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Comment: How's this different from what they are doing now? (Score 1) 97

by tipo159 (#49304279) Attached to: Leaked Document Reveals Upcoming Biometric Experiments At US Customs

The last time that I (a US citizen) flew back from Canada (last December), I got directed to a kiosk that I inserted my passport into and that took a photo of my face. When I got my last passport photo, I was clean shaven, had just got my haircut and was 20 lbs heavier. When I went through Passport Control, I hadn't had an opportunity to shave for a few days, I hadn't had much sleep either and it had been a couple months since I got my haircut. The kiosk could not match my passport photo against how I looked, so I was directed to a Immigrations officer. He could instantly tell that the photo matched my face.

Most of the people going through Passport Control didn't seem to have the same problem, which was fine because there was a long line for the station after the kiosk and no line for an Immigration officer, so, in the end, I got through more quickly.

Comment: Re:This is why I quit web programming (Score 1) 83

But isn't connecting a car to the internet inherently stupid (for the consumer, not the vendor)? The risk of theft and car crashes via hacking are inherent in such a design decision whereas there are few benefits, such as getting updates without visiting the dealer.


It's like connecting your toaster to the internet -- pointless and not very useful.

Right. There is no conceivable use case to connect a car to the internet. Current traffic conditions and best route information for current conditions? What use is there for that? Streaming music? Who would want that? Automated reporting of accidents when the occupants are non-responsive? What a dumb idea, right?

Comment: Re: Definition of "Remote Attack" (Score 1) 83

In VAG cars, and possibly many others, that honk is an option which can be changed by twiddling an option code which can be looked up in the dealer's service data (which comes on DVD.)

What's your point? Most alarms give an indication that the system is armed and most people that I know look for that indication as they walk away. If the horn doesn't sound or the lights don't flash when I arm the alarm, I check to see why not.

Comment: Re:Intuit has a history of ABUSE. (Score 4, Informative) 119

by tipo159 (#49004081) Attached to: TurboTax Halts E-filing of State Tax Returns Because of Potential Fraud

They are making things right tomorrow by upgrading every Dexluxe owner for free and putting back the features in next year's version. The CEO also gave a very sincere apology.

They are nowhere close to making it right.

I have been using TurboTax Deluxe for 15+ years without even thinking about it. I have a minimal amount of iOS app income (net about $100/year right now) so I need to file a minimal Schedule C. I bought TurboTax for 2014 a couple of weeks ago and installed it, but was waiting for W-2s, so hadn't entered any numbers yet.

A week and a half ago, Intuit and its CEO sent me e-mail with a "very sincere apology" that explained that I was eligible for $25 towards upgrading. As explained in the e-mail, they were improving the customer experience by removing functionality and it was really being done for customer benefit or something like that. I had no idea what the letter was referring to, so did a search and found that they had disabled Schedules C, D & E in TurboTax Deluxe and there had been a huge outcry.

I thought that they had disabled the wizards that walk you through the forms, but found out that I was wrong when I started entering numbers into TurboTax. I tried to select Schedule C and was told that I needed to upgrade TurboTax and that it would cost $40. Note that Intuit was only offering to reimburse $25 towards an upgrade. At that point, I removed TurboTax from my computer and returned it to Costco and bought competing tax software.

One interesting thing to note is that the product info on the Intuit web page still indicated that TurboTax Deluxe could be used to file Schedule C even though it actually could not.

Yesterday, Intuit and its CEO sent me another e-mail with a "very sincere apology" which explained the they would be reverting TurboTax Deluxe back to the way that has been for years (but, if you had already paid for an upgrade and already filed your taxes, they were still only reimbursing $25, even though the actual upgrade cost could be more). Since I now already have other tax software, I will not be taking them up on the offer.

As I said, I would just buy TurboTax every year without thinking about it and I know a lot of people who did the same. The idea to try and squeeze even more money out of people, resulting in people thinking about whether to buy their product and considering a competitor, has got to be among the worst 'penny-wise, pound-foolish' business decisions ever made.

