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Comment Re:Who makes these decisions? (Score 1) 628

But as someone who plays a lot of PC games, do you want Microsoft to start downloading and installing a bunch of updates whenever it wants, even if you're in the middle of game, or would you prefer the option to hold off until a more convenient time?

I understand why Microsoft considers it important to keep security patches up-to-date, but at least give the users some flexibility on when to apply the updates.

Comment Forced Updates? (Score 2) 468

What about people who can't/don't want to update at the time Microsoft tells them? I can understand why they want to ensure updates get applied, but there are situations when I would want to hold off until a better time. For example, I could be running my laptop through through my cell phone on vacation, or live in an area with only dial-up or expensive wireless internet (I could take the laptop to a library or café and download the updates through their faster internet). I've been in the situation where I had to help someone set up their computer for a presentation and their computer had to be restarted. Of course the Windows updates kicked in during the shutdown, making them late because we had to wait for the updates to be applied before the computer would finally reboot.

Comment Re:Heating and Cooling (Score 1) 557

With some of the power outages we've had in recent winters, I'd definitely include an option to hook up a generator with a transfer switch built into the main electrical panel so I could keep essentials running (well pump, fridge, freezer). I don't need to worry about heat because I have a wood stove, but for anyone relying on electric heat, having some extra circuits on the transfer switch and a big enough generator would be useful for a space heater or two.

Comment Re:Android already does this...Not quite... (Score 1) 103

The BlackBerry Playbook does exactly this. When you install the app, you see what permissions it is requesting and have the option to disable some. You can also go back into the settings to review and change what permissions each app has. I also dislike the "take it or leave it" approach Android has with app permissions, and I consider it a strike against any Android device for my next phone.

Comment Re:Who needs smartphones (Score 1) 396

I'm also in Atlantic Canada. Have you looked into the Pay as You Go/Prepaid plan with Rogers or Bell Aliant? They offer daily or weekly data packages you activate when you need it. These range from $1-2/day to $5/week with Rogers. Caller ID is included with prepaid.

I'm currently on Pay as You Go with my basic phone, but when I finally decide to replace it, I'd buy the phone outright and stick with the prepaid plans. I don't know about your usage -- $100 prepaid is good for a year, but even if it only lasts you three months, it's still cheaper than getting locked into a 3 year contract at $50-70/month.

Comment Re:Water and preparations (Score 1) 147

The Public Safety branch of the Canadian government has a website with some tips for preparing for situations like this. They have some recommendations of items to keep in a 72-hour emergency kit. Visit for more info. I have most of the items scattered about my home; I just need to run off some extra water into a jug and get it all together in one spot.

Submission + - New Blade Runner Film to Be a Sequel or a Prequel?

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "News that Ridley Scott has agreed to direct a "follow-on" to Blade Runner, the classic film set in 2019 Los Angeles starring Harrison Ford as a police officer hunting genetically engineered robots called replicants, has prompted discussion as to whether the new film is going to be a prequel or a sequel and whether Harrison Ford would have any involvement in the film. "Everything Ridley does as a filmmaker is fresh," says Producer Andrew Kosove. "I believe he sees an opportunity to create something that's wholly original from the first Blade Runner." The original film cost $28 million to make and failed to become a blockbuster, grossing only $32 million but later became a cult classic."

Submission + - New research cracks AES keys 3-5x faster! ( 1

qpgmr writes: AES, generally thought to be the gold standard for encryption, is showing weaknesses:

From Computerworld: "Researchers from Microsoft and the Dutch Katholieke Universiteit Leuven have discovered a way to break the widely used Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the encryption algorithm used to secure most all online transactions and wireless communications."

Link to paper:


Submission + - 13-Year-Old Makes Fibonacci Solar Breakthrough (

An anonymous reader writes: While most 13-year-olds spend their free time playing video games or cruising Facebook, one 7th grader was trekking through the woods uncovering a mystery of science. After studying how trees branch in a very specific way, Aidan Dwyer created a solar cell tree that produces 20-50% more power than a uniform array of photovoltaic panels. His impressive results show that using a specific formula for distributing solar cells can drastically improve energy generation. The study earned Aidan a provisional U.S patent – it’s a rare find in the field of technology and a fantastic example of how biomimicry can drastically improve design.

Submission + - Future Sun may disrupt spacecraft and satellites (

dtjohnson writes: A study published today predicts that solar storms are going to become increasingly disruptive to satellites and communications in the coming decades as the sun cycles towards a minimum of activity. "The work, published in Geophysical Research Letters, predicts that once the Sun shifts toward an era of lower solar activity, more hazardous radiation will reach Earth. The team says the Sun is currently at a grand solar maximum. This phase began in the 1920s — and has lasted throughout the space age....The evidence seems to indicate that although there are fewer solar storms once the Sun leaves its grand maximum, they are more powerful, faster and therefore carry more particles."

Submission + - Construction Underway at World's First Spaceport (

Velcroman1 writes: In the deserts of the western United States, space tourism is becoming a reality as construction progresses on Spaceport America — the world's first purpose-built commercial space travel facility, 45 miles north of Las Cruces, N.M. Today, concrete and rebar litter the ground here as crews build walls and windows, roads and runways. They've been toiling for a year and a half and will continue until 2013, when a glowing, round disk standing testimony to the future will be unveiled in the desert — at least according to artists' imaginations of the facility. Right now it looks like any old construction site, with men in hard hats and prosaic dump trucks carting rubble in and out. In 2013, things will be different.

“You’ll experience weightlessness, they’ll actually go near space so you’ll see the curvature of the Earth,” said Chris Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.

Submission + - Fusion power in four years? (

50000BTU_barbecue writes: A few years ago I researched fusion as a practical energy source in the foreseeable future for a school paper. I thought I had been quite thorough in finding and describing all the contenders starting with the usual suspects like Tokamaks and Polywell, etc. My conclusion, based on my skepticism was that, at best, real practical fusion energy was half a century away and would likely be just another energy source and not a panacea. Things like peak helium and the need for superconducting magnets really stood out as a problem. Somehow, the folks at General Fusion escaped my attention at the time.

They are proposing a "solid based" system of fusion using a large spherical reaction chamber filled with molten lead and lithium and then using acoustic shock waves to compress the core where all the good stuff will happen. I'm looking for insights and comments from /.ers in the know about the project. Is this viable? Can it produce power? If so, this is a huge deal.

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. -- Norman Douglas