33 posts • joined Thursday 19th November 2009 20:14 GMT
Not only the users fall for such strategies
On my old job, were lucky to have a really good admin. He did everything as he should, running a separate backup server for each of the primary servers. When virtualization came around, it went really smooth. Everything continued as it always had been, just on virtual servers, completely transparent for us happy users. He may have been falling behind on documentation, but the bosses understood that as much as he worked to keep things running, there wasn't the time for proper documentation.
Eventually, we got the budget for a second admin. His first task was to get to know the systems and document them along. He found some interesting system landscape choices, including the fact that most of the backup virtual servers ran on the same physical machine as their corresponding virtual primary server.
BTW, Isn't a camel a huge nitrogen+carbon sink?
What an utter disrespect for established Australian traditions!
Surely, the proper solution is import a few feral hyenas to get the terrible camel problem under control. Or lions. Yep, lions would be better. They'll eat the critters in no time. Ecosphere saved.
I agree with your "but"
Your summary of the article is quite good, and I agree with it. We need laws to stop the bad guys who game the system.
My comment (complete with the pedant's hat) was meant for the people who read the article and understood it, but objected on the ground that the (segmented) system is inherently bad for "us customers", as opposed to "them corporate". So I pointed out why this is not the case, using a relatively simple example.
Another example why (pure, as opposed to meddled-with-by-grey-imports) segmentation is not unfair for "us customers" is that when we divide the market in "us customers" and "them corporate", "us customers" includes not only the US student who pays 3% of dad's salary for a $50 textbook, but also the Indian student who pays 30% of dad's salary for a $10 Indian version of the same textbook.
If you look at it that way, it is not the Americans who should be complaining about the system being skewed against them, it is the Indians. If we want to make it really fair, we should create a system where the price paid by people commenting in this thread (including myself :( ) is higher, and the price in the third world lower.
And this is not counting the fact that the Indian dad's salary was probably paid for a job requiring 12-hours-a-day contact with cancerogenous chemicals while producing - or burning thrown away - entertainment electronics used by the US student's family.
But this line of argument is a bit harder to use when arguing with the first world people complaining that they are paying too much because of segmentation. I picked a segmentation example based on time+packaging difference as opposed to a geographical difference, so they can freely choose to belong to the low segment (=paperback buyer).
I am aware that the people complaining will probably demand that we use a law to forbid segmentation and force "them corporate" to sell the textbook for $10 to both American and Indian students. Downside: this solution will probably result in the publisher declaring bankruptcy, with less textbooks on the market and more unemployed in the USA. Think of it - if even our term-myopic rating-craving politicians don't use such a simple measure which sounds so good on paper, there must be some reason for it. Like thousands of voters losing employment before the term is up.
There are lots of things which are wrong with today's markets, but producers practising segmentation isn't one of them.
Why is segmentation good for the customer too?
An example: you have three readers, Tom, Dick and Harry. They all love to read. Tom is a big fan of Stephen King and would pay 30 euros for a Stephen King book. He also wants to read his newest book the second it is out of the press; every day after that is causing him anxiety.
Dick likes a good horror book, and Stephen King is a good horror writer. So Dick would pay up to 20 Euros for a Stephen King book.
Harry likes to read, but he can only afford a novel if it costs 10 euros or less. There are lots of Stephen King books he hasn't read yet, so he doesn't have to pick the newest.
If Stephen King's publisher does not segment, they could make the price 30 euro. They'd sell a copy to Tom and get 30 euro revenue. Or make it 10 euros, then they'll sell 3 copies á 10 euros, also 30 euros revenue. At 20 euros, they'd sell 2 copies, and have 40 euros revenue. So they sell it for 20. Tom is happy. Dick has a good book and is happy too. Harry buys no book.
With segmentation, the publisher makes a hardcover edition for 30 euro and a year later, they publish a paperback for 10 euro. At the beginning, Tom buys the hardcover and is happy. A year later, Dick and Harry both buy the paperback for 10 Euros.
Harry is definitely better off with segmentation, because now he gets to read the book. Dick is also better off, because he pays less. Tom pays more than in the non-segmentation case, but is still very happy, because he loves Stephen King. Besides, in a more realistic example, the price of the paperback is not set at the reservation price of the biggest fan, meaning that Tom gets 100 Euro worth of pleasure of his paperback and not 30, so he has good value for his money too. Besides, in a typical market, there are a lot more consumers like Dick than superfans like Tom, so collectively, the segmentation case is better for the consumers.
