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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 21 declined, 5 accepted (26 total, 19.23% accepted)

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Submission + - Accountability / bug submission for services providers? 3

crankyspice writes: Thinking on the topic of consumer frustration and our increasing reliance on tech. Currently brainstorming a solution to corporations providing IaaS/SaaS/PaaS type services with no way to bring technical issues to their developers' attention (customer support drones reading from scripts who don't even know what an RFC is — not the solution). (In the past, when your POTS line went out, Ma Bell rolled a truck; when your cable went out, Time Warner rolled a truck... What do you do when you've "cut the cord" and suddenly Hulu stops working with your WiFi-equipped Panasonic DVD player?)

Thinking something akin to a DMCA Registered Agent system, where if a tech company provides an email address that at least ties in to their bug tracking system, they get a safe harbor for interoperability liability or something... (At the moment, one-sided terms of service provisions mandate ~$10,000 arbitration, limit damages to what was spent on the service ($8/month?), and eliminate the ability to bring class action suits, so the service providers have basically immunized themselves from liability anyway; not sure how to handle that...)

As our world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, accountability and reliability are becoming more and more critical. It's soon going to be essential that there be a mechanism where the providers of services can at least be made aware that their stuff is broken...

Two situations I've had recently highlighted this (and caused hair pulling); both ultimately minor in the grand scheme of things, but both point to harrowing futures:
  1. Sending a PDF to fax via email was failing from my iPad. (an eFax service) just wasn't seeing the attachments. The script-reading customer service drones kept saying (once I got past the stock answers about how I had to send a message to, etc., which I was obviously doing since their system was reporting back to me a specific issue — no attachments found) they didn't support Apple, didn't support the iPad, etc., but I knew it had to be a problem on their end, as I'd sent PDFs from Pages on my iPad before and they'd been picked up and sent successfully by that service. Turns out the issue was with a longer filename; Pages and/or Mail on the iPad uses RFC 2231 sect. 3 multi-line encoding for parameter values, and TrustFax's email-to-fax system evidently wasn't written to support that standard. A relatively simple fix, once / if the developers are aware of it, but how to get it to their attention?
  2. My AppleTV won't play Netflix. Just reports "Netflix is currently unavailable." Apple says it's a Netflix problem. Netflix, after swearing up and down it was because my Apple TV "couldn't connect to Netflix" (demonstrably not true) finally pointed the finger at Apple. Finally I ran 'tcpdump' on my DD-WRT router and fed the results into Wireshark to see what was going on: (actually an Amazon AWS instance) is reporting "X-Neftlix-Error-Cause: Error from API Backend." Seems like a Netflix problem to me, but it could be that Netflix isn't properly handling bad input from the Apple-supplied application. Customer support drones on both sides are useless, so how do I get this into the hands of someone who can look at it, see what's broken, and put it in for a bug fix?

If you were going to design simple, effective legislation to address this lack of accountability / access to developers' attention, what would it look like? (From a consumer's perspective, and/or from the other side of the corporate firewall.) Is legislation the answer? Can corporations be shamed/spotlighted into voluntarily agreeing to some sort of industry-specified "best practices" when it comes to these issues?

I'm ready to agitate, but I don't want to go off half-cocked without considering, well, those aspects I haven't yet considered! Hence, I'm Asking Slashdot... :)

Submission + - Federal judge shoots down ReDigi

crankyspice writes: ReDigi's attempt to create a virtual marketplace for pre-owned digital music has bee shot down by Judge Sullivan of the Southern District of New York, in his ruling and order on cross-motions for summary judgment: (“The novel question presented in this action is whether a digital music file, lawfully made and purchased, may be resold by its owner through ReDigi under the first sale doctrine. The Court determines that it cannot.”)

Submission + - 9th Circuit affirms IsoHunt decision, no DMCA safe harbor (

crankyspice writes: "The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed, in Columbia Pictures Industries v. Fung (docket no. 10-55946), the summary judgment and injunctions against Gary Fung and his IsoHunt (and 3d2k-it) websites, finding liability for secondary copyright infringement for the sites' users' BitTorrent (and eDonkey) file sharing, under the 'inducement' theory (set forth by the Supreme Court in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster Ltd. , 545 U.S. 913 (2005)). The injunctions were left largely intact, with modifications required to make it more clear to the defendants what BitTorrent (etc) related activity they're enjoined from."

