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At 40, a person is ...

billstewart Young Enough To Deny Being Middle-Aged (105 comments)

By my late 40s I had to admit that I was probably middle-aged, and at 50 you really can't deny it, but 40? Not over the hill yet, plus it was still the boom years and everybody was having lots of fun doing new cool stuff and getting overpaid for discovering how to sell dogfood On The Internet!

8 hours ago
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Will Ripple Eclipse Bitcoin?

billstewart Agreed: Transactional Currency, not Investment (136 comments)

Sure, some people will invest in Bitcoins, and other people will invest in racehorses. (I avoid the problem by mining Dogecoins, which are almost totally worthless.) That's missing the point of Bitcoin, which is that it's intended to be a currency for relatively-private transactions.

Unfortunately, the markets that most wanted a currency for relatively-private transactions didn't do as good a job as they should have about being relatively-private on their own end (i.e. Silk Road got busted), but there is still a market for legitimate transactions, as you've pointed out.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: What Can I Really Do With a Smart Watch?

billstewart Good Voice-only Interface for Phone (194 comments)

What you need is a good voice-only interface for your phone, and if possible in your clean-room environment, some kind of Bluetooth headset. Phone rings, you tell it "answer". If you want to do something, tell Siri or equivalent, and get voice feedback. Not being an iPhone user, I don't know if Siri's good enough. (The Android stuff I've used so far hasn't been, but my car's phone-dialing interface is at least a start.)

yesterday
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Webcast Funerals Growing More Popular

billstewart Re:I hate funerals for a friend (69 comments)

Get used to it, you'll have more of them as you get older.

One thing I hadn't really thought about before my mother-in-law's funeral was that, if you die when you're old, most of the people at your funeral other than your family will also be old - mobility and transportation were difficult for some of her friends, there were more people with wheelchairs than the restaurant we went to afterward really knew how to handle, and there were people who didn't come because it's just too difficult, and this might have helped them some. It's not the same as being there, but sometimes you can't.

3 days ago
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How Identifiable Are You On the Web?

billstewart Mod Parent Up Please (157 comments)

Yup, that's the right thing to do.

3 days ago
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How Identifiable Are You On the Web?

billstewart Things to make browsers less unique (157 comments)

I already ranted about fonts, but amiunique decided that my browser version (the one supported my the IT department at work) and time zone (UTF-8) and language (en-US) were enough to get uniqueness. Apparently everybody on the West Coast are running newer browsers :-)

3 days ago
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How Identifiable Are You On the Web?

billstewart Fonts make you very identifiable (157 comments)

Standard Mozilla behaviour last time this question came up is to include a list of fonts that your browser can display; I don't know whether other browsers do the same, or if they've changed it, but it's the kind of "feature" that hopelessly breaks your chances of non-uniqueness if you've ever installed fonts.

My work laptop has a font that's the Official Corporate-Branded font for $DAYJOB's corporate logo. Almost every Windows machine at my company has that (at least, every physical machine and the virtual machines running on the hosted virtual desktop cloud; there may be some lab machines that don't, and maybe some contractors, etc.) You might work for a smaller company that does the same. In my case, I've installed all sorts of other random fonts, either to see what they looked like, or simply because back in the 80s of course you wanted Elvish and Dwarvish fonts on your computer, or because I wanted a better monospaced programming font than the default MS one or Courier New.

Lots of other things leak information as well (cookies, etc.), but fonts are a quick and dirty way around identifying people who block those.

4 days ago
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Samsung SSD 850 EVO 32-Layer 3D V-NAND-Based SSD Tested

billstewart Re:Just downsized to 256GB SSD, Arrgh! (127 comments)

Laptop, not workstation; I'm usually not connected to a work LAN, so network drives are for backup and file exchange at best, not for data I actually use. (Email's theoretically also backed up on a server, though I'm not convinced that's reliable for anything older than a month or two.)

There's a project to get everybody to move to VMware-based Hosted Virtual Desktops, but I haven't bitten that bullet yet; it would let me access my stuff from different machines, but needs network connectivity to be usable and I lose control over some of my storage. (If Google Chromecast supported HVD, it might tempting to just leave the PC at work and use TV+Chromecast to telecommute :)

5 days ago
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3D Printer?

billstewart 3D printers at TechShop, Shapeways, or Kinkos (171 comments)

3D printing technology is changing much faster than I can come up with things I want to 3D-print, so it doesn't make sense to buy my own. If I want access to printers, there are places like TechShop that have them (hey, Bay Area Privilege is useful if you've got it), and I've heard that FedEx / Kinkos copier shops were also doing a pilot project with them (though it may have been in the Netherlands or Belgium and not the US yet.) Also, for slower turnaround, you can send your printer files to Shapeways and they'll print them and mail them to you.

