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Comment: WRITE your Congressman (Score 5, Informative) 1002

by Port1080 (#38737668) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do About SOPA and PIPA?

It's easy to end an e-mail letter, but those aren't as effective as a personally written letter. In order of effectiveness, petitions are the lowest, followed by e-mail form letters, followed by personally written e-mails, followed by mailed form letters, followed by phone calls, followed by personally written mailed letters. Personally visiting your Congressman's office is also highly effective (this is probably less possible with your Senator, unless you live in a small population state, but Representatives often have offices that the public can easily visit and offer feedback). The most effective thing to do, if you don't have a lot of money (large cash donations are VERY effective), is to become a volunteer (assuming your Rep is someone that you can get behind on most issues and you'd like to see reelected) and get plugged in. It's not as difficult as you'd think. Once your Rep knows you by name, and potentially respects your opinion, you can slip some info in about tech issues from time to time. Of course, this does take a lot of effort and time commitment, which is why most people won't be doing it - but if you've got the time, and want to make a difference, it's definitely something you can do.

Comment: Re:Why does PayPal still exist? (Score 2) 362

by Port1080 (#38586806) Attached to: Paypal Orders Buyer of Violin To Destroy It For a Refund

PayPal doesn't screw buyers (I'm sure you can dig some story up, but it's pretty rare) - they screw sellers. In this they're not really different than any other credit card processor. If you have a regular merchant account, you can run into exactly the same sort of problems with fraud, chargebacks, etc. The thing is, real businesses know this, expect it, and budget for some loss from fraud, because they more than make up for it from the extra sales they get from accepting credit cards. The sort of people using PayPal to accept credit cards, on the other hand, don't expect fraud or understand how to deal with it.

Comment: It's the lack of change for change's sake (Score 1) 1880

by Port1080 (#38023384) Attached to: What's Keeping You On Windows?

The reason I have come to prefer Windows over Linux (and I gave Linux a fair shake, I think) is the relatively stability you have with Windows. With Linux you can run a stable/LTS distro and not have to change your UI for a few years, but you're stuck with old applications that don't have cutting edge features and aren't well maintained. The other option is to go with the bleeding edge, but then you have to deal with buggy applications, and the bizarre and capricious design choices that UI designers make. The Linux desktop environment world needs to learn that change for change's sake isn't good. Windows has had some of that, but someone moving from the first version of Windows 95 to Windows 7 would find the UI very familiar and wouldn't have any major issues with the transition. On the flip side, with each different version of Ubuntu it seemed like I needed to relearn basic things like what the window would do when I clicked on what I thought was the minimize button, which side of the window the close button would be on...you get the picture. I know I could change it all back to what I was used to, but you know what? It's just not worth my time to fuss with that. A mediocre interface that I'm familiar and skilled with is better than a great interface that I need to relearn every six months because someone thought they found a way to make it even greater! My one big fear is that with Windows 8, Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon of fucking around with the UI in radical ways. If they make me relearn everything to use the OS, then I might just jump ship, because if I'm putting that much effort into learning something new, why not try something really new? I'm hoping, though, that I can stick with Windows 7 (which I'm very, very happy with) for at least a few more years, and that Windows 8 will have some kind of fallback mode that allows the application of a Windows 7 UI.

Comment: Re:It's not really "unseen" (Score 2) 566

by Port1080 (#36884662) Attached to: 35% Consumers Want iPhone 5... Sight Unseen

On the flip side are people like me...I got a 4 right when it came out and have been very happy with it. I don't really see a compelling reason to upgrade to the 5 - I'm happy with the camera and video capabilities, I'm happy with the speed and functionality, I'm happy with the screen resolution, I don't care about LTE (I mostly use the phone on wifi in any case - I work at a university, so it's ubiquitous both at work and at home), and I don't have any desire to use NFC. I really can't imagine what feature Apple would add that would make me want to spend the money to upgrade. I may do it anyway if it makes sense financially (i.e. if I can sell my jail-broken, unlocked 4 on eBay for more than what I would have to pay to upgrade), but that would be the only reason. Phones are more or less feature-maxed at this point, I think - the form factor limits what you can add and do with them. I already look at phones like the Droid series and feel like they're too big and bulky - I hope Apple doesn't go that route, with the feature creep. Faster processors will eventually be necessary over time, but I think the 4's processor will be fast enough to run most apps for at least the year or two (after all, even today you can have a pretty good iOS experience on a 3GS, which is over two years old at this point).

Comment: Re:This is crazy... (Score 1) 93

by Port1080 (#35879788) Attached to: Rumors Pointing to September iPhone 5 Ship Date

If your cell phone provider is allowing you to re-up your contract sooner than normal (as AT&T did with a lot of 3GS owners when the 4 came out) it's not crazy at all...right now used iPhone 4s are going for around $400-500 on eBay, give or take. They'll probably go down in price somewhat when the 5 comes out, but still, if you can sell your current, used, old phone for $300 or even just $200, that means you're basically upgrading to the newest generation phone for free. Why wouldn't you want to do that?

Comment: Re:Stargate (Score 1) 373

by Port1080 (#35798770) Attached to: The Decreasing Impact of Death In Sci-fi

I thought Buffy handled death fairly well...if characters were killed by monsters / magic / gods / etc. they could come back from the dead. If they died from something else, they were just dead. Joyce's death, and later Tara's, were both very effective because you knew that they were definitely, 100% not coming back. It was a way to actually give some tension to death, and in both seasons it also had a strong impact on the overall plot (Joyce's death setting up Buffy's crisis of confidence and eventual self sacrifice / suicide at the end of the season, Tara's death setting up Willow's slide off the deep end) - they weren't just one-off "audience shockers". I will say, most of the other deaths in Angel / Buffy weren't all that impactful, because you knew the character was probably going to be resurrected or come back in one way or another. The one exception was the death of Fred in the last season of Angel - it had a real punch, because you knew the character was definitely dead and not coming back.

Comment: Re:This is important? (Score 1) 380

by Port1080 (#35268184) Attached to: Science Channel Buys Rights To Firefly

Not just you, I thought Season 6 was brilliant. My favorite seasons, in order, would be:

Season 3
Season 6
Season 2
Season 1
Season 7
Season 4*
Season 5**

I'd even taken season 5 over most of what's running on network TV or cable right now, though.

* The whole college plot was really lame, but it did have some good stand-alone episodes.
* That low mostly because Glory was horridly annoying - it also had some really good stand-alone episodes, with "The Body" probably being the best episode of the entire run.

Comment: Re:Remember, not illegal! (Score 1) 165

by Port1080 (#35140714) Attached to: Verizon iPhone Is Now Jailbreakable

"Tethering has been moot since AT&T went away from unlimited data plans. And moreover they are going to allow tethering shortly since Verizon does."

AT&T has allowed tethering for a while now, actually, but only USB tethering. The Verizon iPhone will allow you to create an ad-hoc hotspot and do wireless tethering, and supposedly AT&T will be adding this feature as well when iOS 3.2 comes out (this is something you've been able to do on jailbroken iPhones for quite a while now, though). The big advantage to jailbreaking in either case is cost - both Verizon and AT&T charge you about $20 a month to enable tethering (plus data charges). MyWi (the jailbreak app that allows tethering) costs $20 up front, but that's it - AT&T has no way of knowing that you're tethering (the app obfuscates it and makes it look like normal phone data traffic), so there is no monthly charge beyond your normal data plan rate. Now, yes, you're not going to use it as your main ISP or anything due to the data caps, but there have been plenty of times when I'm on the road or in a place that doesn't have free wifi, where it's been nice to be able to tether my laptop to my phone and do some basic web browsing, deal with e-mails, etc.

Comment: Re:At-will employment (Score 1) 338

by Port1080 (#35097050) Attached to: Anniston, Alabama To Censor Employees' Facebook Pages

State employment laws would in this case be trumped by the federal constitution, since the employer is a government entity and the employee therefore has expanded rights to criticize his/her employer. If this were a private employer, you'd be correct, but in this case, it's irrelevant.

Comment: Re:1st A... (Score 5, Informative) 338

by Port1080 (#35096960) Attached to: Anniston, Alabama To Censor Employees' Facebook Pages
Actually, government employees do have more rights when it comes to speech (due to the 1st amendment) than private employees do. They can't just say any old thing, but if their criticism of their employer or the town is found by the court to be "of public concern" it could be considered protected speech. This law actually probably is unconstitutional, particularly if it's very broad (it could be written in a way that only banned non-protected speech, but my guess is they didn't think it through that well).

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