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NVIDIA Launches New Midrange Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Card

WheezyJoe Re:Some people say it's too pricy. (114 comments)

GPU's are easy to change, 16:10 monitors not so much. There's no way I'm departing from 16:10!

This. Love my 16:10's. Getting harder and harder to find, so can only hope they keep holding up.

5 days ago
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Microsoft Reveals Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade

WheezyJoe Maybe Some Clarification (570 comments)

Ars Technica was present at the announcement, and the Q&A afterward was both insightful and confusing. They clarify the free upgrade to Windows 10 as follows (emphasis mine):

Update: Microsoft fielded some questions about this upgrade in its Q&A session after the event. The company "hasn't decided" how it will handle upgrades from Windows 7 or 8.1 after the first year of Windows 10 availability ends, and it is "working on an update for Windows RT," but doesn't have further details to share.

Update 2: A blog post from Terry Myerson clears up what "Windows as a service" means, though the duration of "the supported lifetime of the device" is still foggy. "This is more than a one-time upgrade," writes Myerson. "Once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device—at no additional charge."

It seems to me Microsoft is still keeping the details close to the vest. So, for my money, the jury is still out for what happens in a year.

Still, as a strategy to get people to move off Windows 7 in a hurry, this is pretty good. You'd only wonder what would have happened to the XP user base if Vista or 7 had been free. On the other hand, this Windows 10 ecosystem is a really big gamble, and Microsoft desperately needs developers to make their platform compete against iOS and Android. Based on that, giving the first taste away free is a pretty ballsy move.

I only hope they don't try to recoup some of that lost revenue by filling Windows 10 with trackware and clickbait, forking out tons of your personal data to Bing servers because, well, that's where the action is.

about a week ago
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A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

WheezyJoe Re:politicians make deals for a living (160 comments)

Kinda, not quite right.

Just checked at https://epbfi.com/internet/, 100 Mbps is $57.99... not free, but not bad. Triple-play goes for $132.82. It ain't Sweden, but not awful.

And whereas Bob the Politician would like campaign funding for keeping his job (would that be a part-time or a full-time job, by the way? term limits? what's the pay? does he really give a shit about keeping that job in a local city council?), he can get a lot more campaign donations by getting into bed with commercial internet providers with deeper pockets then some small-change locals.

And while one state's corruption laws vary from another's, a politician putting his friend (or relative) in charge of a government program, and then receiving campaign donations back, is at least easy-pickings for a local TV eye-team investigation report. Taking such a man's seat in the next election would be like shooting a fish in a barrel... just run on a campaign of anti-corruption and eliminating government waste. I'll bet Frontier or Comcast would be happy to pay for printing up your campaign signs.

And don't think customers who get service from Frontier don't send money through the Council's hands. Be it through fees or taxes, the City gets paid. Always. The only difference is whether there are shareholders who get a piece of the action.

When Comcast runs the Internet, a substantial cut of the profit goes to shareholders, and another cut goes to expanding territory and growth, again to please shareholders to thereby drive up stock price and raise the value of the company, further increasing the wealth of the shareholders. When the City sets up its own internet, all profit goes back to the City to be redistributed by the Council, maybe to upgrade equipment, maybe to fix roads or schools, maybe as a local tax cut.

If the City Council's internet starts to suck, well, the customers are also voters, and they can replace a politician, maybe with the guy next door. On the other hand, if Comcast starts to suck in a town where there's no competition, customers can call customer service and wait on hold until they go insane. Comcast has enough customers that they don't have to listen to any customers. They only have to listen to shareholders... that is, shareholders with enough voting stock to threaten the sitting Board of Directors (currently, their stock price is $55.81, for just one little share; you can look up how many shares you'd have to buy to get anyone at the company to listen to you).

The point is, if you're a Chattanooga customer, and you're upset, you have a lot better chance of someone giving a shit than if you're a Comcast customer. Local politicians can fuck things up, sure, but unless the local politician is aiming to move higher to state of federal office (where the money is), then he's got to live with you, and probably would just as well keep you happy and off his lawn. A board member or senior management in Comcast, on the other hand, will never give a shit about who you are or what you think of your service, ever, unless maybe you start a class-action lawsuit, or a local broadband initiative in your home town. Then, you'll hear from their lawyers.

about a week ago
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A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

WheezyJoe Re:Explain why it should be illegal to do better? (160 comments)

I didn't say it should be illegal for politicians to run ISPs. I said it's silly to think that ONLY politicians can run ISPs.

