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The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

alexander_686 Re:Article doesn't address they "why" (205 comments)

What would you suggest? Stronger? Weaker? What?

Personally, I would advocate for a system which had a shorter time period and exposed more of the standards and source code.

about two weeks ago
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The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

alexander_686 Re:Marketshare (205 comments)

Don't look up loss leader, read up on the tragedy of the commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T...

If something is free, people will not contribute sufficiently to the resources. Which is the writer's main grip.

There are ways to get around this. You can charge for it, which runs against open source. Yes, one can make money by charging for support. However, while you might charge for support that does not mean you would contribute back to the open source project – so we still have a suboptimal solution. You can force contributions either explicitly (government) or implicitly using social pressure. Social pressure is what is being used now. Social pressure works better in small communities where trust can be built. Not so much in the wilds of the internet.

about two weeks ago
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Chinese CEO Says "Free" Is the Right Price For Mobile Software

alexander_686 Re:When you're right, you're right. (133 comments)

I am going to nitpick a bit, but the IBM is off point. IBM did not sell off its server line. It sold off it low end commodity server line. It kept the high end line. It about a high end company being in the commodity busses, not about if that line is economically viable – which was the main point.

about two weeks ago
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Technical Hitches Delay Orion Capsule's First Launch

alexander_686 Re:Ob (71 comments)

This? Coming from an agency that could not harpoon a comet at point blank range? It is not like we are talking about rocket science here. No wait – we are – dammit!

about two weeks ago
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Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

alexander_686 Re:Reinvesting in the business (110 comments)

On the margin side I am going to have to disagree with you. I assume you are talking about gross margin. Sure, Amazon's gross margin has been going up. The average S&P 500 company has a gross margin of 42%, which has been increasing. I would argue that operation margin would be better than gross margin. There AMZN is at 1% where the S&P is at 14.6%. AMZN's ROI has historically been one of the lowest in the S&P. They are operating a supper thin margins.

As for the R&D - I will have to consider that. At first glance I am a little surprise that the numbers that I am seeing. Personally, I would assume (well, guess) that most of those expenses are capitalized but it does give me food for thought.

about three weeks ago
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Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

alexander_686 Re:Jobs & buying (110 comments)

You are missing my point in a couple of ways.

I said productivity would go up, I never said the hours worked would go down. Some people like working long hours to own more toys – bigger houses, faster cars, and exotic vacations. However, in the last 50 years the people with the highest productivity are reporting that they are working longer hours and enjoying their life more. More work has become more interesting.

Secondly, you mean you can't think of any menial jobs other than warehouse jobs? Cleaning parks, walking dogs, and teacher's assistants are just a few that come to the top of my head. None of these require a college education. Personally, I am more optimistic about being able to retain people. But if push comes to shove I suspect society can find something more productive to do.

about three weeks ago
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Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

alexander_686 Re:Reinvesting in the business (110 comments)

AMZN is not losing money because they are reinvesting back into their operations. That is not how accounting works. "Earnings" is a balance sheet operation; "Investment" is a balance sheet operation. Think about this way – If I invest $100m of profits in US Treasury Notes, how does that affect my earnings? If I invest $100m in property, plant, and equipment, how does that affect my profits? What if I paid out a dividend? It does not – in all cases one's profit is 100m.

The issue is that AMZN is trading profit margin for market share. Expanding quickly today to reap the profits of tomorrow – in theory.

about three weeks ago
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Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

alexander_686 Re:Jobs & buying (110 comments)

Read up on Red Queen's Race Hypothesis. We are constantly running. If Amazon stops and thinks if they should implement these robots, somebody else will.

It is going to happen. It will increase productivity, and increased productivity is the only way to increase income, and thus it should be embraced. I am not saying that technology is some kind of magic wand that we can wave and magically everybody will be better. This will free people from mind numbing work and let them do something more productive. Technology is one of those "necessary but not sufficient by itself" type of thing. Society must change and adapt, and a right leaning libertarian I might even conceded that might mean changes in government policy. Still, if we want a better tomorrow things like this must happen.

