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Comment Re:Fuck religion. (Score 2) 903

I don't understand why the religious people are so up in arms about this. Are they getting some non-negligible discount on their current insurance plans because they don't offer contraceptive coverage? Logic says it would be the opposite because lack of availability of inexpensive contraceptives has proven to increase birth rates, and that is a lot bigger expense for insurance to cover. Just move to an ACA-compliant plan, and don't announce the "new" coverage. If the employees want to research and use that benefit on their own, that is their burden.

Just because a plan offers contraceptive care doesn't mean the employees are forced to use it. My plan has coverage for inpatient drug rehab. When that coverage was added it didn't make me go out and start smoking meth. Adding birth control coverage isn't mandating that these employees go out and start taking the pill. Do the employers have agents follow their employees around when they shop to make sure they don't buy condoms?

These employers need to understand that they don't own their employees. They have no say over what goes on in the bedroom when the employee isn't working. They can't force their employees to follow their beliefs. If an employee makes the decision that it is better for their family to use contraceptives to delay children (or prevent more) then that decision is between them and their particular deity.

Comment Re:The price isn't that great anymore (Score 1) 207

I'm familiar with Ting. I have a phone with them (my old Sprint Hero) for my "tween" daughter. I decided to give her a phone for her birthday, and contacted Sprint about adding her on with our existing plan. Despite already having a phone, meaning no "free" phone needing a subsidy, they still refused to add her line without a 2 year contract. Sprint yet again shot themselves in the foot.

That said I have not tried roaming with her phone on Ting, but I'll take your word for it that it works. She has traveled to see her grandma with her phone and it worked for her, but I wasn't with her to see if it was roaming or not. We have data disabled (She has Wi-Fi wherever she needs it) so that wouldn't have made a difference anyway. My wife's phone and my phone are both to the point of needing to be replaced. She is always hard on her phones, and while I'm usually great on my phones it did have a freak accident a couple of months back and shattered the screen. It still works, but it is time to replace it once I figure out what I'm doing. When I do the math on Ting, it would actually cost us quite a bit more based on our existing usage models. I use my phone a lot for work data wise, and my brother's phone uses a ton of minutes due to the custom farm work he does. If Ting had free mobile-to-mobile calling it would probably be cheaper if we modified our data habits a bit.

Comment Re:The price isn't that great anymore (Score 1) 207

I've considered that route. You are correct in that Virgin is a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) using Sprint's network. The kicker for us is that MVNOs (on Sprint anyway) will not roam to another carrier if signal gets too low. For example, with Sprint Proper service, if I get into an area where Sprint coverage doesn't exist, my phone happily roams over to Verizon's network. I travel to some locations for work (within a couple hours drive) on a fairly regular basis that have zero Sprint coverage. If I were to switch to Virgin, I'd have no cell service at all when in those areas.

That said, the roaming threshold settings in Sprint phones is horrible. If there is any Sprint signal whatsoever, even if it is unusable for a call, my phone will not switch to Verizon's tower. I can be standing next to someone with a Verizon phone, full signal, while mine is at one bar flickering. If they had some intelligent roaming configured I'd probably be staying with Sprint rather than most likely switching.

Comment The price isn't that great anymore (Score 2) 207

When I switched to Sprint from AT&T, it was nearly half the price for 2 "smart" phones with data and one "feature" phone. Sure Sprint's coverage was nowhere near as good, but for the price difference it was worth it since it worked OK in most of the places I was at anyway. Over time their signal quality has not improved, actually I'd say it's degraded quite a bit, and their pricing has gone up. If I were to renew my contract on the plans they offer today, I'd be within $10 per month of Verizon's plans with the amount of data we actually use. Add to this the fact that Sprint doesn't have LTE in my area, yet they only offer new phones with LTE data, not the older WiMax 4G. I'd have to downgrade my data speed to "early upgrade" our phones, and they aren't offering any kind of discount until LTE is in place. They won't even give an estimate of when LTE will be available. I talked to a Sprint rep a couple of weeks ago and was told they have tower techs working in this area, but they were working on a 3G capacity expansion, not an LTE upgrade.

I've been with Sprint now for about 10 years, but unless something changes (in a big way) in the next 5 months before my contract runs out, I'm highly likely to be joining the mass exodus.