Hmm. I'm not aware of any municipality where ONLY the government is PERMITTED to run an ISP (that might turn out bad, sooner or later). Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm only aware of Big Telecomm complaining that they can't COMPETE with municipals, service for price, which results in an EFFECTIVE local government monopoly. I don't think this is a bad thing, because I think it would only last so long as the government-run ISP didn't suck.

If and when it does start to suck, a commercial competitor would be in a good position to offer a better product, even at a premium price, and if the politicians tried to make it difficult for them (and why would they? they can't legally profit from it) the commercial entity could sue, they would win, and you would have your competition and things would get good again.

about a week ago
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A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

WheezyJoe Re:what about bans on private competition (overbui (160 comments)

But they can be effectively exclusive, if the cost to build out is too high or an existing franchisee or operator makes it difficult to share resources. In my town, the simple answer is that one carrier was here first, which means a competing carrier would have to rely on revenue from customers who switch in order to justify a complete build-out. Not a great gamble, no big bucks here, particularly in the short term, so they don't bother, and we suffer under an effective monopoly.

I mean, if someone's willing to set up a competing service for free, there's no exclusivity rule to stop them. But I'm not holding my breath.

about a week ago
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A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

WheezyJoe Re:but politicians are better at legislating (160 comments)

Chattanooga lost their credit rating did to overwhelming debt from their government broadband attempt

No. This, at least, is unsubstantiated FUD.

From Forbes.com:

In fact, contrary to Stephenson’s claims that municipal broadband hurt municipal credit ratings, S&P just upgraded the Chattanooga public utility’s bond rating, stating, “The system is providing reliable information to the electric utility on outages, losses and usage, which helps reduce the electric system’s costs.”

A quick google search of Chattanooga and broadband turned up multiple articles agreeing that their local internet deployment has been a roaring success, particularly in bringing a new wave of business and revenue to the city.

Not every city is successful, but that's no reason for states to prohibit them from trying, if nothing else to give the monopolists an incentive to improve their crappy race-to-the-bottom service.

about a week ago
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A State-By-State Guide To Restrictive Community Broadband Laws

WheezyJoe Re:building municipal broadband is prohibited (160 comments)

lol.. There is no municipalities rights in the US constitution that is supposed to limit what the feds can do.

Well, kinda there is. The 10th amendment expressly reserves for the states any powers not specifically specified by the Constitution to the Fed. On the other hand, your local municipality only has powers as outlined by your state constitution. Typically, any city is completely subordinate to whatever state it happens to be in, but states, and therefore cities, have rights over the Feds unless the Constitution specifically says otherwise (most often, by virtue of the commerce clause).

With municipal broadband, however, things get really twisted. It's not the Feds who are trampling on local efforts to set up public broadband... the states are doing the trampling, perhaps because the states are easier and cheaper for big telecom to lobby, and the Feds are trying to use the authority of the FCC to preempt the power of the states to squash what local authorities want to do within their community. Follow?

Lots of the successful municipal internet projects grew out from local municipalities that already own and run their own electric grid. Since they already own the poles and other conduits for carrying cables, along with trucks and technicians and other infrastructure for supporting them, running fiber is easy. But this makes Big Telecomm upset. Competition takes money out of their pockets. So, they lobby the states to restrict it.

So, in this case, the Fed is a city's or county's best friend, because its state wants to shut down what the citizens wanted to do for themselves. Either the FCC comes to the rescue, or the city has to go it alone in the state capitol against a very very wealthy powerful lobby whose money can easily make the difference between winning and losing in a state election. Suck it up. Sometimes, the Feds are the only friends you've got... if they have the authority, that is, and if big lobby has anything to say about it, they don't.

about a week ago
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Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

WheezyJoe Not so fast (489 comments)

Businesses have still been buying Windows 7, AFAICT. Once Windows 10 is out, they may well be more receptive.

Not if Windows 10 is as tied to using OneDrive and other Microsoft services as the Development Preview is now.
And Live Tiles has got to go, too. Such distracting, marketing, productivity-killing click-bait has no place in the office (or the start menu).

about a week ago
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Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

WheezyJoe True, and true (489 comments)

Wish I had points to mod you up. Makes me want to rent this again.

about a week ago
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Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

WheezyJoe Re:Not about mobile (489 comments)

But it kinda is about mobile... taking marketing and design attention away from the desktop. The old saying goes, "rob Peter to pay Paul". Microsoft is, at best, neglecting the desktop and at worst making it suck, in order to support and even market their mobile platform... a mobile platform that nobody except Microsoft has any reason to care about.

