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Comment: Re:So, Microsoft is a social leech! (Score 1) 100

by mcrbids (#49553419) Attached to: Microsoft Increases Android Patent Licensing Reach

Except in this case, the patent is for the use of VFAT, which is a very specific file system format that even Microsoft doesn't use much anymore, but is commonly understood by their systems.

There is no reason, for example, why Microsoft couldn't implement an open file system like EXT4 or UFS and update all their operating systems to recognize it, except that it would mitigate the value of their VFAT patents. So they don't bother.

I remember reading that they make more money on their patents from Android vendors than they make *gross* from their Windows Mobile sales.

Comment: Not just IOS (Score 2) 412

by mcrbids (#49553317) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Most Stable Smartphones These Days?

I have a Moto Razr Maxx HD, now working on its 3rd year. It's been basically perfect. I reboot it perhaps once every few months, and half of those reboots are due to an OTA OS upgrade.

With it's amazing battery life, and durable, sturdy case, it's a phone that feels like a "partner" that doesn't leave me hanging and even when I'm really putting the screws to it, (EG: on trips) it's "just there" for me.

It is no longer a "flagship" phone, it's not the fastest phone, and it doesn't have the biggest/brightest screen any more, but it's still a very, very good balance for a phone that I probably won't be replacing until it actually dies.

My only honest complaint is that its bluetooth reception seems weak. I use $20 wired headphones as a result.

Comment: Re:Can we use this? (Score 1) 151

by HiThere (#49549175) Attached to: Wormholes Untangle a Black Hole Paradox

There are many variations of this. One I *think* works (but I don't have the skill to check) is that the universe is "sort of" like a simulation, where only macroscopic items have a defined state, but the macroscopic items have defined contents and a defined energy spectrum, and when you arrange to "look closely" at one of those items, it alters the state of the rest of the item in a computationally conservative way, such that you can't detect the difference until you start getting really close to the limits of the simulation, at which point you get results that are statisticly chosen to confirm the conditions of the macroscopic item. So if you split off a bound pair of subatomic particles, they are so pair has defined characteristics, but there is no definition of the components until you look.

Think of it as a way of simplifying the model so that it can run faster on the host computer. The actual "host computer" may not really exist, but if it did, this would be the most efficient way to program it.

Comment: Free speech and trigger warnings, take a pick (Score 4, Insightful) 110

Were it not for the first amendment, there's no doubt in my mind that the people yelling "triggering!" at Christina Hoff Sommers at Oberlin would have sought her prosecution under a law like this. There is a not so fine line that many ignore between opposing cyberbullying and coddling pathetic little weaklings who simply cannot stomach the idea that there are people who hold different, maybe even offensive, views. My view as a free speech partisan is that "safe spaces" need to be smashed as aggressively as the concept of "free speech zones." If someone simply will not leave you alone, that's harassment and warrants a basic sanction under the law. However, no one has a right to not be annoyed or hear things upsetting to them. We as a society should be utterly intolerant of people who expect to be protected from such things. It should be a mark of scorn and shame to be that thin-skinned and publicly notorious for being so.

Ireland is risking a very serious mistake that will hollow out much of its claim to being an open and democratic society if this is passed.

Comment: Re:Dell, HP, Panasonic (Score 5, Informative) 415

by mcrbids (#49540887) Attached to: We'll Be the Last PC Company Standing, Acer CEO Says

How is Dell a laugh?

I write this on a gorgeous Dell Precision M3800 that has it all: powerful i7 processor, space for lots of RAM (16 GB), dual SSD bays, gorgeous 4K screen, and all in a lightweight, svelte case that rivals a Macbook Air in appearance and feel.

Oh, did I mention Linux compatibility? Ubuntu is officially supported. (My fave distro, Fedora runs without issue - literally load and forget)

Not sure what you're looking for in a PC manufacturer, but for Slashbots, isn't this pretty much it?

