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Verizon Patents Eavesdropping Using Your TV For Ad Targeting 181

MojoKid writes with news of the latest and greatest idea brought to you by a marketing department. From the article: "It's a patent that sounds like a plot description for a science-fiction movie or the result of Apple's Siri and Google's AdSense mating. With it, Verizon could program its set-top boxes to survey a room to determine relevant ads to display either on your television or mobile phone. Sound a bit scary? It kind of is. Verizon's new technology can work a variety of ways. For starters, it can listen in on conversations — whether it be with someone else in the room or on the phone — and pick out keywords that would aid it in its duties. In reality, it's simple stuff in this day and age, but that doesn't make it any less off-putting. Imagine arguing with your significant other and then seeing marriage counseling ads on the TV — or better, cuddling and then seeing ads for contraceptives."

Comment CA: mail-in ballot (Score 1) 821

I sent in a mail-in / absentee ballot, which was much like filling out a Scan-Tron form for a test in school. Choosing which circles to fill in was a bit tricky though. (Fill in #92 to vote yes on Proposition 33; fill in #97 to vote no on Proposition 34; etc.) I triple-checked everything.

An interesting bit was I got a call from a 'bot at the Los Angeles County Registrar's office Sunday. It more or less said "If you've already mailed in your ballot, disregard this message. If you haven't mailed in your ballot, it's too late. Drop it off at a polling place."

Also on the radio this morning it said that 51% of voters in CA are mail-in for this election.

Comment Re:not really a bad thing (Score 2) 272

Neither SpaceX nor Orbcomm have commented about the snafu.

Orbcomm has in it's latest press release: Orbcomm Launches Prototype OG2 Satellite. OG2 satellite's insertion orbit lower than expected.

" ...the rocket did not comply with a pre-planned ISS safety gate to allow it to execute the second burn."

I haven't read anywhere exactly what that means.

Comment Re:When was our last human rocket launch? (Score 1) 127

As much as I remember, the last "rocket" Flight with a human Payload onboard before the Shuttle was Apollo 17. There was a "Human Spaceflight Gap" for a few years then as well as much as we have right now, only not as bad..

No. Apollo 17 was the last flight on a Saturn V. Apollo-Soyuz, in July 1975 on a Saturn 1B, was the last NASA manned spaceflight before the first space shuttle flight, in April 1981. There were also three manned flights to Skylab in between those.

Comment Re:Bright lights and warmth.... (Score 1) 405

yeah but it literally took more energy to *take them down* than it took to leave them there.

Unless they had to remove them to repair/replace the roof anyways. I know of several houses where this happened and they didn't put the solar panels back up when the re-roofing was finished.

Comment Re:You do. Things orbit above you all the time. (Score 1) 139

You can see satellites almost any clear night ANYWHERE on Earth.

GPS satellites are low and cover every point on Earth.

GPS satellites aren't low, they're roughly 20,000 km above ground. Too faint to see, AFAIK.

If you look towards the equator, then up, there are hundreds of geostationary satellites for TV, communications and other things about 22,000 miles up. As a reference, the diameter of the Earth is about 6500 miles (I didn't look it up).

True, but they're usually too faint to see without techniques similar to astronomical photography. Sometimes they can be seen with binoculars when sunlight reflects from solar panels or other surfaces just right. (a "flare")

The Space Shuttle orbits around 140-180 miles up so it is barely out of atmosphere - some would say it isn't out.

Something that big and close, on the other hand is very easy to see. I even once saw the shuttle through a (thin) overcast of clouds, it was so bright. The space station is even bigger and brighter.


Scientology Tries To Block German Documentary 565

eldavojohn writes "The Guardian is reporting on the strained relationship that Scientology is having with the German government and the airing of a pesky documentary on Southwest Broadcasting. Until Nothing Remains, a $2.3 million documentary, is slotted to air on German television at the end of this month. It recounts the true story of Heiner von Rönn and his family's suffering when he tried to leave the Church of Scientology. A Scientology spokesperson called the film false and intolerant and also said they are investigating legal means to stop the film from being aired. More details on the film can be gleaned here."

Comment Re:First Paragraph (Score 1) 328

Have you forgotten the "Y2K Crisis Center" (or whatever they called it) with Sam Donaldson, on watch over the transition? All of the newspaper articles in early 1999 about how the End Was Coming?

Funny you mention newspapers. The primary Y2K bug I saw was all the web pages which on new years day said "January 1, 19100." Somewhere I still have a screenshot of the New York Times' web page like that.

I think I heard of one embedded system that broke due to Y2K, but I've seen many more over the years that got confused over leap years. The year 2000 was especially good for that because that wasn't a leap year even though the common, oversimplified, every-4-year rule says it should have been.

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