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Comment Re:Turn off Wifi on a Comcast Modem? (Score 3, Informative) 172

For phone services, I would suggest looking into an OBi100 or similar device.

This is similar hardware to Magicjack, but it works with whatever VoIP provider you choose.

I'm with, which is $.01/minute billed in 6-second increments for all calls (in and out). There's an extra $1/month, plus another $1/month for 911 service. If you want caller ID names, it's an extra $.01/call, but only if it's not in the contacts you set up on their web page. There is a fee for porting numbers.

Another option is Google Voice. All calls (US/Canada) are free, but there's no caller ID names, even from your Google Contacts. Also, Google only lets you port mobile numbers, not land-line numbers, but people have managed to do it by first porting their cell phone to a prepaid cell. (I have our outgoing calls set to a Google Voice number, which can be a bit confusing for people.)

Comment Time-of-day metering (Score 4, Interesting) 298

Sure, drop the rate back to wholesale for the buy-back of net metering, but then price it based on the spot market at that time, not the overall rate. The prices are highest during the day, so net metering for solar would likely pay more than the retail rate if the utilities had to pay for it based on the time.

Overall, utilities are saving money from solar--they're reducing what they have to pay to support peak demand, and now they're coming back and trying to suck more money out of their customers.

This is a money grab by the utilities, plain and simple. This has nothing to do with fairness.

Comment Not just PornMode (Score 4, Interesting) 148

I use "incognito mode" all the time. Anytime I see some interesting link on Facebook, I always open it in incognito mode. Just one more level of protection against associating the link with my account or leaving behind unwanted trash.

I also find it very useful for news sites that let you have a certain number of articles free before throwing up a paywall. Using incognito mode resets the counter back to zero.

Comment Other hacks: Garage Door Opener (Score 1) 481

I had a garage door opener that started to have problems. The door is rather heavy, and it jerks a bit as it opens. The opener is a double-speed Genie model. Occasionally it would think something was wrong when opening and stop. Unfortunately, there was no option to turn off the double-speed mode. Of course, they also sold a regular-speed model that was exactly the same except for one change on the circuit board. A little searching turned up the solution: Clip the resistor labeled "double-speed" and it cuts the speed in half.

Now the door opens more slowly without any jerking, and it never stops half-way up.

Comment All about sequels (Score 1) 105

This is all about producing new content with old characters. Sometimes using a replacement is the only option, as the current actor is dead or no longer fits the part (like new episodes of the original Star Trek or old Doctor Who). Or perhaps the Disney model of making low-budget direct-to-video sequels is another application.

The important point for the entertainment industry now is to anticipate the technology and to add the future use into the contract negotiations now.

Comment Re:Pre-compute vs. responsive system (Score 2) 142

Human driving is a mix of both methods. When you're on a street you're familiar with, habit takes over, and you barely notice what you're doing. On an unfamiliar street, you're much more active as a driver. At some level, humans require driving situations to be predefined, in that they need to match a familiar template. Road designs are all standardized.

In other words, the more information you have about the driving conditions, the simpler the problem. If you have a map, then you need to watch for anything that deviates from that map. If you don't have a map, then you have to process the scene to generate the map on the fly. (And by "map," I mean the entire design of the roadway, not just the traditional GPS-correlated road layout.)

Comment Physical store advantage? (Score 4, Informative) 203

Walmart believes "Customers want the accessibility and immediacy of a physical store." That is why their online business is doomed to fail. Yes, sometimes you just want it right now, but then you'll drive to Walmart or whatever local store will have it and buy it. But often you want the real online experience with unlimited selections and no hassle with trips. Why would I buy something online and then drive to pick it up?

Yes, Walmart has a huge and efficient distribution system, but can they really leverage that for online sales? When stocking stores, they ship large quantities to each store. For online sales, it's small quantities of a much larger variety. You have to support the customer who is the only one in the area buying that item just as well as you do the customer who buys the most popular item. I doubt their distribution system can adapt to that model.

Walmart can try, but in order to beat Amazon at this point, they don't just have to match them, they have to be better. I don't think they even understand what better looks like, let alone have any way of getting there.

Comment Re:Once again no editing (Score 2) 37

Well, being Slashdot, people will use the initialism in their comments, and others will ask what it means, so having it spelled out isn't a problem. It's much better than the summaries that use an initialism without explaining it. There have been many that did that, often with much more obscure references.

Of course, the real answer is that in most cases the summaries are cut-and-paste copies from the article.

Comment Re:Geared for passing tests... Thats todays societ (Score 1) 420

Yes, I was thinking the same thing. If you focus on the testing, the result is something (or someone) that is good at taking tests. This is particularly bad when there are aspects of what you're doing that aren't (or can't be) tested.

In the case of emissions, part of the issue is that the tests aren't realistic. It sounds like the government should require a validation test where they monitor the emissions while the car is actually being driven. The manufacturer would pay for the testing, and the government would spot-test a few cars of each model every year, in addition to the regular emissions testing.

Or leave the system as it is, but then pay bounties funded by fines for anyone that proves the emissions of a given car model don't live up to the standard in real-world situations.

Comment ReplayTV all over again (Score 1) 85

I remember when TiVo first came out. ReplayTV came out at almost the same time. ReplayTV was more expensive, but had lifetime listings included. Ultimately that proved to be a bad marketing decision, and would have probably led to the company's demise if the lawsuits hadn't effectively killed it first.

ReplayTV had already upset the networks with it's 30-second skip button, but the feature that led to major lawsuits was the automatic commercial skip.

It's a shame they didn't both survive and compete on features. I wonder what TiVo would have come up with by now with more competitive pressure?

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