I couldn't care less about Microsoft mobile. Between iOS and Android, there's not anything I see missing. If Microsoft would simply target and support those platforms for their Office/Exchange ecosystem, they might do pretty darn well. What's the need for yet another platform and OS, except blind greed for some pie-in-the-sky cashola App store?

What I do care about is the desktop, cause that's where me and most of the rest of the world get their work done. And it's not just that Microsoft is blatantly attempting to use their desktop penetration as a billboard to advertise and acclimate a captive audience the new mobile product... bolt a Start Screen and some touch capabilities and Metro compatibility on to Windows 8 or 10 and there probably would be no problems. What's so exceedingly frustrating, maddening, is what they arbitrarily, unilaterally take away.

They chose to yank the Start menu because, well, they just did. Drop a bunch of essential control panels and preview apps, even mail, and replace them with Metro apps because, well, there it is. Just like with the Ribbon in Office, they just chose to yank out the "File Edit etc..." menus because, well, who cares why, users will just get used to it. Aero? Gone, without even an option to get it back, along with a lot of other customization options, because, what? A little transparency made some tablet out there run out of battery? People actually believe that?

I'd compare it to GM coming out with a control stick on all models instead of a steering wheel, because you know, it's better, but that doesn't go far enough 'cause we don't have to drive a Chevy. More like the IRS choosing to collect our tax returns in Latin from now on because, well, Latin is so classic. You can opt out until extended support for English runs out in 2020, but eventually English will be gone and you'll be doing it the new way or nothing.

And just like with Vista, there are plenty of shills, loyal members of the Ballmer-Youth declaring it's all great and get used to it and it's wonderful. I don't understand these people. They're either getting paid by Microsoft, or they never actually USE Windows desktop for anything except as a launching pad for Steam or Chrome. For games or web-surfing, fine. You probably don't miss the Start menu and never really see much of the desktop-metro mess. Probably don't notice how ugly the boxy, non-Aero window decorations are, either, cause you're always in full-screen.

But if you actually have to get work done, have 5-20 windows in 4-8 different apps up simultaneously? For that, the Windows 8, 8.1, even 10 is an inexplicable step backward where Windows 7 works just fine and will continue to work until 2020, by which time Microsoft is either gone or putting out Windows 14. Maybe by then they'll have stopped making such stupid decisions and release a Windows 7.1 like they should have in the first place.

about a week ago
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Writer: How My Mom Got Hacked

WheezyJoe Re:Sad that this is even a problem (463 comments)

Agreed... but far easier said than done. Like secure e-mail or messaging, mature straight-forward backup solutions just don't exist.

My company was hacked with cryptoware, and thanks to automatic backups we only lost a day or two of data. But that's because we have staff and resources dedicated to taking care of these things.

How's mom and pop gonna do this? Macs have Time Machine, but even that requires an external drive for that single purpose. When buying a laptop or desktop, the average Joe, student, or grandmother doesn't think to plunk down another $100 for an external drive whose only purpose is insurance against "what if".

And again, that's with Apple's Time Machine, which is the closest thing to set-it-and-forget-it backup/restore I know of, particularly because it comes bundled ready-to-go with OS X. Windows, to my knowledge, has no comparable built-in product, nor do I know of any 3rd-party product that is easy enough to have saved grandma from cryptolocker. Seriously. Have you ever tried to support "old" people, like your uncle or the senior partner? They not only routinely use terrible passwords (e.g., their home phone number), they're PROUD of it. They'll look you right in the eye and tell you that nobody in the world is going to bother to hack little old me.

and don't think that makes it their problem and they deserve what's coming to them. If it's your boss or grandma, it's your problem.

Windows needs a turn-key backup/restore solution, out of the box. And as long as I'm pipe-dreaming, PC's are each sold with a second hard drive accessible only to the backup/restore app and can't be wiped even by administrator without entering a key. Or maybe there could be some cloud-based solution - nothing ever goes wrong with those.

about three weeks ago
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Halting Problem Proves That Lethal Robots Cannot Correctly Decide To Kill Humans

WheezyJoe Re:But AI doesn't work like this... (335 comments)

AI not required. If movement detected in object of predetermined size within weapon range, shoot it until it stops moving. Example.