Comment: Re:Specced too low, weird form factor (Score 1) 172

by mcrbids (#49530083) Attached to: Intel 'Compute Stick' PC-Over-HDMI Dongle Launched, Tested

Honestly, the 'compute stick' makes zero sense for a TV-mounted device. It is far better to just go with a chrome cast stick or an AppleTV for airplay and using a pad or cell in your hand to control it if you want to throw a display up on the TV. Otherwise you will be fumbling around with a horrible remote or you have to throw together a bluetooth keyboard (etc...) and it just won't be a fun or convenient experience.

I have such a stick on my TV, and it works great! It's *not* an ideal general computing device, but it is pretty much ideal for a Smart TV thingie.

As far as input devices, we use either a bluetooth Logitech keyboard/touchpad device, or a "flying mouse" remote. Both work rather well. If you haven't one, you should check out a "flying mouse" remote on Amazon for under $20 and work by waving your hand. It's really easy and rather intuitive once you get past a 1 minute introduction. Oh, and it contains a full QWERTY keyboard too.

Comment: F Mark Rowley (Score 5, Insightful) 228

by putaro (#49526235) Attached to: UK Police Chief: Some Tech Companies Are 'Friendly To Terrorists'

I regard the threat to my privacy and civil liberty by criminals like Mark Rowley as much more significant than that posed by terrorists. Snowden didn't make companies add more encryption. Overreach by government agencies caused it. They're just trying to shoot the messenger but they created the problem by circumventing or ignoring the law.

Comment: Re:Perverse incentives (Score 1) 399

The obvious problem is that we pay them so much more for drug busts than for traffic citations./i?

The problem is that we pay them EXTRA for drug busts: They're allowed to seize property that is "associated" with it (like the car it was in, or the money in the driver's and passengers' pockets, ...), convert the non-cash to cash at an auction, and split the swag among the officers, department, and other branches of government.

That's the same incentive structure that powered the Spanish Inquisition, and look how THAT turned out.

This has been snowballing since the passage of the RICO laws.

Comment: Old as Arcnet. (Score 1) 96

I am almost certain I saw this kind of thing in a Radio Shack catalog in the 80's ...

It's as old as infrared LEDs and networking.

Datapoint did it with Arcnet in the late '70s: Both infrared office networking patches (though I don't know if those were productized or just experimental) and the "Arclight" building-to-building cross-town infrared link (which had a pair of lenses each about the diameter of a coffee can.).

Arcnet was still a going technology when the first portable ("luggable") computer - the Osborne-1 - came out in '81. (But I don't know if any of them were ever hooked to Arcnet, let alone the office-infrared flavor.) With the machines being desktop devices requiring power, running coax to the desk wasn't a big deal. So I don't think the office I.R. link got much deployment (even if it WAS productized.)

The Arcnet's token-passing logical ring was self-healing, which was a decent match for intermittent connections. When a rainstorm blocked the building-to-building link the net would automatically partition itself into two working nets and when it cleared they'd heal back into one. Similarly, walking between an infrared-linked machine and its hub would cut the machine off only until you walked away and leave the net running (with a quick hiccup) meanwhile.

Comment: Found in small town, CA? (Score 1) 81

by mcrbids (#49517161) Attached to: Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times

So, I went to the local Social Security office in smallsville, CA. While waiting, I used my phone, and noticed that (Verizon) I was getting a 1x signal.

There are *no* 1x signal towers in my local area, it's all 100% digital. There aren't even any 3G towers that I know of. And when I left, within a few hundred feet, I resumed seeing 4G signal,like normal.

Stingray much?

Comment: Desalinization sucks (Score 1) 670

by mcrbids (#49511907) Attached to: William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California

Desalinization is expensive. It's energy intensive, they're ugly as sin, it results in bad-tasting water, it pollutes the oceans with saline, the resulting water still needs to be pumped hundreds of miles to be used, etc. etc.

It's a raw deal and it's stupid to mention it. Please don't.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein