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Melbourne Uber Drivers Slapped With $1700 Fines; Service Shuts Down

CaptBubba Re:Pitfalls of sharing economy (255 comments)

When money changes hands everything changes. Expectations both from the customer and in terms of legal liability are so much higher that you cannot compare gift or free exchanges to a fundamentally commercial one such as Uber or AirBnB. There is all sorts of really interesting research into this from the psychology side showing that things shift the instant people see something as a monetary transaction instead of a social one.

The services like to act as though they are some hybrid between the two (Lyft is particularly over-the-top about this) but they are not. Just as you can't be "a little pregnant" you can't be a little commercial in nature.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Hungry Students, How Common?

CaptBubba The admins are complicit (390 comments)

The article talks about "Stigmas about seeking help" but only focuses on undergrad and the students' internalized stigmas with the school being super helpful. That has not been my personal experience with graduate TAs and RAs. A close grad student friend worked out that his stipend was so low that he (and all other similarly paid grad students int he department) qualified for food stamps. He jokingly told one of the other grad students when he was within earshot of a professor, and got called into a meeting with the department head threatening retribution if he "made the department look bad" by applying for food stamps.

I don't know if there were any real teeth in that threat but grad students can't exactly rock the boat too much if they hope to get the all-important recommendation for post-doc work.

about 3 months ago
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The Case For a Safer Smartphone

CaptBubba Re:Already taken care of (184 comments)

Exactly, but I think they should be baked into the OS and automatically activated (unless expressly disabled in system options) when they detect a car bluetooth pairing (normally detectable by the features supported by the paired device, but you could ask if it is a car upon initial pairing).

Another Android one that is extremely useful because of a hidden feature is A2DP Volume in the Play store. There is a silence all notifications on connect option, settable per bluetooth device. So you hop in your car and your hands-free phone, voice commands, streaming audio, and audio nav will work while incoming texts and alerts are silenced. No temptation at all and if people need you right away they can call. People are normally very understanding of it when you tell them why you didn't immediately respond to their text.

about 3 months ago
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Inventor Has Waited 43 Years For Patent Approval

CaptBubba Re:Poor journalism (258 comments)

It wouldn't do you any good anyway. It is under the old laws where everything is confidential until/unless a patent actually issues on the application.

The new laws were actually put in place because of this guy's actions and the 1990 microprocessor patent (and Lemelson's claims covering all of machine vision of course).

about 5 months ago
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Electric Bikes Get More Elegant Every Year (Video)

CaptBubba A real hodpodge for the price (164 comments)

For $3500 the components are a real mixed bag. Sure no visible battery is nice, but other bikes have that too and 195Whr is very low as far as e-bikes go. A brooks leather saddle is very nice, but Avid mechanical disc brakes are entry-level. That's not to mention the really questionable choices of a belt drive and bamboo fenders.

Compare it to something like the Stromer Elite: http://www.electricbikesla.com...

Same price, nearly double the battery (approx 350Whr), no visible battery, a standard shimano sora chain drivetrain any bike mechanic can work on, and hydraulic disc brakes.

about 5 months ago
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Cracking Atlanta Subway's Poorly-Encrypted RFID Smart Cards Is a Breeze

CaptBubba Re:why? (139 comments)

It allows for fallback to the stored value on the card if the data connection between the authenticating device and the home station is unreliable, as would be expected in a wide-ranging bus system when these cards were initially deployed.

Also EZPass and the like have the additional advantage of being tied to either a registered name or an easily identifiable way to bill someone (via a photo of the license plate) in case their account is empty. You don't have that luxury when dealing with people getting on and off mass transit.

about 6 months ago
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Moore's Law Blowout Sale Is Ending, Says Broadcom CTO

CaptBubba Re:350mm (18inch) wafer (267 comments)

350 may bring costs down, but it isn't a process node advancement and won't help cram more transistors per unit area into a chip.

Instead it will just let them process more chips at once in most time-consuming processing steps such as deposition and oxide growth. The photolithographic systems, which are the most expensive equipment in the entire fab on a cost-per-wafer-processed-per-hour basis, gain somewhat due to less wafer exchanging, but the imaging is still done a few square cm at a time repeated in a step-and-scan manner a hundred times or more per wafer per step. Larger wafers however are posing one hell of a problem for maintaining film and etch uniformity, extremely important when you have transistor gate oxides on the order of a few atoms thick.

about 8 months ago
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Dial 00000000 To Blow Up the World

CaptBubba A systematic problem (306 comments)

The book Command and Control by Eric Schlosser goes into the issues of the cold war control of our nukes in a wonderful way, detailing just how messed up our control of nukes was and how we are damn lucky that we didn't have an accidental nuclear detonation at some point (there were plenty of accidental conventional detonations that by sheer luck didn't have a nuclear core in them).

