Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket
It's worse, to some degree.
With cable TV, the providers only have limited information about who is watching. With streaming video, they can gather much more demographic information, which they can either use themselves or resell to "business partners". It's yet another form of income for them. So Hulu (and similar services) are triple-dipping; they charge the viewer cash for the privilege of watching, then get paid for the adverts, then resell the collected demographics. The viewer pays in money, time, and privacy.
Obama Says He May Or May Not Let the NSA Exploit the Next Heartbleed
Signal interception is only half of the NSA's charter; the other half is "Information assurance", which means keeping The Bad Guys (tm) from doing the same to us.
The NSA has been too focused on the interception part of their job, to the point where they are allowing - or purposefully weakening - US security with weak or backdoored encryption methods. Too many government agencies rely on the Internet for them to have turned a blind eye to things like the OpenSSL vulnerability; the NSA has failed at one of the most important part of its jobs.
While I would be loathe to forbid an intelligence agency from using such a vulnerability against legitmate targets, at the same time I would be quite upset if they didn't make sure that they weren't doing what was necessary to keep its charges (us!) safe from being similarly penetrated, especially if that task was specifically part of their remit.
Why There Are So Few ISP Start-Ups In the U.S.
The various "worlds" are political, not an economic delimitation.
"After World War II the world split into two large geopolitical blocs and spheres of influence with contrary views on government and the politically correct society:
1 - The bloc of democratic-industrial countries within the American influence sphere, the "First World".
2 - The Eastern bloc of the communist-socialist states, the "Second World".
3 - The remaining three-quarters of the world's population, states not aligned with either bloc were regarded as the "Third World."" (source)
Third-world countries are often - but not always - developing or less wealthy countries, but also includes nations such as Venezuela or Saudi Arabia, both of which have relatively strong economies.
America by definition can never be anything but a First World country. It's just slowly shifting from an economic powerhouse to one that is in its decline.
Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta
I think the braindead reason is simply that when you're selling an OS version, it has to offer something different than the version that it's supposed to replace. Otherwise people won't see the point in throwing away their old computers just to get something even more bloated than the OS they have now.
Except people do not buy new computers for the OS; the operating system is just something that comes with the computer. People would still be buying new computers at more or less the same rate if they came with Windows XP.
Yes, new operating systems need to be updated so they can take advantage of hardware improvements (SSD drives, USB3, etc), and to fix known security issues. They should also feature improvements and extra features to put the OS more in line with how people actually use their computes (for instance, adding cloud storage or better syncing with mobile devices). But it has been repeatedly shown - with Metro, Unity, Vista and probably a dozen other examples - that changing the interface solely to market your product is going to backfire big-time unless there are some very obvious advantages (MacOS versus DOS, for instance). And Metro lacked those advantages.
Worse, Microsoft was repeatedly warned of this mistake and chose to ignore it. It focused on form over function and barring an excellent marketing team - which Microsoft has never had - it was inevitable that they would fail in their transition.
Pine Tree Has Largest Genome Ever Sequenced
Humans always forget the importance of backups, until it's too late.
Well, whaddaya expect? It's in our genes!
Why Buy Microsoft Milk When the Google Cow Is Free?
But it is free... for the school.
It is the CHILDREN who are paying by providing their personal usage habits and information. They are the ones surrendering their privacy to a mega-corporation (and ultimately, to the government) thanks to this short-sighted policy.
On the plus side, what with the poor state of America's Internet infrastructure, the kids will have a much better excuse for not turning in their homework assignments. Why claim "the dog ate it" when you can just use the much more believable lie that "the Internet was down"?
Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences
This story is ridiculous. Aside from all the ethical aspects - which are important - the whole idea that somebody will serve 1000 years just because we've drugged them is fallacious. They aren't going to experience 1000 years of prison; they will just feel as if time is moving really slowly for a few weeks. We have no innate sense of time and are very dependent on the environment for cues as to how much time has passed. Things like day and night, meals, bathroom breaks, etc. will quickly give lie to the idea that a 1000 year term is being served, even to the most drugged up prisoner. This is just bad science fiction coupled with vengeance fantasies.
