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Comment: Employer in hospice (Score 2) 225

by AlpineR (#35933720) Attached to: My present employer I think will survive ...

Self-employed scientific consultant. Been battling cancer for seven years (age 37), now in a mode of hospice care with widespread tumors growing rapidly. Don't know by what mechanism things will end, but it's likely to happen in the next six months.

One thing that bothers me as I prepare for that end: I am the sole maintainer for a few small open source projects. Right now I pay my former university for web hosting. Is there a good way to set up a host for after my death (several years prepaid or some sort of archival service)?

Comment: Social movie watching (Score 1) 429

by AlpineR (#34691384) Attached to: <em>Tron: Legacy</em> &mdash; Too Much Imagination Required?

You can talk during the previews. You might even get to the theater early and talk while your group gathers in the lobby. Or you could drive to the theater together and socialize in the car. Then after the movie you could all discuss the movie (or whatever else) on your drive home.

Movies are also long enough that you'll frequently want to refill your belly before or after the film. This phenomenon has led to the common phrase: "Dinner and a movie". Unless everyone stares at their plate and chews in silence, that too would be a peg more social than Pizza Pockets and a DVD alone at David's house.

Comment: Haggling (Score 1) 725

by AlpineR (#34592078) Attached to: Retailers Dread Phone-Wielding Shoppers

I am an American and I hate haggling. It takes time and effort, multiplied by the number of stores offering the item. They should all just name their best price up front. If one store names a price $10 higher than the others but will drop it by $15 if I ask nicely, I'll just buy it from another store with a lower list price. I don't want to drive around visiting all the different stores to haggle for their actual prices.

Comment: Forecasts and reality (Score 1) 725

by AlpineR (#34591910) Attached to: Retailers Dread Phone-Wielding Shoppers

The stock dives because the expected profit has already been factored into the stock price. Stockholders raised their selling price months ago based on their forecast of $175 million in profit. The actual profit of only $150 million forces them to sell for a bit less. But, theoretically, the new price should be the same as if the forecast had ben $150 million all along - higher than the price during the year with $100 million but lower than it would be with $175 million in actual profits.

Comment: Target (Score 1) 725

by AlpineR (#34591682) Attached to: Retailers Dread Phone-Wielding Shoppers

Have you shopped at Target?

I rarely enter Wal-Mart so I can't make many direct comparisons. But to me Target has a reputation for a little nicer, more stylish stuff and great prices. Recently I bought a 3-pack of Aveeno Colloidal Oatmeal shaving cream; good for sensitive skin and priced at what a single can would cost at my local independent pharmacy. They also have nice kitchenware like Calaphon anodized aluminum pans and some fancier chocolates than you'd find at many grocery stores. Before I discovered IKEA I bought most of my home furnishings there and occasionally I find stylish clothing that elicits many compliments (though I still do most of my clothes shopping at their sister chain, Macy's).

Comment: 500+ channels (Score 1) 385

by AlpineR (#34432736) Attached to: How much TV do you watch in a week, on average?

I don't understand why anyone would bother paying for 500+ channels you're most likely never going to watch.

Why do you bother paying for a billion Web pages you're never going to view? Same reason people pay for 500 channels – they're part of a service, and you can't reduce cost by dropping the options that you personally aren't using.

Comment: Compact music (Score 1) 551

by AlpineR (#34244056) Attached to: The Beatles On iTunes

That line from Men in Black has become so true now. When the movie was made the most compact form of music storage really was the compact disc. For much less physical volume you can now have a 32 GB memory card. With modern sound compression that's enough room for hundreds of albums.

If you're still lugging around the White Album on CD, it really is time to buy it again.

Comment: Re:Close, but still not pratical (Score 1) 120

by AlpineR (#34216410) Attached to: Replacing Sports Bloggers With an Algorithm

Perhaps even presenting the results from surveys or scientific studies.

I was just thinking: yeah the writing is dry and disjointed, much like my scientific articles. I wouldn't mind a robo writing assistant to help me put out journal articles. Much of it is, in fact, dry and formulaic.

Comment: Cell phone zombies (Score 2, Interesting) 519

by AlpineR (#33669582) Attached to: As smart-phones go, my phone is ...

I think it works the other way around. Cell service creates zombies. At least that's my observation, noting that 90% of the bad drivers on the road have a cell phone jacked into their brain. And walking down the street, somebody on their phone is likely to bump into me regardless of whether I were brandishing a knife or holding up a sign saying "Beware of open manhole".

Comment: Si prices (Score 2, Informative) 208

by AlpineR (#33623550) Attached to: Is SSD Density About To Hit a Wall?

I don't think so. Back when I used to do research on microelectronic fabrication methods, we bought 3-inch wafers for about $10 apiece. Those were high purity with doping to whatever type and level we selected. And that was without bulk pricing or favorable price scaling with larger wafers.

Our molecular beam growth chamber, however, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars plus tens of thousands per year for supplies and maintenance (plus tens of thousands for a postdoc and a grad student to run it).

So I really think the cost of equipment and processing far outweighs the cost of the silicon wafers. Otherwise, all CPU's with the same physical size would have roughly the same price, regardless of transistor count or clock speed.

Comment: Easy choice (Score 1) 385

by AlpineR (#33562832) Attached to: How Good Software Makes Us Stupid

When I can't pick something to read / watch / work on, I just refresh Slashdot and spend 30 minutes reading, commenting, and moderating.

God, I've wasted so much of my life on activities like this. If it weren't for the Internet, I would probably read some of those books I discovered on Amazon or watch more of those movies recommended by Netflix or get together with some of my Facebook friends. Oh, the irony.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle