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Comment Re:A naive question (Score 1) 306

Actually, the carriers aren't particularly happy about this. Being in the hardware business is a very expensive pain in the neck for carriers. Verizon, for example, essentially provides free tech support and replaces phones for free in their stores while the phone is in warranty. Verizon would love to have a way of getting away from this and telling people "Go buy a phone somewhere else and call us for service".

The problem is that the American public now expects not to pay for a phone, which means the companies don't have much of an option. If anything, VZW is moving away from this since their LTE deployment will be fully standards compliant (at least as of right now). What their future pricing structure will be, though, is hard to say.

Comment Re:So can any astronomers explain ... (Score 4, Insightful) 68

I'd like to know what the reasons are that this doesn't just happen all the time. Is it a reluctance to share data, differences in the type of data needed, or something else entirely?

Actually, it's primarily lack of funding to build archives and, therefore, lack of access to the data. I think most astronomers have no problem sharing data, as long as they're properly credited and the data is used for something other than the original use (i.e. detecting exoplanets instead of dark energy). There are, of course, differences in the optimum observing strategy and obviously you can't figure everything out from the same instrument/observation, but additional observations are always good and there are usually ways to use the data.

What most people probably don't know is that the majority of data from ground telescopes (except for a few roboticized telescopes) is kept only by the observer. Observations often yield something "weird", in which case the "standard" procedure is to ask colleagues if they know what the "weird" thing is. If no one has any clue, the data is often put aside for later analysis, and typically forgotten about. Everyone is guilty of it, but it is entirely possible that what is one person's trash is another's gold mine.

Amusingly enough, at the last AAS (American Astronomical Society) meeting, there was a grad student discussion session with some of the higher ups in AAS. One of the things we grad students were very much in favor of was an observation archive with exclusivity for the PI for 12-18 months (this is the standard for NASA space missions). The reason we were given that this would never happen is funding.

Comment Quality, Distribution Method, and Price (Score 1) 420

First problem is that most newspapers are useless except for very local news. It used to be that you actually needed to subscribe to the local newspaper to know what was going on. With the web (blogs and the like)...that's simply not the case anymore. Which means that (at least for me) there are very few newspapers that actually provide anything of value...and that's primarily the investigative reporting. Sadly, this also seems to be one of the things that is being eliminated first.

The newspapers' only chance to survive is to differentiate themselves from the cable networks and actually write their own interesting articles, rather than just use articles from Reuters/AP. They should also adapt to the growing number of smartphones and realize that this is the delivery method of choice going forward. If they offer a low price ($10-20/month?) service and restrict free articles to one or two per day per person, they can open a new revenue source, and I think many people would have no problems paying for this for good newspapers (the NY Times comes to mind), especially if they were able to get articles delivered in a good format for smartphones.

Comment Power Consumption (Score 1) 152

The point of Bluetooth is not to transfer gigabytes of data. The point of bluetooth is to be able to connect a headset to a cell phone while barely lowering the battery life. The point of bluetooth is to be able to have wireless headphones that can run on a small battery. Wifi direct will be great for printers and the like, but Bluetooth is not going anywhere.

Comment Mostly works (Score 1) 835

Linux is probably not going to be officially supported by any school's IT department. However, that doesn't mean that they won't allow you to use a Linux computer. Of the 3 school networks I've used as a student (1 as undergrad, 1 for summer research, 1 for grad), all followed this rule (I graduated from undergrad 3 years ago). The least supported will be custom applications for scheduling/payroll/etc... But many of these are being moved to the web in a cross-platform environment (this is the case for my undergrad school). You may also have problems registering your computer. Very often, you can just call up the IT department and provide the MAC address. A bit annoying, but not difficult. Worst case, boot into Windows (or use VMware/VirtualBox) for anything that requires Windows.

You shouldn't need a VPN as a student. Most schools now proxy library connections. It's a bit annoying, but very easy. Wifi can be problematic since Linux sometimes has issues with WPA2 Enterprise connections. But it gets better every time I upgrade my Linux laptop and recently I've had as many problems with Macs as Linux for wireless support. I've had problems with printing because my undergrad institution used a custom Kerberos application to do it, but worst case print it as a PDF and use a flash disk at the library. Any classroom applications needed will usually be installed on lab computers and won't be something you can use on your own computer anyway.

In short, install VirtualBox/VMware in case she needs it, be a bit flexible, and don't worry about it.

But as others have said, this is the least of your worries. She should be picking a school based on everything else, not their support of Linux.

Comment Vertical Stability and Durability (Score 2, Insightful) 196

One problem with this is that contact lenses float on your eye and are not stationary. This is a serious problem, because to keep a constant orientation, you'll either need to constantly rotate any light emitters to stay in the same place (probably not possible), or weight the contact lens as is currently done with astigmatic lenses (not a great solution).

Apart from this, contact lenses tear, break, get lost, etc... At the moment, my soft lenses cost $5 apiece. If one tears, gets lost, or something else equally destructive, it's not a problem. If the same lens cost $1000, that would be a much bigger problem. And I'm not sure there's a good solution to this. If you make the lenses soft, they'll degrade quickly (as current soft lenses do). If you make them hard, then they will fall, get scratched, and the like over the long term.

