268 posts • joined 7 Jul 2009
I reckon publishers are in this situation in part because they've refused to modernise to faster paced retail demands. Printing presses might be the most cost-efficient system for mass production, but some smaller publishers have been doing print on demand for over a decade at a decent profit (IIRC ~$5 for a 300 page technical manual is a decent going rate). No doubt an insane amount of labour goes into running traditional presses, but if printing and supplier logistics are the biggest business issues faced by publishers (review, editorial, marketing etc. will probably always be human processes), then they should be collectively adapting to make that more agile.
I also imagine the terms imposed by Amazon aren't hitting them hard enough to make book sales in any way unprofitable, otherwise they really would tell them to get stuffed and sell through the many other online alternatives.
Useful middlemen using legitimate business tactics to take a larger cut of profit? Good God, whatever next!
The total naiveté of businesses who got into bed with Amazon and then realised they're locked in to the revenue stream to keep their business going is astonishing. A major client of mine has always been aware of this and sees Amazon sales as a major side channel to their direct revenue streams; everything they offer is available through their own site, and there are incentives other than price for customers to buy directly rather than through Amazon. And for B2C orders, it works out slightly more in favour of direct sales than through Amazon.
That doesn't mean to say Amazon is irreplaceable. Take products away from sale there and some of those sales will be made directly, with no cut taken by middlemen. The question is how large a cut Amazon can take of your sales compared to the percentage of lost sales in not using Amazon, something that's not easily answered without some risk to your cash flow.
The fact is that Amazon, Google and Apple have invested a lot of time, money and human innovation into building software that lets businesses sell things in large volumes over the web, while producers and suppliers have lazily soaked up the profits opened up by these gateways to the global market - rather than reinvesting them in diversifying their distribution channels to prevent lock-in. Now they're whining because these innovators have taken advantage of that myopic short-termism.
I am mystified as to why there hasn't yet been a jointly owned or independent audio distribution platform funded by the major players in the music industry, who can then keep licensing costs down and empower them to give the middle finger to the giants in negotiations.. Even if it isn't the best platform to sell music on, it's existence and potential exclusivity would still be enough to make Apple, Google, Spotify et al think twice about trying to gouge their suppliers.
Defensive, safe driving doesn't work when every vehicle on the road does it and rules and algorithms can't produce a safe answer as to how to proceed in a deadlock situation. For example, if four cars arrive in each lane of a four-spoked mini roundabout in the UK, someone has to take the risk and go first despite no-one having right of way - which is surely anathema to Google's vision of crash proof vehicles. Perhaps that could be solved by seeding each vehicle with a small degree of randomness, or having something like quorum resolution between vehicles, but there are probably a lot of more complex scenarios which would require more work...
Gaming at 4K? Really?
Even the most modern, high specced dual SLI/Crossfire PCs can't comfortably run modern games in 4K without reducing visual quality in other areas. There's no way Iris Pro - which has a small fraction of the rendering power of such systems - could possibly do the same unless restricted to graphically trivial games.
As for the XBox One, doesn't it still have problems rendering in 'just' 1080p?
Drupal is fundamentally crap for performance because of its modular approach - bootstrapping every single installed module on every single page request makes it incredibly sluggish. One of our sites runs an enormously customised Drupal 6 installation and we've had to roll in hundreds of optimisations and low level techniques to get it to run at an acceptable level of performance when it needs to execute dynamically. It doesn't matter which version you use - the everything including the kitchen sink approach will never match rivals that are built around lazy loading of functionality for performance.
On the plus side, it's the quickest PHP-based CMS I've encountered for prototyping and building new functionality, and extending existing functionality - but you need the capability to optimise your critical, high-traffic paths through your site you'll end up with an obese, wheezing dog of a responsive experience.
"Up to 1TB of storage"!?
Perhaps the story should be "HP gives away virtual SAN trialware"?
...Or perhaps it's not much of a story at all.
"...but it is a significant upgrade."
Did Apple gas the world's media with hysteria-inducing drugs at the unveiling?
Pretty much every tech news outlet and market analyst has been saying the same thing, but for me this has been the least substantial upgrade I've ever seen from Cupertino.
64-bit isn't significant in the phone space. It wasn't significant in the PC market 10 years ago when it became de facto standard in CPUs. Perhaps In the gaming space, for higher fidelity visuals - but then the sort of games the massively vast majority of the market play on phones don't make much use of the graphics technologies that most phones have had for the past few years.
That leaves us with a fingerprint sensor to unlock your phone, a slightly tweaked camera and flash, and the option of a gold case.
To be honest, Apple's literature says it all - "we've managed to do all this clever stuff you'll never notice without even changing the design, or increas... err, decreasing the battery life". All smartphone makers may end up at this apparent dead end, but Apple seems to have won that race.
I was thinking Heisenburglary...
All this misdirected ire towards the FA is astounding. Yes, they gave the judge a list of IP addresses but it was the judge who ordered ISPs to block them. However much you may dislike them, the FA do have a legitimate grievance towards their copyrighted material being leeched and profited from, and are certainly entitled to seek a legal solution. The implementation of that solution was extremely stupid, I'm pointing the finger squarely at the legal apparatus for making this collateral damage possible.
"Cameron telling us that we should simply turn off the Internet for our kids or apply filters etc to limit the sites they access simply isnt enough, we need to be able to allow our kids to get away from all the bullying."
Why is there a fundamental human need for your child to visit Facebook or Twitter?
Was there such a need when you were of the same age?
People like yourself keep saying how essential it is to ingrain social media sites and services into your lives, but this is a modern, self-perpetuating lie. I have zero day to day interaction with Facebook and zero day to day interaction with Twitter. You don't get ostracized for not having a profile. You don't automatically become a luddite by refusing to use them. The fact that parents are allowing their kids to use these sites is probably doing them more physcial and mental harm than keeping them away from it - it promotes the idea that you can have proper relationships via messaging services and arguably keeps them (at least in part) from having real lives themselves.
I'm a bit surprised at the rather flawed analogy between an autonomous drone and a guided weapon - usually your analyses are more on the ball Lewis!
A Tomahawk missile is of course capable of failing to achieve its objective and causing collateral damage, but its simplicity (it's basically an autopilot without the landing code) means that's less likely to happen than something that can make decisions autonomously - and even if it does happen, it can only blow up the wrong thing once.
A reusable machine that can decide how to fulfill its objective can do so in many more ways, and, potentially, multiple times. Fortunately that sort of real intelligence is far beyond our means to effectively implement at the moment.
It's not much of a surprise to me but this could be a fairly important moment in gaming, for it means all the heavyweight consoles now have something in common - x86 CPUs. The new Xbox also runs DirectX, which should make it technically trivial to have dual releases on the Xbox and Windows PCs. The PS4 will also handle x86 code, although it'll no doubt have lots of proprietary APIs and GPU intricacies to handle, but they'll probably be much less of a complexity gap for doing multi-platform ports.
What's the point in increasing front-line radio data speed if the backhaul can't accommodate it? There are practically no websites that are going to transfer data to you at 1Gbit, never mind that most phones wouldn't be able to pull at that speed. I'm all for advances in technology but there is always seems to be a trade off between increasing data rate and decreasing viable range, and right now the world needs the latter, not the former.
Just because you can theoretically build a multi-petabyte cluster to store hundreds of nodes' worth of data doesn't necessarily mean you should. Object storage is and probably always will be a niche product, but there are numerous advantages to not putting massive amounts of unstructured data on a filesystem; the first, obviously, being that you don't have to worry about designing and maintaining an artificial structure around it as your data pool grows. You don't have to worry about errant processes on your storage boxes doing things they shouldn't on data being stored as regular files. You don't have to worry about the intricacies of the underlying filesystem, or whether you'll be able to grow your clustered filesystem indefinitely while maintaining scale. You don't have to worry about whether a software bug in a very complex system like Gluster will cause an unrecoverable error or split brain, because object storage tends to be fundamentally simpler than layered filesystems and storage protocols working together to produce the same result.
