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Comment Emergencies and No-Code Tech (Score 2) 358

I'd attribute growth to a renewed interest by people who were put off by the Morse code requirement to do HF. I've been licensed (beginning as a Technician) since 1997 and just do not have an ear for code. It's hard to say because I've learned a lot more and was pretty young when I got my license, but most people tell me that the tests for all classes have become substantially easier in in the past several years.

That limited my interest in the hobby and kept a lot of capable people from pursuing it. The cost has dropped somewhat too, and the internet has made it easier for the marginally interested and low-income enthusiast get a hold of used equipment... since a lot of HAMs buy new gear like most people change their underwear.

I work for a California county school agency and we pay for our employees training materials for their HAM license and keep a radio on every site that has an operator. We it because we have so many sites, many of which remote, that would be hard to reach should the telecom systems fail or reach overload. Each radio is programmed with the local repeater and 4-5 simplex channels. We've added 10 members who will probably do very little with it.

Katrina and other large scale disasters have shown people the fragility of the telecom infrastructure in a disaster. Cell phones hardly work in a crowded football stadium. I also think that a certain amount of survivalist folks are concerned about government lock-down of other communication resources during a man-made disaster or disturbance.

That said, I got a pacemaker in 2010, and have gotten mixed advice on how safe HAM is (most say well maintained base stations are OK, but avoid HTs given their proximity to the device and risk of unintentional grounding on the body.) Even if I don't use it again, I'll probably re-register "just in case" an emergency occurs or I get stranded on the roadside. So, the rolls might be more inflated.

Comment Technology is the first choice (Score 1) 240

I don't know what the appropriate amount, or kind of technology is appropriate. As an anecdote, I can say that using a calculator helped me focus on learning the concepts of calculus by reducing the risk of arithmetic error that might have reduced the amount of time spent "doing" the distinctly calculus parts. That said, my arithmetic skills have degraded. I am much slower and quickly reach for the tool. I think there is always a cost and benefit.

My objection is that too many schools see technological resources as "essential" to engage children, citing some developmental bent towards children wanting to consume learning from multimedia resources over traditional ones (text, lecture, etc.) I think this is a false assumption, and even if it were true, teaching Johnny to pay attention, to learn audibly, to use text-based resources (e.g. an index in a book, or guide-words in a dictionary) is as important as whatever skill the electronic resource is supposed to teach. Kids don't need iPads to learn to read, and don't need animated characters to follow directions. This assertion takes a lot of cheaper, valuable tools off the table through technology bias.

Further, my objection is that electronic resources may shift learning into easily tested means versus open-ended critical thinking. For example, many teachers like "clickers" which are glorified keypads or keyboards that students respond to questions on. The major benefit is simplified grading. These kinds of tools entice teachers, increase district costs, and divert students from having open discussion, debate, experimentation, and other critical thinking activities that aren't easy to implement in software.

Comment Re:As usual, not the first for the basics (Score 1) 473

I would agree that it isn't very useful for discussing the popularity of the product, because Android is in more (separate) consumer sectors, as you suggested.

For developers, the discussion might be more meaningful, as total number of installations represents a finite (hopefully expanding) consumer base. Granted, certain applications will probably never on all Android devices because of hardware limitations. However, general purpose low requirement software might see the growing low-end market as attractive.

There would need to be more information though, such as the purchasing habits of device owners at each product class and ecosystem. An android phone loaded with FOSS doesn't represent a potential customer to a marketplace/app-store vendor very well, regardless of capacity or installed base.

Comment Re:The difference... (Score 1) 394

Very good points.

My only objection is that 5% isn't very significant when considered with it's risk. HP could liquidate the entire unit and use the case to buy essentially risk-less treasuries at 3-4% (though the downgrade may cause some analysts to re-consider treasuries as a baseline alternative). That is only a 1-2% margin in a market that could turn sour quickly if their costs increase (labor or materials) or they continue to fail to provide a consumer product that rises above it's competitors.

If 30% of HP is only providing mediocre returns, it should find a unit that would be more productive with that ton of capital.

Comment Re:Gave up too quickly (Score 1) 394

There are two basic options--

Sell off the less profitable unit and divert that money into the more successful one. This is ideal if the company can obtain more market share with more capital (newer manufacturing, more manufacturing, more programmers to meet feature demands from the market.) If this is the case, they will be more profitable under the single activity.

It would be like having two part time jobs. If the opportunity arose, it might be more lucrative to quit one of them to go full-time on the other, if the other offers better wages.

Alternatively, the company can keep multiple divisions and accept lower profits. This is ideal if the market is unpredictable and the company is adverse to "put all it's eggs in one basket." It is also ideal if the divisions sell complementary goods.

Under both scenarios, the company should pursue continuous improvement in any operation is chooses to keep.

Comment Re:Suspicion comes before arrest? (Score 1) 192

No. Your vehicles' external properties are publicly visible. Physical attributes of your person are also being checked as you walk down the street by law enforcement. However, if a witness said a "red car" ran a red light, it would be unreasonable to detain all red cars, just as it would be unreasonable to detain all men or all men of a particular race because a witness claimed to be assaulted by a man, or a man of a particular race. If the witness said license ABC-123 ran the light, then it is more reasonable for the officer to question you, because there is a specific trait.

There is a significant difference when it comes to an officer ordering you to empty your pockets, open your briefcase, open your glove box or draw your blood if he or she has no more suspicion that you are guilty of a crime than he would be suspicious of any other random person.

