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* Posts by Kevin McMurtrie

694 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

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Mysterious BEAM outside London Googleplex ZAPPED

Kevin McMurtrie
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Wind

Glacier Point in Yosemite often has electrically charged wind from a mix of glaciers, sun-baked rocks, and a few thousand feet of elevation to generate turbulence. Your hair messes up, your clothes stick to your body like they're wet, and you can feel a slight tingling when you move. The wind will blow your hair up and it will stay up. (I don't recommend stopping for selfies on the edge of the rock when this happens.)

This being far from glaciers and baking sunshine, I'd suspect it's just an updraft.

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Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray

Kevin McMurtrie
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Evil toys

I have a 2W violet laser and it's a nasty device to use as an open air toy. It reflects all over the place and natural fluorescence means that blue-blocking goggles aren't effective for protecting your eyes.

I'm all for selling component lasers, though. I suspect that a large number of people buy the toys and pull the laser diode out because they're nearly impossible to buy directly. They have lots of legitimate uses in hobby tools and devices.

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Most convincing PHISHING pages hoodwink nearly half of you – Google

Kevin McMurtrie
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I follow the link

I want to find out who is hosting the phish so I can get it nuked. The link e-mailed is usually a shady tracking service on on a network like eNom, Internap, Rackspace, or Unified Layer. What's behind it is usually a compromised machine running ancient PHP admin consoles.

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Mystery Google barges TORPEDOED by US govt: Showrooms declared death traps

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: The REAL problem was building it in San Francisco, California

Barge-like vessels that pass inspection probably don't have seven floors of air-tight steel walls that would convert a fire into an occupant-mulching high power explosion.

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Japan tells operators: Put a SIM lock in a new mobe? You'd better UNLOCK it for FREE

Kevin McMurtrie
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Easy workaround

Japanese carriers only need to "customize" the phone like US carriers so that they can not work with other phone providers. Surely Soft Bank can pick up this trick from Sprint.

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NATO declares WAR on Google Glass, mounts attack alongside MPAA

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Consumers = Livestock

You pay $12 to $18 to get in, you're forced to watch loud advertisements until the start time of the movie, and then another 30 to 40 minutes of advertisements play. Low grade food, if needed, is available for $15 at a large troth in the lobby. If all goes well, being milked for money is rewarded with an old story retold with new special effects. You can't sue for NATO/MPAA-sized damages of $5 million if the speakers are blown or the projector lamp is flickering at half power.

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PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY

Kevin McMurtrie
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Gimp

Nerd release?

Still no user accessible filesystem, still stuck in the walled garden, still using proprietary file transfer, doesn't play nice with Linux, sucks up precious limited storage, and doesn't magically reveal hidden microSD and USB ports.

Apple doesn't do nerd releases anymore. This is strictly to make Apple appear productive during a lapse of creativity and energy towards new markets.

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You! AT&T! The only thing 'unlimited' about you is your CHEEK, growl feds

Kevin McMurtrie
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Death to "unlimited"

The FCC should ban claims of "unlimited" unless the connection is guaranteed to run at advertised speed all the time. To my knowledge, zero of the major telcos offer that. They either throttle or they deliver a typical performance that is a tiny fraction of the advertised potential.

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El Reg spends One Night in Hell with Queen's Brian May

Kevin McMurtrie
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No stereoscopic T-shirt?

You're really asking for trouble, aren't you?

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The DRUGSTORES DON'T WORK, CVS makes IT WORSE ... for Apple Pay

Kevin McMurtrie
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WTF?

Marketing department snorting too much coke again

Club Credit Card?

- No

Want to sign up for a Club Credit Card?

- No

You'll save 5% on your purchase today and up to %10 on selected days...

- No

Customer Savings number?

- No

Want to sign up for Customer Savings? You'll save up to...

- NO

Would you like to download our NFC app? I just takes a few minutes.

- NO

Just go to our web site and follow the links...

- What is wrong with you?

Credit card?

- Yes, here

Phone number?

- That's illegal.

...in case we need to contact you about your purchase.

- Nevermind, bye.

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iMessage SPAM floods US mobile networks

Kevin McMurtrie
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Keeping up with Google

China has been using Google Groups to flood Usenet this spam for about 10 years now, and Google is fine with that. Luckily, Apple's walled garden should keep this new spew within their own walls.

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Remember the Aereo streaming TV service? Wasn't it COOL? Well, it's pretty much dead now

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

So many dead horses

American TV networks are due for a sudden epic failure. Cable TV fees continue rocketing upwards long after people have reached the point where they no longer want to pay for it. To have TV networks sue Aereo for improving penetration into the targeted advertising market must feel like a big F-U to their other source of income. A point of no return will be reached where broadcasters are so despised that no tweaking to the price model is going to fix it.

It's a shame that this must happen now because IPTV isn't at all ready to take over. There are no widely adopted systems ready for distributing massive amounts of subscription video and there are few ISPs that aren't owned by broadcast network. Cable TV/Internet/Broadcast companies will laugh at the collapse and start selling expensive video data passes to "protect" their networks. People won't pay that either so it will just become a long, ugly standoff.

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Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores

Kevin McMurtrie
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Suing for the reality distortion field?

Bose R&D is in MARKETING so it's amusing that they'd sue for something technical. Their hardware is paper, plastic, wood pulp, and standard audio chipsets. One or more DSPs in every system injects some acoustic smoke and mirrors to get the product out the door. #1 thing that I hate about my car is that I could not get it without a Bose system that sounds like a 1970s factory radio.

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Heistmeisters crack cost of safecrackers with $150 widget

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Sometimes ...

Vertical filing cabinet with a single lock: Turn it upside down.

As for the digital safe cracker, are there no clues that can be used for acceleration? Unlike an amateur cracker, a computer could analyze timing, frequency, and reverb of each sound to detect when the internal state of the lock has changed. Combinations similar to those causing a state change would be prioritized over those that do not.

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Radiohead(ache): BBC wants dead duck tech in sexy new mobes

Kevin McMurtrie
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Could be worse

In the US, digital radio is crammed into a fragile sideband of FM between the stereo channels of each station. It only works when the signal is so strong that the analog is already performing better. I suspect that the whole scheme is a way to collect loads of money on a collection of low quality patents. DTV uses MPEG2 and virtual channel numbers. DTV doesn't work while moving (or even rotating a large antenna) because the virtual channel numbers will conflict.

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White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?

Kevin McMurtrie
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Time to roam the technical journals

Such a shallow and bitter article. It's not just about better light. The invention of usable blue LEDs, and the race for efficiency that followed, launched a broad range of new technologies. I would call it a world changing invention.

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APPLE still building fanbois CULT HQ in Cupertino, it seems

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Not as green as it could be

The idea is to modulate window openings rather than run the extremely powerful air conditioning systems required to cool a cube full of people and computers. Cupertino weather is so mild that the only difference between summer clothes and winter clothes is the length of your shirt sleeves.

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Revealed: Malware that forces weak ATMs to spit out 'ALL THE CASH'

Kevin McMurtrie
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ROM sockets

I used to service vending machines. All ROMs in all devices were in sockets so that they could be quickly upgraded in-place. PRAM was in sockets too so that you could swap motherboards and preserve a custom configuration.

The one and only security mechanism making the machine impossible to open without people noticing.

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Apple tries to kill iWorm: Zombie botnet feasting on Mac brains

Kevin McMurtrie
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Gimp

Re: It is spreading through Warez sites

Apple locks down shared directories so it's normal for software to need an admin password during installation. It in no way helps the user know whether the software is legit or a trojan horse backed up by some good social engineering. This is a case where finer grained permissions would be very helpful.

Apple's digital signatures are worthless except for validating the integrity of paid apps. Open source software binaries are rarely signed and not all forms of executables can be signed.

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I'll show you the D next week – billionaire space baron Elon Musk

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mindless speculation...

Tesla is missing a motorcycle from their product lineup.

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Mushy spam law's IDEAL for toothless watchdog: Spamhaus slams CAN-SPAM

Kevin McMurtrie
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MO SPAM

- Invent fake business named $SLEAZE

- Spam Earth for partner web site

- Apologize and say that $SLEAZE will never e-mail you gain.

- Repeat for new value of $SLEAZE

There are even biznesses sites that help automate this. Salesforce/ExactTarget, eNom, and Internap come to mind first.

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A spin of roulette in the sporty Ford Fiesta Black

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Tiny, forced engines don't inspire confidence when it comes to long-term reliability

I don't think engine wear is an issue from major manufacturers. I've driven cars hard until the tow truck comes to take them away. Millions of bugs and grains of dirt had stripped paint from the car, all wheel bearings loose, the transmission howling, spot welds cracked, the second round of engine oil seals leaking, second O2 sensor getting slow, brittle electrical wires, and the interiors starting to show some stuffing. Pistons, oil rings, valves, and cylinder walls were always good as new. I wouldn't worry about a turbo.

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iPhone NFC: 'Apple, photos and security ... WHAT could go WRONG?'

Kevin McMurtrie
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What would that look like?

"Just imagine if ISPs had to stand in line and fill out forms and wait for permission to increase broadband speeds, add Wi-Fi hotspots or create new TV Everywhere services. What would that look like? It would be a net disaster."

A total customer service disaster on every single submission from an ISP. The FCC staff would probably have to pull a process book out from the archives to figure out how to handle such a rare event.

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T-Mobile US goes gaga for Wi-Fi calling, AT&T to launch in 2015

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Why?

- WiFi calling works in deep inside buildings and hotels where cell signals aren't reliable

- US National parks out in the middle of nowhere are more likely to have free WiFi than a cell signal

- Crappy WiFi costs less than crappy cellular in some countries

- Your home country is never a long distance call on WiFi

On the downside, WiFi access points are terrible at handling more than 50 people. It doesn't help that most phones are set to aggressively pre-fetch data as soon as WiFi is available.

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FTC: We didn't robocall you and thousands of others asking for bank details. IT'S A TRAP!

Kevin McMurtrie
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Look out scammers!

The FTC is throwing more small cash prizes at public Rube Goldberg scheme contests. Surely that's much more effective than requiring telcos to track call origins or pay fines for knowing hosting illegal call centers.

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15 MEEELLION malware-infested mobiles worldwide – report

Kevin McMurtrie
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Hardware bugs

Most phones have hardware bugs of varying degrees. It's part of keeping up with the crazy pace of technological upgrades. Apple's iPhone is by no means immune but they're one of the better models when it comes to eventually receiving software workarounds. My experience with Samsung is that they don't care if the phone works at all.

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Kevin McMurtrie
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WTF?

Spyware, spyware, spyware

But people can't wait to use contextually aware personal assistants like Siri and Now.

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Ferraris, Zondas and ... er, a bike with a 500hp V10 under the saddle

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Shitty image compression you are using there...

I imagine all the photos being taken with a car's backup camera

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Size matters – how else could Dell squeeze 15 million pixels into this 27" 5K monitor?

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: What's the point?

Being able to focus on details by naturally leaning closer or by focusing your attention to a spot. It sure beats wheels and trackpad gestures to zoom in and out.

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A Terabyte in my HOUSE? Got more than that in my POCKET

Kevin McMurtrie
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Meh

Don't buy phones lacking a microSD slot. 128GB microSD + 16GB onboard = 144 GB, WiFi, and USB in something you're already carrying.

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Isis Wallet, NOT an Islamist militant group, reborn as Softcard

Kevin McMurtrie
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Happy

Who's missing from the party?

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon announce their joint venture, SoftBank. Whoops! Softcard.

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Comcast merger-bait spinoff to be known as GreatLand Connections

Kevin McMurtrie
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Sounds patriotic

Please don't desecrate our great land with Comcast.

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Google could be a great partner for Iliad in its quest for T-Mobile

Kevin McMurtrie
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WiFi

I have one of those WiFi friendly T-Mobile phones. WiFi is perfect for inside buildings. My phone works in every room of large office buildings and in even the most remotely located hotels. It's rarely useful outdoors. Most people leave their phone's WiFi radio turned on and it's not uncommon for enough phones to be near an outdoor WiFi AP for it to saturate. In countries that rely heavily on offloading 3G to WiFi, WiFi is pretty much guaranteed to not be working reliably.

If Iliad + Google + T-Mo were to use WiFi, it would make the most sense for them to target hotels, businesses, and courtyards rather than outdoors in general. Not trying to blast microwaves deep into buildings would probably reduce cell tower costs quite a bit.

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Report: Sprint to bring Sony Xperia into tough US smartphone market

Kevin McMurtrie
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US Sprint market

This is only news for Sprint, as others have been selling the Xperia line. They're pretty good except for the screechy little speaker. Sony doesn't custom build phones for Google or Apple so they haven't been forced to remove the microSD slot.

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Google flushes out users of old browsers by serving up CLUNKY, AGED version of search

Kevin McMurtrie
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Holmes

Chrome cam

Just create a version of Chrome that keeps my bookmarks, searches, URL history, page thumbnails, browsing habits, login/uptime stats, network ping times, current location, passwords, and nearby WiFi points off the cloud. I'll buy it for $10 if it helps recover R&D. Until then, it's a weird mix of Firefox and Safari running web bug blocker plugins.

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Intel unleashed octo-core speed demon for the power-crazed crowd

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: I'm currently sporting a reasonably old i7 2600k

It might be excellent for a networked home entertainment system if a tiny bit of underclocking keeps the fans quiet. 4K video, if you go that route, will need lots of CPU even for playback. Some of the efficiency boosting compression features of H.264 and H.265 can eat as many CPU cycles as you can throw at them. All those cores could make for a machine that's fast at gaming and able to transcode-on-demand as a networked DVR server.

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Netflix releases home-grown DDoS detectors

Kevin McMurtrie
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Trollface

DOSing NETFLIX

As soon as I can get the hard drive spindle unstuck on this old '386.

