* Posts by DougS

12862 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Schmidt: Microsoft will never be as cool as the Gang of Four

DougS Silver badge

Suing HP

And why oh WHY is Apple not suing others like Asus and HP and Lenovo for ripping off their designs?

Not sure how HP is copying Apple (are their ultrabooks Air lookalikes or something?) but the mere idea of suing HP at all is just hard to wrap my head around, considering how their board is doing a far better job of destroying the company than even the most slam dunk lawsuit ever could. Suing HP is like shooting a terminal cancer patient in the leg. There's a chance it could hasten their demise, but they'd probably not even notice versus the pain they're already enduring.

Google puts Nexus 4 back on sale, sells out pronto

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Re: Are Google trying to flood the market with these phones

They probably just aren't making all that many. Certainly not the at the rate Apple stamps out iPhone 5s and Samsung stamps out GS3s. They have to walk a line between meeting demand and keeping their partners happy.

If the demand was high enough and production fast enough that it became the #1 selling Android phone, I don't think Samsung would be too happy about that. This is what they were worried about with the Motorola acquisition, though perhaps to smooth ruffled feathers they had LG produce this one. It may not steal sales from the GS3, but it would be stealing sales from Samsung's mid range offerings. As Samsung goes more dominant, the risk that they consider forking Android increases, which an outcome I'm sure Google wants to avoid.

China plans astro-farms on Mars

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Easy to talk about, harder to do

The US talked about manned missions to Mars, but wised up once the costs started getting tallied. We should figure out a faster and more efficient means of getting there (like working ion engines) before we try anything other than Musk's vision of a one way trip (which may be acceptable for China, but the US's post-Challenger reluctance to admit space travel is dangerous precludes this)

Windows 8 fails to revive world CPU biz

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What's your definition of "dying"?

It's not that "the pc is dying" as the press seems to want to believe.

It's that instead of replacing it every 2 years every 3 or 4 years is enough now. So of course sales will be lower. Don't confuse that with the end of the PC though


I hope you don't think the press saying "the PC is dying" was a suggestion that pretty soon there would no longer be a such thing as a PC. It is just dying as a growth industry, and is now in a state of permanent sales decline.

Three reasons why:

1) people now use tablets and smartphones to do things that previously could only be done on a PC (surfing, email, IM, facebook, etc.)

2) there aren't any killer apps that make a PC sold in 2007 too slow for 2012, so why replace it?

3) Microsoft improved Windows security and reduced (but didn't eliminate) malware, which used to be one of the primary reasons a PC got "slow" and was replaced

Brr, feeling cold? Galaxy is home to plenty of WARMER Earth twins

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Re: Holiday destination?

2.5x the amount of radioactive elements is nothing. There is a far greater variation in natural radiation on Earth now and the people living in the highest radiation areas are fine.

The rate of mutations might be a bit higher, but that could be a good thing - evolution will work more quickly. They may have already invented warp drive, visited here, probed us, and decided Earth is too damn chilly and has fewer scenic spots from which to watch erupting volcanoes do their thing.

China Mobile squares up to Siri with voice portal

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China mobile is so big, I wonder if they may someday try to own their entire ecosystem

Create their own Android fork, using their own maps, app store and so on. Have a manufacturer like Foxconn make their own branded phones. They are state owned, if they decided that only the phones they produce could be used on their network, there would be no one to tell them that's wrong or anticompetitive. Suddenly China Mobile owns 70% of the mobile phone market in China, with Lenovo, Samsung, Apple and the rest fighting for the scraps on the two smaller carriers.

Forget fluorescents, plastic lighting strips coming out next year

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I wonder how thin they can be made

Might be a useful replacement for CFL and LED backlights backing LCD screens if they really are as efficient as LEDs. If they can't be made quite thin enough for phones and tablets, they could still be useful for monitors and TVs.

Apple's new 'Assembled in USA' iMac a bear to upgrade, repair

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Re: umm, this IS a laptop

"In today's world"? The gap between integrated GPUs and discrete GPUs gets smaller all the time. Especially since the graphics demands of games have been pretty much at a standstill for a half decade so they can do console ports.

I really doubt anyone is buying iMac thinking it should have high end AMD or NVidia graphics capability. Those who buy them aren't gamers, and they aren't the types who think a computer becomes obsolete just because Intel has replaced Sandy Bridge with Ivy Bridge. I use a computer with a Q9400, and it is more than adequate for what I need to do - and for what probably at least 90% of people use their computer to do. So what if it's four years old? I could probably use it for another half decade, though I'll replace it before then so I won't have to start worrying about it failing due to age.

