top BBM Coming To iOS and Android
BBM is a very widely used online service a bit like Google Talk, Twitter etc.
Since Twitter is currently valued at around 20 billion and RIM/Blackberry at 7.7 billion dollars, salvaging the BBM service is probably smart.
That said, they should have done this years ago as it was pretty obvious:
- BBM was everywhere - it was desirable (reasonably easy and lets you reach many people easily, no per message charge) - iPhones and Androids were starting to be everywhere too and make BBM less desirable
So this is most likely a case of too little too late. But maybe they can make Microsoft pay them to have a Windows Phone version
;-) about a year and a half ago
top Ask Slashdot: Becoming a Programmer At 40?
Ageism is everywhere.
At a previous job I was perceived by our director as a youngster that's a Linux expert. One day, the director wanted to illustrate to me how hard it was to handle older people and find new assignments for them due to the changes in technology. The example he chose was:"Well, you know, it's not like it's going to be easy to take X and Y and have them learn Linux". At that point I had known X and Y for about 9 years and they had been configuring the Linux boxes that shipped in a touchscreen in our product. So I could easily argue how wrong the director was. But I am not sure it helped him avoid ageism after that.
So basically the level of ageism and ridiculousness was pretty high and was coming from:
- a guy who knew the victims well - a guy who was technical enough that he should understand that people doing one brand of Unix can easily pick up Linux - a guy who was in charge of the victims and was in a position to understand what they actually did.
Ageism is scary. It's very tough to fight. And I am not getting any younger...
about a year and a half ago
top Former Diplomat Slams Facebook For Inaction On Fake Pages
Errr, actually. Facebook says they want to enforce a real name policy.
They don't want me to join as 'glop' (which by the way is not the English word but what a funny comic book character says to mean 'OK'. He says 'Pas glop' when it's no good). So if Facebook cares about real names, it's quite surprising that they would not react to a complaint that somebody is using somebody's name. That's definitely more detrimental to Facebook's professed goals than letting me join as 'glop'.
So I really don't think the guy is expecting anything special. Just what Facebook said they were doing.
about a year and a half ago
top North Korean Missile Raised To Firing Position, Says US Official
News for Nerds. Missiles and "Wargames"-like situations fit the bill for me.
about a year and a half ago
top CNN Replicates John Broder's Drive In the Tesla Model S
I can't believe this was moderated as insightful.
The 'I see 2 different opinions, the truth is probably in the middle' fallacy is the reason why paid shills are worth the money. You just need to create the appearance of a debate to get most people to think that the truth is in the middle. The CNN guy redid the test and showed that the NYT guy was full of s*t. Doesn't look like a battle of egos to me. Doesn't look like there is much debate left.
Note that obviously there are trade offs with electric cars, but the NYT article on them is pure garbage and useless. The quotes in the summary demonstrate that the CNN guy offered some good insight on the trade offs (i.e. he said too bad there was no charging station on the New Jersey Turnpike, provides the duration of a full charge etc.)
top MS Targets Google With Another Smear Campaign
You have to pay somehow.
Gmail is paid by ignoring or bearing with small boxes on the side of the email's text. Also, there is an added risk from this that the ad matching algorithm may leak information somehow. But basically, whatever you do in our society you are trusting a bunch of people, more or less implicitly. Google are arguably not the worst people to trust when it comes to IT and email.
I personally have decided not to trust Microsoft back in the 90s. I might reconsider when they fire Steve Ballmer.
I sometimes feel a bit guilty about not trusting them in such a systematic manner. And then I read last week how hotmail only enabled https for the whole session back in November. That's so incredibly wrong and untrustworthy in this day and age of 'check my email on Stacbuck's wifi' that it makes the ad reading concerns look ridiculous...
top Cringley: H-1B Visa Abuse Limits Wages and Steals US Jobs
Sure, immigrants are probably good and have skills and it's hard to compare people in IT.
But what matters is that the H1B program is designed to give the employers an unfair edge over immigrant employees as well as citizens.
If the H1B program was really just about skills we would simply give the people temporary green cards and make them conditional to paying enough taxes or something like that.
