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Space

Methane-Based Life Possible On Titan 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-life-jim-but-not-as-we-know dept.
Randym writes: With the simultaneous announcement of a possible nitrogen-based, cell-like structure allowing life outside the "liquid water zone" (but within a methane atmosphere) announced by researchers at Cornell (academic paper) and the mystery of fluctuating methane levels on Mars raising the possibility of methane-respiring life, there now exists the possibility of a whole new branch of the tree of life that does not rely on either carbon or oxygen for respiration. We may find evidence of such life here on Earth down in the mantle where "traditional" life cannot survive, but where bacteria has evolved to live off hydrocarbons like methane and benzene.

Comment: Re: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (Score 1) 237

by Powercntrl (#49103195) Attached to: Ten Lies T-Mobile Told Me About My Data Plan

Oh, oops. Looks like they now have a family plan that includes 2 lines and unlimited LTE data for $100/mo now. That's $20/mo less than I've been paying, so I just switched to it.

Damn. Sorry about that, Cricket looked like it may have been a viable option for some people, but... well. Just... sorry. And thanks for prompting me to look into that; it's new since I looked last week.

T-Mobile has actually been running the two unlimited lines for $100 promotion, for a few months now. It's a good deal if it suits your needs and depending on what your state's wireless taxes cost, since taxes and fees are extra. T-Mobile should tell their customers when switching to a newly-released promotional plan would save them a few bucks, but that'd be akin to AT&T lowering your monthly rate if you didn't use your upgrade eligibility. In both cases, the carriers are just hoping a customer's ignorance will continue to fill the coffers.

Again, if you need truly unlimited, Cricket isn't an option. That's still no reason for people who use more modest amounts of data to pay extra for a higher data tier or unlimited plan that they don't actually need. Heck, a big part of the popularity of Ting (a Sprint MVNO run by Tucows) is that it can be extremely inexpensive for very light users.

Comment: Re: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (Score 1) 237

by Powercntrl (#49103047) Attached to: Ten Lies T-Mobile Told Me About My Data Plan

Now that both phones are paid for, the bill is an additional $50/mo lower; mind you, we paid $650 apiece for the phones, but there were cheaper options if we wanted them; that's not relevant here, though, since you have to buy your phone on Cricket, as well.

I think you're getting the current Cricket, a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T, confused with the old Cricket (a regional CDMA carrier). They allow you to use any AT&T locked or unlocked GSM phone. The coverage is the same as AT&T's native (non-roaming) network. I use a iPhone 5S originally from Verizon, on Cricket; I certainly didn't have to buy one of their phones.

According to their rates chart, they don't offer unlimited.

T-Mobile and Sprint are the only games in town if you really need truly unlimited data. Once that becomes part of your selection criteria, you know what your options are.

I say nearly because Cricket will cut you off after 5GB, while T-Mobile will throttle, and Cricket no longer offers tethering, so really. No. they're just not a viable option.

Cricket throttles at 128Kbps, the same throttle speed as T-Mobile and Sprint. It's just as unusable on all carriers. You are correct, however, that Cricket does not offer any form of wireless hotspot/tethering add-on. They also don't do anything to stop you from tethering if your phone natively supports it, or if you've enabled it by way of rooting/jailbreaking.

More-or-less, MetroPCS (which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of T-Mobile) offers exactly what you're getting now on the same network, for $120/mo. That's two lines at the base price of $60/mo each, a $5 family plan discount on each line for having two lines, then a $5 fee on each line for adding mobile hotspot functionality to both lines.

What you'd lose is the ability to roam in the few places T-Mobile still has roaming agreements (looking at their map, I can't imagine where) and the ability to finance your next handsets. Is that worth $30/mo?

