top Comcast Confessions
Must be location dependent. My closest Comcast location (now Concord, CA) has no glass at all -- completely open air although it does have cameras. I try to avoid it as much as possible as it's near some relatively low-income areas and is often filled with people who pay their bills in person (in cash/cashiers' check I would assume) so the lines are always 30 mins to an hour. I've also been to their Livermore, CA & Walnut Creek, CA (now closed) office and also didn't see any barriers. I will say that for the most part, banks in these areas don't use glass barriers either, but are much more secure. I'm sure things are different in lower income areas like Richmond, Oakland, Compton, etc.
top Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later
Even ignoring the potential flap issue, some folks require PRK regardless. I had my eyes done on 2008, but during the initial screening, it was determined that the most dense part of my eye was not the center so standard Lasik wouldn't be a good choice for me. I ended up going the PRK route (with wave front optimization) and have had very good results. The healing time was 3 days, and it was a little painful, but I got 20/15 vision from it with no major side effects and no risk of flap accidents.
Your eyes are definitely not something you want to cheap out on.
top OpenWRT 14.07 RC1 Supports Native IPv6, Procd Init System
I've been very satisfied with my Netgear WNDR3700 (gigabit, dual band, USB, etc.) to the point where I'll almost certainly get a Netgear when I replace next year (to move to AC). I have been running various svn checkouts of OpenWRT over the last 3+ years and haven't had many problems (and those I did encounter would have been avoided if I stuck to the formal releases).
top Report: Comcast and EA To Stream Games To TVs
I will give it to Comcast & EA, this is definitely an interesting way to attack traditional consoles. It's very fitting that MS is one of the targets, as this was one of their favorite weapons (i.e. Bundling IE with Windows to attack Netscape, WMV to attack Real, etc.).
I'll be curious how they execute this platform envelopment attack as I think its success will largely rely on their operational efficiency (something neither Comcast nor EA are known for). Comcast certainly has a major advantage over other remote gaming providers in terms of latency, but even being the closest hop to their customers, I don't know if it's quick enough for certain games. I don't think they'd cache the game locally on the customer's X1 client as it those devices won't have anywhere near the processing power of a modern console. I also have serious doubts about using tablets as controllers as described however I presume their target is casual gamers (i.e. those who never owned a console before they bought the original Wii). It will be interesting to see how those users respond.
I am also curious to see how MS & Sony will respond. MS currently offers a Comcast app on the Xbox 360 (and I presume the Xbox One); will both sides continue with that service? Does anyone know how the financials work with that (i.e. does one side pay the other)?
top Interview: Ask Ben Starr About the Future of Food
It varies largely by region and by what parts you're looking for. If all you're talking about is getting a particular cut of steak, that shouldn't be a problem for most places although I don't call that butchering. If you want something a bit more exotic like pig liver, caul fat, etc. your options quickly become limited. Some places will let you special order less common parts (i.e. sweetbreads, kidney) if you meet minimum increments, and some cuts (tripe, tongue, oxtail, etc.) you can more easily find at an ethnic market however you really need to know where to look. However to get other parts (i.e. a full hog's head, pork liver, etc.) you need to find a real butcher and those are becoming increasingly less common. This is partially dicated by health code requirements that need certain parts (i.e. fresh liver) to meet certain guidelines that can't be done unless you cut the whole animal there.
In the SF Bay Are where I live we still have some good local butchers (The Fatted Calf, The Local Butcher Shop, Golden Gate Meat Co., etc.) however you pretty much have to know where to look and be willing to drive. For example, in the East Bay I only know of one store that does full butchering (Lunardi's in Walnut Creek) and even local butcher shops like Lawrences Meat in Alamo or Main St. Meat & Fish Market in Pleasanton don't get the whole animal.
I have limited experience in Brooklyn, New York, and I found it a but easier to find local butchers over there. However that may well be changing.
top How much use would you get from a 1 gigabit internet connection?
When Comcast upped my plan from 25Mbps to 50Mbps, I noticed an immediate improvement in download speed however I wasn't getting my full 50Mbps (it was capping out in the mid to high 30s consistently). This was pretty close to the limit you'd experience with a DOCSIS 2.0 so I decided to buy a DOCSIS 3.0 one to see if it would make a difference. I snagged a Motorola SB6141 and immediately started getting my full 50Mbps.
