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Firefox 31 Released

rnturn Re:Trash (154 comments)

I would welcome with open arms and tears of joy a Firefox release that could survive a day -- heck, even half a day -- without crashing. It's such a joy to come back from grabbing a cub of coffee or lunch to find that I have to restart effin' Firefox and reload all my tabs again.

12 hours ago
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White House May Name Patent Reform Opponent As New Head of Patent Office

rnturn Re: USPTO management structure... (211 comments)

``Currently, the office is being managed by former Googler Michelle Lee, who was appointed deputy director in December. Earlier this month, Republican Senators led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to President Obama that praised Lee but that also described the current UPSTO management structure as `unfair, untenable and unacceptable for our country's intellectual property agency.' ''

Knowing the business-ass-kissing^W^Wfriendly nature of your typical Republican Senator, I think the way to read that last bit is that the Republicans were unhappy that any restrictions are still in place on patentability and that they'd like the PTO to do nothing more than rubber stamp their campaign fund benefactors' patent applications and the quicker the better.

about three weeks ago
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Boston Trying Out Solar-Powered "Smart Benches" In Parks

rnturn Re: Someone put gum in the outlets. (119 comments)

Forget liquids, though those could be a problem. Call me pessimistic but I predict that within weeks of rolling these out, each bench will have inoperable USB ports because the little plastic tabs in the connectors will be broken off. (Does anyone make a USB port with the internal tab made out of something more durable like nylon?) After a year, these could just be ordinary benches with some decorative but unusable electronics attached to them.

about three weeks ago
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NASA Launching Satellite To Track Carbon

rnturn Re:Contempt for Curiosity (190 comments)

``So you work for the Heritage foundation.''

Heh, heh. The same thought went through my head as well. I'm surprised that some ultra-right-wing, climate-change-denying House member didn't notice the impending launch and try to pass an emergency budgetary measure to prevent NASA from putting up any satellites that might be used to monitor CO2 emissions. I'm predicting that the measurements will show large amounts of CO2 being released around large cities -- especially American cities -- and these folks will draw the conclusion that, since most large cities are Democratic-voting strongholds, the cause of any climate change is the fault of Democrats. The large CO2 releases from Bejing will be evidence that climate change is a Commie plot. Similar data showing London as a source will be proof that government-run health care is bad for the climate. And they'll get tons of air time on the Sunday morning talking head shows.

We need a good name for these people. The technology/progress-phobic we can call Luddites. We need a succinct name for the science deniers. Something catchier than "Effing Stupid Anti-Science Whackjobs".

about three weeks ago
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How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

rnturn Re:Step 1 (196 comments)

I've never used used Beats headphones so I can't personally attest to their being crap. My daughter has picked up more Skull Candy earbuds than she should have had to so I can attest to their being fairly crappy based on the short lifetime they seem to have under regular use. The cables break down internally so that they become useless. My personal choice are Sony's earbuds. I bought a pair years ago to replace the stock iPod earbuds that hurt my ears or fell out all the time. (I don't even notice that I'm wearing the Sonys.) The next time my daughter needs an new pair, I'll pay the difference so she can have a decent pair of Sonys.

Of course, I'll never buy an Apple audio player (the iPod I have was a gift) so I really couldn't care less about what they do with their headphone or earbud jacks.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

rnturn Re:Shouldn't be a problem (176 comments)

The OP seems to have all the HW and SW he'd need. I'm not even sure why he's worried. Aside from the possibility of bit rot having degraded his media, I would be more concerned that the hardware would be a problem and become a major time sink -- bad capacitors on the m'board, etc., that have you chasing your tail.

