Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: The cost of living in civilized society (Score 1) 1142

by Baloo Ursidae (#28238297) Attached to: Ballmer Threatens To Pull Out of the US
Translation: Ballmer wants to take advantage of his employees being able to get to work, and being educated through at least high school, but doesn't want to pay his share for that convenience. Hey, Ballmer: If you don't want to contribute to society, perhaps you should move to someplace that doesn't expect you to, like Somolia.

Comment: Re:Lithium Ion batteries and age (Score 1) 6

by Baloo Ursidae (#27623563) Attached to: Traveling with a laptop: Planes without power outlets

From my experience, it is quite difficult to truly drain a laptop battery completely. It seems like any OS that realizes you are running a laptop will try to prevent that from happening no matter how hard you try to do otherwise. I think you'd probably have to leave your system in the BIOS for hours on end to really run it down to fully discharged.

Safety circuit in the battery prevents full drain, though you *can* fully discharge the battery by draining it until critically low, and storing it that way for a month or two (since the same safety circuit, ironically does draw a microcharge). When you try to recharge it, the circuit will detect the battery charge is too low and won't allow a charge: This is not a reversible condition.

Obviously this is not my field of expertise. Is there a better battery for that application? It certainly has been shown that there is demand for all-electric vehicles; I was under the impression that the lithium ion batteries were the best for the cars in terms of cost-benefit.

If weight were no object, I'd go with a lead acid battery. Yeah, it's got the memory effect, but on the other hand, you do get to have a fun Seinfeld drive to the end of the battery every six months or so to rejuvenate the batteries. These have proven themselves in kei-cars, golf cars and industrial carts for decades now. As far as battery drawbacks go, the memory effect is pretty fun for that application: I got tasked with draining 30 industrial cars of their charge on a week when the site was closed due to it being too icy to safely work on heavy machinery. Which meant I'd drive each one carefully out of the warehouse, out into the icy industrial ways in the site, and put my foot to the floor and not let up for anything, just sliding around, drifting around corners, pulling cookies, and all around driving 'em harder than they've ever been driven before until they run out of charge, then leave the lights on until they drained completely before shutting it down and recharging 'em...

I can understand why this isn't necessarily a maintenance routine the layman wants to perform, but it sure beats being able to do nothing at all about it other than recycle the batteries and get new ones...

I have never had 24 months of useful life from a single battery. And I don't leave my laptops plugged in indefinitely as many others do; my most recent battery I even made a point of running down the battery at least partially before plugging it in, and then unplugging when I shut down. It still became at best of marginal value after 13 months.

I have one in a ThinkPad A32 that perhaps only has 30 minutes of life left and going on three years now. I have it set up so it maintains a 50% charge until the UPS that machine is connected to loses power, in which it starts charging the on-board battery and unmounting the backup drives in preperation to lose power completely, and once it's down to only a few minutes on internal power, it begins to shut down. Kind of a neat way to extend offline shutdown time on a home server.

I recall a Dilbert cartoon about airport security... Can't seem to find it at the moment.

There are many, but I've probably seen them all at this point.

I find particularly amusing that apparently the only airports that still require passengers to remove their shoes are in the US, with the exception of London Heathrow. I was recently in Toronto for a conference and could not find one person who flew there through any airport outside of the US or Heathrow who had to take off their shoes for security.

I was pissed because I had to do that at a county courthouse to report for jury duty. WTF? What did I do to warrant getting searched just for reporting for a civic duty?

Comment: Re:Lithium Ion batteries and age (Score 1) 6

by Baloo Ursidae (#27613025) Attached to: Traveling with a laptop: Planes without power outlets

Which from the consumer point of view is functionally similar to the memory effect that plagued NiCd batteries.

Except for the fact that if you attempt to counteract it by draining the battery completely, you'll reduce it's capacity permanently and run the risk of bricking it entirely. Which is why I wonder why in the world these things are in all-electric cars: At least if the Li-Ion batteries die in a Prius, you just get crappy city mileage.

Things that age your battery faster are heat and too much or too little charge, so keeping your battery in bay and at full charge is a great way to shorten it's lifespan dramatically.

Is that why laptop batteries age so much quicker than cell phone batteries? I have had cell phone lithium ion batteries go for 2-3 years without fail, my laptop batteries seem to be junk within about 13 months (one month after their warranty is up).

Yes, this is exactly why this happens. With proper care, you can easily get 24-36 months out of a Lithium-Ion. Beyond that is really iffy, even if you've never used the battery at all. In theory, the lifespan is five years, but ha, good luck ever getting that outside a lab!

At least in my area, Amtrak introduces a different problem in the fact that it takes significantly longer to reach my destination, for a similar price. If I was on the coast where Amtrak has the Acela high-speed, I would definitely go that way over air travel.

