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Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

Cyrano de Maniac Re: International Copyright (172 comments)

Most Aussies have screens that rotate mate.

Clockwise, or anti-clockwise?

about 3 months ago
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Apple Fixes Major SSL Bug In OS X, iOS

Cyrano de Maniac Re:Snow Leopard (96 comments)

If I upgrade to 2G of RAM, it looks like I can upgrade to Lion, but not Mountain Lion. I was going to upgrade the RAM anyway because it seems to run a bit sluggish, but the Mini maxes out at 2G, which is the lower limit of Lion. So it may be a wash, performance-wise.

No, it will be a huge step backwards. Do not, under any circumstance, install Lion if you can possibly avoid it. Not only is 2GB not enough to run Lion in any reasonable manner, but even if you have more RAM than that, Lion is a molasses sucking pig. The last OS for any hardware I used that was that bad and that much of a step backwards from what came before it was... umm... Wow, can't think of one. Lion wins. Or, actually, loses.

Installing it was the worst single decision I've made regarding Apple software on my early 2008 MacBook Pro. I even did a clean install from official Apple USB media (i.e. the USB fob you had to pay extra for instead of just downloading it) and upgraded RAM to 4GB on account of Lion. Take it from myself and several of my coworkers who regretted every getting within 100 feet of Lion that it is best avoided. Mountain Lion didn't suck, but only by comparison to Lion. Mavericks is a little bit better yet, but still not nearly as snappy as Snow Leopard.

My gut reaction: Don't worry about Snow Leopard being out of date, even security-wise. A man-in-the-middle is rare in most environments, and Snow Leopard is already quickly diminishing in market share, so it's not terribly likely to be widely exploited. Compared to the every day pain you'll cause yourself by installing Lion or later, the tiny risk profile of running a vulnerable Snow Leopard is worth it, in my opinion.

about 8 months ago
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Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

Cyrano de Maniac Re:diagreeing with same sex marriage != hate (1746 comments)

Your observation jives with one of my own thoughts on the matter.

Many people have something which they incorporate as the center of their identity, be it their race, their ethnicity, their gender, their sexual proclivities, their religion, their choice of operating system, their athletic team, their place of origin, their family, their career, their hobby, and so forth. People who have convinced themselves that their very identity is tied first and foremost to one aspect of life have an incredibly strong, even visceral, reaction to anyone who expresses anything less than complete agreement with them. There is a term for this: zealotry. A zealot is unable to distinguish disagreement with their view from a personal attack or even hatred, as their very identity is melded with that for which they are zealous.

One of the most zealous sets of people we see today (at least in my myopic U.S.-centric personal experience) are homosexuals. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but my observation seems to be that this particular group of people has made homosexuality the defining feature of their life. As such, even minor disagreement with the idea that homosexuality is completely normal results in a strong adverse reaction and accusations of fear and hatred.

Personally I am saddened by this, that people have focused so strongly on one aspect of their identity so intensely that they view themselves first and foremost as that thing, rather than as a person, complete and whole. This is unhealthy, and when widespread (as we see today most strongly in both political zealotry and the zealotry of homosexuality) we end up with a fractious society that struggles to engage in a civil exchange of ideas, and at its worst can lead to quite literal violence and bloodshed.

about 9 months ago
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Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

Cyrano de Maniac Re:Is there an end to this? (352 comments)

I certainly hope not.

My sister's car was damaged when an SUV rear-ended me as I was stopped at a traffic light. The driver of the SUV did stop, but refused to identify herself and provide insurance information. I could tell by the driver's actions that she was about to flee, and quickly noted her license plate number, and sure enough she fled while I pleaded with her to reconsider what she was about to do.

It took about a month longer than it should have, but eventually the machinery of justice caught up with the driver, and my sister was made whole for her financial loss. If it hadn't been for a clear and visible license plate it is doubtful that any compensation would have ever been recovered.

about 9 months ago
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4K Is For Programmers

Cyrano de Maniac Re:39" display for workstations? (520 comments)

Good developers knows that displays should be limited to 80 columns by 24 rows. In extreme cases 132 columns can be used, but it tends to make users all huffy.

The choice of font can be left up to the user.

about a year ago
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Development To Begin Soon On New Star Control Game

Cyrano de Maniac Re:Liked SC1 better than SC2 (160 comments)

While overall I liked SC2 better than SC1, I too missed the strategy game aspect of SC1, for much the same reason -- it was a quick strategy game instead of a long RPG-like adventure. SC2's humor was spot-on, so that was a huge bonus.

I remember not having a code-wheel to use to start up SC1, but my college roommates and I knew that "PARTY" was one of the answers to the startup challenge screen, so whenever we'd want to play it was "cd \games\starcon", "starcon", followed by repetitions of "party", "party", "party", then F3, until the game let us in.

Also, the SC1 music emitted by the old Radio Shack "Game Blaster" was better than that from the Sound Blaster that I replaced it with -- I can still feel the melee music in my bones 23 years later.

about a year ago
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Elevation Plays a Role In Memory Error Rates

Cyrano de Maniac Re:Top of Rack Shields bottom of Rack from Radiati (190 comments)

I have no idea if that's enough shielding to matter. However, if true, would we also see higher error rates in daytime when the body of the Earth isn't standing between the server and the Sun?

1 year,27 days
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Monthly net electricity use in my household:

Cyrano de Maniac Surprising results (327 comments)

I looked back at my past year's worth of bills and saw that I used a total of 3648 kW-h. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, though each month my power company sends me a notice that states I'm using about 15-25% less energy than my energy efficient neighbors. I live alone in a house that's bigger than I need but not ludicrously so, and I don't tend to leave computers running. As 30-year old appliances fail I've been replacing them with more efficient models, and as they burn out I'm replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs (but dang, some of those daily-use incandescents are over 12 years old at this point, I'm beginning to think they'll never fail).

The big surprise for me, however, was my bill from last January; my electric energy use easily outstripped even my summertime air conditioning use, and was a fair bit higher than the months immediately before and after. The bill kindly informed me that the average temperature that month was 9 degrees colder than the year before, but I couldn't see that making such a huge difference. Could it be the air circulating fan in the furnace that I let run on low most hours of the day? Maybe, but why the anomalous month? I considered a incorrect meter reading, but realized that it's read remotely rather than by a guy walking around the neighborhood, and any mistake would have been offset the other direction the next month. Then I remembered.

For occasional use by my houseguests I have one of those oil-filled radiator-styled space heaters in my guest bedroom. I recall that sometime in that December-January timeframe the heater was used, and I forgot to check that it was turned off after a houseguest left. It sat there maintaining a comfy temperature in the otherwise unused bedroom for approximately a month before I happened to enter the room and noticed.

So now I know just what an energy pig that space heater is, and I'll be extra careful to check in on it after houseguests depart. Thanks Slashdot, you've probably saved me several tens of dollars over the next decade as I become more vigilant about the heater's use.

about a year ago
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Panasonic Announces an End To Plasma TVs In March

Cyrano de Maniac Re:Brighter whites? Really? (202 comments)

Sorry, I had LED's on the brain, but meant LCDs. If you would be so kind, please s/LED/LCD/g

about a year ago
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Panasonic Announces an End To Plasma TVs In March

Cyrano de Maniac Brighter whites? Really? (202 comments)

Am I the only one who doesn't want brighter whites, and would even go so far as to avoid them?

On my smartphone, computer monitors, laptops, and even my old CRT monitors and TV I keep the brightness turned down. When I have opportunity to see LED TVs at my parent's place or elsewhere they always seem eye-piercingly bright, to the point where I don't care to watch them. The same goes for any LED based TV in a store -- or basically anywhere. This was one of the main reasons I was looking forward to eventually purchasing a plasma TV (instead of an LED TV) to replace my CRT TV.

Truer whites I'm all for, but brighter whites do nothing at all for me.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Cross-Platform (Linux-Only) Audio Software?

Cyrano de Maniac Re:Tracktion (223 comments)

Thank you for mentioning this! I purchased Tracktion 3 for the Mac a number of years ago because its workflow and interface mapped better onto my brain than any alternative I could find (well, at least those I could demo for free, which was quite a few). However I was disappointed when Tracktion appeared to become an abandoned and unmaintained product, and it kept losing bits of usefulness with each OS X release. To be honest I'd given up on it and considered it to be lost money. But if it's back I'm *definitely* going in for the new version -- particularly as even the non-upgrade price is now around 20-25% of what I paid for the previous version (and an even better ratio on the upgrade price).

I initially looked at it for the purpose of MIDI sequencing, and that's what I based my purchase decision on. However I never used it for that purpose but instead have done a small number of multitracked board recordings from my live sound-guy gigs. Back before the bit-rot it did an absolute bang-up job for those projects.

But, anyway, given there's a new version and it would appear that active development has resumed, I'll definitely recommend checking it out. I mean, there's free demos for Windows, Mac, and Linux -- with certainly enough going on in the demo to determine whether it fits your style of operating and is worth purchasing.

Direct links: http://www.tracktion.com/ and http://www.tracktion.com/linux/

about a year ago
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US Government Shutdown Ends

Cyrano de Maniac Re:As the saying goes... (999 comments)

Nothing was lost? All the work that the government workers could have been doing during the shutdown was lost.

