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Uber CEO: We'll Run Your Errands

ottothecow Re:Uber Fresh? (138 comments)

Restaurants in america also do this already. In cities, many of them contract with a delivery service (a guy with a car who makes loops of several restaurants, picking up deliveries and dropping them off).

Fees are already $5 or less...and often you can order online through a service like Seamless or GrubHub.

It seems like this cover's other types of errands. Home Depot doesn't deliver that part you discover you need in the middle of a project. If you are already a carfree city dweller, you might have to take an Uber to the store to buy the part...so it is a logical extension that you could pay a little extra for the driver to make the trip without you. Saves you from having to clean yourself up (or at least get enough of the grease and grime off to feel comfortable riding in a stranger's car), and you can keep working on your project while they fetch the part.

yesterday
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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

ottothecow Re:No "standard" iPhone size? (729 comments)

Yeah. While it is hard for me to visualize exactly what size the smaller 6 will be, I know a lot of people who have stuck with apple because of the consistent form factor.

As the android phones grew to massive sizes, they could just keep buying iphones that fit in their pockets (without having to wear baggy pants or cargo shorts).

Same thing happened with the Moto X for me I guess. I was ok with the form factor. Bigger than the iphone, but smaller than the competition...and still just (barely) small enough that I could reach all 4 corners of the screen with my thumb while holding it in one hand. Now the new Moto X+1 is getting even bigger and it is definitely not going to be my next phone. Luckily I am still loving the Moto X and have no reason to upgrade for another year...but I have zero interest in going bigger.

about a week ago
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How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

ottothecow Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (359 comments)

I know slashdot loves RPN--and that is part of why I made an effort to use this ancient 12c--but I'm not entirely convinced.

I get *why* it is better, and I see where it improves things, but I just can't get down with it. Maybe I spent too long using traditional calculators (and don't do enough with the 12cnow), but I can think around calculator entry and order of operations...RPN takes some of that thought away, but it comes so naturally on a normal calculator that I notice an improvement.

Probably just need to use it more...or use it for more complex calculations (but that's what computers are for...). I also use an RPN calculator app on my android phone, but I don't feel the benefits there either. Someone else at my company once posed the best reasoning for using the 12c that I have heard: his boss can't figure out how to work it, so he is never at risk of having it commandeered.

about two weeks ago
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How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

ottothecow Re: TI calculators are not outdated, just overpric (359 comments)

First, they may retail at $150, but amazon sells them all day long at under $100. The fancy color version clocks in at $104, and you can still get an 83+ for $88 (which is going to be sufficient and keystroke identical to the 84+). There is also a large used market for these things. Buy one from a graduating senior for a huge discount...or sell one when you are done and recoup much of your expense (certainly enough to make it worth buying TI over the $50 casio that nobody will buy when you are done).

Frankly, I think it is a good thing that they have remained so stable. It's a tool, not some newfangled tech toy...just a fricking calculator. They don't become obsolete. When I was in high school in the early 2000s, I knew plenty of kids who had their older brother's TI-83. Today, their older brother's kids could now be old enough to continue using that exact same TI-83--and it really could be the exact same one since those calculators are durable as hell.

Which brings me to my second comment--I think it is hard to make a cheapo clone of these that doesn't suck. I'm sure someone could do it since there are android devices that sell for less (and TI emulators for android), but the build quality on the TI devices is pretty high. You'd have to stash all of the components in a pocketable case along with 50 physical keys, and make it capable of running on commodity batteries for months without a swap. Those physical keys have to stand up to a lot of abuse too...TI is raking in a lot of profit on these, but I bet their margins aren't really *that* high.

about two weeks ago
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How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

ottothecow Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (359 comments)

Your daughter is going to have a tough time graphing y=x^2 with that calculator.

This article is about graphing calculators. When kids are still in the "scientific" calculator realm, there is a lot less care about what model you use. Sure, they will recommend a model, but any calculator should be pretty easy to find the sqrt, sin, cos, and tan functions on (which is most of what kids need when they step beyond 4-function calculators).

