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Comments

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Anger With Game Content Lock Spurs Reaction From Studio Head Curt Shilling

varcher Re:Not on the disc (908 comments)

Actually its their game and their contract and they can have it both ways and another four ways too if they want.

Yes. Until one of the contract clauses specifies something that is illegal, in which case that contractual clause is null and void - it doesn't exists, and you can ignore it.

Every content industry, gaming included, hates the first sale doctrine. Actually, every industry hates the first sale doctrine. If the car industry could prevent the sale of used cars, and force you to buy exclusively new cars, they would probably pop the cork, and the cheers would be heard all around the world. But they haven't found a way to go around the first sale doctrine.

(no internet discussion is complete without a car analogy)

A company could try to do so. They'll sell you the car, but only lease you the right to turn on the engine. So you can sell the car, but then, the new buyer would have to get a new engine (or rather the license for an engine). Of course, you wouldn't pay the same amount for this car. And it's clearly a way to get around the first sale doctrine.

The analogy goes even better: if you don't like that car idea, you can go and buy a different car under better terms (it's a different car, since the car manufacturer has a monopoly on its brand).

So why don't the car industry do that? Because if they did, the blatant attempt at weaseling out of the first sale doctrine would be obvious enough, and they'd get crucified. So it's telling that the content industries think they can get away with it, and indeed, they succeed in doing that.

more than 2 years ago
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Why Economic Models Are Always Wrong

varcher Re:I am not an economist (676 comments)

Since when is a house supposed to be an investment and not just a place to live in?

But it is an investment.

What the housing bubble became wasn't investment. It was speculation. And every serious investor will tell you: never speculate with what you can't afford to lose.

more than 2 years ago
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How Google's Autonomous Vehicles Work

varcher Re:Legal framework (295 comments)

The crash of Concorde flight 4590 ended Concorde travel.

No. Economics ended Concorde travel well before 4590. It was just prestige flying of an overpriced dinosaur, and the crash ended that era.

If there had been a serious market for concorde flights, they would still fly, and they would still be built, crash or not.

more than 2 years ago
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Like a Redstone Cowboy

varcher Re:What am I missing here... (166 comments)

Minecraft harkens back to the nostalgia of Lego (incidentally, http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Cl1OHhsao3A/TbkenaqJq1I/AAAAAAAADMo/lInbKf814Z8/lego-minecraft-1.jpg is a minecraft scene, in Lego. No less).

The combination of light gameplay (there's a grand total of 4 hostile - and horrendously stupid - critters that pop out of the dark to annoy you) and the liberty of placing blocks however you want them have proved a massive hook.

It took me about one hour. And while I'm not the most imaginative of architects, making some stuff on the fly after seeing one of the thousand of videos where aspiring architects (most of which cheat anyway) showcase their massive e-block... I do enjoy.

Regarding redstone circuitry, I think it hovers on the razor-thin edge between ease and complexity. It's simple (the base element is the universal NOR, meaning you can make any digital boolean circuitry), quirky (which is important if you make a game rather than a dumbed down electronic simulator), and that's what fuels the creativity. And, unlike other games, it's all there in basic form. While a few modders have added "what they felt was missing", in fact, there's relatively little missing. A few sensors, a few actuators, but the whole is enough.

more than 2 years ago
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Dropbox Password Goof Let Any Password Work For 4 Hours

varcher Re:Professional Code: Secure Pre-Flight Testing? (185 comments)

Funding? It's the simple "Schneier principle".

As long as companies are not really responsible (financially) for any of their security failures, they will not invest in security.

No cost? No risk.

more than 2 years ago
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Ex-MS GM Can't Work 'Anywhere In the World' For Salesforce

varcher Re:yes (282 comments)

Here, non-compete agreements have strong provisions.

You cant go over a maximum duration (I think it's 2 years) beyond which the former employee is no longer bound. The general idea is that the non-compete is intended to protect internal IP or customer portfolio, and after 2 years, those things aren't valuable anymore (if they are still valuable to your former company, said company has a problem).

Non-compete are also options. Like some reverse stock option: your former company can exercise its right... but then has to pay you compensation for your loss of employability (does this word exists?). Usually, half your former wages, for the duration for which you want the non-compete.

