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Comment: Re:why carry crude to in tanks on moving vehicles? (Score 5, Interesting) 144

by zentec (#46440217) Attached to: Exploding Oil Tank Cars: Why Trains Go Boom

My experience is that anyone in favor of processing this sludge into energy has never even seen photos of the area around the Detroit Marathon refinery or the waterfront along the Detroit river where the processing by-product of coke-tar is stored. Yeah, they store that crap right on the shores of the headwaters of Lakes Erie and Ontario; the water supply for millions of people in two countries.

It isn't about anti-oil, I don't disagree the world needs oil. I need oil. This is about a form of it that is just beyond nasty to obtain and process. No one wants the coke-tar, it is stored in huge uncovered piles around Detroit getting blown into neighborhoods on both sides of the river. The plan has been to sell that stuff to China, but so far no takers. Their "plan" to mitigate the dust is to spray with with water, and just where do you think the runoff flows? If they can't sell this waste in Detroit with quick convenient access to steel mills, cement and power plants, do you think Houston will have better luck?

It is all fine and well to sit from my position in rural Michigan and say "hell yeah, turn that spigot on and gimme my $2 a gallon gasoline". But I can't; I've seen it and it is an ugly view into the future where we just don't care about larger swaths of land and the people that live there. I'm just done with the mentality of energy at any cost. If the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico doesn't affect your opinion, take a stroll and smell the coke-tar. This is a greedy grab of the last scraps of energy and the environment and people's health be damned in the process.

Oil spills from pipeline problems happen, just ask the people in Grand Rapids Michigan who are still dealing with the cleanup in the Kalamazoo river from Enbridge Energy's pipeline break. This too is Canadian tar sand oil, making its safe transit through the United States for processing.

Comment: Re:Antitrust lawsuit? (Score 1) 303

by zentec (#46241297) Attached to: Comcast To Buy Time Warner Cable In $44.2 Billion All-Stock Deal

The overlap (or lack thereof) isn't my concern, the problem is that Comcast is also a HUGE content provider.

Do you really think they'll offer competitive terms for WeatherNation considering that they own The Weather Channel?

How long before some elevated middle manager from the NBC newsroom gets the brilliant idea that it is in the best interest of Comcast to prioritize data to The Weather Channel's web site over anyone else?

At some point, Comcast has to be beaten down and told "you're too big, divest the content business or divest the physical plant".

Comment: Re:this just in (Score 1) 178

by zentec (#44043063) Attached to: TiVo Series 5 Coming This Fall

That is not entirely correct.

You can view encrypted channels, you just can't view/record channels with the no copy flag set. Some cable companies set this for everything, some set it just for premium channels.

Ergo, usefulness of MythTV depends entirely upon how must customer contempt your cable company has as an operating policy.

Tivo is an "ok" product, but the increasing service fees chased me to MythTV with Silicon Dust tuners. Not an easy thing to get going, and MythTV is buggy But it's free, and it usually gets the job done.

Comment: Cash Can Be Expensive to Handle (Score 1) 732

by zentec (#42706913) Attached to: Credit Card Swipe Fees Begin Sunday In USA

The premise that this gets them around the expense of merchant fees is flawed because handling cash and checks is also very expensive. And it isn't without a unique set of risks like getting your deposit bag stolen at gun point. If there's enough of it, you pay another company to come and pick up your deposits. Do retailers plan on imposing a surcharge for cash too?

It seems retail businesses are taking a page from telcos in that they expect a certain level of profit and in order to accomplish that, everything is surcharged.

Comment: How To Be a Role Model, Hero, Human (Score 3, Insightful) 480

by zentec (#41124745) Attached to: Astronaut Neil Armstrong Has Died

I was fortunate to get a first hand viewing on TV of all the Apollo missions while bouncing on the knee of my father. The Apollo 11 astronauts were my first heroes and not long after I could read I enjoyed every book, magazine and encyclopedia article I found about them and their mission.

Armstrong is the model on how to be a hero; do something exemplary and treat it as just another day at the office. Embrace knowledge, challenge your mind and enjoy your job. And when it's over, it is over. Armstrong shied away from the public spotlight and certainly passed on what would have been many lucrative opportunities to cash-in on his fame. Instead, he remained pretty much the same person after the mission as before.

Sad day today, to know of the loss of a great person.

Comment: Re:Termination fees and dialup ISPs (Score 2) 76

by zentec (#40725671) Attached to: FCC Tariff Changes Mean No More Free Conference Calls

It is partially correct.

Prior to the advent of 56K modems and their need for PRI service, ISPs had to invest capital in terminal servers and modems to put at remote sites, and haul the data back and forth on leased lines to provide local service. The CLECs offered cut rate PRI service (and not to mention avoiding the pain of having to deal with an incumbent carrier who by default installed PRIs with bit-robbing signalling, which kills 56K modems) and because they gained in termination fees, covered wide geographic swaths.

Freed from the capital investment of discrete remote sites, dial-up ISPs really stated popping up. When you could just lease a bank of modems, the market became saturated. The turnkey aspect, lower capital costs and very compelling monthly rates for PRI service made dial-up a rather profitable venture and easy to start.

Nevertheless, you are spot-on that local ISPs filled market demand where the incumbents simply faltered.