The only thing I'd worry about getting an iMac is that if the LCD dies, the computer inside is pretty much useless. But if you're the type who doesn't like wires, maybe it's worth the risk.

Ericsson asks for unlikely ITC import ban on raft of Samsung stuff

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Re: Extend FRAND

The simple solution would be for companies to be required to make the pricing of their patents public at the time they are submitted for inclusion in the standard, with no changes permitted later - unless lowering the price, as some may do in the hope of helping spur adoption of a standard people think is too expensive. Apple did exactly that with licensing for Firewire/1394, which they originally licensed for $1/port but PC makers weren't including it because they felt it was too expensive.

Publishing them publicly is the only way license rates can truly be proven to be Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Microsoft and Apple to

Maybe. Doesn't matter even if it's true. I keep telling Apple haters that you won't like the world you live in if Motorola/Google succeeds in blocking Apple and Microsoft products unless they submit to licensing terms that are nothing like what anyone else pays them for the same patents.

If they succeed, patent trolls who produce no products except for lawsuits will buy up FRAND patents from bankrupt firms and pay Qualcomm and anyone else who has licensed their patents to break the licensing deals, then go to the users of those chips - Apple, Microsoft AND Motorola and Samsung, and sue to stop the import of all their devices unless they agree to extortionate licensing terms that make what Motorola is asking almost seem reasonable by comparison.

Whether Ericsson is helping Apple and/or Microsoft or acting on their own is irrelevant, because the fact remains that companies can't argue to one court that FRAND patents can't be used as a blunt tool and in another court that they can. This will make them have to pick a side, and if the fanboys get their way hoping to see iPhone pulled from the market, they'll see the Galaxys and Droids get pulled soon after.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Absurd and farcical

For the 100th time, I wish Reg readers would quit spouting nonsense like yours.

The "patents for actual useful technology" that are covered by FRAND are covered by FRAND because the company that owns the patent VOLUNTARILY SUBMITTED IT TO BE PART OF A STANDARD!! Please read that 10 times so maybe it will sink into your feeble excuse for a brain.

No one can take your patent and make it FRAND against your will. You do so by your own choice, knowing that 1) it will get used by a lot more people and 2) you will lose the ability to be discriminatory in charging for it and lose the ability to charge whatever the hell you feel like for it. You may perhaps also hope to derive some advantage over those licensing your patent on FRAND terms because while the patent itself is public knowledge, there may be some related information you as the inventor learned while developing it that could give you an advantage over those who merely read and apply your patent.

Patents that are not FRAND, whether they are trivial design patents or patents for something truly useful like anti-gravity, allow the patent holder to be as arbitrary as they want about who gets to use it and how much they have to pay, or to decide to not let anyone use it if that's their choice. The whole purpose of patents, after all, is to grant the owner a time limited monopoly over the subject of their patent. However, the second you take one of those patents and submit it to be part of a rounded corner standard or an anti-gravity mobile standard, it becomes FRAND and you MUST license it under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. If you think that's a shitty deal, keep your patent to yourself and watch the standards body design around your patent and you likely end up with squat.

Now read this whole post again 10 times, in the hope people don't have to keep explaining this to you and all the morons who up-voted you.

Adobe's revenge on Steve Jobs: HTML5

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"Advance the start of the art for HTML5 functionality"?

That sounds like lot embrace and extend. If Adobe adds their own functionality to HTML5 it won't threaten Apple, it'll prolong the day (if it ever comes) when HTML5 replaces native iOS and Android apps with web apps.

After all, how long did it take for the web to recover from Microsoft's proprietary HTML4 extensions? Given the number of corporations still having trouble migrating from IE6, the clock is still ticking on that little fiasco...

Flash memory made immortal by fiery heat

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This is important as flash gets denser

For each Moore's Law generation (34nm, 25nm, 18nm and so on) flash cells have a shorter life by something approximating an order of magnitude. In addition, multi level cells have a reduced life. One bit per cell SLC lasts longer, then 2 bit per cell MLC, with three bit per cell TLC bringing up the rear. Again by a factor approximating an order of magnitude.

The industry used to think it would go to 4 bits per cell (QLC) but abandoned such plans when they saw the trends. There have been worries that 13nm might be the last flash generation as TLC would be useless when shrunk this far and MLC will have reached its limits.

So if this technology can add FIVE orders of magnitude it'll buy approximately a decade of further process shrinks - assuming we can go that far - which would be nice, in case memristors don't pan out. You know, exactly like PCM that was supposed to replace flash a decade ago didn't pan out.

