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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?

abell Give my backup software a try (268 comments)

I have been working on a backup software for similar scenarios (in my case: picture and email folders, partially replicated on a few PCs). Tha idea is: copy files redundantly on different computers and external drives and keep track of what file was seen where. The program is called file4life and I have recently made it public: http://www.file4life.org/ The basic usage is:

file4life -i
> scan /some/dir
> backup -s 10G /some/backup/drive

Of course there is also a restore operation :-)
I need beta testers and someone to build and try it on POSIX systems other than Debian. Currently there is no Windows version, which would require a bit of work, given the difference in filesystem layout.
On the website there is a contact email and I'd be super glad to have some feedback on it.

about a month ago
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EU Says Apple's Warranty Advertisements Are Unacceptable

abell Re:Apple needs to think a bit more... (266 comments)

But the newest and chinest MacBook always have some killer feature that nobody else have. For a long time, the instant hybernate (that would always work, and not crash the machine once every other lid closure) was a killer.

At my last job I was given a Mac and one of the several annoyances coming from several years of Debian was the time it took it to suspend (in the order of 1-2 minutes, versus about 4 seconds in my Debian laptop). I wonder whether they had removed this "instant hybernate" feature or whether it was some software problem specific to my machine. Or maybe the Mac played tricks on me, detecting my lack of love ;-)

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Distros Have You Used, In What Order?

abell Red Hat then Debian (867 comments)

In my very first attempt in '96, I tried Debian but some process in crontab would trash my disk (the locate update, IIRC), so not knowing any better I moved at once to Red Hat. After using it for a while (a couple of years) I gave Debian another try, fell in love with it and to this day it's my distro of choice.

about 2 years ago
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Lower Limit Found For Sudoku Puzzle Clues

abell Re:Proof use a lot of brute force (121 comments)

A really good proof would be able to show a solution for n dimensions, where n > 2, but all we have as a proof is an exhaustive enumeration of the possible networks in 2 dimensions.

The four color theorem only makes sense in 2 dimensions, since for 3 and more no number of colors is enough. To visualize this, just take any number n of spheres in 3D, add appendices to them so that each sphere touches all the other ones, without intersection, fill-in the voids with whatever you want (by thickening the appendices or with a new region) and you end up needing at least n different colors.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Starts to Detail Dart

abell Re:It's not a bad thing (219 comments)

I agree, but in such cases, isn't the solution to make current "fun" languages more "enterprisey" by improving the back-end toolchain?

I have found a very good mix of fun and "enterprisey" in Scala. Runs on the JVM, excellent Java interoperability, statically type-checked with some level of type inference and a very dynamic feel.

about 3 years ago
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Italy Votes To Abandon Nuclear Power

abell Re:Where's the "idiots" tag? (848 comments)

I live in Turin, next to france, and we DO import nuclear energy from france [...] and France is Upwind from us, so I would laugh my head off if it wasn't sad.

Even if I understand your point of view, you should admit that the risk/benefit estimate for someone NOT living close to the French border will have been very different from yours (take Sicily as an extreme example).

more than 3 years ago
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Italy Votes To Abandon Nuclear Power

abell I voted against nuclear (848 comments)

...and so did all my friends, including quite a few with a degree in Phyisics and an open mind. Apart from the universal issues on nuclear power and the soundness of a decades long investment starting from scratch, consider that:

  • Italy is densely populated (much more so than the United States). A worst case scenario would be much worse than in a semi-desertic area;
  • there is a widespread involvement of various mafias with politics and business (including construction and waste treatment);
  • in some places (see Naples and thereabouts) we are not even able to regularly process domestic garbage, so that it accumulates in urban streets, due to lack of organization and the interests of said mafias;
  • the current government, in favour of a move towards nuclear, and actively pushing for it out of the blue in the recent months, has a very negative track record and its choices are usually dictated by a private interest of the Prime Minister and his associates, with great expense for the Country;
  • the minister who was to be in charge of the contracts for new nuclear plants, Claudio Scajola, resigned some time ago because it was found he had received a bribe in the form of partial payment for a flat in central Rome. He had the courage to declare that "if he would find that someone had partially paid for the apartment without him knowing, he would give up the property". That's the kind of people who would be managing the nuclear future of Italy, weren't it for the results from yesterday.

more than 3 years ago
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Is Science Just a Matter of Faith?

abell Re:No. (1486 comments)

There is evidence that their claims are true (e.g., someone named Jesus did exist in the past, and there is significant evidence that he was executed by the Romans).

Citation needed.

more than 3 years ago
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Was the Early Universe 2 Dimensional Spacetime?

abell Re:Physicists (309 comments)

there is no continuous mapping from R to RxR or RxRxR

Apart from the obvious examples of continuous mappings (just map the whole line to a single point or embed it any way in the plane or space), you might be interested in this article on space-filling curves, describing continuous surjective mappings from the segment to the square. Variations of those can be used to construct continuous surjective mappings from the segment to R^n for any n, i.e. curves filling the n-dimensional space (no point left out). A very interesting and counterintuitive fact of Mathematics, yet easy enough to grasp with only a limited background.

more than 3 years ago
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Steve Jobs Health Worries Escalate

abell Re:You present the Apple Hater meme, not reality. (520 comments)

Out of all the continued denialism, I'll just point out that one.

...which starts with:

What we need is a working unlocked and jailbraked IPhone

Now, not the best example of an open platform, I would say.

more than 3 years ago
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The Struggle To Keep Java Relevant

abell Re:Groovy (667 comments)

I have recently started working on my first project in Scala and I think the situation is quite similar to the Python/C one. Scala is a much more pleasant language to write in, having type inference and a much more dynamic feeling, and in cases when there is no specific library for a task at hand you can just tap into the gazillion Java packages.

more than 4 years ago
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Google Applies To Become Energy Marketer

abell Re:What is up with the scare mongering? (160 comments)

Everywhere i read i see posts from astroturfers pretending to be very concerned about their privacy. Lambasting Google for all they are worth and trying to purport them as a very evil and vile company.

The thing is, Google hasnt got half of the information many other sources has like twitter, facebook etc.

Let's see. I am very concerned about my online privacy and manage my own mail server. I don't have a Facebook account and only used my Twitter account for a couple of days total. I use Google search engine, Google maps and for professional reasons have an Adsense account. Here's what Google can know about me:

  • the content of emails I send to my friends using a Gmail account and that they send me (even if I never use Gmail myself)
  • my search queries
  • the Adsense enabled web sites I visit, even if I browse them directly or through another search engine
  • the Google Analytics enabled web sites I visit, see above
  • my physical position and where I plan to go (through my itinerary searches in Google maps)
  • bonus (because of my Adsense account): my full name, address and bank account

They can correlate all these data and know and remember more about me than I myself do. All in the hands of a single company which can integrate all these data in a single database (for ease of consultation by themselves, government agencies etc.)

That's not astroturfing, it's simple understanding of facts.

more than 4 years ago
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Gravatars Can Leak Users' Email Addresses

abell Re:a pinch of salt (170 comments)

Call me when he finds a way to determine the email after gravatar starts adding a pinch of salf to the hashed emails...

Call me when gravatar starts adding a pinch of salt to the hashed emails ;-)

more than 4 years ago
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German Killers Sue Wikipedia To Remove Their Names

abell Re:Streisand Effect (859 comments)

On the other hand, his lawyers should have adviced them better.

It's a bit like IT consultants advising you to buy expensive services you don't need: they are acting in their own interest and not in yours.

more than 4 years ago
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Google To Air Chrome Ads On TV

abell Re:Advertising is 100% tax deductible in Canada. (148 comments)

if I make to much money for example $60,000 @ 22% = $13,200 tax. I figure a way to spend it that will benefit me and be deductible from my income (lease a vehicle in my case) so I only make $50,000 @ 15% tax = $7,500 tax.

I think you miscalculated your taxes. If they are progressive as they should reasonably be, going from $50000 to $60000 should only increase the tax rate on the $10000 and not on the whole amount. So if 22% is the marginal rate at $60000, the difference in taxes would be at most the 22% of $10000, that is $2200. If your calculations were right, you would have a tax increase of $13200 - $7500 = $5700 out of your income increase of $10000, that is a 57% rate.

more than 5 years ago
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Hope For Multi-Language Programming?

abell Re:...with varying levels of support (371 comments)

So yes, you can embed a Java interpreter in C code. But there's a API documented for embedded Java to unload the VM when you're done with it that turns out to not be implemented

Interesting. Out of curiosity, would it have made any sense in your case to have the Java part running as a separate application communicating with the main C one over some IPC channel (sockets, RPC or something else)?

Cheers

more than 5 years ago
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Microsoft Tries a New Ad Agency

abell Re:"Can money buy you love?" (372 comments)

Can money buy you a Ferrari Testarosa? Yes.

Funny spelling mistake. The Ferrari model is "Testarossa", which means "Redhead" in Italian. "Testarosa" means "Pinkhead" instead, which doesn't strike me as particularly cool ;-)

more than 6 years ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: Cell phone and PC interaction for te

abell abell writes  |  more than 2 years ago

abell (523485) writes "Last year a young man I know had an accident which left him without the use of the four limbs. He only has very limited movement of one arm (but not of his hands).
In order for him to have some social interaction, not limited to visitors who drop by during visit hours, I was thinking of a way for him to use a cell phone: something along the ways of speakers and a mic and possibly a way to start and reply calls with voice commands or at most by pushing a single button, which would need to be installed in his bed by his side and not be so obtrusive as to hinder the nurses' job.
If he were also able in a near future to use a PC with internet connection I think his life quality would improve considerably.
Do you fellow slashdotters have any experience on such setups and any advice to share?
How could one avoid the audio feedback between the speakers and the mic, which would probably need to be in a fixed position at some distance?
Would the cell phone setup be possible to build with cheap off-the-shelf components?
How about a PC interface he might be able to use?
For any location-specific advice, I should specify that my friend is in Poland."

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