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Comment No issue with copy protection (Score 1) 369

I am sort-of in the camp of "leave the audio jack alone", but either way - don't see any issue with copy protection. Ok, so there is DRM on the data and on the radio (Bluetooth or whatever) link to the external headphone/speaker/whatever. But that external device still has to play analog over the air sound for human analog ears? So, perhaps with exception of more loss of quality due to sub-par compression, we still have the same "analog gap" and the same ability to record/save/backup/whatever?
Am I missing anything here? Did Apple invent direct to brain wave interface?

Comment Re:Apples-Oranges (Score 1) 760

If you read the proposal (or its summary) you would notice that drug tests are required to receive additional benefits (specific tax deductions). If they don't want to be tested, they don't need to apply for these additional deductions, and can use standard deduction on their taxes (as the proposal clearly explains).

Sounds plenty fair to me.

Comment Disable? (Score 1) 368

So, how do I turn the damn thing off? (I suspect the answer to be "can not", but anyone that knows otherwise - let me know)
I do, however, notice that there are no open listening ports on my current Intel computer, when scanned externally. Is this thing always on? What conditions enable it (so that I'd know to avoid those)?

Comment Voyeurism is getting old (Score 4, Insightful) 57

I think the self-exposure trend is running its course. Even my more narcissistic FB contacts are posting fewer selfies in exotic locations and strange and unusual foods. FB is trying to keep it going, but nature takes its course and every fad will eventually go away.

I wonder what's next? Hopefully something less obnoxious.

Comment Re:Tips turn it into a regular old taxi (Score 1) 83

No tips on any of my Uber trips. I think tip is added in locations where Uber actually calls a taxi through their uberTAXI service.

In any case, if "tip" is a fixed predefined amount that does not require haggling, then it's simply a cost of a trip and I wouldn't care. It's not the price (I can count) - it's the process of having to pay an unknown amount more, and doing so outside the clear and well defined channel of "meter->display amount->charge CC".

Comment Tips turn it into a regular old taxi (Score 2) 83

The reason I like Uber is that transaction is predictable, "off line" and does not require complicated social ritual of tipping. If Uber drivers begin to expect tips, we are left with a regular taxi service, except that cars are smaller and not standardized. In which case, personally, I'll opt for a taxi again.

Comment This is US (Score 2) 400

People don't use buses in US because there are no buses. Outside New York, there is scarcely any usable public transportation in even largest metropolitan areas. Washington DC (with the second largest metro in US, which is also something like 50th world-wide) has what would be considered a "well developed" bus system for US. The buses in many areas run only during rush hour, and even then - 1-2 an hour. Outside rush hour (and immediate city center) buses run once an hour or not at all. The routes are designed to bring suburban commuters to metro stations or city center. There are virtually no usable routes that could take a person shopping, to school, much less from one non-central area to another. Making these buses faster won't change the fact that they are not very practical and few and far between.

Public transportation requires commitment of public funds and desire to develop and support a system. No city in US seems to have the will.

Comment Hope they are around that long (Score 1) 53

FB should worry about becoming irrelevant in that timeframe. Younger generation does not find their offering compelling (and decidedly stays out). Average user age on FB keeps going up.
In the meantime, the ex-timeline is less and less useful. Without intervention mine tends to bring up the least interesting, most annoying posts (though perhaps FB is trying to keep my interest by an equivalent of automated trolling?). It takes a daily effort to keep pruning out posts I don't want to see and explicitly visit pages/posts I am interested in.

Comment Re:Unless Apple Lied (Score 5, Insightful) 400

It's a big deal because complying with *any* request to modify software for use of LEA now will mean that they (and other manufacturers) will have to comply with *all* requests to modify software in the future. In the eyes of the law there is no difference in what technical capability is being implemented, only that some sort of technical capability can be implemented at the direction of LEA. Once open, this door cannot be closed.

Comment The science is pretty basic (Score 1) 108

The science is well established and the numbers are well known. Outside very narrow set of outliers it is well understood how many calories "go in" from which foods and how many "go out" through what activities.

