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FCC To Consider Cellphone Use On Planes

bradm There is an antisocial behavior precedent (183 comments)

In the bad old days, when there was another antisocial behavior that profoundly affected the innocent victims in adjacent seats, we divided the plane into smoking and non smoking sections. There was leakage from section to section, but at least it wasn't in your face.

Many Amtrak trains have a highly desirable "quiet car",which helps to separate those the see the trip along the east coast as a continuous sales call opportunity from those that see the trip as a continuous concentration or sleeping opportunity.

So, I'm all for allowing calls on planes, provided I can book a seat in the STFU section for no extra cost. Especially if it saves me from taking a transatlantic flight surrounded by a gaggle of teenagers that think it's a Beatles concert and not a redeye.

about a year ago

The Luddites Are Almost Always Wrong: Why Tech Doesn't Kill Jobs

bradm Re:Sure, to lower paying jobs (674 comments)

That's just the tip of the iceberg:

350k telephone operators (who provided a service appreciated by the people they spoke to) in 1940 with a US pop of ~ 132m.
408k combined telemarketers and call centers (who provide a service widely reviled and high stress) in 201x with a US pop of ~ 308m.

Not more jobs, fewer. 50% fewer population adjusted.

Indy bookstores up from 1,401 in 2009 to 1,632 today. The final Border's closing wave? 399 stores. That's fewer jobs in bookstores, not more. Might be better jobs in this case.

Technology absolutely kills jobs, and kills careers. It also creates new jobs and new careers, but not necessarily for the people that lost their jobs. The fallacy comes from pretending that all jobs are equal and can be subsumed into a single total job count.

Doesn't mean I want to live like a Luddite, however. But TFAs above are rather thin on reasoning.

about a year ago

Verizon Adds $2 Charge For Paying Your Bill Online

bradm So? Send 'em a check! (562 comments)

Seems like the answer is pretty simple to me: Verizon customers should send them a check until they drop this policy. Note that I didn't say "drop your online payment option and send them a check." Simply send them a check, for a little bit too much, a week before your automatic billing date. They can sort out how to handle the expense of processing all of those checks, plus cancelling (or reversing, even better) the automatic payment for that cycle, deal with the trivial credit balances on the account, and generally be miserable. If they charge you automatically with the service fee, complain that the service was already paid for. If you and 10,000 of your closest friends do this, the policy will change in one month. If they refuse your alternate payment in any fashion, call your state attorney general, the BBB, enterprising consumer reporters, and the rest of the usual suspects.

Or just shrug and go along with it as most consumers do, which is why this is a smart move for Verizon. Wait until you get a "wire maintenance fee" for the charger on your cell phone.

about 3 years ago

AMD Challenges NVIDIA To Graphics Throw-Down

bradm Take a FOSS challenge - at full capability (240 comments)

If you're going to spend $700 on a video card, you'll probably spend on monitors too, especially since monitors tend to have a longer usable life cycle than video cards.

Show me free software/free drivers running four to six physical displays with full 3d acceleration. Let me choose whether it's a single desktop with one logical display, a single desktop with multiple logical displays, or multiple desktops. While I'd personally prefer GNU/Linux of a Debian flavor, ship it for any open environment you want, we'll take care of the rest.

Ship this software environment at the same time you release the card. Betas and patches are fine. Yes, that means collaborate in advance, and leave behind the last vestiges of pretense about competitive advantage via secrecy. Marketing, do-not-discuss-before-date NDAs are fine. Withholding the engineering data that will eventually be public anyway is counterproductive.

more than 3 years ago

MA High School Forces All Students To Buy MacBooks

bradm The question is the software and the data formats (1217 comments)

Parent post got part way there - yes, the web and HTML is a great way to deliver content.

However, the key here is what _software_ the students will be expected to run in order to _author_ content.

For those of you Windows zealots that haven't bothered to try a Mac, please be aware that it's perfectly possible to run MS Office. But it's also possible to run Apple's iWork suite, or OpenOffice. Or Google Apps in the browser.

It's very common for IT departments in all types of organizations to choose to support a single OS platform. It's equally common for competent power-users in those organizations to opt-out and use the platform of their choice - but to take on the responsibility of self support. Those policies are usually written in draconian tones "we only support X, you must use X" - but in practice it's easier to keep the power users occupied self-supporting their unapproved platforms than have them hacking away at your standard ones.

The thing that makes or breaks this situation is the software platform chosen. I'd be a lot more concerned about requirements to submit classwork in native Pages (the iWork word processor) format than I am the choice of official supported hardware. If the software and data formats are reasonably compatible with multiple platforms, things will work out.

It's fine for them to choose a supported platform. It's not fine for them to make it gratuitously difficult for others to self-support. If a group of determined parents and students want to use Linux environments instead, it should be possible - not supported, but possible. Similarly if they want to have a Windows group, so be it. This school hasn't made the mistake of blocking this - yet, or at least according to the data available to us.

Now, for those who haven't actually laid hands on a MacBook side by side with an equivalently equipped other laptop, you really ought to do so before asserting the value for your dollar spent. Heck, run Linux on both for a week, taking the OSX out of the equation, and see what think. It's premium hardware, and sometimes that's worth it and has a lower TCO. Looking only at the initial purchase price is foolhardy.

more than 4 years ago

Cows On Treadmills Produce Clean Power For Farms

bradm Re:Food? (640 comments)

TFA says that cows walk around 8 hours a day grazing anyway.

Let's get to the more important questions: What impact does all that captive exercise have on the tasty dairy and beef products so critical to maintaining our waistlines and thickening our arteries?

If it makes the beef even better and generates power, it's a total win.

(With unheartfelt apologies to the veg types in the crowd).

more than 4 years ago

Need Help Salvaging Data From an Old Xenix System

bradm File systems were simpler back then (325 comments)

Ah, the Altos systems. 8800 series, then 486, then 586. They used up numbers years before Intel got to them (the Altos 486 had an Intel 80186 in it, and 4 serial ports). Often paired with Wyse terminals. Anybody else remember "business basic"?

It's almost certainly an ST506 drive; you will be very hard pressed to connect it to a PCI era system; probably can only get as far as AT bus machine.

In any case, if you do manage to image the drive, the filesystem will be based on either Unix version 7, Unix System V, or the Berkeley Fast File System. It wasn't until Linux rolled along that we started to seriously fork into lots of file system variants. It's most likely the basic System V file system, which is well documented, and pretty simple stuff.

The posters above are correct, however. You really should try the serial port approach first. I'd go for cu over uucp - getting uucp running can be quite an exercise in itself. And you'll want either tar or cpio; probably tar, but watchout for version and format incompatibilities there as well.

You can also just cat the data out a serial port, and capture it as a session log on the other end. That's likely to be the easiest solution, and perhaps more reliable than any other.

You haven't said what the nature of the data is, but after this much time laying dormant, you are likely to have substantial challenges at the application level interpreting the data as well.

more than 4 years ago

Uniforms For the Help Desk?

bradm Re:Professionalism (837 comments)

Right direction, but not far enough. I'm thinking that custom made tuxedos are the way to go here, with company paid dry cleaning. Of course, each employee is going to need a closet full, ala Men in Black.

As a bonus, on bad days you can pretend you're in the Matrix.

about 5 years ago

Body Heat Energy Generation

bradm Ah, the joys of biofuels (214 comments)

I suppose now we'll all wear parkas and cram energy bars during our kernel compiles?

Anyone know the cost per KWH of corn syrup?

more than 5 years ago

Someday You'll Hate Apple (And Google Too)

bradm Re:Not quite the same (734 comments)

To continue in that vein, exactly which consumers "loved" Microsoft's products? They were bundled in with the machine choice, and they weren't an explicit brand choice. Do consumers "love" the tires that come with their cars?

We tolerated Microsoft's products (intially), because they were essentially "free", especially by comparison to the alternatives, which in those days were minicomputer OSes, and CP/M. We didn't pretend that they were innovative or even close to technical parity. Go look at the DOS 3.3 API. Or 2.1.

more than 6 years ago


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