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Sony Tosses the Sony Reader On the Scrap Heap

Scorch_Mechanic It's a Dang Shame (172 comments)

I'm kind of sad to see these devices fall off the market, though I can't say I didn't see it coming. They closed their "Sony Reader Store" for ebooks on the 20th of March, and sent another email detailing how to switch to Kobo. I've had a PRS-T1 for years now, and I love it. It's got a super nice feature where you could long-press a word you don't know and it would show you its meaning on its internal dictionary, or you could try searching google and wikipedia for it (if you were connected to wifi). It's so handy that when I switch back to regular books after a couple sessions with my ereader, I find myself trying to look up words in regular books by putting my finger on them. With the wifi off (or set to standby), the device supposedly will go for a month of regular (read: three or four hours daily) use. Never tested it, but boy it was nice, especially in an era of charge-nightly smartphones.

By far the best feature was that my PRS-T1 seems to be perfectly sized for my hand. I can hold it in my left hand and swipe the screen (to change pages) with my thumb, comfortably. Combined with the fact that it only weighs a couple of ounces, and it's actually possible to do extremely comfortable one-handed reading. I should go plug in the thing. And find more books for it. And read more.

Sigh.

about two weeks ago
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Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

Scorch_Mechanic Re:OR (579 comments)

You must not drive in California.
Here in California, the first lane on the eight-lane freeway to come to a complete stop always seems to be the one second from the leftmost. After a few harrowing complete stops from the speed of the flow of traffic (approximately 55 MPH), I've decided it's simply not worth the trouble.

Keep in mind, when this happens all the other lanes are still happily percolating along. Even if it never slows down badly or comes to a halt, it always seems to run slower than the other three lanes. My hypothesis is that it tends to chug along so poorly because of all the arrogant California drivers diving in and out of it from the left lane (to get to an exit only 1/4 of a mile away) and from the number three lane (gotta go fast!). With the huge amount of car exchange, cars that are already in the number two lane have to create space cushions (remember, in California what other drivers call a space cushion, Californian drivers call "a space to change lanes into").

about a month and a half ago
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Even In the Wild Mice Run In Wheels

Scorch_Mechanic Re:The better mouse trap? (122 comments)

I can see this as an excellent way to rid one's backyard of offending vermin.
Brings whole new meaning to the phrase "squirrel cage motor".

about 2 months ago
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NASA Puts Its New Spacesuit Design To a Public Vote

Scorch_Mechanic Re:Changing my mind (127 comments)

Why aren't they worth a poll? Awareness and support of NASA in the U.S. is low. Anything that NASA can do to raise awareness about themselves to the public is a Good Thing. You remember Mohawk Guy? His stupid hairdo brought a brief surge of positive public relations to NASA by way of meme. If NASA can get this (yes, silly) poll into the internet and circulating for a few weeks, they'll have gained positive PR.

Besides, this actually makes the public feel like they're involved with NASA. Directly. Even if they're not affecting anything truly material, it's a definite step up from being several dozen steps removed from influencing NASA. If NASA can increase support for themselves in the public, maybe that public will be a little more inclined to vote for candidates who support space missions.

It's all a game of perceptions. I hope NASA succeeds.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

Scorch_Mechanic Re:How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff (796 comments)

Very much this book. I personally believe that this book should be on every high school econ (and or gov't) class reading list. Comprehending this book will make you a better citizen, whatever your personal beliefs.

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can Valve's Steam Machines Compete Against the Xbox One and PS4?

Scorch_Mechanic Re:Unknown sources (348 comments)

Yes. And yes.

Steam boxes are just prebuilt PCs running the not yet released, but promised to be "free" SteamOS. The same page says it can be licensed to companies too, so I can't speak to exactly how gratis it is.

It seems the only real source of information is Valve's Living Room page and subpages, but this techradar article digests it pretty well.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can Valve's Steam Machines Compete Against the Xbox One and PS4?

Scorch_Mechanic Re:Lockdown was a feature in the mid-1980s (348 comments)

Valve is doing the exact opposite.

On the contrary, Valve is doing approximately the same thing.

A painfully apparent fact to indie game devs is that Steam is a walled garden (as exemplified by the Not On Steam Sale). You have to get Valve's approval to get a game on Steam, which means it can't be crap "me-too shovelware" in the first place. In fact, the Greenlight program has already seen some backlash because some devs put their stuff on Greenlight, it got approved, and then it turned out they couldn't deliver what they were promising. Gamers hate that.

Furthermore, indie games on steam are generally very cheaply priced (to the point where Valve's cut of the proceeds is almost painful for some indie studios). And then there's the sales. The unending sales.

