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11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

jratcliffe Classic pricing problem (315 comments)

Make something free (or nearly so), and people will use lots of it. CA's water problem is by no means insoluble.

1. Figure out how much water the state can sustainably use.
2. Set a price for water usage. Set a flat price for all users, residential, commercial, industrial. No reason that some users of water should get it more cheaply than others.
3. If usage remains above the level determine in #1, raise the price.
4. Repeat process until usage falls to the level determined in #1.

Of course, this process would likely result in a big chunk of the unsustainable agriculture in CA going under, but so be it - basing a business on the assumption that you'll get continued massive discounts on a key input isn't particularly wise planning, and there's no reason why other CA water users should be forced to subsidize those businesses.

2 days ago
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Snowden Leaks Prompt Internet Users Worldwide To Protect Their Data

jratcliffe Dubious About This Survey (53 comments)

Some really odd responses in here, that make me question the honestly of the responses. For example, on 35% of Chinese respondents believe their government restricts access to the Internet?

Secondly, on the Snowden question, the question calls out for a "yes, I have" response. People don't want to admit to surveyors that they don't know something, so a good study will actually test whether they actually know about Snowden, or are just not willing to admit ignorance.

Finally, it doesn't say what the "steps" people took actually are, so it's very hard to say what impact Snowden's actually had.

There is a section asking about what people are doing differently on the net vs. last year (changed password, not go to certain sites, etc. etc.), but that was asked of all respondents, not just those who say they know of Snowden, so there's no output on what specific changes people made. Would be interesting to see the responses to that question separated between those who know of Snowden, and those who don't.

3 days ago
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The Pirate Bay Responds To Raid

jratcliffe Re:So the media dick-waving goes into the next rou (301 comments)

1. PC gamers are a much smaller, and techier, market than the market for movies or music. Hardly representative.
2. Even in the PC game sector, DRM, outside of a few egregious cases, doesn't seem to be much of a barrier to success (a la most games on Steam).

To flip it around, extensive DRM doesn't seem to hurt console game sales, which far outstrip PC game sales in both units and $.

3 days ago
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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

jratcliffe Re:Probably had 10 pounds postage too.... (138 comments)

Weird, because Amazon in the US sorts on price+shipping, not just on price. It works out to the same thing for some products (i.e. books), since shipping outside of Prime is a standard $3.99. It will, however, include Prime, so if you have a book selling for $0.01, with $3.99 shipping, that would rank below a book that qualified for prime with a price of $3.98.

3 days ago
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Jaguar and Land Rover Just Created Transparent Pillars For Cars

jratcliffe Re:Driver in video was unfamiliar with the car (190 comments)

In my experience (never driven in Oz, but in NZ, Continental Europe, the UK, and the US), the turn signal stalk is always on the left, for left-hand drive cars, and on the right, for right hand drive cars.

3 days ago
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The Pirate Bay Responds To Raid

jratcliffe Re:So the media dick-waving goes into the next rou (301 comments)

And I am by no stretch alone, or a minority.

You're not alone. You're _definitely_ a minority. If the studios offered the content for free, but with current DRM, people would be lined up down the block. If they dropped the FBI warnings, etc. from the start of DVDs, sales would go up 0.1%.

3 days ago
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The Pirate Bay Responds To Raid

jratcliffe Re:The Pirate Bay (301 comments)

Working hard since 2003 to preserve your right to consume media without the annoyance of paying.

Working hard to enable people to download movies and music that will work on their streaming and mobile devices after they've paid for the original DRM encumbered media that forces them to watch adverts and FCC warnings every time they use the media.

There, fixed that for you.

Do you seriously think that a significant portion of Pirate Bay downloads are people who have purchased the content, and are just downloading a copy to get an unencumbered version? Honestly?

3 days ago
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The Pirate Bay Responds To Raid

jratcliffe Re:The Pirate Bay (301 comments)

In most jurisdictions, it constitutes theft of services, in addition to (potentially) burglary (depending on exactly how you got in).

3 days ago
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The GPLv2 Goes To Court

jratcliffe Re:Programming Language (173 comments)

Problem is, people aren't identical. Take 1000 Macbooks, run the same code on them, and you'll get (almost always) identical results. You won't get the same asking 1000 people to interpret a law or contract.

Lawyers (at least good ones) attempt to deal with this issue by being as precise and comprehensive as possible. Often, they're derided for creating "1000 page contracts in legalese instead of a one page agreement," but 999 of those pages, and the legalese, are usually efforts to explicitly deal with the corner cases that can come up in a contract.

