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Possible Reason Behind Version Hop to Windows 10: Compatibility

StonyCreekBare Charms? (349 comments)

If Windows 10 (or whatever they ultimately decide to call it) has that triple damned CHARMS screen, then NO THANKS! I am SOOOOO sick of that darn thing!

about a month and a half ago

When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

StonyCreekBare Re:So? (175 comments)

You're old enough to own LPs and Cds?? Wow, you must be ancient!! ;) I have records that go back to pre-1920, many having reached the century milestone, (I have one from 1908) and they still play fine. I transferred them to digital, and with a little tweaking, they sound even better than they did on my wind-up Victrola! Oh, yeah, my wind up Victrola dates from the 1920's and it still plays fine. Can't say the same for my many cassette decks, DAT decks, CDs, CD Players, DVD Players, MP3 players or computers... I'll take the "Limited Lifetime" of early phonograph records over that of a cellphone any day. I agree with you wholeheartedly about wanting choice though...

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Which VHS Player To Buy?

StonyCreekBare May not be worth it (201 comments)

I went thru this a couple of years ago. I had hundreds of movies on VHS I had bought over many years. I had a very good VHS deck to play them on. I spent several weeks playing them into my computer, using Pinnacle Studio to trim the beginnings and ends and remove some of the noise, and Handbrake to further transform them to MP4 files on my Plex server. The result was OK, if not spectacular. Since them I have found many of my favorite movies in the DVD bargain bin at Walmart, at much better quality than my VHS originals, and many more popped up on TCM or Cinemax, where I could capture a nice clean copy. In the end, many of the VHS files on my Plex server got over-written with better copies. I also discovered I could simply watch many of the same movies on Netflix, negating the value of owning a copy at all. For example, many years ago I bought a VHS release of the freshly restored "Vertigo", one of my favorite movies. A couple of weeks ago, TCM aired the same print, much better than VHS quality, and of course it is also on Netflix. The effort I spent making my own MP4 of my own VHS copy was a waste. I still enjoy the movie, but rather the low quality of my own Plex copy, I just watch it on Netflix. Think carefully about what videos you want to copy, and you may find that there are few, if any, you really want to bother with.

about 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

StonyCreekBare Specialization is for insects (737 comments)

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. -Robert A. Heinlein

about 7 months ago

Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?

StonyCreekBare Re:Education does not qualified make... (491 comments)

I call BULLSHIT! I know several well qualified STEM workers, myself included, who are unemployed, desperately trying to find jobs, and can't get to first base with people like you. You have a preconceived stereotype, and I don't fit it. My skills, experience, ability or willingness to work mean nothing. Believe me, I KNOW from hard-won personal experience.

about 9 months ago

Ray Kurzweil Talks Google's Big Plans For Artificial Intelligence

StonyCreekBare Re:Employment? (254 comments)

Be alright with me. Just as long as I could say I worked for Ray K. At Google! Bragging rights, ya know... Besides, I am just immodest enough to think that once I got going, I might make a contribution or two along the way...

about 9 months ago

Ray Kurzweil Talks Google's Big Plans For Artificial Intelligence

StonyCreekBare Employment? (254 comments)

So, how does one go about getting a job in this fascinating group? Heck, I'd sweep the floors, if nothing else....

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Distributed Online Storage For Families?

StonyCreekBare Re:What services again? (168 comments)

The idea is to place a box with a few TB of storage in each home. Link all those TB together into mirrored and replicated virtual drive structure, for sharing all the "stuff" we have. Also each home would have a "private" space that is still replicated and distributed, but visible only to that household. Additional services? Not really, but if the box is there running, anything that could be layered on top might be nice additions. A Skype style "intercom" could be useful too. Just noodling additional ideas beyond the basic backup and share of family data. Yeah, Skydrive and Skype do most all this.

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Distributed Online Storage For Families?

StonyCreekBare Re:Skydrive (168 comments)

Skydrive is currently the primary cloud service we are using. That is what we're considering an alternative from...

about 9 months ago

LibreOffice 4.2 Busts Out GPU Mantle Support and Corporate IT Integration

StonyCreekBare Github Integration anyone? (192 comments)

As someone using LibreOffice to write a huge manuscript that has been in development for several years, I would like some really good change control tools. I may be dense, and not quite understanding the problem, but it seems to me that integrating LibreOffice with Github to support distributed editing of huge projects, and version control, would be a natural... Am I just to ignorant to understand why this isn't being done? -Stony

about 10 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Tablets For Papers; Are We There Yet?

