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Ask Slashdot: Linux-Friendly Desktop x86 Motherboard Manufacturers?

Ken Hall What's the problem? (294 comments)

I run Linux (Fedora 20) on MSI motherboards almost exclusively. No problems. I just replaced an old MSI mobo with an nVidia/AMD based one, and the only thing I had to change was the MAC address in the network configuration, Linux came up perfectly.

about a month and a half ago
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Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

Ken Hall No (1633 comments)

I'm in favor of gun control, but I think most people will tell you this idea goes too far.

First of all, forget the idea that the constitution guarantees you the right to have as many weapons as you want of any kind. That's stupid. The first amendment guarantees the right of 'free speech', but you can't yell 'fire" in a crowded theater. You can't drive up and down the street with a sign on your car that says "my neighbor is a child molester', and you can't publish a newspaper that prints obviously libelous and untrue stores without repercussions (although some do come pretty close). Freedom of religion doesn't allow for human sacrifice, even when the victim is willing. So the idea of limitations on the Bill of Rights has a great deal of precedent.

Except when it comes to guns.

But you can't have an RPG, can you? You can't seed your lawn with land mines. By statistics, nuclear weapons are safer than hand guns. Nobody has been killed by one of those in over fifty years. But would you want everyone to have one? There are limits people are willing to accept, but nobody agrees on just where to draw the line.

People who live in rural places where there are dangerous animals or no local protection need to be armed to protect themselves. My mother-in-law lived on a farm with no neighbors for miles. She kept guns, and occasionally needed them. But the idea that someone living in a gated NJ suburb needs an AR15 is just dopey.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Unfortunately, they frequently do it with guns. Guns make it so much easier, no thought, just react. The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun? Show me the difference. A bad guy is often a good guy with a couple of extra beers in him, or who had a bad day. An unarmed drunk is a nuisance. An armed drunk is a danger to children.

So the idea, the one used by many countries, is to keep guns away from people who don't need them. Crazy people, people with a history of violence. People who are careless enough to let their guns fall into the hands of those people. Can you show me a way to make that happen? Till you can, I lean toward the policy they use in the UK. Basic guns, rifles, etc. are fine. If you need a hand gun, you have to show me why, and I'll have to be really sure you need it before I let you have it.

More guns isn't more safety, if that were the case the US and Iraq would be the safest countries on the planet, but they're not. People in the US live in a fantasy world created by cowboy movies. The real old-west was very different, and quite dangerous till even they started controlling weapons in towns.

about 6 months ago
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The Eternal Mainframe

Ken Hall Re:Deep (225 comments)

I work with mainframes for a living. Specifically, I work with Linux on IBM zSeries mainframe for a bank. The idea is the provide the software depth of Linux with the reliability of the zSeries hardware.

We get a fair amount of resistance from the Lintel bigots, mostly those who still think of the mainframe in 1980's terms. The current generation of mainframe packs a LOT of horsepower, particularly I/O capacity, in a relatively small box. It connects to the same storage and network as the Lintel servers do, but can one of those do 256 simultaneous DMA transfers? We don't sell the platform as a solution for everything, but we've done the TCO math and we're not that different from an Intel server farm once you factor in the external costs.

I periodically give a class to the Linux admins on the mainframe in general, Linux on z, and the differences between that and Linux on Intel. If you didn't know where to look, it would take you a while to figure out you're not on Intel anymore. Most of the attendees are surprised at what the current boxes are like.

This is not your fathers mainframe.

about a year and a half ago
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Timothy Lord Discovers the Good Night Lamp at CES (Video)

Ken Hall In the words of George Carlin: (236 comments)

If you nail together two things that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck will buy it from you.

How about a left nostril inhaler, that glows in the dark, with your state motto on it?

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: When Is It a Good Idea To Incorporate?

Ken Hall Re:Subchapter S-Corp (293 comments)

There's a bit more to this state-corporation tax thing than meets the eye. I incorporated in NJ to simplify my bookeeping, but NJ has a law that taxes S-corps at the same rate as C-corps. That's a higher rate than personal income, even though all of the S-corp income goes to the shareholder (me).

The NJ state corporate tax return is a nightmare to do properly, and you always end up paying more than you think you should. NJ also has a minimum $500 corporate tax annually, so even if your corp made NOTHING, you're still on the hook for that. To CLOSE your corporation in NJ requires filing a special form and paying another $100 fee.

If you incorporate in Delaware, for example, there's no state return to file (far as I know), and you only have to pay personal income tax on your salary/1099 income (including self-employment tax on 1099 income), but if you take part of your income as "distribution", or dividend on your share, that part is not subject to SE tax (which is mainly FICA and Medicare). In any case, there's no extra tax on the income just because a corp is involved.

