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* Posts by Charles 9

3695 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Apple returns to courtroom once again to contest ebook shafting

Charles 9
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Re: WTF?

"nd anyway bargain bin books are not really sold at a loss in any meaningful sense. If bargain bins lost money, there wouldn't be any bargain bins; retailers aren't that stupid."

No, bargain bins exist because the products in the bins can't be returned to the supplier. Either the sales agreement is one-way-only (quite possible in an "assume all liability" agreement) or otherwise restricts returns (perishable goods, for example), or the company who provided the goods no longer exists (a supplier liquidation, similar to what happened in the North American console crash of 1983).

Either way, the bargain bin exists as the "last chance" to get SOME return on the initial investment before the product is either fire-saled to a closeout seller or considered a complete write-off and either disposed or donated.

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Charles 9
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Re: Point missed?

Apple could've argued that Amazon was pricing them out of the market, PREVENTING them from entering the market. Being blocked (contractually or financially) from a market can be considered a harm, giving Apple the legal standing to sue.

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Charles 9
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Re: Point missed?

So why not just take Amazon to court for dumping? That's what the judge was pointing out to Apple.

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Charles 9
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Re: You didn't listen to what the judge said.

Besides, it wasn't the agency pricing model that caught Apple's hand in the cookie jar. It was (and note it wasn't mentioned in the article) the "most favoured nation" clauses in ALL of Apple's publisher contracts. In return for Apple posting the stuff for sale in its iTunes store, the publishers agreed they would NEVER let their stuff sell their stuff for less than Apple's price (at retail), allowing them to force Amazon to raise their prices lest the publishers get nailed for Breach of Contract.

It was the judge who basically pointed out (pretty explicitly), "You can't use price fixing to fix a dumping problem."

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Elon Musk unveils Hyperloop – the subsonic tube of tomorrow

Charles 9
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Re: Recharge stations

Would be a useful way to employ excess power if they achieve double breakeven, but I still question those calculations: particularly for nighttime and inclement-weather operations. And yes, there are times when weather fronts can stretch from border to border. Plus there is the possibility of the precipitation being damaging hail or (although scant in this particular route) light-blocking snow. Can the system be built rugged enough to withstand severe weather like a lightning strike, the occasional Pacific hurricane, or a tornado?

IOW, I have an issue with the estimates. I'd be more confident if they can vouch for their estimates being CONSERVATIVE...but this is marketing right now, not engineering. In marketing, conservative doesn't tend to sell.

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Charles 9
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Re: This might fail

Each car will house an air compressor. It's multi-purpose: draw away incoming air to reduce forward air friction, produce an air cushion to prevent contact with the tube wall, and propel out the back for additional thrust. I imagine some of the pneumatics could be used to cycle the air in and out of the car.

As for cleaning the air within the tubes, since the system must maintain a partial vacuum in any event, there will probably be pressure stations along the line that would maintain the partial vacuum. Part of its function could be to keep refreshing the air like they do in road and rail tunnels today.

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Charles 9
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But wasn't that also some 20 years ago when the dollar wasn't as inflated? If that $15B price you give in dollars THEN or dollars NOW? Because by my estimate if it's THEN, the cost in dollars NOW would be closer to $24B.

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Charles 9
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Re: Pragmatic, sensible and workarounds exist for the problems

It's not necessarily the immediate risk during an earthquake, but rather what might happen to the Hyperloop over time. As you say, the dampers need to have the range to accommodate the motion, but what if the motion is two inches in a year? The concrete pylons will move with the earth, placing stress on the steel tube.

How about a floating mount, with enough room to slide for some distance before you had to intervene? IOW, instead of it being bolted to the pylon, it simply rests on something like a tray on top.

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Charles 9
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Re: A pipeline?

It's not as conspiratorial as you think. The reason the Concorde wasn't really allowed over land (and note: Europe didn't want the Concorde flying over land EITHER...for the same reasons) was because of its sonic boom. Anyone living near a military jet base will know the problem, and there can be many complaints about not just loud jet noise but also sonic booms shaking houses and so on. Concorde's sonic boom was particularly bad because it was designed for efficiency: not noise mitigation.

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Charles 9
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It wouldn't be two separate tubes but one LOOPED tube. Thus why it's called a HyperLOOP. It may look like two tubes to you, but a Mobius strip looks like it has two sides yet it doesn't.