Of course, it is better for the company too, because it makes a bigger profit. But actually, if classic economic theory holds, it is a win-win situation for seller and customer.
With all these methods, you end with a mess to clean up
A very clean alternative would be to just ship it once around the world. With a suitably chosen delivery service, your chances for the parcel to never again be seen on Earth's surface are better than 4 out of 5.
The best services are even able to convince you that you cannot have shipped the computer with them because it never existed in the first place.
Probably not the answer you are looking for
The Humble Indie Bundle.
The games in it are not in the heavyweight category, but this makes them much more accessible for everyone. The gamer does not have to play every day to hone his/her skills. If you have 6 hours free to play, you can play and enjoy, just like with the big ones. If you only have 20 minutes, you can do a level in World of Goo and enjoy it.
They don't have the newest 3d graphic effects, but this means that you don't need to buy a second 250-watt videocard. Does this make them look worse? No, these 2D games look more beautiful than games like Crysis which draw on the computational power of a hundred of Deep Blues for their graphics. Well, maybe Gish doesn't. But the sensory input (both visual and aural) from World of Goo, Samorost and Aquaria makes interactive pieces of art than just a competition of who can hit the correct key combo within the correct 3-millisecond-window 150 times in a row.
And then don't forget the fact that they decided to treat people across operation systems equally, instead of putting up always-higher barriers separating the three worlds. Must have been more work for the studios than just writing for Windows, but the Linux people really appreciated it (and voted with their wallets to show it).
It is not as if I don't know what "serious gaming" is - I have built countless civilisations, driven more kilometers in Need for speed than IRL, and my WoW main char used to be a sought-after mt healer. But the humble indie bundle games go beyond "They set me a goal and I want to achieve it". They are actually entertaining all the time, as opposed to long grinding periods sparsely interrupted by "Yes we got the boss" dopamine binges which are so common for big titles. They are active relaxation, instead of just more stress.
And the high end variants
You say they are cheap. Maybe there are some models which are cheap. I give my vote for another reason.
The 2410 (€450) and 2711(€900) are not cheap when compared to other 24" resp. 27" monitors. But they give an ambitioned photog/design/digital arts hobbyist the chance to work with a wide gamut IPS display, something which some years ago was only possible with professional Eizo monitors ( which cost €2000 and more for 24" models).
And of course, they are also better than the average TN display for everything - office work, gaming etc. So they would be perfectly suited for both Home and Work categories.
Who is meeker, metalheads or catholics?
"Blessed are the meek", says the Bible. Politicians don't lose metalheads' votes for letting Mass happen. They lose catholics' votes for letting a metalfest happen. Who is meek here, and who isn't?
Also, consider the following:
"In Catholic catechism, the seven virtues refer to one of two lists of virtues, most commonly referring to the 4 cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, restraint or temperance, and courage or fortitude, and the 3 theological virtues of faith, hope, and love or charity."
Is banning someone's metalfest an instance of faith, hope, prudence or courage? No, it's unrelated to those (well, it maybe takes a bit of courage in case Varg Vikernes finds out where you live).
It is the opposite of justice, because it is meddling in someone's affairs which don't concern you.
It is the opposite of restraint of temperance, because bad temper is about the only effect a metalfest has on a non-attending catholic.
It is the opposite of "love or charity", which is defined as "an unlimited loving-kindness toward all others".
So according to catechism, the banning of the metalfest is about as virtuous as the Spanish inquisition. Yet the CTA feel that it is what a good catholic should do. Doesn't it feel... ridiculous?
I am off to obsessively reloading Jesus and Mo in the other tab, their reaction will be worth it.
Interesting views for a "self-described social liberal" (you can guess my source)
This is the guy who brought corpse paint to mainstream, even before black metal existed. It is a guy who had a lengthy affair with, of all people, Cher!
Given the record of his brilliant ideas, why should anybody feel compelled to listen to his advice?
A side note: strangely, I seem to be the only reg reader who isn't ashamed to admit to enjoy listening to the occasional Kiss song once in a while. Although I cannot remember if I actually valued them enough to pay for them :blush:
While smartctl is a good tool, it has its limitations.
