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Out With the Red-Light Cameras, In With the Speeding Cameras

singularity Re:Speeding not always an issue (335 comments)

Google for 'speed 85th percentile'

A good explanation of setting speed limits at the 85th percentile. This is by a pro-motorist group, so you could claim bias. The other results on that google search are from government pages, both state and federal, and should be trusted.

For those too lazy to follow the links, countless studies have shown that the safest place to set a speed limit is the 85th percentile of vehicles on a given road. Going too slow has an increased chance of accident, and exceeding the 90th percentile also shows an increased chance of accident.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using?

singularity "Smart" watch? (471 comments)

I suppose you could say I have one - actually I have three.

I started with a Garmin FR 405, got a FR60, and recently upgraded to an Garmin FR 220.

I am an avid runner, and they all track my workouts. The 405 and 220 are GPS watches. I have heart rate monitors (chest-strap, which I trust a thousand times more than a wrist-based solution at this point). The 405 was fairly large on my wrist, but the FR60 and 220 are actually reasonably sized.

They revolutionized my training when I started wearing them five years ago. I can get instantaneous feedback while I run, and I can track mileage and pace information over an entire season. I run faster now because of the Garmins, and my workouts are more intelligent.

Granted I only wear them while working out. I like not having to strap a phone to my body to get additional data, and I like that they are dedicated devices for the task. The FR60 goes months or years between battery changes, and the 220 can do a long weekend's worth of runs on a single charge. As just a watch the 220 can last weeks between charges.

The rest of them time I am content pulling my phone out of my pocket to check the time, see alerts, and so on. The Pebble is interesting (mainly because I see it as letting me know how important that last vibrate from my phone was), but I simply cannot justify it yet.

about 5 months ago

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

singularity Re:Until today, I didn't see the point... (230 comments)

I am able to load https on Slashdot. You have to be a subscriber, but that is one perk. It costs me about $10 every few years, so I am willing to pay for a secure connection and no ads.

about 5 months ago

Google Spots Explicit Images of a Child In Man's Email, Tips Off Police

singularity Re:Well at least they saved the children! (790 comments)

Based on some of the articles I have read, Google has thrown a lot of resources at the problem and now have hashes that are capable of identifying certain photos even if they have filename changes, resolution changes, and and so on.

It does not sound like too difficult of a problem - instead of relying on SHA5 file hash, run an it through a program that gives you an array of what the image would look like when displayed and then hash that. Use some margin of error to take into account compression, etc. and you could say with some confidence that one file is the image in question, even if the original JPEG is now a half-resolution GIF.

Of course having the resources to run that on every single image that goes through Gmail's servers is another issue entirely.

about 6 months ago

UK To Allow Driverless Cars By January

singularity Re:A Progression of Complaints (190 comments)

Agreed - every complaint about self-driving cars has been for the migration time when there are both autonomous and human-driven vehicles on the roads.

When you take human drivers out of the equation, and autonomous vehicles are the norm, utilizing things like mesh networks to keep other nearby vehicles informed, all of the complaints suddenly disappear.

Autonomous cars might wait at lights longer, and stop for more yellow lights, but imagine a line of vehicles stopped at a light all accelerating at the exact same moment and rate. Imagine vehicles re-routing around an accident with correct ratios going to alternate routes so no one alternate route gets slammed, leaving other routes empty.

about 6 months ago

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

singularity I worked in retail a long time (419 comments)

I worked retail for a long time, including an Apple Store. I cannot remember the policies at Apple when I was working there, but most places will not take a verbal approval code.

If the person on the other end of the phone (generally you get to them by calling the 800 number on the back of the card) has the ability to run the transaction, they have the ability to clear whatever prevented the card from going through the first time. They would have to - they have to clear the hurdle before they can run the transaction themselves.

So policy at most places is that the telephone operator clears the issue (usually it is a daily spending limit that card issuers never mention) and then the store runs the card again. There was no procedure for manually entering a verbal approval code.

