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In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

xenoc_1 He has no votes to "write off" (435 comments)

Either Obama has written off the Cuban vote in Miami or he has decided to concede FLA to the GOP.

You seriously think Obama cares who wins the next election? If he cares at all, it's probably to make sure that Hillary's chances of winning are even lower than they'd be if he hadn't antagonized the GOP by this move. And that just out of a "FU Clintons" perspective, not from any ideology at all.

Obama is done with elections. Well, at least until it's time for Malia or Sascha to run. He has no votes to "write off"

about a month ago

Displaced IT Workers Being Silenced

xenoc_1 Re:if company does layoff, it is not allowed h1b (398 comments)

You're incredibly naive, or are part of the H-1B game on some side that benefits from it, if you believe that.

The simplest one is to hire Infosys or another big house, or a bunch of crappy "body shops", who can provide their own H-1Bs. Get rid of the $80/hr programmer, replace with a $50/hr billable programmer "contracted" from the Axis of Evil around I-287 in NJ or the one in northern VA, where the H-1B is paid $35/hr "prevailing wage" because the work gets redefined from senior to junior levels. Bottom line, "Americans" (as in US citizens and US permanent residents with green cards, committed to the USA already) are out of work, and a bunch of IT people from India are in their cubes. If from INFY or similar, there's a decent chance it's still a professional quality of work, though missing all the years of experience tossed aside in the purge, and likely at least some of the cultural and business context. If from the "body shops" with fake "diploma-mill graduate" H-1B's, the work quality goes to shit.

In which case, they hire back a few of the old laid of FTE workers, now desperate to get any professional work, back as "contractors" at crap pay, no right to unemployment, and no or shite benefits. "They can't do that by law" like hell, they can use their own in-house captive "consulting agency" to hire them as W-2 but not "real employees" of the parent firm, thus getting around the IRS regs on "are you a contractor or an employee". The IRS cares, because, taxes. The other agencies don't give a crap.

about a month and a half ago

World War II Tech eLoran Deployed As GPS Backup In the UK

xenoc_1 HAM is not an acronym (139 comments)

How come slashdotters always write it as HAM? It's ham radio, not HAM. Despite rumors, it does not stand for Highly Antique Morse.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Unlimited Data Plan For Seniors?

xenoc_1 No, she's at home. (170 comments)

OP clearly stated that she doesn't want to go to the senior center for internet - she wants to stay home.

about 3 months ago

Adobe Spies On Users' eBook Libraries

xenoc_1 Re: who the f.uck uses adobe for ebooks (150 comments)

Every bookseller of not-Kindle-format eBooks. Adobe Digital Editions is not Adobe OFF. For a tech site it's facepalmworthy how much of this discussion is by people unaware of that.

It's also not just library books. It's the DRM tech and server license infrastructure behind Google Books, Kobo Books, back in the day Sony, anybody who let you download your so-called "purchased" eBook for reading in other than their specific app or hardware.

Nook uses an odd variant without the ADE server and .acsm license file, but e-ink Nook and the original Nook Color are authorizable devices to read standard ADE-downloaded DRM EPUB books. My ancient Nook Color and Kobo e-ink readers are loaded with ADE-downloaded DRM books from Google Books and other "not device-native store" books. The Nook has all my Kobo book purchase's on it by that ADE method, though due to Nook's nonstandard non-acsm version of Adobe DRM, I can't put the nook purchase's on the Kobo.

It's also how you get mixed-stores books into on combined better reader app like Bluefire or Aldiko on Android. Download your .acsm license file From Google Play, Kobo, whomever. Open it in ADE, signed in with your adobe ID and your EPUB download's, authorized to that ID. Copy that EPUB to your mobile and if Aldiko or Bluefire is registered with your adobe ID you can read it.

Nothing to do with PDF format, though PDF files can be DRM'd with the same tech. Normally on modern reflowable EPUB.

So Adobe tracking non-DRM EPUB files is a big deal, because ADE is crucial for every non-circumventer in the anything-not-Kindle eBook world.

about 4 months ago

Wanxiang May Give 2012's Fisker Karma a Relaunch

xenoc_1 Not a no-brainer given typical USA housing options (70 comments)

Recent college grads, at least back in the days when jobs were available, tend to live in apartment buildings in cities or in apartment complexes of townhouse or garden-apartment types of units in the suburbs. Neither of which typically have any access to one's own electrical outlet, nor in many cases dedicated-to-unit parking.