But to incorporate in a state requires you have a mailing address in that state, so you need to either have someone who lives there accept your mail, or you pay for a "registered agent" who collects it and forwards it to you.

I agree with others who recommend talking to a CPA, but be wary there too. Several I spoke to wanted to handle my entire business finances, and charge a substantial fee. The CPA I eventually did use was competant, but very distracted, so I ended up paying him to have me pay much more in taxes than I should have. Just because he has the letters after his name doesn't mean he's any good, and doesn't mean he has your best interests at heart.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: When Is It a Good Idea To Incorporate?

Ken Hall Re:If you plan to do it as your primary source of. (293 comments)

This is pretty much exactly what I did, once I figured out my accountant was making me pay two different (supposedly mutually-exclusive) taxes on the same income. You do need to keep an eye on them and make sure they know what you and they are doing.

He charged me something like $800 a year to prepare corp and personal taxes too.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: When Is It a Good Idea To Incorporate?

Ken Hall You basically either have two choices, or none (293 comments)

This assumes you're in the US, I don't know about elsewhere.

I was a consultant for 9 years. When I set up initially, I had two options: Let the company that contracted me pay me on a W2, handle the taxes, and take a cut for their trouble, or incorporate and let them pay me corp-to-corp.

Many companies will not pay a contractor on a 1099, which is how you pay someone for services if they're not an employee. There are too many potential IRS headaches if the contractor doesn't handle things properly on his end, especially when large sums are involved. It's okay for small amounts on one-time jobs, but there's a big risk that a 1099 contractor could be considered an employee under certain rules, and then all kinds of unexpected problems kick in. So many companies avoid the whole headache by only dealing with corporations. When one corporation pays another, the payer is basically off the hook for tax-reporting responsibility, it all falls on the payee.

I set up an S-corporation, which is a simpler option than many others, although my accountant (who came in late) said I might have been better off with an LLC. In any case, the biggest headache was that I set it up in NJ, which has screwy tax laws for S-corps. I'm still trying to extricate myself from that, and the corp closed over 5 years ago.

So suggestion: If you're going to (or required to) incorporate, do it through an accountant or a registration service, set it up in a corp-friendly state like Delaware and use a registered agent, and find a good CPA to help you through the tax pitfalls. Mine was decent, but endlessly distracted by more lucrative clients, so I ended up paying more in taxes than I needed to, and it took me 5 years to discover that.

A good friend of mine who was in business long before I was avoided incorporating till it was absolutely necessary. What finally convinced him he needed to was when NJ decided to consider his part-time babysitter an employee of his business, and require him to pay unemployment tax for her. At that point he decided splitting his business and personal affairs made sense. YMMV.

more than 2 years ago
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NCSoft Closes "City of Heroes" Publisher Paragon Studios

Ken Hall Re:Comes as a BIG surprise. (109 comments)

NCSoft doesn't care, it's all numbers to them. I played Tabula Rasa right up till it shut down. It had a very loyal following, but not enough for NCSoft to keep the servers running. CoH tried hard, but I guess they couldn't come up with anything new, I quit that some time ago.

Unfortunately, all of their games use the same or similar "engine" on the back end, so if they give away one, they're basically giving away the keys to all of them.

more than 2 years ago
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NCSoft Closes "City of Heroes" Publisher Paragon Studios

Ken Hall Re:Quality? (109 comments)

It was the first game I ever level-maxed in. But the only reward was a new character type that you got to start all over with.

Still, some of the scenery was incredible for it's day.

more than 2 years ago
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Gartner Analyst Retracts "Windows 8 Is Bad" Claim

Ken Hall Re:Was it taken out of context? (306 comments)

In a previous job, where I was a tech manager, the management above me swore by Gartner. Nothing was done without their blessing. Unless, of course, the recommendation disagreed with one of their deep-seated "religious" biases.

In any case, dealing with Gartner was an interesting experience. I would call them and speak to an analyst about some product we were thinking of getting. The analyst would make vague pronouncements about "industry standards", and "best of breed", and "best practices", and usually vaguely recommend whichever product happened to be the front runner in that particular niche at that time. Then I would outline my reasons for choosing whatever product we had determined to be best for our needs. I could hear the analyst hanging on every word, and I just knew our reasoning would make it into the next round of recommendations.

They never gave me anything useful, their sole function seemed to be to validate whatever decision we had already made. In the couple of cases where they did make a serious recommendation in conflict with our plans, the company tended to ignore them and do what it pleased anyway.

more than 2 years ago
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Facebook Locks Down Social Gift Giving Patent

Ken Hall Maybe what we need is... (185 comments)

.. one guy at the patent office to look at each patent for about five seconds, and stamp ones like this with "This is stupid, go away... NO PATENT FOR YOU!!"

more than 3 years ago
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Apple Patents Tech to Stop iPhones Filming in Venues

Ken Hall Re:So when do they issue these transmitters to cop (391 comments)

Apple will probably sell a "special" iPhone that includes the transmitter.