I just happen to have a failing external WD HDD on my desk right now. The Ubuntu disk management tool reads its SMART data and tells me that it has 893 bad sectors. smartctl cannot tell me anything, as for some reason it cannot read the SMART of an external drive connected over USB. So obviously, it doesn't always work. And not all Linux distributions use the same disk utility as Ubuntu. So what should I have done if I was on, say, Arch?
AC, you are right!
Dear El Reg, how can a reader get access to the official Reg Thesaurus?
If visiting Vulture Central while wearing a tight red dress is enough, I'm off buying tickets to London.
Let me help you diagnose the problem with your mate's hi-fi. If my suspicion is right, the trouble disappears when you change the line in his equalizer to a nice bowl-y shape and sit right on his subwoofer. This eliminates all those pesky middle frequencies ruining your perfect bass-driven experience.
Uhm, I'm off looking for a sexual partner. Can I have my coat please? It's the one with the empty pockets, 'cause the Apogee Grands didn't fit in there.
1. I've never heard of a bird capable of photosynthesis. Albatrosses are constantly refuelling by picking high-protein package from the water below.
2. I've also never heard of a bird capable of doing military surveillance (outside of a Disney film, that is).
I'll nevertheless zweckentfremd the bird icon, cause nature is still a bit ahead of tech in some ways.
BTW, where is the world headed to? First I read that planes fly better than birds, then The Register's woefully incomplete supply contains exactly the icon I need, while the language with most words in the world doesn't have the word I need so I have to borrow from German. Grumble.
A tablet doesn't have a mouse
Sadly, one of the weakest points of Ubuntu as an everyday desktop OS is its touch and multitouch support. And this is a crucial success factor for tablets. It is bad enough to have a device without right click when the app developers have that in mind, like the old Palm PDAs. But using normal applications on a non-right-click-device is maddening (I've been using and cursing Fennec since its release).
Since November, I've been trying to get a sensible multi-touch support for my desktop PC with a Wacom tablet. I am consistently failing, despite upgrading to Lucid the week it came out and despite writing a 150+ lines Xorg.conf by hand. And the driver I am using is the best one available for all wacom and non-wacom touch devices alike.
So if Canonical would have to set a developer team on a new, improved touch driver and have it written, tested and working out-of-the-box before October (I know the xf86-input-wacom guys are working on it, but I don't think they will be that quick). If this isn't the case, any Maverick tablets will just create bad reputation for Linux tablets . And this would be sad, because the market could use some non-restrictive gadgets in iPad size.
They missed something
In this age, I really tote a smartphone all the time. I can take pictures with it. I can also use it for many other things, like accessing web sites and documents anywhere, as well as reading e-books.
That's why I threw out my printer three years ago and won't be replacing it.
I don't think that the apt way is good for Windows machines.
It works on Linux because it (in the default configuration*) does not allow third-party developers to push updates on my system. Rather, the Ubuntu people take the source code, compile it themselves, put it on their own server and then push it to me. I trust them to do this competently, without letting a threat through.
Now imagine what would this look like if Microsoft decided to make an apt-like utility for Windows. They certainly cannot get the source code of the popular windows software and offer compilations of it on their servers. What they can do is to offer an API for third party software developers which will let them register their software with the new MS Apt. This registration will possibly happen without my knowledge during the Install Shield process, just like nowadays so many Windows applications use the install process to configure themselves to start together with Windows and sit in the system tray all day long, even if I only need them once a month. But the biggest problem is that this creates the perfect vector for malware. Imagine that CyberMafia Inc. writes a perfect little tool for something. The tool is good, it is free, and it becomes popular. Let's say that 10% of all Windows machines have this software installed. Then CyberMafia Inc. pushes a so-called update, which is actually a dangerous malware? It will take CyberMafia years to pull it off, and they'll probably only have 3-4 hours before antivirus tools get their own updates and start banishing the thing, but if they get enough banking credentials or pull off the biggest ddos in history, it may be worth it. And just imagine what happens if antivirus manufacturers decide to use this mechanism for their updates: we'll have created the perfect one-stop malware target.
