* Posts by Henry Wertz 1

2179 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Samsung’s consumer IoT vision – stupid, desperate, creepy

Henry Wertz 1
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Yeah, but...

"Now it is cheaper to buy a new Washing Machine rather than change a drum bearing."

Yeah, but... when my fridge broke (compressor failure), I bought a new fridge. It's got a temperature knob in the freezer, and a blend door kind of thing to adjust the fridge temp. Given it just has a themostat and a bit of electronics to cycle the compressor and fan on and off as appropriate, I doubt there's a bit of digital electronics in there. The washer and dryer are a normal washer and dryer, with knobs on it that clunk various relays or solenoids or whatever as they're turned. Are these not available any more in the UK, because they are here in the states. I don't see it being likely at all for IoT to be forced onto an unwilling public because non-IoT models are unavailable.

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At LAST: RC4 gets the stake through the heart

Henry Wertz 1
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"This - Why can't they add a plugin or something to support "crap SSL" - it can turn the whole damned window red if it likes - but just occasionally a bit of embedded kit needs a reset, and goes into https only mode with SSL3."

I thought TFA said that there WOULD (for firefox at least) be a config option to turn on that would re-enable RC4.

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Sorry, Californians, you can't have this: Asus to build WATER COOLED notebook

Henry Wertz 1
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Not because it's Asus

I'm not a cynical about this because it's Asus, I've had a few Asus motherboards and they were great. I'm a tad cynical because it's a laptop with a big-ass external radiator you've got to carry around with it.

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Xiaomi aims to knock Apple off its branch with move into computers

Henry Wertz 1
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Drivers and Xiaomi

"I don't know why you're getting down-votes because it's absolutely true. I've had to throw away perfectly good hardware because the drivers were not updated beyond Windows XP too."

And I've gotten to enjoy hand-me-down, perfectly working hardware, because people got rid of it due to it only having XP drivers... but Linux's drivers continued to support the hardware to the present day. People tend to have this fantasy that "Windows supports everything", blurring together support of Windows 98, 2000, XP, 7, and 8/8.1/10, ignoring that newer Windows versions indeed do lose or drop support for older hardware (which may not even be that old.) Linux, once an open source driver comes out the hardware is basically supported forever. In the case of a "binary blob" driver... once the vendor drops support for some hardware, you may be S.O.L. if the binary blob is expected to load straight into the kernel (for most drivers) or X.Org (for video drivers.) You may be fine if there's enough of a wrapper between the blob and kernel or X.Org... you may also be fine if the "driver" runs in user mode (for instance, Linux supports USB done from user mode, and printing in Linux usually is done from user mode too.)

As for the Xiaomi -- I'm not that interested in an Air type device, even half the cost of an Air is pretty high for me. But I'm interested in seeing what the hardware specs are on this bad boy, and see if Xiaomi comes out with lower cost ones. I'm also interested to see if they install some nice Linux distro or something nasty.

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Popcorn time at Popcorn Time: More vid slurpers hauled into court

Henry Wertz 1
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Case dismissed?

"Each defendant has been confirmed to be using the Popcorn Time file sharing software that is specifically designed for and intended for committing theft, including theft of plaintiff's motion picture," the suit reads."

Looks to me like the case should be dismissed. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement, not theft. So, no theft took place, no use of "burglarly tools or theft devices" either. If they really want to bother, they should refile with the proper charges.

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Euro telly bods say 'non' to spectrum sharing with mobiles

Henry Wertz 1
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What Mage said.

What Mage said; this is true in the US too.

The telcos here ALREADY have all sorts of spectrum they are not using, for several reasons 1) Handsets must support it. 2) They must upgrade sites (either add more antennas, replace the antenna with a fancier multi-band antenna, and either add more radios or replace the radios with a software defined radio with enough frequency coverage.) 3) They simply don't have to, they bought the spectrum at auction (not rented like in UK), and ridiculously there are NO useage or buildout requirements* so companies can just buy it and sit on it.

Furthermore, cellcos here have barely begun to pursue small cell sites, or microcells (other than ones people buy for use in a household if it's a dead spot otherwise). They'd rather just take all the spectrum and (eventually) add it to existing sites rather than ever adding a capacity site.

As for "sharing" spectrum.. big problem. Many people here are very far from their stations, and do not necessarily use the "in-market" stations. I, for example, am about 10 miles away from 2 stations, but 55 miles or so away from the other supposedly "in-market" stations. Those stations suck though, so I point my antenna east-southeast and pull in out of market stations 60 miles away. But, some greedy cell co. would blast right over my stations under this type of plan, just so they could ask "Are you REALLY sure you don't want 4GB of data for 'just' $80 a month?" or whatever.

*800mhz cellular was grandfathered in, but if they didn't built out in some market, another company could petition to take the license. The first 1900mhz PCS auctions had some buildout requirements, but it was like 50% population coverage in a market within 10 years or the like. Ridiculously, companies got away with putting up 1 "license saver" site in the middle of some rural town to count for this... a "license saver" site will not show coverage on coverage maps, will not even provide service to their own customers, but despite it being useless they get to claim to the FCC it "covers" the population. Later 1900mhz and auctions after that have typically had NO buildout requirement whatsoever. Want to sit on it for 20 years just to lock out potential competition? Go ahead!

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Small wonder, little competition: Asus Chromebook Flip

Henry Wertz 1
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"Proper" Windows laptop?

"Surely for this money you can get a proper Windows laptop theses days? Chrome isn't exactly an appealing option in that case."

