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AT&T Introduces "Sponsored Data" Allowing Services to Bypass 4G Data Caps

Digicrat Net Neutrality: RIP (229 comments)

So, 2014 is to be the year the concept of Net Neutrality is officialy dead and buried. A sad time for the net indeed.

about 7 months ago
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New York Subpoenaed AirBnb For All NYC User Data

Digicrat Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (181 comments)

There's also a large number of NYers who want their own place but can't find anything affordable. I'm guessing some of those making more money in AirBnb than with legitimate rentals (or re-rentals) may be subject to rent control laws intended to keep prices affordable for tenants.

The city has a housing problem, AirBnb is just one example of its effect. Hotels in the city are (mostly) outrageously priced, as are residential apartments/condos. Nobody can live by themselves in the city unless their (a) loaded or (b) are actually sharing a place with one or more roommates.

I moved out of the city after College, and bought my own house a few years later. If I was still in the city, assuming I was making a similar salary, I'd at best be able to afford a tiny studio apartment. Not one of my friends (who make significantly less than I do) still in the city in comparison have their own place, and for the most part still live at home with their parents. Apparently, NYC is one of the only parts of the country where this is normal today, and that's primarily because its generally the only economical option.

I like the idea of AirBnb, and it's a great service for small towns. For NYC however, there are far bigger problems that require regulation to prevent a service like this from exacerbating the housing situation (not to mention ensuring safety).

about 10 months ago
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Are Shuttered Gov't Sites Actually Saving Money?

Digicrat Re:"Financial Sense" (668 comments)

I agree that our system is broken, but not necessarily for the reasons you state.

The President does not 'oversee' Congress -- Congress, the Executive, and the Judicial are separate, independent branches of our government. This ensures, among other things, that even if Congress is deadlocked (as it is now), we can't have a situation where there is no government -- like happened in certain European countries recently where they couldn't form a government for months. Of course, that's not to say that guarantees we have a functional government (outside of military)...

The real problem with Congress, particularly in the House, is the two-party system and archaic rules that allow a minority of representatives to block any action even when the other party has sufficient votes to pass a measure.

A primary reason for the two-party system is because of the (gerrymandered) way that all of our representatives are elected from fixed all-or-nothing districts. If multiple seats were elected at once in overlapping districts, with a ranked voting system as seen in parliamentary governments, third parties would have a viable chance of getting elected and disrupting the duopoly.

about 10 months ago
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SSD Failure Temporarily Halts Linux 3.12 Kernel Work

Digicrat Re:Next project - backups! (552 comments)

Or perhaps he'll enhance GIT with a way to automatically sync/push working changes to a remote 'backup' repository or temporary/private branch.

From the description, it sounds like he was in the midst of a large merge. So of course everything on his system is version controlled ... the changes just haven't been committed yet.

about a year ago
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The College-Loan Scandal

Digicrat Re:at some point... (827 comments)

That used to be the same here. My Dad attended Brooklyn College back in the day when it was free, and was there when they first started charging a minimal (a few dollars) fee. Tuition has climbed steadily (perhaps exponentially?) since. The reason has little to do with inflation or rising costs of education, but almost entirely due to shrinking state budgets and large state (and national) budget deficits. If it wasn't for good planning on CUNY's part, there was one year when I was in college where tuition would have nearly doubled when the state needed to makeup for a budget shortfall and the college had to dip into its reserves.

It's still possible to get through college without debt (I did), but only if you (or your parents rather) are in a particular financial situation. In other words, your parents are either loaded and can pay cash, or have a low enough income (or were retired in my case) that financial aid kicks in >90% of the costs when you go to a 'reasonably' priced city or state school.

The vast majority of students are out of luck though. Their parents make enough money that they can't qualify for financial aid, but not enough to actually pay for the schooling. The result is small to moderate college debts for local/public colleges, or exorbitant debts if the kid goes to a private school.

about a year ago
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Using Laptop To Take Notes Lowers Grades

Digicrat Re:So basically surfing net while taking notes (313 comments)

It all depends on the student, and the class. In my undergrad days, I took notes exclusively on the computer (once I got it sophomore year). In some classes, I would be typing full speed and able to get down everything the professor said nearly word for word. Of course, not only did I type 90+ WPM in those days, but my handwriting has always been such that if I take notes by hand I always have trouble reading it later...

In other classes (mostly basic CS classes), I would type out what they wrote out on the board, or the important things they said, and then spend >90% of the class reading Yahoo! News. Those were the classes that I had both the best notes of the class, and the best grades. Of course, if it wasn't for Yahoo News!, I would have slept/dosed-off through the 10% of lecture that actually contained new and useful information . . .

