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Comments

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Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

Shakrai Re:Sigh (332 comments)

We ALL know how Politicians get bought and sold so let's cut the "total" bullshit here.

Yes, they do. But not all of them and certainly not in the manner that the GP presented. One needs to actually understand how the system works before one condemns it and/or proposes fixes for it. Incidentally, most of the people in politics hate the system as much as you do. You think they enjoy spending so much of their day begging people for money so they can fund their campaigns? The real world isn't House of Cards, most people actually enter public service for noble reasons, ranging from the mundane fixing of potholes to the desire to advance a social cause. The problem is two fold:

1) Campaign finance reform is inherently suspect because it's passed by people who have an incentive to make it harder for incumbents to lose elections. There's a reason why opponents frequently referred to McCain-Feingold as the "Incumbent Protection Act"

2) Meaningful campaign finance reform would require a Constitutional Amendment; the idea I most liked was the notion of precluding private donations but giving every American citizen X dollars to allocate as they see fit. It's an awesome idea but one that's utterly unconstitutional. Perhaps you should start building a network for this concept rather than spouting talking points about money going into Senators pockets?

2 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

Shakrai Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

Having everybody live off a high protein diet is unsustainable. There are whole segments of American society that couldn't afford it, never mind the third world, and even if money was no object it would be completely unsustainable from an environmental standpoint.

It's cute though that you took what I was saying and morphed it into "cutting sugar is unsustainable"; all I did was condemn your silly paleo diet, not the notion of cutting sugar or making other healthy lifestyle choices. One can cut out soda (or even enjoy it in moderation) without adopting a made up diet that claims to be what our ancestors ate.

Of course, physical activity is even better. I eat whatever the hell I want. You can do that when you're averaging 30 miles a week of running. Pass the cheesecake, mmm'kay?

2 days ago
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Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

Shakrai Re:Sigh (332 comments)

Of course they will, while comcast is telling them this, they are stuffing wads of money in the senators pockets.

You know that talking point is total bullshit, right? What you describe would be a felony offense in the United States. Nor can corporations give money directly to campaigns. They can donate to PACs, which are a special animal in the American political system, but they can't donate directly to campaigns or candidates. When people tell you that "Big oil/telecom/Hollywood/whatever gave X dollars to Y candidate" they really mean that the employees of those industries gave X dollars to Y candidate. Work at a gas station and donate $20 to your State Assemblywoman? That's added to the total donation from "big oil" when her opponent needs a talking point.

I realize such intricacies don't make for good talking points but it would be extremely helpful if people would at least learn how the system works rather than spreading FUD that only serves to undermine the tenuous amount of faith we have left in our system.

2 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

Shakrai Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

Try doing any cardio of moderate to heavy intensity (which you really ought to be doing, if you want to live a long life) without carbs. Your diet is a fad and an utterly unsustainable one (from an environmental standpoint) at that. If you really want to live like our ancestors did start having sex at 10 and forgo modern medicine. You'll be dead in your 20s and the carbon impact of your selfish lifestyle will cancel itself out.

2 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

Shakrai Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

she says this while sat there drinking coffee

What's wrong with coffee?

If she doesn't change her lifestyle, i'm estimating she will be bedridden within 5 years and dead within 10, whereas if she put some effort in, she would have a chance of living a lot longer.

Except she won't be. And that's the problem. If they take their blood pressure and cholesterol meds they fucking live forever and just keep on eating. Meanwhile the rest of us get to subsidize their lifestyle choices because our healthcare system doesn't allow insurance underwriters to take lifestyle choices into account. The 40 year old sedentary fat ass pays the same as the 40 year old marathon runner.

3 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

Shakrai Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

Try running a marathon while being anti-carb and let me know how it works out for you.

You also might consider the sustainability of your little protein fetish.

3 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

Shakrai Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

Yeah... and I have found something that works extraordinarily well at burning fat: sprinting. I do a 15 min jog and then 10 reps of 20s sprints/10s rest. Somehow, this basically just completely bypasses the normal laws of physics and starts telling your body to burn fat immediately

Fat metabolism doesn't work that way; your body can metabolize a finite amount of fat in a given time and when the muscles call upon more energy (as they invariably will if you're sprinting) the difference is going to come from glycogen. It does take a few minutes for the fat metabolism to get going -- this is one of the reasons why distance runners warm up and/or start slow in long runs -- though there are interesting studies that suggest caffeine can accelerate the process.