Hopefully they sent out new DOCSIS 3.0 modems to people who rent from them. However if you know you're not going to switch from Comcast for a couple years, a one time purchase can quickly pay for itself in lower cable bills (I got my 2.0 modem for $27, and the 3.0 one for about $65).
top Media Player Nightingale Reaches 1.12.1; First Release Since Songbird
Back in the 1.x days, Amarok was in my personal opinion, one of the best pieces of open source software around. I convinced several folks to try Linux based on that software alone by just describing the features (i.e. you play a song and it auto-fetches the lyrics & opens the wikipedia page of the band). For large music collections, you could use a real DB like MySQL or Postgres so it's performance blew everything out of the water. At the time, I was a complete Gnome user, and I would install KDE libraries on every PC I owned just for Amarok.
Unfortunately that all changed with Amarok 2. Every year or so, I install it and give it a go, but it's never come close to its former glory. The early releases of Amarok 2 were a complete regression, and even more recent ones are still not up to par with Amarok 1.4. For a few years, I kept maintaining ebuilds/patches in Gentoo for it to continue to compile, but eventually I gave up.
Fortunately some of the ports based on the original Amarok are doing well; my personal favorite is Clementine. These days I mostly use MPD and my cell phone (running MPDroid) for controlling my music collection, but I still miss Amarok at times.
top Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?
Here's a few generally pratical books that I genuinely believe anyone can find some value in:
Boy Scout Handbook -- Great source of info for anything outdoors related including basic first aid, how to tie knots, survial skills, etc. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie -- A series of insights on how to effectively deal with people. The Way to Cook by Julia Child -- Julia considered this book her magnum opus; it teaches you how to cook almost anything you can imagine.
top Ask Slashdot: Best Laptops For Fans Of Pre-Retina MacBook Pro?
I have owned several T (& W for work) series Thinkpads starting with the IBM T21. I am very satisfied with them, and I plan to replace my current T400 next year with a T440. I have ran Linux pretty much exclusively on the T line (early Fedora Cores and eventually Gentoo since 2004 on the T21, exclusively Gentoo now), and because they use mostly Intel parts, I have never had much trouble getting everything to work.
The features that keep me coming back are:
Availability of decent resolution (1440x900) matte displays The ultrabay (can be used for an optical drive, second battery, or second disk drive) The build quality and user replaceable parts.
I got my current laptop from their outlet as a lease return. It didn't include Windows (actually shipped with Free DOS). I immediately bumped the RAM to 8GB, added a SSD, put the original HDD in the ultra bay, and it's been going strong ever since. I have had to replace the keyboard (spilled some aged vinegar on one it), but other than that no problems. I am only thinking of replacing it next year to move to a quicker processor and more RAM.
The system is a little bulky, but the build is quite solid. Mine has taken a couple 1.5 ft. coffee table to floor drops thanks to my dog, and it's kept on ticking. I know they also make a slim line T440s and even an ultrabook (T440u) version although that might require giving up some features like the Macbook Pro.
top Humble Bundle Launches Online Store For Games
It will be interesting to see if this move will impact future bundles. I am curious if they will be willing to cannibalize their own store sales, and if other vendors might be less willing to work with them now that they have a permanent store (and might be viewed as a competitor).
top Ask Slashdot: As a Programmer/Geek, Should I Learn Business?
This is the most accurate description of a MBA program that I have ever read on Slashdot. I am in a similar situation (I work in IT and am currently studying at Berkeley in the Evening & Weekend MBA program, my undergrad was in EE), and my experience mimics your post. The most popular undergraduate field for my class was engineering at 40% followed by Business/Econ at 24%. We have a myriad of backgrounds from medical doctors to restaurants, and virtually everyone I have met means well and isn't trying to screw society to make a buck. Core courses (basically GEs) covered everything from microeconomics to corporate strategy to ethics.
Overall I'd recommend anyone who criticizes MBAs to try and reserve judgment until you have a chance to go sit in on a class at a good school. I believe that you will be surprised at what it's like, who you meet, and you might even change your opinion.
top Film Critic Roger Ebert Dead at 70 Of Cancer
While it probably won't appeal to many Slashdot readers, the ESPN show, "Pardon the Interruption," is of similar style and caliber. The hosts, Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, were both veteran staff writers for the Washington Post (and were still active for the first several seasons), and their opinions are consistently well developed and expressed. Even my wife, who only watches the occasional big game, enjoys watching the show.
top An Instructo-Geek Reviews The 4-Hour Chef
Just go watch some old episodes of Julia Child or anything by Jacques Pepin. If you're an Amazon Prime member, all 10 seasons of Julia Child's "The French Chef" are available for instant viewing.
If you prefer to read, then the same two people are both great choices. While all of Julia's books are worth reading in my opinion, the first volume of "The Art of French Cooking" and "The Way to Cook" (which she considered her magnum opus) are excellent. Julia doesn't just provide recipes, but she explains techniques (dice vs chop vs mince vs etc.) and rational (i.e. why drying meat before browning is critical).
