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

by C0L0PH0N (#47933103) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives
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

by C0L0PH0N (#47910795) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?
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

by C0L0PH0N (#47848735) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Service To Digitize VHS Home Movies?
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

by C0L0PH0N (#46909585) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Which VHS Player To Buy?
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

by C0L0PH0N (#45346003) Attached to: Global Biological Experiment Generates Exciting New Results
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

by C0L0PH0N (#43643277) Attached to: Microsoft's "New Coke" Moment?
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.

Comment: High Resolution Security Cameras (Score 1) 416

by C0L0PH0N (#43489901) Attached to: FBI Releases Boston Bombing Suspect Images/Videos
Low resolution cameras are so yesterday. We use 10Mpixel high definition security cameras at our security gates that can easily identify a person with high accuracy, and they are inexpensive. All existing security cameras across the country, and especially in cities with highly popular mass activities, need to be upgraded from NEARLY USELESS to highly discerning high definition. I feel so sad at all the ancient-technology video security footage you see after every crime, when current cameras at often lower cost, are AMAZING. Please, everyone with a security camera, for the sake of innocent victims, please upgrade your security cameras to high definition. Ok, so you may need to upgrade your security camera servers too. Again, for the sake of the victims, please put it in your budget now !!

+ - What is Holding Up Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)?->

Submitted by
C0L0PH0N
C0L0PH0N writes ""So in one respect I can agree with the AGI-is-imminent camp: it is plausible that just a single idea stands between us and the breakthrough. But it will have to be one of the best ideas ever." This is the final statement of one of the most interesting articles I have read in a long time. (http://www.aeonmagazine.com/being-human/david-deutsch-artificial-intelligence/) The spectacular David Deutsch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Deutsch), a pioneer in quantum computation, has authored a fascinating article about what is required for true AGI, and has introduced me to the writings of the legendary Karl Popper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Popper), in whose reasoning may lay the true foundation for AGI. Further, it turns out that almost every idea I have about the philosophy of science (such as to be truly scientific, a theory must be falsifiable, etc) comes from Karl Popper. I believe I was a Popperian and didn't even know it. I will now be adding Popper to my library. Whew!, all this has made my brain warm! Enjoy!"
Link to Original Source
Windows

+ - Microsoft Apps Store reached a goal of 50,000 Apps->

Submitted by
C0L0PH0N
C0L0PH0N writes ""50,000 apps in 4 months is an impressive milestone, and as more people adapt to Windows 8 and Windows tablets, we should see some great advancements for the OS in the future." (http://www.slashgear.com/microsofts-windows-store-reaches-50000-apps-milestone-23275104/) Of course, there is still a lot of space between the highly popular iPad app store and Microsoft's new store. My question is, did Microsoft make the correct decision "betting the farm" on the tablet-oriented Windows 8, or was it still a rash decision that will remain offensive to desktop users who are vulnerable to "gorilla-arm"? I'm guessing that Windows 9 will backtrack a bit, to recapture some of the desktop market. My evidence for this is that commercial businesses are still leery of Windows 8, with most purchases still going to Windows 7. Dell for example, sells almost exclusively the Windows 7 OS on all of its business machines."
Link to Original Source
Programming

+ - SpaceX: Lessons Learned Developing Software for Space Vehicles->

Submitted by
jrepin
jrepin writes "On day two of the 2013 Embedded Linux Conference, Robert Rose of SpaceX spoke about the "Lessons Learned Developing Software for Space Vehicles". In his talk, he discussed how SpaceX develops its Linux-based software for a wide variety of tasks needed to put spacecraft into orbit—and eventually beyond. Linux runs everywhere at SpaceX, he said, on everything from desktops to spacecraft."
Link to Original Source
Power

