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Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

jeffb (2.718) Re:Tax (457 comments)

That subsidiary appears to be managing cash assets. Now, last time I checked, Apple was sitting on an absurd pile of cash, and I'm sure income from it is non-trivial. But it's still likely a drop in the bucket compared to total corporate income, which IS taxed at significantly higher than 0%.

Bottom line, Apple paid corporate income tax equal to 26-odd percent of their pre-tax income. Feel free to argue that they should be paying more, or less, or exactly that amount. But if you're trying to imply that Apple "doesn't pay tax", or that all (or even most) of their profits are "taxed at 0%", you're just sowing confusion.

11 hours ago
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Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

jeffb (2.718) Re:Tax (457 comments)

Oh, for...

A corporate tax filing reports corporate taxes, not "income taxes paid by employees".

yesterday
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Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

jeffb (2.718) Re:Tax (457 comments)

It looks to me like you've got this wrong.

According to this Forbes article from 2013, Apple routes all non-US sales revenue through Ireland. That's sketchy on the part of both Ireland and Apple, and offensive to all the other countries that get no cut from Apple's sales within their borders.

According to this financial statement, Apple paid $9.48b in current US income tax in 2014, $2.15b in current foreign income tax.

Pooling everything, in 2014 Apple had pre-tax income of $53.48b, $13.97b total income tax, for a net income of $39.51b.

I don't know how those numbers compare to other large corporations, or "socially responsible corporations", or whatever you want to compare to. But claiming that Apple routes US sales revenues through Ireland, or that Apple doesn't pay tax on its profits, appears to be completely false.

If I'm misinterpreting these numbers, please post corrections.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Best Medium For Personal Archive?

jeffb (2.718) 1TB thumb drives for $20? OK, I'll bite. (245 comments)

You can buy a 1TB thumb drive (Kingston HyperX Predator), but it will cost you around $1K.

You can buy thumb drives for $20 per, but they'll be 64GB, maybe 128GB if you're lucky and don't mind dodgy manufacturers.

You can buy a "1TB thumb drive" for $40 or so on eBay, but you'll find that it "redundantly" stores the last few gigabytes you wrote across the entire drive. In other words, it lies about its capacity, and just trashes existing data once you exceed its real capacity (likely 8GB or less).

Of course, if you're just trying to save "important documents", you probably don't need anywhere near a terabyte, or even a gigabyte.

yesterday
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Proposed Space Telescope Uses Huge Opaque Disk To Surpass Hubble

jeffb (2.718) Lagrange points? (124 comments)

They may be thinking of using one of the Lagrange points -- geostationary and stable. But, yeah, at least one component (I'd guess the small one) will need some sort of station-keeping propulsion. Ion drive with a big fuel tank?

Actually, a half-mile disk would get some significant thrust from sunlight/solar wind. I don't know whether they could use that for station-keeping, or whether it would just be one more thing for them to fight.

2 days ago
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"Once In a Lifetime" Asteroid Sighting Monday Night

jeffb (2.718) Re:Interesting how many people believe... (58 comments)

Did your job have you spending a lot of time staring up at the sky?

If so, were you using an image intensifier, or something else that lets you see things too dim for the naked eye?

I agree that it's silly for CNN to encourage non-enthusiasts to go out and look for this. It won't be hard for any amateur with clear skies and a small telescope, but for anybody else, (a) they're likely to miss it, and (b) they're likely to be underwhelmed if they do see it.

But "believe in this crap"? Do you think asteroids are some sort of Illuminati lie designed to keep us in line?

2 days ago
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Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

jeffb (2.718) Re:Not a fan (304 comments)

Yes, yes, I'm sure you can imagine any number of situations where your lightning reflexes, superb judgement, and superhuman driving skill will produce a better outcome than some dumb automated system.

But even if you are much more skilled than the average driver -- and it does seem like 80-90% of drivers are quite convinced that they're "better than average" -- you're still likely to do dumb things behind the wheel more frequently than you do brilliant things behind the wheel. If you have a human brain, you're kind of stuck with that. There are a million things that can distract you, impair you, or confuse you, and any one of them will knock you down from that pinnacle of performance.

There will certainly be times when an automated system produces a worse outcome than a skilled human driver. But those times will be overwhelmingly outnumbered by the times when it's the other way around. It's really, really hard to reason objectively about risks like this, especially when there's a perceived loss of control involved. But if you don't let objective reasoning drive policy, you're going to end up with more dead and injured people.

When I was a kid, the debate was over seat-belt laws. There were an amazing number of people who absolutely refused to wear them. "I remember this person who was trapped in a burning (or sinking) car because they couldn't get out of the seat belt!" "I'm too good a driver to get into an accident where I'd need a seat belt to save me!" "If I'm wearing a seat belt, I can't be thrown to safety, so I'll be trapped in the collision!" Yes, I'm quite sure that some people have died because of seat belts. But that number is absolutely dwarfed by the number of people saved by them. It's cold consolation to the handful of seat-belt victims, I know, but you're still an utter fool if you let those few tragedies convince you not to use the belt.

Please don't let fear of a few extremely unlikely scenarios block a robust solution for an entire class of common problems.

4 days ago
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Scientists Slow the Speed of Light

jeffb (2.718) Re:This feels like a bug.. (139 comments)

The good news: we've got a fix ready for deployment.

The bad news: this fix will force a system restart.

5 days ago
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Adobe Patches One Flash Zero Day, Another Still Unfixed

jeffb (2.718) ClickToFlash for me, thanks. (47 comments)

There's some Flash content I still want to view. But I want to look at content, not fight to focus my attention away from screaming, flashing, pulsing, squirming ads on every side. If you want me to run your program, make it worth my while. Especially when the platform on which you want me to run it might let it infect my machine.

Static ads are still fine. I don't much care if you track me and focus them. I'll even click through them occasionally. But I won't let you run down my battery and my brain with animations. I don't care if your marketing macaques say they get more clicks. I've made my choice. I'll never see them.

about a week ago
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Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

jeffb (2.718) Of course it does! (490 comments)

Because the majority said so.

about a week ago
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Google Plans Major Play In Wireless Partnering With Sprint and T-Mobile

jeffb (2.718) Re:Nothing new here (101 comments)

Ting, haha. Founded by TuCows. Remember them? Yeah the shareware website. Might as well get Boost Mobile! A drug dealer burner phone or Clearwire, wait no they went bankrupt right? Or just about any defunct wireless re-seller. Sprint has been pimping out their network and wimax for years now to fly by night companies. Ting most definitely included. Here's a great idea, start a company, pay $20 to Sprint and charge your customers $40, pocket the difference and name your company Ting, or Boost or whoever gives a crap as long as you dont need a contract and can buy phones on the street corner.

LOL.

Ting: $6/month/device. All minutes/messages/data are shared buckets, although you can set caps for each device individually. They still have charge by thresholds, not per-minute/message/meg, unless your usage is really huge, but the only way you'll spend more money with them is if you're a data pig.

We've got five phones with them. Two are pretty much backup/emergency units, and sometimes have no usage at all in a month. One is for a child, and has cellular data turned off. The highest monthly bill we've ever had, for FIVE PHONES, is less than US$75 -- and that's with taxes. Usually, it's closer to $60. If you think the biggies will sell us a plan anywhere near that, well, I'm all ears.

I'm expecting Google will come in at comparable price points, maybe lower, and crush everyone with their marketing muscle. I kind of hope I'm wrong; I like it that we're getting some actual diversity in available offers, and I'd rather not replace that with yet another monolith.

about a week ago
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Google Plans Major Play In Wireless Partnering With Sprint and T-Mobile

jeffb (2.718) Re:Why two different network types? (101 comments)

If they want to let people bring their existing phones, supporting both networks greatly increases their audience. It can also make a big difference in coverage if you can roam across to one of the big networks.

