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Publishers Warned On Ebook Prices

ultramk Re:Market Analysis (352 comments)

I run a small publishing company. Our printing and shipping costs are about 1/4 of our overall production costs. The rest is in paying researchers, editors, and royalties to the authors. None of those costs change if we go to ebooks, in fact there are some added costs in producing an ebook version because there's no elegant way to export charts and tables to EPUB or MOBI from InDesign (where we do our print layout), at least not without a ton of hand tweaking. Code generators suck.

So, you know. It's anecdotal. But that's why our $35 book will probably sell for $28 or so in ebook.

more than 2 years ago
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Scientists Say People Aren't Smart Enough For Democracy To Flourish

ultramk Re:Well, it's sorta like this (1276 comments)

I'll point out that Russell was really paraphrasing W.B. Yeats, who had written 11 years earlier in The Second Coming: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

more than 2 years ago
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Santorum Defends Robocalls To Democrats

ultramk Re:Come over to the Netherlands, we'll euthanise h (290 comments)

Of course, he hasn't actually started any wars on his watch, unlike, say... every other US President going back to Carter. (No, a handful of drone strikes in Libya and Somalia don't count.) He did end the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan. He got Bin Laden with a minimal incursion that didn't become a full-blown invasion.

He's talking tough on Iran, but is showing no signs of actually planning for a military operation there. The budget cuts to the military show that.

Reality conflicts with your fear-mongering and false equivalency.

more than 2 years ago
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Santorum Defends Robocalls To Democrats

ultramk Re:It's the message... (290 comments)

Can we talk about what candidates would do about Syria, now? Or maybe African genocide? How about finance reform? Hungry for real issues.

I can answer those three questions for you, for each of the 4 candidates:
Santorum: Nothing, nothing, and nothing.
Romney: Nothing, nothing, and "Hahahahaha!"
Gingritch: Nothing, "Hahahaha!", and "Hahahahah!"
Ron Paul: "Hahahahaha!", "Hahahaha!", and "after we switch our currency to gold dust, finance problems with naturally blah, blah blah. We're all Austrians now! Millennium hand and shrimp!"

more than 2 years ago
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Obama Pushes For Cheaper Pennies

ultramk Re:You can't eliminate them (825 comments)

Of course, there's a trade-off to not tipping, such as the astonishingly poor service that Europeans seem to take for granted at anything less than very high-end dining establishments. Now, it doesn't seem to bother you all so you might as keep it the way it is. Americans, on the other hand, seem to place a much higher value on careful and conscientious service, and that's why our pay structure for servers is the way it is--to promote that good service.

The habit is so ingrained in us that it's very difficult to _not_ tip when traveling abroad. It just seems terribly rude. I wish however that Europeans were more willing to adopt to local norms when coming to the US. I have several friends and family members who either do now or or have worked as servers, and when a visiting European declines to conform to local custom and stiffs a server even when he or she received good service... well you've just done the equivalent of taking money out of that server's paycheck for the night.

I realize how strange it is to visitors, but this is just the way our society is. It's a social contract, and it is taken very seriously. If one feels that strongly about it, you should either stick to fast food or buy food from the grocery and prepare it yourself, or better yet, stay home and don't travel to places where the customs bother you so much.

more than 2 years ago
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Self-Guided Bullet Can Hit Targets a Mile Away

ultramk Re:Really? (421 comments)

Sorry, but if you can hear the "whoosh" that means they missed. ;-)

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Versus Google Innovation Strategies

ultramk Re:apple does market research (187 comments)

Ah, you're closer but no cigar. The original iPod was at first only available as a 5gb, although they eventually bumped it to 10gb. :-)

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Versus Google Innovation Strategies

ultramk Re:apple does market research (187 comments)

I disagree. The original iPod had excellent battery life compared to equivalent devices. It was also tiny compared to HD-based systems, and had vastly higher capacity compared to the flash systems. The firewire connection ensured that it was quick to charge and load, and let it double as a hot-swappable HD. As far as it being Mac-only... Apple hadn't ever made a Windows device before, and why would they? Nobody really anticipated what a game-changer this would be for the whole industry. The iPod wasn't "developed by an outside company" either. Apple contracted with two different outside companies that had more experience in the consumer electronics area, but that's not the same thing, and much of the work was kept in-house. It's not like when they were just selling Canon printers with an Apple badge on them. ...as far as succeeding because of "who Apple was", in 2001 they were "that company who's going out of business". Everyone knew it. It was just a matter of time.

