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Comment: Re:The cat is out of the bag (Score 1) 92 92

I agree with you. It was actually very useful to me too that they did such a diligent job of restoring everything. My point, and warning, was that, even though I deleted my files myself and then closed the account the files were still "out there" on backup tapes etc. I wasn't too concerned for myself because everything was encrypted twice (encrypted files on encrypted disk images, yes I'm paranoid but it was tax data). What occurred to me after reading this Slashdot article is that someone could store unencrypted files with what, at the time, is a reputable company. That company goes bust and sells their assets including the backup tapes, databases etc. So, don't trust the reputation of the company that exists now unless you know that the files are encrypted on your machine before they are transferred to their servers or you encrypt them yourself (or if you are paranoid both!).

Comment: The cat is out of the bag (Score 3, Informative) 92 92

It's already too late for us early adopters. Our information is out there and can't be claimed back now.

For example, up to a year ago I used a cloud storage service to store some files (fortunately encrypted) that I didn't want to lose, tax records and statements in PDF format. I found a better alternative so copied all of the files before deleting them and then asking the company to close the account. Fast forward a year and my "better alternative" announced that they were going out of business so I contacted the first company. I couldn't create a new account because it was keyed to my email address which was already in the system so they offered to reopen the old account. When I closed the account I still had several months left on the subscription and they kindly credited those to the reopened account. When I first logged in I was shocked to find that not only had they restored my physical address in the account info but also my credit card info. They also had helpfully restored all of the files that I had stored in the account. Remember, I deleted them before closing but they pulled them out of the backup from the day before I closed. That now has me thinking about both companies. The one that is still in business but doesn't delete backup copies and personal information of deleted accounts, and the one that went out of business that, presumably, had the same sort of info. Who now owns the databases with my credit card info and the backup tapes with my data?

The only two things to learn from this story are, encrypt whatever and wherever you can, and chose companies that you think (hope) are in there for the long haul.

Comment: Re:Harder: self-stabilizing parachute, or balance (Score 1) 496 496

You also have :

c) Attach a ring of rockets to the top of the cylinder and allow gravity to balance it for you.

d) Use a teardrop shape instead of a cylinder so that it falls blunt end first, add fold out wings at the other end to produce drag and use the rockets at the top to slow the thing down.

e) Forget the land upright part, stick fold out wings on it and land it horizontally like an aircraft.

Comment: Re:Limited power to change working situation... (Score 5, Interesting) 348 348

Exactly, I'm in the same situation. The only thing that I can do is at least try to move as much as I can when I am allowed. So, I get up from my desk at least once an hour and walk to someone's office rather than calling them on the phone. Bathroom breaks are taken at the furthest bathroom from my office. When I was in a multi-floor office building I'd go to the bathroom on the floor three down from the office and take the stairs. In the morning I don't park in the spot closest to the building but walk a bit.

I'm still stuck though. The rest of my time is spent typing at my desk or in meetings and I can't exactly stand and pace in the corner of the meeting room.

Comment: Customer service.. (Score 1) 133 133

"TWC's customer service reps are reportedly a bit overwhelmed by call volume at the moment"

So it's just a normal day then? It seems that whenever I call one of these companies all I get is "due to unusually heavy call volume we are experiencing extended hold times".

Comment: Biometric is great until... (Score 1) 383 383

The DARPA verification method would have to use multiple biometric markers since you could always think of a situation where a medical condition renders one or more of them useless. The person with eye problems who can't use retina scan, the person with damaged fingertips who can't use fingerprint, the person with throat or respiratory disease who can't use voice recognition, etc.

It would be much simpler to have a universal two factor token. Something that you enter a PIN into which generates an encrypted token that is then used for login. It would also solve the social security number identity theft problem since you have a unique way of verifying identity.