I find Windows unappealing personally. If I'm going to stick a nice Ubuntu install on my computer anyway... a) I don't want to be falsely counted as some kind of Windows customer when I'm NEVER going to use Windows, and I don't want ANY of my money going to Microsoft. b) I'd rather have an ARM, the battery life is SO much better and with Linux (unlike Windows), there's not some big downside because it's not x86. c) As jason7 says, Windows is nasty on these lower-spec machines (that Linux will run between 'adequately' and 'pretty well' on.)

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Microsoft backports data slurp to Windows 7 and 8 via patches

Henry Wertz 1
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Change to the user agreement?

"Why is it that Comments rubbishing Ubuntu (Unity, I assume) always seem to come from 'Mint' Evangelists, and usually from the 'Mate' congregation? It always seems to strike me as trying to make up for an inferiority complex."

Probably because Mint and Mate come out of the box without any of the types of changes Unity made to the UI. I just install the "Ubuntu flashback" and don't have to deal with Unity.

Shouldn't there be a change to the user agreement, or at least a notification, to this much new information being collected? I mean, when people install Win10 it's there in the fine print that they can collect virtually anything they want, and people know what they are getting into. Adding all sorts of "telemetry" in like this seems very shady. (I'm glad I'm not using Windows personally.)

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Native hypervisor coming to OpenBSD

Henry Wertz 1
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The quote's right

Theo De Raadt's quote, I really can't disagree with it. Honestly the x86 design is not that great, it was not designed for virtualization, the pre-virtualization-extension hacks pull some pretty nasty tricks to work at all, and virtualization extension is still quite a hack.

That said, virtualization serves a practical purpose, runs on x86 even though it's a hack, and people have x86 systems whether it's good for virtualization or not. So... have at it.

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Hypervisors are sooo 2005. For hip containers, you need a 'Microvisor'

Henry Wertz 1
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Yeah, OK

Yeah, OK. If they build single-purpose VMs with custom kernel as opposed to "containers", just brainstorming, they can have:

Custom kernel, it knows it's running on VMWare, so it only needs to probe for hardware VMware actually supports. Paravirtualized hard disk and network, and tickless (although I think most kernels do this by default anyway.) Take out unnecessary time delays from the kernel (that real hardware may need but virtualized doesn't... like delays while probing PCI bus, USB, delays for disks to spin up or "settle", and on.)

Custom userland... customized bootup, you can have a pretty minimal init that just runs whatever the container/VM is supposed to run. And only whatever libraries the particular application you are running needs. I think some containers already do this -- if you just containerize a whole Linux install you've got a GB or 2 of stuff in there, but if the container contains only needed libs it could be under 50MB.

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T-Mobile US CEO calls his subscribers thieves, gripes about 'unlimited' limited tethering

Henry Wertz 1
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Just saying...

Just saying, with these plans it was made pretty clear you got 7GB of tethering, and then a speed throttle on the tethering (which beats the hell out of a cash overage). They apparently *do* have ways to detect this, they were letting it ride and now are deciding not to. They have other plans where you get "x GB of data at full speed", and they don't care if you're tethering or not, since you're going through your data either way. This plan is actually on the site as "Unlimited 4G LTE data* on-smartphone only." (Then the asterisk lists a policy they apparently started very recently where it's actually 21GB then your service is 'deprioritized' compared to others... versus other plans having a 128kbps throttle after your allotment. Probably should be listed as 21GB 4G LTE honestly.)

Background for Brits on here, Verizon (CDMA/EVDO/LTE) has the most widespread network, followed by AT&T (GSM/HSPA/LTE), but their prices are quite high. Sprint and T-Mobile are both significantly less expensive. Sprint (CDMA/EVDO/LTE) has somewhat less coverage but allows roaming in quite a few areas, and T-Mobile (GSM/HSPA/LTE*) has somewhat less coverage and somewhat less roaming, but lots of data capacity in the cities.

*T-Mobile are in the process of upgrading rural coverage that was still EDGE or even GPRS. They're bypassing HSPA entirely in these areas, they will be GSM+LTE. They're already running VoLTE so the GSM usage may be quite low even for voice traffic.

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Ex top judge admits he's incapable of reading email, doesn't own a PC

Henry Wertz 1
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Parties and judges

Re. US political parties, due to the broken US political system "forcing" virtually everyone into just two parties, both main parties (Republicans and Democrats) are for the most part completely centrist, with almost the exact same political views (large, intrusive government... while both falsely claiming they want to lower taxes and spending, claiming it's the OTHER parties fault spending is out of control.). But both main parties have various "radical fringes" that try, to varying degrees of success, to take over the party platform for one or the other party, or force their candidate into candidacy.

As for the judge... I do see his defence as sound, that his assistant replied and he didn't. If he's not micromanaging his assistant, they can make a "wrong" decision every now and then. I must say I found his defence quite unhelpful, however. It's one thing to say you're very busy, and have an assistant go through your E-Mail for you. Fair enough I guess. IMHO, it makes him sound downright mentally incompetent when he claims he's INCAPABLE of operating an E-Mail client... clicking an icon (to start the E-Mail client or web site), then clicking some subject lines checkboxes then clicking "delete"... or clicking a subject line and reading the text off the screen... are simply not too difficult.

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FORKING BitcoinXT: Is it really a coup or just more crypto-FUD?

Henry Wertz 1
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Up and downsides

To me, Bitcoin has several upsides and downsides.

