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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

BrokenHalo Re:Why? (2219 comments)

Well said.

But just to throw a spanner in the works, it doesn't hurt to mention that even the so-called "classic" version of the site is looking pretty damn fugly at the moment for a logged-in user who has left any non-default settings in his profile. So (at least in my case) the beta could easily be seen as an improvement.

about 2 months ago

Windows 8.1 Passes Windows Vista In Market Share

BrokenHalo Re:LOL (249 comments)

Except that I am aware of at least one case where a guy DID get fired for buying a non-IBM machine. He was a new broom on a long-standing Burroughs site (this was back in the '70s), and he reckoned he was the shizznit, without the requisite experience to back that up. When the directors heard that this fool had splurged on an IBM box that was virtually incapable of functioning in their company, he was dismissed immediately.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: State of the Art In DIY Security Systems?

BrokenHalo Re:Umm no. (248 comments)

Back in the late '70s, I shared a house with a guy who had a pet Bengal tiger. The animal was a real pussy (of the non-edible kind), but one time a prowler came round, sticking his head through an open window. The pussy-cat snuck up, put his nose to the intruder's face and purred or growled or whatever it is they do. That guy's screams were quite funny.

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Command Line Interfaces -- What Is Out There?

BrokenHalo Re:systemd is there (383 comments)

Doesn't look like it's preinstalled on Ubuntu 13.10. Any way to get this working?

You would do better to read up on why some distros elect not to use systemd, despite the fact that it is becoming quite popular in some quarters. For my part, I consider it to be an unnecessary complication, so am happy that my preferred distro (Slackware) still elects not to implement systemd by default.

about 4 months ago

Sherlock Holmes Finally In the Public Domain In the US

BrokenHalo A modest proposal (207 comments)

I'm going to change my name to William Shakespeare and claim royalties for all those plays (and sonnets, of course) that have been reproduced without my permission. That'll show 'em.

about 4 months ago

Sherlock Holmes Finally In the Public Domain In the US

BrokenHalo Re: Arthur Conan Doyle was Scottish (207 comments)

I've heard that it was the Irish who gave the Scots the bagpipes, but the Scots haven't got the joke.

about 4 months ago

Sherlock Holmes Finally In the Public Domain In the US

BrokenHalo Re: Arthur Conan Doyle was Scottish (207 comments)

Yes. And there's the piano accordion...

The best definition for perfect pitch is being able to chuck a piano accordion down a well without it touching the sides.

about 4 months ago

Sherlock Holmes Finally In the Public Domain In the US

BrokenHalo Re:A bad remake is a foot! (207 comments)

And in the 1890's, 1325 bucks was REAL MONEY

I don't know what world you're living in, but $1325 is real money right now. And I suspect my dog might appreciate whatever that works out at in dog money.

That aside, one of the big advantages of Project Gutenberg's sister sites is that there are servers outside the US that are not tied to predatory American copyright legislation, so many texts that should (by reasonable, ethical expectations) have passed into public domain have often already done so somewhere.

about 4 months ago

Wisconsin Begins Using Cheese To De-Ice Roads

BrokenHalo Why? A cheesemaker's POV... (139 comments)

As a professional cheesemaker, (yes, one of the blessed variety), the first question that comes to my mind is:

Why are these people throwing out their brine? This seems an unnecessarily costly exercise.

It is typical practice in many cheese factories (and all of those in which I've worked) to keep and re-use brine (sometimes for decades), with routine and simple maintenance such as topping up salt levels, adjustment of pH, filtration to remove solids and occasional pasteurisation if required.

A "raw" brine of just NaCl and water will, of course, do the job of salting your cheese, but most of the salt is left in solution at the end of the brining process (so it doesn't make sense to throw it away), and the pH will have a tendency to bounce around, adversely affecting the properties of your cheese. The various whey products in a re-used brine help to stabilise the pH, so one usually only needs to top up salt to replace that absorbed by the cheese.

about 4 months ago

Ulbricht Admits Seized Bitcoins Are His and Wants Them Back

BrokenHalo Re:(New) Mount Carmel Center, if you will... (243 comments)

There seems to be a rash of similar posts re Waco in other threads too, and I suspect that the failure to post as AC here was inadvertent. Having a low UID doesn't excuse being a troll.

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Can Digital Music Replace Most Instrumental Musicians?

BrokenHalo Music and muzack... (328 comments)

I hate vocals in music. That's why I stick to classical and electronic genres.

