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* Posts by Kevin McMurtrie

672 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

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Android in FOUR out of 5 new smartphones. How d'ya like dem Apples?

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Comparing 'Walled Gardens'

Most of Google's slurping can be avoided by disabling Chrome, Maps, and Network Location Services. Alternatives are easy to come by. On the other hand, Apple is just getting their data slurping started and their mechanisms allow for no workaround.

Both are invasive. If you do nothing, iOS will probably spy on you less. If you work at it, Android will spy less. I'm not sure about Windows - I haven't even seen one yet.

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ULTIMATE ELECTRIC driving machine? Yes, it’s the BMW i3 e-car

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: FUGLY

The lines and seams are a wreck. It's like half the parts were too small and the other half of the parts where stretched to cover the naked spots.

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Amazon CIA cloud row: US judge slaps down IBM as 'manipulative', inferior

Kevin McMurtrie
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The obvious product

Customer service. No pricing tricks will make somebody sign a long-term contract designed to screw and abuse them. Smoke and mirrors are to be evaluated on their worst-case scenario.

Maybe IBM and Comcast will be hanging out in a bar this weekend, complaining about how much customers suck.

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YouTube co-founder either HATES Google+ or his vid account just got HACKED

Kevin McMurtrie
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Because it requires you agree to a new Googley TOS.

Don't use Google if you hate them. Don't give them data if you don't like them prying into your life. There are easy alternatives.

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Fury as OS X Mavericks users FORCED to sync contact books with iCloud

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

Throw it over the garden's wall

Just sync it with Bluetooth file transfer, or an SD card, or copy the file over USB... Oh, right, it's not supported. I don't understand the lasting popularity of this phone.

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Google's Nexus 5: Best smartphone bang for your buck. There, we said it

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: MicroSD slot?

Any company that sells cloudy services and collects marking data is going to produce phones with as little working memory as possible. Offline use is unprofitable silence to them.

There's a simple solution to the "no SD card" trend: Don't buy them. I have 80GB of storage in my phone and I don't know what I'd do without it. I embrace cloud access (I am part of the cloud) but I prefer to have maps, music, and important data locally stored for speed and reliability.

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We can't go on like this for much longer, boffins cry to data centre designers

Kevin McMurtrie
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Software

It would be good to attack this from the software side too. Many analysis tasks have become too complex to implement with hand-crafted assembly language, or hand-crafted with anything. What happens is that many large and complicated frameworks are tied together with a relatively small amount of custom code. Each framework has a formal representation of data inputs and outputs that are each padded with protection against accidental misuse that would cause obvious data corruption. All of this formality and safety can end up being an enormous processing overhead. "Enterprise Edition" software is the classic example of nearly infinite inefficiency, but seemingly low-level tasks suffer too. What would be useful would be a radical new generation of JIT compiler that can make extreme optimizations across an entire system; analyzing enormous codebases and producing minimal hardware instructions to produce the correct result. Given that an entire data center is available to perform the analysis, it could be feasible.

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Mobe-makers' BLOATWARE is Android's Achilles heel

Kevin McMurtrie
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Chock-full of it

No dodgy software or excessive privileges from Google? Chrome is crippled until you sign in and grant it permission to monitor everything you do. It's difficult to turn on GPS without Google monitoring your location, networks, and nearby WiFi points. Android Backup Service wants a copy of everything. Google Maps demands login for offline mode. As for sucking up resources, there's Google+, Google Play Music, Google Play Music & TV, Google Play Music Magazines, Google Play Books, Play Store, Gmail, Exchange Services, Picasa Uploader, Talk, Maps, Earth, YouTube, Google Search, Google Services, etc.