Upsides: 1) Secure transactions, it's proveable a transaction took place and to what wallet. 2) Limited bitcoin production rate. You know in the US, these jackasses were actually going to mint a $1 trillion platinum memorial coin, and just deposit that in the treasury so they could claim the feds had plenty of money on hand? They somehow think creating $1 trillion out of nothing whatsoever would not affect the inflation rate or people's perceptions of the currency. This can't happen with bitcoins.

Downsides: 1) Scalablility. a) Number of bitcoins circulating is rather low if it becomes very widely used, it's a bit ridiculous to have to deal with like .000001BTC to make smaller transactions. b) The blockchain problem discussed.. 2) Possible market manipulation. The whole bitcoin market really is small enough that a few (or possibly just one) wealthy investor could manipulate values of the entire market; "buy low and sell high" is pretty easy when you can individually manipulate the price. 3) Volatility. I was shocked to see 1BTC is back down to like $228.28. It was like $800+ apiece a matter of months ago, and peaked at $1100 per BTC. 4) Exchanges. This is a concern of any currency, but due to Bitcoin's extreme volatility and size of the market could be a particular concern. If people are buying bitcoins low and selling them high, would this not eventually end up with exchanges with large amounts of bitcoins but few dollars? If someone actually wanted to cash in, say, 4,000 BTC (a bit over $900,000), would an exchange have enough money? Even if they had 1,000,000 BTC, could they *exchange* 4,000 BTC with any other exchanges to raise that much money in a reasonable length of time?

Exploring the scalability problem, it really is tricky, even if a lot of bitcoin'ers agree on a new specification, there's the trick of "mining rigs", as well as making sure everyone who CAN switch over does so fast enough. I don't know for sure, but I have this suspicion that mining rig builders make take this as an opportunity to say "no software updates for you" for anything but the very latest model, and mining activity will somewhat drop off. If they rush a change, they'll use a lot of users, and if they don't rush it it'll probably never get done. Tricky.

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Henry Wertz 1
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Not a lesson for bankin regs

"It's certainly good at teaching libertarians (the US sub-species thereof) and anarcho-capitalists exactly why we have banking regulations though."

Given the terrible financial condition of many banks, and the corruption of the banking system, I don't take the few Bitcoin problems as a "teachable moment" to teach anything about why we have banking regulations. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great idea to have enough regulation to make sure a bank actually holds onto deposits, and doesn't just blow everyone's money on bad investments... but that is not what is happening now.

Many banks in the US, as well as abroad, are in absolutely terrible financial condition. The banking regulations are not being enforced in any meaningful way, and in fact (in the US) instead of letting some very incompetent banks go bankrupt (and having FDIC back whatever of the depositor's accounts is not covered once the bank is liquidated), the feds backed these incompetent banks financially (printing money, diluting the money suply and so reducing the value of EVERYBODY ELSE's), and those responsible for the incompetence got fat bonuses instead of being fired and/or imprisoned. These same incompetent banks are now re-investing in EXACTLY the types of investments that bankrupted them the first time (things like mortgage backed securities), since there is no penalty for doing so. This screws everyone else over, everyone else loses money if they lose money, the banks can make as ridiculously high-risk investments as they want, leverage everything, and the feds will just cover their loses for them, but of course they get to keep the profits.

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Baltimore lawyers vow to review 2,000 FBI Stingray snoop cases

Henry Wertz 1
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Maybe not

"Unfortunately, they'll be digging in no further than 10% into those crates of paper by the time the use of Stingrays by law enforcement will be made perfectly legal (retroactively, natch). "

Maybe not. After all, the judges so far seem pretty unsympathetic and troubled that the use of this technology was concealed from the court.

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Associated Press sues FBI for impersonating its site to install spyware

Henry Wertz 1
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It really is unnecessary

On the one hand, they had a warrant to install some spyware on this guys computer, and it was targeted to a single individual, so whatever.

On the other hand, it really isn't necessary to put AP stuff on there -- considering the spyware would have installed as soon as he clicked the link, the visible page content could have been a generic news page, completely blank, or "pwned by the FBI".

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Windows 10 now on 75 million devices, says Microsoft

Henry Wertz 1
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How many duplicates?

How many duplicate installs? I'm sure there are plenty of actual installs on real hardware. But check this out...

So, I installed a WIn10 prerelease into a VM, and once RTM shipped I wanted to know if this VM was portable or if activation would screw it up (I have no intention of moving it around, but wanted to know if it'd blow up if I had to replace any hardware, especially after a year when Win7 to WIn10 upgrade would not work). Installed a prelease, later updated to RTM -- activation failed (turns out, after about a 1 day window where upgrades from prelease to RTM worked, one had to go back to Win7/8/8.1 and do an upgrade to Windows 10. Thank goodness for Virtual Machines). So, this counted as an install. Went to a Win7 VM, upgraded it to Win10 (hardware in VirtualBox was slightly different, so this counted as a new install.) Fiddled SLIGHTLY with VM hardware settings, Windows went unactivated, updated again from Win7 (counted as a new install.) Tried moving this from a 2.4ghz Core2Duo to 3.0ghz Core2Duo system to see if the VM was at all portable -- activation failed. I did a Win7->Win10 upgrade on there (counted as a new install.) I discarded this VM, re-installed the VM from the 2.4ghz, but fiddled with VirtualBox's CPUID settings (activation failed, CPUID was different from the 2.4 *and* the 3.0, so counted as a new install.) Fiddled with more VirtualBox CPUID settings (activation failed, but would have counted as ANOTHER new install.) Then, even though Win10 was already activated on the 2.4, I installed a KMS crack on the VM anyway so I wouldn't have to worry about it (I don't think this will phone home and count as any more installs if it's moved around.)

