77 posts • joined Wednesday 13th June 2007 03:34 GMT
Re: No surprise here - It is DRM that increases piracy
Whether this is effective or ineffective depends every much on the price elasticity of demand for books. That is, if you halve the price, will you actually double demand, or more than that, or less than that?
Most mainstream authors will have a core group of loyal readers who buy their books consistently (and without a lot of regard for price), plus "casual" readers who pick up a book because it looks interesting. Tom Clancy is not going to double his book sales by halving the price of his books, because he has many people who will buy his books without checking the price tag. I'll occasionally blow $50 on a hardcover by a favourite author even though I'll be able to pick up a paperback later at a third of the price.
As such, you need your casual readers to be MUCH more attracted to your book before you can count on a reduced price increasing your gross sales, because they also need to cover the lost income from the "loyal" readers.
In other words, for most mainstream authors, the "halve price to double sales and thus make more money" argument basically doesn't work. Sales will less than double, and the publisher will lose money relative to what they could make by pegging the price at a higher point.
Your "new" customers may well return again for later books, but it doesn't really matter if prices are kept at a low point. In terms of relative income, you still have a larger group of people buying your books, but not enough larger to compensate for the reduced income.
What you might do (and many publishers do sometimes) is release a back-catalogue title with costs already sunk at a reduced price point to attract new readers, and hopefully get them buying later titles by the same author at the normal, higher price point.
Note I would *like* books to be cheaper, but I can see how it might not work out for the publishers.
Re: two points i disagree on...
"How do you balance copyright with privacy? As what else protects my own pictures but copyright?"
You can always choose NOT to put them online. Are you complaining that your privacy is not being respected with respect to a picture that you have made available for the world to see?
That said, I agree that copyright is basically a good thing - people should be rewarded for their efforts. The while life + 70 years thing is taking it beyond a joke however - a work created by a person will typically not be out of copyright until their grandchildren are in the grave.
Re: From personal experience...
A few years ago I posted a "care box" of assorted Australianities from Sydney to my sister who was in Japan at the time. This was about the size of one of the boxes you buy reams of paper in. Shipping was $93 as I recall.
Our company has had occasion in the past to ship ~30 PCs from Sydney to Melbourne with monitors.As I recall it was around $200. I think we actually used a moving company rather than a courier as such.
However, the article does fail to mention that Adobe don't use bulk shipping to ship their product. Every copy of CS5 you buy is carried on a velvet cushion by a sternly correct English butler on a first class flight from America.
Have you checked the salary of English butlers lately?
Re: Analysts Analyzed
I'm sure we, as a trusted partner for our clients, can provide an end-to-end offering to show our focus on business value-add. The global presence of our people means we are the ideal solution provider for your meta-analysis needs.
(Not actually from Gartner, but it's scary that that sounds almost familiar.)
They guy was charged with possession of dangerous ordinance.
How far down the chain do you need to go for ordinance to not be regarded as dangerous?
"Suspect was armed with water pistol filled with orange juice. Suspect fired water pistol, which got into officer's eye and stung quite badly. Suspect arrested for possession of dangerous ordinance."
Sure you you mean the iCon.
Darksiders, Homefront and Saint's Row versus Zelda, Battlefield 3 and Grand Theft Auto
Zelda - been regurgitating the same basic game for 20+ years
Battlefield 3 - A CoD clone (with multiplayer from BF2)
GTA - More of the same
Darksiders - New and interesting setting with game style based loosely on Zelda.
Homefront - Another new setting (although it stretches suspension of disbelief a bit). Pity about the game.
Saint's Row - While at its core it's a GTA clone, it takes "over the top" WAY over the top. GTA4 was a sim, SR3 was a GAME.
My understanding is Darksiders was a moderate success, Homefront bombed because the game itself was bad, and SR was basically successful, if not as wildly successful as GTA.
Quite possibly THQ failed BECAUSE they attempted originality and the public, broadly speaking, didn't want it.
Re: Register for geeks? Biting the hand of IT or taking it up the ass?
"MS Windows is compatible with nothing. Everything else is compatible with MS Windows"
CIFS was originally designed at IBM before MS hacked it into its current sorry state.