Nuclear weapons are "always/never" devices in that they should always work when you want them to and never work when you don't. The military only cared about the "always" side of the equation. So much so that they even nixed the idea of an inertial switch in fusing mechanism of the reentry vehicles of ICBMs that would only connect the detonation systems after detecting the g-forces of reentry.

Further any suggestion of improving the control of the nukes was met with grumpy rage at civilians daring to tell the military how to run its business as well as fights between the Air Force, Army, and Navy over funding and power.

about 8 months ago
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Tesla Planning an Electric Pickup Truck, Says Elon Musk

CaptBubba Re:The main issue with an electric pickup... (293 comments)

Same even in the Austin suburbs. King Ranch edition F-150 crew cabs are very common as a daily driver.

about 8 months ago
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"Patent Troll" Closes Controversial Podcast Patent Deal With SanDisk

CaptBubba Re:The bogus patent in question (65 comments)

No. The burden is on the Patent Office to prove it is non-novel. The burden of proof is fairly low (preponderance of the evidence) but still the Patent Office has to say why you cannot have a patent and if you disagree that their reasoning, evidence, or conclusions are sound you may argue against them or even appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Indeed any good Patent Agent or Attorney likely will tell you to not even think about searching around for other things like what you think you've invented. This is because you are obligated to provide anything relevant you find to the Patent Office in the form of an Information Disclosure Statement. But the catch is "relevant" is oh-so-open for interpretation in the court of law and one of the "easiest" ways to invalidate a patent is/was to convince a judge that the applicant knew about a relevant document or reference and didn't disclose it, even if it is something they knew about but genuinely considered non-relevant to the invention.

about 10 months ago
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Stealthy Dopant-Level Hardware Trojans

CaptBubba Re:accidental misdoping even more troubling (166 comments)

A misdoping would light up the equipment alarms, in-line electrical tests, end-of-line electrical tests (both on the chips themselves and special test regions in the lines between the chips). Doping is performed relatively early in the manufacturing process and Intel et al know just how big a risk a misdoping is and test for it extensively in-line. This is because if you only catch it at the end of the line you potentially have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of product to scrap because from the 20 days or so it took for the first wafers to hit test and fail you have equipment churning out 150-400+ wafers per hour of faulty product 24/7.

about 10 months ago
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Radiohead's Thom Yorke Pulls Albums From Spotify In Protest of Low Royalties

CaptBubba Re:Nice graph (301 comments)

And your point?

Owning something or even having it for exclusive use on demand (more analogous to an mp3 purchase) is vastly more expensive than renting it in nearly every case. Cars, houses, DVDs, food service, aircraft, etc etc etc. Because there is no purchase in the spotify transaction comparing it to a purchase is completely useless and would be like saying that taxi or car-2-go/zipcar rates are way too low because it costs $20k to buy the equivalent car (or $500/month to lease it) but only $15 to get a ride to the store.

1 year,11 days
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Hulu Not For Sale, Time Warner May Join

CaptBubba Re:Battle lines are being drawn (48 comments)

I'm not saying that you are wrong (because you are not), but I imagine Google, Amazon, Apple, and Netflix all are just itching for the perfect fact pattern to nail an ISP to the wall for anti-competitive practices to scare straight the others.

It will be an interesting battle, but a ton of consumers will get caught in the crossfire.

1 year,14 days
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Is Google Voice Doomed To Be 2nd-Class Messaging System?

CaptBubba Re:Hangout / Voice / Talk (172 comments)

The Talk to Hangouts conversion was/is awful awful; the new app doesn't even show status identifiers. I'm so glad I had a backup of the talk app to use.

Yes features can be nice but not when they come at the expense of useability!

about a year ago
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Google Invite Hints Fiber Project Expanding To Austin

CaptBubba Businesses will be happy (72 comments)

While some are rightly pointing out that residential service in Austin is actually pretty quick by US standards (max speeds of 50/5 for ~$115 per month) the real benefactors of this will be business clients. Time Warner Cable charges out the nose and any other orifice they can find if you are not at a residential address. 7/0.768 is priced at $100 per month with a dynamic IP with a 1 year contract!

Also many are accusing Time Warner of not playing nice when it comes to peering and network neutrality, so that could be affecting Google's decision as well. Not to mention that Austin has a name for being high tech now so the publicity is good and uptake will likely be great.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should Bitcoin Be Regulated?

CaptBubba Re:your missing the point (385 comments)

No. Bitcoin was created as a plaything "fun with crypto" proof-of-concept and was never intended to be used for anything more. A bunch of people who wanted to get away from the current system (both those with hopes of striking it rich as a early adopter and those who needed a new currency for less-than-legal activities online after e-gold got shut down) latched on and that's where we are at now.