Reserve the AI effort for hunting/gathering ammunition.
We're all gonna die.

about 2 months ago
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Battlestar Galactica Creator Glen A. Larson Dead At 77

WheezyJoe Re:Sci Fi Really Ages Quickly (186 comments)

Other TV series contemporary with this include "Electro Woman and DynaGirl" and "Jason of Star Command".

My brain hurts from you triggering that deep-buried memory. I'll be messed up all week with that stuff replaying through my head.

My young brain thought the space scenes in Galactica were awesome, and I totally bought all the mass destruction in the pilot. Cylons scared the shit out of me... like Berzerk come to life (with the same inevitable outcome). I was able to see past all the dumb stuff, particularly because Star Wars had left me so hungry for more like it and there was just nothing. But even back then I felt the show started to fizzle out after the Pegasus episodes.

about 2 months ago
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OEM Windows 7 License Sales End This Friday

WheezyJoe Re:You can pry it from my cold dead fingers (242 comments)

Yes, Windows 10 is bringing the classic desktop back, but it seems that it is becoming a unelegant mishmash of Modern UI widgets and classic Windows widgets.

Anyone can try Windows 10 for themselves if they have a spare box or can run Virtual Box. So far, "unelegant mishmash" is about right. Modern Apps seem like an emulation mode that intrudes on the desktop from time to time, even after taking steps to avoid them.
There's a lot of user feedback about improving the desktop over Modern-izing everything. All I want out of a new Windows is a better Windows 7, like performance improvements, bug fixes, a programming API that doesn't drive people insane, and more customizability (Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 are all less customizable than 7). But you get the feeling nobody at Microsoft wants to work on that old crufty Windows code and would rather plug on something all new - and bundling it with Windows is going to convince you to like it. At least the Preview Program gives you a chance to yell about it until it's released.

about 2 months ago
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Why the Trolls Will Always Win

WheezyJoe Re:Never forget (728 comments)

No, children, the trolls were not here first. Some of us remember that human beings inhabited the Internet before the Eternal September.

Thank you. Usenet, for example was a welcome, tolerant, even useful place. You could reasonably trust someone on misc.forsale to send you what you expected after receiving your check. I suppose in those days, if anyone ever posted something bad, their sysadmin would receive an e-mail and the would-be troller would have his account suspended... and that would be that. Internet was a privilege, and short of getting a job in computers or defense, graduation meant leaving it forever.

Fuck. The Eternal September was 21 years ago. Kids have grown up big enough to legally drink since then, never knowing a net that was free of Nigerian Prince scams or murder by Craig's List. Whose on my lawn? Get off my lawn!

about 4 months ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

WheezyJoe Re:It's a classic... (304 comments)

Funny thing is, I always found the gaps between the keys problematic. If your fingers weren't right on the keys, you'd slip through or press two.

My favorite keyboard was the one that came with the IBM 6150 (aka, the IBM PC-RT). Soft keys but with great tactile feel, and completely programmable so you could easily swap the CTRL and CAPS LOCK keys. It was IBM's take on a silent keyboard but will all their (then) quality thrown in.

Got some serious WPM out of it, but I hold no hope for getting one working today :-\

about 4 months ago
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Complain About Comcast, Get Fired From Your Job

WheezyJoe Re:We don't know the details (742 comments)

Plausible. From my own experience, patience and restraint on the order of The Mahatma is required to get problems fixed over the phone with Comcast (and, as it turns out, an increasing number of other companies, too).

My advice is to get a friend (or paid representative) to call on your behalf, someone not emotionally involved and who won't blow his stack (and, consequently, say something stupid, like where you work) after being told many things that are obviously, frustratingly wrong.

about 4 months ago
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Microsoft Announces Windows 10

WheezyJoe Re:Skipping a version number (644 comments)

Microsoft has never respected numbers much.
Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 3.11, NT 3.1, NT 3.5, NT 3.51, Windows 95, NT 4, Windows 98, Win2000, Windows ME, WinXP, Windows 7, Windows 8.... you see? all over the place.
What they DO tend to respect is focus groups, and they maybe determined that 10 is sexier than 9, perhaps to imply more distance from (pfft) 8
(or steal from spotlight from OS X)?