You might be able to run a modern Linux on hardware of that vintage but you might have to borrow memory from another, similar motherboard to get the installer to run. Back when I was running Linux on a 486, I had to borrow memory from another system to get the installer to run during an upgrade. Then I returned the memory and Linux itself ran fine with only 16MB. The oldest system I currently have running -- an old Pentium MMX system with only 127MB installed (it used to only have 80MB before I stumbled across some more memory in a box of parts) -- hasn't been updated to anything really recent because I no longer have any systems that use the same kind of memory that I can borrow to perform an upgrade and the older RAM, while still available, is not something I want to invest in. (Yeah... I do have plans to phase that system out in the not-too-distant future.)

about a month ago
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Programming On a Piano Keyboard

rnturn What about ... (57 comments)

... using computer code or math to make music. Back in the (early) '70s, you'd sometimes see these weird commercials where Fred MacMurray (I imagine most /.ers just said to themselves "Fred Who?") was showing how a bunch of Korean schoolkids were doing math using their fingers on their desks in a piano-playing sort of action. The commercial was for some kind of learning aid to teach your kids how to do that. (Q: Does anyone recall those ads? What the heck was the name of the technique being hawked?) This was some years before hand-held calculators even existed let alone were actually affordable. I thought it might be interesting to use that to numerically integrate equations, somehow translate the finger action involved onto a standard 88-key keyboard, and see what comes out. Composition titles would be the equation being integrated. I figured the resulting music would have sounded something like Philip Glass or Steve Reich so public performances might have been hazardous to your health in certain venues. (For example, a place like this.)

about a month ago
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Judge: $324M Settlement In Silicon Valley Tech Worker Case Not Enough

rnturn Re:More (150 comments)

``There's a special humiliation in seeing your home stripped...''

Yep... how would you like to face your neighbors after they've watched the contents of your home carted away for auctioning off?

Not having closely followed this case/trial (where's Groklaw when you need it) but surely there was an email trail that led to this decision/settlement. Either one that was revealed in court or one that would have named names that would have been revealed during the discovery phase. Extract all the names of those involved in those email threads and let the games begin!

about a month ago
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Unisys Phasing Out Decades-Old Mainframe Processor For x86

rnturn The biggest surprise... (113 comments)

... to me was that Unisys was still selling computer systems. The only time I thought about the company in recent years was when dealing with their help desk software package. Prior to that my last contact with the company was having to use an aging 110x mainframe that was running EXEC-something. A horrible user interface, BTW. It seemed to be designed to make using the system a major pain in the butt. I was so happy when a co-worker pointed out that I could move my code onto the PDP-11 and actually get some work done.

about a month ago
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One Developer's Experience With Real Life Bitrot Under HFS+

rnturn Re:Backup? (396 comments)

Even if you did have backups how could you even begin to know which saveset to restore from? You could have been backing up a corrupted file for a lo-o-ong time.

Friends wonder why I still purchase physical books and CDs. This is why. I'll have to come up with a simple 2-3 sentence explanation of the problem the OP was describing for when they ask next time. I've had MP3 files made from my CD collection mysteriously become corrupted over time. No problem, I can just re-rip/convert/etc. but losing the original digital version of your newborn would be heartbreaking. Make several copies to reduce the odds of losing it. Make a good print using archival paper and inks and keep in away from light in a safe deposit box so it could be rescanned should the digital file become corrupted. Of course, one can go overboard as not every photo is worth that kind of effort but it appears we might be starting to see, first-hand, the problems described in Bergeron's "Dark Ages II". Even worse what if this were to happen? (So don't even bring up the "cloud", OK?)

about a month ago
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The Energy Saved By Ditching DVDs Could Power 200,000 Homes

rnturn These researchers need to get out of the lab... (339 comments)

... and find out what broadband is like in the private sector. It sucks like a tornado outside the major metropolitan areas. Between crummy bandwidth and data caps -- neither of which, I suspect, the researchers ever have to deal with -- physical DVDs are the easiest way to watch movies in many locations.

about 2 months ago
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Goodbye, Ctrl-S

rnturn Re:Bah, we already said goodbye to CTRL-S years ag (521 comments)

Did this just happen?

Ctrl-S/Ctrl-Q still work in my terminal windows. I'm not sure how useful it is as my response time can be slow enough that it doesn't usually let me stop the text display in time when I see something I want to take a closer look at. (Setting up a whopping big scrollback memory helps with that, though.)

about 2 months ago
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Supermassive Black Hole At the Centre of Galaxy May Be Wormhole In Disguise

rnturn This might explain... (293 comments)

... that sinking feeling that everything we know is swirling around the drain.

about 2 months ago
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Major ISPs Threaten To Throttle Innovation and Slow Network Upgrades

rnturn Re:If you regulate properly, we'll stop our busine (286 comments)

Bingo. "Mr. CEO, we'll push to have you removed if you waste your profits building out your infrastructure to be more modern. What you have now if making us huge profits. Mess with that at your own risk."

