Monthly Archives: March 2013

Will GCW Zero Deliver Their Kickstarter Handhelds?

This story (podcast link) is interesting. That was an interview with Justin Barwick, the owner and founder of the GCW Zero. Here’s a link to the discussion on Kickstarter. Notice that GCW Kickstarter backers are starting to get hostile, due to the delays and excuses with delivery. Kickstarter does not guarantee any of the transactions. If someone raises money on Kickstarter and defaults on his promise, then the backers lose their money with no recourse.

I already wrote about the GCW Zero. The GCW Zero is a new open-source gaming handheld. It runs old games played in emulators, plus ports of other open source games. It’s a legal grey area, running old computer games in emulators. The copyright is usually still owned by someone, but lots of people are using emulators and file sharing networks to get the games. It’s technically illegal to share old computer games, but someone could argue that the copyright was abandonend because it hasn’t been enforced for so long.

I currently use emulators on my Android phone, a Droid 3. They work pretty well, but not perfectly. With Android emulation, the quality is lousy due to the fact that all code runs in a Java virtual machine, and due to other quirks in the way Android handles sound and input and timing. Allegedly, the GCW Zero has much higher emulation quality. A PSX and N64 emulator is in development for the GCW Zero, and older systems work very well.

Justin Barwick made a few prototype GCW Zero units, and then successfully raised money via Kickstarter. The people who funded via Kickstarter were promised a GCW unit. Now, there may be delays in the delivery of the GCW Zero.

Allegedly, some people preordered before the Kickstarter campaign, and still haven’t received their GCW Zero. That is somewhat sleazy, taking money from people for preorders, and then raising more money before delivering those preorders. That sounds a lot like a Ponzi, where you raise more money so you can pay off your obligations to earlier investors.

This story is really weird. Atari corporation is currently in bankruptcy, and the founder of the GCW Zero was trying to raise money to buy the rights to the Atari IP from bankruptcy court. That is stupid. As one poster accurately and cynically said “The GCW Zero team should deliver on their Kickstarter promise, before trying to raise money for something else.”  Suppose he really did raise $250k to buy out Atari and that was the current asking price. Even if they did that, some other bidder would come along, see it’s worth $250k, and bid more. It probably was just a cheap publicity stunt, and that Fundable campaign was terminated.  On the other hand, it could be a bad sign if Justin Barwick was desperate enough and foolish enough to try it. (The flaky “buy Atari” idea was on Fundable and not Kickstarter, a point that confused some people.)

For the Open Pandora, some people who pre-ordered a unit years ago STILL haven’t gotten their Pandora. The Open Pandora had two founders, Evil Dragon (in Germany) and Craig (in the USA). Both of them took money for pre-orders, operating as two separate corporations. People who lived in the USA were told to pre-order from Craig.  I’m glad I didn’t buy!  Craig declared his corporation bankrupt, defaulting on his pre-orders. Evil Dragon is still making and selling Open Pandora, and is allegedly using some of the profits to pay off old pre-orders. As a further bit of sleaziness, Craig hasn’t told Evil Dragon exactly how many and who is owed a preorder, leading to lots of suspicion and accusations of fraud.  That is a very sleazy trick, to form a new corporation with the IP, while declaring bankruptcy and defaulting on the old pre-orders.

The Open Pandora has specs that are already several years outdated. It’s silly to pay such a high price for a handheld that is significantly weaker than current Android phones.

One reason that the Open Pandora had problems is that they mis-estimated costs and were cheated by a supplier. According to that podcast, the GCW Zero may be having similar problems.

I am interested in gaming handhelds better than my current Android phone. It’s a shame that the Open Pandora was such a funding disaster. The GCW Zero may wind up similarly disappointing users. Allegedly, there are enhancements in newer Android versions, and newer emulators fix the defects in older emulators.

Whatever negative things you can say about Android, at least I know that if I buy one from Verizon, they’re going to actually deliver it!

It’s a shame that the Open Pandora cheated early backers, and the GCW Zero may also turn out to be a ripoff. Unfortunately, the lesson seems to be “Don’t back handhelds made by individuals and non-insiders.”, which makes it impossible for these handhelds to be developed if nobody backs them. Craig from Open Pandora seemed like a sleazy character, and the GCW Zero founder Justin Barwick sounded somewhat sleazy in that interview.

I wonder if being the leader of a failed project causes someone to start talking like a con artist, making delays and excuses like the Ponzi scammers on American Greed? The “buy Atari” campaign seemed pretty stupid and sleazy; it smelled like someone desperate. It also was sleazy for Justin Barwick to raise money via Kickstarter while he hadn’t delivered to earlier preorders. That’s a classic Ponzi trick, trying to raise more money from new suckers to pay off earlier investors.

Is the GCW Zero a legitimate business that will keep its promises? Is it going to be a fiasco like the Open Pandora? We’ll find out in a few months. I might buy one, IF the preorders and Kickstarter orders are delivered and I can buy one from stock. Allegedly, ithic will be the place to buy the GCW Zero in the USA, if the Kickstarter units are ever delivered.

Brian Banks On 60 Minutes

I’ve already written about Brian Banks. Summarizing, Brian Banks was a talented high school football player, being recruited by top universities. He was falsely accused of rape by a girl he dated in high school. Even though he was innocent, his lawyer advised him to plead no-contest and serve 5 years in jail. He might have gone to jail for 40 years if he want to trial and lost. His lawyer knew that, as an athletic young black man, he would never get a fair trial. The alleged rape happened in the school. The girl sued the school district and won $1.5M, giving her a huge financial incentive to lie. After getting out of prison, the girl friended him on Facebook. He hired a competent lawyer, agreed to meet with her, recorded her recanting her lie, and his conviction was overturned.

I was surprised that 60 Minutes decided to cover Brian Banks’ story. As usual, there was a pro-State troll bias.

Brian Banks was given the opportunity to try out for NFL teams, but he flopped. Did Brian Banks have 4 years of college eligibility left? Why didn’t he play for a college team? He may have received bad advice, trying to directly turn pro rather than playing in college first.

There was one part of 60 Minutes’ story that I found offensive. They asked Brian Banks if he was angry at the girl for lying, and he said no. He didn’t want her prosecuted. He didn’t want her to give back the money she received for lying. That was offensive, but Brian Banks probably was coached to say that.

Brian Banks should have said “I’m angry at the girl for lying. I’m angry at her from profiting from her lie. I’m angry at a system that gave a girl a financial incentive to lie. I’m angry at a system that sent me to jail for a long time based on a lie. I’m angry at a system that coerced me into a plea bargain even though I was innocent.” However, 60 Minutes would never have invited Brian Banks as a guest, if he would have said that.

I’ve noticed that in several mainstream media interviews. People who were wrongfully convicted are almost always forgiving. Why is that? However, people who are angry at the State aren’t usually interviewed on the mainstream media.

It was nice to see 60 Minutes covering Brian Banks. However, it was severe pro-State trolling, when Brian Banks said that he wasn’t angry at what happened to him. Brian Banks could be a good advocate for the way State law is biased against men. However, he’s probably being coached to say otherwise. He probably would be giving up decent-paying public speaking opportunities if he started telling the truth.

Reader Mail – 03/17/2013 To 03/23/2013

Nick commented on TJ Lane (Ohio School Murderer) Was Probably Taking Psychiatric Drugs.
dahlia - that's a pretty ignorant comment IMO - The brain has proven to be a complete mystery to science and yet you think you're able to come on here and tell everyone that these drugs that are "intended" to alter brain activity are absolutely safe because pharmaceutical companies have presented enough empirical evidence? It has to be empirical evidence because the actually workings of the brain have not been figured out.

The failure of your logic is contained in your own statements: "Psychotropic drugs help a lot of people as do drugs for ADHD/ADD. I am very allergic to antibiotics."

