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Comment Re:How many of those... (Score 1) 120

I have a 4, 4S and 5 sitting in the cupboard all still fully functional. I keep some cheap pre-paid SIMs with long credit expiry in them for lending to family and friends visiting from overseas (who don't want pay for global roaming or bother to set up their own pre-paid account). Also make good GPS logging devices for going biking/hiking etc without having to drain the battery on your main phone. Even without a SIM they still connect to Wifi and are thus useful in the same way that an iPad or iPod Touch are.

Comment Re:I hate Apple... (Score 1) 120

Might have been in the US but elsewhere there was no exclusivity to it. It was just a much better phone than existing smart phones on the market, primarily because the software was stable and functional (having used a pre-iPhone-era smartphone, it was truly awful - terrible UI and crashed all the time).

Comment Re:Sheep. (Score 1) 120

Yep, both my iPhone 5 and 4 are still in perfect working order, even though I've moved to the 6S now. The former I handed down to a family member and the latter I still use as a glorified iPod Touch and take it jogging/biking etc for GPS logging purposes (rather than take my newer phone which I'd care about more if it got dropped/dented/scratched).

Comment Re:Sheep. (Score 1) 120

Factor of 10 might be pushing it a bit. I've used an iPhone as my main phone since the start and have only upgraded twice. Most people only bother once the old phone starts getting frustratingly slow running newer apps, which seems to take at least 4 generations or so. I doubt there's many people who have upgraded every single year since the beginning.

Comment Re:EEE (Score 1) 410

Yeah, I wasn't even a fan of Pascal, but Turbo Pascal for DOS was an awesome experience, as was both Turbo C and to a similar extent Microsoft's early QuickC. And QuickBasic was lovely -- an IDE that would literally pop up the manual page for any instruction you could type enough of to recognize, or match a string in. QB was in some sense my favorite IDE of all time, and I wrote a slew of code in Basic back in IBM PC days.

I didn't even include Microsoft's screwing of OS/2 and IBM in the list -- I put on the Extreme Linux expo in Raleigh, NC back in the day not long after that and IBM was an avid supporter; their staffers were all literally burning with anger at Microsoft and were particularly eager to loan us piles of PCs and more for our cluster demos. Claiming that Microsoft was all warm and fuzzy towards developers and that it wasn't their fault that important packages inevitably broke on every major version update, or that there was no "conspiracy" because it was against the law to deliberately break them to the advantage of Microsoft's competing packages simply ignores reality. There wasn't a "conspiracy" to remove competing web browers from Windows machines or disable them so that they wouldn't work right, but Microsoft did it anyway and lost a small mountain of money on a lawsuit. And they won, won, won the lawsuit in spite of the hundreds of millions they spent on the settlement and the billions they spent dragging the suit out for close to a decade. By then it was a moot point. After that, nobody had or is likely to have in the future, the stomach to tackle Microsoft in court but somebody enormous with equally deep pockets.

That's the problem. A hundred-odd billion dollar multinational company is largely above the law. They can outspend almost anybody, and anybody who thinks that this doesn't matter in civil or corporate court (or even in criminal court) is naive in the extreme. Once enough retirement funds are heavily invested in Microsoft stock, nobody wants them to go down, not really, no matter how much they hate them. Not congressmen. Not the president. Not union leaders. Not corporate leaders. Most of the everyday people don't care. The only ones that do are oddball nerds like me who find their corporate ethics revolting and who resent the rise of the corporate shadow government to the detriment of personal and economic freedom. And there just aren't enough of us to matter.

As Donald Trump (defending his actions exploiting major economic downturns in the past) says, "It was just business". And so it is, and so it will be, without toothy laws regulating just what "business" activities are ethical and permitted in law.


