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Comment: Re:Water frequency interference (Score 4, Informative) 50

by schnell (#48182899) Attached to: Gigabit Cellular Networks Could Happen, With 24GHz Spectrum

You're correct. The wavelength of Ka-band frequencies (26-40 GHz) happens to line up nicely with the size of a raindrop in flight. That leads to more atmospheric signal attenuation, but isn't necessarily a deal-breaker; it just means you need a bigger dish to receive it and a more powerful transmitter for the return channel. (The new generation of high-speed satellite Internet services all use Ka band, despite the "rain fade" issues, because the higher frequency enables higher data rates.) In the past, the satellite industry tended to rely on lower frequency bands (such as Ku and C) to save costs on dish/transmitter size because of this concern.

For a cellular service where you're looking laterally at a tower instead of straight up into the sky, the weather issue should be less of a big deal. However, you should note that any frequency that high up will have a very very hard time penetrating indoors through anything thicker than a single-pane window. So expect that this will be used for fixed home Internet applications where a receiver can be permanently mounted outdoors or near a window, rather than traditional cellphone usage that can happen anywhere you go indoors or outdoors.

Comment: Re:Wonder How Much? (Score 3, Interesting) 292

by schnell (#48165521) Attached to: Michigan About To Ban Tesla Sales

uh... have you seen the state of Detroit lately?

"Detroit" is only nominally the home of the auto industry, and is maintained by Ford and GM as a brand of sorts to evoke classic American cars.

Other than executive offices, all the big auto manufacturing plants are situated - and nearly all the workers live - well outside the city itself, in the suburbs where (other than being impacted by Detroit's implosion and the overall Great Recession decline) things are pretty good.

So when you hear someone say "Detroit is fighting Tesla," thats not the case. Detroit couldn't fight Pawnee, Indiana and win two out of three. What they really actually mean is "Detroit" the brand/region, i.e. the corporations that employ hundreds of thousands of Michigan voters - and the suppliers/subcontractors/vendors to those companies, who probably employ as many if not more Michigan residents. So don't take Detroit's colossal f***up as any indication that the power of Ford/GM, its ecosystem and perhaps most importantly the UAW as being diminished in any way.

Comment: Re:cool (Score 1) 201

by schnell (#48155583) Attached to: Google Announces Motorola-Made Nexus 6 and HTC-Made Nexus 9

Making a phone that can do both CDMA and GSM, and work on multiple carriers' LTE, is a political and business obstacle caused mostly by Qualcomm's complicity with anticompetitive American carriers, not a technical one.

Not so much. It's not collusion, it's a cost/feature tradeoff. First, Qualcomm makes chipsets that support every carrier under the sun, so it has nothing to do with them. When a handset OEM goes to design their phone, they specify which carriers to support. Throwing bands at the wall to see what sticks is not a popular approach because each additional band you add has a cost in money (from Qualcomm for engineering and testing) and space (the radio filters themselves are physical). Usually Qualcomm will sell you a chipset that has X number of "slots" available for different frequencies to support, and you have to pick them. The more slots you want, the higher the BOM cost to you of the chipset, where even a few $ per unit can be a big deal in a competitive market.

On top of that, a device manufacturer will also spend millions of dollars to test and certify their their device with each carrier (as well as porting and testing the carrier's own unique "deck" of preloaded bloatw.... er, apps), and invest lots of engineering time. You don't want to support every carrier under the sun unless you really think they are going to bring you meaningful sales volumes to justify the time and resource expense.

Even in cases where the RF amplifier might not be optimized for a particular carrier's band, the line between "doesn't work" and "doesn't work as well as it does with other carriers" is a lot blurrier than most people realize.

That may be technically true, but it's not the way that the wireless business works. There's no such thing in the big-time cellular world as "it kinda sorta works on our network, so what the heck, why not?" Carriers don't want to take the chance of a bad performing device making a customer think the network sucks and cancel their contract as a result. Device makers don't want devices returned because they "sorta work." Neither wants the customer service hassle associated with it. So for both carriers and device makers, there is a powerful incentive to make sure a device works solidly on a particular carrier or they won't support it.

Comment: Re:That's not the reason you're being ignored. (Score 1) 404

by schnell (#48147059) Attached to: Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated

Are people that afraid to be left alone with their thoughts for five minutes that they cant put their tablets down ... Why is it that hard for people to put down their tablets for 5 minutes during the most dangerous time of the flight? Are people really that self-entitled these days (and I used to argue against this so I really dont want it to be true).

I don't think it has anything to do with people's inability to countenance solitude. I think it is more about people recognizing a bullshit fake restriction and rebelling against it because it's dumb. Sorry, but there is no rational reason I need to be paying attention to United CEO Jeff Smisek tell me about how great the airline's social media efforts are in a prerecorded message while we taxi to the runway. And yet that was always one of the times I was required to put my iPod away for some reason.