People who are saying this doesn't matter because memristors will save us are being foolish. I don't know of anything in the field of computers that with more failed promises than memory technology. Bubble memory was supposed to replace RAM in the 80s. In the 90s holographic storage would replace both optical drives and hard drives (you still hear about this even today once in a while, could have sworn I saw a Reg article recently that I didn't read when I saw the subject) Then we saw PCM in the 2000s and memristors look to be the great white hope of the 2010s (I'm keeping my mind open here, but the track record in the memory field isn't good) These are just the major ones that everyone talked about as almost sure fire bets. I'm not even getting into things everyone knew was a long shot like ZRAM and its ilk.

Apple plants flag on wireless power-supply map

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Re: Solution for a problem that doesn't exist?

I agree this is a solution looking for a problem, but then I think wireless charging of phones is that as well. As though the two seconds required by plugging your phone into the charger each night is a hassle that must be avoided...

Microsoft braces for Surface RT feedback storm

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Mail order

No offence, but thats what you get when you buy stuff via mail order

Wow, someone tell Amazon their business model is a bust!

Seriously, I've ordered tons of stuff via mail order. Let's make a list of what I've personally mail ordered since 2005 has has a glass screen that could have been damaged but wasn't:

4 laptops

23 plasma TVs (no, not all for me :))

2 LCD monitors

2 iPhones

1 iPad 2 (xmas gift for the parents, don't tell them or you'll spoil the surprise!) To be fair, it is unopened so I can't say for sure it isn't shattered but the box is undamaged.

Here's a list of everything I've mail ordered since 2005 that has a glass screen that WAS damaged:


Maybe you live in an area with a psychotic package delivery man?

Oi, Apple, stick to phones, forget about TV - Time Warner CEO

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Re: Resistance is futile..

Apple already has an existing relationship with Disney, due to Jobs' owning Pixar that was bought out by Disney making him (and now his widow) the single largest shareholder in Disney.

That would be the company to buy. Not because of the movies or the mouse, but because of ESPN. In the US, ESPN is the big dog that dictates to cable companies, satellite companies, and everyone else. You own them, you can make the rest dance to your tune.

They won't do this because they don't want to run a media empire, and certainly not in the hopes of helping a rumored product that may never exist, but it would sure shake things up if they did.

Chinese buyers falling out of love with iPhones

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There are several reasons why Apple's market share is dropping there

1) smartphone market is growing fast, but now mostly via replacing cheap feature phones with cheap smartphones. Most of the people with the money to afford an expensive phone like an iPhone or Samsung GS3 have already bought one. Once again this is an effect of people being dumb and talking about "smartphone market share" instead of "mobile market share". In that, Apple will see continued growth, as would high end Android phones. It's just that that growth will be dwarfed by the growth of super cheap Android phones costing well under $100.

2) iPhone isn't available on China's largest carrier, meaning about 70% of the population can't buy it from their carrier. They can work on the network, but at 2G speeds only.

3) iPhone 5 isn't even (officially) sold in China yet. Other than people buying off the black market, people who want an iPhone are probably waiting until next month when the 5 goes on sale (and the 4 & 4S see an accompanying price drop) This is just like the big drop in iPhone market share in the US prior to its release, and then the big jump after iPhone 5 intro that saw Apple beating all Android phones combined in the US by a couple percent in the Aug/Sep/Oct quarter.

Microsoft halves Surface RT production orders - report

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They just wanted to neutralize the Java threat

They were worried about code that didn't need the Windows API to run so they created their own Java to split the market. For that, it worked, as Java is still around but never became the threat they feared.

However, while they had their eye off the ball, Apple and Google sold a combined billion or so devices that many people use more than their PCs and don't use the Windows API. Oops!!

Apple manufacturers: ARRGH, pesky iThings are impossible to make

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Re: anyone else?

Apple said that they want other companies to be innovative, and yet it came out in court when they were sued by VirtnetX that Apple's engineers develop their products with no regard for what may be another company's IP.


ALL tech companies work this way. Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, and all the rest. If an engineer looks at someone else's patents and infringes, the company is liable for triple damages for willful infringement, versus just regular (1x) damages otherwise. Any engineer posting on El Reg will tell you they've been instructed to not look at patents anything remotely close to their field, and one friend of mine who works in Silicon Valley said he was told he shouldn't even READ any articles regarding tech patent disputes!

DougS Silver badge

Re: anyone else?

Since Samsung doesn't even make the extra-thin type of display that Apple is using in the iPhone 5 and iPad mini, keeping Samsung around wouldn't have helped. The process used was jointly developed by Sharp and Apple, and has been licensed to LG and I think a third firm.