On the Jacques Pepin side, his Complete Technique is like a textbook for how to cook anything. The best part is there's literally thousands of photos of how to do every step. As the book is really just a translation of his two french books ("La Technique" & "La Methode") there are some parts that might not be too applicable for most Americans, but overall it's well worth a read.
top An Instructo-Geek Reviews The 4-Hour Chef
I would also add, "CookWise: The Hows & Whys of Successful Cooking, The Secrets of Cooking Revealed" by Shirley O. Corriher to the list. It explains rational behind why things work the way they do (i.e. why lard or shortening produce a flakier crust than butter). It doesn't shy away from details, discussing things like Maillard reactions, and the recipes are well chosen to focus on what's being described and tasty too.
top Learn Linux the Hard Way
Installing Gentoo is not difficult per se, but it's certainly an effective way to learn low level system administration and a lot about the Linux ecosystem. Now of course it's entirely possible to install Gentoo and not take away anything from it (i.e. just mindlessly copy-and-paste from the Gentoo Handbook and never attempt to understand what's going on), but even if you just apply minimal effort, it's a great way to learn a lot about Linux.
For example, a typical Stage 3 install will involve manually partionioning (possibly even using RAID/LVM), formating a FS, loop back mounting, chrooting, compiling a kernel, installing GRUB, adding users/groups, networking, cron, etc. That's just off the top of my head. If you make a mistake (like I did installing GRUB manually the first time), you can learn a whole lot more when you try to fix it.
Gentoo also has excellent documentation and, by virtue of being an niche/ethusiast distro, a much more advanced user base compared to most Linux distributions. I'm not saying there aren't folks on other distros that know more than someone using Gentoo, but on average, most Gentoo users (especially those active in their forums) tend to be fairly advanced users.
Finally, Gentoo is extremely flexible, so if you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, it's certainly possible. Although Stage 1 installs (where you bootstrap your compiler) are no longer officially supported, there's active threads in the official forums on how to do it. If you want to play in the embedded space, Gentoo has one of the best cross-compiling systems out there (a benefit of being source based).
The long and short of it is, installing Gentoo is a great way for someone sincerely interested to learn a lot about Linux.
about a year and a half ago
top Just In Time for the Holidays, Nintendo Wii U Gets Its US Release
In my personal experience, using a tablet or phone as a remote over using an actual, dedicated universal remote is one of those things that's better in theory than in practice. This is primarily due to these remotes having a tendency to walk away from the entertainment room, the relatively poor battery life (hours vs days), and the lack of intelligent help & context switching (compared to a Harmony). I can't speak for "ILink", but Logitech has their actual Harmony remotes down to a science. I never understood why someone would spend so much on a remote until I finally bit the bullet and got one (880), and I can honestly say it's one of my best investments in my home entertainment system. Beyond just being able to build macros, it does great things like having an interactive help for when one of the steps fails -- this is fantastic for folks like my wife who no longer needs to know what input the TV & the receiver needs to be set to, what to turn on/change when she wants to watch a bluray, etc. I liked my 880 so much that I grabbed a Harmony One last year. Also, if you're price conscious like me, you can regularly find refurbs for $100 and new ones on sale for $130 around Black Friday. I have no association with Logitech, but the Harmony line is really fantastic.
about a year and a half ago
top Google's Nexus 4, 7, 10 Strategy: Openness At All Costs
I believe they missed a big opportunity by not delivering a Verizon LTE capable phone in the $350-$450 range. There is a significant portion of users who are still grandfathered on to "unlimited" data that are approaching upgrade time (e.g., early adopters who bought VZW's first LTE phone, the HTC Thunderbolt back in Dec 2010). There's a large market of people that would choose an unsubsidized LTE Nexus 4 which lets them keep unlimited data for that price. The competitive subsidized phones (i.e. GS3 or Note 2) would only be about $200 or so less but would cost the user their unlimited data plan which a lot of people value more than $200.
top RIM Considers Spinning Off Handset Business From Messaging
I personally believe that the only way for RIM to survive is to pull a Sega, exit the hardware business, and become a software company. Their email software is the best mobile client I've ever used and in the time I've had five BB's, I've also had several Windows Mobile Std/Pro (Moto Q, Q9M, Samsung Saga), iOS (iPod Touch), and Android (HTC Eris, Thunderbolt) devices (but no Windows Phone 7) so I do have something to compare to. The only email client that I could comfortably manage 100+ emails a day is the BB. If they do go the software route, I would hope they strongly control which hardware they will run on so as to control the CX.
