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Comment Re:Time (Score 1) 284

I'm kinda okay with that. Normally, when I go to bed is when I plug my phone in.... If I remember to plug my phone in. I've got an extended battery installed so I don't absolutely HAVE to charge my phone every night. If they get things set so every device uses the same charging standard and you can have one mat charge all your devices simultaneously, that would be killer for convenience. Get the XXL-sized charging mat and put it on the floor next to the bed. Get undressed, drop your pants on the mat, and when you wake up the next day, your phone (and any other digital device in your pants) is fully charged.

Comment Re:Which meaning of "free"? (Score 1) 112

It is a patentable subject, but overcoming prior art is usually quite difficult.

Maybe in a country with a sane patent system, but in the US, an estimated 30% of granted patents are duplicates.


While I thought the program was extremely interesting and a good listen, if that sort of thing isn't for you, you can read the transcript. -- the statistic is near the top of page 10.

Comment Re:Which meaning of "free"? (Score 1) 112

Recipes aren't copyrightable. Any recipe you can find is "free as in freedom".

Not quite. Recipes are sets of instructions on how to combine and process ingredients into a finished product.

That makes a recipe a description of a description of a METHOD, which is patentable in the United States.

Comment Re:Killer app, Driving you home from a bar! (Score 1) 295

Buying a $40,000 vehicle to save on $50 taxi rides doesn't seem to offer a good ROI.

Say you're right, that the self-driving car was $40k. According to Toyota's website, **BASE** price for a Prius is $24k. So, if you were even contemplating a new car purchase, you'd only really have to justify the extra $16k for the self-driving option.

$16k at $50/taxi ride is 320 rides that you'd have to eliminate for the feature to pay for itself. If you only use the self-drive feature when you're going out drinking, and go drinking one night per week, the feature pays for itself in 320 weeks. That's 6.15 years. (6 years, 8 weeks) -- Certainly not an unreasonable expectation of the car's useful lifetime. Last several cars I've had lasted > 10 years before they either died or were replaced for other reasons.

Comment Re:People torrent on their mobile phones? (Score 1) 36

Wouldn't it just point to their mobile phone instead, which is contracted to a real name and credit card / money?

Not directly. And in many cases, not at all.

A smartphone that has been connected to a WiFi network will default to sending ALL internet traffic over WiFi instead of the cellular network. So, it'll be just like your netbook.

So, if the RIAA/MPAA wanted to file a "John Doe" lawsuit based on torrent tracker records, they'd see that the public IP used on the connection was on the network owned by, say, AT&T. They serve AT&T with a subpoena, and find out that, at the time in question, that IP was assigned to "Mom & Pop Coffee Shop".

At this point, they either name the owner of "Mom & Pop Coffee Shop" directy in their lawsuit and call it good, or they contact them and demand records on who that IP was assigned to.... Records which probably don't exist. In which case, they'll probably say "fuck it" and name the coffee shop in the suit anyway.

The larger chains that contract to third-parties to manage their customer-pointing WiFi (like Starbucks) may actually retain those MAC address records (and email addresses, if their capture page collects them)

Comment Donate your old cellphones to charity. (Score 1) 89

US law requires that cellphone network carriers accept emergency calls, even from non-active cellphones. So if you turn the thing on and it can see a tower, you can use it to make a 911 call. No account, no contract, no cost.

Some charity organizations, like domestic abuse shelters, are giving out donated inactivated cellphones to people who don't have one of their own so that no matter where they are, if they get into trouble, they can at least dial 911.

A little quality time with your search engine of choice should turn up any number of places that you can take your old phones (preferably WITH chargers) to be donated. Hell, you carrier's local storefront probably has a dropbox. -- Just make sure you ask first whether they donate the working phones or just send the whole shebang out to the scrappers.

Comment Re:I don't know... (Score 1) 379

Having a built-in recovery routine in the bootloader can at least avoid a nasty trip for repair

The recovery environment doesn't have to be built into the bootloader. You just have to be able to bootstrap it via the bootloader. This is, after all, how Android phones work. (At least, on my HTC EVO)

Comment Re:whoa! that looks expensive (Score 1) 241

If you go to the company's website and actually look at the board and the better photos on the starter kit entry, you'll note that the cables are all standard 10-pin ribbons. In other words, the same kind of cables that are used for connecting serial ports to motherboards, but without removing one of the wires from the ribbon.

If something more Arduino-like is what you want, look at their Fez Panda-II. It's $39.95 and has Arduino-compatible headers.

Both boards are built around a 72 MHz ARM7 that just happens to have Microsoft's .Net runtime preinstalled. Don't want to use .Net? Rather develop for the bare metal? That's what the JTAG port is for.

Comment Re:The Univ. of Mich. has been doing this for year (Score 3, Insightful) 532

Some of us enjoyed our electives and are happy we took them.

An "Elective" is, by definition, not "Compulsory".

"You must take N credits worth of courses from X department/dicipline" qualifies as "Elective". You can pick and choose which specific courses you take.

"You must take the 'Race and Ethnicity' course" leaves you with no choice in the matter.

Comment Re:Possibly a non-jackbooted response (Score 0) 84

I just read the request you linked. What they're asking for is:

1. A temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that prohibits the Defendants (a) from using Coreflood to engage in wire fraud, bank fraud, or unauthorized interception of electronic communications, and (b) from running Coreflood on any computers not owned by the Defendants, by authorizing the operation of a substitute command and control server to give effect to the Court's orders;

2. A permanent injunction that requires the Defendants to uninstall Coreflood on any computers not owned by the Defendants and authorizes the operation of a substitute command and control server to give effect to the Court's orders; and

3. Such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.

So, what they asked for was:

  • an order telling the people running the botnet to STOP THAT and to uninstall Coreflood from any computer it's on that they don't personally own,
  • AND permission to take control of the botnet, OSTENSIBLY TO
  • remove the Coreflood software from any infected computers it finds.

Maybe I'm just waving a tinfoil hat, but would you be surprised if, sometime in the future, it comes out that either

  1. The FBI took the opportunity to search the hard drives of any infected computer they find before removing Coreflood.
  2. The FBI never got around to actually removing the Coreflood software from people's computers and maintained control of their C&C server. or
  3. In a separate operation, the FBI actively went out to try to infect MORE systems with Coreflood to expand the impact of (a) and/or (b) above.

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