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Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

afgam28 Re:Cloud (275 comments)

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. It's interesting that Ballmer would say this, given that Microsoft made a big effort to carbon copy AWS during his leadership.

5 days ago

Preferred smartphone screen size?

afgam28 Re:Missing option (258 comments)

I feel like smartphones have replaced TVs as the consumer electronics device to be smug about not owning. With apologies to the Onion:

CHAPEL HILL, NC–Area resident Jonathan Green does not own a smartphone, a fact he repeatedly points out to friends, family, and coworkers–as well as to his mailman, neighborhood convenience-store clerks, and the man who cleans the hallways in his apartment building.

"I, personally, would rather spend my time doing something useful than play with my smartphone," Green told a random woman Monday at the Suds 'N' Duds Laundromat, noticing the other customers' gigantic phablets. "I don't even own one."

According to Melinda Elkins, a coworker of Green's at The Frame Job, a Chapel Hill picture-frame shop, Green steers the conversation toward smartphones whenever possible, just so he can mention not owning one.

Elkins said Green always makes sure to read technology news sites like Slashdot and Hacker News, "just so he can point out all the devices and apps he's never heard of."

"Last week, on some website, there was an article about Instagram," Elkins said, "and Jonathan announced, 'I have absolutely no idea what this app is. Insta-what? Am I supposed to have heard of this? I'm sorry, but I haven't.'"

Tony Gerela, who lives in the apartment directly below Green's and occasionally chats with the 37-year-old by the mailboxes, is well aware of his neighbor's disdain for smartphones.

"About a week after I met him, we were talking, and I said something about screen sizes being too big," Gerela said. "He asked me what I was talking about, and when I told him it was about smartphones, he just went off, saying how the last phone he owned was some device from Motorola, and even then, he would only use it to make phone calls."

Added Gerela: "Once, I made the mistake of saying I forgot to charge my battery last night, and he started in with, 'Last night? I don't know about you, but I only charge my battery twice a week!"

"I'm not an elitist," Green said. "It's just that I'd much rather create content on my desktop than stand there passively swiping away at some glass screen."

"If I need a fix of passive content consumption, I'll go watch a movie I downloaded from BitTorrent on my desktop," Green said. "I certainly wouldn't waste my time with so-called social media or, God forbid, any of the inane social apps the new tech startups pump out."

Continued Green: "People don't realize just how much time their smartphone-using habit–or, shall I say, addiction–eats up. An hour of smartphone usage a day, over the course of a month, adds up to 30 hours. That's more than an entire day! Why not spend that time living your own life, instead of broadcasting to your friends every little thing that you do? I can't begin to tell you how happy I am not to own a smartphone."

about a week ago

Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

afgam28 Re:More changes I don't want ... (173 comments)

1. UI innovations are still innovative, even if the underlying technology has been around for a while.

2. There are no existing email clients that bundle semantically similar emails and extract relevant highlights. Even if you're not impressed with the ui there is still a lot of interesting machine learning behind this.

about a week ago

Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

afgam28 Re:Apple's take on Windows 8 (370 comments)

I don't think this is like Windows 8. It's a safe bet that once technology improves and prices are low enough, everyone will have a hi-dpi screen, so it's easy to argue that retina displays are the future. Whereas this idea of desktop-tablet convergence thing that Windows 8 tried to push was controversial at best, and is an example of Microsoft designing for a future that probably won't happen.

The right font choice depends on the screen that the font is being displayed on. And during the period where we're transitioning away from low resolution screens to "retina" screens, there is no perfect choice for everyone - Lucida Grande is going to be better for low-resolution screens but Helvetica will look better on retina displays. They're not "ignoring good user interface design", they're just making a design tradeoff that favors new hardware over old, and optimizes for their highest-paying customers.

about two weeks ago

Chimpanzee "Personhood" Is Back In Court

afgam28 Re:Chimps have rights, babies don't (385 comments)

You're putting words in their mouth - no one is arguing that we should just coldly kill babies. This isn't about lowering babies, it's about improving the treatment of animals that are believed to have self-consciousness and the capacity to suffer from what we do to them.

about three weeks ago

Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

afgam28 Re:People (481 comments)

So do dogs, cats and chimpanzees end up on the "OK to eat" side of that line?

about a month ago

Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

afgam28 Re:Drawing the line (481 comments)

No, we're not all one big organism, or at least it's not useful to think that way.

When it comes to the ethics of eating meat, the issue is not really the eating but the killing. If you could eat octopus meat without killing it or harming it or otherwise causing it to suffer, you'd be able to side-step this ethical problem easily. That's why even PETA is interested in lab-grown burger meat.

about a month ago

Magnitude 6.0 Quake Hits Northern California, Causing Injuries and Outages

afgam28 Re:Not strong in Oakland (135 comments)

Maybe he wasn't talking about Mercalli, but I'm pretty sure he was talking about intensity and not magnitude.

about 2 months ago

If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

afgam28 Re:A stupid consideration (511 comments)

As mentioned in the summary this has been discussed a few times on Slashdot, and the original discussion was kicked off by Paul Graham's assertion that the cool hacker kids were into Python and the only people using Java were boring corporate types who had no passion for their jobs and were often mediocre programmers. In this sense, "coolness" does matter a little bit - if you're starting a new project, you don't want to choose a language where the labor pool that you're recruiting from is full of crappy programmers.

And yes, I know good programmers can pick up new languages quickly. But it can take months or sometimes years to master all the libraries and frameworks around the language. Someone with relevant experience can hit the ground running and have a shorter ramp-up period than someone without. I'm not saying that this is more important than general coding ability - it's not - but this is valuable to a lot of smaller companies and startups who don't have lots of time to train up new hires.

What makes Java uncool isn't so much the language itself, but rather the community around it. I actually like Java as a language better than Python, but there's a real culture of overengineering in the Java community, and people there really value convoluted architectures that are (ostensibly) maintainable and extensible. In the Python community, people value simplicity and hackability, and you can see it when you do things like file I/O or compare popular frameworks from both languages.

Not directly related to Java, but a while ago the tech lead for OAuth 2.0 resigned citing cultural differences between the "web" and "enterprise" communities. The "cool" languages are definitely the ones that are favoured by the web community, and the uncool ones favoured by the enterprise community.

So as much as people might think that it's just language syntax, it's not - it's also about communities, culture and different ways of thinking.

about 2 months ago

Magnitude 6.0 Quake Hits Northern California, Causing Injuries and Outages

afgam28 Re:Not strong in Oakland (135 comments)

The magnitude of a quake is the total energy released at the epicenter, and it's true that you can't estimate the magnitude from feel since you have no idea of the distance. But the intensity is the amount of shaking at a particular location, and is probably what bazmonkey was talking about.

about 2 months ago

Students From States With Faster Internet Tend To Have Higher Test Scores

afgam28 Re: Correlation is not causation (175 comments)

That's true but the article (and even the summary) says that the correlation with internet speed is stronger than with income. So there may be more to it than just rich people can afford premium services.

Maybe families that value education more strongly are more likely to get broadband, or maybe there's is actually some causation.

about 2 months ago

Microsoft Considered Renaming Internet Explorer To Escape Its Reputation

afgam28 Re:They made their bed (426 comments)

Yeah, I remember around the early to mid 2000s there was an article on Slashdot along the lines of "who will be the next Microsoft?" and the general consensus was nobody - because Microsoft wouldn't be stupid enough to be the next IBM. IBM's mistake in the 80s was to hand over control of DOS, and Microsoft understood this and wouldn't repeat it.

Now in 2014 it's easy to see that IE6's stagnation and Ballmer's laughing dismissal of the iPhone has put the company in a very similar place to where IBM was in the mid 90s.

about 2 months ago

California May Waive Environmental Rules For Tesla

afgam28 Re:Screwed... (327 comments)

Even if they were all gone, there's still plenty of tricholoroethylele in the ground water undernearth Silicon Valley left over from the silicon companies back in the day.

about 3 months ago

Student Bookstores Beware, Amazon Comes To Purdue Campus

afgam28 Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (95 comments)

In my experience ebooks are great for things like novels, where it's mostly paragraph after paragraph of text. But for textbooks that have a lot of images, tables, diagrams, mathematical formulae, source code snippets, etc. the formatting doesn't always come out looking nice.

I think the epub format is basically zip'd html, and the kindle format is not that different. Text gets resized and reflowed according to the reader's screen size, and this means that things move around and don't look the way the author or publisher intended them to. I imagine this would be a problem for a lot of university textbooks, especially in fields like science.

about 3 months ago

Big Bang Actors To Earn $1M Per Episode

afgam28 Re:Compare with sports (442 comments)

I don't think the market values their skills that highly. Only the most successful actors make this kind of money, and if you wanted to compare this to (for example) engineers then the right comparison would be with startup founders who got lucky and sold out for millions (or didn't, and went on to make billions).

The difference with engineering is that a lot of regular engineers make a decent living. For every rich and successful actor or athlete, there are plenty of others who can't make ends meet. If you add all of this up, you'll see that the world values engineering much more highly than acting or sports.

Some rough numbers for perspective: the US film industry takes in $10 billion per year in box office revenues, whereas Google alone pulled in $15 billion last quarter. So at least in this example, I don't think the market valuation is that out of whack.

about 3 months ago

Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

afgam28 Re:This is how business should be done (168 comments)

Ever noticed how Amazon consistently breaks even every quarter? Sure there's like a hundred million loss, or sometimes profit in other quarters, but that's nothing when quarterly revenue is $20 billion. The company knows how much money is coming in, and they're using all of their profit to invest in their infrastructure, and grow out their businesses. They could decide at any moment to stop doing this, and the company would become hugely profitable overnight.

But their revenue last quarter is about 25% higher than it was this time last year, and it has consistently been seeing this kind of growth for years. The right thing for Amazon to do, from a shareholder's perspective, is to keep investing and ride out this wave of growth for as long as it lasts. To do otherwise would be to give up their long-term position just to maximize their short-term quarterly profits.

So to answer your question, "long term" happens when sales growth disappears, and the investments that Amazon makes into its infrastructure no longer provide any returns. With the sales growth that Amazon is seeing right now, this is clearly not the right time to stop building out the company.

about 3 months ago

Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

afgam28 Re:Good (225 comments)

That is also true of Windows and Mac laptops, at the kids' schools and their parents' offices.

about 3 months ago

Firefox 31 Released

afgam28 Re: We are wise to this (172 comments)

Once you've figured out what you're pissed off about, don't forget to go to Mozilla and demand your money back.

about 3 months ago

Facebook's Emotion Experiment: Too Far, Or Social Network Norm?

afgam28 Re: I think it's fine (219 comments)

That's what I thought when I read it too. I wonder if Slashdot did an a/b test with its moderation system and did some sentiment analysis on the resulting comments, would there be the same outrage?

about 4 months ago


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