Then the employees would be able to switch jobs easily and would not be forced to stay with an employer they don't like just because the employer is sponsoring them for a green card (which can take 5 years I believe). If immigrants are able to switch jobs as easily as Americans then they can get good salaries and you have a real job market. If they can't switch at will like the American employees then they are creating a bias in the job market. That's obviously not the fault of the immigrants but it's definitely a flaw of the program (that is, if you value people and/or free market).
top Ballmer Tells the BBC There's More MS Hardware On the Way
Well you are kidding, but I expect that with Bluetooth 4.0 this is actually a killer app.
And there is a even a super successful kickstarter on the topic: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/597507018/pebble-e-paper-watch-for-iphone-and-android
But yeah, I don't think you need Microsoft for that. You need standards (e.g. Bluetooth 4 is needed), component manufacturers and some good designers.
top Brazilian Newspapers Leave Google News En Masse
What makes you think the bulk of the money is going to aggregators?
The only money the aggregator makes is the one from people who click on the ads on the aggregation page. If the aggregated stories are interesting you expect people will click on the stories instead of the ads (after all it's not an Ad aggregation page...). And then they are on the newspaper's website and if they click on ads there the aggregator doesn't make a dime. So basically the only way the aggregator makes the bulk of the money is if the articles are shallow and uninteresting.
Note that there was a very enlightening discussion on what makes people click through on TheRegister's podcast years ago.
And basically the guy explained you get more clicks if you tell a bogus Apple or Google story than with an interesting piece with actual content.
So I would say that we get the news we deserve by clicking or not clicking and aggregators are not really the issue.
top Google Spanner: First Globally Scalable Database With External Consistency
GPS/Atomic clock is better than NTP. It's a system to distribute time that will have a 400ns precision (probably a couple microseconds once you reach the actual servers in the data center).
If you use NTP or message passing you can't synchronize data centers more accurately than a couple milliseconds (assuming you have paths that are quite stable between them as transit time can be corrected). So basically GPS/Atomic clock lets you synchronize 2 systems that are far apart more precisely and without having to make them communicate. Note that Atomic clocks protect them from GPS outages, so they can really rely on the timestamps.
top Google Spanner: First Globally Scalable Database With External Consistency
Atomic clocks would take a couple years to drift. So they have the time to hire some ninjas or lobby politicians to get this fixed before there is any impact.
top Report Hints At Privacy Problem of Drones That Can Recognize Faces
So the solution is simple. Let's all wear burqas to protect our privacy!
I believe you can also analyze people's gaits and recognize them that way. So let's all use Segways. That would be a rather funny dystopian future, no? Or I guess we could start making a few laws defending our right to some anonymity.
top Carriers Blame the iPhone For Data Caps and Increased Upgrade Fees
Impossible, Phone company has struck a back alley deal with RivalCorp that ensures that neither of them will build the towers.
This is good for shareholders of both companies as they will reap the profits of garanteed and unlimited price gouging!
top Why There Are Too Many Patents In America
For easy combination of hardware and software, you can probably do something similar. Have a geek put together a prototype from a PC or tablet, some software, put it on a website for sale for 5000$. Make sure to keep a prototype that works. I am not sure that would be really onerous to patent trolls as apparently they are getting away with 29 billion dollars every year.
top Startup Aims For $99, Android-Powered TV Game Console
The Roku with the game remote is about 85$ or so. But it doesn't run Android unfortunately, so you need to write proprietary scripts and there is no browser etc.
Apart from not running Android, the main issue with the Roku is that it's not open and they take steps to block cool scripts and websites that allow you to access Youtube or Hulu or other normal video sites. Apparently Roku has to be cosy with content producers and middlemen and so they make sure you can't use the Roku as a cheap and convenient PC. If they did that you could access content that's free for PC users but on your TV and it would ruin the market for Hulu+, Netflix and other companies that sell subscriptions.
