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Peter da Silva
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Peter da Silva

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On September 9, 2016, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1570 Collectibles: Sale of Autographed Memorabilia into law. The law requires dealers in any autographed material to provide certificates of authenticity (COA) for any signed item sold for $5 or more. “That sounds pretty reasonable,” ...
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+Martin Schröder I'm sure there will be a furrious reaction.
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Peter da Silva

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This sounds like what Microsoft did on early Windows Phone.

I really don't want to even try and merge external cards into internal storage. There's no way that won't end in tears.

Here's how external storage on Android should work:

* All shared storage, including the internal storage, is labelled. It's not under "/sdcard", it's something like "/volumes/internal" or "/volumes/usb20" or whatever the external device's label is.
* A decent file manager is included. It supports copying and moving files, and opening them in assigned programs.
* The default file save dialog allows you to specify a storage device, and remembers or doesn't remember that choice depending on how YOU want it to behave.
* Third party dialogs are encouraged to behave like the standard dialog.
* External USB cards are supported, and they're peers to internal storage and cards, and show up in the file save dialog.

But of course, it won't, ever, because Google is a cloud company and wants to make you do everything in the cloud. External storage is only supported at all by third parties, really, none of Google's devices have it. Jerks.
I got a little fed-up of managing app storage on my Moto G3 . My storage use was perpetually at around 1GB free, which is not a big deal, bu...
Piaw Na's profile photoPeter da Silva's profile photoEdward Morbius's profile photo
+Peter da Silva What Microsoft have long recognised are:

1. The need to create a mutually-reinforcing software product space. Office, OS, Exchange, and AD were that starting from the early 1980s, and especially into the 1990s and early 2000s. That stranglehold has, of course, broken.

2. The need to crush any possible competition. As they did to DR-DOS, Novell, OS2, Amiga, Netscape, Lotus, and Wordperfect. They tried but were less successful against Sun (LinTel took them down), Linux. They missed the beat entirely on Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

Microsoft, correctly, recognises the infotech world as strongly favouring a winner-take-all environment. The winner might be a single corporate entity (AT&T, IBM, Xerox, Microsoft, Apple, Google), which if "not Microsoft" is bad. But it can also be an open standard, which from the PoV of an industry leader is even worse. That's why Microsoft battled Linux and the GPL so hard. And ultimately lost.

The revenue basis has moved on, though. Computers are no longer highly expensive, and even with a Jevons Paradox dynamic in which computational task loads increase as costs fall, people and companies find they can get by on less with time. This means that the model of software + lock-in (OEM and enterprise licensing) no longer offers a particularly compelling price-setting basis favourable to Microsoft.

Revenues have increasingly been advertising based (Google, Facebook), high-end devices (Apple), and direct consumer goods sales channel (Amazon). There is still the business services consulting business, but brains by the bucket aren't the money mint that shrinkwrap was, never will be, and never can be. There's the SAAS subscription model, but it's generally gone poorly. The worse that much of the fundamental capabilities of software can be provided on a free/open source basis, and that industry incumbents will take turns sniping at one anothers' revenue bases by introducing a free/low-cost alternative where possible to spur disruption.

Hence: Sun Microsystem's providing StarOffice, first free of charge, then as a free-software package (with its many-named descendants). Java similarly took on the concept of an operating system, and a bitter legal war was fought, and continues to be fought, over that, with Sun, Microsoft, Google, and Oracle going head to head. Google's SAAS products and browser capabilities destroyed much of the argument for locally-hosted applications (though not all, and I find many frustrations in the SAAS world). Google's introduction of Android is an attack on Apple's cash-cow of the iPhone and iPad. Microsoft has helped finance various attacks including directly and indirectly funding the SCO v. IBM lawsuit, and supporting both DuckDuckGo and Yahoo's Web search efforts in an attack at Google's core advertising basis. Facebook similarly is aggregating both eyeballs and time away from Google. Amazon's con seems largely aimed at retail, and I suspect WalMart is its ultimate target, but it may also be taking on the infotech incumbents, and does in part through AWS. Oracle is largely playing defensive actions trying to sustain its legacy database and (via Sun aquisition) hardware, OS, and Java markets, but doesn't seem to be executing particularly well. I expect it to largely play the role of spoiler through lawsuits and patent attacks in coming years. As with Amazon, it suffers the albatross of an increasingly unsympathetic an noncharismatic leader (Ellison and Bezos, respecitively).

