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Ubisoft Apologizes For Assassin's Creed

malx Brand un-value (171 comments)

I am loath to join the general chorus of hate for Ubisoft and EA. Complaining about these companies being too focussed on commercial success and not enough of user-entertainment/"art" seems futile: they are, first and foremost, commercial companies.

Nonetheless, considering it strictly as a commercial proposition, should the senior executives of these companies not be worried that their brand has negative value?

When I see news of a game, knowing that it is going to be published by Ubisoft - or, to a lesser extent, by EA, makes me shy away. I am less likely to buy. I am less likely to follow the hype, for fear of being sucked in by it, because I expect to be disappointed. I am less likely to engage with their product or marketing in any way, because of the poor track record that they have establish, the negative brand value that they have created.

If they bought a small publishers, and published the very same game through that new label, I would be more likely to engage with and buy their product for that reason - as long as I was not aware that Ubisoft (or EA) lay behind it. Knowing that they are there, I expect to be disappointed.. That's negative brand value in action.

This is not just a gamer whinge. I would think that was a customer reaction that ought to concern senior commercial management, and shareholders in these companies.

about 2 months ago

What qualifications should the 'driver' of a fully autonomous car need?

malx Just insurance (301 comments)

If the driver needs to be able to step in at any moment, it's not a fully autonomous car in any meaningful sense, it's just a tech demo.

The only point of a fully autonomous car is so you don't have to drive it. This means (i) being able to concentrate on stuff other than the road, like a book, a movie, or being asleep and (ii) if you're not going to be driving it anyway, why bother acquiring the skill to do so, and the certification to prove you can? Hence, just insurance.

I really can't see the point in buying a car whose defining feature is that it can drive itself, and having to be on stand-by status to take over at any given instant. If that's what we're offered, I would say that whatever Google is capable of cooking up, we're not actually being offered a fully autonomous vehicle.

about 8 months ago

Australian Law Enforcement Pushes Against Encryption, Advocates Data Retention

malx Same as UK (88 comments)

Sounds like they're copying the law here in the UK. Which for a five-eyes country isn't that surprising.

about 9 months ago

Recent news events re: Bitcoin ...

malx The ones under my mattress are safe (192 comments)

Nothing I have heard has suggested any basic flaw in the cryptocurrency concept, or even the protocol design or software implementation for Bitcoin itself. The failure of some Bitcoin exchanges bears no more relation to the viability of Bitcoin than the failure of a bank would to the viability of a national currency (arguably even less, at least for proponents of the theory that fiat currency is inherently unstable).

Banks sometimes fail. Bitcoin exchanges, being immature businesses with little experience of implementing technical security or financial risk management, will fail more frequently. The wise will spread their risk between different stores of value, so as not to be exposed to any particular institutional failure. This could well include keeping your own wallet, in a USB stick under the mattress.

about 10 months ago

Hyperlinking Is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules

malx Maybe not so great (97 comments)

There's an interesting analysis from copyright lawyer Innocenzo Genna that suggests this may not be such good news for the Internet as it seems at first glance.

The copyright-controlled activity that was under discussion was "communicating a copyright work to the public". The court decided that hyperlinking was communicating the work to the public, but ruled that it was still permitted by way of exception, because the work has already been communicated to the same public. According to Genna, this still brings hyperlinking within the sphere of copyright law, which is dangerous for the future. It would have been much better if the court had decided that linking is not "communicating the work", but just pointing to somewhere else where the work is communicated; this would have left much less scope for more restrictive rulings in other hyperlinking cases.

about a year ago

Shorter '.uk' Domain Name Put On Ice

malx Problems with .uk (110 comments)

Part of the problem was one of precedence: many holders of domains under .co.uk, .org.uk and several other existing subdomains were happy with the idea of getting a shorter domain - but very unhappy with the thought that they might lose it to a competing domain owner with the same name in a different sub-domain - or even to a trademark holder with no exact equivalent at the moment.

