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What Canada Can Teach the US About Net Neutrality

ppanon Re:The US doesn't need to be taught (80 comments)

I cannot speak to Canadian regulations, but down in the US it would be very hard for one wireless carrier to "wipe out the competition", since the FCC auctions for wireless bandwidth were specifically set up so that there were two winners for each service area. It was a design goal that there be competition.

...

Cell phone service is hardly a monopoly in any sense of the word, neither is streaming video service. What it actually was was a company saying "I can provide this to you cheaper because of vertical integration". Vertical integration is how many companies cut costs, and it doesn't create a monopoly.

When you can get fiber-grade bandwidth and comparable monthly data volumes from wireless at a competitive price let me know. Otherwise, this is a red-herring because you're comparing apples (wireless) with oranges (wired broadband).

Sure the provider video services don't add to peering costs, but the video customers still use a large portion of the bandwidth on the provider's shared infrastructure, from the last mile to the provider's data centre. Those costs (capital financing for equipment and fiber deployment, operations, maintenance) are being disproportionately paid for by the other customers who don't get a sweetheart deal on bandwidth, and that will be the same in the USA as well.

about two weeks ago
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What Canada Can Teach the US About Net Neutrality

ppanon Re:The US doesn't need to be taught (80 comments)

No, I expected the telecom company to simply start treating the data fairly. And several of the mobile companies did just that.

I bet the people who used to have unlimited streaming of telecom-provided feeds are just all warm and fuzzy that they now have a cap.

Well, since the traditional behaviour of telecoms is that, once they've eliminated the competition, they raise their prices and rent-seek, if the telecoms had been allowed to wipe out the competition then those "unlimited" plans would have suddenly become a lot more expensive. And that is a very real risk because content is licensed per country, so that as, let's say, Netflix's user base dwindled, it would lose economies of scale in licensing content to its Canadian customer base and have a harder time providing a competitive catalog. The Canadian Netflix already has a significantly smaller selection than the US service because the Canadian audience is smaller, limiting its licence purchasing power.

To also address your point about the users of the unlimited service being sad, their unlimited service was effectively a (substantial) discount, subsidised by every other user of the same common infrastructure. That was in effect very much a parallel to abusing monopoly power in market to obtain monopoly power in another, although the monopoly power actually was monopoly in one segment (cable vs. ADSL) of the consumer data services market.

It provides an incentive to the mobile companies to raise their caps.

So your answer should have been "Yes, I expect the companies to lift their caps." What good is incentive to do so if you don't expect them to do so in return? And how does this help the former unlimited-data user who was consuming only telecom streams -- he's still wound up with a cap, and he's now going to have to worry about paying extra.

Yep, he's lost the (ephermeral) benefits that he was obtaining at the expense of every other user of the common infrastructure, and which he would have paid for in higher subscription fees as soon as the telco was satisfied their service was sufficently dominant to present high barriers to entry for any potential competitors. Because they've proved over and over again that that is exactly the kind of market they like - one where they can command margins that you wouldn't get in a competitive market.

It may have no impact, but at least all services are on an equal playing field.

Why shouldn't services that cost less to provide cost less to the consumer, even if it's just a little bit less? All services are not equal cost.

Because the service cost difference in entertainment media is negligible. What the telcos were doing was subsidising the bandwidth cost of their media content users and spreading the cost to all their other users, who often didn't have alternative ISP choices.

about two weeks ago
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Elon Musk Warns Against Unleashing Artificial Intelligence "Demon"

ppanon Re:Why is he worried (583 comments)

Yep, and sadly with an increasing amount of citizens in the USA who believe that government is becoming too secular and want more religious involvement in politics, it's pretty easy to see what segment of the population he's appealing to. But why would he do this when he needs a certain amount of AI for achieving some of his goals? Maybe he wants to hobble his competition to give himself a chance to get a headstart, build up a good patent war chest and corner the market for a couple of decades. Or maybe he's been talking to Bill Joy too much.