3 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

Shakrai Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

The human body is designed for long periods of rest and short bursts of activity, e.g. running away from / after some animal. While sustained exercise does burn a lot of calories and have other benefits, short bursts put muscles into high energy mode constantly so as to be ready.

The human body isn't "designed" for anything but it is remarkably adapted to endurance events. You almost can count on one hand the number of animals that can keep up with a human through a moderate endurance race (5k or 10k) never mind a marathon. Horses, dogs, the ostrich, and a few others. It's no mistake that we domesticated the first two in that list. Humans have even been known to beat the horse at a marathon on particularly hot days.

Point being, I'd question your claim that the human body is "designed" (adapted is really a better word, FYI) for long periods of rest w/short bursts of activity. What you've described there are the big cats and other ambush predators.

3 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

Shakrai Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

Diets that produce lower insulin response give a metabolic advantage and reduce hunger.

That may be true but at the end of the day it's still going to come down to self control. We're one of the few (the only?) animals blessed with the ability to override our base instincts. I guess some people are too powerless to do that.

Combined that's roughly equivalent to a 1.5 mile jog for a 200lb adult, nothing to sneeze at.

Run 20 to 40 miles a week and you will sneeze at a 1.5 mile "jog" :)

3 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

Shakrai Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

my net calories to a reasonable level. Reasonable ranges from 2,000 on days of doing nothing to >5,000 on days with mega hikes or long runs.

(Those numbers would be totals, not net, obviously. My net intake averages around 2,500, which is about right for a high metabolism male....)

3 days ago
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The Evolution of Diet

Shakrai Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (281 comments)

So far studies of foragers like the Tsimane, Arctic Inuit, and Hadza have found that these peoples traditionally didn't develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease.

What's the obesity rate in those populations vis-a-vis the Western World?

Anecdote time: My family has a history of heart disease and diabetes, largely self-inflicted via eating ourselves to death. My blood markers (fasting glucose and cholesterol) follow my weight, up and down. Weight loss brought them into the normal range; dietary changes made no discernible impact whatsoever. I eat all the things that are supposedly bad for you, refined carbs, alcohol, greasy foods, and so on. The difference between me and the rest of the family is I exercise self-control and keep my net calories to a reasonable level. Reasonable ranges from 2,000 on days of doing nothing to >5,000 on days with mega hikes or long runs.

People need to stop buying into fad diets and nonsense theories. Barring allergies, most humans are fully capable of assimilating anything they throw at their GI system. Exercise some bloody portion control and get off the couch once in awhile. The rest will take care of itself.

3 days ago
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WikiLeaks' Assange Hopes To Exit London Embassy "Soon"

Shakrai Re:How many years could he be charged with? (299 comments)

Because Assange has said that if Britain and Sweden would put forth a good-faith promise not to extradite him he would happily travel to Sweden to face the molestation charges.

Which Government on this planet is willing to negotiate with accused criminals in order to bring them to trial? It doesn't happen, not in Democracies or Dictatorships. The most you might get is "I'll surrender at the station tomorrow morning so you don't have to haul me out of my house in handcuffs." but even that isn't a sure thing.

about two weeks ago
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Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

Shakrai Re: And so it begins... (252 comments)

The Shadows were directly responsible for President Clark's rise to power

Debatable, the takeaway I had from the show was that the Psi-Corps was largely responsible for it.

and wholly approved his slow transmutation of Earth society into something that bore an uncannily-prescient resemblance to what happened to the US after 9/11

I'm going to ignore the hyperbolic statement about 9/11 (really dude?) and just point out the fact that the Shadows never really seemed to give two shits about the domestic politics of any of their puppet races, least of all humanity. And in such a situation as the B5 universe, humanity would have to be incredibly stupid not to take advantage of any scraps of technology the Shadows were willing to dole out, particularly given the aforementioned issues on Minbar and the fact that the survival of the human race depends on being able to effectively defend it against aliens with many times our technology.

about three weeks ago
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Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

Shakrai Re: And so it begins... (252 comments)

FWIW, I never saw it that way. With the powerful races that are in play by that point in the show, it needed someone from the younger races to do something that appears miraculous from our perspective to put us in the same league and make the final outcome to the main plot arc credible.

