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Comment: Re:Still should be hands free (Score 2) 142

by crankyspice (#46368505) Attached to: Using Handheld Phone GPS While Driving Is Legal In California

Except ironically that would require repealing laws in California since windshield mounts were made illegal many years ago.

Whatchotalkin' 'bout Willis?

Cal. Veh. Code 26708(b)(12): “A portable Global Positioning System (GPS) ... may be mounted in a seven-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a five-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver ...”

Comment: Re:The key to success. (Score 2) 365

by crankyspice (#45902499) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many (Electronics) Gates Is That Software Algorithm?

Do not ask a computer scientist to be an electrical engineer.

Except ... Wow. An early course in my computer science curriculum was:

201. Computer Logic Design I (3)
Prerequisite: MATH 113 or equivalent all with a grade of "C" or better.
Basic topics in combinational and sequential switching circuits with applications to the design of digital devices. Introduction to Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools. Laboratory projects with Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA).
(Lecture 2 hours, lab 3 hours) Letter grade only (A-F).

(We used Verilog and a Xilinx FPGA board.) I'm surprised a reputable CS degree wouldn't require at least a basic course in digital logic; Cal State Long Beach is a great school, but it's certainly not a standards bearer...

Comment: Re:Slashdot being a prime example of bad (Score 2) 382

by crankyspice (#45773989) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Do Mobile Versions of Websites Suck?

So spoof your browser id string.

Oh. Let me guess. Apple and Safari won't let you do that.

Safari (desktop version) has a developer menu that lets the end user specify any HTTP_USER_AGENT string:

https://docs.google.com/uc?id=0B3wWtj5n3Y6QZzFwb0h1YlJLQkU&export=download
https://docs.google.com/uc?id=0B3wWtj5n3Y6QVEdMc0tnZGlwSHc&export=download

Apple (all iOS versions) will let browsers change their HTTP_USER_AGENT; here's the Mercury browser doing just that:

https://docs.google.com/uc?id=0B3wWtj5n3Y6QWlJKSk9uOUhOVG8&export=download

Comment: Re:But that's not a company's goal (Score 4, Informative) 168

by crankyspice (#45161629) Attached to: Should Google Get Aggressive About Monetizing Android?

If they don't focus on making money, their shareholders can sue them. Companies are there to make money, they can't be twisted into innovation factories. If they could we'd probably have free energy and plentiful drinking water by now.

Anyone can sue anyone for anything. (Whether or not they can do so successfully, or without being sanctioned, is another story -- I just won a nice attorney fee award from a father (lawyer) son (douchebag) team that sued a client of mine in state court, and then dismissed when we filed the Anti-SLAPP Motion to Strike I'd warned them repeatedly was coming... sigh...)

That said, the "must increase shareholder value" trope is a myth: "This common and widespread perception lacks any solid basis in actual corporate law." http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2012/6/18%20corporate%20stout/stout_corporate%20issues.pdf (p. 4)

If a business wanted to spend three years on R&D, as long as the directors embarked on that path in good faith, with appropriate consideration and care, and reasonably believed that they were acting in the best interests of the company, they'd be able to do so under, e.g., the Business Judgment Rule.

Comment: Re:This is not news anymore (Score 1) 171

by crankyspice (#43849243) Attached to: Canon DSLR Hack Allows It To Shoot RAW Video

Most device manufacturers do not have a lot of budget on their firmware development, so, what they do is to have a generic-enough firmware developed, then they add and/or delete a couple of options, depending on the price point of their device model, package it as the firmware for that particular model

Back in the olden days when we were using USRobotic dial up modems we used to buy 2400 baud modem and then re-flash them to run at 4800 or even 9600 baud

Dating back to at least 1990: http://steveblank.com/2009/04/16/supermac-war-story-7-building-the-whole-product/

Comment: Re:Legislation? (Score 1) 3

by crankyspice (#43772183) Attached to: Accountability / bug submission for services providers?

My fear is that we're getting away from the "market forces" that used to work. Netflix couldn't care less if they lose me, the Windows Media Center folks with the same problem, or the thousands(?) of Apple TV users with the same error message who haven't dug as deep into troubleshooting. With 30 million subscribers, 2,500 of us is a rounding error.

Maybe I'm showing my age, but I remember when there were but a handful of Linux users (I've had a Linux shell account since '93), and we were perpetually in danger of being steamrolled by the Big Corporations who could change things on a whim (Winmodems... Microsoft's SMB protocol...) and shut us out.

This isn't quite that, but it's similar. (It's also 2:45 a.m. and I'm not sure I can express myself as coherently as I need to right now...)

After a bit of brainstorming / research, I put up this Google Doc draft, that more clearly outlines what I'm talking about...

+ - Accountability / bug submission for services providers? 3

Submitted by crankyspice
crankyspice (63953) writes "Thinking on the topic of consumer frustration and our increasing reliance on tech. Currently brainstorming a solution to corporations providing IaaS/SaaS/PaaS type services with no way to bring technical issues to their developers' attention (customer support drones reading from scripts who don't even know what an RFC is — not the solution). (In the past, when your POTS line went out, Ma Bell rolled a truck; when your cable went out, Time Warner rolled a truck... What do you do when you've "cut the cord" and suddenly Hulu stops working with your WiFi-equipped Panasonic DVD player?)

Thinking something akin to a DMCA Registered Agent system, where if a tech company provides an email address that at least ties in to their bug tracking system, they get a safe harbor for interoperability liability or something... (At the moment, one-sided terms of service provisions mandate ~$10,000 arbitration, limit damages to what was spent on the service ($8/month?), and eliminate the ability to bring class action suits, so the service providers have basically immunized themselves from liability anyway; not sure how to handle that...)