Not to say Samsung can't/won't develop something similar themselves, they just don't have it yet. Apple also wants to convert to the more power efficient IZGO LCD which is a Sharp invention, but they've had trouble getting that to production readiness so it likely won't appear in Apple stuff until 2013. It will probably appear in Android devices first given Apple's likely new product timelines.

I'd say rather than Apple's fight with Samsung it is far more likely Sharp's well-documented financial difficulties that are to blame here.

The Terminator, coming to a reality near you

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Thumb Down

Not necessary for a terminator

The terminator is a robot covered with skin, no interface between the skin and terminator's circuits required. That's actually a much easier problem (for man/machine interface, at least) than making an artificial hand that can be controlled by existing nerves, which this is a step towards.

Windows 8 launch outdoes Windows 7's, says Microsoft bigwig

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Re: "Sold"? Not quite

I don't think typical Windows users have ever upgraded their systems, with Windows 95 being the sole exception. Even if the upgrade were free and Windows 8 had pretty much the same interface as Windows 7 I think there wouldn't be a lot of takers amongst average users unless it was pushed out via Windows Update.

Microsoft trained people in the past that if you upgrade a working system it'll become much slower with the new OS. Even though that isn't true anymore since Vista (as 7 and 8 are basically service packs for it) people have been trained otherwise. While the power users can point to all the improvements between Vista and 7 and 8, your typical PC owner wouldn't notice the difference beyond the interface, so why would they bother? Don't fix what isn't broken.

For a long time Microsoft made money from how bad their OS was, as people who got computers infected with spyware saw them become slower and would buy a new one falsely believing the slowness was a result of the old one being obsolete. Now people keep their PCs forever, because Security Center hassles people into getting AV software and PCs sold in the mid 2000s are still more than fast enough for the typical user.

Exec responsible for Apple iOS map fiasco walks the plank

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Re: Apples slow car crash is fascinating

Turkeys? That must be why iPhone sales in the US beat ALL ANDROID VENDORS COMBINED for the quarter ending Oct. 31.

Granted, that's just in the US, Apple market share is much lower in other countries where carriers don't subsidize almost everyone like they do here. It'll likely follow the pattern of last year where Apple was on top for a couple quarters after the 4S was released, then dropped a lot as people started waiting for the 5 around the time the OneX and GS3 were released spiking Android sales.

GE study pimps ‘industrial Internet’

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Broadcast only while in the air

Or so I would hope. If you want to send data to it, do a hardwired connection while it's parked for service.

I'm not really sure why being able to monitor jet engines in realtime will save money. I would assume the airplane already routes the data in question (and far more) to the black box, so presumably the data is already being collected. How is having it in realtime saving money?

I suppose they could have a realtime uplink to a satellite that allows the ground to have a copy of black box data, in case the plane sinks in a deep trench where it's unrecoverable. The ground could also have computers monitoring engine performance, to possibly know about problems developing because they become obvious to the pilots. Maybe that's where the money savings comes in, though when selling it to the regulators and public you'd talk about the possibility for saving lives.

Mall lurk man: Apple smashes Microsoft in Black Friday fondle wars

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@AC - Surface support through 2017

Long support of hardware/software (MS are going for 2017, Apple have already ceased to produce new OS versions for iPad 1)

Microsoft is saying they'll support the CURRENT version of Windows on Surface through 2017 with fixes/updates. The original iPad shipped with iOS 3.2, then supported iOS 4 and iOS 5, but does not support iOS 6, so two full iOS version updates.

Microsoft's guarantee of support through 2017 says NOTHING about future versions of Windows, so if Windows 9 is released in three years, don't assume the Surface you just bought will support it. Given how they obsoleted the WM6 devices not running WP7 and then the WP7 devices not running WP8, I would not be surprised in the least if Windows 9 is never supported on the original Surface.

Facebook tries to stop its staff using iPhones in 'dogfood' push

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@ Steve

Developers develop first for the platform that makes them more money. That is still iOS, even with Android selling far more devices now. iPhone/iPad owners are far more willing to pay money for an app, so a lot of 99 cent iOS apps are free w/ads Android apps. You can blame that on Apple owners being suckers, Android owners being cheap, or just an obvious outcome of the market - Apple devices exist only at the high end of the market, while Android devices cover the whole spectrum from low end to high end, and it seems reasonable that the lower price band of the market you buy in at, the less willing you probably are to pay extra for apps.

Given how crappy the iOS Facebook app is, if this is the one getting all the loving attention of the developers, I hate to think how awful the Android version is. It is much better than it was earlier this year before leaving behind HTML5, but it is always slow (quite annoyingly so at times) randomly decides to skip hours worth of updates for no reason, has a few glaring bugs that surely FB employees must run into on a daily basis, and plenty of missing functionality compared to the web site.