Comment: It Also Works to Describe Examples of Fascist Prop (Score 1) 21

by Jeremiah Cornelius (#49102779) Attached to: Might explain some of the behavior here

"Dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal"
"Beacon of freedom and promoter of democracy"
"Greatest nation on earth"
"Home of Free"
"Highest standard of living in the world"
"Best health care system ever"
"Dedicated to rule of law as determined by the will of the people with regard for the defense of the minority"
"Capital is the best expression of democracy at work"

The hits keep coming for the Homeland.

Comment: Re: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (Score 1) 237

by Powercntrl (#49102689) Attached to: Ten Lies T-Mobile Told Me About My Data Plan

It goes beyond that, even. With a traditional cell phone contract, your bill doesn't change once you pay off the phone, because you never actually pay off the phone, because you aren't financing it; instead, the plan price is increased to subsidize the phone price, so you actually keep paying for the phone, even after it's been paid for several times over. With the finance agreement, once you pay off the phone, you stop paying for the phone.

The crux of the issue is, T-Mobile used to offer both options. You could choose a traditional 2 year contract and subsidized handset, which was priced competitively against offerings from the other "big 3" carriers. It actually worked out to your advantage if you wanted a shiny new flagship handset every two years.

They also offered a less expensive month-to-month option, with no handset subsidies. This existed before T-Mobile started calling themselves an "un-carrier" and removed the contract plans.

As I pointed out in my original post (now modded into oblivion, likely by T-Mobile shills), if you already own your phone outright, there are cheaper places to bring it to. As an example, I pay $35/mo with absolutely no bullshit fees or taxes, for unlimited talk, unlimited text and 2.5GB of high-speed data (with the typical unusably slow throttled "unlimited data", thereafter). On T-Mobile, their nearest comparable plan (3GB) would cost $60/mo and they'd tack on all the fees and taxes, too.

Let's ignore the taxes and assume a flat $25/mo price difference. With the money I'm saving by being on Cricket instead of T-Mobile, in 2 years, I've saved a total of $600. Using the iPhone as an example ($650 full retail price), the typical contract subsidy is $450. There's more than enough profit in T-Mobile's pricing to give you a handset upgrade every two years and still keep $150 more profit than Cricket. T-Mobile just uses clever marketing to trick you into thinking you're already getting the best deal possible!

You're an un-customer to the un-carrier.

Comment: Re: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (Score 2) 237

by Powercntrl (#49101863) Attached to: Ten Lies T-Mobile Told Me About My Data Plan

No it's not the same as the traditional cell phone contract. With the traditional cell phone contract, whether I buy an $800 iPhone or a $100 cheap Android phone, I would still owe the same termination fee. With t-mobile, I pay the cost of the phone and I'm done.

Then you fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Here's T-Mobile's old terms:

$200 if termination occurs with more than 180 days remaining on your term; $100 if termination occurs with 91 to 180 days remaining on your term; $50 if termination occurs with 31 to 90 days remaining on your term; and the lesser of $50 or your monthly recurring charges (including any applicable taxes and fees) if termination occurs in the last 30 days of your term.

Unless you were signing a contract for a dumbphone or an entry-level low-end smartphone, you generally came out financially ahead over paying full retail price for a flagship handset, even if you left the carrier immediately after signing up.

What if you actually wanted a cheap phone? Well, here's the kicker - T-Mobile always allowed you to establish month-to-month service if you brought your own phone (or purchased one outright). All they've done as the "un-carrier", is put a positive marketing spin on eliminating discounted handsets. In other words, providing less consumer choice.

Comment: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (Score 0) 237

by Powercntrl (#49101063) Attached to: Ten Lies T-Mobile Told Me About My Data Plan

Congratulations, you fell for T-Mobile's newspeak. Their "un-carrier" initiative basically meant taking everything people hate about wireless service, making it slightly worse and giving it a new name. They don't do contracts with those evil pro-rated early termination fees, no sir-ree! Now it's a finance agreement, which is totally not the same thing as a contract! Of course, they did get a slap on the wrist for being a bit misleading in that regard. However, they're still getting away with advertising "unlimited data" on all of their plans, when it's abundantly clear that the throttled data speed is completely unusable, once you've used up your high speed allotment.

Here's a few suggestions:

Check your data usage settings on your iPhone. Don't allow app updates over cellular data. Apps can also individually have their background data turned off. If you use Facebook, set it to not auto-load videos over cellular data.

Complain to the FTC. They recently went after Straight Talk for offering "unlimited" plans that aren't, and T-Mobile's throttle speed is so slow, it's essentially no different than being cut off completely.

Consider switching to Cricket (now owned by AT&T). You can get a 5GB plan for what you're paying T-Mobile and it runs on AT&T's far superior network.

Lastly, do the math and see if it's just worth the extra few bucks a month to upgrade to the real unlimited plan. If your time is valuable, it might simply make more sense to cough up the dough, rather than hunting open WiFi hotspots and carefully monitoring your cellular data usage every month.

Mars

Mars One: Final 100 Candidates Selected 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-step-closer-to-the-end dept.
hypnosec writes "The Mars One project has picked the final 100 candidates for the next round of the selection process. Initially, 202,586 people applied and ultimately around 40 will undertake a one-way trip to Mars. “The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

Comment: Get a newer iPhone (Score 1) 223

by Powercntrl (#48982403) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Gaining Control of My Mobile Browser?

It sounds like you're describing what it's like to browse the Internet on the older iDevices which have 512MB of RAM. If you're dead-set on sticking to iOS, it's time to open your wallet up and make a generous donation to Apple. Or, as suggested by the rest of the peanut gallery, switch to Android.

Comment: Why Thunderbolt? (Score 3, Interesting) 123

by Groo Wanderer (#48948361) Attached to: Dell Continues Shipping Fresh Linux Laptops

Why would you want Thunderbolt again? It is a badly broken (IE doesn't actually do what is promised like channel bonding and a few other things that are sort of fixed in VERY recent silicon), costs far too much, forces the use of painfully expensive active cables, and only passes PCIe or video. This last bit is problematic because if you want any functionality on the other end of the cable, you need to add full controllers there too, think expensive and wasteful of power. In essence you are hot-plugging controllers with the cable, and while it works in theory....

TB is a badly broken spec from day one, it was meant as a control point for Intel to force the use of it's silicon in phones.mobile by replacing USB with something only it could provide. Needless to say the market saw through this and didn't adopt it in droves, sans the few that drank from the Intel money hose. The second the hose was shut off, so was the design wins.

The main reason that USB3 had such a slow start was because Intel was desperate to kill it to promote TB. Since Intel had control over the USB3 cert process, things went might slow for technical minutia that would easily pass by previous spec certs. Coincidence? Nope.

TB is a bad idea on technical, cost, lock-in, and many many other reasons, not working correctly ever being a key one there. Delivered silicon is a joke, there is and always will be one supplier, and progress is glacial. USB3.1 on the other hand beats it like a drum in every regard other than single channel throughput.

Why do I want to pay for this in my next laptop again?

                  -Charlie

Comment: It wasn't all about data (Score 1) 458

by Powercntrl (#48947391) Attached to: How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

For me, opening cell companies to reasonably priced data (by jumping in at the right time and locking in with AT&T) is what Apple did to open the market.

At the time, Sprint actually offered unlimited EVDO data (they called it "Power Vision", back then) as a $10/mo add-on. They even had a 500 minute plan as part of their "SERO" offering for $30/mo which even included unlimited data. I had Sprint back then, and while EVDO speeds are a sad joke today, they absolutely smoked the EDGE speeds the iPhone got on AT&T's GSM network. Also, no one was using it back then to post pictures of their lunch and watch Justin Bieber videos, so the data speeds were relatively consistent. Sprint's phones, on the other hand, were fucking awful.

What Apple bought to the market was a smartphone that people actually enjoyed using. But, by popularizing smartphones among the masses, they've opened a Pandora's box of data usage that has truly made $10 unlimited, unthrottled data, a relic of the past.

You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred. -- Superchicken

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