The other dynamic Microsoft is well aware of, and has quite consciously played in, is in setting, establishing, and disrupting computer interoperability standards. File formats, filesystem formats, communications formats, business directories, development languages and libraries, interactive / graphics / video formats, hypertext markup and exchange specifications, and the like, are all tools Microsoft has used to establish and defend its own position, or to attack others. Microsoft doesn't engage in standards actions for the good of the world.

The various advanced products developments from Google (cars, ambient computing), Amazon (ambient computing, drones), Apple (cars, ambient computing, retail, entertainment), and Microsoft (ambient computing, mobile) suggest additional areas of possible expansion, but these are all long shots and face considerable downside potential.

Notable non-mentions: IBM, HP, Dell, TI, Cisco, Juniper, Intel, AMD. These are either heavily wounded, have entirely lost initiative, or seem to have found specific areas of focus (the chips firms).

There's a possibility that something might come out of Japan, Korea, or China, though to date, the first to countries seem hampered by a critical lack of imagination. Sony have been shooting selves in feet for well on a decade, and may ultimately be aquired, possibly by Apple. Samsung strike me as failing to see beyond BDSM devises such as the Android tablet I'm writing this on, and wouldn't recommend to anyone. There's LG and ASUS.

China is the wildcard, in that a mix of domestic protectionism typical of early-stage rapidly developing countries (see the economic history via Frederich List (19th c.), or recent treatments by Ha-Joon Chang). The result is an incredibly dynamic ferment of device, software, and business innovation, from which practically anything might emerge. The limitations are a government which remains authoritarian and some, though less, brain drain to an increasingly struggling set of dominant 20th century economies in North America, Europe, Israel, Japan, and Australia/NZ.

The reasons I'm suggesting Microsoft as a spoiler for Google are several, and I'm not saying it's a high-probability outcome, but it is a possiblity.

1. Microsoft knows, or knew, how the game is played.
2. It has a massive warchest.
3. The company is tempermentally inclined to undermining competitive threats or leaders.
4. Whilst historically hostile to GPL free software, it's also highly aware of the power of such tools.
5. It's painfully aware of Google's own single points of revenue failure, and of the potential for spoiling this.

The missing piece is coming up with an alternative revenue stream for itself. Financing of information technology has always been a criticle limitation and dynamic within the field. Methods have ranged from patronage (Babbage), government contract (Hollerith/IBM), long-term business leases (IBM), per-CPU licensing (Microsoft), OEM/enterprise contracts (Microsoft), hardware sales (Sun, IBM, HP, Apple), consulting/business services (IBM, Oracle, Sybase, HP, Big N-- accountancies, Red Hat), advertising (Google, Facebook, Yahoo), retail (Amazon), entertainment licensing (Apple), ongoing subscriber and usage billing (EDS, AT&T, Verizon, AWS, Red Hat).

A key problem is that each licensing model introduces its own set of perverse incentives into the picture.

Government contracts offer a limited possible customer base, though those tend to have deep pockets.

Long-term business leases increase the customer base, but have a high cost-of-sales. It also creates an ongoing cost basis and friction for customers.

Per-CPU licensing may have been a one-time-only deal, at least at the scale Microsoft exploited it, and tends to favour a new (and underestimated) entrant into an market that is itself underappreciated but has high and rapid growth potential under an incumbent with a large but largely distinct primary business.