Except it wasn't credible. That entire storyline was stupid and it was resolved by a deus ex machina ending. There wasn't even anything to get invested in as a viewer of the show. The Shadows are fucking with some minor races that we rarely see and don't care about as viewers. Yawn. The only time I genuinely cared about that entire story was when the Vorlons were about to waste Centauri Prime, otherwise it was all off screen minor races that nobody gave two shits about.

about three weeks ago
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Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

Shakrai Re: And so it begins... (252 comments)

Wars start for all sorts of stupid reasons.

There's a difference between a war and a holy quest for genocide. One would expect a race that's smart enough to go to the stars not to start the latter over a botched first contact. Failing that, one would expect them to actually wage a competent war of annihilation, but they couldn't even manage to do that.

Stalingrad, one lousy campaign in a war of annihilation, six months of fighting: 2,000,000 casualties on both sides
Earth-Minbari War, two years, conducted across light-years, including a last stand to save the human race: 250,000 casualties on one side, unstated (probably hundreds?) but low numbers on the other

It doesn't pass the smell test, and even if we excuse JMS' obvious lack of knowledge regarding geopolitics/military matters, the back story was laughable.

about three weeks ago
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Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

Shakrai Re: And so it begins... (252 comments)

The White Stars were joint creations of the Minbari and Vorlons and they didn't have to turn over a damn thing. Earth had no claim over them.

Who commanded them in a war against his own people? Who had previously sworn an oath to Earth? Who killed (rightly or wrongly) thousands of humans and left Earth nearly defenseless? Sheridan treated the White Stars as his own personal toys, with full support from Delenn, it's not a huge reach to imagine Earthforce getting their hands on one, particularly if Sheridan had actually upheld his oath once Clark was gone.

You want to know what would have been a good story in the B5 universe? The Minbari Warrior Caste nutjobs actually seizing power (hopefully killing that religious zealot Delenn in the process) and going on a vendetta against a weakened Earth. Let Sherdian reap what he sowed in leaving Earth nearly defenseless, then have him build an alliance to combat that threat, to save something we actually give a shit about. That would have been infinitely more compelling than trying to figure out why all these humans are fighting and dying to stop the Shadows, whom never really expressed any interest in harming humanity. All they did was stir up chaos amongst races that the audience rarely saw and was never overly invested in caring about. Yawn.

As it happened, the most compelling story JMS had (President Clark and the Civil War) was the one that got short shrift because of the looming threat of cancellation. More's the pity.

about three weeks ago
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Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

Shakrai Re: And so it begins... (252 comments)

Star Dreck was shit from the start, and Rottenberry's "vision" was at best naive claptrap and at worst unredeemable drivel.

That was kind of the point of Star Trek, or at least the point of TNG and to a lesser extent TOS. I'm sorry that you didn't get that, it wasn't for everyone, but it was and is the reason why the reboot completely sucks ass and has nothing in common with Star Trek other than the title and character names.

Is the near-utopia presented in The Next Generation attainable? Probably not, human nature being what it is, though if anything made it possible it would be an abundance economy with virtually limitless supplies of energy that can literally make food and consumer goods out of thin air. The notion of people working towards the common good rather than personal enrichment is a lofty one, hence the fiction part of Science-Fiction.

It was a lot more enjoyable than the dark depressing crap that passes for entertainment these days, like Law and Order Rape (err, I'm sorry, Special Victims Unit) or even some of the darker Sci-Fi stuff, like the really misanthropic episodes of Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica. Yeah, I get it, character conflict is fun to write. Does anybody know how to write uplifting stories anymore? It'd be nice to have something more grown up than Frozen to turn to when I need to escape for two hours.

Bad "science" (only loserboy nerds known as "trekkie pedophile geeks" can delude themselves into believing any of that shitty technobabble can ever be related to real science)

Star Trek at its best was never about the "science". It was about the story and the characters. As long as they remained consistent about the fake science who cares? Go watch the third, fourth, and fifth seasons of TNG or any of DS9 or TOS. The technobabble was there, but it played by a known and consistent set of rules. The particle of the week deus ex machina technobabble crap was primarily a 7th season TNG problem (the writers clearly ran out of ideas) and long running Voyager phenomenon.

