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Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer

gordguide Make Them Pay (401 comments)

I had a little hassle with my Cable Company over cancelling my service, so I just hung up and redialed. The second call was to "remove the cable drop" because the "house was being demolished". They actually gave me a little grief over this, so I said "either you remove it or I will, and I won't be careful". This costs them (around here) about $200 because they contract this to a third party company. Don't worry if you want cable again in the future, they will happily re-install the drop. Costs them ANOTHER $200). You can do this any number of times you want. They will always remove and reinstall at their expense.

about 5 months ago

Copyright Lobby Wants Canada Out of TPP Until Stronger Copyright Laws Passed

gordguide Just some quiet lobbying for a done deal (164 comments)

Prime Minister Harper is determined to expand FT agreements worldwide. Last week the final touches on the FTA with the EU was finalized. They have eliminated the Canadian Wheat Board late in 2011 ... something that the US vigorously demanded in the original US-Canada FTA signed by George Bush Sr and PM Brian Mulroney and ratified by the two governments in 1988 ... and then equally vigorously demanded a second time when the Canada-US FTA was abandoned and NAFTA (adding Mexico) took it's place. He has also gone on record as saying he will dismantle any legislation that stands in the way of the Trans Pacific Partnership (there are Dairy and Poultry mechanisms that are also on the chopping block, and which the US is keen to exploit once they do).

Since he's already (twice) introduced the very legislation this story calls for over a number of years (due to political realities, like elections and minority governments they haven't yet been able to pass the legislation, but with a fresh mandate and a solid majority this time it won't be an issue) I very strongly suspect this is a planted comment asked for by Canadian diplomats and the US has complied. It's clearly designed to blunt some of the opposition to many aspects of the bill domestically (and which have been subjects on /. previously). The hard reality is he has the power to pass the law anytime over the next 3 years or so and he will.

I can imagine diplomats on both sides smiling at the success of the plant making Slashdot.

more than 2 years ago

Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones

gordguide Re:multitasking (1003 comments)

It's not like it's unheard of. To get a pilot's licence, you have to experience and recover from a stall ... a potentially fatal condition that causes many air fatalities. The thing is, they don't just talk about it ... they put you in the goddamn airplane, take off and fly in the air, put you at the controls, and then make you stall the goddamn plane, and make you recover from the stall. The instructor sometimes has to intervene to save your life, and his. You can expect to experience pretty much all of the other possible danger conditions, and have to show competency getting out of them, or you fail.

A bunch of mechanical stuff is on the written test ... you have to know about the various kinds of engines, propellers, brake systems, how they work, what to do if one fails, etc.

Having said all that, getting a pilot's license is not "hard". Any reasonably competent person can do it; including a few that shouldn't come within a hundred yards of a pilot's seat. I've flown with five pilots who are now dead, they were competent professionals but that's no guarantee all your problems will go away. They were all better pilots than some others I've flown with who are still alive and still incompetent.

So, it's not like more stringent license procedures would actually give us nothing but good drivers, but it would at least help a few people take it more seriously, and it might give us a slightly higher percentage of better drivers.

As long as people realize that a small improvement is all you're going to get out of it. It's not going to solve any "big picture" issues, which is what I think a lot of people who support it think is going to happen.

about 3 years ago

Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones

gordguide Re:Is it worth the risk? (1003 comments)

I always like to keep in mind a headline from The Onion (a parody news magazine ... only mentioned because I have seen people take an Onion article seriously). But, like all parody, it works best when it reveals an underlying truth. Anyway ... the title:

"97% of Americans polled reveal they are in support of other people taking public transit."

about 3 years ago

Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones

gordguide Re:multitasking (1003 comments)

It's pretty hard ... I'd say impossible, but perhaps there's some scenario one might imagine ... to use a manual transmission without anticipating traffic and executing your intentions deliberately and with planning. Nor is it all that easy to fiddle with a cellphone or drink coffee when both hands are needed to operate the vehicle.

If you look at cockpit videos of professional drivers, they have their right hand (North America) either on the wheel or on the shifter, and they don't rest their hand on the shifter; it goes to the wheel the moment it's not needed to operate the transmission.