top 4G Phones Are Really Fast — At Draining Batteries
Interesting, I work in downtown SF and live in the East Bay and have no problem getting a full day out of a charge on my Tbolt. I picked up the phone around launch, and on the original stock firmware, battery life was pretty abysmal. I'm currently running a custom rom (Liquid Thunderbread 2.6), and now easily get a day on normal use (including roughly an hour of continuous browsing on BART each workday). My wife has the same phone and can get a couple days (she works in the East Bay and uses the Internet much less than I). She also uses a custom rom (Liquid Smooth 3.2), so that may be the difference (I believe both our phones use the "SMARTASS" governor and a clemsyn kernel).
top RAM in my most-used personal computer:
While I agree with your post in general, your example of "a file server with a small set of files" isn't the best example of a case for a SSD. If that "small set of files" can fit into RAM, then a SSD isn't going to buy you much benefit outside of initially being quicker to read the data into memory. However file servers really are data set dependent, so without knowing the details, it's hard to say what's the best upgrade.
RAM is definitely not always the most beneficial upgrade for personal computers. Adding RAM definitely suffers diminishing returns to scale (which is generally true with everything, but RAM benefits seem to diminish more rapidly). It has been my experience that RAM beyond 4GB is much less beneficial than a SSD for typical personal computer usage. For example I upgraded my personal laptop from a 7200 RPM drive to a SSD and from 4GB to 8GB, and the SSD improvement is significantly more noticeable.
top iTunes Customer Service is HORRIBLE
Normally I'm not one to go on a rant, but I have had the WORST online customer service experience I've ever faced from Apple this week and feel like I ought to share it with others. It all started with me being a huge Pearl Jam fan, and by extension a fan of the lead singer Eddie Vedder. Recently, Eddie recorded the soundtrack for the film, "Into the Wild," and iTunes had a deal which got them exclusive access to four tracks. Personally I don't care for iTunes because I primarily run Linux (no port) and I find the software bloated and feature lacking compared to Amarok, but I like Eddie Vedder's music enough that I was willing to boot to Windows and deal with their DRM laden crap. My Windows desktop had an older copy of iTunes (something like 4.9), I didn't bother to update it because it's been my experience that Apple makes horrible, bloated software for Windows (eg. Quicktime usurping your browser plugin settings, etc.).
Over the weekend, I'm at Starbucks buying a coffee, and since I'm using my debit card since I didn't have cash on me, I thought I might as well pick up their pre-paid card for the, "Into the Wild" Soundtrack that I was planning to purchase from iTunes any for its exclusives. I get home, boot to Windows XP, load iTunes 4.9, and redeem my code. iTunes throws an error saying I need to upgrade to iTunes 6 or later, and it doesn't download any music. NO WHERE ON THE CARD DOES IT SPECIFY A MINIMUM ITUNES VERSION, but whatever, I'll just upgrade. I almost never use Windows anyway, I decide to upgrade to the latest iTunes (version 7.4), I download the 50MB file, update it, launch it again and try to redeem my code. Itunes throws another error, it claims my code is already redeemed. Well now that's a problem, yes I tried to redeem it earlier, but it failed and now I'm stuck with an invalid code and no music.
This should be something that a 5 minute conversation would resolve, right? WRONG. Well, I figure I can just give them a call and work it out, turns out ITUNES DOESN'T HAVE A CUSTOMER SUPPORT PHONE NUMBER. Fine, the prepaid card lists a support URL which I go to and submit a ticket explaining my situation. An HOUR later I receive a canned response asking for additional info which I provide. A DAY later I receive a response saying that someone will investigate the issue. ANOTHER DAY after the previous email, I get a response with a new prepaid code used to collect my songs. I think great, an issue resolved, took longer than it should have, but whatever, I got my music, I'm happy. Well I was wrong, THE IDIOT WORKING MY CASE PROVIDED ME WITH THE CODE FOR THE WRONG ALBUM. The code they gave me automatically fetched some KT Tunstall crap which I do not want in the least.
Now what's even more infuriating is that the correct album name, INTO THE WILD, is in the first sentence of the Comments section of my trouble ticket which is at the bottom of the email they sent me which had the wrong code. So now, here I am, several days after purchasing the music, and I still don't have the album I want. I responded to the email with the wrong code, but I have no clue if they'll get it (Customer support emails come from a generic address). I submitted a new trouble ticket referencing the first, but I have absolutely no confidence in the people working in the iTunes customer service department.
I can only hope I'll eventually get the music I purchased, and it pisses me off to no end that there's no way to contact the company and explain where they're failing their customers.