Activision Axes Guitar Hero
I interviewed at Activision back in the 90s after working at another more innovative game company. The first thing they told me was "We don't want new ideas - we have a library of concepts like Quake, Pitfall, and Mech Warrior that we need to commoditize."
Activision has always been about taking something of worth then killing it by trying to wring every last cent from its decaying corpse. They do not understand R&D nor investment in product lines to keep them fresh and productive.
It took them less than 5 years to kill one of the most recognized game franchises. Over that time there was no investment in growth, only the crude attempt to commoditize and milk a concept they had bought of every cent of worth. I truly feel sorry for people who have to work under their "guidance".
Microsoft, Apple, EMC, and Oracle Form Patent Bloc
Obviously you have not installed a Windows OS recently. They have pestilence thing locked down.
Ballmer, Bezos Fund Effort To Undermine Bill Gates
Um Bezos and Ballmer do not employ people. Their COMPANIES employ people. And Microsoft has its "software license headquarters" in Nevada to avoid paying WA taxes. That missing $1.25 billion sure would help WA coffers I bet. The MS licensing company has a whole 4 employees so it isn't a tax dodge at all! It just happens to own all royalty generating aspect of Microsoft.
Fact is rich people given cash do not spend they invest and very little of that investment actually effect the economy. Think of it this way. Spend 10 million building a road and you get a road (infrastructure), you employ workers (employment), and almost all of the salary paid goes directly into the economy. You get 40-65 cents direct stimulus per dollar spent. (not great but also pretty decent considering you also get a product (roads) out of it. On the other-hand put that 10 million into stocks. A bunch of rich people get a small bit richer. You may appreciate some over time. The companies that appreciated may hire more people but it is likely that other stock owners might sell and use their proceeds to buy new Yachts and European luxury cars. Direct investment in US economy is around 11 cents per dollar. (This is somewhat like the Bush top end tax cut in effect.)
There was a study on the Bush tax cuts. It was absurd something like 11-21 cents of every dollar trickle down. It was astoundingly bad. Worse than twenty other proposals for economic stimulus. I thought it was proven under Reagan trickle down was a huge scam with no merit at all
Given money the rich do not spend. They already have all necessities paid for. They invest. And unlike the popular meme they do not hire people. They put it into stocks and bonds and much of what is traded or invested is not going into US economy. Heck some of the fastest growing economies are in Asia so that is where a lot of smart money is going despite the logistical hurdles of doing so. How does this benefit the state?
If you truly want to stimulate the economy you extend unemployment and raise minimum wage. Unemployment pays out $1.1 for each dollar invested (it saves them from welfare, all the money is immediately spent, etc) and similar with minimum wage. Buying power of those who spend everything is increase stimulating the economy faster. Literally the fastest way to improve the economy is to help the poorest have more money. Job training, welfare, and a living wage. Those are the best investment possible but they are what so anger conservatives because "free-loaders are getting hard earned tax dollars".
I have seen towns of 35%+ unemployment. (before the recession) Many people screaming FREELOADER have no idea what it is like to live in a town where the only employer closes and then not have money to move to the next town over to work at Wendy's. How can you get a car with no money? Use public transit, are you kidding? Most of the country you will be waiting all day for a bus to come you can't commute by bus in rural USA. Hell you can't get groceries without a car in many areas.
Look-Alike Tubes Lead To Hospital Deaths
Here in Boston I know a hospital was fined for having a checklist because it was not a medically approved procedure. It had improved outcomes substantially yet was deemed an unlicensed procedure because it hadn't undergone years of clinical tests...
It was a freaking checklist!!! And it had reduced surgical complications about 15%! Things like 1. All staff have washed hands and tools before first incision. ...snip... 5. All tools are accounted for before patient is closed. Luckily the checklist is now back and becoming popular at many hospitals.
Sometimes I wonder how doctors and nurses keep from going insane when they are not allowed to even use a checklist! (Note in this case management supported the checklist it was an outside audit that caused all the problems.