I am always sad when people fear a better tomorrow.

about three weeks ago
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Was Microsoft Forced To Pay $136M In Back Taxes In China?

alexander_686 Re:Only in USA you pay NOTHING (if you are corpora (57 comments)

You don't need to do that. The US uses domical to calculate taxes, the rest of the world use residence. This caused a gap witch the accountants plunged in. Fixing the US tax code so it is rational would solve the problem.

about three weeks ago
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Was Microsoft Forced To Pay $136M In Back Taxes In China?

alexander_686 It is a fine for quitting XP (57 comments)

The issue is not "Irish Tax Shelters". Even without these Microsoft would still be losing money. You are closer on point on the IP theft. This is not so much as a tax, rather it is a fine for Microsoft dropping support for XP, the widely used but rarely paid for OS. Remember, taxes and the laws are not applied in a "neutral" fashion.

about three weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

alexander_686 Re: SO (377 comments)

How are you getting to that conclusion? The title of the study is "A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops" The author's results are

"On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries."

about a month ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

alexander_686 Re: SO (377 comments)

If he is, he has the weight of evidence supports him.

http://www.plosone.org/article...
In short, after factoring in the higher costs of using GM seed, GMO crops help developing farms substantially. Even more so than the farmers in developed markets.

about a month ago
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Google's Lease of NASA Airfield Criticized By Consumer Group

alexander_686 Re:Two links (138 comments)

I will second that. Would it really be that hard to link to the primary source? Linking to an article is often helpful, but this article sounds like it is just regurgitating a press release.

about a month ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

alexander_686 Re:I'm sure it will suck (242 comments)

I knew. I was being flippant back - kind off.

I don't think Doctor Who is the model. While it spans ages, there is always the Doctor. While different actors play the Doctor, and each actor brings out a different aspect of the Doctor, it is always the Doctor. Done straight from the book, Hari Seldon and maybe some robots carry though all of the stories but they are never the center like the Doctor is. So if they are going to do the Foundation they are not going to do it straight from the books - some reworking must happen to handle the scope.

My serious though on this was to copy the model from Roots.

As for Black Adder, be careful with season 1 - it rough. The 2nd and 3rd season are much better - I would start with one of those.

about a month ago
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Police Body Cam Privacy Exploitation

alexander_686 Re:Legalities (301 comments)

It seems like there should be a signed release required.

I would disagree. Charged suspects and corrupt officials would never sign the release even if it might be in the public interest. I would agree with you that it should not be automatic but there should be some mechanism to release the video even if those videoed oppose it.

about a month ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

alexander_686 Re:I'm sure it will suck (242 comments)

Your comment confuses me a little - what are you talking about? Yes, Doctor Who spans vast amounts of time but he has got a time traveling machine so that is o.k. Maybe you are talking about his companions? However, the Doctor has been a constant character thought the years.

On a more serious note, I was thinking of Black Adder as a better example.

about a month ago
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HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

alexander_686 Re:I'm sure it will suck (242 comments)

It's not the translation of action that I am concerned about. It can be done. Books and movies have different strengths, and "action" is not the strong suit of books. HBO has done a good job. Personally, I think of Jackson's Lord of the Rings / Hobbit movies, where Jackson either extended or invented from scratch action scenes.

I am more concerned about scope. Each chapter in the Foundation saga is a vignette, a thin slice of time, separated by vast amounts of time. For each seasons they would almost have to fire the entire cast, strike all of the sets, etc. It would have the same problem as anthology shows like the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt. There is a low correlation between a winning episode and a losing episode. Hit upon a great story line or a new great actor and you need to junk it for the next episode. The Twilight Zone was consistently good, but Tales from the Crypt was all over the place.

about a month ago
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333 Km/h Rocket-Powered Bicycle Sets New Speed Record

alexander_686 Re:bike? (51 comments)

...though at least they do have pedals and you can power a crappy bike with human power.

This one too has pedals and looks like can move it along with human power. So by your definition, it is more like a "Eco-Electric" than a motorcycle. Can't wait for these things. I can lane split on the highways and still park in front of my downtown office without paying for parking.

about a month ago
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Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices

alexander_686 Re:nice stats (334 comments)

Here is your study:
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t...

FYI, I was using "scheduling" in a very broad sense. You allude to that in your post. 10 or 20 years ago when researching a big ticket purchase, one might hit 2 to 4 big box retailors. Now I can do that comparison online and see if the local store has it in stock. The number of big block stores are falling.

But there are also the subtle things. Less driving to grandma's house to get the latest gossip, that can be done by Facebook. People used to drive to the mall to hang out. Facebook. Now the malls are going empty. People used to wait in lines for the latest blockbuster movie only to be turned away because it sold out. Now they can buy their ticket in advance or, if they wait a few months, watch it at home. etc.

about a month and a half ago
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Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices

alexander_686 Re:nice stats (334 comments)

The taxes from fossil fuels could be earmarked for renewable energy subsidies, making them cheaper directly.

I am leerier about that – and I say that as somebody who supports a carbon tax.