StonyCreekBare Ipad and Dropbox! (180 comments)

Works well for me. I just stuff PDFs into my dropbox folder on my desktop, and read em on the iPad. Makes for a happy combination. There is also an Android tablet in the house, works about as well. Seems like a solved problem from my perspective. I never print anything for reading any more...

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: AT&T's Data Usage Definition Proprietary?

StonyCreekBare Re:Headers (562 comments)

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, almost within rock-throwing distance of Silicon Valley, and I have ZERO broadband available. The only way I can get on the Internet is via a Verizon 4GLTE MiFi, at $10/GB. And THEY constantly screw up the billing too!

about 2 years ago

Analog Designer Bob Pease Dies In Car Crash

StonyCreekBare Sad Day (187 comments)

I used to live for his regular columns. I loved his wit, and curmudgeonly attitude. I met him a few times and found him the same in person as he was in print. He will be missed. Yeah, VW beetles were dangerous little cars. I drove one for years (a 1964 model) and I was very careful, and knew what a death trap they could be. But how many of us ride motorcycles, or other dangerous vehicles. Life is a series of risks. I guess we could wrap ourselves in cotton balls and stay home. He was not a "damned fool" just a human being who chose to do something he knew was risky, who no doubt weighed the risks, and decided to go ahead.

more than 3 years ago

Microsoft Applies For Page-Turn Animation Patent

StonyCreekBare The Door Into Summer (293 comments)

Robert A. Heinlein in his 1957 time-travel novel described exactly this idea in detail when his protagonist awoke in the "far distant" year of 2000. So it is hardly new.

more than 4 years ago

FCC Asks You To Test Your Broadband Speeds

StonyCreekBare We really need this (454 comments)

I live in the outskirts of a major metropolitan area, the San Francisco Bay Area. I cannot get what a slashdoter would consider broadband in any form. The local Telco insists they want to sell me 6 Mbit DSL and that they can serve me. But they simply cannot. The local DSLAM is over 18,000 feet from my door, and it is full with no available ports. Further, the lines that serve me have load coils on them which the Telco refuses to remove. Because of the load coils, even dial-up sucks. I have been fighting them, begging them for ten years to give me service. Further, they have a cell phone site less than 1000 feet from my door, could put a DSLAM there and serve me nicely but refuse. Yet hardly a week goes by that I do not get a letter or phone call trying to sell me a service that they do not have and cannot deliver. As for Cable? They are not within 2 miles of me. We need some oversight to force the Telco to actually provide the service they claim to be able to. By removing load coils and upgrading the DSLAM they could probably give me 384 KBPS. Not quite real broadband, but better than what I have now. But they refuse. By putting a DSLAM in the cell phone facility, they could easily give me 6 mbps, but refuse. They have dark fiber that is sitting unused in the cell site, but won't sell me service. Yet they constantly bug me to buy their nonexistent service. I am not usually a proponent of government intervention, but I do not see any other way to force them to deliver service. They want the relatively easy low-hanging fruit, but refuse to upgrade the infrastructure to serve the more marginal cases.

more than 4 years ago

Our Low-Tech Tax Code

StonyCreekBare Re:There's more to this story (691 comments)

No it can't. Many many people, including yours truly cannot buy health insurance for any price. I am healthy, no pre-existing conditions, and have money in the bank. I am also gray-haired and unemployed. They won't take my money and I've tried and tried.

more than 4 years ago

What Is the State of Linux Security DVR Software?

StonyCreekBare Re:WTF? (112 comments)

Actually, you're quite wrong. I want to avoid closed "off-the-shelf" products if at all possible. But I want a really good system, and am trying to learn what is available in the Linux world that will meet my needs. I am leaning heavily toward Zoneminder, but want to know about alternatives I may have missed. I am planning a large server infrastructure that will include applications such as Asterisk, MythTV and even Misterhouse. I am very much wondering as well about sharing server platforms, thus looking for caveats about combining, say, Asterisk and a few security cameras on the same server. Frankly, your post is offensive and does not contribute to the discussion. Stony

more than 4 years ago

Difficult Times For SF Magazines

StonyCreekBare Re:Science Fiction? (218 comments)

I agree that Analog has really, seriously deteriorated. I have been a subscriber since the 1950's. I would eagerly await each issue, devour it in a single sitting, and then impatiently await the next one.

