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Comments

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Writing Documentation: Teach, Don't Tell

EMB Numbers Re:The web and hyper text are a challenge (211 comments)

As a university instructor, I disagree. Many subjects are presentable in sensible sequence with knowledge neatly building on prior knowledge. The entire curriculum is created with prerequisite and co-requisite courses. Attempting a 400 level class without having mastered the 100 level course content is a recipe for pointless struggle.

Wikipedia is a great resource. It's articles are self contained and generally rely only on general knowledge. Wikipedia is not a good source for delving deep into subjects.

Having said that, I use wikipedia extensively. There is almost an entire Computer Science undergraduate curriculum in there. t still requires a guide. There are still sensible paths through the information. Here is a great example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibonacci_heap In the context of a Data Structures course, that is a great page. What benefit would that page provide to somebody who has never programmed and doesn't know what a data structure is? You can follow links to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heap_(data_structure) and then http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_structure and then you are directed to dead-tree textbooks that explain the topics in a sensible sequence.

about a year ago
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Writing Documentation: Teach, Don't Tell

EMB Numbers Re:Stack Overflow (211 comments)

The blind leading the blind. People who can't tell good answers from bad upvote bad answers. Try searching for some topic that you know a lot about and see what I mean.

about a year ago
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Writing Documentation: Teach, Don't Tell

EMB Numbers Stack Overflow (211 comments)

In my opinion, Stack Overflow is most often the blind leading the blind. There will be 20 wrong answers, 10 answers to the wrong question, 2 suboptimal solutions, and if you are in luck there will be 1 good solution. Now, tell me which is which. It seems to me that the good answer is almost always buried under crap.

Stack overflow questions are often badly stated and difficult to find with more correct search terms. If you don't even know the search terms, the site is useless.

There have been a few times when stack overflow saved me a lot of time. There have been many times when stack overflow has been a pointless time sink.

about a year ago
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Writing Documentation: Teach, Don't Tell

EMB Numbers The web and hyper text are a challenge (211 comments)

As an author of three successful dead-tree programming books, I have a few observations.

1) I use the electronic versions myself because of easy search (better than an index) and copy/paste.
2) In book format, it's possible to lead a reader through topics in a sensible order that builds on prior topics.
3) The challenge with electronic/on-line documentation is that there is no expectation that readers will approach the material in any particular order. Readers type a search term into google and up pops a page or two of documentation. How can the author make safe assumptions about the definitions of terms and prior conceptual knowledge the reader will have? Adding links to the definitions of terms and links to chapter oriented conceptual documentation doesn't usually help because readers are impatient, and there is no good place in the middle of the documentation to start.
4) Many readers don't know the terms to type into google and therefore aren't lead to the relevant conceptual documentation even if they would have read it had they known.

about a year ago
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Election Tech: In Canada, They Actually Count the Votes

EMB Numbers Re:Proportional representation (500 comments)

Each USA citizen votes for one representative in the House of Representatives and two Senators. Each representative represents slightly less than 1,000,000 people. Given voting rates, a US Representative can get elected with as few as 200,000 supporters.

Residents in Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Delaware, and Montana can elect senators with as few as 200,000 supporters.

Small interest groups in large states like California and New York are unlikely to get any representation unless they happen to be concentrated within one or two congressional districts. Of course, that's the case in places like New York City and San Francisco where individual neighborhoods are almost sufficient to elect their own representatives to congress. Barney Frank of Massachusetts's 4th congressional district is a stirling example of a congressman with a vary narrow and special interest constituency. See also Charles Rangel who represents the Harlem portions of Manhattan.

In a proportional representation system, would Harlem have any representation? Would anyone in North Dakota be represented?

about 2 years ago
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Election Tech: In Canada, They Actually Count the Votes

EMB Numbers Re:Proportional representation (500 comments)

Instead of CITIES I should have said metropolitan areas. For example, Dallas TX contains 1,223,229 people and Fort Worth TX contains 758,738 people and the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area contains 6,526,548 people
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas–Fort_Worth_metroplex

about 2 years ago
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Election Tech: In Canada, They Actually Count the Votes

EMB Numbers Re:Proportional representation (500 comments)

5% in the USA is between 15,000,000 and 20,000,000 people! You want to exclude people who can find 15,000,000 people who support their platform? Under your standard, the following 45 European states would have zero representation in a theoretical European political union: (FYI, The USA contains more that 20 CITIES with greater population than the nation, Norway)