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Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

S. Korean networks might want to rethink their opinion about compromised machines and invalid network contacts not being a problem. Millions of infected systems can do much worse than burn up resources sending porn spam and guessing passwords.

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Cleversafe CEO: We would tell you about the 8TB drive, but...

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: C'mon Moore's Law, Hit The Wall.

You're mixing up intermediate formats and final formats. The intermediate format of photos and videos needs a LOT of dynamic range because appropriate tonal curves aren't applied until post-processing. Tonal curves are mostly an artistic effect so they can't be pre-computed while recording.

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So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Oh no

One shouldn't forget that Apple has almost died at least once. They're so stubborn that they won't stop doing something wrong until there's nobody left at HQ to do it. The iPhone, to me, is an unfriendly device that wants to gather up my data and never let it go by any means. My Android phone has 144 GB of storage and I do use it. It's my modern day briefcase for things that aren't suitable for "the cloud". When I do use "the cloud" it's my own rather than a 5 - 10 GB novelty toy. Cloudy competitor Google hates microSD cards and file browsers as much as Apple but hasn't locked down the hardware and software to banish them (yet).

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Wall Street woes: Oh noes, tech titans aren't using bankers

Kevin McMurtrie
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Good article. The advantage to not using Wall Street is the visibility and accountability. There's no sinister mega-corp manipulating their clients like puppets in ways that won't be discovered for years. (BTW, thanks for that housing market bubble) Instead, you get a CEO telling the whole world that he/she is blowing billions of dollars on a shiny new toy for possibly no good reason at all. It makes it a lot easier to predict what's coming in the next few years.

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This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives

Kevin McMurtrie
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Trollface

Re: And if it's an Audi

Camry:

Merging into the more dignified fast lane. Bit of acceleration... Woah, scary fast! Brakes! OMG, everyone's honking and swerving! CRAP! CRAP! BRAKES! Blinker for slower lane... SCARY TRUCKS!! Brakes! Acceleration.. ABORT LANE CHANGE! Brakes! WHO'S HONKING AT ME? Is there an express lane with less traffic?

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Google straps on Jetpac: An app to find hipsters, women in foreign cities

Kevin McMurtrie
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Terminator

Nice place -hipsters

Can it find places where people are gathering without taking selfies, food photos, using hashtags, or being glued to their phone like a cyborg?

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Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

But it said, "Heavy Duty"

It sounds like they switched to 9V zinc-carbon cells. The ranking of their power-to-cost ratio is keeping good company with hamsters on wheels and metal tabs in lemons. The cost of buying and replacing zinc-carbon 9V batteries for a year could have been spent on fancy monocrystaline solar cells and ultra-capacitors that would last as long as the meter they're in.

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Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging

Kevin McMurtrie
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Thumb Down

China Telelcom (ChinaNet) should be able to use at least 150Gbps of those two links for hacking overseas computers. No joke here, unfortunately. It's a nasty network where there's not even a place to report abuse.

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Brits STUNG for up to £625 when they try to cancel broadband

Kevin McMurtrie
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Same in the US

This is why I won't use Comcast. I must use their business plan for what I want to do, and their offensive contract explicitly guarantees nothing except that customers pay money for a long time. The only signature I could put on that is "GFYS."

I learned this lesson the hard way after signing a contact with Sprint for cellular. Sprint will only ask you to buy a service plan if the plan you bought in your contract isn't working.

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You, Verizon. What's with the download throttle? Explain yourself – FCC boss

Kevin McMurtrie
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UNLIMITED, eventually

I'd like to see the FCC crack down on special versions of "unlimited" claims. Let us start of with the "unlimited" Sprint plan I had a couple of years ago. 1.2 Kb per second = 392 MB per month absolute maximum. Assuming that the phone flies across the room, and the battery falls out when it hits the wall, after an hour of trying to download something each day, that's only 16.4 MB per month. That's not so unlimited.

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Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks

Kevin McMurtrie
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Boffin

IPv6

Do these things that are broken by MPTCP support IPv6? Probably not. That makes them already broken, as of years ago.

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Too rich for an iPhone 6? How about a gold-plated Brikk?

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

No glitter and tassels?

Anybody joker with the address of a hobby store can bling a phone. Really having money should let one escape boring, mass produced features by having a dedicated team of hardware and software engineers who will upgrade your phone to do your bidding.

I suspect that Steve Jobs was doing exactly this for himself with early models of iPhones.

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Canada's boffins need A WHOLE YEAR to recover from China hack attack

Kevin McMurtrie
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Flame

Easy fix

Firewall every network hosting an attack in China, Taiwan, or Korea.

Call it harsh, but almost none of those networks have valid APNIC contacts. Of those that do, good like finding one that cares about hacking. You can have the most secure system in the world but you're still losing bandwidth to the non-stop attacks and vulnerability scans.

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