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Versus Google Innovation Strategies

ultramk Re:The problem with top-down (187 comments)

Really what you're saying is just a variation on "Apple fans are all deluded fools who buy everything because it's cool." Of course, that kind of ignores history: Apple wasn't the cool brand by any stretch until the last 12 years or so.

The reason that over the years Apple was able to make and retain such intense customer loyalty was because they chose to focus on making sure that every aspect of their products made the user's life a little bit easier. When you see--in a thousand little ways--that someone has gone to the trouble of trying to make it easier for you to do what it is you're trying to get done... intense loyalty is a natural result.

The difference between the Mac OS and Windows (back in the old days at least) was that Windows was designed and engineered to sell to IT buyers and CTOs--not the users, while the vast majority of Macs were bought by the person who would use them. The difference in priority showed.

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Versus Google Innovation Strategies

ultramk Re:apple does market research (187 comments)

While I agree in some aspects... I have to disagree in others. For example, while MP3 players existed before the iPod, the market largely didn't: there were three main types of machines out there, big HD-based nomad-type players the size of paperbacks with gigs of storage, CD-MP3 walkmans, and small flash-based players with only 16 or 32mb of storage (only enough for a handful of songs). I only knew one person who actually owned an MP3 player before an iPod, and I was smack-dab in the middle of the target demographic at the time. The reason for this is that all the options had big flaws:
- The big Nomad-type players were heavy, fragile, had terrible interfaces, expensive, and could only run off battery for a little while. Even worse, they were all USB 1 based, which meant that transferring music was incredible tedious.
- The CD-MP3 devices could hold a lot of music and were cheapish, but they also had terrible interfaces, were as big as a discman, and went through batteries super quickly. They also required a whole additional step of burning off what you wanted onto CDs ahead of time.
- The little stylish flash players were neat, portable and had good battery life, but only holding 5 or 10 songs made them a complete joke.

I really think what Jobs' method was, was to look at a class of products and say "OK, here's what exists. Why do they all suck so much?" ...and in the process of answering that question, create a new device that gets right to the heart of the problem and addresses it instantly.

more than 2 years ago
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DARPA Targets Computing's Achilles Heel: Power

ultramk Re:let me answer that with a question (100 comments)

Erm, not to be overly pedantic, isn't *all* of the energy consumed by a supercomputer (or any other device) eventually converted into heat? First law of thermodynamics and all that?

more than 2 years ago
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Astronaut Photographs Comet Lovejoy ... From Space

ultramk Re:tails (25 comments)

Have you considered switching to a nice, soothing herbal tea? ;-)

more than 2 years ago
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Why Was Hypercard Killed?

ultramk Re:This is revisionist history at its worst. (392 comments)

Let me clarify. When I said "HTML" I meant "HTML + Javascript".

If we're going to be pedantic, I'll point out that Hypercard didn't have "actual programming language concepts like loops, variables, and ifs", Hypertalk did. :-)

more than 2 years ago
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Why Was Hypercard Killed?

ultramk This is revisionist history at its worst. (392 comments)

Apple didn't kill Hypercard, the WWW did.

But by the time they actually stopped selling it, it hadn't been updated in many many years. All the people who were really into Hypercard had long since migrated into two different technologies: Supercard, which is still being made I guess (most versions of Myst were built on it), and this little technology called... oh gosh, what was it now... "HTML" or something like that.

Seriously, just about anything you could possibly want to do in Hypercard could be done just as easily in HTML with the advantage of being accessible to the world at large. There were a few exceptions, but those were taken care of at first by plugins and now by HTML5.