A few years ago I began to notice I was reading fewer and fewer stories. For every one I enjoyed, there would be one that was inane and incomprehensible. Then there would be more and more worthless ones, and fewer and fewer good ones.

When I began to see more and more issues that were entirely devoid of Science Fiction content, and filled with inane trash, I became more and more unhappy with them. I started just tossing each new issue on the shelf unopened, perhaps getting around to checking them out weeks later.

I finally realized I hadn't found an issue worth reading in over a year, and renewal time came up. I wrote them a nice letter and explained why I was dropping them. I promised to check the newsstand issues for content and that I would resubscribe when I started seeing something I wanted to read. That was three years ago.

They've been dead a long time. It is time to bury the corpse.


more than 5 years ago

Long-Term PC Preservation Project?

StonyCreekBare Media's the weak point (465 comments)

First point, Lots of us have electronics from 1958 that still works fine. As someone who collects old radios and stuff, I can attest that most electronics lasts a long time pretty well, especially if stored well.

Second point, everyone rapping on about how the capacitors won't last are mostly ignorant people repeating stuff they've heard. The capacitors that won't last are the cheapo junk capacitors made in China. Quality caps last just fine. I have a "Junk box" full of quality American and Japanese made caps dating from the 1960's and 1970's that I STILL use as repair parts when I need a capacitor. Never have had a bad one, and I'm talking boxes of hundreds of them.

Of course, most of the computers you are talking about are probably filled with crap Chinese capacitors. On the other hand, if they're already a decade old, maybe not. The China junk usually dies in a couple of years. I've repaired many a two year old computer whose capacitors have failed.

I have quality Collins radios from the 1940's that still have all original caps (and tubes) and still work fine. On the other hand, I have a very expensive 7.1 channel surround sound amp system, about 5 years old, and it's power supply caps went out recently. I pulled out a couple caps from my junk box, caps old enough to vote, wired em in, and the Amp lives on.

Media, yeah, that's another story. Most will be unreadable in 50 years. Quality optical might have a chance. Paper tape will last. Yeah, that's the ticket. Print the MSDOS install disks to paper tape! That'll work ;) Windows will need a LOT of tape.


more than 5 years ago

Alternative Uses For an Old Satellite Dish?

StonyCreekBare Why Alternative?? (552 comments)

A C-Band dish with a digital receiver has access to more programming, a better signal and lower prices for programming than anything Dish or Direct offer. It even gets HDTV! I have been using one for 8 years, and wouldn'y trade for the little dish product on a bet! Use it as intended!! Much better!

more than 6 years ago



Distributed Storage for Families?

StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  about 9 months ago

StonyCreekBare (540804) writes "What options are available for distributed storage for families?
My two brothers, my daughter and her husband, and his mother all have homes in various parts of the country. We use various cloud storage providers to keep our shared data. This has numerous limitations and we are starting to think maybe we can do it better ourselves. We all have decent Internet connections, are all somewhat tech savvy, and think that by leveraging the Internet we can maybe provide for our needs better and at lower cost by buying some hardware and doing it ourselves.
How would Slashdotters go about implementing such a family-oriented, distributed cloud platform? What hardware? What applications, beyond simply the preservation and sharing of family data, (grandkids photos, home videos and more) would be good to leverage such a platform? Security Cameras? HTPC? VoIP? Home Automation?
Primary requirements are Cheap, Secure, Reliable."

Ask Slashdot: Autodidact Jobs Search

StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  about a year ago

StonyCreekBare (540804) writes "How can an autodidact get past the jobs screening process?
I have a long track record of success, despite limited formal education. Despite many accomplishments, published papers, and more, I cannot seem to get past the canned hiring process and actually get before a hiring manager. Traditional hiring processes seem to revolve around the education and degrees one holds, not one's track record and accomplishments. Now as an older tech-worker I seem to encounter a double barrier by being gray-haired as well. All prospective employers seem to see is a gray-haired old guy with no formal degrees. The jobs always seem to go to the younger guys with impressive degrees, despite a total lack of accomplishment. How can an accomplished, if gray-haired, self-educated techie get a foot in the door?"

