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Cellphones

FCC Kills Plan To Allow Mobile Phone Conversations On Flights (pcworld.com) 99

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: On Monday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission killed a plan to allow mobile phone calls during commercial airline flights. Since 2013, the FCC and the Federal Aviation Administration have considered allowing airline passengers to talk on the phones during flights, although the FAA also proposed rules requiring airlines to give passengers notice if they planned to allow phone calls. The plan to allow mobile phone calls on flights drew sharp objections from some passengers and flight attendants who had visions of dozens of passengers trying to talk over each other for entire flights. But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday killed his agency's 2013 proceeding that sought to relax rules governing the use of mobile phones on airplanes. Under the FCC proposal, airlines would have decided if they allowed mobile phone conversations during flights.

Comment Re:Supply and Demand (Score 1) 69

The app is nice, but the other really big thing that Uber brings to the table is surge pricing. A surge really does what it is designed to do: gets many more drivers out on the road to match the large demand with more supply. Taxis don't have anything like that. If there aren't enough taxis, you just have to wait.

Comment Re:ITT: Idiots (Score 1) 253

I mean, I guess. Although maybe I'm the one who is being trolled by all the commenters who said that the article had to be bullshit because the rent numbers couldn't possibly be accurate, without reading the title of the graph that indicated that the rent amount was weekly, not monthly.

Comment Re:Effective solution (Score 1) 142

I know the government wants to make coding the next blue collar job but it takes a lot of knowledge and practice to perfect the craft.

In the decades I've worked as a software developer, I've almost never had a boss who cared at all for "perfect". OTOH, I can think of many times when I was explicitly ordered to not implement something correctly. Normally, their only concern is getting deliveries to customers, which involves satisfying sales people and customer people who usually have no clue at all about software quality, and are primarily concerned with money issues.

Granted, I have had a few cases where, years after my job was terminated, I received some nice messages saying that nobody had ever found a bug in any of the sofware that I wrote. But this is after the fact; while working they were never particularly interested in high-quality code. And they had no way of judging it except by waiting for years and counting the reported bugs.

So I'd predict that most educators and employers will be pleased by the "hour of code" concept, and will push for its adoption. Then they'll work out the bugs in the approach in the future, as the bugs make themselves known.

Comment Re:Oh, noes... (Score 1) 110

Frankly, I'd rather have police accountability than privacy from having people see my face while I'm in public.

You realize that this is not an either/or choice right? We can give police body cameras & get the associated enhanced accountability and put safeguards in to prevent it turning to ubiquitous surveillance,

'Oh noes', like people are being irrational suggesting we limit ubiquitous surveillance.

Comment Re:Opera is NOT sane. (Score 1) 766

Opera was sane: it did not reload a tab unless you asked for it. It just reopened everything from cache

No. That is NOT sane, normal, or desired. Webpages are live. ...

Not always. For example, I've been experimenting with portables to see how usable they are for displaying music. (Not playing music; I'm talking about readable "sheet" music".) Scenario: I'm going to an event like a jam session, my phone/tablet/whatever may not have Web access there, so I'd like to pre-load a lot of likely pages that I and a lot of other musical friends have put online.

But when I get there and wake up my gadget, most of the browsers instantly attempt to reload all those pages, find they can't, and display their "not available" message instead of the page they were showing. The buttons showing never include a "show the previous version from cache" choice; the info is just gone. I do a lot of web testing, so I have at least a dozen of the most "popular" browsers loaded on each. So far, the only browser I've found that doesn't fail this way has been Firefox, which just simply wakes up and continues where it was. So it's the only one I use to pre-load things for an event.

I've found it fairly easy to demo this at home. I just load up a few pages into a few browsers, show people that they all work when I switch between the browsers, etc. I suggest that others do the same on their cell phones. Then I invite people to join me on a short walk. When I get about a block away from home, my home wifi is out of range, all the other wifis have passwords, and I show them the screen, which shows an error message rather than the music it had a few seconds earlier. As we walk, the others also show the same thing happening in the browsers on their screens.