I always figured the reason the mobile app was such crap was because they wanted to make people use the web site where they make money from advertising. Now they've got some ads inline with the updates on the mobile app, so maybe they have decided to actually care about mobile now.

Microsoft applies for patent for 'Google Goggles'-type AR specs

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Re: Anyone seen the film "The Jerk"?

I wonder if corporations would be so quick to risk infringing on each others' patents if when found liable for violating a valid patent that the payment had to be made by the CEO writing a million small checks like Navin had to?

Sandy Island does exist - on a 1908 chart

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False data in a sea chart

Why would having a false island that's far from shipping lanes be a problem? Removing an island that was there, now THAT would be a hazard to shipping. Having a false island in a shipping lane wouldn't be a hazard (unless you were in distress and wanted to make landfall there) but wouldn't be done as it would be quickly noticed.

Perhaps the note about it being basically a big sandbar was the excuse in case anyone went looking for it and it couldn't be found, as such sandbar islands tend to do that from time to time.

DougS Silver badge

Fake islands as copy protection

Mapmakers used to include things that aren't there or are deliberately incorrect as a way to determine if someone copied their maps. This island probably originated on such a map.

Flash is dead ... but where are the tiers?

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Re: The simple, elegant solution...

How is this scheme different from any array sold in the last 15 years or more, from the cheap SATA cards that may include 64MB of NVRAM to VMAX with 256GB of mirrored cache?

Given that a VMAX that's SSD for 5% of it's storage and SATA for the other 95%, plus FAST 2.0 to handle keeping hot data on the SSDs provides around 10x greater IOPS in my experience (obviously depends on load, YMMV) your elegant solution may be simple, but it's far from optimal.

Apple versus Samsung: everything infringes everything

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Re: That alternative battery decision, just out of spite...

Contrary to popular belief, lawyers are rarely trained in engineering and have no idea if the patent(s) they're defending actually make sense from an engineering standpoint.

You're half right. It's not that they have no idea if the patents they're defending make sense, it's that they actively DON'T CARE. Think about it. If you are paid to litigate, is it in your best interest to find a larger or smaller number of patents worth litigating about? Lawyers are paid to represent clients, whether they have stupid patents or were caught on video murdering someone in cold blood. If you're defending that murderer, you try to cast doubt on whether the person on the video is your client, how DNA tests aren't 100% infallible, that fingerprints on the murder weapon could have an innocent explanation, etc. You might not expect anyone to buy that argument, but you have to make it anyway.

However, patent legislation usually requires that each patent holder actively defends their patent portfolio, regardless of how many valid patents that portfolio might actually contain.

You are thinking of trademarks, this is not the case for patents (at least not the US, I have no idea how it works in other countries) There is a presumption that waiting longer than six years is an unreasonable delay, without some explanation, but inside that you can do nothing and wait for a billion infringing products to come out. That's enough time that Apple and Samsung could legally still be lying in wait to sue each other over products released in December 2006. The true patent trolls are the ones that deliberately lie in wait like this, and prefer to buy old patents that were previously undefended as it offers an excuse for delay that courts almost always accept.

The reason Apple and Samsung are going all-in right now is because they know this trial is the big showdown in the US, and they want to put all their cards on the table. There's no point in holding back, whether the judge finds one side or the other liable for damages, or they eventually settle and one pays the other, they want to maximize the number of devices in play, and include the devices likely to have a lot of sales between now and the time of a final verdict or settlement.

Google, Apple, eBay shouldn't pay taxes - people should pay taxes

DougS Silver badge

You're missing out on WHY corporations pay tax

The corporate structure offers a liability shield for the owners.

If I own a business that's not incorporated, and hazardous chemicals leak and cause $10 million in damage and the business is sued, I'm personally on the hook for that $10 million. Even if the business has never and never could give me a fraction of that in profits. Basically, I'm ruined.

If I own that same business but it's incorporated and gets sued, they can't touch my personal assets. They can liquidate the corporation, but that's the extent of my liability. I pay for that protection in the form of the double taxation of profits, first at the corporate level via corporate taxes, then at the individual level through taxes on dividends (I'm ignoring S corps in the US, since they are a sort of hybrid)

While I agree with most of what you're saying, if you let corporations pay no tax then every doctor in the land will incorporate himself tomorrow and quit paying malpractice insurance. After all, the worst that can happen is losing the practice, and so long as he's careful to make sure he owns the building/equipment personally or in another corporation that leases to the practice, he has little worry about being sued and pockets what he used to be paying the insurance company. He still pays taxes on dividends, but even if that rate is raised to that of normal income, he'd come out ahead. If that rate stays lower as it currently is in the US, almost every worker would be better off incorporating himself. And his employer would probably let him, as it would be a way of giving him a raise without costing any more.

The only way this will work is if dividends (and stock buybacks) are taxed at a HIGHER rate than personal income, to account for the liability shield afforded by a corporate structure. Because while you could imagine a single person corporation having the liability shield pulled away, it would be rather impractical for a company with many many shareholders like say Ford or GM, especially when most of them hold their shares indirectly through index, mutual and pension funds.

Asteroid miners hunt for platinum, leave all common sense in glovebox

DougS Silver badge

Re: How much for how much?

This was my first thought as well. Anytime I read about mining asteroids for anything rare like platinum, gold, uranium, etc. I wonder how it could possibly be profitable even if the price was to remain stable (which it wouldn't) Sure, you can shift through tons of rock to find a gram of something you want on Earth, but everything will be exponentially more difficult in space.

There's also the question of energy. It takes a lot of energy to dig up a lot of stuff you don't want to get out the bit of stuff you do. Solar energy is weaker in the asteroid belt, and solar panels are likely to be a problem - I suspect there are probably a lot of very tiny asteroids the size of pebbles and below in the belt resulting from 4 billion years of rocks banging around against each other. I doubt panels would last long enough to be feasible. Even if there aren't any rocks around your asteroid when you set up shop, what the heck are you going to do with all the stuff you dig up that you don't want? There's hardly any gravity, so you can't just pile it up next to your hole like on Earth. It may end up being the stuff that destroys your solar panels.

A RTG like on Curiousity might work, but doesn't produce a whole lot of power so it seems like it would be awful slow going for actual mining. A real nuclear reactor would be the best alternative, but good luck as a private enterprise launching a nuclear reactor into space against the objections of a majority of the planet who would see it as risky or leading to the eventual weaponization of space. NASA merely launching the occasional RTG gets people up in arms, even the ones smart enough to realize that having it crash back to Earth would not be all that big of a deal.

I think it's great someone is trying this, and if they can overcome all these problems and make a profit bringing whatever back then they deserve to be billionaires. I look forward to their first exploratory mission, to see what they find when they get there and learn how many of my objections are over or under stated.

Just bought an Apple product? Need support NOW? Drop an F-BOMB

DougS Silver badge

I don't understand why automated voice recognition is so terrible

I have a rather easy to understand voice, but even when I try to enunciate clearly I can't make single words like "representative" understood when I call my stupid credit card company. Yet I can tell Siri "give me a reminder to call about my Visa card tomorrow morning about 10" just speaking normally and it'll get it right first time. It isn't as though Siri has some special magic no one else has, everyone's voice recognition works pretty much the same more or less (the differences between them are more in how well they understand grammar and slang)

Perhaps these call in systems are using the same crappy 90s software without any updates, seeing as they can't even clearly understand a single word. I can't imagine people trying to trying to SPEAK their 16 digit credit card number, the one time I tried it had it so wrong it was laughable - which is sad, considering it did render everything I said as digits, so it wasn't like I said "8" and it thought I said "H". There were only 10 possibilities and it was still way off. Luckily every system I've ever had to deal with will accept DTMF tones for numbers, which preserves my sanity for a bit, until you get to the place where it insists you must tell it what you want next with no option for pushing buttons on your phone.

I've used the f-bomb trick for years on these systems, BTW. Not because I heard of this trick, but because I got so goddamned frustrated that after screaming the word I was trying to get it understand in the phone for the fifth time I lost it and went into a string of profanity and found the secret for myself. Some words work better than others, I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to find out which ones yourself :)

Super-Earths' magnetic FORCE FIELDS could harbour ALIEN LIFE

DougS Silver badge

Who says the life is on the surface?

On a high gravity super earth with a dense atmosphere the air is your ocean, life could evolve there.

Man strives to shatter Call of Duty world record

DougS Silver badge

Cumulative 10 minute breaks per hour?

C'mon, that allows him 4 hours per 24 for sleep and bathroom breaks! I typically only sleep 5-6 hours a night (without needing an alarm or caffeine) and can get by on less when needed. While I know that's not common, it's certainly not all that rare, either. I imagine even people who need more like 6-8 hours for a proper rest could get by on 3 1/2 a night for a week if they really wanted.

This "record" doesn't seem too hard to beat, except that you'd get bored out of your mind playing a game for six days straight. I'm not a gamer so I have no idea how hard it may be to keep your concentration that long, but the record doesn't appear to require you to play well, only to play.