I won't suggest the average manual driver has the same discipline or habits ... one hand on the wheel is common in every kind of car ... and the automatic transmission is hardly an evil thing, but it frees up an idle hand to create mischief, almost invitingly so.

I don't see anything wrong with a vehicle that requires two feet and two hands to operate; most people have all four and know how to use them.

Although I could be accused of commenting on the obvious, apparently it requires pointing out specifically ... you're there to drive the car. Using both your hands and both your feet to do so is hardly an intrusion; it's the only job you actually have at the moment.

about 3 years ago

Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones

gordguide It's an issue, regardless of this incident (1003 comments)

Can't comment on this particular accident.

However, we do have data in Canadian provinces regarding hand-held devices (cellphones, texting behaviour, etc) and driving.

In Saskatchewan (pop 1 million) fatal accidents known to have contributing factors of the driver either taking on a cellphone or texting while driving were 60 in 2010 (the last year data was available), with 8500 non-fatal accidents.

This compares to 69 fatalities attributed to impaired driving, with 760 injuries and only 1400 collisions.

Since impaired driving as a cause can be made with much more certainty (blood alcohol readings are taken from drivers either by breath analysis or blood tests at the hospital or by the coroner when road accidents are involved) it remains a possibility that talking/texting while driving has surpassed impaired driving (about 20%) as the major cause of road fatalities in that jurisdiction.

about 3 years ago

Australia's Biggest Airline Grounds Its Entire Fleet

gordguide Re:Not a Slashdot Story (374 comments)

WTF; rest of my post disappeared.

Should Read:

On That Note ...

An airline was shut down by executive order over a labour (as they spell it in Australia) dispute.

This is not a Slashdot Story. Stop approving these or "utter failure" looms ominously.

more than 3 years ago

Australia's Biggest Airline Grounds Its Entire Fleet

gordguide Not a Slashdot Story (374 comments)

" ... Mistakes are often the stepping stones to utter failure. ..."

That was the Slashdot 'Quote of the day' displayed when I read this topic (and set out to grumble, which is what this comment is).

I actually don't really agree with the sentiment expressed ... mistakes are key to learning, and often lead us where our tunnel vision won't let us go. But you can't argue that all mistakes have some saintly outcome; some are just warnings that you should stop now and abandon your course. Maybe the random /. quote generator isn't so random.

On that note ...

more than 3 years ago

RadioShack Trying To Return To Its DIY Roots

gordguide Re:You mean that cell phone store? (413 comments)

the ones that have been rebranded 'The Source by Circuit City' in Canada still sell a modest range of components and miscellaneous useful adapters and cables and so on at decent prices. Nothing like as decent a range as Maplins in the UK, but better than the big box electronics stores.

Actually, they're neither Radio Shack or Circuit City operations in Canada.

They're owned by Bell Canada; Circuit City USA went bankrupt and in 2009 Bell bought the Canadian assets of The Source from Circuit City, which were still profitable and a viable operation, and operated by a Circuit City subsidiary, a company called InterTAN.

InterTAN was formed from the former Canadian operations of Tandy/Radio Shack ... don't know the exact date, but think 20 years or so, when Tandy USA spun off and sold them to Canadian investors. If you dig through your parts bin, you definitely have to go a long way back to find the Tandy Radio Shack name in the small print on the back of the package if you bought it in Canada; for many people, all they will have will be marked InterTAN instead, even if it says Radio Shack on the front.

There was a licensing agreement to use the Radio Shack name, however, as part of the deal. When Circuit City bought InterTAN in 2004, that licensing agreement was declared invalid (after a lawsuit, by Radio Shack USA, of course) in 2005. Thus the rename to "The Source by Circuit City".

Technically now they're called "The Source (Bell Electronics, Inc)". Some stores, however, to this day retain the old branding with the "The Source by Circuit City" name on the outside signage. You could probably chalk that up to Bell being cheap more than anything else.

