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Shapeshifting: Proposal For a New Periodic Table of the Elements

SomeoneGotMyNick It's Portrait Oriented!!! (87 comments)

I kept telling ThinkGeek, "I only have a shower stall, you insensitive clods!!!" and that their landscape oriented periodic table shower curtain doesn't fit correctly.

Now I can get a new style periodic table that fits a shower stall that's taller than it is wide!

about a year and a half ago

ROVs Discover Deep Sea Trash

SomeoneGotMyNick Cruise ship garbage (82 comments)


They couldn't find a single golf ball (out of hundreds of thousands) that were probably pitched off of a cruise ship or yacht?

about a year and a half ago

How Did You Learn How To Program?

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:TRS 80 Model I (623 comments)

Sorry if I threw you for a loop on this one... I remember hardcards going into expansion slots, of which the Tandy 1000 series had (early ISA bus). My uncle had me put a 40MB hardcard in his Tandy 1000 back in the day. I thought they were the greatest thing to be invented because the entire hard drive system resided on a single card and not spread around the innards of the computer in a mass of cabling.

The Model IV didn't have conventional expansion slots. Nearly everything data I/O related, other than floppies, was done externally. Starting with page 23 of this online copy of a TRS-80 catalog, you'll see what was made for Model IVs


about a year and a half ago

How Did You Learn How To Program?

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:C64 (623 comments)

My parents bought me one of those new VIC-20 computing machines back when they were newly released.

Having never really been exposed to BASIC programming, except for many long sessions in front of TRS-80's, much to the chagrin of Radio Shack managers, I found the VIC-20 user manual rather... "light"... in its content.

Later, I bought the Programmer's Reference Guide, which was an explosion of useful details and information about the VIC-20!!! There was an entire section on memory maps and detailed 6502 assembler codes. Using just that book, I started learning to write and hand compile machine language routines. I would enter the programs via PEEK commands and DATA statements.

about a year and a half ago

How Did You Learn How To Program?

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:Timex Sinclair 1000 (623 comments)

you could use the inbuilt PI value to express 0 as PI - PI or 1 as PI / PI which only took 3 bytes.

Awesome trick!!! I never even realized that until now and I had access to a TS1000 when they first came out. However, I would think it's only a speed for space tradeoff. At 1MHz, I wouldn't have relied on that too much for repeated use in loops!

Then again, I used a VIC-20. At least I had 75%-250% more RAM to work with, depending on the stock Sinclair variant.

about a year and a half ago

Massachusetts May Try To Tax the Cloud

SomeoneGotMyNick Wrong Title (172 comments)

"Tax-achusetts May Try To Tax the Cloud"

There... fixed that for you!

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Patent Trolls Seeking Wi-fi License Fees?

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:Curious (347 comments)

All I can tell you is that it's half common sense, half case law, and half luck.

Sorry... people simply cannot make sound decisions about their companies without being able to consider at least "four halves" of options.

about 2 years ago

64GB MS Surface Pro Only Has 23GB of Free Space

SomeoneGotMyNick This is at least a 30 year old practice... (588 comments)

Commodore did the same thing with the Commodore 64


...and the VIC-20's 5K RAM (3583 BYTES FREE)

about 2 years ago

TSA Terminates Its Contract With Maker of Full-Body Scanner

SomeoneGotMyNick That's just the cover story... (268 comments)

The real reason is that the agents have a deep rooted "touching fetish" that they need to keep satisfied.

about 2 years ago

Connecticut Groups Cancels Plan to Destroy Violent Games

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:Goal was accomplished alright. (350 comments)

Westboro wanted attention, too. And just like them, SouthingtonSOS ended up getting all the WRONG attention in their distorted sense of activism.

about 2 years ago

Texas High School Student Loses Lawsuit Challenging RFID Tracking Requirement

SomeoneGotMyNick So... give them something they WANT! (412 comments)

I'll bet if they gave each student a free cell phone (which "may or may not" contain tracking technology) that they can keep with themselves during school, they'd be ALL over that!

about 2 years ago

Worldwide Shortage of Barium

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:What the what what? (270 comments)

It's basically one continuous external surface inside the body.

You make us sound like living, breathing Klein Bottles...

about 2 years ago

Papa John's Sued For Unwanted Pizza-Related Texts

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:"Obamacare" cost less than free pizzas (418 comments)

In September, Papa Johns ran a campaign where they gave out two million free pizzas. The cost of these pizzas would be $24 to $32 million, estimated.

