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Comment: Comcast Internet good, customer service not (Score 1) 401

by Clomer (#47460749) Attached to: Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer
My experience with Comcast as an ISP is that the service itself is actually pretty good, if a tad expensive. I have a high-speed, low latency connection with native IPv6. However, I cringe whenever I have to contact their customer service for any reason. Their policies seem designed to make any customer interaction as painful as possible, and I have never had a positive experience when I have had to call them. This recording does not surprise me at all, as the representatives that cancel service probably have metrics that state they must save a certain percentage of those that call to cancel (my guess is that particular rep had been threatened by his boss that if he didn't do better in that regard that he'd lose his job).

If they want to fix their bad CS, they need to make fundamental changes to the way they approach customer service. A good starting point is to give their reps more authority to deal with issues themselves and not be beholden to policy. If the company doesn't trust their employees to make good judgement calls on what's good for the customer and the business, then they shouldn't have hired them in the first place. When someone calls to cancel, it is OK to politely ask why once, but if the person refuses to answer it should be left at that. Remove any metrics that are in place about how many saves a rep must perform.

Comment: Re:This isn't always good though (Score 1) 97

by Drakino (#43754163) Attached to: Survey On the Future of Open Source, and Lessons From the Past

Android does provide a meaningful alternative, but I don't see it providing overall a better mass market alternative in some areas. If a security hole is found in the OS, how quickly will it get to every Android phone once patched by Google? That is not an answerable question, because it's simply not possible with the current setup to do so.

Also, no OS upgrade on an iPhone is forced. Never has been, and shows no signs of changing. Hell, iOS even asks if it's okay to update carrier settings.

And no, the fragmentation issue is not FUD. It's real, and thankfully Google agrees. The Android developers at my job are very happy with the Google Play Services API changes, as we have a product already shipping that will improve in the next major version. Fragmentation is why our Android team is larger engineering wise. It has a real cost to my business. We personally don't care to get deep into the open arguments, we just want a good platform to ship our product on. And again, credit to Google for addressing some of the pain points, but it's being done not in an open way. I doubt the source to GPSAPIs will ever be released. So going back to the point of the article, and my first comment, open is not always showing to do good in this example.

Drop the attempts to have an us vs them war with Android vs iOS. The sooner you do, the sooner you realize each side has unique benefits and downsides both can learn from. Clearly Slashdot still has the us vs them mentality so engrained in it, that meaningful commentary still is missing. I'll be taking my leave again for about a year or so and see how things change.

Comment: This isn't always good though (Score 2) 97

by Drakino (#43736885) Attached to: Survey On the Future of Open Source, and Lessons From the Past

It's great to see Open Source used as a tool to help foster healthy competition where it otherwise may not happen. But it's also potentially bad if the Open Source path leads to worse results for end users.

Take for example the iPhone/Android comparison made. The iPhone took control away from the mobile phone carriers in regards to the device, allowing all iPhone users to see updates all at the same time. It also put a dent in the phone crapware problem. Android has done nether, suffering problems because devices can't be all easily updated. Google today announced that they will be updating APIs through Google Play. All because their attempts to update those APIs at the OS level failed due to carrier and device manufacturers holding up, or never providing OS updates. Google is only regaining control and providing better user experience on Android by becoming more closed, at least when it comes to how they deal with carriers and device manufacturers.

Comment: TI-99/4A Basic ... Linux (Score 1) 413

by mmogilvi (#43578445) Attached to: My most frequent OS migration path?
Older people probably have long enough chains that the poll would need literally millions of options to include the right one. For example: TI-99/4A Basic - No persistent storage Apple IIe DOS MS-DOS 3.2 on an 80386 UNIX system V/386 v 2.1 on the same 80386 Linux (various distributions and versions: first Slackware 3.0 on pentium pro; currently gentoo on a core i7)

Comment: Re:Curiosity (Score 4, Insightful) 150

by Clomer (#43009107) Attached to: Comet C/2013 A1 May Hit Mars In 2014
If it hits, Opportunity is hosed no matter what. The comet will kick up such a dust cloud that Opportunity's solar panels will not be able to keep it powered. The comet is big enough that it will have a direct effect on the entire planet.

Curiosity, on the other hand, would do fine unless it is unlucky enough to be caught within the blast radius. Note that even if they know now exactly where it will hit, if Curiosity is within the dead zone, they wouldn't be able to do anything about it - it can't move anywhere near fast enough to get out of the way when faced with something this big. The best we'd be able to hope for is that it would be able to get some spectacular shots of the final approach and is able to transmit them fast enough before the end.

That said, assuming it does survive the initial blast (pretty good odds, actually, given just how big a planet really is), having a functional probe on the ground would provide invaluable data about the resulting dust cloud and how it affects the climate.

Comment: Re:False Equivalence (Score 5, Informative) 193

"...have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision" != "Make Cell Phone Unlocking Legal"

That is all.

The summary is poor. The petition itself actually states "We ask that the White House ask the Librarian of Congress to rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal."

Comment: Re:32-bit signed integer? (Score 1) 492

by Clomer (#42657753) Attached to: You've Got 25 Years Until UNIX Time Overflows
Probably laziness. You need an integer variable, you just use int without thinking about whether the value might ever go negative or not. This probably happens all the time, but it is extremely rare that it actually becomes an issue. After all, a signed int can store a number up to just above 2 billion - how often do you need to store numbers even approaching that big? The same thing happened in World of Warcraft with gold. For a while, the gold cap was (2^31)-2 copper (which translates to 214,748 gold, 36 silver, 46 copper) - which indicates they used a signed int despite the fact that it's impossible to have a negative value of money in the game.

