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German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

adolf Re:Users are generally vendors not customers (282 comments)

What sometimes confuses people is that Google also sells IT services

They also sell books, movies, TV shows, software, and hardware.

Which part of this very conventional process of exchanging money for goods and services involves me being a product instead of a customer?

2 days ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

adolf Re:Demographic (523 comments)

I've been spending a lot of time away from my momma's basement* and have been mostly been hanging out at my special lady-friend's place.

She has a 2Mbps connection, and depending on who is visiting, there can be a half-dozen people actively using it. With her old router (a D-Link box that only supports stock firmware and DD-WRT), everyone hated the Internet here: It barely worked. There were nonsensical discussions about "how many people were using the Internet" when things would slow down.

With Shibby's version of Tomato USB, I set up some QoS rules on an old WRT54G. I gave her own laptop a slight preference, but really: With QoS, multiple independent Netflix streams are working OK, even though the boy streams Youtube almost continuously. The Sonos plays music from Spotify perfectly. Interacting with the Web is fast and responsive from all devices. Torrents don't bog the connection. Interactive ssh, RDP, and VNC are very usable.

Nobody complains now. Sure, downloads are slow, but downloads will always be slow here compared to at my own place in Mom's basement. Things just work, and the streaming stuff (except Sonos, which gets a high priority, because buffering audio is teh suck) scales to available bandwidth on a minute-by-minute basis, and it all seems to work fine.

Key points:

Prioritize small streams of all types: Who cares what they are, they'll be gone almost instantly anyway and their impact is therefore small. These are things like NTP, DNS, the initial handshake of every HTTP connection, and other little stuff.

Prioritize important stuff: The HTPC is probably a better streaming target than some stranger's iPod Touch who you gave your WPA passphrase to just to be a nice guy.

Progressively penalize larger transfers: A lot of loading a modern Web page is the initial HTTP handshake, and a mile of CSS includes. Getting these done quickly is not so expensive in terms of absolute bandwidth availability, but really does improve the user experience.

Eventually, the classes go to a "bulk" category: Something over a few megabytes, or somesuch: If the game/windows/whatever update takes forever, so be it, as long as you can still use the rest of the internet while that transpires.

One can also do the "deep packet inspection" game, which is well-supported in Shibby, and gain a little bit more control. But that's decreasingly useful as more and more connections are encrypted by default (and one cannot inspect an SSL-ish packet without also performing a MITM attack upon the whole connection).

Rant: This is what IP TOS flags are for, but they're almost universally useless because end-user programs STILL do not (or cannot) use them properly. But if they were used properly, I could totally accommodate that low-latency VoIP or interactive SSH session, at almost-zero expense to Netflix streams.

about a week ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

adolf Re:Sorry guys, but you are full of shit (523 comments)

720p is HD. It's a perfectly cromulent resolution, is defined by ATSC (the HDTV specification for the US), is way better than the 480i we had for over half a century, and can be argued to be superior to 1080i for some content types.

There isn't anything wrong with 720p. Most modern flat-screen televisions (yep, I wrote that correctly: Most people don't have a behemoth TV) do native 720p at best, and it's actually just fine for the viewing distances and screen sizes involved.

That said, Netflix as of a year or so started doing (what they call) SuperHD. To my eyes (and no, I haven't done frame grabs to verify), it's 1080p24, and it uses almost all of a 12Mbps pipe (which I did measure).

about a week ago

AT&T Says 10Mbps Is Too Fast For "Broadband," 4Mbps Is Enough

adolf Re:Sorry guys, but you are full of shit (523 comments)

You don't Lynx on a DOS machine with Telix.

You load a TSR to provide TCP/IP, whether via Ethernet or phone lines or whatever. And then you run a web browser from the command line.

Telix? No. Telix needs a host to do the heavy lifting.

Disclaimer: 15 years or so ago, I acquired a very odd XT with a floppy drive, integrated 10base2 Ethernet, monochrome (not HGA) video, and no hard drive. I tied that thing to the Internet directly with my always-on ISDN connection. It did telnet, ssh, FTP (along with a resident FTP server - yep, multitasking(ish) under DOS) and web browsing just fine, using native, local programs. With 640k of RAM. Booting from a pair of low-density 5.25" floppy disks, manually loaded one after the other . . .

It wasn't actually all that hard to figure out, and it was ridiculously reliable.

about a week ago

Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

adolf Re:What's the max bandwidth of coax cable? (341 comments)

And it doesn't 'run out', it just gets slower at the shared wire level for the user. Which is why netflix looks like crap at 7PM every night.

