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Comment Re:Nice as a default, not as a mandate (Score 1) 275

Oh, to make things worse, they didn't announce this until AFTER the free Windows 10 upgrade period is over. Users who kept Windows 7/8/8.1 specifically so they could manage updates individually are going to be calling "foul" over this.

It's still available from the assistive technologies page. You have to vouch that you use assistive technologies, but there's no proof required, and under the circumstances there's no reason to feel guilty (but using the magnifier for a few seconds once a year technically qualifies if that's a problem).

Comment SSA needs to improve password policy (Score 2) 37

There is an undocumented 20-character limit on password length. Any longer password meeting all stated requirements is rejected (repeating only the stated requirements, not the actual reason). Although since the password has to be changed every 180 days, that's probably not enough time to crack it, if all printable characters are used (one can use a strong random username to add security, though). I'd rather be allowed to use an arbitrarily long password and not have to change it at all.

Submission + - Secure Skype alternatives 1

An anonymous reader writes: I have a Windows 8.1 phone and mostly use it for Skype calls and chats. A bit of browsing every now and then, and checking public transportation schedules. Nothing fancy in other words.

What can I do to be able to securely chat and place audio/video calls? What do you think is the best device to buy and what apps to use on it?

Submission + - Is Cortana spying on us? 2

siamesevodka writes: I just got the anniversary update installed [windows 10] and noticed cortana is installed again.I seen it was active again and wondered why. So I remembered it was hard for me uninstall or shut off the last time. So I asked cortana how to uninstall it. It replied that the anniversary update made sure it was permanently installed. So does this thing spy on us now even if we don't use it? Is it a back door for the NSA to keep tabs on me? Is microsoft whoring me out with their "free" software ? Is there a way to still shut it completely off or is George Orwell right?

Submission + - Solar Impulse completes solar-powered flight around the world

MikeChino writes: After 558 hours of total flight time, a solar-powered airplane just finished a record-shattering trip around the world. The Solar Impulse landed in Abu Dhabi at 4:05 am this morning, completing the final leg of an adventure spanning 43,041 kilometers. Upon landing and exiting the cockpit, Piccard said: “This is not only a first in the history of aviation; it’s before all a first in the history of energy. I’m sure that within 10 years we’ll see electric airplanes transporting 50 passengers on short to medium haul flights."

Submission + - Windows 10 Anniversary Update To Take Hassle Out Of Reactivating After Upgrades (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: Microsoft is cooking up some nifty feature enhancements to Windows 10 that will roll out with the much anticipated Anniversary Update later this summer. One of the newest tweaks will make it easier to perform hardware upgrades, such as a motherboard or hard drive, as you won't have to dial up a support representative and explain why your license should still be valid. The activation tweak is also being rolled out preview build 14371 to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring. It's part of what Microsoft is calling the "Activation Troubleshooter," which is intended to address user feedback from Windows Insiders who've run into activation issues on Genuine Windows devices after making certain hardware changes. You can launch the tool by going to Settings > Update & security > Activation and select Troubleshoot.

Submission + - Why Drones Could Save Door-To-Door Mail Delivery (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Online shopping aside, people don't have as many physical items to mail as they used to, which is largely the reason why Canada Post announced it would be phasing out door-to-door mail delivery. Motherboard reports: "The corporation is exploring future use of drone technology to make deliveries, according to a report from the Canadian Press. At this point, Canada Post is engaging in a 'proper exercise,' a spokesperson told the Canadian Press, adding that the project is in its earliest, experimental stages. According to Graham Scott, the deputy editor of Canadian Business, even if mail-delivering drones remain a theoretical concept for now, it's inevitable they'll be considered as a way to drive costs down. There are many good reasons why mail delivery drones may never get off the ground. For one thing, current technology limits them to delivering one item of post at a time, which is tremendously impractical. But, as we've seen with the rolling out of community mailboxes — a program that was put on hold earlier this year when the review was launched — the invisible hand of the market is always looking to drive costs down. So don't count out flying robot deliveries for good. From a manager's perspective at least, drones have their advantages. They don't suffer from dog bites, and they (ideally) don't deviate from their routes. 'Drones don't twist their ankle, they don't get tired, and they don't form a union.' said Scott."

Submission + - Pay cash for healthcare and save a fortune (latimes.com)

schwit1 writes: Because of the skyrocketing costs for healthcare, it is now far cheaper to simply pay cash for many medical procedures, bypassing health insurance completely.

“This is one of the dirty little secrets of healthcare,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “If your insurance has a high deductible, you should always ask the cash price.”

Cash prices are intended for uninsured patients — and are frequently still much higher than insured rates. But cash prices for many common procedures have come down thanks to changing regulations and consumers increasingly being able to shop around for cheaper providers. Blood tests can be performed at CVS MinuteClinics and other pharmacies, for instance. Or as I reported a few years ago, MRIs are available from independent providers for as little as $300, whereas many hospitals will charge thousands of dollars.

The article’s main example is the case where the cost for blood tests, through insurance, was more than $80, while the cash price was only $15, and was still sufficient for the lab to make a profit.

Comment Re:What's so "unreasonable"? (Score 1) 183

Formerly on the NALC website (and saved by the Wayback Machine:

Although the NALC objected strenuously to one provision—requiring injured postal employees to wait three days before beginning Continuation of Pay benefits—the union played a crucial role in developing many of its most important provisions.

(Note that that one provision is something no one remembers or cares about today.)

The Constitution had to explicitly allow the government to deliver mail since otherwise the monopoly would have been illegal. However, there is no requirement for it either (unlike the original Articles of Confederation which explicitly gave the government a monopoly on mail delivery) so the government is free to get out of the mail delivery business if it chooses to, without amending the Constitution. Hence the fact that no privatization attempt has ever included a proposal to amend the Constitution, since it's unnecessary. If there actually was such a requirement, postal unions wouldn't waste time opposing privatization attempts - they'd simply ignore them, knowing they'd be struck down.

Comment Re:What's so "unreasonable"? (Score 1) 183

The USPS's pension funding requirement is 50 years, not 75 - see here (where an actual link to the legislation is provided, so you can check for yourself). The exaggeration originated with the postal unions, probably the NALC. Of course, you could say "So what?" if you don't think it's disturbing that they would abuse your blind trust like that, considering you believe they deserve to have monopoly powers.

Submission + - Increased marrying, and mating, by education level not affecting genetic make-up (phys.org)

chasm22 writes: While the latter half of the 20th century showed a widening gap between the more and less educated with respect to marriage and fertility, this trend has not significantly altered the genetic makeup of subsequent generations, a team of researchers has found.

"Undoubtedly, spouses are increasingly sorting themselves with an eye toward the education they've received—among other traits," observes Conley. "But while the existence of education-association genes has been well-documented, choosing partners with education levels similar to our own has not resulted in children who have meaningfully altered the genetic makeup of the U.S. population."

Submission + - Bill Gates: AI Is The Holy Grail (mashable.com)

An anonymous reader writes: At the Code Conference on Wednesday, Bill Gates balanced his fears of artificial intelligence with praise. He talked about two of the challenges AI will pose: a loss of existing jobs, and making sure humans remain in control of super-intelligent machines. Gates, and many other experts in the field, predict there will be an excess of labor resources as robots and AI take over. He plans to talk with others about ideas to combat the threat of AI controlling humans, noting specifically work being done at Stanford. Even with such threats, Gates called AI the "holy grail" as he envisions a future "with machines that are capable and more capable than human intelligence." Gates said, "The dream is finally arriving. This is what it was all leading up to. [...] We've made more progress in the last five years than at any time in history."

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