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Comments

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Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

Ender_Stonebender For today, yes; in the future, mostly no. (252 comments)

Smartphones are very good currently. Within the next year or two, I think they'll have mostly caught up with desktop PCs for casual and office-type tasks. So currently specs MOSTLY matter if you're a hardcore phone gamer, doing something like running a bitcoin miner on your phone, or are WAY behind the curve (like me). But in the reasonably near future, there are only going to be a couple of specs that matter: How fast is the mobile connection? How long does the battery last? How big is the screen?

about a week ago
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Mozilla Ponders Major Firefox UI Refresh

Ender_Stonebender Re:No. Please Stop (282 comments)

I'd have modded you up if you weren't already at +5. This echoes my own feelings on the subject quite eloquently, although I have owned a smartphone, and browsed on it. IMO, the ONLY reason to browse on a smartphone is that you don't have a desktop available - it's a terrible experience all around; I'm glad that developers are trying to get all the functionality they can into mobile browsers, but when you throw a current mobile browser against a web site that's designed for a desktop PC, which have the ability to make changes to the page on the "mouseover" event, usually a lot more processing power, and a far wider range of available plug-ins for browsers....it's seems likely to utterly fail, not because it's not a good for mobile, but because it's not a good for desktop.

I can see some purpose to HAVING a mobile interface...but mobile is SUCH a different environment from desktop that it deserves to have a totally separate UI. A mobile UI might also be worth copying for, say, an Android-on-a-TV type device that use Wiimote style pointer for input...but is definitely NOT worth copying for the desktop space, where a mouse and keyboard are the expected interface devices.

more than 2 years ago
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Is Poor Numeracy Ruining Lives?

Ender_Stonebender Re:Natural Selection at work (489 comments)

You don't understand how natural selection or evolution work, do you? The innumerate are winning at the natural selection game because they can't figure out how bad having another kid is going to be for them financially. And the "survival of the fittest" doesn't imply fittest for anything but producing lots of offspring. (Of course, this is self-limiting, since this planet has a finite carrying capacity, and the innumerate are incapable of running a space program...)

more than 2 years ago
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BigDog Robot Gets Much Bigger

Ender_Stonebender Do you ever wonder... (158 comments)

Do you ever wonder if it would be cheaper and easier just to go back to using horses? I mean, we've been breeding them for hundreds of years...and I'm sure we could make some Kevlar-and-ceramic armor for them to protect them from bullets and shrapnel...

I suppose the advantage is that robots don't need to trained not to panic in the middle of battle. But I still wonder if chasing a technological solution is the wrong path.

more than 2 years ago
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iOS Vs. Android: Which Has the Crashiest Apps?

Ender_Stonebender For those interested... (358 comments)

I was bored this morning, so for those interested, since the article makes it hard to extract this information:

All iOS versions total 84.36% of crashes; all Android versions total 15.49% of crashes. The worst offenders for iOS are version 5.0.1 at 28.64% and 4.2.10 at 12.64% (with seven other version listed at above 1% of crashes). The worst offenders for Android are versions 2.3.3 at 3.86% and 2.3.4 at 3.65%, with 4 other versions listed at above 1%.

more than 2 years ago
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Pixel Qi Screens are for Laptops and Tablets, Not Just OLPC (Video)

Ender_Stonebender Re:What am I missing? (82 comments)

I wonder that, too. Seems like they'd be perfect for things that regularly get used outdoors in bright sunlight - like cell phones. Last I look, Pixel Qi wasn't offering a screen that was suitable for use in cell phone.

more than 2 years ago
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Pixel Qi Demos 10" 1280x800 Pixel Screens

Ender_Stonebender Re:Dear PixelQi: (74 comments)

Heh. Just re-read that and realized it should have said "to use a smartphone outside than there is to use a laptop". It's late and I've been up since 5AM local time.

more than 3 years ago
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Pixel Qi Demos 10" 1280x800 Pixel Screens

Ender_Stonebender Dear PixelQi: (74 comments)

Dear PixelQi guys:

Please make a screen suitable for smartphones. There is a lot more need to use a smartphone than there is to use a laptop, as you can't control when you get incoming calls.

Thanks,
Ender Stonebender

more than 3 years ago
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Pixel Qi Demos 10" 1280x800 Pixel Screens

Ender_Stonebender Re:Forget the display technology (74 comments)

I agree. 16:10 is slightly better, but not much. I'd love to get a massive 4:3 monitor. 2048x1536 monitors exist, but they're "medical grade" and cost like it.

more than 3 years ago
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Swiped Tokens Expose Android Devices To Data Theft

Ender_Stonebender Re:Cloud and Google (162 comments)

You bought a tablet at a price point where you could expect a dog's breakfast, and you're surprised that you got one? I fail to understand what you think is wrong with the world here. There are always going to be hardware makers that are willing to put out shoddy (and possibly knock-off) products at super-discount prices.

