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Smartphone Kill Switch, Consumer Boon Or Way For Government To Brick Your Phone?

EmperorArthur Re:They can already cut off your service (213 comments)

You don't need a kill switch built in to the phone. You just cut the service off at the carrier.
The capability already exists.

Denial of Service has happened in the past. I believe BART did this to try and deal with protesters. The thing is that cell phones still connect to towers even if the SIM card is removed, and you're excluding the phones that don't even have SIM cards. As has been previously mentioned we're going to start seeing stories about "undesirables" phones being wiped.

10 hours ago
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Comcast Training Materials Leaked

EmperorArthur Re:Is there an counter to this? (235 comments)

Does anyone have a script a customer can stick to when dealing with Comcast?

The Comcast call center script, with points values, was leaked a while ago. If you want to annoy the other person then you can just read off what number and the section heading as they go through it.

Just don't forget to record the call, otherwise they'll do things like charge you for something that they said was free.

yesterday
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Comcast Training Materials Leaked

EmperorArthur Re:McDonallds should sue ... (235 comments)

Isn't it in McD's training manual to upsell as well. Not that I love Comcast or McDonalds, but if this isn't standard operating procedure, then you aren't doing your shareholders right.

This is more like telling the person in McDonalds that your burger is nothing but two piece of bread and them saying, "Sorry this isn't close to what you ordered, but do you want fries with it?"

Comcast can only get away with these scummy tactics because most of us don't have a choice. It's Comcast or no TV. More relevant to Slashdot, it's Comcast or dialup. Just think, if they buy Time Warner then almost everyone will enjoy the suffering.

yesterday
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The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

EmperorArthur Re:People acutaly LIKE the open floor plans? (160 comments)

It's probably more like people like offices that don't look like they were built in the 60s. It can get depressing in some of those buildings.

5 days ago
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

EmperorArthur Re:Follow the money (391 comments)

Speaking as someone who's lived in Huntsville, AL, do you really think all those people joined NASA just because it's a job? Sure some of the contractors may think that way, but plenty of people I know who work on that stuff in Huntsville are cheering SpaceX on. We want cheap Human spaceflight, and we want it now dammit.

An important thing to remember is that people who are affected by something like this are smart. In many cases they actually are "rocket scientists." The politicians are listening to the corporations, NOT their constituents.

about a week ago
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Gas Cooled Reactors Shut Down In UK

EmperorArthur Re:EIGHT weeks??? Nukes need to be more modular. (120 comments)

These reactors are relatively new, "commissioned in 1983", but that's still over twenty years old. The main goals of reactor design are safety and efficiency. With that in mind I'm sure they've done quite a bit of design work on making these things more maintenance friendly. Especially since the shutdowns are precautionary after they found a problem at the first one. They're searching for something that may not even exist.

about two weeks ago
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

EmperorArthur Re:Enough (421 comments)

Schools are not daycare/nanycare for your rug rats.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but for many people in the US they are just that. It's more likely to be that way for low income parents. Especially those low income parents who work more than 40 hours a week.

Classic school hours are 8am to 3pm. If the child takes the bus then add on average about an hour to both. So they leave at 7am and arrive at 8am. After school activities mean the child can't take the bus home, but typically last for about 2 hours. So, a parent doesn't need to pick them up until around 5pm.

This lets a working parent not have to worry about his or her child, and may be why some parents encourage after school activities. Of course far too many parents think their kid will be the next sports superstar and make millions of dollars. Those people are idiots.

about two weeks ago
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Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

EmperorArthur Re:Performance? (136 comments)

The most interesting thing about the PP, is that the general design philosophy is to use a separate core for each task, thus completely eliminating the need for interrupts. So real time latency is drastically reduced.

So how important is any of this? Well, the PP is not very popular, to say the least, and I have never seen one used outside of a hobby project. That is probably why they figure they have nothing to lose by opening it up.