The thing is that over the past 8 years, while we've still been doubling semiconductor density, we haven't been seeing the same level of power and speed increase from feature shrinks that we were benefiting from previously. That has significant implications for past projections of computing capacity used to predict the cross-over point for human-level AI.

about 1 month ago
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Torvalds: I Made Community-Building Mistakes With Linux

ppanon Re:The language in the old west (387 comments)

If someone in the old West walked up to your face and says hes going to rape your wife and kill you, why WOULDN'T you shoot them?

Well, just at a wild guess, if he's not a complete moron then he's probably already got you covered with a gun and will shoot you as soon as you look like you're reaching for a weapon.

about 2 months ago
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Details of iOS and Android Device Encryption

ppanon Re:So what you're telling me (146 comments)

Reset questions - how to turn a semi-effective security system into something that can be hacked by anybody (even Matthew Broderick :-) ) willing to do simple research into your background using publicly-available information. Usually added by systems where the owner doesn't want to hire enough trusted staff to help with password reset.

Most of the time you're better off putting random noise in there that can't be guessed to disable the functionality. It gets really annoying when 2 or 3 typo'd attempts force you to answer those questions, rather than using an exponentially increasing delay timer.

about 2 months ago
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Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

ppanon Re: Yeah ... but ... it's true. (267 comments)

Yeah, I misread his post. Never mind my parent post as it's inanely wrong.

It could be that they are deliberately depreciating their assets faster, but it's more likely that the increased SG&A costs are due to costs in ramping up their sales network beyond California. There will be significant startup costs in building out all those Tesla sales centers (not to mention fighting court battles and lobbying over their legality due to laws favouring dealerships). If they rent the sales locations (and if the Vancouver location on Robson is a typical location, then they must be renting) then many of the setup costs are going to be SG&A or CAPEX with a very short depreciation lifetime compared to property or production line equipment (which means large but short-term depreciation expenses in SG&A). The recurring rental costs will be SG&A too. However those costs can still be substantial to project the luxury image they want for the Model S, and they can opt to move to less pricey locations after a few years, once they've established mind-share through road presence thanks to early adopters.

Tesla don't have the benefit that Toyota had with its pre-existing network of dealerships when it launched the Prius. The Sales Centers are an attempt to establish a national sales presence on the cheap, but building even that is expensive. They say that it normally takes over a year for a restaurant to build up a clientele and become profitable. It shouldn't be surprising that car companies take an even longer investment, because people tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to buying durable goods like cars. Targetting for the niche upscale luxury market, where image is a major factor and can be obtained through some high-profile early adopters, is an interesting strategy for keeping their costs low during the slow process of gaining widespread mindshare. It's still an incredibly long and expensive process but we should be seeing the SG&A expenses plateau as their NA and European sales networks get established. It looks like they've got pretty good coverage now for the large city markets where the Model S can be sold, but they will need to add another bunch of locations in smaller markets as they ramp up to sell the more affordable model 3.

about 3 months ago
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Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

ppanon Re: Yeah ... but ... it's true. (267 comments)

Maybe he can read income statements just fine.

Depreciation is the devaluing of Assets (usually to represent wear and tear, obsolescence, and so on). What the GP is talking about are Capital Expenditures. Now as you add to your asset base, your depreciation will increase, but only by the same percentage increase that your capex adds to the assets of the company.

From wikipedia: "An ongoing question for the accounting of any company is whether certain expenses should be capitalized or expensed. Costs which are expensed in a particular month simply appear on the financial statement as a cost incurred that month. Costs that are capitalized, however, are amortized or depreciated over multiple years. Capitalized expenditures show up on the balance sheet."

Maybe you should learn how to read balance sheets?

about 3 months ago
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Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

ppanon Re:Competition is good. (211 comments)

I went through a couple of iterations of that post and hemmed and hawed about which way to go on the efficiency front, because there are pros and cons. As 0123456 points out, if you're trying to put things into orbit cheaply, a simpler and less efficient design can bring about big cost savings. On the other hand, as you point out, efficiency is really important if you want more delta-v to reach higher orbits.

