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Comment Didn't FTC Do This in 2013? (Score 1) 110

I guess I misunderstood TFA. Didn't FTC hold a $50,000 challenge in 2013 and award a prize?

I immediately attempted to set this up at my house but of course ATT didn't implement the third party ring feature which is the central requirement. Funny thing...

Oh well. We have an answering machine, anyone who calls is welcome to use it. All the phones have their ringers off. We get about 20 calls a day, and about 2 messages a week. I wonder who all the other calls are from?

Comment Cheap Bluetooth 4.0 module (Score 1) 135

Around Thanksgiving, the Linux Voice podcast had a "find of the fortnight" about a small, cheap Bluetooth 4.0 module that can easily be added to an existing system. The card is designated KRC 86B, and a raw board is about $10. As a raw board, there is programming in place that handles everything you need to send audio from your phone and the board has audio in and out all configured. I think they are the same ones that are used for Bluetooth connections in new cars these days.

Bare boards have soldering pads, but no connectors. I paid a bit more for one ($14) that already had all the connectors attached - all I did was provide micro-USB power, and connect to my receiver with a standard audio miniplug. Pair and play!

There are tutorials all over the place on how to gracefully integrate these things into your existing box, but mine's just dangling out front. Despite the simplicity and low cost, the sound is excellent! Don't take my word for it, they're about $10, just do it!

Submission + - Wouldn't Watson Make a Great Telemarketer?

northernboy writes: I got a very convincing automated telemarketing call the other day — I believed an actual person was on the line for 3 or 4 minutes — either their script anticipated my questions/comments or they had some sort of speaker-independant response working. That got me thinking — what a great application for Watson! A counter-argument for every reason you come up with not to buy. Never flustered into getting off-script. Of course, they'd have to sell a LOT of crap to justify the cost... Still, play along for a few minutes and let me know what you think.

Submission + - Making Wireless Carriers Play Together 1

An anonymous reader writes: Ok, so the idea of opening all Wi-Fi networks in a misthought utopian vision didn’t go over so well. But no one discussed the best part of open Wi-Fi networks: bonding different Wi-Fi and mobile carriers to get the best price and decent performance. We could save money and avoid lock in by bouncing to whoever gives us the best rate, and, when we need speed, jump on all of them at once for a network bonded boost.

Submission + - Firmware Flaw Bricks Samsung Laptops on Linux Boot (

northernboy writes: The Register is reporting on a dangerous new EFI development (unrelated to Secure Boot) that on ocassion will permanently diable the motherboard of certain Samsung laptops after booting Ubuntu 12.x (and probably other distributions) from USB. Apparently a Samsung hardware driver is involved in the issue. Canonical has informed Samsung of the problem, but there does not seem to be any urgency on Samsung's part.

Comment Re:Overreaching? (Score 0) 409

Um, if you think that copyrighting/trademarking a common word is reaching, what about color?

I don't have links for the recent decision over red soles on women's shoes, nor the company in Germany that trademarked the color blue, but how about this item from 1995, in which Justice Breyer decided that companies DO have the right to trademark colors:

Compared to that, a simple little thing like trademarking a common word is pretty tame.

Submission + - Help OED Find First Reference to 'FAQ' (

northernboy writes: The Oxford English Dictionary needs your help! In order to authoritatively document the history and usage of the English language, the editors are seeking references to the first appearance of the term 'FAQ'. While I really wanted to post their appeal for a reliable reference to the first usage of 'cooties' ( I felt that the Slashdot editors were more likely to post this item if it were in support of the more noble cause of identifying the first usage of FAQ, as we know it (

Surely someone in the Slashdot community has access to a documented first sighti
ng of the term FAQ?

Please dig deep into your archives, and help the editors of the Oxford English D
ictionary today!