So I expect that a box that gives the user a lot of freedom will meet a lot of resistance from the content producers and middlemen as they try to preserve the very high revenues of the TV market.
top Windows RT Will Cost OEMs Over Twice As Much as Windows 7
They can also install crapware and get paid for that. That may help offset the license.
top Last Bastion For Climate Dissenters Crumbling
That's not appeal to authority. Appeal to Authority is when somebody says "I am the expert, believe me and don't check the facts". Very unlike the current situation. You are welcome to read through as many publications as you feel like, you are free to participate in the science yourself.
But that's not practical because it would be a full time job, so you need to do what we all do for areas where we can't afford to become experts: identify the best sources, estimate how trustworthy they are assess their current level of knowledge and certainty etc. Climate science is science and with a minimum amount of checking and research you can tell the crackpots from the serious people. And with some further reading you can get an idea of the serious people's arguments and the level of confidence there is that they are right (i.e. how much data they have, how many different ways they used to reach the conclusion, what's the statistics relevance of the data etc.)
This is definitely science and nobody is asking you to take it on faith as everything is published and debated constantly.
Every time I have seen studies denying climate change they were based on very shallow reasoning and it didn't take long to go through it and see it was crap. On the contrary the evidence for climate change is much more in-depth, comes from many sources and uses very clever methods (looking at trees, animals, ice, satellite data, temperature etc.).
top Does Higher Health Care Spending Lead To Better Patient Outcomes?
That's a rather accurate and complete description.
I only have a couple things to add.
The quoted price is what you risk paying if you don't have insurance. So a high quoted price is something good for the insurer as it will scare you into buying their overpriced services.
Some insurers might pay more than others for the same service, so one could think they would want to reduce the "quoted price" so they all benefit by paying less. But I am more and more convinced they actually benefit too much from the absence of reasonable public prices and therefore are trying to keep the non-transparent pricing in place.
I am not familiar with many drugs, but the few I know make it clear that your insurer doesn't care about getting you a good price for drugs. The copay of drugs can be 2 to 3 times more than the list price or quoted price of the same drug in France (whereas food, clothing, gas and many other commodities are rather cheaper in the US). This is a clear indication that the insurance company acts like a broker that helps you buy services but it actually doesn't care if you get ripped off. The only meaningful difference is that in France, the insurance company negotiates the list price down. So everybody, even those who don't have insurance benefit from the negotiation.
If we were able to switch insurance providers easily, we would be able to choose the best brokers and also the best coverage. The only issue is that you don't want freeloaders in the system, so you need a minimum level of coverage that people must get. Otherwise they can just go with a dummy insurance for 2$ and then when they are sick they can just benefit from our humanity (i.e. we are human so we won't let them without care when they show up at the emergency room).
Overall, healthcare is an issue that is both social and individual. Therefore it can't be simply handled by pure market or pure governmental solutions. But at least we should make sure we have working market components in the solution and working governmental components too.
top Judge Allows Bradley Manning Supporter To Sue Government Over Border Search
That's really an intriguing interpretation of the economics at play. It makes you wonder why anybody would ever pay for penetration testing or audits of any kind...
top RIM Firing (Nearly) Everybody
Well, that was after a long stagnation. And the disruption was so major that there was little connection between the old business and the new. A customer with a Treo or Palm V probably had the same shock switching to an iPhone or a Palm Pre.
Also, webOS came after the iPhone. That makes it less innovative, since most of the differences between an old Pam were pioneered by the iPhone:
- get rid of pen, use fingers - capacitive multi touch makes keyboard less needed, so get rid of it. - get modern OS and not 16/32 bit kludgy memory address space - get real browser - PDA swallows the phone and not the reverse
Personally, for me the Treo was the time when Palm failed to innovate. Notably, they rejected the low end. I remember seeing 100$ phones, 100$ Palms. But there was no 150$ Palm-phone, only a very expensive Treo.
So, in the end, I'd say Palm is really a company that failed to innovate in time. And note this is really a case of innovating and not inventing. If you look at my bullet list, nothing was really groundbreaking in 2000. So it's not that they were unlucky and the guys in the labs didn't have the "Eureka moment". It's that they didn't look at what was possible and put it together quickly enough.
That's really quite sad, Palm was a company that had understood some really important things about simplicity and focus on the core features.
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