The entire electric car argument, however environmentally beneficial it may seem on surface, is dependent on everyone having their own "single-family home" with its garage to put the high-powered dedicated charging unit. Or at least their own dedicated parking spot, direclty by their unit, with its own electric outlet on their own power account, easily accessible yet secured against leechers. Physically located such that nobody's running cable-spaghetti of extension cords across lawns and pavement to reach their vehicles. Protected against the scourge of HOAs who tend to have shitfits if anybody paints their doorway, plants the wrong color flower, or even puts out an unapproved welcome mat, never mind runs an electric cord five feet to their car. Indemnified against nuisance but financially disastrous (even to defend against if winning) lawsuits by somebody claiming their entire future livelihood was ruined by tripping on the cord, thus $MILLIONS.

That's not to mention the relatively large group of "woo-woos" who will belive that "car charging radiation is causing cancer" or some such dribble. But I repeat myself, I already mentioned "HOAs" and you can bet that any Homeowners Association has at least one or two "condo commandos" who are "woo-woos" of the Alex Jones / Natural News / Jesse Ventura nature. For you "I'd never live in a place that had an HOA" folks, well aren't you just very special libertarian snowflakes. Wide swathes of the USA are dominated by HOAs including so-called "single-family" home developments. Condo apartments and townhouses are often the first "affordable" home ownership options, and all come with HOAs or equivalent. Your family, personal, and employment opportunity issues might make your "Off to a non-HOA freehold" fantasy just that, a fantasy. I'm talking about Real People here, not Slashdotters or Randian politburo members.

Not to mention the renters. Who in the USA can't do squat without landlord approval. Even things with clear Federal Preemption to allow renter rights. like the decades-old FCC TV Antenna and Dish rulings, are widely ignored, and your landlord can make your life hell if you try to push your "rights".

I honestly believe these "what's it like at home?" issues are bigger blockers to all-electric (Tesla) or electric-primary plug-in-hybrid vehicles (this Fisker, Chevrolet Volt) than anything about range or charging stations at destinations.

about 4 months ago

Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

xenoc_1 Medium does not report (408 comments)

"Medium reports..." makes as much sense as saying "WordPress.com reports..." or for that matter, "Geocities reports..."

Medium is a self-publishing fancy hipster bloggy vehicle. It doesn't have a staff of journalists, nor even pseudo-journalists nor curators like Timothy. It's a prettified competitor to wordpress.com for the hipsters, while being slightly less self-indulgently vapid than Thought Catalog. Slightly.

"Bolt reports, on their blog at Medium, because they can't be arsed to put one on their own website,..." would be more accurate. Except they do actually have a blog on their own website, and this same article is on it. Though their "blog" on their site is just an index page of posts on their hipster Medium account.

Medium doesn't report squat, comprende?

about 4 months ago

Nasty Business: How To Drain Competitors' Google AdWords Budgets

xenoc_1 Geotarget your AdWords (97 comments)

Depends on the audience of the web sites your ads were displayed on. If you were, for instance, advertising for a US company on a site that had lots of viewers from Europe, the exhaustion early in the day might have been legitimate. Europe is a few time zones ahead.

If your intention is to advertise only to the US market, which is what I assume from your example, you're doing it wrong if you are even showing AdWords to audiences in Europe. Unless, of course, they are using a VPN or proxy or other means to browse with a US-based IP address.

Heck, you can target down to individual zipcodes, Congressional districts, counties, Metro areas, and a bunch more ways. No excuse other than ignorance if you or your clients ads are running in an entirely different continent.

If you want your ads for your US company to appear in Europe as well as in USA, then you need to create a sufficient AdWords daily budget, plus perhaps do time of day targeting. Or to be better at it, have separate AdWords campaigns for each geo, with separate budgets, even if you're using the same ads.