B5 was vastly superior to DS9 (which was a shameless ripoff)

The only parts of B5 that DS9 ripped off were the Messiah Complex/Emissary crap of the Commanding Officer. Coincidentally, that was also the least watchable part of DS9. I wanted to shove Sisko out an airlock when he stopped talking about "wormhole aliens" and started talking about "Prophets".

about three weeks ago
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Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

Shakrai Re: And so it begins... (252 comments)

Except that the series jumped the shark when Sherdian came back from the dead, which was always part of the arc. Season 5 is best viewed as a collection of disparate standalone stories, of which there are actually a few redeeming ones.

about three weeks ago
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Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

Shakrai Re: And so it begins... (252 comments)

The story jumped the shark at the end. I'm sorry, as much as I loved Babylon 5, it simply doesn't stand the test of time when you watch it in your 30s rather than as a teenager. It was awesome at first, a character driven Sci-Fi show, and then Sheridan came back from the dead with a Messiah Complex. Delenn always had one of course, even the Vorlons were smart enough to know that (watching Jack the Ripper torture this character flaw out of her was priceless, too bad it didn't take for the long term) as they set her up as their Emissary or whatever the hell she was. What really irked me was the human characters betraying their oath to Earth and going native after they had kicked Clark out of office. The Whitestar fleet or at least one example thereof should have been turned over to Earthforce R&D after the war, but that would required Sheridan to surrender power, so of course it didn't happen.

There's also the complete mess that was Season 5, though here I cut JMS some slack because he was kind of screwed when it looked like the show was getting the axe. The most important piece of back story was pretty damned stupid, the Minbari have thousands of years in space but start a war of annihilation (a pathetic one at that, only 250,000 deaths in two years of war, JMS needs to read about the Eastern Front....) over a botched first contact? Then they stop the war because of some religious nonsense?

In fairness the show did have highlights, Garibaldi was the best human character I think (he was Babylon 5's Chief O'Brien) flawed in every way and very easy to relate to. Londo and G'Kar never jumped the shark, their respective stories stand the test of time. Even the stupid parts (the Earth-Minbari War) had highlights, the President's speech towards the end of "In The Beginning" still chokes me up when I watch it, and the way JMS wove all of the stories together was amazing.

about three weeks ago
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NFL Fights To Save TV Blackout Rule Despite $9 Billion Revenue

Shakrai Re:Punishes fans? (216 comments)

Toronto is a small city? It's the largest city in Canada and the 4th largest in North America, after Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Obamacare Is No Starship Enterprise

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  about 9 months ago

Shakrai (717556) writes "Megan McArdle from Bloomberg has penned this wonderful article, about the development of the technology behind the Affordable Care Act. It is a tale of mission creep, distant supervisors, and otherwise smart people who fail to grasp the limitations of modern technology. The experiences shared herein are all to familiar to those of us who have worked on large IT projects, with Star Trek: The Next Generation analogies as icing on the cake."
Link to Original Source
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STD Test? There's an App for That

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Shakrai (717556) writes "British health officials are hard at work on a new app that will allow users to pee into their cell phones and find out within minutes if they have an STD.

Doctors and technology experts are developing small devices, similar to pregnancy testing kits, that will tell someone quickly and privately if they have caught an infection through sexual contact.

People who suspect they have been infected will be able to put urine or saliva on to a computer chip about the size of a USB chip, plug it into their phone or computer and receive a diagnosis within minutes, telling them which, if any, sexually transmitted infection (STI) they have. Seven funders, including the Medical Research Council, have put £4m into developing the technology via a forum called the UK Clinical Research Collaboration.

Prof Noel Gill, head of HIV and STIs at the Health Protection Agency, the government agency that monitors infections and advises on containment strategies, said: "HPA surveillance has shown that the impact of STIs is greatest among young people and we hope that the application of new technology will help to reduce transmission of infection in this age group."

Link to Original Source
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Cisco's New Router: Trouble for Hollywood

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Shakrai (717556) writes "Time Magazine has published an article about the impact of Cisco's new CRS-3 router on the business practices of the MAFIAA. This new router was previously mentioned here on Slashdot and is expected to alleviate internet bottlenecks that currently impede steaming video on demand services. Some of the highlights from the article:

"The ability to download albums and films in a matter of seconds is a harbinger of deep trouble for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which would prefer to turn the clock back, way back."

"The hard fact is that the latest developments at Cisco, Google and elsewhere may do more than kill the DVD and CD and further upset entertainment-business models that have changed little since the Mesozoic Era. With superfast streaming and downloading, indie filmmakers will soon be able to effectively distribute feature films online and promote them using social media such as Facebook and Twitter."

"Meanwhile, both the MPAA and the RIAA continue to fight emerging technologies like peer-to-peer file sharing with costly court battles rather than figuring out how to appeal to the next generation of movie enthusiasts and still make a buck.""

Link to Original Source
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Bluetooth & Wi-Fi co-existence

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Shakrai writes "A question for those with more experience with Bluetooth then I have: Has anybody noted/worked-around/been-able to solve co-existence problems with bluetooth and 802.11b/g WLANs? I'm playing around with the T-Mobile T-Mobile HotSpot @ Home service at the office for our directors and while the service works great, the heavy network traffic on the wireless lan renders bluetooth headsets unusable. Short pops of static occur about ten times a second. The WLAN itself doesn't even seem to notice.

Given that Bluetooth's design purposefully uses the entire range of unlicensed channels on 2.4Ghz I'd given up on trying to get it to co-exist with WLANs. But I've noted that Bluetooth 1.2 includes support for "Adaptive frequency-hopping spread spectrum", which theoretically will remove crowded channels from the hopping sequence. Given that a single 802.11b/g access point only uses a portion (roughly 1/3) of the band available to Bluetooth, wouldn't it stand to reason that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can be made to peacefully co-exist?

Perhaps the problem lies with the cheap headsets that my company is providing us? Does anybody have any experience with particular models of Bluetooth headsets used in a heavy wi-fi environment? Or any experience with the actual HotSpot service and the phones that T-Mobile offers? Does any model of phone or headset stand out as being better at co-existing then the others?"

Journals

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Critics of Tea Party Movement Miss the Big Picture

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Many commentators seem to believe that the Tea Party represents a net minus for the GOP because of the split between them and the existing establishment. This criticism seems oddly familiar to me. Many people predicted that the drawn out fight between Hillary and Obama would be the death of the Democrats in 2008. As it turned out, that extended fight kept them in the news for months and built up the ground networks that helped Obama carry the day in states that normally be out of reach for a Democrat. Take Indiana, where Obama carried the state by ~28k votes. Does that happen without the ground operation built for the primary and the name recognition/publicity gained from it? Impossible to say, but I think it's clear that the intra-party squabbling was a net positive for the Democrats in the end.

It seems likely to me that the Tea Party will have the same impact on the GOP. They may well prove to be a net minus in selected races (Delaware) but the enthusiasm they've generated and the new people they've brought into the political process will more than balance that out come November.

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Here comes the tidal wave.....

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Worked the NYS primary election today. We had higher turnout for this mid-term primary than I've ever seen -- more than we did for the Presidential Primary in 2008. I'm only one poll worker in a single district but I've never seen this kind of enthusiasm for a primary before. We had 44% turnout for our GOP voters and 30% for the Democrats.

Paladino looks to have crushed Rick Lazio. I called this race at 10pm -- Paladino ran up a much higher margin (93% in Erie and Niagara counties, all districts reporting) with his base than Lazio did with his (60-65% in Suffolk and Nassau counties, 60% of districts reporting) . Paladino beat Lazio in some downstate counties (Dutchess and Orange) that should have been more familiar with Lazio. He looks to have edged him out with 50-55% of the vote in most other upstate counties, though we'll have to wait for tomorrow for the final numbers.

With this kind of turn out for a primary I'm betting that November is going to be huge. It wouldn't surprise me if we beat our numbers for 2008 -- we had a 60% turnout that year.

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Motorola Providing free TouchDown Licenses to DROID X Owners

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  about 4 years ago

Well, I got my Droid-X. Imagine my surprise when my $550 phone failed to properly communicate with my employer's Exchange server. Turns out the Droid-X has some software glitches relating to Exchange. Push e-mail will not work at all with Exchange 2003 and only works intermittently with 2007 and 2010. Polling e-mail may work but there are also issues with the notification system. Your phone might download messages off Exchange but fail to notify you about them until some time has passed.

Motorola is providing a free license for a third party app called TouchDown to anyone who writes in and complains about this issue. This app normally goes for $20. It is without a doubt the best mobile Exchange client that I've ever seen. It offers features above and beyond the stock Motorola application. I would encourage anybody who needs to use Exchange to get this application -- even if you aren't dealing with the push e-mail/notification bugs. It would be worth paying for, IMHO. Getting it for free because Motorola couldn't run their Exchange application past QA before launching the Droid-X is an added bonus.

