* Posts by Joe Gurman

194 posts • joined 21 Dec 2007

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Thirty Meter Telescope needs to revisit earthly fine print

Joe Gurman

Re: Won't be a "sacred site" in 2 million years or so anymore

What is sacred to whom is always a matter of conjecture as to sincerity, depth of feeling, and authenticity, but Polynesian peoples had similar beliefs going back well before any astronomical observatories, and native people in the Hawai'ian islands have been dumped on for a couple centuries by haoles, so ill feeling at getting dumped on once again is a given.

That said, there are also opportunists out for a payoff, and the odds are about fifty-fifty whether the TMT will simply be canceled or there will be a holy person there for the dedication.

One thing I can tell you: if the telescope does get built, this kind of delay means the police tag will go well beyond $1.4B. Ask the folks who are building the DKIST (a solar telescope) on the Haleakala on Maui.

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The Mad Men's monster is losing the botnet fight: Fewer humans are seeing web ads

Joe Gurman

Well

I use an adblocker than can whitelist individual sites, but I never have. The most useful industry site (a one-man operation) I read is supported by an Amazon percentage link and direct contributions. I believe I can say I've never seen an ad on The Reg site, but, assuming they have them, I'd be willing to subscribe a reasonable amount to keep the site going without them.

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Joe Gurman

Re: No sympathy.....

Nonsense: Less describes a continuous quantity and fewer, something denumerable. It has as long as it's been in the language, and there's no good reason to change what's significant difference. The only possible excuse is laziness, which produces bad speech or writing as surely as it does bad code.

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Submarine cable cut lops Terabits off Australia's data bridge

Joe Gurman

Oh those pesky Russkies

....and all the attention they've been paying to submarine optical fiber cables lately. Bet someone tried attaching a faulty tap.

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Most of the world still dependent on cash

Joe Gurman

Just a couple of questions

If 2 billion out of a word population of over 7 billion are "unbanked" (what a miserable turn of phrase), how is that "most?"

How do bank transactions benefit anyone but banks? If we all paid cash instead of using credit and debit cards, there would be no bank fees. Admittedly, plastic is much more convenient than case, even in countries other than the US, where ATMs (cash points) distribute only one denomination of currency.

Could I be justified in assuming that any report by a large, global banking firm (Citi) and a uni economics department might be ever so slightly biased favo[u]r of the banks' way of doing things?

The only advantage in gaining bank services in the US to people currently without bank accounts (the poor and.or undocumented, generally) would be the ability to avoid the tens of thousands of loathsome "pay day" loan and check cashing storefronts, in fact owned by large banking chains. They charge astonishingly usurious interest rates, and are the only resort for some millions of people. Need repairs to your auto to get to work, but no car to do so? They'll lend it to you at 30% and take the car as collateral, which means in almost all cases repossessing the car in a month or two. Dickensian.

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I love you. I will kill you! I want to make love to you: The evolution of AI in pop culture

Joe Gurman

And also in 1994....

Bungie introduced Marathon, the forerunner of all the Halo business. It featured not one but three AIs, all with starkly different personalities, and one of them psychotic. Unfortunately, such was the site of the art of actual game AI that the random human NPCs displayed an almost unerring tendency to get in the way of every shot or sight line. So they became known as "Bobs."

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Would you like fraud with that? Burger chain giant Wendy's 'hacked'

Joe Gurman

It's time

For Wendy's to follow McDonald's and Subway and adopt Apple Pay.

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Safari iOS crashing: Suggestions snafu KOs the Apple masses

Joe Gurman

Except....

....it was resolved at around 05:45 GMT today, so if you woke up after that, you probably wouldn't have seen it. Server issue, not Safari.

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Joe Gurman

Re: Another mark on the list

Except that it was pretty obviously an Apple server-side issue, and nothing to do with Safari.

You can have valid issues with Safari and/or OS X, but this wasn't one.

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Boffins celebrate 30th anniversary of first deep examination of Uranus

Joe Gurman

The awful English language

"When the probe flew by, it beamed back proof that the planet had a magnetic field somewhat similar to our own, although the magnetic and physical north-south poles didn't match."