Various contractual clauses try to get around these. Usually, they're voided (try not to specify length of non-compete and the length is zero; try to say the former salary included a "non-compete bonus" and you're laughed out of court).

about 3 years ago
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Comcast's 105MBit Service Comes With Data Cap

varcher Re:That's normal (372 comments)

Well, nobody here (continental europe) has a data cap for land line connections (mobile, it's a whole other thing).

There used to be. Then, the accountants figured out that collecting, consolidating, and billing the extra did cost them more than what they got back.

Out went the caps. And since then, it always cost less to upgrade the collecting backbones than to deploy a full fledged count-n-cap infrastructure.

And the clincher? It's 30euro per month (~ 43 US$). For triple-play fiber if you're in a major city, ADSL2 otherwise.

about 3 years ago
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Scientists Unveil Worlds First Computerized Human Brain Map

varcher Re:male (73 comments)

Actually, those sites are the same ones as sex (the reproductive part, not the recreative).

There were a couple studies a few years ago that showed the strong correlation between shopping (time spent, amount of money spent) and the menstrual cycle.

about 3 years ago
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France Outlaws Hashed Passwords

varcher Re:Summary is COMPLETELY WRONG (433 comments)

However, the law forces to give it out to authorities on demand...

Yeah. And every challenge thrown against this law are against that bit, which is wildly imprecise, and can be interpreted in a very large manner, which might result in police asking for these personal details without judiciary overview. Which is the real fear of Dailymotion, Google, and all those interested parties.

about 3 years ago
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France Outlaws Hashed Passwords

varcher Re:plain-text OS? (433 comments)

It would.

If the law stated this, which, of course, it doesn't. But no one apparently took time to properly read it before firing the paranoia flares.

The "password" bit is part of a data retention clause for account management. On any account that a service provider created for an on-line service or access, you must retain some data for ONE year after the account is closed. Among the bits is, I cite - translated - "password, means to validate it". And, hidden a few lines below is the clincher "such data must be retained only if it was collected".

In other words, the law states that:

1) If you get a password in plaintext and store it as is, you must KEEP a copy of that password for one year after the account has closed

2) If you get a password and store a way of validating that password (such as a hash), you must KEEP a copy of that hash or whatever for one year after the account has closed.

3) If you don't use a password for the service (for example, you are an ISP, and access from your customers to their DSL is entirely authenticated by the telco end), then you keep nothing. But for a year, of course!

about 3 years ago
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The Saturn Fly-By

varcher Re:So, what is it? (83 comments)

It's a bit more. Each original picture was used as the base of a very short sequence (basically, anywhere from a dozen to a hundred frames), with all the work being done in linking each still into the entire sequence.

The magic is that it appears seamless.

more than 3 years ago
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Is Software Driving a Falling Demand For Brains?

varcher Re:Surely it's a rising demand for brains (622 comments)

Writing lawyer software will not scale with the number of "lawyers" required. As demand for lawyers service increased (due to more people), new jobs were created. However, for software lawyers, it just means you run an additional copy of the software.

You still need to sell those services, though.

So, instead of lawyers, we need... salesmen? Did we gain that much? :P

more than 3 years ago
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Graphs Show Costs of DNA Sequencing Falling Fast

varcher Re:Great! (126 comments)

to sequence 1 million SNPs per person

Actually, they're not sequencing.

They're checking.

The way 23andme and most personal genome companies work is that they have those genochips (Illumina) with one million DNA sequences on them, and they check whether or not your DN has one of those sequences.

If you have a SNP not on the chip (well, you have lots of SNP not on the chip), it won't list anything. If, at a given chromosome locale, they have "all" of the "known" SNP, but you happen to have a mutant variant not on their lib, then you're not detected.

"Sequencing" involves taking your DNA, and getting every sequence, no matter what. And that's still long and very expensive. We're in the era of the "thousand genomes", meaning we expect in a couple year to complete a thousand full sequences. Of course, 10 years later, we'll sequence everyone, but, so far, it's still a way out.

more than 3 years ago
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Has the Second Dotcom Bubble Started?

varcher Re:How the Bubble Bursts (298 comments)

Is there any evidence to suggest that Facebook, as a privately held company, isn't already whoring out every bit of their precious "social graph" that someone will pay them enough for?

