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Comment Re:File under "No shit Sherlock" (Score 1) 228

Actually, the car analogy isn't far off the mark.

Your car's engine can deliver a certain amount of power, but if you tried using it at 100% load continuously, it'd probably last a few hours before it tore itself apart. Ever wonder why a soccer-mom SUV can have a 500hp engine, while an 18-wheeler makes do with about the same amount of power? The truck engine is rated for continuous load: it's five times as heavy and costs five times as much.

So it is with bandwidth: if you want a product that can deliver 50mbit in bursts, you'll get it for $40/month.

If you want something that will deliver 50mbit, guaranteed, continuously, you'll have to pay what that service actually costs.

That said, we know from Korea, Japan, Germany, etc that consumer-level connections can be far better than they are in the US, and for far less money.

Comment Re:What a pointless and stupid 'achievement' (Score 1) 110

Magellan's trips were made notable for the fact that new lands were being discovered and mapped. Of course, advances were also being made in the science of sailing... advances that eventually spread to the whole world, advances that built empires. Compare this to putting some solar panels on a boat and slowly propelling yourself from waypoint to waypoint on your GPS.

A more recent example of a truly notable expedition: Nautilus breaking through the ice at the north pole, proving the viability of nuclear submarines and, at the same time, doing something that had never been done.

My problem with solar is that, as a means of propulsion, it's a dead end. Doing things that have been done using technology that can never be useful to anyone is practically the definition of uselessness. A solar cell doesn't need to be proven by being put on a boat: doing so accomplishes nothing.

Comment What a pointless and stupid 'achievement' (Score 3, Insightful) 110

We know what solar panels can do. We know what electric motors can do. Putting the two together in a boat does not a novel invention make. Sailing it around the world is not a notable achievement.

It's the same as all those ridiculous solar-powered races across Australia: they don't bring a solar-powered car one iota closer to reality, because a solar powered car will never produce more than a few kilowatts, and that will never be enough to overcome the air resistance of a vehicle in which a person can sit somewhat upright.

Technology doesn't advance to overcome the laws of physics. Solar powered transportation of any sort will never do anything more than make possible novelty journeys for people with more money than sense.

Comment IrDA did NOT suck! (Score 1) 157

My experience, on windows: enable IrDA on phone. Put phone next to laptop. Phone recognized, systray icon pops up. Send files.

IrDA was the closest we ever came to solving the still-unsolved problem of how to transfer files wirelessly between two machines sitting next to each other. It's telling that the de-facto standard now is to carry around USB flash drives: god help you if you've lost whatever cereal-box prize you were using.

Compared to the dicking around we have to do with bluetooth - which, incidentally, is still brutally slow - IrDA was awesome. It wasn't fast, but files weren't big ten years ago.

Comment Security just isn't a priority (Score 5, Interesting) 375

How to make phone operating systems more secure:

1. Remove the mechanism by which a forgotten password can be bypassed. Forgot your password? Tough shit. Now that you've bricked your phone, maybe you won't be so forgetful next time.

2. No USB access of any kind when the phone is locked. It's a huge vulnerability.

3. Full disk encryption. Granted, the phone spends most of its time operating with the key in memory, but...

4. Phone turns off when you remove the back cover or otherwise try to get inside of it. Not hard to do.

An extremely dedicated attacker could potentially bypass these measures, but not your average traffic cop or border patrol agent on a fishing expedition.

Instead, phones are designed to make it inconvenient for John to pick up Suzie's phone and read her text messages, and to make sure Suzie can easily reset her password so her carrier doesn't have to deal with a whiny tech support call.

What you can do, however, if you have a reasonably user-serviceable phone, is cut the data lines going to the USB jack. It'll charge slower (500mA limit), but plugging in a USB cable won't grant a casual snoop any access. File transfer can be handled via wi-fi.

Comment A symptom of the North American cellular market (Score 5, Insightful) 249

This is what happens when stupid consumers let carriers control the market for phones by insisting that $500 is too much to pay upfront, opting instead to sign on for three-year $3000 contracts. But the phone is free, right?

Carriers should be dumb pipes, selling an interchangeable and undifferentiated service, viciously competing against each other on the price of data and the quality of service. This is the future they desperately fear, so instead they try to market the phones as if they themselves had anything at all to do with the services you can access or the software that Google wrote. They give their phones idiotic carrier-specific names like the the Incredible, the Enlighten, or the Illusion, trying to cultivate their own little brands.

Innovation happens at HTC, Google, Samsung, LG, etc. Carriers have exactly nothing to do with it, and need to be put into their proper places as vendors of connectivity. The next time you buy a phone, buy unlocked. Don't be afraid to pay a little more up-front: beating a small discount out of the sales droid will more than make up for it, and you'll get a phone that hasn't been fucked with.

You wouldn't buy a laptop from your ISP; why the hell would you buy your handheld computer from one?

Comment Re:Vote third party (Score 1) 302

You cannot vote for a third party without weakening your side's position. Fragmenting the liberal vote while the conservative vote is unified has cost the liberal side the electoral victory in the very recent past. You cannot vote for a third party under a first-past-the-post voting scheme. A two-party state is a stable and inevitable endpoint of first-past-the-post voting.

The only answer is electoral reform.

Comment Good idea... (Score 1) 569

If you think about it, this makes a lot more sense than vaccinating girls... ... mainly because American christian hypocrisy is much more comfortable with the idea of boys having sex than with girls doing the same. Vaccinating our good old boys against crotch-rot is more politically acceptable than vaccinating little Suzie against the risks of the sex she's not supposed to have.

Comment Re:They can't find you if.... (Score 1) 233

You could just spoof your MAC address. Many wireless cards, through their windows drivers, allow you to do so directly from the device property page. I'm sure there are other solutions on every platform.

Also, paying cash... what, as if the store logged the MAC addresses of wireless cards and tied them to customers' credit card numbers?

Comment Umm, .net anyone? (Score 1) 117

Obviously VBA, descended as it is from VB6, needs to die. But .net made VB a respectable programming language, so why wouldn't microsoft simply move office macro development to that newer version instead? The learning curve would be pretty easy to climb for existing users, and there are a great many of those: entire businesses run on half-assed collections of excel macros.

Comment Re:Developer Ethical Dilemma? (Score 1) 384

Indeed, as an atheist, you'd have no sense of right / wrong, and without fear of judgment and damnation, you'd have no desire to be a decent human being. You'd make a rational calculation that their paying you what you consider to be unsatisfactory wage justifies fraud and theft.

If, on the other hand, you had your belief in Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Son of the LORD God in Heaven, you'd have the sort of strong moral fiber that would preclude your involvement in any such sociopathic actions. It's widely known that Christians do not sin.

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