrupt the programmes and try to sell us anti-aging cream, no-win-no-fee lawyering and shampoo.
If ITV et. al. could run uninterrupted programmes of the same quality as the Beeb's they would attract far more viewers. But they can't, because all the TV tax money goes to one, single, dominant, broadcaster - which uses that dosh to show exactly the same sort of popular programmes that the independent channels rely on, could easily make and would earn them the income to make "quality" telly. if only the BBC weren't giving it all away for free and undermining their potential cash-cows.
Sure: for the viewers it's great (if you like that sort of thing). But it doesn't increase choice - not when all the channels are screening wall-to-wall soaps, celebs, chat, reality and quizzes: 'cos that's what the people want - innit.
trash "popular" programmes were left to the independents to make money from, the BBC could go back to its original charter: entertain, educate and inform. On the basis that you wouldn't need 9 channels of TV to do this (which spend over half their time screening repeats - just to fill the time), the bandwidth they have but don't use could be rented out to other broadcasters (or mobile phone, or some other revenue generator) and that cash used to finance the content they make. If we were also to retain a licence fee, it could then be used to remove or greatly reduce the need for adverts on the commercial channels - thus making them more attractive to viewers (provided they produced programmes people wanted to watch) and as an added bonus, the reduction in advertising "space" might even result in us buying less unneccesary crap and trying to sue the arse of someone everytime we slip over in the street.
So what this really does is to monetise the data that hackers already go phishing for.
Now, instead of them selling lists of names, cards and personal data to some nefarious individual or group, for pennies, they'll approach this outfit instead - and get many times the moolah for the same information.
There's a scary thought that this is just a front for someone's government surveillance scheme - in an attempt to legalise their snooping "Look! they GAVE us the data and we're paying for it - it's not spying anymore (and it costs a dam' sight less, too).
There's an even more scary thought that by upping the rate paid for personal data, all this outfit is doing is increasing the demand for it - and therefore attracting more hackers to try and pry it off you.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Pete 2, but you're already selling us ALL your personal data. What do you mean, you didn't know that?"
> writing laws is really a form of computation, so we should make it more like a software project.
The two other differences being that the CPU doesn't get to interpret the
laws code it's told to execute - it just gets on and does what the code says: whether it's sensible or not - and that doesn't change subtly over time (yes: I do know about software rot). So at least there's the possibility of getting the result you intended - provided you code it properly - rather than what the CPU (or judiciary) thinks it should be.
The other difference is that there isn't an entire other CPU, with vastly more incentive, power and time that is dedicated to finding reasons why your code shouldn't be executed, or how it could be bent, warped and subverted to do its own bidding. Although one could argue that is exactly what the Intel architecture does.
From RCJ's article
> There is a minority of older experienced programmers ...
So not only is this guy accusing people of snobbishness and misogyny, but there's a whiff of ageism in there, too.
However, since this guy works for the People''s Democratic Republic of the BBC, he knows that everything he writes will be scrutinised by the PC brigade - either within the organisation, or without - and duly held against him when his next contract renewal comes up. On on that basis you can't really blame him for being so right-on - his strings are being pulled in ways we could never imagine.
However, back on topic. Teaching people coding is like trying to teach speaking. It denies the existence of all the different languages out there and assumes that so long as you can make some noises, the job's done. In practice, it's barely started.
> it's still troubled by that pesky "mechanical control abnormality"
I'm sure that if the chinese pay the postage, the suppliers will replace it for free.
> prison staff to interfere with the wireless signal in their jails
Surely a better solution would be to either eavesdrop on the calls or to trace the numbers being called?
That way the authorities could get a handle on any crimes that were being planned or committed via phone and maybe haul in the inmates' outside contacts, too?
It may be that the prison personnel don't even need to listen in (or trace the phone numbers) if they can credibly "sell" the story that they are doing that?
