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Comment Re:Dual SIm's Why? (Score 4, Informative) 68

Mod parent up

Having lived in an emerging market (Romania) for six years, I knew several people who would carry around multiple feature phones, or a smartphone and a feature phone, just so they could use prepaid SIM cards from two different networks, so they could call all of their friends and family "in network".

I was using a prepaid SIM from Orange, and for 5 Euros/month, I had 3000 minutes/month to other Orange numbers and 100 minutes/month to other networks/landlines. As it happens, everyone I wanted to call was on Orange, so I was fine. However, I knew people who would pay 5 Euros/month to Orange, and another 5 Euros/month to Cosmote. For 10 Euros/month, they had effectively unlimited calling to everyone they wanted to call, but needed to carry a second phone (or swap SIMs to call on the correct network).

Comment Re:Wow seriously? (Score 2) 566

I'm surprised by how many Canadians misunderstand the temporary foreign worker program, despite the fact that it's been in the news so much for the past few months.

The TFW program is used for jobs that fail to entice existing Canadians, like agricultural work or fast-food service.

By comparison, it's quite common for tech companies to sponsor immigrants to Canada based on a lack of local skilled candidates (see In that case, my understanding is that the criteria are like a US H-1B visa, but the incoming employee is granted permanent residence (akin to a green card). Of course, in Canada's case, we actually want well-paid techies to come and stay.

Comment Re:Proof dogs talk: (Score 4, Funny) 139

I personally prefer the version where a guy is showing his friend his new talking dog.

New dog owner: Hey Sparky, what's on top of the house?
Sparky: Roof!

New dog owner: Hey Sparky, how does sandpaper feel?
Sparky: Rough!

New dog owner: Hey Sparky, who was the best baseball player of all time?
Sparky: Ruth!

Friend: Come on, you expect me to believe this bullshit?

Sparky: What? You think I should have gone with DiMaggio?

Comment Re:Fear leads to Hate, Hate leads to Measles (Score 1) 668

I'm sorry --- how is this insightful?

As long as the system is so clearly corrupted by money, though, people aren't going to trust health care professionals.

Is the system "clearly corrupted by money" in all countries? In most of the developed world, medicine is government-funded and often fairly tightly-regulated to keep costs low.

As long as big pharma is taking meds off the market and replacing them with inferior versions in order to drive down demand for a generic and force people to continue to pay them, we're all going to know it's a scam.

[citation needed]

As long as doctors continue to prescribe whatever drugs the reps are wining and dinind them over, we're all going to know it's a scam.

Again, in most developed nations, there are pretty tight regulations against doctors accepting "gifts" from pharmaceutical reps. The main exception I know of is "assistance" with going to conferences (which coincidentally may be in Las Vegas or Hawaii, say). That said, a doctor who would chance losing their high-paying job in exchange for a trip worth a few thousand dollars has a rather poor assessment of risk vs reward, in my opinion.

As long as hospitals continue to charge whatever the market will bear, we're all going to know it's a scam.

Ahh... okay. So your argument doesn't apply to most of the developed world. In fact, it doesn't apply to Wales, where this outbreak occurred, and thus provides no insight into this actual case.


Making Wireless Carriers Play Together 58

An anonymous reader writes "Ok, so the idea of opening all Wi-Fi networks in a misthought utopian vision didn't go over so well. But no one discussed the best part of open Wi-Fi networks: bonding different Wi-Fi and mobile carriers to get the best price and decent performance. We could save money and avoid lock in by bouncing to whoever gives us the best rate, and, when we need speed, jump on all of them at once for a network bonded boost."

Comment Re:Nothing has changed... (Score 2) 176

A subtler prank that I pulled on a friend who left himself logged in to one of the public undergrad labs (where there was the risk that an actual asshole would delete your stuff, send email as you, or something similarly cruel) was to add "echo 'sleep 1' >> .cshrc" to the end of his .cshrc before logging him out. I chuckled to myself, and then forgot about it.

A week later, when it was 5 minutes before a submission deadline and he was yelling at the terminal to finish logging in (since it was taking 2-3 minutes for the prompt to appear by that point), I realized that I had probably gone too far.

Star Wars Prequels

Submission + - This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For (

fractalVisionz writes: The White House officially responded to the petition to secure resources and funding to begin Death Star construction by 2016, as previously covered by Slashdot. With costs estimated over $850,000,000,000,000,000 (that's quadrillion), and a firm policy stating "The Administration does not support blowing up planets" the US government will obviously pass. However, that is not to say that we do not already have a death star of our own, floating approximately 120 miles above the earth's surface.

The response ends in a call to those interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields of study:

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Comment Re:No electricity... (Score 1) 104

When there is no electricity supply in the villages, this is an innovative way of giving 'power' to the people!

