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Spider Spins Electrically Charged Silk

Dogtanian Re:Softener (42 comments)

Never use a softener for towels. It makes them hydrophobic.

That's something I personally loathe; towels that are "lovely" and soft, but don't actually f****** get you dry!!. Thing is, it doesn't seem to be solely down to fabric softener (though that *is* a factor). A lot of new towels seem to be like that as well, softener-washed or not. Is it a coating, or is it what they're made of?

This is why I prefer cheaper and/or older towels- they do a good job of drying me when I come out of the shower. Sure, they feel a bit rougher, but I don't mind that. I'm not a masochist, but I've come to associate the "luxury" feel with towels that annoy me because they don't do what they're supposed to.

3 days ago
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YouTube Ditches Flash For HTML5 Video By Default

Dogtanian Re:Adobe (224 comments)

That paid for the FP engineering and QA team. The entire project was pretty much revenue neutral -- and the CC apps (like Flash Pro and DW) were the money makers in that department.

I wasn't suggesting that Adobe made big money off Player, but what you're saying misses the point. It's free because that way more- *far* more- end users will have it installed, meaning content creators are in turn far more likely to buy the paid apps to create Flash-based content than they would be otherwise.

In short, Player being free is a necessary (or at least incredibly beneficial) aspect of selling CC et al, and should be factored in as part of CC's development cost, not treated as something that has to "pay its own way".

The fact that they made money anyway by weaselling McAfee installs alongside it is beside the point.

3 days ago
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Adobe's Latest Zero-Day Exploit Repurposed, Targeting Adult Websites

Dogtanian Re:Something Suspicious (203 comments)

It's a problem born from software bloat. It was originally intended to be a means of drawing vector graphics and simple animations, but there was a void in functionality in the days before PCs were fast enough to handle Javascript (or even had browsers that could cope with the highly abstracted pages written now).

Did you mean Java or JavaScript (*)? JavaScript of the time (late 90s) was too simplistic to be usable for serious client-side apps on its own, but I don't think it was especially slow. It was Java that was just too heavyweight for PCs of the time to handle; (**) and I think that explains *why* Flash succeeded.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again- Flash basically snuck in via the back door to (eventually) end up filling almost the exact same role that Java Applets were supposed to meet (i.e. embedded rich software content running on the client PC via a web page) but never did.

Since- as you say- it started out as little more than a lightweight animation tool, it was probably closer to what PCs at the time could handle, and added capabilities (and "bloat") more closely aligned with PCs' increasing power. I don't believe it was ever originally intended to take on Java Applets, but inevitably moved into that role because of a void left by Java's failure to meet the hype.

(*) Two totally different languages and technologies intentionally confused by use of similar names
(**) A reply to my original comment also pointed out that MS tried- and possibly did- kill off client-side Java through intentional cultivation of incompatibility in their own version. In case we'd forgotten how evil they were, given the opportunity.

3 days ago
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YouTube Ditches Flash For HTML5 Video By Default

Dogtanian Re:Adobe (224 comments)

Adobe never made money off Flash Player - they made money from popular content creation tools which can now export to HTML5

Mainly correct, and worth pointing out. That said, I'm sure they made quite a few quid through their tie-up with McAfee, weaselling their trial crapware onto people's systems with that oh-so-generous prechecked "yes" box on the Flash Player installer.

4 days ago
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"Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Dogtanian Re:This is far too easy (397 comments)

NYC got only a few inches

That's what she said. "Is that it?" "Have you started yet?"

Like a lot of New Yorkers, she's all mouth now it's turned out to be quite non-threatening, but she'd have panicked if it turned out to be the expected 24 to 36 inches. ;-O

5 days ago
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"Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Dogtanian Re:I am pissed off at the media over exaggeration! (397 comments)

What I would like to have seen.
Estimated snow fall ranges.
Average expected snow fall to get
Standard Deviation of your estimate.
Confidence interval.
Burma Shave.

5 days ago
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Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11

Dogtanian Re:We still have (65 comments)

Sharper Image went bankrupt in 2008, and it's now just a licensed brand name, same as Kodak and Polaroid.

Unlike Polaroid, Kodak is still (the original) Kodak. They might be relying more and more on whoring their name out, but it's still the same company, and they're still (e.g.) making film et al. I already posted a more detailed response on this subject to someone who said almost exactly the same thing.

about a week ago
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Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11

Dogtanian Re:Or: (65 comments)

What is not being widely reported is that Xhibit Corp sold the customer loyalty fulfillment part of the business last year for around $20 million. This was the unit that apparently generated the vast majority of the revenue and probably all the profit. Why would a firm who expected to stay solvent sell of the unit that generated most of the revenue, a unit with guaranteed sales?

