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Submission Ask Slashdot: Simple, Cross-Platform, Video Messaging

DeathToBill writes: I spend a lot of time away from my kids (think months at a time) who are aged 3-8. I keep in touch with them by Skype, but the young ones are not really old enough to concentrate on it and we're often in quite different timezones, so it's not often it can be very spontaneous. We'd like to have some way that we can record short video messages of things we're doing and send them to each other. It needs to have an iPad app that is simple enough for a three-year-old to use with help and for a five-year-old to use without help; it needs to have an Android or web client, preferably one that doesn't require an Apple ID; it needs to be able to record a short video and send it to someone.

As far as I can tell, iMessage requires Apple kit (there is an Android app but it sends all your messages through a server in China...) and Whatsapp works on iPhone but not iPad.

What can slashdot suggest?

Comment Re:Uber/Lyft could probably do this too (Score 2) 92

Not sure if it's just a US thing. In the UK, "click and collect" is available in most supermarkets (and in Australia, for that matter). But then so is web-ordered home delivery.

As I said back when Amazon started trialing this, I think they'll find it hard to compete with the supermarkets. Fresh food can't be stored in a warehouse on one side of the country and posted everywhere; it requires a complex distribution infrastructure, with local stock regularly replenished and without everything passing through a central distribution point to get there. It also requires some well-developed methodology for estimating stock requirements ahead of time. Supermarkets that are regularly out of stock don't do well, nor do ones that significantly over-stock and have to throw goods away.

Submission FTDI drags consumers into an IP war: updates drivers, bricks devices->

DeathToBill writes: According to Hack-A-Day, about a month ago FTDI released a new driver for their venerable USB-to-serial bridge chip, the FT232. This driver was pushed out to Windows systems via Windows Update. Unbeknown to, well, everyone except FTDI, the driver included an update to the terms and conditions, including the text, "Use of the Software as a driver for, or installation of the Software onto, a component that is not a Genuine FTDI Component, including without limitation counterfeit components, MAY IRRETRIEVABLY DAMAGE THAT COMPONENT." Now, your average slashdotter might see that warning on a license agreement and think, "Ha ha, yeah right," but this driver update is a bit... special. It uses small differences in the behaviour of counterfeit chips to detect them, then reprograms the chip's USB PID to 0 — preventing any operating system from loading a driver for the device and very effectively bricking it.
Link to Original Source

Comment Wind Industry (Score 5, Interesting) 310

1. From inside the base of a wind turbine tower in rural Inner Mongolia province, China. Or, alternatively, from a caravan in the middle of a forest in Eastern Finland in the middle of winter - minus 30 C outside.

2. While nearly frozen to death (see 1b).

3. Wrote a program from? Or wrote a program for? The latter is probably a Danish PLC which I will not name here. It has an in-house OS with an in-house executable format which is based on ELF, loosely enough that none of the standard ELF tools work on it. A serial console is the only debugging interface available. An actual debugger is out of the question. All debugging output is truncated to 20 characters. The thing has a 100MHz CPU and all floating-point math is done in software (no FPU). Its reaction to almost any programming error is to hard reboot (and "programming error" here includes calling printf with any but the most basic formatting string). Perhaps most frustratingly, when it hard reboots it claims to write a stack trace of the faulting code; about 4 times in 5, this is truncated to some extent, often to only the first function in the stack.

4. A Windows programme to drive EtherCAT IO modules from a standard Ethernet socket.

Do I win?

You will lose an important tape file.