This means their methodology would count my single install of Windows 10 as 6 unique installs. How many people have fiddled with VirtualBox or (god forbid) something like VMWare VMotion where a virtual machine can *automatically* migrate to another computer?

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Silicon Valley gets its first 1Gbps home bro– oh, there's a big catch

Henry Wertz 1
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"Now, about this plan of yours...where is the GOOD part? (And I know I will be downvoted...but honestly, did you think this through?)"

First, your premise is flawed. AT&T are greedy bastards, and already will be making a profit at the lower price, with 0 ads. The ads are just ADDITIONAL profits, not money they are counting on to operate the service. The $29 (or $44, or whatever) fee is just additional money they are charging because they can. If they get no ads served, they will not raise the price. They are charging monopoly pricing for gigabit service, see all these other markets where Google is already there, and AT&T's pricing is magically much lower than it is in Silicon Valley.*

Second, I don't want any ISP (or anyone else) sniffing my traffic; this is greasy at best. And injecting content into websites AT&T does not operate should be (and possibly is) flat-out illegal. If AT&T wants to put ads wherever, they should deal with ad brokers like everyone else.

*I'm waiting for ANY decent service here... CenturyLink (DSL provider, who does not allow 3rd party DSL on their system) and Mediacom (cable company) effectively run a duopoly here, with pricing so high that the usual "expensive last resort" of satellite internet is actually price competitive with their offerings.

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Using SQL techniques in NoSQL is OK, right? WRONG

Henry Wertz 1
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Old School, and Ilya

"There is nothing new here, just Old Skool 2.0.

Ever the cry of those who can't be bothered to learn about what they're commenting on."

I don't know if that was the point, I think the point is that it may be worth finding historical articles on non-relational database techniques in addition to reading brand-new tutorials. Some won't apply, but some will; those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. I've seen this before, where some new software or programming technique or language comes out that has attributes closely resembling something that "went out of style" 15 or 20 years ago. Then, all sorts of optimizations, tips and techniques are "discovered" that actually were in regular use 15-20 years ago (but not used more recently because they'd be incompatible or ineffective with what was used in the interim.) In this case, dig up the old knowledge on what techniques helped with pre-SQL database systems, to see if there's anything applicable to NoSQL.

Ilya, with all due respect, I don't know if SQL is even in much trouble. I must agree, even though convential databases are used for it, SQL is pretty unsuitable for lexical analysis, categorization, natural language search, and so on. But, loads of databases are NOT used for this purpose; for example, I can't see someone replacing a database with account #, address, what services they're signed up for, and payment records, with some kind of lexically analyzed searchable system, because they simply are not performing those kind of searches.

deadlockvictim, I know you're quoting lexiclone's old site. Don't know what to say about this, I'm not dubious about Ilya's lexical analysis software, but I am dubious that Ilya has come up with a "One Law of Nature" or done anything with the Bible (I'm sure he analyzed it... but it's such a large body of text, with people willing to accept so little sensible information as "proof" that their technique worked... like a few words, possibly misspelled... that almost any numerological or text analysis technique "works" by that criteria.)

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C For Hell: Data centre meltdown for irate customers as C4L GOES TITSUP

Henry Wertz 1
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Pushing the hardware?

I'm wondering if this isn't an issue that shows up when the Juniper (or some links on it) hit 100% load, i.e if they'd had a slightly larger Juniper, or one additional Juniper on site, it wouldn't have happened.. It shouldn't just blow up, but I've heard about some of this higher-speed hardware (25gig, 40gig, 100gig) not implementing flow control, and having to decide if it'll attempt to buffer packets or drop them if a link actually hits 100% load. Buffering can cause unreasonable latency fluctuations. But dropping, some types of traffic will apparently assume perfect traffic delivery, despite using UDP or raw ethernet frames (neither of which guarantees delivery.) That's on top of other potential problems people have already brought up.

edit: maybe not, the NOC post linked to suggests routing issue.

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Spanking Spam King: Sanford Wallace faces jail for Facebook flood

Henry Wertz 1
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It's too bad...

It's too bad it takes apparently 4 years for these charges to work their way through to the court to where he actually gets his jail time.

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What Ashley Madison did and did NOT delete if you paid $19 – and why it may cost it $5m+

Henry Wertz 1
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Greasy

Honestly I don't know if they should have to make a payout just for the data breach -- it really depends on if they were negligent with their security, or if it was fairly up to snuff and the hackers did something really tricky to get the data. (I do suspect the data security was rather lax.) But charging to delete an account, then not actually deleting it? GREASY. They should be absolutely taken to the cleaners for this.

And this is why I do not give a website ANY information unless I'm quite sure I'll never want to take it back. Many sites do not have a "delete my info" option, and ones that claim they do will OFTEN lie and just "make the information inaccessible" or something instead of, you know, actually deleting it.

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Tens of thousands of Popcorn Time movie streamers menaced by anti-piracy fleet

Henry Wertz 1
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What are they being (attempted) sued for?

What are they being sued for? Maybe Norway has one of those "streaming is illegal" laws but US does not.

Bittorrent opens one up to potential problems because you're bittorrent client is actually uploading fragments of whatever file to others, if the file is copyrighted it's deemed your bittorrent client is committing copyright infringement on your behalf. In the US, streaming is 100% legal, the company doing the streaming is committing copyright infringement, the person viewing the stream is not (unless you're using downloadhelper -- naughty naughty!)

