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Ask Slashdot: Is It Worth Being Grandfathered On Verizon's Unlimited Data Plan?

Slipped_Disk Depends on your usage... (209 comments)

I'm on AT&T, the data portion of my bill is $30/month (grandfathered on the old Unlimited plan), and I have an iPhone 5S.

My last billing cycle I used 4.5GB of data. This billing cycle (which just started today) I've already used 300MB.
the 2GB data plans from AT&T start at $40/month and $15 for every 250MB over that. 4GB plans seem to start at $70/month.

With my usage it's pretty clear that there is NO advantage to dropping my unlimited data plan. I use far more data than I do talk time or text messages, and I would be paying AT&T more than twice what I currently pay for my average level of usage.

about 4 months ago

Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry

Slipped_Disk Re:LSA is a problem (473 comments)

I don't think LSA is so much a "problem" as simply not delivering on its planned promise.
The idea was new LSA-compliant aircraft would sell for about the price of your typical 40+ year old Pipers and Cessnas (the $25,000-50,000 range - and mainly toward the low end of that spectrum), which would make them an attractive option for new pilots pursuing flight training to buy and fly at a cost similar to a boat or car.

The reality is most LSAs are a far cry from the simple aircraft that you can find as a "Legacy LSA" - fancy glass panels and relatively-well-appointed interiors are the norm rather than the exception, and adding manufacturer liability and low volume on to that prices are easily north of $100,000. That means most of the activity has been in the "Legacy LSA" end of the business - Cessna 150s, Piper Cubs, and the like - and at that end it's often older pilots choosing to "downgrade" to an LSA and exercise Sport Pilot privileges rather than continuing to keep up a third-class medical certificate to be able to fly.

about a year ago

First City In the US To Pass an Anti-Drone Resolution

Slipped_Disk And what does the FAA have to say about this? (198 comments)

Seeing as how the national airspace system is federally regulated, and in Charlottesville VA the FAA owns the airspace from 700 feet up (surface up in some parts of the city, near their lovely airport) this law is nothing but symbolic bombast.

Want to make a dent in the drone problem? Scream at Congress and get them to mandate that the FAA establish sensible rules for UAVs.
Congress has already passed legislation forcing the FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace system (because Congress knows so much about the intricacies of air traffic management and safety), so how about getting them to stop being complete idiots about it?

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Are Hearing Aids So Expensive?

Slipped_Disk Regulated Medical Devices are Expensive (629 comments)

Working in the medical device industry, I can tell you that making a medical device is HIDEOUSLY expensive.

The cost to produce a hearing aid (microphone, amplifier, audio tube, speaker, battery, silicone tip) is pretty tiny. If you were just producing this assembly you would probably be able to crank it out for less than $1000 with a fairly tidy profit margin - maybe as high as $500 (assuming you build them in quantity).

Now onto that cost add the FDA-Mandated record keeping (design history, a history of each device from manufacture to end-user distribution, including records of any time it came back for service/adjustment), performance testing, IEC/UL safety testing (to make sure it won't shock Mom's eardrum, or over-amplify and blow it out), IEC/UL electromagnetic compatibility testing (to make sure it won't cause Mom's pacemaker to go haywire), biocompatibility testing (what if someone is allergic to silicone?) and staff to oversee all of this, and all of a sudden your $1000 device winds up costing the consumer $3000, and you're still only making $500 in profit.
Hearing aids also aren't a growth market: There are only so many people who are hard of hearing and need the devices, and if they buy a good one and they'll keep it for years, so there's not a huge amount of recurring revenue for replacements, so now we need to make enough money off them to coast along until the next person needs to buy one.

Bottom line: Complying with regulations costs lots of money, and the cost of devices are inflated as a result.
Lest someone take this as an anti-government rant, it's not: The FDA regs do serve a purpose, though perhaps said purpose is not 100% appropriate for all classes of medical devices.

Also the FDA is not the only government agency that introduces a price-inflating regulatory burden. Consider these two identical aviation headsets:
http://www.mypilotstore.com/mypilotstore/sep/4680 (Non-TSO)
http://www.mypilotstore.com/MyPilotStore/sep/5284 (TSO)

The key difference between these headsets is a piece of paper. They are materially identical in all other respects.

more than 2 years ago

Best OSS CFD Package For High School Physics?