This could be read to imply that the geographic and magnetic poles are the same on the earth, which they're not.Last year, earth's north geomagnetic pole was located at 80.31°N 72.62°W, and eppur si muove. Of course, we don't care any more, 'cause we have GPS and Glonass, which will never *cough* fail. And soon we'll have Galileo.

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How El Reg predicted Google's sweetheart tax deal ... in 2013

Joe Gurman

Slight error in arithmetic

Wasn't May of 2013 a but under three years ago?

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Joe Gurman

Greece should be so lucky.

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Adblock Plus blocked from attending ad industry talkfest

Joe Gurman

Um....

I know it's ridiculous to complain about El Reg sub-heads, but referring to online adverts as "content" has to be one of the more tongue-in-cheek inversions even Carrion Central has ever come up with.

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What do we do about a problem like Uber? Tom Slee speaks his brains

Joe Gurman

From the other side of the world

In the US, most cities have terrible taxi service, with no more than a tiny (if not in fact zero) percentage of vehicles with disabled access, and in most places insisting on cash payments – assuming they show up at all. In New York, there are many fewer cabs than the customers would like, but the street grid simply cannot support more --- which is what led to the absurdly high auction prices for taxi medallions just before the arrival of Uber. And while you can often (if the weather's not too bad or its not rush hour – that is, when you most want a cab) hail a cab on the street in busy parts of Manhattan, it's impossible to do so in the outlying parts of the city. And heaven help you if you, like I do, live in the suburbs around a major city. Then there's at most one taxi company "servicing" your area, and they act with the customer serve orientation of all monopolies — and their vehicles are run-down, poorly maintained, and usually driven by foreign nationals with whom it's sometimes difficult to communicate.

The answer to the complaints about Uber management's practices (which begin at odious and sink from there) is for the regulated taxi companies to band together and offer an app-based taxi call service. If Lyft can do it to, they wouldn't be violating any patents. Yet they are resistant to such changes, because they're used to decades of regulatory protection in a shared monopoly.

Well, tough for them if a more agile and imaginative capitalist or two eats their lunch.

And yes, it was innovative for a firm with capital behind it to use a smartphone app to enable people to find out if there was a car near enough to them to wait for, whether Uber invented that technology or not.I find Mr. Slee rather a pompous fool, and his arguments somewhat less than fact-based.

One final note: each time I've used Uber in the US, I've asked the driver if he or she was happy with the deal. Only one of a dozen or 15 answered in the negative; he was a recent immigrant who had had to have Uber finance a new car purchase to enable him to drive for them, and found the terms oppressive (see "business practices, odious" above). All of the others, new or with a few years' experience with the company, driving several hours a day or only occasionally on weekends or work holidays, were positive. If the drivers in Seattle had grievances, they were right to organize, which gives their negotiations with the company some balance. The drivers around the US I've talked to haven't, with that one egregious exception, seen the need for that kind of leverage.

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Outfit throws fit, hits FitBit's hit kit with writ (Apple also involved)

Joe Gurman

Nice job on the headline

You can audition for a job with Variety now.

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Flare-well, 2015 – solar storm to light up skies on New Year's Eve

Joe Gurman

Re: No problemo . . . me t'inks

You're no doubt right about electromagnetic pulse-like events, but CMEs with strong magnetic field oriented opposite to the earth's can lead to induced currents in the earth and oceans ("geomagnetically induced currents"), and without sufficient warning, MWatt transformers can't have their ground phase adjusted in time. Sufficient warning being the 1 - 3 days provided by coronagraphs; without them, something as fast as the Carrington event would allow only 10 - 15 minutes of warning when it passed by our sentinels near L1.... or seconds when it passed by geosynchronous orbit. You can't change the ground phase of that size transformers that fast, so you need to yank them off the grid or watch the oil baths they spin in burst into flames.

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Joe Gurman

Re: Naming

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center maintains a numbered list of flares, but as yet there's no standard numbering scheme for CMEs, probably because different people and algorithms come up with different determinations what is and isn't a CME. It was easiest from 2007 through 2014, when the twin STEREO spacecraft added viewpoints to the old, traditional one along the Sun-Earth line (the SOHO spacecraft, now 20 years old). One of the STEREO spacecraft is now "lost," at least temporarily, so the determination of CME origin location and direction of propagation is somewhat degraded.

