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Comment Re:As someone totally ignorant in this stuff (Score 2, Interesting) 368

There's the well-known disaster communications argument. That is, when the phone lines and cell towers go out, you will still have a means of communication. Also, various ham emergency groups are used to pass information about disasters, assist hospitals, provide communication, etc. Ham radio is a way to talk with people around the world from all walks of life without the need for any infrastructure. For me, I often talk on ham radio while in the car driving to/from work on one of the local repeaters (the "magic mountain repeater" for those of you in the LA area). To me, it's a bit more engaging than listening to whatever idle morning show is on the radio. And people often give live traffic reports when commuting, etc. Honestly, it's a hobby that I find fun as something to do. If you're interested in radio in general, it's one of the few hobbies where experimenting in the RF spectrum is encouraged. HAMs found out that HF waves (shortwave) bounce off the atmosphere as opposed to being absorbed or allowed to pass through, for example. Also, you get to have a cool ID code to use online and offline (the state of CA charges a 1-time fee to make it a vanity plate, as opposed to the annual upkeep of most other vanity plates). --KI6WPV

Comment Sharing books? (Score 5, Insightful) 503

My problem with e-book readers is let's say I buy a book and it's good. Now, in the past, if I had a book that I read, liked, and I have a friend who may like it, I lent them the book for them to read and either keep (ie lend to someone else) or give back to me depending on the book. With textbooks, it was called selling them back to the bookstore. With DRM, etc., how am I to do that? Also, say I don't have DRM on the ebook. How do I get them the file? Do they bring their kindle/whatnot over, I connect it to my computer and transfer the ebook file? Do I email it to them? Send it over a file server? Give it to them on a jumpdrive? See, with sharing a physical book, it's a matter of getting together and handing them the book, which takes no real time, since it's an opportunity to be social with the person I'm lending the book to and presumably like as a person.

Comment Re:I might be too old... (Score 1) 785

In college, I had a teacher whose policy was that if your phone went off in class, he would take it, put it on vibrate, and hide it somewhere on the campus right in the middle of class (oh, and you'd have to stay in the classroom while he did it). If after about a week you still hadn't found it, he'd tell you, acting like it was all one big huge joke. Granted, if oyu had a legitimate reason to keep your phone on (eg: waiting to hear about a family member's health, important vendor calling back for current projects, etc.), he'd let you have it on vibrate, but you had to tell him in advance, at which point you could then take the call outside the classroom.

Comment Re:scary thing (Score 5, Interesting) 464

Out here in California, there is a law about not talking on the phone while driving without a handsfree device. The problem is that now people all the time are just using their phone as before, but spending three times the effort hiding their phone so the cop on the side of the road doesn't pull them over. So now, rather than them just talking on the phone, they're talking, trying to hide it, and driving with whatever level of brain power they have left.

Comment Re:Waste Money on what has allready been done (Score 1) 130

HAMs are allowed to encrypt according to a protocol than can be decrpted by a readily available, published method. The exception to this is for satellite control signals, which can be encrypted however. And this is one reason why morse code (CW) is often used with emergency communications. Many amateurs involved in emergency communications know it, btu the general public passing by won't know what all the dots and dashes mean.

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