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Submission + - Verizon iPhone Offers More Consistency

adeelarshad82 writes: To no surprise Verizon iPhone looks a lot like the AT&T iPhone. The real difference is in its ability to do things. PCMag's Editor In Chief was one of the few who got to test out the iPhone on the Verizon network over the past few days. As expected, Verizon iPhone was a much more consistent performer, providing stable connection and slightly better call quality over AT&T. Part of this was because of the dual CDMA antennas that sit on either side of the phone, which also took care of the "death grip". Aside from the stability, acting as a personal hotspot was another first for the Apple iPhone, which gives it the ability to connect five other devices to the internet over Wi-Fi. While acting as a hotspot, the iPhone showed how many people were connected to it. This was to ensure that there weren't more people leeching off the connection. While not exactly perfect, Verizon iPhone offerred a more consistent user experience.

Submission + - NASA Mercury Probe Will Answer Big Questions (ibtimes.com) 1

RedEaredSlider writes: Next month, the first space probe in nearly 40 years will approach the planet Mercury, with an array of instruments that could help answer fundamental questions about how planets form.

The mission is called MESSENGER, for Mercury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging. On March 17 it will pull into orbit around mercury, after more than six years of maneuvering between the Earth, Venus and Mercury itself.

Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, completing one of its revolutions in only 88 days. Surface temperatures on during the day top out at 426 degrees Celsius (798 degrees Fahrenheit) — hot enough that lead and zinc would melt like ice on a hot day. Nighttime temperatures plunge to -173 degrees C (-279 F), cold enough to liquefy neon gas. Mercury also spins very slowly, and does so in such a way that a single day on Mercury lasts 176 days — two of the planet's years.

Comment Embedded (Score 4, Insightful) 352

Not commenting on this potential vaporware, but embedded cameras in LCD screens might single handedly make video conferencing pleasant. Presently, the distance between the camera and screen mean video chatting is essentially an exercise in watching another person watch their computer while having a conversation with you.

Apart from latency / bandwidth issues, I think that is the largest thing that has prevented video chat from taking off. It's not at all like talking face to face with a real human being.

Comment Re:Economy - anything else is a waste (Score 1) 549

I agree with most of what you said, but I do have to say that first class is really excellent. I recently got a free upgrade from coach for the first time in my life, and it was a whole different flying experience. Having a seat that is actually large enough for an adult male to sit in just by itself did wonders for my comfort and anxiety.

But unless I come across a winning lotto ticket on my walk to work, it's not going to be an experience I'm bound to repeat. I'd be willing to pay 50 percent more for the first class experience, but at quadruple the price of coach or worse, it's just not worth it.

Comment Video Conferencing (Score 1) 148

One good use that could result from a technology like this would be screen-embedded cameras for video conferencing.

Anyone who has ever VC-ed with someone before knows that the experience is severely lacking for one important reason: eye contact. Even with a modern built-in camera just a half inch above the screen, it is obvious that the person you are talking to you is looking at their screen and not you. In my opinion, this is show stopper, and it really makes the experience no better than a phone conversation, if not worse.

A camera that was embedded in the center of a screen, with the other person's video stream centered on top of it, would fix this problem once and for all. No bulky teleprompter-like screen attachment necessary.

Comment Maybe It's Not As It Seems... (Score 2, Insightful) 439

I was under the impression that some of these stringent rules were put in place to protect participants, rather than limit their rights. IE, the organizers want people to be able to walk around naked without ending up on "Girls Gone Wild: Burningman Edition!" and use drugs without the possibility that their "crimes" may end up on the evening news.

Comment I figured it might go fast (Score 1) 594

This is why I didn't mess around with my Cash for Clunker deal.

Last February, my 1999 Town and Country minivan was totaled by a serious fender bender / mild accident. I got about $5k from the insurance after opting to keep the drivable yet ugly car for $250. I then drove it around for a few months until the bearings started doing funny things, and I could tell that it was getting no longer safe to drive.

Long story short, a friend told me about the CARS act, so the second it was signed into law I decided I was going to go for it. Figuring that the program might run out quickly, or it would be difficult to find the car that I wanted during the rush, I found a local dealership that was pre-selling cars (ie, taking deposits, getting the car on the lot, etc..) in early July, and put a $500 refundable deposit down on a new Toyota RAV4.

Only the evening of July 26th, I drove my potentially unsafe (yet still insured, for the record) minivan over to the dealership in the middle of the night. Monday morning I walked in and got my new RAV4 (which was already on the lot, with all the paperwork done) with my $4500 credit. I'm very happy, since there is no way I would have been able to afford a new car without the program. It's also pretty damned amusing that I got nearly $10,000 (insurance+CARS act credit) out of a minivan that probably wasn't worth more than $4k before the accident.

Comment Re:How telescopes "invalidate" light pollution, so (Score 1) 154

So, looking for stars in a light-polluted sky is easier with a telescope, because it makes the stars appear brighter relative to their background.

Is this a joke? Light pollution turns the sky an awful pink-ish gray from what would otherwise be black, zodiacal light notwithstanding. That being the case, how exactly would it be easier to see a point source of light against a lighter background versus a darker background? (The answer? It's not. In fact, astronomers often use the limiting magnitude of stars visible with the naked eye as a measure of light pollution. The more LP there is, the smaller number of stars you will be able to discern with the naked eye, even if you are dark adapted and standing at the bottom of a well.)

With nebulae, comets, or other extended objects, especially where the object's apparent brightness doesn't exceed the sky's apparent brightness, the telescope doesn't help much at all.

Ludicrous! This is clearly being spoken by a person who has never looked through a telescope in their entire life. The apparently brightness of *any* astronomical object, be it a galaxy such as M31, or a globular cluster like M13, is entirely a function of aperture when magnification is held constant. The views of the Orion Nebula through a 4 inch reflector at 100x will be eviscerated by the same 100x view through a 20 inch reflector. (And yes, I have looked through instruments of both size, though I own a 12 inch reflector personally.) For views of the planets we have enough brightness to work with that light pollution makes little difference, but for just about everything else, it can ruin the view. You can barely make out M81 and M82 here in suburbia, but 2 hours a way they jump out of the sky at you.

Comment Video Conferencing (Score 1) 61

Something like this may eventually make video conferencing useful. Anyone who has actually video conferenced with someone can attest to the lack of eye contact associated with both parties looking at their screen to see each other, rather than looking at the camera sitting atop their monitor. This lack of eye contact is very annoying, and I'd go so far as to say that it defeats the entire purpose of video conferencing in the first place. A camera positioned directly behind the video conference window fixes this issue entirely.

Once that is resolved, all we have to contend with is the severe bandwidth and latency issues that make most video conferences today an exercise in low quality, laggy futility.

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