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Comment Re:I want an iPhone but I am not switching carrier (Score 2, Interesting) 521

Ah yes. It's completely unreasonable for anyone to expect Apple to make a version of their phones with a CDMA (ie. the "wrong standard") radio in it. It's not like any other phone manufacturers build handsets for both standards. Certainly not RIM, Samsung, Palm, Motorola, etc.... Oh wait.

I'm not saying that there's anything _wrong_ with Apple's decision to only address part of the market. If they had to pick only one technology, they'll obviously pick the one with the biggest customer base.

What I'm saying is that the AC's implication that it is somehow strange for DarthVain to expect a phone to support more than one network is kind of ridiculous. It's not strange at all. In fact, Apple is pretty much the only phone manufacturer that sells into North America that doesn't also make CDMA phones. This fact will cost them some sales from people like DarthVain. They obviously know this, and are apparently okay with it.

It is also fairly annoying that it's necessary to hack the phone (jailbreak, whatever) to make it work with an otherwise compatible GSM network though. Vendor lock-in is pretty much par for the course with Apple stuff, though. It's part of why I don't really own any.

Comment Title is misleading (Score 1) 495

But then so is the article.

What it should say is "iPhone Jailbreaking Could Hurt Providers' Profits".

As numerous posters have pointed out, most GSM handsets are not tied to a particular provider (which is one of the key points behind having a SIM card in the first place). Network armageddon hasn't happened yet.

The providers want this perception to spread though, because it helps them keep their precious lock-in (and allows them to exclude their competitors from getting a slice of the iPhone pie). If they can get some laws written to cement the lock-in, so much the better.

But why would Apple help perpetuate this? My guess is because they needed a provider's help to get the phone off the ground, so this is their end of the bargain. The current arrangement has allowed them to sell millions of handsets and tens of millions of apps, so they have no particular need to encourage competition -- the current model is working out just fine for them.

As a consumer, I'd obviously rather avoid the multi-year contracts and being tied to one provider. It's a large part of the reason I don't have an iPhone. Maybe one of the Android handset makers will eventually get this right.

Comment Re:Prosecute the parents (Score 1) 504

> But if you also had a gun, they'd be a lot less likely to try to attack you.

How does that work? We've established that the individual with the gun plans to attack you. How would you also having a gun make them any less likely to do so? Because they fear being shot by you? Seems to me like more motivation for them to follow through with their aggressive intentions immediately to prevent you from doing that.

I really don't understand how a gun is supposed to defend you against someone else with a gun. Someone care to fill me in?

Comment Re:Battery?! (Score 1) 1079

You picked a pretty poor example.

Flight duration from Los Angeles to Tokyo is around 12 hours. While it's true that you probably won't be using your computer 100% of the time, I think it's a stretch to say that in all cases there's at least 4h where you won't. Also, that's by no means the longest flight a person can take.

Furthermore, it's "up to" 8h. That usually means that if you have the screen brightness turned way down, have the wireless turned off, don't use the optical drive, avoid using the hard drive and don't do anything too processor-intensive, you might get 7h. Some of that could be true, but I'm going to bet that a really common use for a laptop on a long flight would be "watch a video". That will use one of the hard drive or optical drive, and definitely uses the CPU (possibly lots of it if the video is HD). So you probably don't actually get 8h of battery, even if you can amuse yourself some other way for the other 4h on the flight.

But your poor trans-pacific flight example aside, there are plenty of reasons a person might need more untethered time than that. Anyone who needs to be outdoors all day comes to mind. My company uses laptops for field testing of survey equipment (though we don't use apple laptops, but that's another story).

The reason that all of this is probably okay is that anyone who needs that sort of high-portability on a regular basis likely won't be buying a great big 17" laptop anyway. If I'm not mistaken, the more portable 15" ones *do* have a replaceable battery.

So yes, if you buy the new 17" MBP you're sacrificing some portability because the battery can't be replaced. Probably you already knew that you were sacrificing some portability because you are buying a 17" laptop.

Regardless, though, I can't really see how making it non-replaceable saves them that much space. Some space sure, but I have a feeling they're not being 100% truthful about the 40% savings nonsense. My suspicion is that the extra capacity gained is actually pretty negligible and they really did it for some other reason.

Comment Re:that's *nothing* compared to a tank of petrol (Score 1) 603

This comment also made me wonder about the cold-weather usefulness of this sort of device. As I write this, it's -20C outside in the middle of the day. Granted, this sort of weather isn't a problem for much of the world but it's quite common here and affects a nontrivial number of people.

The "inefficiency" of a IC engine gets put to some use in that some the "waste" heat is used to heat the inside of the car, and you don't really get that benefit in an electric car (and any hybrid I've been in ran the combustion engine constantly while the heater was on). This problem has existed in the past with air-cooled engines (old Volkswagens come to mind). At the time, it was common to have a separate heater that burned whatever fuel the vehicle ran on. I'm thinking that the same wouldn't work too well on an electric car -- running an electric heater would probably put a really big dent in your range, and it would be a real bummer to freeze to death on the side of the highway because your car's heater killed the "battery". This would be a problem with any sort of electric car, but probably not an insurmountable one.

Probably more serious than that, though, might be the impact on the function of the engine itself. Most IC engines will run fine in cold weather assuming you can get them started. A common problem is that the car's battery (particularly older ones) can't deliver enough power at low temperature to turn the engine. I am a long way from an expert in the effects of temperature on various battery chemistries, and even less of one on how low temperature would impact the capacitor-like devices described in the article. I do know that it would be a fairly serious end-user problem if your car just wouldn't work on a cold day.

Does anyone have any insight into the temperature sensitivity of this kind of scheme, and how it would stack up versus comparable battery-based technologies?