Population density, area and population of countries and dependencies in Europe (2002-07-01 est.)
Country Population
  Vatican City 900
  Gibraltar (UK) 27,714
  San Marino 27,730
  Monaco 31,987
  Liechtenstein 32,842
  Faroe Islands (Denmark) 46,011
  Guernsey (UK) 64,587
  Andorra 68,403
  Isle of Man (UK) 73,873
  Jersey (UK) 89,775
  Iceland 312,384
  Malta 397,499
  Luxembourg 512,000
  Montenegro 626,000
  Cyprus 803,147
  Estonia 1,294,236
  Slovenia 2,048,847
  Macedonia 2,054,800
  Latvia 2,366,515
  Armenia 3,262,200
  Albania 3,544,841
  Lithuania 3,601,138
  Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,964,388
  Ireland 4,234,925
  Moldova 4,434,547
  Croatia 4,490,751
  Norway 4,942,700
  Georgia 4,960,951
  Finland 5,302,545
  Denmark 5,368,854
  Slovakia 5,422,366
  Switzerland 7,301,994
  Serbia 7,498,001
  Bulgaria 7,621,337
  Austria 8,169,929
  Sweden 9,076,744
  Azerbaijan 9,493,600
  Hungary 10,075,034
  Belarus 10,335,382
  Portugal 10,617,192
  Czech Republic 10,674,947
  Belgium 11,007,020
  Greece 11,606,813

about 2 years ago
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The Gates Foundation Engages Its Critics

EMB Numbers Cody claims teacher performance doesn't correlate (216 comments)

Cody claims teacher performance doesn't correlate with student achievement. I believe him. I don't agree with his assertions that schools are underfunded and couldn't educate poor students even with more funding.

There is even less correlation between cost per student and student performance than between teacher and student performance.http://www.npri.org/blog/does-more-spending-increase-student-performancehttp://www.reuters.com/article/2007/05/24/us-usa-education-spending-idUSN2438214220070524http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/03/02/opinion/doc4f51a55f28207547363660.txthttp://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Little-correlation-found-between-per-pupil-823833.php

It is common for urban poor school districts to cost much more per student than the surrounding suburbs. Look at Kansas City or Washington DC for stark examples.

Seriously, spending more than $10,000 per year per student is a travesty. A class with 30 students should not cost $300,000 and the money is not going to the teacher!

I agree, end the war on drugs and greatly reduce parent incarceration rates.
I agree, find employment for everybody that raises them above poverty.
I agree, support family planning, pre-natal care, nutrition, and free pre-school or head start.

But, it isn't poverty exactly or school financial resources that predict student performance. It's culture. There is an urban poor culture that doesn't exist among poor rural students, and the outcomes differ. How can we change the culture that devalues education? How can we change the violence and street power culture? How can we convince people not to have children that are later neglected and abused?

about 2 years ago
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US Contemplating 'Vehicle Miles Traveled' Tax

EMB Numbers The first round of cuts should be simple (1306 comments)

We have a larger navy than the next 11 countries combined, and 9 of those are our allies.
Step 1) Reduce navy to the save of the next 5 countries combined.

We have more agriculture department employees than there are farmers.
Step 2) Eliminate all farm subsidies and cut the agriculture department to the bone.

We fight too many wars
Step 3) Stop fighting wars and eliminate supplemental war expenditures.

Stop fighting the "war on drugs" and every other "war on..." that we have been loosing since the 1960s. Get over it already.
Step 4) Stop prosecuting and start taxing vices and victimless crimes.

I currently work as a defense contractor, and I know first that the government is incompetent and defense spending is largely wasteful.

more than 3 years ago
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Book Review: Android User Interface Development

EMB Numbers Objective-C is easy - frameworks take time (111 comments)

Saying you don't have time to learn Objective-C is ridiculous. If you know Java, It takes half a day to learn Objective-C. The time consuming part of learning any new technology/platform is learning the frameworks. Cocoa and Cocoa Touch are huge and use design patterns that many coders do not already know. Fortunately, the design patterns are used everywhere, and they are used consistently. Once you understand and recognize the patterns, there is no more productive and flexible framework on the planet.

Frankly, learning the design patterns will make you a better programmer no matter what platform you choose. It's worth it just to advance your computer science knowledge.

more than 3 years ago
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Android 3.0 Platform Preview and SDK Is Here

EMB Numbers Thanks. (129 comments)

Thanks. I have read much the same in the documentation. I suspect I just have to gain experience with the framework to get a feeling for which class to use when. For example, I don't see any reason why I can't draw in any old View rather than using a Widget, and Drawables don't seem to need Views at all; is that correct? I can have a Canvas and a Paint for a Drawable and see it on screen without a View?