Comment Re:EEE (Score 5, Insightful) 410

Not that much more subtle. I watched as Microsoft crushed a long list of companies using exactly this strategy across the 80's and early 90's. Borland was easy -- it's so easy to break a compiler with an OS upgrade. Lotus. Word Perfect. Wordstar. Various games. They certainly tried it with their browser and it took a decade long billion dollar court case to stop them. Every operating system update, everybody else's software would break, a bit, while Microsoft's clone -- often a clone of a startlingly original and brilliant idea -- did not. Add in their marketing team to convince businesses that if they didn't buy Microsoft's house product, they would break their... um... not arms, not legs, what's the word, "interface" if the competing product didn't perfectly comply with the new specs (and of course, they never did).

Microsoft simply made it impossible to buy a PC without their operating system pre-installed in any store that sells systems WITH their operating system pre-installed with punitive pricing agreements that dropped the margins below any possibility of profit if you tried selling a naked system or a system preinstalled with some other OS. They then convinced freelance software developers that they could get rich, quick, writing for their platform (and at first, it was true!) But gradually it has become clear that if you have a brilliant software concept, write the next killer application, and do so for Windows, Microsoft will let you run wild for a few years to build up the market and use their enormous software foundry to write their clone, then they will jerk around the OS so that your product breaks but theirs doesn't until they have the lions share of the market IF you don't sell out to them when they politely knock on your door and make you an offer you can't refuse. Five years later you will wish you hadn't.

I have to admit that I'm a tiny bit surprised that they are doing this with Steam as it could backfire. I'm guessing that part of this is punitive. They WANT game developers to be in a Microsoft cage, with huge cross-platform development barriers, and Valve is the company that has seriously broken out of that mold and made Linux gaming with native libraries and code possible for games that run on Windows as well. Since they are preparing to make users lease Windows for eternity and ensure a perpetual cash flow for every Windows computer purchased, and since software sales through "app stores" run by the company are now a major profit center for companies that have successfully built them, they hope to retake world domination while they still have control of congress and the unions and all those companies with 401 and 403 plans heavily invested in Microsoft.

Unless and until the government actually enforces anti-trust laws across the board, we'll have to put up with this shit. The "free" market doesn't, and won't, have a chance as long as the company that makes and sells the OS, with a virtual lock on third party PC sales in spite of much lower priced and viable alternatives, also writes software for their own OS with an insuperable advantage over independent developers, no matter how large or powerful. Software store selling "certification" (still the same company) make it even worse.

Face it. Microsoft is in the protection racket, and has been for nearly 30 years now. FUD is their stock and trade. They represent everything that is wrong with capitalism that isn't restrained by strong anti-trust controls and limits on things like sales agreements so that they do not and cannot become long term monopolies. They have so much money that they could CONTINUE to be mismanaged for another decade and STILL would be huge. And who has the guts to tackle them (again) in the US courts? They can spend a billion dollars a year in defense, stretch an antitrust case out for a decade, lose it, and still come out a total winner. They've done so in the past and will do so again in the future.


Comment Re:I have a twitter account (Score 1) 106

It's useful as a glorified RSS feed and to get company's attention when you have an issue with them that needs addressing. For a lot of businesses (airlines, phone companies etc.), tweeting at them or DMing them your case ID seems to be the quickest way to get real action happening. Why that is I'm not sure, but the few times I've been caught in a circle trying to get some problem resolved with a company via phone or email, I've tweeted at them and very quickly I've got someone senior that knows what they are doing on the case and my problem fixed. Maybe its the threat of bad publicity or something...

Comment Re:Simple = Mass Communication (Score 3, Interesting) 106

Well for me and many others who don't really tweet anything ourselves, Twitter is effectively just a replacement for RSS. I follow a bunch of news and tech sites etc. and when they post an article, they tweet it, and I click to take a look. I rarely use it to see people's textual tweets/opinions ... it's basically just a feed of interesting URLs brought together into one list that I can browse and click if I want.

Why not just use RSS? No real reason ... this just seems to work well for me, particularly on mobile.

