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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

wvmarle Re:Super-capitalism (425 comments)

There are scheduled outages caused by energy shortage, and they work hard on solving that. However unscheduled outages through events like the weather are very rare.

7 hours ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

wvmarle Re:Super-capitalism (425 comments)

Even China has a far more reliable power supply than the USA. Virtually no outages due to normal storms or lightning or so; occasional outage after a particularly destructive typhoon (hurricane on your side of the Pacific) or a massive earthquake.

Can't really call China a small country.

It's just the sad truth that the richest country in the world has one of the most unreliable power supplies.

8 hours ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

wvmarle Re:Know what you're going to do (175 comments)

What do you need these volunteers for? If you can't do something yourself, you have to hire someone to do it for you, however most businesses start off as a one-man shop. Many of those never grow beyond that, they provide the owner a good income and that's it. Many owners may not even have the ambition to grow further, to start having to manage people instead of doing the real work (which they enjoy doing). That accounts for all businesses, including software businesses, this are just businesses where a person is self employed, selling his services directly to the people that need exactly that.

OP doesn't even mention what kind of software he wants to do (other than that he can't write software himself). There's web design, there's database development, there's custom application development. All these things can be done by a single person. I've done just that for my own business: I'm a tour operator and I happen to be pretty computer savvy, so for that my business set up a web site (to promote my tours), an online booking system (accepts credit cards - using PayPal as payment processor), a MySQL database to store all the tours and bookings, a front-end for me to manage tours and bookings. I've designed promotional leaflets and a presentation for use during the tours, explaining geological processes that took place. Besides all that, I'm operating the actual tours, and no way I'd hire someone to do that for me as that's the fun part of the business.

Yet still I'm a one man shop. I haven't hired anyone to do this for me. I haven't even set up a company for that (not legally required as long as I operate using my own name). The only thing that I outsource is stuff that I don't have the equipment for such as the printing of leaflets, and I'm renting a cloud server to run my website on.

What you're thinking of, is far more difficult to make money with. You have to have a unique idea, have to be the first, have to implement it well, have to get the idea out to the people.

On the other hand, there are lots of huge, established markets (such as tourism - what I'm currently involved in) with many businesses providing income for many people. The trick is to get into such a market, and make some of that money flow your way. It usually won't make you super rich, it won't make you a second Google or Facebook, but the chances that you can make some good money in such a market are good, while the chances of making it super rich are very, very, very small. Buying a lot in the lottery gives you a better chance to strike it rich than hoping for a unique product that takes off massively.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

wvmarle Re:Get a sales force and some customers (175 comments)

That for six out of at least six million businesses the amount of sales and customers doesn't matter too much, doesn't make it the new rule.

Yes, they're big. But no, you won't be one of them. Unless you somehow win the lottery when it comes to having the right idea at just the right time.

3 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

wvmarle Know what you're going to do (175 comments)

The summary is a bit short on detail, but one thing is lacking: a business plan. I've never run a software business, but am running my own business now so have a bit of experience in setting it up. What do you want to program? Who are your customers? Where's the demand?

You're already talking about hiring multiple people - this means you must have a decent outline of a piece of software to develop, and it's going to be a quite big project. Do you have customers for that already? Without customers, you're going to run dry very very soon, and you won't be able to get any funding. No customers, no future for whatever you want to do. Just saying "let's set up a software shop" is a one-way street to bankruptcy. You need to have potential customers before you start producing anything, really. You need to know the demand is there. You need to have your income sources. You'll have to find customers who need a product, and who believe you can deliver what they need at good price and quality.

Hiring people is very expensive for a shop without income. I've always started up on my own, do everything in house until you have too much to do that you have to start getting other people involved. In the meantime this also means that revenue is there.

Getting started is hard: no-one knows you, and hiring you (the new kid on the block) for some big, expensive software project (the kind a single person can't handle) won't happen. They'll go to the ones they know that can handle it. You'll have to start small, slowly get your way into the market, get your name out, get your product out, let the people know you're there and you're good. Then you may get bigger projects, then you may start hiring people and setting up an office that's not part of your living room.

Good luck with it all!

3 days ago
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What is your computer most often plugged into?

wvmarle Re:UPS (233 comments)

What definitely helps is that hardware from around 2010 is a lot more reliable than hardware built before the year 2000. That alone may help to explain less hardware failures.

Getting better quality components (good chance you did that the same time you decided on a UPS), or simply luck also helps a lot.

I've barely had hardware failures over the past 20 years - and even if UPS would have prevented them all, it'd have cost me a lot more (need for multiple UPS units due to different locations) than to just replace the broken hardware which invariable was past its economic lifetime already by the time it broke.

