In my fifth decade of computing, having thought for some years I'm pretty well equipped to handle whatever comes my way, I realize I'm wholly ignorant about what for some users may be the most important question they have about computing. We have about five PCs in our house, and my wife came forward with a fairly large electric bill and said she wanted to know what part of it was due to running our computers 24 seven and whether buying a lower energy consumption machine or machines might pay for itself in year or so at current electric rates.
I've heard of the "Kill-a-Watt" device, but frankly I'm too old and arthritic to go climbing down among all of our machines. All I want to know are our very best bets for lowest energy consumption cost for our machines, considering that we don't want to wait for reboot upon each seating.
None of our systems does anything but Internet, Excel, and Word processing (with the exception of mine, which does everything, but I'm not really wondering about that.) I build systems easily so I just want to know what processors, monitors and motherboards drink the least juice? I believe I'll set our systems up with normal flatscreen monitors, keyboards and mice. Most of the people in my house need Windows. Is there some wall wart or mini-form factor PC I can buy off the shelf, or should I assemble the best combination of processor, motherboard and monitor? I'm willing to consider large-screen laptops if those would prevent a significant construction project. Of course, we'll have to have a small, always-on solid state file server, to be built out of something like one SSD and a network card.
Limited electric computing – what are the best ideas by Slashdot?" top
TechForensics writes "I was floored when I was looking for anaglyph (red-blue) 3D movie trailers and found one, supposedly 3D, with no colors. "Must be one of the polarized ones", I thought, which we all know an ordinary LCD cannot display, right? Just for giggles I slipped on a pair of Real-D glasses from my seeing Spider Man, and my jaw just about hit the floor. I had full 3D, POLARIZED 3D, in the preview of a Real-D IMAX feature (Disney's Christmas Carol) — on my PC monitor, a Gateway model LP2424 (nothing special).
Is real 3D on our TVs at home as easy as buying, or borrowing, a $5. pair of glasses? How can what I saw be?
Just what is going on here? This is not supposed to be technically possible, as many slashdotters are going to know. Maybe they can set me straight-- The best I can figure is I'm simply wrong and the movie is unusually vivid with infinite depth-of field so it FOOLS me that it's 3D. But I found many other copies of this trailer that did not exhibit the behavior. But.. this solitary ONE does.
Am I just a dummy or is there something here?" top
TechForensics writes "A recent query on a popular file sharing site asked simply, what percentage of operating system installations are pirated? One of the more lucid (and surely provocative) opinions held as follows. Have we ever really hashed this out on Slashdot? What are the rights of the people under a government that allows something close to “the 99 percent” to be crushed under the weight of favored corporations?
'In my view the people have the right of taxation in themselves, a right superior to the right of the government (which is only their representative) to tax. If the people, as a mass, feel corporate preferences leading to unreasonable accumulations of money and power (the RIAA and MPAA have influenced and nearly yoked us with international treaties), then the people have the right to tax these entities by setting aside a proportion of their profits by free distribution of their product. This is not even illegal in spirit, for the people have the right to change the laws, and on issues where the groundswell is overwhelming, have the moral right to nullify laws which time will inevitably erode to nothing. Now, the question was what percentage of OS installations are sanctioned by the manufacturer and how many not. That is impossible to know, particularly if we confine our interest to the US (because it is easy to see more people in China have pirated Windows than even *exist* in the United States). We do know, however, that Microsoft is one of the world's most profitable and powerful corporations, so in a sense we can answer the question by saying there are not enough "illegitimate" copies of their software in use to matter. Which is the same as saying an insignificant percentage, even if you and everyone you know have such copies.'
