81 posts • joined Tuesday 17th April 2007 01:31 GMT
Linux fans are touchy
Why do Linux fans get so sensitive when others point out weaknesses in it? I get downvoted all the time when I just report the truth, that no matter which distro I try on which desktop hardware, something always doesn't work right. I think it's mainly that vendors don't put the effort into good drivers, perhaps because they don't want to open-source them or perhaps because they just don't care about the small Linux market. This doesn't apply to servers, which don't have the range of multimedia peripherals and where Linux is the mainstream, but it does apply to laptops and desktops. I've been trying this since Yggdrasil Linux ca. 1993, and it still applies to the latest Mint, which I have to say almost had it right, much better than I'd seen before, but the audio and video were not quite reliable.
It seems to me that historically, and possibly in some places today where they lack things like refrigerators, some non-meat-eating people get a significant protein and nutrient boost via the bugs or worms that are already in some grain-type food supplies.
Re: It's whether the degree is *hard* or *soft*
Excellent comment, sorry it's from an AC I can't credit!
University CS programs are mostly second-string trade schools, and many of the students aren't very good at it either. A friend of mine teaches at a prestigious uni here in the colonies (New England), and he thinks the majority of his students are pretty badly prepared, though a few do "get it".
You also have to distinguish between university education for job training vs. one for education per se. Skills-focused learning is as the AC noted best left for apprenticeships, self-teaching, or on-the-job training. That probably should include a lot of computer skills. The hardest schools to get into here in the states are the small liberal arts colleges. They represent maybe 3% of total seats. They don't promise any particular job skills, but do provide a very broad education among other very smart kids with similar interests. Of course they don't turn out code monkeys like the big unis do, but these graduates often become the managers, creative thinkers, and other leaders who can synthesize ideas from different domains. It's not for everyone but it works really well for its audience.
Bear in mind that university education here in the states is ridiculously expensive; list price at some is $60,000/year, and even our state universities can cost around $25,000/year for in-state students, much higher for out-of-staters. This leads to huge debt and limits access. And we have a big "profit-making university" sector now, phrauds like University of Phoenix, where you pay top dollar to attend a class at a rented office buidling or take an online course. Most never graduate, and the degrees are only valuable in government-type jobs where having a degree is a check-off, not where a selective hiring manager reads the resume. The majority of their money comes from government loans to students who think it's a ticket to wealth and success.
Re: It's whether the degree is *hard* or *soft*
Ethical Hacking is a very valuable skill -- it means hunting down security vulnerabilities, so your employer or client doesn't get hacked by the bad guys first. It probably pays better than a lot of grunty CS or BOFH jobs.
Re: Some hope, still
Lars, most Americans don't know what "amendment" means. But in the case of the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights, they were adopted along with the original text, not added later. They're amendments because the drafters wrote the base text, literally constituting the form of the federation, but couldn't get it ratified without adding the Bill of Rights. Actual amendments come along very infrequently and in the present-day context of the US are virtually impossible, unless perhaps they're really really stupid.
Re: He's right about hardware and driver issues
Marcus, if nobody's using it, then it's not a success! It may be to you a technical success (it works, to your satisfaction), but it's not a market success. Linus simply recognizes that and concentrates on server-side issues, since Linux is a huge success there. Hmmm, no sound, video, or WiFi to worry about on servers, lots of disks and RAID arrays which it handles really well.
Patents do not lead to bad code; that's a cop-out. Bad coding leads to bad code. And while the Windows XP/7 kernel is by no means free, it does permit free code to run on it, and lots does. It's a more open environment than the Mac, except for that BSD emulator layer which hides most of the Mac-ish-ness. Don't get me started on IOS or Win-RT though; those really are evil.
The Mac's advantage is that the hardware is bundled, so it doesn't need as many drivers as Windows or Linux has. Windows just gets more support from vendors so the drivers work better, and so as an end user, it's far easier to get running.
He's right about hardware and driver issues
I've been playing with Linux distros since Yggdrasil in 1993 or so, but quite frankly the only option for my real work is Windows. It is not fashionable but it's what the hardware makers support best, and it has the most available applications, including some I use that don't have Mac or Linux versions. It is quite stable nowadays (I once kept an XP desktop machine running over 6 months between reboots) if you don't screw up and let ActiveX or its other virus vectors run.