4 days ago
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MARS, Inc: We Are Running Out of Chocolate

wvmarle Re:The Fix: Buy good Chocolate! (323 comments)

What's the solution? To pay the farmers more. Right now, Cocoa sells for approx $2800/ton and in my opinion it should be closer to $10,000 - $20,000 / ton.

My feeling says that if the shortage of cocoa is as bad as TFS suggests, market forces will soon enough take care of that.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Programming Education Resources For a Year Offline?

wvmarle Re:OK, seriously then... (223 comments)

If there is no Internet available in the area, it's not likely you can find a working hotspot at Starbuck's or the local library or where-ever you would expect to find one in your home country.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

wvmarle Re:Alternative? (377 comments)

There is more to GM seeds than short-term feeding of people.

There's the patents - putting too much power in the hands of a handful of people. In the end we may be stuck with eating Soylent Green.

Then there's the problem of plants grown from hybrid seeds, which do not produce viable seeds themselves, so you have to buy seeds every time. You can't use seeds you harvest from your own crops any more. Cross-breeding between hybrid and traditional strains (this will happen, if only accidentally) introduces these hybrids to traditionals, so the traditional strains may lose their ability to produce good seed. In time, we may only have these hybrid seeds available. The genetic variation in the crops goes down, local varieties disappear as they can not produce their own seeds any more.

All that then has to happen is some plant disease to appear, against which the hybrid strains (we don't have anything else any more) is not immune, and we have a world-wide famine, with little to no option to recover.

about two weeks ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

wvmarle Re: So, does water cost more? (377 comments)

Remember that patents are location bound, so only if they're patented in that specific country AND that country accepts that accidental cross-breeding falls under the patents, big ag may be able to do something.

about two weeks ago
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How Baidu Tracked the Largest Seasonal Migration of People On Earth

wvmarle Re:3.6 billion passenger trips. (48 comments)

It's probably counted like that indeed.

But don't overstate air traffic - it's still quite low capacity compared to trains and buses, which are the transport method of choice for all those migrant workers. Even in the US, if 20% of your population is on the move, 90% of those will have to take other transport than planes.

about two weeks ago
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How Baidu Tracked the Largest Seasonal Migration of People On Earth

wvmarle Re:Presumably passenger journeys, not people (48 comments)

I'm more used to hearing about numbers in the tune of 200-300 million people travelling over the New Year holidays - China's most important celebration. That's mostly migrant workers travelling back home, plus some tens of millions of tourists.

No matter what, this are huge numbers.

about two weeks ago
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How Baidu Tracked the Largest Seasonal Migration of People On Earth

wvmarle Re:Could be the green death (48 comments)

That are all second and third (illegal) children. Plus of course all the second wives (aka mistresses).

about two weeks ago
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Car Thieves and Insurers Vote On Keyless Car Security

wvmarle Re:I wish I'd thought of that (221 comments)

Didn't those cars have license plates attached to them for easy identification?

about a month ago
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Car Thieves and Insurers Vote On Keyless Car Security

wvmarle Re:I wish I'd thought of that (221 comments)

I'm used to such numbers being inside the passenger compartment, under the rug - rather concealed places like that.

If the police would want to check on it (never heard they do), I'd have a hard time finding it. It'd require me to read the car manual to check on the location of it.

about a month ago
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Car Thieves and Insurers Vote On Keyless Car Security

wvmarle Re:I wish I'd thought of that (221 comments)

In case of the challenge/response, the car knows what response to expect on the challenge it sent out. So the car and the key basically do the same calculation.

The lost key situation is very simple: reprogram not only the key, but also the car. The car can be reprogrammed after gaining entry with a physical key - this may be a traditional key, or a smart key, or whatever. Just a second key, that the owner receives with his car and which can only be used for gaining access for reprogramming purposes.

Now what if you lose that reprogramming key as well? Then the car owner will have to pay for a new window in his car, as the dealer will have to use brute force to access the reprogramming hub.

Now theft becomes a bit of an issue (thief steals reprogramming equipment, gains access to the car, reprograms it to match the thief's key), however this again can be mitigated by having the car lock up for some time (a few hours should be enough to deter thieves) upon reprogramming without reprogramming key.

The only issue may be that all the existing keys to the car (many people will have more than one key) have to be replaced.

about a month ago
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EU Court Rules Embedding YouTube Videos Is Not Copyright Infringement

wvmarle Re:Internet vs meatspace (68 comments)

This is an interesting ruling because, currently in the US, playing a radio station over speakers in a business is copyright infringement. This is very close to the meatspace equivalent of embedding a copyrighted work

No, in fact it's nothing like that whatsoever. If the EU had ruled that it was legal to display youtube videos in a public place for the purposes of entertainment, then it would be similar. It isn't. There is no parallel here.

