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Comment: Pleaded Guilty, Broken Link (Score 1) 312 312

The link to the article is broken (of course).

If the first charge wasn't a crime then Amin had the option not to plead guilty to it. On the other hand, if he's satisfied with the plea deal his attorney presumably negotiated (presumably heavily based on the other charge), then maybe a guilty plea was his best option. Absent evidence to the contrary, one has to assume his attorney properly assessed whether that first charge could have been beaten in court and weighed that factor in advising his client.

Comment: Only One Immediate Question, Really (Score 1) 743 743

The Greek government can never repay its current debt obligations, primarily held now by public sector international creditors that bailed out their own reckless and very poorly capitalized private banks to keep them on life support. (It takes two parties to accumulate debt: creditor and debtor. Greece's creditors shared at least as much blame as Greece's prior governments.) That's just a simple mathematical fact. The only remaining salient question in this tragedy is whether the European Central Bank (ECB), and specifically one very democratically unelected banker (Mario Draghi), will take affirmative action to destroy Greece's banking system solely because some other party (the Greek government) cannot and will not, in fact, repay its (euro-denominated) debts. As an approximate analogy it'd be as if the U.S. Federal Reserve decided to destroy Citibank, J.P. Morgan Chase, and BNY Mellon by terminating their loan facilities from the lender of last resort, even via nationalization, if the State of New York, where those banks are based, were to default on its bonds. Yes, that's *crazy*, that the Federal Reserve would act in such a way, yet here we are with the ECB.

Comment: Among the Many Big Questions (Score 1) 72 72

1. Customer opt in or opt out? Binary control, or more fine grained control?
2. Security? Liability?
3. Will the "financial tech incubators, accelerators, and startups" be held to the same requirements and same standards? If not, why not?
4. How will API evolution and versioning work? Who's responsible?
5. How will compliance with the standard(s) (and service levels) be enforced?

Comment: Smartphone Stability Nominees (Score 1) 484 484

1. Apple's iOS compares quite well, but if you want to maximize stability be cautious about updates until there are some reports (some of the 7.x and 8.x releases were clunkers, though the current 8.3 seems quite good now), and turn off features you don't need, especially the privacy-invading ones.

2. Blackberry. They're still around, and they're rather solid -- provided the device is. (Some of their devices have been clunkers, others solid. Again, take a look at consensus reports.)

3. Nokia/Microsoft S40 devices. You can still find some S40 devices (unlocked and inexpensive), though they are not as feature rich and stretch the definition of "smartphone" downward. I've got an S40 device that, at least once updated to the latest S40 release, is rock solid -- and lasts a long, long time per battery charge. The S40 devices are not long for the world, though, so don't get too attached.

4. If you experiment with Android, I'd stick to the purest form of it: Google's Nexus devices. If Google cannot make Android work well on its own branded devices then nobody can.

Comment: IBM's Tape Capacities Are Largest Available (Score 1) 229 229

I think you're out of date by several months. IBM TS1150 holds 10TB uncompressed per tape cartridge, not 8.5TB (or 8.0TB -- to get up to 8.5TB is a little "weird"). Sustained data rate is 360MB/s, not 252MB/s. Yes, LTO state-of-the-art is well behind both IBM TS1150 and Oracle STK T10000D.

Comment: And the Swiss Franc (Score 3, Insightful) 389 389

The recent strength of the Swiss Franc isn't helping Swiss watchmakers export more of their products. Granted, currency isn't helping Apple either, but Apple has tremendously more pricing flexibility than the entire Swiss watch industry.

Comment: Yes: Free Money from the IRS! (Score 1) 734 734

Let's suppose you have two children and your U.S. Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is about $75,000 or less. (If you earn more the math *might* change.) When you file your U.S. tax return (filing status Single, or Head of Household if you qualify), as a resident of Belgium (a comparatively high income tax jurisdiction) you should NOT take the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion or Foreign Housing Exclusion (IRS Form 2555). Instead you should only take the Foreign Tax Credit (IRS Form 1116). You should also take the Additional Child Tax Credit (IRS Schedule 8812). Follow that particular path, preferably using your favorite tax preparation software (even the free ones like TaxAct or TaxSlayer), and you should see a REFUND at the bottom of your tax return. Yes, the IRS will send you $1000 per U.S. citizen child per year in free money. Really. (In tax years 2009 and 2010 there was another $400 in free money available as a special refundable tax credit, but maybe you missed that.)

Take the money and save it for your kids, or spend it on your kids, or some of both. That's about $17,000 per child in free money over their childhoods. When they turn 18, THEY can decide whether they wish to terminate their U.S. citizenships or not. I'd advise them not (under present conditions at least), but under current law it's free to do so before age 18 1/2. Even if it's not free, they've started with $17,000 in free money plus interest.

No brainer, here: get your kids' U.S. citizenships documented. U.S. citizenship literally pays.

Comment: YouTube Handily Beats CNN (Score 1) 105 105

YouTube has more viewers and gets basic facts wrong less often than CNN. Yet despite CNN's numerous ongoing deficiencies, the President has been quite generous and gracious to the network, appearing for interviews several times -- including a one-on-one interview with Candy Crowley late last month.

Comment: Re:Creating Precedence (Score 1) 325 325

Heathrow is restricted airspace. NOTHING should be in that area, it's the world's busiest airport.

Though I absolutely agree nothing else should be in the controlled airspace around Heathrow (or any other controlled airspace) without the full knowledge, permission, and constant monitoring of air traffic controllers, Heathrow is not the world's busiest. Heathrow serves the largest number of international airline passengers annually. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the world's busiest both in terms of passengers served and aircraft movements.

Comment: Perfect Reason for Another Campaign (Score 1) 433 433

Assuming there's no legal barrier -- and there aren't many nowadays -- a new, even quixotic campaign allows the very same (mostly) donors/suckers/bribers to kick in more money to pay off the previous campaign's debts. It's a terrific racket.

Comment: Re:smaller screens (Score 1) 112 112

I found your smartphone(s). Apple's iPhone 5s is more than decently spec'ed, and it has a 4.0 inch display. Apple's iPhone 5c is very decently spec'ed -- specifications are a bit better than the iPhone 5 -- and also has a 4.0 inch display. The Blackberry Q10 also meets or exceeds your criteria. If you insist on an Android-based device then it depends on what you mean by "decently spec'ed." Possible candidates include Asus's new Zenfone 4, Sony's Xperia M, Samsung's Galaxy Ace 3 (the Ace 4 may be a downgrade), and Huawei's Ascend Y300. I think I'd pick the Xperia M within that Android group, but your mileage may vary.

Comment: IE8 Last for Windows XP (Score 3, Interesting) 134 134

Internet Explorer 8 was the last Internet Explorer available for Windows XP. Was Microsoft tempted to ignore the security exposure until XP fell out of support? Are there other security vulnerabilities in Windows XP reported before April, 2014, that Microsoft has ignored? Will Microsoft ignore (or at least slow walk) reported security vulnerabilities in their other products as they get nearer (but not actually reach) their end of support dates?

These continuing security defects are really beyond ridiculous. Maybe regulators -- the European Commission? -- ought to be mandating that vendors fix security vulnerabilities in their products within, say, 120 days. That would extend to all products sold (refurbished, new, whatever) within the past, say, 7 years. Otherwise, the vendor will be automatically barred from selling anything unless and until their security messes are cleaned up.

"Any excuse will serve a tyrant." -- Aesop