Casio's graphing calculators are harder to use (the teacher truly won't be able to help), and while they compete on price, the cheapest casio grapher on amazon (without guessing at whether it meets the requirements) is $43. You can get an 83+ on amazon for $88, an 84+ for $94 and the fanciest silver edition for $104. If you don't want to keep the calculator after graduation, the TI calculators will have enough resale value to more than make up for the higher initial cost (and you can start off with a used one to save even more money). HP used to make some nice competition, but those days seem to be over.

yeah, the hardware seems weak, but remember, the hardware was weak when the 84 was first introduced--these have always functional, durable units rather than cutting edge tech (and what do you need your calculator to do? besides games, I can't think of what you would need a faster chip for...at that point, you are moving to a computer with a keyboard since you are about to do some programming).

about two weeks ago
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How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

ottothecow Re:TI calculators are not outdated, just overprice (359 comments)

This is what people forget...your phone can do it all, but your calculator is much more convenient to actually use.

I have a TI-83+ and a TI-89 at home. Admittedly, I haven't used them in a while--I have a HP 12c at my desk, basically always have excel and SAS running (and Tableau too these days), and actually do most quick arithmetic with launchy and alt-space. But, they are great calculators and they are still going strong.

Got the 89 late in high school because it was more fun to play with and had the CAS, but the 83 I have had since the 7th grade is perfectly functional. The key layout is sensible, the menus are navigable, and the low-res screen shows me what I need to know without draining the battery. The 89 is a little better at all of these things (and will pretty-print your inputs), but other than the CAS functions, I can't think of anything that it can do which the 83 cannot.

The 84+ is mostly a logical improvement over the 83. Little more modern look, faster cpu, USB and some more memory (more than enough for what is needed). It does have Mathprint which makes entry a little more like how you would write functions on paper (although I might argue against this..."classic" mode teaches kids how to enter functions with multiple parameters, which is a key lesson for anyone who will later do some simple scripting or even just write excel formulas). They have always felt overpriced, but if they are as durable and long lifed as my 83+, it is not a bad investment. Those calculators have been dropped, abused, and used hard for years without a thought about taking care of them. I owned them before I ever had a cell phone, and I still own them now, None of my phones have lasted that long (not even counting obsolescence...I kept my Razr for years but the keyboard corroded, and my Galaxy S was barely functional at the end of its life between software updates and degraded hardware).

Finally, the HP 12c is still a standard calculator for financial professionals. That thing is even more outddated than the TI-83 and uses RPN which nobody knows how to use, but it still goes for like $80 for the plus model. Similar issues abound: entrenched user base that knows how to use that specific model, lots of hand me down models (mine was made in 1988...2 years after I was born), and several big standardized tests that specify that model (the CFA exams, among others). Truth is, there isn't a ton of complaint from the actual users...because they calculators work great for their intended purpose. The 12c doesn't get complained about because the buyers are the users. The TI graphing calcs are being bought by parents who think "why am I paying so much for an obsolete piece of junk that does less than my kid's cell phone?" without realizing that the calculator does a significantly better job when it comes to features and usability.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools?

ottothecow Re:It still sucks. (163 comments)

+1 for never crashing. I gave up on a commercial tool I was trying after it crashed. I had done some saving, but this particular failure mode ended up destroying my saved project file (IIRC, it was clearly in a state of crashing so I tried to get off a save...that attempted save overwrote the good save and I was SOL).

Can't remember if it was MAGIX Movie Edit Pro or Sony Vegas that did that to me...but I literally gave up on that project (still have the raw footage sitting on my drive) because I didn't want to start from scratch. I think it was MAGIX, but I don't want to unfairly slander a product. I was trying it out because I had hated the experience editing my previous video with Premiere Elements which was a watered down piece of garbage. Vegas was next on my list to try (unless it was Vegas that crashed, in which case MAGIX was next), but I actually ended up editing my next video using the software that GoPro distributes. Unfortunately, that software was pretty crash-happy too. Made it through with copious use of ctrl-s, but not sure I want to do it again.

What's the state of iMovie these days? Last I heard, they watered it down and made it junky (to push people to final cut express), but I remember back 10+ years ago, it was pretty solid. Not sure it is worth getting a mac (or figuring out a hackintosh) though.

about two weeks ago
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Uber Now Blocked All Over Germany

ottothecow Re:Insurance and a 1099 (312 comments)

I don't know about Germany, but I have been following the Uber/Lyft issues here in Chicago.

Those specially "licensed" taxi drivers? Turns out the taxi license is just a test to see if you know the city streets and where certain landmarks are. There is no additional test on driving ability, kindness to customers, or anything like that. While I admit that it can be annoying to get a driver who can't find a major intersection, the presence of GPS systems makes this less important (and uber now lets you prefill your destination and will then give your driver directions). But the taxi companies try to make it sound like they have superior safer drivers because they have a chauffeur's license.

With uber, the terrible drivers get booted. You leave them bad reviews and uber will actually call you to ask about your trip. Enough of those and those drivers are gone. Compare this with taxi drivers where you have to go out of the way to make a complaint with little likelihood that the taxi company will do anything about it. And in my experience, the Uber driver's are much more courteous and are smoother drivers. They don't drive like asshat taxis both because they want to keep their good ratings, and because they are driving their personal vehicles which they do not want to damage (while every taxi is a little scraped up and nobody cares).

I think the rideshare companies have some serious liability insurance issues to work through and I wouldn't be opposed to some sort of enhanced driver's license requirement (but I want that to be an on-the-road test of driving safety, rather than a 100% geography test). But I don't think banning them is the right answer. In just a short amount of time, Uber has managed to roll out a wide-ranging service in Chicago that is leaps and bounds above what the taxi industry has been able to do with technology. I can actually rely on Uber, unlike the taxi companies where 25% of the time they won't actually show up if you have arranged an early morning ride ot the airport...and that reliability is worth major points (and that extends to the yellow cab drivers who use uber to find passengers--they are also a step above the random cabs you find on the street or having to deal with the taxi dispatch companies).

about two weeks ago
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Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

ottothecow Re: Ridiculous. (463 comments)

Unfortunately I think you will find that we don't imprison *anyone* who is involved in a fatal crash with a cyclist. Even when road rage or illegal device usage are a factor.

I am sure you can find a couple of examples, so maybe saying it never happens is overreaching, but you will find a distinct lack of prosecution in car-cyclist deaths compared to car-pedestrian deaths that are otherwise identical.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection?

ottothecow Re:two classes of games (382 comments)

You should try Lords of Waterdeep.

Don't let the D&D tie-in scare you off (it literally has zero bearing on the game besides giving a general "theme" and providing names and artwork to put on the cards/board).

Best with 3 or 4 players (a little off with 5 but workable). Super easy to learn and teach, especially if 1 player already knows the "detailed" rules...everything is laid out on the board so other than basic gameplay, there is nothing to remember (e.g. If you place your piece on this space, you will get 2 orange blocks, as shown by the picture of two orange blocks). I think there is an iphone version, so someone can get acquainted with the rules prior to introducing the game to the group.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection?

ottothecow Valve Combo (382 comments)

For PC games, looking at modern games you might actually play: Depends who you play with, but if you want to be able to have games that you can play with friends (online or LAN) that are pretty standardly owned across large groups of people...hard to go wrong with the basic Valve Stack.

Helps that there are crazy steam sales all of the time, and many of these games can be had for 99 cents.

  • Counterstrike--might as well have 1.6, CS:s, and CS:GO...I held off from CS:GO, but it is really quite delightful to play with a group of friends who aren't hardcore CS players. The institutionalized version of Gun Game, and the smaller arena maps are great in a small LAN party situation.
  • Team Fortress 2. TF2 is great, and it is free. Harder to play with just a small group, but you can all join a big server together and have fun.
  • Left 4 Dead 2. Great coop play with 4 people and devastating versus play with 8. Excellent LAN game, but no problems playing online either.
  • DOTA 2. Not my favorite game, but it is free and widely played. AI is very good, so you can play decent LAN games with any number of players (either coop vs AI or split into teams with AI filling in the gaps) without feeling like you are carting around an idiot (which is how playing 3-player L4D2 often feels).

