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Apple Delays Simpler and Cleaner iTunes 'to Get It Right'

timster Re:Apple wants to get it right? (252 comments)

Just to correct the "record", such as this is. DRM-free music on iTunes launched on May 29, 2007. The Amazon MP3 store launched in beta on September 25, 2007.

You remember it the other way around because memory is an illusion.

about 2 years ago

SSL Holes Found In Critical Non-Browser Software

timster Re:Death knell? Really? (84 comments)

MITM in cryptography usually stands for "man in the middle". "Monkey in the middle" is a kid's game where a group stands in a circle and tries to keep the ball away from a single kid designated the "monkey".

about 2 years ago

A Day in Your Life, Fifteen Years From Now

timster Re:Rather... (687 comments)

Only to those who lack a sense of history. People always think the worst is coming.

about 2 years ago

FAA Permits American Airlines To Use iPads In Cockpit "In All Phases of Flight"

timster Re:what about cost of charging iPad? (372 comments)

To be fair, this isn't really any dumber than the dozens of "OMG what if it breaks?" comments or the "OMG if pilots can use electronic devices during takeoff/landing I can't think of any reason at all why hundreds of passengers distracted with colorful screens and music could be hazardous in an emergency situation!"

It's like Slashdot has become "this new thing is stupid because I thought of a simple, obvious objection which is also wrong" central.

about 2 years ago

Eben Moglen: Time To Apply Asimov's First Law of Robotics To Smartphones

timster Re:Three Laws (305 comments)

As some others have mentioned the Three Laws weren't exactly "rules" or even design principles exactly. Asimov's thinking was that an imitation brain would need a set of foundational ideas to be able to function. In some books it's made clear that these were the starting point for the whole mathematical art of positronic brain design (and other principles would be possible but require starting over from scratch).

This is an analogy to the human mind, since Asimov was actually imagining his version of a superior form of person rather than a "robot" at all. The human's "Laws" are things like eating, self-preservation, need for social recognition, etc that were provided by evolution.

Actual computers have foundational ideas too, though they are more prosaic perhaps: "follow one instruction, then retrieve the next instruction according to a numerical sequence, except when there is a branching instruction" and that sort of thing. Or you could argue that somewhat more advanced fundamentals have developed over the years as we use increased abstractions (functions, objects, etc).

more than 2 years ago

Botched Repair Likely Cause of Combusting iPhone After Flight

timster Re:Waiting for facts (181 comments)

In Soviet Russia, Oog the open-source caveman holds you wrong, in all caps. I think that about covers it

Not sorry.

more than 2 years ago

Apple Unveils New iPad

timster Re:Nice upgrade, but no big surprises in the new i (989 comments)

I don't think people will actually buy new devices just to replace the battery. If we reach that plateau I'd expect to see the many existing third-party shops that do iPad/iPod/iPhone battery replacement to do more business, that's all.

Not sure why people think this is a big issue. Battery replacements for laptops can already be like $150 sometimes. Adding 20 minutes of moderately-skilled labor to that equation doesn't change much.

more than 2 years ago

An iPad Keyboard You Can Type On and Swipe Through

timster Re:Defeating the Tablet (93 comments)

There are a lot of iPad accessory options out there but they don't turn the device into a laptop, or into something like a laptop. Even if someone uses a keyboard to write emails once in a while they don't likely use the keyboard for Web surfing, reading maps, or for any of the many other tasks to which a tablet is better suited than a laptop. Also I think you are severely overestimating how popular these accessories are compared to the iPad itself. Frankly it's nice that the iPad is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of usage scenarios, unlike a laptop.

I'm sort of sad to see so many Slashdotters responding so poorly to tablets, which are the most important development in computing in a decade. We ought to be leading the charge forward and demanding tablet casemods and overclocking. Instead we are whining that a screen attached to a keyboard via a hinge is the One True Way. Laptops were designed for office work and they do not make very good home personal computers.

more than 2 years ago

First 16-Core Opteron Chips Arrive From AMD

timster Re:Poor performance (189 comments)

The big question I have is if it will be like AMD's previous 12-core chips, where you could get 4 of them crammed into a 2U server for not all that much money. 4-Xeon configurations are way more expensive.

more than 2 years ago

Sony Racing Apple To Develop 'a New Kind of TV'

timster Re:I hate it when people say things like: (273 comments)

God dammit, Slashdotters are so dumb about corporations and how they work. Even if you're anti-corporate you ought to know a handful of things about your enemy.

Suppose you are a corporation with basically one physical asset: a $10 billion TV factory. Raw materials and labor go in one side, and finished TVs come out the other. Let's even ignore R&D and marketing.

What you'll learn very quickly is that you can't really control the price that you sell the TVs at. Since you have competitors also making TVs, and there is only so much demand for TVs out there in the market, you're constrained. Maybe some of your competitors can build TVs cheaper than you because their labor is cheaper, or they have a better factory, or whatever. Maybe everyone expects huge TV sales due to some new technology and the sales never pan out, and there are just too many TVs in the market.

So your brilliant idea is to shut down the factory the moment that you can't sell the TVs for more than the cost of making them. In the real world it isn't always so simple. If you completely abandon the TV market, you'll have to sell your $10 billion factory even though nobody wants a TV factory right now -- you'll be lucky to find a buyer at $1 billion. If you decide to sit on your factory (still paying for maintenance, security, property taxes, etc), you'd have to get rid of your employees to really save money, and then you'll need months of lead time to re-hire people if the market picks up again. Not to mention that you'll lose your position in the marketplace -- everything from distribution contracts to your mindshare will evaporate. Nobody really wants to buy or distribute a TV from a company that only makes TVs some of the time.

There is always a point where keeping things running isn't the best decision, especially if you think the market will never come back (the buggy whip situation). I'm just saying that the point where you start selling things for less than it costs to make them isn't always the time to abandon production. Sony will be happy that it kept its TV division running if the R&D guys can come up with some new feature that everyone actually wants to buy.

Bottom line: yes it's possible that they really are losing money on each TV. Depending on how you interpret the mysterious future, they might lose even more if they stopped making them.

more than 2 years ago

Asus Unveils Quad-Core Transformer Prime Tablet

timster Re:Questions about this device (274 comments)

Not sure that the keyboard dock will prove that popular with the general public. It's almost forgotten now but Apple sold a keyboard dock accessory for the original iPad on release day. They don't bother to make it anymore due to low sales, but the iPad is still compatible with Bluetooth keyboards (as it always was). The general public hasn't had much interest in that either, though a small Bluetooth keyboard plus a small iPad stand is occasionally useful for sending email or using SSH while traveling or whatever.

more than 2 years ago

I'd like to see Yahoo ...

timster Well, let me help you out (214 comments)

Twitter is for things you like. If there's a local restaurant you like, maybe they will send notices of their daily specials now and then. If there's a musician you like, maybe they'll let their followers know that tour dates have been announced or that their new album is almost out. Going to a convention? The convention feed might let you know when event schedules change. Maybe a columnist you like will make occasional points that supplement their regular writing.

"But we have email!" I guess you are saying. Ever subscribed to an email newsletter from a restaurant? You'll get 5MB PDF coupons, only good on Wednesday afternoons, as likely as not, and good luck with the unsubscribe. Twitter guarantees that the messages will be small and it's always easy to unsubscribe.

Don't know why it's so hard to understand -- there isn't any other service that's good at this.

more than 2 years ago

Civil Suit Filed, Involving the Time Zone Database

timster Re:Astrolabe, Inc. v. Olson et al (433 comments)

I have to ask: is "sweat-of-the-brow argument" an actual legal term?

more than 2 years ago

Apple Too Big For the Dow Jones Industrial Average

timster Re:Average (218 comments)

DJIA isn't weighted. Where are you all getting the idea that DJIA is weighted?

more than 2 years ago

Apple Too Big For the Dow Jones Industrial Average

timster Re:Price Weighted Average (218 comments)

That's not true; the Dow is even simpler than you are implying. There is no weighting at all applied to the individual stocks in the index, so it's incorrect to say that they weigh "each stock price with a factor". Instead, there is only one factor (the Dow divisor) for the entire index. All the share prices are simply added up and then divided by the divisor.

When AAPL was added to the Dow, the Dow divisor would be adjusted to account for the difference in price between AAPL and whatever it replaced, but that's it. So it's completely incorrect to say that a 5% change in Apple's price would have the same influence as any other company. In fact a 5% change in a high-priced stock would have much greater impact on the Dow value than a similar change in a low-priced stock.

Yes, the DJIA really, really is that bad of an index.

more than 2 years ago

Steve Jobs, Before the iPad, On Why Tablets Suck

timster Re:Yeah well... (279 comments)

Apple pretending that they had no intention to allow apps on the early iPhone was obviously misdirection in retrospect. At the time they were having enough trouble making the software work at all without crashing, and they didn't want developers/users to avoid it while waiting for the bright app future. Sort of a counter to the Osborne Effect.

about 3 years ago

Using Tablets Becoming Popular Bathroom Activity

timster Re:What about driving? (348 comments)

So is using an iPad as a cookbook "content creation" or "content consumption"?

about 3 years ago

Apple's Unlikely Security Mentor: Microsoft

timster Re:Meanwhile (204 comments)

Yeah but, on the other hand, talking to hackers, even information security experts, isn't really good enough. There are too many opinions out there and not enough facts.

The first problem is that we don't have any sort of useful objective metric to compare the security of various operating systems. "Number of vulnerabilities found" is unfair to the popular ones. "Severity of the worst vulnerability found" is useless because everyone has remote root exploits found from time to time.

And even an objective metric doesn't measure what really matters: the threat ecosystem. Windows had lax security for years, even years during which the Internet was common, and nobody cared much. But this lax environment bred an ecosystem of hackers, and especially criminal hackers, dedicated to compromising Windows machines for profit. Then Microsoft was asleep at the switch for a while and allowed this problem to grow out of control. Melissa should have been a gigantic red flag but they pretended that it wasn't their problem and that everyone should just buy a virus scanner.

Once this sort of problem has taken root it is very difficult to eliminate. Once there was a large group of intelligent, highly-motivated individuals with experience in breaking into Windows computers, they weren't going to disappear just because Microsoft released some patches. It took a substantial security effort over many years and even still the Windows-based criminal community is likely to be much larger than the OSX one or the Linux one or the iPhone one, even by proportion to user base (although I am not aware of any actual surveys).

Even if OSX were easier to break into in an objective sense, these people have experience with Windows and they're probably not eager to switch to a new system. So Apple has an easier time of things and this could remain the case for a while as long as they are aggressive about going after new threats. I do think they are correct to recommend against virus scanners in general, since foisting the problem of security off on a third-party (and usually an incompetent one) only masks the real problems.

more than 3 years ago

Re. medication requiring a prescription:

timster Re:Confusion (550 comments)

I don't think it's correct to say that "most" prescriptions are for controlled substances. Certainly some but "most"? Antibiotics, blood pressure meds, etc are not controlled substances.

more than 3 years ago

James Webb Space Telescope Closer To the Axe

timster Re:Solution. (226 comments)

Telling people that the JWST could be used as a spy satellite would be what's called a "lie". But if they can get it launched before Congress finds out that it has to be permanently shielded from the Sun...

more than 3 years ago


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