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Want a support contract for GlassFish 4.0? Tough luck, says Oracle

Kevin McMurtrie
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Just say no to EE

Enterprise Edition is a way of saying that it's so needlessly complicated that only millions of dollars worth of engineering, support, and hardware can get it working. This project really sums it up:

https://github.com/EnterpriseQualityCoding/FizzBuzzEnterpriseEdition

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Crack our 'military-grade' email encryption and we'll give you 5% of our firm

Kevin McMurtrie
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The challenge comes later

Any fool can encrypt a single e-mail so that it can never be cracked. You don't even need a computer. The attack is always against the services and operations of a company, which can become nearly infinitely complex and very difficult to perfectly secure. Would a hacker find 5% of the company to be more valuable than secretly maintaining access? I guess it depends on how many hackers have already claimed their 5%.

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Hate data fees but love your HD slab? Here's a better way to pay for bytes

Kevin McMurtrie
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Net Neutrality

This argument is what's used when telcos (who are also studios) say that Net Neutrality is bad. It's a way to say, "Our videos cost $10, preferred provider videos cost $20, and everyone else charges $5 but you'll have another $50 in bandwidth fees." It's designed to put competing content creators out of business while charging customers extra for something that costs nothing extra to provide.

Anyone who's spending a huge amount of money on high bandwidth plans to avoid scary overage fees needs to look at other providers. There are other telcos that can provide the simplicity of a contract for normal usage and provide pay-as-you-go for exceptional usage. You could save $30 a month for the 11 months a year that you don't need a massive data plan.

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Reply-all email lightning storm STRIKES TWICE at Cisco

Kevin McMurtrie
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>OOTO >>OOTO >>>OOTO >>>>OOTO

No work will get done with that storm going on. They all should activate the "I'm currently out of the office" auto-reply and go home early.

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NSA-friendly cyber-slurp law CISPA back on the table with new Senate bill

Kevin McMurtrie
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Childcatcher

Dianne Feinstein is extremely fond of big-money backing anti-privacy. She should share all of her online logins with the world to prove to us that everything is fine.

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If there's somethin' strange in your network 'hood. Who y'gonna call? Google's DDoS-busters

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mushroom

Facing the wrong way

Can this work in reverse to shield the world from unmaintained Google servers? Google Groups has been serving a prolific spammer from Chinanet-FJ for 8+ years now. See https://groups.google.com/d/msg/rec.sport.disc/aSXOr2Pna1g/3Ev8xKes3LYJ or just search Usenet for "Nike". Oh right, Google doesn't really want to stop attacks. They want to consume all of your data.

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Google's latest ad push gives LONE LAWMAKER the creeps

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: For my curiosity

Google has their Android apps set up to require Google+ and I honestly can't figure out what it is either. It appears to be a mix of extreme personal data harvesting and a vast wasteland reviews generated by malware. It's very easy to replace Chrome, Maps, and GMail with privacy honoring alternatives so Google should be careful.

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Post-PC world? POST-MAC WORLD more like

Kevin McMurtrie
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Devil

Make it dumber

Clearly Apple needs to dumb down their desktop products some more. Get rid of the filesystem, get rid of expansion, get rid of open markets for applications, ditch the standards, and allow no one to separate their data from the iCloud. Everybody secretly wishes that they had an incredibly expensive, heavy, and non-portable iPhone.

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Google's Wi-Fi not good enough for its home town

Kevin McMurtrie
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Here comes an old copy of Windows to burn the place down

Neighboring city Sunnyvale used to have free WiFi too from a different company. The problem was that infected Windows machines would nuke the entire neighborhood's network. Their probing, attacks, and ARP "who-has" packets for nonsense addresses kept the network perpetually saturated. WiFi can't tolerate before it's useless.

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Panasonic throws in towel on plasma tellies, preps for BILLION-dollar kick in pants

Kevin McMurtrie
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Good glowing bits, bad software

I own a TCP50V10 from Panasonic. It nice, but it should have been awesome for how much it cost. Out of the box it needed adjustments to fix green shadows. There's an on/off switch for video AGC but it doesn't work. It's not very bright and it has two layers of strong glare in the viewing area but anti-glare coatings on the frame. The software is absolute garbage. MPEG4 support is stamped all over the box but such a tiny feature subset is supported that you'll never get it running. DLNA and local network features are not supported in the US. VieraCast displays a multi-deminsional grid of features that never arrived. The YouTube player doesn't understand aspect ratios and can't support some audio codecs. Amazon VOD proxies through Panasonic servers, which can't stop crashing long enough for a preview to load. There's no support for surround sound except passing through the OTA stream to another device. It's an epic failure as a high-end digital-era TV.

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London plod plonks, er, pull request on EasyDNS

Kevin McMurtrie
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Big Brother

"are suspected to be involved"

There are a dangerous number of process shortcuts in that police demand that should not be tolerated.

The document makes it clear that there are only suspicions of a crime. I'm sure ICANN gets lots of angry troll mail and that they are adept at dismissing them. The proper first step would be to ask EasyDNS to validate the ownership record. If EasyDNS claims it's legit, get a court order to investigate the owner. Should the ownership record prove to be false or point to an entity not entirely responsible for the domain, terminating the domain takes no more effort than filling out an online form and providing the evidence.

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NSA data centre launch delayed as power surges 'melt metal, zap racks'

Kevin McMurtrie
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Switching power supply feedback

High efficiency switching power have a constant volts*amps draw for a given demand. Another way to look at is is that the impedance is proportional to voltage. That's quite a problem if you're pushing the main power line near the limit. As the load increases, the voltage droops more, and the power supplies draw more current to maintain a constant power. Once the impedance of the power supplies is less than the impedance of the source, the voltage shoots towards zero. All of those switching power supplies will hit their undervoltage lock-out and turn off. The line voltage now recovers rapidly and overshoots. The power supplies turn back on and the on-off cycle continues. In small circuits, this makes an annoying buzzing sound and stuff gets hot. In massive arrays of circuits, things go BOOM.

Surely the NSA can find solutions in their "metadata" archive.

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Universal's High Fidelity Pure Audio trickles onto Blighty’s Blu-Ray hi-fis

Kevin McMurtrie
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Crap, we forgot the DRM on those Compact Discs!

As others have said, 44.1KHz at 16 bits per channel is plenty of bandwidth. It doesn't have enough spare bandwidth to accommodate editing, but it's plenty for the final format.

This is more about trying to get rid of those pesky, unencrypted Compact Discs. It has been tried many times before and this will be yet another failure. People who buy music want to play it anywhere and anytime. Save the DRM efforts for cheap rentals.

If somebody wanted to convince me to buy a new disc, it would be to gain unencrypted access to the master tracks. There are many great albums that have been butchered by low quality or poorly stylized production. Release an open-source app to share sound board commands with other owners of the discs and now sales are on fire.

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Tech specs wreck: Details of Google's Nexus 5 smartphone LEAKED over interwebs

Kevin McMurtrie
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No SD card

It seems that Google is, like Apple, realizing that the best way to know what everybody is doing all of the time is to not allow storage upgrades. You can't have people downloading OpenStreetMap databases and breaking Google's realtime tracking and marketing analysis. You can't have people loading their phone up with music files or you don't know what people are listening to. You certainly can't have people storing images and videos in their phone because then you don't know who they're with. Send it to the cloud, process it, and see how far you can push the "creepy line."

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'Safest car ever made' Tesla Model S EV crashes and burns. Car 'performed as designed'

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mushroom

Re: I don't think it's fair...

Lots of water is good for a burning Li-ion battery. The electricity has already turned into heat so it hardly matters that the water conducts a tiny bit. There's nothing to do but prevent the heat from spreading. It's likely that electric cars of the future will have a connector where firefighters can instantly flood the battery packs with water and activate discharging shunts on the cells.

A battery fire on a ship is different because you don't want to be standing in a pool of electrified water.

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HGST hoiks out Death Valley-proof hi-cap HDD

Kevin McMurtrie
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Everything's fine...the clicking is nothing

IBM's drive tech must carry a curse. Every Hitachi drive that came with my computers failed within two years, which is only a few months better than the infamous IBM "Deathstars". I could maybe forgive that but I can't forgive that the SMART status always said that everything was perfectly fine even as the drive's media was deteriorating faster than blocks could be re-mapped to spares. That's willful incompetence.