That's exactly right - drugs react differently in different people... some people benefit from antibiotics and some people have violent negative reactions to them. Why you can't see that this is a possibility (if not probable) with ADHD/ADD drugs is beyond me.

Nick commented on TJ Lane (Ohio School Murderer) Was Probably Taking Psychiatric Drugs.

You mess with antibiotics that your body isn't made to accept (alergy) and your body reacts severely... Why can't people realize that if you mess with ADD/ADHD drugs intended to alter brain activity that the expression of a severe reaction would be mental as well?

mary commented on TJ Lane (Ohio School Murderer) Was Probably Taking Psychiatric Drugs.

My guess is that he was misdiagnosed with unipolar depression and prescribed an antidepressant which launched him into bipolar mania. It is quite obvious that he is still in mania from his behavior in the courtroom.

sharil commented on TJ Lane (Ohio School Murderer) Was Probably Taking Psychiatric Drugs.

complete BS. my mom was abducted, assaulted and forcibly drugged because she refused blood pressure meds..at the age of 69! they locked her up, made her drool, stumble and would not release her for 8 days. it took lawyers, media, threats to get her out. you people are blind to what power the 'psychiatrists' have. they think they are GOD. thank GOD we got her out, with 8 long days of fighting and threatening. wake up people!!! my little brother, when my parents split up, was shipped off by my dad because he was angry! they drugged himon Thorazine and so many other drugs..he was suicidal at 11. he attempted suicide by cop at 19. he lived through two round being shot into his body. he was locked up for 10 years. drugs took his life, his soul..he was an awesome kis..happy, athletic, positive, etc...if you think Psyche drugs don't kill, you are fooling yourself...period. WAKE THE F**k UP. Fight against Big Evil Pharm.

Scott commented on TJ Lane (Ohio School Murderer) Was Probably Taking Psychiatric Drugs.

"The drugs you mentioned do not cause this."

Does anyone know the long term affects of taking amphetamines? Like taking them 10+ years through puberty when really a kid was suffering from manic depression instead of ADHD? Has anyone put any thought to that?

Most FDA-approved drug research covers a period of 60-120 days. I don't know of any research studying the effect of drugs taken for years/decades.

cmb commented on TJ Lane (Ohio School Murderer) Was Probably Taking Psychiatric Drugs.

I agree with this article other than the notion that the teachers should have been more emotionally aware. It is very difficult, downright impossible even, to keep track of upwards of 150 students' personal lives.

On a darker note, I am seriously wondering how long it will take him to kill himself in prison so we don't have to spend state money to keep this scum alive, and I use the word 'alive' incredibly loosely.


Arvi commented on Job Search Rudeness - No Response After Interview.
After Google called me up to arrange for an interview(yes, they called me up) and deciding to waste an hour and half of my time with an interview, the bozo HR person didn't even bother to reply even after I sent him an email regarding the status. I mean, too bad for them because i'm never going to join such a shit company that does not value a simple gesture of politeness.

Anonymous Coward commented on No More Google Reader.
The Google clowns crow in big billboard advertisements and television commercials about their Google Chrome web browser.

Has anyone looked up the dates of the development of Apple's WebKit and JavaScript compiler on Wikipedia. WebKit is a trademark of Apple and supported CSS, HTML5, multimedia and lots more before Google came along and used Apple's WebKit and ultimately Konqueror source code to produce Chrome.

Yes, they would have had to do some work.

There are some differences between Apple's original JavaScript to bytecode compiler and Google's JavaScript to machine code compiler.

But the mapping between bytecode and machine code is one-to-one or one-to-three or four.

What they didn't was hardly a great technical leap from what Apple had already done.

Yet these Google clowns crows about how wonder and smart they are.

They even were too weak and floppy to do the work with just their army of recent high academically performing graduates.

How can you be smart if you cannot do something new and do you own research?

Their JS to machine code compiler(a step up from Apple's JS to bytecode compiler) wasn't even led from the GooglePlex in California.

They had to hire an ex-employee of Sun from Sun's compiler team to head the work from Denmark.

Wow!

