Microsoft Rolls Out Robot Security Guards
DALEK: Daleks are supreme. Humans are weak.
could translate into:
MICROSOFT: Windows is supreme. Linux is weak.
Rite Aid and CVS Block Apple Pay and Google Wallet
Same here in Canada. We have had debit/credit for ever with chip and pin for years. Debit/interac RFID enabled cards are in the majority of cardholders now and about 1/3 to 1/2 of all vendors take all formsbof payment. The US is behind the times and still allow mag stripe credit payments as the primary payment.
Which Android Devices Sacrifice Battery-Life For Performance?
My Google Nexus 4 (LG makes it) has never been that good with battery life. I've owned it for close to 2 years now and it's only gotten marginally worse than when it was new. I charge it each night fully, and get about 14-16 hours of life before it's in the red (warning comes on at 14%). That's with:
- Checking it regularly for slashdot, emails, messages, facebook, etc, for short bursts of 1-2 minutes.
- Probably put about 1-2 hours of internet browsing on it (mix of wifi and cellular) during lunch or before bed when I read news
- The occasional 10-15 minute phone call to my wife. I hardly talk on it ever, and never for very long.
- Leave Bluetooth on so that it syncs up with my Ford Sync automatically
- Leave off GPS to keep Big Brother from tracking my movements unless I need mapping.
Ask Slashdot: VPN Setup To Improve Latency Over Multiple Connections?
I have run into the same issue with my cable ISP. I run a voip setup using voip.ms as my provider and have my ATA connect to their servers. I have been plagued with random audio dropouts, talk-off and the occasional robot voice problem. After much research, troubleshooting I determined that the issue with jitter my ISP. Most pings to a know good server like Google DNS (126.96.36.199) averages say 40 ms but occasionally (say every 30 pings) the time jumps up to 800 ms. This happens regardless of the server I ping and also occurs when I ping my ISP's gateway address. This tells me that the problem is internal to my ISP and not an external routing problem.
The reason why is what is called Node Congestion. Most North American cable ISP's use DOCSIS with hybrid-fiber nodes located through the geographic area. Nodes may start off with 100 active users on it meaning all 100 users are sharing that piece of the pipe. As time progresses, traffic changes, people ditch their cable tv for Netflix. All of this has a huge impact on congestion and bingo as a result ping times suffer. The average person will never notice but with any time sensitive service like voip and some gaming, you will notice it.
There is not much you can do other than a) complain to your ISP (good luck) or b) find another that's not just a reseller of your existing cable's infrastructure. I'm not sure if DSL suffers the same issue as the shared cable plant.
What To Expect With Windows 9
Makes me very very very happy I completely switched to Mint a year ago and am loving Linux! It's amazing how much you start to realize how crappy Micro$oft products are when you work with Linux products every day also. Micro$oft is very good at producing so-so products that are 90% complete, but they fail to achieve the other 10% which is the most important part! Everything with Micro$oft is like a mishmash of products, technologies, standards all mixed together when nothing really works as efficient as it should. I keep both of my PC's as Mint/Win7 dual boot but dread having to boot into Windows for the odd situation. Just yesterday I booted into Windows to use iTunes. The GUI looked so harsh, the responsiveness was horrible, and at some point between my last boot (months ago??) and yesterday my taskbar notification icons have gone corrupt! I noticed all of this after the 30 second complete hard freeze (mouse frozen too) that occurred when I was looking up how to fix the taskbar problems! I decided to forget and rebooted back into Mint where that machines stays running for months on end!
Net Neutrality Campaign To Show What the Web Would Be Like With a "Slow Lane"
It is a similar situation here in Canada. You have the historic "ma bell" aka Bell Canada who installed all the POTS lines, and build their DSL infrastructure. Then along came the cable companies who build up their old coax to hybrid fiber/coax about 15 years ago. In Ontario, now sure about other provinces, you have exactly one choice of which cable company you want. There are almost zero overbuilds so depending on where you live you either have Rogers, Cogeco, Shaw or some other small company. About 5-10 years ago the CRTC (our regulating body similar to the FCC) decided that the telcos/cableco's must lease their services to 3rd parties who act a resellers. I believe the CRTC also has to approve the rates at which the lines and access are leased for. So as a consumer you do have choices between either ONE big telco or ONE big cable co, or many small resellers who just lease the lines from the big guys.
Cell Phone Unlocking Is Legal -- For Now
The DMCA is one of the single-handedly most stupid laws that has ever been passed in the US! Pretty much every stupid lawsuit and dumb statute you guys have falls under the DMCA! It's clear that lobbiest really did get to the government to pass this dumb act!
Verizon Now Throttling Top 'Unlimited' Subscribers On 4G LTE
Hahahahaha - Expand Capability!
This goes against every morsel in every cell in the body of the board members of almost any company! The last resort is to ever invest in capital to improve the service unless you fall behind your competitors. Also, remember that terms of service agreement that you signed when you agreed to your contract? Well, they get you there in the small fine print too! Most companies are in the business of making as much money as possible using any means that 'legal'.
Do Apple and Google Sabotage Older Phones? What the Graphs Don't Show
Interesting musings but the first thing that came to my mind is the reverse - is Google sabotaging the search results? I know this sounds a bit strange but could it be possible that Google is being 'creative' with the raw Google Analytics data. Would it not serve Google's best interest to fudge the results to make Apple look bad right around the time of one of their releases trying to drive people to Android.
UK Government Faces Lawsuit Over Emergency Surveillance Bill
I was going to ask if they had anything to protect them like the US constitution or more similarly due to history and the parliamentary system, the Canadian Charter and Rights and Freedoms in Canada (our constitution). In Canada, theoretically, all laws passed by any government must pass the Charter and not infringe on them. It's a shame, but no surprise, that our fellow citizens of the UK have no such protection from their own government. Not that the US or Canada is much better but at least there is some due process to ultimately challenge and make known this crap is happening, as both the US and Canada can challenged at their Supreme Courts, respectively.
Predicting a Future Free of Dollar Bills
I'm Canadian and I agree with you on all of these points. When I visit the US I find it annoying that a) your paper money is such crappy quality, and b) it all looks the same making it harder to tell the difference in my wallet. I always end up with a million $1 bills because out of habit I end up breaking 5's, 10's and 20's to pay for things. In Canada, up until 1996 we still had $2 bills before the toonie (the $1 bill was changed to a loonie some time in the 80's).
The penny round just started a few years ago and nobody missed a beat! It only applied to cash transactions (not debit or credit, as those are billed in exact amounts). If I'm not mistaken, the cost to produce the penny is more than it's face value.
I have never understood why the US treasury doesn't just stop producing $1 bills and force a coin into circulation. That's what Canada did - nobody had any choice and it was preceded with much education about the new coins making sure people understood the coins were legal tender. $1 bills are quite rare now, as are some $2 bills, both of which are still legal tender. I remember when the toonie was introduced, NOBODY would give you funny looks and everybody accepted it. I suppose it's one of those funny differenced between our cultures like opinions on guns and public healthcare.
Ask Slashdot: Best Way to Learn C# For Game Programming?
As someone who has been coding non-professionally for 20+ years as mostly a hobby (though I have developed a few apps to make my life easier at work) here is my advice:
About 5-6 years ago I finally started to make the switch to C#. I started with re-writing an app entirely in C# (previous version was in VB.NET). This allowed me to translate/transfer my knowledge to a new syntax as they are both very similar thanks to the CLI. Eventually I had completely moved over to C# and was loving it. Over the last few years I have been into programming in C/C++ for the Arduino/Atmega, which has taught me a huge amount about embedded programming and mostly how C/C++ manages memory (gotta love pointers). Nothing (except maybe assembly) forces you to understand memory management like coding in C/C++. I am by no means an advanced C/C++ coder, but I am getting stronger every day and love just how much control I have with it!
Now my actual advice:
Start with C/C++ because in my opinion it's the hardest to master and teaches you the 'nitty gritty' of coding without all the crutches of the other language like garbage collectors, type safety, exception handling, and fancy libraries. If you can learn to code in C, or more specifically C++ you will be able to learn anything easy. But do it the other way and you may struggle due to bad habits and crutches the other languages teach you! I wished I had started out with C/C++ way back when, however hindsight is always 20/20!
How Nest and FitBit Might Spy On You For Cash
I was going to post about this but you beat me to it! Each and every time I see those stupid Progressive commercials or similar I always think the same thing. Sure it seems innocent now, a reduction of 10-20% in your insurance rates now (woo hoo). But then next thing you know you are speeding (5-10 mph over) through a GREEN light with the flow of traffic and get T-boned. Now the person who T-boned you will likely get charged, and you will get off without a charge because you didn't cause the accident. The cop never caught you speeding so in the eyes of the law you are ok.
Now comes the Progressive monitoring device. Your insurance company has a policy (that you agreed too when you signed up with them) saying that they can pull the data from the monitoring unit at any time. Maybe it's even automatic telemetry where it get's reported in real-time. Your insurance company pays to have your car fixed, and all appears well. Six months later you notice your premiums go up drastically even through you were not at fault and were no charged by the police.
What has happened? Your insurance company has looked at the data and decided that because you were speeding you breaking the law and thus a higher risk driver! Bingo your rates increased and all because you VOLUNTARILY gave the insurance company the ability to monitor your every move. Insurance companies do NOT have your best interests in mind - their primary goal like all for-profit corporations is to MAKE money. They simply can't be trusted.
People say, yes but if I have one of those units and I never speed! I say, BS! I have very rarely met anybody who drives perfectly in the eyes of the insurance companies or the law. It's human nature to occasionally (or always) speed and break minor traffic laws.
Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?
I have a Dell 2005FPW 20" LCD that I bough in 2004. I believe it was the first series of widescreens from Dell, this one being 16:10 with a res of 1680x1050. I remember when I first used it with Windows XP I had issues with Dell's drivers no supporting the WSXGA+ resolution correctly. It has support for VGA and DVI, plus a composite and s-video inputs too. I have thought about replacing it with a newer LED monitor but the damn thing wont die (knock on wood) and works just like the day I bought it!
Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?
I have always wondered why it's not like that in Canada too...oh wait because the government can't keep track of simple things like where 1 billion dollars goes for a cancelled gas plant....
Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?
In Canada our tax day is April 30th...it's actually been extended this year several days due to the Heartbleed vulnerability found on the CRA's (Canada Revenue Agency is equivalent to the IRS) electronic filing servers. Yes, about 900 SIN numbers (similar to your SSN) were compromised!
Personal income tax forms (T1) are submitted to the Federal Government which includes any provincial forms/schedules that may be needed. All employment income is reported on a T4 as submitted by employers to the CRA but more importantly to each employee used to calculate any over/underpayments. There a dozens of other T forms for different things like investment income, educations deductions, etc.
Personally I report employment income, investment capital gains on my non-registered retirement savings, and this year some capital gains on a stock I sold to pay for tuition. I also report and deduct any retirement savings from my taxable income (RRSP's and Pension like a 401k). Generally, I have about 6-10 different papers that I need to co-ordinate before I begin to calculate things.
I used to use Intuit's TurboTax software, then switched to the online version but always found the software/website to be somewhat hard to use and poorly laid out. This year I found out about a new alternative web tax software for Canadian Tax called SimpleTax.ca. It's designed much better, and is actually free to use, plus it's CRA Netfile certified meaning it's been checked and verified by the Government. They ask for an optional donation at the end, which I'm sure is just temporary until they build a client base.
Normally I get a refund of anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on a number of factors such as EI, CPP and Income Tax overpayments PLUS the benefits of deducting registered retirement saving (this makes a huge difference).
You Can't Kid a Kidder: Comcast's Cohen May Have Met His Match In FCC's Wheeler
I agree with all your comments. I live in Ontario, Canada and most cableco's in Ontario (the big ones anyhow) encrypt almost all their channels using encrypted QAM. So they force you to buy/rent one of their expensive cable boxes just to access the channels ON TOP of paying for the channels themselves. Basically, built in tuners are useless if using cable.
Both the FCC (and it's equivalent in Canada, the CRTC) do very little to rein in the big telcos. I got tired of paying $150/month for digital cable and cut the cord. I now use Netflix and have recently started using OTA to pick up about a dozen channels in my area.
