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Comment Garmin (Score 1) 118

The newer GPSs are getting better about voice assistance, before they totally vanish from the market. Also, they're not telling Google/Amazon/Apple everything you're saying at home (yeah, I know, theoretically they don't usually do that) or letting TV commercials order bags of dogfood sent to you (really big bags, because Alexa knows it was a Labrador Retriever barking.)

Trade shows used to raffle off iPads and such. Now it's mostly Amazon Echo variants, which I actively don't want in my house, as opposed to drones, which I'm not interested in but not annoyed by.

Comment Win10 Anniv Update was PAINFUL (Score 1) 110

A couple of months ago I'd gotten sufficiently fed up with Android that, when my Android tablet decided to reset itself again, a week or so before I was going on a trip, at the same time that Fry's had an Ematic Win10 tablet on sale, that I'd give Windows tablets a chance. The one I bought had 32GB of flash (plus a microSD card slot), and had 15.9GB of that free. I ran Windows Update, which told me that Anniversary Update was available and needed 16GB of free space; turns out that doesn't mean 15.9, nor 16, nor 16 with an empty 64GB SD card - I had to drag&drop enough different things over to the SD card to get about 18-19GB free on the built-in to get the update to run. But once it had enough space it ran cleanly.

The latest outrage from MS is that the email account I registered it with had the form "", and MS has decided that to protect me from losing access to the account if I forget the password, they need to VERIFY that by sending it an email, which never arrives because they're confused by the "+tag" in the name field, so when I tried to add a different email by answering a bunch of bogus security questions with the same answers as last time, they sent the "VERIFICATION" email to the new address, I clicked on it, and the first thing it does is demand that I re-verify it by having them send a code to the old address. I have not given them a phone number to call, since I have no interest in giving them my real information; I'm tempted to borrow a burner for that, or see if they can send the code by audio to a VOIP system or something.

(That's not even counting that Windows 10 tablet mode is pretty lame, and works much better with a keyboard, and the nice ergonomically designed keyboard that came with the tablet died after about a month, but that's more a symptom of what you get for $70 on sale.)

Comment Keeps the annoying part, loses the useful parts! (Score 1) 92

As far as I could tell, the main reason people were annoyed about Google Glass (besides the ostentatious bragging of wearing $1500 glasses) was that somebody wearing them could be taking your picture at any time, without obviously holding up a camera or a phone or wearing a lapel-pin camera or having a pen-sized camera in their shirt pocket or something clipped to their backpack straps or whatever else. These glasses still do that, just not as well as a cheap camera or phone.

But the display inside the glasses, which made Google Glass more useful than a camera thing, isn't in these, and it's also missing the potential Google functionality of doing face recognition and telling you the name of the person you're looking at, which you forgot. Sure, somebody wearing Google Glasses could look like they're looking at you but really be watching cat videos or talking to somebody else, but cellphone headsets had given us those a decade earlier, and now there's Pokemon Go or whatever follows it.

Also, social views of always-connected cameras are changing, as a result of Black Lives Matter and other episodes of people recording cops behaving badly and the near-ubiquity of cellphone video. Yes, there are privacy tradeoffs we need to figure out (e.g. secure recording for your pictures doesn't have to also mean that Google or Apple iCloud has access to your data.)

Comment Obama Should But Won't - Will Merkel/EU/others? (Score 1) 375

Of course Obama should pardon Snowden, but we all know that ain't gonna happen. The real question is whether some EU country like Germany or some other country besides Russia will offer Snowden asylum. So far, none of them have had the guts, even Ecuador which is giving Julian Assange some slack, though most Latin American governments are too tightly tied to the US to offer protection against kidnapping as well as against official extradition or look-the-other-way rendition.

Russia's currently some protection for Snowden, but only while he's politically useful to Putin, and Putin's still in power. If anything happens to Putin, or to Snowden's usefulness (e.g. Putin wants to do a favor for President Trump), he's in trouble.

Comment Fixing Number Spoofing is Hard (Score 1) 120

Sure, it's just a simple matter of programming to re-architect the signalling system that's driven the phone companies since the mid-80s. Unfortunately, number spoofing has been an important feature for legitimate businesses - it lets them do things like always give you the number of their main office as caller-id, even if the person is calling from a remote office, or let you give the direct number of the caller, even if the call is getting routed through the company's main office PBX VOIP gateway. It also provides the ability to do a lot more complicated things. And (this mattered more back then than now) it let them run phone switches on processors that were made in the 1960s and 1970s, and with mainframes that might have 10 MIPS of CPU power (compared with the wimpy 1 MIPS VAX I was using in 1980.) My wristwatch probably has less RAM than that, but probably a much faster CPU, and my wimpy Android phone has about as much RAM as my VAX had disk.

And yes, within the next decade we may well have re-architected the world's phone systems away from the designs we used back then (and much of the implementation has changed radically already), but interface standards stick around a lot longer than implementations, and are a lot harder to get rid of.

Comment Thank you! Lost, not "denied". "Foiled" is ok. (Score 1) 245

"Denied" would be the party not accepting him because he's not a member or didn't file the right paperwork or whatever. Dude lost, not only because he didn't have the credibility with most of the party that Gary Johnson has, but also because he's too crazy and embarrassing even for us.