Nasa was probably very focused on engine efficiency for two reasons 1) if you want to reach escape velocity for planetary missions, heck even geo-synch, then you need more efficient engines or more stages [with more chances one will fail] and 2) the US Armed Forces had a big hand in the design envelope of NASA launch equipment - most notably in the winged design of the shuttle to allow for high speed re-entry maneuvers - and the military wants efficiency because high delta-v is necessary to outrun/outfight hostiles.

Use of the shuttle for U.S. launches was mandated because the military wanted the private sector to help subsidize the super-expensive shuttle launch infrastructure. As competition from Ariane and Russia made that less viable to the point that the policy had to be abandoned, then US competition opened up for providing vehicles that better matched commercial needs, rather than military ones. It had nothing to do with public vs. private sector efficiency and everything to do with military requirements being imposed on all launches (including the majority of launches that had no need for those "requirements") and established players playing politics for legislative capture under the guise of national security.

Which is yet another reason why you should always be really suspicious whenever someone uses national security as rationale for black budgets and secrecy. It's really easy to abuse national security as a pretext for covering nefarious activities.

about 3 months ago
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Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

ppanon Re:No miracles (211 comments)

When you're throwing engines away every time, and they make up a large fraction of the cost of a launch, a low-cost engine that burns 10% more fuel can be a massive win.

That depends on what orbit you're trying to reach and how much delta-V it requires. If you're trying to launch commercial satellites into low earth orbit or replenish the ISS (also in LEO), then you can throw fuel at the problem. When you try to reach geo-synch or past it, then efficiency is a must.

What SpaceX have done so far is pick the low to medium-height hanging fruit. Good for them. What's their capability for launching good sized comm-satellites into geo-synch? or Voyager/Galileo type interplanetary probes?

about 4 months ago
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Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

ppanon Re:Competition is good. (211 comments)

As someone pointed out, the physics of building rocket engines hasn't significantly changed in the last 60 years. That's why the F1 engine is still the most powerful rocket we've ever designed. What has changed are manufacturing techniques like sintering laser 3D printing techniques and computer modeling to allow us to build F1 engines that are slightly more powerful and a lot cheaper than what was built for Apollo. And yet somehow we don't build them. Why? Because there's no demand for it.

There has been a lot of demand for faster, more agile, and more fuel efficient aviation - from combat aircraft for wars to civil aviation in the face of rising fuel prices. That pressure isn't as significant for the launch market because: a) there are only so many safe, useful orbits for satellites where they aren't going to interfere with eachother (in terms of signal transmission - which is what many are used for) and a lot of them are already in use; b) fuel costs are a small portion of launch costs.

So the moral of the story is a) development happens according to demand and changing requirements/conditions and b) supply-side economics is BS - consumption is limited by demand.

about 4 months ago
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People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

ppanon Re:If anyone actually cared... (710 comments)

Yeah but with laser sintering 3D printing, it becomes much easier to build parts on demand. So I think it will take some time, but the parts distribution problem will be solved soon. Not only that but you could buy the planned-obsolescence object take it apart and scan the parts, and replace them with longer-lasting parts as they break down from wear-and-tear. The only question is, if you've bought a patent-protected part and it breaks down because it was made cheaply, can you manufacture your own replacement because you have purchased the original (poorly-made) part, implying a patent licence for that part (and potential replacements) in that machine. What you need is a legislative change to allow that, which is likely to be the tough part because everybody with entrenched interests will fight it.

about 5 months ago
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New Permission System Could Make Android Much Less Secure

ppanon 11 months to go on warranty (249 comments)

and as soon as it's over, on goes Cyanogenmod.

about 6 months ago
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Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

ppanon Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (212 comments)

Exactly. Note that there is a scientific study that indicates this appears to be the case with trolls in Internet commenting systems. So it's not exactly a big leap of faith to expect that PvP adherents, displaying similar aggressive behaviour for the "fun" of being aggressive and controlling, have similar tendencies. The big question, as the AC above indicates, is whether trolling, PvP, and violent video games act as an outlet for those urges and help control them or whether they feed and exacerbate them.

