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Comments

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WhatsApp's Next Version To Include VoIP Calls and Recording

gaiageek I still don't get the love for WhatsApp. (65 comments)

Why do people use WhatsApp when, at least for Android (which runs on ~80% of the world's smartphones), it's an app that requires a $1/year subscription after your first year, and when there are many free services that do the same thing (any instant messaging service) and more (VoIP, video calls), and which have desktop clients (because I'd rather reply from my laptop when I'm already using it anyway)?

I've thus far refused to use WhatsApp because I find it pointless given the free, arguably better alternatives. Am I missing something? Does WhatApp have some killer feature that no other app/service has? What makes it better than, say, Google Hangouts or Viber (which even has a desktop client for Linux). Am I wrong in thinking that WhatsApp's continued popularity is only due to WhatsApp's existing popularity?

about two weeks ago
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Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US

gaiageek Re:more direct connection to producers (191 comments)

I just remembered a 4th point:

4. Returns. Let's say you aren't satisfied with something purchased from a Chinese seller. They say they're happy to refund your money if you return it. Do you know how much it costs to ship a 1-pound package to China? $15 ($16.75 if done from the Post Office). Do you think they're going to reimburse you for that? And that cost is without any kind of tracking, so it wouldn't surprise me to hear that your package never showed up (whether lost or "lost").

about a month ago
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Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US

gaiageek Re:more direct connection to producers (191 comments)

The reason Alibaba will take over from Amazon and Ebay is simple.

Have you ever ordered from China before? Because your comments overlook a few things.

1. Shipping. I have never received anything that's been shipped from China in less 3 weeks, and it's usually been closer to 5 or more. (Coincidentally, just before finishing my final comments below, a small package of keychain LED lights arrived which I ordered 4 weeks and 6 days ago.) Sometimes that's ok if it's a cheap gadget I don't need in a timely fashion (keychain LED lights being a perfect example), but for most things I'm willing to pay a few extra bucks to have something within a few days instead of a few weeks, especially when you factor in point #2.

2. Trust in the seller. If you have ordered things directly from China, as I've done through eBay, DealExtreme and others, you know that often what arrives after 5 weeks can be of shockingly poor quality and/or not what you paid for. For example, I recently ordered some US to Euro AC wall plug adapters. They were assembled so ridiculously poorly that I had to disassemble and reassemble each one for them to be decently functional (still scratched all to hell). In another recent instance, a seller got into a drawn out argument with me when I left them a bad review for shipping a terrible quality product: a microUSB cable that wouldn't charge any smartphone and which didn't match the one pictured, though it was close enough that I'm sure they were hoping I wouldn't notice. They were of the opinion that because they refunded my money I shouldn't leave them negative feedback, and whined like a 4-year old about how damaging it would be to their business. Granted, you can have such issues in any virtual marketplace, which brings us to point #3.

3. Trust in the marketplace owner. I trust that if something goes wrong with an Amazon Marketplace transaction, Amazon will go to basic lengths to make sure I'm not getting screwed over. The same goes for eBay to a lesser extent, but still more than Alibaba. I still haven't ordered anything through AliExpress. Why? Because I'm taking enough of a gamble already ordering from Chinese sellers on eBay, who is known for always siding with the buyer in disputes.

As someone who occasionally sells online, I am glad that Alibaba is getting some attention and creating some competition for eBay (and with it, Paypal). But to suggest that Alibaba will put the likes of Amazon out of business seems rather short-sighted -- or at least premature. You may have a point with eBay -- at least giving them a run for their money if Alibaba opens up to US sellers seeking refuge from eBay's excessive selling fees. If they're smart, this is exactly what they'll do with all this IPO money.

about a month ago
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Solid State Drives Break the 50 Cents Per GiB Barrier, OCZ ARC 100 Launched

gaiageek Re:Performance (183 comments)

desktops are dying

LOL. People have been saying that for over a decade and it ain't happening. It seems like the myth lives on by being rekindled in new generations of geeks who weren't around to see the prognosticating last go 'round.

I agree that they're not dying as in becoming obsolete, but they're certainly dying in terms of consumer demand. I'd guess that 90-95% of my friends don't own and desktop and will never buy one again.

Add to that the fact that many companies automatically retire systems after 3 years (warranty expired) resulting in lots of incredibly capable enterprise-class desktops available for under $200 through Craigslist. Really, unless you're a gamer, there's little reason to buy a brand new desktop as a consumer.

about 2 months ago
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DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

gaiageek Two-factor authentication solves it. (383 comments)

The problem is already solved, it just needs to be more widely implemented. Secondary authentication by phone (i.e. receiving an SMS) ensures that no one can get into my Gmail account if they happen to have my password. If my phone gets stolen, I'm going to know to take action quite soon, and they still have to get past the lock screen (though this does raise a good argument for making sure calls/SMS are not be answerable/readable without unlocking the device). Regardless, it would solve 99.99% of the problem.

Another idea I could see catching on is some kind of token ring, like a mix of an NFC ring and those RSA SecureIDs that spit out a random 6-digit code every minute to authenticate, but instead of the user having to type in the code, they just tap their phone/palmrest/screen with the ring. Assuming the rings are available in a few varieties for less than $10, I think most people would opt to use one if it meant avoiding annoying secondary security questions and having to keep a list of impossible to remember passwords (which they still have to change because sites get compromised). It avoids biometric requirements and has the possibility for anonymity (buy a ring at the supermarket, link it to any email account).

about 2 months ago
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Microsoft Surface Drowning?

gaiageek Re:Love my Pro (337 comments)

How do you typically use your Surface? That "I don't bother to turn on my desktop anymore" comment is the same comment you hear from a lot of people enjoying the instant-on trait of a tablet, and in the tablet and touch screen world, iOS and Android are more familiar if you have one or the other on your smartphone (over 90% of smartphone users) and probably cheaper. "But it has a keyboard" -- but do you actually use it much though? I see that keyboard, and especially that kickstand method of propping up the screen, and immediately think I'd rather have a proper lightweight laptop, or a sub-$200 Chromebook (instant-on, great battery life).

It's an expensive niche product. Hell, even tablets are kind of a niche product. I sold my tablet because between my smartphone and laptop, I found I was never going to the tablet. I imagine that will only become more common with large-screen smartphones becoming the norm.

about 2 months ago
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Windows XP Falls Below 25% Market Share, Windows 8 Drops Slightly

gaiageek Re:Mobile Browsers (336 comments)

So what you're saying is that using Chrome will make me invisible? Awesome!

about 3 months ago
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Apple Gets Its First Batch of iPhone Chips From TSMC

gaiageek Re:Samsung's slowing sales... (45 comments)

"... blaming 'weak' sales of low- and medium-end smartphones."

I'd suggest that their weak sales has something to do with the fact that their phones are ridiculously overpriced. Samsung seems to think that they're the 'Apple' of Android phones and that they can price their offerings accordingly. Look at their Galaxy S4 Mini and just announced S5 Mini models: mid-range devices (both have only 1.5GB RAM) with flagship prices.

Then there's Samsung's "budget" phones. They also just announced the Galaxy Ace 4. The most obvious difference from last year's Ace 3? They cut the RAM in half, from 1GB to 512MB. That's right, they actually made the specs worse. Maybe we should thank them for not making the processor slower, too (they both have 1GHz dual-cores).

Meanwhile, we've hit the point of having very decent Android phones from the competition available for $100 or less purchased outright (see LG Optimus F6). The S4 Mini, now a year old, is still running $300+ purchased outright. Why would the average buyer spend an extra $200 for incremental upgrades like an 8MP camera vs 5MP, 1.5GB of RAM instead of 1GB?

Samsung's had a great run, but I think we're seeing the beginning of the end, with the competition nipping at their ankles.

about 3 months ago
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AT&T Charges $750 For One Minute of International Data Roaming

gaiageek Re:50MB = 750$ (321 comments)

Deutsche Telekom is still the majority shareholder of T-Mobile US, and they don't use matching GSM or W-CDMA frequencies. They do both use GSM and W-CDMA though, so the phones are compatible, though European smartphones are often lacking the correct W-CDMA bands for 3G use in the US. It's even worse with LTE.

about 5 months ago
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Curiosity Rover May Have Brought Dozens of Microbes To Mars

gaiageek Great (97 comments)

So if humans ever do populate Mars, they'll face strains of bacteria which even NASA can't kill. Wouldn't this make an argument for not going to such extremes to try to rid such rovers of any and all bacteria?

about 5 months ago
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The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'

gaiageek Terminology (243 comments)

I can't tell if some people really haven't heard these terms before or it's some deep sarcasm. Feature phone = your average dumb phone. The phone you had before you had a phone that you could download and run mobile-OS specific applications. Its "features" probably included a calculator, calendar, camera and built-in WAP browser (even if you never used it), and probably allowed you to download and run Java apps (even if you never did). It may have even had a built-in music player. No options to install a new browser or media player, though there were some decent Java apps, like language-translation dictionaries. Basic smart phone = budget Android phone or maybe something from the Nokia Asha line. We're already seeing Android phones in the $50 range. Most of us would consider them to be crap, but if you live in a developing country and you're coming from a dumb phone, just having something like GPS is a big step up, and probably all you can afford.

about 6 months ago
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Russian GLONASS Down For 12 Hours

gaiageek Re:Warning Shot (148 comments)

That's a relief. Everywhere I go I'm close to an area. It's like I'm surrounded.

about 7 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Linux For Grandma?

gaiageek We need one more Linux distro (287 comments)

Shocking as it may seem, I think we actually need one more Linux distro: a lightweight, bullet-proof simple OS that keeps itself securely up to date with little to no user interaction and provides what 95% of grandmas need: an icon to launch a web browser. Something very much like Chrome OS, but which can be easily installed on old laptops and features automatic updates (neither of which apply to Hexxah's builds of Chrome OS).