No. Netflix looks like crap at 7PM every night because they ditched Akamai and started their own CDN which is typically backhauled by Cogent, and Cogent tends to have terrible connectivity.

about three weeks ago

"MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

adolf Re:Modern Television Style - Thanks Beyond Product (364 comments)

AFAICT, the format of Mythbusters hasn't changed in a very long time.

There is a certain cadence of it which has not, AFAICT, varied since the show included "the kids."

One of the producers of Mythbusters is said to listen to it in her car, and if she can't follow and understand the episode by voice alone, it gets redone.

(As your attorney, I think you're trying too hard to coalesce your own aging mindset with the continually-renewed world around you. Give it a rest. Things move on.)

about three weeks ago

"MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

adolf WTF? (364 comments)

I'm actually rather OK with this. Though Kari is fun to watch and has certain skills (particularly welding and being hot), and Grant is very talented with nuts and bolts and software and robotics, I actually like Mythbusters mostly for the hard science (even if wrong) of Jamie, and the manic presentations of Adam.

Who was the other one again? Oh, yeah, that other guy.

Anyway, I remember Mythbusters with just Jamie and Adam. I miss it: Two well-versed, very smart people arguing against each other but toward a common goal is a win every day.

about three weeks ago

When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

adolf Re:People should leave. They Don't. (257 comments)

As I recall from my understanding at the time, BP has privately-owned and operated franchises. Like any franchise, the franchise license comes with certain contractual obligations.

One of the obligations for the first year or two of a BP franchise is buying BP gasoline.

After that, and again IIRC, it's open market: The BP (or AM/PM, or whatever) station can totally buy Marathon gas from the Marathon distribution point across town, instead of BP gas from the next state.

There is nothing wrong with this. Gasoline is generally a commodity, and about the only thing that keeps it brand-centric is the additive package which is (or may be) mixed differently for Shell or BP or Mobil or whatever.

So no, I didn't avoid BP stations after the BP gulf oil spill, because: Meh. I already knew better: Chances are, the owner was already buying whatever gas he wanted, according to market demands, whether sourced from BP, or Shell, or Marathon, or Exxon, some other such entity.

Punishing a BP franchisee for an oil spill is a cause which is based on a red herring, and is therefore nonsensical.

about three weeks ago

Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

adolf Re:That model really helped Cable TV (611 comments)

Ah, Canada. The only country I can think of where a certain percentage of broadcast, over-the-air programming must be of a specific national origin as a part of the licensing for the broadcast frequency.


about three weeks ago

Scientists Baffled By Unknown Source of Ozone-Depleting Chemical

adolf Re:Source is HVAC Contractors (303 comments)

I don't know of a single refrigerant in common use which remains liquid at STP. Almost all of them evaporate very, very quickly at atmospheric pressure.

Indeed, the most common one in new equipment (these days) is R-134a. Which is the same thing that goes into the "canned air" commonly sold and used for cleaning computer gear, and is also the same chemical used in the more common forms of freeze spray (the difference being whether it is dispensed as a liquid via an internal dip tube, or as a gas by simple lack of a dip tube).

What were you going on about, again?

Oh, right. Clues.

about three weeks ago

Google's Driverless Cars Capable of Exceeding Speed Limit

adolf Re:How to cripple a city (475 comments)

Obstructing traffic means just what it says: Obstructing traffic. The language of such a law is about relative speeds and of particular actions (such as, say, intentionally blocking a freeway).

Exceeding the speed limit is a whole different law.

The two are independent constructs. Indeed, I see no reason why one could not be cited for both "obstructing traffic" and "speeding" at the same time.

There is no conflict here.

about a month ago

Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews

adolf Re:A bit more subtle than you think (289 comments)

Your understanding of history is so terribly flawed that I don't even know where to start.

about 3 months ago

Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews

adolf Re:Kingston selling shit USB3 flash keys (289 comments)

I myself don't have a single USB 3 host device.

I purposefully bought one of the cheap USB 3 Kingston keys after reading the reviews. Been very happy with it: It often operates at close to the theoretical USB 2.0 transfer rates, and there have been instances where my USB 2.0 host is plainly the bottleneck. It was the right drive for the right price on that particular day, perfectly in the corner of the price/performance curve.

Meanwhile, none of this is news: If you buy an ATA/66 hard drive in 1997, you already know that you don't necessarily get 66 megabytes per second from it because the spinning rust can only transfer things so fast. The speed of the physical interface has typically nothing to do with the rate at which data is transferred, and it never has.

The only thing new here is your own flawed perception.

about 3 months ago

Registry Hack Enables Continued Updates For Windows XP

adolf Re:Are you kidding me? (322 comments)

That's a bad security model in that it relies on the assumption that the local network is physically secure, which is never a good assumption to make.

NetBEUI over the Internet impossible? What are you going to tell me next, that I can't watch TV over the Internet either because the IP doesn't know how to deal with ATSC?

A small SBC running OpenVPN in tap mode will work just fine in a "it's not a router, it's an Ethernet bridge!" sort of way. And...done: NetBEUI, over the Internet, with every bit of untraceable clusterfuck that NetBEUI ever had.

And all you might notice is one or two new MAC addresses lurking around.....if the attacker is sloppy AND if you're paying attention. Which you aren't, or you'd realize that the model is unsound to begin with.

about 3 months ago

Registry Hack Enables Continued Updates For Windows XP

adolf Re:Are you kidding me? (322 comments)

Are you saying I can't transmit Ethernet frames over the Internet?

about 4 months ago

Ohio Prison Shows Pirated Movies To Inmates

adolf Re:Prison == New Free Cinema? (186 comments)

Prison is not meant to be torture, but it is meant to be punishment.

The trouble with an FPS or an MMO, or routine fun in general, is that people would be more likely to do dumb things just so that they can live in prison: Three squares a day, one's own bunk, laundry service, and regular gaming sessions?

We've already got enough people who LIKE prison and jail. :-/

about 4 months ago

The Physics of Hot Pockets

adolf Seriously. (222 comments)

I've never had a problem with Hot Pockets: Follow directions, learn how it works in a given microwave oven, and...done: Ridiculously-hot cheap, bubbly, unhealthy goodness.

Meanwhile, I don't need to read TFA to learn how the powdered aluminum wrapper turns RF energy into thermal energy. And I don't need TFA to know that any thing has a certain reluctance toward changing temperatures, as nothing is a perfect thermal conductor.

In fact: Dude, I've been cooking with a microwave since I was a little kid: It was the first kitchen appliance I was certified on other than -- maybe -- an electric can opener.

Up next on /.: How shoelaces work to keep our shoes on our feet, followed by a lesson in using a light switch to illuminate a dark room. Or "Toast: Why bread is caramelized only on the outside when using the every-day toaster."

*head in hands*

about 4 months ago

Game of Thrones Author George R R Martin Writes with WordStar on DOS

adolf Re:640k isn't enough for everybody (522 comments)

And when you download an installer, it's a ZIP with a single file: One compressed EXE.

So you extract the EXE (which is not meaningfully bigger than the ZIP), and execute it.

Then, the first thing it does is extract a compressed CAB (which is not meaningfully bigger than the EXE).

After that, it installs the CAB, which could have been accomplished by simply double-clicking on the (again, already-compressed) that it's finally exposed after all of the needless wrappers.

This behavior would have never been considered acceptable in the day of the floppy disk, and it shouldn't be acceptable now: It's grossly inefficient in terms of CPU utilization, disk utilization, and (most importantly) human utilization. In many ways, we've forgotten much of what we used to know.

I can't fathom the number man-hours that are wasted daily by end-users just to save a few hours of optimizing such installers once, but if I had to take a guess, I'd think that [human lifetimes wasted] / [day] would be a cromulent unit to factor it in.

about 4 months ago

Game of Thrones Author George R R Martin Writes with WordStar on DOS

adolf Re:Amen, brother Amen! (522 comments)

I email myself all the time.

I keep backups of most of my data, of course, but email is the most easily-searched, most easily-accessed, and most redundant system I have...and it takes zero additional thought on my part for it to behave in this way.

Additional redundancy is also simple: If something is Really Important to me, I can send it to myself at multiple independent email servers with ridiculous ease.

I've been doing it this way since I discovered IMAP something close to 20 years ago.

The fact that someone is using a tool in a way that you didn't intend should not be taken to indicate that such behavior is wrong, and if IMAP were totally unsuited it wouldn't handle multiple concurrent clients of different types, much less folders, much less generally-sane handling of attachments, much less [...].

(Granted, this is for stuff that is not secret to me -- just important to me. I don't have many secrets, and any that I do have certainly aren't anywhere near the Internet or any other network.)

about 4 months ago



When a greeter stops you from leaving a store

adolf adolf writes  |  more than 4 years ago

adolf writes "Do you:

Stop and await inspection
Ignore any alarm and keep walking
Pretend to be deaf
Pretend to speak a different language
Keep moving, and drop a copy of the Fourth Amendment on the floor
Other (explain)"

Slashdot's new comment interface blows chuks

adolf adolf writes  |  more than 6 years ago

adolf writes "A couple of days ago, Slashdot changed its comments interface. Gone is the whitespace in its previously easy-to-read format. Gone are the simple textual links for replying and navigation. New is grey boxes surrounding each comment with a set of large grey buttons at the bottom of each. It is ugly and hard to read. Why the change? Why is it not user-selectable? Why do I find myself not reading comments anymore?"




adolf adolf writes  |  about a year ago

So I'm cutting up a Trinidad Scorpion Butch-T pepper with gloves on, and sprinkling it around a pizza that I am going to cook and eat. Grown in worm casings, it is said to be the hottest pepper in the history of anything, ever.

I didn't have a surplus of worm casings when I planted my plant, Trisha (yes, I name my ridiculous pepper plants). But I did have enough household compost to dig a big hole and replace it with the results from a worm-heavy cold-compost pile before planting the little girl in the middle of that pile of worm-digested food.

Therefore I suspect she's very well-fed; indeed, she's grown much larger than any other first-year pepper plant in the garden, without any purposeful chemical treatments or chemical fertilizer.

I've grown ghost peppers (bhot jolokia) for a few years, and I think I understand what I'm in for. The Scorpions have just started to ripen for the season and this is my first of them.

So I pick a deliciously-colored one, quickly sharpen a good knife, and chop it up finely with gloved hands. Still wearing the nitrile gloves, I scrape the minced pepper from the cutting board and sprinkle it onto the pizza. And I take the gloves off and throw them away, because I'm done handling it now -- right?

But seeing those tiny morsels of pepper on that slab of cardboard crust, tomato goo, and imitation cheese makes me think: Gee, how hot could it be?

So I gather up a tiny sliver from the surface of the pizza with my fingertips and eat it. Yep: It's hot. So hot that it has no redeeming qualities, other than just being hot. None of this was unexpected, though at least by comparison a Habernero has a strong and sweet citrus quality once one gets past the pain... But there was no redeeming quality to this pepper: Just pain.

Well enough, I say to myself. I set the oven to pre-heat the oven and go take a leak while I wait.

Twenty minutes later, my fingers are fine. My palette is fine. My throat is fine. My genitals are on fire.

It's not like I can buy these things at the market, so it's amusing to see how persistent this pepper is in casual use.

And, by God, I'm going to cook that pizza. And I'm going to eat it. And I'm going to handle each and every bite with dishwasher-safe, stainless utensils, and I am going to wash them with an enzyme-based detergent and then a bleach-based detergent -- nobody needs to experience this on accident.

I might even put a fresh pair of nitrile gloves on, just to make sure that nothing that goes in my face winds up somewhere other than in my face when I eat this pizza.

But the question is: Why? Why not just enjoy some bland, cheap, freezer pizza? Why, while I wait, do I suffer from a special kind of burning nasal distress every time I emit a tiny burp or belch, having eaten just the tiniest sliver of a pepper? Why can't I just admire Trisha in all of her visual Trinidad Scorpion Butch-T delight? (She is a very lovely plant, after all.)

Why must I torture myself by eating her fruit?


Wal-Mart gestapo

adolf adolf writes  |  more than 4 years ago

So, the other day I was at Wal-Mart. My wife and I had done some shopping, and among other things (mostly food) we had bought a new-release Blu-Ray movie.

At the checkout, the clerk passed the movie over the security-tag deactivation thingie several times, but there was no response from it.

However, on the way out, the alarm went off. The greeter (an elderly woman) says "Over here, over here," motioning to me that I should go see her. I ignore her. She grabs onto the cart and pulls, as if attempting to stop me. Not stopping for even an instant, I calmly say "Ma'am, you have no right to hold me here," and proceed on my way. She lets go.

Behind me, through the open door to the parking lot, I hear her say "But you're SUPPOSED to stop."

Now, pause: Why am I supposed to stop? Did I do something wrong? Am I in some kind of trouble? Is anyone else in some kind of trouble that I should be assisting them with? No, no, and no. I own my stuff, I paid for it, and I'm leaving with it -- plain and simple.

I kept walking. When we finally reached the car, which I always park on the far edge of the lot to avoid car door dings and cart damage (cheap insurance, and a good walk, too), we calmly loaded our new possessions into the car. After that, my wife looks back at the store, and sees the greeter-lady standing there, holding the automatic sliding door open, watching.

We get into the car. The greeter is still watching. Wondering how long this can possibly play out, and what might happen if it did, we rolled down the windows and smoked cigarettes for a few minutes. Still, way over there, the greeter was watching.

The greeter won the staring contest, and we eventually left, but: blah.

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