It really seems like a scam to create liquidity of the profitable assets and then screw the creditors.

Hmm. Where have I heard *that* countless times before?

(Opens Wikipedia article on the company, does text search for "private equity"...)

In 2012, SkyMall was purchased by Najafi Companies, the largest private equity firm in Arizona. In January 2015 the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

What a surprise.

about a week ago
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Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing

Dogtanian Re:Surprised it didn't happen sooner (314 comments)

First off, that wasn't an apology for Radio Shack's problems, nor an attempt to say that they were blameless. From what I've read (*), the company quite clearly *has* been obviously mismanaged and directionless for a long time now, and would probably have gone under on that basis.

What I'm criticising with respect to Radio Shack- or rather with the market's use of it- is a problem with derivatives in general. It's the fact that they've become detached from the business processes that they were meant to relate to (and serve), and have become the driving force in their own right, a massively overgrown tail wagging a tiny (and irrelevant) dog.

The point is that the people on either side aren't interested in Radio Shack per se, they're interested in exploiting and using insurance policies- in effect, derivatives here- taken out against Radio Shack, bundled up, passed around and abstracted away from the business itself. And, on the opposite side, the interests of the insurance company (e.g.) in insuring against a payout, in effect a derivative in itself.

Radio Shack is still "important" in the way that the ball is important in a football game.

None of this excuses Radio Shack's own failings, in fact it says nothing about that either way. What it *was* an attack on is the financial markets creating derivatives of derivatives of derivatives that are so far detached from their original purpose as to be irrelevant. Until- as in 2008- the "real life" issues (e.g. the housing market) hidden away hit the fan and cause masses more damage thanks to the multiplying effect of derivatives, or the other way around, i.e. the use of derivatives as a plaything causes damage to the real world entity.

(*) I live in the UK, where all the Tandy stores (i.e. Radio Shack) were sold off to a mobile phone retailer around 15 years ago.

about two weeks ago
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Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing

Dogtanian Re:No insider trading there.... (314 comments)

No insider trading there.... It was a coincidence that the stock price tanked...

I already commented elsewhere that Tandy had become little more than the football in a game of derivatives, credit default swaps, et al.

It's clear that no-one involved on either side of that cares about the business itself, beyond it being a means to an end. Nor would they have any qualms about tanking it if they were on the side that stood to benefit from such a move. Whether this would result from what would technically be called "insider trading" is relevant only in a legal sense; it's clear that a market which operates in such a way is inherently rotten, regardless.

about two weeks ago
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Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing

Dogtanian Re:Surprised it didn't happen sooner (314 comments)

Another article which basically explains that Radio Shack's primary function is now ultimately as little more than the ball itself in a game of derivatives and credit default swaps that- as often happens- has veered far from any legitimate use of them, or having much to do with the company per se, and into borderline legalised gambling of the type that hit the fan in 2008.

As I said, Radio Shack is the ball in this; nominally the raison d'etre, but really just a means to an end of little importance in itself, like a £50 football being used in a game between Manchester United and Chelsea, players costing millions competing on behalf of clubs worth the better part of a billion each.

about two weeks ago
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Nuclear Waste Accident Costs Los Alamos Contractor $57 Million

Dogtanian Kitty Litter Nuclear Explosion (166 comments)

Haven't read all the linked articles through yet, but it's been mentioned in the past- and again in the articles- that one of the reasons for the explosion may have been the use of organic-based kitty litter(!) reacting badly with the materials being disposed of, and that the inorganic version should have been used.

One version I heard was that they changed the kitty litter formulation; this version suggests that they bought organic instead of inorganic kitty litter because of a typo.

Now, there's nothing wrong with using what amounts to kitty litter to do whatever it was being used for. If that does the job, fine.

But whichever of the cases described was true, a problem is that if the stuff they're buying is intended and sold as kitty litter, it's quite possible that the makers may feel at liberty to change the formulation in a way that doesn't effect its use as kitty litter, but massive alters its safety as a "nuclear waste disposal material".

If having organic matter in your kitty litter could inadvertantly turn the nuclear material into a form of radioactive explosive, then you should be damn sure that you're getting the inorganic formulation from a supplier that can guarantee that this is what you're getting. It won't be called "kitty litter" even if that's what- in effect- it is, and it'll probably cost a lot more, but the supplier will (or should be) in the s*** if they supply the wrong type, whereas are Los Alamos going to sue "Pets R Us" for causing a nuclear explosion even if they *did* inadvertantly put organic in an inorganic bag, or change the formulation with insufficient notice (or whatever)?

