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National Security Letters Ruled Unconstitutional, Banned

Whuffo Re:At last (231 comments)

Slow slide? You're there already. You've got everything that East Germany had except the wall, and your government is building it as fast as they can.

about 2 years ago

US DOJ Claims It Did Not Entrap Megaupload

Whuffo Re:Huh? (246 comments)

That applies to prosecutors, too. Consider this when you read these stories and you'll understand what seems not to make sense

about 2 years ago

RIM Attracts 15,000 Apps For BlackBerry 10 In 2 Days

Whuffo Re:The question is... (193 comments)

And if it's on a BlackBerry, you can't operate the app without several attempts at each button push.

I've had too much experience with those things; I supported them for a major corporation (ugh) and even had one of my own. After a month or so I was ready to trash it; my wife insisted that it was a nice phone and I should give it to her instead. So I did; a month later she was ready to stomp on it.

The only thing they ever had going for them was email - and that required a BES (or BIS) server. Now that other phones do email (very well, actually) there's no reason to put up with that RIM nonsense any longer. They've been circling the drain for a while now and their last hurrah isn't a wise investment. Take it from someone who knows; just say no and get some other kind of phone. You'll be glad you did

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Using a Tablet As a Sole Computing Device?

Whuffo I've Got All Three (417 comments)

I've got a laptop, tablet, and a desktop computer. I've been going back and forth for a couple of years now and I've discovered what matters to me and how I use them

I use the tablet a lot - and the desktop gets used a lot, too. The laptop just sits around collecting dust; it's been powered up once in the last three months - and only because I needed a file from it.

Those who recommend a Chromebook - they don't consider that there will be times when you have no internet connectivity and want to use your tablet. This, and the availability of tablet apps that meet your needs will point your way to the correct tablet device for you.

about 2 years ago

Cree Introduces 200 Lumen/Watt Production Power LEDs

Whuffo Re:Cooling is the issue (421 comments)

You might not be aware that fluorescent bulbs (including CFLs) are gas discharge lamps, also. They're low pressure mercury vapor lamps with a phosphor on the inside of the glass to convert the hard ultraviolet from the mercury arc to "fluorescent light".

about 2 years ago

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

Whuffo Re:An Affordable Pen (712 comments)

Parkers are great - but you've got to have a fairly fresh refill to avoid blobbing. Black ink behaves better than the blue does. You can get gel refills for them, too. Their textured ball gets good traction on slick paper and they handle nicely.

You can go with the cheap plastic bodied Parker pens from the office supply superstore, or search out the better grades. The more expensive versions have a nice snug fit between the point and the barrel which gives neater lines, and the additional weight helps them handle better.

My personal choice is the Ciselle style; very nice. Only problem is that you can't set it down and walk away from it; it's liable to walk off while you back is turned. Try one of these on good paper (like a Moleskine notebook) and you'll be well pleased.

more than 2 years ago

Hurricane Sandy Nears East Coast

Whuffo Re:See what happens? (281 comments)

You can't imagine how ridiculous this hyperventilating over a miserable tropical storm appears. I live on a tropical island and we have an average of 28 of these storms come our way every year.

Clear the loose items from your yard and put them indoors; lawn furniture, BBQ, garbage cans, etc. That's easier than chasing them down later. And be prepared for some flooding in low lying areas. If you live in one of those low lying areas, consider moving to higher ground.

And if you can't deal with a tropical storm, don't live on the coast. They can be inconvenient, but they're also infrequent. Pop open a cold one and watch nature's show. When it's over, clean up the mess and go on with your life. This isn't a crisis, it's just another day on earth.

more than 2 years ago

Lawsuit Challenges New York Sugary Drink Ban

Whuffo Re:Good (642 comments)

You might be surprised to learn that sugar is used in soft drinks everywhere in the world - except for the US, where HFCS is used instead.

more than 2 years ago

Maybe With Help From Google and Adobe, Microsoft Can Kill Windows XP

Whuffo I read all through these comments (405 comments)

And never saw the problem of third-party driver support mentioned. I do some audio work, and have a high-end digital audio PCI card installed. The company that made it was "acquired" a couple of times and this product is no longer even remembered by the current owners.