Overuse of Bioengineered Corn Gives Rise To Resistant Pests
Seed with limited number of generation, simply kick themselves out of any gene pool which has no such limitation.
While in the long run this is true, in the short run the effects of this can be ruinous to an environment.
In a natural setting, such self-limiting organisms would never be able to get a strong foothold; when they inevitably die out, the rest of the plant kingdom easily makes up the slack. Unfortunately, due to human intervention it is quite possible for these suicidal genes to spread far, far beyond what their 'natural' reach. Thus, when plants infected with these genes inevitably die off, the gap they will leave behind could be much larger than would be otherwise expected. Ultimately, there will be other plants - either those never infected with the "suicide" genes or mutants that bypass this repressive bit of DNA - that will take over the rolls played by those limited by their genes. But in the meantime, the plants and animals (including humans and their civilization) would have a rough time of it as their food source suddenly shrivels up and die.
Yes, we - like the rest of the animal kingdom - would eventually adapt. But pity those caught in the period of disruption, no matter how "short-term" it is in the overall scheme of things.
It is like the argument against global warming. Yes, the planet has weathered periods where it was both warmer and colder than it is now, and yes, life will continue if the current conditions change. But our species - and our civilizations - have adapted to current conditions and the transitory periods would bring great hardship. It's all well and good to say "life will go on" but that ignores all the pain and suffering of those living during the transition, which is sort of contrary to the whole point of having a civilization to begin with.
We have the wisdom and ability to avoid these disruptions - whether caused by mismanagement of our seedcrop or the pollutants from our industry - and ignoring the dangers these cause simply because /life/ will surely survive the changing conditions is foolish. It's not just life that is important, but individual lives. It is all the more ridiculous since we are charging recklessly ahead with these dangerous technologies simply with the aim of increasing the shareholder value of a corporation.
Microsoft Releases Free Edition of OneNote
You can download the "desktop" client from Microsoft's website but all you get is a 2MB loader that then downloads the remaining 1GB of the program. This makes me wonder two things:
1) Why doesn't Microsoft make an offline installation available for people, since the whole point of the program is to have a note-taking program that can be synced across multiple computers and devices. It would be nice not having to download 1GB on every computer I own (not to mention it would probably do wonders for their own bandwidth)
2) Why the hell does a little cloud-synchronized note-taking program take 1 GB of disk space? I mean, I know Office - and Microsoft programs in general - are fabled for their bloat, but this is taking things to extremes. Evernote is 1/10th the size.
Microsoft Releases Free Edition of OneNote
a) Since when does OneDrive not work with Windows 8.1? It is embedded into the operating system (although it does stupidly require you to log on to the computer with your Live/OneDrive/SkyDrive/Hotmail log-in if you want to use the integrated client, which I refuse to do... but you can always use the web-interface through your browser of choice)
b) regardless of how you access OneDrive, you can install OneNote on Windows 8.1. It will request your log-in credentials during installation. Even if you log onto your PC with a "local" account, you can still use OneNote and OneDrive.
Mind you, I absolutely hate how Microsoft is tricking the average user* to create an MS Live account just to use their own computer and think it's almost as bad as the MetroUI, but claims that neither OneDrive nor OneNote work with Win8.1 are patently false.
* Yes, you /can/ create a local account, but it is not at all obvious that you can, much less how it can be achieved. The average user will just create a hotmail account like MS wants.
How the NSA Plans To Infect 'Millions' of Computers With Malware
As bad, if the NSA can do it, so can others. Either they will hijack the NSA's 'wares, or they will use the same vulnerabilities and methods pioneered by these government agencies. Rather than working to protect the nation's citizenry, businesses and infrastructure, the NSA and others are actively undermining our security. Their mandate is not only to intercept enemy signals but to ensure that those of the country's are not similarly compromised. So not only have they overreached too far in one direction, they have ignored the equally important other part of the job.
Sadly, even if the NSA did start offering secure solutions for people, would anybody trust them enough to take them up on it?
WSJ: Americans' Phone Bills Are Going Up
Tracfone is great for people with light usage; those who just want a phone in their pocket to make that emergency (or semi-emergency, like "I'm in the store now; what was that thing you wanted me to buy again?") call. It is far less valuable for people who regularly use their phone for long conversations. And its data and messaging rates (and service) are terrible.
