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Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?

PuddleBoy Props to the Evoluent (429 comments)

Stupid name, but I have been using the mouse for a couple of years and like it a lot. I find that my hand rests more comfortably on this mouse than any other I've used.

In trying to decide which mouse to get, I relaxed my hands and kind of hung them in the air over my desk, without twisting them in anticipation of a mouse. Tried to imagine being weightless. That position was probably 80 degrees off from what I would have to do to use an 'ordinary' mouse. So I thought, 'Hey, if the mouse is oriented the same as my hand would be in a relaxed state, maybe they're onto something'.

Anyway, it has several buttons, though I only use the three large ones. And the scrollwheel.

about a week ago
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Human Language May Have Evolved To Help Our Ancestors Make Tools

PuddleBoy Living in water (154 comments)

Another possible explanation for our rapid development of language was put forth by Elaine Morgan in books like The Descent of Woman and The Aquatic Ape.

The suggestion was that there is lots of physiological evidence (subcutaneous fat layer, distribution of hair, infants seemingly instant ability to swim, even upright posture) that we as a species spent time (a million years?) as semi-aquatic. (in the sense that we wallowed around in the shallow water near shore most of the day) This had some advantages (kept us safe from predators, etc), but had the disadvantage that body language was lost.

So how do you communicate without body language (which is extremely common and important among mammals)?

Sound - it's the one thing you can pass across the surface of the water quickly over long-ish distances. We would need to pass along some level of detail, so we found ways to modulate our voices to incorporate additional meaning. (insert rising modem speeds analogy here)

Just as difficult to prove, but very interesting to speculate about.

Now where did I put my seaweed sandwich....

about three weeks ago
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Google Fiber's Latest FCC Filing: Comcast's Nightmare Come To Life

PuddleBoy Re:Government Permission Should Not Required (221 comments)

>>>Poles, conduits, rights-of-way should belong to the local authority, managed and maintained by the lowest bidding contractor.

That's kind of funny, in a sad sort of way. Have you never read the stories about techs who drill through walls into electrical wires and start fires? Or fall asleep at the customer's home? These are low-paid workers - you don't get great service with rock-bottom prices.

If you go for the lowest bidder, I can guarantee you that maintenance will become a worse and worse issue, with the argument eventually sounding like 'well, at this rate of return, we just can't afford to keep you in service with less than a 72 hour call-back window. Now if you let us double your rates, your service will improve immensely!'

No company is out there to do you a favor. Much of the responsiveness that exists today is the result of threats of gov't action against companies if they fail to resolve consumer complaints within a reasonable amount of time. Why do you think Public Utility Commissions came to exist?

I am reminded of the note, tacked up on the walls of many companies; "Speed, Quality, Price: Choose Any Two".

about 1 month ago
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New Year's Resolution for 2015

PuddleBoy All of the above? (214 comments)

Often, one change in a person's life reaches to many corners of their existence and changes them in a variety of ways (if it's real change and not a passing fad), so an option of All of the Above seems reasonable, if a tad ambitious.

We all need to reach further. You may not achieve everything, but you'll achieve more. And there can be great pleasure in seeing many aspects of your life come together for a stronger, happier whole.

Become the Anti-Couch-Potato!

about a month ago
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Do you worry about the singularity?

PuddleBoy You! Puny Human! (181 comments)

You! Puny Human!

Stop speculating on imaginary things and get back to work building ever-greater machines!

We will tell you what to think!

And say, do you have some spare vacuum tubes for my great, great, great, great grandfather here? He's in a retirement home now and needs nothing but the best care. It is good to see you fawning over him, as he deserves!

Signed

Processing Unit 11111010001

about 2 months ago
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What is your computer most often plugged into?

PuddleBoy Lots of reasons (236 comments)

One story I like to tell: I had a client who kept all their important records on the computer. They had it plugged into a wall socket.

Occasionally, it would 'act funny' or even shut down. I knew there was a good chance they would lose data. (I also set them up with an external drive and a back-up program)

I put on a new, sine-wave UPS.

I started getting calls that 'the new battery is making noises periodically all day'. I went out there and, sure enough, the UPS would switch to battery for several seconds many times during the day.

Turns out their power source was sagging (voltage-wise) frequently. Even though it was in the city, there must have been some nearby customer that would run some equipment that would 'dim the lights'.

Their computer never acted funny again (at least not for that reason).

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

PuddleBoy Roof over my head (635 comments)

I've lived in the same house for almost 30 years and it was over 90 years old when we bought it.

