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Comment: Landlines (Score 3, Informative) 466

I would like to introduce Mr. Cicconi to a device called a 'Telephone', particularly a variant colloquially termed a 'landline'. Historically 'telephone' companies, such as AT&T, would sell users a 'landline' to which they could connect a 'telephone'. These services included a basic connection charge as well as usage charges. In the event that a connection was made form one 'landline' to another, the party that initiated the session was charged for the usage of the session. This is exactly the treatment that Mr. Hastings is proposing.

In particular, I would like to note that while some providers charged users based upon usage, other providers allowed for a fixed cost plan where the subscriber paid a flat payment independent of their usage. These sorts of unlimited plans are exactly what AT&T, Comcast, etc. are selling as an ISP to their customers now, so they have no business trying to extract usage fees from Netflix and they have no business telling us that we're asking non-Netflix customers to subsidize the connections of Netflix customers. We've paid the fees that AT&T, Comcast, etc. demand for unlimited usage, so they need to provide it without whining about how they're not getting paid twice for the same service.

Comment: Re: The are mortal after all (Score 1) 232

I recently discovered the answer to this question. It's because everyone else has one. When you get rear ended on a bicycle by a car going 30mph, you are quickly accelerated from 15mph to 45mph and then wipe out. This has a tendency to break limbs, cause concussions, and do other damage. The only known defences are to ride somewhere else (which frequently means you can't actually get to the grocery store) or add mass. If you up your mass to 3000 lbs, then the acceleration and damage are minimal. I prefer to put that mass into the vehicle, but you can try adding 3000lbs in body fat if you want.

+ - Ask Slashdot: How can I help a company improve their website? 1

Submitted by mepperpint
mepperpint (790350) writes "Like most Slashdoters, I use a lot of websites. Some of them meet my needs, but other ones have seemingly obvious problems. What's the best way to contact a website and communicate the problems to them so that they can improve their website and my experience?

Example 1: My bank provides a website which will tell me what scheduled payments I have and what deposits I expect to make each day. I wish they would tell me the predicted balance for each day so that I can have some warning before I overdraw my bank account. I complained at the local bank branch, but I'm pretty sure that accomplished nothing.

Example 2: I like to read a popular news site on my Nexus 7, but they recently added an auto-refresh feature which makes it impossible to read. About halfway through each article, it redraws the page and temporarily scrolls to the top of the website. This makes it utterly unusable. It helpfully offers to let me see the mobile site which might be better, but I previously opted out so now when I go to the mobile site it redirects me to the desktop site. I recently tried posting on the site, so we'll see if that gets anyone's attention.

Example 3: A popular e-commerce site offers a credit card which gives you a penny on the dollar in extra money you can spend at their store. A few years back they had a race condition where if you placed multiple orders at the same time, you were able to use your free pennies multiple times (once for each order). I attempted to contact customer support and they were unable to address the problem, despite losing money on it.

As an engineer, I really wish I could just file bugs on all of these systems. Given that none of these websites offer a way for me to file bugs, does anyone have any brilliant suggestions on how I can provide my feedback in a way that might be heard by folks who can fix it?"

Comment: Re:This poll is not to Texas scale. (Score 1) 304

by mepperpint (#42320455) Attached to: How Far Are You Traveling For the Holidays?
I agree with your point that the scale on the poll is pretty bogus as it amounts to 3 options staying at home, stating in the same metropolitan area, and travelling to another city. The differentiation seems pretty useless and the failure to distinguish between staying in the country or continent and travelling to the other side of the world is disappointing.

