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Comment Intrusive Advertising is Immoral (Score 1) 241

I think it is backwards to say "blocking ads is stealing". It is quite the other way around. When I want to watch a video online, or read an article, it is stealing from me to divert my attention to something I did not choose to see and which I have no interest in. That act of theft of my precious attention (I only have so much of it in my life, and it is MY attention that I have the right to direct as I choose) is an immoral act. We are so used to this immoral stealing of our attention that we have gotten numb to it. But that does not make it right. The immorality of advertising was a wake up call to me. I had never thought of it that way until I read a Slashdot article recently pointing this out: http://slashdot.org/story/15/0.... From that article: "Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery. Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted." Touche, advertisers!!! You can pry my adblocker from my cold dead fingers!

Comment I'm taking a "museum" approach to family archiving (Score 1) 174

I am an old retired computer guy with a dozen Rubbermaid tubs of old photos, documents and film/video inherited from my parents that go back generations and are priceless to my family. My goal is to have a method of preserving both physical and digital resources in such a way that they are accessible in 50 years. I have photos that are over 100 years old, so that is a reasonable goal.

After months of research, I have become most impressed by a "museum" approach. That means, cataloging the media resources with a defined vocabulary--I chose the Dublin Core (www.dublincore.org). It means developing a way to link the physical media to any digitized versions, by assigning a numbering system ("accessioning" in museum-speak). And the most important thing I learned was to plan to save a text file with each digitized item, that describes it and contains the stories about it. For example, a photo titled, "Grandma Kayaking the Missouri River.JPG" would have stored with it a file named "Grandma Kayaking the Missouri River.TXT". The reason for this is profound! The associated text file is MOST likely to survive 50 years. No matter how software changes, text files are likely to be readable in 50 years.

The plan would be to open and resave all the media, say every 10 years, and update as needed. For example, JPG files might need to be updated to JPG2000, etc, etc, as new software is developed. A slightly sophisticated wrinkle is to actually store the text in XML or HTML format. So instead of having a line in the text file that says, "Title: Grandma kayaking the Missouri River", it might read Grandma kayaking the Missouri River. The advantage of this is that it makes all the text files "machine readable".

If this level of approach is interesting to you, then the best site discussing these issues I have found BY FAR is "http://archivehistory.jeksite.org/index.htm". This amazing site contains basically a 250 book on the subject that is amazing. It isn't immediately apparent how extensive this site is, but it is just wonderful. There is vanishingly little else of this quality out there, I've spent months looking. The Library of Congress has a "Personal Archiving" program, but it basically says just "scan well, organize folders well and backup well". That is good advice, but doesn't touch the bigger issues. For small museums there are cool sites like "www.omeka.org". I adore the "ATOM" project ("https://www.artefactual.com/services/atom-2/", but it is just over my head in sophistication. Here is a website that discusses 29 "free and open source" solutions to digital archiving: "http://www.ethnosproject.org/digital-curation-digital-asset-management-community-archiving-systems/". I have gone through and examined each of them, but they are just a bit over my head. I have found several projects in Australia to be very interesting, but again, not an exact fit for us "family archivists".

I have finally decided to "roll my own" program. I am building a Microsoft Access database that will catalog my media resources, and which will then automatically generate my "text" file for each resource, putting the text file in the proper folder, and containing the correct XML depiction of my Dublin Core description of my photos, videos, documents, etc, including the locations of both the physical and digital media. I have made arrangements with some computer science folks in my family in the next generation (nephews), to "inherit" my "family museum" effort, and to carry it on to the next generation. My whole point with the "museum" approach is that it creates an intelligible system that can be left to the next generation! If my Microsoft Access program gets lost over the years, it won't matter, because all the database information about the digital media will be stored in those amazingly simple TEXT files!!! Good luck in your efforts.

Comment Repurposed Cold War Era Bomb Shelter in Seattle (Score 2) 122

There is a bomb shelter built under I-5 near Greenlake in Seattle, that was built in the early 60's (ok, fallout shelter). It was touted, I believe, during the 1962 world's fair in Seattle. Here's a King5 video about it: http://www.king5.com/story/new.... It is a circular room with bathrooms under the freeway, with a small entrance. Later, it was used to issue driver's licenses. I got one there myself in the early 70's. Now, it is a grown-over place used as a City of Seattle municipal records storage center for a few years, and then abandoned. A massive cement structure like a bomb shelter doesn't go away, nice they can be reused in peacetime. What could be more peaceful than marijuana :).

