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Comments

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Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection?

pla Re:Don't (105 comments)

It is expensive and unreliable.

The combined 4G/802.11 hotspots you get from the cell carriers pretty much suck across the board.

Get a Cradlepoint router and a compatible USB 4G modem (under $100 total). It takes the USB in from the modem, and gives you 4 ethernet ports plus WiFi, and knows enough to reset the stupid 4G modem when it has its hourly crash. Net result, near perfect uptime, weather aside. Oh, and and use a 6ft USB cable to move the modem a bit away from the router if you plan to use the WiFi feature of it - People have reported the two interfere with each other and greatly reduce the performance of each unless you separate them by a few feet.

That said, yes, still expensive. But like you, I have no alternatives, so if I need to pay for it, it may as well work.

yesterday
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Eggcyte is Making a Pocket-Sized Personal Web Server (Video)

pla So, any WAP running DD-WRT plus a thumbdrive? (94 comments)

Revolutionary! So instead of needing to actually install DD-WRT and buy a separate thumbdrive... They'll include it all in one tidy package!

But but but... "Cloud"!

5 days ago
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Technology Heats Up the Adultery Arms Race

pla Re:Already gone (304 comments)

Do you also think it's not possible to rape your spouse?

So, when did you stop beating your wife?

Ahem.

The law doesn't distinguish between the two "owners" of shared marital assets. How, therefore, can it count as "stalking" to install a GPS tracker - Which have a plethora of entirely legitimate uses - in my own cars? By the same reasoning, does it also count as "stalking" to take advantage of all the insurance companies' offers to track your kids' driving habits with similar devices?

As for email, I maintain our home network. By the same weasel-logic corporations use to spy on their employees' emails, if I "just happen" to come across a damning email in the course of a routine security audit of my home IT infrastructure, how exactly does that count as unkosher?

Now, I wouldn't do any of that, because I trust my SO. I still, though, have an awfully hard time understanding how a court can draw arbitrary lines between "allowed" and "illegal" based on something they can't physically know - My intent.

about a week ago
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The Great Robocoin Rip-off

pla Re:Cost of Production (116 comments)

What's the energy cost to physically produce a bitcoin? Anybody know?

With a Butterfly Labs' Monarch (700GH/s)), at a difficulty of 19,729,645,941 and a block reward of 25...

655 kWh per BTC, on average, or roughly one third of the current USD:BTC exchange rate in power costs.

about a week ago
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Oracle Database Certifications Are No Longer Permanent

pla Re:Give me $5.000 (108 comments)

If you're a seasoned systems software engineer whose background is entirely in software engineering, my first question will be: what that is new can you bring to us?

How about, Able to do the fucking job without a "long probationary period ... while training is provided"? That do it for ya, hmm? No, no, you'd rather have your interest "piqued" than get a qualified boring individual to do the job your employer wants done.

I realize what we do can often look like magic to those with no math or computer skills, but really, don't insult me by explaining how your AP reconciliation process differs from every other special unique snowflake of an accounting department.


I especially value good ethics - this one's underrated by many companies

No, you don't. You value someone who looks ethical, but when the CFO tells him to "interpret" the numbers more favorable, he shuts up and does as directed. You value someone who, when your DB breaks, he puts you at the head of the queue instead of following standard prioritization rules for the company. In short, just like all the other HR folks who tout "diversity" and "ethics" - You want a shiny facade, but couldn't care less about the reality.


if you're here to make a quick buck and leave, or to use your colleagues as stepping stones, I'll try damn hard to make sure you're never hired, or quickly removed.

Although they exist, I find it somewhat funny you would mention that in the context of engineers. Unlike in the HR and corporate food chains, engineers have a problem in exactly the opposite direction - When management (almost without exception) proves itself as incompetent asshats, we get the job done despite (sometimes in direct contradiction to) what management thinks it wants. On the whole, engineers have a massively overdeveloped sense of meritocracy, unfortunately an ideal largely incompatible with "obey the most expensive suit".