Now, taking notes on the PC in Math/Science classes where it's difficult to type formulas is a whole other game ... and those were the cases I always reverted to pen and paper.

about a year ago
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PIN-Cracking Robot To Be Showed Off At Defcon

Digicrat Re:lock out? (114 comments)

This just follows with the obvious: Once somebody has physical access to your device, it will be compromised sooner or later.

If you're really paranoid, you can set an Android phone (at least if it's rooted) to wipe the phone after some number of failed unlock attempts using a program such as DelayedLock.

1 year,8 days
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Slashdot Asks: How Will You Replace Google Reader?

Digicrat Re:Sod google reader (335 comments)

I'm going to miss igoogle :(

+1. iGoogle is/was a great homepage.

I've got a list of alternatives to iGoogle somewhere (there are 3-4 that look decent), but I've yet to spend the time to actually look at any of them.

about a year ago
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How Netflix Eats the Internet

Digicrat Re:Still not good enough for me. (303 comments)

I love how the cable companies (ie:Comcast) can call me up offering me a Cable/Internet package for $70/month, only $5 more than what I nominally pay for Internet only ... but flat out refuse to tell me what the actual cost would be after taxes/fees (I was literally told that I should sign up and can cancel it after the first month if I don't like what the taxes are). I'd gladly pay an extra $5-10/mo for full cable TV access ... but in reality it's more like 20-40 after taxes and fees (which largely don't apply to Internet-only service). /rant

And those are additional reasons why Netflix+Antenna+MythTV > Cable TV

about a year ago
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WebKit Developers Discuss Removal of Google-Specific Code

Digicrat Re:Clean It Up Boys (92 comments)

That still doesn't preclude sharing on equal terms, at least until the two projects diverge enough to make that impractical.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Best To Set Up a Parent's PC?

Digicrat Re:Easy (418 comments)

I second logmein free edition. I have it set up on literally half a dozen or more family computers, evenly split between XP, Vista and Win7. This is by far the easiest way to fix 90% of issues. The rest of the time the answer is normally to instruct them over the phone to reset the modem and/or router to fix connection issues.

You do have to tailor your usage to the family member. If they are completely computer illiterate, then setting up a separate non-administrator account is a good thing. Otherwise, particularly with Vista and later, just teach them to always say 'no' to the access control popups unless they check with you first. If you teach them safe habits, it'll be better for everyone.

For AOL, start by showing them how to use http://aol.com/ instead of the AOL software by making that the homepage on Chrome or FF. Also, try to make that icon more prevalent than the AOL software. If they don't learn, tell them that AOL software no longer exists when your finally able to get them a new computer. I've done this for 3 people already - it's not a lie if you didn't bother to check if AOL software still exists ;-)

As for other suggestions on here about Linux, that's a mixed bag. I successfully transitioned my Dad from XP to Linux for about a year or two when I cleaned his old computer. For his basic usage (email, movie listings, weather reports), it was more than adequate. The only issue I had was one exasperating series of tech support sessions with Verizon when he switched ISPs and they insisted they didn't support Linux on a 3-way conference call...eventually I got them to believe me that the modem was broken after looking up the manual and finding the non-Windows-CD configuration page...

Eventually he switched back to Windows when the computer died and he wanted something that could support certain Windows-only software. He knows not to install anything on the computer, and also tends to say no to all popups (good and bad), so I just have to explicitly run updates periodically.

about a year ago
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Is the Wii U Already Dead?

Digicrat Late to the game (403 comments)

Nintendo should have released the Wii U 1-2 years ago when the Wii was just starting to decline. At that time, it would have been a perfect mid-generation console upgrade adding HD support, competing with the Kinect/PS-Move, and riding the general buzz of the time while giving it the power-boost needed to compete with traditional games on the other consoles.

Now it's simply too little too late, particularly at their given prices. Once the PS4 and Xbox720 are released Nintendo will be back to being the underpowered also-run of the next generation.

I've always been a fan of Nintendo, but it's been hard to find much compelling in recent years. Owning a PS3 and 360, the WiiU has no interest for me today ... though the idea of a no-TV play mode would have been a killer feature if I was still a teenager living at home.

about a year and a half ago
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Texas High School Student Loses Lawsuit Challenging RFID Tracking Requirement

Digicrat Re:Battery? (412 comments)

School funds are typically tied directly to daily student attendance. If they expect the RFID system to give them more revenues, then they somehow believe it will be more accurate than traditional roll-calls -- or at least give them more false positives.

about a year and a half ago
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Is It Time For the US To Ditch the Dollar Bill?

Digicrat Re:Keep the $1 and get rid of the coins (943 comments)

I would rather keep the $1 bill and get rid of all the coins. Put an end to all the $0.99 nonsense pricing and make taxes/tips easier to calculate. I don't even mind if they make it so all sales taxes round up to the nearest dollar. I'm tired of trying to find an efficient way to store and, later, spend coins. They weigh my pants down and cause the pockets to wear out sooner.

