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Comment Rescue Squads and Fire Departments (Score 1) 570

If you are in an area that has a volunteer rescue squad or fire department, I recommend them for your donations. I've been affiliated with one for 25 years, and our overhead is almost non-existent. We have no paid employees, we contract out bookkeeping/tax/auditing work, and do everything else ourselves. I estimate that 98% of our income gets spent on equipment, supplies, utilities, and other direct operating expenses. And as far as I can tell, the other organizations around here are just as lean.

Comment Re:resale? (Score 1) 259

If the publisher helps connect the seller and the new buyer, it makes sense for them to get a (small) cut of the sale. If you sell your Toyota to a Toyota dealer, and they sell it to someone else, it's a good bet that they at least try to make a profit on the deal.

Comment And not just social networking sites... (Score 1) 227

It's not just social networking sites that have this problem. Verizon's web site makes it really hard to log in with SSL. If you enter the URL yourself, it redirects you to the non-SSL page. My favorite trick is to enter dummy username and password values, and click "Log in". Usually, the "login failed, please try again" page uses SSL. Not Verizon's. I eventually found some combination that got me an SSL connection before entering my info, but I don't remember what it was.

I think this is a result of their newly reimplemented web site. They sent out an email, saying that customer's web accounts had all been changed, and urging us to click on a link in the email to enter new ones. You know, just like all the phishing attacks. But this one is real: Verizon's web site even has a message saying that those email messages were legit. Most companies repeatedly warn their customers that they should never trust emails that claim to be from the company and ask for your login information (and rightly so). Not Verizon. I hope they fix this before too many of their customers have their info stolen.

Comment Re:Yes: your framing (Score 1) 414

The recent spat between Comcast and Level3 indicates otherwise. Comcast at least claims that the reason they want money from Level3 is that Level3 is sending them too much data. (That may not be the whole story.)
In any case, it seems that peers DO sometimes charge each other for the amount of data transferred, or at least for the imbalance in that amount.

Comment Re:What could possibly go wrong? (Score 1) 209

Great idea, but that assumes that the ISP and the media companies are on different sides of the issue. That is becoming less and less true as time goes on. AOL and Time-Warner were the first, but Comcast is trying to buy (at least part of) NBC. If they do, and NBC tries to subpoena Comcast over filesharing by one of their subscribers, do you really think Comcast is going to hesitate? Why should they? Even if in the long run their subscriber goes broke/goes to jail (a loss to the Comcast part of the organization), the court case could win them more than the profit on that subscriber for many years (a win for the NBC part of the organization). True, they might be less forthcoming if CBS wanted the info, but I don't think that's all that likely.

Comment Re:Computer programming via punch cards is useful (Score 1) 149

I never had to do that for a job, but I did in school. My high school had a programming class that let us run programs on the administration's computer, a Honeywell 200 if I recall correctly. We wrote our programs on those coding forms (COBOL and FORTRAN, maybe some sort of assembler also), and they were sent by campus mail to the central office, punched by data entry clerks, run by the operators, and we got the cards and printout back in the next day's campus mail. 23 hour turnaround, best case. If they were busy, maybe an extra day. And we never had any contact at all with the operator, so there was no chance to kiss up to them.

We also had access to a HP 2000 system via teletype, which did BASIC only. We used paper tape with that one.

This was in the mid-1970s.

Comment Re:They collected $75,000... (Score 1) 650

I think the bigger problem is not that the materials are substandard, but that the inexperienced/cheapskate homeowner might not use the proper materials for the job. Nothing wrong with 12/2 Romex -- unless the application needs 10/2.

When I added a room above my garage, I did all the work myself, except that I paid an architect to design the structural members. And I got building permits, and the inspections that go with them. And I'm glad that I did. I did a lot of reading about construction, and although it went quite slowly, I tried to do it right. But I misunderstood what the plans said about how to construct one of the main beams. If the inspector hadn't caught it, it might have failed, either sooner or later. It was a pain to have to re-build it, but I am glad I did. The inspection process was, for me, a good way to have an expert review my work. As an amateur carpenter/electrician, that was good for me, and for the future owners of my home.

Comment Re:Who even cares (Score 1) 265

The same thing happened at the US Open. After the event, people would pick up a cell phone at random, call their own number, and then grab the one that was ringing. I thought that was a cool solution.

Almost all golf tournaments prohibit all cell phones, cameras, pagers, etc. I can understand the issue of noise at the wrong moment, or a camera flash, (especially since the spectators are often quite close to the players), but there's no need to prohibit a silent camera with no flash, or using a cell phone away from the playing area. It's probably another case of making the prohibition overly board because it's easier to enforce. Although every time I watch a game, in person or on TV, cell phones and cameras are in use anyway.

Comment Re:Broken by design. (Score 2, Insightful) 505

It's not so much that the SSN is used as an identifier, that is after all what it was designed for. (Although as many have said, it was not supposed to be multi-purpose.) The bigger problem is that it's also used as authentication, even by the same organization that uses it as an identifier. It's like having a password that has
to be the same as your username, and you can never change it.

And using just the last 4 digits is not much better. Sure, your billing statement that someone grabs out of your trash only has the last 4 digits of your SSN. But if that's all the bank is going to ask for as "proof" of identity, you're just as screwed.

Comment Re:ID what? (Score 1) 1055

I haven't used Visual Studio, but I have used Eclipse (and IBM's RAD, which is based on it). I much prefer IntelliJ IDEA from It's not free, but it's quite affordable, and well worth the cost. They have a free trial available, too.

"What people have been reduced to are mere 3-D representations of their own data." -- Arthur Miller