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Comment Re:Paper and Pen (Score 2) 204

I've received obviously personalized replies from Senator Kyl's office on multiple occasions. He happened to be my own senator, but that's not bad for the #2 republican in the Senate, even if it was just a staff member composing the letter. The president I've never gotten more than a form letter and a Christmas card. Other representatives are somewhere in between.

The trick is not to write on the night before a vote, but to write when a bill for their committee just got introduced, when they still have time to influence it, and maybe make improvements based on constituent input. Once a bill gets out on the floor, it's all a dog and pony show.

As far as local and state representatives go, they are usually accessible enough to be able to just go and talk to them at local events. Even your federal congressman can answer your questions in person at town halls. You just have to know where to go.

Comment Re:Oh really? (Score 1) 67

Spoken like someone who has never been in a widespread emergency. Last April several tornadoes tore through our state, knocking out high voltage power lines and a lot of communications infrastructure. The few mobile towers that were still functioning were jammed with calls. 911 was flooded with minor emergencies. It took a couple days to get more than a handful of radio stations on the air, and we didn't have the power to run a TV. We heard that power would likely not be restored for more than a week. Our cell phone batteries were halfway drained when we woke up under these conditions, without the means to charge it.

Are you seriously going to spend all day wearing down your battery trying to make one phone call? No. You send out a tweet or a facebook post that says you're all right, but communication is terrible and you'll post an update in 8 hours or so.

Maybe our lives weren't directly saved by social networking, but I like to think saving bandwidth for people with true emergencies helped.

Comment Re:Well that depends... (Score 5, Informative) 160

It's not that simple on a wireless connection where everyone shares the medium. For communications originating at the phone, the network provider can't do any throttling until the packet has already been received at their equipment, because they don't control the phone's transmitter. By that time, the bandwidth on the wireless link has already been consumed and wasn't available to other users. If the control signals originate at the server, the network provider could throttle it, but setting it up isn't trivial, and then you have problems like the servers sending retries because they aren't getting responses from the phone. The best solution requires cooperation from the OS and/or application writers.

Comment Re:Bad examples (Score 3, Insightful) 317

It's not crazy. A major board redesign will set a schedule back three months or more, so if you have two options and aren't sure which one will work, it's not uncommon to design for both if you have the room. Maybe you're evaluating two vendors. There are also usually components that are only used during development. Sometimes there's an experimental or premium feature that requires an extra chip, but you don't want to make two boards. Of course, most of the time unused components get left off in mass production, but developer's boards or ones from prototype runs might still have them.

Comment Fascinating (Score 1) 1880

If you're not emotionally involved, these discussions are fascinating. The number one factor people list for using an operating system is the one factor the OS has no control over: the apps available for it. What's also fascinating is the circular logic people employ about their apps: they use Windows because all the apps they use are for Windows. Well, duh.

Comment Re:Those aren't "programming" mistakes... (Score 1) 213

Only 3 of the 25 deal with missing requirements or design. The rest are implementation details. Sure, you can make a design that makes writing code vulnerable to SQL injection more difficult, but it's still something the programmer has to watch out for. Also, I expect programmers to bring up glaring omissions in the requirements or design, just like I would hope a worker on a car manufacturing floor would bring issues to the attention of engineering. They are on the front lines and see things designers miss.

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