Comment I've Got a Win95 Toshiba T6600C Luggable Desktop (Score 1) 284

My 1993-1994 era Toshiba T6600C, a Win 95 486 machine, looks at first glance like a laptop, but it is a full desktop that looks like a compact little 20 lb suitcase. Here's a YouTube video of the computer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?.... (In the video, the T6600C uses Win 3.1, but mine has Win 95.) I have been using PC's since the first DOS days, and Win 95 was the rock star of its era. I once traveled with the T6600C after 9/11 (I was still using this computer in the year 2000!), and the airport officials insisted I go to a wall outlet (it doesn't run on batteries), and fire it up. Then they were fine with it. I would have thrown it out long ago, but it is so unique and charming that I just couldn't. So it currently serves as a quirky and rugged platform for my flatscreen TV in my home office, where I can see it every day. The fun (and amazing) thing is, it still boots to Windows 95 :).

Comment I'm Retired, I Already Live "Robotic Nation" (Score 5, Interesting) 755

As a retired person, I get both a small pension from my work, and Social Security. From my small income I purchase health insurance to supplement my Medicare. I have no savings (wiped out by "problems"). It's enough to live on. As a result, I already live as people in Finland/Utrecht do. I know a ton of retired folks in the same boat. Here is what I observe. Retired folks are as energetic as their health allows. There is an awesome amount of volunteering going on, and a bit of "small business" activities. I myself am a retired computer guy, and as such, get asked to fix a lot of computers. I ask for a "donation" of about $20 an hour for fixes that would cost them $90/$120 at any computer shop. Sometimes I fix things for free. I rationalize that I am helping poor old folks :), and also getting some money for an evening out for my spouse and I. I also maintain an number of community, club and museum websites as an unpaid volunteer. So I am in the category of "not needing a minimum wage". What I really see is this. People are as active as their health allows. There are a lot of social activities and game playing, such as dancing, musical jam sessions, theater presentations, variety shows, golf, pickle ball (like tennis), cards, bingo and water volleyball. Many of these activities require administration, and they are staffed with happy volunteers, who give an amazing amount of time. People into hobbies, such as my spouse who quilts, will work at them from dawn to dusk. People value life, their families, their communities and their world, and they do what they need to take care of their health. What I don't see is violence, drug use, laziness, or homelessness. I will concede that communities (I participate in several) of retired folks represent the result of a lifetime of a good work ethic. But what I don't see are bad results worried about by many. I read Marshall Brain's prescient "Robotic Nation" years ago, and the handwriting is on the wall folks, and I'm glad to see some early-adopter nations experimenting with our future.

Comment Lock down the Windows desktop (Score 5, Informative) 334

I support a Windows 7 PC in our community center (retirement community). I simply installed Drive Vaccine (http://www.drivevaccine.com/), which is cheap and allows you to either lock the PC down entirely (no virus infection possible :)), or keep say a "documents" folder writable, but locks the rest of the PC down. This PC has run for several years, and is restored to a "baseline" after each restart. Never an infection, as it can't survive the reboot. Users can surf the Internet all they want, and write and receive emails etc, etc. Occasionally, I unlock it to do updates of various sorts, but then I lock it down again. Sounds perfect for your parents.

Comment Re:Back up to optical media (Score 3, Interesting) 268

I second this approach. Keep a "master archive" of highest quality, both on local hard drives and backed up to the cloud (BackBlaze for example has unlimited backup for $5/mo). Then provide "exhibit" copies at a lower quality to the web and to friends. Backing up the "master archive" is critical! The "derivative" files shared out aren't so critical, as they can be reconstructed from the "master archive". An example is MPEG-2 will preserve videos at high quality, but with large file sizes. Scanning slides to TIF at say 4800 dpi will create 20mb files. These are "master archive" material. But you can prepare a copy of the video as an MPEG-4 or H.264 at much lower quality and much lower file size, that will still look stunning over the web. And you can derive JPGs from the master TIFs that at much lower quality, still look stunning over the Internet, for example. But for posterity, the "master archive" can become a museum collection for your descendants that they will cherish. An interesting thing to ponder is, will the US ever get hit with a few EMP nuclear bursts? If so, they may wipe out all magnetic media everywhere. That is where backups on optical disks, say, Blu-Ray, would be valuable. May be being a little paranoid there? :). For more information on this approach, consult http://archivehistory.jeksite.....

