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Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

CityZen Re:Repairability/Upgradability/Modularity (471 comments)

Tech can "last forever". Take my digital wristwatch, for instance. All it needs to keep going is a new battery every so many years. Fortunately, it's battery is replaceable. However, I agree with your point that many tech makers get this wrong. Non-replaceable batteries and closed, locked-up software environments help to make tech go obsolete much faster than necessary. Also, functional dependence on some other infrastructure (Apple Watch depends upon iPhone) doesn't help either.

about a week ago

Combating Recent, Ugly Incidents of Misogyny In Gamer Culture

CityZen Re:One bad apple spoils the barrel (1134 comments)

No, rather like people posting your home address and telling you that they plan to harm you.

about two weeks ago

Combating Recent, Ugly Incidents of Misogyny In Gamer Culture

CityZen Re:Nobody has the right not to be offended. (1134 comments)

Perhaps you missed the part about rape and death threats, and not just general ones, but the "I know where you live" kind?
I believe that courts have ruled that this is indeed not free speech, but criminal action.
But these criminals hide behind internet anonymity, so are difficult to prosecute.

about two weeks ago

Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory

CityZen Re:Elephant in the room (181 comments)

I once paid $100 for 16KB ($6400/MB). Of course, Apple was charging $400 for the same amount ($25,600/MB).

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: What Recliner For a Software Developer?

CityZen Just a word of warning (154 comments)

If you make it too comfortable to be sedentary for long periods of time, you'll need to find ways to balance yourself with appropriate exercise. Too much comfort (or too much of anything) can be bad. It's all about the balance.

Back exercise helps you in several ways: makes sleep more comfortable, makes it easier to have good posture, prevents you from hurting yourself when lifting/pushing things, and generally keeps you from deteriorating faster than you ought to.

(I can't say enough about good posture, either: it helps you breath better, and it looks so much more attractive than most alternatives.)

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

CityZen Biscotti TV (194 comments)

I've been looking for something similar myself. I was using the Logitech Revue until they shut down their Vid service.

The Biscotti has many good traits:
1. Has HDMI passthrough so no need to switch inputs if TV normally stays on a particular HDMI input.
2. Can overlay calling notification.
3. Can switch on the TV via CEC if needed.
4. Can be set to auto-answer.
5. Compatible with SIP and various standards.

Unfortunately, it's not perfect. You don't want to put it on a hot TV, or it might overheat.
Sometimes it has issues and needs to be rebooted by unplugging/replugging.
Recently, it looked like Biscotti's servers were down for a bit, so calls couldn't go through.
But aside from these typical kinds of issues, it's the best solution I've found so far.

about a month and a half ago

Is the App Store Broken?

CityZen Most online stores are "broken" (258 comments)

I'm consistently amazed how everyone continues to make bad online stores when there are good examples to follow.
Ebay and Newegg are fairly good examples. They have extensive hierarchies of categorization, a healthy supply of
sensible filters, and, most importantly, they work in a sensible manner.

Case in point: you navigate down various categories, set up some filters, click on a product, then hit the "back"
button, and, lo and behold, you're taken back to where you expected to be. With some stores, once you
click on a product, it loses all the history of how you got there, which is totally nuts. You have to start over from
the top again. (Or, even if there is a sensible back option, it may be painfully slow to get you there again.)

Of course, having a tabbed web browser makes things even easier, since I can drill down, set up filters, then
middle-click on several different products (opening up each in a new tab), and flick between them at will.
I can add products to a "watch" list, so I can look now and decide later if I want to get it.

The only way that I use the App stores on iOS or Android are to already know the app I want (from having
looked at the wider internet), click on "search", and find that specific app. Anything else is just a hopeless
potshot. I think that Apple/Google know that this is the only method that needs to work, and thus they
don't try to improve things.

about a month and a half ago

Who controls the HVAC at work?

CityZen Annoying engineering with limited local control (216 comments)

So there are thermostats on the wall, but they have only limited control:
- the building central HVAC produces only 1 temperature of air: either hot, cold, or unmodified.
- the temperature of air produced centrally depends upon the outside temp and the time of day.
    (ie, the thermostats have no control over that!)
- on cool days, hot air is produced; on warm days, cold air is produced, except:
    outside of work hours, it seems the air is mostly unmodified (not heated or cooled much).
- the thermostats control the venting such that you either get the central air or recirculated local air.
- (I haven't figured out what controls whether the blower runs or not.)

The net result does seem to be that you are overheated in winter, overcooled in summer,
except after work hours, when it becomes a reasonable temperature.

about 4 months ago

Major ISPs Threaten To Throttle Innovation and Slow Network Upgrades

CityZen Re:Please support the FCC to do the right thing (286 comments)

While I won't argue that you are wrong, I'm sure the cable companies would be pleased if people just thought "eh, what's the point in trying to change anything?" and didn't do anything.

That's how we got to this situation in the first place.

An alternative way out of this BS is to develop technology to bypass ISPs. Start setting up mesh wifi, or something. Figure it out.

about 4 months ago

Major ISPs Threaten To Throttle Innovation and Slow Network Upgrades

CityZen Please support the FCC to do the right thing (286 comments)

We all know this is BS. But we also know the FCC doesn't have much backbone. U.S. folks, please show them your support:

You may also write your senator or member of congress:

Comments or complaints sent to any of the above may do a lot more good than any posted here.

about 4 months ago

Microsoft Finally Selling Xbox One Without Kinect

CityZen Thank $DEITY for competition! (227 comments)

Competition can suck, but it's usually worse (for consumers) without it.

In this case, the worst effect of competition is that you might have to buy two game consoles to play every game that you would like to.
It beats paying 2x for the only game console with no competition.

about 4 months ago

Distracted Driving: All Lip Service With No Legit Solution

CityZen Re:There is this button. (184 comments)

And your teenage driver will certainly follow this advice, just like he/she followed every other piece of useful advice you have offered.

about 5 months ago

Distracted Driving: All Lip Service With No Legit Solution

CityZen Re:Just replace the driver (184 comments)

Hear hear! I'm anxious to see the day when people-driven cars are in the minority.

about 5 months ago

For $20, Build a VR Headset For Your Smartphone

CityZen Field of View (50 comments)

Half-baked solutions like this will have limited field of view (among other shortcomings). In order to get a wide FOV (which is important for immersion), Oculus is using very powerful aspheric lenses, which necessarily result in a distorted image. The distortion is "undone" by doing a pre-anti-distortion of the desired images prior to displaying them on the screen.

Latency will be another big issue, especially from tracking using a webcam that's probably running at 30hz.

I think that this stuff is great for experimenters who want to get a taste of VR on the cheap. However, it is a far cry from well-engineered setups.

about 5 months ago

Switching From Sitting To Standing At Your Desk

CityZen It's not binary (312 comments)

Obviously it's a problem to sit all day. But it's not a binary decision between sitting all day and standing all day.

Like everything in life, the key is "balance": not too much, not too little.

Keep using a chair if that's what you like. Just be sure to stand up, stretch, stroll around a bit periodically.
Set a timer if you need to remind yourself.

If you like to stand, that's fine too. You also need to move around periodically, or even sit down.

about 4 months ago

Algorithm Challenge: Burning Man Vehicle Exodus

CityZen Re:The playa exit is not the problem. (273 comments)

Then the answer seems obvious: Schedule the last day's events in order from most to least interesting, making sure to have a decent progression towards inanity as you get towards the end. People will naturally trickle away, as they decide the next events are not worth attending. (Perhaps the whole week should be scheduled with the most interesting events in the middle, and the more inane towards start and finish.)

Another possible answer comes up as well: treat the exit line like a Disney theme park entrance line: make it interesting enough to be in, but never interesting enough to hold anyone up.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Experiences With Free To Air Satellite TV?

CityZen Re:I use Linux (219 comments)

> Never the less Linux has excellent support for various DVB/ATSC hardware.

One reason for this is that many receivers (set top boxes) use Linux as their internal OS.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Experiences With Free To Air Satellite TV?

CityZen Re:Are you in the USA? (219 comments)

Lyngsat is the best place I have seen to get information about what programming is available. However, its organization takes some getting used to.

The page linked above shows the programming that originates from the US but is broadcast around the world. Similar pages can be used to find programming originating from other countries. However, you need to understand what satellites are viewable from your location.

Other pages are those that show what's available from satellites you can see, such as:
This page shows the satellites that broadcast to the US, ranging from 61.5 W way over toward the east to 139 W way over toward the west. If you are located on the east coast, you may have trouble receiving 139 W unless you have a clear line of site toward the west and a perhaps larger-than-typical dish. Similarly, if you are located on the west coast, you may have trouble receiving 61.5 W. Satellites that are more directly overhead your particular longitude will typically be easier to receive. You can find your own longitude very easily by googling your zip code plus "longitude".

Once you're looking at a particular satellite, say Galaxy 19:
then you need to understand the information that's presented. The first table lists frequencies in the ~4000 range, which corresponds to C-band. To receive these, you need a "BUD" (big ugly dish) of size 6-12 feet (2-4m). The next table lists frequencies in the ~12000 range, which corresponds to Ku-band. These can be received with a 30" (0.75m) dish.

The next columns to pay attention to are the provider name and the system encryption. Look for the "F" icon in the encryption column, indicating that the channel is FTA. Also confirm that the first entry for the transponder in question shows "DVB-S" (or "DVB-S2") and that this is compatible with the receiver you have. The first entry provides info about the multiplexed stream, whereas the subsequent entries provide info about each individual channel within the stream. A decent receiver will be able to figure out all these details itself, but older hardware requires programming in some details.

There's really a couple of ways to use FTA. One is to just set up a system locked to a given satellite and stick with a channel or small set of channels that are stable. The other way is to hop around different satellites and see what's available, since programming does change over time. For this, it's important that your receiver has "blind search" capability (which should be pretty common by now, but you should verify). Having the ability to program the channels easily with a computer program is another nice feature that many receivers offer. This can be a lot better than fiddling with the remote and endless menu layers. And, of course, a motorized dish mount makes it easier to change satellites.

A final word before you embark on this: Lots of these channels have online viewing options, which can be much less frustrating to view (or they can offer a different type of frustration). At least you won't have to fiddle outside with dish alignment on a rainy day to peak the signal. You can instead learn about proxies from the comfort of your desktop.

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Re-Learning How To Interview As a Developer?

CityZen A couple of tips, based on a recent interview. (218 comments)

When I interview someone, I ask them to explain something to me. A good candidate can provide a concise overview of the topic and then work through it in a coherent manner, seeking and taking in feedback from me to see if they're explaining things at the right level. Just wandering around the topic isn't so good. It's okay to say what you know and what you don't know.

Another thing I do is to ask them to solve a problem (either a simple but slightly tricky coding problem or a problem about a technology we've discussed). What I like to see is someone who can explain their thought process as they go. If they get stuck, they should be asking questions. But just sitting there thinking quietly isn't a good sign, especially when they don't come out with a good answer eventually.

You do need to find a good balance between talking too much and being too quiet. To do this, it is important to seek feedback and take queues from the interviewer. This kind of interaction is key to "working well with others".

about 6 months ago


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