Best approach to reenergize an old programmer

StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  more than 2 years ago

StonyCreekBare (540804) writes "I stared out programming in Z80 assembler in the 1970's. Then I programmed in Pascal. Then x86 Assembler in the early 90's. Over time I did a smattering of C, Basic, Visual C++, Visual Basic, and even played at Smalltalk. Most recently I settled on Perl, and Perl/Tk as the favorite "Swiss army Chainsaw" tool set, and modestly consider myself reasonably competent with that. But suddenly, in this tight financial environment I need to find a way to get paid for programming, and perl seems so "yesterday". The two hot areas I see are IOS programming and Python, perhaps to a lesser extent, Java. I need to modernize my skill-set and make myself attractive to employers. I recently started the CS193P Stanford course on iTunesU to learn iPad programming, but am finding it tough going. I think I can crack it, but it will take some time, and I need a paycheck sooner rather than later. What does the Slashdot crowd see as the best path to fame, wealth and full employment for gray-haired old coots who love to program?"

What is a good "Personal" Version Control system?

StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  more than 3 years ago

StonyCreekBare (540804) writes "I maintain a number of documents, spreadsheets, and some small programs for personal use. Years ago I used a version control software system to track such things in my professional world. Lately I have been itching to move to some sort of a version control system to keep the various files better organized and track my changes in my personal world. I started looking at various systems available such as Subversion, and while it would definitely do the job, it seems a bit like using an elephant gun to swat a fly. I want something simpler, with less of a learning curb, that is suited for a single user, with a small number of files, in various formats. I mainly mean Spreadsheets, Doc files, and text files. Do Slashdot users have a smaller simpler solution they recommend?"

What is the state of Linux security DVR Software?

StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  more than 4 years ago

StonyCreekBare (540804) writes "I am wondering what slashdotters have to offer on the idea of Linux based security systems, especially DVR software. I am aware of Zoneminder, but wonder what else is out there? Are there applications that will not only monitor video cameras, but motion sensors and contact closure alarms? What is state of the art in this area, and how do the various Linux platforms stack up in comparison to dedicated embedded solutions? Will these "play nice" with other software, such as Asterisk, and Misterhouse? Can one server host three or four services applications of this nature, assuming CPU/memory/disk resources are sufficient?"

What's the best tool for remembering passwords?

StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  about 5 years ago

StonyCreekBare (540804) writes "Lately I've been re-thinking my personal security practices. Somehow having my Firefox "fill in" passwords automatically for me when I go to my bank's site seems sub-optimal should my laptop be stolen. Keeping passwords for all the varied sites on the computer in a plain-text file seems unwise as well. Keeping them in my brain is a prescription for disaster, as my brain is increasingly leaky. A paper notepad likewise has it's disadvantages.

I have looked at a number of password managers, password "vaults" and so on. The number of tools out there is a bit overwhelming. Magic Password Generator add-in for Firefox seems competent but is tied to Firefox, and I have other places and applications I want passwords. Plus I might be accessing my sites from other computers which do not have it installed.

The ideal tool in my mind should be something that is independent of any application, browser or computer, something that is easily carried, but which if lost poses no risk of compromise.

What does the Slashdot crowd like in Password tools?"

Ask Slashdot: Current State of Home Automation?

StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  about 5 years ago

StonyCreekBare (540804) writes "What does the Slashdot crowd say about the current state of Home Automation software. Preferably Linux based, but mainly the field in general, and principally the DIY flavors as opposed to the upscale turnkey systems. I am familiar with Misterhouse, HomeSeer and Automated Living's HAL2000, all of which have serious flaws and weaknesses, but which sometimes succeed well in specific areas. But in all cases, the state of the art seems to have moved little in the last decade.

Is any interesting work being done in this space? Or should I just grab one of the three and try to mold it to fit my vision of what it should be? Misterhouse at least is open source so I can add new features, but it has not had an update in a long long time and seems to be missing some modern stuff. The other two are expensive and closed source, and from all I can see, quite flawed, not the least by their dependence on intimate ties to Microsoft. Yet they seem to offer a lot more than Misterhouse despite their weaknesses.

Is the Home Automation field as bleak as it appears? Or have I missed the forest for the trees?


StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  more than 7 years ago

StonyCreekBare (540804) writes "A client wants to build a kiosk system intended to interact with the user entirely via speech. Speech Recognition is absolutely key to the success of the project, so an excellent speech recognition engine is absolutely key to success.

Key requirements are Speaker Independence, and a large vocabulary, with a great deal of flexibility for recognizing arbitrary speech. The system needs to interact with arbitrary speakers on a walk-up basis.

I have built a reasonable "Proof-of-concept" prototype using an L&H / Windows based system. I was quite pleased with the overall performance of the system, and believe an optimized system could do even better. My goal is not so much to improve the recognition performance (although there is room for improvement), as to improve the system reliability and to have more control at the system level.