I am sure there are more games you could add to the list, but if you have those 4, odds are you can find a game in common with pretty much every PC gamer out there.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection?

ottothecow Re:various card games (382 comments)

I find that *not* having the Special Building Phase would slow the game down even more.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if 5 player games go faster than 4 player because of this.

The extra builds let you get things done faster and keeps the game engaging for all players. I find that one of the big problems with advanced board games is the detatchment players feel between turns in games with more than 4 players. Some games solve this with simultaneous action (such as Game of Thrones where everybody places orders at the same time). Catan solves it by letting players interrupt and build. Building 2 turns after your turn gets you 4 more chances to gain resources from what you built (and prevents you from losing resources on a 7) which can only speed the game up.

What slows the game down, especially with more players, are players who are annoying about trades. Lots of time can be spent going down the rabbit hole of players not being quick and direct about trades.

about three weeks ago
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FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

ottothecow Re:Correction: (338 comments)

You don't *really* want U-Verse though, do you?

Half-assed fiber-to-the-node that can't provide anywhere near the speeds that fiber-to-the-home or even a decent cable loop can provide.

about three weeks ago
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FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

ottothecow Re:Correction: (338 comments)

People who complain about going to the post office have clearly never been to the UPS warehouse.

The few I have been to are pretty depressing and the service makes the USPS clerks look attentive. They are located either in particularly bad parts of town, or in industrial wastelands, unlike the post office which is usually just minutes away. They keep limited hours (and unlike the post office, you can't just drop in at lunchtime because you are probably not anywhere near the UPS warehouse).

Unfortunately, unlike FedEx or USPS, they don't offer free package pickup at your neighborhood location. If you want to re-route a package to a UPS store, you have to pay $5 for the privilege of them not having to bring it to your door.

about three weeks ago
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FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

ottothecow Re:Correction: (338 comments)

I think the above poster forgets that there are a number of issues at stake.

If I think that both of them have terrible and misguided ideas when it comes to fiscal issues and corporate regulations, but one of them is a fundamentalist who thinks that gays should be sent to brainwashing camps...I am going to vote for the guy who treats people like people. Things like internet regulations will be so tainted by lobbying that it probably doesn't really matter which congressman you elect--once the winner is decided, the corporate dollars going towards his opponent's campaign will start going towards lobbying the victor. And at least with complex issues, they tend to lean on advisers and experts--often actual bills that get introduced are far less crazy than what was proposed during a campaign because their advisers tell them that their ideas were out of line (not to say the advisers can't be hired by lobbyists too...but at least they know that the internet is not made up of tubes)

Unfortunately, It is much easier to rile up the populace on hot button social issues. Fiscal policy and corporate regulation can be complex and slow moving; it is hard to sway voters based on a 5 year plan that may not ever come to fruition and definitely won't see results during your first term (especially in the House). Much easier to scream about "Ban This" "Legalize That" "Repeal X" and figure out where to draw the line on your "beliefs" such that you get a little more than half of your local population to vote for you.

about three weeks ago
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Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

ottothecow Re:Defeats the purpose (232 comments)

OK, so solve the second problem I noted in my post.

In the smartphone world, I'm not going to have a mountain of unread emails because I will have at least looked at the subject and first line or two of each of those messages within a few hours of them being sent. How do I avoid having to keep checking? Telling my boss to call me because I am just going to turn off push notifications isn't going to work. That's part of what gets solved here with this proposition. Upper management has cut the cord for me. My hypothetical boss can't say "I know that corporate says we have a great work-life balance, but I'm gonna need you to always check your email". He has to make the call that something is important enough to interrupt my vacation for.