Most Internet standards were developed externally to Microsoft. MP3, JPEG, many other standards originated outside of MS, although they do have a bad habit of adding non-standard extensions.
The fact is, if you're writing an article aimed at an enterprise space, you need to recognise that there are people operating in that space who use Windows, for various reasons. I would love it if all our servers were running Linux, but that's not always an option.
Windows does have some advantages. The file permissions model is vastly superior to the standard Linux 3-level model. Active DIrectory has some large advantages in managing a network. And senior management are so hung up on how easy it is to manage that they never notice that they need twice the people to do the same job. :-)
Re: The joys of open software
So, you're praising MS because they support a ten year old operating system, while criticising Linux for dropping support of a 27 year old CPU. Good luck in getting MS to support MS-DOS 4.0...
For that matter, the embedded systems manufacturers are still free to fork their own copy of the Linux kernel that supports the 80386. They can backport patches from the mail kernel tree. They have full source access. Heck, if there's enough of a demand somebody is free to create a startup which does all these things for the embedded market - not that I can see it happening for a CPU that has not been manufactured for five years.
With a closed source OS, none of these things are options. If your OS vendor drops support for your platform, you either find another OS or keep running the last version that works, tweaking your hardware to keep it functional.
With regard to drivers, I can't speak from personal experience, but your friend did say "major releases" - 2.6 was released in 2003, about the same time as Windows XP, and many XP drivers work poorly if at all on Windows 7 (I hate to think how they are on Windows 8).
Not quite the same...
So: `depictions of actual sexual activity and simulated sexual activity that are “explicit and realistic” outlawed. However the new classifications allow for “depictions of simulated sexual activity.”'
So simulated sexual activity is OK as long as it is either unrealistic or not explicit. Apparently. (And isn't combined with violence, but sex+violence is grounds for Refused Classification for all media categories. under Australian law.)
It's good to know that the guvvermint is OK with us shooting each other but getting hot & heavy is RIGHT out. We wouldn't want to encourage close human contact after all - it might lead to dancing.
Re: Standards and Prior Art
Furthermore, even if your "clean room" development comes up with the concept of a "for" loop *independently*, the concept is still covered by a patent and you can be sued for damages.
I don't think I have ever *met* a programmer who consults patents for ideas. Since it is the release of ideas that justifies the patent system, the justification for granting that monopoly on an idea is rather thin.
This might be otherwise if the barrier for entry were higher. The core problem with the patent system as it now stands is that it is relatively easy to be granted a patent which is not genuinely innovative.
Re: Waste of Time
We have our own (standalone) mail server and a rule in the O365 backend that forwards copies of all email to that mailbox. You could just use a gmail mailbox for that purpose however.
You can also do a surprising amount with the domain rules. ("If an email is addressed to person X, Bcc it to persons A, B and C".)
In general it works reasonably well but is let down by a lousy administrative interface..
Re: "even if "six-tenths of a kilometre" still has a ring of old school about it."
The amazing thing is that you can, if needed, still describe a third of a metre as a third of a metre.
Or you can give it as a decimal, then convert to metres / kilometres / centimetres / millimetres / ... by shifting the decimal point around.
By the way, for those in yankeeland fishing for a short way to say "kilometre", everybody I know measures both distance and speed in "kay" (so 60k can be 60km or 60kph, depending on context) and weight in "kilos" or "grams".
8 classics, not the BEST 8 classics
The author makes no claim that these are the 8 best 8 bit games, just that they're all classic 8 bit games - which is true.
Personally I would add:
- Lode Runner
- Stunt Car Racer
- Project: Space Station
- Impossible Mission
iPod/iPhone as eReader
I don't have an iPhone but I have an iPod which has basically the same form factor. It fits around 150 words on a screen of text and is readable indoors or out. Battery life is somewhat lacking but portable chargers are not hard to find. Only real problem is display of pictures, but I mostly read novels anyway.
Key think is that it fits in my breast pocket and is light enough that I really don't notice that it's there. (Also plays games, movies and music if I don't feel like reading.)