I guess I'll just have to learn the intended roles of the classes. That is the nature of learning any framework and not necessarily better or worse with Android - just different.

more than 3 years ago
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Android 3.0 Platform Preview and SDK Is Here

EMB Numbers From iOS developer POV (129 comments)

The enhancements including new/improved GUI controls and built-in animation support will make re-hosting features from iOS easier. There seems to be some confusion (possibly only in my mind) or overlap between Views, Widgets, Fragments, and Drawables as well as between Canvas and Paint. The whole framework seems disorganized or lacking consistent application of patterns, but I admit that I may just not see the forest for the trees.

more than 3 years ago
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You can picture airports and not show "real" id

EMB Numbers Where is the ACLU now? (1 comments)

the ACLU has joined several court cases against government funding of organizations that discriminate against homosexuals and atheists, prominently including the Boy Scouts of America. They have defended Neo-Nazi organizations and the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). The ACLU also defended Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North,[60] whose conviction was tainted by coerced testimony. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_Liberties_Union#Controversial_stances

I grew up hearing stories about ACLU abuse of the courts in the 70s and 80s. Now that government inflicted injustice is rampant among ordinary citizens, where is the ACLU? Where are the federal lawsuits to stop the TSA goons? Where are the calls to impeach the president for abuse of power (like the ACLU advocated for Nixon, Regan, and Bush 2)?

more than 2 years ago
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Paid Developers Power the Linux Kernel

EMB Numbers I interview and manage embedded projects (191 comments)

Embedded programming requires a certain mind set. Board support packages, memory organization, interrupt handling schemes, latency management, working around chip set bugs/oddities, reverse engineering, close collaboration with hardware designers for field programmable gate arrays or ASICs, bootstrapping, and system integration are NOT taught in any school I have discovered. The closest I have found is Computer Engineering programs that offer robotics or some other courses/projects that include interfaces to controllers and sensors.

Smart programmers can learn all of this, but it is a very different environment than the application level programming with "managed" languages that most students learn. Compilers often don't work seamlessly. A little machine language (let alone assembly language) is often needed to get development started. If you have never done any assembly language programming, that is a good skill to develop.

more than 3 years ago
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Sony Adopts Objective-C and GNUstep Frameworks

EMB Numbers I added the "chase Apple" zing to get accepted (345 comments)

I added the "chase Apple" zing in order to get the submission accepted by slashdot. There is a recipe. Deliberately omit important details from the summary, include something slightly inaccurate, and end with a zing.

It drives responses. People post to add the missing important detail. People post to correct or clarify the slight inacuracy. People post in response to the "zing." I have been doing this for years. Follow the recipe any your submissions will be accepted too.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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The Apple Tax Hypocrisy

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  about 2 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Apple's victorious $1B patent verdict against Samsung has the potential to raise prices of competing phones when makers must pay a royalty (tax) to Apple. Yet, Apple pays the Nokia tax: Apple paid Nokia more than $600M plus an estimated $11.50 per iPhone sold. Nokia has made more money from these IP arrangements than from selling its own Lumia smartphones.

Last year, about half of all Android handset makers paid a Microsoft Tax bill of $27 per phone. Samsung pays Microsoft “between $10 and $15 – for each Android smartphone or tablet computer it sells.”

  Jean-Louis Gassée identifies hypocrisy in the media and nerd outrage : http://www.mondaynote.com/2012/08/26/the-apple-tax-part-ii/"

Link to Original Source
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Aswering EFF: Apple defends iOS devs

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 3 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Patent troll Lodsys sent a letter to several Apple iOS developers on May 13, 2011 claiming that iOS developers infringed Lodsys patents and needed to license the company’s technology.
The EFF asked Apple to defend the independent devs. http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/17/lodsys-vs-apple-devs-eff-helps-us-dig-deeper/
Today, Apple rallied with a smack-down legal response backing independent Devs with the full Apple's full might."

Link to Original Source
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Social Intelligence: Why be an Enginerd?