Comment Re:Even now (Score 1) 364

Whether they are "forced" into doing this or if it is an unwritten agreement is the only real question here. Cable and satellite companies are scared to death of ala carte premium programming. I'm sure they don't make much on premium channel subscriptions like HBO, Showtime, etc. Their bread and butter is in the low tier packages. Right now they hold the monopoly on premium content. If you want the movie packages, you're forced to have the $30 basic package full of channels you don't want before you can even think of paying for the channels you actually want. If everyone could get just the movie packages without the basic fluff by going directly to the premium networks, the traditional cable/satellite providers will lose their primary source of income.

When the "small satellite" DSS trend began, DirecTV (DTV) and United States Satellite Broadcasting (USSB) were 2 separate providers that used the same bird in the sky to provide service. DTV had the basic and "expanded basic" levels of programming with the usual fodder. USSB had HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and other premiums. The key was you could get USSB service without DTV, basically giving you what people are asking for now. You could walk into Circuit City, Future Shop, or even Sears and buy a DSS receiver (and self-install kit,) put it all on your house in an evening, and pay a reasonable amount for movie channels with no fluff. Unfortunately that didn't last long, and DTV acquired* USSB and it went back to the basic plus premium model.

Consumers are now demanding split service again. They don't want 50 channels of MTV reality shows, shopping channels, and Spanish programming because they want to watch Game of Thrones or Shameless. Technology making this model possible, combined with the economic situation people are faced with today, is making people want to cut more waste out of their lives and out of their bills.They don't want to spend upwards of $150 per month for background drivel to be able to watch a few specific shows on a few specific channels, but it is what they're being forced to do. As others have said, if the providers aren't willing to provide it this way, they'll go to places where they can get it, piracy in this case.

* I don't recall if it was a merger, buyout in one direction or the other, but one way or another DTV became what it is today.

Comment Re:I'll get right on that (Score 3, Informative) 245

Actually... Yes. All you have to do is look at the webpage for the FCC's Enforcement Bureau.

http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/

Just the headlines near the bottom of the page show $20K fines for operating without the appropriate license, interfering with licensed users, etc. If you browse around a bit you'll see some fairly recent enforcement of CB operators with illegal setups, primarily amplifiers, but some are also related to out-of-band operation.

I don't think the FCC really has time or resources any more to go randomly look for violations, but they will react when they receive complaints of interference. They also don't usually accept "But I didn't know" as an excuse.

It can be rather interesting reading through the enforcement actions, especially since some contain responses from the accused, and the subsequent FCC responses.

Comment Re:Renting a Computer? (Score 1) 80

About 15 years ago I checked into renting a stereo VCR (these weren't all that common yet) to copy some VHS tapes. We had one stereo and one mono in our house. All I wanted to do was rent the machine for a week. By the time I would have paid the initiation fee, the 3 month minimum rental fee, and some other charge I don't even remember now, I was $25 away from going out to the electronics store to buy one brand new. In the end I decided to just go buy one and I gave away our older mono deck to a friend who didn't have a stereo TV anyway.

I learned a lot about how those places work that day. It was my first and only experience trying to rent from one of those places. Since then I've had numerous friends and some family members mention wanting to go rent a couch, or washer/dryer, etc. I've set each of them down, shown them the math, and proven that they could do without for 4 months, save what their weekly payments would have been, and outright bought the item at a regular furniture or appliance store. Most of them did just that, but of course there were those who "couldn't wait" and did it anyway. The only use I have for rent-to-own stores now is sometimes you can get a *screaming* deal on a return if it is a model or two behind the current stock. Nobody coming in to rent an item wants last year's TV when they can get this year's for only a couple of dollars more (per week.)

Comment Re:Funny... (Score 1) 221

Where does all of this FUD come from here on /.? I just received a new card from my bank a month ago, and it has the contactless PayPass chip. This is from one of the big conglomerate banks.

Cripes, /. used to be a place to go for articles with somewhat intelligent comments. Now it is more and more like The Onion every day.

Comment Re:Anyone surprised? (Score 4, Informative) 221

There is so much wrong with that comment that I don't even know where to start...

First of all, most retailers do not have "insurance" that covers fraud. Yes accidental liability insurance for legit (or less than legit) accidents. As far as merchandise goes they simply "write off" any loss of products in whatever form (shoplifting, credit card fraud, bad checks, damaged, etc.) in the retail industry we call this "shrink." In that aspect you are correct. Insurance is a gambling game, the insurance company is betting they'll pay out less than the insured has in claims. Something like shrink, which is all but guaranteed to happen, is not something an insurance company is going to be offering. They may have some policies on individual high-ticket items in some cases, but I don't know of any "umbrella" shrink insurance available.

