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Microsoft Reportedly Poaching Apple Retail Staff

PhotoGuy Employment contracts... (375 comments)

There may be some "non-comp" clauses (where valid). I realize non-comp's aren't always enforceable, but the managers probably have something (or should have something) in their employment contracts which prevents taking company data (including employee lists), and poaching employees...

more than 5 years ago

Student Designs Cardboard Computer Case

PhotoGuy Shielding... (329 comments)

I designed and built a case out of a small storage tote, since I wanted a smaller case than standard.

It fit nicely, cooled well, and ran nicely. It looked pretty cool, too, translucent.

But Lordy, don't underestimate the value of shielding/grounding that your metal case gives you. That sucker threw off so much RF interference it was insane. And I got video/sound interference on the display/speakers for the PC, quite serious. And I had occasional lockups.

Tossing the same gear into a metal case, and everything was fine.

If this cardboard case works, it must have some tinfoil or something in it to shield/ground things, or it'll be a dud.

more than 5 years ago

(Near) Constant Internet While RV'ing?

PhotoGuy Re:Let me get this straight (438 comments)

If it is for business, then you can probably live with the latency of satellite. I lived with DirecWay for three years, and survived just fine. It worked very well for me; despite usage caps and limited upload speed, it was a good solution, far better than anything else that was out there.

The standard hardware isn't that expensive; auto-pointing RV-top units are indeed thousands. If you don't mind some manual labour, it is possible to set up and point the cheap default hardware on a tripod (weighted with sandbags, etc.), or on a mount on your RV (taking it off when moving).

Technically you're not supposed to be pointing these things unless you're a qualified tech, but I've done it many a time, and it's not that hard once you learn how. (The thing isn't going to transmit until it's locked on the proper receiving carrier, so you're not going to be taking out other satellites by mistake; you'll just not get a usable system if you fail to point it well.)

So if you're willing to pack up/deploy the dish every time your RV moves and you want internet at your new location, it is a relatively cheap and effective means for accomplishing this. If you were staying at places a week at a time, it might be a good route for you. If you're moving daily, it might be too much work.

Depending upon your intended routes, 3G with a nationwide carrier is a good option, too; I like the total independence that satellite gives you, though.

Despite living in a modest cottage, when Hurricane Juan hit, I was living pretty good with my generator, satellite internet, propane-heated water :) People came to my place to use the Internet and get a shower.

more than 5 years ago

All Humans Are Mutants, Say Scientists

PhotoGuy JBS? (309 comments)

A geneticist (one of those people who like to play God) named JBS? Is that short for Jeebus?

more than 5 years ago

Depression May Provide Cognitive Advantages

PhotoGuy Re:Wait, so my depression is good? (512 comments)

On the topic of Brel, a lot of his songs deal with such themes since he has always been on the verge of depression.

We francophones consider him one of the two or three major writers of the 20th century. A few of his songs have been adapted to English with varying success.

One of the saddest songs I remember growing up, was based upon one of his: Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks (and later redone again by Westlife). And Terry livened the tune up a lot from the original :) Beautiful song, but depressing.

more than 5 years ago

China Admits Use of Death-Row Organs

PhotoGuy Re:Bodies Exhibit, anyone? (309 comments)

Ive been to the exhibition and the flatly deny the bodies are from prisoners

Really? From wiki (which has a citation in the article):

Under the settlement agreement with New York City, Premier Exhibitions agreed to post disclaimers stating that they could not independently rule out the possibility that remains of Chinese prisoners were used in the production of the displays.


more than 5 years ago

Apple vs. Google, Who Will Control the iPhone?

PhotoGuy Re:Who will control the iPhone? (213 comments)

D'oh: correction: I could never get *Myth* to stream to more than one networked computer. Sage streams to three-four computers regularly over WiFi for me, without any problems.

(Wish /. had a 60-second edit function like Reddit. Oh well, my own fault.)

more than 5 years ago

Apple vs. Google, Who Will Control the iPhone?

PhotoGuy Re:Who will control the iPhone? (213 comments)

Actually yes. MythTV kicks the utter crap out of any other PVR ever made.