Anonymous Coward commented on No More Google Reader.

Oops! Made a mistake. It seems Apple did produce a JavaScript to Machine code compiler before the Google clowns.

Anonymous Coward commented on Reader Mail - 03/10/2013 To 03/16/2013.
You may moan about the USA, but aren't you glad you are not in EuroLand?

http://maxkeiser.com/2013/03/18/hes-back-2/

More seriously have you heard about Chris and his wife Vicky Huhne who were both jailed for 8 months of swapping speeding points? Chris was doing 19 mph over a 50 mph speed limit on the M11 motorway (not a residential street).

Chris is a former government minister and Vicky is an economist. Both are obviously wealthy and have connections.

I may dislike wealth, power and connections and those that make money from politics and banks and city firms rather than doing real work, but is it right to jail people for stupidity, bad decisions and vengeance when really they are only a danger to themselves and not society?


commented on Cyprus Banking Crisis Conspiracy Theory.
Where did you pull a "real" inflation rate of 20% - 30%? I know the whole core inflation argument and all the exclusions (rent, etc.), but your number is still ridiculous. When people play fast and loose with the details, it only serves to weaken the credibility of the broader message. Well if you exaggerated X, he/she likely exaggerated Y.

My measure of inflation is very simple. I look at the price of gold. Gold is going up 20%-30% per year. Gold is pretty highly correlated with other commodities, making it a good measure.

The CPI is a lie.

For another example, the price of a half-gallon of apple cider went up from $3 to $4 compared to last year.

Anonymous Coward commented on Cyprus Banking Crisis Conspiracy Theory.

If it helps a couple of years ago, the Daily Mail looked at a basket of household shopping items and concluded inflation was more like 7% - much higher than the UK government figures.

I don't have the figures, but I feel grocery bills have gone up lots in the past few years. Even a small shopping trip for groceries in London costs 20 - 30 pounds, even if you only buy a few things. It was never this expensive.

If we consider the increase in value of property in London, then inflation is sky high. 20 - 30% would be considered a low figure.

Anonymous Coward commented on Cyprus Banking Crisis Conspiracy Theory.

The clowns in the UK Conservative Party (how did these clowns get in with only 1 in 5 of the population voting for them?) are going to inflate property prices with their silly budget.

Prepare for a bubble and huge property price inflation.

The problem is high property prices. These fools want to make a bad problem worse.

JP Morgan Chase Congressional Hearing Farce

This story was interesting. I already wrote about JP Morgan Chase’s “London Whale” loss.

Reviewing, JP Morgan Chase lost a couple billion dollars via risky derivatives bets in their London office. Now, there are Senate hearings regarding this loss.

It is embarrassing when a big bank loses a couple billion dollars in a few days. It shatters the illusion that the banking industry isn’t one huge government-subsidized casino.

As usual, Congressional financial hearings are one big farce. The Senators are promoting the lie that the financial industry has meaningful government oversight.

Actually, the loss didn’t occur in a few days. The loss was built up over a long period of time. However, the accounting farce became too great. JP Morgan Chase was forced to publicly admit the loss all at once.

How did JP Morgan Chase have a huge hidden loss in derivatives? There are a couple of factors.

JP Morgan Chase’s traders claimed that the price for the derivatives was greater than the market price. That helped them hide loses. If the trade really is profitable, then you might legitimately claim a price greater than the market price. Even in that case, you should report both mark-to-market price and mark-to-model price.

With illiquid derivatives, it’s hard to tell what the price is. Most of the time, it’s based on whatever model the traders are using. That leads to the crazy situation where both sides of the trade can claim an immediate mark-to-model profit.

JP Morgan Chase’s position was so big that they were almost the entire market for these derivatives. Because JP Morgan Chase had such a huge position, the price was inflated, leading to the illusion that the trade was profitable.

When the trades were unfavorable, the traders decided to double down. Instead of admitting the loss, they made bigger and bigger bets, hoping that the market would move in their favor. However, other traders knew that JP Morgan Chase had a ridiculously huge position, and started to bet against them.