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Inmate Hides Gun In Fat Layers

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  about 4 years ago

They didn't teach me this in my concealed carry class! Only in America......

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Anyone out there with the Motorola Droid-X?

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

The only reason I haven't yet gotten a smartphone is because of Verizon's nickel and diming. I primarily want one for the usual smartphone functionality but I'd also like the ability to tether for some lightweight usage. Not looking to use tethering as a replacement for my home internet connection or even for web surfing. My desire is to be able to ssh and/or rdp into the office when I'm in the field. It seems kind of absurd that I should have to pay $30/mo extra for the ability to do something I could easily accomplish with a POTS line and modem. It's also absurd that Verizon expects you to pay more for the privilege of talking to an Exchange server. I guess the data packets from Exchange weigh more than the packets from a pop3 server or some such.

I've been told that the Exchange data requirement isn't actually enforced for non-Blackberry devices. Found a few posts on various forums where people claimed to successfully sync with Exchange on the $30 data plan. I've also been told that you can tether Android devices using third party applications such as PDAnet without paying Verizon's additional $30 fee. It's against their TOS but they won't find out about it unless you consume an "excessive" amount of bandwidth. Not real worried about doing that with the occasional ssh/rdp session. Can anyone confirm these two points? If they are indeed true then I'll probably be ordering the Droid-X soon.

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George Will Has Really Soured on Afghanistan

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

New op-ed, titled McChrystal had to go. Will makes some pretty compelling arguments against our strategy in Afghanistan. Some highlights:

It may be said that McChrystal's defect is only a deficit of political acumen. Only? Again, the mission in Afghanistan is much more political than military. Counterinsurgency, as defined by McChrystal's successor, Gen. David Petraeus, and tepidly embraced by Barack Obama for a year or so, does not just involve nation-building, it is nation-building.

This does not require just political acumen; it requires the wisdom of Aristotle, the leadership skills of George Washington and the analytic sophistication of de Tocqueville. But, then, the grinding paradox of nation-building is this: No one with the aptitudes necessary for it would be rash or delusional enough to try it.

The McChrystal debacle comes as America's longest war is entering a surreal stage: The military is charged with a staggeringly complex task, the completion of which -- if completion can even be envisioned -- must involve many years. But when given the task, the military was told to begin bringing it to a close in a matter of 18 months.

It's a pity that we weren't smart enough to avoid this whole mess back in 2001. We ought to have used our own troops (along with the aerial mines that Bush and Rumsfeld refused to approve) at Tora Bora, captured or killed OBL, left the keys to the country by the door on our way out along with a note that said "If you host terrorist organizations again we'll come back and mess you up again." It should never have been our mission to try and spread our system of government or moral values to a region of the world that's effectively living in the Middle Ages.

BTW, I believe that the President handled the McChrystal mess effectively. He clearly had to go. I also think that Petraeus is the best man for the job though I'm in agreement with George Will's assessment of it as a fool's errand. Petraeus was successful in Iraq because the Iraqi people decided that bombing their country back into the Middle Ages was not an effective long term strategy. The Taliban leadership seems to desire such an outcome. It remains to be seen if the American people or our President have the stomach to stay there long enough to find out if the foot soldiers of the Taliban desire the same outcome.

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More Guns Means Less Crime

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Op-ed by John Stossl:

You know what the mainstream media think about guns and our freedom to carry them.

Pierre Thomas of ABC: "When someone gets angry or when they snap, they are going to be able to have access to weapons."

Chris Matthews of MSNBC: "I wonder if in a free society violence is always going to be a part of it if guns are available."

Keith Olbermann, who usually can't be topped for absurdity: "Organizations like the NRA ... are trying to increase deaths by gun in this country."

Of course he's right about the mainstream media. It is exceedingly rare to find someone on one of the major networks with a positive view of civilian firearms ownership. The ABC news show 20/20 went so far as to rig a scenario to demonstrate that concealed carry won't save you -- they pitted a trained firearms instructor against untrained individuals whom had never handled a firearm before. They further rigged the test by telling the "attacker" in advance whom had the concealed weapon out of a room of a dozen or more people. In spite of this stacked deck one of the simulated concealed carriers managed to "wound" him before "dying". Naturally ABC dismissed this result by claiming that the wound would not have been sufficient to stop a shooting rampage. I suppose the staff of 20/20 are also experts in terminal ballistics and the psychology of pain.

