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Comment Re:Explain the fucking acronyms in the summary! (Score 1) 88

Yes, it's nice that if you click the links, you might get some clue what the article's about - what's important is that the summary tell whether you'd be interested in reading it or not. In this case, the summary did a fine job, at least if you know what a Raspberry Pi is - it said this was about tracking helicopter movements at the Davos shindig using a $20 $FOO, a Raspberry Pi, and a $BAR-flavored antenna, so you know it's generally hardware things that might have to do with radio. It didn't say how much of the article would be about the technical nits of how they did it, and how much would be about what they found out about all the rich folks showing up at the shindig, and how much it would be about the social aspects of using cheap hardware to track things about people that used to be harder to track, but if any of them motivates you it ended up being at least slightly relevant.

Comment For Science!! (Score 1) 132

We've been running things like this for a couple of decades, just as SETI@Home searches for little green men, etc. I ran the GIMPS Mersenne prime search software for a couple of years on my work laptop, but it really chewed through battery life, and eventually the desktop CPUs (and GPUs, once those were supported) became enough faster that it wasn't worth contributing.

Comment California BYOD laws - sigh (Score 1) 82

California law says that companies can only let you use BYOD if they're providing you with equipment and service plans. The assumption is that companies will try to rip off their employees by making them bring their own devices, so it should be forbidden. While I understand that, it means that I can;t just bring my own iPad/Android tablet to work to use as an alternative to the company laptop unless the company also buys me a work phone. (Sigh. Eventually they did that, but the IT department's support for Android has never been as good as their iPad support... So I've occasionally had to haul the laptop on a trip instead of just the tablet.)

Comment Pro-cop politician from Apple-heavy Elk Grove (Score 1) 251

Jim Cooper, the Californian, represents a district that includes Elk Grove, site of a big Apple facility, as well as various other parts of the south-of-Sacramento area. His political connections are much more with the Sacramento-area cops than with the Apple employees he represents, unfortunately, and also he's unfortunately a Democrat, so unless he gets a primary challenger, he's going to win re-election. But he's only a first-term Assembly member, so there's still a chance to knock him out.

Comment Range? Battery life? (Score 1) 28

How far a range do you get on them? What's the battery life like?

My cats have all been indoor cats, and only some of them have been willing to wear collars (the others find ways to ditch them and hide them under furniture), and most of the ones who hated collars were the ones least likely to be able to find their way back home if they got out. So changing batteries sounds like trouble.

Comment Cloud Servers != Consumer Laptops (Score 1) 167

(Disclaimer: I work for AT&T, but this is just my personal opinion, not an official corporate position.)

This announcement is about infrastructure for some of AT&T's cloud services; it's really separate from anything about laptop or consumer OS's. Basically everything in the world that used to run on servers seems to be migrating to cloud-type architectures, and I couldn't tell from the article which part of the business this was about (AT&T runs a wide range of cloud and hosting services for customers, some public, some custom, plus a lot of internal computing services for corporate functions, or it could be a corporate support deal of some kind as opposed to a specific set of systems.)

My work laptop, managed by the desktop support IT department, runs some professional-license version of Win7-64, and they manage what updates get shipped and when, so I don't get nagged about Win10. They also manage hosted virtual desktops, so people who want the Win7 environment for corporate apps and Outlook mail can have that running on top of whatever other OS (Mac, Linux, iPad, and older Windows hardware are all fairly popular for that.) (I also have VMware Player on the Windows machine, with a few different Linux guests on top when I need them.) My development machines mostly run Ubuntu, either on bare metal or with ESXi or OpenStack underneath; other popular environments I run into include CentOS and licensed RedHat.

Comment Guest vs. Host Cloud OS's - OpenStack vs. VMware (Score 1) 167

Remember that this announcement is about Cloud Stuff - no matter what client operating systems you're using, the host environment is almost certainly either controlled by VMware or OpenStack or Amazon or Azure, and the servers are almost certainly Intel-ish CPUs running VMware ESXi or KVM (on some Linux platform) or maybe Windows Hyper-V. There are some exceptions (Docker's busy disrupting and overlapping with that space, and there's a bit of Xen left, and some switching/routing platforms like ODL or *NFV* things), and there are a lot of players trying to provide management and operations services, bare-metal-as-a-service provisioning where that makes sense, bare-metal-as-a-server-setup-method provisioning, etc.

A year or two ago, the field looked a bit simpler - either you ran VMware (with a high software price tag on every CPU or server, and services that worked, with mature support systems), or OpenStack (Free! With lots of services that didn't work yet, documentation you were free to write yourself and donate to the community, and an ecosystem of vendors whose products actually worked on VMware and were going to be working on OpenStack Real Soon Now. And Free!) It's a lot messier today, and lots more things actually work.