I don't exactly hate vocals (I was raised as a classical violinist, but my musical appetite now weighs a little more heavily in favour of jazz), but I find lyrics just get in the way when the music should be able to speak for itself. Thus, (from TFS)

Purely instrumental groups like Booker T and the MGs, as well as solo performers like Herbie Hancock or John McLaughlin, seem not to take the spotlight as they once did.

just doesn't apply for me. Though of course I have to accept that other people's priorities differ, and I'm fine with that.

What I cannot abide, however, is the current tendency to play unnecessary incidental "music" over spoken dialogue in TV shows. While I accept that my ears are not what they once were (I am well over 50 years old, and if there's one thing I would change if I had to live my life again, it would involve earplugs), I do not accept that these noises contribute anything useful, and frequently make dialogue difficult to hear.

about 4 months ago

Ars Checks Out CyanogenMod's New Installer

BrokenHalo Re:FOR-PROFIT CORP !! NO THANX !! (143 comments)

uh ... go ask your carrier for upgrade then .

This is a fair point. CyanogenMod's strength is that it offers an upgrade path to a great many devices that have been abandoned by their manufacturers.The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, for instance hasn't seen an upgrade from my carrier in well over a year. CM also offers a clear way to de-googlify your phone, for those worried about Google's monitoring their activity. If you want the benefits of (say) Google maps and navigation, you have to consciously download and install the gapps.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Cheap Second Calculators For Tests?

BrokenHalo Re:Calculator (328 comments)

Yeah, but he's used to RPN so he's pretty much stuck with HP models. ...although he doesn't say that.

IIRC there were some Russian-made devices that used an RPN interface, though I've never come across one.

But if I were doing it all over again (without slide-rules) I think I would have opted for an HP-15C. That was, and still is, a stupendously elegant piece of hardware.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Cheap Second Calculators For Tests?

BrokenHalo Re:PE exam you can do with a slide rule (328 comments)

Heh. You should bring at least two. You never be sure one won't break down or need rebooting. ;-)

[Disclaimer: I have begun to accumulate a small collection of slide-rules. Their combination of simplicity with sophistication is just beyond cool.]

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Cheap Second Calculators For Tests?

BrokenHalo Re:Mod This Up! (328 comments)

The converse is that you'll still end up with the popular tools if you ask people what their preferred tools are and why...

OK, so I'll offer something different.

During my first year at uni, I used to own an HP-48G+ which I loved for its nice keypad and the RPN interface, but the actual device was hopelessly unreliable and had an unwelcome tendency to let me down by throwing hissy-fits during assessments. I eventually got around that particular limitation by replacing it with a TI-89, which (although lacking keypad quality and RPN) was, and still is, a vastly superior device on many levels.

But since this doesn't answer the OP's question, here's my take on it in the light of years of experience since my university studies...

The best calculator for examinations is: NONE AT ALL.

You will get much more kudos for arriving at any kind of solution (however incomplete) if you can show how you started from first principles. Also, you might actually remember how to use these skills years later if you do this.

I would like to be able to say this is what I did, but it would be a lie. I was not a brilliant maths student, since I relied too much on gadgets to help me through assessments. However, I have since revisited the subject and learned how to do it with more insight, and now find a certain pride in being able to "do" maths with no more hardware than a sheet of paper, a pencil and my brain.

Oh, and FWIW, although I still have my TI-89, most of the routine mechanical calculations I perform these days are done on the RealCalc Plus app on my phone.

about 5 months ago

Google Patenting Less Noble Use of Project Loon Tech

BrokenHalo Re:Google is a business... (87 comments)

I'm gonna call BS on this. You mentioned a 'heavily edited' Slashdot submission.

Look for yourself.

And no, I don't have a girlfriend. I've been married for nearly 30 years... :-}

about 5 months ago

Google Patenting Less Noble Use of Project Loon Tech

BrokenHalo Re:Google is a business... (87 comments)

..not a non-profit. Using the tech in this way is hardly immoral.

Agreed. I'm not sure why Google should be obliged to provide free WiFi to all and sundry, but I'm sure there must be some logic that will appeal to the zealot freeloader.

OTOH, Google appears to be proposing offering a service in underserved (maybe they mean undeserved?) areas, and I recall a (heavily edited) Slashdot submission I made some time ago to that effect. At that point, the notion of implementing the idea in Tasmania was mooted, which would be welcomed by yours truly, since this state is wilfully neglected by telcos who consider it their right to charge full price for a service they are prepared to offer only patchily.

If Google is prepared to offer access to the internet even on a non-free but competitively priced model, such an option might well be preferable to the single, crappy option available to me right now. If nothing else, it might provide an incentive to the local carriers to pull up their game.

about 5 months ago

Nearly 1 In 4 Adults Surf the Web While Driving

BrokenHalo Re:Bullshit exceptionalism (365 comments)

We all become worse drivers than we could be.

