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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Rock Band Rules!! (Score 1) 159

by onkelonkel (#49150179) Attached to: Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected?

Well, at least it ruled for a while. My kids aren't home much, (went to Uni) I couldn't even give the peripherals away last year.
But, it got me to actually start learning to play a real guitar. What Rock band gave you, at times, was the feeling of "Rocking Out". The feeling of somehow being in the music, connected to it somehow, and that is all kinds of awesome.

Comment: Oh Sure this will work in the US....eventually (Score 3, Interesting) 186

by onkelonkel (#49116121) Attached to: Google Teams Up With 3 Wireless Carriers To Combat Apple Pay

I was visiting the USA (California is nice this time of year) last week and I had to sign little pieces of paper with my name to buy things with my credit card. Apparently none of the stores and restaurants have chip and pin terminals. You can't prevent even the most basic fraud if any guy with a card reader can make a copy of your magstripe and clone your card. What's worse, in the restaurant they actually walked off with my card, instead of bringing a wireless terminal to my table for me to enter my PIN. You good people are about 5 years behind the times. WTF happened?

Comment: The old mustang (Score 1) 290

by onkelonkel (#49109119) Attached to: How Walking With Smartphones May Have Changed Pedestrian Etiquette

Used to drive an old 67 Mustang. Pretty car but a piece of early 60s crap mechanically. The rear drum brakes had grooves worn in the backing plates over the years such that a sudden sharp application of the brakes would cause them to lock up hard.
  It was very useful for distracted pedestrians; you would slow down gradually, and if they still didn't notice hey were wandering out in front of a car, I would twitch the steering wheel left, whap the brake pedal hard, the back wheels would lock up, and the car would do a screeching starsky and hutch fishtail stop. Nothing scares the crap out of a pedestrian like a car skidding sideways to a stop 3 feet from them. (Before anyone freaks out, I could do this at about 10 mph, so mr. pedestrian was never in any danger).

Comment: Slight tangential comment on smartphones (Score 1) 257

by onkelonkel (#49107455) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs?

My two daughters both had their own computers by the time they were about 10 or 12. They had them in their bedrooms. Other parents we talked to were completely freaked out. "Oh my God, we would never let Tiffany have a computer in her bedroom." Does Tiffany have a smartphone? Well of course. Where does she keep it? In her bedroom. WTF?? It just didn't occur to them that all the reasons they had for not letting their kids have a computer in their bedrooms were equally applicable to smartphones.


Cellphone Start-Ups Handle Calls With Wi-Fi 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the mixing-it-up dept. writes Brian Chen writes in the NYT that two companies, Republic Wireless and FreedomPop, that reduce cellphone costs by relying on strategically placed Wi-Fi routers are at the forefront of a tantalizing communications concept that has proved hard to produce on a big scale, The concept championed by the two little companies in their nationwide services is surprisingly simple. They offer services that rely primarily on Wi-Fi networks, and in areas without Wi-Fi, customers can pull a signal from regular cell towers. "Wi-Fi first is a massive disrupter to the current cost structure of the industry," says Stephen Stokols. "That's going to be a big shock to the carriers." For $5 a month, customers of Republic Wireless can make calls or connect to the Internet solely over Wi-Fi. For $10 a month, they can use both Wi-Fi and a cellular connection from Sprint in Republic's most popular option. Republic Wireless's parent company,, a telecommunications provider with about 400 employees, developed a technique to move calls seamlessly between different Wi-Fi networks and cell towers. "You can't pretend these companies are major players by any stretch. But I think their real importance is proof of concept," says Craig Moffett. "They demonstrate just how disruptive a Wi-Fi-first operator can be, and just how much cost they can take out."