In Canada and Britain, both with tough gun-control laws, almost half of all burglaries occur when residents are home. But in the United States, where many households contain guns, only 13 percent of burglaries happen when someone's at home.

This is a statistic that's often overlooked but I think it's very relevant. I would regard home invasions as one of the biggest violations of the person, short of rape, kidnapping or murder. Thankfully they are relatively rare in the United States. I suppose the prospect of dying over that big screen TV is an effective deterrent for most criminals. It's my understanding that in the UK the self-defense laws won't permit you to defend your home if it is broken into while you are present. Of course even if the law permitted you to do so it would rather difficult in a society that requires one to jump through bureaucratic hoops before being able to obtain a single shot rifle or shotgun.

I was somewhat surprised to see Canada included in that figure. I always thought they were a little bit more sensible than the Mother Country. I looked into obtaining a Canadian firearms license so I could legally transport my handgun through Canada when taking trips to Detroit (because really, who wants to go to Detroit unarmed?) and the process didn't seem particularly complicated or burdensome. Perhaps one of my Canadian friends could enlighten me as to Canadian laws regarding self-defense in the home? Are you allowed to defend your home against a home invasion?

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I Hate Crackberry

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Trying to set up an employees Blackberry to connect to Outlook Web Access. Can't manage to make it connect. Call up Verizon Tech Support, get bumped from Level 1 to Level 2 and then to Blackberry. Blackberry bumps me up to Level 2 and then Level 3. Still no explanation for why it won't work. Did receive a "helpful" recommendation to purchase Blackberry Enterprise Server. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense for one user....

From research I've done on my own while on hold it appears that Blackberry doesn't want to play nice with reverse proxy servers. We have such a server between our Exchange box and the internet -- a small Linux box running Squid. This configuration works just fine with every other smart phone we have (Droids, Palms and Windows Mobile) and users who log into OWA from normal web browsers but not with the Blackberry for some reason. Go figure. Naturally the employee in question is a member of management and will be most unhappy if I can't get her stupid crackberry working. I wonder if there is a work around for this or if I'm really going to have to change our network configuration to accommodate this one device?

Just concluded my three hour telephone marathon with no resolution on the issue. I asked my rep at "Level 3" whether or not the reverse proxy server might be the cause and his response was "What's a proxy server?" So much for Level 3 support....

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We Ought Not Submit Our Civil Liberties to a Cost Benefit Analysis

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

So, I read this interesting piece on Reason today. It started talking about US v. Stevens and had a frightening quote from Solicitor General Elena Kagan: "Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection, depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs." In Ms. Kagan's world it's apparently appropriate for Legislators to determine the "value" of speech. Never mind the plain text of the 1st amendment (Congress shall make no law...) or the obvious dangers in applying such a test to free speech. This is scary stuff indeed. Thankfully SCOTUS shot down this argument in an 8 to 1 vote.

I've heard a similar vein from leftists in discussions regarding the 2nd amendment. They point to the "societal cost" of weapons accessibility and use that as an argument for tightening restrictions on firearms ownership. It seems obvious to me that "societal cost" is a vaguely defined term that could be used to restrict all manner of civil rights but they refuse to accept this and continue to argue in favor of further restrictions on liberty. Why restrict such a standard to the 1st and 2nd amendments? What about the societal cost of criminals getting away with their crimes? Wouldn't it better for society to restrict the right to remain silent and right against unreasonable search and seizure? Maybe we should look at double jeopardy too. Doesn't it impose a cost on society to let someone get away with a crime when new evidence later materializes that could have convicted him? Might want to consider the right to a jury trial too. Juries are too easily fooled by slick lawyers and it would probably be better for society if all civil and criminal cases were decided by Judges.

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Chicago v. Self Defense

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

By Jeremy Lott on RCP:

Talk about your inconvenient truth. Five days after Chicago Mayor Richard Daley had held a press conference touting the benefits of the city's handgun ban by brandishing a rifle with a bayonet and -- I swear I am not making this up -- cracking a joke about shoving it up a reporter's bum, an 80-year-old man on the West Side of Chicago traded gunfire with a burglar, killing the intruder.