Mind you, I fall into the former camp and am happy with my cheap TracFone. In those instances where I actually need to discuss things with people, I just wait until I get to a landline (either at work or at home), and there are enough free wi-fi hotspots around here that I rarely need worry about not having access to the Internet (anyway, I suffer from fat-finger syndrome, and would rather use a laptop than try to punch out a message on the tiny keyboard of a phone any day). And I pay less than $100 a year, which is less than some people pay per month.
But it is definitely not a service for everyone.
Free (Gratis) Version of Windows Could Be a Reality Soon
Wait, wait, wait...
A company (Microsoft) with a dominant position in a market (desktop operating systems) is using that position to gain traction in another market (Internet Search)?
Oh Microsoft, didn't you learn your lesson in 1998?
Of course, now it has to be argued that advancing Bing is the real reason Microsoft is pushing Windows 8.1 (as opposed to an attempt to bolster the ailing sales of its reviled operating system) but you would think a convicted monopolist would have have learned to be more circumspect.
Does Microsoft have to go through this with /every/ new CEO?
Speedier Screening May Be Coming To an Airport Near You
Why not return to the pre-9/11 security?
Because that would eradicate 90% of the TSA bureaucracy.
Because then there would be no need for all those expensive and ineffective machines, and how would the politicians get their kickbacks?
Because long lines must mean that the government is doing SOMETHING good to provide security, giving its citizens a nice warm fuzzy feeling, even if its actual effectiveness is unsubstantiated.
And because then people might get the idea that they have the right not to be run roughshod by government goons just for the privilege of traveling to another state or country.
I mean, how can the advantages of cost-effectiveness, convenience and liberty compete with all that?
With 'Virgin' Developers, Microsoft Could Fork Android
There is a lot of duplication. I'm not familiar with the specifics of the Android or Windows Phone but on IOS, for instance, there are dozens of PDF readers as an example. And you can take any specific type of app and you will probably find a half dozen different apps that all perform the same thing.
Except... they don't, not exactly. There is just enough minor variation to attract different customers, and each will protest that their choice is the best because it suits their needs better than the rest. Myself, I like a PDF reader where all it does is read PDF files well, but others want a reader that handles EPUBs, TXT, AZW, as well as a dozen other formats. Or one that allows wireless transfer from the PC, or allows the user to edit PDFs, or sync them with DropBox. Or any combination of the above functions with innumerable other features.
When you have a smaller number of apps, you lose this variety. Arguably the customer is no worse off - he can still read PDFs, for example - but he loses a bunch of extraneous features that make the apps more useful to him. So duplication of apps is valuable in and of itself, and its lack reduces the utility of the platform.
Its easy to disparage the excessive focus on number of program in a platform's app-store as pointless duplication, but that variety exists for a reason; everybody's needs are different, and all those different apps are serving those different needs. Less apps means a platform is flat-out less useful to the user. Windows Phone does not offer this range of functionality and thus cannot attract the same number of customers.
With 'Virgin' Developers, Microsoft Could Fork Android
Because the days of a phone as a single-purpose device are long over. Modern phones are miniature computers and - like all computers - it is the software they run which is the most important part. No matter how good the hardware or underlying operating system may be, if it doesn't have applications to run on it, that computer is not going to end up being used. And Android phones have the apps, while Windows phones do not.
Sure, there are a small selection of apps for Windows phones, but it is nothing in comparison to what you can get on an Android (or an Apple IOS device). Apps come out first on Android and IOS, with ports to Windows Phone a secondary consideration (if they are ported at all). And there are no must-have applications only available on Windows Phone. Without the apps, they can't attract users, and without the users they cannot attract developers.
Forking Android is one potential method of getting those users. Once they have gained (embraced) a significant market-share, then Microsoft could follow up with their usual "extend, extinguish" methodology to control that market (love it or hate it, that policy works for them).