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US spy court says internet firms can't report surveillance requests

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mushroom

We tried to call you but nobody answered for the past few days

Release it anyway. The US Government is owned by big corporations so nothing bad is going to happen except for some lame lawsuits that Microsoft and Google can easily tarpit and smother. It will be the best PR that they could ever imagine. Besides, I expect that the courts will soon be overwhelmed with lawsuits related to this "shutdown" circus.

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All roads lead to Darwin ahead of solar challenge flag-fall

Kevin McMurtrie
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Headmaster

Ah Wh J ?

First, the abbreviation for amps uses a capital 'A' and hours uses a lower case 'h'. Second, "40 aH" doesn't say anything about power without knowing the volts. The voltage varies by charge, and nobody wants to integrate a curve to read an article on a Sunday night, so watt hours is what's needed here. Amp hours is only used for standard battery packs where the voltage is obvious.

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EU move to standardise phone chargers is bad news for Apple

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Standardised connector... like, err, Micro USB

Forget the extra pins hack for charging. USB already has a trivial mechanism for specifying current. When the data lines are active, power is negotiated via USB protocol. When the data lines are shorted together in the charger, power is regulated via voltage droop. That is, the device draws as much power as it can without the voltage going out of spec. The charger lets the voltage droop when it's at its limit. It's taking advantage of two features - over current protection and under voltage protection - that are already efficiently implemented in many switching power supplies. It also means that a stack of solar cells and a 5.1V zener diode shunt works perfectly with out any fancy tech. Imagine getting that approved by Apple.

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Boffins debate killing leap seconds to help sysadmins

Kevin McMurtrie
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It isn't

GPS time and other atomic clock systems (TAI) are continuous but Unix time isn't. To convert from an atomic clock to Unix UTC, you must shift the epoch and run through the leap second list.

The difference between UTC and Unix time is that UTC will add leap seconds by ending a day at after 23:59:60 than after the usual 23:59:59, thereby maintaining perfectly unique timestamps. Unix time can't do that so it repeats a second.

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Kevin McMurtrie
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Facepalm

If only there was a way for computers to send data to each other...

NIST and some other entities provide an online leap second list. There's no need for this to be manual.

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USB 3.1 demo shows new spec well on its way towards 1.2GB/sec goal

Kevin McMurtrie
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Re: Thundercats

USB 2 is a crude extension of a protocol made for mice, keyboards, and cheap thumb drives that were meant to replace floppy disks. There's a lot that it can't do by design. It can't transfer at high speeds efficiently and it must operate in a master/slave configuration. It could not join multiple high speed components that need to talk to each other, and that is where FireWire became the standard.

I haven't read all of the USB 3 spec but it claims to solve a lot USB 2's issues. The only downside is the fat cable and fat connector caused by USB 2 and USB 3 wiring needing to exist side-by-side. It's still only 5V so power sourcing remains a problem. Light Peak was supposed to free us from fat cables but Intel dropped the ball. It's a shame because two 18V power wires and a little bundle of fiber optics would have made for very small and powerful cables.

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Psst.. Know how to hack a mobe by radio wave? There's $70k+ in it for you

Kevin McMurtrie
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Google wins

Has anyone checked what the mobile Chrome does? Google has your bookmarks, your downloads, your history, thumbnails of pages you've visited, your calendar, your contacts, your search history, permission to take pictures, permission to record audio, a live stream of you typing into the URL bar, your location, and it even has an "optimization" that will route all HTTP traffic through Google. Most of this is enabled by the phone's factory configuration wizard.

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Billionaire engineer Ray Dolby, 80, dies at home in San Francisco

Kevin McMurtrie
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No nostalgia here

I was never a fan of Dolby processors on consumer equipment. Dolby NR required calibration that couldn't be provided by any consumer equipment, especially cassette tape players. What you got was pumping and arbitrary changes in volume. Various matrix encoding tricks to cram surround sound into two analog channels were a wreck too. It was fine for synthetic positioning from mono sources (sound effects, dialog, music tracks, etc) but it destroyed natural stereo. The licensing for the Dolby tech bumped up the price on everything, and no product came without it even if few actually turned it on.

Dolby wasn't cool until they started putting digital bits on film, but they were not much ahead of Sony by then.

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iPhone 5S: Apple, you're BORING us to DEATH (And you too, Samsung)

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

Ignored opportunities

The next opportunity is: Internet service. Telcos claim that everybody is bathing in 100+ Mbps Internet connections but the truth is that availability is poor, prices are high, shady deals interfere with connectivity, contracts screw customers, and there are EXTREME usage restrictions. Incredible amounts of money are being sucked up by telcos to provide virtually nothing, just like with smart phones before Apple and Google started kicking some telco ass. Google knows what's coming and have started providing internet services of their own but, as big as they are, they're not big enough. Apple should have jumped in too but they're still stuck on the old iPhone, and even dumbing down their other products to be more like iPhones.

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Apple seeds Golden Master iOS 7 to devs, calls Sep 18 ship date

Kevin McMurtrie
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AirDrop?

Still no Bluetooth file exchange? When living in a walled garden, one should periodically check if the walls are keeping the lunatics out or keeping them in.

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Ready to bin your USB cables yet? Wireless USB hops on WiGig bandwagon

Kevin McMurtrie
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For what?

WiGig isn't going to make wireless mice and keyboards perform any better. It won't help portable printers and scanners that need 5VDC. I don't like the idea of running disks or video over a connection that will constantly glitch from motion in the room. What's needing this solution?

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LinkedIn looks at bank account, thinks: We'll raise one Instagram*

Kevin McMurtrie
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Linked spam

The idea behind Linked-In is great but human nature kills it. Recruiters spam for quantity. Professionals hoard senseless connections and recommendations to improve their perceived standing. The noise generated by that overwhelms attempts to get anything serious done. I kept my account lean and clean but I found no way to stop Linked-In's own HR department from spamming me with their job openings until I closed my account. Hopefully that $1,000,000,000 can buy some professional hygiene tools. (And they better upgrade Maude Ave at their new HQ so I don't get killed bicycling to work)

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Sage 50 activation blackout: Shops sent back to paper age

Kevin McMurtrie
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Facepalm

Yellow rain from the little dark cloud

One datacenter isn't much of a cloud. In fact, it's more like a hosting environment that one would call a "datacenter."

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Tesla cars 'hackable' says Dell engineer

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

No REST for the stupid

It's worse than having a durable login cookie. If the documentation is correct, HTTP GET is used to initiate significant changes to the car rather than the proper POST method. GET must be idempotent - safe to make or not make at any time. Resources with GET allow clients to pre-fetch it, cache it, asynchronously revalidate the cache, or attempt to fetch the resource in segments. This API is begging for massive malfunctions and the designer never should have passed a hiring interview.

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Jolla's first Sailfish phone preorders 'fully booked'

Kevin McMurtrie
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Thumb Up

I still haven't finished disabling all the T-Mobile, Sony, and Google shoveware that came on my phone. There's even shovelware to help you maintain a phone that's overloaded with shovelware (for a small monthly fee, of course). A clean phone could cost a lot more and be worth every bit of it from the time and sanity saved.

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Engineer's $30m windfall from Nintendo 3DS patent spat SLASHED by beak

Kevin McMurtrie
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$15,000,000 and 2 years prison

Didn't Sony help create laws in Japan that give jail time to copyright infringers? It seems only fair that some Sony execs go to jail for stealing a patent.

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Peak Apple: Samsung hits DOUBLE the market share of iPhones

Kevin McMurtrie
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Just the specs

I have to agree that Samsung is the worst. Compare any phone/tablet maker to Samsung and the features for Samsung phones completely kick butt. They have better displays, microSD, replaceable batteries, faster processors, and better form factors. Unfortunately, the Samsung phones are the least likely to work. Android developer forums and customer support forums are always full of complaints about Samsung devices failing due to firmware and electrical bugs. It's serious stuff like rapid battery death, radios going dead, touch screens malfunctioning, GPS not working, and intermittent cell reception. Their repair centers return the devices as "operating normally" when what you asked for was "working."