Why do I think there are people reading this forum who have beat this record over Christmas break but didn't have anyone around to vouch for them?

Assault on battery

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3G and wifi turned off on his iPhone

That's like having a sports car but leaving the valet key in all the time, only removing it when you decide you want to get the full power of the engine. i.e., it begs the question of why have a smartphone at all, when it would seem that a phone from the turn of the millennium would be adequate for what little he apparently does with it.

Barclays Bank buys 8,500 Apple iPads in one go

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Windows based programs

If they're bought for a specific purpose that doesn't require Windows compatibility, why should that be a deciding factor? Many major business applications now have iOS apps, so what's the difference whether they access these applications with clients on PCs or iPads?

Basically you're saying that because they use Windows now, they should always use Windows, because after all only Windows is compatible with Windows! If corporations thought the way you did, they'd have just announced an order for 8500 green screen terminals because the new system would have to be mainframe compatible.

Evildoers can now turn all sites on a Linux server into silent hell-pits

DougS Silver badge

Re: Or it could do like VMware Workstation/Player does

It would only require dkms if you do it as part of the OS. The rootkit could have a userspace component hidden away that runs on boot to make sure the rootkit module is loaded. If it finds it is not, it would then download what it needs (kernel-dev stuff, etc.) to build itself, re-install the updated module, then delete everything as it would no longer be needed. It could do the download and build slowly over the course of a few hours so as to not draw attention to itself via network traffic, CPU usage or rapidly changing disk usage.

DougS Silver badge

Or it could do like VMware Workstation/Player does

And compile the module as part of the install process. Granted this requires some extra packages that will not be installed on every server, but the userspace component that does the original install could download what it needs, build the module, then clean up after itself.

For bonus points, it could leave a slightly modified version of an existing startup script to verify the module is still in place. That way if the server's kernel is updated and the module doesn't load, the same build process can be initiated to build the module again for the updated kernel. Just like VMware does, except that it does it when you try to run VMware, rather than in the startup script. But there's no reason it couldn't be done there.

WIMP-seeking detector flooded

DougS Silver badge

Re: At what point

What about this device being built precludes experiments regarding MOND? WIMPs are only one type of dark matter - if dark matter doesn't interact with regular matter AT ALL, then experiments like this would be unable to detect it, and we'd be left with looking for it via its gravitational signature.

The galactic rotation issue that MOND also attempts to explain is only part of the evidence for dark matter, so even if MOND were proven true there would be other observations (galaxies rushing towards a point where apparently nothing exists, etc.) that currently have dark matter as potential candidate and which MOND cannot be the explanation for.

Samsung brews half-asleep OCTO CORE phone brain MONSTER

DougS Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: Innovation

More cores is innovation? Using two different types of cores just as ARM had specified is innovation?

I guess if I had a three bedroom house and I added another bedroom you'd consider that innovation as well.

Why do Smart TV UIs suck?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Lovely advert by Reg for Apple.

Haha, and an even bigger fail for you for using it as an opportunity to claim it is an "advert for Apple" despite them hardly being mentioned, and then trying to turn it around and claim that Google will save us. If that's the solution, given that the Samsung smart TV interface is such an utter piece of crap, why don't they fix the problem by running Google TV software on their TVs?

The only reason the author mentioned Apple was because of the persistent speculation that Apple is going to release a TV with a revolutionary interface. If he hadn't mentioned it, someone would surely have brought it up in the comments. But to claim the author mentioned it and told people to wait for it is quite a stretch. Since first, we don't know if/when Apple will ever release anything, second, we don't know what it will look like, and finally, we don't know what it will cost.

Not that you would care, if Apple really did release a revolutionary smart TV interface that made everyone slap their foreheads and say "why didn't I think of that?" you wouldn't own one even if it was given to you, since you've obviously got a lot of hate for Apple given that you see every mention of their name in a story as an advertisement.

DougS Silver badge

Dual/quad core

What, you're claiming that for TEXT ENTRY you need a dual or quad core processor? How in the world did all those computers get along with single core processors before we got to dual core? Text entry was fine on the first Mac and the first Windows PCs, despite both having single cores that ran at a single digit number of MEGAHERTZ, not gigahertz as in today.

If you are saying that these "higher priced Samsungs" that include a dual or quad core CPU is necessary to make the smart TV features perform "at a reasonable speed for what it is", then no way would I waste my money by paying the extra money for this as you suggest.

Best to save your money by forgoing "smart" TVs altogether since not one has been made that provides anything you will miss if you don't have it.