But if you do want to buy one, I was in Home Depot the other day and there was a guy there demoing them, plus they have a whole display rack or two of Lasers, and probably a Robots section that didn't notice. It's really getting to be the Future!

about a week ago
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Samsung SSD 850 EVO 32-Layer 3D V-NAND-Based SSD Tested

billstewart SDxC is cheap up to 64GB, expensive above (127 comments)

Where did you find cheap SDxC cards for 128-256GB? When I looked online a month or so ago (plus in Fry's today), they were reasonable up to 64GB, then expensive above that (except for no-name Chinese brands on Amazon that had reviews saying the capacities were fake.)

For USB2/USB3 flash sticks, they seem to be cheap up to 128GB, but with most laptop designs, that's going to stick out of the case, so I'd prefer SDxC cards that can stay installed, as long as I'm not using them for high-speed applications. (If I really believed that ReadyBoost accomplished anything, I'd be tempted to get a 16GB USB3 stick just for that, but I assume that makes a lot more difference on a spinning-disk machine.)

The cheapest ones at Fry's today were $40-45 for either 64GB SDxC or 128GB USB sticks. Since I've got just about 60GB of music I had to offload from my work laptop (new one had SSD that's smaller than the old hard drive), 64GB isn't quite enough so I'll wait around for Moore's Law to catch up.

about two weeks ago
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Samsung SSD 850 EVO 32-Layer 3D V-NAND-Based SSD Tested

billstewart Just downsized to 256GB SSD, Arrgh! (127 comments)

The lease expired on my work laptop, and the new one has a 256GB SSD instead of the 320GB spinning disk the previous one had. It's not enough :-) Specifically, it's not enough to keep my ~60GB of music on, along with the actual work stuff, so that's temporarily off-loaded to an external drive, plus I had to off-load a lot more stuff for the "move almost all your stuff to the new machine" software to have working space.

And unfortunately, the IT department won't let me crack it open and add an extra spinning disk inside it. The state of the art in SD memory cards seems to be that 64GB cards are cheap, but 128GB cards are really expensive, so I'll probably wait six months for 128GB cards to get cheap and install one. 128GB USB3 flash sticks are getting to be cheap, but I can't leave one of them plugged in all the time.

about two weeks ago
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Tesla Wants Texas Auto Sales Regulations Loosened

billstewart "Pro-Business" != "Pro-Free-Market" (137 comments)

Hey, it's those crazy Texas Republicans again, talking about wanting small government that doesn't regulate businesses, but if you actually want to compete with existing businesses, good luck to you.

about two weeks ago
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British 'Porn Filter' Blocks Access To Chaos Computer Club

billstewart Libel Lawsuit by CCC would get them to do that (135 comments)

The filters have usually been super-secret because letting the public know what was being censored would let "the children" get around them, and would promote the worst kinds of pornography by telling perverts where it was. But English libel law is surprisingly broad, from the perspective of those of us in other countries, and allows people not from England to sue other people not from England if there's some English hook in the publication somewhere, so maybe the CCC can demonstrate that they've been censored and argue that it's libel that's causing them actual damage (after all, the fact that they were censored by the pr0n filter says they were pornographers or Even Worse.)

about two weeks ago
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Man Caught Trying To Sell Plans For New Aircraft Carrier

billstewart Entrapping idiot with dubious plot (388 comments)

Yes, the guy had a security clearance, so I suppose entrapping him can be considered part of the quality control process, but it's still ridiculous; Egypt would get much more effective military use from a dirt airstrip in the Sinai than an aircraft carrier. But hey, the FBI gets to put out a press release claiming they caught a spy! And it's less ridiculous than the time they entrapped half a dozen drunken bums in Chicago into a "plot to bomb the Sears tower", and less dangerous than the time they helped half a dozen Al-Qaeda plotters mix fertilizer explosive for the first World Trade Center bombing.

about two weeks ago
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A Case Against Further Government Spectrum Auctions

billstewart Highesr Bidder gets them if they're auctioned (66 comments)

The auction process led to extremely high prices paid to the European and US governments by cellular companies, who turned them into high-priced mobile phone services to the public (nobody sat on them, except maybe a few companies who bought them for resale, and they quickly turned them around for a profit.)

But unlicensed use means that everybody gets to use them, like you with your wifi at home, at work, and at the coffee shop where you hang out, or your car radio talking to your phone over Bluetooth, or your wireless thermometer telling you what the temperature is outside, and lots of similar uses that are only constrained by the physics of sharing the spectrum and the Moore's Law driven decreases in costs of equipment to use them.

about two weeks ago
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A Case Against Further Government Spectrum Auctions

billstewart Dedicated vs. unlicensed shared use like WiFi (66 comments)

The biggest gains in wireless spectrum use for the public have been the open-access unlicensed uses like Wifi and Bluetooth at 2.4GHz, and to a lesser extent 5.8 GHz, plus 900 MHz (typically cordless phones), 433/etc. (telemetry stuff), and other low-power apps. Yes, mobile phones running on dedicated frequencies have also been important, but we'd get more public value by letting the public have access to the spectrum for shared access, even though the FCC wouldn't get a bunch of cash from selling it off.

Also, the high-priced spectrum auctions of the past result in high-priced services to the public because the carriers have to make back their money, while unlicensed use resulted in development of cheaper and cheaper hardware to take advantage of the free bandwidth.

about two weeks ago
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Using Discarded Laptop Batteries To Power Lights

billstewart 40 watt PC battery vs. 3 watt LED (143 comments)

Sure, your laptop battery may not hold enough charge to power your laptop any more, but an LED needs a lot less power than your laptop, depending on what it's being used for. Most of the lightbulb-replacement LED bulbs I've seen want 9-23 watts, but the flashlights are more like 3w, and nightlights are more like 0.5 watts.

Also, that laptop battery is a battery of cells, and they usually don't all die at once. They may not be in good enough shape to remanufacture into new laptop batteries, but still have enough of them good enough to disassemble at third-world labor costs to recover cells for off-grid LED lighting.

about two weeks ago
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Node.js Forked By Top Contributors

billstewart McD's niche was consistent adequacy (254 comments)

You can find a much better hamburger almost anywhere. But you can also find a much worse hamburger anywhere. What McD's delivered early on was a consistently adequate hamburger, fries, and drinks at a relatively low price and high convenience. It would never be as good as the burgers at Ralph's Exxon*, much less the Waldorf Astoria, but it would also never be as bad as the burgers at the Binghamton NY Greyhound station or the vending machine at college. And it would also always be better than White Castle.**

* Ralph's was originally a gas station in central NJ, added a lunch counter, and eventually the food was bringing in more business than the gas. 10-oz burgers on a good hard roll (if you're not from the NY-NJ-Philly area, you may never have had a good hard roll.) They went out of business shortly after I stopped eating meat.
** Unless you're Harold and Kumar that night they were high; if you're high your mileage may vary.

about two weeks ago
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Node.js Forked By Top Contributors

billstewart McD's Fries do have beef fat in them. (254 comments)

They're not cooked in tubs of beef fat, like the old days, or trans-fats like the less-old days, but the latter is because the public (correctly)perceives trans-fats as unhealthy. They still have beef fat in the pre-cooked frozen fries, for flavor purposes, so they're still not edible for us vegetarians, they're just less unhealthy for you carnivores.

Burger King doesn't use meat fat in their fries, and they also have veggie burgers, Five Guys probably makes the best fries, In-n-Out's are ok if you get the right out of the fryer (they're actually made by chopping potatoes, instead of heavily-processed frozen stuff, so they don't last as long, and if you're not vegan you can get animal-style fries, which are a sort of California poutine grease overdose (yay!))

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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US Senate passes Patent Overhaul Bill

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

billstewart writes "The US Senate passed a patent-reform bill, S.23 aka "America Invents", which changes US patents from First-to-Invent to First-to-File. (thomas.loc.gov Status Query, Computerworld Article, National Journal with comments pro and con, SF Chron). Patrick Leahy sponsored it. Passed 95-5, House expecting to introduce similar bill Real Soon. Silicon Valley businesses large and small were mostly against it, IBM was for it. Dianne Feinstein attempted an amendment to remove the First-to-File part, but voted for it anyway after that failed. Barbara Boxer voted against.

The US patent system has been first-to-invent for a long time, while Europe has been first-to-file. There's lots of other detail, largely intended to reduce the amount of patent litigation, improve the coordination with non-US patents, potentially improve the problems with patents on things with prior art and obviousness, and affect some tax issues."

Link to Original Source
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Pirate Bay is now Officially Notorious

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

billstewart writes "The U.S. Trade Representative's first global "Review of Notorious Markets" named Pirate Bay and Chinese search engine Baidu on a list of "notorious" sites for pirated goods and software. Most of the sites on the list were in China, and Pirate Bay's in Sweden, more or less, but other sites were in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Kiev, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Manila."
Link to Original Source
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Elonex announces £99 Linux laptop

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 6 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "Elonex is announcing a £99 Linux-based laptop for the UK education market. PDF Press Release. The debut will be at the Feb 28th Education Show and they won't actually be shipping until summerish. It weighs less than a kilo, has a 7" screen (no indication what resolution it is...), full qwerty keyboard, 1GB flash, 3 hour battery, speakers and headphone jack for playing MP3s. They're co-marketing it along with USB bracelets for kids who want to store more content (presumably supports regular USB sticks as well), and say that that will let kids use whatever laptop happens to be available. It doesn't say what Linux distro they're using, but they've got an online site for downloading more content.

While it's targeted for the education market (and part of a National Laptop Initiative), if they were selling it in the US I'd buy one — it sounds like a reasonable competitor to the Asus Eee, and closer to my toy budget.

One feature I'd really like to see on laptops these days is mechanical — it's having a USB jack that's set in some kind of indented docking space, so you can plug in a USB memory stick without having it stick out where it can get banged. There are some that have slots for compact flash or various SD cards, which can be a reasonable alternative, but memory sticks have become pretty universal."
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Microsoft to unveil virtualization strategy Tues

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 6 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "The San Jose Mercury News reports that Microsoft will be announcing a virtualization strategy on Tuesday, including
  • an alliance with Citrix Systems (owners of XenSource),
  • acquisition of privately held Calista Technologies of San Jose, which has software that speeds up the performance of applications running in a virtualized environment, and
  • lower price for Windows Vista used on virtualized computers. (More at Bloomberg.)
The company confirmed its plans to deliver its Hyper-V hypervisor within six months of the launch of Windows Server 2008 (betas available now), which is expected this quarter. And of course there's hype about competing with VMware."
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XenSource releases product, gets bought by Citrix

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 7 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "XenSource has been in the news twice this week — Monday they release a product, then Tuesday they get bought for $500m by Citrix. Here's Network World's take on the buyout and on the product. It looks like the product is packaging new releases of several of their components — there's a 64-bit hypervisor version 3.1 that uses the Intel and AMD hardware tricks, APIs, management tools, and XenMotion, which lets you move running virtual machines around. According to Xen's product page, the free-beer XenExpress version gets the hypervisor, APIs, and some of the management tools, but not the fancier management or XenMotion, and it's somewhat crippled in terms of capacity (max 4 VMs, 2 CPUs, 4GB RAM, while the commercial versions support 128GB total RAM, larger VMs, and unlimited VMs and CPUs.)

(But will it run Linux?) It will run Linux — one of the data sheets implies that Linux only runs in 32-bit mode, while Windows can run 64-bit. Perhaps there's more documentation that provides more details."

Link to Original Source
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billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 8 years ago

billstewart writes "Network World has an article on networks of pneumatic tubes, which are still around in some cities, and also used in places like hospitals. As the article says, "Try delivering bottles of pills over Ethernet." There have been a number of proposals to take unused city pneumatic networks and run fiber optic telecom lines through them. Unfortunately, according to the article, most of them haven't actually worked out — 9/11/2001 interfered with the plans to do that around Wall Street, and city governments haven't always been cooperative, especially when their water&sewer departments want to run fiber through their own tubes. One company has some patents on doing it — the business model may be obvious, but getting the fiber actually blown through the tubes without damaging it apparently has some non-obvious techniques to it."

Journals

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billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I usually give positive moderations lots of slack - I may think a joke or an article is lame, but if somebody wants to moderate it Insightful or Funny, fine - I'll mark those moderations as Unfair/Unfunny if they're promoting obvious trolls or whatever, but that's not common.

Negative moderations are usually obvious also, but the one that I don't give much slack is "Redundant". If an article really was duplicating existing content at the time it was written, or is just adding a content-free me-too, then it's redundant, but if it's a +1 article written two minutes after the main slashdot article, and somebody posts something similar but much more insightful an hour later that makes it up to +5, the first one is still Not Redundant. Maybe it's Overrated, maybe it's Flamebait, and I'd let those moderations through, but I'll call a "Redundant" as "Unfair" if it wasn't redundant enough.

"Flamebait" gets a lot more slack - sometimes there are articles that I strongly agree with (even if I've written them myself :-) that are aggressive enough that they get Flamebait, and I'll usually let those stand - but I try to ding any moderations where the moderator's calling something Flamebait just because they disagree with it.

The one meta-moderation I have trouble with is when somebody rates something as "Funny" that looks like it was intended to be serious, not funny (and wasn't accidentally funny either.) Does marking the moderation Unfair undo the moderation, decreasing the posting's status? Or does it just ding the moderator's karma, which is fine...?

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Wow! A Journal! It's like Blogging! :-)

billstewart billstewart writes  |  about 12 years ago Wow! This says it will go down on my permanent record - that's pretty scary, given the recent Congressional activity....

Blogging is lame enough - it's a way of nagging people who don't write their own HTML into at least writing text and links. Guess I can't flame them too much, given that I've done almost no edits to my web page in years :-) So here *I* am, not even getting my own Blogging software for my web pages, much less writing it myself - I'm just using /.s.

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