TechForensics writes "U. S. Ambassador Ron Kirk, the US representative to the ACTA negotiations and currently the White House's Trade Representative, has posted responses to a letter of inquiry sent by Senator Wyden. The response manages to evade forthright answers to almost every question; for instance in answer # 6 where it assures limiting measures to those permitted by US Law without addressing how the potential treaty may change the obligations of US law. Yes, it really is as bad as you thought, and the US is really the nation with private citizens' interests least at heart." Link to Original Source top
TechForensics writes "KDDI, one of Japan's largest phone companies, has introduced a mobile phone with accelerometer sensors so sensitive that they can report back on the employees' exact movements, differentiating between actions performed such as scrubbing, sweeping, walking, or emptying the trash. Here is a new tether-- 24 / 7 surveillance in service of the corporate overlord. Employees "gifted" with these phones may never relax again. What can be done to stop the proliferation of this kind of monitoring?" Link to Original Source top
TechForensics writes ""It's no surprise that the major studios are still suing the pants off anyone it's practicable to clobber: Witness the company who produced RealDVD Copying Software having to shell out $4.5 million to end litigation against it. Seems pretty heavy for a company that sold less than 3,000 copies of the software in question. Seattle-based Real Networks has also agreed to a permanent injunction barring it from selling the RealDVD software."" Link to Original Source top
TechForensics writes "Apparently since an update last month, Windows 7 Firefox users have been experiencing numerous blue screen crashes when using Firefox, even if the browser is running in a clean installation. I personally experienced a blue screen crash every ten minutes and went looking for a fix. The good news is that verifier.exe (which stresses and tests your drivers) finally got the OS to say there were "Compatibility problems with Firefox" and to recommend running it in XP SP2 compatibility mode. So far, testing has not produced another blue screen." Link to Original Source top
TechForensics writes "NBC won't let you see replays on the NBC site unless your cable operator gets a cut.
In a slap in the face to all netizens who expect Cable programming interests to be distinct from those of their ISP, visitors to the NBC website wanting to see replays of Olympic events get the following message:
"You have selected a premium video (e.g. live stream or full-event replay). Please follow the simple process below to view this free content and ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE TRIP and other GREAT PRIZES!
To begin this ONE-TIME ONLY process, please identify your HOME cable, satellite or IPTV provider.
NOTE: This is required ONLY for viewing live competition & full-event replays on NBCOlympics.com during the Vancouver Games.
(List of providers)
If your cable, satellite or IPTV provider is NOT listed above, then it's not in partnership with NBC Olympics. Don't worry though, you ALREADY CAN VIEW hundreds of video clips such as athlete features and Torino highlights, and you will have access to event highlights during the Vancouver Games. Click here to watch video now."
Apparently a subscription to MSNBC or CNBC is de rigeur. That is not free if you do not have a "premium cable package".
What's going on here? Are we to see more of this kind of thing?" top
TechForensics writes "Just days in the wake of its announcement that tethering is not supported with the new Motorola Droid phone, Verizon is to learn that the free PdaNET software can circumvent existing technical measures imposed as obstacles. At least until the Big V figures out how to disable the app, if possible." Link to Original Source top
TechForensics writes "A few days' testing of Windows 7 has already disclosed some draconian DRM, some unrelated to media files. A legitimate copy of Photoshop CS4 stopped functioning after we clobberred a nagging registration screen by replacing a.dll with a hacked version. That's not so much a surprise, but what WAS a surprise: Noting that Win7 allows programs like Photoshop to stealthily insert themselves in your firewall exception list. Further, that the OS is crippled towards allowing large software vendors to penetrate your machine. Even further, that that crippling is responsible for disabling of a program based on a modified.dll. Remote attestation, anyone? And then finding that the OS even after reboot has locked you out of your own Local Settings folder; has denied you permission to move or delete the modified DLL; and refuses to allow the replacement of the Local Settings folder after it is unlocked with Unlocker to move it to the Desktop for examination (where it also denies you entry to your own folder). Setting permissions to "allow everyone" was disabled!
Re media files, the days of capturing an audio program on your PC are gone if the program originated on your PC. The inputs of your sound card are severely degraded in software if the card is also playing an audio program (tested here with Grooveshark). Under XP you could select "Stereo Mix" or similar under audio recording inputs and nicely capture any program then playing. Microsoft appears to be pandering to Big Music for its own reasons unrelated to consumer satisfaction.