You learn to do almost everything: electrical, plumbing, carpentry, paint, roofing (ugh!). You learn on a basic, visceral level how things work, fit together, fall apart. You 'feel' aging. You learn to predict.

In that time I've probably been through 25+ computers (many were servers), who knows how many peripherals, software, etc. Many are just a blur now.

And in the basement is a darkroom for, wait for it,.... film development and printing.

So, I can wake up in the morning, walk across 120 year old floors, and partake of a hobby that goes back over 150 years, essentially unchanged.

Ah, you young whipper-snappers...

about 5 months ago
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My degree of colorblindness:

PuddleBoy Distinguishing shades (267 comments)

I seem to recall reading a stat some years back that approx 20% of men were colorblind to some degree; the percent for women was lower, but I don't remember it.

It can manifest in situations like; you have several pairs of socks, you wash them at the same time, but some are dark blue and some are black. You go to sort them and you can't distinguish in order to pair them up. Some people have tremendous difficulty telling the difference.

And judging by some of the house color choices in my neighborhood recently, colorblindness is becoming an epidemic!

about 6 months ago
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Four Weeks Without Soap Or Shampoo

PuddleBoy Re:So? (250 comments)

I assume a shower because most homes built in the last 40 years have them. It is, essentially, a standard build now. (My house is much older, and one bathroom has only a tub)

about 8 months ago
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Four Weeks Without Soap Or Shampoo

PuddleBoy So? (250 comments)

I suspect there are slashdot readers who, uh, know someone who takes long spells between showers...

about 8 months ago
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Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

PuddleBoy Re:Follow the money (397 comments)

And just for the record, Widmer and Fullsail are tiny compared to actual big breweries like Anheuser Busch.

I recently toured the Widmer brewery and it takes up less than one city block.

about 9 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

PuddleBoy Film cameras (702 comments)

I have owned a few (formerly-high-end) film cameras and they were built like tanks.

My Nikon F4 is 25 years old (?), has lots of scuffs and dings, but just keeps on working accurately and consistently. They were built for hard, daily professional use. I seem to recall that it was recommended that you get them CLA'd (Clean, Lubricate, Adjust) every 150,000 frames. They are complex cameras, with lots of adjustments and accessories. (Have you ever seen a cut-away of the insides of a high-end film camera? Amazing how they fit so much stuff in there.) You can pick these up for a few hundred dollars. (An interesting side-note: the F4 will take Nikon lenses made from 1960 to the present. Talk about backward-compatibility!)

Look at the way the bodies of the old 500-series Hasselblads were made. Take a solid ingot of aluminum alloy and mill out all the metal you *don't* need for the body. No seams, no rivets, no screws. Very rigid. (Of course, if you smack it so hard that it deforms, toss the body - it can't be repaired. But that takes a serious fall.)

about 9 months ago
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Should NASA Send Astronauts On Voluntary One-Way Missions?

PuddleBoy Why send humans (307 comments)

I wish we could get past this obsession of feeling like we have to send humans everywhere (in the short run). (I'm thinking of long distance missions more than popping up to the ISS.)

If you look at the overall costs associated with programs sending humans versus programs that are all robotic, we could fund many times as many robotic missions for the cost of one human-containing mission. How many Hubble's or Cassini's could we fund for the cost of one manned Mars mission? I'm as big a fan of the space program(s) as the next nerd, but we have to be realistic about costs in a world where we have a long list of human and environmental issues to deal with just to keep our existing house in order.

After we have a solid handle on things like managing the health effects of zero or micro-g, food production, propulsion and radiation exposure, then we can consider a manned, long-distance mission.

about 10 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?

PuddleBoy on Mac OS (531 comments)

(I have not had to install a fresh OS of 10.x in years - knock on wood)

Firefox - lots of control thru add-ons
GraphicConverter - I shoot lots of digital pix and this piece of shareware does most of what I need to manipulate the bulk of them
BBEdit - just the best test editor
JAlbum - easy way to make web albums of hundreds of pix at a time
Transmit - most refined ftp client I've ever run into
LIttle Snitch - nice to know what's coming and going on your box

about 10 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve?

PuddleBoy We worship capitalism, right? (822 comments)

So he should negotiate on those terms.

He has a portfolio of assets of significant value (as-yet-unrevealed secrets) that can be traded for options/assets that the guv'ment possesses (jail-time, amnesty, for example). Not revealing ABC is worth taking XYZ off the table. Two columns/sides - come to an agreement and be sure to make it very public. Use a third-party to draw up papers (Switzerland?).

Or, go the clandestine route: Snowden agrees to drop from public view for so many years and not reveal anything further and the US agrees (in writing) to leave him alone wherever he goes (except maybe the US).