Comment: Re:Simple (Score 1) 228

by tipo159 (#48928759) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

In some countries bribes are just part of doing business. In others it is quite illegal.

So, corruption is okay as long as it is culturally acceptable? I see.

Greed trumps ethics and morals.

In a word, yes.

What is ethical and moral is dependent on the culture. If a culture's idea of what is ethical and moral conflicts with your own, then you are free to not do business in there. You can also sit on your high horse and complain about how unethical and immoral they are (by your standards), while they don't give a damn what you think.

Comment: Re:Let's hope ... (Score 1) 38

by tipo159 (#48911499) Attached to: Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites For Spaceship Two

Scaled Composites' role in Virgin Galactic has been winding down for a while. IIRC, the LA Times story mentions this, possibly in a quote from the Scaled Composites guy.

The Spaceship Company was formed as a joint effort between Virgin and Scaled (Branson and Rutan). Scaled built the first WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, but the plan was for TSC to build the subsequent ones. Virgin bought out Scaled's part of TSC in 2012.

Why is it surprising that Scaled's role is continuing to wind down? Isn't that the way that things work with them anyway? They work with clients to develop designs and build prototypes, not refine a product (i.e., the planned Virgin Galactic fleet).

Comment: Re:Bott's dots (Score 1) 90

by tipo159 (#48907125) Attached to: Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

Huh, actually had to google what Botts' dots are. FTL: rarely used in regions with substantial snowfall, because snow plows damage or dislodge them.

Wouldn't do much good up where I live if they can't take snow plows. Instead of dots to provide 'rumble' we put notches in the pavement.

Now something that you can sink into the pavement, sort of like a concrete screw? That might work.

Another trick that is becoming more common is notching the pavement with an inset for the Botts' dot so it doesn't stick up into the plow blade.

Comment: Re:The wrong debates. (Score 3, Interesting) 303

by tipo159 (#48748315) Attached to: FBI Says Search Warrants Not Needed To Use "Stingrays" In Public Places

I get into the "Life in a Police State" meme as much as the next guy, but if you think that this stuff started after 9/11 or any other recent event, I suggest that you study more history of this country.

The FBI has been ignoring the 4th Amendment and using available technology to do so since the organization was created. Before that, the Feds would contract with detective agencies, like Pinkerton, that would often ignore the 4th Amendment (as well as others). Local law enforcement have been ignoring it and, when caught violating it, retroactively making up enough story (depending on how friendly the local judiciary is) to artificially demonstrate compliance for even longer.

The person who wrote "the rot started in 1787" is correct. People with authority often (usually?) lose sight of what they are defending and need to be reminded of it. This can take the form of new laws or lawsuits or civil action or something else.

But the real problem is that, on the whole, the people of this country only really care about the particular rights that they wish to exercise when they want to exercise them and otherwise don't give a damn (or, to be more polite about it, are too busy living their lives to be concerned).

Comment: Re:So basically.. (Score 1) 295

by tipo159 (#48596591) Attached to: French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

No, the taxi drivers are arguing they can be the only ones to drive people to their destination and charge them for the ride.

Yeah, and it probably has nothing to do with this.

If you don't want to follow the link, it is NYC Taxi drivers selling their medallions to operate a taxi for close to a million dollars. It seems to be around 300,000 Euro for one in Paris.

Comment: Re:Concern or convenience? (Score 1) 165

by tipo159 (#48314589) Attached to: Some Virgin Galactic Customers Demand Money Back

It turns out that SpaceShipTwo is the only one and now that it's gone, well, they have to rebuild it again and go through all the testing again, which means delays. At the very least, rebuilding SpaceShipTwo would take months (if not a year), which would push out the date by a year.

Do some homework before posting.

The SpaceShipTwo that crashed was VSS Enterprise. Virgin Galactic has contracted to have five SpaceShipTwo's and a similar number of WhiteKnightTwo lifting aircraft built. The second SpaceShipTwo is VSS Voyager and is, according to reports, 65% finished and is scheduled to be done in 2016. Scaled Composites built VSS Enterprise and Virgin-owned The Spaceship Company (TSC) is building the remaining ships.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"