In absence of such a distro, if you know of a good guide for turning something like Linux Mint 13 (LTS) XFCE into the above, please post here.

about 8 months ago
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Microsoft's Ticking Time Bomb Is Windows XP

gaiageek advice on Linux alternatives? (829 comments)

I've got a couple 70-something members in my family who are running XP laptops just to run a web browser: email and the basics. Having moved to Linux myself and being the family computer guy, I'm wanting to switch these two laptops to some lightweight flavor of Linux that will work for them and require little or no support from me. I've tried many different lightweight distros in the past year, but I thought I'd ask here for input from any of you who have actually done what I'm about to do.

Requirements:
- fast and light: will run fine on a Thinkpad T41 (which doesn't support PAE kernel)
- Windows-like interface (I'm thinking LXDE, definitely not Unity)
- easy to use Wi-Fi manager (some of the Wi-Fi managers in lightweight Linux distros are way too technical for a novice)
- once a year if any on-site maintenance (remote maintenance is fine if necessary)
- auto updates in background but with very low chance of system breaking with an update (maybe no auto updates is better?)
- ACPI support (at least lid closed = suspend)
- printer support

Chromium OS seems like a good option, and it will run on one laptop (Thinkpad T61) but I'm pretty sure it uses a PAE kernel, ruling out the T41. I've been looking at Lubuntu, Peppermint OS, Porteus, Slax, Puppy Linux. All seem like viable options with a 30-minute test drive, but this is where I'm seeking feedback: on how some of these distros might be good or bad choices in the long-term, especially given that I won't be able to be physically present if something goes wrong.

about 10 months ago
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Multidrug Resistance Gene Released By Chinese Wastewater Treatment Plants

gaiageek Progress (111 comments)

It's nice to see that China is finally releasing dissidents.

about 10 months ago
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FCC To Consider Cellphone Use On Planes

gaiageek legality doesn't make it reality (183 comments)

The FCC making it legal is one thing. Airlines allowing it is another. Given the overwhelmingly negative response I've seen on this so far today, I think it's pretty safe to say that any airline that decided to allow passengers to make calls on their phones would risk losing business -- especially the business of frequent flyers. People who fly a lot tend to be quite familiar with the annoyances of flying, so why would they want to fly an airline that potentially adds another?

What I haven't seen mentioned is whether you'd have to pay a premium for such calls. Assuming you have to pay cruise ship rates (over $2 a minute), that would definitely discourage people from making long chit-chat phone calls to pass the time of their flight. Likewise, I'm sure a time limit on calls could be easily implemented. With such conditions in place, I'd probably be ok with it, and I'd certainly appreciate it if I was ever in a situation where I really needed to make a phone call en route to my destination.

about a year ago
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Texas Drivers Stopped At Roadblock, Asked For Saliva, Blood

gaiageek Re:Food for thought (783 comments)

He did do something: he was born not white.

about a year ago
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How Many Android OEMs Cheat Benchmark Scores? Pretty Much All of Them

gaiageek Re:And Apple (189 comments)

Posting anonymously since I'm a motoroogle employee... you'll be disappointed. I certainly am. At this point, I expect google to shut us down or spin us off.

Care to elaborate on why we'll be disappointed? I ask because this thread is focused on (perceived) performance of smartphones, and I know Motorola caught some criticism for not giving the Moto X better silicon to compete with other flagships, but personally, I think their tactic is pretty smart: focusing on functionality for the average user instead of performance capabilities which most people don't care about. I'd actually consider buying a Moto X if it weren't for the non-removable battery (deal breaker for me).

1 year,21 days
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U.S. Government: Sorry, We're Closed

gaiageek Paul Revere (1532 comments)

"The Britsh are laughing! The British are laughing!"

1 year,24 days

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: Do you want a smartphone that can fit in your pocket?

gaiageek gaiageek writes  |  about a year and a half ago

gaiageek (1070870) writes "By means of an online petition, popular mobile phone website GSMArena is looking for support in their quest to get Android manufacturers to buck the trend and produce devices with flagship specs in a pocket-friendly form factor. Are you also annoyed that the high-end smartphones have gotten so big?"
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Ask Slashdot: Could old Android phones be repurposed as pocket Wi-Fi repeaters?

gaiageek gaiageek writes  |  about a year and a half ago

gaiageek (1070870) writes "In the interest of putting outdated or damaged (i.e. cracked screen) smartphones to good use, would it be possible to convert old Android devices into pocket Wi-Fi repeaters either through an app or via a dedicated ROM? Couldn't DD-WRT or similar linux-based router firmware run on even the lowest spec Android devices?"
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Hard Drives: To Smash or Not to Smash?

gaiageek gaiageek writes  |  more than 5 years ago

gaiageek writes "The BBC is featuring an article citing a Computing magazine study claiming that the only way to keep your data from being recovered off an old hard drive is to physically smash it. I've heard this argument before and have never bought into it knowing that disk wipe utilities exist, but since I'm not an expert on hard drive storage, I'd like to raise the question: If a hard drive is wiped using a disk wipe utility, such as the open-source Darik's Boot and Nuke, is there any way of finding previous data on it?"

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