So I built myself a new desktop machine recently. Asus mobo, AMD A10 CPU/GPU. Nothing exotic; the mobo handles almost everything. Win7 Pro installed easily. It doesn't run all of my old Windows software, but if I care, its VM runs an XP image which can thunk back to old 16-bit code. Macs don't have that kind of backwards compatibility, and MacOS won't run on homebrew hardware. I guess my wardrobe isn't up to Apple standards either.
I also installed Linux Mint (KDE edition) on it. That's an enhanced Kubuntu, some non-free stuff thrown in. It looked good at first, and supported the sound, video, and Ethernet. Knoppix literally wouldn't run on the AMD GPU, Mint did. The sound's a bit buggy, some audio players generate a few seconds of noise at the start of a song, but generally it works. Okay, maybe they finally got a Linux desktop to work! But when I rebooted into it recently after running Windows for a while, the video was AFU. I had to reboot again to get the GPU to initialize right. Typical...
Even Linus admits that Linux is basically a server OS. Miguel was of course no help with GNOME, which started off-base and went further astray. I actually like KDE. But compatibility remains a real issue. Fixing it is a nice hobby project for those who like such things, but after 20 years it's still not ready for prime time. So I get why Miguel bugged out.
Re: Discounting the cheap boxes
These are mostly regular laptops that also have touch enabled. My son has one of the Asus laptops. He installed Classic Shell on it and never hast to touch the screen or use the blanketyblank fka-Metro substitute for the start menu. Heck, I put Classic Shell on my Win7 machine because I like the more compact Win2k-style start menu and old-style Explorer better.
So once you tame Win8 that way, it works pretty well.
Re: Lets see if this self-fulfills
Well, you know the old saying. 98% of Linux fans make the other 2% look bad.
The distro that had the friendliest user community, really not hostile at all to newbies, was MEPIS. It was a very nice distro too, but hasn't been updated enough lately.
Yes, Base is the big hole in the suite. It compares to office the way a kids' trike compares to a Jaguar. While Writer and Calc can import MS formats nicely, Base seems stuck as a 1980s "wine cellar inventory demo" sort of toy. There is just no competitor who can actually do the complex chained queries on medium-large databases that Access can. And Access itself is terribly limited; it looks like 1990s code not updated except cosmetically. The 2GB file limit in Jet is ridiculous. But it's a few orders of magnitude more than Base can actually handle.
Re: Obama's Justice Department is Cruel and Vindictive.
BillG, it is not Obama personally who demands a vindictive, cruel judicial system. The political culture here works that way. Ortiz is a politician herself; she was floating her name to run for governor. It is very common for politicians here in Massachusetts to rise from prosecutor. A high-visibility prosecution, whether or not justified, puts a prosecutor's name on the front page, and the local media love it. Ortiz was trying to put a big notch on her belt.
While the state has a huge computer industry and is full of geeks who know the difference, a majority of voters probably don't, and if the Boston Globe, the Herald, and the biggest three Boston TV stations all dutifully take her at her word, then this would have been a Major Computer Criminal that she put away, and thus she would have become eligible for higher office. It's a well-trod path. Luther Scott Harshbarger helped persecute the Amirault family in the notorious Fells Acres case three decades ago. They were convicted of totally absurd charges of child abuse -- they owned a day care center which was still controversial -- mommies should stay home with kids and not work, said the right wing. He never apologized and to this day insists that that they were, essentially, witches, but got elected Attorney General. Almost made governor.
It was not the birth of the Internet
What happened on Flag Day was that NCP was turned off, except for hosts that were given permission to still use it, who got a few months' reprieve. But the irony is that before that, many users ran IP over NCP, in whcih case IP was an internetwork protocol, running atop a network protocol (NCP). After Flag Day, IP became network protocol, and the Internet basically worked more like a catenet, flat rather than layered. Oops.