I doubt this.

Selling your primary resource (the social graph) to outsiders is creating your own competitors: once I have your data, why do I need to pay you more?

Facebook isn't selling their data. They're selling placement of your data (ads, mostly) on their social platform. The facebook customers (the users aren't customers, they're marketing dangled in front of the real customers) thus get to keep paying Facebook for "use" of the social network.

more than 3 years ago
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Has the Second Dotcom Bubble Started?

varcher Re:sure (298 comments)

Apple has currently a PE (Price-Earning) ratio below 20 (19-19.5).

It's well outside of speculative range, like any stable company with relatively little unknowns (barring Steve's health).

more than 3 years ago
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LotR Rewritten From a Mordor Perspective

varcher Re:Sounds about right (583 comments)

That's the classical fantasy/SF duality.

Quick-n-dirty how-to distinguish fantasy from science-fiction: It's not about elves vs spaceships. It's about conservatism vs progressivism.

A fantasy book is about preserving/restoring/keeping the old order. Calamity befalls, and it's up to the heroes to repair the world. The tyrant has obtained absolute power, and your task is to topple it and restore the rightful ruler(s). The gods are angry because the people have strayed from the "path" and things go suddendly to hell.

The sci-fi book is transformative. Change happens, and the world progresses. The old ways are discarded, the new ways begins (with their usual lot of gut-wrenching change) and life is transformed.

(and then, you have modern hi-tech thrillers, in which big change happens, except it has no lasting consequences whatsoever. But that's a different topic)

So, intrinsically, the Ring War in which Frodo and his merry band wins is fantasy. The Ring War in which Mordor wins would have been sci-fi.

more than 3 years ago
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For Mac Developers, Armageddon Comes Tomorrow

varcher Re:Competition (429 comments)

Put NeoOffice on the App Store, and see how close a substitute it is.

more than 3 years ago
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Was There Only One Big Bang?

varcher Re:The absolute beginning (295 comments)

It's never sat well with me since it violates the laws of thermodynamics

Well, it doesn't. The Big Bang appears to be a local minimum of entropy, but the whole picture might be very complicated.

I can suggest this book as a good layman book on the topic. It's clear, delves in all the current cosmological problems around the problem of our universe, and doesn't have a single equation until at least mid-book.

Of course, Sean is biased - he has his own pet theories - but you do get a good idea of the various problems on the origin of the universe.

(and, of course, Penrose himself had something to say about it)

more than 2 years ago
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Developing StarCraft 2 Build Orders With Genetic Algorithms

varcher Re:Does anyone else find the summary comprehensibl (200 comments)

It's completely different. The whole point of evolutionary algorithms is that you start from a population of initial builds (the "previously entered"), and, at each iteration, it creates new builds by altering the existing ones at random.

Given enough builds, a lot of those alterations perform a bit worse than their original, and eventually gets removed, while others perform a bit better, and thus gets used as a base for other variations.

If your performance space is relatively smooth, that kind of approach is extremely powerful at finding minimas in the performance space. If it's very crinkled, it leads to chaos, but I don't think it's the case in this problem.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Software Patents Are a Joke — Literally

varcher Re:Innovation has been replaced by litigation (311 comments)

There's a pair of words missing in the previous post:
 
 

You do not have to have a prototype or even prove that your idea is realizable to be able to receive a patent on it.

You can submit a pure paper patent to the USPTO, and be granted it. But, the USPTO may require you to provide a sample device in order to grant it (which they do nowadays when they get the 3rd perpetual motion machine patent of the month).

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Virtual Sweden used for epidemiology research

varcher varcher writes  |  more than 5 years ago

varcher (156670) writes "An interesting paper popped on the ArXiv preprint server last week. Many medical insitutions create models for epidemic research, but Sweden raised the bar higher. Instead of a general abstract model, which most researchers use, the Solna team decided to simulate the real Sweden — each of its 9 million citizens, with their real home and work or school locations.
Of course, the paper gloss over the privacy problems of interconnecting the disparate databases used to build the simulation, but the simulation process itself is fascinating."

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