A decade ago, I had fun playing Quake III Arena death matches with other members of the development team, and I'm anti-sadistic, not at all Machiavellian, and pretty average when it comes to psychopathic behaviour. It was pretty easy to discern between the game and real life and treat it as an entertaining sport. So I think that even with the more realistic graphics in contemporary games, it's quite possible for normal people to make that distinction. The real question is whether psychopaths would prefer not to make that distinction, pretend the game is real, and in doing so aggravate their condition?

Mass and serial killers often have a history of serious animal abuse, which later escalates into even more serious human-oriented behaviour. So while enjoying bullying through virtualized violence in video games likely isn't a sufficient condition for the escalation of psychopathic behaviour to physical violence, it may prove to be a useful warning sign or even a catalyst in conjunction with other factors. Another significant factor for instance maybe whether the community of enthusiasts tends to and reinforces a distancing, demeaning, psychopathic attitude towards other players and "newbs", or maintains a more sportive approach. The recent Isla Vista shooting by the former PUA and PUAhate adherent Elliot Rodger seems to indicate this is a good candidate for a co-factor.

about 6 months ago
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Canada Poised To Buy 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 JSFs

ppanon Re:Russia (417 comments)

That's already the case in summer and it's only going to get worse with Climate Change. Having to switch between water, ice, water, land for your supply lines for 1/3 of the year isn't really good for transporting large quantities of supplies (or you can run ships from port to port around what's left of the shrinking ice cap during those months). As you pointed out, the "permafrost" now thaws during the summer, and that is going to cause an issue for heavy transports in supply lines once they hit the mainland. I suppose the oil companies may build a service road if they wind up needing to build a pipeline North because they don't get permission to go in any of the other populated directions. If that existed then the Russians could use it.

For all the issues with Siberian permafrost, there is still a railway that goes across it (the Trans-Siberian), and you can move a lot of materiel on that. It was, after all, a major supply line for allied hardware being sent to Russia to help take on the Germans in WWII. There's no reason why that couldn't be used to send a lot of stuff in the other direction. The major issue is that it would be pretty easy to bomb with modern airplanes and cruise missiles, however I would think that would go double for any supply route and depots on the Arctic ice cap.

If Russia invaded Canada, then the NATO defence pact would come into effect, so they may as well go through Alaska and take control of the oil fields there while they're at it. But as someone else pointed out there isn't much road infrastructure across Alaska so it would be easier to just go around it and debark in Hyder.

about 6 months ago
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Games That Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

ppanon Re:Or, we could just be playing a game (212 comments)

Neuro plasticity indicates that what you repeatedly perform becomes a more entrenched behaviour as those neural paths become strengthened. That would seem to indicate that it would exacrebate natural tendencies. If you naturally are repelled by psychopathic behaviour, then performing it could strengthen that revulsion. If on the other hand you have psychopathic tendencies....

about 7 months ago
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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

ppanon Re:u wot m8 (575 comments)

Brane or string theory.

about 8 months ago
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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

ppanon Re:Bullet, meet foot (575 comments)

It's Microsoft trying to get a 30% cut of every software purchase for the Windows 8.1 platform. Now I'll grant you that Apple and Google do the same thing on their mobile platforms, but they didn't have established sales ecosystems to trample on. It's questionable what service they provide to users and developers for that 30% cut.

Anyways Microsoft tax now has a new meaning (although you're free to also talk about Apple tax and Google tax too). The interesting thing is that there are competing App Stores such as Amazon and Samsung for the Android platform but they all take the same cut - 30%. That vaguely smells like oligopolistic collusion to me.

about 8 months ago
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Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

ppanon Re:Poor poor bigot (1116 comments)

Amicus curiae briefs during the original trial?

about 8 months ago
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U.S. Biomedical Research 'Unsustainable' Prominent Researchers Warn

ppanon Re:Empty summary (135 comments)

There's also the tricky matter that PhD students get paid minimal wages given their schooling, whereas career scientists need/expect to be paid a living wage that can support a family and build a retirement fund.

about 8 months ago
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Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

ppanon Re:Poor poor bigot (1116 comments)