I'm riled by the lack of pragmatism from parents whose nippers have been caught by the in-app purchase trap. There are a number of things a parent can do to stop this from being possible - like having a decently hard to crack app store password, changing their password every so often, checking their account balance online to make sure no unauthorised activity is going on, or just doing the totally sensible thing of removing your credit card details from a device YOUR CHILD HAS ACCESS TO. I'm all for adding better controls to more granularly restrict certain activities, but you're ultimately undertaking a massive level of risk by giving a device to your child that's linked to your bank account. Wallets are not toys, why should phones be?
"It is down to parental supervision, but when ad companies target young children in such a way it is wrong."
From an ethical perspective I'd agree, but companies have been doing this for decades and the more integrated technology becomes with our lives the more creative extracting money from children's pockets will be, and the further ahead of regulators and authorities the ad boys will be.
Ultimately the price of security is convenience, and vice versa - choose your poison.
If this article was about "how the internet ruined the lives of IT architects" and was written 14 years ago then this article might have elicited something more positive than, at best, mild contempt.
Google and PayPal going into the legacy card business? Very very unlikely. The reason you can get cash out of the wall is because VISA and MC integrate tightly with all the providers of ATMs in the world. If they didn't, you'd be limited to your bank's cash machines. I don't think the banks of the world want to spend hundreds of man-years implementing and then paying for a new competing system which would provide them no benefit at all.
There's nothing anti-competitive about VISA and MC, they're simply the incumbents who the banks will only deal with.
...is a term that makes me think of trendy teenagers verbally masturbating over SSD benchmarks in their gaming PCs. It doesn't mean anything real; the performance you get out of a SAN is going to depend more on the workload you give it on top of variables like how you partition it, which filesystem you use, the size of the controller caches, the underlying network media and so on. The big name vendors all have their own proprietary technologies that dictate, on top of these variables, how well they map on to the underlying technology. Raw hardware capabilities mean very little in real world environments and that's why vendors are reluctant to harp on about them. EMC, Dell/Equalogic and Netapp might quote similar figures if pushed but the experience you'll get with each platform will be markedly different in a fair comparison.
150MB per page!?
"So what gives? What the heck am I missing here? How is this something any government at any level should be involved in? I am legitimately confused as to how this came about."
Well, governments (and trans-governmental organisations) tend to invest public money in infrastructure projects in order to attract investment from multinationals. In the EU's case, however, I can't see how that could directly happen as any positive outcome from this project would surely be contributed back to the world in an open format. It *does* stand to benefit the involved institutions - as any advances they make might develop together might bring in R&D investment from outside the EU, leading to future intangible benefits etc.
Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity
It's a 34% rise, but a 34% rise on something that was giving them ~1.4% profit (and now gives them ~2%) of profit on turnover. This is still pretty insignificant given that Lenovo is geared towards the business market, which should make more than the consumer market. If Lenovo can continue this growth trend for the next ten years, then they can indeed flip the bird to the rest of the market, otherwise they don't have that much to be proud of.
You can certainly dedupe encrypted data if it's a copy of the same file uploaded into the same account, but the recurrence of an encrypted block of data of any appreciable size is infinitesimally likely. So either Mega's using encryption that's somehow dedupe-friendly (i.e. insecure), their dedupe feature is just crap, or they know more about your data than they should.
It's little wonder people are deriding Mega's marketing as disingenuous, at best.
Trevor, did you look at using Infiniband instead of 10GbE? Obviously it wouldn't be suited to a production environment where you already have the switching infrastructure in place, but I'd be interested to see if you could shave £10k off the price for ostensibly the same set of capabilities...
To be fair it sounds as though curiosity got the better of him and he wanted a second go at the hole he'd uncovered, to see exactly what data he could pull through it. No doubt he envisioned a pat on the back, a wodge of social media likes on his blog and a bit of personal glory, and had no malicious intent at all.
The law however has to be pragmatic. There will always be imperfect, buggy and vulnerable software and often the world just has to live with it, and so the law needs to offer some protection from people who CAN cause damage with the exercise of their skills (although SQL injection is often laughably trivial). There are plenty of open source applications to poke holes in, so why not install one of those and have a go, instead of accessing a production system with real data on it?
"If someone wants to debate me, they had better come out with some strong engineering principles that might have a chance of contradicting my assertion that Windows is not fit to be a serious cloud."