(Disclaimer: I work for AT&T, but this is purely my personal commentary on the industry, not company statements, and AT&T is such a big company that for any well-known technology we've probably got two or three different groups using it and a dozen more who've evaluated it and have much better informed opinions than I do.)

Comment Current vs. Former AT&T Companies (Score 1) 167

When The Bell System split up in the 1980s, AT&T got to keep Unix and most of the Labs, and the 7 Baby Bells owned most of the Bell telcos.
When AT&T split up into AT&T, Lucent, and NCR back in the 1990s, Lucent got most of Bell Labs, including ownership of Unix.

SBC (aka Southwestern Bell, the Texas Baby Bell branch) in the late 2000s and early 2010s bought Pacific Bell, Southern Bell, Ameritech, old-AT&T, and renamed itself AT&T because that had more brand value than SBC. The wireless businesses that were variously named Cingular and Cellular One and AT&T Wireless had their own complicated sets of ownership changes, but effectively SBC bought them. (Pacific Bell sometimes owned half of them, sometimes old-AT&T did, sometimes both, sometimes you really needed to know whether you had an "orange" or "blue" wireless service from the same company, etc.)

(Disclaimer: This is my own interpretation, not the official position of AT&T, many pieces of which I've worked for over the last few decades.)

Comment Convenience *is* special (Score 1) 256

The convenience of bitcoin vs. fiat currencies really was special, because it was a way to eliminate the risks of physically transferring money or transmitting it through heavily-tracked systems like banks and credit card companies. There's still some risk in shipment (much more for bulky smelly products than for small odorless ones), and of course it shifts much of the risk of defaulting on transactions to the buyer, but escrow services and markets like Silk Road reduced that risk to an acceptable level for many people.

Liquid detergent seemed like a really silly commodity to use for buying drugs, and I've always been skeptical about whether either the news articles about it were hoaxes or whether the reporters themselves got hoaxed. It's much harder to hide a transaction where you're handing somebody a case of detergent than one where you're shaking hands or giving somebody a cigarette and hiding some cash and dope in the process, and the transaction of trading the detergent for actual cash has got to be inconvenient, obvious, and hard to hide unless you've got an Amway distributorship or a friendly convenience store clerk who'll buy back the bottles to sell to the next customer. About the only advantage I can see to it is that cops really have no desire to rob dealers or customers by stealing detergent.

Comment Value fluctuation affects anonymity & market s (Score 1) 256

Bitcoin is useful for black markets because there's enough transaction volume to obscure the details of individual transactions, and buyers and sellers are willing to hold bitcoins long enough to aggregate or disaggregate them or at least hide them in the rest of the market, and there's enough volume that bitcoin buyers can get coins when they want them to buy commodities and commodity sellers can sell the coins they receive. If bitcoin's too chaotic to maintain a white/grey market, the black market can't piggyback on it.

If Bitcoin values change a few percent a day, that's ok for a recreational pharmaceutical market where the profit margin's high and the extra convenience drives more sales and the buyer and seller aren't nickel-and-diming tightly enough to have the bitcoin purchase followed by a bitcoin sale of the same amount a second later. If you're trying to use Bitcoin to replace Visa and Western Union by having lower transaction costs, that may not be good enough. If you're an online black-market merchant, you might want to aggregate bitcoins from a bunch of different transactions before selling them (or swapping them for different bitcoins.) If the market's not moving too fast, the financial risk of waiting is lower than the getting-caught risk of not waiting, and it reduces the visible patterns of always selling a bitcoin just after somebody bought one.

(Bitcoin, of course, is less anonymous than many people would like, and has other problems for a black market, because the coins are too big for many transactions; it's much more convenient to use integral-sized coins if you can, so wow, much dope, many Dogecoin!)

Comment Mining Dogecoins at work (Score 1) 256

A year or two ago I was interested in finding out how these crypto-coin things worked, so I used one of my lab machines to mine Dogecoins. Mining real Bitcoins not only didn't make sense (ASICs had already taken over, and the machine I was using didn't have even a GPU that was good enough for mining), but also might have been considered to be a financial conflict of interest. Dogecoin didn't have that risk - I forget if I mined $.02 or $.20 worth in six months. It also meant that when I had to rebuild the machine and the Dogecoin wallet didn't restore successfully, I didn't feel too bad about losing all that money (though some Redditors didn't get tips in their tip jars after that.)

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