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Comment Re:Getting There (Score 1) 377

I have two optical media readers in my world.

#1- computer at work has a reader. I don't know if it works, I've never used it...computer is 3 years old.

#2- my Xbox 360 has a reader. About 4 years ago one of my kids broke it, and it has caused me zero inconvenience since then. Occasionally I will get new games, but it is always a download.

The last time I thought about optical media was when my mom came to visit. She wanted to show me some pictures, or a movie, or something and she held up a DVD like it was a prize. "Where is your DVD player?" I was very happy to tell her that I didn't have one.

DVDs had a very short lifespan in my world. Probably the shortest of all media, other than those small Sony...Minidiscs? I had one of those players that I thought was awesome, for like two months.

Comment Re: Microsoft's Customers are Screwed.. Again (Score 2) 140

I think you are giving Apple way too much credit.

Both companies do a good job of taking other ideas, refining them, then using their size and resources to bring products to market.

Regarding Bing- yes, there is a need for it. If you only look at consumer search functionality Google serves that purpose, and is generally better than Bing. (I am a lonely Bing user...) But- do you recommend that nobody else compete in this space? More importantly, Microsoft owns the index/search technology they use for other products- such as Cortana. Indexing huge amounts of information is a very important function moving forward. Microsoft reps have stated many times that the primary importance of Bing is not the direct consumer space.

Apple has had its share of 'me too' products. I bought more than my share of 'Performa' macs, which were just absolute crap. Their Apple Watch is crap. They have had many others. Hell, I owned an Apple III, when everyone with any sense was buying IBM.

Apple has had a few blockbuster successes, which have led to them being a hugely successful company. But that does not elevate them to some incredible status where they do no wrong or are just better than other companies.

Comment It's a matter of congestion (Score 1) 381

*If* self-driving cars can reduce congestion significantly, the changeover will be a tidal wave.

I live near enough to San Francisco, that I could make the trip easily enough for a relaxing day in a great city. Unfortunately, traffic is a nightmare. So I avoid it. Driving on the freeway to Sacramento is ridiculous. I avoid that too. Once there is a reasonable percentage of autonomous cars, that traffic should be greatly reduced by being more efficient. (Not the number of cars going down, but the overall efficiency going up).

Also, a lot of deliveries could easily be handled via autonomous vehicles. Again, the efficiency would be killer. Set up all deliveries to be at night! Mail, packages, etc. Just drop them in a specified area in front of my house, and I'll pick it up in the morning.

Submission + - Researcher Uses Valve Security Bug to Upload Paint Drying Game on Steam (softpedia.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A security researcher found two bypasses in Valve's game review process that eventually allowed him to publish Steam Trading Cards and a full game on the Steam Store called "Watch Paint Dry" (reference to this case from last month involving the British film censors).

The game was supposed to be an April Fools' Day prank, but the researcher forgot to set a release date, and was published on the Steam Store last weekend. Valve has fixed the security bypass in the meantime. These were extremely dangerous since it allowed anyone to publish games on the Store (possible containing malware) without a Valve employee ever taking a look at them, or knowing they went through the review process.

Why BART Is Falling Apart 474

HughPickens.com writes: Matthias Gafni writes in the San Jose Mercury News that the engineers who built BART, the rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area that started operation in 1972, used principles developed for the aerospace industry rather than tried-and-true rail standards. And that's the trouble. "Back when BART was created, (the designers) were absolutely determined to establish a new product, and they intended to export it around the world," says Rod Diridon. "They may have gotten a little ahead of themselves using new technology. Although it worked, it was extremely complex for the time period, and they never did export the equipment because it was so difficult for other countries to install and maintain." The Space Age innovations have made it more challenging for the transit agency to maintain the BART system from the beginning. Plus, the aging system was designed to move 100,000 people per week and now carries 430,000 a day, so the loss of even a single car gets magnified with crowded commutes, delays and bus bridges. For example, rather than stick to the standard rail track width of 4 feet, 8.5 inches, BART engineers debuted a 5-foot, 6-inch width track, a gauge that remains to this day almost exclusive to the system. Industry experts say the unique track width necessitates custom-made wheel sets, brake assemblies and track repair vehicles.

Another problem is the dearth of readily available replacement parts for BART's one-of-a-kind systems. Maintenance crews often scavenge parts from old, out-of-service cars to avoid lengthy waits for orders to come in; sometimes mechanics are forced to manufacture the equipment themselves. "Imagine a computer produced in 1972," says David Hardt. "No one is supporting that old equipment any longer, but those same microprocessors are what we have controlling our logic systems." Right now BART needs 100 thyristors at a total cost of $100,000. BART engineers said it could take 22 weeks to ship them to the San Francisco Bay Area to replace in BART's "C" cars, which make up the older cars in the fleet. Right now, the agency has none. Nick Josefowitz says it makes no sense to dwell on design decisions made a half-century ago. "I think we need to use what we have today and build off that, rather than fantasize what could have been done in the past. The BART system was state of the art when it was built, and now it's technologically obsolete and coming to the end of its useful life."

Submission + - Facebook Testing Anti-Impersonation Feature

Trailrunner7 writes: Phishing and account takeover attacks take many forms, especially on massive platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, and defending against them is a tall order. Facebook has tried a number of tactics over the years, and now the company is testing a new feature that will detect and warn users when someone else is trying to impersonate them on the network.