The last OS that they had working drivers for was XP - and it took a while for those to come out.

To upgrade would require that I replace this audio card - it cost over $1200 when it was new and there are NO new replacements. Without a driver, it'd be useless. So I'm sticking with XP.

The latest and greatest from MS would remove needed functionality and replace it with useless eye candy. No thanks.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: I Want To Read More. Should I Get an eBook Reader Or a Tablet?

Whuffo Re:Try out one of each (415 comments)

So how many hours have you spent staring at a TV screen in your life? Or a computer screen?

The whole "self lit screens hurt your eyes" meme was thought up by companies like Amazon who didn't have a self lit screen to sell

You may have various reasons for preferring a specific device, but if you're going to trot out that tired "self lit hurts" nonsense, how about citing some research that backs up that assertion?

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Place To Relocate?

Whuffo Re:Singapore (999 comments)

The cost of living in Singapore is very high. Incredibly high, in fact. And while the laws are reasonable, they're quite different from what the European / US people live under and seemingly minor infractions can have significant penalties

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Place To Relocate?

Whuffo Re:Other places (999 comments)

That may well be true in Japan, but there's other countries in Asia that treat foreigners very, very well

more than 2 years ago

Could a Category 5 Hurricane Take Down East Coast Data Centers?

Whuffo Re:Highlights the importance of risk management (214 comments)

If their risk analysis is as good as the ones being touted here, they're in real trouble

I retired to a tropical island a few years back and I'm quite familiar with what a hurricane (we call them typhoons) can do. The winds can be quite destructive, but the real damage comes from the rain. Flooding of near biblical proportion is quite possible.

Altitude isn't going to prevent flooding and unless the building is watertight, the servers are going to drown. Even if it is, those diesel generators - how well do you think they'll work when they're underwater?

When these storms come through, all you can reasonably do is get out of the way and check back later to see what's left. Imagine the most sturdy and secure datacenter around. Now imagine it with 10 feet of flood water on the property. Not so safe and secure, is it?

Want to see what that can look like? Google "quezon city flooding 2012" - that's where I live and it's still going on right now.

more than 2 years ago

Can a Regular Person Repair a Damaged Hard Drive?

Whuffo Re:One word (504 comments)

That's the best answer out of a whole bunch of bad ones.

Stiction? Yes, this was a problem once upon a time. If you have a hard drive that old that just quit working, that's amazing. Go ahead and bang on it. But if your hard drive was made within the last 15 years - this isn't the problem, don't bother.

Replace the circuit board with one from an identical drive? This works for drives that have controller failures; Maxtor had an issue with a chip on the controller board about 8 years ago; the chip (made by Philips) would fail - usually burning a hole in the top of the chip as it died. I worked in a large corporate IT department, and we saved data from dozens of dead Maxtor drives with controller board swaps. That was an isolated incident; the chances of a hard drive controller board failing these days is somewhere between zip and zero.

The real killer of hard drives today is due to the embedded servo technology they use - there's a servo track written to the platter that the drive uses to find the tracks and sectors; if a write error (usually due to a bug in the drive's firmware that only shows up in edge cases) causes the servo track to be corrupted, the drive becomes totally unreadable. This is unrepairable; even by the data recovery companies.

If the data is valuable - you should have been making backups. If you didn't, data recovery services *may* be able to recover some but probably not all of it. Watch out for the charlatans, though - some big name drive recovery companies just give it a half-hearted try and bill you for their failures. And be aware that a competent drive recovery service will charge you thousands of dollars to recover the data - and they'll earn every penny. There are techniques for reading drive platters, but they require clean rooms, electron microscopes, and a high level of knowledge and skill.

If it's your personal hard drive, then go ahead and futz around with it trying to recover some data; you've got nothing to lose. Whatever you had on there doesn't justify the price of recovery. If it's a drive in a corporate environment with critical data - then it may be worth paying for recovery. Don't mess with it first, give the recovery service the drive untouched so they'll have the best chance to save the data. And if recovering your data is any concern at all - back up your data. Do it regularly. The question of hard drive failure is not "if", it's "when".

more than 2 years ago

Windows 8: .NET Versus HTML5 Metro App Development

Whuffo Re:Metro eh..? (179 comments)

They could get a clue. You've listed a whole laundry list of their idea of what the "active" web should be. Executables that your browser automatically downloads and runs on your machine.

Any competent security person could tell you what a bad idea that was - but they did it, and protected it with stupid "secret is secure" trivia. Now your boxes are subject to all kinds of attacks, and that list you gave is the favorite vector. MS provided the way to get the blackhat executables onto people's machines, and the monoculture insured that they'd infect the maximum number of machines with just one simple hack.

Even Flame came in through Windows Update; another "autodownload, autoexecute" security hole that MS built in.

Skeptical of Microsoft? Yes, with very good reason. They've ignored every facet of security and the current flood of spam and hacks is directly traceable to their poor decisions.

Have they learned anything? No. They're busily repeating the same mistakes again and any one who cares can see that.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Headphones, Earbuds, Earphones?

Whuffo Re:Bose (448 comments)

I'll third that. I've had my Ety 4ps for about four years now and they're great. Those folks who are happy with their $20 Walmart junk don't know what they're missing

Heck, speaker designers use the Ety 4 as their reference monitor. Yes, they're that good - better, in fact. Yes, the price is higher than what you'd get from the big box store - but once you've heard what good sound is really like you'll never go back

more than 2 years ago

Is a "Net Zero" Data Center Possible?

Whuffo Re:No! (160 comments)

Yes, it's a PR stunt. HP is losing market share and income these days and they're looking for some positive buzz to prop it up.

And if it fails, they can blame it on their suppliers, extend the warranty and then deny the warranty claims. I remember the DV2000 / DV6000 fiasco and I'll never buy from HP again. They screwed me on that deal and I'm going to tell everyone I can to avoid their products

Here's a tip for the clueful: on those DV series laptops it was a combination of too small a heatsink and too little cooling that caused the Nvidia chip to desolder itself from the motherboard. It was a HP design problem and they blamed Nvida.

More to their shame, this failure was revealed early in the production run - and they looked at the warehouse full of laptops, thought about the fatal flaw in them - then decided to go ahead and sell them anyway. They KNEW they were defective and sold them. Then they played games with the unfortunate purchasers and denied their warranty claims for any old ridiculous reason. Me? They just hung up on me. Multiple times.

Never, ever again. They screwed me and thousands of other customers; I'm not going to give them a second chance.

more than 2 years ago

Eating Meat Helped Early Humans Reproduce

Whuffo Nutrition is imporant (487 comments)

Rather than parrot some trendy position or swap anecdotal information, get the facts before you decide.

Google for "essential amino acids" and "essential nutrients"; those are the things that you MUST eat to maintain your health.

It's possible to get everything you need from a strictly vegetarian diet - but it's very, very difficult. Deficiency disorders are no fun at all; know what you're doing.

more than 2 years ago

Federal Court Allows Class-Action Suit Against Apple Over In-App Purchases

Whuffo Hey Guys, Get A Clue (279 comments)

There's a setting that disables in-app purchases - which you can password protect. Even if that's not set, you need to enter your iTunes password to authorize them.

If this guy failed to turn off in-app purchases AND gave his special snowflake his iTunes password, then she could run up a bill. Anyone see the problem here?

It's just another gold digger looking at Apple as a source of a big payday.

more than 2 years ago

Asian Call Center Workers Trained With US Tax Dollars

Whuffo How About Some Truth? (274 comments)

The political bullshit is getting pretty deep in here; I'll reply at the top level and maybe someone will learn something (I have hope).

There's a "situation" in the southern part of the Philippines; there's a large number of Muslims living there and they'd like to break free and form their own country. Of course, there's some terrorist action, too - the US has sent their best to oppose the terrorists and conduct a "hearts and minds" campaign. Show them that the US treats the people much better and they won't follow the Muslims, right?

This "JEEP" program is part of that; give those Mindano youths a good job and they won't be tempted to strap on some dynamite and call Allah's name as they detonate in a public place. Or that's the plan, anyway. You folks in the US are blissfully unaware of troops being deployed in the Philippines - but they're here.

I live here; in the northern part of the country where this sort of stuff doesn't happen. We don't really need help training call center workers; we're the biggest provider of call center services in the world.

Got that? It's to oppose the terrorists, but most of us in the Philippines don't care and don't want the US to interfere.

more than 2 years ago



Google Plus Locks Out Firefox Users, Then Pretends It Didn't Happen

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Whuffo (1043790) writes "People using the latest Firefox releases were presented with a "Your browser is no longer supported" screen when they tried to visit Google Plus on the 10th and 11th of August. The Google Plus support board lit up with hundreds of complaints — which were met with such helpful tips as "use Chrome". It's accessible again as of August 12, but every Google Plus posting concerning this problem has been hidden from view.

Boneheaded coding mistakes happen, even to the giants. But failing to properly test the code and rolling it out on Friday night isn't very smart. What's much worse is their concerted effort to purge the net of any and every bit of information concerning the events of the weekend. Rewrite history, put the "wrong" version into the memory hole."

Link to Original Source



How to build website traffic?

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

I'm wondering how to build traffic to a specialty website. I'm not looking for the site to be slashdotted or farked, I'd just like to get the word out in a cheap and non-spammy way.

Does anyone here have any good suggestions?


Something wrong here

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Wrong here and in many other forums, too. A topic comes up and quickly a few people cover all the angles - but then there's a herd of others who feel that they SHOULD BE HEARD who post all kinds of unsupportable positions. Then they all argue about it for a few pages.

We need more light and less heat here, folks. If you don't have something that adds more to the discussion than your need to be recognized, let it be.


Microsoft Won't Learn From History - Doomed To Repeat Mistakes

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

As I was reading through the latest "you must upgrade from XP NOW!" story - I was reminded of a time in the past when a similar situation came along. Windows was still trying to become useful; most folks used DOS applications and IBM wanted us to upgrade to their wonderful new OS/2 operating system. "It's a better DOS than DOS and it's a better Windows than Windows" they shouted - and it'd run OS/2 applications too. They bought advertisements just about everywhere and wondered why their sales were never more than pitiful.


What really happened is that their potential customers said "I've already got DOS and Windows and I don't have any OS/2 applications. Why should I spend money to buy a product that offers no functional advantage over what I already own?" And so the sales of OS/2 were a tiny fraction of what IBM thought they would be. OS/2 was a pretty nice piece of software and was a quantum leap over DOS and the Windows of that time - but real people don't buy buzzwords, they buy things that provide value to them and this is where IBM failed to deliver.


Microsoft didn't do too well with Vista; if it wasn't for the preinstalls on new machines they could have counted the copies they sold on their fingers and toes. Was this because Vista had issues with speed, memory use, compatibility? That's the common wisdom and now they've polished that turd and call it Windows 7 - which somehow people seem to think is wonderful. That's odd, because underneath the fancy revision to the latest desktop metaphor beats the sleazy heart of Vista. Windows 7 is to Vista what XP SP2 is to XP. Sales other than preinstalls are up - but those preinstalls are down because of the economic uncertainties. And how about those new features? Does that window "snap" thing excite anyone? It doesn't do anything for me (please don't resize my windows) and considering the amount of advertising featuring that one new feature it makes me wonder just exactly what new functionality one might gain from upgrading to the latest and greatest.


So what could I do if this computer was running Windows 7 that I can not do right now running XP? There's no valid answer to that question; XP is running all of my applications just fine so 7 offers nothing to me except the opportunity to purchase more new software that does the same things but only works under 7. No thanks; I know Microsoft loves my money but I don't want to spend it unless I get some real benefit.


There's another important thing that I have to consider: how about all the peripherals connected to my system? Do the manufacturers of those products have Windows 7 drivers available? Are those manufacturers still in business? Do they care? Well, no. So the "upgrade" to Windows 7 would reduce the functionality of my system and I'd have to spend even more money on new peripherals that would work with it. So we're back to that same old thing; I've already got all this functionality so why should I pay more just to have the same thing or less? The answer to that question didn't do OS/2 any good and it's not going to do Windows 7 any better. It's a bad deal and I'll offer a hearty "no thanks".


Those who say that Microsoft is going to stop supporting XP - I think that the use of the words "Microsoft" and "support" in the same sentence are a bit humorous.


Ebay and the jumping of sharks

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Ebay has system problems, blames customers for problems and leaves PayPal support to correct them.


I've been a Ebay buyer and seller for years. I never really encountered any problems other than the occasional bad transaction - and those were always resolved quickly and easily. That was until today: I'd listed some things on Ebay a week ago and the auctions ended last night. One thing that caught my attention: auctions of this type were always successful in the past but this time only two of six auctions got a bid - and they only got one bid. Oh well; that's the breaks. But then there's an auction payment and I notice that things don't look right. There's a link on the auction page that says "claim your payment now" but when I click it I'm taken to a PayPal page that wants me to create a new account. There's also a link that says "View PayPal Transaction" but when I click that one it tells me the transaction ID is invalid. That's weird; I sent an email about it to PayPal support and called it a night.


Then today I get a message from one of the buyers wanting to know about his tracking number. I check my PayPal account and there's no payments received and let him know that I'll send it out as soon as I receive his payment. He writes back that he paid me 5 seconds after the auction ended. Hmm; something isn't right here. I never received a reply to the email I sent PayPal so I spend some time clicking on the various links that should tell me when / what / how. Then I notice in one of the URLs that the email address being passed to PayPal is wrong; it's an old email address of mine which hasn't been active for two years. I notified Ebay and PayPal when I changed ISPs back then and I've had over 100 Ebay transactions since then with no problem.


It looks like it's time to contact Ebay. After poking around on their site for a bit I find that they have support options for all kinds of problems involving buyers or sellers - but there's no way to report a problem with Ebay itself online. After messing around a bit more I find a phone number for Ebay support and give them a call. After sitting on "your call is important to us" hold for about 10 minutes a customer service representative comes online. Female, sounded Asian - I kept trying to tell her that I knew what was wrong but she wouldn't stop talking long enough to pay attention. After finally reaching agreement on what was wrong her suggestion for resolving it was to have my buyers cancel their payments then create new payments going to my correct email address. This seems not to be a good idea to me - I've already got one angry buyer and why is this my problem, anyway? Ebay screwed up, took the money from my buyers and gave me nothing - but they can't tell me where the money is or accept any responsibility at all for what is purely their problem. After spending more time trying to talk to someone who is unwilling to listen I asked to speak with her supervisor. That caught her attention and when I repeated my request to speak with her supervisor she transferred my call.


But she didn't transfer my call to her supervisor - she transferred my call to another customer service representative at PayPal. That turned out to be the correct thing to do, actually. That person (another female, probably Asian) was very helpful; after I explained what the problem was she verified my identity and led me through a simple procedure that captured the funds from that non-existent account and moved them to my real account. Problem solved! That's the way customer service is supposed to work; identify the problem and solve it. Wonderful!


One of the things that that Ebay support person told me was that she'd fixed the incorrect email address and that this would not be a problem any more. So when I get back to relisting the items that didn't sell I pay attention to some details and find that they've helpfully filled in the wrong email address for me. I can fix it manually - but that eBay support person clearly lied to me more than once and didn't do anything to help. What does it say about Ebay customer support when it takes PayPal support to fix their problems for them? What's become apparent to me is that Ebay has changed their policies and procedures little by little until they've driven off much of their business - and makes up for it with their low budget user-hostile excuse for customer service. They can fill my email with all kinds of notices and offers but when it comes to paying me they can't find my correct email address? That didn't stop them from billing me for insertion and final value fees.


I won't mention the name of that Ebay "support" person - if anyone at Ebay cares, it should be no problem to look at this message and figure out who I am and what I'm talking about. And I'm going to remember that this is the corporation that Meg Whitman built and if this is the way she runs a business - I really don't think she'd be good for California and shouldn't be elected.


Charter cable sucks

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

So I was working on a big project that ran on into the wee hours; I was getting close to the end of a seemingly never-ending grind and *poof* my internet connection died. After doing all the obvious things to pin the problem down I decided that it wasn't my problem: Charter's internet service was down. My cable modem couldn't sync up and that was that.

I really needed to get the project done and there wasn't any way to pause and pick it back up tomorrow - just a few more lines and it'd be done. So I called Charter Cable's "customer service" line. Hey, it's a bit after midnight so their lines shouldn't be too busy, right? Yeah, 45 F-ing minutes on hold while the smooth voiced announcer talked up all of their offerings and worked extra hard on selling me phone service. I don't know who programs their "on hold marketing" but trying to sell VOIP service to people who are calling because their internet service is down probably isn't a good idea. I pressed the phone tree buttons to get to technical support and eventually (45 minutes later) a nice woman came on the line. The only thing she would accept from me was that my internet service was down - she didn't want to know anything about any troubleshooting I might have done and decided (surprise) that the problem was on my end. After she had me describe the lights on the front of the cable modem (yeah, it's not syncing up) she decided that this was a problem that they needed to roll a truck for. Apparently, technical knowledge isn't a prerequisite for customer service people at Charter.

This isn't getting my project any closer to completed, and talking to the "customer service" person was about as satisfying as talking to a brick. After listening to a description about how a splitter can fail and cause this exact problem and how often this occurs and how this is undoubtedly my problem (sigh) - I gave up; send your service truck and heaven help the poor guy that knocks on the door. So what happens next? First the cable modem syncs up but the connection isn't usable - can't access their DNS servers. Then ten or fifteen minutes later the DNS servers come up and the connection is working again. Wow, that splitter must have fixed itself (yeah, right).

So when (if) the Charter tech shows up I'll send him on his way; don't need him. But hey, let's back off a bit here and see if we can see what Charter is doing. Apparently (my guess) they're working on their systems but don't bother to let their customers or their customer support people know about it. Then they put unskilled people on the technical support lines and restrict them to a script. That script called for a tech to be sent to my home but he's not needed. It appears that by saving money on the tech support end they've wasted even more on sending a truck with a tech to fix something that isn't broken and they've aggravated a customer.. At least I'm not getting my phone service from Charter - imagine having some sort of emergency and reaching for the phone and - nothing. What's wrong and when will it be fixed? Who knows - but at least you won't have to deal with Charter's "tech support" because your phone doesn't work.


iPad - How it works for me.

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I've had my iPad for a couple of weeks now and I'm very pleased with it. I won't go into feature lists; that's been done too many times already. And I'm not complaining about it missing ports and stuff - it's not a general purpose computer and I didn't buy it to use like one. So why did I buy one?


It's going to be my portable personal library; 64 Gigs of storage holds a lot. The first thing to go into that 64 GB was my music library; about 400 CDs worth. That's over 5,000 tunes. Next, I tried using it as an ebook reader. It does this very, very well - the screen is clear and sharp and the automatic backlight control makes it readable without eye strain almost anywhere; outdoors on sunny days is a bit difficult due to reflections. Considering the size of the average ebook, I could load 10,000 or more books and still have room for more.


I hadn't unpacked my library (real books) since I last moved and now that I've seen what this little wonder can do, those books and the shelves that used to hold them are headed for recycle land. No more dusty books for me. Some have complained about some things - like wi-fi problems and the difficulty in holding it up to read from; that 1.5 pounds starts to get difficult very quickly - mostly because the iPad isn't shaped to provide a good grip. After getting the case for the iPad this problem is solved for me; now I can hold it like a book and extended reading sessions are no problem. The only thing about the wi-fi I find awkward is the way the iPad shuts the wi-fi radio down after a while when you're not using it (to save power). When the wi-fi is restarted, there's a little delay before the connection is usable - so if I drop out of reading a book and launch a app that needs network access I'll sometimes get an error. Not a big deal; dismiss the error and try again and it'll work. The wi-fi range is surprisingly good, especially for something like this where it's in a metal case.


For me, having all of my "media" available in one place and ready to enjoy any time was worth the price and then some.


A prediction of the near future

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 5 years ago So I just posted a reply that was factually accurate, but critical of Microsoft. I've been here before, and I'm expecting some folks to down-mod that reply almost immediately.

There's Microsoft loving people here and they have been instructed to downplay any critical comments on this site. That's not what this site is all about and maybe some day this kind of back-door astroturfing will end. But not today; it's business as usual here on Slashdot and also at Microsoft.

So I'll be watching for the negative moderations and the nasty replies - they'll be there, they always are.


Windows Vista - my experience so far

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 6 years ago So after my HP laptop failed and HP refused to repair it (even though it's under warranty) - I went out and bought a new laptop to replace that piece of ****. I bought a nice Sony laptop and it's great; runs MUCH cooler than that HP did. Stylish, functional - everything I wanted except for one little detail - it came with Vista SP1 installed.

So I decided to give Vista a fair trial - it couldn't be as bad as people were making it look, could it? Well, it does seem to be stable; I haven't had it lock up or do some typical Windows failure yet. But - aw geez, this is like the death of a thousand cuts.

User access control - what a joke. Run FOOBAR.EXE and get a popup warning you about it. So far so good - but where's the option to say that this program is known to be OK? They overlooked this little detail so every time you run that program you'll get the warning again (and again, and again). That's just plain stupid; has MS ever heard of a whitelist? One that isn't controlled by them?

OK, so let's say that FireFox and BitTorrent are installed. Download a file and it ends up where? Not where you expected - and not even in the same place from program to program. Was that USER\DOWNLOADS or was it USER\DOCUMENTS\DOWNLOADS? Or is it in some other unexpected location? The idea of virtualizing the download directories was good from a security standpoint - but it's a nightmare from the user's standpoint. I've got one recurring question - where did the damned file go?

Drivers are a constant problem. I've got expensive peripherals that don't work due to lack of drivers - and the vendors of those items don't feel the need to issue updated drivers. MS could have seen this coming and given us an option to use older drivers in a "compatibility" mode but no. Even new devices - right now I'm trying to pair a new Blackberry with this laptop using Bluetooth. 15 dialog boxes later I finally got the message from Vista that there was a "problem" with the device and that new (and unavailable) drivers were needed.

OK, so let me move on to the big issue here: in what ways is Vista superior to XP? If you count the "Aero" interface as a plus then that makes one. In every other way it offers nothing more - and often even less - than XP did.

Consider MIDI music for an example. I've got an external MIDI interface and a MIDI sound module - it should be possible to send all the MIDI sounds through that device, right? XP had no problem doing this; use the MIDI Mapper application to send the sound wherever you wanted. What Vista offers for MIDI reproduction is it's built-in software based Roland GS synthesizer. That's it - you CAN'T select any other MIDI device unless you manually edit the registry. Even if I could there's no Vista driver for the MIDI interface. Aw cmon, it's a USB peripheral; why on earth should this be a problem?

I could go on and on - there are so many annoyances and misfeatures that it's amazing to me that Microsoft sold it. It wasn't released as much as it escaped. If you're thinking of upgrading from a previous Windows version to Vista, don't do it! You'll be sorry; it's less functional and more annoying even though it's wearing a colorful clown suit.

Sheesh; this new laptop came with a trial of Office 2007. WTF were they thinking? Make people hunt for obscure options like "load" and "save"? It's even worse than Vista - rather than user-indifferent Office is user-hostile.

I don't think that Linux is quite ready for the desktop yet. But I'm sure that Vista is NOT suitable for the desktop. Avoid it!


So I called HP about this laptop

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 6 years ago After much messing around they hung up on me. Then they called back and hung up on me again. HP support must be staffed by ankle biters...


Darn, screwed again

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 6 years ago I was having some issues with my laptop - a couple of programs were causing issues. So I started de-installing the troublesome programs. I found one that wouldn't deinstall (Intervideo - shame on you) and was rooting the traces of that program out of the registry when the screen scrambled and the laptop locked up.

Started up the laptop the next morning and everything was fine for a few minutes then the screen scrambled again and it was dead. Spent some time tracking the problem and found that it was a bad motherboard. Too bad; the laptop had a one year warranty and it was 18 months old. Considering that I'd had 5 previous hardware failures on this laptop I decided to write it off and get a new one.

This new Sony laptop is very nice. One of the first things I did when I got it online was to visit Slashdot. I discovered a story about bad Nvidia chips and understood why that damned HP laptop died.

I've extracted the hard drive from the dead HP and recovered the files that I needed. I hear that HP has extended the warranty on the affected laptops; I've also heard that HP tends to lose laptops that get sent in for repair. I'm not sure what to do next.

One option is to take that HP laptop out back and beat on it with a hammer until I get my money's worth out of it. The other is to send it back to HP and let them fix or lose it. I'm not sure yet; I know that I don't want to mess with that piece of crap any longer. But do I want to inflict it on someone else? Maybe the hammer treatment is the best option.

One thing is for sure - no more HP equipment. None. That laptop, that scanner, that all-in-one - enough. I used to trust HP but now fully understand that they're simply selling crap that only lasts until the warranty is up. Never again, HP - no matter what you say or do you've lost this customer forever.


Love that iPod Touch

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  about 7 years ago I was very happy with this purchase - then the January Update came along and now it's even better. I'm still learning about the things this device will do (in addition to playing music).

I spent more than the price of this iPod for a Sony Clie PDA and the iPod does everything the Clie did and much, much more. It's not often that I purchase something that's more than I expected but this little gadget is just plain amazing.

Sure, $400 is a lot of money - but this little thing is worth every penny and more to me. For once, I'm glad to be an early adopter.


iPod Touch acquired using intelligence

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 7 years ago After chasing around Apple stores and various electronics retailers it was becoming clear that this item was not in stock and wouldn't be for two weeks or more.

At this point the wise shopper visits Apple's web site and checks their handy list of retailers; this is only somewhat hidden and only takes a few minutes to find. Also, check Epinions and look at the price comparison list - Apple stuff is price controlled so there's no deals, but you can get an idea of who is selling it this way.

Among the usual suspects on the list I found Target. Not the kind of place I'd think of for finding the latest high-tech gadget - and I suspect that not many others have considered this source. So I checked their website, looked up the product and tried their "find it in a store" function. Wow - it indicated that the three closest Target stores all had it in stock! But hold on a moment - computerized inventory systems are notorious for showing stock when there is none so this might not work out either.

Drove over to the closest Target and looked on their "MP3 Player" aisle. One side has dusty Zunes, the other side has iPod displays from a generation or two back. But in the locked glass cabinet under the display they had a LOT of iPod Touch boxes; both 8 and 16 GB units.

After the 30 or 45 minutes it took to find a Target employee who could actually open the cabinet I was on my way home with my new toy. How do I like it so far? Wow. None of the screen issues that have been discussed, works perfectly. I'm still blown away by the UI in this thing; sure, that "cover flow" effect is nice - but these "covers" are doing their thing above a reflective black surface and you can see their reflections in the surface. The graphics and the way they're animated (and the reflections) show that some obsessive people worked very hard on getting this "right". You won't see this technology in a Zune any time in the foreseeable future.


Microsoft at work on Slashdot?

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 7 years ago Something that I've been noticing here on Slashdot is that if you post a reply that's critical of Microsoft it's almost certain to be moderated "Troll" - in a matter of minutes.

Other moderators come along later and mod the message up so the moderation system is working as intended. But it's starting to become obvious that someone has their thumb on the scales.

Of course, I can't see who moderated so there's no way to prove this one way or the other. Checking those IP addresses on those moderations would be informative though...


iPod Touch - why market it if there's none to sell?

Whuffo Whuffo writes  |  more than 7 years ago The old iPod Nano I've got is reaching the end of it's useful life; battery life is way down and it'd cost more to have it replaced than the old iPod is worth.

After looking over the options, the iPod Touch seems to be the one for me. They've been shipping them for a couple of weeks now - but I can't find one for sale in any of the local Apple stores.

What's up with that? It's not as though Apple has never released a new iPod design; by now they should have a good idea how many to have on hand before offering them for sale. And there's no indication that this particular model is selling like hotcakes.

After the nice Apple person at their San Jose store let me know they were sold out and I was leaving it seemed to me that Apple had just paid this person to send me away without buying anything. They could have saved some money on advertising if they're not really selling anything.

Will I go back in a couple of weeks (or whenever) to complete the transaction or will I change my mind before then. Sweet as the Touch is, it's a lot of money and I may not be so eager to own one tomorrow.

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