"Foiled" would be ok :-)

Comment Bitcoin's designed for transactions not investment (Score 1) 106

Bitcoin isn't really designed for investment, in the buy-and-hold sense where you hope the value goes up.
What it's designed for is making transactions, so you can buy and sell regular goods over the internet with lower transaction costs than credit cards or PayPal, and so you can buy and sell (ahem) less regular goods over the internet with much less traceability than credit cards or PayPal, even though you don't get the advantage of being able to cancel the payment or limit it to $50 if the seller defaults.

Of course, what it's really not designed for is storing in a bank where somebody you don't 100% trust is holding it for you, because it's also an extremely convenient transaction methods for embezzlement, either by the bank's managers or employees or other insiders, and digital safecracking lets you become an insider without all the noise and dust of using dynamite or the risks of using guns.

Comment US Government Hackers worry me more (Score 1) 91

I'm really not worried about Chinese or Russian or Enemy-of-the-month-i-stani 1337 h4x0rs tracking what the US presidential campaigns are doing. I'm much more concerned about US government hackers monitoring who's involved with what political campaigns, and slightly concerned about campaigns and their totally-not-coordinated-with-the-campaign supporters' committees hacking each others' resources.

The biggest risk with foreign hackers isn't foreign governments tracking our political movements - it's foreign criminals compromising web pages, figuring that they'd be good targets, and if you're giving that $20 donation to some candidate who's not good at web security, they can redirect it to themselves.


EgyptAir Flight 804 Missing ( 410

dark.nebulae writes: An EgyptAir flight disappeared on it's way from Paris to Egypt resulting in loss of 56 passengers and 10 crew members. The plane was flying at 37,000 feet when it vanished shortly after entering Egyptian airspace. It was suppose to land in Cairo at 3:15 a.m. Thursday after leaving Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport at 11:09 p.m. local time. CNN's aviation correspondent Richard Quest said, "Planes just do not fall out of the sky for no reason, particularly at 37,000 feet." He said the plane vanished while cruising -- the safest part of the journey. We'll update the story as more details emerge.

UPDATE 5/20/16 3:57 AM (UTC)
: Egypt's civil aviation minister says it's more likely terrorism than a technical issue. Greek officials said the plane swerved sharply and plunged from 37,000 feet down to the Mediterranean as the plane left Greek airspace for Egyptian airspace. [Source]

Comment 30-100 feet is enough for smartphone wifi (Score 1) 99

Occasionally it might be nice to have longer range, but 30-foot through-wall and 100-foot free-space is usually enough for most wifi environments I'm in, and having a phone wifi that didn't burn battery so fast would be extremely useful, and would more than justify having to put a few extra wifi repeaters in my office space.

Comment Really-Low Power Medium-speed is cool too! (Score 1) 99

Sure, there are times that longer range is what you need, but there are a lot of applications for which Really Low Power is a real enabler, and 11 Mbps is plenty (while Bluetooth/BLE/Zigbee speeds may not be), plus being able to use one software stack instead of having to keep a Bluetooth one and a Wifi one or needing some badly designed hopelessly insecure IoT gateway box is a big win. 1kbps is enough to drive your lightbulbs, but if your refrigerator needs a software update or whatever, the higher speeds are useful.

I'm still using 3Mbps DSL at home (don't watch enough TV online to make 6Mbps useful), so 11 Mbps is fine, though I've upgraded from 802.11b to .11n for higher reliability (and I'd use 5GHz if my router could do both radio types at once.)

Comment Incompetent Evolutionary Teaching (Score 2) 385

40 years? You're trying to blame your parents, or your high school teachers, or what?
First of all, we've had a reasonable amount of wide evolutionary belief since the 1870s, Mendel's work was rediscovered around 1900, the Scopes Monkey Trial was in 1925 (because evolution was sufficiently widely known to be a threat to some people's social position), DNA in the 1950s.

The real problem has been how badly many people were taught about it. Not only was there the whole Social Darwinism thing and the Eugenics movement, using misunderstood and misrepresented "evolutionary" ideas to justify discriminating against and mistreating other people, there was the positively-intended fluffy belief that evolution was somehow about "progress", and evolving meant we were "improving" every day, or every generation, or certainly "scientifically" better than previous species.

How often do you hear people today talk about humans evolving into even more advanced species, or talking about how people they disapprove of needing to evolve? That's why people like Sarah Palin can ask "Why are there still monkeys?" That usual picture of the monkey evolving into the ape, then the Neanderthal, then the Cro-Magnon, then modern humans, each one standing taller and moving ever forward? It should be a picture of a whole bunch of monkeys and apes and hominids running around in various directions from each other.

Comment Certainty about dogs from wolves is very recent (Score 1) 385

Sure, we've known that dogs are related to other canines for a long time, but it's only fairly recent that we've had enough genetic data to be sure that they're descended from wolves, as opposed to other theories about jackals, foxes, coyotes, multiple species of wolves, etc., especially since there's a lot of potential for hybridization (e.g. the recent coywolves in the US, which descended from hybrids of coyote, wolf, and domestic dog) and domestication may have happened in multiple places at multiple times.

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