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The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'

KMSelf Battery, plan, privacy, and size (243 comments)

I've switched back to a feature phone after two smartphones -- the Palm Centro (I actually still miss its hard keyboard), and an HTC Incredible.

Reasons:

  • Battery life. I've gone from 6-8 hours to weeks. Smartphones are power hogs.
  • Plan. I'm prepaid, no data, and less than half my previous smartphone cost.
  • Phone itself. $30 for the handset. I'm actually disappointed with some features, though if I can't hack the handset it's cheap enough that swapping for something I prefer isn't a big deal. Finding a more ruggedized device (I'm on water and other hard-wearing environments fairly often) wouldn't hurt either.
  • Privacy. Yes, the usual mobile snoopage is an issue, but my impression of the Android environment is that I simply don't trust it.
  • The phone's smaller than a smartphone and easier to carry. At the same time, a smartphone is really a poor size for a data device.

I've actually got some use for a decent tablet, but no real need for a phone data plan with wifi at the house and ready access most other places. Buying a separate tablet, rolling my own OS on it, and using that for some data + reading and apps makes sense. Possibly also VOIP when connected to data.

about 4 months ago
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Debian Technical Committee Votes For Systemd Over Upstart

KMSelf Re:I see a lot of discussion about systemd (379 comments)

There are numerous solid reasons for /usr

  • Network boots.
  • Partitioning in general
  • Modular filesystem permissions (I can mount /usr/ ro,nodev, / requires dev and write access

There are others, but that's just off the top of my head.

I've been watching Poettering's comments and attitude, and have to say I've got a bad feeling about this. Too complex. Not a sufficiently compelling use case.

about 7 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

KMSelf Re:Resurrecting Technocrat.net (2219 comments)

Bruce: had no idea you were still around /. It's Karsten.

PJ killed Groklaw in large part over concerns with email and surveillance. With DeadDrop existing and sites such as the New Yorker implementing it, confidential submissions are possible.

Another option would be to re-think the submissions process. A lot of people now run blogs, or make submissions elsewhere, which can be contributed automatically via RSS feeds. That might get you through the content challenge. Starting off with some items in the can and realizing that you'll need an editor to get you off the ground would be a good thing. I know a few people who just can't shut up who might be better served with 1) a site to actually publish on and 2) and editor to limit the spew to about 10% of what comes out (and kick back half of that for more than just a link-drop).

I also suspect there's a change in focus on the tech world that's due (though that could just be my own warped perspective), somewhat fresher than things have been of late.

Within tech, I see privacy and surveillance concerns continuing to grow (the Snowden story still won't quit), and a site that both addresses this and facilitates security among its contributors would be a Good Thing[tm].

about 7 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

KMSelf Re:Fuckbeta (2219 comments)

Yeah, tell me about it.

about 7 months ago
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Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

KMSelf An old-timer says ... (2219 comments)

... good to hear you're reconsidering it. Frankly, I've missed a lot of the frufraw over this, mostly because, well, Slashdot just doesn't have the draw it once did (and yes, I've been here a long, long time).

I looked at the Beta site. It's annoying. I did my usual for annoying webistes these days: I restyled it more to my liking. Greencurve will always be part of what Slashdot's about.

As for where I'm at these days: mostly reddit. Some on Diaspora. I've tried a couple of the social sites, but frankly, operating as myself doesn't have a lot of draw.

What made Slashdot great when it came out (1997) was that it was one of the very few places online where people could talk about what was new, breaking, and most specifically, not part of the existing corporate hegemony in Tech. And you had people who were actively involved in doing stuff engaging: Bruce Perens, Linus, Miguel de Icaza, Rasterman. That engagement ... seems mostly to have moved on. I might scan the homepage once or twice a month now. I don't even have your RSS feed (does Slashdot have an RSS feed? Oh, good, it does) in my reader -- the stuff I'm interested in is better covered elsewhere.

Can you reclaim the spark? Questionable. Will pissing off the existing community (not "audience", not "users", not "readers") do you any favors? No. Is it a highly competitive market? Yes. Do people really, really, really hate gratuitous change and annoying websites? Yes, and rather more than you can appreciate. The traditional "we're going to drop-ship a metric ass-ton of change on your head" model of SAAS kinda sucks. I mean, it's awesome that you can fix and ship in seconds, but disrupting what users are accustomed to is really disconcerting.

What's it going to take? Communicate your goals and your needs. I can appreciate that you're a business. Guess what: online forum and community sites only generate so much primary revenue, and that advertising market? Google's got a hell of a lot of it.

Realize that technology is only a tool to generate connections between the actors here: yourselves, advertisers, other business partners, information sources, and the community. Especially the community, because that's who the product is, it's what makes or breaks you. Remember, going concerns can die and often quickly: MySpace, Digg (though it's making a second go of it), VA Linux, Yahoo, even maybe Microsoft (oh: what's with the shilling that's been going on in that quarter?). Realize that the big players (Facebook, Twitter, G+) have their own vulnerabilities, and if you work your focus right you'll have some win

Slashdot's got a brand, but little cachet at the moment. Look at who's doing well and why and how. Hacker News (but not for any hawtness in the UI or capabilities front), Stack Exchange. reddit (though it's getting a bit big for its britches). Think about what you want to be. ASK your community what it wants you to be. And get better at being that.

For myself? I'd really appreciate tight focus, quality posts, and good comments. A revise of the moderation system (I helped Rusty Foster on that part of Kuro5hin.org) is long, long overdue (yes, bad stuff tends not to float up, but a lot of good stuff is missed as well), figuring out how to scale conversation, and avoiding the bullshit and buzzshit that's infesting teh Intarnets would be a good start.

about 7 months ago
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rot13 is immensely lame

KMSelf Re:Lighten up Karsen (2 comments)

Well fancy meeting you here, Norman.

It's been a few years. I hope life's treating you well.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Stay Fit At Work?

KMSelf There's a limited amount you can do at work (635 comments)

Assuming a standard office layout, there are a few things you can do to tweak your fitness quotient a bit, but it's mostly through harm reduction rather than positive benefits. Don't smoke, avoid junk food, stand and walk around. Consider a standing desk, use stairs, manage your stress, work sensible hours, walk somewhere for lunch. Incorporate walking in your commute, consider moving to where a healthier lifestyle is a matter of course, not a decision to be made daily.

But the realities of human physiological response to training stimulus means that intensity matters, and you're simply not going to reach appropriate levels of stimulation at the office without radically changing your workspace and creating a considerable distraction and disruption for those around you.

The good news is that an effective workout can be packed into a short time -- 20 - 60 minutes -- and a few workouts a week can make a significant difference in health and appearance. The biggest hurdle for most people is sorting out good information from bad on diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Pointers I like to put in front of folks include Liam Rosen's "Beginners' Health & Fitness Guide, the Reddit Fitness FAQ, and books such as The New Rules of Lifting. A healthy diet and a solid 8 hours of nightly sleep are your foundation. A good a strength training routine, and HIIT cardio can fit inside a 20-60 minute workout period.

The best tools are relatively simple: a barbell, plates, rack stand or power cage, and a basic piece of cardio: your body, a barbell, kettlebells, a jump rope, a rowing machine (and if you're going to row, that's among the best technique videos out there).

That said, few offices are optimized for deadlifts, kettlebell swings, Oly lifting, or Tabata erging sessions. Whether you build it or buy it, a gym is a worthwhile investment. Consider it a workshop for improving and sustaining your body.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Stay Fit At Work?

KMSelf GymBarbie: Gyms are *hard* (635 comments)

If you live in an area where a good gym is that far away, you likely have enough space that you can create a decent workout space in your own home.

It's also highly likely that you're overlooking other options: high schools, community colleges, YMCAs, and various athletic clubs offer inexpensive access to cardio and strength equipment.

Note that "gym" and "fitness" don't consist simply of cardio. Strength training is highly underrated by much of the lay public.

A power cage, or even a set of bar stands, an Olympic barbell, and a few hundred pounds of plates will do you a lot of good. It's a bit of an investment, but it pays off in large dividends.

For cardio, a four-minute workout can be highly effective.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Collect Payments From a Multinational Company?

KMSelf You don't *ask* to speak to the CEO (341 comments)

You call the switchboard (it can take some digging) and request the office of the CEO, or (better) send an email to the entire executive suite. Frequently email addresses are publicly available or are some variant of first.last@example.com.