As someone who was able to lose 65lbs of extra weight (from 200 to 135 lbs) using just those calorie counts, I can tell you that not only did the counts make sense in general, but they did correspond quite closely to the predicted weight loss per every unit of time (down to a single week).

The "calories" are no more broken than any other measure. The problem is - most people are not very good at counting, math, reading labels, and self control that is required to consistently manage intake and consistently engage in exercise to use excess energy. I know because I was one of those overweight (obese really) people who for years found it easier to blame "invalid science".

Comment Ah yes, 2 months of Indian hell for me (Score 4, Interesting) 92

Yep, I noticed that. I am running an ad for my (very small, independent) software product. It's essentially a hobby - sales are barely break-even with related hosting, and AdWords bring about half. I don't have much time to deal with AdWords so ads are mostly fixed. Occasionally (about once a year) I shuffle a few words in the text. Sometime early this year I did that again - and suddenly my ads were blocked "due to policy violation". Automated email requires you to review policy and edit ads for compliance - but there is no policy as such (at least nothing is clearly explained in writing). So I did my best guessing what they may want, edited ads again and resubmitted - same result. I re-edited the ads to original text, resubmitted - and at that point my ads were blocked again and then my entire AdWords account was blocked for "repeated violations"
Through that time I attempted to contact AdWords support through online form (they don't expose direct email). I received several pointless replies - none of which directly answered my questions. Once account was blocked - I started calling. Most calls end up in the Indian call center, where reps seem to have neither desire nor ability to help, nor do they know what the actual rules are. I've been given several (perhaps 6?) different versions of what needs to be changed in the ad, on the web site and in the product itself. Examples include - "put EULA directly on the download page", "provide product removal instructions on the download page" (mind you, product removal instructions are - "drag application into the trash folder", quite literally). My favorite was a demand to "provide direct email for users to email my support on the download page", this is from AdWords that go to great lengths to hide their own email and allow only un-trackable contact through the web site. For comparison, I run a proper support ticket system - but there was no convincing them.

As far as I could tell, Indian associates had no authority to deal with issues whatsoever and themselves had to contact a 3rd party (with unknown degree of authority) for answers or clarifications. Even when I made required changes, and resubmitted account for review (as they suggested) - either nothing happened at all or an automated message would come a few days later restating account and/or ad blocking for "policy violations". The cycle of response was running at 1 week per question.

In parallel, to provide at least some visibility, I had to put ads on Bing. That's a whole another story, but suffice it to say - Bing payment vs. click rates did not make sense and I had to stop in about a month.

The final demand was to put the name of actual software package into the ad. Back 8 years ago when I started, I picked a fairly long name for a product - it seemed fun at the time. Putting that name into character-limited ad would leave no space to say anything useful about the software. I suggested that software name could be placed in the URL (which normally references company name, they are similar but not the same). Customer reps. stated that this is not going to help - the name must be in the text. Nevertheless, I decided to try. I registered a new domain that matched software name and resubmitted the ad. As soon as I did - ad was approved and remains so.

I suspect that through the entire process there was no connection at all between the (likely automated) review of ads and customer service. Ads marked as "bad" are probably left in that state forever, regardless of advertisers actions. By the time I changed the url either the giant push to "remove bad ads" was over or something's changed in automated rating, so the "new" ad passed. Curiously, ads for competing products (same industry, same type of software) ran unimpeded throughout the entire period, even though they do not comply with any of the requirements that were given to me. Perhaps they were smart enough to make no changes to ads during that time :)

In conclusion - I am sure a V-level manager at Google reported great results and someone's got a bonus out of it, while thousands of low-pay outsourced phone reps were copy-pasting automated replies. But the process was both arbitrary and, ultimately, pointless - as anyone can clearly witness by the fact that "bad ads" run on Google at all times.

To me this was yet another proof that Google became too big for what it is, and on an individual level dealing with Google is harder and less pleasant than dealing with a cable company.

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