Actually Asus' firmware IS open source. GPL even. You can download the sources and play with them and improve them. Which is exactly what Merlin does.
You might want to educate yourself on the subject. Here's a starting point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_and_technology_in_Romania
Not much fundamental research happening over the past 20 years or so - probably because the best and brightest are all working abroad. But, before that, I believe Romania contributed more than its fair share.
You can go into an AT&T store, pay $25 and walk out with a paygo sim card with $25 credit. You can then choose the $2/day unlimited voice/text or $0.10 per minute/text plans. It's more expensive, but doable.
A teaspoon of The Hottest Fuckin' Sauce (600K Scoville) in my bowl of chilli, please.
Yeah, I'm a Ginger
I suggest you buy a local SIM, otherwise roaming charges will kill you. Think $1-2 per minute, or more, depending on your home carrier.
You will have to choose between AT&T or T-Mobile, they are the two (main) GSM providers. Both offer nationwide prepaid plans. Your N9 will work on both networks in 3G mode, your iphone will work on both networks in EDGE mode and on AT&T in 3G mode. In urban areas they're probably similar, but AT&T has significantly better coverage in rural areas. You can check their website for coverage maps. You can also check their website for pricing on prepaid plans (called gophone on at&t and pay as you go on tmobile).
I am more familiar with AT&T plans, since that's what I buy for my parents when they come to visit from Europe: the SIM costs $25 to buy, but it gives you $25 credit to your account so it is essentially free. Some clueless salesperson might want to convince you otherwise, but prepaid SIM card purchases are so rare they don't really know what's going on. You have a choice of plans, $0.10/minute, $0.20/SMS or if you're going to use your phone a lot, $2/day for unlimited voice/SMS access. You can also add a data package to this, which will cost you extra.
One thing you need to know about US cellular market is that you pay for incoming calls and texts at the same rate as for outgoing calls. This is compensated by the fact that rates don't differ if you're calling to a different network, either cellular or landline. Obviously, this does not matter if you decide to go for the $2/day unlimited plan.
T-Mobile's plans are different, I don't think they offer an unlimited option, and they are a bit more expensive, depending on your usage. Also, not sure you can get a data plan with them.
You are probably free to leave without paying an Early Termination Fee.
Are you still paying different rates, depending on which network you're calling to?
Encoders often embed various metadata, such as timestamps, etc. Chances are same file, same software, same system, encoded twice, will result in different hashes.
And if you can't find the phone you want with Boost, try Virgin Mobile, they're Sprint pre-paid as well. You might even be able to just swap SIMs and use the phones on either service (iDEN phones notwithstanding).
Sprint is CDMA, there's no SIM card to be swapped there. Also Boost and Virgin phones are locked to their respective carriers, you can't buy from one and use the other for service.
If it's only going to be fully functional on AT&T, you may as well go for the contract, since you won't be saving any money on service.
The point of having an unlocked iphone even on AT&T is to be able to use a local SIM card when you travel. Another reason would be to use an AT&T prepaid account, which would be a lot less expensive than their regular voice plans.
I believe the problem lies at the interface between humans and software. It appears that in this case the software ran into a situation that it cold not handle properly, and the humans were not trained to recognize this limitation. Kinda reminds me of people that trust GPS navigators blindly and end up in a river or stranded in some desert.
The other thing to keep in mind is that I'm sure the first commercially available digital computers weren't particularly more useful, but it's an important step.
IIRC, ENIAC was used to compute the trajectory of artillery shells. The following ones were heavily involved in the design of nuclear weapons.
I suspect your ISPs are not also large media conglomerates that stand to lose if customers enjoy unlimited high speed streaming
I worked in a virtual team for 3 years and we were pretty successful. Here's how we did it:
1. Core hours are the single most important thing. Have everybody there at the same time. +/- 1-2 hrs are ok, but opposite timezone are not. We all worked on EST with schedules that varied by at most 1 hr.
2. Continuous IM presence. We also kept a couple of group chats open. One group chat can serve as "water cooler" chat, for swapping failblog links and general breeze shooting.
3. Group Video conferences. Not always on, you don't need to be distracted by someone burping when you want to focus on your code. Especially since pining somebody is as easy as an IM message. Skype works, but group video chat is not free
4. Virtual whiteboards, using wacom tablets. To be used during video conferences.
5. Collaborative editor, such as SubEthaEdit. For code reviews, note taking, etc.
6. Normal software engineering tools, dscm, wiki, issue tracker, etc
This stuff does not have to be expensive, it can be done with off the shelf software and equipment. I think more important is the set of rules and procedures that need to be established (see #1, core hours). Also the quality of people in the team is crucial, but that goes for collocated teams as well.
The map is not accurate. It says I have access to fiber (presumably FIOS), which I don't. It also claims I don't have access to Docsis 3 cable service, which I do.
And don't get me started on how spectacularly crappy it works on Safari and Firefox.