BUT then I go to a well run institution and see that the real differentiator between good and great institutions seems to be quality of the support staff AND whether procedures are standardized and regularly updated.
If the hospital is well run it runs like a finely oiled machine because anyone can swap in to an ongoing procedure and know exactly what has and hasn't been done since the process is standardized. There is no double drugging, no lost tools, etc. But I also see that in far too many institutions the providers have immense power to do as they want and as a result each group or specialty defines their own processes and honestly few doctors are great at logistics/organization. It just isn't what they were trained for.
I have seen group practices that literally leave a patient waiting until a doctor decides they WANT to see that patient's case. Until then the patient sits waiting, meanwhile another patient may be seen several times because the case is more interesting. This is the case of an awful physician run patient scheduling process.
As far as I can tell most of the nations medical institutions would greatly benefit from having to follow a special procedure dictated by a central authority. The best institutions already do a good job defining best processes but the hospital nearest you probably can't tell if you already were tested for a disease and whether the test results were available without sending runners to multiple other departments.
I have seen people with life threatening conditions be sent home and told "call if the problem gets worse". The condition in one case was a failing heart with 2 chambers no longer working. (Another hospital took him in and operated the same day since he was literally about to die). Another time it was a stage 4 cancer patient whom they failed to diagnose even though the patient had come in requesting the specific test that would identify the cancer. He had to go back several times demanding the procedure then finally paid out of pocket somewhere else to prove he had stage 4 cancer. The first hospital just decided that it was random lumps in his neck and that he was wasting doctors time second guessing them.
Checklists and best processes can save lives, but I doubt most hospital could make the proper checklist or even identify why outcomes are not improving. Hospitals need 4 things to be successful. 1) doctors who are up to date on latest practices 2) efficient management 3) well trained support staff 4) good billing processes. Most places have maybe two of that list. Management and billing could be better centralized. A nationalized medical system with public payer instead of private insurance would have taken care of both management and billing. Sadly what was passed did not go far enough to fix those aspects. (It would still not be easy, but I work in the industry and what I see repeatedly is things that are standardized though central mandate are the only things most facilities do properly.)
Does the GOP Pay Friendly Bloggers?
There is an obvious reason the democrats are divided and the republicans are a well oiled machine, and you can see it in the primary elections. Anyone who was the least bit moderate as republican faced a challenger bankrolled by their own party. Basically unless you support the republican group-think you are not a part of the machine.
The republicans have a party platform well funded by corporate sponsors (Target, FOX, etc) a supporting PR arm (FOX) and the ability to compromise is seen as a huge flaw among its representatives. I am terrified of what they would do with full non filibuster-able majorities
Meanwhile the democrats are a coalition ranging from somewhat-liberal to traditional moderate republican. Every proposal has to be a grand compromise between all the involved parties. This makes it seem like the democrats are disorganized and a huge bureaucracy. It is basically traditional politics working as it was intended to. It is enormously inefficient and requires concessions be made but it also results in very centrist policies.
News clips discussing "extreme liberal policies" of the current administration are a joke. Most policies veer so close to right of center I wonder who won the election.
I heard no official calls to impeach the entire previous administration for crimes of state. No efforts to roll back all of the new war powers. No effort to cut our losses and back out of both Iraq and Afghanistan to save money. No efforts to publicize the secret archives. No pardoning of the wiki-leaks founder for actually doing what our news agencies were intended to do and exposing what is really happening.
No there is no vast liberal conspiracy. As far as I can tell there is almost no liberal voice at all in news. I knew the justification to invade IRAQ was bogus. I once commented back in 2000 about how one of the people doing briefing had commented about the obsession with invading Iraq back before the terrorist attacks even happened.
The only reason liberal policies get passed at all is because the weight of evidence shows that those policies as just fundamentally better than what we have. (i.e. healthcare) If anything I think a better balance of true reporting would help. Poorly researched or factually wrong reporting should open up the reporter or the station to fines and possible loss of press rights. Only then will we stop hearing blatant sensationalism and flat out propaganda regurgitated as news.