+ - 'Energy Beet' Power is Coming to America

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Gosia Wonzniacka reports that farmers in Fresno County, California, supported by university experts and a $5 million state grant, are set to start construction of the nation's first commercial-scale bio-refinery to turn beets into biofuel with farmers saying the so-called 'energy beets' can deliver ethanol yields more than twice those of corn per acre because beets have a higher sugar content per ton than corn. "We're trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to shift our transportation fuels to a lower carbon content," says Robert Weisenmiller. "The beets have the potential to provide that." Europe already has more than a dozen such plants, so the bio-refinery would resurrect a crop that has nearly vanished. The birthplace of the sugar beet industry, California once grew over 330,000 acres of the gnarly root vegetable (PDF), with 11 sugar mills processing the beets but as sugar prices collapsed, the mills shut down. So what’s the difference between sugar beets and energy beets? To produce table sugar, producers are looking for sucrose, sucrose and more sucrose. Energy beets, on the other hand, contain multiple sugars, meaning sucrose as well as glucose, fructose and other minor sugars, called invert sugars. To create energy beet hybrids, plant breeders select for traits such as high sugar yield, not just sucrose production. America's first commercial energy beet bio-refinery will be capable of producing 40 million gallons of ethanol annually but the bio-refinery will also bring jobs and investment putting about 80 beet growers and 35,000 acres back into production. "This project is about rural development. It's about bringing a better tax base to this area and bringing jobs for the people," says farmer John Diener,"

Comment: "Purpose" distinguishes hobby RC Aircraft from UAV (Score 1) 158

by C0L0PH0N (#43224255) Attached to: FAA Grants Arlington Texas Police Department Permission To Fly UAVs
Radio controlled aircraft used to be just hobby aircraft. But in the past few decades, military versions of UAV's have proven that they can be used for lethal purposes. With terrorism on the rise, and as the number and type of UAV's growing hugely (I mean, they will have unmanned full sized fighter planes soon, for real!), the US government has correctly decided to regulate UAV's. The hobby lobby (couldn't resist that), has done a stellar job working with the FAA in protecting the venue of the RC hobbyists. One of the ways to distinguish a "UAV" from an RC hobby aircraft is "purpose". Am I enjoying my hobby, or am I taking pictures of houses for a Real Estate company. Moving away from strict hobby use to Commercial or Military use redefines the RC aircraft from "hobby use" to "UAV", under a different set of laws, even if it is the same plane. Hobbyists are limited to 400', line of sight, weight restrictions, no-flyover-people, and must contact the airport if flown within 3 miles of an airport. By following these rules, we hobbyists protect our hobby even in the face of more strict UAV laws. And even we hobbyists get "NOTAM" alerts, shutting us down for a few hours when the POTUS comes to town.

Comment: University as Sanctuary (Score 1, Insightful) 175

by C0L0PH0N (#42716047) Attached to: Aaron Swartz Case: Deja Vu All Over Again For MIT
The University system should provide Sanctuary for its students. It takes the most brilliant and promising children of each generation, and takes the best of them to the frontiers of human knowledge, and encourages and teaches them to push and develop these frontiers. This is one of the highest callings of the University system. This also gives the Universities a great responsibility -- to protect those young bright minds who are going boldly where none has gone before. They need to provide Sanctuary for these students, to have their back when they push the boundaries of our society. This does not cover murder or other violent sociopathic acts. But it should protect students from most of the reckless overreaching laws, and especially in all gray areas of our society. Rather than give students up for minor unlawful activities, the University system should give them Sanctuary. When they do give them up, they break this Sanctuary promise to their students. They teach them and encourage them to the frontiers of our society, and then betray them when they give them up to local (or federal) gendarmes.

I call on ALL University administrators to develop proactive policies of Sanctuary, which should include refusing EVER to give up students for minor or gray area "crimes". They should at the very least, refuse all cooperation with police agents, and at the best, provide a defense for students. But NEVER break your moral contract with the students you teach, by turning them over to outside law. This policy can include ejecting students who break University laws. But it should never extend further than sanctions or expulsions. The University systems should develop a non-cooperation understanding with all police forces. Exceptions only would include violent sociopathic crimes such as rape, murder, violent assault, bombings, etc. But the University should be a Sanctuary for non-violent crimes where the student (or faculty for that matter) is pushing the boundaries of society.

This awesome article at New York University, The University as Sanctuary, says it more powerfully and elegantly than I ever could.

C for yourself.

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