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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Avoiding Iodine-131 Contamination

thestallion writes: I live in Tokyo. Currently, levels of radioactive Iodine-131 in the water supply exceed the safe limit recommended for infants to consume. In some areas, it's approaching unsafe levels for adults as well. I can drink bottled water, but I can't avoid bathing or showering in this contaminated water. Despite it being at a "safe" concentration, whenever possible, I'd like to avoid having Iodine-131 molecules enter my body. I don't know how easily it would enter my body through my skin pores, but I'm curious...When it comes to washing oneself, which is safer, taking a bath or taking a shower?

Submission + - GeoHot Has Not Fled To South America (

Krystalo writes: Gaming blog VGHQ first started a rumor by saying that PlayStation 3 jailbreaker George Hotz, also known as GeoHot, has fled the country after court documents revealed a PlayStation Network account allegedly belonged to him. GeoHot previously denied having one, meaning he never agreed to the Terms of Service. The news of him buying a one-way ticket for the southern continent spread like wildfire on the Internet, which is unfortunate because it appears to be false.

GeoHot is currently on vacation in a South American country, as you can see in the picture below, which the 21-year-old posted himself. He has not fled; one who runs away definitely does not show proof of doing so. Furthermore, there is no reason to leave the country to avoid a civil case.

Submission + - 2008 fed Bailout data to be made public (

schwit1 writes: SCOTUS rejected an appeal by the big banks concerning details of the 2008 emergency bailouts. Many news organizations were on the opposite side wanting access to these secrets such as who and how much money was borrowed at the height of the crisis. The Obama administration did not weigh in, which is not surprising given their mediocre record on openness and transparency. FYI: Tim Geitner was the head of the NY Fed at the time, which distributed most of the bailout moneys.

Never before have so few privileged businesses and individuals benefited so mightily. This was the scam of the century.

The Fed has given no timeframe on when it will release the data.


Submission + - Ask slashdot: Programmer Kung-Fu traning.

An anonymous reader writes: We've all seen training montages of kung-fu monks spending their early years studying under a master to become the best fighter in their universe. What topics/skills a programmer and/or computer scientist should master in a 10+ year time frame to become the best in his art.

Submission + - Microsoft Continues Android Legal Assault (

shmlco writes: "According to an article on AllThingsD, Microsoft is continuing its legal assault on Android. On Monday the company sued Barnes & Noble, Foxconn International and Inventec over the company'(TM)s Nook e-reader, alleging patent infringement.

To quote Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez, “The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft’s patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights."

“Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action."

Just when you thought Microsoft was losing its evil touch..."

Submission + - Best Seller Refuses $500k; Self-Publishes Instead ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: Barry Eisler, a NY Times best-selling author of various thriller novels, has just turned down a $500,000 book contract in order to self-publish his latest work. In a conversation with self-publishing afficianado Joe Konrath, Eisler talks about why this makes sense and how the publishing industry is responding in all the wrong ways to the rise of ebooks. He also explains the math by which it makes a lot more sense to retain 70% of your earnings on ebooks priced cheaply, rather than 14.9% on expensive books put out by publishers.

Comment US phone plans are actually quite cheap! (Score 1) 513

I know everyone's having a jolly good time bashing how stupid Americans are for the weaknesses in their phone plan options, but what about the strengths of what AT+T offers? I will focus on non-data users, where the US offerings are particularly appealing. First of all, it can be really cheap. If you get a few friends on a "family plan" with AT+T, you can basically get unlimited voice calling for a family of four for like $20 per person per month, including free phones for all. Talk to anyone anywhere in the US, any time of day, as much as you like, and don't pay more than $20. Ok now, I'm stretching the truth a little, because the minutes are not actually unlimited, however if your family consists of normal/typical Americans, it's very unlikely that they would all talk enough to use up the minutes that come with the plan. I talked for hours nearly every day, as did my brother, and we never hit the limit. Also, mobile-to-mobile AT+T minutes don't count against your balance, which would typically include a lot of people who you would be calling anyways.