This may be the tip of the iceberg. Something *really nasty* is lurking under the surface of Win7. Being in bed with the RIAA is bad enough, but locking your own files away from you is a device so outrageous it may kill the OS for many persons. Many users will not want to experimenting with a second sound card or computer just to record from online sources, or boot up under a Linux that supports ntfs-3g just to control their files. (You never seem to know in Windows 7 when the "Access Denied" message is going to strike.) It is certainly beginning to be crystal clear why the coming WinFS will not be a good thing for userland, and a Very Good Thing for Microsoft and its partners." top
TechForensics writes "Why did eBay sue CraigsList in a Delaware court? eBay alleges that CraigsList is "unfairly discriminating" against it as a minority shareholder in CraigsList. More specifically it accuses CraigsList of holding meetings to which eBay was not invited to plan strategies to dump eBay's investment, which Craigslist claims in a countersuit was made for the sole purpose of ripping off trade secrets. It should be interesting to follow this one." Link to Original Source top
TechForensics writes "When Microsoft stops selling XP entirely, even to OEMs, it appears there will be no legal way to get XP to use on a new computer. This may not be a problem for folks who bought a full retail package and who may reinstall on new machines ad infinitum, but for those of us who WILL not give up XP anytime soon, and who run only OEM (or in some cases unauthorized) versions of the software, is there any really good answer? Microsoft should not have the right to prevent home and business customers from keeping one or more Windows XP machines, replacing old with new as needed, to preserve their large investments in legacy software and to preserve file compatibilities-- or to stay comfortably in the past until their own needs prompt upgrades. Sure, MS argues you knew you bought only a license, but when severe hardships never anticipated by customers result, something must be done. Maybe under Obama's administration we can get legislation preserving the public's right to buy and use discontinued software, but that's pie-in-the-sky. What can we do *now* to keep XP available for our use long-term, and the use of others, consumers and businesses alike?" top
TechForensics writes "Sorry, this is not a story; it is a suggestion to (is it possible?) improve Slashdot. Though I have been on/. for years I still don't know how to send a message directly to the editors.
I noticed in a recent story several/.ers who were also skydivers sort of got in touch. I thought, wow, there can't be many of those (though I am one), but wow, they might have a lot in common and really hit it off. The same could be true for other/.ers who share an outside interest.
My idea is simply to create sigs (special interest groups) within/. (not in such a way as to fragment the user base) but maybe just a link to click to add your name to a list of members interested. Members could see the names and perhaps email addresses of other members-- this might facilitate the creation of special interest mail lists, let people know who they might want to add as friends, etc. Ideally (and this is farfetched because it would probably be a pain to program) there could be a clickable icon beside member names which, if clicked, would present all member posts on a single page. (Yes, I know there are objections to / problems with that.)
But the idea of letting members join SIGS that may have mail lists, and making it apparent there are sigs that can be easily joined, has the happy possibility of creating friends across TWO strong interests. Would that not be A Good Thing.
TechForensics writes "As a sysadmin for a small company (about 25 users) I am well-paid and happy-- except The Boss uses AOL, has always used AOL, will never change from AOL, and that's the end of that tune. The problem is that AOL is *always* mucking up on him-- trivial stuff to me, but obviously not to him. If I can't solve his AOL problems I lose reliability in his eyes (never good). I have tried to become competent in solving his AOL problems (version 9.1), but there's always something-- when he pastes text into a new email window, his cursor is now at the bottom instead of the top. Major issue, crash priority, high stakes. Likewise he used to be able to open attachments to AOL emails by double-clicking them at the bottom of the mail window, and now when he double-clicks the Download Manager appears and he dislikes the extra step of having to download before he opens. ( ! ) When told CTRL-HOME leaps the cursor topside, he complains of the extra key-clicks to do something he does 200 times per day. Reinstalling Windows and AOL only gets you so far-- if you install AOL on a fresh Windows XP disk, there is the Devil's own time making sure his OLD saved emails appear in the new installation. The method the AOL "expert" provided on the phone resulted in multiple mailboxes that did not sort or index and the boss hated that.
