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Mac OS X Yosemite Beta Opens

wernst Not Apple's first Yosemite-named Mac product (165 comments)

Those of us of a certain age will probably find the codename of the new OS X oddly familiar.

The so-called "Blue & White" PowerMac G3 was also code-named "Yosemite" (http://apple-history.com/g3blue). Mine still works fine, 15 years later - it'll be old enough to drive and vote soon.

Too bad my Yosemite Mac won't be able to run Yosemite OS X...

about 2 months ago
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Snowden's Big Truth: We Are All Less Free

wernst Re:Not news for the observant folks.... (583 comments)

This is what happens when a government declares 'War' on an idea, or other abstract.

Spanish Inquisition

Hmmm. I wasn't expecting that.

about a year ago
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Microsoft Fails Antivirus Certification Test (Again), Challenges the Results

wernst If the 0-Day infections are undetected, then how.. (228 comments)

So, if all these 0-Day infections are UNDETECTED BY MICROSOFT, then HOW could Microsoft's telemetry show them that the vast majority of its users are unaffected? If Microsoft knew about these things' existence, it stands to reason that it's product would block them.

Independent testing groups hold AV vendor's feet to the fire like a good free press does to politicians'. When caught, both groups tend to respond the same way: deny the problem and accuse the whistle-blower of being out of touch or inappropriate.

about a year and a half ago
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John McAfee Launches Blog, Offers $25K Reward For "Real Killers"

wernst Oh the Irony... (377 comments)

I think it is a delicious irony that McAfee claims he may be the victim of a false-positive identification.

about 2 years ago
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Space Junk Forced Astronauts Into ISS Escape Capsules

wernst Re:Has the ISS become sentient yet? (87 comments)

Hey! I can answer a bit about this.

My last job was at Epson, and around 1998, we made a special Epson Stylus Color 800 inkjet printer for use on the Shuttle. It went up on STS-95, which was the same mission John Glenn went up in. It (or perhaps a clone of it) now sits in the Epson America HQ lobby.

Anyway, I can confirm that other than a special black plastic case, which included plastic "cages" for both feeding paper in and taking paper out (it kept the sheets from floating away), a special latch for the USB cable, and maybe a special power supply (I don't remember anything special, but it may have had one), it was an off-the-shelf printer.

There was no special technology needed to pressurize the ink carts, or to move the ink from the heads to the paper during the act of printing. It just worked.

Now I'm not saying that current printers weren't engineered especially to work in zero-G, but we found it was unnecessary back in the 90's.

more than 2 years ago
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User Successfully Sues AT&T For Throttling iPhone Data

wernst Re:Can't change contract without compensation (166 comments)

If the network is so limited, they shouldn't be selling devices where network access is marketed as the primary feature.

more than 2 years ago
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US Approves Two New Nuclear Reactors

wernst That's all well and good, but... (596 comments)

...as soon as someone forgets to pay the gravity bill, it's Fukushima all over again!

more than 2 years ago
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BART Keeps Cell Service Despite Protests

wernst Re:Shut it all off! (196 comments)

"There is NOTHING in the Constitution about freedom of speech that says that you have to assist demonstrators in shutting down your system."

Actually, it's the FCC that has full legal authority regarding cell phone service (and pretty much all wireless communication methods), and its intentional disruption or jamming, and how NO ONE is supposed to be legally allowed to do it. You know why movie theaters can't install cell phone jammers to keep phones in the audience from ringing? The FCC makes it illegal to do so. Remember when the vendors of paid WiFi services in Logan airport wanted to shut down a competing free WiFi service in the terminal, but weren't allowed to do so? That pesky FCC again.

Basically, only the FCC has the legal authority to suspend/disrupt/jam common carrier services. And in fact, the FCC is inviting users who had their services disrupted to register a complaint at http://www.fcc.gov/complaints or call 1-888-CALL-FCC.

So no, it's not the Constitution that protects the protesters' rights to use cell phones, but the FCC prohibits anyone else from interfering with the signals, regardless of the intention.

more than 3 years ago
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Review of IBM's Original Personal Computer

wernst Re:What Might Have Been... (154 comments)

Already on the pre-order list, my friend. ;-)

Always glad to see another A2 user on slashdot.

more than 3 years ago
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Review of IBM's Original Personal Computer

wernst What Might Have Been... (154 comments)

As a die-hard Apple II user (still have my original //e and a spiffy Ethernet-equipped, Compact-Flash-card-as-a-hard-drive, maxed out IIGS), I've often pondered what might have been but for a few twists of computing fate.

With just between 16KB to 256KB or RAM, a pair of 140KB floppy drives, an 80-column green-screen or RGB color display, 5 card slots, and an 8-bit CPU bus with a CPU running at far less than 10 MHz, the IBM 5150 isn't that different than a contemporary Apple //e (typically with 128KB of RAM, a pair of 140KB floppies, a green screen or RGB display, 7 card slots, and a more efficient 1MHz CPU), and it wasn't obviously superior at the time. Both had similar expansion abilities (serial, parallel, game, modems, primitive hard drives in time), yet industry chose the PC to build upon because it was legally simpler.

What might have been if Apple allowed industry to clone and build upon the Apple II architecture, I wonder? Would we have had Compaq building luggable Apple II's with 16-bit CPUs and expanded memory early on? Might we have eventually had Apple IIs with 16-bit ISA slots, then VLB slots, then PCI slots, then AGP slots, and now PCI Express? Might we today have thoroughly modern computers with slick Windows-like GUIs, but if you did a Control-Reset or booted off of a USB-connected legacy Disk ][ you could still enter an AppleSoft BASIC program equivalent to booting off of an MSDOS boot floppy and doing a "dir?" Might our keyboards still have Open-Apple and Solid-Apple keys instead of Alt and Windows?

Now don't get me wrong, I love my PCs today and earn my livelihood with them, but as a former Beagle Bros employee, I sometimes can't help but wonder what might have been...

more than 3 years ago
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Open Source Alternative To Dropbox?

wernst How about encrypted zip files for the secret stuff (482 comments)

Surely not *everything* in your Dropbox folder is private and sensitive? Sure, your Excel spreadsheet with last years' taxes are, but your vacation photos?

For those few files I have that I consider sensitive, I just zip them up with a long/strong password and use encryption. There are a few Android apps that can deal with these zip files, and I know all my desktop OSes can.

more than 3 years ago
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Ears Might Be Better Than Fingerprints For ID

wernst And what about plastic surgery for the ears? (135 comments)

I was born with ears that stuck out worse that Prince Charles. I was teased about them all through school.

In college I had my ears "tucked," which basically made them lay flat against my head. I had generous grandparents.

Anyway, the point is that to do this, (the following not for the queasy), they slice open your ear, take out the cartilage (which is what forms all the unique bumps and curves of your ear), manually reshape it, stick it back in, and then sew you up.

Not only did my ears finally not stick out, but they looked totally different than they did before: none of the curves matched, and even my earlobes are a different shape (the bottoms are trimmed a bit and then stitched back to your head.)

This is not terribly expensive surgery, and while a bit painful, if I were a criminal trying to beat a set of "earprints" somehow left at the scene of a crime, I'd have it done in a second.

more than 3 years ago
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What Objects To Focus On For School Astronomy?

wernst Re:The Sun (377 comments)

Duh! If you wanna look at The Sun without risking your eyesight, just do it at night! Problem solved.

more than 4 years ago
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Best Way To Clear Your Name Online?

wernst You are "Timothy Lord." Try Googling that, people. (888 comments)

It took about 30 seconds with Google to establish that you are Timothy Lord. There's an MP3 I found of you giving a talk where you even identify your Slashdot ID. So we can get that right out of the way.

Now then.

I Googled Timothy Lord, Tim Lord, both with and without quotation marks. You know what?

There are roughly 7 billion (Timothy Lord) and 10 billion (Tim Lord) hits on that name without quotes. It goes down to close to 100,000 hits to 17,000 hits when you add quotes.

Timothy Lord isn't that uncommon a name. "Tim" and "Lord" by themselves are very common. I have a hard time imagining any employer going through all those search results when there's not really any way of knowing that the Tim Lord they're reading about doing something somewhere at a university computer some time in the past is the Tim Lord they're interviewing for a job. And even if they did, you could always deny it, unless you're under oath or something, but I guess that's a moral question you only have to think about if they went through the hassle of Googling you and getting this hit to begin with.

If your name were, oh, "Cornelius Mytzlplyk" I'd say you have a pretty valid concern here. But "Tim Lord?" I don't think so.

more than 4 years ago
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A Geek Funeral

wernst My minty Sinistar arcade game = open casket for me (479 comments)

I have a small-but-nice vintage arcade game collection in my living room, and it occurred to me a few years back that these old upright cabinets would make for a pretty good coffin, especially my beloved Sinistar.

Then genius struck: remove the monitor (and I guess the boards too - let another collector use 'em), slap my lifeless remains in there so my face is right behind the glass, and BOOM, we have the makings of a great open-casket for what will surely be a somber wake.

Extra points for the nerdy friend who manages to get the game's synthesized voice to occasionally cry out BEWARE! I live!.

more than 4 years ago
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Old-School Keyboard Makes Comeback of Sorts

wernst I love 'em, but my co-workers sure don't, and... (519 comments)

I love my old keyboards, and not just the Model M's.

I have 4 Model M's, and two of them have the EraserHead/Pointer Nipple dealie built-in like a Thinkpad. I have one classic Chicony AT with similar bucking springs inside. And I have 5 First-Generation Apple Extended Keyboards (model M0115) which I use with modern computers with an ADB-USB Converter from Griffin. As a professional writer, I've come to learn that a great-feeling keyboard actually adds the the writing experience, and makes the time pass by much more quickly.

That said, when I work in a cubicle farm (which happens from time to time as a tech writer), my Model M's are a problem. Their "clickety-clackety" machine-gun staccato usually irritates the hell out of everyone in earshot, and it doesn't take more than a hour or so for someone to ask me to use another keyboard. So do consider asking your office neighbors about it before shelling out big bucks for one.

On top of that, and this sounds like something right out of Office Space, but a Model M destroys the illusion of "constant productivity." Good managers know that you can't be typing for 8 hours straight, but Pointy Haired Bosses have no clue, and soon start to figure out when you're typing and when you're browsing Slashdot when you use a Model M. Quiet keyboards don't give your down-time away.

A good Apple M0115 (now nearly 20 years old) is a good combination between great key action and relative quiet, (it just goes "tappetty-tap") and as a bonus, it still works on your old Apple IIGS!

more than 5 years ago
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Symantec Support Gone Rogue?

wernst The problem isn't failure: its what happens after. (268 comments)

First of all, let's not resort to namecalling here.

Neil tested the the software on 12 different infected systems, and found that one resulted in an endless-loop problem requiring support, whereas it installed and worked properly on the others. That right there alone is a better than 90% success rate for Norton. That's hard data. What hard data have you come up with after your extensive testing of av products, Killall? Yeah, I didn't think so.

But this isn't a story about the program's performance (that's in the linked product review). This is a story about the failure of support and a support staff's overzealous attempts to make an extra buck from a desperate customer.

No one expects any free or retail software to clean out all problems all the time, but when you pay for a retail software package, a modicum of free support is part of the deal after a failure to install. Contrary to the tech's assertions, the purchase price include support to install a retail product. If the tech doesn't want to go through the hassle of installing AV products on infected systems via telephone or remote, then the tech should search for another line of work. (And I know - I did this sort of support for 5 years.)

If there were truly no free solutions (and it turns out there were) AT A MINIMUM the tech support person should have offered the option to refund the customer's money after establishing the software wouldn't install. That's not great "tech support," but it at least fair "customer support."

There's also the matter of the tech offering paid services rather than directing the user to free services offered by Norton themselves for just this sort of problem. Offering paid support services for free products is an established business model (SugarCRM anyone?), but ignoring free solutions offered by your own company in order to make an extra buck with a paid solution for a retail product is simply disrespectful to the customer, as is not offering a refund, and Neil called 'em on it. What is your problem with that again?

And finally, there's the little act of plagiarism where the tech represented a third-party free antispyware cleaner as a Symantec product. Also disrepectful, especially when Symantec has its own free tools that are supposed to do the job too. And again, Neil called 'em on it.

Most product reviewers just rewrite press releases without any real testing these days - Neil is one of the few that really tests these things out on banks of infected systems, and then goes through the trouble of pretending to be a normal customer going through tech support to see how it works. There just aren't that many tech reviewers doing that anymore. Personally, I can only think of one other, and modesty prohibits me from mentioning who.

So let's direct that anger to Symantec rather than the reviewer, eh? Symantec dropped the ball on this one.

more than 5 years ago

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