I understand your position. As with most things in life, there is no "black or white" answer, but a range to responses all along the line. At the one end we might have gentle teasing (or humour that the recipient simply did not understand and misinterpreted). At the other we have out-and-out hate and loathing. Somewhere in the middle we have the sort of activity seen in some children who haven't been taught to behave: simple meanness.
Depending on the reaction of the people who see a post, they could classify it as trolling - or not. Jjust as some people are too easily offended by racial comments, bare skin, irreligious remarks or "bad" language, whereas others are more tolerant and easy-going and would let it pass.
So for the study to say Trolling == sadism fails in both its definition of what trolling actually is (no objective test) and in the graduation of behaviours and their underlying causes. Some trolling may be due to sadism, for sure. However the study, as reported, is a blunt instrument and without any means of quantifying or identifying cause or effect (or even false answers) has little to offer - except, as you say, in stating the self-evident.
> The participants ... 5.6 per cent said that trolling was their favorite
I don't think the surveyors realised they had been trolled by those responses.
As it is, they had a mere 418 participants, of whom a trifling 5.6% or 23.4 individuals (point 4 - huh???). So they based their whole conclusion on the unverified responses of less than two dozen people in a highly specialised group in one particular country.
The online summary does not reveal if the test had other "telltales" embedded in their questionnaire for different traits. Without knowing that, it's impossible to say if the test was intended to look for this particular trait. That in itself is enough to cast doubt on the conclusions they drew. It would be interesting to know if they tested for different traits or conditions (e.g. drunkenness), whether they found any sorts of correlations with those, too.
File under: worthless.
> the strongest indication of possible liquid water on the planet, but it's proving difficult to come up with conclusive proof.
Isn't "dark" the usual, cosmological, prefix for tagging a phenomenon that the boffins think should exist, but can't quite find?
> Kleiner predicts 100 billion objects being connected through 5G.
> the ultra-low-power devices hooked up to the "Internet of Things" would need 10Gb/s
So that the combined power of all these little devices can be focused on denial-of-service attacks at extremely high packet rates.
As no matter how advanced your technology, a swarm of locusts will always beat you.
> Coders are the new factory workers
I have mixed feelings about this initiative.
On the one hand I welcome anything that adds to the technical content of the school curriculum (i.e. has a relevance to the modern, technical, world). On the other I can see this programme as a transparent ploy to grab some headlines without having any sort of measurable benefit.
As far as "factory workers" are concerned, I am not so sure. These children won't have any tangible skill at the end of this, but they will have gained a minuscule amount of familiarity with a small subset of buzzwords used today. While that knowledge will almost certainly be obsolete by the time they leave school, that amount of jargon will set them up nicely to fill management roles - but not to do anything meaningful or creative. If it also conveys the view that "coding" is a difficult process and that the real talent is the analytical process required before any "code" is written, then it might, just, have some worth.
But that's all we should expect or hope for from any educational scheme like this.
Looking at these companies, with Veeam reporting "24 consecutive quarters .... " then it's been going at least 6 years. Pure Storage was started in 2009 - so it has 4+ years under its belt
Are these really "startups" or should they now be considered fully-fledged businesses?
> Without the ability to play music, Jarre argued, the gadget wouldn't be worth as much as it currently is.
I'm on my third smartphone, now. I can safely say that the hassle of carrying around a pair of earbuds, spending time disentangling them any time I want to use them and then squinting at a sunlit screen to try to see what music is on the device long-ago became a chore. I haven't felt the need to have every moment filled with "entertainment" for decades and therefore can say that the musical abilities of a smart (or dumb) phone mean nothing to me.
> Male speed-daters with higher fWHR, ... more dominant. Women not only expressed more interest in short-term relationships with these men ...
The conclusion from that one, single, piece of research makes it sound as if women want to be dominated - or at least: spend time in the presence of dominant men. If there really is anything in this line of research (like people used to think about phrenology?), one must wonder what that says about equality and emancipation.