I love MythTV, used it for years. After some frustration (yet another update, yet another two nights messing around to get my IR remote working again, arrrrgh), I tried out SageTV. I have no association with the company; I think it's mostly a one-developer shop. But they make an awesome product. Less than $100 for the server and client licenses, and I had a system that streamed to multiple windows/mac/linux computers seamlessly (I could never get Sage to stream to more than one networked computer, and even that was painful). (And I picked up a couple of dedicated Sage hardware boxes, that work beautifully, loading their GUI off the server. Very slick.)

Not knocking Myth, and I bet it will overtake all others some day; but to say it's the best and kicks everyone's butt, isn't consistent with my experiences. If you like the indy-ish PVR approach, but want something easier and more polished than Myth (and more cross-platform, ironically), do check out Sage.

more than 5 years ago

Swedish Authorities Attempt Pirate Bay Shutdown

PhotoGuy Re:How long can they fight it (348 comments)

Yeah because all the users of the site would totally stick around if they were no longer getting all the content for free. *rolls eyes* Why must everyone make up bullshit excuses instead of just admitting that they were downloading stuff because they wanted to get it for free? No one is falling for these bullshit excuses anyway.

While I find it hard to disagree with you, I think it can be put a bit differently... The reason people are so drawn to illegal/free downloads, is that the price point for this media is unrealistically high. $70 for games, $10-$20-$30 for movies. Notice that when you put iPhone apps and singles up for 99c, you suddenly start developing a new multi-million dollar markets.

(Especially since "albums" with a dozen solid songs seem to be a thing of decades past. But that's another story, sigh. There's a rare exception, such as Tom Fun, but in general, I don't see anyone producing solid solid, cohesive, albums these days.)

I would say the motivation for piracy is largely driven by perceived differences between supply and demand pricing. There is a big segment of the market where the current prices don't meet their requirements; and there's a venue where they can get it for a price closer to their threshold ($0 is lot closer to $1, than $70 is to $1), so they figure out how to pirate it, and do so.

Ideology (information wants to be free, yadda yadda yadda!) is a nice excuse, and icing on the cake, but I don't think is a major motivation for most pirates. It's just a bit of self-righteous rationalization after the fact.

I think there will be a big equalization of prices over the next five-ten years, which will make things more sane. I don't mind paying $30/mo. or $50/mo. *total (or even more) for lots of high quality entertainment.

But $40 for cable, $40 for internet, $20+ for movies, $70 for games, etc., etc., is more than I choose to pay. Let people take a slice of my income, and they'll get $30-$50/mo. out of me for entertainment, no problem, instead of the $0 they're getting right now.

People will tend to pay their $40-ish for Internet, and effectively use *that* fee to enable their ability to grab their other entertainment.

more than 5 years ago

Behind Menuet, an OS Written Entirely In Assembly

PhotoGuy Re:Not the best choice of languages (419 comments)

Actually, to follow up on my own post, I wouldn't say that compilers got as good as human-written assemblers "ten years ago"; it's more like "15 - 20 years ago," IMO. (And even in the 70's, compilers were good enough that the Unix operating system could be written mostly in C, with a few thousands lines of assembler for optimization.)

more than 5 years ago

Behind Menuet, an OS Written Entirely In Assembly

PhotoGuy Re:Not the best choice of languages (419 comments)

Go look at the assembler that some of these compilers produce. It's frightening to see the amount of overhead they cost on even simple assignment operations. I saw one compiler (Microsoft's Visual C++) that took a simple x=10; in C++ and turned it into 15 assembly language operations that, had it been coded by hand, would have been one MOV statement.

Spoken like someone who hasn't used a modern compiler.

This statement might have been true ten years ago (or maybe still true with MSC). But in general, with a good modern compiler, it isn't.

In the Z-80 days, I did everything assembly (actually, in raw machine code, compiling in my head, effectively). I learned C in the 8088 days, but did a lot of optimization, putting my CPU intensive stuff in assembler functions. And so forth on the VAX, and into the 386 days, doing graphics work, 3D stuff, games, and such.

Then the Watcom compiler came along, and started pushing what compilers could truly achieve.

It reached a point where, looking at the generated code, I realized that in general, the compiler was doing as good, or very nearly as good a job as I could do. In some cases, with loop unrolling and other "non-local" optimizations, it was doing better. At this bore out in actual performance timing tests. And the other compilers caught up to Watcom, and they all continued to get better and better; my hand-written optimized code had already reached its limit, that the compilers approached.