Another part of the problem was Nominet's proposal for "security". In the name of building "trust and confidence in .uk" Nominet had proposed to extend itself from traditional registry options to scanning websites for malware, and using its power to suspend domains to enforce clean-up. Not surprisingly, this was controversial.

Note also that Nominet has said it might come back with some variant of these proposals later, perhaps extending its "security" scheme to all the existing .uk domains.

about 2 years ago

Thanks For Reading: 15 Years of News For Nerds

malx Thanks, since Chips and Dips (229 comments)

I've been reading since a friend referred me to an interesting rant site called Chips and Dips. I guess he must have found it on "What's new on the Internet" or something. So, to CmdrTaco and all the team that followed, a big Thank You for one of three sites I still check every day.

more than 2 years ago

Paid Media Must Be Disclosed In Oracle v. Google

malx Anonymous Speech, First Amendment? (165 comments)

Let's set aside the quibbles, and for the sake of argument just roll with the notion that these writers are mere shills for the Oracle and Google, respectively (after all, that's the notion that clearly lies behind this ruling).

Isn't the right to speak anonymously protected by the First Amendment? Doesn't that protection extend to Oracle and Google too?

(I know corporate speech isn't as vigorously protected under the First Amendment, but it is still protected somewhat. And this speech isn't advertising (as with most limitations on corporate speech), it's closer to legal/political commentary).

I would be most interested to see this in SCOTUS.

more than 2 years ago

Another Step Forward In Small Scale Electrical Generators

malx Re:2 kW enough? (137 comments)

2kW is an "average home"? Seriously?

My induction cooktop has a rated load of 11kW!

Rated loads on some other devices:
PC power supply: 800W
Plasma TV: 420W
Home cinema amp: 870W
Stereo amp: 800W

I also have an electric oven (two actually), a washer-dryer and a dishwasher. It is by no means inconceivable that all these devices would be running simultaneously. And that's without counting the multiplicity of relatively low power devices, which will all add up.

In common with most British people I don't have air-con. The heating is gas powered, but for many people in apartments it will be electric.

Now I know a lot of people will cook with gas, and my entertainment system is more than many people may have (although I imagine it's not unusual amongst slashdotters). And of course this gear won't draw the full rated load in normal use. Nonetheless, it seems pretty clear that a 2kW supply certainly couldn't power my home. Am I so atypical?

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Data Remanence Solutions?

malx Poor negotiation is not best fixed technically (209 comments)

I agree. You're trying to solve a commercial issue (and possible mistake) with a (poor) technical solution.

As you describe it, the original contract wanted the data destroyed at the end of the contract term. You've just had the contract *renewed*, which is another word for "extended". Why exactly would anyone want the data destroyed in mid-contract?

Your contact negotiators ought to have realised that the government didn't need you to destroy the data until the end of the new contract, and written that into the new contract, thereby over-riding the old one. More than saving you the money, it was one of your advantages as the incumbent contractor: compared with a competitor, you could perform the second contract term at lower cost simply because you could off-set the data destruction cost for which you were already contracted simply by writing into the new contract permission to defer that destruction! This would allow you to underbid any potential competitor - or if there is no likely competitor, writing deferral in would be a straight profit to you at no cost to the customer. That kind of win-win is *exactly* what your contract negotiators are paid to spot and capitalise on.

As poster above says, your contract office can still possibly rescue this by simply writing and asking for permission to not destroy the data until the end of the renewed contract term. All the same, missing this at contract negotiation time is something that should come up in somebody's annual performance assessment.

more than 3 years ago

Apple: "We must Have Comprehensive Location Data"

malx An app for that (556 comments)

Wipe the contents of the user location database? We need an app for that!

more than 3 years ago

UK ISPs Profit From Coughing Up Customer Data

malx ISPs can recover costs, even in criminal cases (59 comments)

OP said

While ISPs have to hand over log details for free in criminal cases, they are free to charge in civil cases

Actually, ISPs routinely charge the cost of obtaining, processing and handing over log details when asked for it by law enforcement authorities under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, including when the data is needed for criminal investigations.

ISPs aren't allowed to make a profit from providing this data, whether for civil litigation or criminal investigations, just recover their costs. However ISPs' costs can be substantial: ISPs don't just spend time fishing out the records and handing them over, there are also significant overheads in training and systems to ensure this data is only handed over when it should be, to make sure the requesting authority is genuine and the ISP isn't being subjected to an imposter trying a social engineering attack, and so forth. Larger ISPs/telcos run dedicated units to cope with the high volumes of request from public authorities (in total, hundreds of thousands of RIPA requests are made each year, although most of these are for telephony data rather than Internet accounts).

For confirmation see Chapter Four of the relevant Code of Practice.

more than 4 years ago

Attorney General Says Wiretap Lawsuit Must Be Thrown Out

malx Federal Rules of Procedure (493 comments)

Holder said US District Judge Vaughn Walker, who is handling the case, was given a classified description of why the case must be dismissed so that the court can 'conduct its own independent assessment of our claim.'"

Would any (real) lawyers on Slashdot care to comment on how the Federal Rules of Procedure regard ex parte communications between the respondent and the judge, held secret from the plaintiff?

more than 5 years ago

This Hallowe'en ...

malx ...it'll be nearly Guy Fawkes Night (709 comments)

As usual, being English, I'll be waiting for Guy Fawkes night next week.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's mercy was he catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.

Of course, some unfamiliar with the custom will think it horrendously anti-Catholic (and originally it was - still is in Lewes) but time and centuries of peace can take the sting out of the most blood-thirsty customs. So in England it's just a traditional bonfire and fireworks night.

I wouldn't expect it in Ireland though...

I'm guessing many Americans know of Guy Fawkes from a recent film.

more than 5 years ago

Cory Doctorow Says DIY Licensing Will Solve Piracy

malx Hollywood accounting (189 comments)

This doesn't even work in licensing with proper commercial corporations like the record labels and film studios. It will fall foul of "Hollywood Accounting". Normally this is applied to rip off artists who are promised a percentage of profits (they find the company they've dealt with has made no profits, they've all been moved into a different company). This is slightly harder with gross revenue, but not much.

more than 5 years ago

Bill Would Declare Your Blog a Weapon

malx Sounds like an ACLU fund-raiser (780 comments)

Will this achieve anything more than raise funds for the ACLU?

Of course certain extreme kinds of speech are not protected by law. But there are criminal standards for incitement, harassment etc and this appears to go well beyond them. It's so overbroad not only doesn't it stand a hope of surviving constitutional scrutiny, it won't even persuade a unduly deferential junior court to ignore/deny that there is a constitutional bar.

more than 5 years ago

Give two weeks' notice ...

malx In UK and Europe it is months, not weeks (616 comments)

This is one of those polls that points out just how incredibly different the USA is to the UK, let alone "socialist" Europe.

Here in the UK its normal for any vaguely professional white-collar job to have a month's notice in the contract. Not retail staff, not catering, and not most call-centre jobs, but any sysadmin or other IT professional would expect that.

Employment at will doesn't exist - it's actually illegal once you've been employed a year. If you're in management, it's not unusual to have three months written in. That's not just major corporate senior execs either, I'm on 3 months.

Of course, there's plenty of places that will escort you out of the building as soon as you give notice. If they do, they still have to pay you during your notice period (then called "gardening leave"). Of course, notice periods can be ignored if both parties agree. Plus, there's not much an employer can do to enforce a notice period if you just break your contract, practically speaking, assuming that's what your next employer wants you to do. But I think honouring your contracts is just the ethical way to behave.

How does this work out? In my experience, generally well if it's the employee that's quitting. I've rarely known someone to actually work the full three months, that's just a starting point for working out "How much time to we really need for an effective handover?"; the employee may often get paid the full period but only work part of it, and that's still excellent value for the company's money.

Partly our notice periods, but more other rules, make it unduly expensive to fire under-performing staff, and that can cause a vicious cycle where good staff leave voluntarily leaving the dross behind. That's seriously destructive. But the US culture of employment at will sounds like it tips too much in the other direction for my taste.

more than 6 years ago


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