Over the years I've worked my way through several Palm PDAs and a couple of generations of iPods reading books. If you find it hard to read text on such devices , the lack is not in the device.
Baen books has a very large collection of DRM-free ebooks purchasable at quite decent prices on their web site.
People still use IE?
I've been using Firefox on Win7x64 without any problems with the CBA.
As excuses go, IE not working with the CBA isn't much of one. This isn't 2000 when the choices were IE or a broken release of Netscape.
The corpse count over the last year or so has been getting a bit silly. It is funny in a way, but the IT angle seems to be getting increasingly ignored.
Why is the BOFH busy killing off the committee when he could be looking for a way to eliminate the cloud proposal in a clever, IT related fashion?
Why isn't he installing a hidden agent on all the test group's PCs to slow them down or grab random pieces of child porn? Why isn't he finding a way into the cloud backend to mysteriously modify the files created? Why didn't he hack the company proxy to redirect references to the cloud to a private store somewhere else? Or have the testers' PCs mysteriously leak key files to each other?
Aside from which defenestration seems altogether too unreliable a method of eliminating one person. People DO survive falling out of windows.
What do Atilla the Hun, Alexander the Great, and Oscar the Ground have in common?
THE SAME MIDDLE NAME.
Clearly there is a pattern here. All three are known for acts of senseless violence. Ban the definite article!
If we banned anything that ever made people feel somewhat more violent we'd quickly run out of things to do. For a start, people who run around banning things that make people violent, probably make people feel violent...
I generally avoid first person shooters. Killing virtual people with a gory virtual sword or burning them to death with virtually painful magic fire is much more appealing.
Or I suppose I could go out and hurt real people, but that would be silly.
PSP a failure?
Discounting the PSP Go (about which the less said the better) the PSP was only a failure when compared with the DS, having managed about a third of the sales of the DS, and just slightly less than the XBox 360, which is generally regarded as a successful platform. Over 50 million PSPs were sold (as of mid 2009).
The PSP's main direct competition will be the 3DS, which has had a rocky start due to a few factors: poor battery life, a poor launch lineup, and not being rated for children under seven or so due to the 3D effect.
I've more or less given up on playing games of any depth on the iPod Touch. This is because, firstly, a dollar a game will not fund games of the level we expect in the "home" platforms; and secondly, touch controls lack flexibility and have lousy feedback. I do NOT want to have to repeatedly check the position of my thumbs to figure out which direction I'm going.
Basically I agree that the market for devices such as the PSP Vita and the 3DS is not the same as for smartphone gaming (although there is a large overlap). There are quite a few people around who will buy a dedicated mobile gaming device. The only question at this point is whether there are enough such people to fund the platform, and development of games for the platform, in the long term. That remains to be seen.
Rotating Cylinders and the possibility of Global Causality Violation
There are a number of perfectly serviceable time machine designs that do not involve a photon exceeding a velocity of c. Larry Niven wrote a story based on an actual scientific paper awesomely titled "Rotating cylinders and the possibility of global causality violation" about one such design. The late Robert Forward also wrote about a few designs. However most such require certain types of exotic matter - either negative matter. or large quantities of neutronium or similar.
Sign & ignore
A friend had his 40th birthday not long ago and all the invites & details were coordinated via Facebook.
Eventually I set up a FB account, but I ignore it as much as possible. I think I have exactly one picture posted.
If anything interesting happens, they send me an email.
There's about a half-dozen "Friend" invites from people whose names I don't recognise, that I'm ignoring at the moment. Probably one or two of them are from people that I actually know.
Being an antisocial bastard I can live with that.
$180/month is for a TERABYTE of data
The $180/month plan includes a terybyte of data transfer and is at the maximum available transfer speed. The pricing as quoted is pretty similar to the current pricing plans of the "premium" ADSL providers. The way some treat it, you would thing everybody with a $50/month plan will have their price quadrupled. Not so.
Currently the company I work for has two plans with Internode, for 5GB and 20GB (they're backup links). We are billed $49.95 and $59.95 for these, in addition to the phone line (which is about $30/month). The NBN pricing is uniformly better - $59.95/month for a 30GB commercial service. (Internode now have commercial prixing up on their web site; it's about $10/month over the noncommercial rates.