Granted, there will always be some case where a bit of assembler can optimize things; but with the speed of CPU's, and the quality of modern compilers, the case where it's worth the effort is *exceedingly* rare.

I doubt you could show an example today with the latest GCC, where an assignment resulted in a dozen instructions.

Simple example:

                i = 0;
                for (j = 0; j < 10; j++)
                                  i += j;

ran through "gcc -O -S", gives:

                movl $0, %eax
                movl $0, %edx
                addl %edx, %eax
                incl %edx
                cmpl $10, %edx
                jne L2

Hard to beat that (other than figuring out the algorithm and reducing to a constant, which some of the super-advanced compilers probably do :)

And with limited register sets, compilers can be better than humans, at figuring which variables are best stashed in memory or on the stack, and which are best cached in registers.

more than 5 years ago

The Problems With Porting Games

PhotoGuy Re:Let us use a damn mouse and keyboard (330 comments)

The console makers keep a pretty tight reign on game development guidelines; you play by their rules, follow their guidelines, adhere to the licensing terms they set, and then you can have your game digitally signed and sold. If you don't have their approval and they don't sign the disc, your game won't run on the console (unless it's hacked).

Given the fact that a USB keyboard/mouse combo can be had for $10-$20, from any vendor, and a console remote can cost you a good chunk of $100, to the console maker, it's pretty easy to see why more games don't allow keyboard/mouse.

On the other hand, most games that would benefit from keyboard/mouse, are single-player FPS type games; single a single controller comes with each console, allowing keyboard/mouse isn't really that big of a threat.

I'm only familiar with the WII; three extra remotes plus nunchuks cost more than the console. And now WII Motion Plus is going to be used by more and more games, there's another $100. I still like the system, and the features/quality of the controls do seem to justify things to a degree, but I still feel *slightly* gouged. (Third party controllers are available, and really aren't that much cheaper, which kinda indicates that maybe the tech involved in the remotes is a bit pricey to start with.)

more than 5 years ago

Facebook Faces the Canadian Privacy Commissioner

PhotoGuy Re:Keeping your information private on Facebook... (140 comments)

I think the average person grossly overestimates the value of this data. In short, unless you're a celebrity, or stalked by an ex, or something, *NOBODY CARES* about this data. (Other than friends, viewing it for its intended purposes, of course.)

And if you're a celebrity, or being stalked, odds are you take some extra privacy measures in your every day life (don't leave blinds up, etc.), so maybe you should take similar measures online (don't publish friends lists to the world).

Facebook does have some privacy holes, but in general you can keep your profile details pretty hush-hush, except to those you choose.

It amazes me how many people are so paranoid. I see almost everyone I know enjoying Facebook, and I've never heard of a single identity theft or other ill effect of it.

The apps is do find annoying (some third party company, not vetted at all, getting all your details when you accept a cheesy gift, etc..); and that's part of the Canadian govt's investigation. Again, I simply don't accept apps.

(Personally, I'm kinda bored with Facebook, only check in occasionally, and find it rather "meh"; but I'm the type with a fairly small and close group of friends to start with, so maybe that's why.)

more than 5 years ago

RadioShack To Rebrand As "The Shack"?

PhotoGuy Canadian Fiasco (629 comments)

There's quite a mess with the RS name in Canada. RS Canada was operated by InterTAN, who sold it to Circuit City. Then Radio Shack sued InterTAN for breach of contract, and the Radio Shack name could no longer be used, so they rebranded it "The Source by Circuit City." And now, Radio Shack is apparently going to come into Canada opening stores under that name. Bizarre and annoying.

Sadly, before this silliness, Radio Shack (Canada, at least) had already declined from a cool store with a wide variety of electronics and parts, into a TV/Remote Control Vehicle shop, with a few gadgets and toys, and just a shadow of its former self.

Maybe the new Radio Shack can restore some of its former appeal. I'm not holding my breath.

We're hurting for electronics retailers in Canada, at least of the geeky kind. There's no major chain where you can pop in and buy a motherboard, for example (and I've had iffy success with small-time local dealers). Sigh.

I've visited a Fry's in the US before, and despite it having the same lack of appeal of most big box retailers, it did have things like motherboards and components; good selection, good price, so you hold your nose and buy :)

more than 5 years ago

Apple Says iPhone Jailbreaking Could Hurt Cell Towers

PhotoGuy From a trying-to-stay-a-fanboy... (495 comments)

Sorry, but after this "Google Voice is simply duplicate functionality", Apple has lost pretty much all legitimacy in anything they say. Everything they say lately, one has to think "why are they really doing this," and there is always an obvious alternative answer.

