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Power and Free Broadband To the People

Shirley Marquez Re:Just like "free" housing solved poverty! (254 comments)

Sorting out Comcast financials is complicated by the fact that they are also a broadcaster (NBC) and a movie studio (Universal). The post that says that their margins on the cable business are 25% could be correct, but I'd like to see the data.

yesterday
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Power and Free Broadband To the People

Shirley Marquez Re:Just like "free" housing solved poverty! (254 comments)

One problem that you run into in a place like NYC: space in the underground tunnels is limited. You can't just allow anybody to pull cables down there willy-nilly.

yesterday
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OEM Windows 7 License Sales End This Friday

Shirley Marquez Re:So what? (236 comments)

8.1 fixed some of the worst UI problems in the original Windows 8. For example, you can shut down without having to find the Charms, and there is a search button on the Start screen to make it more obvious that you can do that. (You were always able to just start typing.) But people still dislike the jarring transition from the desktop to the Start screen, which is why addons like Start8 and Classic Shell are popular.

The Start screen is also a pain to navigate without a touchscreen, and doubly so if you like to put the taskbar on the right side - that combination breaks the ability to scroll right on the Start screen by putting the mouse at the right edge of the screen so you are forced to use the scrollbar instead. Putting the taskbar on the left is marginally better, but if you overshoot your target you have to use the scrollbar to get back. Really careless design; Microsoft simply didn't think about the fact that an available UI option breaks another part of the UI.

Windows 10 pretty much brings back the Windows 7 interface if you run it on a system with a keyboard and mouse. You can use the Start screen if you prefer it, but a revamped Start menu (with some live tiles in addition to the usual menu) is now the default. Windows 10 also runs Metro apps in windows on a desktop system rather than having them take over the entire screen.

2 days ago
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OEM Windows 7 License Sales End This Friday

Shirley Marquez Re:Unfortunate... (236 comments)

The Control Panel / PC Settings schizophrenia is one of the worst UI problems in Windows 8, and even third party utilities don't fix it. (In brief, the problem is that there are things that each one can do that the other can't, so you can't just adopt one or the other.) Windows 10 appears to be making a start on a PC Settings application that does everything; it's the one that's called zPC Settings in the latest build. (The one that's just called PC Settings is pretty much the same as the Windows 8 version.) Though I wonder how they will manage to get the functionality of Computer Management (especially Storage Management, the piece that normal users are most likely to use because you often need it when you add a new disk drive) into the Metro interface.

2 days ago
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OEM Windows 7 License Sales End This Friday

Shirley Marquez Re:Time to "stock up" from NewEgg ... (236 comments)

You must have started them in a VirtualBox that didn't have internet access. A normal Ubuntu install (and likely the others) will install all updates during the original installation if you are online when you install, unless you tell it not to.

2 days ago
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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

Shirley Marquez Another way for big merchants to screw small ones (629 comments)

My concern with CurrentC is that it will be controlled by a consortium of large sellers. I don't see them offering a reasonable way for small businesses to participate. Instead they are going to use it as yet another tool to make the business environment more hostile for them. Banks have never been special friends of small business, but putting the payment system in the control of somebody who has reason to be hostile rather than somebody who is indifferent doesn't strike me as a good idea.

2 days ago
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Despite Patent Settlement, Apple Pulls Bose Merchandise From Its Stores

Shirley Marquez Re:Bose is overpriced crap and always has been (328 comments)

My problem with Apple is more about the lack of choice. My preferred desktop platform is a desktop PC with expansion slots and no built-in monitor. Apple won't sell me one of those. They discontinued the last one they offered, the Mac Pro, which was outside my budget in any case.

What they want to sell me is sealed boxes that I can't expand or upgrade. And they force me to buy a new monitor every time I want to upgrade my computer, which substantially increases the cost of the upgrade cycle, unless I buy a Mac Mini - but that has no GPU so it is unsuitable for my purposes.

I do like their laptop hardware. If I were shopping in the $1000 and up price range for one I would certainly consider a Mac. But my portable hardware is much less expensive than that.