As a liberal I never thought I would call for stronger Libel and Slander laws and thus curtailing of the freedom of the press but I am sick of tabloid reporting calling itself news. Maybe they can be closed down and independents can pick it up again in their place. But it will never happen, we would just get a new generation of sensationalists.
Zombie Ants and Killer Fungus
So, what you're saying is that about half of the human population are schizophrenic zombies?
Actually, that explains a lot.
Well for one thing it explains Fox News....
Stats Show iPhone Owners Get More Sex
I suspect people tend to over-inflate their numbers rather than understate though women may understate numbers to try to not appear "easy". I suspect there are many people who either are monogamous or who don't like relationships. I think "players" are fairly rare and largely sleeping with the same pool of casual partners in a given area.
I personally am reluctant to date anyone who has had more than 2 partners in last few years because I have worked closely with sex researchers and seen # of partners is greater than linear with risk of disease. You have more than 20 times the exposure to aids than I have. Each person you sleep with has had partners that might have slept with other people. It is like playing "six degrees to kevin bacon" except you can die. I respect that you have different tastes but I hope you use protection properly because you never know you have caught HIV until years later when complications begin. It only takes one partner who went to Vegas and slept with a prostitute to contaminate an entire social network of casual partners.
Larry Ellison Rips HP Board a New One
Part of the scandal that she didn't want him fired as he had already settled the harassment charges with her. The pictures I saw showed very attractive actress back in her 30s (she is 50 now). She was hired for marketing and networking. ("HP paid her up to $5,000 per event to greet people and make introductions among executives")
She reported unwanted advances and that uncovered a forged dinner reimbursement with her that was why he was ousted. (He probably was with another woman but claimed it was her so he could get dinner reimbursed.) She says she was "surprised and saddened" that Hurd lost his job. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38611219/ns/business-us_business/
Global Warming 'Undeniable,' Report Says
Cool I can ride my motorcycle. Lets compare this to 40% of sea plankton has already died causing a crash in a major food chain and removing a large portion of oxygen producing life from the earth? (http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2010/0728/Vital-ocean-phytoplankton-a-casualty-of-global-warming)
You see, most life especially sea life is not able to adjust quickly. And changing temperatures means changing currents. Changing currents destroys the ecosystems which depend on them. This causes species to die. Dead species produce methane and carbon dioxide. This heats the atmosphere which warms the ocean further changing currents causing more ecosystems to collapse. But we don't need to eat, or breath so it should not bother us right?
There is no do over button if we screw up. There are no planets waiting to be populated and despoiled. I would rather recycle more and use less power then go extinct. But it seems I am a minority in this country.
High-Frequency Programmers Revolt Over Pay
They will then loose billions of dollars to mistakes made by people who have not handled high frequency trading before.
The problem was that the KNOWLEDGE was in the developers who left. In my experience, management does not want to understand the software nor algorithms beyond a superficial level. I would bet that they can not hire someone else since they left "technical stuff" to people who they then paid only a fraction of their own salaries. It is a problem frequently seen in management. They overvalue their own contributions and depress wages of all the actual contributers in a company. In this situation all value is in 1) having the fastest software 2) knowledge of algorithms 3) direct connection to market. They now have only the 3rd as the knowledge left and is begin to develop a faster program that competitors would be happy to use to eat their lunch.
These companies now need analysts with enough experience in the domain to explain the problem to engineers who have no domain knowledge. Note those analysts have knowledge worth considerably more than 150k and any mistakes by engineers can destroy a company in minutes of trading. (oops, we bought instead of selling.. must have inverted a integer somewhere...)
I wish the new company luck and hope it keeps splitting the wealth with employees rather than just becoming yet another corporation harvesting the lion share of profits in a few years.