InterTAN, which is still based in Barrie, Ontario, was created out of a big part of the "old" Radio Shack operation in Barrie, which was responsible for sourcing components offshore and commissioning the Radio Shack branded parts, like Archer, Realistic, etc, and warehousing and distributing stock for North America. It was sold by Radio Shack's parent company, I believe which is Tandy, and renamed InterTAN at that time.

So, there hasn't been a true Radio Shack in Canada for many years, and although the two companies have been independent for a very long time, there was some relationship that saw the same products in both stores, but also they differed with each offering unique products not available to the other. Although there is some relevance because there are similarities between the two national companies product mix and target customers, for the most part this /. submission has nothing to do with the Canadian situation.

Since they're now owned by one of Canada's largest cellular phone networks, it's hardly surprising that the phones are prominently marketed in the stores in Canada.

more than 3 years ago

AppleCare Reps Told To Skirt Malware Questions

gordguide Re:Ignorance is strength (389 comments)

Apple has NEVER denied that any computer, including it's own, is potentially vulnerable to exploits. Their position is the same as it's always been ... users should take appropriate precautions. At times in the past they've offered for free commercial anti-virus apps as part of AppleCare and DotMac. Current users should download Sophos Antivirus for Mac. It's free.

more than 3 years ago

Merck's Drug Propecia Linked To Sexual Dysfunction

gordguide Re:This drug really screws up female fertility (235 comments)

Except that Gardisil is KILLING girls that take it. In fact Australia BANNED the drug after it killed more than 30 girls in a short period of time. Kind of like Bayer getting caught shipping AIDS infected Factor VIII to Africa. These drug companies are part of a EUGENICS operation. They working with some top elites want to KILL YOU and your families! They want to get the world population down to 500 million or less. Heck go read the Georgia Guide Stones to see that.

Australia did not ban Gardisil, it is still available for voluntary vaccination, and the Australian health authorities have no known deaths linked to Gardisil in Australia.


The rest of your post ... well, Gardicil would have to be just a bit more toxic than even you suggest to have a hope. Either the conspirators are laughably inept, or there's no conspiracy. The /. reader is free to decide.

Reports of deal associated with Gardicil have two things in common; one, no link to the vaccine could be found in forensic investigation, and two, the causal relationship is simply one of sequence; this girl dies of unknown causes, no link to Gardicil can be found, but she had been vaccinated at some point earlier in her life. The link to hot dogs causing the death is equally strong, equally unproven, equally unhelpful, and equally attractive to paranoid killer hot-dog conspiracists.

more than 3 years ago

The Facebook Obsession

gordguide Re:A lot! (265 comments)

One out of every 13 Earthlings and three out of four Americans is on Facebook, and one out of 26 signs into Facebook on a daily basis."

Wow, there's a lot of losers!

Well, 25 of 26 don't sign into Facebook daily. 4% losers ... sounds about right, Facebook or no Facebook.

more than 3 years ago

Former Truck Driver Reconstructs A-bomb

gordguide Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (332 comments)

" ... However, I'm still pretty sure they couldn't just pour whiskey in the tank and expect it to work. Your gas line antifreeze is basically just alchohol, sure -- but whiskey on the other hand, even if it was 180 proof, is still 10 percent water. Ever try to run a car on watered down gas? ..."

Well, "whisky" is not what you would get from a quick distillation. 180 proof alcohol (95% alcohol, 5% water) most certainly does work fine as a fuel in an internal combustion engine. In fact, aside from the taxes and the fact that it does not have poisonous alcohol added to prevent drinking (denatured alcohol) the liquor store variety is exactly the same thing as acceptable fuel grade alcohol.

Alcohol absorbs water ... petroleum (like gas) won't. Water will not necessarily prevent combustion if additional fuel is present ... water injection is common in supercharged applications, for example, and gasoline that contains suspended water will still support combustion usually to the point where the fuel filter is saturated with water and won't allow any more gas to pass to the engine. Gas line antifreeze actually works by mixing with water in gasoline fuel, absorbing that water into the alcohol, and since alcohol and petroleum will mix, suspending that water within the gasoline fuel itself, where it can be a component in combustion without ill effects.