about 4 months ago
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Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

WheezyJoe Re:Start menu usage dropped in lieu of what? (269 comments)

Simply because a data-recorder didn't show the Start menu was used very often (in win 8 testing, I presume) does not mean that people don't rely upon it when the need arises.
Or maybe dropping it was just a bone-headed effort to force users to use the Metro start page.

about 4 months ago
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Early iPhone 6 Benchmark Results Show Only Modest Gains For A8

WheezyJoe Re:power consumption? (208 comments)

I'm still using an old Core2Duo (2.53 running at 3.8). It *only* has 4GB, but I put in and SSD and an ATI 6770 a couple years ago. Does everything I need, the only things it has problems running are recent games, not a reason to upgrade in my case. Many components got upgraded from machines found in the trash.

I applaud you, sir. An evening of tech dumpster-diving with a friend of mine some time back was a real eye-opening experience, particularly where we found some office or government building chucking mass quantities of "older" equipment. Tons of working, capable silicon, heading for landfills, when a lot of it maybe a year ago would have been tempting on newegg. There was a time when the latest OS or application release would make your hardware seem terrible, prompting you to pine for an upgrade, but not any longer, with the narrow exception of cutting-edge games, or professional apps for which you should get your employer to pay for anyway.

What you miss out on with older hardware is size and power-consumption. If performance is not your goal, then with modern gear you have the opportunity to build a silent, fanless system and/or an entire PC that fits in a 5" square box. It surprises me that this remains a niche market for do-it-your-selfers or small shops online. It would be worth it to me to pay a few bucks for a noiseless rig that fits on my desk. But as long as my older rigs are running fine, no worries.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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Comcast Pays Overdue Fees, Free Stuff For Time-Warner Merger Approval

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  yesterday

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "In seeking more support for its mega-merger with Time-Warner Cable, Comcast has been going across the country giving local governments a chance to ask for favors in exchange for approving a franchise transfer. In Minneapolis, this turned up an unpaid bill of $40,000 in overdue franchise fees, so Comcast will have to pay the city money it already owed in order to get the franchise transfer. Comcast will also throw in $50,000 worth of free service and equipment.

"Thirty Minneapolis city buildings will get free basic cable for the next seven years as part of a package of concessions the city wrung out of Comcast in exchange for blessing its proposed merger with fellow cable giant Time Warner," Minnesota Public Radio reported. "Comcast has also agreed to pay Minneapolis $40,000 in overdue franchise fees after an audit found it underpaid the city for its use of the public right of way over the last three years." The article notes that getting any kind of refund out of a cable company is not easy.

Part of the deal with Minneapolis involves the spinoff of a new cable company called GreatLand Connections that will serve 2.5 million customers in the Midwest and Southeast, including Minnesota. After the deal, Comcast's franchises in those areas would be transferred to GreatLand. Such goodwill concessions may seem impressive as Comcast seeks to foster goodwill, but one wonders how Comcast/TimeWarner will behave after the merger."
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Comcast Ghost-writes Politician's Letters to Support Time Warner Mega-Merger

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  2 days ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "As the FCC considers the merger between Comcast/Universal and Time-Warner Cable, which would create the largest cable company in the U.S. and is entering the final stages of federal review, politicians are pressuring the FCC with pro-merger letters actually written by Comcast. According to documents obtained through public records requests politicians are passing letters nearly word-for-word written by Comcast as their own, politicians are passing letters nearly word-for-word written by Comcast as their own. "Not only do records show that a Comcast official sent the councilman the exact wording of the letter he would submit to the FCC, but also that finishing touches were put on the letter by a former FCC official named Rosemary Harold, who is now a partner at one of the nation’s foremost telecom law firms in Washington, DC. Comcast has enlisted Harold to help persuade her former agency to approve the proposed merger."

Ars Technica had already reported that politicians have closely mimicked Comcast talking points and re-used Comcast's own statements without attribution. The documents revealed today show just how deeply Comcast is involved with certain politicians, and how they were able to get them on board."
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FCC Fines Verizon for Failing to Investigate Rural Phone Problems

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  2 days ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "Verizon agreed to a $5 million settlement after admitting that it failed to investigate whether its rural customers were able to receive long distance and wireless phone calls. The settlement is related to the FCC's efforts to address what is known as the rural call completion problem. Over an eight-month period during 2013, low call answer rates in 39 rural areas should have triggered an investigation, the FCC said. The FCC asked Verizon what steps it took, and Verizon said in April 2014 that it investigated or fixed problems in 13 of the 39 areas, but did nothing in the other 26.

