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Comments

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Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

JaredOfEuropa Re:One day, someone will explain it to me. (108 comments)

What you describe is remote control, the first step in home automation. Indeed, small difference in pressing a button while sat on the couch vs. getting up and flipping a switch. But a lot of what's going on is truly automatic, i.e. scripted. That's where the fun begins. And that's why I have small interest in Apple's HomeKit, or the API-less Nest, or similar devices that are indeed remote control only, or will not work with the hub of MY choice.

7 hours ago
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Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

JaredOfEuropa Re:One day, someone will explain it to me. (108 comments)

Sigh. Convenience, saving energy, security. None of this is going to change your life. But if you sit down and think for a moment you can come up with a hundred use cases that would make it worthwhile for someone to consider such a system. It's not really gotten out of the hobby stage yet, and security of the system itself needs to be addressed (it's piss poor in most systems), but even so, I'm happy with the level of automation I have. Lights, heating, cameras, irrigation, alarms, some locks (not on the house itself!), awnings, all of these are integrated, controllable and to some degree automated. A huge convenience and a money saver.

Not so interested in remotely controlling my oven, sure...

10 hours ago
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The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

JaredOfEuropa Re:I HATE multiplayer (286 comments)

You can probably figure out why the "screw you and your orders" players are even less popular than the abusive guy shouting orders in groups or raids. The phrase "Lead, follow or get out of the way" applies remarkably well to groups in online games. Follow orders or give them (and if you think that's easy, do give it a go), or don't bother joining the group at all; you'll be doing everyone a big favour.

Personally, I found that succeeding at a hard challenge in a good team, with a good leader and everyone else doing their part, is one of the most rewarding experiences of online gaming.

yesterday
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Apple Outrages Users By Automatically Installing U2's Album On Their Devices

JaredOfEuropa Re:I've been on data roaming since last Monday... (607 comments)

You can control the timing of your downloads. Turn off data roaming, which is a good idea on any smartphone if roaming charges are excessive. You can disable automatic downloads of music and other content. But most importantly: you can choose whether or not automatic downloads occur over the cellular network (roaming or not); the default setting is to disallow this.

Apple was a bit naughty by pushing an album we didn't ask for, but that's all it is: well-intended spam. No need to be overly dramatic about Apple owning our devices, and no worrying about racking up insane roaming charges.

2 days ago
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High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

JaredOfEuropa Re:Been there, done that (583 comments)

It's not a liability no matter what, it's just that I don't believe this technology is durable and reliable enough for mounting in a gun just yet. In a safe, you can have the scanner mains powered with a battery back up; a gun kept in the nightstand for home defense might well turn out to be out of batteries just when you need it most. And a gun safe is not subject to the not insignificant recoil of a gun, not to mention grease, dirt and other wear & tear. Lastly, it's good practice to keep the gun in a safe anyway, especially with kids around the house.

Maybe at some point, the scanner will be reliable enough to be put on guns. Even then, the question remains: what number of firearm accidents are due to an unauthorized person handling the weapon, instead of the rightful owner accidentally discharging it or misidentifying his target? And to what extent would unauthorized use have occurred anyway, i.e. a thief finding the firearm he just stole useless, then picking up a cheap saturday night special from his friendly illegal arms dealer?

3 days ago
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High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

JaredOfEuropa Been there, done that (583 comments)

This is certainly not the first time someone came up with this idea, nor the first time an actual implementation was made. This article and the award sounds like a publicity stunt, and it has all the usual elements: young wunderkind, technical gadgetry to solve some social or politically charged issue.

And other posters here are right: the last thing you need is a weapon that fails when you need it most. If you want a weapon that's safe at rest, get a gun safe with a fingerprint scanner so you can get at it quickly when needed. And if you really want a gun that is disabled when it's taken away from you, I'd go with a simple mechanical solution like a pin on a lanyard that will lock the gun when removed. But in reality, if you've pulled out your weapon with intent to use it, you want nothing to stand in the way of a shot being fired when you pull that trigger.

3 days ago
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The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

JaredOfEuropa Re: hahaaa....really ? (182 comments)

The classroom is a bit like democracy: the worst system we have, except for all of the other systems we have tried. At any learning conference, or talking to any learning professional, you'll hear the words "the classroom sucks" at some point. Hated because of its assembly-line heritage, and "captive audiences". However those properties may be its strong point: it still seems the best way to educate large groups of people, and in some cases, capturing an audience is the one way to make sure they pay attention. Not every kid is going to be interested in mandatory material.

3 days ago
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Windows Tax Shot Down In Italy

JaredOfEuropa Re:What about other devices? (418 comments)

It only applies if the OS and device are really two separate entities. For Macs you could argue that you should be able to buy the device without the OS. For phones, it seems that the OS is part of the device, especially in case of iPhones (what else are you going to run on them). Keep in mind that iOS isn't sold separately either, nor are there any charges for upgrades.

5 days ago
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Hewlett-Packard Pleads Guilty To Bribing Officials in Russia, Poland, and Mexico

JaredOfEuropa Re:So what? (110 comments)

Not really. While it is true that in a lot of countries like these, low level bribery is almost a requirement to doing business. Want your goods to clear customs sometime this century? Pay up. Want your work visas processed in a timely manner? Some civil servant will need a filled envelope. Don't want you plant shut down? Make the inspector happy. This sort of thing goes on all the time, and is often handled through local intermediaries.

What HP did was bribing high level government and corporate officials to win business.

5 days ago
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Who Is Buried In the Largest Tomb Ever Found In Northern Greece?

JaredOfEuropa Re:Who is buried (92 comments)

A tomb is a "structurally enclosed burial chamber". Underground burial vaults or crypts are included in that category, as well as tombs cut out in rock. Merriam-Webster even lists it as "an excavation in which a corpse is buried".

about a week ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

JaredOfEuropa Re:It should be (363 comments)

Not sure if you understand what "more or less" means. There are degrees of drunkenness, and many drunk drivers knew full well that they were breaking the law by getting behind the wheel, meaning they were informed. And many of them paused at least once to think about whether they should get behind the wheel or not, meaning it was a conscious decision to do so. What they are is judgment-impaired, underestimating the risks and possible consequences of their actions.

I kind of agree on your stance on drunk driving. There are a few countries that treat it as such: DUI is not rigorously prosecuted and the punishment for being over the limit is small, but if you cause an accident while under the influence, you'll be in serious trouble. It means making the driver responsible for judging whether or not they are still able to drive, and making them responsible for the consequences as well. A good idea in principle, however as stated before, a drunk person is impaired and not capable of making that decision just by weighing the risks. A hard limit enforced by law makes that decision a lot easier even when drunk, and it seems that in practice that limit works well to deter people from driving drunk. Our current laws are quite decent in that regard: most people are still under the limit after 2 drinks, and being slightly over the limit carries a reasonably small punishment for first offenders, usually a small fine and a driving ban of a few hours so you can sober up. Only when you go way over the limit do longer driving bans and judges kick in.

about a week ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

JaredOfEuropa Re:It should be (363 comments)

That's just semantics. Our laws distinguish between murder (premeditated), "manslaughter" (not premeditated but with intent to at least cause grievous harm), and "culpable death" (no intent to cause harm). The latter category basically involves someone dying as a direct result of you taking excessive risk or being exceptionally careless, and it covers deaths in traffic accidents. GP's point of calling DUI a murder attempt implies intent, which is missing here.

about a week ago
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Text While Driving In Long Island and Have Your Phone Disabled

JaredOfEuropa Re:It should be (363 comments)

It's a kind of a murder attempt, after all.

No, it's not. At all. There is no premeditation nor intent. If you get behind the wheel while drunk, you are making a more or less informed and conscious decision to increase your chances at causing an accident, and reduce your chances at avoiding one.

I know that the comparison to murder is a popular view though; here (NL), some people call for the first DUI to mean losing your license, your car, your genitalia, or your head. In reality, there are degrees of being over the limit, and the punishment should vary accordingly. Life bans rarely work, the offender is more likely to continue driving without a license (and insurance, as a result). The chances of getting caught are small enough.

about a week ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

JaredOfEuropa Re:Today's business class is the 70s' economy clas (812 comments)

The problem is that the gap between economy and business class is *huge*, both in terms of comfort and price. If there was an intermediate class at 1.5x or even 2x the economy fare, I'd use it on any long distance flight. I suspect that the problem is that many business travellers will decide to use the intermediate class as well, and leave the highly profitable business class section en masse. Else the airlines would already be offering this.

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

JaredOfEuropa Re:Anthropometrics (812 comments)

I'd like to see more options: pay a bit extra for some extra legroom, or pay 1.5x the ticket price for 1.5x the space, both leg room and width. (I don't care that much for extra legroom but it's nice not to have to fight your neighbour for the armrest).

The problem is: it is hard to anticipate which tickets will sell on any given flight, and impossible to modify the arrangement on short notice. If the premium seats go unsold, they'll have to offer them at cattle class prices, without the ability to make it up on volume.

about two weeks ago
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New US Airstrikes In Iraq Intended to Protect Important Dam

JaredOfEuropa Re:Eurasia vs. oceania (215 comments)

Saddam, Assad, Ceausescu, Mubarak, all various shades of "bad guy" but good at something in particular: keeping warring factions in their own country out of each other's hair. And when the dictator leaves, old enemies have at it again.

What recent history has demonstrated is that stable democracy isn't a natural state of affairs that will come to pass if given the chance. One of our biggest mistakes in the Middle East was thinking that the folks over there would embrace democracy once freedom and free elections were established. And we can see the same thing here at home in Europe: people from more or less oppressive states in Africa or the Middle East emigrating to Europe do not wholeheartedly embrace our notion of democracy and freedom as we expected they would.

about two weeks ago
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Deadmau5 Accuses Disney of Pirating His Music

JaredOfEuropa Re:hmmm (137 comments)

The winning side: Lawyers!

about two weeks ago
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Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

JaredOfEuropa Re:We have day and night rates (245 comments)

Poor reliability would be an issue, but to what extent is that really a problem with older batteries? I haven't heard of older batteries somehow being less reliable, though older Li-ion cells can have safety issues.

As for replacement, that seems a rather simple operation: disconnect the old battery, remove it, slot in a new one. Even having to replace it every 2-3 years shouldn't be an issue as long as the replacement battery is cheap enough after deducting the salvage value of the old pack. It's probably less of a hassle than the yearly maintenance of your gas heating furnace. The only issue is weight: that Tesla pack apparently weighs around 500kg, but it consists of 14 modules that can perhaps be split and carried out separately.

about two weeks ago
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Power Grids: The Huge Battery Market You Never Knew Existed

JaredOfEuropa Re:We have day and night rates (245 comments)

Indeed, cost is the most important factor; energy density, weight, and projected lifespan are less important for fixed installations. Household energy storage may be an attractive market for end-of-life EV batteries; a battery which has degraded to 80% of its original capacity and expected to drop to 50% in 5-10 years of daily use is crap for a car, but perfectly fine for a fixed installation if you have room for a few extra batteries. The smaller Tesla battery at 50% of its capacity still holds 30kWh, sufficient to power the home of a typical (Dutch) household for 3 days. Combined with solar, that's not quite enough to disconnect from the grid, but it's pretty good.

When household energy storage units become more popular, I suspect that the utilities will indeed want to make use of the market opportunity that GP identified, to balance the grid by selling excess power to consumers without solar panels at an attractive rate. My municipality already did something similar 25 years ago; our house had a warm water tank and electric heater, which we could operate but which the power company could also turn on remotely. If we let them heat the tank on excess power, the kWh rate charged to us was much lower than the regular rate.

about two weeks ago
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Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

JaredOfEuropa Re:Why? Nobody uses NFC payments (187 comments)

There's an offline mode for payments? I've never seen that in action, and the only portable terminals I have seen have a cellular data connection.

The card itself is indeed capable of verifying the PIN, which is used for online banking and payments (at least it is in the Netherlands). Online banking uses one-time passwords (OTP), generated by a small dongle into which the bank card is inserted. The card's PIN has to be entered on the dongle every time in order to generate an OTP, and the card will lock out after 3 incorrect PINs have been entered. It's not bad, but a pretty good system since the PIN never has to be entered on a computer, only the OTP is entered and that cannot be used by key loggers for replay attacks. The system is still vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks but in principle you can more or less safely do your online banking from, say, a web cafe in Bangkok, if you are careful (only do one transaction per session, end the session and contact your bank if you receive an "incorrect OTP" error).

about two weeks ago

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Journals

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Packaging, the scourge of the 21st century

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 5 years ago Packaging, in the broadest sense of the word, is starting to really piss me off.

Let's start with physical packaging. Whatever happened to the days when a fish would be packaged in yesterday's paper, small parts (screws and bolts) came in a little cardboard box or paper bag, and some stuff wouldn't be packaged at all? These days, some packaging (most notably the so called blister packaging) can be deathly dangerous to open. I'd like to propose one single, simple rule for packaging: one should be able to open it by hand. I'll make two exceptions: stuff that is notoriously easy to steal can go into blister packs, and it's acceptable to require a knife, key or any old sharp implement to cut packing tape.

Then there's labelling and pricing. Another simple rule: either provide a label or price tag that comes off clean, or don't label at all. When I buy a present for someone, a book, a DVD, a bit of wood that I intend to finish properly, a glass ornament, whatever, I would very much like the object in question to look nice. So why is it that shops insist on using labels that will tear when removed, and will leave a nasty gooey residy that won't come off no matter what? I can kind of understand putting such labels on packaging or on paperbacks... but not on expensive gifts.

And finally, there's the matter of "packaging" software. Some more rules:
- I DO NOT WANT software that I run only "on demand" to install some resident "helper" software to check for updates or whatever. You can check for updates when I start your program. Are you listening, Apple?
- I DO NOT WANT to answer the same questions over and over again whenever I install an update of your software. An update should be just that: replace the software that is already there with no questions asked; do not treat it as a more or less fresh reinstall. Are you listening, Zone Labs / Checkpoint?

Major issues to be sure... Come to think of it, if this is what I worry about, I suppose I have a pretty good life.

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Cat pictures!

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 10 years ago *sigh* No words of wisdom or idle banter to write in the journal today. Nevertheless, the question on my last journal entry has been answered, so time to push it off the top.

Today, I offer the bored reader who aimlessly wandered into here: cat pictures of Dolly and Mickey

These two little furballs are my cats. Enjoy!

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Hmm, stupidity

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 10 years ago "Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain". If only I could remember who uttered this particular wisdom.

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Suspicious white dot in Slashdot

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago So... what is this funny little white dot that appears on the slashdot pages just under the banner ad? *pokes the dot* I don't trust you.

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JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago As someone pointed out, it should be

find ~your -name '*base*' | xargs chown us

instead of

chown -R us ~your/*base*
as my sig currently reads. I'll change it later, I suppose...

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Redundant posts...

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago From now on, these will automatically be metamoderated 'unfair'. Don't waste your moderator points on insightful posts that happen to be dupes. Mod some other insightfull stuff up, or mod the fluff down. That is all

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Most hated words and terms

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago Boredom sets in once again, work is slow today. Anyways... There's a few annoying words that have wriggled their way into everyday idiom, at least in some circles. My personal top 3 of most hated ones.

3) Cracker. The rest of the world calls such a person a hacker, and will continue to use this word, no matter how much you try and drill the hacker/cracker distinction into them. Give it up already.

2) Wardriving. A term that fails in so many ways to convey what it actually means, and makes most people think of something having to do with Osama bin Laden.

1) Blog. An odd way to abbreviate the word 'weblog', and one that sounds like sicking up at that. Blog. Blogging. Yeck. Someone please come up with a better and nicer-sounding word.

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Slashdot oddities...

JaredOfEuropa JaredOfEuropa writes  |  more than 11 years ago Who the hell is Saskboy (id 600063) and what is he doing on my "preferences" page?

Also... one begins to wonder where my moderator points are after over a year of being at this place. What gives? (and yes, I did check the "want to moderate" box).

Oh well, time for another bottle of wine

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