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Comment: Re:Android's annoying (Score 1) 61

by billstewart (#47698717) Attached to: San Francisco Airport Testing Beacon System For Blind Travelers

This is a belated reply, but the title was "Android's annoying". Yes, if I had an iPhone, I could use Siri, and it would Just Work, because that's what shiny Apple things do. On an Android phone, it's (optionally unlock the screen, then) go to Messaging, then hit the little microphone icon that tells it you want Google to interpret some speech, then tell it what the speech is, then hit the send button, all of which require me to put on my reading glasses first (which would be a bad idea, if I were driving, which of course I'm not.)

That's not even counting the HTC-skinned version of text messaging app, which knows I want to see lots of previous call history on the screen at once, and knows I'm not going to need to do the thumb-pinch thing to make the text bigger, much less having a menu entry to let me choose font size first, but that was my old 2.0-custom-HTC-AT&T version of Android, as opposed to KitKat.

Comment: Nash Bridges filmed near my office (Score 1) 442

by billstewart (#47612141) Attached to: Big Bang Actors To Earn $1M Per Episode

Back in the 90s I was working in San Francisco, at 4th and Folsom. Don Johnson and Cheech Marin's show Nash Bridge filmed in SF, often under the freeway near my office, and sometimes on one of the streets near us. They'd block things off and film episodes, and the clerk for my department had the hots for him, so she'd have to go watch out the window if they were close enough.

Comment: Android's annoying (Score 1) 61

by billstewart (#47597089) Attached to: San Francisco Airport Testing Beacon System For Blind Travelers

Maybe a current Android phone is better, but my old one has helpful things like a microphone icon next to the keyboard that you can press and type by voice recognition instead of keyboard. Which I suppose is useful, after I put on my reading glasses to do texting or other apps in the first place. (I'm sorry, I want the equivalent of being able to tell Siri to do stuff without needing to look at the keyboard - how else am I going to text while driving\\\\\\\\ um, use the phone with limited vision? And my HTC's version of Android didn't even let me pick a font size for text messaging; HTC just knew I'd prefer to see more lines of conversation and wouldn't need to do the pinch thing to make the text bigger.)

Comment: How my mom gets through airports (Score 1) 61

by billstewart (#47597071) Attached to: San Francisco Airport Testing Beacon System For Blind Travelers

Yes, I know you're trolling, but I'm going to comment anyway.

My mom's not blind, but her vision's really lousy (age-related macular degeneration, like a lot of old people with serious vision problems.) She takes wheelchairs in the airport, which not only takes care of navigation, but also helps her deal with distance (she can do short distances herself, but has trouble with long distances or long standing.) As the Boomer generation gets old and decrepit, we're going to start doing the same.

Using technology instead of labor is what capital is for. The capital only gets wasted if these sensors are obsolete in a couple of years, and if we haven't learned any lessons about design or implementation from it.

Comment: House of Lords != House of Commons (Score 1) 282

by billstewart (#47579677) Attached to: UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity

"Parliamentary system" mainly refers to the House of Commons, whose members are elected and who elect the Prime Minister. The House of Lords is the other lot, sort of like a hereditary Senate, that *used* to be the important part of Parliament up until maybe the early 1800s, which lets the aristocracy still have some say in government as long as they don't actually interfere with the Commons too much.

Comment: Re:You're probably not one of them - CA FTB. (Score 1) 570

by billstewart (#47562313) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Unless they identify themselves as the State of California Franchise Tax Board, they're not.

At least for Federal taxes, you and they can only go back 3 years, unless they're alleging significant underreporting of income (which $200 isn't), in which case they can go back 6 years, or fraud, in which case you're on the hook forever. I don't know the FTB's time limits, but I'd be surprised if they're more than that (or at most one year more.)

Also, their name is pronounced "fran-chi-zi", because they're a branch of La Cosa Nostra, and yo, they don't mess around. If they wanted to take $200 from you, they'd have taken it by now. But if this really is the Franchises, you do have a way to get help in working with them, which is to contact the office of your state assembly representative. And if it's really not them, they'll probably also appreciate having you reporting the fraud (though unfortunately, you doing them a favor doesn't mean they'll do you a favor later.)

Comment: Somewhat the opposite (Score 2) 570

by billstewart (#47562193) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

Yes, it's going to cut down on the number of people who are in collection for medium-large debts because they got medical services they couldn't afford at the time and haven't been able to pay off (either yet, or ever.)

But it's going to significantly increase the number of people who are in collection for small debts because doctors or insurers paid the wrong amount. I've got one doctor's office that usually doesn't charge me a copay, but after the insurance gets around to paying them, there's an amount of money left over that's within a dollar or so of the amount the copay would have been, so their medical group gets around to sending me a bill, and it's extremely difficult to keep track of which of those bills are actually correct and final or which ones are rolling totals of insurance confusion in progress. Usually those get straightened out after a while, but sometimes they've called me and there's $20 that's going to go to collection if I don't pay right away. There's an X-ray lab that has a negotiated rate with my insurance company that's a lot lower than their rack rate; I went to them one January, and insurance didn't pay them anything because I hadn't reached my deductible for the year yet, and the lab billed me the rack rate, not the negotiated rate (I paid them the correct amount, and explained why, and the rest eventually ended up in collection because they couldn't figure out how to deal with it.)

Comment: Erlang's used for Cloud Stuff, so Trendy (Score 1) 315

by billstewart (#47562013) Attached to: Programming Languages You'll Need Next Year (and Beyond)

Erlang's becoming at least slightly trendy because it's used in several sets of Cloud Stuff, and Cloud Stuff is heavily enough management-buzzwordy that HR departments have figured out they need to hire some Erlang programmers.

It's especially useful for some of the orchestration tools out there, and it's useful if your management likes Cloud Stuff Buzzwords that don't start with "v" or "V".

Comment: Senate bill will get watered down like House bill (Score 1) 176

by billstewart (#47560267) Attached to: Senate Bill Would Ban Most Bulk Surveillance

The House bill started out as a strong pro-privacy bill that made a few concessions to NSA spying. By the time it was done with amendments, all that was left were the concessions to NSA spying and a bunch of nice but useless speechmaking. Obama may be talking positively now, but the pro-surveillance folks in the Senate will try to gut the bill, and anything that makes it past them will get trashed in the House-Senate joint resolution process.

Comment: Are there any flip-cover cases? (Score 1) 544

A slide-out keyboard case, like the ones sold for iPhones and a couple of non-Apple phones, has to be just the right size to snap on the back of the phone. But you should be able to make a flip-cover case where, when it's closed, the keyboard is facing the touchscreen, and either it's made to open in portrait mode (if you're doing a 12-button keyboard for T9), or it's made for landscape mode, if you want better keyboard shape but not as good Android UI coordination, and that would let you have something that doesn't have to be the exact size of the phone in all three dimensions, just close enough to clamp on.

Imitation is the sincerest form of plagarism.

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