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Comment VTOL planes a/k/a Widowmakers (Score 3, Insightful) 135

There's a reason that both the Harrier and Osprey are called the Widowmaker. I doubt a commercial VTOL Uber plane will be a reality in my lifetime due to liability concerns. This is the kind of research that is always "5-10 years from application", like all the miracle cancer cures I've read about over the years -- which I then never heard about again. Just say "20-50 years away at best" and assume Uber won't be around any more when it happens. What a joke of a story.

Comment The argument for having your own e-mail server? (Score 5, Interesting) 107

I used to think that the only reason someone would want their own e-mail server would be to try to erase a central record of sent e-mails should the need arise, but after reading this summary I see that there is merit in not entrusting a third party's low level tech support person with the ability to either read or reset your password.

In other news, Verizon knows its users' passwords? Let me guess -- they're stored in plaintext.

Comment Re:Smart refrigerators (Score 1) 178

Your milk and egg cartons are transparent?

Actually, both of mine are, so it's not unheard of. My gallon of milk is in a plastic container you can see through and I buy eggs in a 30-pack that has a clear top and bottom plastic enclosure (which also makes it easier to to check for broken eggs at the store).

Comment So. . . (Score 5, Insightful) 104

So, they've had this ability for 7 years. How's that worked out for them? The fact that they're getting a patent on a process that hasn't stopped their content from being pirated doesn't seem like that big a deal. I think the decline in the quality of their content is a bigger deterrent to piracy than anything else they've done.

Comment Re:karma's a bitch (Score 2) 393

Why do cops get trials where a judge decides?

Everyone gets this. The right to a jury trial is something a criminal defendant has and can waive. There are rare cases where an average citizen thinks he'll get a fairer shot at acquittal from a judge than a jury and waives the right to jury trial. Usually, this happens if the accused thinks that a jury will hold a particular prejudice against him for matters unrelated to the crime which the prosecutor has a way of putting in front of the jury. For them, it's about avoiding unreasonable jury bias. For cops, it's about seeking unreasonable bias in their favor from the judge.

Comment No additional funds authorized? (Score 5, Informative) 95

The law itself specifies that no additional funds are authorized to comply with the new requirements, so we'll see how these changes will actually be implemented. The Washington Post article cited in the summary already notes "Federal agencies have often starved their FOIA departments for resources; the new law will not change that. Backlogs stretch for years."

So, yeah. In theory, it gives broader and easier access to records. In practice, expect to wait forever to have your records request processed, just as before.

Comment Adwords for dummies (Score 1) 17

"The Adwords service was primarily aimed at placing ads next to relevant Google internet search results. But the plaintiffs said Google should have disclosed that ads would also appear in undesirable places such as error pages and undeveloped websites known as parked domains."

When you sign up for adwords, you can choose if you want your ads to appear in (1) search results and/or (2) the google content system (basically blogs and websites that use adsense). When an adsense user (a website owner) gets approved for adsense, they get approved based on one website and can then put adsense ads on any of their sites without needing any further approval. I can see how some people would abuse this and put their ads on garbage pages, but for them it's just a matter of time before someone reports them to Google for a TOS violation (use the little arrow attached to any adsense ad) and gets their account banned.

In short, an advertiser can easily opt to only have its ads appear in search results. If it agrees to have its ads appear on the Google content network, it runs the risk of its ads occasionally showing up on garbage sites. Of course, for most who pay for ads on a per-click basis, this won't have any affect because no one is clicking on the garbage site ads. And before anyone says anything about click fraud, Google is actually pretty aggressive about detecting that and disallowing adsense users from making money on illegitimate clicks.

Comment Re:Pop culture (Score 1) 151

In fairness, Star Trek's VGER wasn't evil, or trying to destroy humanity. Its whole motive was to meet with (and merge with) its creator. Also, Star Trek gave us Lt. Data, probably the most positive example of AI ever (inb4 Lore). We were also exposed to positive AIs in Star Wars with R2-D2 and C-3PO. It seems that if the AI is the central focus of the movie/TV show plot, it will be out to destroy humanity, but that stems from the need for a movie to have a conflict to resolve. If the AI isn't the main focus of the film, it seems to get a more balanced or positive treatment. The Alien franchise gave us a nice balanced view, giving us both Ash, a sociopathic corporate drone, and Bishop, a self-sacrificing hero.

Comment Mech mods, cheap batteries and user error (Score 4, Informative) 361

will undoubtedly account for 99% of these cases. There are no details in this story about what caused the batteries to explode, but I've read other articles which sometimes shed light on these cases. The guy with the leg burns kept loose batteries in his pocket with keys and coins. Another victim was a brand new vaper using a mech mod (it said he pushed the button on the bottom of the device, a tell-tale sign that it was a mech mod), and it was clear that someone else has prepared his gear and he had no idea what he was doing. In fact, I'd wager that most people with exploding batteries were mech mod users. Why mech mods still exist is beyond me. They have no protective circuitry, so if your build causes too high a draw on the battery, or the device gets stuck in the "on" position, you're going to have a big problem.

The one possibly unavoidable problem with any e-cigarette is counterfeit batteries. If you're trying to be safe and you buy Sony, Samsung or LG batteries, it can be tough to tell if they're genuine or not (I've gotten counterfeits myself through an Amazon third-party seller). If I have any doubts that a battery I'm using isn't genuine, it gets boxed and disposed of immediately. Of course, counterfeit batteries aren't only a problem for vapers, but the proximity of the device to your face will generally cause more damage than for, say, a flashlight user.

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