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Comment Re:Using Skype to boost Windows Phone? (Score 1) 330

Crazy theory here. Could they be trying to focus Skype for use with their Windows Phone to try to give people a compelling reason to switch over to their mobile OS?

Sure looks like it. And it will probably work just as well as google killing off all of their services that remotely compete with g+.

Submission + - Comcast Donates Heavily to Defeat Mayor who is Bringing Gigabit Fiber to Seattle

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Andrea Peterson reports in the Washington Post that one of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's big policy initiatives has been expanding the quality and quantity of high-speed Internet access throughout the city. However incumbent providers, particularly Comcast, have invested heavily in defeating McGinn in the mayoral election. While Comcast denies there is any connection between McGinn's broadband policies and their donations, the company has given thousands of dollars to PACs that have, in turn, given heavily to anti-McGinn groups. One of McGinn's core promises in the 2009 campaign was to "develop a city-wide broadband system." The mayor considered creating a citywide broadband system as a public utility, like water or electricity. But aides say that would have been too expensive, so the mayor settled on public-private partnerships using city-owned dark fiber. This dark fiber was laid down starting in 1995, and the mayor's office now says there are some 535 miles of it, only a fraction of which is being used. In June, the partnership, called Gigabit Squared, announced pricing for its Seattle service: $45 dollars a month for 100 Mbps service or $80 a month for 1 Gbps service plus a one-time installation cost of $350 that will be waived for customers signing a one-year contract. For comparison, Comcast, one of the primary Internet providers in the area, offers 105 Mbps service in the area for $114.99 a month according to their website. In a statement to The Post, Comcast denied their donations to the Murray campaign were related "in any way to any actions of the current Mayor," instead saying they reflected their prior support for Murray's state senate campaign. If Comcast is indeed attempting to sway the election, it would fall in line with a larger pattern of telecom interests lobbying against municipal efforts to create their own municipal broadband systems or leveraging city-owner fiber resources to create more competition for incumbent providers. "A loss for McGinn on Tuesday probably won't mean the end of Gigabit Squared's work in the Seattle metro area, though it could curtail Gigabit Squared's plans to expand to other parts of Seattle," writes Peterson. "More importantly, though, if Comcast's donations help Murray defeat McGinn, it will send a powerful message to mayors in other American cities considering initiatives to increase broadband competition."

Comment Re:Brooks Law (Score 1) 404

Brooks Law states "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later".

+6 man, +6. That is exactly what first came to mind when they went for that "surge" mentaphor.

Second thing that comes to mind is that the surge didn't work, it just happened to coincide with a change of local Iraqi politics (locals got sick of extremists killing locals instead of just americans so they started outing the extremists so the americans finally knew who to kill).

Comment Re:Sign Language Is Obsolete (Score 2) 79

I'd love to see a blind person try to use touch screen phone.

Touch screen phones may well be the best tech to come along for helping blind people ever.

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/disruptions-guided-by-touch-screens-blind-turn-to-smartphones-for-sight

Since that might be pay-walled, here's a copy:

Disruptions: Visually Impaired Turn to Smartphones to See Their World
September 29, 2013, 11:00 am

In recent years, many smartphone apps that are aimed at blind people have appeared.

Luis Perez loves taking photographs. He shoots mostly on an iPhone, snapping gorgeous pictures of sunsets, vintage cars, old buildings and cute puppies. But when he arrives at a photo shoot, people are often startled when he pulls out a long white cane.

In addition to being a professional photographer, Mr. Perez is almost blind.

"With the iPhone I am able to use the same technology as everyone else, and having a product that doesn't have a stigma that other technologies do has been really important to me," said Mr. Perez, who is also an advocate for blind people and speaks regularly at conferences about the benefits of technology for people who cannot see. "Now, even if you're blind, you can still take a photo."

Smartphones and tablets, with their flat glass touch screens and nary a texture anywhere, may not seem like the best technological innovation for people who cannot see. But advocates for the blind say the devices could be the biggest assistive aid to come along since Braille was invented in the 1820s.

Counterintuitive? You bet. People with vision problems can use a smartphone's voice commands to read or write. They can determine denominations of money using a camera app, figure out where they are using GPS and compass applications, and, like Mr. Perez, take photos.

Google's latest releases of its Android operating systems have increased its assistive technologies, specifically with updates to TalkBack, a Google-made application that adds spoken, audible and vibration feedback to a smartphone. Windows phones also offer some voice commands, but they are fewer than either Google's or Apple's.

Among Apple's features are ones that help people with vision problems take pictures. In assistive mode, for example, the phone can say how many heads are in a picture and where they are in the frame, so someone who is blind knows if the family photo she is about to take includes everyone.

All this has come as a delightful shock to most people with vision problems.

"We were sort of conditioned to believe that you can't use a touch screen because you can't see it," said Dorrie Rush, the marketing director of accessible technology at Lighthouse International, a nonprofit vision education and rehabilitation center. "The belief was the tools for the visually impaired must have a tactile screen, which, it turns out, is completely untrue."

Ms. Rush, who has a retinal disorder, said that before the smartphone, people who were visually impaired could use a flip-phone to make calls, but they could not read on the tiny two-inch screens. While the first version of the iPhone allowed people who were losing their vision to enlarge text, it wasn't until 2009, when the company introduced accessibility features, that the device became a benefit to blind people.

While some companies might have altruistic goals in building products and services for people who have lost their sight, the number of people who need these products is growing.

About 10 million people in the United States are blind or partly blind, according to statistics from the American Foundation for the Blind. And some estimates predict that over the next 30 years, as the vast baby boomer generation ages, the number of adults with vision impairments could double.

Apple's assistive technologies also include VoiceOver, which the company says is the world's first "gesture-based screen reader" and lets blind people interact with their devices using multitouch gestures on the screen. For example, if you slide a finger around the phone's surface, the iPhone will read aloud the name of each application.

In a reading app, like one for a newspaper, swiping two fingers down the screen will prompt the phone to read the text aloud. Taking two fingers and holding them an inch apart, then turning them in a circle like opening a padlock calls a slew of menus, including ones with the ability to change VoiceOver's rate of speech or language.

The iPhone also supports over 40 different Braille Bluetooth keyboards.

On all the mobile platforms, people with vision loss say, the real magic lies in the hundreds of apps that are designed specifically to help people who are blind.

There are apps that can help people see colors, so pointing their phones at an object will yield a detailed audio description of the color, like "pale yellow green" or "fresh apricot." People who are blind say these apps open up an entirely new way of seeing the world. Light detection apps can emit a sound that intensifies when someone approaches a light source. This can be used to help people find a room's exit, locate a window or turn off a light. There are apps that read aloud e-mails, the weather, stock prices as well as Twitter and Facebook feeds.

In the United States, one of the biggest challenges for blind people is figuring out a bill's denomination. While coins are different sizes, there is no such differentiation between a $1 bill and a $100 bill. In the past, people with impairments had someone who could see help them fold notes differently to know which was which, or they carried an expensive third-party device, but now apps that use the camera can identify the denomination aloud.

"Before a smartphone was accessible we had to carry six different things, and now all of those things are in one of those devices," Ms. Rush said. "A $150 money reader is now a $1.99 app."

She added: "These devices are a game-changer. They have created the era of inclusion."

While some app makers have made great efforts to build products that help people with impairments, other developers overlook the importance of creating assistive components.

Mr. Perez said what he could do now with his smartphone was inconceivable just a few years ago. But even well-known apps like Instagram, which he uses to share some of his photos, do not mark all of their features.

"When some developers design their apps, they don't label all of their buttons and controls, so the screen reader just says, âThis is a button,' but it doesn't say what the button actually does," Mr. Perez said. "That's an area where we need a lot of improvement."

Submission + - Microsoft Research Uses Kinect To Translate Between Spoken And Sign Languages

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft’s Kinect is a wonderful piece of technology that seems to know no bounds. Microsoft Research is now using it to bridge the gap between folks who don’t speak the same language, whether they can hear or not. The Kinect Sign Language Translator is a research prototype that can translate sign language into spoken language and vice versa. The best part? It does it all in real time.

Submission + - Drive with Google Glass: get a ticket

mrspoonsi writes: Engadget reports "California is technology's spiritual home in the US, where Teslas roam free, and Google Glass is already a social norm. Well, unless you're a member of the San Diego law enforcement that is — as one unlucky driver just found out. That commuter was Cecilia Abadie, and she's (rather fittingly) taken to Google+ after being given a ticket for driving while wearing her (soon to be upgraded) Explorer Edition"

Comment Re:Wow. (Score 1) 333

"More accurately, the negative effects of govt programs which have fostered dependency which has in turn caused the proliferation of social pathologies including poverty and low educational achievement"

There was a time when govt didnt help the poor.
What are the differences between those periods?

Personally, I know we have had poverty since before these programs. My gut says it was probably worse then.

Submission + - Car hackers mess with speedos, odometers, alarms and locks (scmagazine.com.au)

mask.of.sanity writes: Researchers have demonstrated how controller area networks in cars can make vehicles appear to drive slower than their actual speed, manipulate brakes, wind back odometers and set off all kinds of alarms and lights from random fuzzing.
The network weaknesses stem from a lack of authentication which they say is absent to improve performance. The researchers have also built a $25 open-source fuzzing tool to help others enter the field.

Submission + - NSA: 'We're Really Screwed Now' (foreignpolicy.com)

cold fjord writes: Foreign Policy reports, "One of the National Security Agency's biggest defenders in Congress is suddenly at odds with the agency and calling for a top-to-bottom review ... And her long-time friends and allies are completely mystified by the switch. "We're really screwed now," one NSA official told The Cable. ... Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein said she was "totally opposed" to gathering intelligence on foreign leaders and said it was "a big problem" if President Obama didn't know the NSA was monitoring the phone calls of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. ... Perhaps most significant is her announcement that the intelligence committee "will initiate a review into all intelligence collection programs." ... If the review also touched on other intelligence agencies under the committee's jurisdiction, it could be one of the most far-reaching reviews in recent memory ... A former intelligence agency liaison to Congress said Feinstein's sudden outrage over spying on foreign leaders raised questions about how well informed she was about NSA programs and whether she'd been fully briefed by her staff. "The first question I'd ask is, what have you been doing for oversight? Second, if you've been reviewing this all along what has changed your mind?" The former official said the intelligence committees receive lengthy and detailed descriptions every year about all NSA programs, including surveillance. "They're not small books. ... They're hundreds of pages long."" — More at Lawfare

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