There's no 'Oh, but there's a temporary copy in the computer's RAM' type situation either -- this got hashed out with DVDs already in the US. Some weisenheimer (probably Motion Picture Ass. of America but I don't recall) tried to argue the like 8MB buffer in (unauthorized) DVD playback software was an unauthorized copy. They were told to take a hike because a) This is not some superfluous buffer, it's required for playback. b) The buffer is in volatile storage (in other words, it's in RAM... probably a temp file would be covered too.. writing out an .avi or .flv into Downloads would not be covered.)

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Dude, you're getting a few thousand custom Dells!

Henry Wertz 1
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Re: Illegal operation?

Providing customized hardware and support is illegal in EU? I don't get it.

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Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions

Henry Wertz 1
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Word is bond, and the T&Cs are the word

"I don't see what the big deal is? Yes, they could have been a little bit more transparent about why they wanted the permissions in the first place, but at least they do have reasons for requiring the permissions"

The big deal is, the T&Cs appear to allow them to collect any and all information off the phone, for any reason (or for no reason at all) and to give this data to whoever they want for any reason (or, again, for no reason at all.) It literally doesn't matter what someone at the company claims the intent was, word is bond and the T&Cs are the word. If they had intended for less data to be used for a more limited purpose, they can state more limited data collection and usage in the T&Cs.

To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone at Spotify didn't have the best of intentions, and just ended up with an overly broad data use T&Cs. But that's the problem, lets say for sake of argument Spotify goes evil in a year. With T&Cs that allow for limited data collection for limited purposes, you'll get a warning something has gone wrong when "evil Spotify" has to update it's T&Cs. With T&Cs already allowing unlimited data collection for any purpose and a vague assurance that there's not too much data actually being collected, you'll get no warning, "evil Spotify" already has T&Cs letting them do whatever they want and can freely ignore whatever assurances they gave previously.

If you're saying "I don't see what the big deal is?" because you don't care one bit about your privacy.. I have nothing to to say in response, except you'll probably regret giving away your privacy sooner or later.

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Canadians taking to spying on their spies

Henry Wertz 1
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" I believe his function is to corral the loony right under one banner"

I actually take this as a sign of the US's broken political system. In normal countries, the loony right have their own political party; the loony left have their own party; there'll be a party that is more or less centrist (which would more or less encompass the "core" of both main US parties), and probably a few parties along the *other* political spectrum (strong state versus individual liberties, which the US ignores in favor of pretending there is only "left" versus "right").

The last several elections, the Democrats will have some bland centrists (meaning "center" politically) and some "we need a giant state for handouts" types, but more or less have kept things under control candidate-wise, having some minimal cohesion. The Republicans, due to the broken political system you'll end up with "we need a big state and military" types, *and* isolationists, *and* libertarians, *and* nutjob religious fundamentalists, *and* whatever Trump is, besides the usual bland centrists, all vying for control of the party, to set the platform, and to get all the candidates. In other words, people that would be under at lest 2 or 3 different parties in a normal country will vie for control and candidacy in this single party.

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Henry Wertz 1
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Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

The US has no hope in this kind of matter as things stand now. So, the Liberals and Conservatives are both supporting a Canadian surveillance state, and NDP opposing.

Well, in the US, if people wake up to these types of abuses, what are they going to do about it? in the US, both main parties (Republicans and Democrats) give minimal lip service to opposing a massive surveillance state (at best, some talk about how great it is...), while doing NOTHING WHATSOEVER to even slow it down (obediently passing every surveillance bill they are asked to.). Without reforms there is no 3rd party to pick to kick these bums out of office, like there is in Canada. Don't get me wrong I'm voting 3rd party, but I'm realistic about the candidates chances. There are two reasons for this problem:

The US's broken political polling system pretends 3rd parties do not exist (polls don't even give a choice of saying "none of the above", as far as these defective political polls are concerned, you are either voting for one of the main 2 parties, "undecided", or not voting at all.) So, people see polls claiming all voters are voting for the 2 main parties.

Second, there's a sick attitude in the US that you are "throwing away your vote" if you vote for someone you want in office, if they don't have a significant chance of winning. It's even stupider than that, because you have counties where it's like 75% Democrat or 75% Republican, people will come out to vote Democrat in a 75% Republican county (or vice versa), but those very same people will claim it's "throwing away their vote" to vote for someone they actually want in office if they are 3rd party. A corollary is the sick argument "A vote for (3rd party candidate) is a vote for (whoever.. if it's a Republican saying this nonsense, the Democratic candidate, if it's a Democrat the Republican candidate.)", which is obviously bullshit since you're not voting for either one.

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'Unexpected item in baggage area' assigned to rubbish area

Henry Wertz 1
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They vary

"This weeks column has gone right over my head, is 37 to young to be getting the innuendo jokes? "

I don't think so. He references Beavis and Butthead, and they would turn EVERYTHING into an innuendo, sort of. "Hey, go mow the lawn!" "Hehe... mow". "Go get some lunch" "Hehe... he said get".

That said... I must agree, those self-checkouts are CRAP. I favor employment and use a live checkout every time. They do vary though -- Hy-Vee's more or less work, and although the display was rather sluggish you could actually scan items and shove in money as fast as you want, and I saw it complain about the weight once but didn't interrupt the checkout process anyway. Walmart's is basically garbage, very slow, it makes you wait for it to catch up before you do anything (who wants to pause like 5-10 seconds between scanning each item?), it constantly is whining about wanting items removed and re-added to the checkout (and just stops dead until you do), and even worse I saw it flat-out crash out in mid-checkout when someone was trying to use it. I refuse to even use it.