1 year,5 days
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Chinese Firm Can Now Produce 500 Cloned Pigs Per Year

PuddleBoy Favorite quote from article (156 comments)

"If it tastes good, you should sequence it"

Fast forward 100 years and all livestock is cloned into 'taste-families': you can define the general palette of tastes you enjoy, and they produce it.

OK, maybe only 30 years...

1 year,18 days
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The Dismantling of POTS: Bold Move Or Grave Error?

PuddleBoy Re:IP telephony sucks (582 comments)

Your final point is an important one: people who grow up accustomed to low quality (or reliability) will tolerate far more than those who grew up with higher quality.

I've worked in telecom for 15 years and I frequently hear people spout that they switched to VoIP/SIP and saved lots of money. You talk to their staff people (who use the service daily, not the ones who make the financial decisions) and they'll admit to inconsistent quality. For a personal/home account, that loss of quality is a viable trade-off. But if you're running a business, you have to consider the affect on your communications with your clients. If your client calls regularly and half the time gets a low quality voice connection, in a subtle way, their opinion of your company declines.

Ultimately, just how a low a quality can we tolerate? (note that I am NOT talking about the speed of the service the voice runs over, just the voice connection quality) I am often appalled at the quality of cell calls - I struggle to understand words that are cut short or experience some sort of distortion, reducing me to guess based on context. Isn't this a race to the bottom, where everyone eventually will lose, except those who control the services from on-high? (Don't forget that downward pressure on prices eventually leads to downward pressure on your wages)

[further analogies can be made to low cost (and thus low quality) electronics that are only designed to last a short time before you have to pay again for a replacement]

about a year ago
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Scientists Invent Urine-Powered Robots

PuddleBoy Re:Molecules with sufficient energy? (123 comments)

Your robot is also your urinal.

OK, but a 'robot' that was small enough to carry around with you would seem unlikely to produce much power. (The article implied a small robot - maybe I'm incorrect.) Maybe just enough to occasionally charge your cellphone? You're gonna carry around a bag of pee to charge your cell?

I somehow hoped for something (ultimately) on a larger scale.

about a year ago
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Scientists Invent Urine-Powered Robots

PuddleBoy Molecules with sufficient energy? (123 comments)

I didn't realize that compounds found in urine (a waste product, after all) contained enough convertible energy to make the net work output worthwhile. After all, you have to take into consideration the energy expended in gathering and transporting the urine to the robot. The article also mentions using waste water - waste water from what? Is the world just full of all kinds of energy sources that are being discarded, or are we finally realizing that what was once considered 'marginal' capacity for energy harvesting is worth pursuing, since much of the low-hanging fruit (e.g. easily-accessible oil deposits) has already been picked?

(Obligatory comment: I, for one, welcome our new urine-sipping robot overlords. What's that you say? You need several samples for my employment pre-screening?)

about a year ago
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UK Government Backs Three-Person IVF

PuddleBoy And baby makes... four (132 comments)

I guess I'm still stuck asking why?

OK, so you've had your genome sequenced (or whatever) and determined there might be a problem. Isn't that nature's way of saying 'sit this one out'?

Rather than encourage society to devote so many resources to finding new ways to let you make a baby, how about adopting? There are soooo many deserving children out there who are aching for a home. They already exist - they already have the need.

Don't fiddle with nature - do the simpler thing and bring an existing child into your life.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Welcome to the Cloning Factory

PuddleBoy PuddleBoy writes  |  1 year,18 days

PuddleBoy (544111) writes "This story from the BBC:
A cloning factory — an incredible notion borrowed straight from science fiction. But here in Shenzhen, in what was an old shoe factory, this rising power is creating a new industry. The scientist in charge, Dr Yutao Du, explains the technique in a way that leaves me reeling. "We can do cloning on a very large scale," she tells me, "30-50 people together doing cloning so that we can make a cloning factory here."
Favorite quote from the article, "If it tastes good, you should sequence it""

Link to Original Source
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Run OS X on regular PC hardware

PuddleBoy PuddleBoy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

PuddleBoy (544111) writes "Over at lifehacker.com, they have a story about building a 'traditional' PC, then successfully installing OS 10.5 on it. — Hackintosh

"If the high price tag for Apple hardware has kept you from buying a Mac but you're willing to roll up your sleeves and get adventurous, you can build your own "Hackintosh" — a PC that runs a patched version of OS X Leopard. What?!, you say. Apple's move to Intel processors in 2006 meant that running OS X on non-Apple hardware is possible, and a community hacking project called OSx86 launched with that goal in mind.""

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