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Death Stars are a waste of time – here's the best way to take over the galaxy

Joe Gurman

Aren't you missing the point?

....which is the shock and awe thing. Habitable planets being relatively rare, we don't want to go around vaporizing them except as an example pour les autres, and a self-replicating robot army would at least start out their planetary destruction is excruciating slo-mo. Plant of time to catch the space taxi and head to Jakku, or wherever. A major pain, but definitely not bowel-loosening.

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Brit 'naut Tim Peake preps for Space Station launch

Joe Gurman

Re: "Permission to relieve bladder."

A custom since Gagarin did it, cosmonauts (and guests) about to launch in a Soyuz pee on the tire of the bus that brings them to the launch pad, presumably for good luck.... and to prevent damp on launch.

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Who owns space? Looking at the US asteroid-mining act

Joe Gurman

I don't even play a lawyer on TV

....and Mr. Oduntan c;early knows far more about law than I ever will, but even Wikipedia considers the Moon Treaty as "a failed treaty because it has not been ratified by any state that engages in self-launched manned space exploration or has plans to do so." India is a signatory, and it might change its collective mind if it decides to start a manned programme, but right now, excepting India, it is only nations that feel they will be left out of the economic exploitation of bodies in space that have signed on. I urge readers to consult Wikipedia on this, if only for the sake of the large red (non-parties) part of the globe on the "ratification and signatories" map.

Instead of complaining and pointing to a failed international law, perhaps the best route for countries concerned about the behavior of the few and the wealthy in mining space objects, other governments could encourage public investment in those efforts, so as to have a shareholder's say in how it was done, and with what safeguards to the earth. ("Oops, missed our re-entry target. Sorry, Copenhagen.")

I'm not an economist either, so I have no idea if any such scheme is likely to be profitable this century, but even as a wettish leftie, I like the idea of capitalists rather than governments leading us farther into space. No waste of tax revenues if the whole things goes pear-shaped.

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Hold on, France and Russia. Anonymous is here to kick ISIS butt

Joe Gurman

Speech

""A website is speech. It is not a bomb." Pretty clearly, Mr. Prince is unfamiliar with Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and Schenk v. United States (1920), in which Justice Holmes wrote in the unanimous decision of the US Supreme Court that, "[T]he First Amendment could not be understood to provide an absolute right, and would not protect a person 'falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.'"

I guess it's in the eye of the beholder, but people with assault rifles and explosives, and an announced intention to murder innocent citizens of a democracy, would appear to present a somewhat greater threat than the fellow falsely shouting fire in a theater (or the antiwar and anti-defat activists in Schenk). It follows that providing them with a soapbox is not an exercise of a right, but a commercial decision trading monetary gain for spreading terror.

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Crash this beauty? James Bond's concept DB10 Aston debuts in Spectre

Joe Gurman

Just wondering

When Bond, J. is going to get a car with real performance, that is to say, a 'leccy, like the Tesla Model S with superinasanemadcrazy acceleration mode. 0 to 60 in much less time it will take you to recover consciousness from blacking out from the additional g's.

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TRANSISTOR-GATE-GATE: Apple admits some iPhone 6Ses crappier than others

Joe Gurman

One of these things is kind of different

"Reminder to conspiracy theorists: Samsung's electronics wing makes Android smartphones and tablets that rival Apple's iThings, while its semiconductor arm makes the chips in Apple gear. One to think about."

Exactly. I bet Samsung's semiconductor biz is profitable, while its smartphone operation....

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TELLY INNN SPAAACE: Nothing to watch on your 4K TV? NASA to the RESCUE

Joe Gurman

Erm

NASA TV has been around since the '80s, available on many US cable providers. This is only an announcement of their 4K transmission plans.

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VW: Just the tip of the pollution iceberg. Who's to blame? Hippies

Joe Gurman

Not so fast, and not all hippies, neither

There are serious environmental groups in the US, at least, that however regretfully, have also concluded that nuclear is the best form of electric power generation in the short term --- as long as research and development of better renewables is also pursued.

And I don't know where you got the idea that "also these days in the USA" diesel is a major part of the transportation industry. In the personal transport area, diesels have never done well here; in the public transport, most major cities (perhaps thanks to our glut of fracked natural gas) are using condensed natural gas-powered buses instead of diesels (e.g. Washington DC). The CNG buses emit less than half the NOx of their diesel equivalents. And the California emission standards, which have been adopted by several other states, make non-urea-scrubbed diesels unlikely at best.

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FOUR STUNNING NEW FEATURES Cook should put in the iPHONE 7

Joe Gurman

Re: @ 45RPM

"Actually most people who doesn't want to bin their phones after only two years of use replace their phone's batteries (if the phone allows it) when said batteries performance falls." Er, citation needed?

I don't know where to find those stats, and can only provide personal stats for one (1) Jesus phone. I had an iPhone 4 for just shy of four (4) years. Never needed a battery replacement, and was only beginning to display shorter charge lifetime at that point.

Obviously, your (or anyone else's) kilometrage could vary. You could be forced to used your phone in an area with fewer or less powerful cells, or use your phone differently, or have a phone with a short which you earth with your body for all I know.

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Joe Gurman

Wait a second, there

"A replacement battery is smaller and less fiddly to carry around than charger + cable." Well, batteries have certainly changed since the days of the Motorola flip phones but I carried one around then and it was not a pleasant experience. In fact, the net volume of tiny charger cube plus USB cable is about the same as the extra-duration battery's was.

Worse, batteries are rarely if ever standardized (this argument could home some weight if they were). Try finding a battery for your €30, Indian-made mobile in East Buttflap, Iowa.... and them try finding an Apple AC cube and USB-to-Lightning cable.

Apple's made, as Steve Jobs intended years ago, to make buying a stodgy, capable, middle-of-the-road family sedan at sports car prices the norm. (He used the analogy of Mercedes, though he drove a BMW himself, if memory serves.) And his company did so by convincing so many buyers that places to buy accessories are as common in the US landscape, at least, as McDonalds.

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Nice try, Apple. The Maxi Pad is no laptop killer – and won’t scratch the Surface

Joe Gurman

*Cough*

"[T]he device may not allow enterprise people get a full Windows experience." I believe that's the point, mate. Some people just don't want that. They want, even in a corporate environment, a mobile device with a big enough screen to do what they consider serious work (read: Office) and also support mobile apps. The RT fell down on the latter. Believe it or not, the Windows "experience" is not the selling point it used to be.

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You want the poor to have more money? Well, doh! Splash the cash

Joe Gurman

The laughable Laffer curve

Can you actually cite any widespread, quantitative evidence for the Laffer curve's validity? Or is it just what it started out as, a sketch on a cocktail napkin?

The wealthy did quite well in the US when their marginal federal income tax rate was 90%. One can argue whether that limited economic activity, but the government was spending that money, not hoarding it up in Fort Knox. Saying taxes reduce the money available for economic activity is hogwash at least in the US, where nearly all of it is spent on procurement with (ta da) the private sector, rather than a a large (for the size of the population, or even historically within the US) bureaucracy.... and bureaucrats buy cars and washing machines, too, for that matter.

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Volkswagen used software to CHEAT on AIR POLLUTION tests, alleges US gov

Joe Gurman

Please

Don't try to argue facts, particularly scientific ones, with the climate change-denying monkeys. They will only throw scat.

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Why the 'Dancing Baby' copyright case is just hi-tech victim shaming

Joe Gurman

A thoughtful and thought-provoking piece

....but off the point, I believe, in Lenz. The woman who posted the video is the potential victim here, of the overly broad and lopsided DMCA legislation. The music was muffled and distorted, and in no way could approach equivalence with the Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan selling out to commercial interests with high-fidelity remasterings of their backlist for adverts.

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3D printer blueprints for TSA luggage-unlocking master keys leak online

Joe Gurman

Luggage keys? Please.

If I had just one US dollar for every time a traveler had their TSA friendly lock removed and tossed by (presumably) the TSA while traveling, I could afford at least a private jet timeshare. The only solution is not to check anything you'd really mind losing. I've been traveling that way for years now and it gives a certain peace of mind.

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US cop goes war-driving to find stolen gear by MAC address

Joe Gurman

Re: The iOS MAC randomization wouldn't help here

As near as I can tell (from one data point so far), this is correct: my iPhone's current MAC address, when I'm home, reports the address I have hard-coded into my access point for a MAC address-based ACL. Some pooh-pooh that sort of security, but I reckon it's one more thing an intruder in a WiFi-network-rich environment doesn't need to deal with if my neighbo[u]rs' networks are more welcoming.

And it is also true, here in the Sates at least, that the police are much more interested in finding stolen mobile/electronic devices in general in the first 24 - 48 hours, since they know the chances beyond that are slim to none.

And finally, it is rare that thieves are after anything less than the latest model mobile device. Their discerning tastes are driven by the same market factors as "legitimate" sales: new drives out old.

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America's crackdown on open-source Wi-Fi router firmware – THE TRUTH

Joe Gurman

Erm....

"[A] deeply held philosophical view among many that there should always be the ability to modify computing equipment that you buy"

Parn me, but when did a deeply held philosophical view among many geeks (certainly not among many of the general electronics-purchasing populace, much less the entire electorate by any stretch of the imagination) become a concern for a federal agency charged with protecting public access to the airwaves? I'm looking for case law or FCC decisions.

The convenience and ability to add new features of some RF-emitting designs (and c'mon, folks, you know that even receivers emit some, if only at intermediate frequencies; that's what the standards are for) are good counterarguments to this sort of regulation, but that's a very different argument to/from one based on the geek philosophy.

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Earth wobbles on axis as Google rebrands

Joe Gurman

Alas

Yet another serif logo goes the way of all print, Helveticalized to the point of inhumanity. A logo for machines, read by machines. Time for the cyberlizard overlords.

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Jailbreaking pirates popped in world's largest iCloud raid – 225,000 accounts hit

Joe Gurman

A linguistic/numerical question

Perhaps usage is different in the UK than here in the US: How can one call 225,000 jailbreakers out of over 300,000,000 iPhones in use worldwide (and that's a two year old figure) "popular?" Jailbreaking iPhones may be popular among the author's friend, family, and.or acquaintances, but on this side of the big blue salty, fewer than one in a thousand is not what we would call "popular."

One might even call it "niche." Or in this case, toast.

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Net neutrality: How to spot an arts graduate in a tech debate

Joe Gurman

Except that....

As interesting as Mr. Orlowski's presentation of the report, and the principles underlying them, may be, a theoretical net neutrality or its impossibility is obfuscation: what most people mean by the term is not countenancing deep-pocketed players' doing better than stochastic usage would predict, all the time, while the rest of punters always do worse. Would Mr. Orlowski feel less aggrieved I f we pushed our glued-together, Coke-bottle lensed glasses higher up on our noses, adjusted our pocket protectors, and held up banners demanding a statistically fair network, where Netflix, Amazon, and each of has the same expectation of latency and bandwidth as a fraction of advertised "up to" values?

If nothing else, one of the principal advocates of net eutrality has been Google, er, Alphabet, not a firm known for the liberal arts (as we call it in the States) background of its senior management.

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Joe Gurman

Poor analogy

A better one would be, "Imagine a UK motorway system where only vehicles belonging to major, international corporations could use the highways your taxes paid for, and you were forced to use one-lane roads with no passing places."

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Embracing the life-changing qualities of USB power packs and battery extenders

Joe Gurman

Clearly, it depends

On how much you use your mobile, whether you're near cell repeaters or on the fringes of the coverage area, and whether you work in a place with WiFi. For what it's worth, my LTE smartphone has an 1810 mAh battery, and usually lasts three days, unless one or more of the above "normal" conditions in my life is missing.

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NASA dismisses asteroid apocalypse threat

Joe Gurman

As long....

....as Batman and Nucky Thompson go with Mr. Willis, we'll be OK.

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Mathematician: SUNSPOT DROUGHT will mean mini ICE AGE from 2030

Joe Gurman

The "little ice age" was a lot longer....

....about 300 years by most definitions; by contrast, the Maunder minimum was ~ 75 years in duration.

Wake up call for Northumbria U. press hacks: correlation does not imply causality. if it did, then warming of the terrestrial troposphere (the little ice age started much earlier) caused the Maunder on the Sun. D'oh.

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Lizard Squad kid bandit who did 50 THOUSAND HACKS dodges cooler stint

Joe Gurman

Re: "Who fancies a lynch mob?"

"It's a fair cop, but society's to blame." "Agreed. We'll be charging them, too."

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Joe Gurman

Not even a slap on the wrist

Is the concept of community service known in Finland? Better he spend his time cleaning trash off roadsides, or babysitting, or cutting down trees, than being monitored while his hand get clammy for th keyboard.

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Microsoft SLASHES 7,800 bods, BURNS $7.6bn off books in Nokia adjustment

Joe Gurman

Proof needed

Has it been proven that anyone besides Apple, and maybe Samsung, have actually found a way to make money making smartphones?

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Han Solo to get solo prequel flick in 2018, helmed by LEGO men

Joe Gurman

No matter how many times....

....the Soviet Encyclopedia is edited, Han shot first.

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Get READY: Scientists set to make TIME STAND STILL tonight

Joe Gurman

Re: Phoenix

Arizona and Hawai'i don't go on summer (daylight savings) time, primarily for astronomical and economic reasons having little to do with golf courses. Arizona, for instance, is economically linked to neighboring California, which is one time zone to the west. Hawai'i is at such a low latitude that there isn't much summer-winter variation in day length.

Indiana used to make DST a local option, so suburban counties near Chicago could match its time, while downstate farming counties could stay with something closer to mean solar time. In 2006, they switched to everyone following DST, but placed some counties in the northwest (Chicago suburbs) and southwest parts of the state in the Central time zone.

Oh, and the huge Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona (as well as parts of New Mexico and Utah) does observe DST.

It's a big country,

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Joe Gurman

Re: A single, consistent time standard... where?

There is one. It's called TAI, the French acronym for International Atomic Time, which ticks on, oscillation of cesium atom by cesium atom, until the last syllable of standards-keeping boredom.

Why we think human-usable time standards have to be that uniform, and not include leap seconds, is probably based more on shoddy programming for those GPS/GLONASS/Galileo systems than actual issues. At my shop, we've been dealing with leap second jumps in the UTC - TAI offset for 21 years, with no problems of which I'm aware. And there used to be more frequent leap seconds. Guess the earth's rotational slowing down is slowing down.

As for GPS satellites traveling in different directions, don't worry; that's all in the time standards calculation.

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Scientists love MacBooks (true) – but what about you?

Joe Gurman

Not just scientists, of course

Even respected industry analysts, including one who eventually headed Compaq back in the day when it was a big deal in the industry:

http://www.benrosen.com/2011/10/memories-of-steve.html

From: Benjamin M. Rosen

Subject: 30 years later -- from Ben Rosen

Date: June 4, 2007 9:06:02 AM EDT

To: Steve Jobs

Hi Steve,

When you created and then showed me the Apple II in late 1977, little did I know how much it would change my life -- to a much more exciting one.

Well, after a 20-plus year interlude with that other OS (necessitated by my Compaq involvement), I thought you'd be pleased to know that for the last few years I've returned to my roots. I'm once again an avid Apple user and evangelist.

Imagine, Ben Rosen, former Compaq Chairman, now a Mac enthusiast!

Warm regards,

Ben

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What an eyeful: Apple's cut price 27in iMac with Retina Display

Joe Gurman

Not likely

I don't.

In a small Mac shop (seven users), one person here uses Windows. That doesn't qualify as "everybody," and of course they do it because some corporate drones but "solutions" for timekeeping &c. that only run on Windows – despite corporate policy that all Web apps must run on Windows, Macs, and Linux.

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Joe Gurman

Re: Good idea

The iMac comes with two internal connectors: a SATA one for and HD (or a brave user-supplied SSD) and a sort-of proprietary one for PCIe flash memory (https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/PbQAPKwGOYbMTIqh) – using "SSD" to refer to only standard form factor devices. Apples uses both, of course, to implement its "Fusion" hybrid drive.

Unless the third-party SSD comes from Angelbird (an Austrian firm that appears to have filched Apple's secret TRIM sauce), enabling TRIM involves modifying a kext (driver) that gets replaced every OS upgrade — and interferes with upgrades.

For those (such as the gentle readers of this site) who are not frightened by a command line interface, booting into single-user (text interface) mode on a Mac with a third-party SSD will perform TRIM when you issue an "fsck -ffy" instruction. This is not such a great imposition, though, because most TRIM work occurs on SSDs when the system has been largely idle for a while.

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