But you do arrive with your fourth amendment rights to be free of unreasonable search in tact, which you can't say about the airlines. Can you really put a price on civil rights?

Comment: Lithium Ion batteries and age (Score 1) 6

by Baloo Ursidae (#27609949) Attached to: Traveling with a laptop: Planes without power outlets
Lithium Ion batteries don't suffer from the memory effect, that's true. Unfortunately, they age like an old plastic shopping bag. The moment the battery is manufactured, it begins to permanently lose capacity, never to be recovered. You can increase lifespan of Lithium Ion batteries by discharging to 50% and storing them in the fridge or freezer when you're going to be on AC power at home for a while. Things that age your battery faster are heat and too much or too little charge, so keeping your battery in bay and at full charge is a great way to shorten it's lifespan dramatically. That being said, unless you want to fly toilet class and stay plugged into the razor outlet with the toilet draft blowing up your backside for an extensive portion of the flight, consider taking Amtrak instead. Most trains have outlets every other seat, and all trains have outlets at least every third seat, so if all else fails you can team up with another passenger and trade seats for one near an outlet.

Comment: Re:Which distro? (Score 1) 6

by Baloo Ursidae (#27172181) Attached to: Why is setting up gsynaptics so hard
Debian. And same here... but mostly because I've never had a laptop that had a trackpad before. I don't use it much, as someone who uses the keyboard a lot, I really prefer the trackpoint stick in the middle of the keyboard. It's someplace I can use the mouse without actually leaving the keyboard. Granted, there's some things you just can't do with a trackpoint stick, like scroll up and down easily... I wonder if there's a way to tune my touchpad so it's only good for scrolling, and move the sensitive area for scrolling to the center of the pad where I'm least likely to hit it by accident. The touch pad on my T400 is enormous, so I end up resting my palms on it way too much (which is why I tend to leave it disabled).

Comment: Re:Point about motorcycle is so true (Score 1) 7

by Baloo Ursidae (#26955117) Attached to: Death and Stupidity
Oh, I totally get both sides of the argument. I already explained where I take a departure on that, though. I'm very much of the Boy Scout mindset of "Expect The Best, Be Prepared For The Worst." A lot of conversations regarding loss or missing out for a forseeable circumstance with me end along those same lines: "Did you think it might happen? What did you do to prepare for it?"
Transportation

Journal: Death and Stupidity 7

Journal by Baloo Ursidae
So everybody's still torn up over Furp's death. I have to wonder about the people who claim to care for Furp, though, for thinking that his death is somehow a shock and surprise. What do we know about him?
  • He lived in southern California. Drivers in this region are unsafe at any speed, anybody who has to use roads in this region are fairly likely to be killed at random by some other asshole not paying attention.
Patents

1-Click Smacked Down Again, While Reexam Languishes 72

Posted by timothy
from the waiting-game-is-rigged dept.
theodp writes "Pressed on Amazon's 1-Click patent, then-USPTO Chief Q. Todd Dickinson got testy: "I make this challenge all the time. If you're aware of prior art out there that invalidates a patent that is existing, file a re-examination. We'll be happy to take a look at it." Really? It's been 3+ years since unemployed actor Peter Calveley submitted prior art that triggered a USPTO reexamination of the 1-Click patent. Still no 'final answer' from the USPTO. To put things in perspective, 1-Click inventor Jeff Bezos once proposed a three-year lifespan for patents (later retracted), let alone patent reexams. In the meantime, other patent examiners have repeatedly smacked down 1-Click — the latest (non-final) rejection was issued on Feb. 10th with Sandra Bullock's help."
Microsoft

Microsoft Secret Prototype Phone Stolen 249

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the microsoft-to-develop-more-secure-pockets dept.
bossanovalithium writes to tell us that details are emerging about the theft of a top secret prototype mobile device stolen from an executive's pocket. Time to start watching eBay. "There are fears that leaks regarding the features and early bugs in the software could mar the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5 which the company hopes will give it the edge over the iPhone and the new Google Android operating system. The new product includes support for touch-screen technology similar to that found on the Apple iPhone. Among the features offered in the new service unveiled by Microsoft's chief executive, Steve Ballmer, on Tuesday, is a version of Windows Marketplace for Mobiles, which is set to compete with the popular Apple's App Store and provide easy ways to download music and products to mobiles. "

Comment: Legalize Marijuana Now! (Score 1) 368

by Baloo Ursidae (#26218923) Attached to: How To Create More Jobs
Roosevelt famously saved the banking system in his first 7 days in office. On the 8th day, when asked what he was going to do next, he said "I think it's time for a beer," and got the ball rolling to repeal the alcohol prohibition. The newly refreshed alcohol industry was like a stick of dynamite to the economic log jam. How do you put people back to work? Legalize and tax America's number 1 cash crop and start teaching people how to grow.

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

Working...