Slipped_Disk Good idea, but very hard to do well... (105 comments)

I like the idea of exposing your students to CFD packages, particularly the variation between experimental results & results off of a theoretical model. My concern would be that mastering a CFD package (or even become a basic user of one) is pretty time consuming. As others have pointed out you usually don't touch CFD packages until late undergrad or grad school.

Consider building the models yourself and running them as a demonstration rather than asking your students: They get the benefits of seeing what the software can do & being able to reference the theoretical data generated, but won't have to deal with the frustration/learning curve of CFD software.
If there's an interest you can offer an extra credit project where students design (or modify) a mesh & report the results.

more than 4 years ago

PETA Creates New Animal-Friendly Software License

Slipped_Disk THANKS PETA! (356 comments)

... Because what we really need is another damn open source license. I was just thinking to myself the other day, I said "Self, what the world needs is just ONE MORE open source license. That would just make everything SO MUCH BETTER!"

And why only Chordata? It's not OK to kill cows, dogs, land-fish or sea-kittens, but killing arachnids (scorpions, spiders) or crustaceans (crabs, lobsters) is OK? Is it because they're not cute?


more than 4 years ago

I trust Web apps like Google Docs ...

Slipped_Disk Re:Last option's clever, but not TOO clever (194 comments)

Tents are not particularly aerodynamic when set up, and pretty heavy when folded - might have about the same range as a laptop :)

more than 4 years ago

ClamAV Forced Upgrade Breaks Email Servers

Slipped_Disk Re: automatic binary updates (299 comments)

From now on, my recommended course of action is that all mail administrators running clamav should REMOVE or DISABLE any automatic updates of ClamAV rules, make sure to comment out any crontab entries for freshclam.

Mmhmm, yes. I agree 1000%. Don't update your virus signatures. Because ya know, new viruses don't get created very often. You can run with signatures over a year old and still have great protection!

Or do what they should do... include a method for automatically applying version updates.

Or force auto version update instead of disabling.

Yes, because distributing software for several versions of Free/Net/OpenBSD, each Linux distribution, Windows, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, etc. is totally feasible for a free project.

It's not like they would have to fund the time, equipment and distribution bandwidth for that, or have to deal with irate admins screaming about how ClamAV breaks their change control policies by automatically installing binaries on production servers.

And software with automatic updates never ships an update that bricks production servers (*cough*Exchange*cough*), so this is a perfect solution.

Sometimes I really wonder what happened to the Slashdot crowd's common sense.

more than 4 years ago

ClamAV Forced Upgrade Breaks Email Servers

Slipped_Disk Re:*Correction* (299 comments)

Well, you *can* configure your email system in such a way that when ClamAV goes away it still passes mail (though obviously most people, myself included, do not configure our systems that way).

That's an admin's choice to make, and like almost every choice there are tradeoffs: Potentially pass virus-laden mail, or potentially queue/defer/reject mail until the scanner comes back on line.

more than 4 years ago

ClamAV Forced Upgrade Breaks Email Servers

Slipped_Disk Re:It's not like they didn't tell... (299 comments)

Or maybe people should ... you know ... not apply updates directly to their production servers without testing them first ?

No, that would be too radical. Who ever heard of updates causing problems ? It would never happen.

Tell me, do you sandbox a full environment and test every virus signature update prior to rolling it out?
If so, what is the length of your pre-deployment testing cycle? How many people are dedicated to your test team, and how do you justify their salaries?

(Not trying to be a dick, I'm genuinely curious if anyone goes to this level of overkill, and how they manage to get it approved. I had to fight uphill both ways in the snow to get a dev environment built...)

more than 4 years ago

ClamAV Forced Upgrade Breaks Email Servers

Slipped_Disk Yes, they did the right thing... (299 comments)

As someone who was bitten by the issue (yeah, I'll man up and admit it - my company's mail server went wonky for about a half hour while I upgraded) I agree -- they pretty much did the right thing.

There was plenty of notice -- The fact that many of us weren't on the clamav-announce list is OUR fault, not theirs.
A kill command may not be the most "polite" way of retiring an old version of software, but for a free service I certainly don't expect them to invest huge amounts of time and money in figuring out how to support the old stuff forever.

more than 4 years ago

ClamAV Forced Upgrade Breaks Email Servers

Slipped_Disk Re:Got This Bounce This Morning (299 comments)

At least their error messages are descriptive and informative.