Or a big red eye that one wears in the center of his forehead. Maybe with a big "L" on it.

more than 3 years ago
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Apple Patents Tech to Stop iPhones Filming in Venues

Ken Hall Maybe not so bad... (391 comments)

Since Apple patented it, this means it doesn't (and theoretically can't) apply to anything but iPhones. So everyone else who has an Android, or Windows, or BB, or any other dumb camera phone is not only free, but PROHIBITED from having this "feature" unless the manufacturers license it from Apple.

Way to go, Apple, you just gave everyone one more reason NOT to buy an iPhone. I'm sure the theater owners will love installing a (probably) expensive IR gadget to catch the small percentage of camera phone owners who will be covered by it.

more than 3 years ago
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GSM Association Slams Euro Call For Ban On Wireless In School

Ken Hall Let's ban school sports then (271 comments)

A high school football player just last week died during practice. MANY kids are hurt doing team sports in schools. There's a KNOWN, DEFINITE health threat, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt!

If they can ban stuff based on the vague possibility of a problem, why not ban what is PROVEN to be one!

more than 3 years ago
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Feds Help You Find Your Fastest Internet Service

Ken Hall Re:Worthless (163 comments)

I put in mine and it shows no wired providers, only wireless. I had 8 mbps DSL four years ago from Bellsouth/AT&T, and have even faster now from Comcast.

more than 3 years ago
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Cassandra 0.7 Can Pack 2 Billion Columns Into a Row

Ken Hall Re:Nobody read "Jurassic Park"? (235 comments)

Nobody ever said Michael Crichton had the best grasp of technical issues. While the book was a BIT better than the movie, most of his stuff is still pretty well divorced from reality.

more than 3 years ago
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Cassandra 0.7 Can Pack 2 Billion Columns Into a Row

Ken Hall Nobody read "Jurassic Park"? (235 comments)

As I recall, one of the tasks given to Nedry in the design of the computer systems was to devise a database capable of holding a couple of billion fields to handle the sequencing of DNA strands.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Unlocked Phones Don't Work In the US

Ken Hall Re:Huh? (442 comments)

You give them the MEID, and they look it up. They know. The web site won't activate a smartphone. It knows too.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Unlocked Phones Don't Work In the US

Ken Hall Re:Every Network Is Different (442 comments)

There was a lot more to it than this. AT&T was prohibited from being in certain markets (computers) because of the "regulated monopoly" status. They had fantastic technology available via Bell Labs, but they couldn't sell it directly. They also had UNIX. They owned it. But they couldn't make money off it.

The government wouldn't let AT&T sell computers because it was believed they would have an unfair advantage in the marketplace if they controlled everything from end to end. They could make their computers work better or cheaper on their networks. Few people remember now how much it used to cost to connect a third party modem to a Bell phone line. But you could rent a modem from Bell that would plug right in! And then you'd pay, and pay, and pay rent forever.

The management of AT&T decided it was better for the company to be broken up so they could get the new entities into markets they thought would make them more money than just carrying traffic. At that time, the small computer industry was beginning to take off, and they wanted a piece of that. They wanted to take on IBM, and even without the local providers, they were still about the only company large enough to succeed.

This isn't about technology, or customer service, it's about BUSINESS. Everyone who owned AT&T stock got shares in all of the new entities, and the idea was that the new entities, moving into new markets, could make more revenue combined than the old monolith. That translates into higher overall dividends, and higher aggregate share prices.

It's all about "maximizing shareholder value".

Sometimes in business, you have to think about what your company can be, rather than what it IS. If the railroads had thought this way, they could have been the first into the airline business, but they thought of themselves as RAILROADS, and not as "transportation providers", and by the time they realized what was happening, it was too late.

The management of AT&T tried to branch out, to get into the game, but unfortunately nobody thought of them as a computer company. They didn't discover how to properly market their new products till they were outclassed by the other players. Their early UNIX boxes were good products that just never sold well.

more than 3 years ago
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Why Unlocked Phones Don't Work In the US

Ken Hall Re:Huh? (442 comments)

I bought a Treo on the used market a few years back. Verizon won't activate a data-capable phone unless you buy a data plan. That's just how they work. If you try to switch from a standard phone to a smartphone via the web site, it'll tell you to call customer service, and they will tell you you HAVE to buy the data plan. No alternative.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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http://www.livescience.com/environment/081021-anta

Ken Hall Ken Hall writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Ken Hall writes "Have they found Lovecraft's "Mountains of Madness"? What IS under all that ice? Livescience is aiming to find out."

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