Comment Re:14 Feet Tall? (Score 1) 487

OK, the first millimeter of skin is our tissue target then. It would have been nice if the nature of the cancer in the cluster had been included - anything not involving the epidermis may well be a direct consequence of the common employment of the group, but I would start my search for the culprit by eliminating the scanners, unless their cancers are in the first millimeter.

BTW, the Johns Hopkins paper DID indicate there was a SIGNIFICANT exposure risk (even based on the 'wrong' standard) posed by these scanners... You just have to be upstairs somewhere, not on the ground level.

Don't get me wrong - I am in no way a fan of scanners, I just hope people will pay attention and think while they are reading. Then if a real objection arises, they will not have wasted time and spent their credibility on non-issues.

Comment 14 Feet Tall? (Score 1) 487

OP says that the letter says it "questions whether it is even safe to stand near an operating scanner, let alone inside one."

Um, helps to read the fine linked document, which has been partially redacted, but still says "Individual effective dose per screening (frontal and rear) of a subject is , less than the 10 urem (0.10 uSv) limit. Further down a standard (NCRP 1993) is quoted which "recommends that members of the general public receive less than 1 mSv (0.1 rem) per year."

So, if these numbers are compared (who knows if they are reproducible) you are considered safe up to about 10,000 scans per year (1 mSv / 0.10 uSv).

The document does indicate there is a potential danger from X-ray beam overshoot "above and behind" the scanner. Yes, but note in the diagram this area BEGINS at 13.8 FEET above the ground, and RISES IN A CONE!!! So, you may be at risk if you're about 14 feet tall (or work in an office on the second floor?) standing behind the machine...

Comment Check other sources? (Score 1) 255

When I >need something like a PDF reader, even for Windows, I often go to first. There are many more solutions there that are functional in Windows than you might think.

In this case, I typed "PDF suite" into a Wikipedia search box, and ended up on the Foxit Reader page ( which contains this sentence:

"Foxit Phantom PDF Suite is a complete suite of PDF editing and creation software." complete with a link to their web site.

In general, though, it is not trivial to determine who can be trusted, and to determine where an obscure application came from.


Submission + - Another Botnet Beheaded (

northernboy writes: Defense Intelligence of Ottawa working with ISPs and Spanish authorities have taken down yet another > 12 megaPC botnet. The three top-level operators are in custody, but remain anonymous under Spanish law (how quaint: apparently in Spain, the accused have some right to privacy?). AP is claiming that the botnet included systems in roughly half of the Fortune 1000 companies, scattered over 190 countries.

There are a number of interesting details: none of the three principals has a prior criminal record. Although apparently hardworking, they are not uber-hackers, but rather had connections to the Spanish mafia that apparently helped equip them. At the time of arrest, they were not showing signs of their significant new income level.

From the article:
Chris Davis, CEO of Ottawa-based Defence Intelligence, said he noticed the infections when they appeared on networks of some of his firm's clients, including pharmaceutical companies and banks.

It wasn't until several months later that he realized the infections were part of something much bigger.

After seeing that some of the servers used to control computers in the botnet were located in Spain, Davis and researchers from the Georgia Tech Information Security Center joined with software firm Panda Security, which is headquartered in Bilbao, Spain.

The investigators caught a few lucky breaks. For one, the suspects used Internet services that wound up cooperating with investigators. That isn't always the case.

Comment Re:Pacemakers? (Score 1) 471

Interesting. I had a 1986 Ford Taurus wagon that had the mechanics thinking it needed a new cpu module, and I swear that it they showed me something flat, black and squarish under the hood. I thought it was on the forward side of the engine block, but that was a long time ago, and my memory has more holes than swiss cheese.

Comment Pacemakers? (Score 1) 471

Did anybody stop to consider the possibility of collateral damage? Aside from beloved portable electronics, what about a hostage with a pacemaker? We don't want to disable that device do we? And to penetrate the body of the car (which side of the engine block are these microprocessors located on, anyway?) they're probably generating a pretty significant pulse.

What about residences or businesses down range??

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