There's a lot I don't like about AdWords, including how Google loves to split functionality into different menus and services and levels of products to create massive confusion about how to use them. Like WTF isn't there one single thing that has all my ad budgets, my analytics, my webmaster tools, my everything-about-it, all in one damn place? Or to use another, non-ads example, Google Voice can be used as VOIP from a computer, but only by a not-well-explained combo of Google Voice + Google Chat + Gmail page + Google Talk plugin, something no non-technical "normal person" will ever discover. Some of that dysfunctional UX comes from Google's only-engineers culture, but on the advertising products I think some of it is also deliberate ambiguity so you will inadvertantly spend more. Same reason that in USA and many other jurisdictions, Google will not let you prepay for a fixed spend, only postpay - they like that you can't quite control it, and the house always has the edge.

But they do provide geotargeting tools, rather good ones. So no excuse if your ads are running in the wrong locales.

That doesn't make the sleazy service abusing AdWords any less evil themselves. But if the ads are eaten up by wrong geolocations, whether from that sleazy service or just from legitimate browsing clicks in the wrong countries, that is the advertiser's own fault for not using the control Google gives them.

about 6 months ago

Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers?

xenoc_1 Re:Who watches the watchers (243 comments)

Sometimes I wonder if I was the only one paying attention in Civics and Social Studies. Cliff notes version:

1) The United States is not a Democracy, it's a Republic. ...

Oh jeez this again? The classic GOP / Libertarian / Tea weak-minds binary thinking that gets the meaning of both "republic" and "democracy" wrong.

The US is (supposed to be) a democracy. Just ask any living current or ex-President. Look at any respected list of "countries that are democracies". You do the research. It's simple.

The US is a republic. As in, "not a monarchy".

Republics can be democracies or they can be dictatorships, and pretty much anything in between. There is also nothing in the word "republic" which implies "representative". Just ask North Koreans.

Democracies can be direct democracies, like ancient Athens or a current-day New England Town Meeting or California ballot initiative. Or they can be representative. There is nothing in the word "democracy" that implies "direct-only".

"Democracy" and "Republic" are orthogonal concepts, they are not antonyms. Even when the US Senate was appointed, it was appointed by state legislatures which were comprised of elected representatives, who were elected by democratic elections. As opposed to being appointed by the monarch or being passed down via aristocratic houses.

Actually nowadays we are closer to that, with the money=speech nonsense and an increasingly distractable and distracted public who will vote whichever way paid media brainwashes them to do. House Clinton, House Bush, House Kennedy, and the upstart House Paul.

You may flip the order of the following words around, depending on what you want to emphasize, change some from adjectives to nouns, but all these terms are needed to properly define what the US system of government is:

Constitutional Federal Republic governed as a Representative Democracy,

or a
Federal Constitutional Representative Democratic Republic.

Choose your emphasis, but you cannot leave any of those terms out without misrepresenting how the system is designed.

  • It's a Federation of States. Not a unitary central government with weak subdivisions that have only specifically designated powers (like for example Uruguay is, where the "departamentos" of my new country of residence are far weaker than US States or even Canadian provinces, are more like counties in US states.)
  • It operates under a written Constitution, rather than an unwritten or partially-wrtten collection of basic law (like the UK has)
  • It is a Republic, not a Monarchy (unlike the UK which is a monarchy even though it is also a democracy)
  • It is a Representative democracy rather than a direct democracy, at its Federal and in most cases at lower levels (same as UK)
  • It is a Democracy rather than a dictatorship. We The People (supposedly) have a voice and a fairly-run, democratic vote, in deciding who represents us.

Leaving any of that out is at best, ignorant point-missing. Usually it is deliberate agitprop.

The sky isn't blue, it's where birds fly. What you are saying is every bit as nonsensical and more dangerous.

about 9 months ago

How Far Will You Go For Highest Speed Internet?

xenoc_1 Nothing in article says highest speed in the world (142 comments)

Typical slashdot bad editors. Fastest in Norway != fastest in world.

I now live in a small beach town in Uruguay, on a dirt road, and I got a free upgrade to fibre-to-home, which is being extended to every home in Uruguay. Time for me to get my bogus submission ready for "Uruguay has the best internet in the world". Just because a country is socialist on basic services, and extends fiber to everywhere, does not make it the best in the world. Makes it damn good, but "best" or as hyperbolically stated, "the highest quality Internet experience in the world" requires proof. As others have mentioned, that requires specific speeds, pings, and total transfer allowances, before making such a claim.

