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Comment: Amazon Echo - Living room idea finally realized. (Score 3, Interesting) 112

by JakFrost (#48342485) Attached to: Amazon's Echo Chamber

So a year or two my friends and I were sitting in the living room and us geeks of course see something playing on my XBMC Media Center and we need to a reference to it from some movie we're watching. I go, why can't I just talk to my media center box to read me the synopsis of it from WikiPedia or Google or something so we know what the movie is talking about. My friends go we can do that with the Android phones and ask them but they are stupid so they will do the search for you but you have to read the long article.

Now there Amazon Echo device does exactly what we wanted to do is to have a Star Trek like experience of asking, "Computer, what is a Widget?" and we would get an answer. I just wish that Google made one or some other company so that we could have more generalized and generic access to many online sources of info instead of being locked into the Amazon Cloud of Fog.

Anyway, I requested a pre-order for it and we'll see if I qualify. I'd like to be able to just talk to my computer and get info back that it too cumbersome to search for.

Comment: Re:Great Site But Hated the OCZ SSD Recommendation (Score 2) 152

by JakFrost (#47794479) Attached to: Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech

Correction, HardOCP instead of HardOCZ, caught my own error since I was posting about OCZ Vertex product failures.

Also, I am guessing that Anand's "retirement" is more like "cashing-in" on the site. Good time to make money and run!

Commodity hardware reviews are dying out since they are getting less relevant to people. My machine is 5-years old and still going strong after 2-SDD upgrades and 3-video card upgrades. No need to replace the whole thing and upgrade anymore since my computer is running idle the vast majority of time.

SSDs were the last great upgrade for computers ever since the whole CPU and RAM and Video Card wars were decided and settled.

Next upgrade will most likely be when 4K displays become common place with the next Windows 9 OS that scales things correctly for them and video hardware that can support it well without performance issues. That'll be another 2-years or so and then I'll look at replacing my computer's insides since it looks like ATX cases and 750W power supplies are here to stay and quite enough.

Comment: Great Site But Hated the OCZ SSD Recommendations (Score 3, Interesting) 152

by JakFrost (#47794057) Attached to: Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech

Read the site since the beginning every time I needed an upgrade for components ever since Tom's Hardware sold out to its sponsors.

Anand and his writers were great and they changed the way that computer reviews were done online versus in magazine print in PC Magazine or Boot / Maximum PC.

His recommendation of OCZ products at every revision of the Vertex line of products deserves a black eye on his legacy though since the reports of failures of every Vertex line 1 through 4 were coming out consistently just a few months after release on sites like Newegg, HardOCZ, ExtremeSystems, Amazon, Overclokers, etc. Anand keep awarding Editors Choices to OCZ regardless of the volumes of failures.

He admonished Intel for their firmware bugs correctly but then white washed OCZ failures but back tracked and started mentioning their failures after it became common knowledge in the hardware circles.

Still he leaves a legacy for legitimate and notable online journalism that changed online reviews and reporting by legitimizing it and receiving sponsorship from manufacturers.

Comment: Re:Anker Batteries - Get My Vote (Score 1) 131

by JakFrost (#47735077) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries?

FYI, that Amazon link is mine, I put it into the post that way and now I realize that it looks too professional, as if it's some kind of an Advertisement / Slashvertisement injection by Slashdot / Dice Holdings Inc. It's not, I write posts like this with links and price references in USD. Sorry, for any anger it might cause.

Comment: Anker Batteries - Get My Vote (Score 2) 131

by JakFrost (#47735069) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries?

Same issue as the poster, dying batteries with pretty thick bulges from LiPo expansion on a 4-year old HTC phone. Same dillema searching for reputable products, found Anker batteries and bought 2 of them. Very happy with their performance. Tested them with a LiPo hobby charger using a charge-discharge-charge cycle and the mAh rating on them came within the advertised 95-97% value. Batteries still work great after over 1-year of usage.

Anker Universal Cell Phone Battery Charger - $9.99 USD @ Amazon

I love their universal battery charger with the sliding battery terminals that do polarity auto-detection. I can charge all kind of different batteries in it since many phones now don't have separate battery charger cradles.

