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Comment: Re: What Would be a Trivial Amount? (Score 4, Interesting) 198

Another very simple idea is to just turn this crap off. Sometimes you have to MAKE it do so, since plenty of electronics nowadays don't have a true "off" option at all. So I put everything on surge protectors that have individually-switched outlets. Easy to find plenty of those on Amazon. Either the power-strip style, or I use the desktop models (the ones intended to sit under a monitor), depending on the application and where I'm putting it. The desktop models look nice inside an enclosed entertainment center, and make for easy switching of the electronics in there.

Either way, being able to physically flip the switch to cut off all those game consoles and those sound systems and those cell phone/laptop/whatever chargers, etc. etc. really helps.

I even installed a timer switch on my water heater (until I can get around to replacing the thing with a tankless instead). I found that the long-cycle heating up of the water when it's turned on via the timer, actually uses less power than "maintaining" the heat throughout the day. Though that certainly depends on your usage, of course. I'm a single person and generally only need it powered for a shower. The water remains hot enough even in the unpowered tank throughout the day for things like hand washing. I was surprised what a difference it made. Most of us Slashdot types probably already have programmable thermostats for HVAC, but you don't really think about your water heater sitting there sucking up power all day maintaining hot water you're not using.

I even have my damn dishwasher on a switch, conveniently right next to the garbage disposal switch. Only gets turned on when I need it. Sure, all this was a pretty fair amount of work at first, but once I'd done it, I literally cut my power bill in half. No joke, no exaggeration. Though again keep in mind I'm a single person and don't generally use a lot of power to begin with, admittedly, but still, slicing my usage in half just by putting crap I wasn't using on switched outlets made a tremendous difference to me. And I really don't think it's inconvenient to go over to the entertainment center and, say, flip the Playstation switch when I want to play that.

And as an added bonus, an unpowered device is one less possible source of circuit failure and fire hazard. That's just a nice little icing on the lower-power-bill cake.

Comment: Re:Okay, you've got my attention. (Score 4, Informative) 187

by Mousit (#49210809) Attached to: China's Arthur C. Clarke
His largest and arguably most popular/well-known (especially outside of China) book series is getting proper English translations and sold in Western markets. You can purchase the first book of the series, _Three Body Problem_, from Amazon right now. Book two is due to be released in July.

A number of his short stories are also available in Kindle format from Amazon, but do not appear to have physical book translations available.

Comment: Re:I dunno about LEDs, but CFLs don't last (Score 1) 602

by Mousit (#48004697) Attached to: The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy
One of the main problems with CFLs is that every on/off cycle shortens their life, and further, the really cheap CFLs use electronics and transformers that don't deal well with short cycles in particular. They need to be given time to "warm up" otherwise flipping them back off quickly shortens their life even more. This is especially problematic in short-but-often use areas like, say, a bathroom. Flip light on, pee, flip light off, know what I mean?

I went through three different brands of CFLs in my bathroom before I learned that little detail as to why they all failed within just a matter of months.

Comment: Re:Today's business class is the 70s' economy clas (Score 2) 819

by Mousit (#47846583) Attached to: 3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room
This is something that still shocks me every time I fly on a non-American airline; I never get used to it. Probably because the domestic American airlines continue to get worse, so every foreign airline experience seems even better by comparison. :P

As an example, I recently flew to China. All on Air China. NYC -> Beijing, Beijing -> Xi'an, Xi'an -> Shanghai, Shanghai -> Beijing, and Beijing -> NYC. That entire itinerary cost about the same as a round-trip flight between NYC and Beijing would cost alone, using an American airline that flies that route. I checked. I checked several actually, using Orbitz and such.

The cabin amenities were surprising to me too. I'm so used to domestic commuter flights being little puddle-jumper planes where you.. just don't get anything. You're lucky if you get something to drink (some two-hour flights don't do drink service though you can ask for a drink). Air China apparently has a fairly standard plane configuration for both international and domestic flights, even short two-hour domestic flights. The seats are wider than American counterparts. The spacing is maybe about the same though; I'm a short person so I'm not the best to comment about legroom, but to me it felt like I had more. Every seat had an entertainment system built into the headrest in front of you, even on short-haul planes. A large selection of movies, TV shows, and games. All of it free; domestic American flights I've been on that have this service (which is typically only longer-haul flights to begin with) usually charge money for much or most of the selection.

On top of that, every flight was free food and drink. The overseas flight served two full meals, which admittedly is kind of expected even from American flights of that length. However, what really surprised me was the in-country flights. Going from Beijing to Xi'an is about two, two and a half hours. A full meal was still served to everyone. Same thing for heading to Shanghai and eventually back to Beijing. All those flights were two or three hours. Full meals, every one. And all on top of the realization of what that entire itinerary cost.

Now, I realize there's some economies of scale at play with a domestic Chinese airline (flying a much larger Chinese population), and also some state-run subsidization factors at play too, but that can't cover ALL of it. And I'm not saying all the domestic Americans need to go to THAT level of service (though it would be nice) with a meal on every flight no matter how short, or such things. Nonetheless, the shear size and scope of the service level difference, and price difference, between the two was shockingly astounding. Reinforced by the fact that I don't live in NYC itself, so I got to and from there via a domestic American airline and had a terrible experience both directions, with a round-trip ticket price that was more than a third what that whole Air China flight itinerary cost.

Getting outside our own borders can teach you a lot about how good American life is in many ways compared to the rest of the world--something we shouldn't forget, but it can also show you just how bad we have it in other ways, especially when it comes to consumer(/employee, even more) business economics of any kind. Yeah yeah, "first world problems" and all that. Fuck that. A problem is a problem, and it shouldn't be hand-waved away just because "we have it better than so much of the world". Yeah, we do. And we could have even better than that.

Comment: Re:$230 (Score 5, Informative) 611

by Mousit (#47724641) Attached to: Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year
Also FWIW, Adblock Plus by default blocks YouTube ads. Has for a long, long time. I haven't seen a YouTube ad in so many years I literally tend to forget it even HAS them.

Occasionally jars me when I see people complaining about how horrible YouTube ads are and it reminds me "oh yeeeaaah.." :)

Comment: Re:Tiny Tiny RSS (Score 4, Informative) 132

by Mousit (#47388343) Attached to: Google Reader: One Year Later
I did the same, TT-RSS on Dreamhost. I wanted something that could be used from any web browser, rather than needing an app, and didn't require external authentication. Basically, self-contained, the way Reader was. Feedly and the like just didn't meet those needs.

TT-RSS is so simple; most anyone comfortable enough to do self-hosting can set it up I'd think. Only issues I ever had compared to Reader were, at the beginning, it'd sometimes get temporarily banned on certain RSS feeds for excessive queries (probably numerous users all set up on DH so it was seeing that, as I only query once every four hours). Ironically this happened almost exclusively on Feedburner links (which Slashdot uses), which is owned by Google, so it sometimes felt like Google was really trying to kill RSS. :P That went away after a short time though, probably as Feedburner marked Dreamhost IPs as shared hosting and exempted from the query limits.

Also occasionally Dreamhost's database server can be rather slow (making the whole application slow), but that doesn't happen very often. And you sort of expect it with cheap shared hosting, anyway.

It certainly works plenty well enough, and since I already had the DH account for other purposes, adding TT-RSS was effectively free.

Comment: Re:Or call your credit card company ... (Score 1) 228

by Mousit (#47175377) Attached to: AT&T To Use Phone Geolocation To Prevent Credit Card Fraud
You don't even have to call them half the time. American Express, Citibank, and Wells Fargo all have the ability to register foreign travel right from their online banking websites. Admittedly it's specifically for overseas travel, as they don't let you enter domestic locations, at least not currently. Still, when I vacationed in China earlier this year I was able to let them know online, including date ranges for travel so that I could avoid any possible fraud from charges that might show up after I went home. I just logged in to my account and filled out the information, quick and easy.

More importantly, it was BASIC travel information (country, and sometimes city, and that's pretty much it), not detailed, minute-by-minute tracked movement like this cell phone idea would provide.

I was able to use my credit cards and even withdraw cash from ATMs, with no problems and no card deactivation. And I say after having had deactivation issues in the past, when I didn't let them know.

Comment: Re:The only features ... (Score 1) 243

by Mousit (#46933849) Attached to: The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'
PagePlus Cellular doesn't require a data plan. They use Verizon's network though so that is unfortunately a limiting factor because Verizon doesn't tend to like activating phones that were not bought through them (i.e., BYOD). Using smartphones with PagePlus is a hit-or-miss story, but I mention them anyway because they are widely known.

AT&T's Prepaid options include pay-as-you-go basic phone plans that do not include data (I lived on the 10c/min, 20c/text plan for years), and they also have a no-contract monthly $25 smartphone plan that does not include data and does not require you to purchase any either. AT&T also now owns and operates pre-pay-only carrier Aio Wireless, though I don't think that one does no-data plans at current.

There is also GoSmart Mobile. They are owned and operated by T-Mobile, like MetroPCS is. Also speaking of subsidiaries, don't forget Net10 which belongs to Tracfone, and does not require data. However I believe Net10 requires you use one of their own devices, not bring your own (much like Tracfone itself).

There's a whole host of little-known MVNOs as well. If you have an interest in Ting (which yes was one I might point out), then I might also suggest ChitChat Mobile, which like Ting also operates on Sprint's network. It has plans that do not require data, and they even openly advertise that they allow smartphones on those same no-data plans. Their homepage currently boasts that they'll activate Sprint iPhones on their $10/mo talk/text/no-data plan.

Comment: Re:The only features ... (Score 4, Informative) 243

by Mousit (#46932587) Attached to: The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'
It's worth pointing out that having a smartphone no longer requires being forced into an expensive monthly post-paid service, a fact that is very much related to the posted article, if only tangentially. It certainly USED to be the case (in the U.S. especially), but these days there's quite a number of pre-paid services that are like Tracfone, that allow you to use a smartphone. StraightTalk comes to mind, since they offer Android and iPhones. Even AT&T's GoPhone (a service similarly priced to Tracfone, notably) lets smartphones on these days, though in the past I admit they used to outright reject them and tell you they could only be used on post-pay.

Many pre-paid providers don't even require you to have a data plan with a smartphone. You can live on voice/SMS alone, and get your data needs via WiFi.

Basically, it's entirely possible these days to enjoy both cheap service AND a smartphone. Though I won't begrudge anyone who truly does want a simple, voice-and-text-only phone. Have at 'em. But people who might like a smartphone but not the expensive service plan should not need to hold out anymore.

Comment: Re:most useful? (Score 1) 77

by Mousit (#46873535) Attached to: After a Long wait, GNU Screen Gets Refreshed

Is there a tmux equivalent to "screen -DR" ? If so, I might try it out.

Not exactly, no. I REALLY liked this particular flag combo in screen, and it's the one thing that tmux doesn't do natively that I miss (but I still use tmux because of all the other happiness it brings me). I even opened a ticket on the lack of this functionality but the answer I got back was basically "I'm not looking to just emulate screen so exact functionality may not be added."

tmux has an option to detach other sessions when you attach yours, but it ONLY detaches. There is not a "detach AND log out" option when attaching a session. However, it does have a detach-and-logout function if you ONLY want to do that (not attach a new session at the same time). Basically "tmux detach-client -P" will detach and log out an attached session, but you'll notice there's nothing to attach your session at the same time. That's the crux of the issue.

Naturally, I'm not the only one that wants this functionality (and clearly so do you), so there is some kludgy ways to do it. The simplest is to create a bash alias (or alias in your shell of choice) to first do the detach-and-logout and then perform the attach-session. Something like this:

tmu() {
if tmux -q has-session -t tmux; then
tmux detach-client -P -s tmux
tmux -2 -u attach-session -t tmux
tmux -2 -u new-session -s tmux

Basically, I just type "tmu" to run the alias. If the session named "tmux" exists, detach-client and log them out, then attach my current pty to the session. Otherwise, if the session does not exist at all (i.e., tmux server isn't running), create a brand new tmux instance with the session name of "tmux".

Not ideal, but it's the closest way to achieve screen's -DR option at current, at least with the version I'm using. Newer versions of tmux may be better; Debian by its nature doesn't use the very latest, of course, which is the distro (Wheezy) I use. I seem to recall that newer versions of tmux will create a brand new session via attach-session if it doesn't exist; my version requires an explicit new-session in order to start up a tmux server from a totally non-running state. So that could certainly simplify my alias a fair bit.

Comment: Re:Oh! I Say! Shocking ! (Score 2) 70

by Mousit (#46671005) Attached to: Bugs In SCADA Software Leave 7,600 Factories Vulnerable
If only. Come be a utility in Texas, where ERCOT (the state-wide electric utility authority) seriously considered making their push notification system be Internet-only. As in, you HAD to connect your SCADA system to the Internet (even if through an intermediary server in a DMZ) to be able to receive the (required, if you wanted to be licensed and in business) control signals from ERCOT. Thankfully, for once, the backlash was so bad ERCOT actually listened to it and backed off that plan. That's exceedingly rare.

Or backed off kinda-sorta anyway. They still have a dual setup, you can receive either via Internet or via private frame-relay between ERCOT's site and yours. We of course opted for the latter, heavily secured and sanitized through multiple hops, but nonetheless that does still mean we have an external connection into our SCADA system, not air-gapped, though I will grant you it doesn't connect to the Internet at large (we hope; who knows what the fuck ERCOT does on their end). And we MUST have it, if we want to actually operate as a licensed utility in Texas. And Texas is FAR from alone in having this bureaucratically-created shit for operating requirements. These types of enforced setups are nationwide.

That is the sad, stupid state of affairs we live in today.

Comment: Re:First blacks, (Score 1) 917

by Mousit (#46342643) Attached to: Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation

...(We don't have national performance yet, but that's no big deal; just take a $200 trip to California. It's still binding in every hateful corner of the South. The UK has no such privilege.)...

If only that were true, but no. You remember DOMA, right? The Defense of Marriage Act? It explicitly allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex unions performed in other states. That section of DOMA has NOT been struck down. Only Section 3 (which prevented the federal government itself from recognizing same-sex unions) was ruled unconstitutional. The rest of the act has not been struck down as yet, despite the big hullabaloo that happened back in the summer of last year when Section 3 got the boot.

Of the 29 states that have state constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions (and 4 more states that ban it by law), only two--Oregon and Missouri--actually recognize out-of-state same-sex unions. Missouri recognizes them for joint-file tax purposes only and nothing else, so really it's just Oregon.

So you could say we have "national observation" in the sense that the federal government now recognizes legal same-sex unions no matter where you live in the country, but unfortunately it is not "binding in every hateful corner of the South," since the states themselves don't have to recognize it. And really, the vast majority of benefits that come with marriage are state-level benefits, so the striking down of Section 3, while important, still leaves a whole hell of a lot to be desired.

Comment: Re:So let me get this straight... (Score 1) 238

by Mousit (#45732085) Attached to: Tesla Gets $34 Million Tax Break, Adds Capacity For 35,000 More Cars
In and of itself, not paying taxes is not what makes corporations (big or small) evil. It has much more to do with what they use it for and how they go about it.

Exxon and GE, as examples, are rather famous for not paying anything on their recent profit/income taxes (or even getting billions in rebates, in GE's case) while at the same time raking in world-record-breaking profits, and then taking that extra cash and simply lining the executives' pockets by paying out huge bonuses. They also downplay or even attempt to hide their lack of taxpaying, or go to extreme creative-accounting lengths to hide their money so as to avoid taxation.

Tesla (and California)--at least in this particular case--is being very public about this tax windfall, letting everyone know they're being done a favor. And instead of just paying bonuses to the top brass or otherwise pocketing the money and walking away, they're putting it right back into development and product output (yes I'm aware they do profit on sales from that increased output, but that gets taxed separately anyway). They're literally using this tax break to be more productive.

There's a pretty fundamental difference there.

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"