Water will separate from alcohol-based fuel in storage ... in as little as a few weeks in a car's fuel tank if you use E85 from the pump, for example ... but while suspended in alcohol, it's not an issue and it will most definitely run in a vehicle.

Gas line antifreeze (methyl alcohol) also contains water in the factory-sealed container, as does all alcohol-based fuel ... It becomes fairly stable at the 95% : 5% ratio, but not at higher alcohol concentrations, where it will simply absorb water from the atmosphere when the last 5% is water free. Also, it's difficult to remove 100% of the water from any alcohol, especially once you get to the 95% point, each successive process to remove water removes only a portion, not the full remaining 5%, so most alcohol based fuels still contain some water even in the factory sealed container.

more than 3 years ago

Piracy Is a Market Failure — Not a Legal One

gordguide Re:Amen to that (591 comments)

If you're already at your lowest acceptable price, then there is little you can do to attack piracy from a pricing standpoint. I would think that puts you at the point where you could reasonably consider non-price based anti-piracy efforts to address the issue.

I don't think Geist is advocating abandoning or denigrating anti-piracy efforts; I think instead he is suggesting there are situations out there where vendors are not selling at their lowest acceptable price in order to maintain market pricing across diverse geographic and economic areas.

Whether that actually even applies to an iPhone app is debatable ... that market is still limited to mature economies and economically comfortable users. There was a time when, say, DVDs or business software applications were limited to those same economies, but that is not true today. 20 years ago a movie rental store paid $100 for a VHS tape when at the same time ordinary consumer could buy them for $20, and that pricing structure was protected by copyright laws regarding lending and rental versus ownership and private viewing.

What ended up happening is that $100 price fell to the new-release consumer price for both buyers. Now we have a market where streaming movies have put the rental business in disarray, and the studios now try to earn revenue from licensing or limited distribution, or both. Again, they have adjusted their per-unit pricing to reflect market reality. Even though they have done so reluctantly, to say the least, it's an admission of the market reality. The question then becomes are they justified in maintaining the higher per-DVD price in markets where streaming is not an option ... Netflix is only available in two markets at this point in time.

I don't know if that's an example of Geist's argument being implemented but it certainly might be.

There is a transition point when your product becomes a worldwide commodity attractive to what would be middle-class buyers ... I don't see iPhone apps there yet. When it does, there is a tradeoff between vastly larger buyer pools and per-unit pricing that is worth exploring as it relates to the likelihood of piracy becoming rampant.

more than 3 years ago

Former Truck Driver Reconstructs A-bomb

gordguide Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (332 comments)

" ... In regards to the attempt to run on ethonol, they might have been able to adjust the timing and get it working, if it hadn't blown the entire fuel injection manifold on the first attempt. ..."

Timing would be fine, leave as is. Swapping Alcohol for gas won't create enough pressure to blow anything ... it's still at ambient air pressure, same as running on gasoline. I once ran out of gas a few blocks from a filling station in very cold weather and didn't want to walk since I wasn't dressed properly for the weather, filled the tank with a gallon jug of gas-line antifreeze (basically, alcohol) and drove there, rigged the choke to block off some air to get the ratio about right, and drove with a bit of feathering of the gas pedal. You can do that stuff with carbs and a manual transmission, which is what the Deloran had.

more than 3 years ago

Former Truck Driver Reconstructs A-bomb

gordguide Re:not so easy for North Korea and Pakistan (332 comments)

" ... Also, it looked like he did try some alcohol, and they should have been able to adjust timing and whatnot to make the car run on ethanol, albeit probably not for very long... "

The ethanol mod would have been pretty easy ... drill the jets twice as big (the Deloran used a carbeurator, not fuel injection). You could make a drill bit .... really just a straight flute reamer is all you would need ... with files, and a brace-and-bit existed then so no power drill required. Carb jets will be brass, self-lubricating, easy to machine.

You need about a 6:1 ratio instead of 14:1 ( fuel: air, when you're stuck with guessing, run it a bit rich and you're good to go). A gallon of alcohol would have been good for maybe 10 miles at speed.

