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Comment: That was a big part for sure (Score 2) 407

by Sycraft-fu (#48949293) Attached to: How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

My boss got us smartphones back in the Windows CE days, because he's a huge geek like the rest of us. The problem was that while work was willing to pay for the phone part the data was WAAAAY too expensive so we didn't have that. Combine that with lackluster wifi availability and the fact that you had to manually turn it on and off because it drained battery out of range, and we didn't end up using the "smart" portion much. Not because it was too hard to use or any of that BS, but because there just wan't the ability.

Now, data is cheap, and my phone auto roams on and off of wifi, and work has complete wifi coverage. So I use my smartphone often for its "smart" features. It is always on data of some kind and like you, I never get near my cap, particularly because it is usually using wifi.

That is the biggest thing that changed and made smart phones useful to me, and others I know. It because affordable and practical to use the smart features. Data is something that is an included feature in most phone plans these days. $40/month can get you a line with some data.

Another thing that changed is just the progress of technology mainly the processors. Before switching to Android I had a Blackberry, which I loved, except for its slow CPU. Due to the excessive amount of JavaScript and such shit on most websites, browsing with it was slow. Not so much waiting for data, but rendering. However I not can browse whatever I want, my phone has a very high power CPU in it that can deal with all that shit, so it isn't too much slower to load a page than on my desktop.

Touchscreens and such weren't the thing that changed it for me. I still liked Blackberry's real keyboard + scrolly ball interface. It was having an affordable data plan plus a processor capable of handling the BS of the modern web.

Comment: Which he needn't do (Score 1) 173

If you choose not to use the tools available, well don't expect anyone to have sympathy for you or marvel at how hard you had it. You've only yourself to blame. When I wish to mount something in my house I get out a laser level, cordless electric drill with titanium bits, and so on. As such things get put up easily, quickly, and dead level. You could do the same with a rock and sharpened metal pieces, but don't expect me to be impressed with how long it took you or the problems with the results. You could use modern tools, if you chose.

Comment: Is anyone surprised? (Score 5, Insightful) 173

I think some forget, or never knew, that his first book was published 1996. This guy is not a fast writer.

Personally doesn't bother me, since I stopped reading after the third book because the quality tanked so hard. The original Game of Thrones is my all time favourite fantasy novel and I will recommend it all the time. A Clash of Kings was good, but a major step down. I enjoyed it though. A Storm of Swords wasn't very good at all.When A Feast for Crows I asked some people and the answer I universally got was "don't bother" so I didn't. It was also a bit harder to maintain the "givashit" with 5 years intervening instead of 2.

It seems like he more or less ran out of ideas and has bogged things down in to a whole bunch of characters nobody cares about. Ok, he can do as he pleases, but I'll keep my money thanks.

Comment: Re:Vast... Tracts of Land (Score 1) 216

by jfengel (#48942585) Attached to: New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels

I'd be interested in reading the source to see what the argument is. Off the top of my head, the Irish Potato Famine strikes me as a pretty real famine. It was certainly exacerbated by political pressures, and they were growing monocultures in the first place because of the pressure for productivity. But it was a real crop failure, and they learned to reduce their dependence on a single crop.

Certainly it could have been handled better, and far fewer people would have died. But I still think the death toll would have counted as a famine, or at best a famine barely averted by aid. I'd put it in a different category from starvation caused by war or corruption. Even the Great Chinese Famine could be chalked up to politics without too much of a stretch, but there are still crop failures due to drought and disease.

Since the agricultural revolutions of the past few centuries and especially the last few decades, we're so awash in food that aid will always be stymied by people rather than lack of calories. But I'd put the tipping close closer to 40 years than 400.

Comment: Re:More ambiguous cruft (Score 1) 495

by jfengel (#48942065) Attached to: The Gap Between What The Public Thinks And What Scientists Know

The terminator gene solves the gene-spreading problem, but it introduces the problem of leaving farmers permanently at the hands of Monsanto. They are forced to buy new seeds every year.

They can, of course, opt out, but then they miss out on Monsanto's improvements. So we've got a conflict of expectations not entirely unlike Slashdot's frequent outrage about EULAs that effectively mean you don't own your own software, or even hardware.

