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Comment: Another vote for the Performance MX mouse! (Score 1) 419

by King_TJ (#48902053) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?

I've used a *lot* of different mice out there, and I keep settling on Logitech's MX series as one of my favorites.
I used to have their MX1000 laser mouse, and then the MX Revolution .... and now the Performance Mouse MX.

My only complaint about these mice is that the black rubber "grippy" areas on the sides where you rest your fingers wears off after a while in spots, making the mouse look pretty ragged/beat-up at that point, even if it's still functional otherwise.

I also preferred the MX Revolution's charging cradle to the current design where you just plug a micro-USB cable into the front of the mouse to recharge it. (I find the micro USB cable to be a bit difficult to get inserted just right, and I have a feeling it will be one of the things that breaks first on this mouse.)

What I'd really like to see, though, is a bluetooth version of one of these. If you're a Mac user (especially of a notebook like the Air which doesn't have a lot of ports), a bluetooth mouse makes much more sense than wasting a USB port with a wireless receiver dongle. But there's VERY little available in the way of quality bluetooth mice. HP makes a couple of Z series BT mice, but the more expensive ($60 or so) one that tries to look like an Apple product (complete with gesture support on the flat top surface) fails to impress. Other than it's promised long battery life, it was nothing but negatives when I tried it. Gesture support is jerky and overly sensitive, unlike Apple's own Magic Mouse -- and the buttons start acting up where they stick when pressed or fail to register when pressed. The cheaper black Z series BT mouse from HP actually feels more comfortable in my hand and works better as a standard mouse (no fancy gesture support or slim line buttons that don't work right). BUT, drop it on the floor even once and expect it to blow up into pieces all over the floor.

Comment: Re:Why is the DMV kowtowing to a commercial busine (Score 1) 202

I think you're looking at this from the wrong angle, myself.

Someone deciding to make some extra money on the side driving for Uber doesn't need a "commercial license" from the DMV! What they probably DO need is a special car insurance policy or rider that covers the situation.

Just like if I upgrade my car with a fancy, multi-thousand dollar stereo system -- I can't expect my auto insurance to cover its replacement cost if it's stolen. They're going to say, "Sorry buddy. We insured you based on the standard equipment we know comes with the particular make and model of vehicle you insured with us." They WILL however, let me pay extra to itemize what's in it and get that covered as additional coverage.

The auto insurance company who starts marketing a reasonably priced insurance rider specifically for folks doing "ride sharing" will find it very profitable and popular.

Comment: Re:CA requires commercial licenses for pickup truc (Score 4, Interesting) 202

Wow! Really?!

That's just one more argument against living in California then.

IMO, the *real* reason for commercial licenses was the concept that commercial drivers are driving much larger vehicles that require special training/skills to operate safely on the roadways. (Your average licensed driver can't just hop into an 18-wheeler and operate it. They'd likely not even be able to figure out the transmission with as many gear as it has!) And the ability to properly back one up into a loading dock isn't something that comes without training either.

A vehicle anyone buys at a regular car dealership and uses as a "daily driver" for things like commuting or trips to the grocery store should NOT require a commercial license.

The states ALL want tax revenue, but there are ways to go about it that make relative degrees of common sense to citizens. When they start making unreasonable, illogical demands, it's time to get that changed or consider moving to a more reasonable place.

Comment: re: Midwest and tech jobs (Score 2) 135

by King_TJ (#48893821) Attached to: By the Numbers: The Highest-Paying States For Tech Professionals

As someone who was born and raised in St. Louis, MO -- I can tell you it really depends. In the last decade or so, my opinion is that it's time to get out of St. Louis if you're trying to make a living there doing I.T.

It has several "big players" who hire for tech positions and pay well, but the problem is what's available outside of those options. Enterprise Leasing, for example, has their corporate HQ in St. Louis and employs a lot of I.T. workers. (Some of my best friends worked for them for years.) You've also got options like Boeing, Energizer or the A.B. brewery.

