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Media Player Nightingale Reaches 1.12.1; First Release Since Songbird

SlashdotOgre I use to love Amarok... (79 comments)

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.

about 3 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

SlashdotOgre Some Useful Non-Literature Books (796 comments)

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.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Laptops For Fans Of Pre-Retina MacBook Pro?

SlashdotOgre Re:Lenovo. (477 comments)

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.

about 5 months ago
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Humble Bundle Launches Online Store For Games

SlashdotOgre Impact on Future Bundle Pricing (93 comments)

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).

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: As a Programmer/Geek, Should I Learn Business?

SlashdotOgre Re:As a geek who went to business school ... (167 comments)

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.

about 6 months ago
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Film Critic Roger Ebert Dead at 70 Of Cancer

SlashdotOgre Re:Siskel & Ebert Sneak Previews (198 comments)

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.

1 year,14 days
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An Instructo-Geek Reviews The 4-Hour Chef

SlashdotOgre If you really want to really learn how to cook... (204 comments)

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.

1 year,27 days
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An Instructo-Geek Reviews The 4-Hour Chef

SlashdotOgre Re:Cooking books more worthy to be on Slashdot (204 comments)

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.

1 year,27 days
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Learn Linux the Hard Way

SlashdotOgre Re:If you like your linux hard (185 comments)

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 ago
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Just In Time for the Holidays, Nintendo Wii U Gets Its US Release

SlashdotOgre Re:Universal Remote (174 comments)

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
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Google's Nexus 4, 7, 10 Strategy: Openness At All Costs

SlashdotOgre Missed Opportunity (359 comments)

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.

about a year and a half ago
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RIM Considers Spinning Off Handset Business From Messaging

SlashdotOgre Time to Become a Software Company (87 comments)

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.

about 2 years ago
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4G Phones Are Really Fast — At Draining Batteries

SlashdotOgre Re:Very frustrating (281 comments)

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).

more than 2 years ago
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RAM in my most-used personal computer:

SlashdotOgre Re:32 GB in my Mac Pro (543 comments)

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.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: GNU/Linux Laptops?

SlashdotOgre I Also Recommend Thinkpads (708 comments)

I've been running various flavors of Linux as my primary OS on laptops for roughly a decade, and I highly recommend the Thinkpad line of laptops (originally by IBM, now by Lenovo). Thinkpads tend to use mostly Intel parts, and Intel has great support for open drivers (see intellinuxgraphics.org or intellinuxwireless.org). There's also a great community at ThinkWiki (http://www.thinkwiki.org) which focuses on Linux on Thinkpads. My current personal laptop is a T400, and everything works (suspend to RAM, hibernate, sound, video, WiFi, etc.). My wife also has a Thinkpad, a SL400, and likewise has no problems running Linux (it actually runs much better than Vista which it came with). I was actually able to get my T400 from Lenovo's Outlet without Windows installed (it came with FreeDOS), so I even got out of having to pay the Windows tax. The Thinkpad is Lenovo's business line, and the build quality (on their T & W series in particular) is fantastic, and personally I can't live without their Trackpoint.

I have found that if you don't mind doing your homework ahead of time (mainly checking parts on the "customize your machine" section of OEM sites), it's fairly trivial to find a machine that fully supports Linux. With that said, Thinkpads are still my top recommendation (followed by Dell's Latitude line which also has a Trackpoint). I have no connection with Lenovo; I'm just a happy customer. For the record, I run Gentoo on my T400 and my wife's SL400 (she previously ran Ubuntu on it).

more than 2 years ago
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The (Mostly) Sad Fates of 32 First-Generation iPad Rivals

SlashdotOgre Re:No mention of ViewSonic G-Tablet (270 comments)

I too am very satisfied with my gTab which I picked up for around $280 from Woot in March. However one thing to note though is that Viewsonic is almost certainly not going to provide an official Honeycomb build. This is an issue because we need some binary drivers to get hardware acceleration working in third party HC based ROM's. Personally I've stuck with the Gingerbread based VEGAn-TAB ROM mentioned by the OP (and overall I'm happy), but if I were purchasing a new tablet today I would opt for one with an official HC build by the vendor.

more than 2 years ago
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Interview With GNOME 3 Designer Jon McCann

SlashdotOgre Re:KDE (294 comments)

Well the actual quote was, "I really think from an end-user perspective and a third-party-developer perspective GNOME and KDE are different operating systems. As much as MeeGo is a different operating system," and to an extent I can see his point from a end-user perspective. Obviously the underpinnings are the same, but for non-technical users who only use the GUI and never see/care what's below,l it's a significantly different experience. Especially with how Gnome and KDE these days even handle interacting with hardware slightly differently (e.g. GVFS v.s. KIO).

For example my wife currently runs Gnome 2.32 on Gentoo (which I maintain). Switching her to KDE would be a much more significant change than say switching to a different disto running Gnome 2.32. I know this to be the case because I originally had her running Ubuntu before we were married, and the switch to Gentoo (but maintaining Gnome) was painless for her.

more than 2 years ago
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Zediva Shut Down By Federal Judge, MPAA Parties!

SlashdotOgre What Zediva Does... (189 comments)

For folks who've never heard of Zediva, they apparently let customers stream newly released movies. Their business model was that the customers rent the DVD and DVD player which are both located at their facility, and the customers access them over the Internet. Clever approach, but this shutdown should be of no surprise.

more than 2 years ago
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Ultramobile PC To Make a Comeback?

SlashdotOgre Re:I already have one... (140 comments)

More importantly, Android applications are all designed with a touch based user interface in mind. One of the major issues with previous generations of tablets was that they relied on traditional applications which could work with a touch interface, but they were never designed for it. This made using the device for non-basic functions a headache. I remember the Oqo quite well, and as a geek I wanted one (or a Sharp Zarus...). However as an engineer and end user, I knew it was never practical and would be primarily an expensive toy.

more than 2 years ago
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eBook Lending Library Launched

SlashdotOgre Wish There Was A Way to Donate eBooks (145 comments)

I'm very glad to see programs like this. One of the reasons I chose a Nook over the Kindle was because my local library supported eBook lending. However I wish there was a way to donate eBooks I've purchased to the library (similar to how we can donate physical books). Do any online book sellers provide such an option (allow you to transfer the license)?

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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eMusic Switches Pricing Model, Adds Universal

SlashdotOgre SlashdotOgre writes  |  more than 3 years ago

SlashdotOgre (739181) writes "The DRM-free, subscription based online music store eMusic has announced that it will be adding over 250,000 tracks from the Universal Music catalog in November and will be switching to a price per track model at that time. Previously, eMusic subscriptions provided their customer a number of credits each month (e.g. under the current system you receive 50 credits for $19.99) where each credit could be used for the download of a track. Under the new pricing model, each track will be priced between $0.49 to $0.89 which will be charged from the users subscription. For most plans this will translate to a significant reduction on the number of potential downloads (e.g. for $19.99 you will best case get 41 downloads of $0.49 each or worst case receive 22 downloads at $0.89). This is the first significant change to their pricing since July of 2009, when eMusic added Sony, their first major label; prior to that time, eMusic focused on independent labels which they still continue to offer. For historical comparison, eMusic's $19.99 plan prior to July 2009 provided 75 downloads a month."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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iTunes Customer Service is HORRIBLE

SlashdotOgre SlashdotOgre writes  |  more than 6 years ago

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.

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