Comment Re:Temperature increase from what temperature? (Score 1) 258

But what a great insult! Don't take away the genius of it just because it was, well, less than genius in its conclusion. After all, one can get milk in cardboard boxes already that will last "indefinitely" on an actual shelf, so the entire article is only marginally interesting from the point of view of increasing our quality of life, and since the entire first half of the discussion seemed to focus on a wilfull ignorance of the simple fact that unpasturized milk can carry all sorts of potentially fatal diseases -- including one that was a scourge at the time the process was instituted, tuberculosis -- instead of the science of the process itself. At least this thread discusses the process.

To quote the Wikipedia article on pasteurization:

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says improperly handled raw milk is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalizations than any other food-borne disease source, making it one of the world's most dangerous food products.[16][17] Diseases prevented by pasteurization can include tuberculosis, brucellosis, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and Q-fever; it also kills the harmful bacteria Salmonella, Listeria, Yersinia, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli O157:H7,[18][19] among others.

So, one can take the chance that the raw milk you drink is "properly handled", which may be a reasonable bet in a rural setting where you know the cow and farmer involved, or you can insist that your milk be pasteurized. As a firm believer in the second law of thermodynamics and evolution, I personally will opt for pasteurization and encourage believers in in the comparative virtue of raw milk to drink lots of it, preferably while still young.

Given this level of nonsense in the discussion, one has to take what one can from it! "High UID Monkeys" is actually highly competitive with TFA and post itself.


Comment Re:Temperature increase from what temperature? (Score 1) 258

Is it really that god damn difficult for you high UID monkeys to use a bit of simple logic? Do you really need literally everything spoon-fed to you?

I must commend you, sir, on the invention of a unique new insult. I will remember this one, as it is spectacular. UID as a sorting mechanism for intelligence -- scary, that one is...;-)


Comment Re:Don't like bats? (Score 1) 115

Interesting that it is probably spread via the air, too. But that would affect all speciem not only bats.

Only, as bats fly around a room at night over your bed (which happens not infrequently in old houses with bats in the attic, I will personally attest) they emit sonar pulses and if they are rabid, tend to be sloppy. So they emit aerosolized rabies-laden bat-sputum too. Then you can inhale it, or get it on a cut in your skin, or open your eyes and get droplets in your eye, etc. A rabid fox out in open air might run you down and bite you, foaming at the mouth or not, but it isn't that likely to sneeze at you violently enough to infect you through the air. It is also lower than your airways instead of above them. In North Carolina bats are by far the primary vector anyway -- no-bite transmission is just a bonus.


Comment Re:Don't like bats? (Score 2) 115

As several people pointed out, bats are one of the most common vectors of rabies in the US. And sadly, you do not have to be bitten by a bat to get rabies. There is evidence that just being in the same room with a rabid bat can lead to exposure, probably from aerosolized saliva. Three men (out of the 19 total) who died of rabies over the last ten years had no reported history of contact with bats at all, but had bat-associated rabies viruses. It isn't probable that you will get rabies just being outdoors with bats flying overhead (you have to be super-unlucky, as the bats have to have rabies AND you have to inhale or otherwise introduce aerosolized bat saliva into your system) but it is possible. My wife is a physician who used to work with bats before she went to medical school (and went to Jamaica to collect them because they don't have rabies in Jamaica) and once the evidence that rabies could be transmitted by bats without any bite at all came out, she has actively discouraged even building outdoor bat houses to attract them to our yard.

Yes, one is balancing risks. Mosquitoes carry many diseases (and bats carry a few besides rabies, e.g. histoplasmosis) and some of them can be fatal. Killing mosquitoes with e.g. chemical agents carries risks that have to be balanced against the costs and risks of the diseases they carry. Increasing the bat population will likely enough reduce the mosquito population and chance of mosquito borne infection, but at the risk of increasing the number of deaths due to bat-borne disease instead. I'd guess that the bet is a good one, but (naturally) not for the losers.

