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Comment: Re:Working from home (Score 1) 159

by crow (#47719673) Attached to: Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills

Yup. EMC provided me with an ISDN line and later reimbursed me for my Internet expenses when they switched to VPN. I think it was just a few years ago that they stopped reimbursing, saying that home Internet is now normal, and the VPN use doesn't increase the cost.

My phone has always been paid for by the company. If they stop paying for it, I stop using a cell phone.

Comment: Re:Phones + 1 laptop. (Score 3, Insightful) 156

by crow (#47717217) Attached to: How many devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi?

Absolutely!

I'm so glad that I wired our house for ethernet. Granted, WiFi wasn't quite up to speed fifteen years ago, but ethernet is rock solid.

Wired on ethernet, we have:
*) My laptop docking station
*) My wife's iMac
*) network laser printer
*) game console
*) MythTV DVR
*) Blu-Ray player
*) HDHR Prime TV tuner
*) OBI100 phone adapter

The WiFi has just one phone and one tablet except when we have guests, though I also have an ethernet outlet in the guest bedroom.

It was interesting to retrofit the house's wiring for ethernet. Mostly it was a matter of using existing phone or coax cables to pull new cables and converting the old single-purpose outlets into multi-outlets. Most place I put in two ethernet, one phone, and one coax. The coax has been a complete waste, but otherwise it was a great plan.

Comment: Municipal elections are *more* important (Score 4, Insightful) 190

by crow (#47584995) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality?

Municipal elections aren't less important than the Presidential election. On a per-vote basis, they're much more important. Your vote makes much more difference in a local election. The choice you make are much more likely to have a real impact on your community.

The problem with municipal elections is that it's much harder to learn who to vote for. You have to do real work to figure out who the candidates are and what they stand for.

Note: I'm an elected municipal official, so my opinion is a bit biased here.

Comment: Re:Obvious (Score 1) 163

by crow (#47584935) Attached to: Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

I'm more thinking rural freeways like you have in the West. As long as you check for construction first and don't get unlucky with a deer, you're probably fine unless the paint goes wrong (as may be the case in post-construction sites).

Actually, there already are automatic braking systems for things like deer, and I would guess that that would be included.

One big point here is that we're a lot closer to autonomous driving that most people think.

Comment: Obvious (Score 5, Interesting) 163

by crow (#47584087) Attached to: Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

They've had adaptive cruise control for a long time now that will slow you down so that you don't rear-end anyone in front of you. In theory, you can set it at your favorite speed, and then ignore the foot pedals until you reach your exit. I haven't used it, so I don't know if it handles stop-and-go traffic jams or things like that.

Now they have automatic lane centering. The car uses cameras to read the paint stripes and keep it centered in the lane. Because it's not a general system for autonomous driving (and the obvious liability if it crashes), it shuts off if you let go of the steering wheel.

Combine the two, and you have fully autonomous highway driving under regular conditions. You just have to fool the sensor, and sensors are easy to fool.

What's interesting is to learn what conditions it won't handle.

Comment: Who were they calling? (Score 1) 419

by crow (#47557983) Attached to: A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

So they weren't calling the bank, but obviously they were calling someone. Did the store employee actually speak with someone, or did he manage to fake the call entirely? Presumably he had an accomplice who was pretending to be the bank. Did they track down and arrest that person? I didn't see it in the article.

Comment: Solar power? (Score 1) 260

by crow (#47511019) Attached to: Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

An inverter converts DC power to AC power. The most obvious use is for solar power. For rooftop solar arrays, you want efficiency, but you don't care much about density. In many cases, you have a small inverter under each panel, and size isn't an issue. But if you could get a few percent more AC out for a given DC in, that would matter.

On the other hand, if you want a solar-powered Chromebook, the inverter could be a deal-breaker on the weight. I'm guessing it's applications like that that have inspired this challenge. They want a Chromebook that you leave out in the sun to recharge. Or something similar.

Or maybe they have some other crazy idea I haven't thought of yet.

Comment: Moving is more natural (Score 5, Interesting) 230

by crow (#47442095) Attached to: Geographic Segregation By Education

My observation is that people who don't go to college tend to get a job locally. People who do go to college often attend a college outside of the local area, and when they graduate, often apply for jobs nationwide.

The process of going to college makes moving to a new location much more natural.

It's no wonder that college grads will move to places where they can get good jobs, and that this would be places that already have a high concentration of people with college degrees.

Comment: LED for $18 (Score 1) 196

by crow (#47367483) Attached to: The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

I have a vacation rental property, and some of the bulbs are very hard to replace. I'm afraid that a tenant might try to do it and break the fixture. Also, they take R20 bulbs, and they tend to be expensive to begin with. So now I don't have to worry about the bulbs failing when I'm hundreds of miles away.

I also swapped out the ancient dimmer, but I'm not sure if that was necessary.

I'm very happy with the new bulbs. They're a bit whiter than the old ones, but they dim very nicely.

Comment: Re:Higher capacity for smaller roofs (Score 1) 262

by crow (#47266285) Attached to: Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

That depends on where you live. In Massachusetts, the incentives are such that you can install a system where you pay nothing up front. You can get a loan and pay for it with the savings. Or solar companies will set up a lease and power purchase agreement where they install the system for free, and you are guaranteed to be cashflow positive for the life of the system. (Those lease agreements often eat up two-thirds of the would-be savings over twenty years, so watch out for them.)

Comment: Higher capacity for smaller roofs (Score 4, Interesting) 262

by crow (#47261665) Attached to: Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

For many people, the limit on the size of their solar array is the size of their roof. If you want to offset your full usage, you may need higher-capacity panels than the standard 250W base panels. There are a number of higher-efficiency panels available, but the cost per Watt is higher. They probably don't cost much more to manufacture, so the more efficient panels have a higher profit margin.

Also, you have to keep improving your technology or you're out of the business when the cheap panels get to be as efficient than what you're producing.

Comment: Reviewers need to report this (Score 5, Insightful) 289

So the solution is that the professional reviewers at places like C|Net or ArsTechnica need to have a policy of redoing their testing on older models when newer models are released. If they find that the older model no longer performs as they originally reviewed it, then they need to loudly warn that the manufacturer is known for reducing the quality of the product without announcing a change.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

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