Comment Re:CDMA (Score 1) 484

US cellular service is actually not too difficult to understand. CDMA is technologically superior to TDMA. It provides better call quality. The original GSM was based on TDMA (UMTS is, in fact, CDMA). In the US, where the government decided to let companies develop their own networks, AT&T and Verizon became the two dominant carriers (I'm ignoring a lot of the history here).

AT&T used to be TDMA (I'm guessing because it was an easy upgrade from AMPS). They then switched to GSM, but because the European frequencies were in use here, they used different frequencies. AT&T is continuing on the GSM upgrade path.

VZW deployed a technologically superior CDMA network. Since most Americans don't travel between countries all that much, it's not really a major problem. The upgrade path for CDMA was much easier than switching everyone from CDMA to GSM. So Verizon continued to use that path to EV-DO.

4G would require a massive hardware upgrade regardless of what network the carriers were using originally, so VZW is pushing LTE (the 4G GSM standard). LTE will likely use VoIP for voice calls, so within a decade, most of the US should be on the same system as Europe.

Basically, the point is that there's a good logical explanation for the network progression in the US. It doesn't help that AT&T has poor network coverage, customer service, and just about everything (except phones). VZW's obsession with locking out consumers is annoying, but most of the people who care about this can get around many of these limitations, and the rest don't care.

Comment Re:Worse than that (Score 1) 863

This is why you save the receipts. Usually the receipts have a space #, purchase time, and length of time purchased. Keep them around for a month or two. If someone did this and you get a ticket, you should have ample proof that the ticket is invalid. If the ticket is not immediately discarded, sue.

Comment Re:Not just privacy concerns (Score 1) 411

Quite frankly, if the Government is going to mandate insurance, then it should also offer a base insurance program, at cost.
Just one that covers the minimum insurance levels. If you want more, then you can buy more from an insurance company.

No, please no. Or at least, raise the insurance requirements in California first. The current requirements are 15/30/5 (one person injury/more than one person injury/property damage). In today's world, that covers nothing. In a serious accident, today's average car won't be paid for with that, nor will anyone's medical expenses be covered. With government provided insurance, we'd have even fewer people having higher coverage limits. They don't need to be 100/300/100 (like I have), but they need to be much higher than the current requirements. Liability coverage isn't that expensive is you're a good driver, and if you're not a good driver, you shouldn't be on the road.

Comment Re:It's not the cities, it's the spaces in between (Score 1, Troll) 108

Get me some coverage in Yosemite. Death Valley. Appalachia. Crater Lake. Yellowstone. Shasta. Mt. McKinley. Grand Canyon. From Blaine, WA to Miami, FL. San Diego, CA to Eastport, ME. Cover it all and let us get on with really living in this great big country of ours.

No. Please no more coverage in Yosemite or death valley or any other part of the "great outdoors". I go to these places to get away from everything - not to listen to some stupid idiot blabbering away on his cell phone. The only legitimate use of cell phones in parks is emergencies. The only way I'd be in agreement with cell phone companies providing coverage in national parks/forests is if they charge $100/minute for calls except 911, which would be routed to the local ranger station. They can even do a 50/50 split with the NPS - win-win-win situation for the NPS, cell phone companies, and the public.

Comment Re:Parent poster is wrong (Score 1) 1124

There's a difference between an earache and something not simple to diagnose and cure. That's kind of like trying to get (in the spirit of /. car analogies) the guy at the local oil change place to figure out why the air conditioner isn't working all the time. Sure, maybe he'll get it right, but most likely you'll need someone more specialized. In the UK, the answer would be "well, the A/C still works half the time, so you don't really have a problem."

As for my friend, I'm sure he had bad symptoms, but I don't know how he told the doctor of them. There's a difference between cancer and respiratory issues due to smoke. Quite frankly, I become nauseous around people who smoke as well, and specifically avoid them. It's not that uncommon of a problem. The doctor acknowledged he had problems, couldn't figure out what was going on, but couldn't do anything either. As to why he didn't move immediately, this was a flat issued to him by the university he's a student at as part of his pay for being a hall tutor. They couldn't really understand the concept that someone might not be very happy in a flat that smells of smoke.

As for private health services, I really don't know the UK system. My friend is a grad student there and doesn't exactly have money to throw around. And as a comparison, I'm a grad student (in the US) and if I need to see a specialist, my school's health insurance will cover it without any problems. I don't even need a referral from anyone - just pay the $20 copay. The same policy here applies to international students.

Comment Re:And.... (Score 0, Troll) 1124

YEAH! Like universal health care, and an end to the 35% of health care expenditure that goes to parasite insurance companies! WOOT!

I was never for universal health care, and the experiences of a friend of mine who has been in England for a year have only made me more against it. Sure, England has a universal health care system. But when my friend started having health problems (most likely due to his flat having been inhabited by a smoker before him), the doctors there were absolutely no use. He had difficulty breathing and other symptoms, which the general practitioners he saw couldn't figure out. When he asked to be sent to a specialist, the request was denied because he hadn't experienced anaphylactic shock yet. In other words, if you're not near death, you can't see someone who can actually help you. And since it's the national government's rules and plan, you can't exactly ignore it.

Universal health care is a great idea in theory, and a horrible one in practice. Do I think our system is great? No. But neither is any other system I've seen. I, personally, don't believe health care is a right - it's something you need to earn. And if you don't earn it, then you shouldn't have it. Granted, I think we need a better system than we have right now (maybe start with affordable health care for children and those recently unemployed), but universal health care managed by the government is not what we need.

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