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Comment: Did something like this recently (Score 1) 194

by Jmstuckman (#47593911) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Bulletproof Video Conferencing For Alzheimers Home?

I did something like this recently with Skype and Ubuntu 13.10. You can set up auto-login on Ubuntu, auto-start on Skype, and set up Skype to auto-answer and auto-activate the camera. In theory, it could get torpedoed by some kind of random dialog box, but it hasn't happened in two months. To make a it a little more bulletproof, you could set up a cron job that reboots the system nightly.

One warning: since Skype was acquired by Microsoft, the standard Skype login dialog was replaced with some kind of weird integration to Microsoft's single-sign-on. When Microsoft is having system problems (like they were a couple months ago), it appears to lose all of the single-sign-on tokens, which will drop the system back to the login page, and you will be stuck. However, this only happened once in the past couple months. (Yes, things worked far better before Microsoft bought Skype, but it's not a lost cause.)

Comment: Moving is more natural (Score 3, Insightful) 230

by Jmstuckman (#47442591) Attached to: Geographic Segregation By Education

Absolutely right. I grew up in an economically disadvantaged area, went to college, and settled in one of the best-performing metro areas in the country. My classmates who skipped college are still there, driving 1-2 hours each way to the closest job they can find, and enduring the double disadvantages of lacking a college degree and living in a depressed area.

When one is living dangerously close to the poverty line, moving away from friends and family will be perceived as unacceptable risky. Only the most ambitious will leave, and most of those people went to college anyway.

Comment: Rail? (Score 1) 142

by Jmstuckman (#47389653) Attached to: Autonomous Trucking

As the previous AC post alluded, the particular requirements of freight and passenger transport don't mix well. The United States moves a massive amount of freight by rail, with very few long-distance rail lines being totally dedicated to passenger transport. Unfortunately, the unique requirements for passenger and freight traffic don't mix well.

Freight trains travel at lower speeds than the ideal passenger train, and acceleration and deceleration is extremely slow and inefficient. In the USA, the rail lines that share track with freight suffer from very slow average speeds and long delays, as they get stuck behind freight trains and are sometimes forced to stop and wait for conflicting traffic to pass. This results in long delays (both on long-distance lines and on local commuter lines which share freight tracks into the city) and the inability to add extra trains to improve service. Furthermore, for a passenger train to survive a crash with a freight train, an extraordinary amount of extra mass must be built into the passenger train, raising costs considerably. (Look up the Wikipedia page for the USA's Acela Express rolling stock.)

Comment: Re:consent (Score 3, Informative) 130

by Jmstuckman (#47344649) Attached to: In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions

From a legal standpoint, for an activity to be considered "research", it must be "designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge".

When a website uses A/B testing to improve its own internal operations, it's seeking to privately develop limited knowledge on its own operations, rather than general knowledge. This puts it outside the scope of US federal regulations on research, which have been narrowly crafted to avoid regulating commercial activities like these.

Given these criteria, Facebook was surely engaged in research.

Comment: I'm sorry, could you repeat the question? (Score 1) 76

by Jmstuckman (#47262811) Attached to: Amazon's Android Appstore Coming To BlackBerry

The question: is it enough to save BlackBerry in the consumer market, or is it too little, too late?

How long has it been since BlackBerry has had more than a negligible share of the consumer market? These days, they seem to be almost exclusively enterprise. Seriously, the last time I can think of that anybody I know who bought their own BlackBerry was like 7 years ago. Who is using BlackBerry for personal use?

I bought a BlackBerry (Q10) for personal use -- I can enter text with a physical keyboard far faster than I can with any virtual keyboard. All of the current Android phones with physical keyboards are junk, so the BlackBerry was my best bet.

Incidentally, I've already been using the Amazon Appstore on BlackBerry for quite a while. One can simply download the APK from Amazon and install it on the BlackBerry -- no rooting required.

However, the biggest thing that I miss on BlackBerry is a good Maps app, and the Amazon Appstore doesn't really help here because Amazon doesn't have any good map and navigation apps either (or at least none that will work on small screen sizes).

Comment: Re:12.64 percent in only 17 months (Score 4, Informative) 187

by Jmstuckman (#47152317) Attached to: Windows 8.1 Finally Passes Windows 8 In Market Share

Three years used to be a complete tech cycle in the consumer realm -- back in the 90s and early 2000s -- but the average consumer no longer upgrades their computer nearly that often. Most of my friends are still using 5-7 year old hardware, because the hardware from that era is still perfectly capable of running today's software. Your techie friends may upgrade every three years, but nobody else does.

The vast majority of consumers only upgrade their OS when they buy a new system. The lack of uptake of Windows 8 is simply because not that many people have replaced their computer in the last few years. Unfortunately, a lot of the hardware from the 2004-2005 era (the first generation of systems to take DDR2 RAM) is still floating around. Because these systems shipped with XP, they are still running XP, and we now have a problem on our hands.

Compare the Windows 8 growth curve to XP? That 9-year-old hardware from 2005 is still perfectly adequate for most tasks. On the other hand, using a PC from 1992 when XP came out in 2001 would have been impossible (unless you were rich, that computer would have had a 386 CPU and a hard drive with less than 100MB!)

Comment: Might be the perfect tablet for academia (Score 1) 136

by Jmstuckman (#47087159) Attached to: TechCrunch and Others On the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

If that's what your're looking for, check out the Samsung Ativ Tab 3. It runs full Windows 8 (x86), it has a touchscreen and Wacom stylus, and it's great for reading PDFs. You can find it for well under $400 if you look around, and even better, it's *lighter* than the Surface Pro.

Every successful person has had failures but repeated failure is no guarantee of eventual success.