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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

astro The hubbub is misplaced (338 comments)

The US Postal Service has been trying to cut losses by ending Saturday delivery of ALL mail for years. I used to be a Netflix DVD subscriber and am admittedly streaming-only now (DVDs are hard to squeeze through my VPN - I live in Germany now), but I fail to see the big deal. Feel fortunate you still receive Saturday delivery of junk mail and bills.

2 days ago

Seat Detects When You're Drowsy, Can Control Your Car

astro Re:Russian automaker of commodity cars (106 comments)

I stand corrected - I really thought they were Russian cars. I also thought Skoda (no Unicode on Slashdot) was a Russian brand, but no, I just looked it up, and they're Czech.

about two weeks ago

Seat Detects When You're Drowsy, Can Control Your Car

astro Russian automaker of commodity cars (106 comments)

I initially read the title to be referencing Seat, a Russian maker of affordable cars that are common accross Europe, not as the place you put your backside while you are driving. /me chuckles...

about two weeks ago

Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

astro Not new, and not shocking. (242 comments)

If anything it's shocking the process isn't used more. I know in my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, reverse-osmosis waste water filtering was used at least as early as the 1980s, perhaps even the 70s. I'm trying to find a reference for proof, but haven't come up with one in a couple of minutes of Googling.

The Wikipedia article on RO, by the way, is in pretty shabby shape if anyone gets a rise out of improving such things.

about two weeks ago

Facebook's Emotion Experiment: Too Far, Or Social Network Norm?

astro Re:This news piece has been greatly exagerated (219 comments)

Bullshit. How do you know that you don't know anyone that was affected by it? Do you know which week in 2012 the experiment was conducted? Do you know which of the ~billion FB accounts were the 700k experimented upon? I find it pretty shocking that so many people are having difficulty understanding the difference between A/B testing and intentional emotional manipulation where a significant negative (or positive) result was the data point the study strove to measure.

I can quite imagine that a significant number of offline lives were impacted by this experiment. People exposed to negative content presumably don't limit their negative reactions to behavior only in the venue where they were exposed to the negative content.

about three weeks ago

Why Should Game Stories Make Sense?

astro Silent Hill (169 comments)

I think that the Silent Hill games (at least 1-4) do a fantastic job of having strong themes and plot but still leaving a lot open to perceptual conjecture on the part of the player.

about 3 months ago

Hulu Blocks VPN Users

astro Grrr. (259 comments)

I am a citizen of the USA, and I pay monthly for services (not Hulu) that I am not easily able to watch in my country of residence, Germany. It's really annoying to have restrictions on content that I PAY FOR.

I don't pay Hulu, I am not interested in their content, but there is a certain other major US-based content network that lulls me to sleep with usually shitty (but occasionally brilliant) movies and television shows.

I did get off the commercial VPN services and roll my own OpenVPN, as suggested by others here - It's not that hard. But I still think this whole thing is obnoxious and stinks. If I wanted to pay USD 7.99 per month for content and another 13 on top for the commercial VPN I was using - all to US companies and as an American citizen, why in the hell would they refuse my money and block my enjoyment of their services?

about 2 months ago

Facebook Data Miner Will Shock You

astro Wolfram Alpha (164 comments)

I'd place a small wager that Ubi partnered with Wolfram Alpha on this - I did the Watch Dogs thing about a week ago, and thought it was actually a quite coolly stylized representation of basically very close to what WA spits out as analysis of my Facebook profile. I wasn't shocked. Rather, I thought it was pretty trick marketing, and was impressed.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

astro Tape decks (702 comments)

Despite being relatively complex machines, I have some old cassette player/recorders that are still functioning just as the day they were bought even thirty years ago. The one in my hand right now is a General Electric 3-53008 and it works super despite tons of abuse.

about 3 months ago

This 1981 BYTE Magazine Cover Explains Why We're So Bad At Tech Predictions

astro Re:That micro-floppy (276 comments)

The death of Jaz / Zip drives, IIRC, sounded like a loud "CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK" - it wasn't so quiet.

about 3 months ago

Study: Video Gamer Aggression Result of Game Experience, Not Violent Content

astro I've observed this phenomena. (180 comments)

This, I am sure, will sound totally silly, but I've seen this in action. My wife's favorite games are the old "House Of The Dead" rail-shooters, and Angry Birds. House of the Dead noticeably relaxes her, and she doesn't hit much frustration it it. Angry Birds makes me fear for my life, practically, if she hits a losing streak. It's made worse by the social aspect - she gets furious if she is lower in the rankings than people she knows and competes against.

Note: My wife and I don't have fancy new gaming systems or high-powered computers. We're poor, which is fine with me, but it does limit our gaming options to things like the above.

about 3 months ago

Latest Humble Bundle Supports Open Source GameDev Tools

astro Re:Lets Clarify....... (29 comments)

I was only introduced to Ren'Py by this /. post and I am thinking of giving it a go. I've been wanting a rapid way to tell lightly interactive stories, and this looks to fit the bill quite well. I'm intimidated by the amount of time it might take me to source / create images, but that is of course not a failure of what you have created here. I read the quick start, downloaded a couple of games (and a couple of straight novels) and looked through their scripts... I'm intrigued. I'm medium-advanced with Python, and nothing I have in mind should require too much craziness. So... yeah, intrigued.

about 4 months ago

Linux May Succeed Windows XP As OS of Choice For ATMs

astro Re:ATMs? (367 comments)

Most countries, obviously including economically advanced and powerful Germany (where I live) also use ATMs (Geldautomaten). Here, the culture is still such that "cash is king". Other than supermarkets, huge chains like Ikea, H&M and McDonalds, there are very few places that you can use a debit/credit card to pay for goods and services. Asking "people still use cash?" is centered around a single first-world culture and in no way representative of the wider presence of ATMs.

about 4 months ago

Crowdsourcing Confirms: Websites Inaccessible on Comcast

astro For once, I doubt Comcast to be purely evil. (349 comments)

DNS is a theoretically good system and one that we obviously all rely on every day. However, so many DNS implementations from the registrar level down to your cheap little wifi-router-all-in-one box that connects to your ISP are so totally broken. I think the way this is written is pretty trollish and should instead have focused on the wider question of how we can advance to where so many devices and programs that have to deal with name resolution will act more to-spec and consistently. Comcast should take some heat here for a partially broken DNS implementation, but without better evidence, I see no intentional evil in this particular story.

about 4 months ago

Pinterest Reveals Its First Transparency Report

astro Stego. (23 comments)

Ripe time to take up steganographry...

about 4 months ago

Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires

astro Money. (860 comments)

Isn't anyone else just plain poor->broke? I run XP on an older Celeron with 512MB RAM because I have absolutely no money to upgrade. I dual-boot to Lubuntu and come back to XP for the 2005ish and before games I can still play. Some have proven ok with Wine / playonlinux, but most not.

about 5 months ago

Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

astro Molotov's. (921 comments)

Look, I am not defending the aggressors here, but I like Molotov's. It's certainly not a place, however, that I would proudly sport any $1,500 set of eye-wear, at least not in a way that I am obviously bragging about it, though. Camera-laden or not.

about 5 months ago

YouTube Ordered To Remove "Illegal" Copyright Blocking Notices

astro Something's not right here. (427 comments)

I'm an American who lives in Germany, and this all doesn't add up - practically all of the YouTube content that I want to see see that instead has this GEMA message is AMERICAN content. GEMA certainly doesn't own the rights to much, if any of it. I've always had the understanding that somehow German agencies haven't paid the American fees to play licensed content, or something. It's an entirely different message if I want to watch, say, Swiss content that also is not properly licensed here.

about 5 months ago

NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse

astro The slides... (347 comments)

Has anyone actually looked at the slides? To me, they appear so completely, laughably fake. Reminds me of amateur materials for spy / sci-fi role playing dice and books games from the 80s.

Now tell me that I am a shill for discrediting these obviously genuine training materials.

about 4 months ago

Edward Snowden's Lawyer Claims Harassment From Heathrow Border Agent

astro Re:Basic. (261 comments)

A U.S. Citizen cannot be denied entry to the country. They *can* confiscate your bags... but they can't deny you entry.

You can be denied exit of the last country before the USA. I was detained at Schipol (Amsterdam international airport), subjected to a strip search and a "friendly" but hugely intimidating amount of questions. They also physically disassembled (but made no practical attempt to access the data on) a LaCie Rugged external HD I had with me. I could not simply ask for a lawyer. I *DID* have all the marks for a targeted search and interrogation: Looked like a total punk stoner leaving Holland for the USA (I've not been to Holland, except for this stop in their airport - my passport clearly showed this); was admittedly beyond the tourist Visa waiver on my US passport (had been in Germany for 6 months with my now wife, then fiance) and had a stack of German anarchist pamphlets in my rucksack (this last part was certainly why I was detained and harassed longer, but not the original reason).

While I understand the need for security, it bothers me greatly that I could be subjected to this for physical appearance and reading material that was well within my rights in all three countries to possess. It bothers me more that my friends react with shock not to this treatment but that I didn't get a haircut and mail myself the pamphlets rather than take them on a plane. The only bit that I completely have to roll with is that yes, I was legally no longer to be allowed in Europe at the time.

about 5 months ago



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