Yeah, we probably wouldn't get along well.

about a week ago
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Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

pla Re:Simple != worse (240 comments)

I agree completely with what you wrote here, but the linked article doesn't describe that. It specifically refers to shunning revolutionary changes in favor of incremental ones, citing the classic example of making C++ backward compatible with vanilla C (with a side-trip to bemoan the failure of Lisp).

about a week ago
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Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

pla Re:Simple != worse (240 comments)

If you want to fix their broken spreadsheet problem, maybe they should use SUMIFS

Heh, SUMIFS. Not IFSUMS. Duh, thanks. And no, I didn't charge her anything - I did say "friend", not "client". Just doing her a favor, took a whopping five minutes of my time.


Although my solution and insight was worth much more than yours.

You can approach any given problem in two different ways:
You can work with the conditions of the problem as given and find a solution under those conditions, or,
you can whine about uncontrollable factors and make excuses for why you can't help.

More to the point, my solution did work, as implemented; I gave that as an example where TFA's "worse" solution would have beaten a "better" one - I used a function unavailable in an (unexpected) 11 year old version of Office, and as a result, it broke.

about a week ago
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Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

pla Simple != worse (240 comments)

Once upon a time, I wrote "clever" code. Truly beautiful, almost poetic in its elegance. Note I said "elegance", not "simplicity".

I don't know who to credit for this (probably read it on Slashdot), but a single perspective completely changed the way I view coding:
It takes substantially more effort to debug than it does to write code in the first place. If, therefore, I write code as clever as I possibly can - I can't effectively debug it (without investing far more time than I should) if something changes or goes wrong.

Now, that doesn't mean "worse is better"... I can still produce good code; I can even still write the occasional clever function when performance demands it. But for the 99.9% of code that has almost no impact whatsoever on performance, I can just say "if X then Y else Z" rather than using cool-but-cryptic bitmasking tricks to avoid executing a conditional instruction. And hey, whaddya know, I can actually read it at a glance six month later, rather than praying I didn't forget to update my comments.


On the flip side of this, a few weeks ago I helped a friend put together a spreadsheet with a few complex formulas in it. I love me some IFSUMS, arguably the best new feature of Excel in the past decade. Note that clause, "in the past decade". This weekend, she called me because her nice helpful spreadsheet wouldn't work - On Excel 2003. It seems that while 2003 has IFSUM, MS didn't add IFSUMS until 2007. The choice of one seemingly harmless backward-compatibility-breaking function made the whole thing useless in a given context. Now, in fairness, I can hear you all screaming "just upgrade already!"... But in the real world, well, we still have people using Windows 95.

about a week ago
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NASA Finds a Delaware-Sized Methane "Hot Spot" In the Southwest

pla Re:yes, let's "zoom out" (213 comments)

but requires huge amounts of water.

"Huge amounts of water" doesn't mean huge amounts of potable water. Our planet has no shortage of water (you could more accurately say we have a shortage of land). We just can't directly consume most of it without energy-intensive processing first.

Fracking doesn't require clean water. It can use salt water, grey water, swamp water, runoff water, pretty much anything. Now, that said, in the places currently enjoying a fracking boom (no pun intended), the easiest water to get comes from nice clean freshwater aquifers. But it doesn't need to.

I find it simply mind-boggling that so many environmentally conscious people (and I say that as someone who considers himself one) hate the most environmentally friendly sources of energy we have: Nuclear, wind, solar, water, and to a lesser degree, natural gas. Yes, each has its own problems, some of which we can solve through regulation, some through further tech advancement, some through telling millionaire weenies on Cape Cod to go fuck themselves. But as long as the cheapest (by a good margin) alternative consists of the dirtiest fuel ever discovered by mankind (coal)... Maybe we should take just a teensy step back and pick our battles a bit better, hmm?

about two weeks ago
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Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles

pla Re:boo hoo hoo (337 comments)

Boo fricking hoo. Learn to develop a game with what you have and quit yer bitching.

