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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

mbkennel Re:Newsflash: mobile doesn't actually matter. (141 comments)

| Tablets have also failed in the market. Apple is the only vendor to have seen some success, but that was built more upon hype and the quasi-religious attitude that many people hold toward Apple devices, rather than out of any real need or use for such devices. Outside of a small number of niche use cases, people in general have found tablets to be useless.

The niche use cases are
a) reading email
b) sending messages
c) using web apps
d) watching movies
e) playing games

which as it turns out are very common.

However it's true that Microsoft doesn't have a huge play here on the terminal (tablet end), but it does on the service end.

It just means that now such software will be expected to be readable and usable (for some things) on a tablet terminal as well as a laptop terminal. There's plenty of traveling businessmen who might want to access a service application through a tablet (e.g sales force) that starts in 2 seconds when they're in the airport instead of using the whole laptop.

For Microsoft, tablets are not an opportunity to make hardware or sell operating systems (the total global revenue from tablet operating system sales is $0), but only as another terminal to hosted applications.

They should stick to writing business software. Instead of trying to fight and lose against very capable competitors in their primary niches, i.e. Google and Apple, they should compete in the space of general business software. There's much more opportunity beyond Office. Soft targets, for example all of Oracle's horrid non-database application software, where the standards are egregiously low, and make Office seem like a work from Michelangelo.

2 days ago

German Intelligence Spying On Allies, Recorded Kerry, Clinton, and Kofi Annan

mbkennel Re:Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (168 comments)

Did Ergodan suddently think "Oh maybe Russia was right about Assad & Syria after all?"?

Yes, Turkey was a very reliable ally until Ergodan's Islamism. Ataturk was right all along.

2 days ago

Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

mbkennel Re:Mobile first? (141 comments)

That's exactly how Microsoft is going to thrive in the mobile-first world. By getting the fuck out.

Nadella knows what's up (i.e. Elop & Ballmer are tumors) and how they're not really capable.

But seriously, that's a smart idea, they're writing the software & hosting the infrastructure for the back end services.

2 days ago

Cisco To Slash Up To 6,000 Jobs -- 8% of Its Workforce -- In "Reorganization"

mbkennel Re:Everything hits poor people harder (206 comments)

| Poor people also pay a disproportionate part of their income on food, clothing, energy, housing and transportation. Should all of those things be cheaper for poor people as well?

Yeah. But because that's hard (higher wages works the best), you should start by not making things worse for them and benefit others by extracting more tax revenue from the poor so you don't have to get as much from the rich.

about a week ago

3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

mbkennel Re:Not So Fast... (392 comments)

| So, taxpayers take it in the ass three times, once to pay for ULA launches, once to pay for Musk's protest, and ULA's counter protest, and then the third time to pay for satellites the SpaceX blows up.

And save so so so so so so so so so much more when SpaceX's rockets cost so much less, and when there's a competitive market instead of a monopoly for the next 40 years.

about two weeks ago

Oracle Hasn't Killed Java -- But There's Still Time

mbkennel Why is that scary? (371 comments)

Modern Fortran (as in Fortran 2003+) is a very good programming language for its domain and exceeds many alternatives in useful, natural expressive power, ease of use, and computational efficiency.

It just so happened that archaic Fortran was easier to transform into something good than other legacy languages.

about two weeks ago

Xiaomi Arrives As Top Smartphone Seller In China

mbkennel Re:Good for them (82 comments)

"So you're confident that the US government, which you suggest is spying on you and taking away your freedoms, will defend you against China's attempts to spy on you and take away your freedoms?

Why? Because the US government called dibs?"

No, because the US government has political and economic interests to counter the opposing political and economic interests of the Chinese government, and in the end the first cares about your prosperity (well, maybe your boss') more than the second.

about two weeks ago

Unesco Probing Star Wars Filming In Ireland

mbkennel Re: Good... (181 comments)

up into the garbage chute, flyboy!

about three weeks ago

Nevada Construction Project Could Be Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory

mbkennel a mystery wrapped in an enigma (81 comments)

Oh, yeah, there are more people in a few ZIP codes in LA than in the desolate deserts of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico.

about three weeks ago

Lawrence Krauss: Congress Is Trying To Defund Scientists At Energy Department

mbkennel Re:Good (342 comments)

Funny, as it actually turned out, energy efficiency research for both electricity and transportation has worked very well, as have wind turbines and solar power. And quite a bit of that comes from DOE research.

Fusion reactor? Well, that's still 30 years away.

Of course the vast majority of DOE money is devoted to the nuclear weapons infrastructure and environmental cleanup from decades of nuclear weapon infrastructure.

For instance, take the FY 2012 budget of Los Alamos National lab.

What fraction would you say is on basic science? I expected 30%. More like 4%.

57% NNSA weapons
9% NNSA nonproliferation
7% NNSA 'safeguards and security'
7% work for national security (most likely intelligence agencies)
8% environmental cleanup
4% undefined 'work for others'
4% DOE Energy and Other Programs
4% DOE Office Of Science

about a month ago

No RIF'd Employees Need Apply For Microsoft External Staff Jobs For 6 Months

mbkennel America is not a wealthy country (282 comments)

The US is an anti-social middle income country which happens to have some very wealthy people who live in it and run it.

It only feels wealthy for the average person when buying consumer electronics.

about a month ago

Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

mbkennel Re:Meh, why should we spend money on that? (161 comments)

| I have every expectation that the guys who invented the transistor met with business people who told them: "That's real nice, but I already have a triode or a pentode for that. Give me something I don't already have.