FTC Warns Site Not To Sell Personal Data
Sadly you are mistaken. People do not reconsider beliefs often. In fact attempting to change deeply held convictions can cause cognitive dissonance since many other decisions have been based on that belief. In fact, people with deeply held beliefs often hold those beliefs even more strongly in the face of proof to the contrary. http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/
Imagine if facebook or myspace decided to mine and sell your data. "Ehh who cares, they already do." But studies suggest they can determine where you live, your sexuality, what you are interested in via your connections. So now even if you keep your data private they can probably figure out your birthday, orientation, former residences, etc. Now imagine if you are an actor or musician and have too many gay friends so they sell your info to a anti-gay group that starts protesting at your work and calling your family/friends/co-workers. You lose business partners, sponsorships, your family starts to wonder what you are hiding...
You can not reason with a mob, they have others reinforcing their opinion and peer pressure would prevent most people from backing down. Only a culture of tolerance and/or stronger consumer protection would make this less likely. Right now we have neither. We are sometimes inching towards more tolerance but then I see anti-gay, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, anti-intellectual materials and I despair.
Chase Bank May Drop Support of Chrome, Opera
They changed policies months ago so that charge interest based off average daily balance. (Some have even tried using rolling highest balance for the month)
I canceled my card when in 3 months they changed my rate from 7 to 17 to 21 then to 30% interest. Initially I did not care since I pay the balance off each month electronically. But at around then they also started charging interest using a rolling average of the (highest?) daily balance for the last couple months. I went on a business trip, payed off the entire balance, and the next month had hundreds of dollars in interest from my increased "daily balance" despite no charges all due to the previous months trip. The last dirty trick was they started changing the due date. One month it was the 26th the next it was the 16th. (That caught my one-week-early auto-payment by surprise which resulted in a default rate which took me from 30-36. I canceled my card immediately.
Honestly as far as I can tell Case, Citibank, and Bank of America all took the credit reform legislation and inspected the bill saying, "holy shit you mean we can do these things legally currently?" They then implemented every skanky policy they could before the cutoff date as to be grandfathered on all accounts when the legislation passed and thus have their policy survive the implementation of the new legislation. My credit record was basically spotless.
My family all had our rates go up around 23%. Most didn't notice that paying off the balance no longer prevented interest from being charged until I called them and told them to check out their statements. This is happening to people with credit scores over 800!!!
Lets count the way that credit cards profit here. 1) they charge the merchant the first dollar or two of a transaction. 2) They charge the merchant a percentage of the transaction. 3) They charge you interest on the transaction. 4) They game the system to charge you as much as they can.
I am disgusted at this behavior but at the same time there are a few features I love that only these companies seem to offer. (Virtual credit card numbers for online transactions) It drives me nuts that I haven't been able to ditch them all but am just working with another business entity in the same corporate giant.
Talk of an Apple Search Engine To Thwart Google
Actually it is because of their "cult" that I have a new laptop. 6 months ago a 'fanboi' bought a fully loaded laptop that was the best they had to offer and a month later they released the same laptop with a glossy mouse pad so he sold the computer for 1k and bought a new one to have the glossy pad despite the hardware being otherwise identical.
The phones and iPads are selling to many non-fans, but apple is guaranteed to sell 1 million just due to marketing and followers who will buy it because it was released. Then after getting that much traction it is a somewhat self sustaining marketing effort. I have used products with equivalent polish that did not have the same mindshare despite being better in many ways.
I also know of at least one iPad that was bought by someone who is unlikely to turn it on again after a month. It wasn't needed, it was a new apple product to add to their netbook, laptop, desktop, iPhone, and iPod. (netbook was not an apple)
And "it just works' is a clever rephrasing of "we only got it working one way and other implementation are not supported.
There is a world of complexity between consumer device (turn on, turn off, and play) and enterprise (remote locking, device tracking, central administration, etc) Apple went for the simple tight set of features that lets them sell to the largest market. This is smart, but if you need it to do more there is just nothing to build upon. You quickly realize it is ONLY a consumer device.