Taxes are distortive, so try to keep them as few and as simple as you can. Governments do need a revenue stream and you want to counter the negative externalities of carbon fuel, but one should still stick to good taxation principles.

So I ask, why subsidize renewable energy sources? The ethanol fuel subsidy has been a disaster both from a finical and green viewpoint. What is the fair split between wind and solar? That being asked, I would argue neither is going help until we upgrade our power grid. And why not subsidize home insulation or mass transit? Trying to figure out what to subsidize and how much is a very hard and tricky question. Taking with one hand and giving with another is a very tricky balancing act. Government should not pick winners or losers. Which is why I suggested in a different thread that one should drop income taxes by the amount a carbon tax would raise. On a side note, I would support more money going into government sponsored basic R&D into renewable energy.

However, economically speaking, a tax on a product is the same as a subsidy to a competitor. So if you don't like the results, don't try to come up with an elaborate subsidy scheme for green energy – just raise the carbon tax.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Microsoft to Buy Nokia's Devices Unit for $7.2 Billion

alexander_686 alexander_686 writes  |  about a year ago

alexander_686 (957440) writes "On the heels of CEO Steve Ballmer announcing his resignation, it looks like Microsoft is going to be buying Nokia’s handset unit. Nokia is currently a big cheerleader for the Window’s 8 phone. Stephen Elop was a Microsoft employee, then Nokia’s CEO, and is now stepping down. He will be the head of the handset division after the sale is finial. Elop is the current front runner to replace Ballmer when he steps down in a year."
Link to Original Source
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Microsoft may invest $1B-$3B in Dell buyout

alexander_686 alexander_686 writes  |  about a year ago

alexander_686 (957440) writes "We have talked about Michele Dell In Buyout Talks With Private-Equity Firms

Now the Talk is that Microsoft may invest 1 to 3 billion. I personally doubt Microsoft is going for majority ownership but it would be a significant stake. Dell is worth around 22b to 25b. Speculation is that investors would put up 5 to 7b in equity, borrowing the rest. You can do the math to determine the ownership percentage. As a point of reference, Michele Dell’s stock is worth 3.6b

We know about Microsoft’s relationship with Nokia – both in terms of ownership, swap of key personal, and the Window’s phone. Is this a repeat?"

Link to Original Source
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AT&T- Verizon collude to offer poor service

alexander_686 alexander_686 writes  |  about 2 years ago

alexander_686 writes "I recently found a very good about article How AT&T and Verizon Manipulate Your Smartphone by Susan Crawford. It’s the 2nd excerpt from her book “Captive Audience.”

The two kinds of Internet-access carriers, wired and wireless, have found they can operate without competing with each other. The cable industry and AT&T- Verizon have divided up the world much as Comcast and Time Warner did; only instead of, “You take Philadelphia, I’ll take Minneapolis,” it’s, “You take wired, I’ll take wireless.”

I am a free market type of guy. I do recognize the abuse that can come from natural monopolies that utilities tend to have, but I have never considered this type of collusion before."
Link to Original Source

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SEC investigates Netflix CEO Reed Hastings over Facebook Posting

alexander_686 alexander_686 writes  |  about 2 years ago

alexander_686 (957440) writes "SEC investigates Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Facebook Posting

Hastings said in the filing the SEC is questioning his July 1 Facebook posting, seen by 200,000 followers, in which he said customers watched “over 1 billion hours” of videos on Netflix in June. He had previously posted on his company blog that members were viewing “nearly a billion hours per month.”

Rarely, outside of Carl Sagan, have I heard people saying that one billion not significant."

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Knight Trading Losses

alexander_686 alexander_686 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

alexander_686 writes "Apparently old code never dies – it comes back to haunt you.

From Bloomberg, "Knight Capital Group Inc. (KCG)’s $440 million trading loss stemmed from an old set of computer software that was inadvertently reactivated when a new program was installed, according to two people briefed on the matter.""

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Harvard and MIT to provided online classes

alexander_686 alexander_686 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

alexander_686 writes "Harvard and MIT are launching edX with 60 million dollars to offer “low fee” online classes. No word yet on classes offered or who will be teaching. No college credit but certificates will be offered.

The technology used will be open source. Other institutions will be invited at a later date.

I hope low cost means low cost. (Under $25) I have really enjoyed the Stanford University free online classes."

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The Nook: From Android to Windows?

alexander_686 alexander_686 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

alexander_686 writes "It looks like Microsoft is buying a large chunk of Barnes & Noble, specifically the Nook and it’s college businesses. While nobody has said anything specific, I think the writing is on the wall on what the next OS system for the next nook is going to be."
Link to Original Source

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