It sounds like a promising idea, but it would be a non-starter in many places if it doesn't perform well in very cold (or very hot) weather.

Comment Re:Other than cushioning, how is this better? (Score 1) 425

I used to ride on SkyTrain in Vancouver BC, which is maglev, but only enough to provide propulsion, not a float cushion.

Wrong. The SkyTrain in Vancouver is NOT maglev.

MagLev = Magnetic Levitation

Being maglev *implies* the levitation, or "float cushion" as you describe it.

I think you are confusing maglev with linear induction motors
which the SkyTrain does use. While these type of motors are often (usually?) used in a maglev system, they are also used for more conventional railed systems like the SkyTrain.

Is the lift and reduced friction worth the extra energy to actually levitate it?

Anectodally - Yes. Why else would they bother? The company is obviously not going to spend trillions of yen building a line that they know will be less profitable than the existing one.

More concretely, an earlier poster provided a link to the math, however I can't seem to find it just now. The point was that eliminating the friction is a very big deal.

And, if we put the new invisibility cloaks on these ... won't they kill stray cows and small boys and girls trying to flatten pennies on the tracks?

I realize you're kidding, but just because they'd be invisible wouldn't make them silent. The air displacement alone would ensure that these trains would make a nontrivial amount of noise. Furthermore, placing pennies on the tracks wouldn't be too effective in flattening them since the train isn't touching the track. That being said, in the highly unlikely event that I'm ever asked for my opinion in the design of these sort of trains, I'll be sure to suggest that they keep "invisibility cloak" off the feature sheet.

(meanwhile in the US, we get zilch)

The problem in North America is that the vast majority of it lacks the concentrated population centers in fairly close proximity to make this sort of thing even approach economically viable. There are some exceptions to this. In those cases, we're left with:

1. Lack of political will to foot the massive up-front cost for something that won't be completed until someone else's term.

2. Rampant NIMBYism which would make it next to impossible to come up with a viable route through a populated area without getting sued into oblivion.

3. An irrational societal addiction to the automobile despite higher cost and risk to life and limb.

Given enough time, #3 will probably be overcome for one reason or another. #1 might be overcome by some visionary. #2 is a tough one because it either pushes costs even higher, or forces you into a route that is far away from where it's needed. Anything is possible, I suppose.

Basically: I wouldn't hold your breath.


How NASA Prepares To Rescue Hubble, In Photos 37

Jamie pointed out a fantastic set of photos up at The Boston Globe, illustrating the painstaking preparations underway for the Shuttle mission to rescue the Hubble telescope. "This will be the final servicing mission to Hubble, the 30th flight of the 23-year old Atlantis, and one of the final 10 flights of the Space Shuttle program, which will be retired in 2010." Refreshingly, they've decided to include a many of the behind-the-scenes techies and the equipment they steward, rather than just the launch vehicles and crew.

Submission + - - 'blocked and flogged' at work

SwankDude writes: I am a web developer at a large financial corporation. I mostly use Firefox when at work for the obvious reasons. I recently upgraded my PC at work and needed to download some Firefox extensions — only to discover that has been blocked at the proxy. My request for an exception has been rejected because 'Unauthorized, unlicensed software is not to be installed...'. I had a similar experience earlier this year when Google Groups was blocked because of the potential for NSFW discussions. How many of you run into similar road blocks that interfere with your ability to do your job and what (if anything) do you do about it?

Submission + - Apple launches iPod Touch, revamps Nano, iTMS wifi (

tRSS writes: "Apple just right now launched iPod touch, with similar interface as the iPhone and new iPod nano with video and coverflow. iPod touch start from $299 whereas iPod nano start from $149. They have also revamped the iPod shuffle with new bright colors. Apple has added the capability of buying and downloading music wirelessly from the iTunes Music store on iPod touch and iPhones now as well."
The Courts

Submission + - RIAA Accused of Extortion & Conspiracy

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "The defendant in a Tampa, Florida, case, UMG v. Del Cid, has filed counterclaims accusing the RIAA record labels of conspiracy and extortion. The counterclaims (pdf) are for Trespass, Computer Fraud and Abuse (18 USC 1030), Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices (Fla. Stat. 501.201), Civil Extortion (CA Penal Code 519 & 523), and Civil Conspiracy involving (a) use of private investigators without license in violation of Fla. Stat. Chapter 493; (b) unauthorized access to a protected computer system, in interstate commerce, for the purpose of obtaining information in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1030 (a)(2)(C); (c) extortion in violation of Ca. Penal Code 519 and 523; and (d) knowingly collecting an unlawful consumer debt, and using abus[ive] means to do so, in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692a et seq. and Fla. Stat. 559.72 et seq."

Submission + - AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350 45W CPU Reviewed @ Viper Lai (

VL writes: "AMD's latest sports a new name and a much lower voltage. We test the BE-2350 with a combination of real-world and synthetic tests. "It's important to put into perspective what we're looking at today. If you're looking to build a high-end gaming PC or some sort of high-level video editing workstation, this processor isn't going to be for you. The intended market will be corporate workstations and the silent PC or HTPC market. We have a forum thread going on debating the benefits of energy efficient processors and energy bills. Unless you're a home user who leaves their PC on 24/7, you probably won't see much in the way of savings, but this won't be the case for cubicle farms." 50/"

Submission + - Radio wave on Saturn's moon hints at hidden ocean (

SleepyHappyDoc writes: "The European Space Agency has announced that a mysterious radio wave may indicate the existence of a hidden ocean underneath the surface of Titan. The Cassini-Huygens spaceprobe, which entered Titan's atmosphere over two years ago, collected evidence and information which has led to this potential discovery. This technology may lead to entirely new ways of finding out information about other planets."

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Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming. -- J. P. McEvoy