(Maybe they're ripping us off in comparison to current pricing, in which case it can't hurt to know that Internode are not against ripping their customers off.)
Guy next to me mentioned that the side of his head felt warm after he had been using his mobile for a while, and he seemed to find this ominous.
I pointed out to him that this would likely also be true if you held a bar of soap to the side of your head.
I think we're all preaching to the converted here; I have noticed a singular lack of an explosion in brain cancer cases in the last twenty years.
I persist in thinking of the Orion spacecraft as the concept design driven by nukes and a BIG pusher-plate. It appeared, amongst other places, in the Niven/Pournell SF collaboration "Footfall".
I only know of one instance in fiction where an Orion design spacecraft takes off from Earth (that being Footfall, again) for fairly obvious reasons. Apparently it was a serious proposal in the late 50s however.
I had an account with SOE 4 years ago and while my card had expired in that interval, it had been reissued with a new expiry date. That card was probably one of the 12,700 cards they had listed as not being of interest because they were no longer "active".
I did receive a personal notification concerning the SOE hack, although it didn't say my card WAS compromised, just that it MAY have been.
The PSN hack didn't worry me much because the numbers were allegedly hashed, but I have found no mention anywhere that the SOE card numbers were hashed.
I've cancelled my old card and gotten a new one, as the bank in question was setting card expiries on an anniversary basis (i.e. they would always expire in April, every 3 years or so) - a stupid tactic that they have thankfully now forgone.
I read somewhere that PSN was hacked through a buggy old Apache release.
Piracy is not theft, but it IS unjust enrichment
Piracy-as-theft is very, very rare - it means you don't have your copyrights any more. That's not to say that piracy is right, it's just not theft. The analogy I usually use is a bus or train fare - you are consuming a service (use of the train / software) without paying for it. When you buy software you are *not* buying a good, you are buying a *service*. "Intellectual property" is the right to be paid for services rendered.
IP generally can't be "stolen" as the original owner does not lose anything except the possible revenue stream from the IP. (To "steal" is to "take... property wrongfully" according to Mirriam-Webster; if the original still exists it has not been taken, just copied.)
"Possible" is a key word here however - anybody who thinks every pirated item is a lost sale needs a serious reality check.
Protection from piracy is really only practical at a limited level - you can stop Bob from giving Anne a copy of your software by copying the CD, but you can't stop the professional pirates who reverse-engineer your code and remove the copy protection code. The only practical way around this is to have your program require - not just for the copy protection check but actually REQUIRE - an online connection to a server thant can check the legitimacy of your software.
This model works for network-based applications (and games) but not for a lot of other software, although software can be written to run an initial check when it starts up. Many games use this model.
The flipside to this is that if your software will only work when it can connect to a particular server, and you then turn off that server, you are depriving the purchaser of a service that they have paid for, and YOU are the one who is "stealing". You can supply a patch to "fix" this when you are turning your servers off, and I know of at least one company that actually went ahead and did so.
The thing about copy protection is, you have three categories of people using your software. There are the professional pirates, whi will remove the copy protection. There are the people who would pirate your software if they had the technical nous, but buying it is cheaper than the associated hassle. And there are the people who are willing and able to pay you, and don't want to pirate your software. This third category is your core customer base, the people who actually pay your bills, and your copy protection is punishing those customers (as well as the category two people who don't want to pay you).
Suffice to say that there are bastards on both sides of this particular divide.
Catholic dilithium monopoly
Clearly if they want to contain additional antimatter they will need access to dilithium crystals.
For obvious reasons it's clear the Vatican is holding their dilithium monopoly very closely indeed.
Other things to talk about
There may (Apple is good) be other things (Steve Jobs is God) to talk about (Buy an iPhone). But noe of them (you need an iPad) are nearly as (... and a Mac) interesting or useful (Apple Apple Apple Apple...).
Anyway, these days (Apple makes the best hardware) Apple is the flavour (Apple makes the best operating system) of the month. (Steve Wozniak is the Betrayer.) There's even a fruit named after them! (Apple Apple Apple Apple...)