Seriously -- I got a bunch of qmail deferrals & the bounce/deferral messages were all utter shit ("451 qq error").
This guy wins 100 internets for having a FUCKING USEFUL BOUNCE MESSAGE -- I want to buy him a case of his preferred alcoholic beverage.

more than 4 years ago

ClamAV Forced Upgrade Breaks Email Servers

Slipped_Disk *Correction* (299 comments)

The method SourceFire chose to use was to encode a kill command in the ClamAV updates. If they had simply "shut down the [update] server" ClamAV would have continued to work, just without new signatures.

See their announcement at http://www.clamav.net/lang/en/2009/10/05/eol-clamav-094/

more than 4 years ago

How Do You Volunteer Professional Services?

Slipped_Disk Your fields aren't short-term. (366 comments)

Counseling and Networking/Telecom are not "short term" one week fields - Networking and Counseling are not like medicine where you can do quick meatball surgery and fix immediate problems.

For your wife to be of any value she would need to form a therapeutic relationship with people, which takes time and trust. This won't happen in a week, and such short term "counseling" may end up doing more harm than good.
For you to do any good you would need to engineer a solution to some problem (could take more than a week in itself) and be available to help with deployment, which could stretch into months or longer depending on the scale of the project.

If you want to volunteer I suggest finding local causes - Your wife could work a crisis center hotline one night a week, and you could volunteer at a local non-profit that needs the networking help but can't afford a full-time guy.
If you want to help out a stricken region but can't commit to a month or longer I think your money is more useful than your time (and probably tax-deductible).

about 5 years ago

How Do You Volunteer Professional Services?

Slipped_Disk Shortsighted Thread is Shortsighted (366 comments)

Most of the rescue work to be done in Haiti is done - Finding people at this point is now recovery. At this point the range of "professionals" needed is much broader than you or the grandparent imply.

  • Medical personnel are needed for the ongoing care of the injured Many of those there now are volunteers, new volunteers will be needed when those currently in the field need to return home to earn a living.
  • Construction and Demolition specialists are needed to repair (or demolish and rebuild) structures.

  • Infrastructure specialists (power, plumbing, roads & telecom) are needed to rebuild what was destroyed.
  • Counselors are needed to help people deal with the shock, and in many cases tragic loss.

For many of the people in those categories Haiti will be their first "real" disaster scene. Others may have previous experience and volunteer to help even though their "day job" isn't rebuilding nations after a catastrophic event.

While I agree that people should only go into a disaster area like Haiti as part of an organized recovery effort I don't believe the "Don't go there because you don't work for [insert disaster group]" attitude this post and the grandparent take is at all productive - These organizations do not have the manpower or expertise to do it all themselves.

Just my $3.50 as someone who has gone in after fires and floods to bring skeleton infrastructure up and support further recovery.

about 5 years ago

Man Uses Drake Equation To Explain Girlfriend Woes

Slipped_Disk Re:Stunt (538 comments)

Cute and smart-funny. I'll fight ya for him :-P

about 5 years ago

Which Math For Programmers?

Slipped_Disk Take BOTH courses, in the order you listed them. (466 comments)

You should probably take both of these courses: requirements aside, both are important for a truly solid CS education.

Take Discrete Structures first, especially since it has graph theory rolled into it. This will be more directly applicable to your CS coursework as discrete math and graph theory pop up EVERYWHERE, and when you get out into the real world you'll benefit from a solid understanding of these concepts.
Math Analysis will be useful too, as will the linear algebra components that seem to be buried in that class somewhere.

As others have said, make sure you get a good professor. Sit in on a lecture if they'll let you. A dull, droning, Ben Stein type teaching either of those courses will cure your insomnia, but your GPA will suffer.

Final word of wisdom: Do not take the advice of a random (non-CS) teaching assistant, "general" academic advisor, or (ESPECIALLY) Slashdot. They're idiots (even me). Talk to other students, professors in your department or your major advisor for course order recommendations.

about 5 years ago

Cell Phone Searches Require Warrant

Slipped_Disk Defining a "closed container" (161 comments)

Over-simplifying for the scope of the decision:
A woman's purse with the zipper shut is a closed container. If said woman is arrested police have the right to search her handbag *incident to her arrest*, *assuming probably cause*.

The Ohio Supreme Court decision says that the contents of your cell phone don't fall into that category - i.e. your cell phone is not just a box filled with "data" but rather falls under the 4th amendment's "papers and effects" scope.

(Of course the woman who just had her tampons and birth control pills dumped out on the hood of a police cruiser could argue the same Re: her purse -- the difference being you might have a knife/gun/etc. in the purse)

more than 5 years ago


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