> I've seen it mentioned several times that the private sector has deeper pockets for legal costs than the public sector.
Yes, that's my understanding, too. A corollary being that they can afford to employ better (and more) legal counsel.
> Ofcom has nearly every new regulation challenged, often on legal technicalities
Doesn't that just mean that Ofcom employs crap lawyers - who don't know how to draft regulations that are actually legal?
Instead of Ofcom bleating about the naughty telcos who spot the holes, which they should have spotted earlier and then use those flaws to delay the introduction of new rules that would benefit the public to the telcos' detriment (I bet they don't challenge anything that is good for them), why not actually get someone competent to look over the proposed rules before they are enacted?
> a pair of LEDs to give a visual indication
That would be a visual indication to whom, exactly?
I'm a great fan of flashing lights on computer boards (the microprocessor equivalent of Hello World) and I recognise that in the world of Pi, they are a massive sales feature. But you have to ask: if a board is going to be run off batteries, possibly even built into an enclosure, what is the point of some LEDs - once you've debuggered everything? Given their power consumption, it would be nice if they could be pulled off the board, or just given the SNIP.
If the developer is looking for some extra features, if the on-Pi thingy doesn't already do this, I'd suggest having an ADC measuring the state of charge and use that to talk to a serial: RS232, SPI or I2C interface (as the Pi doesn't have any analog capability of its own) to inform the board what is going on. In fact, breaking out a few 10-12 bit analog inputs and having them interface to the Pi would make this a winner: even without all the battery stuff.
As it is, there are already other (yes folks: there are other single board computers) SBCs that can directly plug in a LiPo without the need for an extra board. Some are even open-source hardware.
For Apple, mood sensing is pretty easy.
When you first buy the product: Joy
When you first try to use it: Confusion
When you show it to all your friends: Pride
When you get the first monthly bill: Horror
When it breaks: Depression
When you try to get it fixed: Annoyance
When the next version comes out, 6 months after you bought the "latest": Anger
> Does IBM know something we don’t about the future of low-end x86 servers
In the early 90's I worked for IBM. Even then, the view was that they weren't a hardware company, but knew that the "future" was in services. They also knew that the profitable work was at the leading edge, not in the box-shifting, mass-market.
What IBM is good at (and their longevity, albeit with many up's and down's does support their view) is innovating, productising and doing stuff that other companies can't / won't or aren't big enough to. So in that case it's no surprise that businesses they nurtured and grew into successes will get sold off: its their pattern.
As for datacentres and energy. The solution is simple. Once it becomes too expensive for cloud operators to power & cool their datacentres, they'll simply stop doing it. Whether they close down gracefully or just switch off the lights and walk away, one day, will be interesting. However companies that use these services need to always remember that nothing in cloud
cuckoo land is under their control and that this will be their biggest vulnerability.
However, with datacentres using as much power as a aluminium smelter, once electricity becomes too expensive for cloud computing, it will also be too expensive for other essentials. That will have a more far-reaching effect on individuals' lives than where the popups get served from.
> This is about how many squabbling there is:
That's a nice chart. It tells us that almost no-one refutes man-made climate change. And I believe it. However the squabbling is not about the fact, but what all those clever people say is:
a) the degree of any problem that MMCC brings
b) the seriousness of it
c) the probability that any given outcome will will come to pass - and when that will be
d) the degree to which I can affect the outcome
e) what lengths (and by lengths, I mean inconvenience) I should be prepared to go to, to affect that outcome
So merely for lots of PhDs to say "yes, mankind is warming the planet" is like people saying "yes, I believe in gravity". It's a recognition of a phenomenon, (possibly even: truth by acclamation) but it's unhelpful in making any judgments about the effect, it's affect, the implications of it and whether I, personally, need to do anything about it. That's what all of us, who don't make a living arguing about it, need to know. So far the range of "solutions" ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous and the rate at which new doom and forebodings, extreme suggestions and changes-of-opinion come along does nothing to increase the credibility of the field, as a whole.
Once that all comes to a consensus, then there will a reason to address the issue. Hopefully it won't take all the squabbling scientists so long to sort themselves out that it'll all be far too late to do anything.
I think that from a politicians PoV, advice from "experts" is a win-win. If it turns out to be correct information, the politicos will say "yes, we're so enlightened and responsible (and humble) that we recognised the superior knowledge of *our* scientists and due to our expert leadership and vision, everything worked out for the best". If it turns out to be wrong, the reply will be "we listened to these people and felt forced to accept what they told us. However, the fault for the consequences does not lie with us, but with the bad advice we received. We are actively reviewing the situation and learning lessons from it."
So, either way, the people who knew nothing manage to come out clean and shiny.
Whether the climate scientists obey the tenets of scientific rigour (objective results, reproducibility, modelling-prediction-observation-refinement) I cannot say: although the amount of sqabbling would suggest there is some doubt.
However, any field that has the word "science" in its title gives me the distinct impression that it adheres to the principle of "truth by acclamation". I.e. say something enough times and it will become the accepted doctrine. That alone is enough for me to group it with all the other subjects that include the word "science" in their title.
More than that, I cannot tell at this point.
> use of water instead of ink in the printer makes it much cheaper overall
Though you just *know* that the printer makers will find a way to screw the price to levels beyond the dreams of avarice - and that you'll only be allowed to use their "special" water, in their proprietary cartridges for the whole thing to work.
... we have a new turkey.
Seriously, an Arduino contender? A rival to the Pi?
Maybe in the minds of the marketing people, but in real-life situations it's seriously lacking in either camp.
It's far too big for use in most Arduino applications. It's power consumption is massive and it's far too complex (if you need all those peripherals: ethernet, micro-SD and what looks like an extremely dodgy sheild interface) then you really shouldn't be trying to do it with an Arduino. Even worse: put having a Linux layer underneath, the board can't even be applied to real-time applications: where you *know* to the microsecond how long a loop will take to execute - and that your I/O will take place now rather than at some point within the next 2mSec.
And compared to a $4 Atmega328, it's not even talking the same language.
As an O/S based solution for grown-up problems, well it has shortcomings there, too. Even the price is above what people expect to pay for a Pi or the more capable BeagleBone - or a $30 Olimex Lime. All of which have more than enough non-volatile memory and maybe even a SATA connector to a SSD for all but the most bloated applications.
If this had come out 5 years ago, it would have taken the embedded world by
storm rain-shower. However, the leading edge is moving apace and in 2014 it looks overpriced, under-spec'd, lacking in features and without the "killer-apps" of a widespread user base of code, libraries and contributed examples to get stuff developed quickly.
> the project was formally cancelled last year at a cost to licence-fee payers of £100m - with nothing to show for it.
And when you get all your budget dropped into your lap, without even having to ask for it, justify what programmes you're going to spend it on, get any kind of outside approval for "pet" projects or be in any doubt that the flow of goodies will ever end - is it any surprise that we get debacles like this? £100 mil? Meh! we get over £3Bn a year, it's no biggie!
If the Beeb had to earn its income: have effort and talent rewarded by more moola and incompetence and indolence punished by a shortfall - with the inevitable belt-tightening that happens in the real world, they would be both incentivised to spend it wisely and have developed the disciplines and processes to ensure that they did so.
As it is, they know that next year they will get the same snowstorm of cash thrust upon them, whether they use it to make world-beating telly (which they do) or blow it on whimsy and inefficient operations (which they also do). Without anyone asking questions (surely the job of the governors - and not just "who'd like another brandy?") and scrutinising their policies, this sort of waste is bound to continue.