The "cost" of each free pizza is the cost of ingredients and other fixed costs expended to make each pizza. You can't factor in profits you normally would get by selling the pizza. Unless you're suggesting it costs $12 - $16 to make pizzas which sell for $12 - $16

Even with that in mind, if it costs $6 - $8 to make a pizza, the promotion will still cost more than the PPACA costs, just not quite so much more.

more than 2 years ago

App Auto-Tweets False Piracy Accusations

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:App permissions (231 comments)

It's kind of like that post-login "Wall" you can write on when you do your daily dial-up into the "Old Geezer BBS" :)

more than 2 years ago

Samsung's Galaxy S III Steals Smartphone Crown From iPhone

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:Samsung is better than Apple (348 comments)

It's not as easy as you think to be able to hide behind the Anonymous Coward moniker, Mr. Cook.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer's Pen

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:Yes (712 comments)


That was her first time drawing a character in that fashion, She still amazes the shit out of me when she comes up with a quality drawing like that on her first attempt in a different medium.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer's Pen

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:Yes (712 comments)

I agree with the use of Rapidograph pens. Dark, thin, and crisp lines. Refillable. My daughter drew this using ONLY a single Size 3×0/.25 Rapidograph pen (before it was scanned and posted on an art site). The character was about 7" high on the paper she drew it on.


more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Video Monitors For Areas That Are Off the Grid?

SomeoneGotMyNick Re:Do you have a sign? (340 comments)

A sign or two saying something like "PRIVATE PROPERTY NO DUMPING" might help, if you don't already have a sign like that which is being ignored.

This is Slashdot... logic of the "common sense" variety is forbidden on these threads!

more than 2 years ago



Encouraging a child's new-found interest in robotics

SomeoneGotMyNick SomeoneGotMyNick writes  |  more than 2 years ago

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) writes "With the holiday season coming around, I have to consider what's best for my Son, who is in his early teens, when it comes to giving gifts which are fun, challenging, and career oriented. In the past, racing style video games were popular choices, but I don't want (expect) him to be able to play video games as a career.

He is currently taking courses in school which are introductions to computers and programming. He is familiar with programming concepts from playing around with Scratch for many years. He also likes the idea of tinkering with robot like devices, even though there is little he has available to do so right now.

When I'm doing stuff with my Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards, he always develops an interest, but doesn't quite "get it" when I try to explain the details of what I'm doing with them. Maybe I'm explaining it wrong, or maybe he needs to learn it a different way, perhaps with a collection of hardware add-ons and project documentation which I normally don't use myself.

I would like to encourage the interest he develops, without initially overwhelming him with too many details. Either that, or he is a lot like me when I was growing up, and needs to do a little discovery on his own using these microprocessor based systems, which could lead to a more positive self esteem and appreciation for learning.

What I'm thinking of doing is finding something which merges robotics and computer programming. My first thought is Lego Mindstorms, but I don't know if/how powerful that system can become. I'm hoping to find something that can start off easy, but at the same time, the major investment in components doesn't go to waste because it can be outgrown too quickly.

I've checked on Arduino and Propeller based robot kits, but unless someone else can provide details on their personal experience with them, I think they may have a discouragingly steep learning curve to get started.

Any information will be useful. Are there relatively unknown, but useful kits out there. Is a "piecemeal kit" a better choice, with certain book purchases and a collection of individual components ordered from SparkFun, Jameco, etc? Are Lego Mindstorms a powerful and really good value kit for the money?"

Effective monitoring of teen's Internet activities

SomeoneGotMyNick SomeoneGotMyNick writes  |  more than 4 years ago

SomeoneGotMyNick writes "My kids, whose ages orbit around 13, are becoming more Internet saavy. I set myself up the ability to monitor their Internet access anytime I wish. I must run Ethereal or Wireshark to perform this monitoring. After a while, this process becomes unwieldy. All computers in my house run through a Linux box configured as a router. I usually monitor from that machine. I may also monitor from any machine connected to the hub (yes, a HUB) which the kid's computers are connected to. Hubs make it easy and cheap to monitor a set of network connection. My kids are aware I can monitor their activity anytime I wish, yet I don't want to nanny them to the point where they are unable to earn my trust. I can already block any site(s) I wish. So, that avenue is covered. I simply don't have time anymore to scan through log files or sit and monitor real-time. To make this process easier, I'd like to figure out how I can configure my existing network to look for "triggers" indicating inappropriate usage and/or log unencrypted text conversations (from chat rooms). I prefer to monitor at the network level, preferably using open source software, which can notify me via e-mail, etc. I'd consider EFFECTIVE client software (Windows based) and keyloggers if there are no other solutions as long as they hide completely, don't slow down the computer, run locally (not as a cloud service), and aren't subscription based. Has anybody in a similar situation come up with a useful setup?"