There seems to be two candidates to supply the system. Microsoft and Nuance.

The Microsoft Speech SDK has the unfortunate circumstance of being innately wedded to Windows, and all the other viable systems (such as L&H, and Viavoice) seem to have been acquired by Nuance. Microsoft's system seems to require a lot of training to perform well, which is unacceptable. At least the L&H system is truly speaker independent. I would greatly prefer to use a Linux or BSD solution, if viable, so that requires a *nix compatible solution.

I have seen some other systems, mostly proprietary systems for telephony applications. e.g. Sprint, to name one. I hear about other systems such as Sphinx from Carnegie Mellon, and a system from Phillips, both of which I do not know much about and do not know anyone actually using.

What are Slashdot users experiences with the various systems available? Have I overlooked any good candidates? What is the "bleeding edge" in reliable speech recognition? Am I going to be forced to use Windows?


StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  about 8 years ago

StonyCreekBare writes "I've had a casual interest in Artificial Intelligence for a while. I've read a lot, both online and not, about the topic, but really haven't absorbed much. It's a complex topic. I've poked around CPAN for Perl Modules to play with, but haven't found much of anything particularly useful at my current stage of ignorance.

In the past I have seen basic starter kits for all sorts of things from radios to robotics, "Dummies" books for those just learning almost any topic. Every complex field has it's beginner's kits. But I'll be darned if I find anything equivalent for AI.

I envision something like a 'Black Box' of callable code modules with enough instructions (simplified for beginners) to do something more-or-less useful, and pointers to documentation to help the beginner grow. There are a few perl modules on CPAN, but they seem to assume a level of knowledge way over my head. How does a curious layman get a leg up? I'm not looking to build a massive AI application, just play around and learn some the concepts. But getting over that initial learning curb seems awfully tough.

Is there such a thing as an AI Tool-kit? I mean, where's 'AI For Dummies'? I know it's a complex science. But hasn't someone built a basic instructional beginners system?


StonyCreekBare StonyCreekBare writes  |  more than 8 years ago

StonyCreekBare (540804) writes "We all initially expected optical media to be very reliable for archive purposes. I think. Despite some early stories of CD Rot, and later DVD Rot, my CDs, CDR and commercial DVDs have been perfectly fine. But I seem to be encountering a different story with DVD R media.

What has been the /. crowd's experience with DVD R media? Have I made a serious mistake committing my video library to a frail and unreliable media? Or have I just hit a few uncommonly bad instances in my first look at the situation?

In the last few weeks I am starting to notice a lot of discs are giving errors when read. Some video players play them fine, some do not. Older players have the most trouble. I have six DVD drives on various computers, and I find that extracting .iso files for the DVDs gives varying results. Some drives read almost all the discs perfectly except a couple that have obvious, visible flaws. Other drives fail a rather large percentage of tested discs, approaching 25%. Interestingly, the drive that burned most of the discs is the one most finicky about reading them. Incidentally, in my testing, each disc was cleaned before being read, lest a random bit of dirt skew the results, and the failures are not necessarily the oldest discs. I have had many that were recorded within the last 6 months give errors as well.

In addition to the vagaries of reading marginal discs on different drives, I am appalled at how easily some of the discs that do have visible defects have been damaged. These discs have minor surface scuffs that would be ignored in a commercial DVD and yet seem to instantly render the DVD R un-readable. I have seen rental DVDs that looked horribly scuffed and scratched yet played fine, but the slightest surface scuff on a DVD R seems to kill it completely. Maybe some of these can be polished out and recovered, but my concern is that even a minor scuff seems fatal to a DVD R, much more so than a commercial DVD.

I'm starting to wish I had never abandoned tapes.

Should I begin copying any media that show errors to new media while they are still readable on ANY drive? Or are some DVD drives and/or DVD Video players simply too finicky for DVD R and thus the drive should be tossed? Are these discs that show errors on some drives degrading, soon to be unreadable on any drive? Or are they stable, merely needing an extra good drive to read them?

What steps should I take to preserve my videos? I am considering buying some big hard drives and extracting .iso images to them as backups. But hard drives fail too, and losing a few hundred videos because a HD failed is scary.

So far, my testing has been rather casual, but I need to get more serious. What is the best way to qualify the media's error rate, readability, etc. Is there software that is suitable? How is this done in the professional world?"


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