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Comment: So this is what is behind "Aurora" (Score 3, Interesting) 228 228

I just finished reading an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Robinson's latest novel "Aurora", not yet published, which is about a generation starship sent out to colonize a planet orbiting Tau Ceti. Mild spoiler - the colonists find it's much harder than anyone anticipated. I found it a bit of an odd take given Robinson's Mars trilogy (to be honest, I made it to about a third of the way through Blue Mars and gave up) which seemed far more optimistic. Now I know why. Unfortunately, pessimism doesn't sell as well as optimism, so I don't have great hopes for commercial success of Aurora. Oh, and if you weren't transfixed by Red/Green/Blue Mars, you probably won't care for Aurora either.

Comment: Re:someone explain for the ignorant (Score 3, Interesting) 449 449

Yes, in fact they can, and this has happened in Europe. One problem with C&P is the "offline PIN" mode which doesn't exchange data with the bank. In the UK, at least, the consumer is liable for any fraud with a C&P card as it is assumed that if the PIN was entered correctly it was by the cardholder. In the US, all the card issuers assume liability for fraud, no matter what, so there is less incentive to require a PIN.

The article you linked to is informative, but as the US transitions to EMV, it will become harder for thieves to use magstripe cards.

As I noted earlier, the biggest benefit of EMV, with or without PIN, is that merchants and payment processors aren't holding on to vast quantities of card numbers, and card skimming becomes far more difficult.

Comment: Re:someone explain for the ignorant (Score 4, Informative) 449 449

Chip yes, PIN, no. In the US, "Chip-and-signature" is what we get, with extremely rare exceptions. It is more secure than the magstripe to stop massive hacks such as Home Depot and Target, but does nothing to stop stolen card fraud. Note that if your card does not support chip-and-PIN (it can support it even if it's not the default, but US banks aren't doing this), then you can't use the card at many automated kiosks (train stations, etc.) outside the US.

I disagree with the summary that contactless goes along with the chip - it doesn't. There are some banks offering contactless payment cards, but this is not common right now.

Comment: Re:Use FairPoint, avoid Comcast (Score 1) 214 214

I agree 100% with Okian Warrior here - I'd do without rather than buy service from Comcast. I have the FairPoint fiber service that used to be FiOS and it works well, but if it's not already run on your street you'll never get it. For TV go satellite - I use DirecTV.

One, hopefully temporary, hitch is that Fairpoint workers have been on strike for several weeks, slowing down installs and repairs.

Really, FairPoint nowadays isn't a bad company to do business with. They're focused on staying in business and aren't interested in meddling with your Internet content.

Comment: Been there, done that (Score 5, Informative) 214 214

This is not new for Verizon at all - they have been shedding their landline and FiOS business for years. Back in 2007 they abandoned Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, selling off the business to FairPoint Communications, a tiny North Carolina company that struggled for years to overcome billing system issues. FairPoint announced then that they would not be expanding the fiber Internet service (FiOS TV never got started here) and the service has been static since then. (On the positive side, my bill hasn't increased since 2007!)

Even in Massachusetts, where Verizon still operates FiOS TV, they announced a couple of years back that they would not expand service to more areas. This tripe about Net Neutrality is just a convenient smokescreen for what they've been planning all along.

Comment: Re:I am a spamcop user and didn't get that e-mail. (Score 1) 44 44

I am also a SpamCop user - have three accounts with them. All three got the email. You are quite correct that there's nothing on the web site, but this doesn't astonish me as the email service has been running on autopilot for a few years now. Note that the blocklist and reporting system are now owned by Cisco, but the email service was not part of the purchase and has been increasingly unreliable. There is discussion on the SpamCop user forum at

I moved my main personal account to Gmail quite a while ago. The other two accounts will also move to Gmail. It was nice while it lasted.

Comment: Yet another bogus theory, in my opinion (Score 5, Interesting) 72 72

My son contracted Kawasaki Disease in 1987 when he was 4. It was a terrifying experience as the doctors could not explain what was causing his symptoms, including a fever of 104. The poor kid underwent spinal taps and more. Eventually he was transferred to Boston Floating Hospital for Children where they concluded he had Kawasaki. There was no test for it - it's one of those "process of elimination" diagnoses and not all who have KD have all of the symptoms. At that time, there was no known cure but my son was enrolled in a random trial of gamma globulin infusion and, thankfully, the dosage he was assigned turned out to be the one that worked the best. He recovered and tests showed no lasting heart damage.

At the time, there were many wild theories as to what caused it. One of the more prevalent notions was that it was triggered by carpet cleaning chemicals, since debunked. This paper smacks to me of "correlation does not equal causation". I'm especially dubious about the supposed geographic origins given that incidents, while clustered around metropolitan areas, were not confined to the west US coast (we live in New Hampshire.)

Over the years I have read many articles and research papers about Kawasaki Disease. I don't think we're any closer to an explanation than we were in 1987.

Comment: Re:ARM is the new Intel (Score 5, Interesting) 110 110

It's done in software with hardware assist - Intel calls this technology "Houdini". Most Android apps are Dalvik which Intel has an X86-optimized implementation of. The translated apps run quite well for most purposes, but yes, there is a performance penalty. I did run some games but probably not the really compute-intensive ones. I found the performance overall quite good - at least as good as my iPad 3 - and to most users the choice of processor would be transparent. For apps which are ARM binary, a growing number are also providing X86 binaries.

Comment: Re:ARM is the new Intel (Score 3, Interesting) 110 110

Intel-powered Android tablets can run almost all Android-ARM apps. Those that are native ARM apps are handled through binary translation. It works very well. I've used a Dell Venue 8 (Intel CloverTrail+ Android) and did not find any apps that wouldn't run just fine.

Comment: Re:Not true. (Score 5, Insightful) 243 243

I agree - I've downloaded the movie twice from Flixster. Anyone who thinks that a DRM-free download would be provided is dreaming. WB is offering to pay for downloads from other services such as Amazon and iTunes. The OP reads to me like a lame excuse to justify piracy.

Yes, some number of KS backers are having trouble. I know at least one who hasn't received her code. But it reads to me as if WB is trying to do the right thing, on top of this unprecedented same-day digital release.

When someone says "I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done," give him a lollipop.