Number 1: You mentioned Hadoop, an *application* that's useful to few real world cloud projects. Not everything is about data mining.
Number 2: Interoperability. If a customer uses an entire Windows ecosystem, you're just going to stick your own stack in there and then spend the rest of your days maintaining it separately. You're trading 'Microsoft lock in' for a paid salary or a support contract. Fantastic for the customer!
Number 3: Your Powershell argument was out of date half a decade ago. It does what a shell is supposed to do - provide a syntactically consistent interface for an administrator to efficiently manage his systems. If you make the effort to learn it, it'll be as useful as your choice of UNIX shell.
The only valid point you make is about licensing, which has nothing to do with engineering.
As someone firmly in the Unix camp I don't enjoy Microsoft's success, but credit where credit's due - if Server was useless crap no-one would be using it. The only reason I wouldn't go near a Windows deployment is because it'd take me an order of magnitude longer to get the job done, but that's down to the shortcomings in my own skills.
Starbucks was embarrassed into paying more tax by the government. Google won't be, because a verbal tongue-lashing in a select committee and a bit of embarrassment for Schmidt and co. isn't worth the hundreds of millions it'd cost to concede.
Personally I think the government should make a few regular public service announcements on TV summarising the offensive tax arrangements of the worst multinationals - the fall in share price and brand integrity might convince them to rethink their schemes.
'I'm also unconvinced that one can legally wipe one's hands clean if one has reasonable suspicion that the law is being broken. If there are a zillion files on the site each the length of a movie, then I'm not sure Kim can play innocent any more than someone saying "I was just giving a hitch-hiker with a mask a lift from the bank. I had no way of knowing he'd just robbed it".'
The idea of total client side encryption and decryption is that the storage service fundamentally CANNOT know anything about the data that's being sent to it - in theory it'll be about as legally responsible as your ISP for not knowing what's going through your HTTPS connections.
£400 10Gig adapters aren't the issue. They cost roughly three times as much as high quality Gigabit adapters. Spending that much on organic tech growth is pretty much discretionary.
By contrast the switches cost around eight times as much as decent Gigabit switches; they're all managed affairs (which isn't particularly desirable in a lot of backbone networks) and an £8k barrier to entry is not an easy pill for a lot of smaller businesses to swallow. The market is not going to take off until this becomes more balanced.
Windows 8 pretty much reiterates just how insane revolutions in interface design can be; compounding that by throwing out all the interface concepts of your previous work is going to terminally piss off a lot of people.
Pretty much all the news about Windows 8 over the past few months has been disdain over Microsoft doing what it does best and shoehorning a system that works on two different classes of device (technically brilliant) but with a hopelessly flawed execution that will keep the vast majority of its customer base on Windows 7.
I'm reluctant to give Apple credit for anything these days after they crippled Safari as a useful web browser and development platform, but they did grasp the fact that innovation in their core OS has to come in small bursts and new features need to be introduced gradually instead of all at once.
I have no doubt about Jobs' ingenuousness on Flash, but for me there is a much deeper issue. Flash only works as a modern platform *because* it's closed, and Adobe can add features at a much faster rate than native browser features because it's completely in control of Flash's capabilities and update model.
By contrast look at how long it's taken the open HTML5 model - loads of bickering about capabilities, best practices, and then a long lag for browsers to implement the agreed functionality - it's tortoise versus hare.
However running any sort of browser plugin on your device to provide native code-execution capabilities for web apps (currently) places device-wide trust on the plugin provider. If Adobe gets something wrong - and it does, pretty much every day of the week for Flash there's a security hole and corresponding update - then errant Flash apps can cause however much havoc they want because they've got the same level of native access as the browser itself. Now that could change with the introduction of a better HTML plugin model, which defines a standardised sandbox for running native code, but getting it right and standardised would be as enormous an undertaking as HTML5 itself.
Peddling an alternative to Flash - that's all this fundamentally is - is not the answer.
The conclusions drawn from this survey are dubious because YourSayPays is an online pollster. The people using it are not truly representative of the British population, especially when asked about technology. It's like asking which operating system people prefer at a Microsoft convention...