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Despite Microsoft Surface RT debacle, second-gen model in the works

Kevin McMurtrie
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For what?

I see a lot of tech makes being oblivious to their customers. Apple rules at information appliances and new-tech office appliance products. Android targets geeks while still doing a good job at being information appliances and new-tech office appliances. Microsoft dominates the old-tech office appliances.

So now why are big companies screwing the best customers? Apple is dumbing down their products so much that they're becoming too incompatible with new-tech offices. Android champions HTC, Motorola, and Nexus are sealing in the batteries and eliminating microSD slots to piss off geeks. And what exactly is Microsoft's Surface RT? Commercials show them being tossed around picnic benches, laughed at in coffee shops, and clicked in and out of a tiny exercise mat. I have no idea what a Surface RT is, and memories of old Windows problems makes me not even care.

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Study finds online commentards easily duped, manipulated

Kevin McMurtrie
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up=down

I just felt compelled to vote so that ups and downs match counts.

As for the study - It's not just human nature. Most comment engines move highly voted articles to the top, creating a positive feedback loop based on first clicks.

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Smashing your phone? There's an app stupid game for that

Kevin McMurtrie
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Just cancelled my cell plan

But the things that I have in mind for my SII would terminate it faster than the speed of data.

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US feds: 'Let's make streaming copyrighted content a FELONY'

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mushroom

Government criminals

I've legally transferred many songs between my personal devices using the Internet for transport. I've also legally listened to purchased streams of copyrighted material. The NSA has surely duplicated a few of those streams without authorization and must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

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Ultimate Radio Deathmatch: US Navy missile-defence radar vs 4G mobile mast

Kevin McMurtrie
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BZZZZZZAAAAAAP!

That's what it sounds like when you live next to an international airport and a low flying airplane momentarily reflects high power radar down at your electronics. The TV goes, the FM radio goes, your phone says Ø, and I've even had my digital car stereo lock up dead a few times.

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Chubby-chasing SEX TROLLS ran me offline, says fashion blogger

Kevin McMurtrie
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Pirate

One by one

Learn to read mail headers, learn to use network registries, and fire off abuse complaints. There are a lot of trolls, spammers, and hackers out there but there's satisfaction in kicking them off the Internet when they violate their laws or TOS. E-mail harassment and hoarding copyrighted material are easy ones. China, Taiwan, and Korea almost never have valid network contacts so it's best to stop all of their mess at the firewall.

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Malicious JavaScript flips ad network into rentable botnet

Kevin McMurtrie
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And the sky is blue

Hijacking web pages through advertisements is old as dirt. The last time I turned off my web bug blocker, I saw that it was still happening on CNN.com and Yahoo.com. Advertisers resell over and over so the true origin can difficult to track.

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PEAK APPLE: iPad market share hits the skids

Kevin McMurtrie
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Stronger walls

I originally viewed the "walled garden" as a limitation that would eventually be solved. I awaited improved iModels but Apple had other plans. The "walled garden" is extending further and further into the desktop computers with each MacOS release. Portable files and freely available applications are deprecated in the current OS. The next OS appears to push this even harder; further restricting what applications can do if they don't run in Apple's private "sandbox". Apple is taking such drastic measures to lock-in customers that, for the first time 20+ years, I can't see my self buying anything more from them.

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Verizon offers Motorola mobe with 48-HOUR battery life

Kevin McMurtrie
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They never exaggerate

My Samsung S2 is rated for 18 hours of talk time and 20 DAYS of standby time. It's junk and I never use it yet a full charge on a new battery gives it 25 HOURS standby. In one year it damages a battery so badly that it powers off after 9 hours of doing nothing but checking e-mail every 15 minutes.

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