Now there can be problems with the standing requirements for legal challenge, and that's when you get into issues of national secrecy Catch-22s, such as with the Patriot Act, where the people who are being harmed aren't allowed to demand access to any evidence that would show that they are being harmed. But that's quite different from allowing everybody with an axe to grind free rein to butt into the business of other people who they otherwise would have no dealings with.

about 8 months ago

Submissions

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Thiomersol-autism link should be revisited

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 3 years ago

ppanon (16583) writes "Studies denying a link between Thiomersol (aka Thimerosol) and autism need a complete re-evaluation from the base data even more than the climate data did after "Climategate". A FOIA request by CoMeD has unearthed documents that indicate CDC researchers cherry picked data for a frequently quoted Pediatrics article to indicate that there was no drop in autism in Denmark when Thiomersol was replaced in vaccines, when the full data instead likely indicated the opposite. The same research group was reportedly involved in three frequently quoted studies claiming no link between Thiomersol and autism. There are now some candidate causal paths for links between Thiomersal and autism.

In addition the lead researcher on that Pediatrics paper, Poul Thorsen, was indicted earlier this year for wire fraud and money laundering, having allegedly falsified over $1M in expense reports to the CDC."
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Blackhat talk on WinCE & ATM vuln. cancelled

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ppanon (16583) writes "According to a Tech Review article: Barnaby Jack, a security researcher at ... Juniper, had planned to hack into an automatic teller machine (ATM) live onstage at the Black Hat Security Conference in Las Vegas later this month. But his presentation, designed to demonstrate the insecurity of various ATMs, attracted the attention of the financial industry as well as security professionals, and under pressure from ATM manufacturers, Juniper canceled the presentation last week, citing concerns that the vulnerabilities involved had still not been fixed.

While the presentation was canceled to allow manufacturers more time to fix the vulnerabilities, Juniper had originally notified the company almost eight months ago, says the source, who asked not to be named."
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Columbine-10 years later

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ppanon (16583) writes "Ten years ago, two students shot and either killed or wounded dozens of other students and teachers at Columbine High School in Colorado. There was a great deal of soul searching and argumentation in the media over the effects of bullying and how the killings were reprisals for misfits. Many students who fit the goth or misfit "profile" at other schools were singled out and discriminated against or suspended as potential risks to the student body. Commentators like Slashdot's John Katz wrote lengthy diatribes on bullying at Columbine and in other environments.

However, in the last ten years, more research has indicated that most of the assumptions those actions and discussions were based on were incorrect. They didn't make it far into a poorly self-critical media though. Some people are hoping the 10th anniversary is an opportunity to set the record straight. Eric Harris was a psychopath and Dylan Klebold was suffering from depression. They weren't members of the Trenchcoat Mafia or social outcasts, and they didn't target any groups in particular."
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Carbon sink research satellites launching

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 5 years ago

ppanon (16583) writes "McClatchy reports on the launch of the Japanese Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite and NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory, These two satellites will hopefully help clarify how twice as much CO2 greenhouse gas appears to get scrubbed from the atmosphere than would be expected based on current understanding of natural carbon sinks. That would help improve the long term reliability of climate models and could provide insight into how to minimize or decrease the impact of CO2 -related climate change."

Journals

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A mature software industry

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 4 years ago

A slashdot exchange about standard handling of updates to cell chip firmware got me thinking about the applicability of "the tragedy of the commons" to the economics of open source community projects.

From the Wikipedia article for the Tragedy of the Commons:

        Central to Hardin's article is an example (first sketched in an 1833 pamphlet by William Forster Lloyd), of a hypothetical and simplified situation based on medieval land tenure in Europe, of herders sharing a common parcel of land, on which they are each entitled to let their cows graze. In Hardin's example, it is in each herder's interest to put the next (and succeeding) cows he acquires onto the land, even if the carrying capacity of the common is exceeded and it is temporarily or permanently damaged for all as a result. The herder receives all of the benefits from an additional cow, while the damage to the common is shared by the entire group. If all herders make this individually rational economic decision, the common will be depleted or even destroyed to the detriment of all.