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Mobile 'fault' forces BA flight into unscheduled Russian landing

Henry Wertz 1
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Trollface

Heh

Hehe... "personal device".

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Win8 inventory glut? Yep, it's all Microsoft's fault, says HP

Henry Wertz 1
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Slow sales too.

"Hazarding a guess but the very short dev-test-preview loop was far too short and the pipeline too long to work correctly."

I think this supply pipeline also has become "longer" than usual, as inventory of Windows 8/8.1 systems have built up on the warehouses and store shelves.

"Why not reload the excess computers with some flavor or other of Linux? The sellers and re-sellers might come out ahead a buck or two by being able to sell them in a timely manner."

It seems like the OEMs etc. should do something, stick a nice Linux distro on there, or throw Win10 on them as the case may be. But maybe the inventory of Win8.1 systems is still draining out fast enough for them, I don't know.

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Microsoft will explain only 'significant' Windows 10 updates

Henry Wertz 1
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Linux and patch policy

"Have you tried explaining to her that Linux allows her to do a bunch of stuff the average user has absolutely no interest in while losing highly desired abilities?"

Not really, because the people I usually talk to want to use a web browser, play facebook games (flash), mount usb sticks, and play videos... maybe light word processing, pulling photos off their phone or camera and sometimes printing an scanning.

Anyway.. as for the policy of not describing these cumulative updates, I'm guessing there are just so many changes throughout the system that it wouldn't be useful to enumerate them all. I mean, when I had a VM with Ubuntu 14.04 on it a few months before release (like February or March or so), each and every update was listed in update manager, but there were like 100 a week so it was honestly not that useful.

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Intel building Xeon into lapwarmers as designers, content creators call the shots

Henry Wertz 1
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Sounds like the old Alienware systems

Sounds like this would go into something like the Alienware systems of old. Some of them had dual hard drives and dual SLI video cards, and usually an option of some desktop processors to gain that extra bit of speed, never mind the intense heat. Apparently the battery life on one like that was about 30 minutes, I for sure would not have wanted that much hot air (let alone the hot computer itself) anywhere near my lap.

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All aboard the Skylake: How Intel stopped worrying and learned to love overclocking

Henry Wertz 1
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Nice!

This board and chipset really sounds like a beast.

I did have one system I overclocked, to very good effect, without CPU speedup at all. I had a K62-450 (450mhz), which I found under stress test of rebuilding firefox was not even stable at 475mhz. But, I could set it from stock 4.5x100mhz to 4x112mhz, and it was rock solid. The 12% RAM (and PCI, it was based off main system clock on this system) speedup must have knocked off a wait state or something because the benchmark speedup was closer to 25%.

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OpenOffice project 'all but dead upstream' argues prominent user

Henry Wertz 1
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"Yup. that's the Linux/FOSS world in a nutshell. It's reminiscent of the 'Peoples Popular Front of Judea' scene in Monty Python's The Life of Brian."

It's not really. This happens pretty regularly... a project splits, one branch becomes much more active than the other, but the less active branch keeps going at least for a while. It's not "27 crappy apps", and it doesn't end up with a bunch of people wasting time on an inactive project... it's inactive, most of the development effort goes into the active one. Simple as that.

Does anyone know, at this point, what are the big differences between Libreoffice and OpenOffice anyway? I mean, a few years ago they looked exactly the same to me (other than LibreOffice having a box that says "LibreOffice" instead of "OpenOffice" when it starts up 8-)

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Antiques in spaaaaace! Retired space shuttles cannibalised for parts

Henry Wertz 1
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I assumed it WAS for 8086s

"Next time: the 8086 "

Actually, I was surprised to read they were pulling tanks, I assumed they were pulling electronics for the microchips. Two reasons they have the kind of tech they do:

1) In space, anything past about a 486-era chip* beings seeing significant problems with errors due to the level of cosmic rays and such in space.

2) Looooong development times, along with technology reuse.

*As the process used to make the chip was shrunk, bit errors increased -- slightly under earth conditions but excessively in space conditions -- I read a Pentium in orbit would misexecute several times a day, so I have no idea how bad a i7 would be. The PowerPCs, MIPS, etc. that are on satellites now use several features to mitigate this.... First, some use different materials (they used to use silicon-on-sapphire which helps a lot.) Second, I think they still use much larger than typical process sizes (no 22nm for sure... a 486 was about 800nm.) This is one reason they end up using PowerPC and MIPS so much, because the die size can be kept reasonable using much older processes. Third, some chips duplicate the instruction pipeline, if there is a mismatch it can be backed up and re-executed (some don't have this, if it's part of a system that is run in duplicate or triplicate anyway, then it could be overkill.) But you get the large process size for free if you just use antique chips 8-)

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Ex-Prez Bush, Cheney sued for email, phone spying during Olympics

Henry Wertz 1
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Not a partisan hack

" partisan hack hasn't bothered to sue the current President or his cronies even after Snowden shows that universal blanket surveillance is going on and even actively protected by the likes of Pelosi."

This suit is over events in 2002, so suing the current President for it would not make sense. This is no partisan issue, insofar as both main parties seem to fully condone the US being a surveillance state.

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One in eight mobile calls in India drops out __ ___ middle of your chat

Henry Wertz 1
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Not to rub it in...

Not to rub it in, but I've had like 2 dropped calls in the last 15 years. 1 was when a tornado went through town, when the power down the block went out the call dropped, then I heard a generator kick on I guess at the cell site and the service came back up.