Protecting the pylons? Known science. After that bridge collapse in Tampa (which involved impact by a SHIP), people are well aware of the need of buffer zones and better impact-deflecting column designs (think a circular column with a parabolic base—anything running into it should be deflected away). If they can keep SHIPS from colliding with support columns, a truck shouldn't be that challenging.

As for businesses along the way, they may not get a say. The loop's being built on already-allocated right of way: along the I-5 corridor for the most part, switching to I-80 for the Bay Bridge run. All that land's ALREADY owned by the state, so two words: they lose.

As for flying cars, reliability keeps them from being practical (Breakdown in midair? *shudder*). Teleportation? I think the Uncertainty Principle gets in the way. And status quo is unacceptable (observe the typical LA rush hour). So you're basically in gold rush territory: boom or bust, with nothing in between left for you.

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Charles 9
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Re: Branching

I've seen some sci-fi stories take that approach with tube trains, and you're right about enclosing the junction in the same partial vacuum to eliminate airlocks. But that still doesn't address the potential for striking the "crotch" (more properly, the gore point) of the junction. You're still talking mechanics so the junction could get stuck in the middle (like a rail point only set halfway). Or bad timing could result in the car entering the junction in mid-transition. Either way, the results would not be pretty and there's little you could do to mitigate such a risk, especially since the speeds involved shrink the margin of error.

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Charles 9
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Re: Try as they might, they will not keep those tunnels free of low-pressure hardened rats

Those steel tubes are pretty thick. And while rats have been known to chew through some pretty tough things, there are limits. Unless you can site an instance where a chewing rat caused something an oil pipe leak (similar-strength pipe)?

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Who's who: 12th Doctor has been chosen, will meet you on Sunday night

Charles 9
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Re: Call me old fashioned...

Except several issues.

First, as the Doctor is the LEAD in this show, whoever it is will generally get the most screen time. Anyone stalking the studio area will use that as a basis. Also because of this, you can't mix up shills or the like without paying them, and since they can't leave unless the real one does, that's gonna add up. Besides, savvier snoops might find ways to tell which one is real.

Finally, there are those who may take the palm-greasing route and bribe someone in the production staff who HAS to know which is the real one as part of their job.

Put it this way, it's like hacking. If you're out there, you're going to be a target for SOMEONE with enough motivation, and given enough people, SOMEONE'S going to be motivated enough, and the Whoniverse has enough fans to provide the motivation. The BBC was up against a determined and resourceful adversary with global motivation. Against such an enemy, NO secret was safe for long, so it was best to do things on THEIR terms.

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The secure mail dilemma: If it's useable, it's probably insecure

Charles 9
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Re: Where's the 'app'

TRUST.

There's your answer.

When the Internet and all its fledgling protocols were first implemented, all you had were a bunch of university boffins talking to each other. In other words, it was pretty much a closed community of people who knew each other already.

That's why Telnet was unencrypted. As was Usenet. As are POP and SMTP.

It's just that in the intervening years, no one has been able to implement a ubiquitous (this is the hard part) e-mail system that is secure from end to end. As noted before, encrypting the contents means bupkis if plods can just read the metadata and the fact you logged into your ISP's SMTP server and sent a message (and the metadata MUST be in the clear for the system to be able to route it). On the other hand, a protocol without the metadata suffers from inefficiencies and increased spam potential (how can you trace a spammer without source information, yet that same source information can be used by the plods).

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Charles 9
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Re: Sounds like you have a hammer

"built-in is always better that bolt-on"

There's a big problem with a built-in, though. What if the built-in BREAKS? Like a digital wristwatch whose reading light goes out. Now you can only see it in daytime unless you use an external light. At least with a bolt-on you can always bolt OFF if it breaks and bolt something else on.

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Charles 9
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Re: Thunderbird+Enigmail?

The problem is that they still know it comes from you. They suspect you and bring you in. Bring in the rubber hoses or (in Britain's case) the threat of a mandatory two-year sentence, not to mention the black mark on your record.

Sounds almost like a Catch-22. How can you prove to Bob you're Alice while at the same time not allowing Gene or Mallory to know that? And Alice has no way to meet Bob personally?

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Boffins harvest TV, mobile signals for BATTERY-FREE comms

Charles 9
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Re: Also-

Radio probably won't be leaving anytime soon. As long as we need something to distract ourselves during our drives, radios will always find a use. As for television, they're compacting but not going away anytime soon. The BBC still has its mandate, and as long as the commercial networks still attract viewers and ad revenues, they can keep on kicking.

