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Comment: Re:Correction (Score 1) 67

Amusingly, fortnight is a well defined term still in reasonably common use in many English speaking countries. There is no ambiguity.

I suppose that's an apt analogy since the judge wrote the ruling in contemporary English as well with an equal lack of ambiguity.

Considering the number of archaic words one finds in some legal documents, you might be hard-pressed to notice that your contract was re-written into Ye Olde English. :-)

Comment: Re:What a great time to be alive (Score 1) 40

by rubycodez (#49631277) Attached to: Extreme Exoplanet Volcanism Possibly Detected On 55 Cancri E

I'll take old age, thanks

I really don't think nuclear weapons would be useful against any race that has mastered interstellar travel, it'd be like the few amazon aboriginal tribes with arrows and poison darts vs. the U.S. Army using Apache copters loaded with Hellfire, Hydra and chain guns. A five minute action movie.

Comment: Re:All medical bills are mysterious. (Score 1) 328

by Kjella (#49630933) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery

It is just not these indecipherable codes on the bills. I typically get explanation-of-benefits that runs like, "X-Ray radiology 800$, Paid by insurance company 100$, discount to insurance 685$, you owe them 15$". Any one without an insurance will be billed 800$. No body would pay such an insane bill. They will sell it to some debt collector at some 20 cents a dollar. The bill collector would hound the patient, add all sorts of fees and penalties and dun payments. About two thirds of the bankruptcies in USA are due to medical costs. If the lab billed honestly and charged 150$ for uninsured, 100$+15$ copay for insured, things will not spin out of control this badly.

The price out to the collection agency reflects the likelihood that an uninsured person - a pretty good indicator that he can't pay - will pay a huge bill, not what the costs are. Now the US system is fucked but proper medical care is expensive, here in Norway we have universal healthcare and it's 11% of the national budget. It is three times the size of our defense budget, for example.

In large parts of your life, particularly until you finish college or you plan to take the money to your grave you don't have a chance at footing the bill for a major medical emergency. And if your parents don't have the money the first part is easily 25 years of your life. Particularly the final years are nothing but rolling the dice, some people drop dead with hardly any cost to the healthcare system while others have long-winded slides into terminal care.

Only 50 years ago you'd need a small army of people to do my job, simply because we have computers to do 99% of the legwork. One doctor is still treating one patient and the standard of adequate care has actually gone significantly up as we gain more knowledge, tests and treatments. And the narrower the scope, usually the more expensive the care.

In my country it's been hotly debated whether we should spend $100.000+ per patient per year to prolong the life of certain very rare diseases with extraordinarily expensive medication. I know we've sent children with brain tumors to the US for proton therapy many hundred thousands of dollars per patient, because the estimated cost of establishing our own is 200 million dollars to treat 200 patients/year.

And we want the best care, it's real hard to hear there's treatment that can help but we're not going to that because it's too expensive. Yet that is increasingly the case, it's not that the treatment doesn't exist it's that if everyone gets everything the system chokes. P.S. A modern medical X-ray machine is not cheap at all.

Comment: Re:Lost Momentum? (Score 1) 53

by ledow (#49630321) Attached to: Oculus Rift Launching In Q1 2016

VR is one of the faddy things that, once a generation, some bright spark thinks they can do "properly this time", picks it up, makes some demos of it, realises that it's expensive stuff that needs high-end and portable equipment sold for a reasonable price to lots and lots of people to succeed, slips away into a corner somewhere until people forget about it, and then reinvents itself with the next bright spark.

In the early days of VRML, the same happened. Quake was around. A full, 3D, accelerated environment that could run on commercial PC's, benefit from full 3D vision, and the VR hardware was "the thing" to look at your new architect's idea for the local council buildings or whatever. Never did the two get put together.

Now we have ubiquitous and extraordinarily powerful and realistic 3D graphics. Still, explicit support is required because our 3D is really 3D-cheats dependent on the single-viewport way of drawing things. So you have to design the hardware, mass-produce it, get people to buy it, redesign the games to take account of it, then put it all together for a price people are willing to pay for a gaming gimmick that makes them sit at home with a silly hat on.