Don't need a fuel pump ... just a jug tied to the hood and a twice-as-fat-as-gas-line hose to the carb inlet, and gravity feed. Ethanol burns a bit hotter than gas, so can cause detonation, but it takes a while at full power. So, you add a bit of lamp oil to it to reduce the heat of combustion. I've done that when I ran my truck (70's era, no catalyst) on some 100/130 Leaded Aviation fuel that came from the wing tanks of a wrecked DC-4 they were salvaging. 300 miles highway, ran like a top, till I could get to civilization and a real gas station.

more than 3 years ago

$110,000 Fine Is First Under MA Data Privacy Law

gordguide Much better information here .... (97 comments)

When I read the article cited in the OP, the first question I had was how many accounts were compromised. Nothing on that in the article. So, I looked at the AG's press release. Not a word about it there, either. That seemed suspicious to me, so a bit more digging revealed this link:


... with such tidbits as the charges were laid by the AG in court on the same day the settlement was announced. Go ahead, check out the link, there's more. Much more.

Anyway, the number of accounts was an interest to me because I wanted to see exactly what the AG valued a breach at .... in other words, what is a company likely to pay in a fine for negligently giving my CC details away? Turns out the value is about a dollar ... there were 125,000 CC accounts compromised and each compromise included the cardholder's name, CC#, expiry dates and the secure code. In other words, "Jackpot" data.

more than 3 years ago

Newspaper Plagiarizes Blog, Taunts Real Author

gordguide Move along ... nothing to see here folks ... (301 comments)

Although the original article has been altered somewhat so direct comparison is impossible, I took the time to compare the two blog entries; one, his original entry on the subject, and two, his comments with direct quotes from the article.

Nowhere do they lift his words in the article. Not even one sentence, not even a half a sentence. So, no copyright infringement (at even the most generous definition of the word) and no plagerism. The news author just did some research and wrote an article.

This isn't a college paper, this is a newspaper article, and a brief one at that. (One could argue the newspaper version is a vast improvement, actually).

It may well be certain facts were gleaned from his blog entry .... facts that could have been independently verified by the news author. Verifiable facts do not enjoy copyright protection (deliberate lies inter-spread with facts do, believe it or not, that's how they copyright the phone book ... but if the alleged offender omits the lies, you're case is over).

That leaves lifting his words verbatim, which also didn't happen. Case dismissed.

more than 3 years ago

Geohot Battles Back Against Sony

gordguide Re:Yeah,. right (255 comments)

Ok, here's one. WTF does SCEA have any jurisdiction to bring this mater forward? What legal standing do they have?

The console is made in Japan. The rights are own by the Japanese company. The business agreement they tried to fuck Geohot over indicate clearly that SCEA knows this. The SDK that they were trying to prove was on Geohot's hard drive doesn't even contain any information concerning the SCEA. So what is their legal standing here?

Forget whether or not it's reasonable to assume that everyone knows that the SCEA even exists, lets start with the basics. Can it even be shown that they have the right to bring this civil suit?

Keeping in mind that I don't know either way what is the case here, one answer to your question can be found by examining what "rights" are and what they are not. They are not a whole thing, except insofar as the entire possible universe of rights are granted at the time a creative work is created. Once created as a whole, they can be cut, chopped, divided, limited, granted and revoked in literally infinite ways.

SONY could, as a way of example, give the rights to all SONY's IP now and forever to Billy Bob's Pizza Parlour in San Diego, while retaining all other rights everywhere else on Earth. They could give the rights to all SONY's IP now and forever but only on Tuesdays and only in months ending in "Y", and give the other rights to Betty Bob's Taco House in Cleveland.

Rights can be assigned to anyone, in whole or in part, and with whatever limits a gaggle of lawyers think prudent or profitable, or alternately, a team of third graders might decide would be "fun" to play with.

So, in answer to at least part of your question, SCEA could easily own the rights in question here, while SONY Japan retains any rights not assigned to SCEA.

more than 3 years ago


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