There are also, IIRC, various utility radio frequencies that remain in use for both military and civilian applications. For example, there is WWV in Colorado, USA: the official channels of the NIST. They transmit constant time signals at several frequencies (generally low ones so as to cover the entire continental US plus parts of Canada and Mexico) that can be picked up (increasingly by some consumer clocks) for calibrating internal time.

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Google patents swish, swosh, swoosh pattern unlock app swipe

Charles 9
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Re: Awesome

A pattern might be readable from the grease smears on the surface, depending on when the phone is inspected after being unlocked.

As for the password/PIN, again, depending on when it's picked up, examining finger smudges on the glass might give clues to which are the digits in use (including repeats—they'd probably show signs of extra or double smudging). If you can at least identify the digits in use if not the order, you can reduce your guesswork from 10,000-1,000,000 to 24-720.

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Charles 9
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Re: ROFL

Last I checked in Android, once you're IN an app, you can access the Home or Back buttons and get back to the Home Screen. Oops. It WOULD be more prudent to exit from that one app back to lockscreen, but I don't think this is implemented in general in Android yet.

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Charles 9
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Re: @Phil W - multiple PINs?

Exchange numbers aren't so limited anymore even in smaller cities. Cell phones and alternate phone networks (IP phones, cable- and fibre-based phones) have made the concept of the exchange almost moot.

"They don't have any around here anymore" Does the phrase, "my phone's dead" ring a bell? I hear it ALL THE TIME.

And I wasn't thinking like a dozen different PIN numbers, just maybe three or four for the most time-sensitive and frequently-needed ones like camera, the SMS app, and so on.

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Give up your privacy so Big Data can FIX GOVERNMENT

Charles 9
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The original post appears to have disappeared, but I believe he meant the latter two of trust, data, and analytics.

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Charles 9
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Re: Couldn't this be just done by the schools?

Not necessarily. They only know what happens in school. Unless the police keep the schools informed all the time when children get in trouble with the law or they're called in because of a case of spousal or child abuse. Do they?

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Charles 9
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Re: Targeted Assistance

You HAVE to keep out all and sundry because the include the LEECHES. They'd suck the programs dry and essentially kill them.

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Charles 9
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Re: Secrecy is the keystone to all tyranny

"Also, stealth bomber technology was used during the cold war. The fighter tech wasn't brought in until the very end."

The F-117 (a stealth fighter) was innovated BEFORE the B-2 (a stealth bomber).

As for bombing Japan, recall that the Japanese attitude was to fight to the last and to defend the homeland with your lives. That attitude basically meant ALL residents were combatants. The big concern was preventing an invasion of the home islands would would've been bloody on both sides (they would make the casualty figures of Okinawa—which were steep despite its small size—pale in comparison). Plus there was the industry in those cities. People in the manufacturing industries were considered in the war industry: making them fair game. In addition, the secrecy was due to the Nazis ALSO working on an A-Bomb. They didn't want the Nazis stealing secrets OR accelerating their timetable in reply.

And the thing with secrecy is that the only way to keep a secret is with MORE secrets. So how do you draw the line without "spilling the beans", so to speak.

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Charles 9
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Re: Cost benefit analysis lacking

Not before they're ALREADY in the system according to them, and by then it's too late.

They're trying to PREVENT them getting into the system, and the only way you can do that is to find warning signs. Unfortunately, warning signs aren't as obvious so you need a pretty wide net.

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Charles 9
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Re: Secrecy is the keystone to all tyranny

So what happens when a secret is ALSO the only thing keeping your country in standing (secrets like the Manhattan Project or stealth fighter technology during the Cold War)? I'm pretty sure the writers of the Constitution and related documents knew there WOULD be times when a secret MUST be kept or the knowledge could be used to destroy the country.

Which means, taking Heinlein's words to their logical extreme, tyranny is the ONLY stable form of government. Anything else either evolves into tyranny or devolves into anarchy.

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Charles 9
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The problem is preventing regulatory creep. Perhaps in countries like New Zealand where there's at least a decent history of government management, people may feel more relaxed around the issue. The problem is that America has always had an undercurrent of government DIStrust since its founding, and this distrust has bubbled to the surface in government scandals over the last few decades.