My memory of Apple Retail (this was '04-'06), however, is that they had almost every contingency covered. The POS machines all had USB modems attached so that in case the Internet went down at the store, credit cards could still be processed. We even had the old CH-CHUNK imprint devices when everything went pear-shaped. I do seem to remember having the ability to enter a manual authorization code for a credit card transaction. It is Apple Retail - there are supposed to be no hurdles keeping a Specialist from keeping a customer happy.

about 6 months ago

Favorite Star Wars Movie?

singularity Prequels seem to have missed the point (457 comments)

[Note: Written as someone who really liked the original series, but merely watched the prequels.]

So you can largely look at the prequels (Episodes 1-3) as "The Downfall of Anikan". Going into the movies you knew the outcome (Anikan was going to be a Jedi, only to be turned to the dark side). They had three movies to show this.

The problem? The real turn seems to happen somewhere between the end of episode 2 and the beginning of episode 3, and it really is not that believable. So you have three movies to show me the downfall of a man, and you choose to largely have that turn happen in the time between two movies?

about 9 months ago

This 1981 BYTE Magazine Cover Explains Why We're So Bad At Tech Predictions

singularity Clearly not the future... (276 comments)

From page 212:

Credit Cards With Intelligence? The Battelle Memorial Institute is studying the feasibility of a credit card with a built-in micro-processor. Such a card has already been developed in Europe, and will soon be tested. It is expected that intelligent credit cards will provide added security without requiring large computer networks.

Everyone who shopped at Target last fall saw how well that was implemented here in the U.S.

about 10 months ago

What Apple Does and Doesn't Know About You

singularity Re:Hmm (214 comments)

Where is the '-1, Factually Incorrect' mod when you need it?

1) Yes, all Apple devices now prompt for an AppleID when you first turn them on. There is a 'Skip' button that you apparently completely missed, though. It is not a hidden button.

2) Apparently you were unable to do a simple Google search to figure out how to create an iTunes Store account without a credit card. Apple has posted directions.

Or does reality not fit with the bad image you want to have of Apple?

about a year ago

News Worth Buying On Paper

singularity Want readers? Specialize. (106 comments)

Nothing annoys me more than trying to find news about something local and finding that the online local news source has covered their front page with (inter-)national news.

If your small-town newspaper has a website, remember that it is competing with CNN.com, BBC.com, nytimes.com, and everything else. Chances are you not going to do better international news than the "big boys". You are going to be carrying the same AP story as everyone else.

So where can you compete? The local news that CNN, et al, are not going to carry. Do not make your readers search your site just to get the local coverage they are looking for.

Places like WickedLocal.com (in Massachusetts) have it figured out, probably because most Massachusetts local newspapers did *not* figure it out. Patch.com is trying to do this on a bigger scale.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Easiest Way To Consolidate Household Media?

singularity Software side... (272 comments)

A lot of people are talking about NAS devices and so on, but they all come back to "filesharing" as the software portion of their solution.

I use Plex to serve out media and love it. Transcodes a Blue-Ray rip to my iPad. I hit pause and bring the movie up on my television and start where I left off. You can run the server on a Windows machine, a Mac, or even some NAS devices.

I can be on the road and bring up any movie I have.

Client-wise they have iOS, OS X, Windows, and Android.

more than 2 years ago

Thanks For Reading: 15 Years of News For Nerds

singularity Re:dayummm (229 comments)

I think you might be off by a factor of 10. I was definitely reading Slashdot for a while (month or so?) before signing up for an account, but I am not sure I remember a time before accounts. Maybe 1500 people signed up once accounts were created?

If I were at my home machine I could definitely figure out when Slashdot sent my "Welcome" message, but it was probably October of 1998.

The amount of time I spend on Slashdot has definitely decreased over the years, but I still load the homepage 2-3 times a day.

Happy 15th, Slashdot!

more than 2 years ago

Have Online Comment Sections Become Specious?

singularity Re:obviously (429 comments)

Damn newbies...

ObTopic: I agree with a previous poster, that Slashdot's comment system is the worst, except for all of the other ones. I do not post nearly as often as I used to, but for getting a relatively informed take on tech stories? Slashdot is hard to beat. I still read 3-4 stories a day. This is probably down from my maximum back in the early 2000s.

I do agree that Slashdot (and similar comment websites) tend to have a major issue of groupthink. It seems that to have a reasonable discussion on the Internet you not only need a niche subject matter, but also a well-done comment and moderation system. The downside is that both of these requirements tend to encourage groupthink.

Oh, and get off of my lawn!

more than 2 years ago

Help Shape the Future of Slashdot

singularity Re:Moderation system (763 comments)

My biggest pet peeve with Slashdot is that there is no "-1, Factually Incorrect" moderation. When I have moderation points I frequently have to use "Overrated" to fill that niche.

There are not a lot of times, but I have seen a comment that is simply wrong be moderated up (oftentimes a groupthink assumption that turns out to be incorrect).

I find the moderation system one of the best on the Internet. I wish when people had moderation Slashdot would ignore their preferences and instead show comments at "-1, Newest First" to avoid older, higher moderated comments from simply getting moderated even higher at the expense of newer comments that have not had a chance to get moderated up.

But that is just me.

And you should listen to me because I have a four-digit UID, damnit! And get off my lawn!

more than 3 years ago

In the past year, I've filed Z bug reports, where Z=

singularity 50% Success Rate (244 comments)

I have reported about 8 or so in the last year. A few have been fixed (usually as a result of several other people reporting they were having the same issue). I had to fix a couple of bugs myself. The other half were never fixed. One I reported in a Bugzilla type database and within 24 hours it was marked as "Closed" without any comment from a developer. The next release of the software had the same bug. One I reported on a forum for a closed-source application and immediate a dozen or so other users agreed with me (it was a memory leak, causing a background daemon to consume 10-15MB of additional RAM each day it continued to run). The company representative said that they could not reproduce the problem.

Most recently I reported a bug in an exercise tracking piece of shareware. The software imports data from Garmin's software and is able to do a lot more with it. Due to what the shareware developer sees as a bug in the Garmin software, distance for a given activity might change a bit on import. This is fine, and the developer goes to great lengths to explain the discrepancy and why he believes his calculations are more precise. I agree with him and continue to use the software. I eventually realize, however, that while the distance changes and the activity duration (time) stays constant on import, the pace for the activity does not agree with the distance/time. I report this and the developer responds that his software trusts and uses the pace value passed on input, and says that users would bother him to see why the pace value does not match what is in the Garmin software. He explains a way to change the value manually and marks the problem "Resolved".

Note that one of my activities was off by over 40 seconds per mile. What should have been a 6:57 min/mile pace was marked as a 7:49 min/mile. This is a very large discrepancy.

Not very reassuring.

more than 4 years ago

Things To Look For In a Web Hosting Company?

singularity Re:Things I look for (456 comments)

I am another extremely happy customer of pair.com I have been using them for about ten years now and think I have seen a total of about ten minutes of downtime for my server in that time.

more than 4 years ago

A Different Perspective On Snow Leopard's Exchange Support

singularity Re:Microsoft is the big winner here, RIM loses (276 comments)

Good thing the xServe is not built for the "I need maximum performance in a 1U box", then.

An xServe, with OS X Server, is designed primarily for small businesses to get rid of their IT department by replacing their expensive IT guys and yearly MS CALs with an xServe and maybe one OS X tech. Generally a company with 1,000+ employees will not be using it, so the need for > 48GB RAM or multiple TBs stuffed into a 1U box really is not there.

Or are we just working with the "bigger numbers are better" argument?

more than 5 years ago

Cornell Computer Theft Puts 45,000 At Risk of Identity Theft

singularity As a former student... (91 comments)

I have no idea how far back the stolen data goes, but I was a student at Cornell in the mid-90's. I can assure you that Cornell does not have my current email address (my university address expired after I left), and they do not have my current mailing address, either - I never receive mailed solicitations for money.

On their FAQ page, they assure everyone that they contacted everyone who had their data stolen via email or USPS. I am not saying that I was necessarily one of the victims here, but I am sure that there are other people in the 45,000 for whom that is true.

more than 5 years ago

Apple's WWDC Unveils iPhone 3.0, OpenCL, Laptop Updates, and More

singularity Re:PowerPC End of Line killing my PowerBook. (770 comments)

The very last PowerBooks were sold October 2005 - January 2006. Not only that, but Apple announced the transition on 6 June 2005, or almost exactly four years ago.

If your PowerBook just expired its three year AppleCare, you must have bought your PowerBook *just* before the release of the MacBook Pros, and most certainly after Apple announced the transition.

Four years is a very long time for notebook computers. Apple gave you four years of full support after announcing they were planning on EOL PowerPC machines.

As far as security patches go, Apple continues to release updates and security patches for the previous generation OS. For example, with the release of Snow Leopard, support will cease for Tiger (OS X 10.4). Apple just last month released a security patch for Tiger (PPC). In addition, I believe all of the updates released recently for the various iLife products run on Tiger/PPC.

This means you should expect continued patches for your Leopard/PPC machine for at least the lifespan of Snow Leopard.

What confuses me most about your comment is your mention of a classroom of machines running MacOS 8. This proves that Apple software (and hardware) continues to be useful long after it has been EOL'd, but somehow your PowerBook will cease to be useful the minute Snow Leopard is released and is unavailable on your PowerBook?

more than 5 years ago


singularity hasn't submitted any stories.



Moderation option...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Every now and then I just really want a moderation option of "Factually Incorrect".

None of the negative moderation options really cover that.


On responsible disclosure...

singularity singularity writes  |  about 10 years ago

A C|Net article, as referenced on Macintouch:

At the heart of the issue is the software industry push for "responsible" disclosure, which calls on researchers to delay the announcement of security holes so that manufacturers have time to patch them. That way, people who use flawed products are protected from attack, the argument goes. But the approach also has benefits for software makers, a security expert pointed out.

"As long as the public doesn't know the flaws are there, why spend the money to fix them quickly?" said Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at Counterpane Internet Security, a network monitoring company. "Only full disclosure keeps the vendors honest."

Hey - I have a solution! Who not simply say "Our policy is to release the details of the hole exactly one month after notifying the company."?

Mr. Schneier is correct - only full disclosure will keep the vendors honest. I do not see how giving a set time before releasing the exploit causes problems with this.

Now, I will say it is very possible that the article was written to have these two somewhat unrelated paragraphs next to each other. One seems to be talking about an embargo for a while after notifying the company, and the Counterpane quote seems to be talking about justifying releasing the information at all.


Wouldn't it be nice...

singularity singularity writes  |  about 10 years ago

So there was a huge disaster in the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. Tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands of people, died and will die due to a natural disaster.

People are giving millions of dollars to organizations like the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. I applaud these efforts. The President of the United States, has enlisted two former Presidents, George Bush and Bill Clinton, to help raise money for the relief efforts.

It would make so much sense if there was a very organized body that would collect money from everyone and then make informed decisions of what to do with the money. This organization would collect money from everyone and then donate it to worthy organizations, and do worthy things with the money. In fact, it would be even better if the collections were done straight from everyone's paychecks. Better yet, make it pre-tax. We could do it based on how much money you made each year, so poor people would not be expected to donate as much as a wealthy person.

As citizens we would feel good even if we did not donate to the Red Cross. We could honestly say "I gave at work, through my paycheck." The donations would be made on behalf of all Americans, and would show that we, as a nation, cared. It would show that we had the foresight to put aside money and people to deal with things on a city, state, and country-wide basis. We would share, as a country, the wealth that we had produced.

We could nominate and choose people who we think would be responsible for that money and make intelligent decisions on what to do with it. They would impose good budgetary practices so they would not take too much, but make sure they had enough to make a very generous donation when something like the tsunami hit. They would not waste the money, and only use it in very necessary times.

If we had such an organization, George W. Bush would not have to ask for private contributions. He would not have to enlist two former Presidents to raise money for private organizations to help. He would just have to turn to this national organization and ask that we send enough money to the countries in their time of most need...

That would be nice...


Dancin' Outlaw Lives!

singularity singularity writes  |  about 10 years ago

I got this email today:

For those of you who have heard rumors that the Dancin' Outlaw passed away, I have an update. Jesco White continues to live in Boone County, West Virginia. I just got off of the phone with my brother, a big Jesco fan. He is on his way to D.C. for the week. While traveling through West Virginia, he had a wild hair to find Jesco--and did. He called just after he left the trailer. Keith got the sheriff to take him up to Jesco's holler. Keith just walked up to the door, knocked and waited. Jesco answered the door and invited him in. They spent 30 minutes or so talking, catching up on the family, etc. He got his picture made with him and left with an autographed DVD of both Dancin' Outlaw parts I and II.

Jesco is off drugs now, but he does have an affection toward Sharpie markers. :) Norma Jean is in a home in Charleston but visits on the weekends. The Miracle Woman has moved to Minnesota and is living with one of her kids out there. She did recently break her arm. As you may have heard, Dorcey kilt himself a while back--the pain of his father's death was too much for him. Mamie is still in Boone County but had to be in court today.

Jesco kept asking Keith if he had a guitar with him. He didn't sing or dance for them but Keith feels strongly he would have if they had asked. It's a shame he didn't pack the guitar. :)

Unfortunately, Jesco does not receive any of the profits from the sell of his movies. His trailer burned and the one he is living in now doesn't have running water.

I need to get back to work, but I thought you might enjoy the update. Take care!

Anyone who has not seen this is invited over to my apartment, at any time, to watch it. It is one of the best things in the world. I am going to see if my parents will buy it for me. If not I am going to pony up the $60 for the DVD.

Amazon wants $130 for the DVD! One DVD, with about 1.5 hours of content.


On apples and oranges...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

So I saw an advertisement for Dell, and they were advertising for their Dell Pocket DJ. During the commercial, they say "twice the capacity of the leading manufacturer."

I flip open the Dell catalog that came in the mail today, and they actually refer to the Apple iPod by name. The catalog also says that it "holds more than twice as many songs as the iPod mini." However, the Pocket DJ is only 5GB.

And then comes the fine print.

Comparison between Dell's song count at 64Kps WMA encoding based on 4 minute/avg per song and Apple's published claims also based on 4 minute/avg per song, as of 10/7/04

(Also available on Dell's page)

Of course, according to the iPod Spec page:

Capacity based on 4 minutes per song and 128-Kbps AAC encoding.

I think this comes dangerously close to false advertising.


Cornell Debate...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Some immediate impressions from watching the Cornell third-party debate.

1) Michael Peroutka, of the Constitution Party, speaks first. From the little I have heard of the Constitution Party, Mr. Peroutka's introductory comments are about what I expected. He sounds like a minister running for President. Very religious platform.

2) David Cobb, of the Green Party gives his opening next. Mr. Cobb appears much as I have thought of the Green Party - very anti-big business, pro-environment, and appealing to a more "alternative" segment of the population.

3) Walt Brown, of the Socialist Party USA. An entertaining fellow. Rambling, a bit, though. His introduction is mainly a biographical one.

4) Michael Badnarik, of the Libertarian Party. Mr. Badnarik gives a brief introduction to the Libertarian Party, and then goes on to explain why you should vote third-party.

All in all the candidates answer the questions in a much more straight-forward manner than either Bush or Kerry. In part this can be attributed to sometimes a much more simplistic view on the issues. This can also be attributed to their much more radical solutions to problems. While Bush and Kerry argue over fine points of a solution, the third party candidates can offer a much more "simple", more radical solution.

Some other notes:
- I do not know how many times Cobb uses the term "fat cats". And calls the system "sexist, and racist."
- I do not know how many times Brown gets cut off.
- I do not know how many times Brown mentions some famous historical American who he calls a socialist.
- I suppose I should not be too surprised that the Constitution Party and the Libertarian Party agree on so much.
- Cobb actually uses "Listen, ya'll" at least once.

In general, I found Peroutka to be somewhat of a religious radical. Cobb was pretty good, but I do disagree with a lot of his ideas. Brown seemed like a nice enough man, but did not seem very Presidential. He tended to ramble on, and was more caught up in history and anecdotes than in actual answers to issues. Badnarik seemed the most Presidential of the four, and seemed by far the most articulate (although Cobb was pretty close behind).

I would highly recommend everyone watch it.


On the DNC this year...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

All bags on T subject to search during DNC

Road Closings during DNC 2003, including map

This is crazy. They are going to try to shut the city down for the week.

I have heard that the city of Boston has promised that all of their traffic cameras would be operating that week. Of course, they do not mention that half are pointed at roads that will be closed.

So they want everyone to take public transportation (never-minding the fact that the T stop nearest the convention will be closed). Of course, now they are going to start searching bags on the T. Should I produce my identification, as well?

I really get the impression that the city of Boston would rather us just all stay at home that week. Or, even better, if we would all head out to our summer house on the Cape.

The city wants the convention because of the money it will bring into the economy, but it never mentions the loss in productivity because of the fiasco that will be moving around that week.

Although if I can rent out our apartment for the week for several thousand dollars...



On Iraq...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Wow, if there was ever a chance to say "I told you so."

I am disgusted by the images of prisoner abuse in Iraq. I am disgusted by the video of the beheading of Nicholas Berg. These two things are obviously related to each other.

Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda came about from the U.S. involvement in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. By invading Iraq, we really got a lot of people pissed off at the U.S.

Ten years or so later, we decide to do the same thing. I am not going to argue if invading Iraq regardless of the consequences is a good idea. There are definite good arguments to be made in both directions.

However, I feel like the current administration did not even put any thought into the possible consequences of invading Iraq again. Invading and controlling Iraq as a way of preventing terrorism is about like amputating a hand because it has a cut on it and you want to stop the bleeding.

Invading Iraq, and mismanaging the control of the country, is a really good way of causing MORE people to be upset at the U.S. The Berg video is an excellent example of that.

Some things that really disturb me:
1) When the ICRC expressed concerns with the handling of prisoners in Iraq back in November, what did the U.S. military do? They decided to restrict ICRC access to the prison.

2) Rumsfeld's take on these pictures showing abuse? He wants to crack down on cameras in the prisons. Those pesky cameras...

What bothers me more than anything is that this claim of "I did not know what was going on" seems to be an acceptable excuse in the case of the prisoner abuse scandal.

I am sorry, but if you are *in charge* of a prison, and abuses are going on at this prison, you should either a) get in trouble for knowing and allowing it to happen, or b) get in trouble for not knowing what was going on in a place you are in charge of.

I am a somewhat bigger conspiracy nut than a lot of people, and I am not sure Rumsfeld knew about the "coercion" techniques, but these abuses seem bigger than a handful of guards.

I just dislike that this policy of "claim ignorance, and promise it will not happen again". It never should have happened in the first place! Where were the commanders then?

The administration seems to be saying "These are problems, and they will be fixed." I am saying "These are the reasons we were telling you not to go into Iraq i the first place!"


Damn, I want to see this *now*

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Kill Bill, Vol. 2

Damn, I want to see this movie.

I want to see it right now.

"Kill Bill, Vol. 1" was one of the few movies that I thought "Wow, I really want to see this movie again", *while I was watching the movie the first time*!

The second looks to be even better.


April 16th. is not coming soon enough.

Or, for that matter, April 13th., when the first one is released on DVD.

This coming week is going to be a Kill Bill week.


On virus alerts

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

My email:

Is there anyway you can turn off these virus alerts? NetSky and most other viruses I am being informed about are known to forge the From: header. If MailArmor can figure out that the virus is NetSky.B.1, then it should be smart enough to say "Well, no sense in telling the apparent recipient and sender, since both addresses were just randomly pulled from the address book or web cache of someone infected."

I woke up this morning to almost a dozen of these alerts. I have a Macintosh. I highly doubt I have been infected with the NetSky virus.

The response:

The answer to your question is easy, but the explaination is long. Basically, we do not want to turn off the virus notifications. However, with the new browsers, you can designate them as junk and have them automatically deleted - on your machine. Would that work?

So they have valid reasons for wanting to keep the notifications, but are perfectly fine with me completely ignoring them? Sounds useful.

If I can completely ignore the notifications, *then why am I being notified?*


On eating...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

1) No caffiene.
2) No carbonation.
3) No hot drinks.
4) No chocolate before noon/for breakfast.
5) No leftovers.
5a) The microwave is not your friend.
6) No red meat.
7) No lactose.
8) No alcohol.
9) No smoking (not exactly in line with the subject, but oh well...)


On the user interface of WinXP...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

So they finally replaced the 400 MHz Centrino machines in our office (one running Win95, one running Win98) with Pentium4 machines running WinXP Pro.

As people who read this journal know, I am a big fan of Apple. I have owned an Apple in one form or the other since about 1986. For a while I considered studying HCI/UI (Human-Computer Interaction/User Interface) in college. I ended up not doing so, but I did take several classes in psychology and perception. Computer UI is a little hobby of mine. Friends of mine will often see me knocking a computer program because of its UI.

My first impressions? Well, XP is fairly stable. Windows fans are right about that. Microsoft still has a long way to go, though.

[The comments that follow regard our particular install. I realize not all XP installs are this bad. This is what I have to deal with. Our machines run DeepFreeze, which restores the machine back to a standard install after each restart. In addition, DeepFreeze automatically logs you out and restarts the machine after 30 minutes of inactivity. In an eight hour shift, this can happen frequently.]

The UI? Oh, the UI...

What was Microsoft thinking?

Bubbles should not have close boxes! Each time I log in (because the machine is wiped each time it restarts), two informational bubbles pop up. One tells me there are new updates to be installed. Of course, any updates will not be kept on our machines, so... I hit the close button (on a bubble) and another pops up, asking me to take a tour of XP.

If you have an informational dialog you want me to have to close (to make sure I read), make it into an window! Bubbles should not have close boxes.

Bubbles should also not cover up important other functions. For some reason XP wants to always inform me that there are new programs installed under Start:All Programs. The bubble that tells me this does not go away easily, and completely blocks the "Log Out" menu option. I finally figured out that clicking on the bubble will make it go away. Annoying.

Some problems exclusive to our set-up:

1) We do not have network profiles. The school uses Novell to do networking. When I log in, I am automatically logged into about four network drives, including one that is my personal drive space. Unfortunately, the school does not seem to be able to handle saving XP preferences on that drive (if XP even supports it). Any preferences I change (like appearance, or bubbles clicked closed) are not saved from restart to restart. This is 2004. How can I not have saved network profiles?

2) The school does not seem to be able to figure out how to change our default network printer. I need to be able to print out to two printers as part of my job. One sits in the office with me, and is the one I need to use 99.99% of the time. Out of the two printers set up, guess which one is *not* the default. I have no clue how many reams of paper the nurse's office has gone through as a result of them not being able to fix this.

3) MIcrosoft Office is quasi-installed. Every time a component is needed, it installs itself over the network. This can be slow, but I assume make application upgrades easier. Unfortunately, Office also cannot remember preferences install to install. In addition, if I double-click on an Office document, the correct component is installed and started, *but the document I wanted to open is not opened!*. I have to double-click on the document again!

4) Logging in through Novell on XP takes even longer than it did under Win95/98.

Those are about all the problems I remember off the top of my head.

It is 2004. Computers should work better than this. I feel like I am still fighting with XP to do what I want the machine to do. And is XP just that stupid about network drives?

As a result of #1 above, I cannot even fix any of these problems. XP is the same every time I log in. Annoying!


If a Mars Rover had a journal...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago














On Ralph Nader running for President...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

So the recent political uproar is whether Ralph Nader should run for President again. The only people who see this as a decision to be made are Democrats. Hopefully everyone reading this can see the reason Democrats would not want Nader to run again - they say he steals votes away from whichever Democrat is running.

Makes sense. Nader tends to appeal to a left-wing audience more than a right-wing one. As a result, people who vote for him would probably be more likely to vote for a Democrat than a Republican (provided Nader was not running and they still bothered to vote).

Nader says that "Gore beat Gore", which also makes sense. Gore lost his home state of Tennessee, and even with all of Nader's votes in that state, I still think he would have lost. Blaming Nader alone for Gore's loss is very short-sighted.

As a registered third-party voter, I bring up another theory that does not get much discussion. I vote third-party in the Presidential elections. A lot of times I get blamed for "throwing away my vote". Perhaps I have different logic than other people, but I think my vote says more than someone voting Republican or Democrat.

Maybe if Gore did not want to allow Nader to steal votes from him, he should have gone out and tried to win over the Nader supporters. Gore should have looked at some of Nader's platform and adopted some of it for himself.

The difference between Gore and Bush in Florida was also smaller than the number of people that voted Libertarian in that state. Had Gore tried to court some more of those voters, maybe he could have won that state and, therefore, the election as a whole.

Democrats talk about how Nader "stole votes" from Gore. I look at it the other way - Gore did nothing to keep those votes. Gore "gave them away", or at least stood by while Nader took them. In that situation, Gore (and Democrats) really have no ability to complain after the fact.

Gore tried running his campaign right down the middle of American. As a result, he strayed too far for some of the more extreme liberals, and they looked for an alternative. Bush also ran down the middle, and obviously did a better job of it, and continued to take the more conservative Republicans along with him. As a result, he won.

No, Gore has no one to blame for his loss but himself and his campaign advisors.

As for this November, I think Nader should run again, to keep whichever Democrat ends up running honest to his liberal stronghold.


Best video ever...

singularity singularity writes  |  more than 10 years ago

About a year ago I went through a time where I would watch this video a couple of times a day. It has since been replaced by a video of Tom Jones and The Cardigans singing "Burning Down the House".

Best video over!

The lyrics just stick in your head.

A friend of mine bought me the LP with that song on it. I just need to get a record player now.

Also check out the "Dancin' Ross" linked on that page.


On account of a slow Sunday afternoon

singularity singularity writes  |  about 11 years ago

Long day today. In the office from 10am-6pm. In the office the same time tomorrow. A nice way to spend a long weekend, I suppose. I am off Monday, though.

So far today I have not done a lot. I researched getting a SCUBA certification before I go back down to the Virgin Islands (provided I go back this summer, of course). I watched a little of the "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast" video I received for Christmas.

Last night I went and saw "Big Fish". It actually was pretty good. I had been expecting a little more, but it was still worth seeing. To be honest, I feel like Tim Burton got more caught up in the special effects and the stories than in the actual plot. He tried to bring it together at the end, but it did not make up for the lack earlier in the movie.

Almost all of the kids are gone this weekend.

I have also been playing around a little bit with GarageBand, the new music-generation software from Apple. I really like it. I consider myself to have almost no musical talent (I listen to a lot, but creation and playing is a complete other story). In about twenty minutes of work, I had a song that did not sound too bad (well, a little under a minute of music right now, but...).

Not having talent to add original music on top of what is already provided, the song sounds a little ambient since it is just loops, but given everything else, it is not too bad. Once I feel comfortable enough, I might post it somewhere to download.

GarageBand is still obviously v1.0, but works well enough for now.

In other, very happy news, the new iPhoto is much more responsive, even with some of my 4000+ picture albums. I have complained (vocally) in the past about iPhoto's inability to deal well with albums with more than about 800-1000 pictures. I am proud to report that while the new iPhoto is not as fast as Steve Jobs tried to make it out during the recent keynote speech, it is definitely acceptable even with my largest libraries.

I am having some problems with the picture sharing. Some photos I am unable to open in an edit window (display window, though, since I cannot edit a picture on another computer). Instead I get an error saying "The file XXXX.jpg cannot be found." I assume this will be fixed in a later version.

Other than that, things are pretty slow. Kids are sitting around waiting to find someone to take them to the mall.

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