FCC Planning Rule Changes To Restore US Net Neutrality
We have the same problem here in Canada too. Depending on where you live you have your choice of either ONE cable company or ONE DSL company. Now, by law the huge common carriers have to be able to sell their bandwidth and services to 3rd party providers. For example where I live in Ontario I have Cogeco (which now owns Atlantic Broadband down in the US btw, I also used to work for them for several years). They offer the typical internet, tv and voip where they charge an arm and a leg for service. When I was working for them I got discounts/free service (taxable however) for all three services. So for $30/month I received 15:2 Mbps internet, unlimited telephone in North America, and a few hundred cable channels with about 30-40 being in HD. While the internet is actually pretty good and doesn't appear to be throttled (yet), the cable channel quality sucks balls! HD channels are garbage with heavy heavy compression and random dropouts.
Fast forward to about 8 months ago when I left the company. My entire bill went from about $30 to $300!!!!! I originally ditched the cable channels completely and moved to Netflix where the quality is much better. I also ditched their voip telephone and moved over to Voip.ms with my own ATA. I still use the interent which includes a 'generous' 125Gb datacap with a $1.50/Gb of overage. Last month I had $21 in overages charges.
The other day I decided to make a simple wire loop antenna for picking up over-the-air HD signals just to see what I could pick up for free. I live about 40km west of Toronto and am am about 50km from Buffalo, NY. The results are impressive as I can easily get approx 20-25 full HD channels, most from Toronto and a few from Buffalo, NY. I calculated that with a better antenna I will be able to receive all the major Canadian and American networks in full 19Mbps ATSC. Not only is it free but the OTA HD broadcast are far superior to the QAM HD channels offered by cable.
Cost of services with cable (after I left the company):
TV Channels, 250, but I only watched maybe 20-30 = $200/month
Unlimited Voip Telephone = $50/month
Internet, 15:2 Mbps with a 125 Gb Cap = $50
Cost of what I have now:
TV Channels, 20-25 = $FREE and much better quality
Netflix = $8/month
Very cheap voip through Voip.ms = $3-5/month
Internet (same as above) = $65/month - I lost a bundle discount when I ditched tv and phone
So by cord cutting I am saving a huge amount of money each month and basically have almost the same level of service as before. Sure I don't get Discovery or speciality channels like that but all that is on those channels is crappy reality TV anyhow. I do miss Nat Geo though :(
GPUs Dropping Dead In 2011 MacBook Pro Models
Years ago I bought a refurbished 2007 model 17" MBP that was less than year old when I ordered it from Apple's refurbished online store in 2008. Upon receiving it, ON FIRST BOOT I noticed a very similar problem. It would start to boot, video output was all distorted and then it would kernel panic! I ended up calling Apple as my unit did have a 30 or 60 day or something like that warranty. We tried a bunch of things like resetting the NVRAM, etc but the problem still occurred but only on hard boot from cold. I ended up taking pictures of the screen and sending them to Apple who then happily did a warranty swap with no questions asked. I still have the second MBP which worked greated for years. It never gets used now because it so old and the battery is shot but the build quality and ergonomics on those models were far superior to the new ones. I would love to install Linux on it but I wasn't able to get past the UEFI boot process.
Facebook Being Sued Over Mining of Private Messages
People always act surprised when they find out social media or similar services mine, distribute and sell their data. People fail to realize that the ToS legally allows these companies to do whatever they want with it (except for violating certain laws). Unfortunately, we live in a society where the instantaneous gratification of signing up for these services means people don't take the time to read these ToS. Let's be honest, who has ever taken the time (myself included) to read the Tos, EULA, etc of a product or service. We just blindly assume these companies can be trusted. I do try to exercise lots of caution and don't put personal or private stuff on Facebook, etc. It's gotta pass the grandmother test meaning what would my grandmother say if she saw it.
What I would like to see are new laws governing more transparency requiring clearer language instead of lengthy legalese and jargon. On any service you are always given the option of reading the ToS before clicking agree. As silly as it sounds, perhaps we need a system where users are forcefully presented with clear terms presented in a similar fashion as the side effects of medication as mandated by the FDA in TV commercials. Also, these ToS should not be able to be changed without clear communication as to what the changes are and the possible implications.
However, then perhaps the top 1% wouldn't be as rich as they are...lets remember:
1. Create fancy social media website or service
2. Bury crazy ToS in a long legalese document nobody would read, nevermind understand
3. Follow the ToS to the letter, quoting it when people complain