> the lesson of Marx's analysis is that capitalism is a pretty productive system but ...
and it's one hell of a big but (and it does look big, no matter where you look from). Since Marx (1818 - 1883) we have had all sorts of labour reform. Workers have rights, very expensive (if you're an employer) rights and very easily exercised rights, too. At least for those of us on the right side of the pond, these "exploitations" are long-gone. For the high-skilled IT industry: at least in theory and mostly in practice, too (other countries may be lagging a little).
So while we may not get the same levels of remuneration as our colonial cousins, some of that gap is made up by the safety net and protections afforded to employees. Whether people place a value on those (or take them for granted) is a different discussion for another day.
> a range of prescription glasses and lenses which can be used with Glass.
So you get your swanky (possibly sans the "s", depending on your view of GG) new specs and wear them while out. Suddenly a plastic piggie in a shopping centre comes up: "Nick-nick. Sorry sir/madam, you can't film in here." At which point you explain, politely, that you aren't filming and that the GG stuff is switched off. PP is adamant that you can't film and that you'll have to remove your specs - GG enabled, or not. At which point you comply and proceed to spend the rest of your shopping trip bumping into things and looking for the local Specsavers.
Repeat in the cinema - as one our our colonial cousins claimed to have done recently with GG enabled spectacles. Repeat again while driving - this time, the (unplastic) police-person has a nice twist. "Sorry sir/madam, you can't wear those while driving. What's that? You don't have a pair of ordinary glasses? Well then you'll have to leave your veHIKle and walk home. Yes I appreciate it's raining and you live 20 miles away. But roolz is roolz (and I am the law until your appeal comes through). You could always call a taxi .... you might even get some change from £50"
Short version: is the hassle involved, and the constant feeling that small children are laughing at you, worth the small and mostly imaginary benefits of owning a device that is frequently banned from use and doesn't really have any benefits over a search engine on a smartphone?
> Stephen Fry's credentials as a technology guru turn out to be tissue thin
I don't think anyone could accuse SF of being a guru - in anything, let alone a technical topic. Sure, he can read a good autocue (though we will never know how many rehearsals are required to get the version we see on TV). However, his technical reputation stems from the in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king principle and it has been bestowed on him only by those more blatantly ignorant in matters that involve a screwdriver or compiler, than he is himself.
The real tragedy is that all these uncritical, unknowledgable
lemmings followers have the weight of numbers on their side and the press, always being a sucker for mass appeal over accuracy (present company excluded) have elevated him to the position of lord-high priest whenever a pseudo-technical comment is necessary. And being a media tart, he's only too happy to oblige: actual knowledge, facts, sense or experience not being a requirement where public-friendly sound bites are concerned.
The article boils down to the point that manufacturing always lags demand. Then it overcompensates, floods the market, crashes the price and starts lagging when the next fad arrives. So far, so normal.
What is interesting is the realisation that there is mind-numblingly fast processing power available - with more to come. None of which is encumbered by operating systems (which have been described as a way of slowing down a computer to a manageable speed) and/or the massive overheads of securing the whole mess..
Perhaps, when all the fuss over bitcoin dies down, all this excess power can be harnessed into something useful. My proposals would be proper speaker-independent voice recognition and maybe the ability to do some real-time processing on HD video streams. You know the sort of thing: replace the news-reader's head with a talking cat, remove all their clothes, have yourself playing centre-forward for your favourite football team.
I can see that this could well be the next phase of software development. Let's face it: operating systems have been, essentially, stagnant for the past 20 years (merely adding new polish to the UIs and support for new hardware). Office apps likewise - after formatting and spell checkers, how many features does the average user need, want or use. Games? Well, someone who was frozen in time for the nearly 40 years since Wack-a-Mole would instantly recognize todays FPS games as kin, even if the graphics has changed for the prettier. So maybe all this superfluous computing power can be put to some new and original uses. After all, has anyone ever found a Bitcoin?
> it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas
and no religion would want that, would it?
Although the means of arriving at the conclusion that Facebook is about to become TitsUp has so many holes in its logic that it's hard to see the connections for all the empty assumptions between them. However if there is any substance to this, then it does look like the timing of the IPO was less than a coincidence.