The bitcoin protocol is showing its weaknesses every day, particularly when it comes to scaling up to higher transaction volumes. The blockchain is getting bloated by SatoshiDice which is a nearly perfect transaction spamming system and the bugs in the older clients which nearly forked the blockchain a while ago mean there is presently a hard limit to the number of transactions registered every 10 minutes. Combined with the fact that some miners set the number of transactions they process if they hit a block to be very low in order to try and beat out others (smaller block propagate ever so slightly faster) and there is now a very real delay in transactions going through: more than enough to scuttle any chance to use bitcoin for anything other than a curiosity and which will only get worse.

Government doesn't need to regulate bitcoin: it will kill itself.

about a year ago
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Crowd Funding For Crank Physics

CaptBubba Re:This got a patent (379 comments)

I keep telling people that a patent isn't a measure of the quality of the idea, and certainly doesn't mean anything about the marketing claims. Indeed it is much easier to patent a stupid idea: not only is it likely that nobody has published the idea before (no anticipatory prior art), but there will be no end of people saying you should never do anything remotely like the idea because it is stupid (the mass of the prior art teaching away from the idea is a very strong defense against the examiner saying the idea was obvious). Honestly this is a bit of a strange situation because people have come up with similar dumb ideas, but just had not published this combination. The examiner likely was hamstrung and unable to say the missing specific bits or shapes were obvious because then they would run smack into the realm of "this is an incredibly dumb idea, don't do this sort of thing ever".

Also, this thing functions as a crank just fine. A heavy, expensive, ground-clearance killing crank, but a crank all the same. Pedaling forces get transmitted to the chainrings, in accordance with normal laws of physics and leverage. It isn't doing any magnification of pedaling forces or anything, but the courts have held that the bar you have to clear for utility is pretty much "has at least one disclosed use to do something more than sit there, even if it does so in an unreliable fashion". They say it is a bicycle crank, that is a believable use, so that's good enough to clear the bar. If they instead had only said it was a cancer cure, then they would be lacking utility and would be rejected on that ground.

about a year and a half ago
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Judge Refuses Apple Request For Samsung Ban, But Denies New Trial, Too

CaptBubba Re:A pretty good job (156 comments)

That brings forth a real interesting legal question. Design patents protect ornamental design, but how does that relate to design which is characterized by a lack of ornamentation? If you include an inlay in a bezel around a screen that is clearly an ornamental design, but is a design which specifically includes no inlay also ornamental in nature and deserving of protection? What if that piece provides a function, but the function is not dependent upon the lack of ornamentation (an inlaid bezel works just as well as a plain one for providing gripping space and room for electrical connections around a screen).

I'm pretty sure the answer is "no" but it would be interesting to see an actual ruling on these issues.

about a year and a half ago
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Why Iron Dome Might Only Work For Israel

CaptBubba Re:What's a ballistic missile? (377 comments)

There has been noise, unable to be confirmed of course, that Hamas has been intentionally botching the rocket launches because they are little more than publicity for Hamas in Gaza and Hamas knows they are not an effective threat against Israel. Haaretz (which is admittedly a left-leaning Israeli newspaper) interviewed Gershon Baskin who indicated:

'“during the past two years Jabari [whose assassination marked the start of the current fight] internalized the realization that the rounds of hostilities with Israel were beneficial neither to Hamas nor to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip and only caused suffering, and several times he acted to prevent firing by Hamas into Israel.” Even when Hamas was pulled into participating in rocket fire, its rockets would always land in open spaces. “And that was intentional,” Baskin said.'

We will likely never know if this is true or not, however it certainly seems plausible given the massive increase in the Iron Dome intercepts lately (which only trigger when a rocket is going to hit a populated area), indicating the rockets are capable of being aimed better than they have been in the past.

about a year and a half ago
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Smartphone Mugging More Popular Than Ever

CaptBubba Re:apples stance (285 comments)

Simply put Apple could nearly completely kill the theft market for iPhones, similarly to how integrated ignition immobilizers have drastically cut hotwire thefts of late model cars. If a reported iPhone would stop functioning as a smart phone (still allowing emergency calls) if someone attempted to connect it with an Apple service (app store, maps, etc) the market for stolen iPhones would evaporate overnight. They could also kill the whole problem with people reassigning IMEI numbers: IMEI and serial don't match = hobbled phone. We know they can do it because they that and more to the lost iPhone 4 prototyples.

Apple's stance is pretty awful on this issue and I wonder how legally OK it is. With a police report they KNOW that a certain iPhone is stolen, yet they still do business with it and presumably would repair it (if the new owner paid). Would a car dealer do work on a car that was known stolen? No, they would call the police.

about 2 years ago

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