A few years ago, I read about a tangentially-related (mobile phones without in-home electricity) situation with Mennonites using cell phones. (Apologies for any factual errors in my recollection below -- it was an article I vaguely remember from reading an in-flight magazine maybe six years ago.)

Like the Amish, the Mennonites are nominally supposed to live simple lives free of modern trappings. However, some Mennonite farmers have devised a rationalization for using cell phones. In particular, they can be really handy to be able to communicate short messages across the fields, without having to trek on foot or by horse. (They had some religious argument, where they didn't really own the phones -- but were just "borrowing" them from outsiders, or some such other way of resolving the cognitive dissonance.) In this article I read, they explained that, while the farmers didn't have electricity in their own homes, they would regularly travel to nearby "modern" shops to sell their produce or buy supplies. While there, they would leave their phones with the shopkeepers to charge up. In theory, the shopkeepers could have charged them a small fee for this service, but usually would just offer it up as a nice way to help their loyal customers.

So, that said, there are ways to charge cell phones without fully electrifying a village. If there's a single, shared charging point (either in a shop or in some public building), it should be enough. Furthermore, it's a lot easier to install a single mobile phone charging station than it is to run power lines and/or land line phone service to the entire village. Strictly speaking, the charging point doesn't even have to be in the village, as long as someone can be trusted to take everyone's free phones to the nearest charging spot (which could be a few hours away) ~once/week.

Comment Re:Quality leadership? (Score 4, Informative) 60

It takes generations to break the cycle (if in fact the cycle will be broken).

Exactly. I'm a Canadian living in Romania for the past five years, and have been following Romanian politics as well as I can (as an "outsider") during this time. Of course, since I also have no long-term stake in the outcome of Romania's political chaos (as I will move home eventually, and could just move home sooner if things get really bad), I like to think that I'm a little more objective (though I'm undoubtedly somewhat influenced by friends and coworkers who do have a vested interest).

Here are some relevant background tidbits for this story:

  • - There is currently a political struggle between the prime minister (Ponta) and president (Basescu) regarding the relative powers of the presidency and the parliament. (Not knowing anything about the Romanian constitution's delineation of powers, I honestly don't know who is overstepping what.)
  • - The parliament has suspended the president, pending a recall referendum on the 29th.
  • - The timing of this plagiarism scandal is very convenient, with regards to the damage it has done to Ponta's credibility, immediately prior to the impeachment. (This is where I am inclined to believe the conspiracy theories that the president's cronies probably had something to do with the plagiarism coming to light now. I'm not saying that the plagiarism didn't happen, as it seems quite certain that it did, but rather that the timing of the revelation is not coincidence.)
  • - The prime minister "earned" a PhD while sitting as a cabinet minister in parliament. His PhD supervisor (Adrian Nastase) was the sitting prime minister at the time. I chuckle at the thought of Victor Ponta excusing himself from a state dinner to go write a few pages on his dissertation. I also chuckle at the thought of a cabinet minister and prime minister sitting down to have grad student/supervisor discussions on edits to the dissertation. In my opinion, neither of them were actually directly involved in the writing of the thesis -- it was some party drones paid to throw something together that Ponta could claim as his own, and Nastase could endorse before a "committee" (of professors loyal to the party, or at least loyal to the favours Nastase could bestow). Those party drones recognized that it was purely a symbolic PhD (since Ponta is a politician, not an academic), so they lifted content from other sources.
  • - Nastase last month was convicted of using millions in state money to fund his run for the presidency in 2004, and sentenced to 2 years in prison. He supposedly tried to commit suicide to avoid prison, but "missed" (with a gun at point-blank range). This is a whole other bizarre scandal, not directly related to the plagiarism affair, but connected to the current political craziness in Romania.

As the parent alluded to, the root problem is that both sides of this particular farce are backed by people who got their power under the former communist regime. Nastase and Basescu were both well-connected prior to the revolution. Ponta was a child in 1989, and hence has no connections of his own to the old regime, but was trained through his political career by Nastase.

As a foreigner, I mostly shake my head at the current situation, and am not terribly optimistic about either outcome in the upcoming referendum. Politics in Romania truly does seem to be a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwich. I would like to see things improve, as the country and people are fantastic. I am confident that Romanian politics will eventually get better, but probably not within my time here.

Comment Re:is it real (Score 4, Informative) 1198

Assuming the blog post was indeed written by the real Steve Mann, a guy who has been doing this wearable computing stuff for a while, I think we can trust that it's true. (And if he didn't write it, I would expect to hear something from him, saying that it's a fake.)

It's also not his first altercation related to his wearable stuff. See, for example, this Slashdot story from 2002.

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