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A Letter On Behalf of the World's PC Fixers

subsonic My trick: (638 comments)

Start telling people it'll cost them up front. I do a little side work in helping coworkers with their home computers (we're 99% mac at work, so a little PC on the side keeps me "fresh") I tell them up front that it'll cost them a bit to get me in the door. But I generally just charge a flat fee. Its way easier for them than working with the Geek Squad who will just take their money and load them down with "solutions" that just cost more money.

I also have started having them sign a waiver.

more than 3 years ago

Motorola Sticks To Guns On Locking Down Android

subsonic Re:What a great way to die (600 comments)

THIS, a million times.
Lazy/apathetic consumers have themselves to blame. I have a phone that lets me tether right out of the box. It was no magic trick, do the research and refuse to settle because someone, somewhere probably made the product that fits your needs.
Whenever people ask me about phones they usually just phrase it along the lines of "iphone or Droid" (implying Verizon and Motorola). They really are not that aware of the range of devices out there.

more than 3 years ago

Mars Journal Issue Inspires Hundreds of One-Way Trip Volunteers

subsonic Re:Send all the volunteers (475 comments)

If they were sent in waves the development could happen in a measured but reliable span of time. Presuming that the crews were mixed gender, it is not improbable that we would eventually see the first extraterrestrial human birth... what a day that would be.

/I don't actually want to SEE the birth, just tell me if its a boy or girl, I've got a box of Zubans for the occasion.

more than 3 years ago

Why haven't you bought a tablet?

subsonic Umm, most of the above? (459 comments)

I haven't bought a tablet because of a lot of the reasons on the list. I think the underlying issue is that I already have devices that do what I would want from a tablet.
I just bought the Nexus S, and that is holding up quite well as my "everywhere" mobile companion, and I can even write fairly easily with it so some of my work and email can be handled there. If I'm sitting down for "serious business"(gaming, extended media consumption) I hit my desktop with a big (ish) screen and the keyboard and mouse that I love.

The things I like about tablets is that they are generally "instant on" and have a big (ish) screen. I still think that a laptop of the current generation would serve these purposes much better than a tablet. Especially when you take price into consideration.

more than 3 years ago

Book Piracy — Less DRM, More Data

subsonic Think of the fans (304 comments)

I've never understood how ebooks, even compared to other media are so rigorously DRM'd. You should WANT people to share the content. Believe it or not, the concept of properly compensating someone for their work is an agreeable idea to many people. The trick of it is that getting it legally should be easier than trying to get it for free- I think both Apple and Amazon have shown that it is now much easier for most people to drop some coin and purchase books instead of trying to "pirate" them.
But what the publishers and the sellers still don't get, is that they should respect people who will become their most valuable asset: the fans. Imagine the ability to share that one book you love to five friends, not even five friends at once, just share it like you would with that physical book you bought at the store. I can share that book with anyone, and while it is shared I cannot read the book since its with someone else. When that person (hopefully) gives it back, then I will pass it on. Maybe that person will have loved that book so much that they will go out and buy it (or its sequel). Its the one thing that makes it seem like, "no matter what you think or do, we do not trust you as a person". Hell, I'd be OK with even keeping the "two week" limit on, just let me loan out the book to as many people as I want to share it with. Its amazing how DRM has that effect of essentially declining money from honest people to protect some perceived 'future value' to your intellectual property.

more than 3 years ago

Gentlemen Prefer Androids, Ladies iOS

subsonic Its a different kind of freedom (483 comments)

I also have an n900. I find its response to be respectable for the kind of phone it is. Yes there are faster phones out there now, but what a difference a year makes. Its quite impressive how much has changed, though not that much has improved. I think the best thing about my n900 is that I can configure it however I want. Hell, I can even run it without a SIM card or a cell phone plan (it would still be quite good at making skype calls). The N900 is certainly not for everyone, or even most users. I am constantly frustrated about the kinds of apps the phone lacks, but at the same time, on the hardware side I can use the device how i see fit. I will hold on to the N900 since it works without a SIM even after I change phones. I think using it as a "micronetbook" is rather appealing and I want to be able to play with Meego when that finally becomes more usable.

more than 3 years ago

WikiLeaks Took Advice From Media Outlets

subsonic Re:I know it's called WikiLeaks, but... (385 comments)

Unfortunately one of the biggest facts of the matter still seems to go unrecognized, or is perfectly accepted by many citizens, and it is this: the USG only applies rules to others and cannot be held responsible for any actions it takes. What makes me sick to my stomach is that in all of this the United States government has been completely unrepentant in its desire to destroy WikiLeaks and its stores of information by whatever means they can get away with. This is not really new information, but its a foregone conclusion within the halls of the White House, Pentagon and Capitol. Quite simply we have betrayed ourselves: The United States is no longer a nation of laws, it took 234 years but there it is. We're not even a nation of men, we're a nation of profit. Empty, soulless profit and domination.

WikiLeaks is screwed, because it does not enjoy the actual protections guaranteed to US citizens but if it did, they would have been rounded up and sent to prison as "enemy combatants". I hope Assange and his cohorts are on the move and safe. Julian, look me up on (that is, if you're crazy enough to drop in to the US...)

more than 3 years ago

Wikileaks Booted From Amazon

subsonic Re:Not sure how I feel about this (528 comments)

Especially when you're an international organization headed by someone who does not have protection under the United States Constitution.

more than 3 years ago

WikiLeaks Should...

subsonic Re:Whatever. (469 comments)

Seriously. My sentiments exactly.

Still love that wikileaks is sticking it to basically everyone.

more than 3 years ago

WikiLeaks Should...

subsonic Re:quit with the gossip (469 comments)

But whats truly interesting is that the website is designed to "crowd source" the thousands and thousands of pages of information. Users randomly read reports and can vote them up and down to help raise the truly interesting stuff.
On the one hand, it is a large dump of largely meaningless information, but the collective work of many eyeballs and minds will find the truly interesting stuff.
The fact that they are smart enough to work the media is merely a benefit to garnering attention. I think WikiLeaks in general has done a very good job of managing information and gaining and keeping people's attention.

I hope all the Wikileaks folks are some place warm and uninteresting right now.

more than 3 years ago

Level 3 Shaken Down By Comcast Over Video Streaming

subsonic Re:Wrong approach L3 (548 comments)

Whats really screwed up is that people are paying for services that they assume they can access, when in fact that is clearly becoming a questionable circumstance. If I pay for Netflix, why can't my (supposedly) internet capable device access it? (Linux users already know this frustration with Netflix using Silverlight for DRM with streaming video) Who is going to compel either the provider or the carrier to accept the wishes of the end user?

Quite frankly, the fact that companies are willing to get in the way and stop people from paying money and legally accessing content is an amazing predicament in modern capitalism. Comcast is already getting paid by customers... Netflix users are paying Netflix... the end users have done absolutely nothing wrong in this instance. Neither company are losing money in the current arrangement, so why are they even fighting over this?*

*This is called a rhetorical question, it does not require a response.

more than 3 years ago

National Opt-Out Day Against Virtual Strip Searches

subsonic Re:Won't work (647 comments)

Also just realized, how easy would it be to get rid of the TSA once airlines start complaining that it is greatly hurting their business? It seems about the only way things change is when there's lots of money hanging in the balance.

more than 3 years ago

National Opt-Out Day Against Virtual Strip Searches

subsonic Re:Won't work (647 comments)

That's about it. My wife and I tried taking amtrak. Its like how air travel used to be. There was an obvious security presence, but not even a metal detector between you and boarding- and this was at Union Station in Chicago. Not to mention the seats were larger and you had more legroom on board, plus there were two three-pronged outlets so i could keep my phone charged and watch some videos on it.
For us, if its domestic travel, rail is a no-brainer now. Even if high speed rail takes a while to finally come to the US, I'd rather ride comfortably for five hours while I can just relax and watch movies or sleep than spend two hours in the air with all the hassle of at least an hour before AND after being treated like a criminal, sitting in a cramped tin can with stale, dry air and generally hating life and humanity.

more than 3 years ago

Amazon Patents Bad Gift Protection

subsonic Re:I understand the concept (210 comments)

You have a really good point. I think the idea of "converting" a gift into a gift card or other un-intended gift (from the giver's perspective) is inappropriate except under the most distant relationships, which case, why isn't the person just giving you an "i don't really care" gift card anyway?

  However, the "size converter" would be awesome for buying people gifts. Instead of hemming and hawing about which size might work, you just hit "buy" and the proper size is sent to the recipient. This would make fitted hats, shoes and jewelry even more appealing to give.

more than 3 years ago

LimeWire Lives Again

subsonic Re:Why (278 comments)

Limewire and Myspace are two things that instantly signal that you're on the "shortbus" of the internet. Its like people who have email addresses and type "Facebook" into google... just facepalm-worthy stuff.

more than 3 years ago

Apple To Discontinue Xserve

subsonic Re:Perception is reality (304 comments)

I work for a school district that is almost entirely Apple based. We just put in an order for what will (apparently) be the last of the Xserve line. I can tell you that we will stick with Apple for the time being, but perhaps out of some perverse sense of loyalty more than anything else. We are not blind to the appeal of switching to linux (our budget would certainly welcome it) but we are not looking forward to outcry from staff about a shift as massive as that.

more than 3 years ago

G2 Detects When Rooted and Reinstalls Stock OS

subsonic Well, they did lose at least one sale (406 comments)

I can hope that someone is going to come up with some wonderful workaround, but until then I'm going to have to pass on this phone. I already have an N900 but I feel like I'm missing out, there's some ok apps being developed, but I want to get out and play with everyone else with their Android and iOS apps. The way carriers keep dicking around with Android and their "custom builds" with crapware, feature blocking and general skullduggery makes me glad I have an unlocked phone. It may be a little clunky, but at least its mine.

more than 3 years ago

Verizon Confirms Plan To Switch Away From Unlimited Data Plans

subsonic Re:There should be NO price of tethering! (207 comments)

Its also what happens when you sign your rights away to the carrier when you get a phone on contract. They set up the phone, they set up the terms. There are a whole host of unlocked phones on the market that do allow tethering without having to ask anyone's permission. Yes you pay more upfront, but you have more leverage with your service provider when you aren't required to have a data plan if you don't need one, plus you can switch carriers when you want to. All else being equal, I stood to save $800 over the two years I wouldn't have to pay extra on a contract. That's the cost of my next phone and then some.

Of course, it would be nice if there were more than two GSM carriers in the US, but it's still better than being stuck with a phone that ONLY works on Verizon.

more than 3 years ago

Union Boycotts LA Times Over Teacher Evaluation Disclosure

subsonic Re:Educational Problems (629 comments)

Same here, I know there are lots of studies out there about testing and teacher effectiveness, but it will be interesting to see what happens when the report is published.

I work in a school district (nowhere near California, let alone LA) and have to say that there are lots of variables. We have a large group of English Language Learners, a large number of kids with 'special needs' (because being full of energy when you're 8 years old is apparently a disease now) and now there are so many consult minutes that students are occupied with a lot of other distractions that take them out of their primary classroom and away from their classmates. Some of that may be useful, some of it definitely is not.

I think if we make it easier to fire teachers, it should be easier to hire teachers. There are lots of good teachers (that is, people who CAN teach but do not work as Teachers) out there who simply don't want to jump through the hoops of most modern teacher certification and licensing. And the fact that you are practically forced to pursue a masters degree is a joke, as there are a number of studies that show that having an advanced degree does not make you a better teacher. Instead of wasting a teacher's time with "professional development" that is mandatory and therefore not interesting to the teachers, they come to resent the process. Instead they should place more reward on teachers who go the extra mile and who can't go a day without coming up with some way to engage their students or to tweak a lesson plan (the ones who actually like learning and teaching).

A couple other quick ideas:
-Have kids(elementary age) "keep" their teacher from year to year. Having to make and break that strong teacher/student connection each school year, especially at young ages has a lot to do with that 'summer drop off' that students experience. Teachers should be able to instruct from grades 1-5.
- Shorter summer vacation. I'm not an ogre, you can have a nice 3 or 4 week break, but I would much rather take some of those extra days and make them vacations elsewhere in the calendar- or give them to the parents of the students to use in line with their own vacation time. Yes that means teachers will maybe teach to a room half-empty, but in my school district parents tend to take their kids regardless and it may cut down on unapproved absences.

more than 3 years ago

Old (unused) mobile phones I've got hanging around ...

subsonic Re:Underused ones? (307 comments)

I know what you mean. I have an n900 and am probably not going to part with it, even if I got a different phone. The thing is just a handy device that would work great over wifi or as an international traveler phone (I can dream...).

more than 4 years ago


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