Ultimately, it broils down to who you can trust to install software on your computer. I trust Canonical, and Adobe, and Sophos, and Mozilla, and also Microsoft. I'd trust Apple, if I had a use for their software. But the apt-like approach coupled with closed-source applications only functions well with a stringent white list, like the iPhone app store. I don't think even Microsoft can pull this one off in the Windows ecosystem.
*Of course, apt allows the user to add software sources over which Canonical has no power whatsoever. This doesn't result in massive infections within the current ubuntu community for the same reasons which hold linux infections through other vectors low. But if you as a professional admin allow your (windows or linux) users to do this, I'd say it is the biggest gaping security hole in your network. A solution where there is a centralised update mechanism, but only the administrator can choose which apps may use it, could theoretically function for a well managed network, but let's face it, most computers in this world aren't parts of well managed networks, and introducing such a wide open door for malware on every windows computer will result in absolute disaster.
there's more to it.
I must say that we have quite an interesting general discussion here. I'd like to see the admins succeed in convincing the management of some sound principles, but I'm not very optimistic, based on my own observations of admins and (even IT-friendly) managers.
Then we have even more complex situations, like the one discussed here. Namely, you can be the admin of the company which buys a large machine together with its embedded controller. And let's say that you're even able to convince your own manager that solid software would be a good thing. Trouble is, your manager has absolutely no leverage with the development team at the machine building company. He is on the demand side of a market with a supply oligiopoly - if not a virtual monopoly, because if he's once bought some automation from, say, GE, he cannot just add some Siemens machines to his setup later on. If he goes to GE and tells them "we want to get better controller software from you next time", they'll laugh in his face.
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to live in a world where everyone from a Fortune500 CEO to the flower seller in the market realizes that when software is ubiquitous, it had better be good software or else we're in for some bad surprises. I'd even settle for a world where average people know the difference between good and bad software - as of now, most of the CS students I've met don't know it. Only the big question is: how do we get such a world?
why large and dangerous machinery requires extremely brittle control software
It's kinda company culture problem.
I recently had to do with the software creation process of one of the biggest engineering manufacturers in the world. They will sell you anything from a single PLC to a nuclear plant. They are full of engineers - you know, real engineers, of the kind who smirk when they hear the programmer wimps call themselves "software engineers". Of course, they cannot get around the fact that their equipment has to be controlled by some kind of software. And of course real engineers who can design a whole power plant can easily oversee the creation of some kind of software for this. The actual coding is done in India anyway.
Of course there is some kind of QA for the software. It definitely works on the developer's machine, manually tested by hordes of cheap offshore workers. And our manufacturer, unlike Microsoft, cannot afford to sell products with software bugs in them, unless he'd like his nuclear plant to replace Ariane-5 in the software engineering textbooks. So he just goes and tells his customer that he guarantees flawless work - as long as the configuration specifications are met. Which sometimes happen to include a Pentium II or whatever the developer had at the point of writing the software.
Now imagine you are their customer. You want to purchase a new fully automated production plant for manufacturing your product, worth more than Zimbabwe's annual GDP. Believe me, you won't even glance at the IT specifications for the controller hard- and software. If it requires you to run a Lisp.NET application on a Condor-managed grid of 139 iPads, the cost of finding a specialist who understands this configuration is still only a zillionth of your budget. And besides, there are less than 10 companies in the whole world who can build this for you, and probably none of them offers a better software. So you just buy based on other criteria, and your admin has to make sure your purchase is usable, no matter how. And once you have it working, even if your production plant builder miraculously offered you a new, upgraded version of the controlling software which runs on a newer system, you have no reason at all to change. It will cost a lot, and you are paying an admin to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Or do you, personally, find the idea of your local nuclear plant updating the controlling software from a working Win2000 version to a new shiny Vista version (bleeding edge, as yet not used outside simulations) appealing?
> Let me propose that those concerned with privacy change their user agent string to simple "Hidden"
Just think if one in every X web surfers really:
- knows that a browser has a user agent string
- knows how to change it
- knows that it can be used to infringe their privacy
- cares enough to do it
- doesn't forget to do it again after browser/os reinstall
- fulfills all of the above conditions and decides to change it to "Hidden" as opposed to something else, e.g. "hidden", "Hidden!" or "I won't tell you, you spying swines!"