Clearly a shared base of code and/or fixes is a commons and in fact one "open source"-ish licence, the Creative Commons licence, uses that very term. The point of the tragedy of the commons is that you have people extracting from the commons beyond sustainability because it's in their economic self-interest to do so. In this variant, the cell phone manufacturers are unwilling to contribute to building/improving a commons because doing so is not in their economic self-interest. There's a pretty clear parallel to me.

This is interesting because it has implications for the situations where open source-type communal projects are economically viable and where they are not. When computing systems were relatively rare, operating systems were part of systems that provided their users a first mover advantage and could be sold as products. However, as computing capacity becomes commoditized and ubiquitous, the proposition of setting up a commons appears to become more economically advantageous. If the above is true, it would seem to indicate that open source communal projects are viable for commodity components for infrastructure, but not for core mission critical functions that provide a competitive advantage. If that's the case, then in a mature software development industry, there will only be manufacturers of software for vertical markets because software for horizontal markets will be better supplied by community-supported projects. Which would mean that in the long term, the economics are against the sustainability of Microsoft, Oracle, and other giants of the horizontal intellectual product markets. In a mature industry the companies that will survive are companies that facilitate maintenance and use of the commons, like RedHat, Canonical, etc., and companies that focus on vertical markets and custom software development, like IBM, EDS, etc. And don't get me wrong, horizontal "software" market products initially can be very lucrative because they involve a naturally large customer base, however that profitability is time limited to the point where the product is commoditized and the cost distribution effects of an open source project is more economically rewarding for the customer/user.

Now Microsoft and Oracle do have the advantage of network effects working in their favour (interoperability/training investment for users) and those forces work against the advantages of a shared commons despite the horizontal markets for their products. However, contrary to Wikipedia, I would call these weak network effects because the barrier to entry is distributed instead of internalized. A "strong" network effect would be a telecommunications infrastructure where the key resource behind the effect is owned by the beneficiary. A would-be competitor must invest enough to replicate the resource (i.e. lay cable or buy spectrum and set up cell towers across the region) to be able to compete, in addition to convincing users to switch. However with a "weak" network effect the primary barrier to entry is associated with a non-owned resource or a time-limited government monopoly (i.e. patents). In Microsoft's case they've decided to strengthen their network effects (user/admin training investments, proprietary document exchange formats, developer mindshare), by strongly supporting ISVs and by combating attempts to commoditize Windows' features through the web. However the most used core of Windows has limited room for improvement and, as users become more aware of the issues with vendor locking, demand for open document standards has increased.Thus Microsoft's network effects are continuing to weaken, with their strongest remaining asset being developer support. As the growth of Microsoft's user base flattens and investor expectations demand continued revenue growth which can only be achieved by price increases, the relative cost proposition of open source becomes more attractive in the long run.

Oracle seems to have a mixed model where they use vertical market products to help promote sales of their horizontal product. However at some point, their horizontal product market will be sufficient commoditized that tying their vertical market products to it will put their vertical market products at a disadvantage with any competitors in those vertical markets using a commons-based infrastructure.

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Mmm Bacon....

ppanon ppanon writes  |  more than 4 years ago

All right, you're a bachelor (or DINKs) and you love bacon. but you know it's bad for you and you don't want to have too much too often. The stuff comes in these packs of 20 or more slices soaked in water and if you don't freeze the bacon and just keep it in the fridge, then it starts to go bad long before you've worked through the pack. However if you freeze the pack when you buy it, then it might as well be welded together. You can't get the slices apart when you need them unless you thaw the whole pack, which defeats the point of freezing it in the first place. What to do?

Here's the solution I came up with years ago. You take a plate and cover it in plastic food wrap, then you lay down a layer of bacon strips side by side. Cover that with a sheet of plastic wrap and lay down another layer of bacon strips crosswise from the first. Repeat until you've used up the bacon. Now take that plate and stick it in the freezer for a couple of hours.

The result is a plate of frozen bacon strips that separate from each other easily. Take them apart and put them in a freezer bag. You now have bacon in your freezer that will last for months and you can take out a few strips at a time as you need them.

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