Sigh, I really want to like them, I really do.

But my hopes are fading.

more than 5 years ago

Laser Ignition May Replace the Spark Plug

PhotoGuy Great... (388 comments)

Great, the laser pulses will probably be DRM encoded so that only authorized chips are used and vendors that insert the appropriate smart card can perform service on them...

The advent of CPU-enhanced cars is a great one, but this is one place where the govt really needs to step in an open things up. For standard engine codes, things aren't too bad; but Lord help you if you want to read an ABS or airbag code from a GM vehicle (for example). They're locked down. I have some decent PC-based code reader hardware and software, but in order to read the ABS error that my two vehicles are both showing (GM, learn to design ABS, will ya!), I need to spend hundreds or thousands on their own software/hardware to simply find out which of my four ABS sensors is faulty.

The more they get into specialized things like this, including laser ignition, the more I worry that I won't be able to be a backyard mechanic any more.

more than 5 years ago

Amazon Pulls Purchased E-Book Copies of 1984 and Animal Farm

PhotoGuy Harmony (645 comments)

I have bought copies of both books in my (distant) past.

Recently, I "found" electronic copies of them, and re-read them, enjoying them very much, more so than when I first purchased them. I read them on a free reader on two different handheld devices (one Windows CE; ugh, but it's my phone, too, so meh), and one Linux based (cooler, but blah, it's not my phone).

Nobody revoked anything on me. Nobody took away my right to read. Nobody took away my license to read these books that I purchased awhile back. Nobody could, because it was through "unauthorized" channels. But I bought the damn book. And here in Canada, even borrowing the book/record/game gives you permission to copy it for yourself for personal use.

Most consumers wouldn't know how to do what I did, and that's sad.

I'll never buy into DRM.

Also, I've gotten HDTV through less than legit means, while simultaneously paying for full subscription. (If I used that subscription purely, I'd be forced to do the D-to-A-to-D route, blah). But I get my HDTV, for personal use, recordable, copyable, save-able, pure. Through unauthorized means. I'm supposedly legally allowed to, but not permitted to actually do so, as a non-informed consumer.

In general, the producers need to know that their content isn't *that* valuable or *that* essential to people's lives. It's not freakin' oxygen. But if the masses want to toss you a few bucks each for unrestricted access to it (which I would), you should accept it, and you'll be rich. Richer than astronauts (as Homer would say).

But you keep trying to deny me something I bought, and you wont't survive. I can guarantee that...

more than 5 years ago

Facebook Violates Canadian Privacy Law

PhotoGuy The Problem... (179 comments)

The biggest problem I see with Facebook is the stupid, silly apps that get *full* access to your data. I create a dancing Christmas tree that everybody sends to their friends, or similar banality, and I can scam tons of personal data, that I really don't need to show that dancing Christmas tree.

The Canadian report recommends that these third party apps only request the data they need to perform their function, that the app let's the user know what data is using, and gets the user's approval. If that Dancing Christmas tree is asking for my phone number, I don't think that's appropriate, and I should be able to reject it, and the app wouldn't be popular.

I believe Facebook used to have a better granularity in asking what perms an app could have (although most apps asked for everything anyway). If app creators would only ask for what is relevant to their app, and users were aware of it (and refused to give away details unnecessarily), things would be much cleaner.

I do fault facebook for removing (or hiding?) this granularity, and simply making a "grant permission" button instead of showing all that a given vendor was getting access to.

Creating a mindless but popular app really the easiest way to get a ton of demographic data for nothing. It's shameful that Facebook allowed this, perhaps even encouraged it; now they're being called on it.

Proud to be Canadian. :)

more than 5 years ago

Cats "Exploit" Humans By Purring

PhotoGuy "murr murr" (503 comments)

I wonder if this is related to an odd cat vocalization I've seen. At least three (non-overlapping) cats I've had over the years, make a vocalization (kind of a murrmurrmurr half-meow with their mouths closed) when they're in a happy or friendly mood.

