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Comment: Fragmentation is terrible for hardware owners (Score 1) 136

by billstewart (#49144849) Attached to: Who's Afraid of Android Fragmentation?

How many Android phones have you had that didn't require you to either wait for your carrier to provide an update (and they never do), or give up and root the machine to install Cyanogenmod or whatever, or you just bought a new shiny phone to replace it? My HTC Aria is so hopelessly vendor-locked I doubt it's worth putting Cyanogen on it (the OTA upgrade from 2.1 to 2.3 never succeeded.) My newer Samsung did get upgraded to 4.4.2, but my Coby tablet running 4.0.4 isn't the version the manufacturer sells today, so I doubt they'll bother with customer satisfaction.

I haven't been able to Google up a good reference to Android documentation from Google that says how a regular user can upgrade their own Android version, as opposed to "Wait until your vendor ships an upgrade!"

Comment: What can go wrong? Concrete, that's what (Score 1) 421

by billstewart (#49112121) Attached to: What If We Lost the Sky?

The easy way to turn things white is to make roads out of concrete instead of asphalt. The catch is that the process used to make cement in most of the world involves heating calcium carbonate enough to bake out a CO2, leaving calcium oxides / hydroxides, so it's a surprisingly large generator of greenhouse gasses, more than making up for any albedo gains. Oops.

Comment: Re:Mossad connection is a red herring (Score 1) 113

Israel doesn't have a lot of revenue sources or natural resources, so high-tech products like software are important to them, even more so than growing oranges on Palestinian land. And everybody has to serve in the army, except a few specially exempted groups, so just about everybody with a college education has been in the Army before they got that high-tech job, and a lot of them did computer jobs in the Army as well as marching around with Uzis, because every army these days needs computer technology. That doesn't mean that every high-tech company in Israel, or even every sleazy adware company in Israel, is a front for Mossad.

Homeland Security has two highly obvious reasons to put out urgent guidance to remove crapware - there's a Congressional partisan squabble that's caught their budget in the crossfire, so they want to get positive press mention rather than the negative mention they'd get if they didn't do that, and the NSA's just gotten caught bugging every computer in the world so Homeland Security needs to talk about anybody else they can being dangerous and scary.

Besides, if it really was Mossad, they'd have done a much better job.

Comment: Dude, we want a UNICORN pony! (Score 2) 113

Not just any boring vanilla pony - we want a unicorn pony and rainbows and the whole bit!

Lenovo probably will fire somebody, for embarrassing them, but it won't change the number of vendors of crapware out there. Lenovo's certainly not going to take the kind of financial hit that Gemalto did when the public found that the GCHQ had pwned all the SIM cards they sold. Maybe one or two adware companies will lose a non-trivial percentage, but there's a market for sleazy advertising and there's a market for having software companies pay to Add Valuable Features to your hardware.

Comment: Hey, it's Inman from the Oatmeal (Score 1) 104

by billstewart (#49108383) Attached to: "Exploding Kittens" Blows Up Kickstarter Records

It probably took him a while to draw all the cards (though they're mostly cartoon-level drawings, which is a little easier), and they actually did spend a bit of time play-testing and tinkering with it to get a playable-more-than-once game. But dude, it's a card game about Exploding Kittens, and that's consistent with the humor he's well-known for, so he's not going to freak out his core audience, and they'll presumably attract half the people who've played Cards Against Humanity as well.

And yeah, it presumably took them a lot longer to figure out how to get this produced and printed in volume and fulfilled than to design the game.

Comment: I would *hope* he got paid a lot! (Score 1) 438

by billstewart (#49108349) Attached to: How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests

There are only three good reasons for promoting climate change denialism.

  • - Protecting corporate interests, and
  • - Supporting the political party that protects those corporate interests, and
  • - Annoying people who oppose that political party.