I have no doubt that we could get a console going with it, and sell a handful of games, and cost a bomb, and people would play it and go "Yeah, it's okay, but you wouldn't play every game like that", and then it'll be on the dustheap again for a while until the next generation pick it up again.

The 3D power is there. We all have cards capable of running at stupid resolutions at stupid framerate that we could easily have "two of" or a "special" card to do VR.

The screens are there. We all have smartphones and high-res displays.

The human interface still isn't. We're still strapping things to our head and hoping our eyes are roughly aligned like everyone else's and presuming that all people have two healthy eyes in relative sync that they can use such things (my girlfriend can't see 3D movies, several of my friends can't see 3D movies, so why would you pay to go to a 3D movie over a normal one? Same problem). We're still dangling screens in front of our eyes and then wondering why they aren't as impressive in resolution and why they have to be so carefully synched and why it costs twice as much as just buying a decent monitor and why we have to drive two cards (or one powerful card) to drive two displays. We're still having to have one-per-person specialist hardware, that's fragile and expensive and cumbersome and hard to mass-produce until we get literally millions of users.

And all for a game. Now games are worth billions nowdays, but at the end of the game it's just a game. All the potential research / medical / whatever uses DO NOT use this kind of technology, even though they could and could probably afford to do so as a one-off. For decades we've had medical-operation-by-remote-control, but we still don't have that or anything approaching 3D vision coming into common use.

Because, at the end of the day, the use-cases are limited of fanciful, and the cost is prohibitive, and the setup is an awful lot of faffing about.

Standardised VR has been suggested several times - never happened.
VR headsets have been around since the 80's - never took off even as part of a Nintendo offerings (maybe a slight wart, but even so - nobody was interested in bettering it).
The capability to even put 3D environments into web pages has been around as long as I've been involved in websites, everything from VRML upwards. We still don't use it or enjoy global browser support for it.
Accelerometers and other sensors have PLUNGED in price since this was first tried - there's still no accurate way to model your head movements.

It's just a fad each time it comes around and the same problems hit. Even with millions in Kickstarter funding, etc. it's hard to produce a handful of working units that developers will rewrite their games for. It's hard to convince people to part with the price of a tablet or laptop in order to move a game into the third dimension (with lots of caveats, of course).

Like battery technologies, when it does take off, you'll find out because your friend actually has one already and you try it out and even your grandma gets one in the same year because everyone else has one (Wii syndrome). Not because of whatever showmanship is put on for you by a company itself, or what research is done, or what prototype device you see a news item on. It'll just arrive, without fanfare.

+ - Capitol Hill's Uber caucus->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: In all, some 275 federal politicians and political committees together spent more than $278,000 on at least 7,625 Uber rides during the 2013-2014 election cycle, a Center for Public Integrity analysis of campaign spending records indicates.

That’s a roughly 18-fold spending increase from the previous election cycle, when federal committees together spent about $15,000 on Uber services. It represents a veritable monopoly, too: Almost no political committee used Uber’s direct competitors, Lyft and Sidecar, according to the analysis, and traditional taxi use declined precipitously.

Bipartisan love of Uber abounds, with politicos of all stripes composing a de facto Uber caucus, voting with their money for a wildly popular but controversial company.

Link to Original Source

+ - Federal government demands NYC strip Times Square of billboards

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: Federal officials have ordered New York to remove the billboards that make Times Square famous or else the state will lose $90 million in federal highway funds.

The edict comes from a 2012 law that makes Times Square an arterial route to the national highway system. And that puts it under the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which limits signs to 1,200 square feet. It took the feds until now to realize that Times Square was included.

Government

Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the gee-that's-a-shame dept.
schwit1 writes with news that political support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is drying up because of the secrecy involved in developing it. Members of Congress can read the bill if they want, but they need to be located in a single room within the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, and they can't have their staff with them. They can't have a copy, they can't take notes, and they can only view one section at a time. And they're monitored while they read it. Unsurprisingly, this is souring many members of Congress on the controversial trade agreement.

"Administration aides say they can’t make the details public because the negotiations are still going on with multiple countries at once; if for example, Vietnam knew what the American bottom line was with Japan, that might drive them to change their own terms. Trade might not seem like a national security issue, they say, but it is (and foreign governments regularly try to hack their way in to American trade deliberations)."

+ - The extreme lengths console gamers go to mod Pro Evo->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer has always been the losing side in the match against EA Sports' FIFA for football league and team licensing, but that hasn't stopped dedicated modders. While PES' editing tools make uploading accurate team data and player appearances on PC relatively trivial, as a new feature reveals, there's just as much demand for the real thing from console PES gamers — but doing the same on restricted hardware is much more taxing.

"Microsoft's DRM management policies cause problems (on Xbox 360) because it means they have never enabled the console to copy music, film, or PGN images onto the hard drive like you could with the PS3. If I edited on the PS3 it would take 20-seconds to import a kit design I created in Photoshop into PES. To make the same design on Xbox would take me hours to hand draw the same thing," says Damien Winter, who has been creating console option files for Pro since 2008. Unfortunately, things are even tougher on Xbox One and PS4. "They both adopted Microsoft's Xbox 360 policies and they won't allow anyone to import images into the console memory," he says. "This, combined with no in game pixel editor, means the team kits have no logos. They can only have the correct kit colours and patterns. On top of that, both Sony and Microsoft have blocked the ability for anyone to share their work."

Link to Original Source

+ - No Justice for Victims of Identity Theft->

Submitted by chicksdaddy
chicksdaddy writes: The Christian Science Monitor's Passcode features a harrowing account of one individual's experience of identity theft.(http://passcode.csmonitor.com/identity-stolen) CSM reporter Sara Sorcher recounts the story of "Jonathan Franklin" (not his real name) a New Jersey business executive who woke up to find thieves had stolen his identity and racked up $30,000 in a shopping spree at luxury stores including Versace and the Apple Store. The thieves even went so far as to use personal info stolen from Franklin to have the phone company redirect calls to his home number, which meant that calls from the credit card company about the unusual spending went unanswered.

Despite the heinousness of the crime and the financial cost, Sorcher notes that credit card companies and merchants both look on this kind of theft as a "victimless crime" and are more interested in getting reimbursed for their losses than trying to pursue the thieves. Police departments, also, are unable to investigate these crimes, lacking both the technical expertise and resources to do so. Franklin notes that he wasn't even required to file a police report to get reimbursed for the crime.
“As long as their loss is covered they move on to [handling] tomorrow’s fraud,” Franklin observes. And that makes it harder for victims like Franklin to move on, “In some way, I’m seeking some sense of justice,” Franklin said. “But it’s likely not going to happen.”

Link to Original Source

Comment: First it has to go thru consitutional council (Score 1) 165

by aepervius (#49627591) Attached to: French Version of 'Patriot Act' Becomes Law
I would not worry much until the conseil constitutionnel has a look. IIRC the council CAN also look *before* the law get into action, after it was voted as raised by various political organs. So it could very well be that the law will be rejected by the constitutional council if raised by some institution (IIRC, only 60 parliament vote are necessary to check constitutionality, less than was in rejection of the law - 86). Otherwise the process is the same afterward , it go to a higher court in case of judgement, and can be set before the council by a high court for example. Anyway I find it an utter shame as described and would break fundamental right, so obviously against constitution (privacy/freedom right among them). My guess is that the law is NOT as described on slashdot as it often happen.

Comment: Re:This is great (Score 1) 102

by TheRaven64 (#49627589) Attached to: GOG Announces Open Beta For New Game Distribution Platform

One insane "feature" of GOG is that you get game updates for Linux only by downloading the whole installer again, while the other two platforms get incremental patches*

Do they? I've had to download complete games for both Windows and Mac for the updates. As long as they keep both, I'm happy. I'd hate to go back to the era of installing a game and then having to install all of the updates. With the speed of Internet connections now, even a 10-20GB download is not really a bottleneck for enjoyment.

Comment: Re:The appeal of GoG for me (Score 1) 102

by TheRaven64 (#49627579) Attached to: GOG Announces Open Beta For New Game Distribution Platform
The main fail with Diakatana was expectation management. Prior to launch it had so much hype about how it would totally redefine gaming. And then they released a game that was... okay. Not particularly good, not particularly bad, and with a few issues that, if fixed, could have made it much better.

Chairman of the Bored.

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