Hardware sales works relatively well but front-loads revenue and can leave vendors vulnerable where new purchases dry up. Several vendors have failed to successfully negotiate the gap of demand vs. cost spanning new product introductions, notably Osborne in the 1980s. An overall decline in a market, such as PCs have seen 2005 - 2016, can reduce the viability of an entire field. And introduction of lower-cost, commodity products which are substantially equivalent to higher-end offerings can result in a slow-motion cannabilisation of an industry -- micros vs. mainframes, minis vs. micros, x86 servers vs. SPARC, etc. Clayton Christensen territory. Whether or not there's a stable point is a fair question.

Hardware sales introduces another problem at low cost points -- as device costs fall, so does the manufacturer's interest in properly configuring and securing it. The Internet of Shit dynamic is an all-but-inevitable outcome of this, and Brian Krebs' recent Akamai-shaking DDoS attack seems to have been substantially launched from IOT devices. It's interesting to note that Apple's hardware offerings prices have moved downward only slightly despite improved technology -- the company is offering greater capabilities at the same prices, not the same capabilities at lower prices. Android vendors by contrast are offering smartphones in the $20-40 range.

Subscription services lead to issues of cost predictability. Phone service, as an example, has trended to flat rates. Usage-based billing has the disadvantage of producing very high price spikes, and vendors have few if any incentives to provide effective tracking or cost-control options to customers. There's also the problem of managing multiple subscription services, the terms of services, and vendor business continuity or ownership issues.

Advertising creates the problem of a three-way dynamic: vendor - user - customer. The customer is the advertiser, the user is the bait. Ironically, Page and Brin specifically address this point in a 1997 paper describing their plans for Google, and note that an advertising-supported enterprise always and inevitably prioritises advertiser interests over consumer. QED.

Consulting combines the disadvantages of subscription services with the non-scalability of bespoke development. There are disincentives to process improvement (billings are by the hour, why improve your efficiencies if that reduces billings?), and tends to rapidly accumulate technical debt at both the single-customer and the overall operations level. It also encourages poorly-comprehensible and manageable systems. Red Hat are exemplars of all of this.

Retail strikes me as an interesting option, provided it can happen at sufficient scale to sustain operations. In addition to Amazon, Craigslist effectively operates on this basis (it skims off a very small share of retail proceeds by way of charging for advertising in select markets and products), and Ello seem to be heading in this direction, effectively attaching a Web SAAS service to an art gallery. I see this occurring in a bimodal fashion, either in a comprehensive GUM one-single-store-per-country model (Amazon, or China's WeChat), or at a small-and-plucky level. The falling costs of web hosting make the latter more viable, and offer the opportunity for a least-possible-cost competitor to enter the field, and like Craigslist, succeed largely by leaving vast amounts of money on the table, to the point that there's little left for other firms. WeChat again benefits by China's technical and economic firewalls.

Back to Microsoft: even if it cannot find a possible revenue model, the prospect of weakening Google may be too good to pass up. Another possibility is for a partnership or merger of Microsoft and Amazon. A distant possibility, I'll grant. But then, I'd suggested an Oracle-Sun merger long before that happened, noting that it would be difficult to arrange due to personalities. With both Gates and Ballmer out of direct management of Microsoft (though Gates retains a board role), the possibility is improving.

As I stated in my first comment, the defensive action of preempting a locked-down user-unfriendly environment by offering an open, user-controllable one, would not only thwart Google, but any other possible entrant. The difficulty with this concept is that the userbase is no longer a few millions of tech-knowledgable enthusiasts, but a few billions of people with vastly less knowledge to, or interest in, managing fiddly consumer electronics. The user-support issue alone is a massive liability. I'm hoping that can be tackled.

But that's my thinking.
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Peter da Silva

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Donald Trump would further divide our great nation. Democrat Hillary Clinton is The Enquirer's choice for president.
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+Michael Paddon I think "least worst" is how presidents are nearly always chosen... but then I'm a cynical optimist...
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The fact that a passenger airliner can disappear without a trace is still pretty difficult to comprehend. Two companies are looking to bring a new satellite tra...
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Peter da Silva

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I was wondering why someone at an "African-American Town Hall" would be asking about "black-on-black crime". Well, about that...
@NCrawleRBloom @brandonenglish I keep hearing that, but aren't whites impressed by DT speaking to white ppl about blacks already his base? Mrs. White. Sep 21. Mrs. White @niamarielife. @brandonenglish still looking for the black people... · PoliteSouthernHelle.
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Oh, and you didn't just use the 'a' word? Christ.
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Peter da Silva

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I used to think that fact checks of Trump's lying would have some effect. People care, in general, about whether their candidate is honest.

It didn't strike me how Big Lie tactics actually worked, though: it's not that the lies are believed to be true. It's that they're believed to be directed at someone else, such that everyone believes that they are in on the con, and someone else (but certainly not them) is the marks. But as it happens, everyone is the mark, not any individual person.

Once you've crossed the event horizon into knowing and obvious mendacity, and you've done so without losing your core supporters, you can continue to lie with impunity; those smart enough to understand that you're lying believe that you're lying to someone else, and those dumb enough to take your lies at face value support you anyway. 
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I sometime think it is the end result of Libertarian/Objectivist propaganda, where the role of the individuals feelings is more important than the actual effect on others...
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I suddenly want this so much.
Sgnl is the smart strap that enables you to make calls by placing your fingertip on your ear. Connect with your watch to upgrade it.
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Wait... Phone calls? Is that still a thing?
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Peter da Silva

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[not quite] $5.00 generic alternative to the Epi-Pen

Victory is mine! My quest for an emergency dose of epinephrine to have on hand that does not cost an arm and a leg (or support the ridiculous salary of a pharmaceutical CEO) was a success. I asked my physician to prescribe a "generic epinephrine auto-injector". It took CVS two tries to get what I wanted. They first filled the script with an Epi-pen to the tune of $616. We have a high dexuctable plan that does not kick in at that level and we have been healthy and injury free this year. This is full price. Even after the coupon that is now available from the manufacturer, I would be out a minimum of $300 for something that costs less to make than a Big Mac. I refused the purchase and explained that I specifcally requested the generic. They told me there was no such thing. After a brisk conversation and some time spent hunched over thier computer, the pharmacy staff told me they were sorry and that they had found it in their system but did not have any on hand. They would have it for me in a few days. Today I picked it up. My new friend behind the counter recognized me and said that they had ordered extras to have on hand for other customers after seeing that there was an option. My new script fell into the generic price catagory which, with the coverage we have, ran me a whopping $5. Not bad for a days work.

[Edit: the $5.00 is the copay, which means they have an (undisclosed) lower price negotiated with insurance companies, the list price for Lineage Therepeutics Adrenaclick is still $350 for two.]
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A lot of places shorten the expiration date of things they repackage. Anything my hospital repackages have a shelf like of 6 months unless the manufacturer date is sooner. Most retail its a year unless the manufacturer date is sooner. Manufacturer packaged is usually 2 years
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Peter da Silva

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Will Oculus Rift lose support from game developers because its inventor supports Donald Trump?
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Same people who think money is speech don't think withholding money counts.
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Ah, thanks. 
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Have you hugged your wolf, today?
If you're adding me to a circle because you know me, send me a message so I can add you back (preferably via email or just post a message with the distribution set to "+Peter da Silva") because I can't keep track of notifications well enough to be sure I haven't missed someone... especially those of you who I know by an uncommon name.

If you're sending me a notification or an invitation to a community, and you don't know me, I *will* report you for spam. If you're sending me an invitation to a community and I do know you, I will just take this as permission to get sarcastic about it. This includes game notifications. I don't play games in Google Plus. I don't want to play games in Google Plus.
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