Now, since AOL can't answer these questions (I have spent *so* much time in Live Chat only to have scripted and inapplicable "help" sent my way), I have to ask. What does the poor IT slob do? I'm even willing to hire and pay a consultant if I can find a *real* AOL expert. But do they exist? They don't man the helplines at AOL!" top
TechForensics writes "Massive error. The drive does nothing to restrict the file types it shares. The drive is SOLD WITH A SUBSCRIPTION to an online service that indexes and facilitates your files for sharing. (MioNET.) It is the ONLINE SERVICE that will not display.avi files etc. to others on the net.
This is SUBSCRIPTION RELATED, has NOTHING to do with WD's hardware. Boy do we owe them an apology.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales created quite a stir last month when he called for an aggressive rewrite of criminal copyright laws, including prison time for "attempted" copyright infringement, life behind bars for pirated software use, and more expansive wiretap authority in piracy investigations.
A few days' testing of Windows 7 has already disclosed some draconian DRM unrelated to media files. A legitimate copy of Photoshop CS4 stopped functioning after we clobberred a nagging registration screen by replacing a.dll with a hacked version. That's not so much a surprise, but what WAS a surprise: Noting that Win7 allows programs like Photoshop to stealthily insert themselves in your firewall exception list. Further, that the OS is crippled towards allowing large software vendors to penetrate your machine. Even further, that that crippling is responsible for disabling of a program based on a modified.dll. Remote attestation, anyone? And then finding that the OS even after reboot has locked you out of your own Local Settings folder; has denied you permission to move or delete the modified DLL; and refuses to allow the replacement of the Local Settings folder after it is unlocked with Unlocker to move it to the Desktop for examination (where it also denies you entry to your own folder). Setting permissions to "allow everyone" is disabled!
This may be the tip of the iceberg. Something *really nasty* is lurking under the surface of Win7. Locking your own files away from you is a device so outrageous it may kill the OS for many persons. Many users will not want to boot up under a Linux that supports ntfs-3g just to control their files. (You never seem to know in Windows 7 when the "Access Denied" message is going to strike.) It is certainly beginning to be crystal clear why the coming WinFS will not be a good thing for userland, and a Very Good Thing for Microsoft and its partners.
I always wondered why I never enjoyed listening to my favorite music played from an mp3 file on my computer. I guess I was just thinking that as I got older, my youthful passions were fading.
Long ago, I had decided that at least I ought to preserve my LP collection (about 400 records, mostly classical). Then last week, I finally got around to installing the FLAC codec on my machines and the project began. Listening to the music as it was encoded (live from my turntable) was an entrancing, emotional experience as I remembered. What's more, so was listening to the music played back from a FLAC-encoded digital file.
So I did an A/B comparison of the same music from mp3 and from FLAC. I could distinctly hear the comparative dullness and lack of airiness in the mp3s. Then I started berating myself. How could I have been so blind (or maybe deaf is the better word) for so long? How could I not have noticed the difference? Probably I put it down to listening on small computer speakers rather than my expensive stereo.
But I was wrong. Mp3 has been important and useful, and music on computers and music-to-go could not so easily exist without it, but for me-- it stole away my enjoyment of music for over ten years.
I'm not bitter, however. Now I get to hear it "fresh"-- all over again. If you have been subsisting on mp3s, maybe it would mean something to you to try conversion of your CDs and LPs to files encoded with a lossless codec.
Verizon Wireless blocking Google Directory Assistance
TechForensics writes | more than 6 years ago
It seems that Verizon likes to enhance revenue by making sure their cellphone users have to use Verizon's fee-per-call directory assistance service. A number of times over the past month I have tried to send a text message to 46645 (googl) with a name and address. Normally this gets you a text message back with the phone listing for about five cents. Lately text messages to this number simply don't work. Anyone else with similar experience?
TechForensics writes | more than 8 years ago
After five years of trying to find the right lapboard for my keyboard and mouse, as I recline in style in my office chair, and after finding them all so cumbersome I gave up, locked the chair upright, and suffered, I found out my optical mouse can rest on top of my pants leg and move and work very well there. Is there some kind of IQ award I get for this?