Someone needs to revisit this BS argument that -- as I currently understand it, came out of a controversial opinion in a state court proceeding that manage to make its way into business textbooks -- the only goal of a business it to make a profit for the shareholders. It's an important goal (or the company won't be around very long) but it shouldn't be the only goal. Making a quality product? Doing something for the community where you're based? Not polluting? It's all very nice if those things happen but don't you even think about spending one red cent of our profits on those activities. Heck, at one time, corporations had their charters revoked (the corporate death penalty) if their activities failed to provide for the public good. Remember the public? In theory, they're the ones who allow these legal fictions to even exist.

about 2 months ago
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Major ISPs Threaten To Throttle Innovation and Slow Network Upgrades

rnturn Re:If you regulate properly, we'll stop our busine (286 comments)

Don't forget the provisions -- that the telcos heavily lobbied for -- in the last major telecommunications act that made it legal for them to lock out all those smaller ISPs.

IMNSHO, the anti-trust actions should have started the day the first Baby Bell was being purchased to begin the reconstitution of Ma Bell. It's time to break up AT&T again.

And kudos to whoever it was who suggested that they (and the cable companies) need to divest themselves of any content creation companies they now own. Owning the pipe and the content seems like creation of a vertical monopoly to me. I don't need or want the ISP's "content". I'm struggling to think of any content that AT&T could provide to me that I would find valuable. In fact, I really don't want to deal with an internet service provider but, rather, an internet connection provider. That's what I have now through one of the companies that's managed to survive on the crumbs left over after AT&T started pricing access to their copper to the point that it killed off the little guys. It works fine although its tough to describe my connection as "broadband".

about 2 months ago
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Major ISPs Threaten To Throttle Innovation and Slow Network Upgrades

rnturn Do what we want or... (286 comments)

... we're going to pull up stakes and move to Galtville.

Innovation?! What innovation has AT&T come up with lately? Sure... they've come up with a web site that would make Franz Kafka run screaming into the night but beyond that, what innovation are they talking about?

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Tell a Compelling Story About IT Infrastructure?

rnturn Re:Already tried something like this once. (192 comments)

That was but one data point but other coworkers were able to contribute others that allowed us to conclude that the director had virtually no sense of humor.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Tell a Compelling Story About IT Infrastructure?

rnturn Already tried something like this once. (192 comments)

I used to work in an organization associated, primarily, with aviation. Many of the projects had nothing to do with actually doing any flying but the director of the organization was an avid pilot with a gazillion hours of instrument flight experience. Any projects that offered an opportunity for him to contribute by doing some flying seemed to always get his attention. My projects tended to be simulations or other studies that resulted in a lot of equations, charts, and graphs but no chances for flight time. One day, to pass the time during a flight to Washington, I took along a couple of binders of source code (printed on the old green bar paper, of course) that I annotated during the flight with notes about changes to make, places where more comments were needed... boring stuff like that. In the following monthly progress report I noted that my software had been flight tested and the results were promising. The director was not particularly amused.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Tell a Compelling Story About IT Infrastructure?

rnturn Re:Save your breath. (192 comments)

``...try to make it fun and use lots of specific numbers, management types like that.''

Be careful, though. Some years ago someone in IT management where I was working invented a metric to be reported to upper management that, basically, was "disk space used". The (boneheaded) idea was that more disk space in use means business growth. The trouble was that when we asked for clarification about what disk space was to be reported the reply was that we were supposed to report ALL disk space used by the systems; not just the disk space used by the applications, databases, etc. So what happened was that nobody erased any files. Temp files? Keep 'em... makes IT look good. Multiple copies of files? Keep those, too. More disk utilization makes IT look good you know. You can imagine the gnashing of teeth that resulted when we got close to filling up a couple of disks and I whacked a ton of old junk files I found sitting out on those disks.

about 2 months ago

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