Yeah, because to those of us who've done microcontroller development the lack of interrupts just no sells the whole thing, plus it's not like polling is any less complex. Here's an example:

The system is running on battery power, and you want it to use minimal energy. In normal design, you have the chip sleep while waiting for an event that only happens occasionally. (In this context anything under 1kHz can probably be counted as occasionally. Without interupts this thing has to stay awake and have at least one of its cores polling for the event.

There are quite a few other cases where interrupts are useful. Polling can get the job done, but is horribly inefficient and needs code to be written to handle things that other microcontrollers handle in hardware.

The multiple cores are neat though.

about two weeks ago
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City of London Police Take Down Proxy Service Over Piracy Concerns

EmperorArthur Re:Not a private police force (133 comments)

Each body or organisation, whether unincorporated or incorporated, whose premises are within the City of London may appoint a number of voters based on the number of workers it employs.

That's straight from the Wikipedia entry on the City of London.

Here on Slashdot we often talk about corporate person hood. The City of London is what happens when you jump straight to letting those corporations vote. When the government is by the corporations for the corporations it's not surprising that the police force is also a tool of the corporations.

about two weeks ago
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Linux Kernel Shuffling Zombie Juror Aka 3.16 Released

EmperorArthur Re:Joystick support on Linux a mess (63 comments)

Where is joystick support on Linux last time I looked was a unnecessary nightmare...trivial to set up if the program has its own joystick configuration, a nightmare to get sensible universal settings.

Depends on your application. The easy "hack" I use with my Dualshock3 and Game Boy Emulator is a program that converts joystick buttons presses to keyboard button presses. It also sends key commands when the joystick goes beyond a certain point, or can convert joystick motion to mouse movement.. It's called Qjoypad if you're interested.

Pro: Easy setup
Cons: Analog joystick and button presses are converted to digital keyboard presses. So you lose the fine control.

about two weeks ago
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Google+ Photos To Be Separated From Google+

EmperorArthur Re:y mine everything just like everyone else. (114 comments)

Good lord people. They use your information to display ads. Just like almost every other social network in existence. Clearly this isn't a sticking point for most people or Facebook would be a ghost town.

Problem for you? Fine don't use it, but it's not like it's a secret. For most people it's worth the conveniences Google provides to have their data mined. I know it is for me.

The problem isn't the data mining or the ads, it's the potential for abuse of the raw data. Your search history is gold to anyone who wants to stalk/harass/blackmail/steal from you. The good news is that Google doesn't have police powers, and is pretty neutral about people's viewpoints and what they want to do. The bad news is at the least the NSA has/had access to it. Search for the wrong thing on Google and you'll never fly again in the US. Plus it's a prime target for hackers. Potentially worth more than a persons credit card information, and much easier to get.

Saying that I still use them as my search engine, plus Gmail, Google Voice, and my Android phone....

about three weeks ago
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More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties

EmperorArthur Re:Can we dumb it down some more? (144 comments)

Here's a question. What would happen if the beams traveled different distances? AKA, one beam took longer to reach the recombinator than the other. I can guess, but I have no clue about Quantum Mechanics.

about three weeks ago
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Popular Android Apps Full of Bugs: Researchers Blame Recycling of Code

EmperorArthur Re: What alternative could be built? (150 comments)

Internal memory and internal SD card are two separate things in Android. Internal SD card is simply a part of the internal NAND that the OS treats like a normal SD card. Many phones don't support external SD cards but have moderate amounts of storage, so they compromise.

I'm not sure I follow.

Many phones don't support external SD cards, but officially their apis still need to support external storage with internal SD memory anyway, otherwise they won't pass the Compatibility Test Suite.

The problem is that the internal SD card and external SD card are treated differently.

Android apps by default work off the internal SD card. It's actually a separate partition that's mounted at the same place as old phones used for external SD cards. You can't change the default to use an external card. You can't recover space from that internal partition.*

Here's the kicker. Now external SD cards are mounted somewhere else. (/mnt/extSD) The thing is that many apps don't work with the external SD card. Especially after the latest android release. With android KitKat apps with the, misnamed, external storage permission can read and write anywhere on the internal card. The problem is that now they can read anywhere on the external card, but can only write to a directory on it which is something like "/mnt/extSD/data/app.name" There are a few exceptions for system apps like the camera, but regular apps have to use this weird naming scheme.