I completely agree with you that during an emergency, you want people able to hear instructions. But how often does that ACTUALLY happen? And if the shit hit the fan for real, how many people do you think wouldn't notice things like extreme turbulence, the engines failing or sudden uplift/downswings of the aircraft? If that's really what you're worried about, why not ban sleeping, eating, talking and reading during the first and last 10,000 feet, not just electronic devices? Why not ban noise-cancelling headphones which are arguably far worse than me playing Solitaire, with no headphones, on my phone?

Finally yes, I've been asked to stow my dead tree based book for take off on several airlines ranging from Southwest to Singapore to Cebu Pacific.

Was it a hardback version of the Complete Unabridged Shakespeare? I have flown well over a half million miles on various airlines all around the planet and have never, ever once seen anyone asked to stow their book.

Comment: Re:Buy a Mac (Score 1) 554

by schnell (#48052825) Attached to: Lost Opportunity? Windows 10 Has the Same Minimum PC Requirements As Vista

IMO you have to be loaded or have really poor financial decisionmaking to drop an extra grand on a piece of hardware just because the OS it comes with is "nicer".

I guess it depends on how you define nice and what you do with the computer. My personal definition of "nicer" includes being reliable, not crashing often, and facilitating my work getting done quickly and without frustration. I get paid a pretty high hourly rate, so if my OS crashes and takes the filesystem with it, and I spend more than 6-8 hours with IT getting the system reimaged and restored, then presto - there's your $1000 right there. Just my anecdotal experience, but I have had the abovementioned experience with Windows PCs (Dell or HP laptops) several times in the past five years, and have not had that same experience with a Mac since 2001 (curse you MacOS 9 and your Extensions Manager).

For other examples, I have enough OS X keyboard shortcuts, gestures and preferences options burned into muscle memory at this point that even spending that same several hours on relearning those things would offset my productivity by $1000 ... it's possible that relearning on a different OS would gain that productivity back over time if it were genuinely easier to use in repetitive use than OS X, but so far I just haven't found any other OS and/or WM where that's true. And while it sounds trivial, there are things like OS X being able to save any document from any application to PDF without using a plugin or other app where (for my personal workflow) the time saved easily outweighs the computer purchase price.

Your mileage will of course vary, but for my $.02 the "niceness" of an OS can be worth a lot of money under certain circumstances, because time is more precious than money than me. For other people, money is more precious than time and their experience will logically be the opposite. So to each his or her own.

Comment: Re: Mind boggling (Score 3, Insightful) 167

by schnell (#47980673) Attached to: Now That It's Private, Dell Targets High-End PCs, Tablets

because without them, or customers, there is no company, no matter how many shareholders you have

Very true. But you can't have any employees or customers without shareholders - even if that is one person to start - because somebody needs to make the big gamble and invest the money to get a company started, then continue investing through multiple growth stages to the point where you could even go public.

One interesting point that many Slashdotters overlook is that post-IPO, "shareholders" don't exist for the benefit of the company per se - the buying and selling of a company's shares post-IPO puts no new money in the company's pocket (although share price does help with things like credit ratings, cost of capital, etc.). Having zillions of public shareholders is actually mostly to the benefit of the people who are or were part of the company and as a result were granted shares, be they founders, investors or employees. Without a liquid market for shares, they essentially are worth nothing (just ask someone like me who had a shitload of shares in a pre-IPO startup that were ultimately worth "1 shitload x 0 = 0") if you can't convert them to cash when you want to. Once your company is publicly traded, everyone who was granted shares in the company can either convert their "sweat equity" into actual cash, or see their investment rise or fall with the performance of the company as a whole.

It's no excuse for short-sighted profits-chasing on the part of some companies' executives, but overall being publicly traded has a lot of advantages for the people who actually worked to make the company successful (again, as long as they made sure to get an equity cut, however small).

Comment: Re:MAD (Score 2) 342

by schnell (#47971275) Attached to: US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

They can invade just about anywhere else, and no one will touch them.

If by "anywhere else" you mean not a NATO country, China, India or Pakistan, then sure. Oh, and any of the Middle Eastern states where the US has presences and treaties. That even includes former Soviet Bloc countries like Poland - one step across that border would invite a major military response. And of course nothing in the Western Hemisphere since that would violate the Monroe Doctorine.

So basically Putin can do whatever he wants with impunity, so far as that involves former Soviet Socialist Republics, or ... I guess Africa. It sucks for the ex-SSRs, but they are really the only countries that Putin can really swing his political dick around in with no controversies. He's just there hoping that he can hold power for another 5-10 years so that when Russia's petrostate windfall runs out in a couple decades, he's dead and doesn't have to take the blame for a pariah state with no economy except caviar and botnets.