The system is designed to address a difficult problem on social networks: impostors. Many social media platforms allow anonymity in some form or another, but some, like Twitter, have adjusted those policies over time to require real names and identities. As more and more people connect their online identities to their real-world lives in various ways, the problem of online impostors has become a much more serious one. An attacker who has the ability to put together a convincing false account for someone else can cause serious damage to the victim’s personal and perhaps professional life.

Feed Google News Sci Tech: The Oculus Rift Is Here, but Virtual Reality Is Still Rough Around the Edges - New York Times (google.com)


New York Times

The Oculus Rift Is Here, but Virtual Reality Is Still Rough Around the Edges
New York Times
Microsoft Created a Twitter Bot to Learn From Users. It Quickly Became a Racist Jerk. Chip-Card Payment System Delays Frustrate Retailers. Loading... See next articles. See previous articles. Personal Tech. Site Navigation. Home Page Home Page World.
Oculus Rift VR headset review: The magical, yet unfinished birth of virtual realityPCWorld
Review: Oculus Rift Is Expensive, Complicated, and Totally WonderfulTIME
Oculus Rift Review: VR's Rising Star Isn't Ready for the MainstreamWall Street Journal
WIRED-USA TODAY-Gizmodo-The Verge
all 141 news articles

AT&T

Zero-Rating Harms Poor People, Public Interest Groups Tell FCC (vice.com) 205

An anonymous reader links to an article on Motherboard: The nation's largest internet service providers are undermining US open internet rules, threatening free speech, and disproportionately harming poor people by using a controversial industry practice called "zero-rating," a coalition of public interest groups wrote in a letter to federal regulators on Monday. Companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T use zero-rating, which refers to a variety of practices that exempt certain services from monthly data caps, to undercut "the spirit and the text" of federal rules designed to protect net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible, the groups wrote. Zero-rated plans "distort competition, thwart innovation, threaten free speech, and restrict consumer choice -- all harms the rules were meant to prevent," the groups wrote. "These harms tend to fall disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color, who tend to rely on mobile networks as their primary or exclusive means of access to the internet."

Submission + - Zero-Rating Harms Poor People, Public Interest Groups Tell FCC (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The nation’s largest internet service providers are undermining US open internet rules, threatening free speech, and disproportionately harming poor people by using a controversial industry practice called “zero-rating,” a coalition of public interest groups wrote in a letter to federal regulators on Monday.

Companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T use zero-rating, which refers to a variety of practices that exempt certain services from monthly data caps, to undercut “the spirit and the text” of federal rules designed to protect net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible, the groups wrote.

The letter, which was signed by the Center for Media Justice, the Open Technology Institute, Free Press, and dozens of other groups, increases the pressure on the Federal Communications Commission to address zero-rating, which has become the latest battlefront in the decade-long war between policymakers, industry giants, and consumer advocates over how best to ensure internet openness.

Zero-rated plans “distort competition, thwart innovation, threaten free speech, and restrict consumer choice—all harms the rules were meant to prevent,” the groups wrote. “These harms tend to fall disproportionately on low income communities and communities of color, who tend to rely on mobile networks as their primary or exclusive means of access to the internet.”

Submission + - Human spaceflight set to return to the Kennedy Space Center in 2017 (blastingnews.com)

MarkWhittington writes: When the space shuttle program ended in 2011, it was considered an end of an era for human space flight, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The Kennedy Space Center was hit especially hard, with layoffs decimating the workforce that used to support shuttle missions. However, things are starting to turn around, with more launches occurring in 2015 than had happened on the space coast since 2003. 2017 will see that return of human spaceflight to the Kennedy Space Center as both Boeing and SpaceX will start testing its commercial crew vehicles in anticipation of operations to and from the International Space Station starting in 2018. For the past five years, human space flight has been outsourced to Russia at great expense.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Glare On Cellphones? 135

An anonymous reader writes: As far as I know, I am not particularly sensitive to glare; I've used CRTs in offices full of overhead fluorescent lights, and just ignored the terrible reflections, and I've worked in places where the natural sunlight cleverly funneled in by architects was bounced around by glass walls and mirrors in just the right way to irritate. Still, I never found it much of a problem. Now, though, I work in a field that has me both working outdoors a lot, and traveling by car a fair amount, too. Now that days are getting longer, especially up here in the Pacific Northwest, I know that I'll be squinting and cursing a lot at my phone. My question(s): Are there are any modern smart phones you can recommend with a truly or even passably day-light readable screen? I don't care if it's e-ink (that would be cool), transflective (long promised!) or maybe just a secondary screen with some daylight-readable technology. Barring that, how do you deal with glare on a phone, when you need to use it on a sunny day? Same answer could apply to laptop use, I suppose. Do you build a little glare shield, of the kind that camera operators use? Wear a giant hood of privacy and darkness? I know I'm not alone — I see lots of others squinting and cursing at their cell phones, cupping it with their hands at their eyes, or ducking into scant shade just to see whether the call that's coming is one they need to take, or to read a text. I've tried quite a few phones that have been praised by reviewers for their bright, crisp, daylight-friendly displays, but I think those reviewers probably lived in New York or San Francisco, and were reading in either shadow or fog, because even the brightest Samsungs, Motorolas, and LGs I've seen cannot hold a candle to the summer sun north of Seattle.

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