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Businesses

Submission + - How corruption is strangling US Innovation (hbr.org) 1

hype7 writes: "The Harvard Business Review is running a very interesting piece on how money in politics is having a deleterious effect on US innovation. From the article:

if you were in any doubt how deep inside the political system the system of contributions have allowed incumbents to insert their hands, take a look at what happened when the Republican Study Committee released a paper pointing out some of the problems with current copyright regime. The debate was stifled within 24 hours. And just for good measure, Rep Marsha Blackburn, whose district abuts Nashville and who received more money from the music industry than any other Republican congressional candidate, apparently had the author of the study, Derek Khanna, fired. Sure, debate around policy is important, but it's clearly not as important as raising campaign funds.

"

Input Devices

Submission + - Razer Mouse Crippled Without Online Activation

jones_supa writes: At Overclock.net forums, nickname channelx99 tells a story about a frustrating obstacle when he begun to use a Razer Naga mouse. A software is required to enable the full functionality of the mouse. The user was greeted by a login screen which couldn't be bypassed, and even worse, the account creation didn't work at the time. It turned out that the Razor activation server was down. As result, channelx99 was left out in the cold, and he wraps up 'Nowhere on the box does it say anything about needing an internet connection to "activate" a mouse. If the servers go down in the future, anyone who buys this mouse is out of luck.'
DRM

Submission + - Outlawed by Amazon DRM (bekkelund.net)

Pelekophori writes: From the article:

"A couple of days a go, my friend Linn sent me an e-mail, being very frustrated: Amazon just closed her account and wiped her Kindle. Without notice. Without explanation."

Piracy

Submission + - Heavy metal band does not support label's decision to prosecute pirates (icedearth.com)

hessian writes: "“It has come to my attention that Century Media is suing fans over illegal downloads of (among others) our latest album ‘Dystopia’. I felt it was important to clarify that we had no knowledge of this motion and were, sadly, not asked permission.

  We all know the music industry is changing. We have been adapting to this model by embracing legal streaming services such as Spotify and by bringing our music to places we have never played before by touring our proverbial asses off.

  As much as we respect that the labels are having a harder time selling music, we feel this is a misguided effort and want to make sure our fans know we would have not given our consent would we have been asked.”"

Censorship

Submission + - BT Blocks Disabled Rights Site? (techweekeurope.co.uk) 2

judgecorp writes: "BT has blocked access to the Black Triangle disabled rights website according to activists. BT has confirmed there is a problem, but won't give any details on why it is not available to any BT subscribers. Black Triangle is campaigning against Atos Healthcare which is applying government rules on entitlement to disability benefits — and which has previously shut down critical websites and forums."

Comment Re:refreshing! (Score 1) 115

Actually what's more refreshing is that for a change, a foreign court was granted jurisdiction in America, rather than the other way around. And no-one got to be deported in the process!

i dunno, throwing in a few deportees in the other direction might help bring about a sense of proportion about the merits of copyright law uber alles.

Comment Re:cut the wire (Score 5, Informative) 164

Or setup a separate ARPA-owned network that no one can access except DOD employees.

This exists, it's called the SIPRnet. You can only access it from secure workstations in secure facilities, and in theory all the network hardware is also secure, etc., etc.

AFAIK, the only recent SIPRnet compromise was Bradley Manning, and that was more of a social exploit than a technical one.

Transportation

Have Bad Cars Gone Extinct? 672

Hugh Pickens writes "AP reports that global competition is squeezing lemons out of the market and forcing automakers to improve the quality and reliability of their vehicles. With few exceptions, cars are so close on reliability that it's getting harder for companies to charge a premium. 'We don't have total clunkers like we used to,' says Dave Sargent, automotive vice president with J.D. Power. In 1998, J.D. Power and Associates found an industry average of 278 problems per 100 vehicles, but this year, the number fell to 132. In 1998, the most reliable car had 92 problems per 100 vehicles, while the least reliable had 517, a gap of 425. This year the gap closed to 284 problems. It wasn't always like this. In the 1990s, Honda and Toyota dominated in quality, especially in the key American market for small and midsize cars. Around 2006, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler were heading into financial trouble and shifted research dollars from trucks to cars after years of neglect and spent more on engineering and parts to close the gap. Meanwhile Toyota's reputation was tarnished by a series of safety recalls, and Honda played conservative with new models that looked similar to the old ones. Now it's 'very hard to find products that aren't good anymore,' says Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of the Edmunds.com automotive website. 'In safety, performance and quality, the differences just don't have material impact.'"

