AT&T Buying DirecTV for $48.5 Billion
I am afraid that, by owning a satellite television provider and a satellite internet provider, AT&T will proclaim that they have fulfilled the "universal service" mandate and refuse to upgrade any more legacy copper wire plant. There have been rumors that AT&T will not run new copper lines to a home or business if they are covered by any cell phone tower or any competing phone provider (including VoIP from another provider); nor will they replace faulty or noisy existing copper lines, since you could get service from a competitor.
AT&T Buying DirecTV for $48.5 Billion
Customer growth with UVERSE was not happening fast enough -- content distributors (Disney/ESPN, premium movie channels, Scripps Networks, etc.) charged AT&T more because they did not have the subscriber numbers to leverage lower channel costs. After the merger, I expect those contracts to be renegotiated for much lower costs per subscriber for AT&T. Not that the consumers will see any of those savings...
Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices
I wonder how they are storing the gender in the database. Most databases allocate a single character for gender -- M or F in most cases. I had joked that a company could easily offer Neuter and Transgender and still use the single character space. How are they storing 50 different choices in a single character?
Either that, or create another linked table for the multitude of choices, and use X in gender to indicate a lookup in the auxiliary gender table.
Would some countries limit what choices their citizens could have?
Taking Telecommuting To the Next Level - the RV
old fashioned paper ham radio magazines, etc
I am very happy with Zino for many of my magazine subscriptions. Most magazines are read once and then donate or recycle; having them electronic takes up much less space. With some magazines you also have access to back issues. For the ones that do not, a screenshot of an interesting article is usually enough to find it online elsewhere. For the magazines embracing more restrictive DRM, I find a replacement or continue to receive the physical version that can be scanned. If Zinio goes away, nothing of great value to me is lost -- same risk as a magazine going out of business.
There are still some magazines that have not or will not embrace the digital; for those, I am carefully evaluating whether I still need the information they contain. This also applies to magazines that are charging the same price for physical as electronic subscription, despite the savings in printing and mailing.
Yes, yes, a magazine or book does not crash or run out of battery; for most of the magazines I get, not having immediate access to it is not a deal-breaker.
Sealed-Box Macs: Should Computers Be Disposable?
Thinking back 25+ years ago, so please forgive any inaccuracies. Reasons to crack open a mid-80's Mac (128K or 512K Fat Mac) and void your warranty/AppleCare:
1) Replace the *#%$ flyback transformer
2) Aftermarket RAM upgrade (128K->512K)
3) Third party hard drive
4) Floppy disk 400K->800K upgrade
5) External video adapter
6) Other stuff lost in the corners of my mind.
Didn't the SE/30 also require a case-cracking kit?
Yes, the original 128K, 512K, Mac Plus, Mac SE, and Mac SE/30 all required the case-cracking kit. Essentially it was a long handled Torx screwdriver, and a hinged piece of metal to assist in opening the firm-fitting back of the case from the front. Search for "macintosh torx" for some examples.
The biggest upgrades at the time was going from four 256K SIMM to four 1M SIMM for MultiFinder. So many programs, all running at once!
I still have an SE/30 upgrade which installed a XT compatible board in the expansion slot. Several companies made external video cards for the SE and SE/30.
On topic, notice that almost every Mac after that was able to be user-upgradable fairly easily (Mac II family, Performa, Quadra, etc.) mainly because RAM and hard drive sizes were increasing so dramatically year to year. How fast is RAM and hard drive capacity increasing today?
Radio Shack's TRS-80 Turns 35
The Pocket Computer 7, yes. Which is why I wrote all my programs down on paper. Hated when the battery needed to be replaced, it meant that I would soon be retyping in my programs.
The PC-6 had a backup battery, a CR2016, so replacing the main batteries did not make it forget your programs or data. It also had a specialty printer port, so you could print data or programs.
John the Ripper Cracks Slow Hashes On GPU
Reading your proposal for having an FPGA hold a critical part of the encryption process, I was reminded of the many places we have seen this idea before: dongles (parallel port and USB), arcade games (slapstic from Atari, the CPS-2 "suicide batteries", and NAOMI to name a few), SmartCards, and others.
Instead of using FPGA, I would use a cheaper PIC or Atmel device -- the security is in the algorithm implemented in the device. Having a copy of the hardware in the hand of an attacker, whether cheap or expensive, nullifies the extra security it provides. Notice for the devices above, they were all compromised after diligent work over time.
For a out-of-band verification system, I can see this working pretty well -- for an individual user or server. Making sure that the device does the calculation and not holding a "shared secret" is the key. Having to carry around a physical device to decrypt your data would be inconvenient; having only one device that can authenticate users is ideal (and a spare device for Murphy).
I just find it curious that the wheel of progress is rotating back to using separate hardware to implement hashing or security instead of just relying on algorithm complexity.
Warner Bros: New Program To Digitize Your DVDs
Actually, this has been tried. It was not accepted very well in the marketplace.
limited-use-dvd-technology self-destructing-dvds-coming-soon the-one-use-self-destructing-dvd-returns
Of course, there (the original) DiVX format, which used a phone-home DVD player and special DiVX discs from Circuit City. Also a miserable failure.
What I find funny is that most people who buy DVD movies only watch them a couple of times. Occasionally it was cheaper to buy it than to rent it (think of all the overstocked copies of a popular movie at the rental places), so I have a few movies myself that were watched once, and have been loaned out to others.
Which is the crazy thing about all this -- it is the removal of the ability to loan out or resell the physical copy that seems to be the goal. E-book readers, Steam cloud software, all of these replace first-sale with license-to-use.
Forced iAds Coming To OS X?
I still thought Opera had advertising in the interface, and had actively avoided using it. After your comment, I read their 1Q report -- apparently they're working on back ends to compress web data to send to their Opera mobile browsers (less bandwidth), along with a Google partnership for the desktop search (and other ventures).
I wondered how long it would take for streaming movies to get ads embedded within, or around the display frame. Combine this innovation with the picture recognition advertising technology, and preference targeting, and I'm afraid the synergy of the underlying revenue stream would be insurmountable.
Would Dish Network or DirecTV have prior art on some aspect of this? They both currently have integrated ads within the program guide. Or the TVGuide channel, with the incessant video ad at the top? Did someone think to include an ad frame on the new TVs that connect to the internet and show videos and web pages? How about Microsoft's and Dish Network's WebTV? Video games with a "pay to continue" timer?
The Real Science Gap
We've set up a system in which the priority is short term quarterly gains, and that's what we get. If you want a viable society in the long term, you have to invest in basic research.
For now, quarterly results are great, because we're still coasting on all the innovation of previous years. There has been no disruptive technology to dislodge this mindset.
However, if one or two companies have a mindset of finding a competitive advantage by doing research for a couple of years, they could leapfrog existing companies with their newer processes. But, no guarantee of finding an advantage. It takes visionaries to look farther than the quarterly cash flow sheets.
Most companies will not do long-term research until necessary. The advantage of waiting for a new innovation to appear (from someone else's research) is that it's not near as expensive to clone the advantage for yourself.
So, our current model is that small companies spend lots of money looking for competitive advantages against larger companies, find one, and promptly get bought out or cloned.
ArenaNet's MMO Design Manifesto
Or perhaps having every guard in every town on the continent kill you on sight? You think people would randomly attack strangers? Ganking would vanish in a heartbeat. You'd probably end up with a feudal system very quickly, where everyone was in one of a few massive guilds that would issue kill on sight orders for anyone that harmed one of their own- this may not be what the designers/players want, but it would work. Make losing hurt and the ganking issue solves itself
What you are describing was implemented in Ultima Online. Kill a player, all the guards in cities mark you KoS (kill on sight). The solution was to not go to cities anymore. No banking, but there's plenty of killed player corpses to loot.
So, roving gangs of PKers hang out at the load points between areas, and kill your character while your computer is loading the next area's graphics. The solution for a while was the formation of anti PKers, who would descend in mass and swarm a PK group. But, now their characters were also flagged as PKers.
So yes, it ended up as a feudal system. Unfortunately, it was a world where the PK eventually won.
"Logan's Run" Syndrome In Programming
At least I'm not the only one watching these programs -- Holmes on Homes may be the one you are referencing.
Ideally, an older contractor (or programmer) has to have a young mindset. Continuing to do what has worked in the past makes it harder for your work to interface with current methodologies. Writing database software using ODBC.DLL calls or not using Ditra under your new bathroom tile floors -- it means that your work will not mesh with current practices.
I would expect a specialist in their field to remain mostly up-to-date on their knowledge, or let me know they specialize in a particular older technology. Or, one would hope, they can do both.
The Incredible Shrinking Operating System
We are talking about making the distro as lite as possible. Putting the entire games suite takes up another big chunk. I never understood the reasoning behind the "games suite" to begin with. Wouldn't it be better if people chose their own games?
For most Windows users, there are only four games -- Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, Minesweeper, and (for some) the pinball game. When they see all of the games available from the live Ubuntu CD, they are interested in finding out more. As a selling point, seeing the list of games already installed has impact on end users. Showing them all of the games available for free via the package management system just seals the deal.
(Yes, XP has the Internet-enabled games as well. Meh.)
Popup Study Confirms Most Users Are Idiots
I think the solution is to make the buttons themselves say what they do, rather than clicking Ok or Cancel, have the button say "Exit crashed program", or "Install new program" or what have you. Always being OK or Cancel conditions people to just blindly click.
The Apple user interface guidelines have always stated that verbs should be used on command buttons. Inserting a blank disk under Mac OS pops up the "Format" or "Eject" dialog box. On Windows, the text says "To format the disk, click OK. To quit, click CANCEL" with "OK" or "Cancel" buttons.
Of course, if you put something other than OK or CANCEL in the dialog box, most Windows users freeze up. They don't know what to click.
Making users read the dialog box text helps. Just make sure the text is actually useful for making a decision.
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