So this is why (e.g.) the military (for example) might pay a lot more for a given item than you or I might pay over the counter. That, and the fact that they're probably diverting the money to some dubious black ops...!

about three weeks ago
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Netflix Begins Blocking Users Who Bypass Region Locks

Dogtanian Re:"We've reached out to Netflix" (121 comments)

Sorry, but if that's what it's meant to mean, it's a pretty opaque and obnoxiously PR-ish choice of words. Whether or not it's come (or is coming) into common currency doesn't change the fact that it's recent enough that most people using it probably chose to do so, or did so under the influence of too much PR bullshit.

There may be a case for a short and snappy phrase intended to concisely convey the meaning you describe, but f*****g "reaching out" sure as hell aren't the words I'd have chosen to do so.

about a month ago
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Netflix Begins Blocking Users Who Bypass Region Locks

Dogtanian "We've reached out to Netflix" (121 comments)

We've reached out to Netflix to verify what it's doing

Urgh... this makes me think of that famous bash.org quote. Seriously, why the **** are Engadget using this obnoxious phrase instead of simply saying "we've contacted Netflix" or something similar?

It's the current favoured stock weasel-worded pseudo-touchy-feely (but in fact, insultingly off-the-shelf) bullshit phrase corporate PR use to sound like they *suddenly* give a f*** about a pissed-off customer they're having to contact, er... "reach out to" in response to some massive PR disaster they didn't expect.

But why would a "proper" news source feel the need to use the same irritating phrase when *they're* not the putative offending party on the defensive, but rather the people investigating the problem?

Unless this is an example of the phrase "if you lie down with dogs [i.e. hang around too many PR weasels], you get up with fleas".

about a month ago
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What Isn't There an App For?

Dogtanian About the only case I can guarantee... (421 comments)

If someone can create an app that itself accurately determines whether any given app will terminate (or not) for any given input... I'll be more than impressed.

Other than that, I think every damn app possible has already been written. :-)

about a month ago
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Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit For Shrinking Storage Space In iOS 8

Dogtanian Re:MicroSD card? (325 comments)

Similarly when Apple got rid of the floppy drive [..] there were adapters available for the (very) few people who actually needed them, and in all cases despite the massive FUD being produced everything worked just fine.

Given that almost every first-generation iMac I saw had an external floppy drive attached anyway, it suggests that "the very few people who actually needed" floppy drives when Apple dropped them (circa 1998) was "just about everyone" and that Apple jumped the gun.

This is hardly surprising. The intended use of the Internet to transfer files wasn't a sufficient replacement as- back then- not everyone had Internet connectivity and those that did were mostly on dial-up. The optical drive was only a reader, presumably due to the fact that back then writers were getting cheaper but still nowhere near cheap enough to be added to all lower end models without significantly increasing the price. And USB flash drives wouldn't get "no brainer" cheap for another several years.

So, no. The much vaunted "Apple showed their foresight by ditching floppies" was a red herring if everyone needed to rush out and hang an external drive off the USB port anyway.

about a month ago
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Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

Dogtanian Re:All the Cherry info you'd ever want... (190 comments)

Even the IBM Model M keyboard switches had more resistance if memory serves correctly

I can quite believe that; from my (brief) memories of the Model M, the resistance was noticable (and disconcerting in its positioning) for me anyway.

I suspect that if- like you- one learned to type on a mechanical typewriter, the Model M will feel better and more natural. I didn't, and that's possibly why I didn't like it (and- I suspect- most people used to lighter computer keyboards probably won't like it either).

about a month ago
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Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

Dogtanian Re:Programming keyboard (190 comments)

As a software developer, I have to admit I avoid mechanical keyboards like the plague, they require more force to type, they're louder (a really BAD thing when you're blazing out code), they take more time to press and debounce, and they cost ~600% more than a scissor switch keyboard (that has none of those problems if you have a typical 2mm travel vector on your keys, 200% less than most mechanical keyboards).

Speaking as someone who *does* own (and am typing this on) a mechanical keyboard, I'll still say that membrane keyboards get unfairly disparaged, and that some are very nice to type on.

Some (emphasis "some") of the cheapest models are ******* horrible, true, but the one I have at work is actually pretty good even though that itself is a cheap one.

The best membrane keyboards I've used are miles better than the worst mechanical ones. And the scissor/membrane job on my old Compaq Armada laptop had a very pleasant, low-travel feel to them.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of it's what you're used to.

about a month ago
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Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

Dogtanian All the Cherry info you'd ever want... (190 comments)

I forget the brand name of my keyboard, but I sprang for a cheap one with Cherry MX Black switches.

The mechanical keyboard I bought almost ten years ago has Cherry MX Black switches apparently. It's certainly lasted, but although I'm still using it to type this message on, I've always felt that the spring resistance was just a *little* too stiff to be truly pleasurable to touch-type on. (Something I've since read elsewhere).