When you’re gambling with other people’s money, the incentive is to hide losses. When you’re behind, you should make bigger and bigger bets to try and recover. Whether you lose $5 million or $5 billion, you lose your job either way. Once you’re behind, the incentive is to try and recover, even if it means taking bad risks.

It isn’t much different than a Ponzi scam.  In a Ponzi scam, new investors pay off old investors.  With the “London whale”, JP Morgan Chase kept financing bigger and bigger bets.  New money helped hide the losses on other trades.  If they were lucky and the bets did work eventually, nobody would ever know.

With derivatives, it’s very easy to construct a scenario where you make a small return most of the time, and have a huge loss once in awhile.  When you’re gambling with other people’s money, that’s a good strategy.  Most of the time, you get a decent return and a nice bonus.  When it blows up, you get a new job or get a bailout.

JP Morgan Chase received massive direct and indirect government bailout money. They received explicit bailout money via TARP. They receive indirect bailouts via negative real interest rates and quantitative easing.  Some of that bailout money financed risky derivative bets.

The Senate hearing is one big farce. The sole purpose of the hearing is to provide the illusion that there’s meaningful oversight of the financial industry. With the ability to literally print money, banksters can always lobby against meaningful reform.

Cyprus Banking Crisis Conspiracy Theory

This story is interesting. There is a banking crisis in Cyprus. All the banks are closed “temporarily”. The shortfall is approximately $20B.

The government is saying “We guarantee bank deposits!”, BUT there will be a tax of 5-10% on bank deposits, making the guarantee meaningless.

Under pressure from several members of the eurozone – Germany in particular, if reports are accurate – the new Nicosia government agreed that deposits above 100,000 euros would be taxed 9.9 percent and those under 100,000 at a rate of 6.75 percent.

Some pro-State troll might say “HAHAHA!! This could never happen in the USA!” Actually, this did happen in the USA, except the tax was a lot more than 10%! Bank deposits pay 0% interest, while real inflation is 20-30% a year or more. When the government and Federal Reserve print new money to bail out banksters, that effectively is a tax on bank deposits. It isn’t an explicit tax. Inflation is a tax. In the USA, bank deposits are “guaranteed”, but the government will steal your purchasing power via inflation.

In the USA, the government can always print new money to prevent a default on bank deposits. Instead of an explicit default, it’s an indirect default via inflation. Why doesn’t Cyprus do the same thing?

Cyprus is a member of the EU. Cyprus does not control its own monetary system like the USA. Cyprus can’t bail out banks via inflation, because Cyprus is no longer sovereign. By joining the EU, Cyprus effectively ceded its sovereignty to the EU. The “deposit tax” is imposed by the EU, as a condition for receiving a bailout. Instead of robbing Cyprus depositors indirectly via inflation, Cyprus depositors will be explicitly robbed.

Incidentally, that’s one of the pro-State troll arguments against a gold standard. With gold as money, you can’t have inflation-financed bailouts, making bankster theft more obvious. Each gold standard “failed” when the government inflated to bail out banks, and then abandoned its fractionally-backed gold monetary system. The “free market” ruined the gold standard, as people rushed to redeem their inflating paper with gold, anticipating a default. The “free market” is blamed, while the gold standard was really ruined by fractional reserve banking and bank bailouts.

What’s the conspiracy theory? If Cyrpus bank depositors lost $20B, SOMEONE ELSE MADE $20B. In all the articles I read, that question was not asked. “What were Cyprus banks investing in, that they lost $20B?”

Another amusing bit is that Cyprus is an offshore tax haven for rich people. It defeats the purpose of having an offshore tax haven, if the bank can steal your deposit!

In the USA, banks can always be bailed out via inflation. Cyprus no longer controls its own monetary system, so depositors must be explicitly robbed to finance the bailout. There’s one gaping hole in all the articles I read. What were Cyprus banks investing in? If Cyprus depositors lost $20B, someone else made $20B. Where did the money go? Why are no mainstream media articles asking this question?