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Biz that OK'd Edward Snowden for security clearance is fined $30m for obvious reasons

Henry Wertz 1
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Fined for incomplete background checks

" So...they are being fined for not being precog enough?"

To me, it sounds like USIS was fined for vetting people they did not do a complete background check on. Of course the feds will use this opportunity to imply there was dirt to be dug up on Snowden, but ultimately (whether these background checks would have affected anything or not) they are being fined for not doing what they were being paid to do.

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Intel's Compute Sticks stick it to Windows To Go, Chromecast

Henry Wertz 1
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Other competition..

The other competition for this (besides other PCs) is the ARM TV sticks. I got one like a year or two ago for $80, and it's down to closer to $50 now. The one I got shipped with a slimmed down Ubuntu -- I found the slimming unneccessary and installed the regular (non-Unity) desktop, that ran fine too. This isn't like the ARM version of Windows where technically it's Windows based running on it but none of the usual software -- very few Linux software is x86-specific*, even looking through the software catalog to install more software, you wouldn't know this was an ARM if someone didn't tell you.

*For that matter, qemu-x86_64 is supposed to allow running 32-bit or 64-bit x86 Linux binaries on (in this case) ARM Linux, although you then need to have 64-bit or 32-bit x86 libraries installed somewhere (Just like 64-bit x86 Windows and Linux need 32-bit libraries to run 32-bit apps.)

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Enjoy vaping while you still can, warns Public Health England

Henry Wertz 1
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Moral crusade

As OP says, it's some kind of temperance movement kind of thing. To be honest, if tobacco had never been discovered, perhaps everyone would have been better off. But, it has been discovered, plenty of people enjoy and/or are addicted to it. I'm a libertarian, in my view if they aren't harming anyone else (by blowing smoke right in their face) then it's none of my business to tell them what to do. But others just want to be able to tell everyone else what to do, and if they can't do it directly, they seem satisfied by just increasing restrictions year-after-year to get what they want.

In the US, the anti-smoking movement began with attempts to just say they wanted to stop people smoking. This was pretty unsuccessful; the number of smokers dropped as people became aware of the health risks, but nowhere near zero. It moved on to claiming the goal was to reduce second hand smoke, but the goal really has been a long-term goal of banning all smoking. So, first the reasonable moves were made of making sure airflow was good enough that non-smoking areas didn't just get big ol' clouds of smoke from the smoking areas, and that people didn't smoke right next to the entrance/exit. Fair enough. It didn't take long for this to expand to "no smoking at all indoors" and extensive outdoor areas where smoking is banned, still with the claim it's due to second-hand smoke when in these conditions, it's actually not.

If you see the ban on snus, it shows an extension of this -- it's not smoked (no second-hand smoke); unlike chewing tobacco, no spitting. And due to how it's processed, it has much lower carcinogen levels than other smoked or chewed tobaccos. But, it's banned in most of the EU, and there are pushes to ban it elsewhere.

Vaping, I think restrictions on it make it clear what the real motives of these people are.

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NSA-resistant email service Lavaboom goes BOOM! (we think)

Henry Wertz 1
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Hmm...

I guess it's a fair question... the warrant canary hasn't been updated. I'd guess it's due to funding but....

On the one hand, you would HOPE that if they are in the process of closing up shop due to lack of funds, SOMEONE would be able to say "The warrant canary died of natural causes, we're simply closing up shop".

On the other hand, I HAVE seen and heard of those businesses where, instead of wrapping up the business in an orderly fashion when it becomes clear they aren't going to pull through (or attempting a restructure if possible), they'll just run the accounts right to zero, no recovery plan, but assure the (now unpaid) employees that things'll work out if they stick with it. Needless to say in those circumstances, people tend to just walk off the job and things are NOT wrapped up in an orderly fashion. I would fully expect the warrant canary person to just walk off without so much as a post in these types of circumstances.

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Conference Wi-Fi biz fined $750k for jamming personal hotspots

Henry Wertz 1
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For real

"Why didn't someone just set up a hotspot to broadcast deauthentication frames for the official wifi?"

This. I would view this behavior as offensive behavior that violates wifi standards, and attempt to disable the malfunctioning equipment. First, I would try to crash out just the deauth software alone. Barring that, I would try to crash their access points in their entirety. As a last resort, time for the scorched earth policy, they cannot possibly complain about the same tactic being used against them as they are using against everyone else, so I'd feel free to deauth their access points until such a time as they quit deauth'ing everyone else.

To the conference company: No you don't have any vigorous legal arguments, the FCC rules are very clear that your devices must accept interference from others AND must not unnecessarily interfere with others. Sending forged packets to disable other's use of the wifi spectrum is clearly interference. End of discussion. You should have known better, but good on you for not trying to waste your and the court's time pursuing whatever nonsense legal argument you think you had. And thank goodness the FCC is getting some teeth about this kind of nonsense 8-)

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Indian Mars probe beams back 3D canyon snaps

Henry Wertz 1
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I'm impressed as well

It's also impressive to have the mission actually get to Mars successfully, particularly on a first try.

For whatever reason, the failure rate of missions to Mars has been extraordinarily high, to the point that "alien conspiracists" just assume the craft are being disabled. I don't assume that, but nevertheless... Venus has harsh orbital conditions (very strong sunlight), and a crushingly high-pressure, hot enough to melt lead, acidic atmosphere, and even so (after the 1960s when failure rate was almost 100%), late 1960s to present the failure rate of missions (including landers!) is only like 10%. Mars? Also near-100% failure in the early-to-mid 1960s, but late-1960s-to-present mission failure rate is still nearly 50%. So kudos on a successful mission!