At some point (I'm not sure exactly when, but I think it was during the Wrath of the Lich King years), they changed it to use a 64-bit value, and the gold cap is now 1 copper shy of 1 million gold. That was an artificial limitation - there's no real reason why they couldn't just use the entire 64 bits if they wanted to - I don't think anyone would ever be able to reach the 2^63 (assuming a signed 64-bit integer) that it could store.

Comment: Re:Thoughts (Score 1) 129

by Clomer (#42108253) Attached to: What Will NASA Do With Its Gifted Spy 'Scopes?
Something to keep in mind is that spy satellites looking down have the same problem that astronomical ground-based telescopes have looking up. Specifically, they have to look through the atmosphere, and the distortion that causes puts a pretty firm upper limit on how clear images can be. Yes, there are tricks that can be done to minimize the issue, but those tricks only go so far. I doubt they'll ever be able to read a newspaper from orbit.

That's why Hubble was useful in the first place. As a telescope, it's not that impressive - far bigger and fancier ones exist. What sets it apart is that it is above all that atmospheric interference.

Comment: Re:Lenovo T400 does not meet WoW's minimum require (Score 1) 503

by Clomer (#41724803) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Securing a Windows Laptop, For the Windows Newbie?
Ok, so the Mobility Radeon HD3400 is slightly better than the GMA 4500, enough that it does technically make the cut for meeting WoW's minimum requirements, but it is still an underperforming, dated chipset. Performance in WoW will still be sub-par. And yes, I have first-hand experience with the HD3400.

Seriously, do your kids a favor and get them a new computer with Windows 7 (or even Windows 8) preinstalled. A $500 desktop machine will do just fine, and won't spoil them in the "beefy" category.

Comment: Lenovo T400 does not meet WoW's minimum requiremen (Score 3, Informative) 503

by Clomer (#41715383) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Securing a Windows Laptop, For the Windows Newbie?
See title. I feel it important to point out that the Lenovo T400 does not meet World of Warcraft's minimum requirements. The Intel GMA 4500 GPU that this laptop has is specifically listed on Blizzard's website as not being supported. What this means is that even if you manage to get it to run, performance will be poor and the game really won't be any fun. In fact, I have to wonder if the problems you've had related to getting it to run in wine are more hardware-related - the computers you are trying to do this on simply aren't beefy enough.

Other specs on the system are borderline bottom for barely meeting the requirements. Don't subject your kids to that. Get them a new computer with Windows 7 preinstalled. For virus protection, Microsoft Security Essentials does fine (free with Windows 7, though it is a separate download).

You may prefer Linux, and it may even work for you, and for you that is fine. But we live in a Windows world - you are doing your kids a serious disservice by not giving them Windows exposure now. They'll need that experience in 10 years when they are trying to get a job - any job - that isn't Linux development.

Comment: Linked story lacking in details (Score 2) 307

by Clomer (#39074663) Attached to: Nevada Approves Rules For Self-Driving Cars
The linked story is distinctly lacking in details. Yes, it mentions the red or green license plate requirements, but I consider that to be a minor requirement that says nothing about the actual operation. This story has more interesting information and it doesn't even mention the license plate requirement.

Among the highlights:
  • In the test vehicles (presumably the ones with red plates), there must be 2 people in the vehicle at all times, with one able to immediately take over control.
  • Companies must register their testing intentions with the state, such as testing in fog or snow/ice. They must also share results with the state.
  • There must be a "black box" type data recorder that records and stores all sensor data for 30 seconds prior to a collision.
  • Once a vehicle is certified to operate without a driver, a person can operate it without being physically present in the vehicle.
  • The operator is liable regardless of whether they are present or not.
  • There are exceptions for operating an autonomous vehicle while talking on a cell phone (illegal in Nevada without a hands-free device) or texting (also illegal to do while driving), but not for being drunk.

Seems like reasonable rules to me.

Comment: Such a bad article (Score 1) 160

by Drakino (#38495304) Attached to: Android Approved By Pentagon

Lets see what the article says...

Why the DoD chose Android? The reason was simple: open source.

This seems to say that there was only one reason, and it's due to the open source nature of Android. If this was the only reason, why did they also continue to support Blackberry?

Using Apple's iPhone or iOS by government officials is a risk, especially when used by non-American officials. Apple tracks your movement through the built-in GPS chips.

(They linked to an old Ars article born in the hype of locationgate)
And yep, so does Android. And Windows Phone 7, and Blackberry, and Symbian, and any other AGPS system. Locationgate was a big deal only because people made it so. The "app" that was written to show the problem didn't actually plot the correct data, it "obscured it to protect people". The unobscured data would have shown it was simply the locations of cell towers and wifi spots, not where the phone was. Buy hey, why let facts that have been well known for over a year get in the way of posting a sensationalized story a year+ down the road.

*sigh*

We need a Jon Stewart of the tech world to at least make fun of these types of horribly inaccurate stories to get some entertainment value out of them. And on a side note, it's sad how many people giddily blast Fox News for always being inaccurate and sensational, while also liking the exact type of inaccurate and sensational stories in the tech world.

The F-15 Eagle: If it's up, we'll shoot it down. If it's down, we'll blow it up. -- A McDonnel-Douglas ad from a few years ago

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