No. That's what happens now. That didn't happen in the 1950's at Bell Labs or in any successful organization in the era of significant American technical/industrial competence (1920-1980).

about a month ago

Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

mbkennel Re:Maybe MSFT was trying to learn from Xerox (161 comments)

| Kodak was a film company, not a camera company.

What Kodak didn't realize, and its competitor, Fuji did realize, was that Kodak was actually a materials, coatings & chemical processing company, but it thought it was a photography company. As you recognize, the expertise wasn't in how film works, it's how film factories work, and the people who knew semiconductor factories made better sensors.

If they did realize this, they'd be around today making graphene or medical instruments.

And for a number of decades Kodak, along with Perkin-Elmer (also in upstate New York) made the most impressive photography system in the world, i.e. the film-based NRO surveillance satellites, and could never talk about it. That big stream of revenue also died.

about a month ago

Telcos Move Net Neutrality Fight To Congress

mbkennel Can we extend corporate rights to individuals? (52 comments)

| Imagine the consequences if we DIDN'T extend individual rights to corporations.The government could just read all the data on Google's servers after taking them.

As opposed to now? They read all the data on Google's servers without taking them.

The problem is that powerful corporations appear to have even more rights than individual people.

People managing powerful corporations do illegal acts, and other people (the shareholders who had no knowledge or control) are punished.

Personally, I'd love to re-incorporate my soul in a zero-tax offshore jurisdiction and subcontract out my physical body to earn income another country but not have to pay tax.

Since a corporation is not a natural person, but a particular structure created by legislative activity, there is no legal or moral reason that rights of such constructed entities cannot be legally constrained in ways impermissible for natural humans.

about a month ago

After NSA Spying Flap, Germany Asks CIA Station Chief to Depart

mbkennel A diplomatic euphemism (219 comments)

| The Obama administration and that of George W. Bush both resisted such entreaties, in part because many U.S. intelligence officials believe that there are too many areas where German and U.S. security interests diverge."

This is a euphemism for saying "we believe that the German intelligence department is significantly penetrated by the Russian FSB".

Of course the German intelligence apparatus also spies on US, and France and UK, as they all do to one another.

about a month and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Switching From SAS To Python Or R For Data Analysis and Modeling?

mbkennel The right competitor to SAS is Statistica (143 comments)

R isn't a replacement for SAS---in practical use it requires much more command line programming ability and although it has an enormous number of packages, many of them are 'academic quality' (meaning good enough to make papers) and fewer are highly validated production quality with all the edge cases & stability tested.

Some SAS capabilities can run 'out of core' (unlike R) so you can process data sets which would not fit into RAM.

Statistica (StatSoft) is the closest direct competitor (Windows only unfortunately) to SAS, and from all the reviews I've read, it's significantly better.

If your institution already has a SAS base, then it will stay that way. However, there are probably many "data management" and "data processing" tasks whose nature is somewhere between computation and file/database management---but often they get implemented suboptimally in whatever package the authors found at hand. So you may be doing lots of things in SAS that you shouldn't be---and the best replacement here is python, not R. The business case to your management could be improving workflow, clarity and lowering the number of SAS licenses needed.

Keep the SAS core tasks for which SAS is good as it is, and evaluate Statistica for these as a competitor, if only to get a break on licenses from SAS if your company does a bake-off competition & bid.

about a month and a half ago

Investor Tim Draper Announces He Won Silk Road Bitcoin Auction

mbkennel Tim Draper is engaging in powertalk, not fact talk (115 comments)

People at that level talk with purpose, and the purpose is not always conveying well-justified facts or opinions.

Draper is far from stupid. He is already starting to talk his book by giving increased legitimacy to *bitcoin technology startups*, which is his actual investment.

The profits are in the fees in the payment systems.

From which he will cash out profits in cold dollars and euros, and a few bitcoins as a lark.

Bitcoin can't possibly be any kind of stable or useful general currency until there's a bond market in bitcoin. People imagine that transacting for bubblegum or downloads makes for good currency---but that's meaningless trivia. It's the existence and strength of *debt markets*, whether direct (loans) or capital markets (bonds) which truly signal strength, because these instruments are arbitrage through time. The dollar and euro aren't going anywhere because there are trillion $ bond and FX markets behind them.

Draper knows this, too.

When you start to get a bitcoin bond market with enforcable contracts, then it's time to take it seriously.

about a month and a half ago

Mayors of Atlanta & New Orleans: Uber Will Knock-Out Taxi Industry

mbkennel the most important one is missed out (273 comments)

| taxi licenses are limited to ensure that taxi drivers can still make a decent living

But in practice it doesn't work that way, taxi drivers still make a crap living working for owning companies who actually own the licenses, who make a great living.

And that's where the noise is coming from. Why else are the licenses/medallions, bought and sold on the free market, so expensive? Because they're profitable.

Uber drivers keep substantially more of their fare.

What's special about taxis that doesn't apply to grocery stores? Why aren't there a limited number of Grocery Store Medallions to be auctioned? People need to eat even more than they need a taxi.

about 1 month ago

Mayors of Atlanta & New Orleans: Uber Will Knock-Out Taxi Industry

mbkennel Re:Good? (273 comments)

| If/when uber and other private entities take business away from public services,

How does that work?

I see additional taxi-limo-driver-like services. If prices for transportation go down, does that

a) help
b) hurt


Is the problem that Uber et al might get so convenient and inexpensive that people will use it instead of the public buses? Is that really going to be a problem?

about 1 month ago


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