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Microsoft replaces Windows 10 patch update, isn't saying why

Henry Wertz 1
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Does seem like a bad precedent

Does seem like a bad precedent, to now have updates with no indication of what they do.

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Ofcom coverage map: 7/10 – must try harder next time

Henry Wertz 1
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Cellphone apps, and cell breathing

There are cellphone apps that will try to collect data and generate a map. There are pros and cons compared to a computer-generated map. The pros, the areas I was in the coverage maps was accurate, and one of them has a speed map in addition to just signal strength. Cons: If no-one has been there it's not mapped. Some cities appear to have blanket mapping, but you zoom out much and probably 10% of any given carrier's coverage has actually been mapped by anyone.

One big problem with modelling is cell breathing. This is the tendency for the site's coverage to reduce under load.

GSM (2G) does not suffer from cell breathing, you either have free timeslots or you don't.

CDMA (as used here in the states) and WCDMA both suffer from cell breathing. For any user on the channel, every other users traffic adds to the noise floor they have to deal with. The devices then have to transmit at slightly more power to be heard over the noise, which makes the noise floor ramp up more. As this noise floor ramps up, users at the edge of the site coverage are no longer able to use the site at all, it's coverage shrinks. This cell shrinkage does affect the signal strength shown on the phone, bad cell shrinkage can mean 2 bars of service overnight and "no service" at peak times.

LTE doesn't have actual cell breathing, but can have a similar effect depending on how the site is tuned. LTE uses "resource blocks" (slices of the LTE spectrum and timeslots) to send data to your phone. If you get a clean signal you get highest data rate in each resource block, if not the amount of data you get in each resource block is lower. This is where site tuning kicks in, once a site hits full load it can be tuned entirely for speed, for range, or in between. A site tuned entirely for range will try to give every user a minimum mbps, this helps make sure speeds don't crap out until the signal is quite weak, but means when you are near a cell site, you might be getting considerably lower speeds than you would on a site tuned for capacity because distant users are using up many resource blocks. A site tuned just for capacity (maximizing site mbps), will give resource blocks to the closest users. If the site hits capacity, nearby users get the best possible speeds but distant users will then get few or no resource blocks (it'd still show the same signal strength but not get any data.) A policy in between would give you some kind of intermediate behavior.

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China shutters 50 websites for spreading explosion 'rumours'

Henry Wertz 1
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Anybody know what the rumors were?

OK, the sites were pulled. Just curious, did anyone see what kind of numbers were listed on these sites before they were pulled?

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Linux 4.2 release 'possible' for next week, if Linus feels good

Henry Wertz 1
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I'd prefer x86 to work

I suppose in terms of total installations, there's probably more ARM Linux installs (Android and all that) than x86, but I think it'd be preferable to make sure x86 is all nailed down before final release.

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IT jargon is absolutely REAMED with sexual double-entendres

Henry Wertz 1
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Error messages

The software I wrote recently makes a SOAP call and displays the response. For a few known errors, it shows a reasonable error message. For unknown errors i was inspired by the Amiga, it shows "Guru meditation error:" (and whatever error response the SOAP call returned.)

I liked the "xv" picture viewer's error handling. So, in a typical program you try to save to a full disk, or print to a non-existant printer, and it'll pop up a message like "The file failed to save" with an "OK" button. In xv, with any error message the "OK" button says "That sucks!" 8-)

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DIGITAL DOPING might make you a Tour de Virtual cycling champion

Henry Wertz 1
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How durable is your GPS?

First, I thought GPS information included altitude, do these generally use GPS altitude or the one out of a database? I see three main potential sources of error here. First, in case of strong GPS signal, does an app use GPS location as-is or assume you're following a road or path? With an accuracy of a few feet, every time the biker went around around a parked car or someone along the bike path or anything, a system using GPS location would record a few extra feet compared to one assuming you're going dead straight along the road or path. Second, GPS filtering. I've seen those devices where the GPS location does just seem to jitter around a bit (well especially some phones). It can be totally stationary, claim a foot or two accuracy, but jump around 5 or 10 feet. The app's handling of this kind of thing could be important, I assume apps all handle this to avoid false movement. But if it overfilters, it could subtract some legitimate movement and reduce the measured distance. Third, weak GPS handling. Does the app try to use these 100 foot accuracy fixes and filter them to estimate location? Dead reckoning until the GPS gets better? Use a road and path database even if it doesn't for stronger GPS? Can it use the accelerometer?

Second... cheating by putting the GPS car? Really? How rugged are these GPSes? I'd just shoot if off the front with a slingshot, and pick it up Mad Max style when I catch up to it. I'd be getting 90MPH speeds in no time hahaha. For a quick sprint, launch the GPS with a trebuchet 8-).

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Budget UHD TVs arrive – but were the 4Kasts worth listening to?

Henry Wertz 1
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They might wait!

"And you can bet on even bigger numbers to come, as first generation flatscreen adopters prepare to re-enter the market, as part of the traditional (replacement) cycle of life."

They might wait! The *early* early adopters bought panels that supported composite, VGA, and DVI, then got the royal screw job when "they" decided for rights restriction purposes that most HD devices would only actually output HD via HDMI. They then had to buy quite expensive adapters to use the panel properly. I've heard of plenty of these people deciding "Hell no I'm not buying a 4K panel just to be screwed again", they plan to wait quite a while to make sure HDMI 2.2 is REALLY all they need, that they won't just decide in 6 months "Well, actually you need HDMI 3" or something.

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