Plus, as a side note, the privacy of a community (and/or the desire to be private) seems to be directly proportional to the population of a community. Tiny villages and so on where everyone knew everyone else? Probably close to zero

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Silent Circle shutters email service

Charles 9
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Re: PGP-encrypted usenet posts (or similar)

"The time needed to brute force PGP keys is prohibitive"

Using a normal computer, yes, but a quantum computer can factor in reasonable time with Shor's algorithm. And since a powerful quantum computer would be a game breaker, the government could already have a sufficiently powerful machine available under a black (as in existence denied) project.

Elliptical encryption can be converted to a factoring problem, meaning it's subject to Shor's algorithm, too. The trend these days is lattice encryption; it's one form of math that can't be converted to a form Shor's algorithm can handle.

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Charles 9
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Re: Never trust in centralized services

But then you run into efficiency problems which means its effective communications rate is limited. Furthermore, there's still the matter of attacking the system itself (IOW, switch from attacking the endpoints to attacking the infrastructure). That's how Japanese authorities fight some of the darknets that appear over there.

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Charles 9
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Devil

Re: Why don't they just go abroad?

"Nothing is impossible."

Actually, Alan Turing proved some things ARE impossible, such as creating a program that can learn if another program can halt. His research into the Halting Problem demonstrated a paradox if you tried. Several other "no solution" proofs (most by contradiction) have emerged as well.

The problem here is that all roads lead to Hell essentially. Not only that, you're in Hell and so are most of your clients. How do you avoid Hell in such a situation?

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Chrome, Firefox blab your passwords in a just few clicks: Shrug, wary or kill?

Charles 9
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Re: That's not the issue.

They tend to now since more sites switch the login screen to https, meaning a stored password won't be useful in your scenario because more sites will be already in secure mode.

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Charles 9
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Re: Missed Option

Do you know the hoops some people have to jump just to get a password reset without the original password? Plus what if the account's tied to an e-mail address that no longer exists (and you didn't realize that until too late)? The thing is that password reset can potentially be abused, so they make the process necessarily hard.

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Charles 9
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Re: This is working as intended

The thing is that (1) a well-practices malcontent can probably pwn the machine within a minute of getting their hands on it with help form a handy USB key or something like that, so length of time may not be a factor when it comes to physical access. Plus (2) there are plenty of scenarios where one could get the machine INTENTIONALLY unlocked, such as to "borrow" the browser for JUST a minute...

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Charles 9
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Re: simple

Thing is, the stored passwords are encrypted, and the key is generated per profile. A master password encrypts the key as well.

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E-reader barons file FCC plea to opt out of disabled-friendly regs

Charles 9
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Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

The problem is that legs, while very adaptable, tend to work very poorly without the assistance of EYES. They don't have the capability to self-correct in the event of obstacles (thus why most mobile robots are wheeled or treaded). That's why the blind tend to enlist guide animals when forced to walk beyond their usual surroundings. For the blind, a navigation device would have to deviate from the norm in a couple significant ways:

1. Visual maps are useless since the blind can't read maps. So a screen is unlikely (a RBD, maybe, but not a screen).

2. It would have to be designed with nonvisual input in mind, meaning either a braille keyboard or GOOD voice recognition.

These two are so deviant from your average navigator that it would be best performed with a specialist device, and that's the crux of the argument. Is the application better done as part of a general-purpose device or with a specialist device. Since reading in the normal sense requires the use of eyes, blind reading deviates too much from the norm, making the argument favor the latter.

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Charles 9
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Re: Simple. If it can connect to the net, it is subject to the law.

At least the podcasts are recorded and can be transcribed. It's hard to transcribe something impromptu like a telephone conversation and current speech recognition technology tends to miss too often in realtime situations.

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Charles 9
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Re: Not just ebooks

Don't underestimate blindness, especially in a confined setting like an airliner cabin. One misplaced item can cause the blind person to trip, and since the blind have limited situational awareness, it's easy for them to crash into something hard like an armrest. Suddenly you have a different potentially life-threatening situation: blunt-force trauma to the head with risk of skull fracture (picture falling at speed and banging your forehead against the edge of a very hard armrest).

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Charles 9
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Re: Everything should be as accessible as possible.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Harrison Burgeron written by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. rather than Harlan Ellison?

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Charles 9
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Re: Not just ebooks

I've checked the article. Apparently, an exception will still exist for certified guide dogs. Understandable, because they can't prefer one disability (animal hair allergy) over another (blindness). It would just mean it would be up to the airline to be sure that such a clash is resolved by separating them in the cabin.

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Seagate's shingle bathers stalked by HGST's helium HAMR-head sharks

Charles 9
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Re: Why helium ?

Didn't think of it that way. I thought the general benefit was a lower viscosity (about 2/3 that of air), so less heat is generated from air resistance. Higher thermal conductivity would just be another plus for helium. Plus, being gaseous, you can still use the Bernoulli Effect.

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Charles 9
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Re: Why helium ?

Hard drives actually RELY on air to keep the spacing between platter and head. It's called the Bernoulli Effect. That thin cushion helps to account for inevitable tiny-but-significant imperfections in the platter. At least with helium you can still use the principle (you'd just need to correct for the different gas density).

But as noted, helium is a tricky gas to contain. However, I've read of techniques capable of perfectly capturing hydrogen gas (the only thing smaller than helium: an H2 molecule—hydrogen by itself tends to pair up, as do nitrogen, oxygen, and a few others—has half the atomic weight of a helium atom).

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Xerox copier flaw changes numbers in scanned docs

Charles 9
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Re: @ Sir Barry: Not quite

You're missing two things: limited memory (which can be problematic if the run is large, and it all has to be in memory if you're going to manipulate or rearrange the results like collated or duplexed output) and image manipulation (enlarging, brightness, etc.) which have to work with uncompressed data at least partway. Plus there's the raw data being sent to the printer unit that has to be held in memory in the meantime. Depending on the model of copier, "Out of memory" can be a real issue with long or complicated jobs.

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US federal judge: Yes, Bitcoin IS MONEY

Charles 9
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Except that something that's considered a commodity (like your chicken) can't be considered a currency by default. And an exchange of commodities has another term for it: barter.

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Upgraded 3D printed rifle shoots 14 times before breaking

Charles 9
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Re: Pffft!!

That's not a big concern, as black powder has an historically easy recipe: sulphur, potassium nitrate (aka saltpetre), and charcoal. All easy enough to obtain. Plus, it's easy enough to obtain some gunpowder because it's a common need of hand-loaders.

You need the printer to get the shape and structure of the firearm. Obtaining the ammunition is a separate matter.

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US feds: 'Let's make streaming copyrighted content a FELONY'

Charles 9
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Re: Countries with legal services

Well, the title rotation could well go down to either storage or bandwidth issues. They may not want (less storage means less maintenance and replacement costs) or be able (ask the original producers—they still hold the final say and can dictate terms) to hold everything at one time. Also commercial internet bandwidth is metered, so if they hit a popular show that starts sapping bandwidth, they may not get enough return for the investment.

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Charles 9
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Re: Bonkers

Actually, juries are guaranteed unless waived for all criminal trials by the 6th Amendment and guaranteed on request by the 7th Amendment for any civil case where at least $20 is in dispute (which back then was a decent amount of dosh).

Thankfully, since you have to actually ASK for a jury in civil matters, they usually don't push it for most matters less than $5000 (depends on the state). In return for dispensing with the jury, we use small claims courts where the judge hears both sides, asks questions, and then decides the matter pretty quickly, saving some headaches all around.

And under most American laws, we do differentiate between felonies and misdemeanors, though not by the English standard. In America, a felony is a crime where there is a certain minimum standard of punishment involved (permanent record, loss of voting privileges, minimum 1 year sentence in a proper prison instead of a jail, etc.). It's our way to informing the perp, "You REALLY messed up this time.". Misdemeanors in our book are simply those crimes that aren't serious enough to be considered felonies.

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Charles 9
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Re: re: NASA

Besides, since it was composed for a new instrument (a roving machine) it might be considered a cover or re-composition, giving it its own copyright (it's considered fair use to apply the original in this manner). And under federal law, with only a handful of exceptions, all products of the federal government immediately become public domain.

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Charles 9
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Re: Why not just abolish copyright altogether?

Forced labor is restricted under most state laws, plus many of them are running afoul of the FEDERAL courts, who are forcing releases due to overcrowding (IOW, they can't take in new people without kicking out other people—and turnover is bad for business).

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Charles 9
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Actually, they can't. Retroactive ("ex post facto" or "after the fact") laws are explicitly prohibited under Article I, Section 9 (the part that says what specific types of laws Congress can't make). Since this is part of the base Constitution and spelled out pretty clearly, all the law geeks and honest judges are familiar with it.

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Charles 9
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Re: Sad

"Nah, there's no profit for the owners of the private prison industry in that."

They don't need it. Many are already approaching capacity and are getting denied fresh meat by the courts on 8th Amendment grounds. Look at California.

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