The "one apple way" conceals the fact that there just isn't flexibility to do things other ways. It is like they do not have the bandwidth to make a robust system so they make a limited set of features then polish the hell out of them. And that works for consumers. But I don't think they CAN move from where they are to enterprise support as too much is missing and too much under the hood was compromised to improve consumer experience.
If you need better security or to customize something for enterprise usage you find that documented features may not work properly or have serious flaws due to scary kludges in the apple implementation.
You can not DO enterprise apps on iPhone and you can NOT do enterprise support on iMacs without a bit of footwork. The IT staff spends as much time supporting 10 macs as they do a hundred PCs (linux and windows). And what is manageable is because the Linux tools worked for mac. But differences are never documented so it is a lot of trial and error to find what does work.
They make great consumer devices, but supporting them is a headache for IT, enterprise developers, and techies.
If you step out of the walled garden you really have to do a LOT of deep hacking to get basic things to work properly. "It just works" when approached from the right angle but from any other you realize that was a horrible horrible kludge of appalling grandeur. I expect this thin veneer is why so few things update at a time if you go outside what is currently supported they really have to write everything from the ground up.
But with that said if you are needing to make a simple application that fits within the APIs and tools they do have these have good support. iPhone libraries were much better than Blackberry and Windows mobile in many ways. The database was a joy to use, the interface widgets are very polished and the tools are well developed. But any quirks you hit after leaving the beaten path are going to be covered by a random external blog post and not apple. And they usually start with "After losing several days setting up centralized authentication for macs this is what ACTUALLY works and how it is different from what is suggested by apple." I have lived and died by these posts on EVERY apple device I have worked with.
Gonorrhea As the Next Superbug
Most of the pregnant teens in my high school wore abstinence promise rings. It was a guarantee that prom sex was going to be unprotected. A bunch of girls in my gifted class got knocked up around homecoming.
Saying abstinence works if you ignore people not using it properly is just wrong. Even if you ignore the fact that less than half of all teens using abstinence use it properly. Overall abstinence has a user-failure rate between 26 and 86 percent. (http://www.sexetc.org/story/2043) Abstinence is a technique 5 times more likely to fail than a condom after proper sexual education.
What we need is REAL sex education with real discussion of complications diseases and how profoundly pregnancies can impact your life. The best pregnancy prevention tool in every nation has always been education. As women get more education the pregnancy rates decline as people decide to wait until it is appropriate to have kids.
Bush saw pregnancy rates climb 3% under his abstinence-only leadership. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-01-26-1Ateenpregnancy26_ST_N.htm) Pregnancy and abortion rated ended a decade long decline with the promotion of abstinence. Studies show abstinence is considerably worse than sex education in preventing sex and teenage pregnancy. (http://ari.ucsf.edu/science/reports/abstinence.pdf)
There was a great report I can not find right now that showed how poorly the US fairs. We are right up there with India, Niger, and Indonesia in teenage pregnancy. Compared to Europe, the US promotes abstinence more heavily and yet sex starts earlier and is more likely to be unprotected than other countries. Pregnancy rates are 2 to 8 times higher than most of Western countries. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_pregnancy.)
Space Shuttle Spy Gets 15 Years
The problem is you don't want the government to seize assets without cause. China is having some nasty issues around this right now.
If corrupt officials can destroy family fortunes they can seize the wealth of families that oppose them. How would you fight a court case with all your money seized? How could you prove you were targeted for supporting opposition party and that evidence was flimsy or planted?
Right now, If they can prove the money came from illegal activities it can be seized by the court as evidence, but in general you do not want the government to be able to destroy the fortunes of those it considers enemies of state. Someday you may piss off someone in power and a limited government is a good thing.
Apple's "iPad" Out In the Open
It's more than just an iPod touch that won't fit in your pocket...it's also an underpowered netbook with no keyboard. It's the worst of both worlds!
No no no! It has a faster processor than the iTouch, better resolution that iPhone, and some nifty new features to make up for the lack of keyboard... Iit is more like a Nexus One that won't fit in your pocket!
Climatic Research Unit Hacked, Files Leaked
Any institution will have jerks. And of course you will only see the most salacious emails. Compare it to this one which I found linked from a skeptic site as an example of how they were suppressing skeptics.
Email chain by department head - http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=1065&filename=1256765544.txt Sonja is a former colleague who quit to work for a skeptic organization she is editor for a skeptic magazine and Phil is writing to complain that she keeps usign the university's name on her publications/talks despite working elsewhere.
At 18:45 27/10/2009, Graham F Haughton wrote:
>Dear Phil, sorry to hear this. I don't see much
>of her these days, but when I do see Sonja next
>I'll try and have a quiet word with her about
>the way the affiliation to us is used, but at
>the moment in fairness she is entitled to use it
>in the way she does. Fortunately I don't get to
>see many of these email exchanges but I do
>occasionally hear about them or see them and
>frankly am rarely convinced by what I read. But
>as with all academics, I'd want to protect
>another academic's freedom to be contrary and
>critical, even if I personally believe she is
>probably wrong. I agree with you that it'd be
>better for these exchanges to be conducted
>through the peer review process but these forms
>of e-communication are now part of the public
>debate and its difficult to do much about it
>other than to defend your position in this and
>other fora, or just ignore it as being, in your words, malicious.
>I can understand your frustration and I am
>pretty sure I'd be feeling exactly the same in
>your shoes, but I am not sure at the moment that
>I can do much more. If you think I can and
>should do more then feel free to ring and I am happy to discuss the matter.
Sounds like the head of the department is really cracking down on those skeptics. Boy he squelches them every chance he can, doesn't he? Despite having pro-climate stance he respects that she disagrees and feels that people should be able to debate.
It is also worth noting that he organizes conservation activities at the school. If he was part of a large scale climate hoax why would he be hot to reduce the school's environmental impact? Sounds to me he genuinely believes in climate change, is more knowledgeable than anyone posting here, and respects others with different opinion. Yes there will be mean spirited comments in some emails and people who massage data.
I will be happy if the full data becomes public so all researchers can analyze it. But while I see lots of sloppiness in evidence I see no "marching plan" from the "carbon cap industry".
Singer In Grocery Store Ordered To Pay Royalties
A lot of these organizations represent musicians whether or not they would like. In the US there is no way to opt out of ASCAP and BMI, only sound exchange. The other organizations represent me whether or not I am registered with them and whether or not I would like them to. I have to register with them though to collect the fees they charge on my behalf though. See my earlier post on a club being threatened for letting me play original music there. Mostly these organizations run on are scare tactics. I have heard of them backing down several times when fought in court. Partially because it makes for great print for the local news and most people including judges are completely horrified to hear that local stores are being threatened with thousands of dollars of fees especially when the venue has a good case that the fees are not benefiting any of the musicians playing there.
Singer In Grocery Store Ordered To Pay Royalties
I am a musician. I have had placed I play threatened with legal action because the club hadn't paid ASCAP & BMI to allow them a performing license to allow me to play original music in that venue. And despite me not being represented by BMI I have the "right" to opt in at a later time so they are "entitled" to collect money until I decide to do so. You can opt out of Sound Exchange but BMI and ASCAP are organizations that act on our behalf whether or not we would like.
The whole situation where all musicians are assumed to opt in and then must jump through hoops to get payments is a joke. As a small musician I am not showing up on the radio charts and since I have been in a dozen bands it would be a pain to collect checks for under a dollar for each group. It is not like the clubs report that I am playing there and that the set is all originals and that the BMI should not collect any fees from them that day. So the associations collect their fees and then figure that some major artist was being played because they base their calculations off of radio play.
It is also annoying as it makes it impossible to may a truly free college or internet radio station. Even if I only played my own tunes I would have to pay a fee to do so and then register to get it back minus administrative overhead.
D&D Handbook Distribution Lawsuit Settled For $125,000
To scan the rules without buying a copy check out the open gaming reference document.
But let me assure you that the book is well worth 35 dollars on amazon. Hell it is probably worth full price if you want the PDF.