Mind you, I say this as someone who ran the Hypercard SIG at one of northern California's largest MUGs.

more than 2 years ago
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Can the Hottest Peppers In the World Kill You?

ultramk Re:Yes, they do... (337 comments)

Increased rates of stomach cancer have nothing to do with the kimchee being spicy, and everything to do with it being fermented. This is well known and well documented. You find exactly the same thing in other Asian cultures that traditionally have high consumption of fermented (pickled) vegetables.

If spicy food caused stomach cancer, northern India would be a hotbed. It isn't.

more than 2 years ago
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Top 1% of iOS Game Developers Make a Third of All Revenue

ultramk Re:A good reason to choose Blackberry (244 comments)

Sorry if my numbers are off, I tried to Google the most current ones, but getting apples-to-apples is very tricky.

Aside from that, you don't feel that the current upheaval at RIM is honestly worrying?

more than 2 years ago
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Top 1% of iOS Game Developers Make a Third of All Revenue

ultramk Re:A good reason to choose Blackberry (244 comments)

Part of the reason for that is that 13% of Blackberry developers would fit inside a medium-sized fright elevator. (I kid, that's a little less 6,000 developers, assuming 1 developer per app. Actual number probably much less, considering successful developers often have several apps.)

Considering that the installed base for iOS is around 250 million users and growing, and the installed base for Blackberry is around 50 million users and rapidly shrinking... it's hardly difficult to see why people are choosing to put their efforts towards the best opportunity for future growth.

Seriously, though. A developer making a decision about where to invest time and resources has to look at not only current and former size of the market, but also growth trends. Anyone looking at the Blackberry market right now who isn't forecasting imminent doom simply isn't paying attention. Why put 6 months of time and resources into a platform made by company that looks like it's about to fold?

Similarly, there are more developers on iOS than Android right now simply because although the Android platform is showing excellent growth, the people in that market don't seem to be as willing to actually pay for apps as iOS users. Developers (unless it's just a hobby), tend to gravitate to where the money is.

more than 2 years ago
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Why Chilies Are Hot and Yogurt Puts Out the Fire

ultramk Re:most important conclusion (184 comments)

I use a 600k scoville-rated ghost pepper sauce on a daily basis. I'm a "non-taster" on the old scale, so I require a lot of stimulation in my food to find it enjoyable. The endorphin rush is significant and pleasurable.

In soup for example, I use a few drops, which gives me the effect of adding a ton of some milder hot sauce. The advantage is that I get a tiny fraction of the sodium that I would from Tabasco or something similar--and sodium's something I'm trying very hard to keep a lid on.

The interesting thing is that after a month or two of this, my tolerance level went through the roof. The great thing is that now that the heat has died away somewhat for me, the complex and fruity flavors of the ghost pepper itself really shine through. Delicious stuff.

more than 2 years ago
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Amazon Kindle Fire Surfaces

ultramk Re:Pretty nice: micro-USB port! (521 comments)

I think you're somehow assuming those things aren't available on the iPad? The dock connector will allow you to connect to stuff like that and a whole lot more, like HDMI output and composite.

more than 2 years ago
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Study Suggests Magnets Can Force You to Tell the Truth

ultramk *sigh* (320 comments)

OK, lets add this up.

Results of study appear to be conclusive and immensely counter-intuitive? Check.
Research is from a former Soviet bloc country? Check.
Study size is small? 16 people, so check.
No details on methodology? Check.
Study is published in popular press, not peer-reviewed journal? Nope, Behavioural Brain Research is peer-reviewed and appears pretty legit.

Well, if this is true and accurate, it could be completely ground-breaking in any number of fields. Fascinating if other teams are able to reproduce the results. Can you even imagine a world with reliable truth-telling machines? It's mind-boggling. The only reason that polygraphs haven't completely revolutionized our society is that they are completely BS, voodoo junk-science.

more than 2 years ago

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