Where you really go astray is in saying this "write off" is a "victimless" crime. Let's take your example of walking into a store and buying a $1000 TV with a stolen card. Right off the bat, the merchant will pay somewhere in the 1-3% range to take that card, depending on its card processing volume, card brand and type and other factors. Let's just say 2% to make it easy and call it $20. Anywhere from 1-90 days later (more in some cases) the merchant receives a chargeback request from the card processor, saying the cardholder is disputing the charge. Merchant sends all required information, but since the cardholder wasn't actually the one using the card, the dispute is successful. Merchant now has $1000 removed from their account, along with a $25 chargeback fee. They've now spent $45 out of pocket, plus they're out the merchandise which probably cost them closer to $800 (electronics themselves don't have that high of a markup rate, unlike accessories like cables.) All said and done the merchant lost $845 tangible costs, plus intangible costs like the employee time required to stock that item on the shelves, the cashier's time to run that transaction, etc. Where the retailer would have made $200 on the item, they now have to sell 5 of them to make up for the one lost item and have a little profit.

Now do you think the merchant is just going to accept that loss and move on? Of course not, they have sales numbers and profit margins they expect to maintain. If they have no control over whether that item left, which at the time of the sale they had a card approval and no reason to suspect otherwise, what can they control? They can control the price they charge for all of their items. Retailers expect to have a certain percentage of shrink, so that percentage of profit is added back into every item they sell in the form of higher prices. When shrink goes up over time, retail prices go up accordingly. If the retail market won't support higher prices, then costs must be cut by means of reduced personnel and other means, or they close their doors completely.

What this means in the end is that you and I, along with every other honest customer, are the victims. Because of this credit card fraud, we pay higher prices and deal with reduced service levels at the stores. Even if there is a shrink insurance that some retailers may have, the money to pay for the premiums and deductibles would be passed down to us in the same way.

Enforcement for any retail fraud, including shoplifting, seems to take a back burner for police. Unless the retailer has the person detained (which can be a whole new can of worms) police are very unlikely to pursue the case, even if the retailer has positive identification and video of the person leaving the establishment with the merchandise. Even if they do, prosecution is likely to plea it down to a lesser charge so the person gets a slap on the wrist and is free to go do it again, learning from the mistake of getting caught. Credit card fraud is even worse because it involves coordinating with out-of-state organizations such as the card processor, the actual cardholder if it wasn't a local theft of the card itself, etc.

Comment Re:Terms of service: lost device liability (Score 1) 150

I'm pretty sure this violates their merchant agreement with the various card issuers. Denying customers one of the key benefits of using a credit/debit card is a big no-no. It sounds like they're trying to be way too cheap, trying to ship without insurance and via a carrier that can require signature upon delivery. It actually makes me a little suspicious that perhaps this is part of their business model:

1. Use a shoddy shipping method without confirmation of correct-person receipt
2. Wait for packages to get mis-delivered
3. Charge customer for said merchandise at full retail value
4. Profit

I was actually a little intrigued by this service until I read that in their terms. I also don't like that you can only have the item for a month. If they'd correct their shipping method and chargeback terms, and make it similar to netflix where you can keep it as long as you like while continuing to pay the monthly fee, I may decide to give it a try. Sometimes 30 days is not enough time if you're on the fence, and sometimes it may be useful to rent something for a few months.

Comment Re:So? (Score 1) 487

This was Boise, Idaho, but I should disclaim that it was over 10 years ago that I worked for this company and had those relationships with local LEOs. Since then the traffic reporting has become fragmented (each media group is doing their own rather than having one consolidated company do it) and the leadership has changed several times on the LE side. The greed factor may now be in place so it could be a completely different ballgame. I personally don't speed or break other traffic laws (risking a $50+ fine to get to some place 2 minutes earlier seems dumb to me, let alone the safety factor) so I haven't "tested the waters" so to speak.

Overall though the Treasure Valley (Boise and surrounding area) is a very nice place to live for many reasons. 30 minutes to an hour from downtown Boise and you can be in the mountains camping or skiing (depending on the time of year,) out in the desert for great ATV riding areas, or on a secluded river bank for some great trout and catfish angling. An 8-10 hour drive can put you along the Washington, Oregon, or California coastline for oceanic recreation. Boise has a decent sized airport for business travel with direct flights to several international airports too.