I've traveled through a LOT of countries in the past couple of years, and for someone who actually likes to TALK on the phone, few places beat the USA pricewise. Many countries, like Australia or Japan, do not offer many "talking" minutes. Prepaid 3G internet via USB stick was surprisingly cheap in NZ and Australia, but voice calls were not. The locals told me they usually only SMS each other since they can't make many calls without paying loads. Japan is similar with messages being used because calls are prohibitively expensive. In Los Angeles, people talk for hours every day while sitting in traffic just to entertain themselves, and they don't have to pay much for it. When I returned to LA from my travels, I added myself to my family's plan for only $15 extra a month, and did not get locked into a contract. $15 a month for virtually unlimited calling and no contract, using my a phone I already owned (a free phone from AT+T would have required a contract). Even without a family plan to mooch off of, prices for plans with massive amounts of talking minutes but additional fees for data or texts are still quite cheap. If you can call instead of text, good luck finding service with that many talking minutes at that price in many other countries.

Almost every country screws you in one way or another on your cell phone communications. In the US, it's tethering fees, expensive data plans, trying to lock you into contracts, and outrageous per-msg fees for sending or receiving(!) texts unless you also pay an outrageous additional $15 per month for unlimited texts. In many countries it's expensive talk times that prohibit your ability to have long unimportant conversations with your friends. At least there's Skype for jailbroken data users :) My cell phone and plan options here in Japan super-suck and I really wish I were getting a US type of plan. On the bright side, having email in your cell phones without a data plan is quite nice though.

One last point of interest. Those "free phones" from AT+T in the US can actually make money for you! I know a guy who would unlock/jailbreak his free iPhone from AT+T, then as soon as he's eligible to upgrade to a new model (for free or heavily discounted) and renew his contract with AT+T, he would sell the unlocked/jailbroken phone on Ebay for a lot of money. Repeating this every year or however often they offer it ends up getting him an awful lot of money back on what he's paying them.

Comment Re:USA #1 (Score 1) 513

Boooooooo new slashdot format.

I just wrote that anonymous comment, not intending it to be anonymous. I wasn't logged in and it never gave me the choice between logging in or posting anonymously. It just posted it anonymously! Guess I have to log in beforehand now...

I disagree. I live in Japan, and some if not all major providers don't allow tethering in Japan either, and will charge (or fine) you a whole lot extra to do it, just like AT+T in the states.

It's actually worse here because you can't just pay for a "smartphone plan" and then use whichever unlocked smartphone you like. It's virtually impossible to bring your own smartphone from the US, for example, to Japan, and have them approve it for use on their network with a reasonably-priced unlimited data plan, unless it is the same as one of the models they sell/support. You may still get it to work, but if they detect that you weren't using the phone they approved you to use, they will charge you outrageous metered data/tethering fees. To them, I believe using anything other than the single approved device that goes with your unlimited data contract is considered tethering (whether it actually tethered through another device or not).

What sucks about USA service is that they pay per msg to *receive* text messages. I think Canada may do the same.

Comment Re:Let's not forget text messages (Score 1) 205

They've more than just "convinced" me that I need a plan that includes text messages. "Forced" is more like it. I'm 31 years old and the majority of my friends, around my age, rely on text messages extensively to coordinate all sorts of social events. I've been told that it costs $5.00 a month just to block the ability to receive those messages! Not to mention that half my friends would be too lazy to call me instead of texting, because they aren't used to having to do that for anyone else. So I pay $5.00 extra per month for 200 texts, and I have to be really careful to not go over that limit, which basically means I have to tell certain friends to "just stop texting me".

It's really rotten that the US is one of the only places where they charge you to RECEIVE texts!

Comment Let's not forget text messages (Score 1) 205

Probably the worst example of these sort of ridiculously unfair pricing schemes is text messaging. Remember when text messages first came out in the US, and they were only 5 cents per msg? Over the five years or so following that, their price inched all the way up to where it is now, 25 cents per msg I think (or is it 20?). Either way a 400%+ increase in price, despite the fact that most networks can handle more traffic now than they could back then.

The obvious cause for this is lack of competition. There's simply no incentive for the few companies holding down the monopoly on cell services to charge any less for text messaging.

It's frustrating that our govt either can't or won't do anything to open up the market to more competition.


Firefighters Let House Burn Because Owner Didn't Pay Fee 2058

Dthief writes "From MSNBC: 'Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee. Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat. "They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn't do it," Cranick told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. The fire started when the Cranicks' grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.'"

Comment Re:common sense people! (Score 1) 201

You take a crap because of the guy's name. The phrase wasn't in usage until he came up with his inventions.

According to Wikipedia, your statement is false.

'It is incorrectly claimed that the verb "To crap" comes from Crapper, but the verb first came into use before Crapper was born. It is believed that this could be an example of nominative determinism, in which people are more likely to do a job connected with their name.'

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