Comment Re:Do it yourself? -With Magnavox DVD Recorder/VCR (Score 1) 130

I bought a Magnavox ZV427MG9 DVD Recorder/VCR, available at Amazon for about $280, or on a Sears website for $180. I converted a large tub of precious family VHS tapes directly to DVD in this machine. I played around with different resolutions, but the highest resolution was visibly better, so I went with that. Then I copied the VOB files from the DVD's to my computer, and imported them into Cyberlink's PowerDirector, which has no trouble with the VOB files. The VOB files have a frame width and height of 720x480 at 29 frames/second, which I think gets the most information possible from these old VHS tapes. From PowerDirector, I can save these videos in a variety of formats, keeping the 720x480 and 29 frames/second, such as MP2, MP4, H-264, etc, etc. This has worked extremely well for me, and I think justified for my family the purchase of the machine. We are sharing it around to increase the benefit of purchasing it. In doing a bit of research before this project I read that combined DVD Recorder/VCR's automatically kept the voice in sync with the video, a problem apparently with some capture cards. I can only report excellent results for myself, given of course that VHS recordings aren't of the quality of modern hi def recordings.

Comment I Use Streets and Trips on RV Trips (Score 4, Interesting) 174

I am a retired computer guy, and an RVer. I've used Streets and Trips for the past three years, and have found it invaluable for RV travelling. What makes Streets and Trips work so well for travelers is that it is always there, whether you have Internet or not. And my experience even with a smart phone and hotspot capabilities, is that travellers do not always have access to the Internet. Which renders MS's "Bing" solution useless. And Streets and Trips on my laptop is connected to a printer, so printing out strip maps for the next day is easy. It makes it easy to create long trips, stop by stop, and save the whole route. I'm talking about several months and 10,000 miles of traveling here. I've tried using Google and Bing maps, but actually, the closest trip planning tool I've found that provides for long range planning and in any detail I want is actually Google Earth. But until Streets and Trips is dead, I will be using it. And it sounds like it should work for the next several years.

Comment DVD Recorder ZV427MG9 (Score 1) 201

Find the Magnavox DVD Recorder ZV427MG9 with Line-In Recording at Walmart (or Amazon) for about $160. It is worth searching for, or having it delivered to your local store from another store. This is a VHS-to-DVD recorder, and does an amazing job. I copied about 40 VHS tapes to DVD's (priceless family videos). The audio is perfectly synchronized with the video. Now I am loaning it out to other family members and friends for their collections. Be sure to specify the highest quality. The results are amazing.

Comment Humans will evolve too (Score 1) 340

Just as bacteria and viruses, exposed to high levels of antibiotics, have evolved antibiotic resistance and immunity, so will humans evolve resistance or immunity to the new versions of bacteria and viruses. Of course, the way evolution works, the few humans with superior resistance or immunity to the new superbugs will be the fittest survivors, and the rest of us will become extinct. Evolution has worked that way for 3 and a half billion years, no reason for it to stop now :).

Comment Workplace?' (Score 1) 786

I see Windows PC's in so many workplaces, offices, doctor's offices, etc. Most (not all) have upgraded from XP to Windows 7. These are offices where often multiple programs run at once, where productivity is king. I cannot envision Windows 8 working at all well in an office environment. Maybe, if the clerk has one application ONLY that they run, but a lot of office workers are actually pretty good power users of Windows. All this goes out the window (so to speak) with Windows 8. I have helped many new users with Windows 8, and it has been uniformly bad. I myself had a windows 8 computer for ONE DAY, and went all over the place to find a Windows 7 machine (wonderful HP Envy :)), display model, but I didn't care. I now enjoy productivity, the enjoyable Aero interface (which is actually beautiful compared to the blocky 90's looking Win 8), and easy navigation of multiple windows. With a 3 year warranty with my new Windows 7 laptop, I am set until at least Blue. Then I will decide if it is finally time to jump ship. The next move is yours, Microsoft. I will be watching.

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.