Lockdown is still a feature. It's just cheaper for the customers now, and we've a bit of say what gets put on Steam. Personally I'm happy with it, but there are plenty of indie devs who have a love/hate relationship with Steam.

about a year ago
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GTA V Proves a Lot of Parents Still Don't Know or Care About ESRB Ratings

Scorch_Mechanic Re:Some people... (621 comments)

As someone who's been in the fandom since the beginning, I can tell you that most "bronies" (including myself) watch it with complete sincerity. The fact that so many young adults watch the show might be memetic in itself, but actual enjoyment of it requires actually enjoying it for what it is. Colorful pastel catfaced quadrepeds that are pure of intention and completely genuine. There's almost zero parental bonus, and that's okay.

It's like watching Road Runner cartoons. There is nothing below the surface, only a purity of intention translated to onscreen slapstick.

Also, this cartoon. For reference, a "cutie mark" is an outward symbol of a pony's "special talent", i.e. job skills. Ponies literally wear their resumes on their flanks. They don't limit activity (and they're open to interpretation) but they're good indicators.

about a year ago
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Egyptian Security Forces Storm Pro-Morsi Camps Leaving Nearly 100 Dead

Scorch_Mechanic Re:News for nerds? (381 comments)

Very much this. People who complain that this or that news story isn't "news for nerds" are forgetting that the "nerds" who read Slashdot often provide more insightful commentary than any other group of private citizen commentators, and certainly more insight than what the majority of the 24 hour news-cycle organizations. Furthermore, because Slashdot has global readership we get commentary from people outside the United States. I love reading slashdot comments for the same reasons I like listening to the BBC on the radio on my local public radio station (KQED), because I hear fresh viewpoints that originate not in this country.
 
Slashdot's readership is one of the largest college educated and tech focused groups out there. It's clear to me that the people who read these terrible story summaries and comment here are frightfully smart, and it would be a terrible waste not to capitalize on the group intelligence present here whenever possible.

1 year,6 days
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Yahoo Board Approves a $1.1B Pricetag For Tumblr

Scorch_Mechanic Do none of you fight for the users? (142 comments)

No, I'm not talking about the irritating tween idiots. I'm talking about the artists. For every groupthink mob of self-entitled screaming idiots shouting their misinformed opinions at the top of their tiny little lungs, there's an artist taking advantage of the dead simple microblogging platform.

Tumblr is the home of the Drawblog (contains art), the Ask (ask a character questions, receive drawn responses) blog, and the art compilation blog. To my knowledge, none of these things substantially exist outside of tumblr. Sure, I could follow an "art appreciation" group on facebook, but because facebook doesn't deliver stuff to me in anything resembling chronological order it's largely useless to me.

I am worried. Legitimately worried that Yahoo is gonna screw up Tumblr.

about a year ago
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A Computer-based Smart Rifle With Incredible Accuracy, Now On Sale

Scorch_Mechanic Re:pfftt... (551 comments)

Citation provided. There was even a Slashdot article about it.
In 2010 the McFarthest Spot in the contiguous 48 United States was a patch of Nevada dirt some 115 miles from the nearest McDonald's. Doubtless this has changed since then, but I can't find anything more recent.

about a year ago
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TSA Accepting Public Comments On Whole Body Airport Screening

Scorch_Mechanic Re:Yes but... (223 comments)

The second is that it is shocking how many people still don't understand they have an option (or have believed the FUD that it is some horribly demeaning and invasive process). By staying in the public space you help educate those that don't know.

You don't get it, do you? It is a horribly demeaning and invasive process. I've had the patdown before (only once so far, I've been able to avoid it and the scanners since). Even though the agent who did the patdown was extremely courteous and detailed exactly what each step was before he did it, I still felt invaded and demeaned. I have nothing against the man, he was very professional about it. I felt weird and violated for the rest of the day. As Sonic says, "That's no good!"

If you're gonna opt for the patdown, wear shorts if you can. They don't have to pat down your legs if they're bare.

about a year ago
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Vint Cerf: Google Shouldn't Require Real Names

Scorch_Mechanic Change My Youtube Username? Never! (113 comments)

Does this mean google is going to stop trying to get me to change my youtube username to my "real" name?
I swear, I've told google to take a flying leap about it five times already. I'm getting hot under the collar just thinking about it.

about a year and a half ago
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Pwnie Express Releases Android-Based Network Hacking Kit

Scorch_Mechanic Re:Dear Editors (35 comments)

The submission quotes from the wired article, specifically the first and third paragraphs. It's not kosher to delete words from direct quotes just because they're "hype", and might even be improper in this case (because the phrasing comes from the wired article and conveys how the writer of the article feels about the device, which gives important information for the reader). Of course, that doesn't mean a clever editor could jump in anyways with ellipsis and such, but ellipsis are ugly and in this case the sentence is so short there would be no point.