Comment: Re:I Voted For Kodos. (Score 1) 342

by schnell (#47971187) Attached to: US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

This comment actually makes more sense than all of the sentences in the article summary combined.

I know it's cool to bash to the quality of Slashdot "editors," but has anyone else noticed that the last week has been particularly awful? Above and beyond even the typical political and iOS/Android flamebaiting, I mean, with just more awful story approvals and summary editing? Did all the grownups at Slashdot go away on vacation, or did Dice halve the editors' IQ scores so somehow cut costs? (Remember, there must be a step 2 to making Slashdot profitable, so why not that?)

Comment: Re:They're not astronauts, they're ballast. (Score 1) 77

by schnell (#47964087) Attached to: Trouble In Branson-Land, As Would-Be Space Tourists Get Antsy Over Delays

"No, not spaceman. Specimin." - von Braun, in "The Right Stuff", speaking of the Mercury astronauts.

You actually have that backwards. In the movie, von Braun is trying to say "spaceman" in his thick German accent and LBJ misunderstands it, asking "specimen?" To which von Braun shouts "spacey-man!" LBJ also misunderstands von Braun's pronunciation of "chimp." It's a pretty darn funny scene either way.

Comment: Re:Year of Linux on the desktop? (Score 0) 109

by schnell (#47942385) Attached to: Microsoft Lays Off 2,100, Axes Silicon Valley Research

Anyhow, good luck without your researchers.

What, all 50 of them in Silicon Valley? FFS, I didn't even RTFA but I got enough from the summary to understand that this is less than a rounding error compared to Microsoft's overall R&D and engineering staffs.

Also, can we make it Schnell's Law that anyone who mentions the Year of the Linux Desktop without irony has triggered Godwin's Law about the Occam's Razor of Linux zealots' Panglossian combination of The Seven UI Laws, the Joel Test and Newton's First Law of Motion? Unless of course they have done it as part of a Russian Reversal.

Comment: Re:Parallax. (Score 5, Insightful) 425

by schnell (#47923423) Attached to: Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

Yes, amazing things like announcing a smart watch (Multiple manufacturers are already selling these), introduced a larger form factor for their phone (Multiple manufacturers started this trend years ago), and introduced an NFC payment method (Multiple parties have already implemented this)

For fuck's sake, can we get rid of this tired meme finally? "Apple never invented anything" is a straw man faithfully trotted out by anti-Apple fanbois time and time again, seemingly oblivious to the fact that this is really not the point. Anyone who tells you "Apple invented X" is almost certainly wrong, and anyone who says "Apple never invented X" is missing the damn point.

To wit:

* Apple did not invent the Personal Computer. Apple took the idea and made (one of) the first PCs that were user-friendly enough that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it.

* Apple did not invent the GUI. Apple took the idea and made the first GUI that was user-friendly enough that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it. (Note: it took them two tries to get it right, including the Lisa.)

* Apple did not invent desktop publishing. Apple took the idea and put together the right user-friendly 3rd party software, GUI and laser printers that made lots and lots of people want to buy it.

* Apple did not invent USB, nor was it the first to use it. They took the idea and put it into a computer that was "cool" and user-friendly (and whose users were forced to use USB whether they liked it or not), and lots and lots of people started to buy USB devices.

* Apple did not invent UNIX, or *NIX-derived PC operating systems. They took the idea and made the first *NIX-based OS that was user-friendly enough that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it. (Note again that it took Steve Jobs two tries to get this one right, including NeXT.)

* Apple did not invent MP3 players. They took the idea and made the first MP3 player that was user-friendly enough and supported by an ecosystem that made it easy for people to legally buy music so that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it.

* Apple did not invent smartphones. They took the idea and made the first smartphone that was user-friendly enough that normal people wanted one instead of just work-issued mobile email tools, so lots and lots of people wanted to buy one.

Do you see a pattern here?

So please, please can we get over this "Apple didn't invent anything" BS and recognize what it is that Apple actually does, and hence what criteria their success or failure should be judged on? Apple doesn't live or die on being first. They live or die based on being the first one in a given market to do something really well ... at least until other people catch up and equal them. And then they are on to the Next Big Thing. If they ever run out of Next Big Things, then they are done.

Comment: Re:Hangouts is, in turn, part of plus, right? (Score 1) 162

by schnell (#47877371) Attached to: Google Hangouts Gets Google Voice Integration And Free VoIP Calls

This is usually the part where someone says, "You don't have kids, do you?" I don't, but I fail to see the pressing need for a cell phone just because you have children.

Umm, yeah, that's because you don't have children.

WRT kids, you want a cell phone for:

  • Your kids' school/nanny/day care to call you about an emergency, even if you are home, at work, or in transit
  • Your child to tell you that their after school activity/field trip/lesson/sports practice/whatever ended 30 minutes early or an hour late and they need to be picked up
  • For older teenagers, giving them their own (locked down) cellphone so that you can track their location in case of an emergency

It's clear that you don't have a living situation where having a smartphone is of any advantage - such as apps that can provide directions, show the best route through rush hour traffic, show mass transit times/schedules, book restaurant reservations, receive public safety/AMBER alerts, read the news or talk to friends while mobile is important. That's all well and good.