Better than the Comcast/ATT/Verizon cabal does not mean "best". Despite what all you US-centric folks may think.

about 10 months ago

Time Warner Deal Is How Comcast Will Fight Cord Cutters

xenoc_1 That never was "the deal" (424 comments)

What he said. The truth is, I never had cable TV for those reasons, and this: Remember, the deal was commercials = free TV. Cable started out with no commercials (yes, it did - except for the network channels), but they slowly began adding them in, until now, where there are more commercials on cable channels than on network television. Of course, TV watchers are a docile group to begin with...

When was that ever "the deal" as opposed to "what you wanted to be the deal"? Cable used to be called CATV, for "Community Antenna TV" and was primarily a way to bring television programming into areas that were geographically un-served by TV, usually due to actual geological / topographic reasons. Places like Ithaca, NY, or Breckenridge, Colorado, where no way in hell is a TV signal from Syracuse or Denver is getting into them through the hills down into the valleys. Later, urban canyons like NYC where not everyone had the ability to put up any kind of outdoor antenna - not because of regulations as much as real estate realities, and indoor antennas suffered from horrible multipath. I've lived in all three of the places I mentioned, laughably tried to get OTA TV in them, and have been a cable subscriber in all of them at one point or another. Getting "content" without commercials was never the deal - it was getting content, at all.

Later, the idea of "cable channels" started taking off, and what we now think of as the "basic tier" of cable stations began to show up. Watching "USA Night Flight" back in the day, then the launch of MTV with actual music videos. Along with the "Arts and Entertainment Network" that had plays, classical concerts, opera, not dysfunctional yahoos. Whether or not these extra stations had commercials, there was never any "deal" that "your cable bill pays for the content", CATV was a distribution method. Then the "pay tv" channels like HBO became popular. You can't pay for HBO without paying first for the "CATV" distribution subscription. In 2014 that's a dumb idea, but back then it wasn't - you were paying for the pipe, and now that you had the pipe, you could also pay for premium content. Given that "pay tv" is either "pay by having commercials" or "pay by having a CONTENT fee", I don't see a difference.

Your strawman argument against cable is flawed. You never understood the deal. You weren't paying for the pizza, you were paying for the delivery of the pizza.

about a year ago

Time Warner Deal Is How Comcast Will Fight Cord Cutters

xenoc_1 Re:Enforced separation required... (424 comments)

How'd that "enforced separation" work out with Network Rail and the train services that replaced British Railways?

about a year ago

Time Warner Deal Is How Comcast Will Fight Cord Cutters

xenoc_1 Time Warner does not own TWC and more errors (424 comments)

Comment is full of wrong.

Time Warner has not owned Time Warner Cable for several years. Time Warner is some ongoing licensing royalty from the "Roadrunner" intellectual property "beep beep", but otherwise they have no connection at all. Next month it will be 5 years since TWC was fully independent of Time Warner. Try to keep up.

In fact, "Time" likely won't be part of Time Warner before long either, in that they're looking to spin off that group. But the Cable Company is already long gone away from Time Warner (oh, and AOL isn't part of it either, in case you're still confused). Thus TWC, which Comcast wants to buy, does not own any cable program networks at all. No CNN, no TBS, no Cartoon Network, no HBO. That's all part of the "Warner" part of "Time Warner", not any part of the cable company.

You're equally ignorant about the scope of Comcast's fully-owned NBC Universal, which is ridiculously larger than "NBC/NHL/MLB". I assume that you meant NHL Network and MLB Network, not the actual sports leagues. MLB network is only partly-owned by NBC Universal's NBC Sports Group; Time Warner Cable (OK, that's Comcast too if this goes through), DirecTV, Cox Communications are the other minority owners, while Major League Baseball itself is the majority owner. NBC owns 5.44% per Wikipedia. On NHL Network (USA), NBC is the only minority owner, but has just 15.6% with the National Hockey League owning the rest.

Meanwhile you ignore: USA Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, NBC Sports Channel (formerly Universal Sports), Oxygen, E!, SyFy, Esquire Network, UniversalHD, and a bunch more networks that are both on -2, -3, etc. OTA digital subchannels and on cable like Chiller, Cloo, Sprout, etc. That's just the NBC Universal Cable Group. Don't forget all the OnO (Owned and Operated) NBC TV stations - far fewer than the overall NBC broadcast network total affiliates, but the big-market ones like LA, SF, NYC, and many more are owned by NBC itself. Which means owned by Comcast.

Plus, Universal Studios.

