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Comment Modern consumer solar (Score 1) 41

Modern consumer solar is breathtakingly amazing.

We forget how bad things were just 15-20 years ago.

Earlier today, I set up a folding panel with sunpower cells; it was literally vertical, in a window, facing South. Total surface area.. maybe 3sqft, weighing 1lb. It was making ~20W for 4 hours, and managed to completely recharge my 130Wh battery pack in 8. Through a window. In the winter, in Canada.

The thing cost $120.

It's easy to get lost in the constant claims of breakthroughs while forgetting what an amazing time we live in. 20 years ago, this panel would have blocked out the sun and cost a months' salary.

Comment Re:If it ain't broke... (Score 2) 207

So, here's what happens:

As a product improves, it gathers users. This is a mark of continuing success.

Features are added, and users rejoyce.

At some point, the product plateaus. There are no new users coming in, and people start getting nervous.

A UI designer is introduced to the product.

"There's a whole market of learning-disabled children and moderately senile elderly folks we've been ignoring this whole time! They get confused by all of this rich functionality. Burn it to the ground!"

... and they do. They onboard a bunch of users who were formerly confused by features like "close all tabs," while their core fanbase deserts the product. But that fact doesn't become known for some time.

Rinse, repeat. Bitter much? Nah.

Comment Re:Liability (Score 3, Insightful) 445

That's it.

A lot of people don't realize that click-through agreements are mostly unenforceable because they're almost all one-sided contracts.

When you purchase a product, it's your to use. This right is enshrined in all kinds of law in both the US and Canada.

So "click OK to agree to the EULA/contract" is attempting to impose restriction without commensurate compensation. You already have the right to use the software, regardless of whether or not you click OK, so the EULA is not providing you any compensation. That makes it invalid, except when tied to services that you don't own.

But I'd be happy to see a new law introduced (in Canada, at least) that explicitly outlaws EULAs for everything non-service related, and severe restrictions on service agreements as well.

Hell, make onerous service contract agreements themselves taxable assets.

Comment Re:Flamebait opinion piece, not news. (Score 1) 221

"Why not both?"

Because we live in nations under the rule of law, we can impose reasonable restriction on those who seek to profit from our vast array of shared resources and capital.

The right to own and repair ones' property shall not be infringed. John Deere shall not impose upon owners, and will honour warranty obligations as required by law. Competitors shall be allowed to thrive, and service all hardware and software.

If after all of that consumer protection you still have a problem with John Deere, then you can take your business elsewhere.

But the two options are not mutually exclusive.

Comment Maps reaching a tipping point (Score 1) 50

Great news, but I suspect we won't have long to enjoy it. Every time a Google product reaches a rich level of functionality, it's scrapped and replaced with a useless, feature robbed, confusing new beta with a horrendous UI.

Short of a distance measuring tool and a few other odds and ends, Maps is finally approaching the functionality it had 3 years ago, and I bet all kinds of "usability experts" are just itching to scrap it.

Comment Re:This is bullcrap (Score 1) 507

They get a saw and cut your nice expensive safe open.

And then everyone whines and complains because Apple (or the encrypted device manufacturer) has the knowledge of how to use a saw to cut this type of nice, expensive safe open.

Frankly, I think using the physical device analogy is good though. If the hard-coded decryption key is etched into silicon and only readable by physical access and some very expensive equipment then having an unlock brings us to almost exactly the same point: legal custody (whether of the safe or the device) means that eventually the authorities will be able to get into it with a warrant and/or subpoena.

The Military

The US Army Finally Gets The World's Largest Laser Weapon System (bizjournals.com) 129

It's been successfully tested on trucks, as well as UAVs and small rockets, according to a video from Lockheed Martin, which is now shipping the first 60kW-class "beam combined" fiber laser for use by the U.S. Army. An anonymous reader quotes the Puget Sound Business Journal: Lockheed successfully developed and tested the 58 kW laser beam earlier this year, setting a world record for this type of laser. The company is now preparing to ship the laser system to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Alabama [according to Robert Afzal, senior fellow for Lockheed's Laser and Sensor Systems in Bothell]. "We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air..." Laser weapons, which complement traditional kinetic weapons in the battlefield, will one day protect against threats such as "swarms of drones" or a flurry of rockets and mortars, Lockheed said.

Comment One of them.. (Score 1) 143

While I generally run the latest stable AOSP/CM/LineageOS build available for my devices from the day I buy them, I don't routinely use a secure lock screen.

It may sound risky, but I'm one of those all-eggs-in-one-basket types. I keep my birth certificate and SIN card in my wallet, and I keep my phone unlocked. Neither leave my side, ever. Not for a second. Not anywhere.

If I check my coat, my wallet and phone stay with me. If I'm asked to check my phone, I leave the venue and write a negative review. Every time I stand up, I tap my pockets (subtly) - cell phone, keys, wallet. Check!

Because the cost of losing control over my wallet or phone is so high, I take no chances, and to date, have never had it happen. Knock wood, right? :)

Same goes for other items we tend to lose; I buy wickedly overpriced but quality pens, scarves, hats, gloves, etc., so that they're always on the back of my mind.

That said, if I'm at a party or bar, or out camping, I do throw on at least a pin lock.

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