Comment Re:So? (Score 3, Informative) 487

I used to work in the media for a company providing traffic reports for the local TV and radio stations. We worked very closely with law enforcement, including having 2-way radios provided by them so we could offer our aircraft and pilot when they needed air support. When we heard about speed traps they were setting up (they call them "directed patrols") we'd publicly announce them as part of our traffic reports. One day we were talking with some of the officers and the subject was brought up. At first we thought they may be upset that we were doing so, but on the contrary they encouraged us to do so, saying they saw a significant reduction in speeders and tickets written after we announce it. This helped them in their goal of reducing the drivers traveling at excess speed in the troubled areas. In fact they started calling us to let us know if we didn't hear it on the scanners, and even gave us their plans at times far in advance so we could warn drivers ahead of time. In short, they'd rather have someone hear about their trap and not speed through the area, than operate in silence and write more tickets.

While most drivers that knew about the traps adjusted their speed accordingly, there were some I'm sure that simply avoided the area and continued to speed elsewhere. The thing to remember is just because a trap is set up somewhere doesn't mean there aren't just as many officers as normal still out on patrol. Most of the time they bring in reserve officers of have officers work extra shifts for those directed patrols, so it doesn't impact the regular patrols. This means you're just as likely to get caught speeding outside of the trap area as you are any other day. The old "all the officers are busy in area X, that means I can do whatever I want in any other area" doesn't apply with speed traps or other pre-planned increased enforcement.

Like radar detectors, scanners aren't a "get out of jail free card" for traffic violations and are more of a false sense of security than anything. Also, in many areas it is an additional crime to use a scanner in the commission of a crime. While the burden of proof may be nearly impossible, if they could prove you used a scanner to avoid police patrols in order to be able to violate traffic laws, you'd have a lot more troubles to deal with.

Comment Re:Too bad it's not this easy (Score 1) 258

It's actually very easy to get a basic miner running against a mining pool, it really isn't a challenge at all. Download and start Guiminer, put in your user/pass for the desired pool, hit start. 2 minutes of work and it is done. As long as you have compatible hardware that is all there is to it, literally. Optimizing it, on the other hand, can take a lot of effort to get every last point of efficiency. But if I were to set up a trojan to do it for me, I wouldn't care about optimizing every system as the volume of GPUs running will be more than enough. Spread the trojan to say 10,000 machines, and say it actually runs and finds usable hardware on 10% of them or 1000 machines. Say those 1000 machines, unoptimized, are able to mine 50 Mhash/sec each (average hardware with some conservative overclocking and optimizing runs at around 200 Mh/s) for a total of 50,000 Mh/s or 50 Gh/s. At the current network difficulty, that would work out to just over 27 bitcoins per day, or $300 per day at current exchange rates. Assume the network power stays about the same (some users find and remove it, but others take its place) for a year, we're talking 9,855 bitcoins, or $108,000. Not bad for something accomplished with "some gay trojan."

Comment Re:I understand the concept (Score 3, Insightful) 210

I see cash gifts the other way. I have hobbies where the items I need for those hobbies is either expensive, obscure to the average bear, or both. The items that fall outside of those two categories I probably already have or there is a reason I don't already have it. Many of my relatives have started to just give me cash for gifts. At first it was prefaced with "I know it is impolite to give cash, but I know you've mentioned a Whizbang 6000 or some such doohickey and I don't even know where to get it. I figured this way you can get it yourself and make sure you get the right thing." I do the same thing to other relatives, such as my brother, who has no common hobby to me. I know he hunts with hounds, but I wouldn't know what call to get him, or know if a particular tracking collar will work with his particular tracker, if he already has an extra, or if it is better to buy from store B instead of store A because they have a longer return period in case it fails after the first couple of uses. Sure I could call and ask him, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a surprise gift. By giving him cash, I know he'll get what he wants. We call them universal gift certificates.

We give cash because we don't want to have the awkward fake "Thank you, I wanted a HoundHunting-a-day calendar!" when he knows it will mean standing in line for 2 hours to exchange 2 of the 3 he got for something he can actually use. By exchanging cash he is usually online showing me "what I got him" (or at least helped him get) after the family meal. That makes me much happier seeing him excited about getting something he *really* wanted.

Now that there are little kids around at Christmas time, pretty much all of the gift giving has changed to focus on them. We adults usually give token or even gag gifts now and get much more enjoyment out of watching the kids and enjoying time together as a family than anything else.

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