Apple $450 Million e-Book Settlement Wins Court Approval
Under Amazon's retail agreement, the publisher's set the book price that amazon paid. Amazon then set the price for customers - amazon had various prices for books, rather than a flat rate. Some were loss leaders - a common enough tactic in the retail world, big book chains do it all the time - but amazon's ebook division was profitable on its own merits - something a DOJ investigation confirmed. That's not dumping, and there were other competitors in the ebook space that were also profitable. If the publishers weren't happy with their margins - which were comparable to other retail models - they were fully entitled to go to amazon and negotiate new retail rates individually, just like they do with other book retailers.
Apple looked at that model, saw they weren't going to make their usual profit margin, and went to the big publishers. Apple said 'we'll let you set the final customer price, we'll take 30%, and an agreement that you won't let any other seller undercut us'. The publishers saw this is as a chance to raise prices and make more profit, and stitch up amazon at the same time. The publishers went to amazon all around the same time, and said, 'these are the new terms. Agree to them, or no more ebooks'. Given Amazon then was facing a choice between no ebooks at all, and the new terms, they rolled over.
Collusion to raise prices is illegal, for very good reason - it defeats the purpose of free markets, that of delivering the best product for the lowest price. And that was what they did. Higher prices across the board, more profit for apple and the big publishers, with no improvement to the product, through collusion. If the publishers wanted higher prices, they could have charged them to amazon individually; or set up their own book store with higher prices. And that would have been competition. But they chose not to compete in the marketplace, but arrange a back-room stitchup deal to raise prices for customers. And all the publishers have now settled with the DoJ for doing so.
Apple could have competed with Amazon; there was nothing stopping them setting their own prices, and making it so easy to use that people would use them instead even if they were more expensive for some books. Or offer other value-added services. Or shock, actually compete on price, it's not like apple was some startup tight on cash! They chose not to do any of that. And now they have to pay for the harm they did - which was artificially higher prices for books. They didn't increase competition; they made a deal with the publishers to lock in a higher profit margin for themselves and nobble their competitors at the same time. That's the exact opposite of competition.
Google Starts Blocking Extensions Not In the Chrome Web Store
Not that I want you stay on Chrome for any particular reason (I've gravitated to mostly using firefox myself, for other reasons) but I do use this web-store hosted extension - backstop - for blocking 'backspace sometimes blows away your entire comment instead of deleting one character' idiocy.
Al Franken Says FCC Proposed Rules Are "The Opposite of Net Neutrality"
Netflix is paying level 3, a tier 1 provider for access. All the tier 1's interconnect with each other for free (by definition) - they're basically the backbone of the internet for global transit.
Customers pay a consumer ISP, like comcast, for access to the internet, i.e. access to the tier 1 network. So both ends are paying for their connection, all they need is for both networks to be connected in a datacentre somewhere - both ISPs pay for their own equipment, and when that link gets congested, they add more/faster interconnect ports, paid for by the customers that are paying for their side of the link. And that's how it works basically everywhere except the US now.
Because Comcast, along with the other big US consumer ISPs are saying to netflix - a customer of another ISP altogether - 'nice traffic, shame if something happened to it.' And charging extra for a 'fast' path to their network. They've deliberately let the interconnect to level 3 become congested, and are refusing to upgrade it, affecting netflix and all other services that comcast customers request from level 3's network. Netflix offers to host their CDN cache servers inside comcast's network, so it does't have to all go via the level 3 interconnect, comcast refuse.
So basically comcast are singling out netflix, as a competitor to their own video services, and demanding money with menaces. Successfully.
Comcast's argument that more traffic comes in from level 3 than goes out - well duh, they're a retail ISP, and they provide much faster download connections than upload, and put restrictions on what services customers can put on that upload. Of course they're largely going to be seeing more traffic come in than go out. Netflix said they could change their client so as much traffic went up as came down, and comcast said that wouldn't make a difference, thus blowing that argument out of the water.
Given the natural and legally provisioned regional monopolies the cable companies in the US have got themselves, they've got their own customers over a barrel. They can let the interconnects go to shit, and the customers are stuck with it.
5 of the 6 permanently congested links to level 3's network are in the US. It's absolutely obvious that with the FCC unwilling to exert its existing regulatory authority, and congress' refusal to step in as it would be 'government regulating the internet', you have a textbook example of oligopoly abuse. Free markets cannot exist when monopolists abuse their market controlling power, and netflix is just the start. Enforcing regulation against monopolists abusing their position is the only practical, effective answer, and it's high time the FCC used its power to do just that.
Apply common carrier status to regional monopoly cable companies, and the sooner the better.