Comment Re:Accidents happen (Score 1) 461

The only reason the UN was even minimally effective was because it provided a venue for the nuclear powers -- who almost exclusively make up the Security Council -- to hash out problems diplomatically. Without the constant threat of nuclear war to bring those parties to the table, literally and figuratively, there's no reason to think that the UN would have been any more effective than the League of Nations.

And the League, as you'll recall, was also set up in the aftermath of a staggeringly destructive war, by a great number of very committed people, and it couldn't and didn't do the job. In other words, the memory of the utter hell that was the Great War wasn't enough, even among people who had lived through it, to keep the peace through diplomatic methods alone. However, the threat of total global annihilation has kept things in check for more than three generations now.

Given how close the Cold War came to going 'hot' even with nuclear weapons making it into a no-win situation, it's laughable to suggest that we wouldn't have gone there in their absence -- when either side could have talked themselves into believing that they could have obtained a real advantage by fighting.

The horrors of conventional war have never been enough to keep people from deluding themselves into thinking that it can be won (because, bluntly, it can be); nuclear war is unique in that it is quite obvious that there can be no winner, and it is to everyone's advantage to avoid, all the time.

Comment Re:how about molten aluminum? (Score 1) 461

Entirely plausible that the place where the Al is smelted isn't the same place it's worked into finished products... but letting it cool down would just waste huge amounts of energy, since it would then have to be reheated.

In Homestead, PA, there used to be an iron smelter on one side of the river and a steel foundry on the other. They'd smelt the iron and pour it directly out of the blast furnaces into waiting rail cars, then haul it over a bridge to the other side, still molten hot, where it would be made into steel. I'm not sure why they didn't put both facilities on the same side of the river... but I assume it must have been something to do with a shortage of riverfront property on either side causing the split.

This all ended in the late 70s, but I've talked to locals who said that it caused quite a show; the rail cars had open tops and you could see the glowing iron inside as the cars went across the bridge. (The bridge, incidentally, still exists; most of the factory infrastructure is gone.)

DRM

Submission + - Ubisoft Games Won't Work Next Week (itproportal.com) 2

hypnosec writes: Several of Ubisoft's biggest titles won't be playable as of next week thanks to a server move by the publisher and the restrictive DRM that was used in their development. This isn't just multiplayer either. Because Ubisoft thought it would be a smart plan to use always on DRM for even the single player portion of games like Assassin's Creed, even the single player portion of that title won't be playable during the server move. Some of the other games affected by this move will be Tom Clancy's HAWX 2, Might & Magic: Heroes 6 and The Settlers 7. The Mac games that will be broken during this period are Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell Conviction and The Settlers. This move was announced this week as part of a community letter, with Ubisoft describing how the data servers for many of the publisher's online services would be migrated from third party facilities to a new location starting on the 7th February. The publisher didn't reveal how long the transfer would take.

Comment Re:Overstated (Score 1) 358

Agree with the first part but disagree with the second.

If you get your license and join a local club, and you're not totally unpleasant to be around, my experience is that you'll probably find someone willing to loan you (or just give you outright) enough gear to get started. My local club has an assortment of starter gear that they lend out to new hams, on a sort of indefinite 'gentlemans agreement' that once you get your own rig set up you'll return it to the club or pass it along to another new Ham. There's always someone willing to lend expensive stuff that you only need to use occasionally, too, like TDRs or antenna analyzers.

I'd definitely recommend that anyone new to the hobby join a local club -- if possible more than one, or at least 'shop around' a little and find one that has other members that match your interests. It can dramatically decrease the cost of getting set up.

Comment Re:But how many of those 700,000 are alive? (Score 1) 358

Hopefully, the power losses in 100 feet of coax will not be too much if I use RG-213 coax and put a weatherproof automatic antenna tuner at the base of the multi-band vertical antenna.

If you can, you should investigate using some sort of ladder line rather than coax; even if you are using an antenna design that would require a balun, you will probably still do better in terms of signal loss with a 100 foot run. Of course, the tradeoff is that it'd be HF only, but it sounds like you probably already have a VHF/UHF antenna. (Also you can use an antenna, like a G5RV, that's optimized for feeding by ladder line.)

I've also seen some very clever homebrew arrangements where you can basically make your own heavy-duty ladder line by stretching THHN wire from 2x4 posts sunk at intervals into the ground. Similar to old knob-and-tube wiring almost. It's quite elegant looking when done right.

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