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Comment The article used primary metric measurements (Score 2) 229

Actually, the article gave all metric primary measurements, and English in parentheses for enough of them for the metric-impaired to understand the scale.

"...about 10 by 10 centimeters (4 by 4 inches) across and 2 centimeters thick"

So apparently, it was the OP who took the queue from NASA.

Comment Check out Rolly Crump's It's Kind of a Cute Story (Score 1) 97

Rolly Crump, one of the original Imagineers, mentions some of this in his "It's Kind of a Cute Story" book and "More Cute Stories" audio CDs that have come out fairly recently. Plus a lot more Disney history from around that era. (I have no direct interest, other than enjoying these a lot.)

Comment Problems with unpublished rules (Score 1) 162

My problem is this: too many sites don't even publish their password policies, so I can't even begin to tell what is an acceptable password. I may go to the trouble to use mixed case, only to find out that their password is case-insensitive. Or they may accept a long password but silently truncate it. Or they may not accept special characters, but "tell" me only with an error message when I try one. Or sites that turn right around and *send* me my new password so I won't forget it (again, without telling me ahead of time). Or this beaut from Verizon Wireless: to enter your billing password (a secondary password that you can't change if you forget even if you know your primary password there), if you have to on your phone, you convert its mixed-case letters via the phone's keys. The prompt (long after you've created your password) says that the password "abc2" is the same as "2222". In essence, they reduce everything to digits.

This is a completely new twist on "security by obscurity". Your password is defined under double secret probation.

At least most sites are now accepting greater than 8 characters. But even that took years.

Comment Some better interpretations (Score 2) 458

I think the next greatest feat in physics will not be a new discovery, but just figuring out how to explain the current state of knowledge to a high school student. How can the field progress if only a handful of people actually understand the information we now possess?

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Are you saying we should only pursue theories and bodies of knowledge if the average idiot can understand them?

I don't think so.

One interpretation of the OP's comment is essentially related to Feynman's famous quote: "I couldn't reduce it to the freshman level. That means we really don't understand it.". In other words, if the practitioners don't take the time to be able to explain their work to laymen, they are moving too fast even for their own good.

Another interpretation is this: we are all constantly asked to take action (e.g., vote) on questions that depend more or less on information that many, even the majority, not only don't understand, but have utterly no clue or even intuition about. Even in a representative democracy (to stick with the voting example), we need enough understanding to vet our representatives. The minimum requirements for education need to be not just a little higher, but a lot higher than they are. And a lot of what's missing could be addressed by the OP's proposal.

Comment Why I bought, sometimes (Score 1) 329

I bought the extended warranties in three circumstances:

In the '90's and into part of the '00's, my experience with laptops was that every one of them across multiple brands and users failed in some way before an extended warranty's period ended. And that included a startup that grew to as many as 80 people. Yes, the more abusive users had more problems, but even the gentle users did too. And IIRC, even CR recommended them then in this particular case. I had all manner of parts replaced under the warranty during that period, and it paid off. That said, this has become much less true in the last 8 years or so; I don't believe they pay any longer. This was never true for desktops, which have had readily available replacement parts for cheap (so I didn't cover those).

I bought a TV for my ailing mother, wanted a turnkey experience for her if the TV failed, and I wasn't close enough to be able to deal with it if the unit died. The TV didn't fail, but I received the peace of mind I purchased.

The third case was a little different: a home warranty when purchasing a house. It was pretty clear on inspection whether some of the appliances were close to their EOL. And the bonus is that through negotiation, one can often get the seller to pay part or all of the premium. Made money on that one too.

I haven't bought extended warranties on anything else, and it's paid off.

Oh, one special case: I skipped the extended warranty on tires for my car one time, and discovered (very soon after purchase, fortunately) that the installer had drastically over-inflated the tires, which would have, of course, caused accelerated and non-uniform wear. I suspected such nonsense and checked before I'd driven very far, and reduced the pressure to spec. "Coincidence? Perhaps! You be the judge!"

Comment No old mobile phones, but I do have (Score 1) 307

several model 500 telephones lying around, a hand-crank generator that the kids used to ring them with, a Mickey phone (TPC actually required removal of the guts (their term) when I moved, and replacement at my new location), a landline phone I built myself, and an old, rusty mine telephone.

Then again, none of the wired phones is operational; we're only mobile now.

Input Devices

BlindType — the Amazing Keyboard of the Future 125

kkleiner writes "BlindType has created a new touchscreen keyboard program of the same name that changes size, orientation, and position to match your wandering fingers as they type. BlindType also features some of the most impressive typing correction software I've ever seen. The result is a practical touchscreen interface that knows what you meant to type, even if you make mistakes. Lots of them. In fact, you can type without looking at the screen at all."

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