Mozilla's Social add-on MERGES Facebook with Firefox

DougS Silver badge

They have strayed from the original Firefox

I remember the pre-Firefox days using Mozilla on Linux. It was slow for certain things but it worked. Problem was, it tried to do too much. Some people decided they wanted to do a lean and mean browser-only and started the project that became Firefox. It was awesome.

Now some people on the project need to break away and start something lean and mean once again...

Google hires top US traffic fed for driverless cars project

DougS Silver badge

If you can build a Johnnycab

You can build a Johnnycab capable of cleaning up after the people who were in before you.

HTC: $8 per phone for Apple patents? We're not CRAZY!

DougS Silver badge


Samsung can go back to court, get the 1bn thrown out and request a licence deal anyway.

Uh, no, they can't. Assume for a moment that the patents in question are judged to be valid. Neither Samsung nor the court can force Apple to license their patents at any price. It is totally up to Apple whether or not to do so. They can license to HTC for $8 and to RIM for for free if they choose, but still refuse to license to Samsung at any price. It is totally 100% up to them.

The reason is because these are not FRAND patents. These are not part of a standard where Apple put them forth in standardization meetings in the same way that 3G, LTE, h.264, and other standards were made. FRAND patent licensing is compulsory. For any other patent it is not.

The reason Samsung wants the HTC agreement made public is so they can get the damages knocked down, so they can tell the court for example that Apple licensed these patents for only $1/phone and we've sold 60 million infringing phones, so the damages should be only $60 million. That gets the damages knocked down, but Apple is under no obligation to license future phones at that or any price, and would still be able to block their sale. The winning strategy for Samsung is to have the patents invalidated or the jury verdict overturned, but they also simultaneously want to get the damages knocked down in case they do not succeed there.

Meantime their software engineers are no doubt working to design around the patents Apple has asserted so they're ready to deploy updated software in case the verdict is upheld. Then if Apple thinks the devices are STILL infringing they'd have to go back to the court and try to prove that to block them. And Samsung could again try to design around them. It is sort of like playing whack a mole, which is why companies usually end up settling and licensing as only rarely does one party get true satisfaction out of this process.

Samsung is also likely interested to know the details of the agreement to gain insight into their competitor, HTC. If HTC licensed Apple's patents cheap Samsung wants to know, and hopefully to learn what HTC might have had on Apple to make them willing to give up a good deal. On the other hand, if HTC's CEO is not being truthful, and HTC is actually paying Apple $18/phone, Samsung would want to know that too, as it tells them they potentially have a huge cost advantage over HTC if they are able get all of Apple's patents knocked down (because HTC would still be paying to license them even if they are later invalidated...that's how most such agreements are written)

Apple falls as rivals shake green tech tree

DougS Silver badge

Re: What I want to know is

Perhaps they are using recycled cardboard to make all those boxes...?

Malware made which can share a smartcard over the internet

DougS Silver badge

Re: Mmmm...

What would be the point of that? That's like contacting the vendor of a network card because you can use it to connect to the Internet and hack people, or contacting the vendor of a hard drive because it can be used to store hacking programs.

As someone else said, this is basically using software to simulate a really long USB cable, with software and the Internet replacing the bit in the middle. The vendor of the smartcard reader has no possible defense against this. You can only stop it by the OS requiring signed drivers.

Apple's profits fetish could spell its DOOM

DougS Silver badge

Only a moron thinks SMARTPHONE market share trends matter

The primary growth in the smartphone market at this point forward is feature phone replacement - i.e., at the LOW end of the market. Both the share of iPhones (all priced on the higher end of the market) and high end Android phones (priced in the same range) are shrinking as a share of smartphones sold, because while both iPhones and GS3s (to take one example) are continuing to grow in absolute numbers, they are both growing more slowly than the smartphone market as a whole is.

If you look as you should at the ENTIRE mobile market, you'll see that Apple was just a few percent three years ago but has grown nicely into a profitable but far from dominant ~10% share of the overall mobile market. Android is probably north of 50% of the overall mobile market by this point and will continue to grow to perhaps 80% or so as the feature phone market disappears over the next few years (assuming Apple grows a few more percent and WP8 and BB10 take the remaining few percent)

Not sure why making a profit is seen as a "fetish". It is, after all, the primary function of a corporation. It is funny that he's slagging on the company making the most money of any in the world, with the exception of state owned oil giants Petrochina and Aramco. Will that still be the case in five years? Who knows. Things can change fast in the tech market. But cutting prices in pursuit of market share doesn't guarantee they'll be there in five years either, but does guarantee they'll make a lot less money in the meantime.

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