But to be fair, here are some examples on the east coast of the USA of cities that fall within the range. These numbers are the first result for directions on Google Maps, so the cities may be a bit closer if you consider actual distance instead of shortest driving directions:

Baltimore <-> Washington, D.C: 41 miles
Boston <-> Providence: 50 miles
Providence <-> Hartford: 87 miles
NYC <-> Philadelphia: 96.3 miles
Philadelphia <-> Baltimore: 101 miles
Boston <-> Hartford: 102 miles

Comment: Could be a honeypot (Score 5, Interesting) 157

by mepperpint (#41825571) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is TSA's PreCheck System Easy To Game?
If I were designing a security system for TSA, I would definitely consider printing a (possibly fake) screening status in the barcode in plain text. If you keep a database of what status you assigned to which boarding ticket, then you can more thoroughly screen (or arrest and jail indefinitely) anyone who changes the easily hackable obvious screening status on their boarding pass. This is much like a honeypot that folks sometimes use in network security. (For those who don't know, a honeypot is an easily hackable machine that serves no purpose except to be hacked so that an observer can find folks who are trying to break in.)

Comment: Re:Contempt of Court? (Score 1) 184

IANAL. One might argue that he qualifies under section (iv) on the basis that a pen and paper constitutes a 'recording device'. One might further argue that he qualifies under section (v) on the basis that converting his paper notes into electronic text constituted a transcription of the aforementioned recording. I think this is clearly nonsense and not the intent of the law, as these appear to be intended to cover those people employed by the court to perform these roles and not some individual who happened to engage in these practices while playing a role not on the list. I'd also note that (vi) explicitly limits itself to attorneys for the government and fails to gag attorneys for the witnesses. If note taking and posting is found to be illegal, perhaps we'll see a rise in demand for attorneys with eidetic memories.

Comment: Re:Poisoned forever? (Score 4, Interesting) 224

by mepperpint (#40141687) Attached to: Hundreds of IP Addresses Make Pirate Bay a Hard Target
I would think the IP addresses would be useless forever. It would likely take way more effort than it is worth to get them unblocked. Even if the court lifted the block, it would be hard to guarantee that they had been unblocked by every ISP out there. If this goes into overdrive, we might have a new compelling reason to switch to IPv6 as larger and larger swaths of IPv4 addresses become dead.

Comment: Re:Resolution (Score 4, Insightful) 399

by mepperpint (#39941911) Attached to: Dell Designing Developer Oriented Laptop

Agreed! The display is very important. I do not understand why the other commenters seems to be asking for a 1920x1080 display. This wide screen is good for watching movies, but crap for development work. I need more verticle screen real estate so that I can see a larger block of code at once. Verticle space is far more valuable than horizontal. I would gladly take a 1600x1200 display over a 1920x1080. If they really want to be innovative, they'll put a 1920x1200 display on the laptop along with a feature where it can be rotated vertical to give me 1200x1920. That's what I do on my desktop and it works great. Duplicate it on my laptop and I'll finally be able to use it for work purposes.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 3, Informative) 228

by mepperpint (#38957705) Attached to: Honeywell Vs Nest: When the Establishment Sues Silicon Valley

Typically compulsory licensing requirements include that the price must be fair. No reasonably human being (and likely no court) would feel that $1 billion dollars per thermostat is a fair licensing price when Honeywell is selling their thermostats for $50-$100 each. Presumably they'd have to sell their thermostats at $1b+ to claim that the patents were worth $1b per unit and seems likely that Honeywell would find themselves out of business pretty quickly if they demanded $1b+ per thermostat.

Comment: DNS is like a phone book (Score 5, Insightful) 254

DNS is a lot like a phone book, which is something many people understand. If we blacklist someone from DNS it's like removing them from the phone book. Their phone number still works and anyone can call them. Removing an illicit phone number from the phone book will not prevent people from dialing the number. A phone number would still be passed around in forums, between friends, etc.

Regularly removing phone numbers from the phone book may create many alternative phone books which is likely to create a big headache for all users in figuring out which phone book they need to use to find a particular website and in figuring out which phone books contain legitimate information and which ones will give you the real phone number for your bank and which ones will give you fake books. This is particularly concerning because the legislation proposed doesn't apply due process to removing a phone number from the phone book, but instead allows for arbitrary removals.

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

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