Reader Mail – 03/10/2013 To 03/16/2013

sackcloth commented on Larken Rose Still Thinks Like A Statist.
you could accept bitcoin donations

Unless it's going to be a substantial amount of donations, it isn't worth the hassle of setting it up.

I'm now leaning towards "Write an e-book!" as a way to make money from my blog.


Ryan commented on Do Disabled Veterans Deserve Respect?.
Ask a soldier, in the frontline, fighting for his country, what he would give to be back home with his family...ask a disabled war-veteran- wouldn't he have preferred to not be disabled? I am sure we all know what they would say. Its understandable why many of us would be against wars. Wars truly are evil and no one can ever truly justify the reasons behind a war. But ask yourselves, is it really right to blame a soldier, a war-veteran for the war? Is it not like blaming a gun rather than the killer for a murder? The soldier was the tool, the weapon, but do you incriminate a weapon?

Of course not. Its the murderer who is to be blamed. And in this case the true murderers are the politicians. The politicians make wars happen, and since we are the ones who have elected them, we are partly to be blamed too. We must not let the horrors of war cloud our judgement.

The politicians would have no power, if not for the soldiers and police who blindly obey orders.

There is a big difference between a gun and a soldier. A gun is a tool and an inanimate object. A soldier is a person who's supposed to think for himself.

Just because you enlist as a soldier, doesn't mean you lose all moral responsibility for your actions.


Druida commented on Rise Of Legends - No Patch Server! - v2.5 patch.
Thnx for re-upload

Anomymous Coward commented on Retroarch Android Emulator.
You really need to be careful of the Google Clowns.

Their empire is founded on advertising. They don't make money anywhere else.

They give Android away free to phone manufacturers, even though they had to pay to take over the company that developed it. If the Google Clowns are so smart, why couldn't they develop this sort of software themselves. We all know the Google clowns like to boast how clever they are and how difficult their interviews are. Well it a pity they couldn't manage to hire anyone smart enough to modify Linux enough to turn it into a smartphone operating system!

Now for some areas (those than involve commercial products) Google's search results have a page of junk and software downloads, goods etc are from the second page onwards.

This forces companies selling anything on the Internet to buy adverts from Google.

I've seen the Cost Per Click rise each year and I find it difficult to believe this is from a fair auction process. Google must do things to bump up the price - perhaps their "quality" scores for keywords and adverts. I have a well worded website and still I get low quality scores from Google for my adverts and keywords. So the Google Clowns bump up my cost per click.

The Google Clowns have lots of bellies to feed and they are getting the money from screwing advertisers.

Google's cost per click is 2x - 10x the cost on bing.com.

It is bad the Google Clowns have a near monopoly on search.

Before things get worse and worse people must stop using google.com and move over to anything else - perhaps bing.com.

The Google Clowns will force up the price of software and goods as their manufacturers are forced to pay inflated Google advertising costs. They have to do this because lots of people use Google.

Google search is not free. The cost is passed on to you via manufacturers' advertising costs.


Anonymous Coward commented on Sim City Always Online DRM.
I am a software developer and I self-publish.

I agree with you about online DRM being offensive.

Large companies purchase my software. My software uses a copy protection system, but the online aspect of it is once-only. Once software is verified by an Internet connection, the software will always work on that hardware.

I also have several different types of protection mechanism. The user can choose. My intention is that for most cases, once the user has purchased the software, he/she can use it whether my company goes bust or not. It isn't foolproof. But I hope for most cases, little users can use my software whether my company stays up or not.

Having said that as my running costs are low, I hope to be able to continue for a long time.

I've also seen some large companies abuse my licenses. I've seen some companies purchase 10 licenses, but use it on 30 machines.

I've seen some companies purchase 1 license and then quiz me why they can't use it for many different users! This was actually rather dumb of them. Ironically they are one of the most famous companies in the country they operate in. In fact everyone in the whole country (almost) uses their services.

Having said the above, my copy protection system is flexible, but it is only flexible because I sell thousands of copies of my software and not hundreds of thousands to millions. If I sold that many copies my license system may need to be made less flexible.


Anonymous Coward commented on Crazy IP Law And The Wizard Of Oz.
Laws beget more laws. This process will continue until men learn to be good and most people do know the difference between right and wrong.

We don't need overpaid lawyers to suck the blood out of society.

We need a set of simple, easy to understand laws.

Who paid for it? That is the person that owns it.

If 95% of a work is your own work and say 5% of it is from the public domain and that 5% isn't core or vital, then the evil lawyers should go away and leave productive society alone.


Spideynw commented on No More Google Reader.
I am going to netvibes.com myself.

Anonymous Coward commented on No More Google Reader.

I don't like Google. I was stung by what I believed to be obvious click fraud. Over the years I have paid a considerable amount of money to Google via adwords. I noticed that all my daily budget was being exhausted within seconds of the start of each new day and on a screensaver website on their display network. The goods I was selling had nothing to do with screensavers. When I turned off the display network, my daily budget was never exhausted over a whole day when just on Google's search page. I did ask Google a couple of times for a refund, but I just got form answers back from them.

Given the length of my time with them as a customer and the amount of money I paid them over the years, it would have been simple good manners to grant my request for a tiny fraction of the money I gave them back.

Maybe Google is just too big to give proper service to one customer.

Google's virtual monopoly of web searches is a cause for concern. The have the power, if they choose to, to downgrade a website and then up their Adwords costs per click. I really don't see why CPC is so high. In my niche there is an absence of competition at the moment, yet the minimum click price is so high as to make advertising with them uneconomical.

If Google charged fair prices for clicks, then they would actually make more money from what I see - which may be unrepresentative.

Google paid money to buy in the Android operating system. They did not develop it themselves.

As we all know, Google dumps Android on the market for free. This is cost-shifting.

This makes it hard to Microsoft, Research In Motion (Blackberry) and Apple to compete. How can you compete with free?

From my point of view, I feel that I am paying high prices for advertising to subsidize Google's spending spree only to give stuff away for free.

When will things fray at the seems?

Suppose you want to distribute high quality, cheap software and keep you running costs low. The Internet should allow cheap software as you don't have to pay for real estate.

We had some nice years. But high advertising costs at Google will kill off quality content on the Internet. Google hoovers up the money.

Beware of Google.

Anonymous Coward commented on No More Google Reader.

The irony is not lost on me.

I develop high quality software that sells at low rates given it is business software.

To make money, someone has to like myself enough to convince their company to buy it.

I then give 10% of my net income to Google for advertising. They use it to buy in software and give it away free.

In a sense paid-for software is providing the money to buy software and then give it away free.

But I am only one customer amongst many.

What Are The Odds Of A Perfect NCAA Tournament Bracket?

I’ve heard this statistic frequently cited.  “The odds of a perfect NCAA tournament bracket are 1 in 2^63.”

For those of you who don’t live in the USA, college basketball has an annual tournament.  64 teams qualify, and they play a single-elimination tournament.  The bracket is divided into 4 quartiles, with teams seeded #1 to #16 in each quarter.

Many workplaces have a betting pool where people fill out a bracket, trying to predict the results.  The tournament was recently expanded to 68 teams, with 4 preliminary games and 60 teams getting a bye.  However, most brackets only consider the main 64 team field.  I’m only going to consider the main 64 team field and ignore the 4 play-in games.

The false statistic is “The odds of a perfect bracket are 1 in 2^63.”  Do you see the fallacy?

SPOILER SPACE

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“1 in 2^63″ assumes that you flip a coin to determine the winner in each game.  That is ridiculous.  No human would pick that way if he was trying to win.  No #16 seed has ever beaten a #1 seed, but when you flip coins you predict such an upset 15 out of 16 times.  (There are four #1 seeds and four #16 seeds, one in each quarter of the bracket.  Technically, they are the overall seeds 1-4 and 61-64, but to keep things simple they are referred to as #1 and #16 seeds.)