The vendors (especially Apple) reply that we should just use their apps, which can be set to not screw up that way. But to test my stuff on all those apps, I'd have to get a whole pile of cell phones and tablets, and also pay for service for all of them, which would cost me more money than I have. So I only test with browsers, which the vendors have (knowingly and with malice aforethought .-) set up to fail this way.

It's weird that Opera also fails this way. You'd think they'd be different. And maybe Opera and/or other browsers have a setting to turn off this automatic reloading. If so, I've never found it. Or, in a couple of cases, I found it in an early release, but it was gone after an upgrade.

Anyone know a general way to turn off this automatic reloading? I do suspect that it's possible with some browsers, but they do a good job of hiding it or renaming it so it isn't very recognizable.

In any case, notice that none of the "pages" I'm talking about are "live". They're just pages of sheet music, that stay the same until edited by a human. So there's no need to reload them at all. And discarding a page because there's no wifi service is inexcusable in any case. It's just pure user-hostility on the part of the vendors.

Comment Re:The cold is already cured (Score 1) 193

False.

From a study dated 2015 Feb 25:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359576/

"Zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of nasal discharge by 34% (95% CI: 17% to 51%), nasal congestion by 37% (15% to 58%), sneezing by 22% (1% to 45%), scratchy throat by 33% (8% to 59%), sore throat by 18% (10% to 46%), hoarseness by 43% (3% to 83%), and cough by 46% (28% to 64%). Zinc lozenges shortened the duration of muscle ache by 54% (18% to 89%), but there was no difference in the duration of headache and fever."

"Given that the adverse effects of zinc in the three trials were minor, zinc acetate lozenges releasing zinc ions at doses of about 80mg/day may be a useful treatment for the common cold, started within 24hours, for a time period of less than two weeks."

Comment Re:The cold is already cured (Score 1) 193

From the most recent study from that Wikipedia page, dated 2015 Feb 25:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359576/

"Zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of nasal discharge by 34% (95% CI: 17% to 51%), nasal congestion by 37% (15% to 58%), sneezing by 22% (1% to 45%), scratchy throat by 33% (8% to 59%), sore throat by 18% (10% to 46%), hoarseness by 43% (3% to 83%), and cough by 46% (28% to 64%). Zinc lozenges shortened the duration of muscle ache by 54% (18% to 89%), but there was no difference in the duration of headache and fever."

"Given that the adverse effects of zinc in the three trials were minor, zinc acetate lozenges releasing zinc ions at doses of about 80mg/day may be a useful treatment for the common cold, started within 24hours, for a time period of less than two weeks."

The Wikipedia summary of this study is horribly worded and one could easily read it as the zinc lozenge having no effect, which is exactly the opposite of the study's conclusion (that zinc does has a positive effect on cold symptoms). The study's purpose was to determine if zinc lozenges only affect/improve symptoms in the pharyngeal region (the throat) since a lozenge is dissolved in the mouth and throat, or if the zinc has an improvement effect in the nasal region as well where it is not directly dissolved. The study showed that zinc *does* improve symptoms in the nasal region. The conclusion that the Wikipedia article is summarizing was that there was no difference in the effect of the zinc treatment depending on anatomical region - the zinc lozenge improved symptoms in both the throat and the nasal region.

Power

'Radioactive Boy Scout' Reportedly Passes Away At Age 39 (harpers.org) 182

A funeral notice quietly appeared on Tributes.com recently, announcing the death of David Charles Hahn. Though no cause of death was provided, when he was 17 Hahn "achieved some notoriety as a teenage Boy Scout with his attempt to build a nuclear reactor in his garden shed," remembers Slashdot reader braindrainbahrain: His "reactor" ended when the EPA declared his backyard as a Superfund cleanup site due to hazardous levels of radiation. His story was captured in a Harper's magazine article, and later the book "The Radioactive Boy Scout" by Ken Silverstein. It was also a Slashdot topic...
Hahn had used materials from household products like lithium batteries, smoke detectors, and old radium clocks, according to Wikipedia, which adds that shortly after Hahn's lab was dismantled, he became an Eagle Scout.
Facebook