Of course, forking Android is unlikely to be a successful strategy. Increasing amounts of the Android API are being moved into Google's proprietary services and many applications are becoming more dependent on the functionality of those APIs. Forking Android would require Microsoft to create an incompatible replacement for those APIs or try to create a clean-room version of the GMS that maintains full compatibility. With the former, they have just traded a Windows kernel for a Linux kernel without gaining users because they still won't have compatibility with most apps. With the latter, Microsoft cedes control of the the platform to Google and will constantly be playing catch up to any changes the search-giant makes.
Their best bet - but the one they have been unable to achieve despite over a decade of trying - is to create a must-have feature that can only be had on Windows Phones (for instance, imagine a successor to Facebook and the only phone that you can access it from is a WinPhone). Microsoft was hoping that Exchange/ActiveDirectory integration might be this feature, but - because that was largely only of interests to large businesses - it failed to capture the market. But if they can find something that excites the market and only they offer - then they can succeed.
So even were Windows Phone OS the best and most advanced phone OS around, it doesn't matter a jot. It's always been the applications that have driven users to a platform, and right now Microsoft doesn't have those. And that is why people are throwing around ideas like forking Android.
FCC Planning Rule Changes To Restore US Net Neutrality
Thank you for that link; it was quite amusing.
I like this one:
"But common carrier regulation discourages infrastructure investment and network enhancement"
Because the telecoms have been doing so much of that otherwise. That's why I'm still stuck with the option of either using a 5Mbs cable line or a 2Mbs DSL line. It's all that infrastructure they've been investing so much in.
“It is the policy of the United States . . . to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”
Actually, it is true in 1996 - when the above was written - there was a vibrant and competitive free market; there were dozens of ISPs to chose from. Oddly enough, after the 1996 Telecom Act was passed, consumer options started dwindling away.
"Nothing in the court’s decision will change the basic incentives of service providers to offer consumers capabilities that meet all of their ever-increasing needs.”
Except running their own servers, or slowing down downloads that compete with ISPs own content delivery, or double-dip charges to keep competitors' prices unfairly high. A competitive free market might have allowed that sort of thing, but when there are only a handful of companies working in collusion with one another, none of them have any incentive to keep prices down and offer different services.
"When a company’s return on investment is dictated by the government, there’s little incentive to re-invent or improve the system, which is why copper phone lines are still prevalent, water main breaks are an all-too-common occurrence, and the electric grid is in need of serious repair."
Odd, my Internet goes down more often than all of those COMBINED. Probably caused by all those backhoes repairing waterlines and downed power-cables...
Asia's Richest Man Is Betting Big On Silicon Valley's Fake Eggs
Because it doesn't give any specifics in TFA, or int the article linked in TFA. Are they soy-based? Yeast? Cloned-meat that exists in a semi-alive state? Some sort of toxic mix of petrochemicals? I have no idea.
The fact that the articles seem to go out of their way not to bring this sort of thing to our attention seems a bit telling. Just telling me that "they're eggs, but better!" does not encourage me to eat them. If anything, given how frequently corporations use deceit and distraction, this absence of fact just makes me want to avoid them all the more.
A New Car UI
On the plus side, once the standard is set it will be considered obsolete, ignored and added to the pile of already existing standards. And then we can start all over again! Thus ensuring that UI designers (and lawyers) never want for business!
I mean, seriously; can you imagine the damage it would do to our civilization of the people behind some of the worst UI catastrophes (car UIs, Windows 8, Slashdot beta) had to go out and get real jobs?
NVIDIA Launches GTX 750 Ti With New Maxwell Architecture
Honestly, my three-year old GTX 580 makes games look amazing, and it is still surprisingly capable with modern games (really, only Crysis 3 on Ultra made it wheeze). This is thanks to how anemic were the GPUs in the last-gen game-consoles, but I'd wager it still holds up well with the launch titles released for the XBOne or PS4. I suppose I'll get a new GPU in a year or two, but after that I think I'll be find until the PS5/XBox-NextWhatever is released.
My days of upgrading video-cards on a yearly basis seem long gone; so much of the power we have available at our fingertips goes unused these days that it seems an unnecessary expenditure. I'd feel sorry for AMD and nvidia but, well, they did sort of bring it on themselves. ;-)