More to the point - When you have the luxury of coding for a very specific platform (ie, a gaming console with a known hardware configuration and known performance profile), you have no excuse for failing to adjust your resource demands accordingly. And if you just can't physically dial down the load enough to run well on platform X - You don't release the goddamned game for platform X.

Re-read that last point, because it nicely translates Pontbriand's whining into plain English: "We promise not to turn down any chance to grab your cash, no matter how shitty the experience for our loyal customers".

about two weeks ago
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No Nobel For Nick Holonyak Jr, Father of the LED

pla Re:The Nobel Prize Committee blew it (276 comments)

If you want to call out the Nobel issue, do so because of the fact that he got it and had done nothing but been elected as the president of the US.

Still better than "Europe". Talk about phoning it in...

about two weeks ago
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No Nobel For Nick Holonyak Jr, Father of the LED

pla Re:The Nobel Prize Committee blew it (276 comments)

Kissinger had an actual body of work to show for it.

More accurately, he had an actual body count to show for it.

The fact that Obama hadn't killed anyone (yet) made him practically a shoe-in for it, by comparison.

about two weeks ago
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The Malware of the Future May Come Bearing Real Gifts

pla Re:The circle comes around (103 comments)

Don't forget weatherbug, realplayer, every "coupon" program in existence, Sony rootkits, Diablo 3... I could go on.

"Malware" has come packaged with semi-useful software right since the beginning. Even the most naive of grandmas don't typically install standalone viruses deliberately.

about two weeks ago
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Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

pla Re:metric you insensitive clod! (403 comments)

That's what a trip odometer can be used for.

I agree with you in spirit - and in fact, do the same thing - but let's admit what a piss-poor solution that sounds like.

Instead of having a moderately accurate measurement of how much fuel our cars have remaining, we find it more reliable to make all sorts of assumptions about driving conditions and weather and long-term averages and whether or not we "topped off" that last 25 cents on our last fill... And then use our subsequent driving distance to guess how much further we can go before we run out. Pretty frickin' sad, really. :)

Worse, my car can somehow magically tell me my instantaneous and average MPG (and at least for the average, gets it pretty dead-on), meaning it knows the exact amount of fuel it has sucked out of the tank since my last refill (which fact it reliably uses to automatically reset some of the running stats it tracks)... Yet it still can't give me a more useful readout than eight illuminated dots??? Free hint, auto engineers of the world - 13 +/- x gallons minus 8.74125 gallons means I have 4.25875 +/- x gallons left; measure the real-world range of x to make sure no one runs out before hitting zero, and give me a damned linear gas gauge!

about two weeks ago
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GNOME 3 Winning Back Users

pla Re:change is baaaaaaaad (267 comments)

You know, AC has a point there. It seems that every slightly larger framework coming to Linux gets opposed.

I couldn't tell you quite when it happened, but at some point in my life, I slowly came to realize that the tools I use on a daily basis exist to perform a specific set of tasks. The tool has value for what it does for me, not for its own inherent newness or shininess.

Whether I use systemd or init really makes no difference; whether I use Gnome or KDE, completely irrelevant to whether or not I can open a browser, a music player, and my IDE of choice. BUT! for the same reason, I have a strong motivation not to make huge changes just for the sake of "new", until those changes will allow me to perform my set of tasks better or faster or easier.

Yes, I can appreciate the need to have a functional level of knowledge about the alternatives to what I use on a day-to-day basis - How else can I evaluate when "new" will make me faster/better/etc? I also, however, believe in mastering the tools I use most often. And that takes time. If I'll eventually save five minutes a day by using Gnome instead of KDE, but it takes me a year of fifteen wasted minutes a day mastering the environment, then unless I stick with Gnome for four years, I don't even break even. Obviously, an overly-simplified example, but I see this problem all too often in fresh-out-of-college coworkers: They'll switch to something "better" every month or two, without any consideration of the payback period on their time invested, giving a net negative ROI.

about two weeks ago
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US Says It Can Hack Foreign Servers Without Warrants

pla Re:So what they are saying... (335 comments)

So what they are saying is that anyone outside the US can freely hack US servers without a warrant too. Surely they don't expect special treatment?