Facebook Says Humans Won't Write Its Trending Topic Descriptions Anymore (recode.net) 76

Following a former Facebook journalist's report that the company's workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network's Trending Topics section, the company has been in damage control mode. First, the company announced it would tweak its Trending Topics section and revamp how editors find trending stories. Specifically, they will train the human editors who work on Facebook's trending section and abandon several automated tools it used to find and categorize trending news in the past. Most recently, Facebook added political scenarios to its orientation training following the concerns. Now, it appears that Facebook will "end its practice of writing editorial descriptions for topics, replacing them with snippets of text pulled from news stories." Kurt Wagner, writing for Recode: It's been more than three months since Gizmodo first published a story claiming Facebook's human editors were suppressing conservative news content on the site's Trending Topics section. Facebook vehemently denied the report, but has been dealing with the story's aftermath ever since. On Friday, Facebook announced another small but notable change to Trending Topics: Human editors will no longer write the short story descriptions that accompany a trending topic on the site. Instead, Facebook is going to use algorithms to "pull excerpts directly from stories." It is not, however, cutting out humans entirely. In fact, Facebook employees will still select which stories ultimately make it into the trending section. An algorithm will surface popular stories, but Facebook editors will weed out the inappropriate or fake ones. "There are still people involved in this process to ensure that the topics that appear in Trending remain high-quality," the company's blog reads.

Comment Re:The end justifies the means (Score 0) 306

It's probably not that meaningful, anyway. Somewhere around 20-40% of the info in these documents will turn out to be wrong or misleading in some critical way. Mostly, it'll just be a case of "name files", with info about different people with the same (or similar) names entered in the wrong place. People will learn pretty quickly to deny anything they don't like. Of course, others will believe whatever they want about you, especially if it was in some "secret" document. But they too will learn that the info about them is also full of errors. More importantly, your friends and relatives will learn the same thing.

I've yet to see any official document about me (including medical records) that didn't have some bizarre thing with unknown origin. The people who keep the records just respond with a grin and a comment starting with "Yeah ....".

Actually, my favorite example, which my wife loves telling other people, is one of those "not even wrong" things that a nurse wrote down after a routine exam, saying that I was 5'13" tall and weighted 135 pounds. I am in fact about six feet one inch, but 135 pounds would make me one of the scrawniest six-footers on the planet. She'd used one of those old-fashioned scales with sliding weights, and had forgotten that she'd slid over a third 50-pound weight. But I've since then seen several personal histories that include that 135-pound weight back then. Once such things get into the database, they're almost impossible to correct. This is especially true of medical records. This can be really annoying to those that've had a "false positive" diagnosis somewhere along the line. But such things are pretty good at teaching you how much you can trust the "official" data about other people.

(I sometimes wonder if official records in other "advanced" countries are as screwed up as they are here in the US. I'd guess that they probably are.)

Comment Re:DONT LET THE FBI RE-WRITE HISTORY FOR YOUTHS (Score 1) 70

people do have their names :)

Not really; according to the US Census Bureau, there are about 1800 Americans with my (first+last) name. And probably a whole bunch of them have the same middle name, which is also one of the top 10 men's names in the US. My parents didn't have much imagination when it came to baby names.

OTOH, my wife continues to use her birth name for most purposes (which is fine by me). She likes the fact that, as far as she can determine, she's the only living human with that name. (And it's not even some unpronounceable "foreign" sounding name. She also likes to point out to people that her name is a syntactically correct English sentence. She has even found archived newspaper images that have her name at the top of a story. ;-)

But anyway, most of us don't "have" our names in any meaningful sense. We're just one of many who are using the name for a few decades, until we drop out of the crowd that are using it.

In college, I had a friend who was a member of the Bill Smith Club, whose only membership criterion is that you be named (or married to someone named) Bill Smith (or William Smythe or Wilhelm Schmidt or anything else that maps onto the name).

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