You can use Jeff Sagarin’s ratings to predict the winner when two teams play.  The rating converts to the odds of the stronger team winning.  I wrote a program to simulate the tournament results using Sagarin ratings.

Originally, I wrote the program in PHP, but it was too slow and I ran out of memory.  I rewrote it in C++, and the performance was great.  It only took 10-20 minutes to simulate 100000000 (1E8) tournaments and parse the results.  Try doing that in Java or any interpreted language or any bytecode language!

My program used the 2012 NCAA tournament seeds and ratings.  The 2013 tournament data should lead to a similar result.

In 1E8 simulations, there were 30 pairs of simulations that had the exact same result.  There were no triples.  In 1E8 simulations, that’s 5E15 possible comparisons (1E8 choose 2).  Therefore, the odds of a perfect bracket are 30 in 5E15 or 1 in 1E14 or 1 in 2^47.

The odds of picking a perfect NCAA bracket are not 1 in 2^63, because a coinflip picks too many ridiculous upsets.  If Sagarin ratings are a good predictor of the winner, the odds of a perfect bracket are closer to 1 in 2^47 rather than 1 in 2^63.  If you use a Sagarin simulation to pick your bracket, the odds of a perfect bracket are approximately 1 in 2^47.

No More Google Reader

This announcement was surprising. Google is shutting down Google Reader. You have until the end of June to export your settings.

I need to find a new RSS reader now. Any suggestions?

That was surprising. I guess they’re trying to force people to use Google+ or other things? That decision makes no sense to me.


After trying out RSS Owl (Google Reader synchronization bug), feed demon (lame UI), rss reader (wouldn’t install), I settled on JetBrains Omea Reader.

Sports Corruption Should Be Civil And Not Criminal

These stories were interesting. In Soccer, there is a scandal where some players or referees were fixing the result of matches. In MLB, the Biogenesis clinic allegedly gave steroids to baseball players. The government is now investigating both of those cases.

If a professional athlete fixes a match, is that a crime? He isn’t injuring anyone or stealing, other than from people dumb enough to bet on the game. It’s a breach of his contract with the league rather than a crime.

Similarly, steroids use is not a crime. The only injured people are other players who didn’t take steroids, who are now at a competitive disadvantage. The steroid users are breaking their contract with the league.

There is one advantage of having the government investigate. The government has subpoena power. However, it’s an indirect subsidy of sports leagues, when the government helps investigate sports leagues. Tax money is spent helping the sport fight its corruption problem.

I don’t see a solution in a really free market. The gamblers or steroids sellers don’t have any contractual relationship with the league, so there’s no basis for the league to compel them to do anything. It’s the league’s own problem, if they can’t police their own players.

When there is corruption in sports, that is civil and not criminal. The main problem is that the athletes broke their contract with the league, rather than them being criminals. When the government investigates sports corruption, they’re using tax money to indirectly subsidize the league.

Crazy IP Law And The Wizard Of Oz

This story is funny. Disney had to navigate a legal IP minefield, when making “Oz The Great And Powerful”.

The original Frank Baum books are in the public domain. However, the original film is still copyrighted and owned by Warner Brothers.

Disney could use the public domain books as source material. However, they had to be very careful to not make their film look like Warner Brothers’ film. Every detail had to be carefully considered to be non-infringing. That included the color of the witch’s makeup. That included the hairstyle for the munchkins. If it was too close, they would risk a copyright infringement lawsuit.

By making a still-copyrighted film, Warner Brothers effectively extended and now owns the copyright to what should be a public domain work. Even though the book is public domain, you can’t make a film that looks like the one that was already created.

Intellectual property is not property. It should be legal to make a book or movie based on any story. Unfortunately, the State media cartel has lobbied for retroactive copyright extension, ridiculously high penalties for infringement, and severely crippled fair use. If I wanted to make and sell my own Star Trek or Superman movie, that should be legal, but it isn’t. Almost everything that was written in the past 100 years is copyrighted and owned by some corporation. That’s a huge cultural loss.