Dingdingding, we have a winner!

No doubt, China and Russia will react to this announcement with enthusiasm. "Chinese military hacking DOD computers?" No no no, of course not - They just needed to gather some evidence of "blatantly criminal" activity.


More seriously, that one phrase bothers me more than the entire rest of the post... When we allow our government to substitute "blatantly criminal" for "probable cause", we may as well just save time and install government cameras in our living rooms now.

"So why do you need this warrant?" "Come on, man, we know he did it!" "Okay, here you go!"

about two weeks ago
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Why Do Contextual Ads Fail?

pla Whole problem - TMI (249 comments)

Why? Facebook has a database of our explicitly stated interests, which many users fill out voluntarily. Facebook sees what we post about. It knows who we interact with. It counts our likes, monitors our comments and even follows us around the Web. Yet, while the degree of personal data collection is extreme, the advertising seems totally random.

"Facebook sees what we post about" - You have your answer right there.

Do you more often post:
"Hey, check out my new iPhone", after which you'll receive a deluge of ads for phones and carriers... Or...
"Gee I sure could use a new mouse - Should I go with a Logitech LS1, a Microsoft Natural 6000, or the el-cheapo HP X4000?".

In my experience, most people do the former, not the latter, while basing ads off products you mention would only work well for the latter.

Of course, all that assumes you even post about yourself. You might mention that your mother needs a new car (resulting in a flood of car ads that do you no good), or your cats, or just random news clips you saw.

about two weeks ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

pla Re:Grades do mean something... (389 comments)

Generally speaking, grades do indicate something. Sometimes good grades mean the student is very bright and picks up things rapidly. Sometimes good grades indicate a strong work ethic. Both of these are qualities that employers would want in future hires.

Most importantly, grades (and the other traditional means of evaluating prospective students) indicate that the student can pay attention and follow directions - and will.

Employers don't give two shakes of a rat's fuzzy butt about whether or not you might hypothetically have excelled in a different universe. You live in this universe, and this universe values people with measurable skill sets who can and will get their job done. Simple as that.

Does the current system discriminate against a handful of niche "alternative learning style" students? Yep, it sure does - And so will every job you ever get! College admissions, therefore, does its best to predict success in your college career as well as your future employment. "Character"? Fuck character. My boss, and his boss, and his boss' boss, want me in a chair writing code; they doen't care if I spend 100% of my income and free time on hookers n' blow.

Now, if you don't like that, don't blame the College Board, simply go to any of the thousands of non-traditional (and non-accredited) institutions of higher learning available. Just don't complain when you discover that you can't get a job after completing your studies there.

about two weeks ago
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The Single Vigilante Behind Facebook's 'Real Name' Crackdown

pla Re:What an asshole (305 comments)

I'll be happy once the world learns to build systems that don't break on the apostrophe in my last name.

You would, then, love using any software I write. I absolutely promise it won't break on an apostrophe. It won't break on a semicolon. It won't even break on foreign vowels or unicode...

Because I strips all that crap out, only allowing Latin1 [a-zA-Z]. I do, however, preserve any random-case names you insist on using, because while unbearably pretentious, they at least don't break anything.

And yeah, call me an asshole (though you have to put Australia ahead of me, they've outright banned diacritics in names by law) - But little Bobby Tables won't break my code. To hell with input validation, people constantly come up with new ways to enter complete garbage (and on forms they want to fill out, not talking about fake email addresses here). Just sanitize it all and call it good; and if you end up named Jrmy Obrian, blame your parents, not me.