You could make a case that it is unjust to have to place personally identifying information on the outside of the car where it can be readily searched without the officer having observed you break the law or otherwise have suspicion.

Comment Re:Suspicion comes before arrest? (Score 3, Informative) 192

If the person is arrested and there is compelling evidence, the court might allow for a DNA sample to be taken and compared against cases where there is a reasonable suspicion. Arresting someone (which can be done at-will, for almost any reason), so that the police can expand their DNA database and hope that the DNA search will turn up a match for some crime in which they previously had no suspicion is a pretty far reach and is sloppy police work. The issue is the burden in which the police need to draw the sample (ought to be more than the burden for arrest), the retention and maintenance of the data, and to what extent the police can use the DNA to try to develop further charges in which there is no reasonable suspicion.

Comment For a change (Score 1) 733

I wish that environmentalist and animal rights activist would spend time actually educating and engaging the public and convince people on the merit of their argument, rather than use the government as a hammer against people who disagree with them. They are going to ruin some livelihoods and do next to nothing to eliminate animal suffering.

Comment Re:Basically nothing new (Score 1) 262

The Euro is becoming worthless because it is poorly backed by the EU. The USD is becoming worthless because it is poorly backed by the US Government. Those currencies and the Bitcoin are backed by essentially "nothing." The difference is that the Bitcoin system will reach a maximum number in circulation. They cannot be (easily) devalued by monetary expansion. If you have one bitcoin, it does not become "worth less than it was" because new coins are flooding the market. Each coin is one-nth of the Bitcoin economy. The community of buyers and sellers, like all economies, will determine the relationship between bitcoins and real goods (price) and that price will remain rather stable, unless governments try to criminalize transactions, making them undesirable in and of themselves.

Google Launches Search By Image 109

kai_hiwatari writes "At the Inside Search event being held at San Francisco, Google has announced a new addition to its search features — Search by Image. The Search by Image feature is something like Google's image search application for mobile devices — Google Goggles — but for the desktop."

Comment Re:Eep (Score 1) 122

No, I do not trust the FAA. I trust the cost of a destroyed plane and civil liabilities (tort law), and reputation risk to cause airlines operate in ways that do not endanger passengers or their own assets. Planes will still crash from time to time because there are unavoidable risks and catastrophic failures in operating an incredibly complex machine at high velocity. There is no evidence that the FAA is inherently more safety-conscious or competent than their airlines own maintenance staff operating under their own directives. I do not believe the FAA is significantly reducing crashes.

Inside a Verizon Wireless Superswitch 107

An anonymous reader writes " has posted a walkthrough of a Verizon Wireless Superswitch, a 45,000 square foot, $50 million facility. From the article: 'The Superswitch we visited, located in Orlando, Fl., is one of about 25 across the US. These control centers are designed to handle mobile calls, SMS, MMS, and mobile broadband for their respective regions. This particular Superswitch faces a somewhat unique problem given its unfortunate proximity to extreme weather conditions, and as such is re-enforced to survive a Category 5 hurricane and still provide service to its area. While definite numbers were unavailable, this center handles millions of calls and texts, as well as tens of thousands of gigabytes of mobile data on an average day, and is designed to scale up rapidly for large events or emergencies.'"

The Politics of ICANN 124

dstates writes "The good news is that the Internet has become a central enough part of global life that politicians are starting to pay attention to the details of Internet management. The bad news is that the politicians are paying attention to the Internet. has an interesting note on the politics surrounding the annual meeting of the The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers which is opening its annual meeting in San Francisco today. While some people find it frightening that a US corporation controls name usage on the Internet, the prospect of a UN body assuming control raises its own concerns."

Comment Re:Charter schools. (Score 1) 557

Disclaimer: FT programmer for a K-12 school system, PT community college instructor.

For profit schools (including chartered public schools) certainly do have a different model when it comes to operation. Charter schools in the public system are competing for student apportionment from the state that would normally go to the traditional public system. They seek to operate with lower costs than the traditional public system (to maximize profit) while still providing an attractive offering to the community, usually though a specialized curriculum, alternative teaching/delivery method, or simply by avoiding bureaucracy. I would argue that charter schools who do not provide the educational service that the consumer desires are at greater risk for profit-loss than inadequate public schools are at risk for defunding.

In post K-12 education, for-profit schools balance the profit motive to widely accept any student with a pulse and reputation for rigor; where public institutions rely only on reputation (and subsidized tuition, attracting students on price). For profit schools, to attract students, tend to reach out to non-traditional students poorly served by the traditional system through convenience or liberal acceptance. Some do so unethically by misleading students. Others, simply see the economic value in giving students a chance who could not be accepted by not-for-profit institutions due to low GPA or entrance scores. These institutions gain credibility by increasing rigor, which the public system attacks though criticizing their low graduation rates, but neglect to cite their far more liberal acceptance policies. It begs the question "Is it better to admit a student more likely to fail, or hedge failure risk by placing a high wall on admission?" The public systems tends toward the later as subsidy planning (districting), geography and create a system with more demand than seats. (e.g. the Cal State system has a legal mandate to service x% of the college-bound population of California, with campuses generally operating in geographic districts.)

My only point of consideration would be to ask why non-profit public schools are any more worthy of trust? They have nearly no competition, and many are funded regardless of actual performance or community support by legislative fiat. The argument can be made that any competitive force in the private sector, so long as public schools are still taxpayer funded, should only improve them as their inadequacies (whatever they may be) become more apparent to the public.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354