Commenters To Dropbox CEO: Houston, We Have a Problem
At the same time, you should understand that you can't "inherit" a deficit. The idea is poppycock.
Of course you can. If you inherit an economy in recession, your tax receipts are low, and your spending on entitlements - that spending which people are legally entitled to have - neither of which can be corrected by presidential or congressional fiat. Then you add a couple of wars to that, necessitating paying those troops and for their equipment etc, another substantial expense it will take time to correct even if you start on ending the war on day 1. You have numerous other spending that is politically untouchable, as the various lobbies will end the career of any politician that touches it, so congress won't touch it with a barge pole.
Only a relatively small portion of the budget is called 'discretionary spending' for a reason. And then you have a congress that is majority controlled by a party that wants to cut taxes (on the rich, mainly) at every opportunity no matter the situation, and is prepared to shut down the government entirely if it doesn't get its way.
So you can't legally cut much of the spending, and you're under constant pressure to cut taxes, not raise them. Your predecessor left you a huge recession, a massive red ink bank bailout, huge military and entitlement spending, and a completely intransigent congress. He's a president, not the magician he would have needed to be to pull out a balanced budget on day 1. There simply wasn't the legal leeway to massively cut spending or massively raise taxes to do so.
Don't just take my word for it - have a look at this graph of obama's time of spending vs bush for some additional background.
Then you factor in that relief and stimulus spending during a recession is considered the correct economic policy to reverse the recession and end it quicker. Once the recession is over, then you can implement austerity to reduce the deficit. Doing austerity too early just worsens the recession, and we end up back in the 1930s. Borrowing money early to get through a crisis is generally considered the right thing to do from prior experience. So a balanced budget on day 1 would have been a really bad idea anyway even if it had been possible.
Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP
Sounds like that proprietary system that only runs on windows XP and still needs to connect to the internet, and now that's one 0-day rootkit from being f***** is working out for you much better...
FOSS doesn't mean cost free. If you wanted a non-proprietary system, you could always have paid someone to write it for you, given that 95% of the platform is already out there actually for free.
If the *cabling* to the locks is proprietary and needs you dig up the concrete to replace, then frankly, you guys didn't do your due diligence. The cabling on our new building lock system is bog standard cat5e, because it's a standard ethernet system on a physically separated network, with appropriate security to the locks in the event of physical cable compromise. Yes, it's a proprietary controller, but the management interface is standards compliant html5 so we're not tied to a given OS for management, and the controller is designed to be accessed separately from the locks network (it's currently behind a firewall and on a separate vlan). To replace it if the company goes under we swap out the standard-hole-sized locks, and controller, and pay someone to set it up. Hell, if it comes to it, we just turn it off and get some more physical keys cut.
Lies Programmers Tell Themselves
"I'll just fix this quick and dirty for now, management will allow me time to redo it properly later."
Getty Images Makes 35 Million Images Free For Non-Commercial Use
You can't resize the source image, but you can resize the iframe and it will scale to fit. Scaling above the source image size will obviously lead to reduced quality/blurriness, but you can shrink it. If you want to have it be responsive design (and scale width/height due to browser size) it's fairly straightforward to chuck a little jquery at it, as is pretty common when dealing with making iframes responsive. I imagine a jquery plugin akin to fitvids.js will be along shortly to make it easier.
For chucking in stock header image in a blog post and not having to screw about trying to find a CC image that suits (or risking a nastygram by ripping something off google images), it's not completely useless. Though the limited sizes of the source images I looked at mean it's not going to be useful for much more than that, and I think the DRM overhead is pretty annoying.
It's not like most of us can afford to pay stock photo rates for our personal blogs though...
Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World
I've an idea. Let's look at the countries who have the happiest populations, and do what they do.
So who’s the happiest? As has been the case the past five years, that distinction goes to countries that enjoy peace, freedom, good healthcare, quality education, a functioning political system and plenty of opportunity: Norway, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand.
So capitalism, tempered with socialism. The strength of capitalism is that customers flock to the best products, and others have incentives to create them. Its biggest weakness is that a small advantage can be leveraged to a strong market position, making them successful not because they're good, but because they have too much power to dictate the market. Similarly unchecked capitalism means the wealthy use that power and money to make themselves wealthier still at everyone else's expense by rewriting the rules that benefit themselves at the direct cost of the rest.
Socialism - i.e. good public healthcare, good schools, a fair and accessible political system that works for all, not the few, a social safety net, economic regulation etc etc paid for by redistributive taxation ameliorates the rawer edge of a capitalist system, and means many have the opportunity to be happy, not just the people who lucked into being at the very top. Taken too far it can impede or even punish innovation, and there's always the risk that the people dictating who gets what become the ones who get the most.
So a hybrid system it is.
But no matter the system label, if it allows a small group to exercise all the power (religious-run states, the leaders of the only allowed political party, military dictatorships, a country run by the most wealthy) then it will be a bad system where the vast majority suffer, to serve those at the top.
Gmail's 'Unsubscribe' Tool Comes Out of the Weeds
I was using it ironically.
Gmail's 'Unsubscribe' Tool Comes Out of the Weeds
Dammit, slashdot took out the strikethru html code. Now I look like a user sheeple.
Gmail's 'Unsubscribe' Tool Comes Out of the Weeds
Clearly you're not thinking hard enough like a naysayer.
Google are doing this because of their evil plan to block spam. You see, it will be popular with users sheeple, and they will flock to gmail's deceptively free service. And then the advertisers who used to send spam now have to go to google and pay for ads in gmail itself, instead of sending them and getting google to pay for the infrastructure.
And of course, google knows all about what you get in email and don't block, so they can tailor the ads just for you, and charge an even higher price!
Evil geniuses, those google people.
Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration
Even in the aerospace industry, there are software bugs. Very few, yes, because a lot more time and money is spent to track them down. There are mechanical failures too, despite the best engineering efforts. But anything we build has the potential to be flawed somewhere in the process. That's why we still put highly trained pilots in the things, for when something goes wrong - and even then, human error causes unintended faults, sometimes catastrophically.
If a car cost as much as a jet, and drivers went through as much training as a passenger pilot - and had to have a co-driver at all times - we'd be far safer on the roads.
After all, the vast majority of car crashes are driver error. And failure modes when you're at 30mph on wheels are a lot better on the whole than when at 30,000 feet. But if we built cars to the same standard, and held drivers to the same standard as aerospace engineering, only the rich could afford to.
There's a trade off between acceptable risk, and cost. Even though the designs get safer every year, maybe we allow too much risk in drivers and their cars. But absolute flaw free cars? Impossible.
Obama To Ask For $1 Billion Climate Change Fund
It is too late to avoid major consequences. We're already going to see significant damage - worse flooding, rising sea levels, worse hurricanes, worse famines - from the CO2 and methane we've been emitting. The 2 deg C rise limit that's been agreed would be bad, but survivable, is going be very hard to hit, even if we take really radical action starting right now, i.e start shutting a lot of coal stations and not building more. It might even be impossible, even if we really, really try (note, we're not even pretending to try right now)
If we carry on as we are now though, we'll hit SIX degrees increase by the end of the century. That alone will be truly catastrophic, and likely will be bad enough to cripple us as an advanced species, let alone the billions of deaths. And that assumes we don't hit the tipping point - where the heat rise causes runaway greenhouse gas emissions (methane from permafrost, massively reduced albedo etc) - before that, at which point all bets are off that we survive at all.
TLDR; our kids and grandkids are already fucked. HOW fucked still remains up to us.
Para Bellum Labs Will Attempt To Make the RNC a Political-Analytics Player
Republicans don't need tech or an agenda attractive to the majority to win elections, they learned a different tactic. They have a small hardcore of voters who do vote in local elections, unlike most. Add in Citizens United, and now money can outright buy an election with low turnout. That gave them control of many state legislatures, and that then allows them to push through voter ID suppression laws; along with ruthless redistricting in 2010 to pack democrat voters into a handful of very, very democratic districts, while giving republican candidates a much larger number of districts with narrow republican victories. And having entrenched their control of state legislatures, they roll back at the state level many of the civil liberty victories of the last 100 years.
You can see the same tactic with stuffing educational boards with the continuous attempts to insert religion into the science curriculum.
Getting out the vote for a Democratic presidential candidate is one thing; but the Democrats have a lot to learn about winning local elections from the Republicans and the Tea Party, or rather, from their wealthy backers.
Who needs to win an election the old fashioned way, when you can just use huge corporate slush funds to fool the gullible and fearful and declare a significant portion of your opponent's voters ineligible to vote?
Leonard Nimoy: Smoking Is Illogical
I had to try a few different ones before I found ones that worked for me. To get the proper 'smoking' feeling - which to me is as addictive as the nicotine - I had to go to a beefier variable voltage battery. As long as the thread is compatible (510 or ego) you can pair pretty much any battery with any head, and the head is the more important bit to get right, though you do need variable voltage/wattage to get the best out of em. Plus you can always use an adapter if necessary.
I'm currently rocking the new joyetech C2 emode head/tank - it uses a standard 510 thread. Only really 'sputters' a little when at the very last few puffs, though like all atomizer/clearomizers I've tried, you do need to blow it out into a tissue every once in a while. No leaks yet! It's also known as the electron-S. The official emode battery is ok, but I prefer my cheap lavatube knockoff, though it is a bit big to carry around, so I use the lavatube at home and the emode goes in the car with me.
There's the small joyetech ecom that uses the same C2 atomizer, so should be good, but not tried that yet. The C2 atomizer inside the head itself lasts me about 2-3 weeks before it needs cleaning; a few cleans then it needs replacing outright (you keep the rest of the tank)
Before I switched to this one, I used the kanger T3S (ego thread) that was pretty good. The coils needed cleaning about once a week. My wife uses a chinese variant that has dual coil and very warm smoke; the K3 DCS only available from totallywicked, but it's the only head that seems to work for her. Prone to cracking though with certain liquids. She uses my old batteries, the relative thin ego-c twist. It's pretty decent, and a good step up to variable voltage, but does tend to stop working a bit too quickly for my taste; we've had to buy several replacements over the last year, so it's cheaper in the long run to get a proper variable voltage battery compartment with replaceable batteries, if you don't mind the size.
Leonard Nimoy: Smoking Is Illogical
The high goes away pretty quickly as your brain adapts, though nicotine remains a mild stimulant. After that, you mainly just get the relief of feeding the addiction - you go into withdrawal pretty quickly once you're addicted. In addition, it's psychologically addictive as you get used to the relief, and associate it with the physical act of smoking. Thus quitting is very hard, even with nicotine replacement therapy, and why most who try to quit fail, repeatedly. Nicotine is supposedly as hard to quit as heroin.
Personally, I've switched to vaping from e-cigs. The same stress relief my brain associates with the physical act of smoking, a much lower dose of nicotine* (similar to caffeine in its effects) without all the tar, benzene and the many other carcinogens from combustion. Better to quit outright of course, but this is a workable half-way house for now, and much cheaper to boot.
* I've scaled down the amount of nicotine in the liquid to much lower than I started with.
Environmental Report Raises Pressure On Obama To Approve Keystone Pipeline
'Carbon pollution' is used as a shorthand for the several carbon-based greenhouse gases (released by human activity) that are heating up our atmosphere by trapping solar radiation.
carbon dioxide of course is the main anthropogenic culprit from fossil fuels; but it also covers methane (CH4), which is a more potent greenhouse gas per mole than CO2 and comes primarily from natural gas and oil mining, and then animal based food production, and finally landfills. Carbon monoxide is also a greenhouse gas, though a weak one - it's main effect is to strip OH radicals from the upper atmosphere, which would otherwise be breaking down methane. It can also lead to the formation of ozone, another greenhouse gas.
So carbon pollution covers several gases that are causing unwanted effects in our atmosphere; as opposed to just talking about one, carbon dioxide.
Super Bowl Ads: Worth the Price Or Waste of Time?
aussies would know nothing about rabid obsession over soccer...
Damn straight. World cup notwithstanding, soccer is a summer curiosity here, watched mainly by migrants from Europe and their grandchildren.
Cricket, on the other hand...
Surge In Online Orders Overwhelms UPS Christmas Deliveries
I got presents for my nephews that arrived late (from a seller that only shipped in-country), so I was delayed shipping them on to where they live. Entirely my fault for not ordering earlier, and I fully warned my sister that they would likely arrive after xmas, and sent extras with my parents (they were tight on room for luggage, so could only send small presents that way). Estimated delivery window fell right around xmas.
As it turned out, they only took 4 working days to cross europe, and arrived on xmas eve. Very grateful, and thankful for the delivery guys working right up to xmas to get stuff there in time - and if it had arrived after, as I fully expected to, I certainly wouldn't have complained.
People bitching because stuff ordered xmas 23rd didn't arrive on the 24th across a country the size of the US? Blimey, talk about a sense of entitlement.
EV Owner Arrested Over 5 Cents Worth of Electricity From School's Outlet
Of course the magnitude of the offence matters.
"The law does not concern itself with trifles" - usually referred to as 'de minimis' in laws. With most laws, you need to commit an offence of a significant enough seriousness to even be an offence. Once you get past that point, there is also the broad principle of proportionality, i.e. let the punishment fit the crime. Then you factor in intent, state of mind etc.
Speeding and parking illegally can lead to risk to others, so even relatively 'small' offences can have large consequences, and that's why they're taken somewhat seriously, beyond the actual consequences (which are usually, though not always, pretty much nil). Charging an electric car in a stationary parking spot? Not so much.
The correct response here was for the officer to inform the school, and then they could decide if they wanted to file a civil suit to get their 5c back. Invoking criminal theft just makes an ass of the police officer and the law.