Lack of choice is also a problem with iOS. There my problem isn't so much the limited hardware choices, though they don't have anything for really budget-conscious buyers. A more serious problem is that Apple holds absolute veto power over what apps are available. If they choose not to approve an app, that's the end of the story; you can't get it. (On Android the developer has the option of offering the package for sideloading and/or selling it on an alternative application store. Windows Phone is just as locked down as iOS.) There are entire classes of app that Apple categorically prohibits. Not just adult content, but also language interpreters, and browsers that don't use Apple's HTML rendering engine and Javascript engine. (Reference: http://www.trustedreviews.com/... Said engines, by the way, are basically the ones from an old version of Safari and are inferior to the ones in the current version of Safari, so any third party browser is guaranteed to offer inferior performance to Apple's own browser.)

about two weeks ago
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Adobe: Click-to-Play Would Have Avoided Flood of Java Zero-days

Shirley Marquez Re:also applies to flash and acrobat (111 comments)

Not that fringe. Safari has a significant market share, mostly because of iOS, and quite a few people still use IE. If you use something that isn't one of those four, then I will agree that you are in a fringe minority.

gs.statcounter.com lets you see the market share of various browsers, and also lets you select which platforms (desktop, mobile, tablet, and/or console) you want to look at. If you look at the total stats (including mobile) they have Chrome at just under 40%, IE at 14.5%, Firefox at 12.5%, and Safari at 8%. They break out the iPhone browser separately at 6.75% though that is another version of Safari. The Android browser has 7.25%; a big chunk of that is probably Chinese AOSP devices that don't have Chrome installed. Opera is around 4% and clearly most of that is mobile; on the version of the chart excluding mobile Opera only has 1.4%.

The desktop only stats: Chrome 49%, IE 22.5%, Firefox 19.25%, Safari 5.25%. Everything else is noise. Safari jumps to 11.2% if you also include tablets, showing the importance of the iPad, and everything else edges down.

about two weeks ago
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After Negative User Response, ChromeOS To Re-Introduce Support For Ext{2,3,4}

Shirley Marquez Re:Quite the opposite. Acer, Samsung, HP - all unl (183 comments)

The C710 had a terrible keyboard. The C720 is an improvement; not perfect but not awful either. Both have decent but not earthshaking TN screens. If you want a Chromebook with a good screen you want one of the HP models with an IPS display.

The Pixel was a statement product. I don't think Google had any expectation of selling a significant number of them. I doubt that the number sold matches the number that were issued to employees or given away at Google I/O.

about two weeks ago
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After Negative User Response, ChromeOS To Re-Introduce Support For Ext{2,3,4}

Shirley Marquez Re:Quite the opposite. Acer, Samsung, HP - all unl (183 comments)

If you have one of the models with a rotating disk rather than an SSD, the C720 is nearly identical to Windows systems that Acer sells. (Only the bootloader and the Google keyboard are different.) Even the SSD is bog-standard hardware, though Acer doesn't offer a Windows version of that particular platform with it. So it's not surprising that there would be no driver issues. The other Intel-based Chromebooks don't have exact Windows counterparts but also are unlikely to have driver issues.

ARM-based Chromebooks are another story. Since there are no ARM systems for full Windows, hardware support for that platform is more limited. Though I know that boot of a full Linux distribution has been done on the cheap Samsung ARM Chromebook, so it's not impossible.

about two weeks ago
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Google Announces Motorola-Made Nexus 6 and HTC-Made Nexus 9

Shirley Marquez Re: The amazing part (201 comments)

The Lenovo deal is not officially approved yet. But nobody seems to be making any real objections to it, so it's pretty much certain to happen.

about two weeks ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

Shirley Marquez I will believe it when I see it (571 comments)

There have been many many reports of fusion power breakthroughs over the years. This is promising because it comes from a company with a track record, but I'm only giving it guarded enthusiasm until I see a real product.

about two weeks ago
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Too Much Privacy: Finnish Police Want Big Euro Notes Taken Out of Circulation

Shirley Marquez Re:Not only in Finland. (314 comments)

The US stopped printing bills larger than $100 many years ago but the larger bills were not withdrawn from circulation. A substantial number of $1,000 bills are still in the wild; they don't turn over often so they don't wear out quickly. (In contrast, $1 bills turn over frequently and have an average lifespan of 18 months.)

about two weeks ago
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Battery Breakthrough: Researchers Claim 70% Charge In 2 Minutes, 20-Year Life

Shirley Marquez Re:The diode voltage drop would cause power loss. (395 comments)

High efficiency power supplies are already doing this. You might have one in your new PC. Instead of using rectifying diodes, they are using power FETs and switching them on and off at the power line frequency because power losses are lower.

about two weeks ago
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Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated

Shirley Marquez Re:That's not the reason you're being ignored. (406 comments)

If you choose not to go through the scanner they give you a pat-down check. That can be uncomfortably like being groped.

about two weeks ago
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Netflix To Charge More For 4K Video

Shirley Marquez Needs a trial (158 comments)

If Netflix is going to do this, they need to make one title available to regular Netflix subscribers so they can test whether 4K streaming will work for them. If people pay and then discover that their network connections aren't up to the challenge they are going to be unhappy. Doesn't have to be a feature film; a short or a TV episode will do.

about two weeks ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Shirley Marquez Not for me... (304 comments)

The Model M was always too stiff and too noisy for my taste. But if you like them, have at it.

I do have a special clueless award for the company (some anonymous small manufacturer in Taiwan) that produced a LAPTOP with clicky keys. I ran into that one in the late 80s when I was working for a computer dealer; one of my jobs was testing new products that we were thinking of selling. I gave that a "don't even think about it" rating.

about three weeks ago
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Why America Won't Match Sweden's Cheap, Fast, Competitive Internet Services

Shirley Marquez Re:not complicated...monopology (346 comments)

They also gain efficiency from having only one provider. Telecommunications is a natural monopoly business, at least the part that actually involves pulling cables; having multiple sets of them, as we do in the US, drives up costs. Nearly everywhere has at least two, the company that originally provided telephone service and a cable company, though internet service is not always available on the telephone wires in remote locations. Some places have a second cable company and/or somebody who has pulled fiber to the home (which may or may not be the original telephone company).

The problem with monopolies, natural or otherwise, is that the holder of the monopoly tends to abuse it. On average corporate monopolies are abused more seriously than government monopolies, though there are counterexamples.

The competitive market in England is actually multiple consumer providers using the same monopoly infrastructure - lines owned by British Telecom. We had that model for a little while in the US, with CLECs (competitive local exchange carriers) using lines provided by the local telephone company. But then the FCC rescinded the rule that required the phone company to lease those lines at reasonable rates and the CLECs died. Cable TV and fiber companies have never been required to lease their services to third party providers, so the days of the CLEC would have ended in any case as people moved to faster connections.

about three weeks ago
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Complain About Comcast, Get Fired From Your Job

Shirley Marquez Re:So, it has come to this. (742 comments)

It is sometimes possible to win discrimination cases for wrongful termination; the employer will try to claim that you were fired for other reasons but they don't always convince the judge. The ones that are really impossible is proving that you were never hired in the first place because of discrimination.

about three weeks ago
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Why the FCC Will Probably Ignore the Public On Network Neutrality

Shirley Marquez Re:Changes require systematic, reliable evidence.. (336 comments)

No, they don't. Windows Update is speed limited, but downloading ISOs from Microsoft developer sites does not appear to be, at least not at levels that are relevant to typical internet connections. I have seen those downloads approach 100Mbps, which is the limit of my connection - so I usually have mercy on my housemates and download them over the WiFi connection rather than hardwired because that only gets to 20Mbps or so (limitations of my router).

The lesson here: queue up those big downloads at the end of the business day, not when other people are trying to get work done.

about three weeks ago

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