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Comment Re: Obama has no right to do this (Score 3, Insightful) 447

You can't vote without a voter registration card or some other proof of who you are (e.g. an electric bill), and you can't vote unless you have at some point properly registered to vote, which you can't do without a SSN. So for illegals to vote, they would have to either commit outright identity theft to register fraudulently (which they screen for and actively remove when found) or steal somebody else's mail and vote in his/her name (which would likely be discovered when that other person went to vote).

In short, the absence of strong evidence supporting such a claim is, in this case, strong evidence of the absence of such fraud.

Comment Re:*** INFINITE FACEPALM *** (Score 0) 89

The only way they could have designed this to be more of a meme is if they made it an 'Internet of Things' device, and made it 'wirelessly charging'.

Wireless charging actually would have improved the design considerably. Use a coil of wire wrapped around the center shaft and jacket the whole thing in epoxy, then build a vertical tube that inductively charges all the smart umbrellas that people put into it (and tolerates dumb umbrellas).

Comment Why not eliminate the Sherman Antitrust Act, too? (Score 5, Insightful) 158

By that same standard, the Sherman Antitrust Act, which was designed to prevent precisely the same sorts of abuse that Net Neutrality laws prevent, is also an impediment to innovation and doing interesting things, if by interesting things, you mean using bundling to drive your competition out of the market and creating an oligopoly of content providers owned by the same folks who own the pipes (i.e. the exact opposite of what the Internet was intended to be).

Comment Re:I beg to differ (Score 1) 161

And statistics begs to point out that one special-snowflake outlier doesn't make the conclusion worthless.

It's not one outlier. They're analyzing the data wrong.

In my personal experience, I ran out of new movies to watch on Netflix after a few months, and began binge watching TV shows because there weren't enough movies on my list to be worth the hassle. I have watched approximately zero movies in the last year. This experience is echoed by everyone I've talked to.

So when they say that users watch about 1/3rd movies regardless of the depth of their catalog, what they really mean is that even though new users run out of movies to watch earlier, there are more new users coming in. As long as that is true, and as long as the old users don't cancel because they've run out of things to watch, they're good.

The bigger problem is that Netflix keeps dropping TV shows while I and members of my family are still watching them. I find it quite alarming how quickly I'm running out of things to watch, because the depth of their catalog (even in TV) is getting so shallow so quickly. At the current rate of decline, I'd give Netflix six months at most before I drop my subscription entirely and switch to one of the other providers temporarily until I run out of stuff to watch there. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Comment Re:There was nothing to catch (Score 2) 284

Much like testing for certain medical diseases, sometimes you can only determine a cause by exclusion.

  • A phone that is turned off is consuming no power, so the failure cannot plausibly be caused by an excessive rate of discharge or by external heat (e.g. being too close to a hot GPU).
  • A phone that is not charging is adding no power to the pack, so the failure is probably not caused by an excessive rate of charge or by overcharging.
  • Multiple battery manufacturers use different battery chemistry and different designs, so the failure cannot plausibly be caused by dendrites or other similar failures. Also, the failures don't occur with those same batteries in other devices, which eliminates the batteries themselves as a likely cause.

When you eliminate the impossible, what remains are failures that can occur even with a battery that is neither charging nor discharging. The most likely causes, then, involve some form of physical damage.

LiPo packs change size during normal charging and discharging just a bit. That's why there are tolerances build into the design. With insufficient tolerances, bad things happen (TM), and even if the tolerances are sufficient to avoid self-puncturing at their maximum size, it is possible that flexing the case in just the right way while the pack is maximally swollen could still puncture the pack. So this is at least a plausible explanation, whereas most other theories aren't.

With that said, even if we assume that these folks are correct, it does not absolve other aspects of the design. Not all failures have only a single root cause. For example, IIRC, overcharging a LiPo pack can cause unusual levels of battery expansion from hydrogen buildup, which when combined with normal levels of flexing in a case that has insufficient tolerances, would result in the pack perforating and venting with flame.

Comment Re:Bad Headline (Score 1) 588

The other companies gave no answer, which for any company that didn't have a history of inadvertently enabling genocide was IMO the right thing to do. Such political trolling really shouldn't even be dignified with a response, in general.

But you're right about IBM. Ethically speaking, they should have been the first to say no, given what happened the last time they helped with a database of everyone in a particular religious group. Then again, it is also possible that because IBM and its employees were not punished for their role in enabling the Holocaust, the bean counters that run the place would dutifully enable another one. Scary thought.

Comment Re:Apple bears some responsibility here. (Score 1) 120

The G3 series had a ferrite choke a quarter inch from the plug, and that quarter inch of wire constantly broke, causing fires, so they recalled the entire lot of them and replaced them with the yo-yo power supply.

Slight correction. I'm not sure if they actually caused fires; they were recalled because they considered them to be a fire risk from overheating, which presumably was caused by shorting caused by the cable failures.

Comment Re:Apple bears some responsibility here. (Score 1) 120

Insulation plastic falls apart after a year? Hm, tell that to the PSU for my Macbook Pro bought in 2012... Still in perfect condition. But then, I never wind the cable using the ears, I always just wrap it around the PSU itself while leaving a generous loop from where the cable exits the PSU.

It has nothing to do with how you wind it. I've seen Apple power supplies that were never wound up at all where the outer insulation became brittle and flaked off in large chunks. I'm not sure if it was sun exposure or heat exposure, but something causes the jackets on the early MagSafe cables to chemically break down.

Comment Re:Apple bears some responsibility here. (Score 1, Informative) 120

Case in point: Mac laptop chargers have been known to suffer from frayed cables due to Apple's insistence on a design that lacks adequate strain relief. This has been a known engineering defect in their chargers since the PowerBook G3 series design almost two decades ago ...

FTFY.

As far as I'm aware, Apple has never in its entire history built a good laptop power supply:

  • The original PowerBook 1xx series had connectors that kept breaking. IIRC, the 5xx series was similar.
  • The G3 series had a ferrite choke a quarter inch from the plug, and that quarter inch of wire constantly broke, causing fires, so they recalled the entire lot of them and replaced them with the yo-yo power supply.
  • The yo-yo design had no real strain relief, and even better, had thinly insulated wires inside a steel-braided shield that over time wore through the insulation, resulting in cables that sparked internally. In a dark room, you could see little blue electrical arcs in the middle of the wires.
  • The iBook power supplies had inadequate strain relief and broke right at the plug end.
  • The T-shaped MagSafe connectors had the same problem.
  • The L-shaped MagSafe connectors were usually more reliable, though they still eventually fail at one end of the wire or the other, but the MacBook Air version was notoriously bad.
  • And MagSafe 2 is a disaster of failed strain relief.

So saying that third-party Mac laptop supplies are worse than the real thing might be true, but it is like saying that a Pinto is worse than a Corvair. They do, however, build reliable USB power supplies... but their cell phone power cords are even worse than their laptop power cords. Fortunately, there are many third-party manufacturers building Lightning cables that are actually built to last.

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