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Comment Out-of-the-box solution: battery in protector. (Score 2) 87

Instead of placing the battery inside the handset, make a handset that just has a connector on it (wouldn't have to be a bulky, thick connecter like the USB series, could be done in any number of ways, including contacts on the back.

Open up the design, then let case manufacturers include batteries in their cases, since people overwhelmingly use cases anyway. Now the phone is very thin, so the case can be thicker to accommodate a battery.

Consumers needing long, long battery life can choose a wacky big case. Consumers needing very little battery life can choose a case with a battery that gets them close to current thickness levels. Need a new battery? Replace your $60 case instead of your $700 phone. Going on vacation? Get a fat silicone case with a fat, fat battery in it, just for the trip.

Comment Ha! I had the same thing happen to me. (Score 5, Interesting) 276

I owned a small consulting company in the late '90s and we were hired to do some work for a VPN vendor. We had to sign a rather onerous NDA and then they stiffed us on payment after six months' work and proceeded to ship what we had built anyway. The "separation" was acrimonious and involved court just so we could get paid.

Two years later, the president of the company contacts me begging for archival copies of what we'd produced, as they suffered some sort of catastrophic event and had lost a lot of source code.

I rather gleefully told him that (a) I had to take him to court to get him to pay me for shipping our work last time around, and (b) as per the NDA that they made a serious issue of in court, we had dutifully wiped everything we had ever worked on for them, and good luck.

I smiled for about a month after that.

Comment This. (Score 1) 158

I have close knowledge of one project in which a codebase performs an action using an initial human-supplied table of data, then records the result as either a positive or negative outcome and adds that result back into the table. Then it performs another action based on the table data, records the result as a positive or negative, and adds that back into the table. Over time, of course, the table entries with the highest positive rate rise to the top and influence the actions that are chosen. It's CS101 stuff on a fairly mundane dataset.

But the codebase is hosted on Amazon and it's a marketing-led company, so they went to press with "Our innovative new artificial intelligence system uses a deep machine learning algorithm running on new exascale computing platforms to determine the best course of action to take in each case."

The engineers in the room were not happy about this. The marketing person said, "Don't sell yourself short. You developed a system that records data about what has already happened, remembers it, then makes decisions about what to do next based on what has already happened. I call that artificial intelligence."

One of the engineers shot back with, "When I was in college, we just called that 'computation.'"

Submission + - Law for Autonomous Vehicles: Supporting an Aftermarket for Driving Computers (perens.com)

Bruce Perens writes: How will we buy self-driving cars, and how will we keep them running as self-driving software and hardware becomes obsolete much more rapidly than the vehicle itself? Boalt Hall legal professor Lothar Determann and Open Source Evangelist Bruce Perens are publishing an article in the prestigious Berkeley Technology Law Journal on how the law and markets might support an aftermarket for self-driving computers, rather than having the manufacturer lock them down or sell driving as a service rather than selling cars. The preprint is available to read now, and discusses how an Open Car, based on Open Standards and an Open Market, but not necessarily Open Source, can drive prices down and quality up over non-competitive manufacturer lock-in.

Comment Re:IT is amazing (Score 5, Insightful) 99

Most folks drink stale coffee. Try roasting your own (I use Sweet Maria's for supplies) or going somewhere with a roaster on site who is honest enough to tell you the roast date. It should be from 2 to 10 days ago. Flavor development in coffee is a rancidification process. Like cheese, you want to catch it when it is a little, but not too, rancid.

Comment Re:...Or Just Take Aspirin. (Score 2) 99

Let's not forget the effect of helicobacter pylori bacteria on ulcers, they are in general held to be the main cause these days.

I have another theory about the beneficial effect of aspirin, caffine, etc. We evolved with them. Our diet was rich in salycilates and chemicals similar to theobromine or caffine. They came from the plants we ate, some of which were mildly toxic and which we evolved to process to the point that we became dependent on some of their effects. There are a lot of things in the primitive diet that modern people don't eat much at all, like acorns which had to be soaked to remove alkalai and tannin.

If this is the case, taking aspirin and drinking coffee or tea replace substances found in a more primitive diet.

Comment Re: Not really needed for drones (Score 1) 24

Modulation designators that state the payload type don't make much sense with digital data transports. You can do digital TV or anything else with 4 MHz bandwidth. Cellular doesn't make much sense unless they have a really long hover time and drone life, in which case it could be a pop-up base station.

Comment Credit card chargeback. (Score 4, Informative) 88

Go to your card provider (Visa/MC/Discover/Amex) and tell them to remove the charge because the service was not rendered and/or the charge was improper.

They will.

Once AT&T starts getting a lot of chargebacks, they will do something about it.

I had this sort of thing happen do me years back in NYC with Verizon. I called to cancel, was given a confirmation # and everything, and was still billed again the next month. When called again, furious, the manager I was escalated to said that they could not offer a refund because they did not have that policy. I said I don't care about policy, give me a refund, and he said there was literally no way for him to do that in the system and suggested (of course) that I accept the service for a month, since I'd already paid for it, and then if I didn't want it next month, I could call and cancel [n.b. AGAIN] then.

I hung up on him, dialed Visa, and had them charge it back. Of course THAT got Verizon's attention and a day or two later I was called by retention or some similar department to offer me a discount if I would stay on, along with a lot of apology garbage.

I told them I'd rather eat a bug.

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