> enraged they would actually have to fork out cash to see their own desktops from afar
... like a freetard pwned
Instead of a "thank you for all the years of value you've given us for free" the sense of selfish entitlement displayed when a company decides it's not seeing any benefit, was truly remarkable. Sure, Logmein did pull the rug with no useful period of notice, and I do sympathise (being one of their freetards, myself). But surely graceful acceptance of the situation is not beneath most people?
Just because an company uses IT, or even relies on it, doesn't necessarily make it an IT company.
That could be said of Amazon. They are primarily a retailer (or cloud computing provider - but let's put that to one side for now) - a shifter of boxes. The cheaper, faster and more efficiently, the better. But it's the boxes that are their business, not the how&why of shifting them.
There was a study done of Amazon's "fulfillment" centre at Rugley, (in England) which concluded that the company's policy of minimum-wage hiring, lack of interest in improving morale towards its staff and hire-em-and-fire-em attitudes mean that it's not making much of a contribution to the local community, and not much of an economic impact to the local economy, either.
it might be that this view is common, not just to considering its employees as commodities, but in its software assets too. That they are merely tools of the trade and not part of its corporate identity: to be loved, nurtured and promoted as a product or as a thing of value, above how they reduce costs and improves efficiency. As such, any discussion, analysis or outside scrutiny of their inner workings would only be sensible if that work made the tools better. Philanthropy is not their job: if there's any "giving back" to be done, it's in the form of lower prices to its customers.
> though there's a good chance of finding a Reg reader almost anywhere there's any IT, including the South Pole
So nobody on the ISS then? Shame.
So basically, it boils down to:
- out with the P languages: Perl, Python and PHP
'nuff said (though I'm still sticking with Perl - and Ruby was never really a contender, anyway)
> open up pay TV competition for the benefit of consumers
The problem with competition is the size of the market.
Typically when companies compete, there are a few things that can happen: prices (and by implication: margins) can drop, products and/or efficiency can improve, and more "stuff" gets consumed.
So far as TV viewership is concerned, in the UK it seems to be pretty much at saturation: all the people who want to watch as much TV as they can, or are physically able to, already do so. Making more content available won't do a great deal to get more eyeballs staring at the goggle-box for more hours on more days.
Since the total size of the potential market has already been reached, all that increased competition (or "choice" if you're a politician) will do is to make each company's slice of the market smaller.
How could TV be made cheaper? Well, in the UK the licence
tax fee is independent on the amount of competition. It might be possible for a new player to put pressure on Sky to reduce their subscriptions, but more channels would increase the number of advertising minutes available, which would drive down rates and therefore lower advertising income - so no benefit there (not even to advertisers, who'd have to pay for more ads to reach the same number of millions of viewers).
As for improving the product - yeah, that happens! [ errr, no it doesn't ] When TV companies have less income, they make cheaper programmes: reality, game shows, chat shows and cut the expensive "quality" programming and the niche/specialised programmes that attract few viewers. They also show more repeats. However, with some channels on Sky already showing only three or four hours of original (i.e. never seen before on UK TV) content per week, there's not much scope for that, either.
So what would more TV competition look like? Just more repeats, more advertisements, more imported programmes. more celebs and reality and the same number of viewers grumbling that "there's never anything to watch". Oh, and the BBC - still with its protected £ billions, making programmes without the encumbrance of advertising (or much in the way of transparency or oversight - who decides if they screen yet more celebs & dancing, anyway?) and squashing the prospect of the independents making money by competing with them given their enormous (unearned) income. It would be interesting to see how that sits with pan-european TV competition.
> if I live in Belgium and want to subscribe to a Spanish Pay TV service,
Which is the exact situation that british ex-pats find themselves in (though not to watch spanish TV - if you've ever seen it, you'll know why). At present a lot of them have honkin' great satellite dishes parked near their houses just to pull in Sky or the Beeb - though this is contrary to the providers terms of service.
Sky's "solution" to this is to configure their newest satellite to only broadcast their UK service to a more tightly focused region, with less "overspill" into other countries where naughty brits won't get a strong enough signal. Even if the european skies are opened up, tbroadcasters will be under no obligation to actually broadcast into other european countries. Thus any finding by the EU will be irrelevant.
> the insides look enough like a home made bomb
Nah. The highly skilled and extremely motivated folks at the TSA are all fully aware that *any* bomb has curly wires leading to the explosives and a red LED count-down display.
The "heavily regulated systems for licensing and managing taxis" was obviously set up with the best intentions of customer safety and fairness in mind. However, it's easy for such a system (I wonder if it bars people from becoming taxi drivers if they have a criminal record. For, say, causing damage to a competitor's vehicle?) with a high barrier to entry, to become devoid of competition and for the scarcity of qualified operators to reduce the levels of service, timeliness and customer convenience.
Maybe what Uber illustrates, due to its popularity, is that the restricted licensing of parisian cabbies has been overdone. Rules that were set up in the prehistoric times, before the internet, may need adjustments and the market opened up so that the number of "legitimate" taxis can grow to fulfill the demand - and introduce some competitiveness to keep prices reasonable.
> Obviously, you've never worked in logistics
Yes, I haven't (?)
Which means I start with no preconceived ideas - just a knowledge of what one customer wants - and some of the possible benefits to any business bold enough to break out of the norm.
Delivering outside of business hours, with no rush-hours, some lifted parking restrictions, no getting caught up in the school run. Being able to get more than 8 or 10 productive hours a day (and more than 5 productive days a week) out of your vans, offices and warehouse. Having access to a large pool of workers who have finished their day jobs and want to earn some extra: either delivering, sorting or doing the paperwork (maybe even keeping the websites up to date?). Offering the retailers extra options for "out of hours" collections - overnight, even. Increased volumes from more customer-friendly services, the ability to expand the business and take pick-ups from householders, too.
> One of the key things that marked retailers out were those using multiple ways to get stuff into people's hands
If there were any courier companies, any at all, that had the slightest clue about how to deliver goods to households, at times that were convenient to the receivers - not based around the hours that the couriers preferred to work?
How radical it would be if they delivered in the evenings - just like your local pizza outfit manages. And 7 days a week, too! Or even if you could specify when you'd like your deliveries to arrive, or simply book a slot.
We know all this is possible, supermarkets manage their own deliveries for the convenience of their customers (even if the stuff that turns up isn't always what you ordered). However the "last mile" deliveries are all stuck in the 1980s: when couriers were business to business operations and 9-5 was all that mattered. If Amazon really wanted to assert their total domination, they'd buy up one of the major courier companies, or extend their distribution operation and do the final stage themselves. Whether by van or by drone.
Ever since terrorism hit the news headlines, the security forces, media and some of the more impressionable individuals (not to mention any politician who can get on the bandwagon to further their
media profile patriotic credentials) has been on a hair-trigger. Every little comment, however innocuous is examined for it's threat potential. Every bluffer's threat is taken as a real danger, every sign / portent / suspicious movement causes the panic button to be pressed - repeatedly and every tiny little incident is bigged-up as if the end of the world has just been averted.
However, most of it is complete bull.
So when some little wannabe-hacker asks for help, with a project that nobody has heard of, has no chance of coming to fruition and will be forgotten as soon as their attention flits onto something shiny, the circus grinds into action. Especially those outfits that can leverage the "event" for their own gain (and our increased levels of fear). Therefore it's refreshing to hear two such organisations characterise this as:
> intangible and overhyped.
Which, for a business sector that makes every molehill (real or imagined) into a mountain of FUD, must mean that the whole thing is of so little consequence that even they can't spin it into a criminal mastermind plotting the next global crisis.
Maybe there is some common sense out there.