I've utilized both techniques at various times.

While travelling in Australia with an (I was told at the sales location) International-capable SIM-swappable phone, that I found out was in fact locked, I emailed the CEO of Cingular, copying a good friend of mine who covers the mobile sector for a tech publication, requesting the phone be unlocked (this after several rounds of frustration on long-distance international tech support). My host was awakened at 5am by a call from the US the next morning.

On discovering significant 419 spam transiting through Microsoft's Hotmail servers, I called the Microsoft switchboard, requested the SVP of the appropriate department, was transferred to him directly, he picked up within two rings, we spoke briefly, he promised that the person responsible would call me within the hour, fifteen minutes later I was talking with the person in charge of Hotmail abuse mitigation, and we worked to resolve the problem over the next several months. I'm no fan of Microsoft, but their response here impressed me immensely.

Another spam issue turned out to be a service run by a contractor at a southeastern university. After getting the brush off from the guy at his personal account (and tracking down his consulting gig), I sent a round of emails escalating one level up the university org chart, eventually hitting the president's office. By the third or fourth round I'd gotten the resolution I'd hoped for in the first place.

Issues with delivery through Yahoo (and months of zero useful responsiveness from their help desk and CTO and the self-reporting web tools) led me to finally email the entire executive suite (as far as I could identify -- this was a few CEOs ago) with an email subject line "Gentlemen, you have a problem", containing a brief synopsis and pflogsum extracts comparing delivery rates and times through Yahoo and other major email service providers. Got a response from the "concierge" desk and resolution within a couple of days.

In another case, an airline's exceptionally poor service led me to write an essay and post it to my website (as I'd promised the CSR I'd do when I requested hotel accomodations to compensate for fouling up both legs of my journey and stranding me at an airport overnight). I didn't get the resolution I'd wanted, but my piece generated a number of emails to me from both other frustrated passengers, and a number of airline employees and investors as the company struggled to stay solvent. It ultimately lost that battle, and I cried very, very little.

Look up "the art of turboing". Realize that politics and sociology of most businesses makes such embarrassments a very high priority to resolve, especially if they're chump change to the organization in question. http://macwhiz.com/blog/art-of-turboing/

about a year and a half ago
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Complex Systems Theorists Predict We're About One Year From Global Food Riots

KMSelf Malthus (926 comments)

Malthus's predictions were correct given the constraints he understood at the time. Namely that ag productivity was known, and that population would eventually outstrip it.

What's changed are some constants in the equation regarding ag productivity, largely as a result of fertilizers, pesticides, some improvements in crop productivity (through selective breeding and genetic modification), and mechanization. Improvements in transport and storage also mean vastly reduced wastage between field and table.

What has not changed is the fact that there remain limits to ag productivity. They're higher than Malthus predicted, but they remain -- there's only so much incoming solar energy per acre, only so much efficiency in plant conversion of this to edible food, only so much arable land, and larger limits on other inputs, most notably water.

We've also been practicing ag methods which, over time, tend to reduce, erode, diminish, and/or poison the soil. Especially in desert regions in which large amounts of irrigation water are applied to fertilized/pesticide-treated fields: the water evaporates leaving behind salts and residues.

A saying in ecology is "forests came before humans, deserts followed them". It's a very persistent pattern.

There are limits to population growth. We'll either manage our way beneath them, or, more likely, accommodate them in the usual way via the four horsemen of the apocalypse: war, conquest, famine, and disease.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Headphones, Earbuds, Earphones?

KMSelf Good companies in the F500 (448 comments)

Off the top of my head and the F100: Ford, Apple, Intel, and 3M come to mind as not markedly evil.

There's Kroger, Macy's, Kohl, Gap, and Land o'Lakes.

Lear, for certain values of consumer product (like a G6 ... but that's another company).

Whole Foods. McGraw-Hill, Levi Straus, and of course, Harley-Davidson.

I'm sure there are complaints against some of these. But I don't see these companies as taking direct and blatantly aggressive anti-consumer actions as Sony and others have. Looking up the holdings of ethical / socially conscious investment funds might also prove interesting.

more than 2 years ago
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Mutt Fork Adds Features From Notmuch

KMSelf Multiple mutt sessions vs. switching folders (93 comments)

When you've got many or large folders, the switching time can be substantial.