As our world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, accountability and reliability are becoming more and more critical. It's soon going to be essential that there be a mechanism where the providers of services can at least be made aware that their stuff is broken...

Two situations I've had recently highlighted this (and caused hair pulling); both ultimately minor in the grand scheme of things, but both point to harrowing futures:
  1. Sending a PDF to fax via email was failing from my iPad. TrustFax.com (an eFax service) just wasn't seeing the attachments. The script-reading customer service drones kept saying (once I got past the stock answers about how I had to send a message to @trustfax.com, etc., which I was obviously doing since their system was reporting back to me a specific issue — no attachments found) they didn't support Apple, didn't support the iPad, etc., but I knew it had to be a problem on their end, as I'd sent PDFs from Pages on my iPad before and they'd been picked up and sent successfully by that service. Turns out the issue was with a longer filename; Pages and/or Mail on the iPad uses RFC 2231 sect. 3 multi-line encoding for parameter values, and TrustFax's email-to-fax system evidently wasn't written to support that standard. A relatively simple fix, once / if the developers are aware of it, but how to get it to their attention?
  2. My AppleTV won't play Netflix. Just reports "Netflix is currently unavailable." Apple says it's a Netflix problem. Netflix, after swearing up and down it was because my Apple TV "couldn't connect to Netflix" (demonstrably not true) finally pointed the finger at Apple. Finally I ran 'tcpdump' on my DD-WRT router and fed the results into Wireshark to see what was going on: api.netflix.com (actually an Amazon AWS instance) is reporting "X-Neftlix-Error-Cause: Error from API Backend." Seems like a Netflix problem to me, but it could be that Netflix isn't properly handling bad input from the Apple-supplied application. Customer support drones on both sides are useless, so how do I get this into the hands of someone who can look at it, see what's broken, and put it in for a bug fix?

If you were going to design simple, effective legislation to address this lack of accountability / access to developers' attention, what would it look like? (From a consumer's perspective, and/or from the other side of the corporate firewall.) Is legislation the answer? Can corporations be shamed/spotlighted into voluntarily agreeing to some sort of industry-specified "best practices" when it comes to these issues?

I'm ready to agitate, but I don't want to go off half-cocked without considering, well, those aspects I haven't yet considered! Hence, I'm Asking Slashdot... :)"

Comment: Re:Take them out of the loop (Score 1, Funny) 173

by crankyspice (#43668109) Attached to: USAF Strips 17 Officers of Nuclear Launch Authority

“We've had men in those silos since before any of you guys were watching ‘Howdy Doody!’ Now I myself sleep pretty well knowing those boys are down there ... Mr. McKittrick, after very careful consideration, sir, I've come to the conclusion that your new [automated electronic] defense system sucks.” - Gen. Beringer.

Comment: Re:And... (Score 3, Informative) 618

PRINTING would be awfully nice from a tablet. Too bad both Android and Apple have clunky hacks (well, I'm not too familiar with the Apple one, but I understand it's not a native print-to-printer thing).

Modern printers can be printed to directly. For everything else (my trusty Canon multi-function, my 8 year old cheap-when-it-was-new Samsung GDI contraption) that are shared via my Linux fileserver, it was a simple setup for CUPS and now those printers are iOS-accessible, too.

Same with typing.

The iPad has supported Bluetooth keyboards since day 1, and Apple (and countless third parties) have sold such keyboards since day 1 (of the iPad). I use one (a Zagg model with a slot that can be used to conveniently stand the iPad) with an iOS 4.3.3 first-generation iPad, routinely...

Comment: Re:Forget ZIP drives (Score 1) 58

by crankyspice (#43617059) Attached to: Lenovo To Drop Iomega Brand On Joint EMC Products

I just got served with Requests for Production that read, in part, "Electronic Media devices may include, but are not limited to, computer memories, hard disks, diskettes and cartridges, network drives, network memory storage, archived tapes and cartridges, backup tapes, floppy disks, CD-ROM, removable media such as Bernoulli Boxes and their equivalent, magnetic tapes of all types, microfiche, punched cards, and any other vehicle used for digital data storage and/or transmittal."

+ - Federal judge shoots down ReDigi

Submitted by crankyspice
crankyspice (63953) writes "ReDigi's attempt to create a virtual marketplace for pre-owned digital music has bee shot down by Judge Sullivan of the Southern District of New York, in his ruling and order on cross-motions for summary judgment: http://www.scribd.com/doc/133611615/ (“The novel question presented in this action is whether a digital music file, lawfully made and purchased, may be resold by its owner through ReDigi under the first sale doctrine. The Court determines that it cannot.”)"

Comment: Re:The law is an ass (Score 2) 211

by crankyspice (#43261267) Attached to: 9th Circuit Affirms IsoHunt Decision; No DMCA Safe Harbor

Well, the DMCA was a compromise between the interests of ISPs and those of copyright holders -- so, the result of lobbyist dollars. But secondary copyright liability (vicarious or contributory liability for the direct infringement of third parties) is entirely judicially created. There's no statute on the books w/r/t secondary infringement liability. (Federal judges are appointed for life -- they don't campaign, they don't need to run for re-election, I've worked "on the inside" of enough MPAA etc. litigation to know that the rights holders are as much at the mercy of the judiciary as are the tech heroes. Witness how Grokster was decided by Judge Wilson, then by the 9th Circuit, before SCOTUS used it to graft the doctrine of inducement liability onto copyright law...)

Anyway, for everyone asking "why do we let judges rule on / lawmakers govern the Internet" -- the Internet is us. We are the Internet. Just because something occurs over TCP/IP packets instead of in an alley, doesn't make it any less a part of 'the real world,' where real laws apply.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen

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