But take a closer look and you can see a trend of Boeing scaling things back over the years in St. Louis. (Ever since they bought out McDonnell Douglas, they've been shrinking the size of that campus.) A.B. hasn't been the same ever since they sold out to InBev, either. And the once well regarded A.G. Edwards Company is now Wells Fargo Advisors, a company not exactly known for being a "great place to work" in I.T.

Don't forget the auto makers who used to have plants in St. Louis and are now gone.

The cost of living is reasonable (especially housing prices), but crime is pretty bad these days (just look at the insanity ever since the Ferugson riots), and the once amazing riverfront area is pretty much gone too.

These days, you find the occasional good I.T. position open in STL working for the Federal Reserve or maybe a contract with the Post Office. As in all cities, I.T. jobs are available with the school districts and hospitals too -- but you won't hear a whole lot of stories of high job satisfaction with many of those. I guess there are some openings at Emerson Corp. too, but that puts your workplace right in the middle of where all the Ferguson fallout lies.

After living there for around 40 years, I had enough ... saw the writing on the wall, and got out. Working in the DC area now, I was initially unhappy with the cost of living making my salary increase an actual pay cut. But you learn how to live cheaper out here, in trade for a longer commute - and eventually settle into something that's effective. (Or don't, and accept the higher cost of living as an acceptable trade for being in the heart of the DC night life, etc.) By using public transportation, I literally went from putting over 1,000 miles per month on my vehicle to only putting 2,000 on it in 5 months. That requires a change in habits but makes it cheaper to live here than it first seemed.

Comment: Disagree! (Score 2) 463

by King_TJ (#48890729) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Anti-Virus Software In 2015? Free Or Paid?

Malware Bytes? Yes.... Great product that really is pretty effective (especially if you can boot into "safe mode" in Windows first) at cleaning up malware.

But Windows Defender? Absolutely not. It got ranked absolute worst at detecting malware in a head to head test last year vs. something like 40 other products on the market! And just from personal experience trying to keep PCs clean in an office setting with a lot of mobile workers? It didn't even trigger on some heavily infected machines.

Personally, we use eSet NOD32, and while I won't claim it's "best" - I just feel it seems to do a reasonably good job without dragging down system performance. It's not free but not that expensive either.

Comment: Didn't this happen originally, anyway? (Score 1) 418

by King_TJ (#48887041) Attached to: Disney Turned Down George Lucas's Star Wars Scripts

I could be wrong, but I thought I once read that the original Lucas script for Episode 4 (or was it Empire Strikes Back?) was pretty much ghost-written and revamped by someone else, in order to make for a better movie?

In any case, I've always thought George did an amazing job imagining all of the ships, creatures and planets that appear in the movies -- but that doesn't necessarily make him a great script writer. Disney, IMO, would be wise to keep him as more of a consultant on any Star Wars movie project. Take his input on the bigger picture stuff, but don't let him worry about the exact lines each character speaks.

Comment: Sorry, but again, NO... a resounding no.... (Score 4, Interesting) 253

by King_TJ (#48874999) Attached to: IRS Warns of Downtime Risk As Congress Makes Cuts

The IRS suffering a temporary shutdown would be cause for celebration.

I'm not talking about libertarian utopias here at all. Rather, I'm saying a failure of that magnitude (a government incapable of even keeping its agency going which collects its FUNDS) would be a huge wake-up call that the current system is broken.

Discussions that might come from such a shutdown would include, "Maybe it's about time we simplify the tax code, so all of this infrastructure isn't necessary to collect taxes?"

Comment: Wow.... (Score 1) 263

by King_TJ (#48872277) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

But that's a good point too. I.T. seems to be in a strange place when it comes to where it fits in a budget for some companies. Some people want to call I.T. an expense (necessary cost of operations), while others view it as a "profit center" and constantly expect justifications from I.T. management as to how much money it saved the company in a given quarter.

The last couple places I worked insisted on an accounting scheme where I.T. had its hours charged back to cost centers of other divisions of the company, based on how much time we assisted those people. I guess it's fine, if it makes the number crunchers happy with the results? But it never made a lot of logical sense to me since so much of I.T. involved system or network-wide changes or upgrades affecting everybody. And you got into office politics with such things as wanting an office to upgrade to a faster internet connection. Their manager might say no because he didn't want the extra cost billed to his division/department. But not upgrading meant slower VPN access for any remote workers connecting to the router in that office and performance lag for anyone on the WAN who needed to load/save content from servers at his location. So his refusal to upgrade affected others negatively who he wasn't even directly responsible for.

Comment: How much of this is due to mergers? (Score 2) 263

by King_TJ (#48866745) Attached to: The Tech Industry's Legacy: Creating Disposable Employees

One thing I've really noticed in the last decade or so is the massive amount of consolidation, mergers, acquisitions, etc.
Every time I turn around, it seems like some company is being bought out by another one. And with so many opting to recycle old company brand names, it's difficult to tell sometimes just who really makes a product or provides a service.

(We've all heard of Polaroid, RCA and Westinghouse -- but they're not the companies they used to be.)

Quite often when these mergers or acquisitions happen, the company originating the process really only wants to add the other business's patent portfolio, or its proprietary product -- not its labor pool. The employees typically come along for the ride, initially though -- with some kind of (often underhanded) plan to eliminate them over time. Perhaps it would be better for everyone involved if they were up front and honest about such plans, except the truth is? If they were, people would start throwing fits and revolting against these buyouts and mergers instead of viewing them as "just part of doing business".

(EG. If you want to own a technology that a competitor created, it's easy to pay off the head of the company who owns the rights to it and let them "resign". Everyone assumes it's because that individual is simply angry that he/she lost so much control over the original business plan and is going to walk away on principle. In reality? He/she just sold out and threw their staff under the bus.)

In the end though -- hey, it's the modern way business is done. They're worried about maximum efficiency, which means having a labor pool that costs the company the minimum in training costs, salaries, etc. while doing as much useful work as possible. Loyalty is pretty much out the window because keeping people around, just because they've "been with us a long time" turns out to be less efficient than hiring fresh people who are motivated to "prove themselves".

Comment: Know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em (Score 2) 489

by King_TJ (#48850679) Attached to: Windows 10: Can Microsoft Get It Right This Time?

IMO, Microsoft has a big hit on their hands with Windows 10, from the looks of the developer preview. If it continues as planned, it should be the upgrade all of the Windows 7 holdouts have been waiting for. It has package management from the command line (a real plus for I.T. folks supporting these systems on a network), and native support for the latest hardware technologies like USB 3. The problems with the Metro UI in Windows 8 should hopefully be worked out, too.

But Windows Mobile for phones? They've tried and tried again and it's pretty much a non-starter. People simply aren't that interested in a Windows UI on a cellphone. IMO, they need to cut their losses and quit trying to have Microsoft everywhere. Focus on what works and build on that. EG. Move forward with such things as Office for iOS, because that's being smart. (It costs too much to try to convince everyone to ditch an iPad and buy a Surface tablet instead. Make your money off selling apps for iOS instead.)

Comment: Exaggeration, much? (Score 2, Informative) 589

by King_TJ (#48847495) Attached to: Why Run Linux On Macs?

I dislike the malls too, but truthfully - I consider the Apple retail stores a net positive, and another reason to keep buying Macs instead of something else.

If I don't want to visit a "Genius Bar", I don't have to, and neither do you. Apple has a toll free number you can call for service and support, which I've used several times before. They'll even overnight you a postage paid return mailer box to pack up your machine in, to go back to them for service, if needed. (This is identical to the service procedure I've gone through in the past with Toshiba -- except Apple is much quicker to answer their phone, vs. leaving you on hold for 45 minutes first.)

The GPU problem you're complaining about on your 2011 model of Macbook? That was a WELL known issue, across the board, with just about ALL notebook manufacturers who used those GPUs. So it's not even fair to use that as a reason you feel Macs lack quality or reliability. By contrast, I've got a 17" Macbook Pro that's from early 2010 which I leave on 24 hours/7 days (typically in a Henge dock on my office desk these days) and it's never needed service at all. It's my main work computer, and with a 512GB SSD I put in it a while back, it still feels pretty fast too. 5 years of daily use isn't bad at all for a portable, no matter what the brand.

I agree that Dell, arguably, does Apple one better in the area of service by sending out on-site technicians. BUT, I've worked for years in places that used exclusively Dell so I'm very familiar with that whole process too. Especially in more recent years, those techs are notorious for not showing up when they're scheduled, or bringing out an incorrect repair part, causing you the inconvenience of waiting around for them to show a second time.

For what it's worth, too.... Apple does have a couple of different programs you can join if you're a business user of their machines, to make the repair process a lot easier. They don't advertise these as well as I think they should, but they do exist. With one of them, you can get your own employees certified as Apple technicians so they can troubleshoot problems themselves and call Apple to get repair pairs overnighted to them under the warranty.

Comment: Glad to hear they were punished, but ... (Score 4, Informative) 179

by King_TJ (#48820599) Attached to: Marriot Back-Pedals On Wireless Blocking

Just to play devil's advocate here.... The newer wireless access point products on the market like the Cisco Meraki gear encourage this sort of behavior, with their "Air Marshal" capabilities. They're designed so you can actively DoS wi-fi routers that appear on your network, "unauthorized".

They even have an extra radio integrated in them for this functionality, separate from the ones handling the rest of the wireless traffic.

So arguably, the I.T. folks who set this whole thing up for the hotels might have done so with intentions of preserving the integrity of the paid hotel wi-fi network, and not because "they mistakenly thought they owned all of the airwaves inside the hotel building". It's still an asshole move to set something like this up, IMO ... but a hotel chain that charges for its wi-fi could reasonably argue that it's in its best interests to ensure its paying customers get a good, reliable signal with it. That could be compromised with hundreds of guests setting up their own APs in their rooms.

Comment: We still run it too! (Score 2) 639

by King_TJ (#48802755) Attached to: Microsoft Ends Mainstream Support For Windows 7

Our workplace made a decision a while back to stay on Windows 7 Professional as the "standard" for our Windows users. (We also support a number of Macs.)
In general, I think many corporate I.T. departments have a policy of upgrading every OTHER release of Windows. (For example, they stayed on XP and skipped Vista. Upgraded to 7 and will now wait for Windows 10.)

Even if you go back as far as Windows '98, it turned out to be wise to stay put on '98 (upgrading it to second edition where possible) and skipping Windows ME.

IMO, there's just no benefit to a Windows 8 migration. The arguments like "no new Direct X support for 7" is meaningless when the users just use 2D apps like MS Office and a bunch of web based apps. The new "tile" interface means more training is required, which is a real problem for us, with so many mobile workers scattered all over the country.

Meanwhile, Windows 10 is the one really bringing the "added value" we're after, with such things as an upgraded Windows "PowerShell" that will finally support software upgrades from packages (similar to Linux distros) from the command line.

Comment: I think you're S.O.L. then.... (Score 1) 629

by King_TJ (#48799675) Attached to: Google Throws Microsoft Under Bus, Then Won't Patch Android Flaw

Fact is, at least in the U.S. -- the whole cellular market is designed around a 2 year device rotation as "standard".
This is due to the popularity of the 2 year contract that includes a heavily subsidized handset at signing or renewal time.

The industry figures that unless you're one of the less desirable customers who gets a pay as you go phone due to problems passing a credit check, you're going to keep paying $60-100 per month or so for the length of time you want to use a phone, and you're going to expect a shiny new model every couple of years as part of that arrangement.

I do think this might SLOWLY be changing a bit, largely thanks to T-Mobile trying to act as the rebellious upstart of the industry and encouraging people to rethink traditional contracts. (Additionally, the companies like "Net 10" who act as wholesalers of minutes of service and kilobytes of data from the major carriers help fuel interest in buying higher-end handsets straight out and using them without contracts.)

But no - there really is the expectation that a couple of years of support is all that's necessary on a cellphone. And tablets are sort of falling into that same category by default - simply because they run the same OS's as the cellphones do.

The other line moves faster.

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