Protecting corporate interests by promoting bad science is something you shouldn't do at all, but if you're going to do it for them, they should be paying you really well. Supporting that particular political party's protection of their corporate sponsors' interests by promoting bad science is something cynical enough you should also only do if they're paying you well for it. (They pay their other marketers well.) Annoying liberals is something you can do for lolz is something you can do for free if that floats your boat.

If you're going to do "scientific research" to disprove climate change, and you don't get some outrageously large "research grant", you're getting ripped off, and you should at least go join a union like the Screen Actors' Guild so you can get paid scale and overtime. (SAG union rules presumably say the studio is supposed to pay for costumes, but if you need to spring for a white lab coat and some glassware and blinkenlights to make a demo tape, that's probably ok, even if they use that in production.)

The Almighty Buck

How One Climate-Change Skeptic Has Profited From Corporate Interests 438

Posted by timothy
from the note-that-doesn't-mean-he's-wrong dept.
Lasrick writes Elected officials who want to block the EPA and legislation on climate change frequently refer to a handful of scientists who dispute anthropogenic climate change. One of scientists they quote most often is Wei-Hock Soon, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun's energy can largely explain recent global warming. Newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon has made a fortune from corporate interests. 'He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.' The Koch Brothers are cited as a source of Dr. Soon's funding.

Comment: Re:Net Neutrality (Score 1) 112

by billstewart (#49092241) Attached to: AT&T Patents System To "Fast-Lane" File-Sharing Traffic

Unfortunately, IP QoS marking is not only largely ignored by most of the carriers (unless you're paying extra to have your port care prioritize incoming packets for your access line), but the standards treat unmarked packets as the lowest priority, and have a way to mark packets as needing better-than-best-effort, but not lower-than-normal. I'd prefer that my incoming BitTorrent traffic get lower priority than my incoming web traffic (especially VOIP and most UDP, but also streaming HTTP/HTTPS like YouTube and TCP in general.) You can mess with that a bit by adjusting how fast your client sends acks and requests and uploads new stuff, but it's not as controllable as TCP.

Comment: No, that would fail badly - it's near-pessimal (Score 1) 112

by billstewart (#49092197) Attached to: AT&T Patents System To "Fast-Lane" File-Sharing Traffic

(Disclaimer: I'm not speaking on behalf of any carrier, just speculating based on how Internet backbone and P2P technology work.)

That would fail badly. If Carrier A and Carrier B both did that, it would force most P2P peering connections to go through the network peering points between the carriers, which are just about the scarcest resource in carrier networks other than maybe cross-ocean or other international links. Each carrier would ideally want their own customers to do their P2P with each other, and do so at the nearest location (so users in the Northeast share with each other, users in the West share with each other, not too much crosses the long-haul network, YMMV about whether the US looks like 3 zones, 10, or 100.)

And if the carrier's doing their own P2P caching, they'd probably want to do some near the backbone peering points (e.g. San Jose, DC, maybe more) and encourage their customers to connect to those instead of running multiple streams across the peering point. Then you get to the engineering tradeoff question about whether you want a P2P cache in every cable head end, or just regionally.

Comment: RTFA, it's short and has pictures. (Score 1) 112

by billstewart (#49092099) Attached to: AT&T Patents System To "Fast-Lane" File-Sharing Traffic

It's not super deep technical detail, but it's enough to be interesting. They're detecting BitTorrent traffic and pointing it to closer peers, so the traffic doesn't cross the network as many times, and doing file-sharing from some of their own servers. I couldn't tell from the article if the way they encouraged connections to closer peers was by adding delay to more distant peering connections, but that would actually speed up typical performance.

Comment: Re: Getting High before flying (Score 1) 328

by billstewart (#49074773) Attached to: Federal Study: Marijuana Use Doesn't Increase Auto Crash Rates

The US has made air travel a really hostile process, mostly on purpose. But especially when they started banning taking liquids on the planes, my reaction was "ok, guys, you need to allow us to use marijuana in the smoking lounge instead." (Edibles don't have the same getting-caught risks, but they can last too long unless you're flying cross-country or overseas. Vaporizer sounds about right.)

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