"Rural call completion problems have significant and immediate public interest ramifications," the FCC said in its order on the Verizon settlement today. "They cause rural businesses to lose customers, impede medical professionals from reaching patients in rural areas, cut families off from their relatives, and create the potential for dangerous delays in public safety communications." Verizon has been accused of letting its copper landline network decay while it shifts its focus to fiber and cellular service. The FCC is working a plan to protect customers as old copper networks are retired."
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Verizon, Cable Lobby Oppose Higher Broadband Definition

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  2 days ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "Responding to the FCC's proposal to raise the definition of broadband from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up, the lobby group known as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) wrote in an FCC filing Thursday that 25Mbps/3Mbps isn't necessary for ordinary people. The lobby alleges that hypothetical use cases offered for showing the need for 25Mbps/3Mbps "dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user", referring to parties in favor of the increase like Netflix and Public Knowledge.

Verizon, for its part, is also lobbying against a faster broadband definition. Much of its territory is still stuck on DSL which is far less capable of 25Mbps/3Mbps speeds than cable technology.

The FCC presently defines broadband as 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up, a definition that hasn't changed since 2010. By comparison, people in Sweden can pay about $40 a month for 100/100 mbps, choosing between more than a dozen competing providers. The FCC is under mandate to determine whether broadband is being deployed to Americans in a reasonable and timely way, and the commission must take action to accelerate deployment if the answer is negative. Raising the definition's speeds provides more impetus to take actions that promote competition and remove barriers to investment, such as a potential move to preempt state laws that restrict municipal broadband projects."
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Verizon Nearing the End of its FIOS Builds

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  4 days ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "If you've been holding out hope that FIOS would rescue you from your local cable monopoly, it's probably time to give up. Making good on their statements five years ago, Verizon announced this week they are nearing "the end" of its fiber construction and is reducing wireline capital expenditures while spending more on wireless.
Verizon CFO Fran Shammo says "we are getting to the end of our committed build around FiOS". The expense of replacing old copper lines with fiber has allegedly led Verizon to stop building in new regions and to complete wiring up the areas where it had already begun. So, if Verizon hasn't started in your neighborhood by now, they never will, and you'd best ignore all those sexy ads for FIOS."
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Rossi's E-Cat is Back: Independent Researchers Test Cold Fusion Device 32 Days

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  about 3 months ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "The E-Cat (or "Energy Catalyzer") is an alleged cold fusion device that produces heat from a low-energy nuclear reaction where nickel and hydrogen fuse into copper. Previous reports have tended to suggest the technology is a hoax, and the inventor Andrea Rossi's reluctance to share details of the device haven't helped the situation. ExtremeTech now reports "six (reputable) researchers from Italy and Sweden" have "observed a small E-Cat over 32 days, where it produced net energy of 1.5 megawatt-hours, “far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume.”... "The researchers, analyzing the fuel before and after the 32-day burn, note that there is an isotope shift from a “natural” mix of Nickel-58/Nickel-60 to almost entirely Nickel-62 — a reaction that, the researchers say, cannot occur without nuclear reactions (i.e. fusion)." The paper (PDF) linked in the article concludes that the E-cat is "a device giving heat energy compatible with nuclear transformations, but it operates at low energy and gives neither nuclear radioactive waste nor emits radiation. From basic general knowledge in nuclear physics this should not be possible. Nevertheless we have to relate to the fact that the experimental results from our test show heat production beyond chemical burning, and that the E-Cat fuel undergoes nuclear transformations. It is certainly most unsatisfying that these results so far have no convincing theoretical explanation, but the experimental results cannot be dismissed or ignored just because of lack of theoretical understanding. Moreover, the E-Cat results are too conspicuous not to be followed up in detail. In addition, if proven sustainable in further tests the E-Cat invention has a large potential to become an important energy source.""
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Training Materials Leaked from Comcast

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  about 5 months ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "Ars Technica and the Verge report how leaked training manuals from Comcast show how selling services is a required part of the job, even for employees doing tech support. The so-called "the 4S training material" explicitly states that 20 percent of a call center employee’s rating for a given call is dependent on effectively selling the customer new Comcast services.
"There are pages of materials on 'probing' customers to ferret out upsell opportunities, as well as on batting aside customer objections to being told they need to buy something. 'We can certainly look at other options, but you would lose which you mentioned was important to you,' the guide suggests clumsily saying to an angry customer who doesn’t want to buy any more Comcast services."
Images of the leaked documents are posted on the Verge, making for fun reading."
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Apple seeking laid-off BlackBerry workers

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  about a year ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "Coming from the 'I saw it coming but it's still sad' dept., the Financial Post reports "Just days after BlackBerry Ltd. revealed plans to lay off 40% of its global workforce amid disastrous financial results, representatives from smartphone rival Apple Inc. hosted a recruitment drive roughly 20 kilometres away from the embattled technology company’s Waterloo, Ont. home base... the iPhone maker invited local talent with the aim of luring them to their Silicon Valley operations." BlackBerry is expected to post a nearly $1 Billion loss."
Link to Original Source
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Keyless Remote Entry for Cars May Have Been Cracked

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  about a year and a half ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "The Today Show had a piece this morning showing video of thieves apparently using a small device to open and enter cars equipped with keyless entry. Electronic key fobs, which are supposed to be secure, are replacing keys in more and more new cars, but the evidence suggests that a device has been developed which effortlessly bypasses this security (at least on certain makes and models). Says the article, police and security experts are "stumped"."
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A Computer-based Smart Rifle with Incredible Accuracy, Now On Sale

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  about a year and a half ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "A story on NPR reports that the TrackingPoint rifle went on sale today, and can enable a "novice" to hit a target 500 yards away on the first try. "The rifle's scope features a sophisticated color graphics display. The shooter locks a laser on the target by pushing a small button by the trigger... But here's where it's different: You pull the trigger but the gun decides when to shoot. It fires only when the weapon has been pointed in exactly the right place, taking into account dozens of variables, including wind, shake and distance to the target. The rifle has a built-in laser range finder, a ballistics computer and a Wi-Fi transmitter to stream live video and audio to a nearby iPad. Every shot is recorded so it can be replayed, or posted to YouTube or Facebook."
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Passenger's iPhone May Have Sent a Plane Off Course

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  about a year and a half ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "Bloomberg reports that as the airlines and the FAA wrangle over whether to permit the use of electronics onboard passenger aircraft, anecdotal evidence continues to suggest that personal electronics can mess with a plane's avionics. The article cites a particular incident in 2011 where turning off a passenger's iPhone seemed to fix a problem with the cockpit compass that was sending the plane several miles off course. "Laboratory tests have shown some devices broadcast radio waves powerful enough to interfere with airline equipment, according to NASA, aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. (BA) and the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority... Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), which argued for relaxed rules, told the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration its pilots and mechanics reported 27 suspected incidents of passenger electronics causing aircraft malfunctions from 2010 to 2012. Atlanta-based Delta said it couldn’t verify there was interference in any of those cases.""
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Copyright Troll Righthaven Loses Last Appeal

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  about a year and a half ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "Ars Technica reports that copyright troll Righthaven is finished. Righthaven is the Las Vegas operation that sought to make a business out of making copyright claims to newspaper articles, find people who had posted pieces of those articles online, and then threaten those people with massive statutory damages unless they sent in checks. This morning, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit told Righthaven to take a hike (PDF).
In a follow-up press release, Marc Randazza, the lawyer who helped bring Righthaven down, said "given Righthaven’s unwillingness to make rational choices, I expect a petition for the United States Supreme Court to hear the case. Stay tuned.”"
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Another Internet Scam: Scientific Journals

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  about 2 years ago

WheezyJoe (1168567) writes "Wanna get rich quick with a server and a business plan? Dupe unwitting researchers, gullible scientists, and unapologetic charlatans seeking to pad their resumes into sending you their precious papers — and then charge 'em a nice fat fee. Peer review? Nope! The "editorial board" is there to recruit more sales (submissions)! According to this article in the New York Times, all you need is a name that looks and sounds like a legitimate scientific journal or seminar (e.g., just add a hyphen), and sucker scientists will make your business a success! Own one journal, own 250! Fill cyberspace with "scientific" papers of dubious quality! Ain't the Internet great?"
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Ransomware Is On The Rise

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  more than 2 years ago

WheezyJoe writes "Ransomware is becoming big enough that the NY Times is covering it. Essentially online extortion, ransomware involves infecting a user’s computer with a virus that locks it, scours the drive for personal info, and demands money before the computer will be unlocked. In some countries, the payout rate has been as high as 15 percent. Early variations of ransomware locked computers, displayed porno, and, in Russian, demanded a fee to have it removed. Now, fake messages from local law enforcement accuse victims of visiting illegal pornography, gambling or piracy sites and demand fines to unlock the computer, many originating from sites hacked from GoDaddy. 'This is the new Nigerian e-mail scam... We’ll be talking about this for the next two years.'"
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US Mobile Carriers Won't Brick Stolen Phones

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  more than 2 years ago

WheezyJoe writes "NBC News has some wicked disturbing security video of people getting beat up... over their smart phones. And it's on the rise. Police Chiefs like D.C.'s Cathy Lanier are asking US mobile carriers to brick phones that are reported stolen to dry up what must be a big underground market for your favorite Android or iPhone, but right now they won't do it. So I suppose we're best leaving our mobile phones at home?"
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Shadowy Source of a TV Attack Ad

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

WheezyJoe writes "How many people actually read that text at the end of an attack ad about some "coalition" or "people for such-and-such" or remember to look up the web-site for dose of greater truthiness? The author of this NY Times article (subscription maybe required) checked up on a Medicare ad (complete with a talking baby!) and found a series of dead-ends, a PO box at Mailboxes Etc., and a shadowy corporation with no staff. From the article,
One last clue emerged from the filings. They showed that much of its money had gone to a Florida consulting firm, the Fenwick Group, a two-person outfit whose Web site listed other clients that included health care and technology companies.
I called the phone number for Fenwick. A man answered.
“K & M Insurance,” he said.
“I’m looking to speak to somebody with the Fenwick Group,” I said.
“Oh, that would be Jay.”"

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Microsoft Open-Sources U-Prove Secure ID Framework

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  more than 4 years ago

WheezyJoe writes "ArsTechnica posts that Microsoft has released an SDK for U-Prove under its Open Specification Promise. The U-Prove system allows the creation of secure ID tokens, incorporating whatever information is needed for a given transaction — but no more — along with cryptographic protection to ensure that it can't be forged, reused, traced back to the user, or linked to other tokens.

FTFA: "In a world with U-Prove, many existing identity management problems would go away. If my credit card company and online music service both supported U-Prove, I could create a token that allowed a single limited electronic money transfer from my card to the music company, without disclosing my name, address, or date of birth, and without that token being usable to make further purchases."
The release as Open Source is apparently to encourage the adoption of the technology, which would require new software at both vendors and end-users."

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Download Trouble with Windows 7 Student Offer

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  more than 5 years ago

WheezyJoe writes "Windows 7, Home Premium or Professional, can be had by students with an .edu e-mail account for only $29.99if it works. The special pricing is handled by a third-party host that surprised many takers by failing to produce a burnable ISO. Microsoft acknowledges the problem and suggests a workaround, with which some have claimed success. Speaking personally, confidence is uncertain. Why couldn't they just put a DVD in the mail like normal people?"
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Apple Stores Demonstrate that Retail Still Lives

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  more than 6 years ago

WheezyJoe writes "Maybe OS X Leopard has its problems, but the New York Times seems to think Apple has designed the ideal techie retail store. A policy that encourages lingering, with dozens of fully functioning computers, iPods and iPhones for visitors to try, even for hours on end (one patron wrote a manuscript entirely at the store) has 'given some stores, especially those in urban neighborhoods, the feel of a community center... Meanwhile, the Sony flagship store on West 56th Street, a few blocks from Apple's Fifth Avenue store, has the hush of a mausoleum. And being inside the long and narrow blue-toned Nokia store on 57th Street feels a bit like being inside an aquarium. The high-end Samsung Experience showroom, its nuevo tech music on full blast one recent morning, was nearly empty.'"
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Little Old Lady Hammers Comcast

WheezyJoe WheezyJoe writes  |  more than 7 years ago

WheezyJoe writes "The Washington Post reports that a little old lady took a hammer to Comcast. Apparently fed up with the lousy service she received from a botched Comcast installation of "triple-play", and a completely humiliating experience at a customer service center, 75-year-old Mona "The Hammer" Shaw took her claw hammer back to the customer service center and bludgeoned the office equipment into tiny plastic pieces. The article includes pictures."

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