Doomed black holes
A supermassive black hole will eventually lose all its mass due to Hawking radiation. However "eventually" is a very, VERY long time. The black hole will not shrink until losses from Hawking radiation exceed gains from miscellaneous matter (interstellar dust , cosmic rays etc) and incoming energy (light from other galaxies and assorted stars, the cosmic microwave background radiation). Even with no incoming energy and matter, evaporation would take so long that the numbers would be meaningless to us. We're talking at least high double digits of powers of ten - I don't have the math to figure it out.
As long as the universe is expanding and the mass per cubic meter is failling we'll hit that point eventually. Don't let it worry your grandchildren though.
Conroy MUST be a plant by the Libs...
There's no other explanation for the consistency with which he seems determined to oppose the wishes of the Australian public.
Surveys consistently show that most Australians do not want the firewall. Sadly it seems Conroy is immune to such niceties. Perhaps he's one of those pollies who thinks that the public should shut up between elections.
@Kanhef Re: Abuse of charts
Hear hear! Truncation of graphs is a statistical evil we can live without.
There's the FPS graph, where a 2% difference winds up looking like a 50% difference, and the registry size, where 150 bytes out of 49000 or so (0.3% change!) *also* looks like a 50% difference. A 2% change in framerate is statistically significant, but I challenge anyone to notice it by eye. The changes are displayed entirely disproportionately.
@AC 12:18 GMT: Some of us deal with systems used by people who, y'know, actually WORK for a living, and pay our princely salaries in part to keep them working efficiently. Some of those people are stunningly ignorant outside of their areas of expertise and can be relied upon to open every piece of junk that hits their mailbox.
As such, antivirus and other protection measures have their place, and system cleanup is an ocasional necessity, although we find the best way to do this is to keep work files on a network drive and reimage each PC from a fresh image when it gets screwed up.
I was interested to see that the system tuners pretty much matched my expectations, i.e. they were all fundamentally useless. Defrag regularly and keep your startup clean (HijackThis! does a decent job and is free, but requires a clue to use) and you'll do as well as most of the packages reviewed here.
Odd that nobody else has mentioned browser objects here, which HijackThis! can also clean up.
I have heard that as AV scanners go NOD32 is superior; effective with a small CPU & memory footprint. Not having used it myself, this is merely rumour to me at this time. I can state that the system overheads from Mcafee are ridiculous - resident memory usage frequently exceeds 150MB even when idle and CPU exceed 50% when actively scanning.
70MB/sec isn't bad over gigabit ethernet, although isn't all that great compared to theoretical max. The benchmarks say that the equivalent products are slower, though, which probably explains the reviewer's enthusiasm.
I'd be more interested in seeing the ESATA performance, personally.
Pack this thing with 4 x SSDs and you have a very nice external disk array for a box limited by internal space. But very pricey if all you want is an external drive array - you would probably be better off using a 3.5" array with brackets to mount 2.5" disks if all you wanted was a 2.5" array.
WTB a dumb 2.5" external drive enclosure...
Given pricing is incorrect...
The pricing quoted as being in Euros is actually in dollars (presumably US dollars), at least if the Amiga Forever web page is to be believed.
So the cheap option is $9.95, not 9.95 euros. Given current exchange rates, the difference matters...
The Amiga failed because the PC hardware overtook it technologically - the gap between the original Amiga and a 1994 Amiga is much smaller than the gap between the 1985 PC and a 1994 PC. HAM in all its incarnations was a nightmare to render dynamically; at the time of the AGA amigas 24-bit colour was becoming common on PCs. In the same time CPUs moved from the 80186 to the early Pentiums, with on-chip FPU becoming standard. The Motorola CPUs did not improve at the pace of the Intel chips.
Allegedly a new chipset was designed after the OCS which was considerably better, but the blueprints were lost and put the Amiga back a couple of years.
Anyway, all this resulted in a situation where it moved from being better in all categories (except for productivity software availability) to where the same money would buy a PC which was faster, more capable graphically and sonically, and had a GUI (Windows 3.1) which while lacking the flexibility of AmigaOS got the job done for single-tasking - at a time when most people didn't really understand the advantages of multitasking.