TCP/IP was a lab hack run amok. VJ's stopgap congestion hack, invented a year earlier at DEC btw which patched it into DECnet, was not a good solution, just a patch. But in the true iP style, it became holy writ. That's what's so funny about this -- a lot was research projects that were never completed, which worked "well enough" but not really efficiently, so they remained in place. IPv6 is like the beer commercial in reverse, tastes worse and more filling. It's utter incompetence, proof that some people assume that "authority" is always correct even though it is obviously wrong.
Re: The conference broke down for good reason
It is one thing for governments to do this surreptitiously. They can, after all, do whatever the hell they please, as they are soverign. It is something else for a treaty to call for governments to read all Intenet traffic, ostensibly in the name of stopping spam, but of course it is well inside the application layer, so not something that a telecom carrier, or treaty, should have any business whatsoever touching. And not something that magically could be stopped if only governments interceded. The conceit that government can stop spam by filtering Internet traffic, even though private parties couldn't, just proves how incompetent ITU-T is.
The conference broke down for good reason
The US was right. The treaty allows governments to inspect the contents of Internet traffic. It does not claim control over addressing and naming yet, but leaves those open to future conferences. The treaty dances on the line of whether or not Internet is telcommunications per se (and thus regulated) or the content of telecommunications, which is how the US views it and how it got going int he first place without government, ITU, or telephone company blessing.
The ITU has simply shown that it is obsolete, a place for dictators to strut their ability to shut off their own countries from the developed world.
Re: heres an idea
I use Windows in large part because that's where the applications are.
Macs attract certain types of applications. Linux attracts certain types. Windows attracts a rather larger set, given the network effect of having more users. Stuff I use often is only on Windows. Plus I rather like XP. And I suspect that by using Classic Shell to hide the idiotic, hopeless fondleslab advert of a start screen, I can make Windows 8 look enough like XP. I may actually try to do that soon. Classic Shell looks great on my son's new laptop.
Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie had it right in their old song:
From Macintosh to Microsoft to Lin-lie-lin-lie-nucks
Every computer crashes
'cause every OS sucks.
FWIW, I've read a recent report (firsthand) that Russia resubmitted the proposal on Tuesday.
Now they just look foolish. Or at least their 30-year-old Minister for Communications, who's behind it.
Moto made money on Iridium, others lost
Iridium was a daft idea, but it didn't hurt Motorola.
They sold Iridium itself to investors, as Iridium LLC, which is what went bankrupt. But along the way, Motorola made about $6B on it. They built the satellites. They built a gold plated, no, iridium-plated NOC near Washington and had a $50M/month contract to run the network. So while it was their baby, they had sold the losses to suckers and made money along the way. All of this was discontinued when the assets were purchased in bankruptcy by Iridium Satellite LLC. They run it on a relative shoestring and Dept. of Defense contracts more than cover it.
Oh, and it didn't work. at ;east at forst. I worked at the firm that was doing technical due diligence on it and we saw they kept missing their goals. When it was theoretically up and running, we got a "working" phone and tried it. The signal was so marginal that you needed a clear view of the sky, no trees or anything, in order to use it. This inspired my motto for them:
Iridium. For people who are out standing in their field.
Ribbon and "metrosexual" are triumphs of insane design, where space-wasting pictures replace clean text-based interfaces. Both are a bad attempt to copy Apple's picture-heavy UI without quite getting it.
I've been using Office 2010 with the ribbon for a couple of years now and when I switch over to LibreOffice with the menu, it is a breath of fresh air. LO doesn't do everything right so I still end up needing MS Office, but I'm tempted to buy the third-party menu restorer.
The Win8 "make my PC look like a tablet" UI is absurd too. Happily there are several Start Menu add-ons available from third parties, so it may be possible to make it all go away. But somebody who thinks that this is progress is certainly leading MS in the wrong direction.
I wish they'd clone MSAccess too
LibreOffice is an okay word processor and spreadsheet, and its replacement for Powerpoint is pretty reasonable. But nobody, anywhere, has a file format compatible substitute for MS Access. That's an aging program that nonetheless does things that no other database program can do, at least easily. Chaining queries, so the output of one query is the input to another one, and they run as one query without creating intermediate files, is incredibly useful. When I tried the OOO/LO joke of a databse, it wouldn't even let me scroll down to the end; it displays the top and you can't even browse around a large relation. Useless.
An apple with a bite out of it looks more striking than an unbitten one; it's a great logo. Apple's first logo was a picture of Isaac Newton sitting under the tree, but it was rather too elaborate.
I doubt they had any offense at western religion in mind. Steve Jobs was Buddhist, after all, not one to think much about Genesis.
That's the western version. The actual Japanese name of the monster was Gojira. And Gojirium sounds even better.
Press super-A for this, super-F for that
And I didn't even know that the Ubuntu keyboard had a "Super" key. Is that anywhere near the famous "Any" key?
A 1% market share of the desktop is abject failure! That's the point -- it is only used by a few geeks, mostly programmers themselves, and mostly for developing server applications. Ubuntu's pathetic efforts notwithstanding, Linux is not a competitor for Windows or MacOS.
That's largely because Linus doesn't really care about desktop market share. Linux is primarily a server OS, and a pretty good one. It's also a pretty good embedded OS. Those are places where being consumer-friendly doesn't matter as much as being reliable and stable. Desktop machines have many more odd peripherals, like video and sound, which change often and are hard to support.
GNOME missed the boat on both counts. It doesn't offer a compelling user experience to actual users ("lusers" to the recreational programmer crowd that dominates Linux), and it doesn't do all that much for programmers. Ubuntu's adventures follow the same trajectory, whether or not its is using GNOME; it is programmers talking down to lusers. Windows (XP and 7) and MacOS take users seriously, for all their flaws, though I have to say Windows 8 seems to have forgotten them. And since MacOS is limited to designer hardware, the lack of a viable Linux desktop for real users is again a missed opportunity.
Datapoint pioneered the LAN
Xerox had Ethernet running in the lab around 1973, but it wasn't a commercial product until around 1982. By 1977, Datapoint was selling Attached Resource Computing (ARC), which we'd now recognize as a LAN. It was not promoted as a standard the way Ethernet was, but ARCnet probably outlived Datapoint and showed up here and there during the 1980s. So I credit them for the first production LAN.
Re: sco != santa cruz operation
The Santa Cruz Operation, IIRC, started out as a branch ofice of Vidar, a telephone equipment company owned in the late 1970s by TRW. Vidar delivered the first digital CO telephone switch to the US market, but quickly faded. Their Santa Cruz operation, though, spun off and went int the Unix business. That was the "original" SCO.
Caldera started in Utah as a Linux distributor; it was originally owned by Ray Noorda, founder of Novell, and his family (Canopy Group). But Caldera Linux didn't do terribly well. They bought Unixware from SCO along with the SCO name. Then Darl launched his idiotic scheme.
The rest of SCO, back in Santa Cruz, was renamed Tarantella after its other product. That ended up inside Oracle.
APIs are not protected
It's pretty well established that APIs are not protected by copyright; they're "functional", while copyright is about "expressive" works. So a clean-room copy of an API is okay and quite normal.
I recall a Microsoft magazine advertisement from 1982 or so that was emphasizing that MS-DOS was more like CP/M (8-bit for the Z-80) than CPM-86 was. So programmers would have an easier time with MS-DOS. CP/M-86 was a flop. The DEC Rainbow was so named because it ran both 8-bit and 16-bit versions of CP/M; by the time it came out, neither mattered. Eventually it got a port of MS-DOS but even that wasn't enough, because PC compatibility was the market requirement, not OS support. The OS didn't do all that much, after all; early PC programs largely wrote to the hardware.
Re: Not everyone fondles a slab
No, the virtual keyboard is a different part of the screen. And a touch-typist does not need to look at the screen. I often know when I typed an error because I can feel the keys, not just by looking. But in any case I can't make the damned virtual keyboard work. I can't rest my keys on it, can't feel the keys, and often hit the wrong one when I try to look. And yes this is a major problem with touchy feely smartphones too; I can't use one of those either.
Not everyone fondles a slab
For many of us users, a fondleslab is unworkable. It's based on the Steve Jobs paradigm of a user who doesn't touch-type but who has fantastic hand-eye coordination. Steve, after all, was a calligrapher; he loved the feel of quill in hand. His "computer for the rest of us" was for handwriting fans; it was and is hell for visually-challenged touch-typists.
The fondleslab model extends that. You don't even feel the keys (we touch-typists don't look at them; F and J have bumps); you need fantastic coordination to touch the glass just right. For some people this is easy and thus adequate for writing their tweets and other brief texts. For serious keyboardists, it's as useful as a bicycle pump on a heavy truck. When I see a fondleslab I don't want to fondle it; I want to hold it by the edge and smash it against a stone wall. Win8 is all about recreating hte fondleslab experience for desktop users, a truly horrific idea.
But having tried desktop Linux distros going back to Yggdrasil (1993?), I remain convinced that Linux is three years away from being a useful desktop distro, and will always be. It's a serverOS and a geek toy. And Ubuntu is how a geek programmer insults what it thinks are ordinary users.
Re: Gabe Newell
I did see Windows 1. I don't recall its getting to 1.03, but I may have missed it.
Metro is a fork off of that design. Windows 1 was written in response to Apple's claim that overlapping windows were somehow its intellectual property, the notorious "look and feel" lawsuit. So Win1 used tiles, non-overlapping windows. And of course it didn't multitask.
Win8 appears to be based on that tiled design, with a touch of DoubleDOS rather than multitasking, updated to waste about a million times more available graphics cycles while most apps appear to run as fast as Win1 on an 80286 did.
Re: History repeats itself
Of course Win8 is an epic fail. Its tiled UI and lack of proper multitasking harken back to Windows 1, back in 1985. What an abomination that was. It was featured on the DEC VAXmate, a major-league disaster of its own.
But MS doesn't have much competition on the desktop, other than themselves. Win7 will kill Win 8 the same way XP killed Vista. They could of course listen to customers and make 8.5 work better on the desktop, rather than demand Metro. Or they could double down and hope people give up the features they need because only tablets are k3wl and Steve B wants you to pretend you have one.
What other competition is there? MacOS only runs on one vendor's designer hardware, and it's a cult item with a rather specialized set of available software. Great for video editing, nonexistent for GIS, lame for games, and weak on many business applications. Linux is a server OS that after 20 years remains three years away from being useful on the average person's desktop. RHEL on the desktop is how a nerd writes and tests server code. Ubuntu is how a nerd talks down to people.
Dirt cheap compared to American subsidies
Hmmm, 70M for 365k homes? Just under 200 quid of subsidy per connection. That's bupkis. The FCC has offered the big telcos "Connect America Fund Phase 1" subsidies of $775 per home to bring 4/1 broadband to unserved homes in their dial tone service turfs. This is a capital grant, only to places that have no "unsubsidized competitor" now and where they promise they weren't planning on bringing it otherwise.
We have some rural telcos here whose USF subsidies are over $1000/month, mostly going to pay off government loans of over $20k/home, though the new CAF rules "presumptively" cap subsidies at $250/line/month, meaning that very high cost subsidy suckers have to write a note to justify it. Some of those are realistic (it's a big country and there are some seriously remote areas). Some haven't been seen yet and will be a real laugh.
HP hails from Houston? That's a laugh. Yes, they bought Houston's Compaq, basically putting a competitor out of business, but HP was the company that basically hatched Silly Valley from a garage in Palo Alto.
What does weirding have to do with religion?
I may be missing some Britishism over hear in the colonies. While "global warming" is the most widely used phrase, it is often "refuted" by those who note incidences of extreme cold and snow. What extra heat in the atmosphere tends to do is add to the strength of storms, but it also moves some atmospheric flows, making the weather weirder -- more variation from average -- than usual. Hence global weirding.
Or do Brits see that as some kind of Shakespearian-era reference to the occult or something?
Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"
Denialists start with the false premise that everything works in a straightforward, linear fashion, so that anything that deviates from the general direction of the predicted trend, even if the existence of such variation is itself predictable, is taken as "proof" that the science is wrong. Drill, baby, drill; I'll be dead before the planet is uninhabitable, and I don't give a goat's bzadeh about your grandkids.
Global weirding (long term climate) leads to wider variations in (short term) weather. Here in New England, we had a record-breaking snowfall last year, followed by unprecedented floods and even tornadoes (not normal here). Then we had a warm, dry winter and this spring is turning into a big brush fire season. Unlike out west, we have year-round rainfall so underbrush normally decomposes rather than burns, but it burns in drought.
We are treated like cattle at the airport based on the one-in-100-million chance that our shoes or underpants are bombs. Yet a mere 95-out-of-100 chance that global warming is real is not enough to convince the same nitwits who support the fascist surveillance society that doesn't even let us take our deodorant on the plane. Utter hypocrisy.
A total waste of time and money
There is never any justification for using IPv6 for anything, period. It was a colossal mistake in the first place, made after IAB accepted TUBA, then took it back because the k1ddi3z at IETF didn't like it because it was tainted by having been related to OSI. The good folks on the IPNG project left and the B team, given bad instructions, cadged together IPv6. All that before the Internet was a widespread public service.
The correct answer for the intermediate term is to stick with IPv4 and use more NAT and more private addresses. Net 10 is pretty big. NAT only breaks broken applications. View IP addresses as internal to that layer and the application-name as canonical, and suddenly it all works. Besides, a v6 internet won't be as useful as a v4 internet because all public sites are on v4, not all are on v6, so you need v4 anyway, thus v6 will never catch up. Plus v4 space is inefficiently used, so it can last forever with a modest market in address blocks.
In the long term we retire TCP/IP itself and develop a cleaner protocol suite. It was, after all, a 1970s lab project that just worked too well to be thrown out, but it was not meant to scale to today's use.
Re: Is size really an issue?
I still have (as a souvenir) my old Vodafone full sized SIM card. It's about the size of a business card, and fit nicely into a Moto handset. The mini-SIM breaks off of it, to use with, say, post-2000 phones. That's plenty small.
The ore is pretty common; refining has been the issue. China uses old, messy acid-based refining that causes huge waste problems, which they "solve" by laying waste to vast areas of semi-desert land, I think largely in Inner Mongolia. Newer, cleaner processes may be in store for the Mountain Pass, California mine recently reopened.
What the RE industry needs is another Hall process, the discovery that made aluminum cheap. Alas, Neodymium, Samarium, Cerium and friends aren't so easy.
Re: clue me in
Heartland Institute is one of the larger Washington (okay, it's based in Chicago but it's virtual Washington) stink tanks. Supporting "free-market" ideas, it claims among its closest supporters such right-wing luminaries as Sen. Jim DeMint, Milton Friedman, and Grover Nordquist. Needless to say, it gets funding from fossil-fuel interests.
Gee. let's call is a "shell"
Typing commands into a shell is a new idea for Unix-based OSs, right?
Auto-completion of commands and programs was a feature of TOPS-20 and its predecessor TENEX, which ran on 36-bit DEC iron in the 1970s. Unix shells were designed for hunt-and-peck geeks, to minimize keystrokes on their 35ASRs. TENEX commands were designed to be user-friendly. I doubt Ubuntu will come close.
Weird Al is still going strong. He does as a policy get permission to use the songs he parodies, but he also says that he does this voluntarily, not because he has to.
US copyright law has an explicit 4-part list of factors to be considered for what is "fair use", and parody is viewed by the courts as falling into one of those categories (commentary, criticism). See the SCOTUS case Acuff v. Campbell for an example.
I wrote a document, text without pictures, in MS Word 2010. I let MS Word write it as PDF and it came to around 300k. I then used the shareware PDF995 PDF-generating printer driver to create a PDF and it was half the size, and looked as good. Same font embedding options too.
PDF is one of those formats that can be used well or badly, and a badly-written file has lots of room for optimization.
No, it's wide open by design
Buggy implementations just cause more problems. The basic design of TCP/IP is that every node can reach every other node, and scan its ports for that matter. It was not designed to be open to the public. Think of a giant motel where every single room faces a street in a very bad neighborhood. Not nearly as secure as a building with a lobby, halls, etc., but IP is a motel.
Of course he's wrong...
Vint's claim to fame is inventing TCP. Some inventors see their baby as one product to be improved upon, a snapshot in time. Vint sees his as a perpetuity, perfect and never to be replaced. Of course it has many, many flaws, of which security is merely the most egregious.
The ARPANET was the military's, but it was a research net, for a closed community, with host-based security assumed to suffice. There were no networked PCs in 1975! TCP/IP wasn't designed for mission-critical secure use. It is long, long past its sell-by date. Piling hack upon hack onto it is just a stopgap.
(And yes, I suggest looking at RINA at http://www.pouzinsociety.org/ as a substitute.)
Just buy a freakin' keyboard
Apple and others sell keyboards for iPads. Several vendors sell keyboards for Android tablets too. They use Bluetooth to connect. So just keep one with your fondleslab and you can type away.
I just wish they made a smartphone with a decent phone-type keypad in a clamshell form factor. The old Samsung Alias 2 was a wonderful texting phone, but nothing today is like it. Touch-screen phones are hard to dial on, delicate, and love to pocket-dial.
Area 51 UFO?
The locals seeing this fly by must have wondered if yet another UFO was in the Nevada skies, in the neighborhood of Area 51. Unidentified flying what?
Received power on the ground
The -30 dBm is not the transmitter power of the Lightsquared base station, but the received signal strength, using an isotropic radio, at ground level 50 meters away. Since this is some MHz away from the actual GPS satellite frequencies, a decent receiver should be able to sort them out.
Authorized years ago
Actually, LightSquared's planned Auxiliary Terrestrial operation was approved by the FCC years ago, I think 2003. They just didn't use it for a while. So GPS receiver vendors saved a few pence here and there and built units that do not work near the authorized terrestrial transmiters. Now that LightSquared wants to use its licensed frequencies, the GPS industry has its knickers in a twist.
The high-precision GPS signal is separate from the widely-used one. They are willing to pay to move all of those receivers -- there are fewer than a million -- to a different frequency.
Overlays are now the norm
Area code splits are less common in the US now, and overlays are becoming the norm for expansion. The special case in NYC is that 917 was originally an overlay for cellular only, not wireline, and the FCC later banned service-specific overlays. But area codes have split too much, and overlays are far more convenient, even if we have to dial all 10 digits (when not using a speed dial function, of course). In urban areas, the splits got to such small areas that 10-digit calling was too common anyway, just to call the next zone over (notably Los Angeles, which got carved into tiny geographic areas before the California PUC finally got a clue).
Smaller-block pooling helped in the US
Unlike the UK, the US has a fixed-format numbering plan, 3-3-4 digits everywhere. Providers used to be assigned whole 10,000-number prefix-code blocks (NPA-NXX-xxxx), and that led to massive area code exhaust and splitting/overlays. So they went to pooling, where providers get 1000 numbers at a time (NPA-NXX-Dxxx). This has hugely helped, and new area codes are rarely created any more. Carriers have to give back any blocks, after the first one in a rate center, that are <10% full. These blocks are recycled to carriers who need them.
It's all done via the number portability system. A pooled block is essentially 1000 pre-ported numbers. A "contaminated" block (recycled with <10% used but some numbers in service) leaves its existing numbers in place. It works pretty well. So perhaps the UK can move to smaller block assignments.
Android is a lot more than Linux
The article makes it sound like Android is just a fork of Linux for phones. A better description woud be that Android is a smartphone operating system that uses Linux for some boring kernel functions. The real work is done in other parts, like Dalvik (their java-like language virtual machine).
Linux provides a workable free kernel that a lot of programmers are used to. So it gets embedded in a lot of things. What people do in userland above it is none of the kernel's business, so there's no GPL violation when it's closed-source. Linux is most at home in the server world, where it's now the most popular flavor of unix, mainly on price and flexibility. Even Linus doesn't care about the mass-market desktop; unix-type OSs are lousy at that. (MacOS X has a sort of unix-like API layer atop its own Darwin microkernel and below its proprietary Mac-specific layers, but it's again a long way from a plain unix box. Even DEC's VMS could eventually run recompiled Posix applications.) Well, maybe they wouldn't be lousy at it if somebody cared, but it's hard to compete with Windows and MacOS.
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