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Comment Great product... if you need it. (Score 4, Interesting) 337

I have some friends who have rent sat-phones to go hiking in remote areas. It's amazing for peace of mind. They actually used it last year after being cut-off from the road by a storm. They were able to use the phone to notify relatives that they'd be late a couple days.

But the # of people who need this is relatively small compared to the immense cost of satellites. Of course, the biggest users of sat phones aren't the occasional hikers. I think it's the government and resource extraction sectors, e.g. mining firms.

I wonder, could someone launch a SMS only satellite service based on only a few geo-sync satellites rather than the 66 (!) that Iridium launched? With texting only, the extra lag and a few dropped packets don't matter (as long as it re-sends them later).

Comment Unresearched article... 90% of email newsletters (Score 1) 108

I manage a mailing list for a client - it's completely opt-in, either in the retail stores or via the website signup forms.

To keep current with what other companies are doing, I've signed up for dozens of email newsletters. I would say that at least 3/4 are using the equivalent of web bugs to track email open rates - it's not 100% accurate, but it's far better than nothing. It's a checkbox feature by EVERY major 3rd party email service provider.

Actually, I've also examine a lot of SPAM - they do NOT do web bugs anymore. At least not the ones that I've examined.

Comment And anecdotally AdWords is Excellent for me. (Score 1) 214

I've spent hundreds a month for years on my very niche bingo card generating site. You better believe that I monitor the ROI on the campaign.

Google AdWords is excellent for my needs. When the site launched, naturally it was nowhere to be found on the search results. I paid for 95% of the visits. How do you rise to the top of the search results if no one can find you?

I still run the ad campaigns, at roughly the same dollar value, but the majority of the traffic is now non-paid from searches or direct entry.

Is it possible that the site would have gotten backlinks and risen towards the top of it's important search terms w/o buying ads? Sure... eventually. But buying traffic was faster, years faster.

Comment Dell, HP, and the like build 1M units per model... (Score 1) 606

I build my own PCs for home use since it's easier to swap out parts here and there. I'm not sure if I've bought a completely new desktop in a decade - usually it's an HDD here or a motherboard+CPU+RAM there.

But, for offices, no way.

Stick to the brand names, and even better, the volume mainstream models from the big brands. A couple hundred dollars isn't that much - and an OEM Windows Business license isn't much either - less than 1/2 the price of a retail (not sure what a volume license costs these days). Why? It's in Dell's best interests to minimize repair costs, so they do real testing of the designs. Open up a Dell box and take a look. Only the ports and slots that are necessary are there, and the BIOS is quite limited - for geeks, this isn't so good, but for offices, that implies less stuff to go wrong. It's just not worth the risk that you get some weird incompatibility between your RAM or CPU or MB or PSU that shows up in a reboot every week.

Comment Maybe a lost phone? (Score 1) 477

I'm always a little scared of losing my phone. It's entirely possible that the guy or girl who finds it will start making 1-900 calls, or even regular long distance calls to obscure places. In a couple hours, this could easily be hundreds of dollars.

I called my phone provider Fido (in Canada) once to put a cap on this, they said "no". I was rather pissed at the time, because, like others have posted, they have caps on pre-paid plans, and they also have caps on people who have crappy credit. But no, I've got reasonable credit, so my liability is basically unlimited.

Then I forgot about it... until today. Hmm... my contract is due for renewal, maybe it's time to switch to prepaid...

Comment Would a faster SR-71 even be publicly known? (Score 3, Insightful) 252

If there was a plane faster than an SR-71, there's no guarantee that it would be public knowledge.

That said, a fast plane isn't as necessary for spying as it was in the 60's. Who knows what kind of crazy tech is out there doing the hard spy work now, the geek in me hopes that there's something more interesting than satellites...

Comment How do I put YouTube on a USB drive? (Score 1) 304

I've been planning to update my MPEG4 DVD player.

Like the original poster, I want to add web access this time. I've been playing around with an old laptop w/VGA running to the TV, but it's too slow for any HD content... I'm leaning towards a slim HTPC. I realized that those slim computer cases are about the same size as the VCR and other classic stereo components.

Comment Thanks! I was wondering what happened to me... (Score 1) 319

For the first time in years (i.e. since I was a teenager pirating computer games from 3.5 inch floppy disks), I got malware on my PC last week. PC Total Defender 2010, I think it called itself.

I couldn't figure out how I got caught. I have the standard firewall and antivirus installed, plus SpyBot's TeaTimer tool. And I tend to browse safe sites, anything questionable is done in a virtual machine.

Anyway, it turns out that my Adobe Reader was somewhat out of date, and I had half a dozen versions of JVM installed. I suspected one of these was at fault.

Crazy. How am I supposed to blame my users now?

Comment sourceforge.net, then nonags.com (Score 1) 255

I feel sorry for non-geek computer users. It really is tough to tell what is safe software and what isn't.

Personally, I would check sourceforge.net first for an open source equivalent. I'm not an open source zealot, but OSS tends to be malware free, and the bonus is that I can freely give a copy to other people. When that fails nonags.com is where I go. They test for naggy shareware, and I think malware and viruses.

Outside of that? Who knows. I trust my gut based on the website, or I run it in a virtual machine! But other people just don't have that option. Even using Google for the software product + "review" will get you fake affiliate reviews.

Comment Cost. The Chevy Volt will lose money at 40K... (Score 1) 278

Cost. The battery pack that will give the Chevy Volt a 40 mile range costs thousands of dollars. GM will likely lose money on the first few years of Volts produced and sold. At $40K (or whatever a Volt is scheduled to cost), it's way out of the price range of a lot of people who just want a basic car.

Comment UltraVNC Single Click works behind most SOHO NATs (Score 1) 454

I was going to suggest UltraVNC Single Click also.

To clarify a bit, it's not the same as regular VNC. You don't need to install anything, just click on the .exe.

Also, it works by creating an outbound TCP connection. So, the remote computer support has to have port forwarding setup, but the person sharing doesn't need to do anything with their router (assuming a standard SOHO router with NAT).

UltraVNC does work with Vista, but I can't comment on Single Click paired with Vista.

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