Oh, and Jay Leno just left NBC. Yes, again. Try to keep up.

Even more wrong, with your: "the fight has... been with... Viacom..." in that the big recurrent CBS fights are with CBS, which is way more than CBS old-people-TV network. Viacom and CBS split apart years ago, which means all those "Viacom" TV networks and properties? They belong to CBS (which also owns CNET, ZDNET and lots of online properties too). In fact, CBS now owns "Star Trek". Which is why my paragraph-opener sentence should be read Shatnerized. Yes, the network that turned down Star Trek in the 1960s, saying "We have one of our own we like better - Lost in Space", now is the owner of the "Star Trek" intellectual property. Paramount, which is part of Viacom, has absolutely nothing to do with "Star Trek" other than having some remaining rights to it as a motion-picture-only property. Many of those "Viacom" channels you're thinking about? They're now CBS. Such as the "Showtime Networks" group of channels. The MTV Group is still Viacom.

You really need to follow what is actually happening rather than that outdated Facebook "meme" infographic of "These Six Companies Own All Our Media".

about a year ago

Death Hovers Politely For Americans' Swipe-and-Sign Credit Cards

xenoc_1 Three banks better than three "hot" bank accounts. (731 comments)

That's why I have three "hot" bank accounts.

One for ATM transactions/meatspace debit card purchases, one for bill payment, and one for cyberspace debit card purchases.

If your bank doesn't make this easy to manage, switch banks.

Your plan is flawed. Sure, you have three accounts but your comment "If your bank doesn't make this easy to manage, switch banks" implies they are all at the same bank. Which subjects you to many other risks you're likely ignoring:

1. Person with stolen card may be able to social-engineer access to other accounts or online credentials and thus access the other accounts.
2. Your bank may choose to do a "courtesy overdraft transfer" from you other account, to cover thief's new laptop and vacation.
3. An "unusual transaction" on the one account, if unusual enough, may trigger the bank's fraud-bots to put a freeze on all your accounts, at least temporarily. Some stupid institutions do "freeze everything, no messages" as an attention-getting attempt at reaching you, and no, they don't disclose up front that they do that, so you can't "switch banks" based on looking out for that stupidity.
4. Some dispute with a big-enough jerk person, company, or organization may lead to a lawsuit or garnishment against you, and nowadays many banks have an immediate "fire the customer" response to that action. Again, not something they disclose up front. Condo Board (HOA) from Hell got me fired as a customer from a "good local bank". Luckily it wasn't my only bank/bank-alternative.

A much better idea, if you want segregation of accounts between physical world use, online use, and billpay use, is to use three different institutions entirely, picking carefully both for minimal Banksterism and for free external transfer services.

For example, I have (US-centric because that's the topic):
1. A Credit Union membership, in an institution that pays 4% interest (yes, four percent I didn't drop zeros or decimals) on the first $500 in checking and separately on the first $500 in savings. Has totally free 2-3 day ACH "push" to transfer money to any other bank or bank-like-thing (such as a prepaid debit card with a "bank account number" and "routing number" or to "pull" from any other bank-like account. Only if I initiate it. Overnight for a $2 fee. Both checking and savings there to maximize interest, have their Debit MasterCard, have their Bill-Pay but have no current payees set up, deliberately do not have any actual paper checks and never have on this account.

2. A "checking alternative" account with no minimum deposit, no minimum balance requirement, from an online discount brokerage firm (I don't have an investment account with them, just this cash management account.) Has a Visa debit card no added fees for foreign transactions over the Visa conversion fee, full rebate of any ATM-owner surcharge anywhere in the world, deposited back next banking day, no ATM-use fees of their own. Has free printed checks and free check refills. Has free BillPay, free external transfers by ACH. Pushes to my other bank-like institutions typically arrive next banking day despite their saying it is 2 days. Pulls from other accounts usually 2 days.

3. A high-interest (as US interests rates go) online-only savings account with no checking, no bill-pay, no nothing but can be the ACH target for direct deposit from Elance, PayPal, etc. for freelance work, is a transfer source and target for accounts 1) and 2) at those other institutions, has its own ACH external transfer capabilities (typically 2-3 days on pushes, out, a couple more days for funds availability on pulls into it - so I usually push from the other accounts which makes it instantly available when it gets there). Also tied to an online purchases rebates cashback program (Upromise.com - oriented towards savings for students but anybody can use it and get the cashback rebates, no matter what form of payment used, into their Upromise account and then transferred into this bank account.)

An action by an adversary (legal or illegal) against account 1) cannot cut off my access to accounts 2) or 3) directly. Access to the Debit MasterCard / Visa Debit of accounts 1) or 2) cannot access account 3 at all. Account 3) can push to a prepaid Visa from an entirely separate institution if I want to do spending in the real or online world that needs a card, with good funds on that card in 2 days.

Much safer. I'm obscured here, not anonymously nym'ed here anymore, and I've mentioned these in fully-disclosed locations like G+ previously, so I'll say what I have:

Account 1) BECU credit union in Washington State ("Boeing Employees Credit Union"). Anybody who lives in WA, works in WA, "worships in" WA or is a near relative of anybody who does or did, can join, and then keep the membership relationship after leaving. I think if you've just changed planes in Seattle-Tacoma International and stayed long enough to get Ivar's Clams, you're probably eligible. becu.org. Can mail or scan paper checks.

Account 2) Fidelity Investments Cash Management Account (used to be called "My smartCash" and is nothing like the "Cash Management Account" concept of a unified investment+cash single-account that the big wirehouses like Merrill use that name for.) fidelity.com, look for the Cash Management Account thing. Some of the other online brokerages also have similar accounts with comparable benefits, so check Schwab, etrade, etc. Obviously they are hoping to create a wider account relationship but other than the home page promoting other products, Fidelity does nothing in-your-face to get you to open other accounts beyond this way-better-than-bank-checking account. Only thing you can't do is deal in cash. If there's a Fidelity branch nearby you can deposit checks in person. Otherwise can mail or scan. There may be balance minimums to be able to scan checks.

Account 3) Sallie Mae Bank Upromise-linked High Yield Savings. banking.salliemae.com and upromise.com. You don't need to have a student, you don't need to set up a 529 plan.

If you don't want anything to do with any part of Wall Street (even its distant Boston relation which doesn't do its own underwriting or create its own deriviatives for the most part), then you won't want any type of account like Account 2. But I consider that self-defeating nose-cutting face-spiting. You can opt-out of the FDIC banks to which Fidelity sweeps your balance, getting rid of the worst of the banksters, using the less-evil smaller and regional banks on the "Program Bank List".

If you don't want anything to do with a bailed-out government-sponsored-enterprise (GSE) like Sallie Mae (or like Ally Bank as another example) then you won't want anything to do with Account 3. But again, why not take advantage. And however rapacious Sallie Mae may be, to at least some extent your deposit is helping provide student loan money. Meanwhile you're getting rebates from Lenovo, Dell, Newegg, Expedia, cheap hotel chains, and lots more, and every time $10 accrues, it sweeps into your Sallie Mae bank account.

I don't do the exact same type of account segregation as the AC to whom I'm replying. But I do some logical segregation and optimization. Funds sitting for a while, into Account 3) where they get almost a percent of interest in an account that there is no way out of that isn't directed, online, by me. No checks, no card, not even a checking account number. If I'm feeling at all flush in these transitional years between end-of-corporate-career (not by choice, by Banksterism) and early-social-security, and have an >4-figure balance, I pack Account 1) BECU with a full $1000 (considering the two accounts, savings and checking with 4% interest on $500 in each, as sub-accounts of one mental-aggregate-account). I move money in and out of Account 1) Fidelity with planning based on what I need to withdraw for free via their best-to-use ATM/Visa Debit. PayPal/Elance payments go into either 2 or 3. No frak-up in or about any one of those institutions can screw me over in the other two. The rare US billpays I need to do, I usually would do from one of the two bill-pay enabled accounts, and I wouldn't put all payees in one account, again for distribution of risk.