Of course much of the reason *why* the Amiga fell behind is that they put stuffall money into R&D; the Amiga could only have remained a contender if it had *retained* its original edge, but for the first 5 years of its history about the only improvements were EHB mode on colour and expansion of chip RAM to 1MB...
“Although virtual environment toolkits are available, they usually only provide a subset of the tools needed to build complete virtual worlds,” he said.
Although my guess would be that price is more of a differentiating factor. Grad student time is cheap, commercial VR sims are not - and you don't get a publication credit for using a tool for the purpose for which it was written...
Did they find some people escaped faster by running while strafing?
ShadowProtect from StorageCraft http://www.storagecraft.com/ can snapshot your disk image every 15 minutes and you can roll back to any snapshot (mounting the backup as a drive letter or under an existing directory).
Very nice to use, although I've only used the server flavours.
Its main problem is that it always backs up the entirety of any disk, so if you have a lot of applications installed it can be fairly inefficient.
I don't work for StorageCraft or any of their resellers, have just used their product.
"It still sucks that it has a EULA of any sort".
It's copyrighted. No licence = no right to use = pirated software.
There needs to be an EULA of *some* sort. It's just a pity that it's not more permissive. The only way around that is to make it Public Domain (i.e. uncopyrighted).
Even free / open source software has a licence. It's just that the GPL and other open licences allow you to do more with the software. The L in GPL stands for *Licence*. (Which makes it an EULA, as well as a licence agreement for non-end-users).
Trained black ops attack squirrels on jihad!!!
We'll be seeing squirrels held for questioning at customs any day now. They're obvious candidates for the Taliban, given their prediliction for nuts.
Mine's the one lined with squirrel fur.
Trademarks can be withdrawn if they come into generic use (ergo you don't need to put a (TM) after asprin). I'd say cloud computing is already well past that stage. If Dell plan to preserve their trademark I wouldn't expect it to last past the first challenge.
The exception is if they're using it in a field where is *isn't* a generic term - eg. if they tied it to storage solutions.
I think the phrase we need is "locking the barn door after the horse has bolted."
Loss on consoles
Allegedly the Wii is made at a profit.
The PS3 is made at a loss, supposedly; this is common in the industry - the console manufacturers make their profits initially by taking a cut on game sales. If you pay $100 for a game, the console manufacturer gets $10-20.
In the later lifetime of the console the hardware price has gone down and game volumes are higher, so that's when the real money is made.
Do you know that the main idea behind vaccination is to protect the population, so that there's no pool of people to *infect* those too young for vaccination? An immunisation rate above a certain level restricts the spread of a disease. In a population that is otherwise 100% vaccinated, you are probably better off *not* vaccinating your child. However if enough people do this the disease (in this case whooping cough) has the opportunity to spead and the number of children killed vastly exceeds the number affected by side effects from vaccination.
You may also be interested to know that rats != people. I can't speak for whether the antigen also induces fits in humans; personally I would guess not, in the quantities used in the vaccine. But enough of *anything* is a poison. Try drinking a hundred litres of water. Make sure to change your will so we know what happens.
Contariwise, there are very few substances that are poisonous in arbitrarily small quantities. Enough chlorine *will* kill you, and it's not very much, relatively speaking. But the fatal quantities are much higher than is used in drinking water.
Personally I'm perfectly happy with chlorinated, flourinated water.
"I use both sets for work (work in the aviation industry) and though I was tought in SI units I have a better understanding of what I am dealing with when I think in Imperial. Odd but it works for me..."
I was taught in metric and have a better understanding of units when the units are metric. Go figure.
I know how big a hectare is. It's the distance I had to run for a 100m sprint in school, squared. A meter is roughly hip-height, or the distance from my outstretched finger to the opposite side of my neck, or a longish stride. A Kilo is a weight heavy enough that I start to notice it - or about the weight of a litre of milk.
A 1m cube of water weighs a ton. A hundred litres of water weighs 100kg.
