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  • Mar 6th, 2011 @ 11:51am

    Re: NZ Business

    Well...to answer your somewhat rhetorical question...

    In the US, an executive is sought after by other companies IF he made the other executives money at his previous job. The question is not whether the COMPANY made money, but whether the C*O's made money. If they did, then other companies want to hire him. If not, he isn't wanted, no matter if he ran the best or worst company in the country. Ken Lay had no less than 27 job offers on the table even AFTER his indictment. Only after his conviction were they withdrawn. This is because, despite running Enron into the ground, virtually all of the Enron EXECUTIVES made a BOATLOAD of money, even if the company as a whole totally tanked. That's all the reason other companies needed to want to hire him.

    Now beyond that, there's another, more specific reason why Sony wants this guy. Sony isn't evil, per se, they're simply imperialistic. Sony is unique in that they own a chunk of practically every industry that involves a transistor. From media players to cell phones to computers to movies to music, even the gaming space, both portable and in-home. This leads Sony to try to do NOTHING that might cannibalize another portion of their business. In the end, Sony would be better off if you could download Sony music - or any other, studio (this is critical, people HATE walled gardens) - directly into the PSP, PS3, and Sony cell phones. Instead, in an effort to keep Sony Music sales up, one must buy a physical CD from Sony, then rip it, and then you can only have the music on a single device at once thanks to the DRM.

    So, Sony, here's a thought: If you want to compete, build your brand. I know, you have one hell of a brand already, but you're not building ONE brand, you're building a dozen of them. Apple is not successful because their users have to re-purchase a song for every device they want to hear it on. They're not successful because the user had to manually copy the song 10 different places. They're successful because they provide an integrated EXPERIENCE, where they click a single button, and the song appears on every Apple device they own, period. (Note: I'm a Linux user, but even a geek who recognizes Apple's flaws has to admire their distribution systems.) Instead of punishing your customers, REWARD your loyalest customers by allowing any song on the Sony label to be played by an infinite number of devices, provided they're Sony devices. If a consumer has a choice of buying a song on iTunes for 99 cents, and getting it on their laptop, phone, and...nothing else, or buying the same song on a Sony Vaio, and having it available on their Sony Erickson Phone, Sony PS3, Sony PSP, Sony Vaio, Sony Bravia TV, and whatever else, they'd gladly use your product instead simply for the convenience of not having to download the same product 10 times (or even worse, pay for the same product 10 times!) Sure, this will cost you $9 you could've theoretically made (though in truth, they'd just go elsewhere, so without this level of integration, the sale is lost regardless) but you'll sell at least $5000 of extra hardware you otherwise wouldn't have. Frankly, Sony, you're the only company in the world besides Apple capable of selling the entire experience, and you could do so even better than them. Yet, instead, you run 6 or 7 separate companies and you do your dead level best to ensure they never overlap or conflict, for fear you might lose a dollar today. Yet, until you're willing to do that, you'll never make 2 dollars tomorrow. You're in a unique position Sony, you can sell the entire package, the whole big integrated experience. Wouldn't it be worth losing a little today to profit from practically everything with an integrated circuit tomorrow?

    On a more technological note, I have to also point out that part of Sony's issue is the LACK of a single device that does everything. Integrating a whole universe of devices to be compatible and sync flawlessly is a major achievement that Sony really should strive for, but Apple is admittedly a bad comparison. The iPad, for all its faults (and as a Linux user, I can tell you it has a plethora of them) is the "singularity" device because it replaces practically everything. It's not the perfect eBook reader, it's not the perfect music player, it's not the perfect web browser, and it's not the perfect word processor. Yet, it does all of this well enough that it's a viable replacement for all of them within reason, and that's why it's the smash hit that it is. Sure, an iPod makes a better music player, but it's unusable in any other role. A MacBook is the superior Word Processor and Web Browser, but it's not mobile enough for an eBook reader nor a dedicated Music Player. The iPad works because, while it's not perfect for anything, it's viable for everything. It's the ultimate jack-of-all-trades. Do you think MacBook and iPod sales took a BIG hit when they released the iPad? If not, you're an idiot. Yet, overall, Apple made enough money to cover the dip in sales of its other platforms, and then many boatloads more. Sony won't do this at first, the transformation would just be too big for them. However, they can begin by better integrating the systems they already have. Once they make that work, and they realize of their own accord that a minor dip in digital music sales will net them a MASSIVE boost in hardware sales, they'll see the light.

    Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later.