Scripting in Commodore BASIC in Windows/Linux

SomeoneGotMyNick SomeoneGotMyNick writes  |  more than 6 years ago

SomeoneGotMyNick writes "Someone with a lot of time on their hands (or more nostalgic than I am), had created a scripting language based on Commodore BASIC for Mac OSX and recently finished a version that works on Windows and Linux. You can pass text versions of Basic programs as a parameter to the program. I found it odd that it took 1.8MB of source code to compile to an interpreter that used to fit in 8K of ROM space. If this ever becomes very popular, how long will it be before we see Obfuscated CBM Basic contests?"
Link to Original Source

Large Book Budget? What would you spend it on?

SomeoneGotMyNick SomeoneGotMyNick writes  |  more than 7 years ago

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) writes "I was told by our department head that we should get together a list of reference books that we may want. Apparently, we have a large reference material budget and nobody knows what to spend it on. If we don't spend it, we may lose future reference material budgeting next year. For a quick background, we are a programming department utilizing Visual Studio 2005 (I know, some of you are going Boo, Hiss) and we use VB and ASP.NET (Do I hear more boos and hisses?). We also use Javascript, AJAX, and most of us are wishing to hone our skills in designing creative websites. You know, ones with a good visual impact. Although I'm perfectly capable of picking books on the proper subject, I usually have a problem picking the right book on the subject. My experience in buying books results in good books, but not excellent books. Hoping that the Slashdot community used a variety of books on similar subjects, I'd appreciate some recommendations, hopefully with a reason why you found the book to be an excellent reference. And please, DB400 book references would be a plus!!"

SomeoneGotMyNick SomeoneGotMyNick writes  |  more than 8 years ago

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) writes "I'm in a situation where I'm eligible to get out of my Sprint contract early without an Early Termination Fee. I have till Oct 30 to decide. Since mobile phones and plans appear to keep improving every 90 days or so, it's easy to get lost when picking the best bang for my money. What I'm looking for is a media phone that is cheap and "hackable" with a reliable carrier. I use the term "Hackable" somewhat loosely. In other words, I want a phone that, even though it might have some features locked, I want to be able to unlock those features without buying expensive software from the carrier to do it. I want to install my own ringtones (MP3 preferred) through a simple USB interface or something similar. Also, can anyone recommend a carrier with good web browsing services without requiring expensive access plans like with the Treo or Blackberry? My current Sprint phone has WAP access, and I'm aware that "flip-phone" access to the web is charged a smaller monthly fee than PDA based access. I cannot simply surf anywhere I want on a WAP plan. I understand some newer in-phone web services are not only faster, but allow access to more conventional websites. Like maybe surfing Slashdot on a RAZR screen."



RIP: Street Corner Electronics Hobby

SomeoneGotMyNick SomeoneGotMyNick writes  |  about 7 years ago

I remember the day. It was Halloween in 1977. I spent some of my saved up allowance to buy an AM Broadcasting Kit at Radio Shack. That's when more than half of the shelves at Radio Shack actually catered to the parts hobby.

For me, electronic stuff was cool (or was the term back then, "neat"). However, electronic stuff was expensive. It wasn't until I actually spent some time in the local Radio Shack that I discovered that kits were generally affordable and you could learn how electronic stuff works. I suppose it was fateful that I even ended up in Radio Shack. I can't recall, but it was most likely due to one of two reasons (or maybe both). There was an Arcade two doors down in the mall and I ran out of quarters there, or the TRS-80 in the store caught my attention and I spent a lot of time in the store and learned about their selection.

Computers aside (although another hobby of mine), this journal is about hobby electronics. Frequent trips to Radio Shack, and the long forgotten Lafayette Electronics, really cemented my focus on a vocation. I continued on with other project kits. I learned to design circuits on breadboards and build circuits from then easily acquired parts off the shelves. I subscribed to magazines like Popular Electronics, Modern Electronics, and Radio Electronics.

Aside from a few projects that required specialized parts from obscure mail order distributors, I was able to save up my money and run into the local Radio Shack to get what I need to build them. I later started getting stuff mail order from Digi-Key and received their regular catalogs. It's been a long time since I got those catalogs. Just recently, a co-worker that deals with networking components dropped a Digi-Key print catalog on my desk because he knew I was into electronics. It's sitting right here, right now, all 2464 pages of it. The one thing I liked about Digi-Key was that they had a downward sliding scale on S&H charges. The more you ordered, the less it cost to ship it. I think once you ordered $100 or more on a single order, S&H was free. Looking at this new catalog, all shipping is now free and you pay only $5 handling for orders under $25. Anything over is free S&H.

I remember Digi-Key is THE place to go if you were prototyping. Almost all of their product in the catalog had dimensions listed with them. You knew how big an item was, physically, so you can tell if it'll fit in your project case. But, I digress, this journal was about local support for the hobby.