I've never heard other cats make this sound, so I was wondering if there was something I was doing in their upbringing to bring it out (some sound I was making they were trying to imitate, or picking up on the fact that the sound gets them attention?

more than 5 years ago

Building a 10 TB Array For Around $1,000

PhotoGuy Re:Sigh... (227 comments)

That kind of hardware hardly ever gets used in production without a service contract to cover repairs. After it is 3-4 years old, the service contract becomes silly expensive and the hardware gets retired. Something from the dot-com meltdown is way out of warranty.

Excellent point. And more than the "warrantee" is the "license agreement." Some smart purchasers, I've been told, wouldn't buy the units until they were guaranteed, in writing, that the software licenses were transferable. We didn't, and ours weren't.

So any purchaser of the system who was looking to use the unit as anything other than spare parts, would have to pay a major licensing fee to Netapp, pretty much zeroing any resale value. Very shitty indeed on Netapp's part. I do like the tech they put into the units, but the software licensing policies almost make me think their obsolescence by cheaper/easier/faster solutions is a bit deserved...

more than 5 years ago



Facebook violates Canadian privacy laws

PhotoGuy PhotoGuy writes  |  more than 5 years ago

PhotoGuy (189467) writes "CBC writes that Facebook has been deemed to be breaching Canadian privacy law. It seemed to be a rather well written report, focusing upon applications' free reign of personal data (recommending that apps specifically ask for what data they need, any why, and get the user's consent), retention of data after a user deactivates, and things such as tagging non-users in photos by name (thereby providing information about non-users without their consent). The complaints are all ones I very much agree with (I won't add any silly apps, period), and the recommendations seem sound. Facebook has responded by saying they have some upcoming privacy improvements."

CNN now offering headlines on T-shirts

PhotoGuy PhotoGuy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

PhotoGuy (189467) writes "While reading CNN's front page today, I noticed a small icon next to a number of the video stories. I thought they were finally offering readable versions of all their video stories (a main reason I don't read CNN that much is their lack of readable versions of many stories). But the icon looked like a T-shirt for some reason. So I clicked on it.

In one of the dumbest add-ons yet to a news site, they are now offering select headlines on T-shirts. I honestly thought the site had been hacked (had it?) Not only is the idea itself horribly cheesy for a news site, but these out of context headlines are the lamest T-shirts I've seen. Here's a complete list. With front page headlines about the latest survivor being ousted, Jeanne Moos stories (shudder), T-shirt sales, is CNN losing its focus on real news?"

Mysterious Dark Spiral in P.E.I. skies

PhotoGuy PhotoGuy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

PhotoGuy (189467) writes "CBC News (and others) are reporting on a couple's filming of a mysterious dark spiral in the evening skies of Prince Edward Island, Canada. The weather and transport agencies couldn't identify it.

"When it came out of the cloud, we have it from there until it's out of sight. I have no idea. I mean I didn't think it was a UFO or anything but to me I thought something was in trouble, but it was going so slow. I mean it was at least a half an hour from the time we first spotted it till it went out of sight."
Slashdot seems to have a wide sampling of professionals from a number of fields; does anyone have some guesses or theories about it? Just a natural cloud phenomenon? A pulse jet engine? A plane in distress? Fireworks gone amok? Anyone?"

Burying Plan Safety Data?

PhotoGuy PhotoGuy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

PhotoGuy (189467) writes "CNN is reporting that a NASA has attempted to bury the results of an air safety study they performed. And congress is stepping in to save the data:

"An unprecedented national survey of pilots by the U.S. government has found that safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than previously recognized. But the government is withholding the information, fearful it would upset air travelers and hurt airline profits."

"Last week, NASA ordered the contractor that conducted the survey to purge all related data from its computers. Congress intervened Monday, saying it will launch a formal investigation and instruct NASA to keep all its data."

It seems like a very strange and political set of events."

Apple Doing Well on Macintosh Sales

PhotoGuy PhotoGuy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

PhotoGuy (189467) writes "CNN Money/Fortune is reporting on a great quarter by Apple. For those of you who keep saying Apple is primarily an iPod company, and other products are secondary, should note that Macintosh sales accounted for 64% of the company's revenue (up 34%). Aside from straightening out those who dismiss Apple as not being focused on the Mac line, this provides some comfort to me; knowing how integral the Mac and OSX is to Apple's ongoing success certainly helps ensure its ongoing future and support."
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