+1

I've visited Europe a few times in the past few years, and in each case I find it a royal pain to figure out how to carry/sort the Euro Coins for small purchases. Carrying a coin pouch has been common in the past, but why should we revert to that today when bills are so much lighter? Then again, a cashless society would be even more efficient.

An ideal system in my head would be:
- Coins relegated to collectible souvenirs
- Add a half-dollar bill, and round all transactions to the nearest half-dollar (digital and physical for fairness)
- For the blind, consider giving each bill a slightly different size (Euro-style), or even better, texture.
- Use Tax Incentives/Banking regulation to accelerate the move to a primarily cashless society. Eventually, bills will only be used for small off-the-record transactions, kids allowances, senior citizens, and (maybe) tourists.
- Simplify electronic banking - specifically person-to-person transfers, including guaranteeing access to anonymous prepaid accounts (freedom of money = freedom of speech), and usage of cash will eventually disappear altogether.

about a year and a half ago
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FCC To Allow Cable Companies To Encrypt Over-the-Air Channels

Digicrat Re:Two points (376 comments)

That reminds me of once when I had a cheap antenna that only let me receive a handful of channels. One day I was cleaning up and forgot to reconnect the antenna, leading to the realization that the unconnected wire was just as effective as the antenna was! Suffice it to say, the next day I bought a new RS Flying Saucer antenna which worked well ... until I moved, and now need something better.

I have Comcast Internet, and typically I'm able to get half the broadcast channels via QAM, and the other half via OTA. Between them, I'm able to pick up most of the local stations ... and somehow there is little overlap between the two. If this change goes through, that will just add incentive for me to get a better antenna.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Distros Have You Used, In What Order?

Digicrat Desktop,Laptop,Router,Phone, and LiveCDs (867 comments)

Desktop: Fedora (FC3 for a few months) -> Gentoo (~8 years until the MoBo died) => Ubuntu (due to lack of time) -> Debian (you know why) -> TBD
Laptop: Ubuntu -> Netbuntu -> Debian
LiveCDs: Knoppix (universal repair kit), Backtrack (cyber security training), and Networking Security Toolkit (network troubleshooting)
Router: OpenWRT

Android would also count - particularly if I ever take advantage of the Webtop mode on my Atrix to act as a full Linux environment.

about 2 years ago
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NASA Considers Apollo-Era F1 Engine For Space Launch System

Digicrat Re:Seems like a tremendous waste (197 comments)

Actually, the original building at Cape Canaveral in which the Saturn V was assembled was repurposed for the space shuttle (which took up a fraction of the space.) It can easily be repurposed again.

FTFY. Each stage of the Saturn V was built and tested elsewhere before being shipped to Kennedy for final assembly.

about 2 years ago
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Why Ultra-Efficient 4,000 mph Vacuum-Tube Trains Aren't Being Built

Digicrat Re:Simple (625 comments)

Airlocks? Docking a train in a near-vacuum tunnel to a station has to be considerably easier than docking two spacecraft in a vacuum.

about 2 years ago
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After Recent US Storms, Why Are Millions Still Without Power?

Digicrat Re:Dilapidated infrastructure? (813 comments)

I suspect inertia has a lot to do with it. The northeast US was probably among the first, if not the first, major region in the world to have a 'modern' electric distribution system. As a result, there is likely a strong sense of the power lines have always been on utility poles, so they always should be.

Newer phone/cable/fios lines are buried because the public doesn't want more lines on poles, those companies want to ensure lower operating costs/higher-reliability, and, most importantly, I'm sure that burying low-voltage phone and fiber optic cables is a LOT safer, and therefore cheaper, than attempting to do the same for existing high-voltage power transmission lines which would have to be buried even deeper. If somebody accidentally cuts a fiber, some people lose service. If the same happens to a buried power line, somebody gets electrocuted.

about 2 years ago

Submissions

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Olympics Free Online Streaming -- only if you pay for TV

Digicrat Digicrat writes  |  about 2 years ago

Digicrat (973598) writes ""First, the good news: It's finally possible to stream any Olympic event live online, on a tablet or from your smartphone. [...] The bad news is that anyone in the U.S. who wants to enjoy live streaming of the games needs to have a current cable, satellite or telco TV subscription that includes MSNBC and CNBC (for some areas this may mean be more than just basic cable)."

NBC apparently considers the Olympics live streaming a premium event those of us that have cut the cable cord are not fit to see, despite advertising "free online streaming," and including advertisements alongside the streams.

It is sad that paying for the privilege to watch programs with advertisements has become an accepted standard."

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