You mean all that work that was so important that it was deemed non-essential?

All the revenue from the National Parks were lost.

Which amounts to what, maybe a grand total of a couple million, nationwide? Maybe? The federal government burns through that in seconds.

Two weeks food inspections, drug inspections, VA claims processing were lost.

And yet safe food and drugs were still being produced, shipped, and sold. The lost value-add was... umm...? And a few VA claims are paid out to drug companies and the like about two weeks late -- yawn.

Worldwide confidence in the US and the US dollar was lost. US credit rating was compromised with the possibility of higher interest rates on new deficit.

Wake me up when people stop loaning the U.S. federal government money, charge it higher rates, or stop keeping their wealth in dollars. If anything those first two effects can't come soon enough, to put the brakes on the spending spree that's selling out of every taxpayer, particularly the younger ones who will labor under the burden of paying that debt for most of their life. I say throw the retiring Baby Boomers to the wolves -- they spent their trust fund on federal baubles for decades, and now it's time to pay the piper. That fable about the ant and the grasshopper has more than a little merit.

Scientific tests will have to be thrown out and restarted.

So this was all a job creation program for scientists, you're saying? After all, they can look forward to redoing all that work. Sounds just about as effective as the previous economic stimuli to me!

about a year ago
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US Government Shutdown Ends

Cyrano de Maniac As the saying goes... (999 comments)

And nothing of value was lost. Or gained.

about a year ago
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I typically visit a doctor (for medical reasons) ...

Cyrano de Maniac Re:I only go... (415 comments)

I used to do the same thing, due to most of the same reasoning. My thoughts had always run along the lines of "I'm have a pretty healthy and robust immune system, and I rarely get sick. It's no big deal if I catch a flu bug because I'll fight it off quick." Plus, it was just a hassle to go get vaccinated against the flu.

Then one year I picked up a nasty lingering cold, which of course there's not much I could do about other than treat symptoms. But it dawned on me partway through that if I were exposed to the flu while my system was already knocked down a few pegs by a cold or other infection, that I would be in a world of unnecessary self-inflicted hurt.

Since that time I've availed myself of flu vaccines. I really can't tell you if they've helped me avoid a bout of the flu, but I have recognized the trend of it being slightly harder to fight off colds and other infections as I age, so to me it seems to be a trivial and inexpensive betterment of the odds.

about a year ago
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How DirecTV Overhauled Its 800-Person IT Group With a Game

Cyrano de Maniac Re:that IT staff needed a union (85 comments)

as an union will not stand for BS like that.

You're completely correct. A union would demand entirely different BS, and make you pay them for the privilege of dealing with it.

about a year ago
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Yahoo! Sports Redesign Sparks Controversy, Disdain From Users

Cyrano de Maniac I'm gonna' cry (172 comments)

This makes me terribly sad.

There is no doubt in my mind that my father will be unable to cope with this change and be completely frustrated trying to run his fantasy football team this year. This of course means "support" calls to me, who has no interest in sports, fantasy or otherwise.

"Wait, wait," you exclaim, "the fantasy football section hasn't changed. Well, much, at least." Maybe, but my father has trouble with concepts like drag-and-drop, and is one of the stereotypical older users with whom you can expect to have this type of conversation: "Q: Which web browser are you using?" "A: Google. Or maybe Yahoo? You know, the usual one.", "Q: Sorry, which program do you use to go to Google, or Yahoo?" "A: The Internet". Coping with user interface changes is definitely not among his aptitudes, and this redesign is going to make for a long year of confusion and grumbling.

*sigh*

about a year ago
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Atari Facing $291 Million Debt Claim From... Atari

Cyrano de Maniac Yay for Star Control and Battlezone (121 comments)

I don't have much to add other than I'm hugely excited for both Star Control and Battlezone. SC1 and SC2 were bedrock mainstays of my college days, and the hover-tank Battlezone released in 1998 was phenomenal.

I've since moved on to play and enjoy The Ur-Quan Masters, but even shortly after SC2's heyday and before UQM was available, I remember paying for a legit download of the PC version of the game (late '98, early '99?). If we could get network mode Melee, I'd be tickled pink. If there were a persistent universe game (ala EVE) formed out of the Star Control franchise I'd lock myself away in a room and never see the light of day again.

However I've never found a comparable game to the '98 Battlezone. The gameplay was terrifically fun, fairly easy to get started, the copy protection was a reasonable compromise (need one disc present among all the computers playing on the LAN), and I cannot remember a single stability, usability, or gameplay bug. I could very much see wasting away many hours if that were updated and brought to market again.

about a year ago
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Former WaPo Staffer Rob Pegoraro Talks About Newspapers' Decline (Video)

Cyrano de Maniac Who's being interviewed? (79 comments)

Geez. Mr. Pegoraro barely gets a word in here and there. And on top of that the whole interview gets bogged down in uninteresting irrelevant crap about circumventing paywalls and AdBlock. What could have been an interesting interview with Mr. Pegoraro regarding the paper to phosphors transition of the news industry was squandered with Roblimo telling us how cool and smart he is.

I don't often complain about /., but this is the interview quality I'd expect coming from an average high school freshman. Completely not worth your time to watch.

about a year ago
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Math and Science Popular With Students Until They Realize They're Hard

Cyrano de Maniac Re: Real-world examples = stealth aircraft (580 comments)

I learned more about how fields and waves really worked from building antennas from the ARRL handbook, and rewinding bicycle generators than I did from those two courses.

Same here, effectively. However it was some IEEE journal, I believe, that finally helped me make sense of what antennas are really doing and the principles behind designing them to radiate effectively. I saved that journal, though it's stuffed away in a box somewhere, because I thought it is exactly the sort of thing which should be in an ARRL publication somewhere.

Just today, some 15 years after I finished my masters in EE, a coworker filled me in on the basics of how vacuum tubes work. It was almost intuitive once he described their structure, and suddenly the terms "collector" and "emitter" as applied to transistors make much more sense and are much easier to remember. Now granted, there's a widespread demand for engineers who are familiar with designing vacuum tube circuits these days so I can understand why the technology isn't taught, but I think a basic understanding of how they work would go a long way toward helping students understand the operation of transistors.

about a year and a half ago
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Math and Science Popular With Students Until They Realize They're Hard

Cyrano de Maniac Real-world examples, shaky foundations (580 comments)

While my intuition tells me that high school grads are, on the whole, not as well prepared as they should be, there is certainly some improvement that could be done at the college level.

One problem I faced on the path to my EE degree was that in mathematics classes and some engineering classes (particularly electromagnetic fields, communication systems theory, and stochastic signal analysis -- which of course are some of the most math/calculus heavy of the EE curriculum), was that I lacked an intellectual model of what the mathematics was accomplishing. While concepts like derivatives and integrals made a degree of sense because they could be related to velocity, acceleration, position, area, and volume, when I got to the point I was dealing with eigen-this and eigen-that and hermetian-something-or-others I had lost any real-world connection, and my understanding suffered as a result.

The most frustrating and poignant instance of this was the first day of my linear algebra class, which I was taking only as a pre-req for CS class on GUIs, which only needed it to the extent that rotation, translation, and scaling using matrices was involved, and I already knew that much. Anyway, the mathematics professor walks in and announces "I do not care, even one little bit, what this material is used for in the real world. I am here to instruct you in mathematics alone." I looked around the room. In a class of about 25, I believe there were 20 science/engineering students, 4 math students, and one photography major (she was one of those brilliant types who took upper level classes in sciences, math, philosophy, or anything else just for fun). I was somewhat incredulous at the professor's utter disregard for his students' background, abilities, and interests. And just as I expected the course was utterly miserable and tedious, and then there were the bad days.

I contrast that with the math classes I took for Calculus II-IV, and Numerical Systems Analysis. The professors (thank heavens I avoided graduate students) who taught those classes were totally on top of the situation, and made it very clear what we were trying to accomplish with real world examples, or at least didn't veer too incredibly far from intuitive models. I think it helped that in Calc II-IV I had the same professor all through, and he was teaching a pilot course that integrated calculators into the material, so there was a lot of approachable material throughout. This was a stark contrast from the previously mentioned Linear Algebra as well as the Differential Equations I courses.

To this day I hate Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, and I'm 100% convinced it's due to the terrible instructors I dealt with. Which is a shame, because I loved mathematics in high school, and would go beyond my coursework to explore what I could on my own without much additional help from my (incredible) high school teacher, and I had a blast doing it. If I hadn't developed a strong interest in aeronautics and computers I most likely would have pursued a math degree.

The biggest problem I faced throughout my mathematics education, as well as many engineering classes, is that as the course would progress it was building taller and taller upon a shaky foundation. While my arithmetic was bedrock, my algebra was concrete, and my trigonometry was 2x4 construction, the rest was a lot less solid. Calculus felt a lot like building with Tinker-toys, and by the time I got to anything past that it was toothpicks stuck together with Sticky-Tack. As more and more material was piled on top, a lot of it kept slipping off because the stuff underneath it was crumbling. I would have benefited greatly from either better construction (i.e. better instruction), or a lot more hands-on experience with those shaky bits such that they were strongly reinforced.

about a year and a half ago

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