A web site on the Internet is quite arguably the cyberspace equivalent to a public place.

The display of a YouTube video on a screen in your shop, streaming from YouTube, is quite arguably the same as embedding it in your web site.

A lot will depend on the copyright license of the material in question. You're certainly allowed to play music in your store if you get explicit permission from the copyright owner of this music to use their material in your shop. Maybe they even come and play live in your shop. If you put a video out on the Internet, and explicitly add "only link, do not embed this video in any other site", and someone does embed it after all, you may still be able to claim copyright infringement as it's explicitly stated you don't want this.

about a month ago
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EU Court Rules Embedding YouTube Videos Is Not Copyright Infringement

wvmarle Re:Justice (68 comments)

Now such a comment shows you have a serious problem - one with not thinking through the problem, and showing a thorough lack of understanding of even the basics of the concept of copyright. Note that every video, every work out there is copyrighted. Also your home videos. The whole notion of those anti-copying groups that say "don't share copyrighted material" is stupid - whether you can share copyrighted material with third parties depends on whether the copyright owner has given permission or not. Simply uploading to YouTube may very well arguably include an implicit permission to share, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

There is a general agreement that linking to material is OK, however this is much more than just linking - this is embedding. Linking is easier: it basically tells "look, over there you can find this or that, you may go have a look". Nothing from the original content is visible in your web site, clearly no copyright infringement.

Embedding a video goes a lot further than that. It is getting quite close to renting a video and showing it to all your friends and all other people that ask. Whether that is legal, generally depends on the copyright license of the rights holder.

If no restrictions on this, you could take all the content of your local newspaper's site, embed it in your web site (using frames or so, so you're not actually copying the news articles to your own web site), and you got your own news web site. I'm pulling it a bit more to an extreme, but it's basically the same: it's embedding. However now you must see the issues this may have.

As I understand it, YouTube has an option to indicate whether you allow your video to be embedded in another web site. If you allow this, there's no issue of course.

A complicating factor in this case will certainly be the fact that the uploader of the video is not the copyright holder of the original material... and that when I see videos from YouTube broadcast as part of a TV show, it very often says (C) YouTube - also something that I have bad feelings about, whether it is true or not.

about a month ago
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When will the first successful manned Mars mission happen?

wvmarle Re:I give the Chinese 300 years (219 comments)

You're a few years behind the times.

While for sure they're not on par with the Americans, I wouldn't call BeiDou a "PR stunt". There are already mobile phones on the market that use it, in conjunction with the American GPS and the Russian GLONASS. They also have a growing number of more and more advanced military satellites circling around the earth already, and have managed to reach Mars.

There is for sure a lot of PR involved, and that should tip you off for the future. They will sooner or later leapfrog the US, just because of that, because it's the exact same motivation the US had to put a man on the moon.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Ask Slashdot: backup solution for small business

wvmarle wvmarle writes  |  more than 4 years ago

wvmarle (1070040) writes "For my small business I am looking for a reliable backup method, allowing me to relatively easily recover my data from a crash. This includes email (Cyrus IMAP), LDAP, /etc, user home directories, and other user generated data. This is all stored on a single server; users mount /home over NFS. No important data on the work stations.
There are two issues I am struggling with: first of all the backup method. Currently I'm making a simple tarball (daily updates, weekly updates, monthly full backups); while reasonably effective it's not easy to recover data and ldap/mysql databases don't like to be recovered that way. I've been looking at software but there are so many solutions that I do not know where to start. Something reasonably easy to manage, and reasonably easy to restore, with a scheme similar to the above.
Secondly the storage medium. Currently my backups are on a separate hard disk inside the server. Again not the best solution. I have been looking to use e.g. flash drivers for external storage, but my .tgz monthly dumps are about 30 GB and the largest USB drive that I found is barely bigger, doesn't make me feel happy. Also too much for DVD-Rs. And it's not enough to think about tape. Removable hard disks I wouldn't like to just toss in my bag to take them home for off-site storage, just hoping they survive those trips. I'm not really looking for permanent backup, 3-6 months while rotating the media will do."
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Chinese surfers see red over Microsoft black-outs

wvmarle wvmarle writes  |  more than 6 years ago

wvmarle (1070040) writes "Microsoft has decided to take action against Windows systems in China that fail the "Windows Genuine Advantage" check. Since the latest automatic updates, many users find their desktop background to be changed to black. This has left many users fuming and looking for alternatives. Also Microsoft Office is targeted, and Chinese software producers supplying competing products see their downloads soar by as much as 50% already. One of the main complaints is that Microsoft is hacking end user's computers, and users are afraid that if today Microsoft changes their background, what will they do tomorrow? More news reports available here and here."

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