  • Feb 8th, 2011 @ 6:59am

    Greek Fire

    There are a few things, mostly advents of the ancient or classical periods, that we cannot replicate - not because it wouldn't be useful or nobody wants it, but simply because the knowledge required to do so has been lost. Greek Fire is a great example of this. A substance that can be stored and transported safely in a ship, then somehow lit aflame and projected (supposedly to almost 100 feet away) at an enemy vessel. Granted, this would be somewhat useless in ship-to-ship warfare now, but there are now much more practical applications for this. On the military front, combat flamethrowers often suffer from 1 major weakness - the chemicals are incredibly vulnerable to ignition by enemy gunfire. One account of a great Greek sea battle (against the Persians, I believe) tells how the Greek ship carrying Greek Fire was directly struck by lightning, killing half the crew on board, and yet the Greek Fire in the hold did not detonate, and the remaining crew pretended to be dead, luring the Persians into boarding range before turning the Greek Fire upon them, roasting them alive at point blank range. The point here is that it would be a stable, liquid fuel with detonation properties similar to modern C4, but the inherent transport benefits of a liquid. To this day, nobody knows the formula to make it, and centuries of chemistry have failed to even come close. Of course, a much more controlled burn could have use in construction and even medical fields. Heat Shielding for aircraft and spacecraft is tempered with incredibly expensive, highly purified fuel due to the disaster that would result in fuel residue being left on the shield. Burn victims are, strange as it sounds, sometimes burned a little more to create enough burned tissue for other treatments to take hold, yet common fuels such as Butane have inherent medical hazards, and their storage in a hospital setting increases fire hazards in an already highly explosive environment. If it could be controlled with the same precision as more volatile fuels, Greek Fire might solve the problems in these fields and more inherent to virtually all other liquid fuel.

    That said, I just want to say, the number of "tools" that are no longer in use can probably be counted on your own ten fingers, so the point is still pretty much valid, and I'm willing to bet that out of 7 billion people, there's at least one who knows SOME of this, and just doesn't realize what they've accomplished or isn't willing to share.

  • Feb 7th, 2011 @ 5:35pm

    Two things

    1) Anyone and everyone should be prosecuted for violation of the Constitution. In a country where all of our laws are based on the concept of "precedent," the constitution is the first and foremost one, and any and all violations of it should be prosecuted with the maximum possible penalty being assessed. We can start with every single law enforcement officer who has ever invoked the Patriot Act, as they are violating the Constitution. Both of the most recent presidents, and even presidents as far back as both FDR and even Lincoln have suspended the Constitution "for national security" so let's dig them up and burn their corpses. Then, let's do the same with every lawmaker elected since 1796 - after all, the Constitution demands that it be torn up and rewritten from scratch "every 20 years" and any congressman or senator since that time has violated such. Of course, I'm being sarcastic, but the point is simple: if we REALLY wanted to follow the Constitution, even halfass, little to none of our government would remain.

    2) Assanage is a Journalist just as much as Bernstein and Woodward. He took documents which anyone with basic common sense would have known were being leaked illegally, implicating both the current and previous administration in doing rather embarrassing stuff, and I'm referring of course to either Woodward or Bernstein (whichever one met Deep Throat in the parking garage). The idea that Assanege is somehow a terrorist, but that the Watergate reporters are great journalists is laughable. Either they're all 3 terrorists or they're all three journalists and champions of free speech in its most apparent and raw form. You cannot have it both ways, folks. Freedom is great when it helps you, and it's awful and even painful when it doesn't, but the reason we choose freedom over totalitarianism is simple - it's good more often than it's bad. In the words of Winston Churchill, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried." If you can't handle your neighbors burning a flag in their front yard, then you have no right to fly one in your own yard. If you don't like what someone else is saying, you have every right to shout louder, but don't silence them. If you want to pray to your god, that's fine, I'll go observe my molecule. Freedom isn't about limiting options, it's about expanding them beyond limit, and about the realization in each and every one of us that if we silence their voice today, we'll wind up mute tomorrow. So no, leave Assanege alone. You may not agree with what he's doing, or even with how he's doing it, but if you don't believe he has a right to do it at all, then you shouldn't expect to have a right to complain about it tomorrow.

  • Jan 31st, 2011 @ 6:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    F: Agree

    Of course, the real solution here is simply to increase competition to the point where VPN is added in order to be competitive with the other guy, rather than having 10 major players who all collude to provide minimal service at (compared to the rest of the world) exorbitant prices.

    That said, if everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) would just run TOR, this problem wouldn't happen. I mean both a TOR client AND server, mind you. Everyone just using the client would only serve to slow it down. That said, if every single user on the internet ran both a TOR server and client, nobody would see any meaningful decrease in speed, and yet 100% of all ISP access logs would be useless since your actual data is never originating from your own IP address. Much like TPB is practically impregnable because it doesn't break any laws itself (it hosts links, not the content) this would be immune to all forms of disclosure. All use of TOR is anonymous (no login, etc) and the main TOR coordination servers that tell the actual traffic-passing servers how to interconnect serve the same function as TPB, and like TPB, none of the actual user data ever crosses the servers owned or operated by the TOR project itself.

    Anyhow, until a legal solution is found, there are other options. One solution is to simply rent a shell somewhere with decent bandwidth that's not on US soil or subject to US law, and tunnel everything over SSH or encrypted SOCKS. This can be done for $10/month or even less! As an alternative, setup a VPN network with a few close friends (10+ people preferably) and all agree to rotate proxying through your friends once a day. This can be automated with a good script. Another option which is easier to get past legally, but provides a "plausible deniability" argument is to setup a windows box somewhere in your house, make sure it has a known security hole, then go to the coffee shop down the street and exploit your own system. Then, if you have a static IP at home, you can do whatever you want through it, and if you are ever caught, you can make a 100% believable argument that a random hacker did all the things they're accusing you of - and there's nothing they can do to disprove it. Of course, all of these things are countermeasures to prevent a potential case against you from succeeding in court - no force known to man can prevent ANYONE from filing a lawsuit against you for ANY reason. The law will let you countersue them later, but at that point your attorney has already handed you a bill you can't afford.

    So...this will help, but the real solutions still lies in congress.