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Comment Cable Companies LIE to keep you... (Score 4, Informative) 240

Cord cutter, here. If you're thinking of joining me by switching down to an internet-only service, you need to know this: Your cable company is going to lie to you. They're going to tell you all kinds of stories about how they don't actually offer internet-only options, or about how it's actually less expensive to have a bundle than it is to go internet-only. Don't believe them. There is exactly one way to get the full truth out of them: Tell them you're cancelling. As soon as they transfer you to the retention department, someone who actually knows what they're talking about will happily give you that internet-only connection you're looking for, and most likely at a reasonable price, too... at least, for the first year, anyway.

Sidenote: Obviously, this only works if you have at least one other viable broadband provider in your area. If you live in one of the many broadband monopoly areas... well, in that case, you have my sympathies, because you are well and truly screwed.

Comment Rock and a hard place (Score 1) 222

There's really no mystery to this: Verizon is sticking to that unconvincing party line, because they're between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The restrictions they agreed to when they purchased their Block C spectrum license state that they're not permitted to restrict the ways in which you use your data connection on their wireless network; if you want to tether your BitTorrent PC to your Verizon Wireless cell phone and let it saturate that connection 24/7, they can't stop you -- they quite literally can't even slow you down. Thus, in order to make that kind of abuse of their network exorbitantly expensive, the only option that seems to be left to them is metering. We could probably argue ceaselessly about whether or not their current metered plans and overage fees are actually reasonable based on typical user activity -- but that's another discussion entirely. The point is, Verizon is never going to back down from those meters. Because they can't.

Mind you, I'm not making apologies for them... they made their bed, (by buying that spectrum in the first place) and now they have to sleep in it. But I don't have to sleep in it with them.

Comment Forthcoming Update! (Score 2) 152

And in next month's hypothetical news...

UPDATE: Facebook Cancels Autoplay For Videos

A report out today states that Facebook's usage statistics dropped precipitously over the past month, as users apparently simply stopped casually opening Facebook on their mobile phones almost entirely. One incensed user reports that his Facebook feed just suddenly started blaring an advertisement for Trojan condoms, right in the middle of his Sunday morning church service. Says the user, who prefers to remain anonymous, "I was totally shocked and embarrassed! I mean, I have never -- never, I tell ya -- shopped for condoms online! I mean, don't tell my girlfriend, but sure... I've surfed a little porn now and then -- but how the heck could Facebook know about that??"

Facebook executives cast the entire blame for this dip in usage on a software technician who had developed and deployed the new "Autoplay" feature for videos showing up in end-users news feeds, which was silently rolled out to all users and which naturally defaults to "on." The feature has now been rolled back in a panicked effort to minimize any further damage, but analysts are skeptical that the once overwhelmingly popular service will be able to reclaim its former glory. One executive was quoted as saying, "Hey, don't look at me! It's all that developer's fault -- and trust me, we've sacked him but good!" This reporter has asked Facebook for more details on what happened to the executive who authorized the new feature, but Facebook has not yet responded to queries as of press time.

Comment Common sense... isn't common (Score 2) 209

This isn't any kind of a magic bullet against crime: it's just another example of people failing to follow a rational chain of events to its conclusion. If you tell an even moderately intelligent person that he will be forced to give up the password to his cell phone if he's ever arrested, then he will simply add one more layer of obfuscation between his phone and his secrets... and you still won't be able to prosecute the worst offenders. The only people who will get caught up in this new dragnet are those in the first round of arrests who don't pay attention to the latest changes in their local laws, and therefore fail to take precautions. Most others (intelligent and otherwise) will quickly learn about those prosecutions from the media frenzy that follows, and will lock down their crap soon thereafter.

Seriously... just follow the pieces around the board, and you should be able to tell who's going to ultimately win in this kind of game. (Doesn't anyone play chess, anymore?)

Comment Peculiar logic (Score 1) 367

This article -- while an interesting opinion piece -- is clearly missing some key pieces in the argument it tries to make, which is largely why so many people are attempting to offer their own contrasting figures both here on /. and on the original article thread. So here's one more example, to add to the collection: The Bible is the best selling book in the world, at somewhere over 5 billion copies... but that's a sales figure which spans back over two centuries. So where's the time factor, in this analysis of Apple's iPhone sales? Clearly, the author needed to run this piece past a few friends at the very minimum, before running with it. (Actually, I think professional editorial staffers are what's missing from most articles, these days -- but perhaps that's a soapbox for another time.)

Full disclosure: I own multiple iPhones, multiple Macs... and multiple Bibles.

Comment To sit... or to stand... (Score 1) 326

My home computers are pretty uncomplicated; an iMac at a conventional desk in the office and a Mac Mini at a standing workstation in the home theater, attached to the projector -- but my office setup is arguably where I've put the most effort and thought. I have five computers at my desk, serving various purposes. (Some are on a stand-alone development network, one is a version control server, one is my internet box... etc.) So needless to say, a KVM was one of the first necessities, there.