Three accounts, at the same place, give none of these benefits.

about a year ago

Adobe's New Ebook DRM Will Leave Existing Users Out In the Cold Come July

xenoc_1 Re:I've never even heard of Adobe ebooks (304 comments)

It's everything that isn't Kindle. Including the Nook, Sony, Kobo, iRiver. Everything.

about a year ago

Adobe's New Ebook DRM Will Leave Existing Users Out In the Cold Come July

xenoc_1 Adobe DRM isn't PDF, it's everything except Kindle (304 comments)

It's not just PDF, nor even primarily PDF. It's reflowable standard EPUB. EPUB with Adobe DRM is the standard commercial ebook format for the "rest of the world that isn't Amazon". Barnes & Noble Nook (now mostly Microsoft Nook). Kobo, which is number 2 in much of the world. Google Play Books. eReaders from Kobo, B&N, iRiver, white-box Chinese brands affordable in emerging markets, even iBooks own Appleized format, have Adobe DRM inside. eReading apps from third parties like the well-respected Aldiko Reader and Bluefire reader use Adobe DRM. Only Kindle doesn't use it.

I've got Google Play Books and Kobo books on my Nook Color early-gen ereading tablet, because of Adobe DRM being near-universal. Have Google Play books on my Kobo WiFi e-ink eReader and on my newer Kobo AuraHD e-ink eReader. On my Android phone, whitebox cheap 10" tablet, and Kobo Arc (Android tablet with Kobo's shell but full open Google Play Store Jellybean tablet), I have the Aldiko app so that I can combine my Kobo and my Google Play books into a single library rather than reading in separate apps per bookstore. (Nooks can sideload and read standard EPUB/AdobeDRM but Nook books can't be read outside of Nook hardware or apps due to B&N weird variant AdobeDRM).

Adobe is breaking all this relatively open ecosystem. Sure, it's DRM, but it's an "anything except Kindle" open system. Adobe is screwing over all the people who bought into the non-Kindle commercial ebook ecosystem over the past half-decade or so.

I'm writing from the perspective of a normal human, not a /. geek. Normals don't break DRM because they don't know how, they don't even know it's a thing. They don't buy only non-DRM books, because they want to buy books from their favorite authors, not obscure corners of the web. Even many self-published books, if distributed through "normal channels" carry Adobe DRM (or Amazon DRM). They might, if they read the very simple info on the Kobo, Google Play, and other ecosystem-member web pages, have realized they can buy a book from Google and read it on their Sony eReader, buy a book from Kobo on sale and read it on their original Nook or Nook front-light newer e-ink reader. They may be all over Goodreads and ereader websites where there are lots of how-tos about just that, but they are nowhere near Slashdot. Nor near Linux. And O'Reilly tech books are irrelevant. As are, to most readers, Baen and Tor SF.

Hell, I don't want to deal with this myself, and I know how or can easily figure it out. Just going to the "Download Adobe DRM" link at Kobo or Google Play, getting the .ACSM (Adobe Content Server Mechanism) license file, double-clicking on the download and having previously-installed Adobe Digital Editions get the DRM-unlocked-to-my-ID content was simple. Bang, read it on my PC in Adobe Digital Editions, or tether my Android phone/tablet to drag into Aldiko or Bluefire, tether my Kobo eReaders (e-ink actual ereaders for readers) and drag it into their libraries, tether the Nook Color and drag it into its library.

Now I'd' have to go break DRM on all those files and future purchases. But that would be wrong...

about a year ago

ABC Kills Next-Day Streaming For Non-Subscribers

xenoc_1 Re:Time Warner Cable is not Time Warner (169 comments)

I like your pricing idea. Add to it a bulk-hours discount rate for purchasing viewing time above a threshold amount, and it would be near-perfect. If all the content was readily available.

I wish news/opinion organizations would do that too, instead of everybody and their dog putting up their own paywall. I'm not going to purchase separate subscriptions to the NY Times, Boston Globe, Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Time, and every podunk paper. But I might want to read more than their monthly free-with-registration allowances on any given month. More, but not enough from any one of them to make an individual subscription to that particular site worthwhile, and the full set of full-pop subs is unaffordable. But if I could pay a reasonable "News / Opinion Consortium" subscription that gave me maybe 120 article views a month to any mix of their several dozen participating properties, for maybe $15-20/mo, I'd be all over it.

I recognize the irony. For each of our pricing ideas, there would need to be an organization somewhat like MPAA/RIAA, and mine for news requires something like a "Pay Cable Tiered Package" concept but mashed-up with a paywall meter for total "News Tier" usage.

But if the pricing were reasonable rather than rapacious, I think it would work.

1 year,21 days

ABC Kills Next-Day Streaming For Non-Subscribers

xenoc_1 Re:Wanted: VCR (169 comments)

Wasn't this pretty much exactly what Microsoft's "Media Center PC" concept was, way back in 2003? Granted, the tech evolved, both on the PC side and the cable TV side.