Systems admin, with various alerts and notifications getting filtered to various places. Opening a folder with ~10k messages takes a few seconds, ~100k really starts to bog down. Once I'm in the folder, filtering, tagging, and other actions are really quick. Getting there is slow.

My compromise: screen with several mutt buffers open, primary ones are my inbox and other hot folders, others I'll switch between less-frequently read folders.

more than 2 years ago
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Mutt Fork Adds Features From Notmuch

KMSelf proportion vs. monospace fonts (93 comments)

Proportionally-spaced fonts are modestly more readable than monospace, for prose text.

Monospaced fonts allow for column-based formatting of tables, ASCII-art diagrams (networking, etc.), programmatic output, etc., which makes for a greatest common denominator balance between both readability and flexibility. For technical uses (programming, systems/network admin), monospace wins hands-down. It's also very easy to write simple programs / shell scripts to output data in fixed-length columns, which again, present well in monospaced fonts but are fugly in proportional ones (most of my text formatting in GMail, FWIW, is based on indenting and formatting in courier program output).

The alleged legibility gains of proportional fonts are minimal, and in the context of other benefits of mutt (threading, quote precedence, syntax highlighting of quote levels, URLs, email addresses, etc.), a full GUI mailer (Exchange, Thunderbird, GMail, KMail, etc.) is a net loss.

There's an issue for those reading mail on mobile devices with displays of Browser overhead means that GMail takes up most of a display, while I can stack up multiple mutt, shell, and other console apps either vertically or horizontally. Much more effective use of screen real estate.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Life After Firefox 3.6.x?

KMSelf Tabs (807 comments)

I do.

Gmail, calendar, and Google docs are at least three tabs off the top.

I admin systems for my company, so that adds Nagios, New Relic, AWS, and RightScale tabs.

Might be interested in a few different views of both.

I'm hitting docs on various issues I'm investigating. So that's a search tab and multiple sub-tabs of results or vendor docs.

There's our internal Wiki and task management systems. Multiple other online tools.

Add in a few news/info sites and sub-tabs, and we're talking not 20 tabs but easily upwards of 50-100. Yes, seriously.

The box is also running a ton of terminal windows (local and remote systems), and possible a VirtualBox session or two. Jconsole. Other fun stuff.

8 GB suddenly doesn't seem like a lot of RAM any more.

As far as tabs go, the best thing about them is that they contextually manage my browsing. I use tree-mode tabs which helps a lot. The real issue is that history sucks so badly -- what I really need is a state-management tool. Tabs are a horrible way to go about it, but there's little else that's better.

Gripes about Firefox/Iceweasel updates? Mostly that upgrades tend to break plug-in compatibility. I use different tree-mode tab plug-ins for 3.6.x and 8.x. And Chrome doesn't have tree-mode tabs at all (there are some very weak approximations).

One of the things that computers manage poorly in general is saving user state in a useful, meaningful way. There are lots of tools which have tried to address this, but it's still an unsatisfactory area, especially where multi-tasking is a key use mode.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Ergonomic Office Environment?

KMSelf Strength training and exercise (235 comments)

The best you can do with a good ergonomic set-up is to minimize the negative effects of spending hours in front of a computer.

So sure: get a decent chair, make sure your monitor is set to the proper height. Experiment with sitting/standing configurations. Use a laptop or tablet (or book) periodically which lets you get away from your desk. Get up and walk around every hour or so. That will all help.

But what fixes your musculature and skeletal is actually stressing it. Yeah, weight training. 2x weekly minimum, 3x is a good standard, 4x if you decide to go gung-ho. 30-90 minutes per session. Focus on your backside ("posterior chain"): calves, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, lats, traps. Movements like squats, deadlifts, rows/chins, and kettlebell swings. You're going to want to do a full-body program ultimately for balance, but the lifts above are going to be key.

Simply supporting your body in a comfortable state will disengage musculature, as will rests, splints, and other crutches. What builds and strengthens muscle is progressive overload.