It's actually a good security feature, but the fact they don't apply it to the internal SD card just seems to be Google deliberately moving people away from phones with an external SD card. Not cool.

*Without rooting, and knowing exactly what you're doing at least. No way a non expert is doing this.

about three weeks ago
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Popular Android Apps Full of Bugs: Researchers Blame Recycling of Code

EmperorArthur Re:What alternative could be built? (150 comments)

How would an ecosystem be designed not to have these sorts of holes but also not to restrict what the owner of a device can use it for?

Just look at the Xprivacy extension for rooted android phones. Even iPhones let you disable app permissions. What has Google done about the issue? They reduced permissions into groups so users couldn't even know exactly what their apps have access to any more. Oh, and block apps from writing to most of the external SD card, but they can do whatever they want to the internal one. Guess Google doesn't like privacy or SD cards.

about three weeks ago
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Amputee Is German Long Jump Champion

EmperorArthur Re:No, no unfair advantage at all... (175 comments)

I'm sorry he lost his leg, but there is no why this is 'fair' by any sense of the word.

It's Deus Ex: Human Revolution coming to real life. Next thing you know it'll be someone with some other disability going ahead. Perhaps a footballer with a prosthetic that helps him catch and hold the ball. The tipping point (as it is in the game) is when you can get near natural control of a prosthetic by connecting it directly to a persons nerves or brain.

about three weeks ago
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Two South African Cancer Patients Receive 3D Printed Titanium Jaw Implants

EmperorArthur Re:Mill? (71 comments)

The nice thing is all the waste powder can be reused without having to melt it down, so there's almost no waste.

How big of an advantage is that, though? Melting down metal to reuse it is really easy, much easier than with other materials like glass or plastics. Especially in the case where you control the environment and can be assured of its purity, vs. collecting scrap metal or something (but even collecting scrap metal is profitable).

Well, it's Titanium, so it's probably quite a pain. Titanium has an ignition temperature that's lower than its melting point so you have to work with it in an inert atmosphere, and apparently it's still a pain even then. Given that I'll bet titanium scrap isn't worth a quarter of its value when in block form.

The article says "each surgery cost just 20% of what a traditional jaw implant surgery would have cost." It doesn't say how much of that was due to not having to recycle 80% of the material and how much of it was because the jaw was made to order. It certainly implied though that a decent bit of the savings was due to laser sinstering.

You're also forgetting the cost of the multi axis milling machines that this process replaces. If they're even close in price and you're using 80% less material then why wouldn't any manufacturing shop go for it?

about three weeks ago
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Two South African Cancer Patients Receive 3D Printed Titanium Jaw Implants

EmperorArthur Re:Mill? (71 comments)

When they say 3D printed do they mean a metal mill, or can we 3D print with any random material now?
And if so, why not use the far more tried tested, and better alternative milling?

Nope, it's "laser sintering." They take metal powder and fuse it together one layer at a time. You put a layer of metal powder down, the laser fuses it together, then you put another layer of powder over it. Repeat until done.

The nice thing is all the waste powder can be reused without having to melt it down, so there's almost no waste. The other thing is you can print shapes that are really hard to mill. No more ridiculously complex 6 axes milling machines that the US treats like munitions. Just Google ITER sometime to see the craziness.

about three weeks ago
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Google Kills Orkut To Focus On YouTube, Blogger and Google+

EmperorArthur Re:But I thought it was already dead? (71 comments)

If Google kills unpopular services, why is Google+ not dead yet?

Because Google tends to spam you to set up an account if you use any of their other services. If you define active as making more than 3 posts a month then over 99% of Google+ account's aren't active.*

* I made those numbers up, but they're probably reasonably close to true.

about 2 months ago

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