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 3 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Social Intelligence: Engineers design things that salesmen sell. Salesmen sell to each other in clubs, on golf courses, and over drinks. Engineers value competence in design. Salesmen value competence in clubs, golf courses, and drinking. College fraternities are surely the best possible training ground for salesmen. I should have joined a frat and studied clubs, golf, and beer :( Why does anybody study engineering? Why do engineers always end up working for salesmen? Is it because salesmen bring in the money and engineers are just a regrettably necessary cost of product development?"
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Sony adopts Objective-C and GNUstep frameworks

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 3 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Sony has revealed that the new SNAP development environment for "consumer electronics" is based on Objective-C and the open source GNUstep implementation of Apple's Openstep spec. While Apple has continued to update their specification in the form of Cocoa and Mac OS X, GNUstep has preserved the original standard. Anyone familiar with Cocoa Touch and iOS will feel right at home developing for Sony. There may even be some source code compatibility between the platforms. The world continues to chase apple — probably for the better."
Link to Original Source
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7th Graders Find Large Cave on Mars

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 4 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Cnet news http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20008507-1.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20 reports that "the science class from Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood, Calif. found the opening while working on a research project with the Mars Space Flight Facility run out of Arizona State University in Tempe." "The students examined more than 200 images of Mars taken with the Thermal Emission Imaging System (Themis), an instrument on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter."

The only other similar opening near the volcano was found in 2007, when Glen Cushing, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, published a research paper on the surface anomalies.

The opening is estimated to be 620 feet by 520 feet and the hole to be at least 380 feet deep."

Link to Original Source
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Steve Jobs believes Theora codec violates patents

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 4 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "From: Steve Jobs
To: Hugo Roy
Subject: Re:Open letter to Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash
Date 30/04/2010 15:21:17

All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents. An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.

Sent from my iPad"

Link to Original Source
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Microsoft looses patent fight for Word

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 4 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Microsoft infringed U.S. Patent No. 5,787,499 on "document architecture and content."

Judge upholds $200,000,000 Verdict, adds $40 million for willful infringement, $37 million in interest, and $144,060 per day until the date of final judgment. Most importantly... Judge's injunction prohibits Microsoft from selling some Microsoft Word products.

Story: http://sev.prnewswire.com/banking-financial-services/20090811/DA6039911082009-1.html

Will Microsoft change sides in the software patent battle of mutually assured destruction?"
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New Apple TV ads sure to inflame debate

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 5 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Apple released a new TV commercial called "Legal Copy" that lambasts Windows PCs for use of excessive legal disclaimers and the perceived amount of fiddling needed to use Windows. MacJournal http://www.macjournals.com/news/legalcopytext has transcribed the "legal" text spewed by PC. Prominent criticisms in the transcripts include the need to download drivers, update anti-virus software, defragment disks, prune the registry, and manually backup files. Mac OS X ships with all drivers needed including support for consumer cameras, printers, etc. Mac OS X does not fragment the disk or use a registry. Few Mac users have anti-virus software. Mac OS X includes automatic and automated backup."
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FSF: iPhone is a "Prison" - touts Neo Free

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  about 6 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/5-reasons-to-avoid-iphone-3g

Here's an over the top rant from our friends at the Free Software Foundation:

"We agree. A snake oil salesman not satisfied with his business of pushing proprietary software and Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology into your home, Jobs has set his sights on getting DRM and proprietary software into your pocket as well."

"Apple, through its marketing and visual design techniques, is manufacturing an illusion that merely buying an Apple makes you part of an alternative community."

"The iPhone is an attack on very old and fundamental values...The iPhone is broken, on purpose."

"We know Jobs is afraid of competition...he wants to take as much from you as possible, give you back as little as possible...His customers are fighting back"

"The FreeRunner doesn't yet do as much as the iPhone and it's certainly not as pretty. But in terms of potential, the fact that it's supported by a worldwide community of people rather than a single greedy, dishonest and secretive entity puts it light-years ahead.""
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Security bug in Safari allows full exploit

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 6 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "The exploit involved getting an end user to click on a link, which opened up a port that he was then able to telnet into. Once connected, Charlie Miller of Independent Security Evaluators was able to remotely run code of his choosing. Charlie Miller said he chose Apple [to hack] over [Linux and Vista] because "I thought of the three it was the easiest".
http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2008/03/28/mac_hack/"
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Safari team comments on new IE8 version targeting

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 6 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Apple's Safari/WebKit team have commented on Microsoft's proposal regarding new IE8 version targeting and the impact on existing web standards. http://webkit.org/blog/155/versioning-compatibility-and-standards/ "In addition to maintainability, an important feature of the WebKit engine is the ease with which it is deployed on limited-capability devices... These and other products all include a full-powered version of WebKit, no compromises...However, having more mode switches cuts against this. The extra code (possibly whole extra copies of the engine, at the very least a whole lot of extra if statements) would be a significant burden on mobile devices. It's not very well aligned with our mission of staying lean and mean.""
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iPhone devs feared jokes about Newton

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 6 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Many hoping for a re-birth of the Newton. Apple is running away from the Newton.