/ BTW, all those O-apostrophe names in Irish? You've already accepted a corruption of your name, so lose the purist BS. That actually comes from Anglicized Gaelic o- or O-acute, with the diacritic shifted slightly to the right. The former means "from" the latter means "grandson"

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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French anti-piracy logo uses pirated fonts

pla pla writes  |  more than 4 years ago

pla (258480) writes "Cory Doctorow reports (and FontFeed confirms, with better fact-checking) that the French governmental agency in charge of enforcing their new "Three Strikes" Law, Hadopi, has made use of not just one, but two unlicensed fonts in their official logo.

One of these, "Bienvenue", exists only as a privately owned font designed exclusively for France Telecom with no licensing terms available whatsoever. Hadopi claims they never intended that version of the logo for release — Despite having registered it (complete with infringing fonts) as a trademark two months ago. For the other font used in their logo (including both the original and the replacement), "Bliss", they didn't purchase a license to use it until the very day they found it necessary to release a non-infringing replacement logo."

Journals

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Call me paranoid, but...

pla pla writes  |  more than 8 years ago So today I posted a little off-the-cuff comment about parenting and video-games... Nothing major, though undeniably strongly opinionated. Agree or disagree as you will - Not the point of this journal entry.

First mod to it, troll. Okay, I think, I've gotten an awfully lot of those lately to posts I clearly didn't mean as trolling or flamebait, but whatever, perhaps I have an anti-fanboi.

Then later, I got two interestings and an insightful. Okay, not bad, that at least pushes me up to a +2, which with my karma bonus gives a total score of 4. Which it did indeed show.


Now, a few hours later I check back again, and see a total score of two, still with the same breakdown of a troll, an insightful, and two interestings. Biggest difference, my karma bonus has vanished (though my account still shows me as having excellent karma, so not like I magically lost my good karma between 4:30pm and 8:15pm).


So... As the subject line says, "call me paranoid, but" who has the power to change that? Do we have editors seriously abusing their powers, going around making Slashdot's moderation system even less meaningful than its normal, defective, modstorm-prone state?


I'd really like to know... I've written 1858 posts to Slashdot in the past few years, on the presumption that, except for the Gods correcting truly egregious abuses, the moderation system at least works at face value. If every slave-labor underling working at /. can just up and steal karma from posts that hit on one of their peeves, I'd like to know not to waste any more of my life contributing to a lost cause...

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Interesting ratings...

pla pla writes  |  more than 11 years ago "Score:-1, Insightful"

I can only say, "WTF"? How does an insightful comment get a -1?

Heh. If I took this seriously, I might feel somewhat concerned by the logic behind that.

Overall, though, I find it more *amusing* that one person's "insightful" equals another's "flamebait" or "troll". I can understand reduntant, or overrated, but flamebait and troll seem mutually exclusive from any positive mods whatsoever.

Strange world we live in. Well... No, just strange people in it. ;-)

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Wow, I have fans! (And freaks...)

pla pla writes  |  more than 11 years ago So, my first /. journal entry. Forgive the me-centric nature of it, but I just spent a few minutes wandering around my preferences page, and noticed all sorts of cool things.

Most interestingly, I actually have fans and freaks! Eerie.

I don't quite know *how* I got them, since I did a quick perusal of their posting history, and we don't seem to have any obvious threads in common. Do people just randomly add others to their friends and foes list?

Oh, and I seem to have moderator points once again. In all the years I've used Slashdot, I got my first moderator points only a few months ago. Now, this latest set of points makes my third (fourth?) time.

So, in other news, I managed to get a comment of mine modded out of existance today. So what have I learned from slashdot? One, don't say anything bad about Apple - those fans get *vicious*, even about very guarded criticism. And two, in a forum of mostly geeks, don't attack science (the institution, not the techniques) as little more than a modern religion, complete with priests, acolytes, and inviolable holy doctrine.

Hmm, okay. I guess I'll stop now.

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