It's also pretty clear that you don't have the type of job where responding to e-mails or phone calls in a hurry or outside regular hours is important. So, for you, I would agree that a cellphone is superfluous. For many, many other people, having a cellphone (especially smartphone) is very useful. So your mileage may vary. I would just expect that your experience will become less and less common over time.

Comment: Re:Seems fine to me. (Score 2, Insightful) 184

by schnell (#47868865) Attached to: Device Boots Drones, Google Glass Off Wi-Fi

I think the notion that police are there to protect you or me is somewhat archaic.

I've read your posts before so I know I'm tilting at windmills by trying to engage rationally. But you do know that, Ferguson aside, there are more than 4,000 police/sheriff agencies across the US and that day-in, day-out, 99% of what they do is actually protecting/helping people? Somebody has to respond to 911 calls, and defuse domestic violence incidents. Somebody has to take drunk drivers off the road. Somebody has to investigate rapes, assaults and violent crimes. Those people are the police.

I know a number of police officers personally. Pretty much all of them are nice socially, although I can tell that a few of them like their job a little too much and I wouldn't want to meet them on the wrong side of "at work." And, like many other middle-class people, all my early (pre-college graduation) interactions with police were about underage drinking when I thought to myself, "boy, these guys could be doing something more valuable somewhere else."

But ultimately the police in the US do an unpopular job - by and large - very well, and pretty much all of them that I have met do really care about making the public safer. There are bad cops - maybe the nature of giving people authority makes there be a few more bad cops than abusers of any other random job - but they are the minority by far. I know it's fun and cool to act like every cop is the Bad Lieutenant or Judge Dredd or something, but it's ignorant and disrespectful to say that thinking police are there to help you is "archaic."

OK, karma seppuku committed. Mod away.

+ - US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

Submitted by schnell
schnell (163007) writes "A New York Times article reports that Midwestern "Rust Belt" towns and their manufacturing economies in particular have rebounded greatly due to the US resurgence in fossil fuel production, driven by production of shale gas and natural gas from "fracking" and other new technologies that recover previously unavailable fuel but are more invasive than traditional techniques. “Both Youngstown and Canton are places which experienced nothing but disinvestment for 40 years" ... “[now] they’re not ghost towns anymore," according to the article. But while many have decried the loss of traditional US manufacturing jobs in a globalized world and the associated loss of high-wage blue collar jobs, do the associated environmental risks of new "tight oil" extraction techniques outweigh the benefits to these depressed economic regions?"

Comment: Re:Where to draw the line (Score 1) 326

by schnell (#47849973) Attached to: Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

From what I can tell, he draws the line quite clearly. There is no place for traditional paid commercial software. It is okay to make money writing software, but it is never okay to keep even a single line of software secret from the general public.

Fair enough. Clear line. I guess the problem is that I - as a tech professional but non-programmer - could not give a dead rat's ass about access to a single line of the source code of the software I use. I do not have the skills, time or interest to do a security audit, understand the source of, or contribute to a single line of code to any one of the thousands of pieces of software I have used over the past 30 years. I am happy to pay money for the software I like (especially as I have grown older and had more disposable income), although I have always preferred to find gratis software when it was of equivalent or better quality. But, to be very honest, the "gratis" element mattered to me, not the "free" element. For example, I was and continue to be a huge fan of the MAME project but I do so because I don't have to pay for it, not because I expect to contribute any arcade PCB dumps or source code.

When I was younger, I downloaded and used metric shitloads of "pirated" software that I used because I could, but that was thanks to the "Internet community" of crackers and file sharers, not to the "free software movement." I didn't care about the license, I just wanted the best available software for my platform that I could afford (i.e. $0).

So thank you Richard Stallman for your efforts in making a lot of software gratis for people like me so I could get software for free without feeling bad (really) about "pirating" it. Gratis software was a revelation, and I don't think much of the early Internet would have happened without gratis Apache, Perl or Linux/BSD, for example. But most users of that software cared, frankly, far far more for the "gratis" component than the "libre" element. I hope that someday that Stallman understands that his principles are of interest (Pro or Con) to ~100% of the people who make software, but are of interest to ~.01% of the people who use software.

And at the end of the day, the mass market of people who use software will vote with their feet and wallets and decide who "wins" based on if the free software is good enough that it's worth not paying for vs. the non-free software. So maybe couching this argument more in terms of user experience that means more to the "99 percent" (i.e. software users) would behoove Stallman instead of speaking to the "elite" of software developers if he wants to make a long-term impact on freedom.

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