Said Jobs, "We all had that Garry Trudeau cartoon that poked fun at the Newton in the back of our minds," he said, citing Doonesbury comic strips that mocked an Apple handwriting-recognition system in 1993. "This thing had to work."
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/technology/22apple.html

Oh, and Apple had record breaking sales and financials incliding 1.3M iPhone sales.
http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2007/10/22results.html"
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Apple offers early iPhone buyers $100 store credit

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 6 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "In an open letter from Apple http://www.apple.com/hotnews/openiphoneletter/ , Steve Jobs writes, "Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple's website next week. Stay tuned."

Jobs also defends this week's $200 iPhone price cut and Apple's strategy."

Link to Original Source
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Is the premise of the movie, "Idiocracy" v

EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 6 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Is the premise of the movie, "Idiocracy" valid ? It states that for most of human history, intelligence, creativity, strength, agility, and health were all positive survival traits meaning that people with those traits were more likely to survive and produce more offspring. Therefore, by natural selective breading, those traits were amplified and became more common in the human gene pool. However, those traits are no longer advantageous from a natural selection standpoint. In fact, idiotic, dull, weak, clumsy, and sickly people are now as likely as anyone else to survive to reproduce. Furthermore, for whatever reason, such people reproduce in much greater numbers than anyone else. From an evolutionary perspective, high fertility coupled with high survival trumps all other attributes. Natural selection is now working to decrease average intelligence, creativity, strength, agility, and health.

I believe that all people are equal in any reasonable moral or ethical system. Do smart people have a duty to the human rase to have many offspring ? Should Olympic athletes have more children ? Should society encourage people from long lived families to have more children ? Should society somehow reduce the fertilely of other people ?"
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EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 7 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "According to credible surveys of cell service subscribers and providers, the iPhone is predicted to initially take 9% of cell phone sales, help cut Motorola's U.S. phone sales nearly in half, and catapult ATT/Cingular from second place service provider to first. http://ce.seekingalpha.com/article/34501?source=fe ed?sr=hotnews.rss "Paul Carton (ChangeWave Alliance) submits: It's not often that we say "it rocks" when analyzing a consumer device trend. But the findings of our latest ChangeWave cell phone survey invite extremes to describe the startling impact the Apple (AAPL) iPhone is having on the cellular industry.""
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EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 7 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Shane Macaulay just won a MacBook as a prize for successfully hacking the Mac at CanSecWest conference in VANCOUVER, B.C. CNet covers the story here. http://news.com.com/2100-7349_3-6178131.html?part= rss&tag=2547-1_3-0-5&subj=news The hack was based on a Safari vulnerability found by Dai Zovi and written in about 9 hours. However, CanSecWest organizers relaxed the contest rules http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-6171472-7.html to make the hack possible because nobody at the event had breached the Macs under official contest rules."
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EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 7 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "C-Net says last year saw a 131 percent jump in digital sales, but overall the industry still saw about a 4 percent decline in revenue. http://news.com.com/2100-1027_3-6162729.html?part= rss&tag=2547-1_3-0-5&subj=news At the opening of the conference, some of the panel members lashed out at Jobs. Members said Jobs' call three weeks ago for DRM-free music was "insincere" and a "red herring." Apple has maintained a stranglehold on the digital music industry by locking up iTunes music with DRM......and "it's causing everybody else who is participating in the marketplace — the other service providers, the labels, the users — a lot of pain. If they could simply open it up, everybody would love them.""
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EMB Numbers EMB Numbers writes  |  more than 7 years ago

EMB Numbers (934125) writes "Wil Shiply, owner of Delicious Monster, comments on advertising in magazines, web sites, and Google Ads from the point of view of a small but very successful independent software developer. http://www.wilshipley.com/blog/ Shiply discounts magazines, praises web sites, and urges caution when using Google Ads. The process of buying ads is described, and there is analysis of click-fraud, cost per sale, and finally "Google content network == teh suck.""

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