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Comment Re:*** INFINITE FACEPALM *** (Score 0) 89

The only way they could have designed this to be more of a meme is if they made it an 'Internet of Things' device, and made it 'wirelessly charging'.

Wireless charging actually would have improved the design considerably. Use a coil of wire wrapped around the center shaft and jacket the whole thing in epoxy, then build a vertical tube that inductively charges all the smart umbrellas that people put into it (and tolerates dumb umbrellas).

Comment Re:Hey Slashdot: (Score 2) 131

When you trade money for news, you tend to get the news that makes the most money. It's human nature, unless controlled by regulation. Just as corporations, utilities, colleges, all mostly get financially out of hand unless regulated, because people are mostly naturally greedy. There's scant sense of fairness, and gross excess of "take the market for all it can bear."

Look, news is all mostly biased anyway. Biased by what they cover and what they choose not to cover; by the editor's influence; by the publisher's influence; by the advertiser's influence; by the stockholder's influence; by ridiculous "equal time for superstitious nonsense" policies (because the news consumers are bewildered, so in order to get their money, they are pandered to), etc. I'm just not going to actually pay for more bias.

It's a complete waste of time to put a paywalled link in front of me. Not going to click it if I know what it is; not going to stay if I am snookered into clicking.

For news, here's what I want: facts and relevance to actual news. Not the Kardumbians, not some actor's opinion, not breathless reporting of some lab result as if it was tech coming down next Friday, Politics, cover the candidates and what they say. Even handedly. Don't leave some out (Sanders, cough) don't over-cover some (Trump, cough), don't report bland, content free remarks as if they were incoming legal doom (Clinton, cough)... you get the idea.

Simple enough, you'd think. Just do a good job. But they don't. Okay then, fine. But expecting me to pay for that crap? Not happening. They oughta pay me for having to fact check every goddam thing they write and speak about.

Comment Why not eliminate the Sherman Antitrust Act, too? (Score 5, Insightful) 158

By that same standard, the Sherman Antitrust Act, which was designed to prevent precisely the same sorts of abuse that Net Neutrality laws prevent, is also an impediment to innovation and doing interesting things, if by interesting things, you mean using bundling to drive your competition out of the market and creating an oligopoly of content providers owned by the same folks who own the pipes (i.e. the exact opposite of what the Internet was intended to be).

Comment Re:I beg to differ (Score 1) 161

And statistics begs to point out that one special-snowflake outlier doesn't make the conclusion worthless.

It's not one outlier. They're analyzing the data wrong.

In my personal experience, I ran out of new movies to watch on Netflix after a few months, and began binge watching TV shows because there weren't enough movies on my list to be worth the hassle. I have watched approximately zero movies in the last year. This experience is echoed by everyone I've talked to.

So when they say that users watch about 1/3rd movies regardless of the depth of their catalog, what they really mean is that even though new users run out of movies to watch earlier, there are more new users coming in. As long as that is true, and as long as the old users don't cancel because they've run out of things to watch, they're good.

The bigger problem is that Netflix keeps dropping TV shows while I and members of my family are still watching them. I find it quite alarming how quickly I'm running out of things to watch, because the depth of their catalog (even in TV) is getting so shallow so quickly. At the current rate of decline, I'd give Netflix six months at most before I drop my subscription entirely and switch to one of the other providers temporarily until I run out of stuff to watch there. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Comment Re:There was nothing to catch (Score 2) 283

Much like testing for certain medical diseases, sometimes you can only determine a cause by exclusion.

  • A phone that is turned off is consuming no power, so the failure cannot plausibly be caused by an excessive rate of discharge or by external heat (e.g. being too close to a hot GPU).
  • A phone that is not charging is adding no power to the pack, so the failure is probably not caused by an excessive rate of charge or by overcharging.
  • Multiple battery manufacturers use different battery chemistry and different designs, so the failure cannot plausibly be caused by dendrites or other similar failures. Also, the failures don't occur with those same batteries in other devices, which eliminates the batteries themselves as a likely cause.

When you eliminate the impossible, what remains are failures that can occur even with a battery that is neither charging nor discharging. The most likely causes, then, involve some form of physical damage.

LiPo packs change size during normal charging and discharging just a bit. That's why there are tolerances build into the design. With insufficient tolerances, bad things happen (TM), and even if the tolerances are sufficient to avoid self-puncturing at their maximum size, it is possible that flexing the case in just the right way while the pack is maximally swollen could still puncture the pack. So this is at least a plausible explanation, whereas most other theories aren't.

With that said, even if we assume that these folks are correct, it does not absolve other aspects of the design. Not all failures have only a single root cause. For example, IIRC, overcharging a LiPo pack can cause unusual levels of battery expansion from hydrogen buildup, which when combined with normal levels of flexing in a case that has insufficient tolerances, would result in the pack perforating and venting with flame.

Comment News flash: Average income is deceiving (Score 0, Flamebait) 158

The average income of 10th through 70th percentile - in other words, most citizens - is $32,245 / year (source, EPI Data Library - Wages by percentile.csv, 2015 [latest] row).

Over 40 million (out of 319 million, or about 12%) of US citizens are going hungry (feedingamerica.org).

The social safety net isn't safe, nor particularly social.

I'm sure we can expect relief from the Trump administration (cough... choke.)

But hey, let's worry about tech interns. My blinders need a workout anyway.

Comment Hey Slashdot: (Score 3, Insightful) 131

Slashdot Editors / owners / etc.:

o Please stop supporting paywalled sites.
o Please stop supporting sites with closed comment sections.

These things are bad for the web and the web's denizens -- of course not for the ethically crippled sites themselves, as we are their product, and both payment up and dissent down are multipliers to their bread and butter.

The paywalled sites are monetizing the news, and that almost always makes for biased reporting.

The closed comment sections make for echo chambers, and that creates an environment where fake news and agitprop flourish.

Same thing to my fellow slashdotters: if you support bad actors in bad behaviors, they will naturally persist. So think about that before you click through the next time someone thrusts a paywalled or comment-bereft site in your face.

Thanks for reading.

Comment Not quite dead yet (Score 1) 381

It means that we are now far more removed from access to the metal to even do a lot of the optimizations that we've done in the past.

Well... no, it means that you are, perhaps. Some of us still write in c or c++, and keep our attention on the details. You can tell you've run into one of us when the many-functioned app you get is a couple megabytes instead of 50, runs faster than the fat ones, and doesn't suffer from black-box bugs inherited from OPC.

I always thought that the user's CPU cycles and memory were things a developer was obligated to treat as the user's valued resource, and so not things to waste.

I know, totally out of date thinking. It's ok, I'm old, I'll die soon. :)

Comment machine code ate my neurons (Score 1) 381

But can you program in Z80 and 6502 machine code?

Yes. But more importantly, I can program in 6809 machine code. Including building all the index modes. Which, back in the day, is one of the things that saved me from having to design in, and then program, CPUs like the 6502 and z80, both of which are seriously anemic by comparison. But I prefer to program in assembler. Because I'm sane.

My affection for the 6809 ran so deep that I wrote the 6809 emulator you'll find here, which required me to implement the entire instruction set from the ground up.

But yeah, I can write machine code for about 10 microprocessors. And you know what? In the day... that was useful. I could read (E)(P)ROM dumps, I could cold-patch... but today, I just wish I could get the brain cells back. :)

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