Comment: Convoluted and riddled with systematic errors (Score 1) 311 311

Take a string say 100 times the distance from your toe to your heel. Let's call this 100 feet. Tie one end to a peg stuck in the ground and the other end to your belt buckle. Now walk in a circle keeping the string taught putting your feet down toe to heel.Count steps, divide by 200 and you've got pi. Even if you don't count the fraction of a foot left over it has to be accurate to better than 1%. You can keep the cartridges for the zombies.

If it's really a worry, tattoo pi somewhere discrete while you can remember it...

Comment: Completely pointless... (Score 1) 731 731

I have yet to see an ad for anything that made me think "Ooh, I need to buy that" or "Ooh, I need to watch that TV show, read that book, watch that play, listen to that music etc etc.". Most of the ads I see are either for things I can't afford, like flashy cars, things I don't want, things of dubious value (loan sharks), or the old standby "Local Mom finds way to make a fortune, cure cancer, grow huge breasts and whiten teeth using this one simple trick". It's a waste of time and offensive. Now you could argue that should allow the advertising just to support the poor impoverished website owner. The problem with that is that it is supporting the whole "advertising funded paradigm that I find wasteful and offensive. Sadly, I'm having a problem thinking of what the answer may be (lets face it if I could I would make my fortune) we don't want a pay-per-view web but we also don't want the advertisers peering into our souls to tailor ads to what interests us.

Comment: Re:No need for cameras. (Score 1) 732 732

The other thing to factor in is the reaction time. When the lead car brakes the next car brakes a fraction of a second later and has to brake a little harder because to stop before hitting the lead car. The next car in line has to brake harder still if you have a long enough convoy of traffic you eventually reach a point in the line where it is impossible for the next car to break hard enough to avoid a collision. The ideal situations are either wide enough gaps that any car can stop in time irrespective of how hard the lead car brakes or short enough convoys that the rear most car still has enough stopping time when all the reaction times are subtracted.

Comment: Re:No need for cameras. (Score 1) 732 732

This assumes that the data that the navigator has is good. I was recently driving in a 45 zone and the GPS went nuts telling me to slow down all the time. I found out later that the road had been improved over a year ago with extra lanes, a median and an increased limit.Similarly our local interstates had a speed increase to 70 bu there are still stretches at 55 and 65. Relying on the GPS data would be a nightmare.

Comment: Opted out (Score 1) 380 380

This could have been useful but it is so badly executed that I turned it off. I asked around and it turns out so did everyone else I spoke to. My first alert was a week or so ago in the middle of a thunder storm. We get many storms at this time of year and this wasn't particularly bad. Suddenly all four iPhones in the house started screeching the emergency alert tone. Scared the kids shitless. What we got was a "flash flood warning" that had already, and more subtly, been noted on Wunderground and Weather.com Apps. Worse it was a warning for an area a hundred miles from here. Weirdly we were watching TV at the time and there was no alert on the TV screen so I don't see why it went out to the phones. We've had a couple since and each time it has been for something that I wouldn't class as an emergency requiring such an intrusive alert but was also only relevant miles away from where I am.

There is an old story about a kid that cries wolf so many times that people start to ignore him.

Comment: Can't wait for an end to the dirty tricks... (Score 1) 614 614

...not holding my breath though.

Verizon FiOS currently has me over a barrel. My family watch shows on only a handful of the 200+ (probably 300 or 400 by now) channels that I'm paying for. Of the three channels we watch most, say A, B, and C to protect the innocent, the lowest tier of FiOS has none. The second tier has A but not B or C. The next tier has B and C but not A. The third tier has A, B and C. So I have to pay for next to the top most expensive tier to get the three channels. Add to that the fact that to watch it I have to rent a couple of "set top boxes" (quotes because it's under the set because you can't balance it on top of a flat screen) despite both TVs having perfectly good digital tuners sitting unused. Why do I need a decoder box when they have a huge box bolted to the side of the house? Can't they decode it in that and let me use my own TV tuner?

Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you never can tell." -- Doctor Who, "Androids of Tara"