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Comment: Re:Where are the buggy whip dealers? (Score 1) 266

What I wrote was: "Obviously that's too small of a sample to be very precise about the percentage of users that prefer slide-out keyboards (apart from the fact that Mechanical Turk users are unrepresentative of the general population in several ways), but it does mean that the near-extinction of slideout-keyboard phones in retail stores is probably not in proportion to what people actually want."

i.e., it was just a quick and dirty survey to show that the proportion of people who want slideout keyboard phones is not zero, like the stores are pretending that it is.

Don't use Mechanical Turk as a crutch; it's not that far from representative, and nonrepresentative samples are often just as useful, thanks to regression. The real problem is that you asked all the wrong questions. I suggest, if you want to gain *any* sort of ground on your quest to shake up the cell phone industry from the ground up by revealing what you think customers really want, is to read the Freakonomics books, and follow that up with a (well thought out) question to the authors. This sort of thing (mostly the situation where you insist on one thing via all available observations, when the opposite is true) is right up their alley. If you still think you are sitting on some sort of secret, start your own handset company, and get rich off of all the customers that are apparently being ignored.

Comment: Re:Where are the buggy whip dealers? (Score 1) 266

I thought sales would be huge because people like horses more than cars. Somebody please help!

The old Henry Ford saying goes (not that he necessarily said it) "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses". Point being, you never know what a consumer will do (even if you are that consumer) when presented with a new/different set of choices. Consumers are flocking away from physical keyboards when given the choice. Consumers overwhelmingly prefer thinner phones (since no matter how much more you charge, you can't get a slide out keyboard phone to be nearly as thin as one without) so when presented with the choice, they gladly give up the keyboard (if they ever wanted it) for a thinner phone.

Comment: Come on (Score 1) 266

Jesus this submission is so sad. Bennett, you overlooked the #1 rule of consumers... FIRST IMPRESSION IS EVERYTHING. If someone sees a lineup of ten phones in a showroom, nine of them thin and svelte and made of nice tightly constructed materials, while the tenth is twice as thick in order to accommodate the keyboard, they will immediately gravitate away from it. Yet, you overlooked this obvious decision point. Add to that the other rather obvious trend of smartphones: everyone wants to be Apple. The more your phone looks like an iPhone (to hell with what the courts think, amiright) the better it will sell. A slide out keyboard? Steve Jobs would come back to life as a zombie and have a personal sit-down to fire everyone at Apple if that ever happened. He would even skip eating their inferior, clunk-loving brains out of principal. So there you have it, please take a few more minutes to think through your next submission, and maybe you will actually have something insightful to say.

p.s. onscreen keyboards really do work great if you give them a chance. machine learning techniques by Google and Swype are getting pretty good at learning how and what you type, to allow for very fast and reliable input under even less than ideal conditions.

Comment: Re:5 options (Score 1) 56

by jeffmeden (#47552443) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing an Android Tablet For Resale?

I guess one more... try to access it directly from the USB using a computer and special drivers and software designed to reflash a non-booting tablet... (ie. rooting your system).

Access via ADB doesnt require root to get to the point where you can confirm/deny the existence of functioning memory. It looks like the Transformer line has an out of band update method by installing a microSD card with the flash zip, and doing a startup with certain buttons pressed. If it can be coaxed through this process (even with a dead screen) it would wipe any previous user data. Watching the device state via the USB port and ADB would be helpful to know if the device is likely to respond in that kind of scenario.

Comment: Does the PC connection work at all? (Score 5, Informative) 56

by jeffmeden (#47552217) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing an Android Tablet For Resale?

Do you get the ADB device to register if you plug it in to a PC via USB and turn it on? That would be your only hope to wiping it assuming the screen is damaged but the SoC/flash still works to some extent. Also, have you tried opening it up? A similar thing happened to my Nexus device, and after popping the back cover off it turns out that the drop caused the battery to slide to one side, and come unplugged. Relocating the battery, adding a little more double sided tape, and snapping it all back together had it good as new in under 5 minutes.

Comment: Re: We can't live without these things? (Score 1) 212

Because NASA isn't in charge of the energy sector? They monitor and advise. DOE via FERC is in charge of the electrical sector. The ES-ISAC, run by the FERC-appointed ERO, NERC, and the regional Reliability Coordinators (PeakRC in the western US, formerly the WECC RC).

More to the point, there are NERC standards being developed which deal with geomagnetic disturbances. A TPL and EOP standard:

The bigger issue is cost. We can prepare for anything, but at what cost? Are you ready for your electricity rates to double to cover a 12% chance in the next 10 years? It's a tough balanacing act.

Why would rates double as a result of putting into place a plan (and probably a few layers of communications systems on top of already existing infrastructure) to mitigate the problem before it starts? Oh right, because we would have to pay for a team at NASA, a team at FERC, a team at each of the regional ISO, etc. to all do the same thing? Ugh. Put NASA in charge, they got us to the moon damnit. If rocket scientists cant fix it, no one can.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

Roll eyes and move on. I'm sorry you don't know how nuclear power plants work, nor how solar flares cause damage, but get with the program, son.

Critical electrical components in nuclear power plants are more than sufficiently shielded from electrical spikes, and EMPs don't cause magical explosions. Nor, if a melt down were somehow to occur, an explosion an expected outcome.