For the record, omitting the second paragraph (which details pricing) from the submission and not indicating the omission with ellipsis or making it two separate quotes is bad editing.

(I'm not a "real" editor, I just have an interest in proper formatting. I may be getting something here wrong, and if I am please feel free to jump on my head and/or correct me.)

about a year and a half ago
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Compared to my immediate peers, my typing

Scorch_Mechanic Faster? Yes. Freer of Errors? Maybe. (240 comments)

My peers are college age students and the people I chat with on IRC (who I happen to know are mostly young, college age adults because of the demographics of the fandom that the IRC channel I frequent was created for).
I certainly reply faster than most others who use the channel. My replies contain more words and characters and usually have correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. In most cases I can get out a grammatically correct, spelling-error free, and properly punctuated short reply faster than other people replying to the same comment with sentence fragments.

The people on the IRC I compete with in the arena of fast and tidy replies are the people who I happen to know are well into their thirties and forties, and are also heavy computer users. E.g. at least one professional writer, a computer engineer, and a professional librarian. Co-incidentally, the engineer and the librarian are both fathers with middle-school aged children.

I learned to touch type on a qwerty keyboard by playing UT2004, not having a microphone, and wanting to chat a lot. I had a personal rule that I would only use full sentences. I played that way for a few years.

It's been a while, but the last time I used a WPM test I was rated somewhere around 50 wpm. I am almost certainly remembering that wrong but I can't be arsed to go take another test.

about a year ago
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Internet Freedom Won't Be Controlled, Says UN Telcom Chief

Scorch_Mechanic Re:Let the UN and ITU run their own Internet . . . (158 comments)

Folks will use the internet available to them, as dictated by their residence in European countries or elsewhere. They may "choose" their internet by moving to another country, and that's not a realistic solution. Your assertion that people have a choice between UN internet and "other" internet is false.

about a year and a half ago
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Ad Blocking – a Coming Legal Battleground?

Scorch_Mechanic Quality of (Web Browsing) Life (686 comments)

For me, adblocking is a quality of life necessity. I find any and all advertisements that I do not seek out to be irritating and distracting, and my usual response to them is an immediate visceral sense of "fuck you". I must adblock, or else I would go crazy. Any websites that I encounter that refuse to show me content without turning off adblock immediately go on my "never visit this place again" list. My frustration with ads in the in-game browser from the steam overlay led me learn about and begin using hosts files.

That said, there are two places I can think of off the top of the head where I do not mind advertising: Steam popup notices (which can be disabled with an account option at no cost) and movie theater previews (I don't watch television, so this is the only place I can find out about movies).

If adblock becomes illegal, I will become a criminal. For me, there's no other option.

about a year and a half ago
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Giving Your Computer Interface the Finger

Scorch_Mechanic Every Time I Use A Keypad (63 comments)

Every time I use a keypad, touchscreen, or other computerized device outside of my own desktop or laptop, I use my longest finger as my pointing finger. This is a habit I picked up my father, who is a longtime computer engineer.

He and I both find that using the longest finger to control such devices is very cathartic.

about 2 years ago
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To Encourage Biking, Lose the Helmets

Scorch_Mechanic Re:Brains are Fucking Expensive (1651 comments)

Your point is incisive and thoroughly annoying to me and my worldview.

To answer as completely as I can:
I do not wear a helmet all the time (for example, when walking or entering the bathtub) because I am not placing my safety in the hands of my fellow Americans when doing so. When the margin of safety is a foot and a half at best and there's nothing between me and the car passing me (like a curb would be were I pedestrian, or a grab bar in a tub) at speed differences of twenty or more miles per hour I would like to improve my chances of surviving being knocked off my bicycle cheaply and effectively.

about 2 years ago
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To Encourage Biking, Lose the Helmets

Scorch_Mechanic Re:Brains are Fucking Expensive (1651 comments)

No, my question is actually "Is spending $25-$50 for a marginal or even theoretical reduction in the chance of serious brain injury worthwhile considering the immense value I place on the spongy tissue behind my eyes?". It is rhetorical, because for me the answer is "yes".

Please, I love science! Show me more science!

about 2 years ago

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Scorch_Mechanic hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Penny Arcade Report Interview with Gabe Newell

Scorch_Mechanic Scorch_Mechanic writes  |  more than 2 years ago

The Penny Arcade report made a trip to the Valve offices recently for an interview with Mr. Newell, and their reporter brought back a big pile of snapshots too. The interview is deliciously long, dealing with Mr. Newell's opinions on the future of wearable hardware, the steam business/pricing/DRM model, and frustrations related to the closed approach of console manufacturers. It's big, broad, and it's got something for everybody. All it lacks are achievements.

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