For more on this, a great starting reference is The New Rules of Lifting by Schuler & Cosgrove. Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength or Stronglifts 5x5 are good beginning strength programs.

Toss in 3-4 sessions of cardio, including some HIIT interval work 1-2x weekly, and you'll be in far better shape. Particularly as you get older. Which I hear happens in time.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Ergonomic Office Environment?

KMSelf Soda (235 comments)

Please, at the very least, make that sugar-free. Water, green tea, black tea, or coffee are all far better for you (in rough order) than soda. Let's re-phrase that. The first two or three are actually beneficial, the fourth 1-2x day is OK. Soda is nothing but bad.

more than 2 years ago
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Hotmail To Ban Common Passwords

KMSelf New common passwords (140 comments)

That's possible.

Any dictionary of "common passwords" is going to have to be adaptive.

But the thing is, if you look at lists of common passwords, and of how many accounts can be compromised by them, the really common ones are really common.

Hotmail have taken a long-overdue step here. I'd love to see all major online service providers follow suit, though if we could just get major email providers (Google, Hotmail, Apple, Yahoo, AOL), and Facebook (used for single sign-on), we'd be ahead of the game.

There are still myriad problems with password recovery features (especially in a world of "free" online services which aren't tied to payments, a payment/credit card account, or billing address).

And there's the fundamental problem that most user-based networks are far more interested in increasing the number of users, not in boosting security. Security provisions slow sign-ups, and are fundamentally at odds with increasing userbase.

more than 3 years ago
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Is Sugar Toxic?

KMSelf Metabolically / endocrinologically similar (1017 comments)

It's the metabolic and endocrine impacts which Lustig and Taubes are concerned with. You're dumping a load of sucrose (triggering an insulin response) and fructose (triggering a triglyceride release from the liver) with either. If you're eating excesses of either sugar or HFCS, you're going to trigger the same effects. The effect on your taste buds is not significant to the article.

more than 3 years ago
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Xfce 4.8 Released

KMSelf FVWM (193 comments)

Y'know, I'm tempted back into the fold, I really am.

fvwm's config file format is powerful, but also somewhat opaque. Might still just grab that bull.

As for old school, one of the most tricked-out desktops I've ever seen is Steve Hand's twm configuration (he's one of the core Xen developers). Multiple desktops, all hot-keyed, flying back and forth between windows and desktops while coding up a storm, building sources, and running VMs. Just goes to show you don't need to ran teh new hawt an shinay for a productive desktop.

more than 3 years ago
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Xfce 4.8 Released

KMSelf The "two features" thread starts here ... (193 comments)

There are two, hopefully simple, things XFCE4 could provide which would make it a tenable desktop for me. Otherwise, I'll stick with WindowMaker:

Pinnable window lists. In WindowMaker, the feature provided by hitting the middle mouse button, or F11 key. A window menu with a list of all available windows. Allows you to scroll through these, click on likely subjects, etc., trying to find that 24th rxvt instance or the 7th Iceweasel window that you'd lost track of somewhere. Without this, managing the mess of windows my typical desktop devolves to after a day or so (and sessions typically run weeks to months) becomes an utter nightmare.

Circulate-and-raise alt-tab navigation. Similar rationale to above, and also implemented in WindowMaker (or Mac OS X or the Windows desktop). Under XFCE4, an outline of the window raises. Utterly .... useless.

Really, of all the alternative desktops (and I regularly revisit GNOME, KDE, XFCE4, OpenBox, ionwm, and others) XFCE4 comes the closest to a replacement for WindowMaker. But 12 years after having first tried that old standard, it still provides a light, fast, stable, configurable (from a keybindings and behavior standpoint), extremely workable desktop.

My one concern is that WindowMaker's seen no development since 2008, though it is very nearly feature complete, and is certainly very highly usable. I recommend it particularly for newbies.

Otherwise, congrats to the XFCE4 team for their milestone. Anyone else missing features (if I dare ask)?

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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rot13 is immensely lame

KMSelf KMSelf writes  |  about a year ago

KMSelf (361) writes "Slashdot commits seppuku via an immensely lame April Fool's joke.

As one commenter noted: OMG Ponies was ok. It's been downhill since.

I've been here a long, long time, guys (check user number). Time to kill this one."

Link to Original Source

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