Or it comes free if you buy 2 battery packs from Anker, or at least mine did a year ago since I can't find it bundled with anything anymore.

Comment: Re:STALKER PC Game Series (Score 1) 20

by JakFrost (#47006517) Attached to: Chernobyl, In Games and In Real Life

Yes, the STALKER game series including the mods are worthy of multiple replays because it's like watching a great old movie that you once saw except that playing these games you get the same sense of emotional reminiscence but the experience changes every single time you play them, especially if you apply some of the better mods to them like the ones that you mentioned.

I sometimes like to fire up these old games and go wondering around the game areas again just for the nostalgic effects just to see and feel the old areas in the games. No other games that I have played have had such a long lasting effect on me than these games.

I also grew up in Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain so the architecture, environments, personalities, vegetation, and atmosphere all remind me of my childhood. Couple that with my current involvement in real-steel military weapons and Airsoft weapons along with participating in MilSim operations in urban and forested areas and these STALKER games reinforce those old memories even more because they are even more relevant with new experiences.

Great game series. High recommended from an old PC game player.

I'll see about scheduling a trip out there to Chernobyl since it's just next-door to my old home country on my next time in Europe.

Comment: STALKER PC Game Series (Score 4, Interesting) 20

by JakFrost (#47004591) Attached to: Chernobyl, In Games and In Real Life

The STALKER PC game series is my favorite single-player first person shooter type series of all time. The spooky atmosphere created in the game is just fantastic when you play the game in a darkened room at night. I would highly recommend the games to everyone.

The book A Roadside Picnic is also pretty good giving you a nice emotional ride of what it's like be a Stalker and to go into the zone. The old black and white movie Stalker is somewhat good in giving you some background about the Zone but it's nothing to the atmosphere that you feel in the games when you play.

STALKER Game Website

Stalker Wiki

Also be sure to check out these mods:
STALKER - Shadow of Chernobyl
Oblivion Lost 2.2.1 for 1.0005 - Forum Thread
Supermod Pack v2.4 and Patches

STALKER - Clear Sky
The Faction War v3.7

Comment: Excel Spreadsheet and Pivot Tables (Score 1) 386

by JakFrost (#46762159) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

A while back I living in NYC and doing IT full-time in NJ while also consulting with a home-office business. This required me to file US Federal, New York State, New Jersey State, and New York City taxes, including all the complex forms for self-employment, business income and expenses, depreciation and amortization of property, etc.

I created a complex Excel spreadsheet with a master tab that has 156 lines of calculations representing every line and field in all the forms that I had to file that were calculated dynamically from multiple pivot tables in tabs that were consolidated from other tabs that were the source of income, personal & business expenses, car, house, and tax tables.

I would update the master tab according to this year's tax code changes in the instruction manuals for the forms and update every line with the current year's additions or formula changes. Then I populated the tables with values from my W2, 1099's, and utilities, bills, receipts, expenses, and then entered this year's tax table information. The spreadsheet would automatically calculate my taxes and all the lines of all the forms.

At the end I filled-out the PDF versions of the forms and saved them. Then I used TaxSlayer.com to enter my values and use that web site to cross-check my numbers then file electronically.

One year I found that TaxSlayer.com's web site had an addition/subtraction error in their forms that calculated the hold-over value incorrectly and reported it to them to fix it and to the IRS since it caused a minor error on my taxes.

Another year NYS taxation department sent me a case complaint that I deducted an incorrect amount of NYC city taxes from my state taxes and I fought them and won the case by showing them a canceled check of paid NYC city taxes for my self-employed business and they reversed the case so I won against "The Tax Man".

No accountants needed, no tax software needed, you just need patience and arithmetic with some simple Excel formulas thrown in. Best part of the dynamic calculations is that when I want to forecast my taxes I can change some numbers on some of the tables and see the whole thing change after recalculating.

Still, US taxes needed to be simplified and be more evenly spread out and fair to everyone. eFile should not be necessary as the IRS should use your income info anyway from various sources and send you a letter stating that the correct taxes were withheld every year from your income automatically. Difficult taxes haven't helped anyone in rebelling against the IRS or simplifying the tax code we've seen, only have created a tax software filing lobby spending millions on keeping taxes difficult. After taxes, let's go after the legal and court system complexities.

Comment: Machines Showed Up In Office Break Room (Score 1) 769

by JakFrost (#46394757) Attached to: The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

These Keurig machines showed up in all of our break rooms at work all of a sudden without an announcement and no coffee pods. A few employees went out and bought their own pods of coffee and some bought the little tea filters also.

Keurig must be doing a huge push-out across corporate offices to get these machines in so that they could make money on the retail side by having the employees buy the pods.

Now version 2.0 has chipped pods. Sounds like HP and Epson and inkjet printer cartridges. The same old we'll make money on the consumable business models like razor blades.

Glad that I don't drink coffee, it's an occasional tea for me and mostly just plain water.

Comment: I like the Beta clean look! (Score 1) 2219

by JakFrost (#46183649) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

I like the cleaner beta look because it's cleaner and easier to read. I like the box structure to the stories and the comments.

I wish the story descriptions were not truncated on the main page and instead all the text was visible. I also wish that the comment font size was just slightly larger by default, but the story font size is large and that's fine.

Comment: Thanks "Free" Markets (Score 1) 182

by JakFrost (#45544781) Attached to: SSD Manufacturer OCZ Preparing For Bankruptcy

Had an OCZ power supply start failing with random computer crashes due to +12V bus causing dips due to load and 3 out of 4 purchased SSD OCZ Vertex 1 and Agility 1 drives failed with bad sectors and unreadable data.

I still have one of their still shrink wrapped and unpacked OCZ Vertex 1 40GB drives that nobody wanted to buy on eBay twice it was listed that I don't dare curse anyone with so it just sits in my closet. Will have to take it out of it's misery one day and shoot it or something but I certainly won't trust one bit of data to it.

Good bye OCZ! Wish I never met you!

PS: Shame on you computer review sites (AnandTech.com, TomsHardware.com, etc.) for hyping up their products and paying only lip service to the reliability issues and dissatisfied customers.

(I feel like I just posted the same thing yesterday and last month about OCZ.)

Comment: AnandTech.com, TomsHardware.com - Beware! (Score 4, Insightful) 129

by JakFrost (#45534753) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Review Sites Do You Consult For IT Equipment?

Be aware of even reputable web sites for hardware reviews because they'll keep recommending the newest and fastest hardware since speed is easily quantifiable and testable but will completely ignore the difficult to quantify things like reliability, customer support, warranty service, etc.

One example that's relevant to recent Slashdot stories is how all the top review web sites raved about OCZ for years and the speed and low price and only paid a little attention to the huge failure rates, terrible customer service, and overall dissatisfaction of the users of the products.

How many years of reading about amazing OCZ Vertex 1, 2, 3, 4 reviews and high recommendations and now we see that OCZ is nearly bankrupt due to the crap they were selling and the review sites were helping them all along just to be on their preferred reviewer lists so that they could get pre-release hardware to test with buggy firmware and crappy chips.

Comment: Great Convenience (Score 1) 223

by JakFrost (#45484783) Attached to: Google Nexus Gets Wireless Charger

I've been using the Qi charger pad below and it works great. It solved the problem of plugging the Google Nexus 7 Gen2 into a cable then having to remember to turn the plug upside down for the Kindle Paperwhite since the MicroUSB socket is installed backwards on it.

Also my son can take the tablet off the charger and put it back on without having to fiddle with plugging the cable in since he's too young to do that yet. Kids friendly!

DigiYes Ultra-thin Black QI Wireless Charger Compatible with LG Google Nexus 4 / Optimus Vu II / Nokia Lumia 920 - Amazon Prime - $28.38

Comment: TaxSlayer.com - Negative to Postitive Deduction (Score 1) 237

by JakFrost (#45470099) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can You Trust Online Tax Software?

So I started using TaxSlayer.com because they offer cheap $9.95 federal filing and a discounted state filing and supported multi-state filing. Everything was great and it was a nice web interface, detailed access to the actual forms and good questions asked.

I am familiar with the tax forms enough to do my own semi-complicated taxes for a full time job and a side-business sole-proprietorship that includes complex self-employment schedules and amortization and appreciation of equipment purchases, entertainment expenses, and business usage of your home and car. I would do my own taxes on a custom mulit-sheet and pivot-driven Excel spreadsheet that I created and updated to comply with each year's forms and then fill out my own PDF forms before I would go online to transfer my information to allow me to do e-file. I filed my forms through the online service but afterwards I noticed that a figure wasn't correct on the PDF produced by the online service.

I noticed that my numbers for the carry-over yearly loss of income for my business would not add-up between my own forms and TaxSlayer.com forms. I investigated my spreadsheet, re-checked my PDFs and the instructions, and re-calculated the values and always came up with my own numbers being correct but the online numbers being wrong. After calling IRS to clarify the situation and also TaxSlayer.com's support I realized that the online service had an obvious error where they added instead of subtracted the last-year's carry over numbers.

I informed the online service so they could fix it and informed IRS that my forms had an error and filed a 1040X correction amendment.

Turns out that the IRS didn't really care that this error could affect a decent number of TaxSlayer.com users and the support people from TaxSlayer.com didn't really care about the error and reversal of arithmetic in their forms.

Also getting access to past taxes on the online service start costing you money unless you were smart enough to save your filed PDFs and keep them. Trying to re-do your last year's taxes costs money also.

Basically e-File service is nice and saves you paper and stamps and gives you fast direct deposit or withdrawal of your tax returns. They make errors with taxes and charge you for past access to your own data.

I don't really trust the online service with my data but with such a massive amount of it already being out there available on the web and located in commercial databases such as people search engines and public legal search web sites this is just another one on the pile for hackers to get at.

My taxes are easier to file online electronically so I take advantage of that instead of trying to do it the paper and stamp way.

Comment: OCZ Never Again! (Score 1) 292

by JakFrost (#45178363) Attached to: OCZ May Be On Its Last Legs

Every single SSD benchmark web site has been singing praises over the OCZ SSDs for years now and I fell for the bait a bit like everyone else because OCZ's costs per GB were the lowest while performance the highest. I already bought an Intel X25-M 80GB G1 drive and have been happy with it but I recommended these drives to friends who were cash strapped as HDD replacements only to have 3 out of 4 OCZ Vertex 1's and 2's fail within a year and pissed off friends.

I still have one OCZ 40GB sitting in a box unopened that I don't wish to use for anything at all. Might have to take it out and shoot it because nobody on eBay wanted to buy it.

One PBX running Linux Asterisk for a company that I helped out started failing and corrupting their OS drive and they sent me the whole box. Luckily it was usable enough that I was able to buy an Intel V-25X 40GB SSD and do a disk copy while skipping errors and trash that OCZ Vertex 40GB. Then do a whole distro-upgrade that over-wrote pretty much the whole OS and all the corrupted packages and files but kept the config files that were uncorrupted intact saving their PBX server. Lucked out with that one.

I had an OCZ 750VA power supply that was reviewed and touted as the best of that review but after a few years my computer started experiencing strange errors, crashes, freezes, and I narrowed them down to the +12V rail instability and drops. Turned out that all the plugs were on a single 12V shared rail and the components and capacitors in the power supply must have been crap so they were wearing out and dropping voltage during load spikes. Replaced it with a Corsair HX750 modular power supply and have been happy and stable on a new system since for twice the number of years as that OCZ power supply.

Intel SSD Forever...?

Coincidentally, when I was searching for a new SSD I was thinking that the industry matured but when I looked at the recently past price and performance leader the Samsung 840 there were way too many negative posts on various retailer and forums regarding these drives failing without warning. Seemed like a similar situation to what I saw with OCZ.

I don't like paying the huge premiums for Intel SSD but it turns out that they are what I have been buying for 3 generations now, G1 40 & 80GB, G2 40GB & 80GB, G3 335 240GB. I don't know if this trend is going to end in the future.

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