Originally, Media Center PCs were sold as specific hardware/software packages, it wasn't a separate version of Windows XP available as software only. By the time Vista rolled around and then Win7, the software was built into Home Premium and Professional versions, and of course Ultimate. They took it out of Windows 8 because nobody much used it anymore, but it's still available as a cheap upgrade to Windows 8.x. It came free in my late-2012 Windows 8 Pro-pack upgrade when the were discounting Windows 8 Pro upgrade from Windows 8, with Media Center thrown in.

The Windows Media Center PCs back in the XP days came with a remote control, guaranteed compatible analog tuner, a great software interface, and a two-box-capable remote blaster. As Media Center evolved, multiple tuners, HDTV tuners, and ClearQAM got added.

The product you're asking for exists. Or existed, as a mainstream, biggest-names-branded product. From Microsoft and HP, or Dell, and other PC OEMs.

It just didn't sell. It worked great, for its time. My HP Media Center 2003-era Pentium IV PC pretty much replaced my 1999-era ReplayTV DVR. Neither had a subscription charge.

1 year,22 days

ABC Kills Next-Day Streaming For Non-Subscribers

xenoc_1 Time Warner Cable is not Time Warner (169 comments)

Time Warner has not owned Time Warner Cable for several years. Other than whatever royalty deal Time Warner has with Time Warner Cable to allow them to continue using the "Time Warner" name and the "Road Runner" IP, they have nothing to do with each other - except that Time Warner Cable is one of the independent TV distribution systems that Time Warner want to get paid by for having it distribute the various cable tv networks of Time Warner's Turner and other cable TV divisions - channels like HBO, Cartoon Network, CNN, Turner Classic Movies, etc.

Your "owns a lot of cable stations" is inaccurate and ambiguous? Do you mean, "owns a lot of cable systems"? If so, you're wrong, as I've explained. Time Warner does not own cable systems at all anymore, the entity called Time Warner Cable is an unrelated company.

Do you mean, "owns a lot of cable networks"? In which case, yes, HBO's owner owns quite a few other cable networks.

Your argument either works or is totally invalid, depending on what you mean. There is no such thing as a "cable station". CNN is a "cable network" owned by Time Warner, "Time Warner Cable of North Carolina" is a cable system owned by Time Warner Cable. The interests of Time Warner vs Time Warner Cable are not aligned.

HBO Go becoming independent, in terms of subscription availability, from having to also have HBO-the-cable-network subscription, might be a net positive for Time Warner the owner of HBO. It might be a negative to Time Warner Cable, because it would remove an "upsell package" opportunity of bundled or special deal premium network sales at huge markups. It would just be more bits, like Netflix or Amazon or Hulu.

But it might be a net positive for Time Warner Cable, and for Charter Cable, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-Verse, CenturyLink DSL, as providers of high-speed broadband internet (ok, allegedly high-speed allegedly broadband allegedly internet, really minimal speed barely-broadband walled-garden). It might encourage more people to get high speed internet and to upgrade the speed and or monthly total data transfer allowances, because now Game of Thrones without TV.

I believe it would be the latter. But I believe that the cable system executives believe it would be the former, at least the ones that are originally/primarily cable-tv systems that then added data. I have no idea what the cable network and broadcast network executives feel about it.

Personally, I'd like every entertainment series available unbundled, released on the "broadcasting network" servers on a specific schedule, but available continuously after that "street date"/"air date". I'd like to be able to get Sleepy Hollow without having to get American Idol. I'd like to be able to get that Fox Network series without having to get a Chthulu Plus subscription. But if I found I liked enough series that were on Hulu, as one of their options, and that a Hulu Plus subscription was the most economical way to get them, then I'd like that option. If I instead only wanted to buy one series, I'd like the price to be very low, and I'd like it available simultaneous with "home network" air date and time. If it's on ABC broadcast network Tuesday at 8pm EST, I want to be able to start streaming it at 8pm EST that same Tuesday. Even if I'm in the Pacific Time Zone. Or in the Uruguayan Time Zone and IP block. (which I am).

Oh, and a pony.

But note I never said I wanted it to be totally free-as-in-beer. Well maybe the pony.

1 year,22 days


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