Zero degrees centrigrade is freezing. 100C is boiling. About 30C is moderately warm, 40C uncomfortably so.
I can convert between most of these units very easily. I am *so* glad I never had to deal with imperial units save at their most basic level - I know roughly what an inch is, what a foot is, what a yard is, but dealing with these for actual measurements and calculations is thankfully never necessary. You tell me a distance in square meters, I'll drop four zeroes and give you hectares in a fraction of a second. How many metres in 1.4 kilometres? 1400. How many feet in that many miles? Let me get out my calculator. Heck, how many feet in *one* mile? I usually have to look that one up.
You could argue that the actual base units chosen for metric might have been better chosen, but the convenience of calculating in metric makes up for any of the system's other sins. In any case, familiarity breeds ease of use.
""2.8bn million, and they're not happy". 'Bringing in' implies turnover, not profit. Big difference."
Yah, but 2.8Bn million = 2.8 quadrillion, where did the money GO? That's something like 100 times the gross *world* product. Maybe they sold a bunch of stock back to themselves a few thousand times?
In which case maybe rounding the cents in the VAT calculations is what killed them...
"Absolutely no prospect of seeing any textual information. You can just, possibly, get by with a PDA - but the fuss of scrolling side-to-side and up-and-down rapidly turns into a chore."
I'll tell you a secret. You don't HAVE to read ebooks or magazines in a fixed format such as PDF. Many formats lay out quite handily on a small screen, so you only need to scroll down (and rarely up) except for pictures - which are rare in things like novels. The number of words per line is close to what you find in the average newspaper.
My PDA is a cheap model, screen roughly 5cm x 5cm. I can read a screenful of text (around a hundred words) quite comfortably and page down, reading at a speed comparable to a paperback. Except the PDA fits over a dozen novels into an item smaller than my wallet.
It's unlikely that I'll ever buy something like the Eee PC, simply because there's no way it will fit comfortably in my pocket. Paperback size is just too big to carry around when you want to keep your hands free. It's the same core reason why the iPod was such a success: small enough to fit in your pocket, large enough to be useful.
> Remember Bill is primarily a lawyer, from legal stock, rather than a software engineer
Bill is (or at least was) a *programmer*, with little or no formal training in software engineering practices. The breed was very common at the time, and probably explains a lot of the bugginess in later projects. Many software engineers start as programmers (without a firm eye on the specification & design process) but most eventually learn better.
The fact that his father was a lawyer does not make Bill primarily a lawyer, although I'm sure it gave him some useful insights. My father was a truck driver, but that doesn't make me "primaily" a truck driver - I don't even have a licence. (Although I do have some idea of how tough life can be for truckie owner/drivers.)
Definition of atheism...
Most professing Christians with whom I have discussed this in the past counted atheists as those who affirmatively state that there is no God (or deity of any sort). Agnosticism was regarded as the "I dunno" position.
Most people who regard themselves as atheists would put their position more as "In the absence of evidence to positively confirm the existence of a deity, I work on the assumption that no divinity exists." Agnosticism is less positive - "I dunno, and you dunno either."
If you are ever arguing with a theist on the existence of God, keep the distinction in mind. You may think (s)he's missing a brick or two because there's no evidence affirming their position. They think that *you* are missing a brick or two because they think there is a *lot* of evidence (most notably the Bible) and there's no evidence proving that they're wrong.
The Bible is taken (assumed) to be true because it *says* it is. "All scripture is inspired by God..." and if you can't trust the Bible in such things, who CAN you trust? The circular logic is missed by a lot of people.
Personally I gave up on the literal truth of the Bible about six pages into a book that professed to explain every single noted inconsistency, then used such a lot of sophistry and weasel-wording that I couldn't stand to side with the author.
If arguing this stuff with a theist, keep in mind that they may just be working on a different set of base assumptions. Automatically assuming that any theist is stupid is likely to be a mistake. There are a lot of stupid theists, but there are also a lot of stupid atheists - intelligence and atheism are correlated, but the causal relationship hasn't been demonstrated. You'll never convince anyone by making step one an assumption that your axioms are true and theirs are false.