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Comment Re:One can dream (Score 1) 48

And why should I have to pay for someone else's "free speech"? My only phone is a cell phone, with a plan that has limited minutes per month. The minutes that I paid for should not be wasted by telemarketers! Furthermore, I paid for my phone and my minutes, so ONLY I should get to decide who can call me!!!!

Your problem is the lunatic USA way of charging some of the call to the receiver (as I understand it). In the UK (and Europe/Rest-of-the-World) the caller pays the whole fee.

Comment Re:What changes? (Score 1) 48

"Rob", sitting in a call center on some subcontinent somewhere ... is making spoofed-CID calls to you claiming to be a MS representative that has been informed you're computer has a serious problem, and for a quick $20, they can fix it right up for you.

You are getting the wrong kind of scammer. My scammers offer to fix my PC for free.

None of these scammers gives a rats ass about U.S. laws and regulations. They don't apply to them.

But by asking for payment in one of these illegal-in-the-USA ways, it reveals to anyone who knows that law that they are a crook and hence places another hurdle in their path to a successful scam. No, it won't work 100% of the time, but no law does.

Personally I would not need to get that far into the phone call to realise it, and nor would you. Especially (like last week) they say my "Windows" has got a virus, when I'm running Linux. [Actally I booted XP in VirtualBox and led them on for 35 minutes]

Comment Re:Thirty Years of Windows. (Score 2) 248

Linux runs, and is developed, on almost any platform, not just "last year's Windows PC". It was originally developed on Minix, a version of Unix. So what's your point?

Microsoft definitely wouldn't exist as it does today without its boost by IBM. And if IBM had not existed we would have had standardisation based on Commodore or some other brand of hardware - and been the better for it as the PC architecture was crippled. Standardisation occurred because the world needed it, not because of Microsoft, who have historically been the enemy of standardisation.

Whatever course hardware had taken, sooner or later it was going to become powerful enough to put a version of Unix on it. Nothing to do with Microsoft.

Comment Re: This is not something to commemorate. (Score 1) 248

Except that along with MS-DOS, it put a PC in every office

No, IBM did that. Personal computers (non-IBM, non-Microsoft) had been around for a while already, but not in mainstream offices. That is because company IT buyers at the time would not buy anything without the IBM logo on it. The IBM PC made personal computers respectable to business because they were IBM, it would not have mattered what OS they ran (could have been CP/M-86, IBM could have written their own, Seattle Computer Products* could have provided DOS directly instead of via Microsoft, or whatever). Also, IBM PCs could be used as terminals to the company [IBM] mainframe so the clueless company buyers could be fooled into thinking the IBM PC was no more than that : that is how my office first got one.

and eventually a PC in every home

My home had a personal computer before the IBM PC with DOS was invented, and before I'd even heard of Microsoft. The young guys I worked with also had Commodores, Sinclairs etc. Home computing was taking off already without IBM/Microsoft's help and would have gone to the level it did with or without Microsoft

without which Linux might not have been possible.

That claim, sometimes heard, completely baffles me. Are you saying that personal computers would never have developed the power to run Linux if it had not been for Windows? WTF wouldn't they? Linux runs and is developed on almost any platform. It was originally developed on Minix, another Unix OS. IMHO Microsoft retarded the development of the PC by about 5 years while they had their love affair with Windows 9x.

* You do realise don't you that DOS was not written by Gates or Microsoft, it was bought by them? They hired the author (Tim Paterson) to port it to the IBM PC.

Comment Re:Marketing not greatness of product (Score 2) 248

I will freely admit that Bill Gates is a world class genius when it comes to marketing software.

I don't agree. Gates got on the bandwagon not because of genius, but because of the staggering incompetence of others. The incompetence of Digital Research of missing the chance to write the OS for the IBM PC. The incompetence of IBM management for not taking their own PC seriously and allowing Microsoft free reign to cash in on it instead. Gates was not the only person to see the great future for personal computers - everyone (except IBM management) saw it at the time.

In another life Gates would have been the boring POS in the corner of the office who, because of his frequent temper outbursts, never got promoted.

Since then, Microsoft's success has been due to pumping its established monopoly for all its worth, legally and illegally. That does not require genius.

Comment Re:Not most used, sorry (Score 1) 248

That's what my parents said about desktops: an expensive device just used as a toy. And they were right at that time.

I don't particularly recall people saying that. Desktops, even non-IBM ones, were that expensive (equivalent to $2-3k today) that they were not bought for children - more like for adults "writing their book", keeping home accounts, and of course in offices as superior typewriters. Games crept in later.

Anyway, you cannot sidestep ergonomics. A keyboard is and will remain the fastest and easiest way to input text information - even faster than voice when it comes to the editing which any serious text will require.

Comment Re:Automate trains (Score 1) 96

Why are we still using humans to drive the trains? We already have computer-driven cars on the roads — and driving a car is a lot harder for a computer both because of the complex terrain and human-only signalling.

I wonder, what is it? Is it a fear of protests by union-thugs? Engineers' own inertia?

As one such engineer (formerly), I can tell you that one reason is passenger unease with having no driver, and another is to have staff on hand to deal with emergency situations (like evacuation). We have yet to see public unease with driverless cars abate - perhaps then we could have driverless trains. That might seem the wrong way round (as you say, trains are one-dimensional), but the public (and the press) illogically demand a far higher safety standard (real or as they perceive) for trains than cars - a source of exasperation for us railway engineers.

Having said that, there are some driverless railways - the [low speed] London Dockland Light Railway for example [low speed and driverless, but not staff-less]

Comment Re:Excessive Speed? (Score 1) 96

more people die in a couple of days in the US of A from bullets than died in the Paris terrorist attack

Way to go! Bring the issue of USA gun ownership into the discussion!

We need the equivalent of Godwin's rule to describe doing this. I'd call it Nukenerd's rule.

Comment Re:Well written and funny article (Score 1) 211

I stopped reading when he described a catenary as a parabola

Why is that? Did the line drop?

The cable would be a catenary only if there were no load on it other than its self weight, which is uniform along the cable - which is not horizontal except right at the centre. However, when supporting a road deck, the deck imposes a weight load that is uniform along the horizontal length, not uniform along the length of the cable. The road deck weight is far greater than the cable self-weight, so it is (more or less) a parabola.

That is to the first order anyway. In fact the cable tends to go in straight lines between each point where a vertical suspender is, but those points lying on a parabola. And of course the roadway is not exactly horizontal in most modern suspension bridges.

Comment Re:What is all that data good for? (Score 1) 223


browser cookies can now pair a single user to multiple devices and keep track of what TV commercials the person sees, how long the person watches the ads, and whether the person acts on the ads by doing a Web search or buying a product.

There is so much to go wrong here (wrong from theadman's viewpoint). You get no choice about how long you watch a TV ad - they last as long as they last, and I am probably out having a piss. And they have the same ads on many differnt channels and they bear no relation to the TV programme. All it might tell the adman is how much TV I watch.

And how does the sound link devices together? The TV advert cannot send an individual ultra-sonic code to every TV receiver, so millions of devices belonging to millions of people will have exactly the same signature placed in them.

"Old age and treachery will beat youth and skill every time." -- a coffee cup