Comment: Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (Score 4, Interesting) 636

by zentec (#40582581) Attached to: Preparing For Life After the PC

I don't disagree with your sentiments, but we're in the minority my friend. For most people, they want cheap, fast and easy access to Facebook, email and Angry Birds. You don't need a PC for that.

PCs, like most consumer electronic devices, become a commodity, disposable and then deprecated. When was the last time you fixed a VCR? When they came out, it was cheaper to have someone fix them. And then, if you had some repair skills, you could order parts for any VCR on the market. Now, just try to buy a VCR. Consumer electronics move toward no user serviceable parts; just look at the latest crop of ultra-thin laptops.

There will always be a need for PCs in the workplace and in software development. But their utility is going to be come very niche and they're well on their way to being replaced for most uses; just like the VCR.

Comment: Re:Hoist by own petard (Score 2) 197

The ability to keep track of stolen IEMI numbers and not activate a phone on that list is elementary, and in an age where you can track an iPhone across the planet via GPS, such a simple detail screams that they simply did not want to do it. Worse for AT&T, is the fact that they look up the IEMI to enforce customer use; just try to use an iPhone on a non-Iphone data plan. This check is done autonomously.

There are plenty of instances where registrations are checked to assure that they're not stolen. At one time, cell phones that were stolen were indeed blacklisted. And while I agree that AT&T may not have had a legal obligation to do so, with their customers being robbed, it certainly seems easy to say they have a moral obligation to blacklist the phones.

Of course, the consumer outrage is now full scale, and I'm sure legal requirements may indeed be forthcoming.

Comment: Fix Tethering (Score 1) 433

by zentec (#38804969) Attached to: AT&T Caps Netflix Streaming Costs At $68K/Yr

How about the movement to make wireless a little more consumer friendly aim for just making data use independent of the device? Now that AT&T has decided that $30 equates to some fixed level of data, then I should be free to consume that data on any device I see fit without having to pay extra for the privilege of doing so.

It is really going to take a SOPA level of consumer outrage to get these people to play nice?


Comment: Re:Problem with GM crops is IP control, not health (Score 1) 571

by zentec (#38473620) Attached to: New Study Confirms Safety of GM Crops

Exactly. And it gets even more insidious because Monsanto and others have actively sought to use genetic modification to turn off unauthorized propagation.

So now Monsanto will no longer have to sue farmers into submission for having the misfortune of planting their public domain seed stock too close to IP protected seeded fields and picking up traits of protected plants; they just have to wait three or four seasons for the public domain seed to have its gene pool sufficiently cross-pollinated and they too will adhere to the programmed rules of unauthorized propagation. Watch as these companies slowly become the *only* source for dent/#2 corn, soybeans, red and winter wheat.

Equally concerning is that these bio-engineered crops, especially those with propagation control, put a limit to genetic diversity. We're really setting ourselves up for another potato-style famine.

Comment: Anonymous? So Far... (Score 5, Interesting) 198

by zentec (#38152526) Attached to: Malls Track Shoppers' Cell Phones On Black Friday


"The tracking system, called FootPath Technology, works through a series of antennas positioned throughout the shopping center that capture the unique identification number assigned to each phone (similar to a computer's IP address), and tracks its movement throughout the stores. ... And it doesn't collect any personal details associated with the ID, like the user's name or phone number. That information is fiercely protected by mobile carriers, and often can be legally obtained only through a court order. "

Yet. You can bet your sweet bippy that while the mall can't get the identifying information, the mall *will* sell it to the carriers who do have the information. This would be a marketing goldmine for the carriers, and one they could not help but to exploit for fun and most importantly, profit.

I would opt out by simply not shopping at that mall. My cellular phone is for my own convenience and one that I pay to maintain, it isn't so companies can figure out where I shop and give them incentive to try to get me to be a good little consumer and spend all my money.

My tolerance for this kind of thing is getting lower each time I read stories like this. More and more, companies seem to view the public as sheep to be shorn without any expectation of privacy, rights nor recourse.

Comment: Re:Time and Attendance (Score 1) 215

by zentec (#36628004) Attached to: NYC Mayor Demands $600M Refund On Software Project

Because the larger an enterprise, the greater likelihood that each department has its own attendance and time policies. Start adding in union contracts, and now you're really having fun. I'm sure the garbage collectors in NYC are paid much much differently than the teachers. Each of those examples probably are nightmares on their own with exceptions to rules, bonuses, overtime and penalties for missed lunches.

However, this is also a case of poor project management. I would not have assigned that job to anyone but the best PPMs.

Comment: Re:What is more damaging to society? (Score 1) 783

by zentec (#34909044) Attached to: Wikileaks To Name Swiss Bank Tax Evaders

Minimizing one's tax obligations through philanthropy or legitimate tax credits, breaks or deferments is one thing, funneling money earned outside the country to shield it from the IRS or hiding money under a complex web of fraudulent companies is completely another thing. And this is what that is about; rich people realizing gains through foreign transactions and failing to report it on their taxes.

People go to jail for that. As well they should, it's a crime and the rest of society doesn't play that game. Why should the wealthy?

As far as the other half of your question, it doesn't change the illegal behavior of those involved. Whether or not the government is entitled or feels entitled doesn't change the fact that not only are those wealthy that are involved are breaking the law, they're FREELOADERS enjoying the benefits of this society without paying the costs.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas