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Comments

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Bug In Fire TV Screensaver Tears Through 250 GB Data Cap

RickRussellTX Re:It's 2014 (349 comments)

Anyone can start an ISP as long as they are willing to pay for the infrastructure to deliver the last mile connection to their customers.

Not true.

I've always said, the battle for broadband isn't at the national, state, or even regional utility level. It's in the city utility easements.

City and county governments make exclusivity deals with providers. Back when DSL was first rolling out in the late 90s, states mandated that the monopoly easement holders offer their copper wire and telecom junction box space to competitors in return for their cabling monopoly. The phone companies tore the startups to pieces with bogus charges and quality problems, insuring that the phone company service worked OK while the competitors' equipment worked like crap and would never make any money. On the argument that they could provide better service, the phone companies lobbied to get the competition requirements pulled, and they have for the most part.

The cable and phone companies will never, ever allow a competing wired standard into the utility easements. They will fight it at every level, and throw obscene amounts of money around. Only a handful of super-rich companies have managed to bust these agreements. Google Fiber, for example, in very limited areas.

And if you wonder whether they have been successful, check your junction box and see how many data-capable cables are currently entering it. I'm betting it's 1 or 2, and those probably belong to the phone and cable company that have been operating in your locality for at least 30 years.

about 2 months ago
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Google Cuts Android Privacy Feature, Says Release Was Unintentional

RickRussellTX Re: Ups and Downs (324 comments)

Good grief. If the FBI keylogs your machine, or you are compelled to testify and then gag-ordered, does that make you a collaborator? If a convenience store records you on camera, do you hold the camera company responsible? You assignments of blame are misplaced.

about 8 months ago
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SF Airport Officials Make Citizen Arrests of Internet Rideshare Drivers

RickRussellTX Re:Well (510 comments)

It's the intent, not the method that determines if something is helpful or harmful.

Good grief, no. It's the result, not the intent, that determines is something is helpful or harmful. Bad regulations are always defended on good intentions, because intentions are not a measure of performance.

regulations prohibit engine destroying additives being added to fuel, encourage electrical systems to have devices that prevent electrocution

Consumers and courts can do that just fine without regulation.

lower prices by fostering a single standard that is available for everyone

It's like we've learned nothing from the Communications Act of 1934. It's been almost a hundred years since we made these mistakes. We can do better.

1 year,25 days
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Doctorow on the War on General Purpose Computing

RickRussellTX Engineering Workstations & Servers 4EVA (360 comments)

The Death of the PC has been predicted many times. I can believe that the modern surge of high-powered phones and tablets will displace laptops, but general purpose computing workstations? Engineers and scientists need lots of computrons in close communication with local high-speed storage and graphics hardware, so consequently there will always be a stream of low-to-mid-range server technology feeding into general purpose computing workstations, and so there will always be something for hobbyists. I suspect that any significant regulatory forcing in this ecology would affect scientific and engineering innovation to such a degree that any nation implementing draconian technology restrictions would soon find itself at the bottom of the heap. Those who allow free technology will define the next generation.

about 2 years ago
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One Giant Cargo Ship Pollutes As Much As 50M Cars

RickRussellTX Re:Could be a problem (595 comments)

When you consider the utter mess we're making of this planet, reduced shipping capacity isn't that bad of a thing to accept.

Actually, it is a bad thing to accept. If products could be created with less work (e.g. energy and consequently pollution) using local capital and labor, then we wouldn't be shipping them in the first place. Displacing the labor from an efficient location to a less efficient location will have costs, and some those costs will be environmental.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft Sues Salesforce.com Over Patents

RickRussellTX Re:Leader AND innovator? (243 comments)

How is The Ribbon (trademark, whatever) different from the palettes in Adobe creative products that have been there since the early 90s, or the tool palettes any number of programs? The main difference seems to be that the Ribbon can't be moved or resized like those palettes, and its controls cannot be customized or changed.

Honestly, I don't see anything here that is conceptually different from, say, Superpaint circa 1990, or MacDraw Pro, or... sheesh. They all had dockable tool palettes with a combination of buttons, menus, and dialog box poppers. If you want fixed palettes of controls, go to (for example) Adobe Photodeluxe circa 2001.

I mean, I give credit to MS for realizing that menu bars were an early 90s solution to the problem of organizing software functionality, and a palette arrangement could expose more functionality on new displays with more pixel space. But others had come to that conclusion much earlier, and the fixed palette they call "The Ribbon" does not have new features that you would not find in any number applications that use tool palettes.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Accuses Google Docs of Data Infidelity

RickRussellTX Re:What fidelity (178 comments)

I see students failing papers because the Word on one machine does not read word files created on another machine in a different version.

I have to call FUD on that -- Word 2007 will read file formats from before those students were born. If they are claiming that Word ate their homework, they are lying.

Microsoft has locked out some older file formats, such as PowerPoint before Office 97, because they don't want to maintain security on the conversion code. Organizations with long memories (like the company I work for) have bumped into that issue.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Accuses Google Docs of Data Infidelity

RickRussellTX Of course Microsoft is correct (178 comments)

... because you only have to use Google Docs for about 2 minutes to run into commonly-used features from Microsoft Office that just don't exist. I create a chart and I can't format the axes, I can't put in a trend line, I can't copy and paste it into a document. The drawing tools are laughably unsophisticated. Google Docs doesn't offer feature parity with a 1993 copy of Clarisworks, much less Microsoft Office.

I like Google Docs as a handy scratchpad to create documents accessible from anywhere and quickly exportable as PDFs. I have dozens of little things transcribed in it. But production work has to meet standards for fonts, formatting, chart appearance, etc that Google Docs cannot produce. The reality is that Office + Exchange + Sharepoint offers a collaboration environment that is unmatched -- it's an expensive combination, but if you need the features, there is no competitive option. Google's services are light years behind, and OpenOffice is not bad at all (and tantalizingly better than Office in a handful of areas) but the collaboration features are not there.

more than 4 years ago
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Some Newegg Customers Received Fake Intel Core i7s

RickRussellTX Re:hey, Newegg (447 comments)

Yeah, they've said almost exactly this on Twitter.

more than 4 years ago
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Some Newegg Customers Received Fake Intel Core i7s

RickRussellTX My swap meet story (447 comments)

I was at a swap meet a month ago and saw a *pallet* of Core I7 processors. I used Red Laser to scan the UPC codes (they were "Extreme" models selling for $650+ on the open market), and a quick volume computation (the pallet was about 12 high, about 20 horizontal each way) suggested that I was looking at about $3 million worth of processors.

Except, they weren't actual processors. According to the person selling them, they were "fake" processors, but the heatsinks and fans were real and could be used with other processors and motherboards.

Uh-huh. Carrying the original UPC codes. I'm still not sure what to make of it.

more than 4 years ago
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Apple Voiding Smokers' Warranties?

RickRussellTX Re:a..holes (1078 comments)

Apple is thoroughly infused with self-righteous a..holes. That's the image one gets from the top down. I think they may even work on it. It's a valued trait in the company.

Well, duh. A smug sense of superiority is one of the things they are selling. Yes, I think they do cultivate it, just like Whole Foods and Coach bags. Although I don't buy Macs for that reason, I certainly recognize marketing when I see it.

more than 4 years ago
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Apple Voiding Smokers' Warranties?

RickRussellTX Just say that it's not normal use. (1078 comments)

The issue is not whether smoking is legal or illegal; there are plenty of legal things you can do a computer that would void the warranty. If they're going to make this argument, they simply need to support the claim that the damage to the computer goes beyond normal wear and tear.

For example, computers in chemical labs often fail because small amounts of airborne chemicals attack the PC boards and chassis. I've worked on boxes that look like they'd been strapped to the bottom of a battleship for a few years.

Having seen the office accommodations of some chain smokers, I can't say I blame Apple. I've seen environments where every surface is coated with brown, sticky residue and a multi-millimeter thick layer of dust and ash.

more than 4 years ago
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Software Piracy At the Workplace?

RickRussellTX Re:Bide your time (1006 comments)

As long as you're demanding that somebody do something they might not otherwise do, and the demand is backed by a threat of some sort, it's blackmail.

"Obey the law or I'll report you to the authorities," is not blackmail. Period. No court would throw someone in jail for a good-faith effort to demand compliance with the law, and in fact the law specifically protects the rights of various classes of whistleblowers precisely so they can demand compliance without fear of losing their jobs.

It only becomes blackmail if you demand something other than compliance with the law.

more than 4 years ago
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Google To Take On iTunes?

RickRussellTX Re:Its a Fractal (277 comments)

Apple has a vested interest in maintaining their defacto monopoly on online music sales though their vertical product pipeline.

Are you certifiably insane? They have no such monopoly. You can buy music all over the place, without DRM. I've been buying music on-line for years, and I think the last iTune I purchased was 2005. Heck, Amazon's downloader (native versions for Win, Mac and I think Linux) will download albums and add them to iTunes for you, utterly transparently, and they have since at least 2007, which is long time on the technology clock. In that time I've moved my entire music collection from Win, to Linux, to Mac, back to Win without so much as a blip.

Do they have a de facto monopoly on portable video solutions that actually work? I might give you that, but it's purely de facto. They aren't preventing others from entering the market or abusing market power. It's hardly Apple's fault that nobody else (except Pirate Bay) can do it correctly.

more than 4 years ago
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Road To Riches Doesn't Run Through the App Store

RickRussellTX So ninety percent of anything is crap (305 comments)

Sturgeon's law still applies. I've paid for apps with prices ranging from $0.99 to $189.99 (no, I'm not kidding, and that app was worth 10 times that much). Wasn't the same thing true on every shelf at Babbages or Egghead? A tiny selection of good games and useful applications surrounded by an ocean of unremarkable shovelware. And the lower bar to entry for the App Store means that even more stuff will be crap. When TFA says things like, "But while the chance for success may indeed exist, the odds of triumphing are still pretty long", they act like it's a casino instead of a marketplace. It's not.

more than 4 years ago
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ASCAP Says Apple Should Pay For 30-sec. Song Samples

RickRussellTX Re:Well ok then (463 comments)

Kick him with your Converse shoe, all the way to Timbuktu.

more than 4 years ago
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Trust an Insurance Company's "Drive-Cam?"

RickRussellTX Re:One simple rule (480 comments)

> they should be taught trust and responsibility Of course, monitoring and control are part of trust and responsibility. First you monitor and control them, then you monitor them and let them control themselves, then you let them monitor and control themselves with periodic verification. That's how you learn responsible behavior. Once they pay for their own car/cell phone/credit card, they will *have* to monitor and control themselves. So monitoring and control have to be part of the learning process.

more than 4 years ago
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Banks Urge Businesses To Lock Down Online Banking

RickRussellTX Re:Sounds like they should hand out liveCDs (201 comments)

press a bunch of "Banking liveCDs"

And you'll be setting up a special call center to teach people how to switch their boot drive on BRAND X PC to the CD-ROM?

"Yes ma'am. I know it says LG-DVD. No, not the movie kind of DVDs. Yes, well, I guess it could play movies. No, ma'am, there's no movie on the CD we gave you. I know I said that, but the CD will work in a DVD player. No, ma'am, you have to use it with your computer, I mean the DVD player that's in your computer. Now press F10 and... what? No ma'am, don't select RESET. No, oh crap, now you've totally pooched it. No, ma'am don't cry. Please don't cry."

about 5 years ago

Submissions

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Comcast bringing metropolitan WiMAX to subscribers

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 5 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "Comcast plans to offer 4 megabits/sec WiMAX services to customers in Portland, Oregon starting tomorrow. Branded as "Comcast High-Speed 2go" and "4G", the service will require a $44.99 per month subscription in addition to existing Comcast home service. For $69.99 they will offer a dual-mode card with access to both Comcast WiMAX and Sprint's national 3G wireless network. Future rollouts are planned for Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

Say what you will about Comcast (and I know many Slashdot readers have plenty to say about Comcast), this is a daring attempt to bypass entrenched cell phone companies with a direct-to-consumer wireless service."

Link to Original Source
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Science Fiction Summarized

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "Scientific American's Steve Mirsky presents a humorous look at science fiction movies summarized in a single sentence. See if you can identify such famous films as "Valiant insects try to repel totalitarian invaders", "The future governor of California and the future governor of Minnesota go hiking", and "A feisty cat survives tense times onboard a spaceship"."
Link to Original Source
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Sega's EMA "can act like a real girlfriend"

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "Sega of Japan has developed E.M.A., or "Eternal Maiden Actualized", a 38 centimeter robot with large, umm, tracts of land that is targeted at single men in their twenties. The robot is programmed to be "sweet and interactive", touching and kissing humans that get nearby. According to the Sega spokesperson, "She's not a human, but can act like a real girlfriend." Video is available. Well, at least it doesn't have an arm cannon."
Link to Original Source
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eBay pressured to block sales of ivory products

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "eBay is being pressured by an animal welfare group to ban sales of ivory and animal tooth products on its site. Although eBay is in compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species when it warns users that such postings may be inviolation of national and international law, the International Fund for Animal Welfare is demanding they the go a step further to search for and delete any posting of ivory products."
Link to Original Source
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DOE pumps $126.6 million into carbon sequestration

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "The DOE awarded $126.6 million in grants today to projects that will pump 1 million tons of CO2 into underground caverns at sites in California and Ohio. Environmental groups call carbon sequestration "a scam", claiming that it is too expensive and uncertain to be competitive with non-coal alternatives like wind and solar.

I just hope nobody drops a Mentos down the wrong pipe."

Link to Original Source
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Blog posts and graphics stolen for hardcopy book

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "Kris Straub of Starslip Crisis pointed to the case of Luc Latulippe, an illustrator whose artistic works and text were lifted verbatim from his blog and published in a hardcopy book by a Hong Kong publisher. The books, which have fraudulent ISBN and contact information, have been sold to bookstores from Japan to Spain.

It seems that as Chinese industry matures, its demands for stolen intellectual property have moved from industrial designs and computer software to the realm of graphic illustration."

Link to Original Source
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High-power X-ray builds 3D ancient insects

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "The BBC reports on a high-power X-ray radiation technique to build extremely detailed 3D models of dinosaur-era insects. The opaque lumps of fossilized amber containing the insects are radiographed 1000 times each. The X-ray source is bremsstrahlung radiation from electrons accelerated through a synchrotron particle accelerator."
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Official Windows XP SP3 Features Overview

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "Microsoft just posted an Overview for Windows XP Service Pack 3 on their download site. While the README does not have an explicit release date for the service pack, it does discuss new functionality, including: Network Access Protection (a security posture determination technology intended to work with Cisco's Network Admission Control) and the ability to perform a full install of Windows XP without providing a CD key during the install."
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Newly discovered fungus threatens world wheat crop

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "The UN reports that a variety of the rust fungus originally detected in Uganda in 1999 has already spread as far north as Iran, threatening wheat production across its range. The fungus infects wheat stems and affects 80% of wheat varieties, putting crops at risk and threatening the food sources for billions of people across central Asia. Although scientists believe they can develop resistant hybrids, the fungus is moving much faster than anticipated and resistant hybrids may still be years away.

Meanwhile, national governments in the path of the fungus are telling folks that there is nothing to worry about."
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Blog comments implicated in suicide of ad exec

RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 6 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "The NY Times reports that advertising executive Paul Tilley committed suicide on Feb. 22, shortly after advertising industry blogs Agency Spy and AdScam posted scathing criticisms of his management at advertising agency DDB Chicago. Predictably, the print media are now asking: did blog writers go too far?

The comments sections of the blogs have now become release valves for grieving friends and family, some of whom blame the blogs for Mr. Tilley's despondent state."

Link to Original Source
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RickRussellTX RickRussellTX writes  |  more than 7 years ago

RickRussellTX writes "Teachers in a Decatur, IN elementary school awarded dubious titles such as 'Sir Clowns-a-Lot' and 'Most Likely Not To Have Children' to an embarrassed sixth grader in front of his classmates. Although I can imagine an environment where 'Sir Clowns-a-Lot' would be considered good-natured ribbing, I can't imagine making light of a sixth-grader's reproductive prospects. Predictably, the school system has clammed up and will only say that they 'regret the incident.'"
Link to Original Source

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