I suspect that you bought the tablet on the self-fulfilling prophecy "Android is terrible, even this cheap tablet can't do anything properly!" Next time, either spend 10 minutes playing with the device in the store, or spend enough money to get a product that goes through proper quality assurance (both hardware and software).

I've had an Android phone for most of year now - never had a problem with it until I loaded CyanogenMod, and even the one problem I have had is relatively minor and easily worked around.

more than 3 years ago
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Ubuntu Switches To OpenStack For Cloud

Ender_Stonebender Re:Is it good enough? (55 comments)

"Cloud computing" is this decade's "The Network Is the Computer". (Remember that?) It got slightly more traction because the network has actually considerably improved since the late 1990s, but the problems are essentially the same. I suspect we'll get another round of this bullshit, under a new name, sometime around 2024.

more than 3 years ago
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How many microprocessors are in your home, total?

Ender_Stonebender Re:more than 20 is too many? (559 comments)

Then you get into another definition of how to define "working computer". My cable is also a DVR, and has a function that lets my pay my cable bill, so it's obviously got some fairly capable hardware - but it doesn't let me browse the internet or write programs to run on it's hardware, so is it a "working computer"? What about my learning remote with LCD screen and macro functions? That's got some limited programmability, so is it a working computer?

more than 3 years ago
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Open Source More Expensive Says MS Report

Ender_Stonebender Re:My psychic prediction (465 comments)

That doesn't mean that they can't fund a genuinely objective study... But there's a good chance that things are going to be biased.

Keep in mind that Microsoft is a really big corporation. They may have funded 15 different studies, and only this one showed that Microsoft solutions could compete with F/OSS, so this is the only one that they're publicizing. If they really wanted us to believe that the study was objective, they would have announced the study at the time that funding was provided, and then given us the results when they were available. I think this radical idea should be called "transparency".

more than 3 years ago
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After IPv4, How Will the Internet Function?

Ender_Stonebender Re:Huh? (320 comments)

Having over 100% per capita usage just means that there are more people with two (or more) mobile phones than there are without mobile phones. Given that in the office I work in (~25 people), at least 5 have both corporate issued phones (Blackberries) and personal phones (mostly iPhones, to my great dismay), I don't find this all that surprising.

more than 3 years ago
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The 5-Year Console Cycle Is Dead

Ender_Stonebender Re:Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (422 comments)

Because it's the least bad of the three, at least as far as "making total asses of themselves while enforcing policy" goes. I mean, if I have to live with something (which in the case of games, it certainly seems that I do), I'm going to pick the least bad option. PC games are, if anything, worse than consoles. (And don't even get me started on the stupidity of Blizzard's recent actions.)

Sony's the company that threatened to sue people who "circumvented digital locks" by holding down the Shift key to prevent Windows Auto-Run feature from installing a rootkit in their PC, and has taken away support for Linux on the PS3, not to mention their involvement with HDCP and AACS. Microsoft is currently in court because they think its illegal to mod the XBox360 hardware (to be fair, they may be correct about it being illegal - but it's not unjust, which is a separate issue). Nintendo has...uh...occasionally made a fuss about people selling blank cartridges onto which pirated ROMs (or homebrew software equally well) could be loaded and then those games played on their various cartridge-based systems.

more than 3 years ago
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The 5-Year Console Cycle Is Dead

Ender_Stonebender Only Nintendo seems to need an upgrade... (422 comments)

[Full disclosure: The only modern system I own is the Wii.]

Nintendo seems to be the only one that needs to upgrade the capabilities of their current console. There's lots of games coming out for PS3 or XBox360 that I'd like to play, but these games are not coming out on the Wii because it's simply not powerful enough. I may pick up one of the other ones used after Christmas - not because I can't afford them new, but because I don't want my money going to the prop up companies that approve of DRM laden software and sue people for modding the hardware they sell.

Sony may have some hardware issues that need to be fixed, and Microsoft's XBox360 has some very well-known issues that should be fixed - and the next generation of the XBox series including a BD-ROM drive would be a nice touch. But as someone else mentioned, current-gen consoles can max out the resolution of most (HD)TVs that are out there, so why put a bunch of money into R&D that isn't going to affect the end experience that much?

more than 3 years ago
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Has Christopher Nolan Turned the 3D Argument?

Ender_Stonebender Re:Here's to hoping (381 comments)

So basically, you've seen ONE movie where it wasn't thrown in "just because". UP and Coraline were entirely computer-generated video, and re-rendering with the "camera" in a different position is a matter of tweaking a couple of settings. They could re-make ANY all-CGI film (Ice Age, Wall-E, etc) as 3D if they still had the original files and rendering programs. And probably make money on them.

(Note: Avatar used lots of computer-generated imagery...but not exclusively, and did a lot more with motion capture than is normal.)

more than 3 years ago
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Ubuntu 10.10, Maverick Meerkat, Now Available

Ender_Stonebender Changes seem irrelevant... (473 comments)

As I use neither Unity nor Ubuntu One, I'm going to be sticking with 10.04, which is the latest long term support version. In fact, I think I'll even install 10.04 instead of 10.10 when I buy a new computer later this year.

I seem to recall previous, preliminary announcements claiming that there would be more items upgraded in 10.10. I wonder if I was imagining that, or if Canonical decide some of the other upgrades were not worth the effort? (Or maybe I was thinking of Xubuntu.)

more than 3 years ago
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US One Step Closer To Electric Grid Cyberguards

Ender_Stonebender I have a great way to protect against cyber-attack (74 comments)

I have a great way to protect the power grid against cyber-attacks: Don't connect it to the internet!

If there's no route to the power grid's control computers via the internet, then there's no way that a cyber-attack could affect it. And no, this doesn't mean that power companies can't connect to the internet to accept bill payment or requests to connect/disconnect service - just that they shouldn't allow anything critical to be CONTROLLED over the internet - and it also doesn't mean that they can't have a private TCP/IP network that for sharing information among their various systems, which obviously is something that they will want to optimize the power grid and power production to get maximum return on their high capital investments.

more than 4 years ago
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MPAA Asks Again For Control Of TV Analog Ports

Ender_Stonebender Re:MPAA control (466 comments)

Slashdot story in 2152: MPAA asks again for control of brain-implanted memory remapping devices

The MPAA is arguing that if they could directly control consumer's neural recall pathways, the could make more money by reselling you movies you've already seen.

Where's the +2 Both Prescient and Scary mod when you need it?

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

Journals

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Everything about this story disgusts me

Ender_Stonebender Ender_Stonebender writes  |  more than 5 years ago

A few days ago, a local eight-year old girl was shot while sleeping at home. Although that's digusting and obviously a bad thing, that's not what set me off.

This story, in which the local police conflate "assault rifles" (a term that's been used in laws but has no legal definition) with automatic weapons, is what got me angry.

"Assault weapons are good for one purpose only," he said, "and that's to kill other human beings."

There are two problems with this statement. One: These weapons are useful for target shooting, or hunting vermin in farm country. Two: The same (flawed) logic can be applied to ANY weapon - other rifles, shotguns, handguns, swords, machetes, pointy knives. Which seems to be what happened in Britain, where civilians generally don't have guns (barring a few collector's items) and doctors have called for a ban on pointed knives.

Police recovered a bulletproof vest, two pistol grip 12-gauge shotguns, a .308-caliber hunting rifle with a scope, a .22-caliber revolver -- and two semi-automatic AR-15 rifles.

They recovered a clip and ammunition for the rifles. They also found two loaded clips for an AK-47 assault rifle, but not the weapon itself.

So they found ONE "clip" for TWO rifles? Something doesn't add up here. Oh, that's right, the cost of magazines soared last year on fears that Obama would reinstate a ban on high-capacity magazines. I bet one of the confiscating officers just added another 30-round magazine to his personal collection.

"It almost seems like a status thing," Sullivan said. "If you're a big, bad drug dealer, you have to have an automatic weapon in your house."

Big problems here: AR-15s are, by definition, not automatic weapons. They are semi-automatic - that is, when the trigger is pulled, one round is fired and the next is put in postion to be fired; the trigger must be released and pulled a second time before the second round is fired. Automatic weapons fire the next round without the need to release the trigger - and continue to do so until the trigger is released or their are no more rounds in the magazine. An "automatic AR-15" is not an AR-15, it's an M-16! (I'm not even going to start on the magazine/clip thing.)

"You don't need a 50-round clip to go hunting," Harmon said. "I'm not against responsible gun ownership at all. I defend the people's right to defend themselves, but nobody needs an assault weapon to protect themselves."

Who said they're for self-defense? Maybe gun collectors just have a hard-on for military equipment and this is as close as they can get.

Gun enthusiasts, collectors and legal owners would disagree. People like Bill Bunting, an influential Pasco County Republican and certified NRA instructor. He pointed out that the suspects arrested in Sunday's murder all have criminal records -- and they're barely adults.

