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+ - Meet The Magician Who Can Fix Your Crappy No-Bars Cell Signal->

Submitted by Colonel Korn
Colonel Korn (1258968) writes "In 2006, CNET editor James Kim and his family were lost in a snowstorm in Oregon. After several days without food or heat James set out on foot to find a phone signal. His family was rescued, but James died of exposure. Upon hearing the story, semi-retired electrical engineer John Wilbur, designer of some of the first coin operated video games, the first WYSIWYG graphics card for Apple computers, and first solid state disk for PCs, began looking for an answer.

People get lost and die a lot more than you might expect: last year there were about a thousand search and rescue cases in Oregon alone, leading to about a hundred deaths. John realized that a key problem was the difficulty of efficiently finding a phone signal when you're standing in a dead zone and he came up with a software solution, which he's coupled with unpowered, cordless hardware that gives a 15 dB increase in signal strength to make dead zones useable. The hardware and software are being sold under the brand DOTS911 and are up on Kickstarter now."

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Comment: Clarification (Score 1) 90

by Colonel Korn (#45988795) Attached to: Google Announces Smart Contact Lens Project For Diabetics

Before anyone gets the idea that Google did meaningful research, know that the real science and technology here has been demonstrated in labs for 20 years. The quotation from Google in TFS makes it look like Google solved a "mystery" and did science, but what they did is normal Google work: they packaged other people's publicly funded and disclosed work, slapped patent protection on it, and commercialized it. To some people this is the heart of innovation, but whether or not you think it's impressive, at least recognize that Google did polishing and packaging here, not an iota of science.

Comment: Re:is Google turning evil? (Score 1) 195

by Colonel Korn (#45318511) Attached to: You're Only As Hirable As Your Google+ Circles

What you do is you delete both and switch to an email provider who is less insane and has a better idea what you want.

I'd love to do so. To answer the GP, I think Google has been hellbent on being evil since it was founded. On the other hand, I'm lazy and I like the Gmail interface, plus the nearly instant push of new messages to my phone. Does anyone have a recommendation for a much more privacy-focused email provider with a Gmail-like interface (even better if it's like Gmail from a couple years ago) and two-factor authentication?

Comment: Re:So what you're saying... (Score 1) 659

by Colonel Korn (#44802839) Attached to: Should the U.S. bomb Syria?

Please provide some evidence to support that statement. I think that the Iraq War, waterboarding at guantanamo bay, and illegal wiretapping under the Bush administration are areas in which the Obama administration is not measurably worse.

Obama (who I voted for once) looks like his military legacy will be similar to Bush's, he's gone nuts with not just torture but also murder of US citizens with zero judicial oversight, and he's vastly, dramatically, improbably, and astonishingly expanded the illegal wiretapping he complained about when it was done under Bush.

Comment: Re:Slow scrolling... (Score 1) 172

by Colonel Korn (#44758499) Attached to: Yahoo! Sports Redesign Sparks Controversy, Disdain From Users

The redesign isn't the worst I've seen, but damn it scrolls slow. There seems to be about a one second delay between me hitting my scroll wheel and the page actually responding. I didn't have this issue on the old player pages.

The scrolling wouldn't even be that huge of an issue, but they have forced all the relevant information (stats) down below all of the pointless crap (I don't really care where Buster Posey was born). So now the first thing I have to do on their player pages is... scroll down to the bottom, which now takes forever.

What type of education does it take to develop and design websites; highschool? GED?

It's not just that they've added pointless crap above the useful info, but even if you scroll down to see the useful info it now requires about 2000 vertical pixels to do something as simple as see what's going on in a baseball game, which means constantly clunky scrolling. Even that might be justified if the lower information density made it less cluttered and easier to read, but with the pointless crap additions and the busy backgrounds, it's very difficult to quickly parse the data right in the middle of your screen.

From an objective "how much time and effort does it take for me to get the information out of this page?" perspective, this is the worst redesign of any product I've ever seen, and I'm including non-computer products. In all of recorded history, I'm not aware of a bigger design mistake.

Comment: Re:someone's gotta start the show (Score 2) 175

by Colonel Korn (#44697895) Attached to: Silicon Valley's Loony Cheerleading Culture Is Out of Control

I think that much of the 90% failure rate has to be blamed on the venture firms, which are very reluctant to invest in any idea that isn't the 10th clone of an already highly visible and possibly successful idea. If you make the 100th photo sharing app with geotagging and integration with Facebook and it looks like it has a clean interface, you can probably find an investor. If you come up with a truly new concept you'll be met with blank stares and FUD based on the lack of a proven market.