There are other efficient mosquito eaters. Purple martins, for example, dragonflies for another. These are not rabies or disease vectors AFAIK. But rabies is an especially scary disease because if you get it, you are basically dead, and 17 out of the 19 deaths reported to the CDC from 1997 to 2006 were from bat-related variants of the rabies virus (so even if the bite was e.g. from a fox or racoon, the fox got it from a bat). It is like mad cow disease -- scary because you may not even know you were exposed and then at some later point -- possibly years later for vCJD -- you develop the incurable disease and die. Because vCJD is so difficult to detect or diagnose, you might even die without anyone ever knowing why. If you remember the panic over mad cow disease in the US, try to also remember that more people die of bat borne rabies in three years that have ever -- to the best of our current knowledge -- died of vCJD in the US, and of the four that HAVE died, all of them are believed to have contracted the disease overseas.

The flu, on the other hand, kills well over 100 children every year, and many times that many adults. Yet people don't fear it enough to even get vaccinated, all too often, because MOST people who get it don't die (but a lot of people get it!). It's not rational. Go figure.



Has Physics Gotten Something Really Important Really Wrong? ( 387

Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes an article from NPR: Some researchers now see popular ideas like string theory and the multiverse as highly suspect. These physicists feel our study of the cosmos has been taken too far from what data can constrain with the extra "hidden" dimensions of string theory and the unobservable other universes of the multiverse... it all adds up to muddied waters and something some researchers see as a "crisis in physics."
The article quotes Roberto Mangabeira Unger and Lee Smolin, the authors of a new book arguing that "Science is corrupted when it abandons the discipline of empirical validation or dis-confirmation. It is also weakened when it mistakes its assumptions for facts and its ready-made philosophy for the way things are." And according to this analysis of the book, what they're proposing is "to take a giant philosophical step back and see if a new and more promising direction can be found. For the two thinkers, such a new direction can be spelled out in three bold claims about the world. There is only one universe. Time is real. Mathematics is selectively real."

Comment Re:2 weeks later (Score 0) 296

But that doesn't work if they have probable cause to search it, any more than saying "sorry, you can't come in just now" works if they have a warrant to search your house. The constitution only protects against UNREASONABLE search and seizure, and the historical definition of this has been "enough to convince a judge to issue a warrant". So you can plead anything you want, but you'll stay in jail until you cough up the keys, be they keys to your house or to your encrypted phone or laptop. I learned this, BTW, directly from FBI agents at a crypto conference I attended many years ago, where the rest of the discussion centered on cracking. The feeb was a lot less concerned -- then -- with cracking encryption than you might have thought, simply because they already had adequate eternajail means to gain access in cases with probable cause. This might even have been pre-9/11 -- since then they have clearly come to see the importance of being able to crack things even when somebody is CONTENT to sit in jail forever relative to what would happen if a file were decrypted, or to be able to crack the encrypted files of dead terrorists in the aftermath of events.

Note that Ithe above is not commenting on what is or isn't good or just or right here. Only that there is a constitutionally approved and commonly enough used way to mandate access to encrypted files, and it doesn't involve NSA-level resources or techno-spooks or back doors into encryption routines. It involves getting a warrant. To comment NOW -- that's by far the way I'd prefer it. A warrant or court order at least gives you some chance to defend yourself -- probably not invoking the fifth, but perhaps challenging the strength of the evidence used to get the court order. It is also done in the light of day. I think what a substantial fraction of the world is worried about is that Russia is regressing to where no court at all is required, no oversight, and where they might literally use a wrench -- or a testicle-taser -- to coerce the keys on demand.

One might worry about this in the United States as well. Or "by" the United States in places like Cuba. IMO both Trump and Clinton are perfectly willing to use non-constitutional means against perceived enemies or possible terrorists -- Clinton demonstrably so, Trump by his overblown jingoist rhetoric.

That's why I'm voting for Cthulhu. With Cthulhu you know where you stand. If elected, It promises to eat all of the enemies of the United States first, in some cases only a little bit at a time... Vote for Cthulhu: "No Lives Matter"


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