"Unfortunately passions are running high and I can understand where the chief is coming from," Bunting said. "But people need to take heed ... and find out why these kids weren't sitting in a juvenile facility.

"It's not the gun, it's the person."

Damn right, Mr. Bunting! That final sentence is the one that should have led the article. A gun is an inanimate object; with no one touching it, it is little more than an expensive paperweight. It it no more good or evil than your television, or your car, or a pen. It is what people do with these things that is good or evil.

So those of you out there that own guns: Don't use them for evil. Use them for good if you must. But try not to get into situations where you need a gun at all.

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This is why we browse at +2

Ender_Stonebender Ender_Stonebender writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Honestly, I had a hard time deciding how to moderate this. Troll, flamebait, off-topic? It's all of them! Not to mention completely stupid. I wish that Slashdot would run a yearly poll to let us pick a new moderation option - the options available are insufficient to describe things at the level of detail I'd like.

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Friends/Foes update

Ender_Stonebender Ender_Stonebender writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Not that anyone cares, but:

RickTheRed - thanks for adding me to your friends list. Comments are enabled, so if you stop by, let me know why you did it.

t_allardyce - welcome to my foes list! Want to know how you got there? Okay, it was this: "Executive, Legislative, Judicial; more like: Bureaucracy, Helping, Terrorists. A TRUE PATRIOT will do what HE is told". The first sentence is true, but the second is not. A TRUE PATRIOT will not need to be told what to do; he will take the initiative and do what is needed himself without prompting. Take this idiotic sig off your posts and I might even move you over to my Friends list, since I agree with several other opinions you've expressed here on /.

--Ender

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Stuck at work on a Saturday

Ender_Stonebender Ender_Stonebender writes  |  more than 9 years ago

So I'm stuck at work today; and today is Saturday.

"What?" you say. "I thought you had a real job that didn't make you work Saturdays!" Well, most of the time, it doesn't. But this is the Holiday Shopping Season, which is the busiest time for credit card processing. And I work for a credit card processing company. Company policy requires that we have at least one person from each group available to solve problems between 8 AM and 8 PM on weekdays and noon to 8 PM on Saturday. As soon as our busiest day (transaction-wise, not total-amount-of-money-moved-wise) falls on Sunday, someone is going to insist that we have someone working noon to 8 PM on Sunday as well. And, conscientous guy that I am, I'll have to agree with them, because they'll be right, it is important to have someone around to solve issues in this critical period for merchants.

--Ender

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Credit card processing

Ender_Stonebender Ender_Stonebender writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Okay, here's the deal: Using your credit card is easy. That's because MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express have worked very hard to make sure you didn't have to do much.

Here's the mnemonic for remembering how it all works: M.A.N.I.C.

That stands for Merchant, Acquirer, Network, Issuer, Customer.

Merchants are, obviously, the people with things they want you to buy. They obtain (buy, rent, lease, whatever) a credit card terminal or e-commerce solution, which is then programmed to connect to an acquirer. (Custom and semi-custom solutions are quite common in this industry.)

Acquirers are generally banks. They provide a group of merchants with connectivity to the credit cards networks, as well as certain other services, such as certifying terminal applications, reporting functions, etc.

Networks are...well...credit card banks. They connect the various banks to one another using their own message standards. (Note that in the case of Discover and I believe American Express, the network and the issuer are the same entity.)

Issuers are the banks that hand out credit cards. They connect to the network(s) and keep track of how much money you have available on your card. (Not how much you've spent. They may not know that, due to situations like restaurant tipping and the rules for dealing with CCs at hotels.) They also send you the credit card bills and charge you interest.

Customers are people buying stuff. That's you.

So here's what happens: Customer walks in Merchant's shop and choose PrettyShinyThing to buy. Merchant rings up merchandise, Customer forks over card. Merchant swipes card through terminal. Terminal verifies that card in not totally bogus (First six digits of credit card number are in a range known to be "valid", check digit is correct, expiration date is not in the past, etc.) Terminal sends authorization request to Acquirer. Acquirer does some other checking on the authorization request, reformats the message and sends it to the appropriate network. Network forwards it to the appropriate issuer. Issuer decides if Customer has enough funds left in their Open To Buy. If so, that amount is deducted from Open To Buy and a response is sent to the network authorizing the transaction. Network routes this back to Acquirer. Acquirer reformats and routes back to the Merchant's terminal. The terminal then prints a receipt for Customer sign. Depending on the setup, the Merchant may need to send in a settlement request at the end of the day, or in some cases this may be unnecessary.

So that's the deal with card credit processing. And I bet thought that it was simple.

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