Comment: Re:Some people are 0 miles away (Score 1) 159

by Colonel Korn (#44667721) Attached to: Wildfire Threatens Water and Power To San Francisco

This fire is burning right next to actual people, not sure why we need to worry about SF 200 miles away. Actual people are right on the fire line in danger, they should be the ones reported on. I know this is a tech site and the bay is the tech center, but remember the firefighters and civilians that are actually on site, and not just experiencing a minor inconvenience.

Thank you. This morning the visibility from my house at the edge of the evacuation zone was under 100 feet. I couldn't see the house across the street. The effect on SF is smaller than the effect on Groveland, Pine Mountain Lake, Tuolumne City, and even Reno.

Another point that should be made is that SF is almost exactly 100 miles west, not 200. I wonder who came up with the 200 number and why it stuck. You know what's 200 miles east of SF? Nevada.

Comment: Re:Not to worry, (Score 1) 159

by Colonel Korn (#44667689) Attached to: Wildfire Threatens Water and Power To San Francisco

Rain is in the forcast for the area, it should put out the fire just before the mud-slides start.

I know this is a joke post, but I'll reply since it's been modded +4 informative.

No, rain hasn't been forecast in the area. Humidity during the day is around 20%.

Also, no, there aren't mudslides in burnt areas in this part of the state. The soil and root systems are quite different from those in southern California.

Comment: Re:What is it about the Nook? (Score 2) 132

by Colonel Korn (#44664519) Attached to: Barnes & Noble Won't Give Up On the Nook

I have an older Kindle, and 2 Kobo's. I've never tried a Nook (can't recall ever seeing one in a store up here in Canada but the Kobo's can be found in lots of stores) so I can't tell if it's better or not. I don't tend to judge by features only, I like trying them out.

A big selling point with me is there needs to be a button to turn the page and it has to be comfortable to hold with 1 hand while turning pages, something you can't really do with touch gestures to turn pages.

Basically when I'm asking is, what does Nook bring to the table that the others do not?

It's pretty similar to current Kindles, but the current 7" Nook HD (my wife has one) feels more comfortable than my equivalent7" Kindle Fire HD for long reading sessions for each of us thanks to a somewhat different curvature to the back. The other thing the Nook has is access to the Google app store, which I won't mention by name because then it sounds dumb.

Comment: Re:No need for an expansion, Blizzard (Score 1) 137

by Colonel Korn (#44634203) Attached to: <em>Diablo 3</em> Expansion Announced: <em>Reaper of Souls</em>

You're already reaped my soul with Diablo 3. I had to Exile myself to repair the damage you've done to my soul.

"legendary items will include unique ways to modify how your character functions" is one of the ~10 innovations that make Path of Exile so much better than D3, and given Blizzard's track record I'm confident that the D3 expansion implementation won't be nearly as interesting or fun as the feature it's cloning from PoE.

Comment: Re:Only one thing is for sure... (Score 1, Flamebait) 251

by Colonel Korn (#44613671) Attached to: Why the NSA Can't Replace 90% of Its System Administrators

Probably hundreds of thousands of people have worked for the NSA and only a small hand full of them have betrayed their country, stole secrets, and defected.

Working for the NSA is a betrayal of country, so I think that 100% of those people have by definition earned your disapproval.

Comment: Re: Here's the real problem (Score 1) 363

by Colonel Korn (#44576533) Attached to: Studying the Slow Decay of a Laptop Battery For an Entire Year

Try that with a transmission and see if you get more than a 12 month warranty. New batteries might not have a massively longer warranty but given that they are still very new technology and the transmissions and engines are a century old, it begs the question of why they still can't provide a replacement product worthy of a better warranty?

In my experience, replacement transmissions typically have lifetime warranties.

Comment: Re:So basically surfing net while taking notes (Score 1) 313

by Colonel Korn (#44573451) Attached to: Using Laptop To Take Notes Lowers Grades

Wonder if this study would still be the same if they were actually writing, but using a ipad or something. Digital notes. Or if the results would still be similar because the kicker is the fact that these people tend to wander off on to the interwebs

It would have to be something with an active digitizer, like the Surface Pro, to allow comfortable handwritten notes. Even if you wear a gloves to fix the palm issue, iPad note taking with a capacitive stylus is pretty clunky and inaccurate.

FORTRAN rots the brain. -- John McQuillin

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