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Slashdot Asks: What's In Your Home Datacenter?

crow MythTV, FreeNAS (276 comments)

I have MythTV running with a 3TB drive, but it's down to the last 100GB. It also holds all our photos and Time Machine backup for one iMac. I'm now planning a FreeNAS box with 8TB usable and drive slots for three more drives when that fills up (probably 6TB or larger drives by then). I plan on ripping all our DVDs and putting them in storage.

I did a comparison of the cost between the server and a nice entertainment center that was mostly for storing DVDs, and the server won by a landslide.

2 days ago

Logitech Aims To Control the Smart Home

crow Re:express train to bankrupt (115 comments)

I think for most people this sort of thing doesn't make sense, but there are a few places where it does:

*) Security. If you're paranoid about break-ins, being able to monitor your home remotely can bring some peace of mind.

*) Stalking your family. The same security features will sell to anyone that wants to know what their family is doing when they're away. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; think of baby monitors and such.

*) Remote management. If you have a property like a vacation home or are just away from home a lot, being able to remotely manage the heat and air conditioning is a huge benefit. This also brings in the potential to do things like automatically disable the air conditioning if a door or window is open. I would love to have a thermostat that would display "close the sliding door to activate the air conditioning."

But yes, for most people, there is no need for any of this.

Then again, I would love to have automatic blinds that open and close based on such criteria as sunrise/sunset and weather. In the winter, I want the skylight blinds open during the day and closed at night. In the summer, I want the reverse. All the window blinds should close a half-hour after sunset by default (or maybe I would find something else makes sense).

3 days ago

L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

crow Re:Sharing channel == worse picture quality (80 comments)

Possibly, but more likely they're dropping their subchannels that were ignored by everyone anyway.

Most broadcasters use their physical channel for one HD logical channel and several SD streams. For example, 4.1 might be HD CBS, 4.2 might be the same thing in SD, and 4.3 might be continuous weather. If they drop the SD channels, they can probably fit in both HD channels with little degradation.

about a week ago

Direct Sales OK Baked Into Nevada's $1.3 Billion Incentive Deal With Tesla

crow Re:Link to TFA is *not* paywalled. (149 comments)

It loads fine for me.

Many news sites give you a limited number of free articles. This may be one of those. Typically after you hit the limit, your options are:

*) Pay money
*) Don't read the articles
*) Clear your cookies
*) Use private browsing mode

about a week ago

Comcast Using JavaScript Injection To Serve Ads On Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

crow Copyright violation? (230 comments)

Does this violate the copyright of the sites the user is visiting? By modifying the content stream, they're creating a derivative work without authorization.

On the other hand, user-controlled plugins and ad blockers do that all the time, so I wouldn't be too quick to make that argument in court.

about two weeks ago

Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills

crow Re:Working from home (161 comments)

Yup. EMC provided me with an ISDN line and later reimbursed me for my Internet expenses when they switched to VPN. I think it was just a few years ago that they stopped reimbursing, saying that home Internet is now normal, and the VPN use doesn't increase the cost.

My phone has always been paid for by the company. If they stop paying for it, I stop using a cell phone.

about a month ago

How many devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi?

crow Re:Phones + 1 laptop. (260 comments)


I'm so glad that I wired our house for ethernet. Granted, WiFi wasn't quite up to speed fifteen years ago, but ethernet is rock solid.

Wired on ethernet, we have:
*) My laptop docking station
*) My wife's iMac
*) network laser printer
*) game console
*) MythTV DVR
*) Blu-Ray player
*) HDHR Prime TV tuner
*) OBI100 phone adapter

The WiFi has just one phone and one tablet except when we have guests, though I also have an ethernet outlet in the guest bedroom.

It was interesting to retrofit the house's wiring for ethernet. Mostly it was a matter of using existing phone or coax cables to pull new cables and converting the old single-purpose outlets into multi-outlets. Most place I put in two ethernet, one phone, and one coax. The coax has been a complete waste, but otherwise it was a great plan.

about 1 month ago

Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality?

crow Municipal elections are *more* important (190 comments)

Municipal elections aren't less important than the Presidential election. On a per-vote basis, they're much more important. Your vote makes much more difference in a local election. The choice you make are much more likely to have a real impact on your community.

The problem with municipal elections is that it's much harder to learn who to vote for. You have to do real work to figure out who the candidates are and what they stand for.

Note: I'm an elected municipal official, so my opinion is a bit biased here.

about a month and a half ago

Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

crow Re:Obvious (163 comments)

I'm more thinking rural freeways like you have in the West. As long as you check for construction first and don't get unlucky with a deer, you're probably fine unless the paint goes wrong (as may be the case in post-construction sites).

Actually, there already are automatic braking systems for things like deer, and I would guess that that would be included.

One big point here is that we're a lot closer to autonomous driving that most people think.

about a month and a half ago

Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

crow Re:Obvious (163 comments)

So most of those won't be a problem when driving between cities. It's probably not great for daily commuters, but it's probably a lot safer than a sleepy driver on a rural highway.

about a month and a half ago

Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

crow Obvious (163 comments)

They've had adaptive cruise control for a long time now that will slow you down so that you don't rear-end anyone in front of you. In theory, you can set it at your favorite speed, and then ignore the foot pedals until you reach your exit. I haven't used it, so I don't know if it handles stop-and-go traffic jams or things like that.

Now they have automatic lane centering. The car uses cameras to read the paint stripes and keep it centered in the lane. Because it's not a general system for autonomous driving (and the obvious liability if it crashes), it shuts off if you let go of the steering wheel.

Combine the two, and you have fully autonomous highway driving under regular conditions. You just have to fool the sensor, and sensors are easy to fool.

What's interesting is to learn what conditions it won't handle.

about a month and a half ago

A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

crow Who were they calling? (419 comments)

So they weren't calling the bank, but obviously they were calling someone. Did the store employee actually speak with someone, or did he manage to fake the call entirely? Presumably he had an accomplice who was pretending to be the bank. Did they track down and arrest that person? I didn't see it in the article.

about 2 months ago

Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

crow Re:Solar power? (260 comments)

Yup, you're completely right. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Probably too much air conditioning froze my brain.

about 2 months ago

Google Offers a Million Bucks For a Better Inverter

crow Solar power? (260 comments)

An inverter converts DC power to AC power. The most obvious use is for solar power. For rooftop solar arrays, you want efficiency, but you don't care much about density. In many cases, you have a small inverter under each panel, and size isn't an issue. But if you could get a few percent more AC out for a given DC in, that would matter.

On the other hand, if you want a solar-powered Chromebook, the inverter could be a deal-breaker on the weight. I'm guessing it's applications like that that have inspired this challenge. They want a Chromebook that you leave out in the sun to recharge. Or something similar.

Or maybe they have some other crazy idea I haven't thought of yet.

about 2 months ago

Geographic Segregation By Education

crow Moving is more natural (230 comments)

My observation is that people who don't go to college tend to get a job locally. People who do go to college often attend a college outside of the local area, and when they graduate, often apply for jobs nationwide.

The process of going to college makes moving to a new location much more natural.

It's no wonder that college grads will move to places where they can get good jobs, and that this would be places that already have a high concentration of people with college degrees.

about 2 months ago

The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

crow LED for $18 (196 comments)

I have a vacation rental property, and some of the bulbs are very hard to replace. I'm afraid that a tenant might try to do it and break the fixture. Also, they take R20 bulbs, and they tend to be expensive to begin with. So now I don't have to worry about the bulbs failing when I'm hundreds of miles away.

I also swapped out the ancient dimmer, but I'm not sure if that was necessary.

I'm very happy with the new bulbs. They're a bit whiter than the old ones, but they dim very nicely.

about 3 months ago

Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

crow Re:Higher capacity for smaller roofs (262 comments)

That depends on where you live. In Massachusetts, the incentives are such that you can install a system where you pay nothing up front. You can get a loan and pay for it with the savings. Or solar companies will set up a lease and power purchase agreement where they install the system for free, and you are guaranteed to be cashflow positive for the life of the system. (Those lease agreements often eat up two-thirds of the would-be savings over twenty years, so watch out for them.)

about 3 months ago

Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

crow Higher capacity for smaller roofs (262 comments)

For many people, the limit on the size of their solar array is the size of their roof. If you want to offset your full usage, you may need higher-capacity panels than the standard 250W base panels. There are a number of higher-efficiency panels available, but the cost per Watt is higher. They probably don't cost much more to manufacture, so the more efficient panels have a higher profit margin.

Also, you have to keep improving your technology or you're out of the business when the cheap panels get to be as efficient than what you're producing.

about 3 months ago



Two Lost Doctor Who Episodes Found

crow crow writes  |  more than 2 years ago

crow (16139) writes "Two episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s, thought to have been destroyed in the 1970s, have been found. Both were in the hands of a private collector who didn't know what he had. Like most episodes of the time, these were half-hour shows, part of a four-part story, and portions of both stories are still missing."
Link to Original Source



Drinking age, status crimes

crow crow writes  |  more than 12 years ago A friend asked, The drinking ago: pro or con?

I'm of mixed opinion. I'm uneasy about the idea of status crimes. From a pragmatic perspective, I believe (though I haven't researched the statistics) that raising the age from 19 (as it was in many states) to 21 did, indeed, succeed in reducing drunk driving fatalities.

I think the problem is that our culture is not one in which we are taught to drink responsibly. Hence, when first given access to alcohol, the consumption is anything but responsible. By prohibiting such access until people are of an age where they are supposedly more responsible to begin with, such irresponsibility is minimized.

Not the best approach, but I don't see our culture changing teach more responsible behaviour anytime soon. On the contrary, I think we are still moving towards blaming others for our problems.

Of course, as one who doesn't drink, I may not have the best perspective on the topic.

Now on the related topic of the smoking age, I'm all in favor of the movement in California to raise the age to 21. Here my reasoning is very different: I don't think anyone should smoke, and setting a higher age should reduce the number of people who start smoking. This would be a move consistent with the trend to reduce smoking as a part of our culture. (California, like most western states, is large enough that the problem of people crossing the border to buy cigarettes is only an issue in a small portion of the state.)


Gas Tax at 40%

crow crow writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Today's thoughts on taxation:

The state tax on gas is $.21/gallon in Massachusetts. The federal tax is $.184/gallon. That's $.394/gallon, putting the pre-tax price at the pump under a dollar a gallon at the cheaper stations.

That's currently about a 40% tax.

Are any other forms of energy taxed at anything close to 40%?

Now granted, the government spends a lot of money keeping the transportation system going, but is 40% appropriate? How much does Massachusetts spend on transportation (excluding the Big Dig), compared with how much it brings in from the gas tax? What about the federal government?

Are gas taxes subsidising other government programs, or are other taxes subsidizing transportation? There are good arguements to be made for which way (if either) it should be, but I just don't have the information.

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