I liken this to Nielsen removing the "reply-all" function from their email in order to curb overuse of CC and rampant extra email that gets in the way of actual worker productivity. Management could preach all day long that you shouldn't overuse it and the employees will just keep doing it until they physically cut off the button. The workaround is easy (just manually add the CC list), but it requires just enough work and forces someone to apply just enough thought that they will now limit distribution to people who really need the email. Same thing goes here: if they really want me, there is contact info in the auto-reply. They can call me, text me, or forward it to my personal address that I might be checking--but its an extra step that makes them think "is this really the best way to get what I need? Or should I try contacting someone else?".

about a month ago
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Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

ottothecow Re:Defeats the purpose (232 comments)

Except there is no way to know if that email is still relevant. You sent it before you knew that I wasn't in the office. So maybe you got my auto-reply and then handled it yourself or sought out the person I indicated could help you in my auto-reply. If you send a followup email (or worse, copy me on every single interaction with my replacement), I am now going to have multiple emails from you, and I won't know until I get to the later ones if the first ones are still important.

But really, the problem here isn't so much the mountain of email when you get back, but rather the constant contact when you are on vacation. All they have done here is instituted a mandatory policy to keep your manager from bugging you on vacation. They can still pick up the phone and call you if it is important, but the unimportant stuff just falls away. And for someone like me, its not really a mountain of email when I get back--I have to keep wading through that email while I am on vacation precisely because people still email me important stuff. I still have to look at my phone when it buzzes--I can safely ignore the automated or routine emails, but I have to at least glance at emails from important people to see if it is important or if I can save it until I get back. If those emails got deleted by corporate policy, then I'd just get a phone call or voicemail if something important happened...but without a corporate mandate (to which people are held accountable by the actual deletion), there is no way to redirect the important stuff away from email and minimize the unimportant stuff.

It is the next best thing to having a secretary that can take over your email while you are gone and only pass along important matters.

about a month ago
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Daimler's Solution For Annoying Out-of-office Email: Delete It

ottothecow Re:Defeats the purpose (232 comments)

Yeah, but if you are calling someone (which suggests it is probably relatively urgent anyways) and the receptionist tells you that they are going to be gone for the next week...are you actually going to leave a message?

A good receptionist will offer to take the message, but they will also offer to pass you along to someone who is in the office and can handle your request. And in the days before email, the receptionist wouldn't pass along your message until the person returned to the office unless it was important enough to call them at their hotel.

Faced with the knowledge that they won't even get my message for a week (at which point it might not be relevant anymore), I certainly won't leave one. But for email? I don't know that they are gone until after I get their autoreply...so I write up the whole email and send it. Sometimes I will then follow up with a "Sorry, didn't realize you were out--I'll follow up with XYZ and you can disregard", but that just leaves them with two emails to read...and if they read them in order, they won't see my "please disregard" until after reading the first mail.

I don't know that deleting everything is the best way to handle this, but I think it is a step in the right direction. Maybe you could have some queuing system where people can choose whether or not they want to queue the email for your return...but would anyone actually use it?.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Recliner For a Software Developer?

ottothecow Re:Eames lounge (154 comments)

I've sat in some relatively high end knock offs that were not very comfortable.

The real thing has a way of moving with you...some of the knockoffs don't. If I were going the knockoff route, I would want to make sure I got one that felt like the real thing, rather than a "higher end" one that used better quality materials but didn't feel right.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?

ottothecow Re:Buffalo (427 comments)

This should be the final answer for this thread (plus a couple ASUS routers for variety). May not be true in another year, but it is true now and has been for a while.

I think I have a WZR-600DHP (seems to have been replaced with a *DHP2 version), which came with a version of DD-WRT pre-installed. It has been rock solid, even more so than my previous Buffalo router that I installed DD-WRT on (it didn't have problems, but I wanted gigabit switching and wireless-N).

about a month ago

Submissions

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Pidgin adds Google Talk Voice and Video support!

ottothecow ottothecow writes  |  about 5 years ago

ottothecow (600101) writes "While various attempts at video and voice support have been in the pipeline since long before GAIM became Pidgin, fully functioning support over XMPP is on its way. Lifehacker reports that Pidgin 2.6 adds voice and video support for GChat (and presumably any other xmpp network) for Mac and Linux. Windows still has a few bugs but they are being worked on. Pidgin 2.6.1 is only available as source at the moment (but precompiled versions are available at getdeb."

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