The Cherry MX Red has the same "linear" key action I bought the Black-based keyboard for, but with less resistance, and having used a Red-based keyboard, it's closer to what I had in mind when I bought the Black one (mail order). Mind you, the Red switches apparently weren't around back then anyway.

Cherry MX Reds are supposedly too sensitive for touch-typing, and intended for gaming keyboards, but I (as a non-gamer) am still considering buying one.

Of course, all the above is a matter of personal preference; if possible, you should always try out a mechanical keyboard- or at least one based on the same technology- if the feel of it is important. (And you probably wouldn't be bothering to buy a mechanical one if it wasn't!)

FWIW, while I was researching new keyboards a couple of months back, I came across these, both of which are useful in explaining the different types of Cherry switch:-

An introduction to Cherry MX mechanical switches

Cherry MX overview

Note that these colour codings only apply to official Cherry switches, not unofficial clones derived from their patent-expired design. For example, Razer commissioned a custom "green" switch from another manufacturer, which is apparently similar to the official Cherry MX Blue (rather than the Cherry MX Green).

about a month ago
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Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

Dogtanian Re:There is only one.... Model M (190 comments)

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but Model Ms- and the "clicky" style mechanism aren't the be all and end all of mechanical keyboards, and I'm sure that the endless raving about them is due to the fact that the people who *do* like them seem to be disproportionately vocal about it! As I commented a couple of months back:-

I briefly used what I realise (in retrospect) was a Model M keyboard at a job I had in the late-90s. At the time I found the fact the resistance was half way down and very obviously "click switchy" (i.e. requires relatively high amount of pressure to get through, then suddenly breaks) to be strange and unnatural. I'm no millennial membrane-weaned weenie; I'd been using computers since the 80s, most of which had mechanical keyboards back then, and while some had been mediocre, some I really liked. They all went "tap" at the bottom, unlike this weird and unsatisfactory action. I have to say that Model M did nothing for me, and I'd no desire to return to it.

When I bought a Cherry mechanical keyboard for myself, I intentionally avoided the ones with the Model M style force gradients in favour of the ones that go "tap" at the bottom.

I've said it before here, and I'll say it again- the people who like Model Ms seem to *really* like them, but I'm convinced that the majority of people who didn't grow up using that keyboard or anything like it would- at best- find it an acquired taste, and probably be happier with one of the better membrane jobs (sacrilege!) or a mechanical keyboard with a more regular action.

I also think that membrane keyboards nowadays aren't that bad. Maybe I'm just used to them, but while I've come across some truly horrible examples at the dirt-cheap end, I've also come across some that were quite pleasant to use (and oddly, were also dirt-cheap models). Still not quite as good as the best- in my judgement- mechanical keyboards, but much better than the mechanical keyboards on some 80s home computers.

Anyway, back to the Model M. Yes, it feels "expensive" and "well made" in that it's obviously mechanical, and heavy, but that doesn't make it that great to type on IMHO (any more than I'm going to deny that my membrane keyboard at work is okay, simply because it's cheap). Some people think they're really great, and that's fine, they're entitled to their opinion. However, given that the borderline fetishisation from a disproportionately vocal number of fanboys might give others the impression the Model M was the be all and end all, I'm quite happy in balancing things out by saying I don't think they were all that, to be honest.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Low-tech, out-of-date... is this Japan?

Dogtanian Dogtanian writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Dogtanian (588974) writes "Japan is often seen as the archetypal high-tech society, years ahead of the rest of the world and the first to adopt innovative new technology with gusto. Yet while every good Japanophile knows how this facade hides a very traditional and conservative society with roots going back centuries, it's less well known that this ultra-modern image also hides the fact that many aspects of Japan are far from high-tech- quite the opposite. Police stations with no computers, ancient tape-based answering machines, antiquated heating... and a very real danger that they've already missed the boat in several important technological areas. Is this really the same country as the Blade Runner-esque tech utopia of geek lore?"
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NASA Uncovers the Original Moon Landing Tapes

Dogtanian Dogtanian writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dogtanian (588974) writes "Having been missing for almost forty years, the original video footage from the original 1969 moon landings has been uncovered, promising much higher quality images of the event. The low-quality, grainy images we're all used to were converted to NTSC, compressed for relay to the US, then archived by pointing a 16mm film camera at a monitor. Although the technology now exists to view the slow-scan source transmissions in much higher quality, unbelievably the tapes with the original recordings were misplaced and lost until recently. NASA was apparently hoping to keep a lid on this for the 40th anniversary, but I'm very happy to have heard about this sooner. [Note to editors: IIRC you might have covered the loss of the tapes previously]"
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