This seems like particularly alarming news for Ting, which currently runs over Sprint's network, and is apparently getting ready to add T-Mobile.

about a week ago
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Interior of Burnt Herculaneum Scroll Read For First Time

jeffb (2.718) Re:Science Fiction as Fact... (66 comments)

Only in the book they were using neutrinos, I think. Lotsa luck with that...

about a week ago
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Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software

jeffb (2.718) Re:too expensive (227 comments)

Freedom isn't free!

about a week ago
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Astronomers Record Mystery Radio Signals From 5.5 Billion Light Years Away

jeffb (2.718) Re:This has been know for a while... (121 comments)

No, no, you're falling into the old fallacy of confusing "information" and "data".

about two weeks ago
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Exoplanet Hunting NGTS Telescope Array Achieves First Light

jeffb (2.718) Re:Not much aperture (19 comments)

That's very, very cool. How long are exposures? Are these devices effectively counting photons at each pixel?

I'm still waiting for that sensor that reports timestamp, energy, angle of incidence, and x/y coordinates for each photon that hits it. THEN the fun can start.

about two weeks ago
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Exoplanet Hunting NGTS Telescope Array Achieves First Light

jeffb (2.718) Re:Not much aperture (19 comments)

I'd guess the real step forward is workflow. The array can view twelve targets at once, with no dependencies (except they all have to be visible from the site). It can presumably shift from target to target pretty quickly, so I guess they'd sample many objects per telescope per night -- after all, transits happen with a timescale on the order of hours (possibly minutes in extreme cases), not seconds.

The big deal, though, seems like the relatively high-resolution brightness measurements (one part per thousand is pretty darn good), and long-term logging and correlation.

I hope someone more informed than me will chime in...

about two weeks ago
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Ars: Samsung Gear VR Is Today's Best Virtual Reality

jeffb (2.718) Re:Dizziness (74 comments)

Yeah, I'd love to try this -- I'd be happy to spring for a Note 4 and the mount. But I'm one of the poor unfortunates who's highly susceptible to VR sickness. Not full-blown cookie-tossing, but twenty minutes in a CAVE or other immersive environment is enough to leave me feeling crappy for the rest of the day.

I'm hoping super-low latency, high frame rates and short persistence will produce something I can use without getting sick, but I don't think it's right around the corner. A shame, too; I've been wanting VR for decades.

about two weeks ago
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Silicon Valley's Quest To Extend Life 'Well Beyond 120'

jeffb (2.718) I'll take that bet. (273 comments)

Yeah, cancer sucks. I just lost a very good friend to it, way too young.

But facing cancer after 120+ years of healthy, happy life, instead of dying from heart disease or arthritis-enforced inactivity or dementia at 85 or 90? I'd sign up for that in the blink of an eye.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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CES: Laser headlights edge closer to real-world highways

jeffb (2.718) jeffb (2.718) writes  |  1 year,23 days

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) writes "Audi will display laser-headlight technology on a concept car at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, joining BMW, whose plug-in hybrid should reach production in 2014. A November article on optics.org describes the technology in more detail. This approach does not scan or project a "laser beam" from the car; instead, it uses blue lasers as highly efficient light emitters, and focuses their light onto a yellow phosphor, producing an extremely intense and compact white light source and then forming that light into a conventional headlamp beam. The beam isn't coherent or point-sourced, so it won't produce the "speckling" interference effects of direct laser illumination, and it won't pose specular-reflection hazards. It's just a very bright and very well-controlled beam of normal white light.

HOWEVER, if multi-watt blue laser emitters go into mass production for the automotive market, it's likely to drive down their prices in other applications — for example, grey-market multi-watt "laser pointers". If you're looking for a tool to burn holes in the tires of drivers who offend you, this technology may indirectly help to fulfill your wish."
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Son of Therac-25: CT overdoses from "reset error"

jeffb (2.718) jeffb (2.718) writes  |  more than 5 years ago

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) writes "As the LA Times reports, 206 patients receiving CT scans at Cedar Sinai hospital received up to eight times the X-ray exposure intended. (The FDA alert gives details about the doses involved.) A misunderstanding over an "embedded default setting" appears to have led to the error. Human-computer interaction classes from the late 1980's onward have pounded home the lesson of the Therac-25, whose usability issues led to multiple deaths. Will we ever learn enough to make these errors truly uncommittable?"
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