Eventually, I slowly noticed the parts supply at Radio Shack diminishing. It really didn't become apparent until the 7400 and 4000 series logic ICs variety dropped to about 25% of a previous year's store stock. I don't remember, but when that happened, could you even find enough variety in basic logic gates to create substitutes? Oh, they could now "special order" other parts (as indicated by the reddish/pink) symbols in their not-so-free-anymore catalogs. The catalogs would show the same large supply of parts, but it seemed more than half of them were indicated as special order. i.e. Pay now, wait 6 to 10 days to come back to the store and pick it up. All this for a 74LS74 or something. You even had to pay sales tax on that privilege. At least by mail order, sales tax was not an issue for over 90% of the national residents who live in a different state from the mail order company.

Oh, Radio Shack tried, I guess. I should give them the benefit of the doubt. But Radio Shack jumped the shark when they started putting the sliding shelves up to fit more overpriced wires and consumer gadgets instead of parts. Then they started the drawer system for parts. Have you noticed them? If you need a resister, you can find about 15 values across three different wattages. I guess you need to put your electronics "skillz" to work to fabricate the size you actually need. They aren't so cheap anymore. I miss the good 'ol days of the 19 cent pair of 1/2 watt resisters. Same thing for capacitors (or as I heard a trained RS employee call them, "capacitators"). You might find a 1pf capacitor and a jump to 50pf, then 1uf. Not much in between.

Electronics is still a hobby for me. I have attempted, but not made it a career, in lieu of a career in the computer field. Still, I need to satiate my need for parts. I got lucky. I have sources for parts by pulling them off of old circuit boards I receive on a regular basis from a salvage shop. Still, I miss the immediate satisfaction of going to the RS store and picking up the parts on the spot.


Help me learn Calculus

SomeoneGotMyNick SomeoneGotMyNick writes  |  more than 8 years ago

OK, here's the deal.

I like mathematics. However, I don't get to study it much past the family budget these days. I can hold my own (with a bit of refresher) up to Trigonometry. After that, I get confused. Here's why:

You know the old saying, "I'm from Missouri"? You know, the "Show Me State". Well, I've been able to learn mathematics through high school up until trig simply because I was able to not only apply the previous knowledge, but I actually had something useful to use it with. People were able to show me how and why it works.

That is my problem. I could possibly understand Calculus if it weren't always appearing to me to be theoretical. Sure, I know that you can find derivatives (or limits) of functions. OK, then what? I need to find the link between theory and real world implementation.

I learn things differently than most people teach. I don't learn the tools then put them to use. I cannot comprehend much from that style of teaching. I learn better by having a problem to solve, THEN I learn what I need to know to solve it. Yes it takes extra time for me to learn everything, but it's more effective for me.

All my research in Calculus shows me the fundamentals, but doesn't give many real world examples to try it on. I'm looking for a Calculus solvable problem (a simple one at first), followed by some guidance on how it's solved, and explainations of the calculus fundamentals that were utilized to solve the problem. After a few of these, I may be able to create my own problems and find ways of solving them using what I've learned so far. For me, the snowball effect in calculus knowledge will soon start to take over.

That is the way I learn. That's how I became a computer programmer with a great deal of experience.


I'm a Trendsetter!!!!

SomeoneGotMyNick SomeoneGotMyNick writes  |  more than 9 years ago When I was in high school (back in the early 80's), I was the quintessential geek. But, little did I know, I was also a major trendsetter.

Let me explain using geeky lists:

Twenty years ago, a Geek used to...

  • Own a computer
  • Carry electronics on their belt (mainly calculators)
  • Listen to computer generated music (and liked it)

Today, everybody seems to.....

  • Own a computer
  • Carry electronics on their belt (mainly mobile phones, with built in calculators)
  • Listen to computer generated music (Hip Hop, Trance, Dance, Electronica)

As I start to enter my "fogey" years, I want all you young'uns to remember who's footsteps you follow in.


My Current Rant

SomeoneGotMyNick SomeoneGotMyNick writes  |  about 10 years ago My Current Career Status

  • I love using Linux, but I program Visual Basic apps for a living.
  • I work full time, in IT, in a union, with a PENSION PLAN!!!!
  • I'm great with Audio/Video software, Most paint programs, Multimedia, etc.
  • I gave up long ago on full time "Consultant Company" jobs as they use you and toss you away after a few months.
  • I supplement my income as an independent programmer
  • I use Rent-a-Coder for some odd jobs, but always get underbid by offshore companies. Apparently, some people can justify eight hours designing and writing a full featured Access application for only $10 US.
  • I have a lot of experience in various facets of computer software and programming, but no "officialy documented" experience. Most comapnies only want to see what you've done in previous jobs, and not independent work. Therefore, I'm typecast as a VB/Access programmer

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