In major cities, the Wi-Fi-first network makes sense. People use smartphones frequently while sitting around their offices and apartments, and Wi-Fi can handle the job just fine. But once people start moving around, it is not so simple. The benefit of a cell service is that your phone can switch among multiple towers while you are on the go which wi-fi is not designed to handle. Google may be experimenting with a hybrid approach similar to the small companies'. A person briefed on Google's plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversations were private, says the company wants to make use of the fiber network it has installed in various cities to create an enormous network of Wi-Fi connections that phones could use to place calls and use apps over the Internet. In areas out of reach, Google's network would switch over to cell towers leased by T-Mobile USA and Sprint. Still many wonder if even the biggest companies could make a Wi-Fi-based phone network work. "There are just so many places where Wi-Fi doesn't reach," says Jan Dawson "and the quality of Wi-Fi that you can find is often subpar."

Comment: Re:Missing Basics (Score 1) 248

by onkelonkel (#49052431) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

"Aging person has lots of medications but frequently forgets to take them or can't remember if they did"
My neighbor the pharmacist does a brisk trade in custom blister packs for seniors. They get all their meds for a week on a big card, in a grid, Monday to Sunday, Morning, Noon, Dinner, Bedtime. They can see what to to take, when to take it, and see if they forgot to take any. My little imagination is having trouble figuring out a home automation solution to this problem that would be better than the blister pack.

Comment: Anatole France (Score 2) 779

by onkelonkel (#48961871) Attached to: WA Bill Takes Aim at Boys' Dominance In Computer Classes

"La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain."

In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.
Anatole France, 1894

Comment: Cognitive Dissonance (Score 3, Insightful) 324

by onkelonkel (#48868897) Attached to: What Will Google Glass 2.0 Need To Actually Succeed?

The cognitive dissonance in the posts today is amazing. (A lot of plain old stupid too).
There are cameras in every bar and restaurant filming you all the time. But nobody will acknowledge this fact. If they did, they would have to a) accept that they are ok with being filmed and that they are being total hypocrites about google glass, b) decide that it is not ok and not go to bars and restaurants any more.
The guy with the Google glass may or may not be filmiing you. The restaurant certainly is, and every person in the the place has a smart phone with a camera. If I hold my phone up at face height am I taking a selfie or filming you?
But we all hate to accept uncomfortable truths about ourselves, so we will deflect our mental stress on someone else. Lets de-humanize them first. They are not a person with smart glasses, they are a "Glasshole", and therefore we can punch them. You guys make me sick sometimes.

Comment: Re:Why is lack of male nurses not an issue? (Score 1) 479

by onkelonkel (#48834741) Attached to: Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

I spent a bit of time in hospitals when I was younger. The best (subjectively) nurse I had was a male. He made a miserable experience slightly better. He told me he got some hassles from his (mostly female) professors but none at all from fellow students. His biggest dilemma with his fellow female classmates was they all automatically assumed he was gay (he wasn't) and never took him seriously when he asked them out.

Comment: Re:Free? (Score 1) 703

by onkelonkel (#48776243) Attached to: Obama Proposes 2 Years of Free Community College

"how little we pay our teachers" - Why would you pay teachers 1 cent more if you can hire enough teachers at the current offered salary. Nobody ever goes into a grocery store, says to himself "Milk is really important, and undervalued" and offers to pay a dollar more than the sticker price.
  Right now we have declining enrollment in most of our local schools, older teachers staying on longer because their 401k got hammered in 2008 and new teachers are waiting years just to get on an on call list for substitute teachers. They will be many more years away from a full time job. At the same time our universities are cranking out about 30% more new teachers per year than are retiring or leaving teaching.

Comment: Re: Waste of money (Score 1) 341

by onkelonkel (#48757335) Attached to: Intel Pledges $300 Million To Improve Diversity In Tech

Yes! You nailed it.
I have made this same comment a few times, and have never seen an answer that made sense to me. Fifty or sixty years ago women were excluded from most professions such as law, medicine, engineering. Today medicine and law are close to 50% women, but engineering is maybe 10% or less. What sorts of barriers keep women out of engineering that don't also exist in law or medicine.

"Well, if you can't believe what you read in a comic book, what *can* you believe?!" -- Bullwinkle J. Moose