4 days ago
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The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

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

You're absolutely right, it's not a tragedy of the commons, it's a free rider problem. Brain failure last night. Still raises the question, what changes to our IP laws would fix that? In both tragedy of the commons and free rider problems, assigning excludable ownership fixes the problem, but would likely create others...

about two weeks ago
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The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

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

What aspect of current IP law do you believe creates this situation (i.e. the ease of free-riding on open source), and how should they be reformed?

This looks like a classic tragedy of the commons problem, in which case assigning ownership (i.e. eliminating the free-as-in-beer aspects of FOSS) is the relevant solution.

about two weeks ago
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The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

jratcliffe Re:"This problem of freeriders is something... (205 comments)

"Create a Basic Income (financed by the Fed at zero cost to taxpayers),"

How, out of curiosity, will this miracle be achieved? What magic wand will the Fed wave in order to create these resources from midair?

Now, there's a pretty decent argument for a basic income (from economists across the political spectrum, including Friedman, not generally known as a soft-headed liberal), but the money would have to be transferred from elsewhere in the economy via taxes.

about two weeks ago
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New Virus Means Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible

jratcliffe Re:Looks like the mismatch nailed me (163 comments)

The Flu vaccine is no more effective than random chance, but it's a huge money maker for the pharmaceutical industry.

Got any actual evidence for this claim? I see your unsupported assertion, and raise you a page of peer-reviewed studies.

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/q...

about two weeks ago
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New Virus Means Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible

jratcliffe Re:open source (163 comments)

Yes, absolutely. That's why I made the "back in February" comment. They need to make a judgment call then about the most likely strains, and manufacture to that.

about two weeks ago
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New Virus Means Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible

jratcliffe Looks like the mismatch nailed me (163 comments)

I've spent the last couple of days wishing for sweet, sweet death, and I did get my flu shot. Still 100% glad I got my flu shot, though. Basically, I was wearing a bulletproof vest, but got shot in the leg. Not the vest's fault. A group of very highly trained professionals made a judgment call back in February about what strains this year's flu shot should protect against, and they got it wrong. C'est la vie.

about two weeks ago
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Slack Now Letting Employers Tap Workers' Private Chats

jratcliffe Re:shortsighted (79 comments)

Yeah, because employees totally stopped using email because employers can and do archive it and read it when/if they want to.

about three weeks ago
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Customers Creating Fake Amazon Pages To Get Cheap Electronics At Walmart

jratcliffe Re:Genius. (287 comments)

So, your argument is that someone:

1. Created a page at Amazon listing a $400 game console at $80, which would net them maybe $70, after fees.
2. Went into Walmart, and used that page to get the console for $80, plus tax.
3. Planned to sell that same console to whoever bought it through the Amazon link, losing $20 or so on each console.

Yes, that's theoretically possible.

It's also theoretically possible that they were purchasing test units for the Archons of Centauri 7, who will then gift us with their technology for unlimited clean energy, but have a religious objection to paying more than $80 for a PS4.

Retailers have the right to correct pricing errors, if they were clearly errors (i.e. Xbox for $40 rather than $400). This was no pricing error - there's no way the Amazon seller/Walmart buyer can argue that he made a pricing error on his webpage, but at the same time demand that Walmart match the pricing error.

about three weeks ago
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Bidding In Government Auction of Airwaves Reaches $34 Billion

jratcliffe Re:The American Public (85 comments)

Very good point. Was trying to keep it simple. If I recall, the expected relocation costs are in the range of $6B for this spectrum.

about three weeks ago
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Bidding In Government Auction of Airwaves Reaches $34 Billion

jratcliffe Re:Only 65 megahertz? (85 comments)

Just because you can't believe it, doesn't mean it's not true. 65MHz, covering 315 million people. Spectrum's usually priced per MHz-POP (i.e. 10MHz of spectrum covering 1 million people is 10 million MHz-POPs).

There's a huge amount of variation in pricing, though. The most expensive license right now (on a MHz-POP basis) is for 10MHz covering the Chicago area (8.3M people) - $5.50 per MHz-POP. The most expensive license on an absolute basis is for 20MHz covering the NY Metro Area (27M people): $2 billion.

On the other hand, there are some licenses in rural Louisiana and South Dakota going for under $2k, or less than $0.01 per MHz-POP.

about three weeks ago

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