Actually professor you might want to take a second look at those figures. A nuclear plant relies entirely on *already produced electricity* for safe operation. With a normally functioning grid, this is not an issue. Take that out of the picture (in a scenario like a CME hit) and it will have to fall back on site generators (the local turbine generation is likely to go down with the grid) which hopefully will have been isolated from the effects of the CME and can be instantly switched in to the site system to take over and shut the plant down. However, if any of those switching components went bad during the CME hit, it could be hours before they are repaired, which starts to push the cooling safety margins to the limit (the plant is, after all, still producing heat as if it had a job to do). There are certainly good disaster plans in effect at nuclear plants for situations similar to this, but do you really want to test them all at once? There are bound to be holes. Mushroom cloud style explosions are out of the question, but we know from experience with Fukushima that all kinds of bad things can happen (including lots of little explosions of errant hydrogen) when plants go dark and can't be shut down safely.

Comment: Re:We can't live without these things? (Score 2) 212

Really? This would be devastating? We can't live without electricity, electronics, water pumps? It's amazing we're here today!

Yes, it very likely would. All those urban areas that grew as big and relatively healthy as they did, thanks to clean water and efficient sewage systems? If that wasn't brought back online, fast, they'd start moving toward their pre-sanitation population levels. The hard way.

Same would apply for agricultural areas and yields that depend on powered irrigation. Unless that was brought back online, and quickly enough to avoid damage to the crop, you'd see yields plummet toward historical levels, with population following suit shortly thereafter. Very unpleasant.

Hopefully there would be enough enough backup systems to restore function relatively quickly; but if not things would be unlikely to go well.

Generator-powered factories producing generators would suddenly be very very valuable.

The real question we should be asking is; why doesn't NASA have the authority to order a nationwide grid shutdown in the event that one of their several satellites dedicated strictly to predicting and identifying solar disruptions actually works and warns us before it happens? We have spent billions on this already, why not put that to use instead of fear mongering about how long it would take to manufacture a bunch of high voltage transformers?

Comment: Re:Missing Key Information (Score 4, Insightful) 142

Until the vendors who are building this system get their company name in the headlines, the status quo will continue.

The other key information is this: The SSA has 65,000 employees and is in charge of a staggering $736B per year (as of 2011, and it continues to rise). And we are here having a pissing match about all the reasons that $300M is too much to spend on the system that is supposed to make sense of over 300 million "customers" (1 dollar per customer?) One half of one percent of their annual budget is too much to get this right? Most corps spend upwards of 10% of their annual revenue on IT, and surely the SSA is not most corps but the scope of what they do is really impossible to underestimate so a project in the hundreds of millions shouldn't make anyone flinch.

The real missing key information is exactly why this kind of story is surprising, on any level, to anyone? My gut says it's the fake shock of someone who would protest anything that came out of the SSA.

Comment: Re:hire the team, they can scale (Score 4, Informative) 142

These government agencies need to hire some developers for whom a few million hits is just another day. Something like gets more traffic than, and handles it with two well-configured commodity servers.

Something tells me that with, the "interaction" is mostly "client-side" so the, er, "workload" is actually minimal. And the use case count, I believe, still stands at 1, and they are at best appealing to exactly half of the US population. It's a bit different than a place like the Social Security Administration, an org that has taken on the unenviable task of managing retirement and disability insurance for *every goddamn american* which is a pretty ludicrous scope. If raw horsepower were the issue, yes bring in outside help. The real problem (or at least one of them) is that of all 65,000 employees, many of them have a specific task since the aforementioned scope is so grand. Try finding a way to economize when you are basically building a system for a small clerical office, and then doing it about 15,000 times with each iteration just different enough from the last to require constant rewrites.

Comment: It's a brave new world (Score 1) 368

by jeffmeden (#47518209) Attached to: 'Just Let Me Code!'

"What was the experience of riding a bicycle has become the equivalent of traveling by jumbo jet; replete with the delays, inspections, limitations on personal choices, and sudden, unexplained cancellations — all at a significantly higher cost."

You can't exactly get everywhere you need to go via bicycle these days. Blame globalization.

Comment: Re:First question (Score 1) 102

"Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party of the United States..."

Whoopsie, wrong questionnaire.

Here is the form you were looking for: "are you or have you ever posted to Slashdot as Anonymous Coward? Ok next question: Are you or have you ever browsed slashdot at -1?"

we have a subversive on our hands!!!

Comment: Re:Don't buy cheap android (Score 2) 290

by jeffmeden (#47501303) Attached to: Why My LG Optimus Cellphone Is Worse Than It's Supposed To Be

but any other area where the experience is worse than stock android of the equivalent version just seems weird.

Where do you think Samsung and LG stick all the junior devs and QAs? And then pull them off the moment they start making better design choices, to go work on more lucrative projects? Yep, the shitphones. The only choice with the bottom of the barrel phones is to go directly to stock android (which is pretty easy if you have an hour or so to kill and can follow basic instructions) so for Bennett to spend so much time wondering out loud why cheap phones are cheap is the weird part. How about an article on the cheapest phone you can turn into an AOSP/Cyanogen handset with good results? Nah, why bother; that would't start a flamewar!

Comment: Re:Wait for it... (Score 2) 752

by jeffmeden (#47477583) Attached to: Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

I'm not sure. It was at 32000 feet when they last had contact, which means it wasn't quite at cruising altitude, but it was still several miles up. The 777's cruising speed is mach .84, about 630 MPH. I'm not going to do the math (i'd love it if one of you aerospace guys would, especially since we know where it landed and the last known altitude and the great circle between Schipol and Kuala Lumpur), but I think it would be safe to say that on the ascent it would be going about 350-450 MPH. I can't see terrorists getting their hands on that kind of hardware. Both Ukraine and Russia on the other hand...

FWIW the last flighttrack data showed a speed of 490 kts (564mph), altitude of 33,000 feet (a common cruising alt if there is turbulence at 35k+) Lat 48.088 Lon 38.6359.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.