Just playing devil's advocate for a moment: if 25% of traffic accidents are caused by drunk drivers, then it follows that 75% of accidents are caused by sober drivers. Therefore, you're safer driving drunk than sober. ;-)

about 5 months ago

Nearly 1 In 4 Adults Surf the Web While Driving

BrokenHalo Re:The one instance in which I'd want Terminators (365 comments)

If there's some dumb retarded chick applying mascara while talking on her phone while driving--BAM!!! Bullet to the forehead!

Where I used to live (Perth, Western Australia), that would eliminate an awful lot of dumb "ladies", but such a scene is common enough to barely raise a digitus impudicus.

The best I have yet seen (for sheer chutzpah, if nothing else) was a guy in the driver's seat of an open-top sports car with one foot on the steering wheel, cruising while playing a fricking trumpet...

about 5 months ago

Where Does America's Fear Come From?

BrokenHalo Re:Nothing new (926 comments)

The fear has been around for just about always.

I have heard it mentioned (most prominently during the Cold War, which while fresh in my memory might predate some readers' lifetimes) that America collectively has to always be fighting the "last war". Sometimes the notion that you're the "good guys" can distort your perspective.

about 5 months ago



Taking back control of your data from the NSA

BrokenHalo BrokenHalo writes  |  about 6 months ago

BrokenHalo (565198) writes "This New Scientist article introduces an interesting MIT project as a "Private data gatekeeper stands between you and the NSA".

Developers Sandy Pentland and Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye claim OpenPDS (PDF) disrupts what NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden called the "architecture of oppression", by letting users see and control any third-party requests for their information – whether that's from the NSA or Google. Among other things, the Personal Data Store includes a mechanism for fine-grained management of permissions for sharing of data. Personally, I'm not convinced that what the NSA demands outright to be shared is as relevant as what they surreptitiously take without asking, but what do you think?"

Snowden made the right call to flee US: Ellsberg

BrokenHalo BrokenHalo writes  |  about 9 months ago

BrokenHalo (565198) writes "An interesting article in The Age gives us an interesting perspective from Daniel Ellsberg, who some of us old codgers might remember was responsible for leaking Pentagon papers that brought down Nixon just a few years ago.

In brief, "It was a less punitive kind of America when I disclosed the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s" and "What [Snowden] has given us is our best chance — if we respond to his information and his challenge — to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America.""

Google floats balloons for free Wi-Fi

BrokenHalo BrokenHalo writes  |  about 10 months ago

BrokenHalo (565198) writes "Google has revealed that it has 30 balloons floating over New Zealand in a project to bring free wi-fi to earthquake-stricken, rural or poor areas. Eventually, as the balloons move across the stratosphere, consumers in participating countries along the 40th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere could tap into the service. The technology will be trialled in Australia next year, possibly in Tasmania. If the latter happens to be true, then you'll probably hear the telcos' screams in New York."

Man "from future" arrested at LHC

BrokenHalo BrokenHalo writes  |  about 4 years ago

BrokenHalo (565198) writes "A "saboteur" by the name of Eloi Cole, a young man wearing a bow tie and rather too much tweed for his age, said that he had travelled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world. He was found rummaging in the bins at the LHC facilitylooking for fuel for his 'time machine power unit', a device that resembled a kitchen blender. He claimed that the discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone — a communist chocolate hellhole. Apparently he was taken to a secure facility, from which he "disappeared"."

Steve Jobs in standover against app developer

BrokenHalo BrokenHalo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

BrokenHalo (565198) writes "The Age has an article showing us another unsavoury aspect of Apple's business model.

A long-time Apple software developer from Sydney fears he may have to lay off most of his staff after draconian Apple legal threats and a rare personal email from Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs.

Mathew Peterson, 25, has been creating Mac software since he was 17 and one of his most popular products has been "iPodRip", which allows people to back up their music collections from their iPods on to their computers. It was an instant hit and particularly useful in emergencies because, if a user's computer dies and they attempt to connect their iPod to their new machine, all music and videos on the device are usually wiped... Peterson's Manly-based company, The Little App Factory, now employs eight staff members, makes two other Apple-related software tools and claims to have approximately 6 million customers. But iPodRip, which sells for $US19.95, pulls in the lion's share of revenue.

Despite iPodRip being available for the past six years, about 2 weeks ago, Peterson received a cease and desist letter from Apple's lawyers, Baker & McKenzie. It asked him to stop using "iPod" in his software's name, remove any Apple-related logos from his product and relinquish control of his domain name, ipodrip.com.

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