I also have three monitors across my desk. The KVM connects to the center 20" display, while the flanking 24" widescreen displays act as secondary displays on one or more computers. None of my computers actually support all three monitors, mind you... but most of them support at least two. Just for fun, I've also copied the same collection of panorama desktop backgrounds to each workstation, so that I can view a contiguous background image across all three displays, regardless of which machines are currently active.

Over time, I started thinking about the idea of having a standing workstation in the office, because I kind'a like the one I have at home, and because everyone has always lauded the health benefits of standing more and sitting less... but getting the Powers That Be to sign off on an expensive new adjustable height desk would be nigh impossible. So I designed my own "poor man's" standing desk. It's still the same desk I've always had, but now there are three stacks of old software engineering books (which nobody cares about) under the monitors, elevating them to standing height. I also used a bookshelf supported by some steel paper organizers (again, which nobody cares about... because who organizes hard copy papers anymore?) to elevate a keyboard and mouse appropriately. As an added element, I connected up a secondary keyboard and mouse on the desk under that bookshelf, so that I can sit down when my legs grow tired.

And they do. I don't think I'll go to all this effort again, when I finally leave this job behind me. Maybe I'll just hit the gym more often, instead...

Comment Dangerous precedent... (Score 3, Insightful) 158

So let's follow the rabbit a little bit further down this hole: If the police manage to set a precedent that cell phone location data can be used to establish the location of a given suspect to a particular crime, then what happens when the criminals start leaving their cell phones at home? Does that now qualify as an alibi?

Is our legal system really ready to go that far down the hole?

Submission + - NVIDIA's Neural Network Drives A Car (

mikejuk writes: NVIDIA has moved into AI in a big way, both with hardware and software. Now it has implemented an end-to-end neural network approach to driving a car. This is a much bigger breakthrough than winning at Go and raises fundamental questions of what sort of systems we are willing to accept driving cars for us.
NVIDIA is reporting the results of its end-to-end self driving car project, called Dave-2, the raw input is simply video of the view of the road and the output is steering wheel angle. The neural network in between learns to steer by being shown videos of a human driving and what the human driver did to the steering wheel as a result. You could say that the network learned to drive by sitting next to a human driver.
This is much different than the engineered approach used by Google say where Lidar and highly accurate maps are used to implement if..then rules that formulate how to drive an a precise way.
After testing on a simulation, Dave-2 was taken out on the road — the real road. Performance wasn't perfect, but the system did drive the car for 98% of the time leaving the human just 2% of the driving to do.
The real issue is not that a neural network is better at driving than the engineers solutions offered by Google but that we really don't know how it does it. A neural network can generalize to situations it has never seen before, something the current crop of self driving if..then.. rules cannot. However we can't reduce the network to a set of clear if..then rules that explain the way it behaves. It might not have a specific "bus detector" but this doesn't mean it will crash into a bus as Google's self driving car did.
Do we need to understand a system to have confidence that it will work? If we learn the lessons of traditional buggy software the answer seems to be no.

Submission + - Which Companies Pay Engineers the Most? (

Tekla Perry writes: When deciding to take a job, good "fit," a clear path to advancement, and the numbers on your paycheck are all important. But salary is the first among equals. Apparently, tech firms fully understand that, according to a ranking by job search firm Glassdoor in which Silicon Valley tech companies dominate the list of top 25 highest paying firms in the U.S.

Comment Is this accurate? (Score 1) 213

Well, I didn't entirely remember the two-year delayed increase for grandfathered customers until I read through this post... but upon reflection, I did indeed read about this, two years ago when it was originally announced. The problem is, when I read about it then , the price increase was supposed to be from $7.99 to $8.99 for existing customers. So which is it, really? Did plans change at some point, or did someone get their facts wrong?

Comment Re:Well, sure... but (Score 1) 282

... So back to my point, you're not making a living with "toys" unless you're selling them or intentionally trying to demean the tools you work with.

I would opine that this is a very cynical (and self contradictory) point of view. As I noted in one of my previous responses, everything depends upon your point of view. My referring to computers as toys does not in any way diminish my ability to use them as tools... nor does it follow that I am somehow diminishing my computer is some fashion, merely by calling it a toy. Computers are toys. They are also tools. In fact, from my point of view, to refuse to acknowledge that a given device is multifaceted and well capable of simultaneously being both tool and toy is an example of you intentionally diminishing them; you're trying to force them into a box. You're creating narrowly defined constraints that simply don't need to exist. (To give you one very literal example: You could very easily conduct a business call on an iPhone or Android smartphone, while simultaneously playing a video game on the very same device, entirely unbeknownst to the party (or parties) on the other end of that phone call. It might not be a very wise choice to do so... but it can be done, technically.)

As for my allegation of contradiction: really, you seem to have already acknowledged that these various innovations are capable of both: You yourself pointed out that an iPad can be used as a toy in one setting, and as a tool in another setting. So how can it possibly be demeaning to freely acknowledge the multi-functional nature of any given gadget?

Word meanings change over time. What was historically a derogatory term in certain contexts, need not remain so forever.

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