Submission + - Best electronic prototyping platform? 2

crankyspice writes: Having recently picked up the Erector set I've wanted since I was a kid, I quickly found myself wanting to plunge deeper into makerspace by adding more sophisticated electronics to moving devices (rovers, maybe eventually flying bots). My first instinct was Arduino (maybe because of brand recognition?), but that got me thinking — what's the "best" platform out there (most flexible)? Arduino with its myriad options (Nano, Mega, Uno, Mini)? PICAXE? BASIC Stamp? Raspberry Pi? (The latter seems like it would easily be the most flexible, but at greater cost in terms of weight and complexity.) I'm a hobbyist programmer, having learned C and C++ in college and recently re-learning Java (took and passed the Oracle Certified Professional exam, FWIW)...

Submission + - Which Java web framework?

crankyspice writes: I'm a somewhat-lapsed developer / IT guy, "somewhat" in that, during and after law school, I've done it as a hobby and smaller projects here and there. I'm about to embark on a Java web app tied into my law practice, though, and find myself bewildered by the various framework options out there — Spring, Hibernate, Tapestry, Struts2... The built-in stack in J2EE 6... What to use? Is there a good resource that objectively compares the various options, and/or provides insight as to which frameworks might be appropriate in different circumstances?

I've done a lot of Java coding over the years, but almost all of it was Swing desktop stuff; the last time I touched anything web-related, it was ATG Dynamo circa J2EE 1.3! Most of my web app experience was in C, Perl, or PHP. I roughly know my way around the MVC pattern; my last big project was Perl + Class::DBI + Application::CGI (including HTML::Template. But nothing too heavy.

Submission + - Which sub-$200 Android tablet?

crankyspice writes: Wanting an Android tablet to expand a Java/iOS client/server app for more users. What's the groupthink on, say, hacking a Kindle Fire, grabbing an IdeaPad A1, holding out for Google's rumored ICS tablet ... Are any of the no-name cheap "lightinthebox" tablets worth experimenting with? (I'd like it to be as 'usable' as a 'real' tablet as possible, so I can take it out in the field and live with it for a day at a time, "dogfooding." So, e.g., a device with a weak battery — notsomuch.) I've read the specs and skimmed the various reviews, but still can't get a sense for what would be the best "second tablet." Don't need cameras, don't (much) care about weight. Speed/responsiveness/good WiFi connectivity are musts, as is the availability of good PDF/ePub/CHM software (mentioned only because apparently not all Android software runs on all Android devices)...

Submission + - BlackBerry devices to run Android apps (

crankyspice writes: RIM is allegedly prepping the QNX-based operating system running their forthcoming PlayBook tablet to run Android applications, according to a Bloomberg article. As RIM has stated ( that the QNX platform will run at least some of its upcoming smartphones as well, this could cinch Android's status as the lingua franca of smartphone application environments, especially with BlackBerry's current market leadership ( and Android's explosive marketshare growth (

Submission + - Portables without cameras? 2

crankyspice writes: I work routinely in environments where a camera cannot physically be present (e.g., federal court), which really limits what I can carry with me. For instance, I'm a Mac guy, but there's no way to order a MacBook without a built-in webcam (which I've never used on the machines I've owned that have had one). Ditto the iPhone. I'm left with a BlackBerry 8830 and the bottom rung of the [W|L]intel portables. Even then, when I ordered a Dell Mini 9, I had to wait more than a month because I specified no webcam when I placed the order. This is a relatively common (government, law, sensitive corporate environments) requirement; what have other Slashdotters done? Disabling the camera with a script or somesuch won't convince the $12/hour security guard that there's no camera. How can one easily find portable devices without a built-in camera?
The Internet

Submission + - Verio offers CP/M Hosting

crankyspice writes: Large virtual server provider Verio is now offering CP/M hosting! (I know this sounds like a slashvertisement, but given recent discussion of CP/M, etc., here (, I thought it worth noting.) Details at: I'm liking the Pro Plus plan, with a full 64K of RAM, dual floppies, and a hard drive!

Submission + - FDA declares cloned meat and milk safe (

crankyspice writes: From the article: "The Food and Drug Administration today declared that meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring is as safe as the natural version, clearing the way for the products to enter the food supply without special labeling." C'mon, if this doesn't deserve a whatcouldgowrong tag, nothing does!

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