For advocates of gun control, the optics on this story are just awful. It's nearly impossible to drum up any sympathy for the deceased, Anthony Nelson, who had a long history of drug and weapons convictions and was on probation. He attempted to break into the house, brought a gun with him, and fired twice at the so-far unnamed homeowner.

Conversely, it is impossible to fault the homeowner. The man who killed Nelson was a veteran of the Korean War. He fired only one shot and got the intruder in the chest. On that morning, the man was protecting not just himself but his wife and a 12-year-old great grandson who was staying over. A son told reporters "My father had no choice. It was him or the other guy."

Rest of the piece can be found here. Let's not forget that our current President hails from the Windy City and doubtless agrees with Mayor Daley on at least some level regarding firearms.

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Gun-maker celebrates governor's crack shot

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Gotta love the United States. Apparently Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) was jogging and had a coyote go after his dog. He shot it dead with his trusty Ruger LCR. Ruger is now releasing a "Coyote Special" edition to celebrate this event. Only in America.

On a related note, I have some money set aside to buy a new firearm. I'm trying to decide if I want to buy a M1 Garand through the CMP or if I want to buy/build an AR of some sort. I've always wanted to own an M1 and the NRA high-power matches look like a lot of fun. On the other hand nothing annoys the anti-RKBA crowd more than an AR-15 with a few 30 round magazines. That's probably the wrong motivation to have when considering a four digit purchase, but there you go :)

I'll probably go with the M1, to the disappointment of all my friends with ARs. Hard to pass up owning a piece of history like that.

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Well, I was wrong -- Andrew Cuomo is running for Governor

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

It's official.

I have to say that I'm surprised by this. I always figured that Cuomo had political aspirations beyond Governor of NYS. Running for this office makes little sense if he does -- the Governors mansion is where political careers go to die. As Attorney General he has the ability to effect change -- whether that change is positive or not depends on your viewpoint but the ability is there. As Governor he will be held hostage by our corrupt Legislature and entrenched special interests. The electorate of course won't understand this -- all they'll remember is that he went to Albany promising to clean up the place and failed to deliver.

I suppose he could win in a landslide and take a mandate for reform to Albany that the Legislature would be unable to ignore but I rather doubt that will happen. Spitzer won 59 of 62 counties with 69% of the popular vote and still proved unable to change anything in Albany. It's hard to see Cuomo doing better at the ballot box or having the courage to take on the special interests, most of whom favor his party. From a political standpoint I think he's making a huge mistake here. Much better to stay where he is or try to knock off Gillibrand in a primary race.

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Congress Accelerates Out of Control

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Snippet from RealClearPolitics, Congress Accelerates Out of Control:

When the news broke about alleged safety defects in Toyota vehicles, official Washington was appalled. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood accused the company of being "safety deaf" and said "they have a very bad business model."

Then there was the reaction from customers, the very people whose lives and safety are at stake every time they get in a car. In the first four months of this year, Toyota's U.S. sales did not fall, as you might expect. They rose by 12 percent.

Sticky gas pedals, sudden acceleration, alleged violations of the law, federal fines, multiple recalls -- none of them sent Americans fleeing in panic.

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/. 2.0 weirdness

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Anybody else have the issue where you only see one icon for a friend/fan? I have people who are both and I only see the green friend icon. Used to see both of them, friend and fan.

I use Firefox, but this is an issue in IE too.

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Has Google Jumped the Shark?

Shakrai Shakrai writes  |  more than 4 years ago

My apologies to the people whom posted in my journal about this previously. My journal entry was disrupted by a few individuals whom apparently have nothing better to do than troll my journal in an attempt to restart old arguments not related to the topic at the hand. That problem has now been addressed and will not be happening again.

The original journal entry was about Google's new "everything" sidebar. You can see an example of that sidebar here. I regard this as as a sad attempt to copy Bing at the expense of the minimalist interface that made Google famous. As yet Google is not providing a way to opt-out of this new "feature". Several people have taken matters into their hands. halcyon1234 posted a greasemonkey script in the original journal entry I did about this story.

I hope that Google does eventually provide an opt-out so such measures aren't necessary. The everything sidebar might be useful for some people but it contributes exactly nothing to the search results as far as I'm concerned. If the comments on Google's forums and other sites are any indication I'm not alone in this belief.

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