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Comment: Re:Look past the article's version of the cast ... (Score 1) 181

by Digicrat (#45069317) Attached to: New York Subpoenaed AirBnb For All NYC User Data

There's also a large number of NYers who want their own place but can't find anything affordable. I'm guessing some of those making more money in AirBnb than with legitimate rentals (or re-rentals) may be subject to rent control laws intended to keep prices affordable for tenants.

The city has a housing problem, AirBnb is just one example of its effect. Hotels in the city are (mostly) outrageously priced, as are residential apartments/condos. Nobody can live by themselves in the city unless their (a) loaded or (b) are actually sharing a place with one or more roommates.

I moved out of the city after College, and bought my own house a few years later. If I was still in the city, assuming I was making a similar salary, I'd at best be able to afford a tiny studio apartment. Not one of my friends (who make significantly less than I do) still in the city in comparison have their own place, and for the most part still live at home with their parents. Apparently, NYC is one of the only parts of the country where this is normal today, and that's primarily because its generally the only economical option.

I like the idea of AirBnb, and it's a great service for small towns. For NYC however, there are far bigger problems that require regulation to prevent a service like this from exacerbating the housing situation (not to mention ensuring safety).

Comment: Re:"Financial Sense" (Score 4, Informative) 668

by Digicrat (#45044751) Attached to: Are Shuttered Gov't Sites Actually Saving Money?

I agree that our system is broken, but not necessarily for the reasons you state.

The President does not 'oversee' Congress -- Congress, the Executive, and the Judicial are separate, independent branches of our government. This ensures, among other things, that even if Congress is deadlocked (as it is now), we can't have a situation where there is no government -- like happened in certain European countries recently where they couldn't form a government for months. Of course, that's not to say that guarantees we have a functional government (outside of military)...

The real problem with Congress, particularly in the House, is the two-party system and archaic rules that allow a minority of representatives to block any action even when the other party has sufficient votes to pass a measure.

A primary reason for the two-party system is because of the (gerrymandered) way that all of our representatives are elected from fixed all-or-nothing districts. If multiple seats were elected at once in overlapping districts, with a ranked voting system as seen in parliamentary governments, third parties would have a viable chance of getting elected and disrupting the duopoly.

Comment: Re:Next project - backups! (Score 1) 552

by Digicrat (#44823589) Attached to: SSD Failure Temporarily Halts Linux 3.12 Kernel Work

Or perhaps he'll enhance GIT with a way to automatically sync/push working changes to a remote 'backup' repository or temporary/private branch.

From the description, it sounds like he was in the midst of a large merge. So of course everything on his system is version controlled ... the changes just haven't been committed yet.

Comment: Re:at some point... (Score 1) 827

by Digicrat (#44588591) Attached to: The College-Loan Scandal

That used to be the same here. My Dad attended Brooklyn College back in the day when it was free, and was there when they first started charging a minimal (a few dollars) fee. Tuition has climbed steadily (perhaps exponentially?) since. The reason has little to do with inflation or rising costs of education, but almost entirely due to shrinking state budgets and large state (and national) budget deficits. If it wasn't for good planning on CUNY's part, there was one year when I was in college where tuition would have nearly doubled when the state needed to makeup for a budget shortfall and the college had to dip into its reserves.

It's still possible to get through college without debt (I did), but only if you (or your parents rather) are in a particular financial situation. In other words, your parents are either loaded and can pay cash, or have a low enough income (or were retired in my case) that financial aid kicks in >90% of the costs when you go to a 'reasonably' priced city or state school.

The vast majority of students are out of luck though. Their parents make enough money that they can't qualify for financial aid, but not enough to actually pay for the schooling. The result is small to moderate college debts for local/public colleges, or exorbitant debts if the kid goes to a private school.

Comment: Re:So basically surfing net while taking notes (Score 1) 313

by Digicrat (#44573687) Attached to: Using Laptop To Take Notes Lowers Grades

It all depends on the student, and the class. In my undergrad days, I took notes exclusively on the computer (once I got it sophomore year). In some classes, I would be typing full speed and able to get down everything the professor said nearly word for word. Of course, not only did I type 90+ WPM in those days, but my handwriting has always been such that if I take notes by hand I always have trouble reading it later...

In other classes (mostly basic CS classes), I would type out what they wrote out on the board, or the important things they said, and then spend >90% of the class reading Yahoo! News. Those were the classes that I had both the best notes of the class, and the best grades. Of course, if it wasn't for Yahoo News!, I would have slept/dosed-off through the 10% of lecture that actually contained new and useful information . . .

Now, taking notes on the PC in Math/Science classes where it's difficult to type formulas is a whole other game ... and those were the cases I always reverted to pen and paper.

Comment: Re:Still not good enough for me. (Score 3, Informative) 303

by Digicrat (#43678283) Attached to: How Netflix Eats the Internet

I love how the cable companies (ie:Comcast) can call me up offering me a Cable/Internet package for $70/month, only $5 more than what I nominally pay for Internet only ... but flat out refuse to tell me what the actual cost would be after taxes/fees (I was literally told that I should sign up and can cancel it after the first month if I don't like what the taxes are). I'd gladly pay an extra $5-10/mo for full cable TV access ... but in reality it's more like 20-40 after taxes and fees (which largely don't apply to Internet-only service). /rant

And those are additional reasons why Netflix+Antenna+MythTV > Cable TV

Comment: Re:Easy (Score 2) 418

by Digicrat (#43084207) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Best To Set Up a Parent's PC?

I second logmein free edition. I have it set up on literally half a dozen or more family computers, evenly split between XP, Vista and Win7. This is by far the easiest way to fix 90% of issues. The rest of the time the answer is normally to instruct them over the phone to reset the modem and/or router to fix connection issues.

You do have to tailor your usage to the family member. If they are completely computer illiterate, then setting up a separate non-administrator account is a good thing. Otherwise, particularly with Vista and later, just teach them to always say 'no' to the access control popups unless they check with you first. If you teach them safe habits, it'll be better for everyone.

For AOL, start by showing them how to use instead of the AOL software by making that the homepage on Chrome or FF. Also, try to make that icon more prevalent than the AOL software. If they don't learn, tell them that AOL software no longer exists when your finally able to get them a new computer. I've done this for 3 people already - it's not a lie if you didn't bother to check if AOL software still exists ;-)

As for other suggestions on here about Linux, that's a mixed bag. I successfully transitioned my Dad from XP to Linux for about a year or two when I cleaned his old computer. For his basic usage (email, movie listings, weather reports), it was more than adequate. The only issue I had was one exasperating series of tech support sessions with Verizon when he switched ISPs and they insisted they didn't support Linux on a 3-way conference call...eventually I got them to believe me that the modem was broken after looking up the manual and finding the non-Windows-CD configuration page...

Eventually he switched back to Windows when the computer died and he wanted something that could support certain Windows-only software. He knows not to install anything on the computer, and also tends to say no to all popups (good and bad), so I just have to explicitly run updates periodically.

Comment: Late to the game (Score 1) 403

by Digicrat (#43006919) Attached to: Is the Wii U Already Dead?

Nintendo should have released the Wii U 1-2 years ago when the Wii was just starting to decline. At that time, it would have been a perfect mid-generation console upgrade adding HD support, competing with the Kinect/PS-Move, and riding the general buzz of the time while giving it the power-boost needed to compete with traditional games on the other consoles.

Now it's simply too little too late, particularly at their given prices. Once the PS4 and Xbox720 are released Nintendo will be back to being the underpowered also-run of the next generation.

I've always been a fan of Nintendo, but it's been hard to find much compelling in recent years. Owning a PS3 and 360, the WiiU has no interest for me today ... though the idea of a no-TV play mode would have been a killer feature if I was still a teenager living at home.

Comment: Re:Keep the $1 and get rid of the coins (Score 1) 943

by Digicrat (#42149143) Attached to: Is It Time For the US To Ditch the Dollar Bill?

I would rather keep the $1 bill and get rid of all the coins. Put an end to all the $0.99 nonsense pricing and make taxes/tips easier to calculate. I don't even mind if they make it so all sales taxes round up to the nearest dollar. I'm tired of trying to find an efficient way to store and, later, spend coins. They weigh my pants down and cause the pockets to wear out sooner.


I've visited Europe a few times in the past few years, and in each case I find it a royal pain to figure out how to carry/sort the Euro Coins for small purchases. Carrying a coin pouch has been common in the past, but why should we revert to that today when bills are so much lighter? Then again, a cashless society would be even more efficient.

An ideal system in my head would be:
- Coins relegated to collectible souvenirs
- Add a half-dollar bill, and round all transactions to the nearest half-dollar (digital and physical for fairness)
- For the blind, consider giving each bill a slightly different size (Euro-style), or even better, texture.
- Use Tax Incentives/Banking regulation to accelerate the move to a primarily cashless society. Eventually, bills will only be used for small off-the-record transactions, kids allowances, senior citizens, and (maybe) tourists.
- Simplify electronic banking - specifically person-to-person transfers, including guaranteeing access to anonymous prepaid accounts (freedom of money = freedom of speech), and usage of cash will eventually disappear altogether.

Most people will listen to your unreasonable demands, if you'll consider their unacceptable offer.