- believes that at least one in X web surfers fulfills the conditions listed here,
where "one of X" is the proportion of web surfers with a user agent string matching theirs
Because if these conditions don't hold, changing your u.a.s. to "Hidden" would make your system more easily detected instead of less...
After my results, I wonder if they treat all variables as independent.
One in 285304.67 browsers out of 855914 have my user string, which means that only 3 such browsers have visited the page. This didn't surprise me, as I visited from my N900 using Fennec, and the N900 is the only device in existence which supports the Maemo OS and the Fennec browser. Plus, Fennec isn't even the default browser on it.
But I was told that my configuration is unique among the 855 914 visitors. How that? Maybe they have multiplied the "3 out of 855 914" with the other variables? Well, that would be wrong. Because all people running Fennec on the N900 have a 800x400 screen, none of them can have detectable Flash or Java fonts, none of them can have definable plugins, and none of them can disable supercookies. The normal cookies remain, but I was unique both with and without them. So unless the other 2 people with this device chose to modify their http accept headers, there is something fishy with the calculations panopticlick makes.
I know you're not going to pretend that you're publishing this because of the tech angle. Nonetheless, it wouldn't have hurt to include some tech information: how exactly are they going to print a 3D image on a flat paper centerfold? I can think of some optical illusion techniques, but none of them deservers to be called 3D.
The guy writing "Everything is crap" columns for PC Mag is called Dvorak. I recently happened to land at one of them. Based on the accompanying mugshot, I predict that showing him naked on a centerfold will be a certain method to lower Playboy (or even Playmate) sales to zero with a single issue.
harder pirating vs harder cracking
As always, security is a question of how big a hurdle it is for the determined individual to overcome it. So actually, it makes sense to make pirating games as hard as they can, even it won't be impossible.
Now, what does this mean for me as an aspiring pirate (assuming that a buddy of mine has the original)? With a game without DRM at all, there is practically no hurdle for copying. A DRM requiring a second DVD device and a bitwise copy program is a one-time investment which will pay off. Or just install the game and give the original medium back. It gets harder when it is combined with a cd-in-the-tray requirement. This needs a crack. To virtually all of the world out there, playing a game without paying for it isn't worth learning how to do reverse engineering in assembly. So I, as your average pirate, don't write my own crack, but download an existing one. I risk that the file is either malware or a decoy torrent planted to catch me infringing copyright over p2p. Clearly, this is going to deter more people than no DRM at all. So using such technology is (from the game studio point of view) a good idea.
As we saw, raising the hurdle benefits the game studio. So why not use harder DRM? So hard, it gives the scene boys a month of constant nerdgasm till they've conquered it. Studio implements it, scene cracks it. Our potential pirate has to decide whether to buy or, erm, "borrow a test version". A rational pirate bases his decision on the hassle caused by DRM (which is bigger than in the previous case) and on the difficulty and risks of pirating - which is exactly the same as in the previous case.
A riddle for our game studios: what would a rational pirate do? (Hint: if you don't know the answer, who the hell let you manage a company?)
> I stayed with Jaunty Jackalope and have been very happy. Somebody tell me why I should go to Lucid Lynx?
<rant>Users with this attitude are the reason why poor web developers are forced to deface their code with monstrous hacks in order to ensure compatibility with IE6. </rant>
You seem to be the perfect case of a user who needs the LTS cycle only - which still is a reason to upgrade, as Lucid _is_ a LTS version.
strategy about as bad as a single password for everything
Imagine that a single password of yours is hacked. If I was a hacker and bruteforced/phished/intercepted/socialengineered your ebyourwordhere password, I'd directly head to amazon and log in as firstname.lastname@example.org, pass:amayourwordherezon. Or better yet, try out cityyourwordherebank...
Or even if there isn't a hacker. In university, I had to submit solutions of homework assignments with a hard deadline. Miss a deadline, and you cannot write the test in this subject. So one day I was somewhere, when I realised that I have to submit a homework within two hours, and that my solution only exists on the HDD of my laptop... which I'd left on the docking station in the office where I was doing an internship. There was no way to reach the laptop within two hours, so I just called a co-worker, gave him the password for my account, and he sent me the file, which I successfully submitted. As soon as I got to my laptop, I changed the password, matter closed. If I'd followed your password creation strategy, I'd have had to choose between the guy easily guessing all my passwords and postponing the test by two semesters.
The only way it is more safer than "same pw everywhere" is when a hacker gains access with account of yours by circumventing a password rather than obtaining it.
"This time, police officials say, the Martins' address has been flagged with an alert, "so if there's any record indicating an officer should visit the address, 'they're barred from doing it,'" the AP said here."
I know this story. I think I've first heard it when my daddy read the brothers Grimm' tales to me.
There are some differences. In the original, the sheep aren't given names like Rose and Walter, and the town doesn't tell the world they've been lead by the nose several times. But it still seems that the end for the sheep will be exactly the same - when the wolf actually comes, they get eaten because everybody officially disregards the shepherd's cries.
Google isn't evil, we sheeple are complacent
There is Iron. Then there are other good browsers out there - maybe not as Chrome-y as Iron, but they have their own advantages. Users are free to install any of them. They know that Google gathers all data its software agents can get hold of, and they still use its products, after putting the "I accept" mark in the EULA out of their own free will. Google isn't malicious, it is just maximizing its profits in any way its users agree to. That's the same thing the mom'n'pop business around the corner does. No reason for Google bashing here.
To paraphrase a recent editorial in another tech publication, Stasi 2.0 are we, the crowd.
[quote] ...."Amorth" sound like a name of exorcist´s main adversary. Or the main boss in any generic RPG I ever played. [/quote]
Now you made me think what his name sounds like. It is the perfect short version of "Amon Amarth". The link is obvious. He must live a double life as a Vatican exorcist at day and Swedish Viking Metal band member at night. It all fits - obviously, when he had a creativity low, he just reupcycled some exorcist ritual chant for a text.
"Free yourselves from the chains
Of lies that hold you down
Arise to be free again
We'll fight till we have won"
before hitting on inspiration for the next verse
"Priests of hypocrittic love talk of peace and Christ
Power is their only goal
Now they all shall die
Turn the blade around, put the oppressors down"
(Title: God, His Son And Holy Whore, Interpret: Amon Amarth, Album: The Avenger (2000))
Mine's the denim one with a Bathory patch on the back, and white face powder and a dozen of kajals in the pocket.
Wow! Reading this story made me love Facebook
Till today, I thought we'd all be better off if Facebook didn't exist. Now, I realised that it is doing an immense service to the human race.
Just think what would happen if all those gibbering idiots were turned loose on the real world. As long as they are busy posting all-caps "lol" followed by innumerable bangs to each other's comment sections, walls or whatever the heck Facebook offers for profile visitors, the Earth is a much safer planet to live on.
Study is alright, you misunderstood its goal
The study has a good point, only you all seem to miss it.
The researchers didn't try to find out if using a console 4 minutes a day will make you slim. They wanted to find out if buying a WiiFit makes you slim. Out there we have lots of people who hate any kind of sport, but hate being overweight too. Such people often think "If there was any easy and interesting sport, I'd do it, and then I'd loose weight". So when they hear "video game that requires you to move a lot", they buy it in the hope that this is THE product which will get them to exercise and consequently their lose fat. So the contribution of this study to human knowledge isn't that "a little exercise isn't enough to make you lose weight", it is "the WiiFit isn't exciting enough to motivate a couch potato to exercise regularly". Which is quite an interesting result, e.g. if you happen to be a health insurance company and some obese insuree wants you to pay for his new toy.
The Western authors didn't go far enough
The Russians beat the West for comedy this time. Their content is a bid bland, it is a rant about the bad service offered by Russian wireless providers. But the real kick comes from the form. They didn't just add subtitles , they also lipsynced the video. The subtitles are in a Russian almost pure enough to fit Politbureau norms. The sound is in a language that sounds like German, but it is actually Russian slang indecent enough to make Snoop Dogg blush, with German suffixes and a few German words thrown in. The innovative word "ahuevaitung" alone is worth a thousand empurplements. (in case you wonder, stripped of all its multi-leveled politically incorrect beauty, the word roughly translates to "I am shocked").
For those who trust their skill of the Russian slang is good enough to understand the video, here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxhs8jMnC7w.
And kudos to the author who is amused by the jokes instead as viewing them as a copyright infringement.
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