As I understand it, most farmers buy seeds anyway, because the plants don't breed true to type. But there was particular worry about poor nations, where the farmers are closer to being completely broke, and this looked suspiciously like indentured servitude.

I'm not taking a position on the argument here, just clarifying what it's about.

Comment: Re:Who eats doughnuts with the doughnut men? (Score 1) 461

by jfengel (#48925677) Attached to: Police Organization Wants Cop-Spotting Dropped From Waze App

Oh, I certainly don't: there's a permanent speed trap there.

It's conceivable that there's a reason for it. The road as a whole should be a major arterial, but it's got an awful lot of stop lights. (This is just outside of Washington, DC, which has practically no proper arterials.) At rush hour, allowing people to go faster on this section than the overall speed of the road would be worse for traffic.

What's really needed is to substantially restrict access to that road and make it a highway, though I'm sure that the businesses and residences along that road would hate it. The problem is systemic: there are no arteries and nobody wants to turn their stretch of road into one. There are zero interstates, so the roads are under a variety of local jurisdictions. I'm sure plenty of people complained to the county and state about that segment of road, but it's just a disaster for the whole region to deal with. And so it isn't.

Er, anyway, that's kinda beside the point, which is really that what's needed is for the traffic engineers to design for steady flow and for people to follow it, even if they'd be more comfortable at some other speed, especially when lanes are limited. But it's easier said than done in a metropolitan area.

Comment: Re:physical access (Score 1) 374

by Sycraft-fu (#48925467) Attached to: Why Screen Lockers On X11 Cannot Be Secure

"Of course, this comparison is also patently unfair -- Windows 7 was written in the 2000s, X11 was written in the 1980s. Expecting them to be comparable in terms of security is pretty ridiculous."

Which could be a good argument for replacing X. It is rather old technology, perhaps it is time to update it to something newer, rather than clinging to it and claiming it is all one needs.

Comment: Re:Tax (Score 1) 525

by magarity (#48923935) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

Let's see; every time a customer buys one of their products, the government gets a cut for sales tax. Before that customer could buy it, the government got a cut for personal income tax. The US based portion of the income will pay US corporate taxes and a lot other national governments will get their local corporate share. When whatever portion of the profits get paid out to shareholders, each shareholder will pay income tax. Just how much more tax do you want?

Comment: Re:Not surprising.-- Universal Service Fee (Score 1, Flamebait) 94

by mc6809e (#48917879) Attached to: FCC Fines Verizon For Failing To Investigate Rural Phone Problems

If this was a Libertarian Paradise, you probably would pay $500 dollars a month for landline service while someone in a densely populated urban area would pay $5 a month.

Why would that be so bad?

People that want rural living should pay for rural living and should not force urbanites to subsidize their quiet, peaceful life on the farm away from the noise of the city.

The US government has spent the past 50+ years using subsidies and regulations encourage people to get out of the cities.

What has it accomplished except to gut cities and spread asphalt everywhere?

Comment: Re:Who eats doughnuts with the doughnut men? (Score 1) 461

by jfengel (#48916377) Attached to: Police Organization Wants Cop-Spotting Dropped From Waze App

It's best if people all move at more or less the same speed. It keeps them better spaced. People driving much slower than that can cause as many difficulties as people driving much faster.

We recognize the dangers of driving too fast, and most people try to keep it to near the speed limit, at least as long as the limit is set properly. Some are set very badly, and that's hazardous. You get a mix of people traveling at a safe but illegal speed with people obeying the law.

Fortunately, I've found that most speed limits aren't too badly off. I'm sure there are jurisdictions where they're deliberately mis-setting them as revenue generators, but I don't encounter many of them. (I can name one not too far from my house, where a four-lane divided road with minimal access has a 30 MPH speed limit... and a speed camera on a big downhill leg. That's going to get people killed, because everybody who knows about the speed limit jams on their brakes and goes 25. And the road is a major arterial, or it could be, if they didn't deliberately limit the flow rate so badly. The road is, of course, a nightmare at rush hour and a speed-trap revenue source the rest of the time.)

Time-sharing is the junk-mail part of the computer business. -- H.R.J. Grosch (attributed)