I honestly couldn't care less about the merits of the argument on either side, any bloody nose received by Apple over patents might bring a little prevailing common sense to these ridiculous spats.
We might even go back to innovating in products instead of in the courtroom...
It seems to me that these stats don't answer any question about iPhone 'popularity' other than a decline in repeat iPhone customers as a percentage of the user base. Sales over time (and therefore the current user base) are still increasing according to more recent figures, so all this indicates to me is that some customers are jumping ship to look at alternatives, not that its popularity is in decline - quite the opposite, in fact.
VoIP technologies will suffer exactly the same problems on LTE that they have had on 3G and fixed line broadband since they were conceived, because guaranteed voice quality *absolutely depends* on having a dedicated, uncontended IP connection or a quality of service on a contended line that prioritises voice traffic.
Contrary to what Skype et al say, there's no software innovation which can reliably work around this fact; it's completely up to the operator to provide either of these and that's why today's status quo on voice will remain for the foreseeable future.
Re: I wonder where the difficulties lie
The difficulty is that scaling out anything with no guarantees of reliability is easy, but scaling out while maintaining the reliability of a single node system is orders of magnitude harder to do while having performance scale out as well.
Pushing everything into the same box with a dedicated bus or interconnect, instead of a capacity bottlenecked, high latency network to transfer data around, makes this much easier - as then you're effectively dealing with a single node system with thousands of smaller subcomponents. Having said this, this strategy can work really well with streaming data, but tends to fall over when you have tens of thousands of smaller requests to process.
Did anyone else read 'cable layer' as a wire tap?
I've said it before - if you're basing part of your business around a service provider's 'free' API, either sign a contract with the provider, or expect to get screwed.
Horizontal scroll on the DESKTOP start menu, when PC mice generally don't have a horizontal scroll wheel?
I have mixed feelings on jQuery because, although it's quite lightweight, feature-rich and fast these days, and saves a lot of time when you use it properly, it's a pain to debug more complex operations because the whole thing is built on closures as opposed to nice objects that one can easily inspect.
If your business critically depends on the use of a third party API - and these APIs are provided almost universally free of charge - then you need a business relationship with the third party to ensure that they provide you with an API with some form of SLA. If you can't get one, you absolutely need to be agile and be prepared to degrade or remove services, and hedge on a variety of the third party's competitors. The old adage of "you get what you pay for" applies to everything - ignore it at your peril.
Nice, I'll stick a 3G dongle in my lappy and write an app that silently 'consumes' ads in the background and sends them to /dev/null.
...Until the network goes bust because everyone starts to do the same.
Re: !Thanks Dominic
Did you even read the article? This has got nothing to do with unethically avoiding responsibility - because a fuckup this severe fundamentally cannot be the fault of even a small group of IT staff - and everything to do with avoiding the BLAME, which lies, in my mind, *completely* with the top levels of management in the bank for making this scenario possible - but this buck will of course will be passed down to IT.
Perhaps you should offer a Hindi translation?
Assigning $1.75m in "lost income" for digital goods and services? Sounds like a promising candidate for the RIAA legal team.
Isn't this just a light hearted variation of behavioural advertising? Of course you're going to offer a demographic with more cash (and more willingness to spend it) more expensive items. I'm pretty sure the Google ads on this very site are to some degree influenced by my browser UA...
Rule number 1 of managing vulnerabilities:
Don't call someone with an exploit on your site a 'snippy geek'.
"Incremental win in excremental battle"
Cue massive sales of Windows 7
Remember when MS introduced Vista, and every manufacturer offered an XP downgrade option?
I predict a bout of déjà vu for the Windows group.
Did Steven Sinofsky work for Apple? Because it looks like Microsoft is getting a taste of deliberately incomptent leadership... kind of like Microsoft did to another large company, also courtest of a different Stephen.
I'm looking forward to the day in the distant future when Windows is no longer the default option. Although that's perhaps not so distant with this sort of craziness.
Anna, this phrase of yours is downright stupid.
If Apple were pick up an original Foxconn product and slap their own sticker on top, it would be accurate. But it's Apple who have designed the entirety of the software that runs on their devices, the entirety of their device exteriors' design, and they have architected how the hardware components go together. Foxconn ONLY builds the device.
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