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Comment: Props to the Evoluent (Score 1) 431

by PuddleBoy (#48896595) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?
Stupid name, but I have been using the mouse for a couple of years and like it a lot. I find that my hand rests more comfortably on this mouse than any other I've used.

In trying to decide which mouse to get, I relaxed my hands and kind of hung them in the air over my desk, without twisting them in anticipation of a mouse. Tried to imagine being weightless. That position was probably 80 degrees off from what I would have to do to use an 'ordinary' mouse. So I thought, 'Hey, if the mouse is oriented the same as my hand would be in a relaxed state, maybe they're onto something'.

Anyway, it has several buttons, though I only use the three large ones. And the scrollwheel.

Comment: Living in water (Score 1) 154

by PuddleBoy (#48810461) Attached to: Human Language May Have Evolved To Help Our Ancestors Make Tools
Another possible explanation for our rapid development of language was put forth by Elaine Morgan in books like The Descent of Woman and The Aquatic Ape.

The suggestion was that there is lots of physiological evidence (subcutaneous fat layer, distribution of hair, infants seemingly instant ability to swim, even upright posture) that we as a species spent time (a million years?) as semi-aquatic. (in the sense that we wallowed around in the shallow water near shore most of the day) This had some advantages (kept us safe from predators, etc), but had the disadvantage that body language was lost.

So how do you communicate without body language (which is extremely common and important among mammals)?

Sound - it's the one thing you can pass across the surface of the water quickly over long-ish distances. We would need to pass along some level of detail, so we found ways to modulate our voices to incorporate additional meaning. (insert rising modem speeds analogy here)

Just as difficult to prove, but very interesting to speculate about.

Now where did I put my seaweed sandwich....

Comment: Re:Government Permission Should Not Required (Score 1) 221

by PuddleBoy (#48713677) Attached to: Google Fiber's Latest FCC Filing: Comcast's Nightmare Come To Life
>>>Poles, conduits, rights-of-way should belong to the local authority, managed and maintained by the lowest bidding contractor.

That's kind of funny, in a sad sort of way. Have you never read the stories about techs who drill through walls into electrical wires and start fires? Or fall asleep at the customer's home? These are low-paid workers - you don't get great service with rock-bottom prices.

If you go for the lowest bidder, I can guarantee you that maintenance will become a worse and worse issue, with the argument eventually sounding like 'well, at this rate of return, we just can't afford to keep you in service with less than a 72 hour call-back window. Now if you let us double your rates, your service will improve immensely!'

No company is out there to do you a favor. Much of the responsiveness that exists today is the result of threats of gov't action against companies if they fail to resolve consumer complaints within a reasonable amount of time. Why do you think Public Utility Commissions came to exist?

I am reminded of the note, tacked up on the walls of many companies; "Speed, Quality, Price: Choose Any Two".

Comment: All of the above? (Score 1) 214

by PuddleBoy (#48701187) Attached to: New Year's Resolution for 2015
Often, one change in a person's life reaches to many corners of their existence and changes them in a variety of ways (if it's real change and not a passing fad), so an option of All of the Above seems reasonable, if a tad ambitious.

We all need to reach further. You may not achieve everything, but you'll achieve more. And there can be great pleasure in seeing many aspects of your life come together for a stronger, happier whole.

Become the Anti-Couch-Potato!

Comment: You! Puny Human! (Score 1) 181

by PuddleBoy (#48529673) Attached to: Do you worry about the singularity?

You! Puny Human!

Stop speculating on imaginary things and get back to work building ever-greater machines!

We will tell you what to think!

And say, do you have some spare vacuum tubes for my great, great, great, great grandfather here? He's in a retirement home now and needs nothing but the best care. It is good to see you fawning over him, as he deserves!


Processing Unit 11111010001

Comment: Lots of reasons (Score 1) 236

by PuddleBoy (#48444565) Attached to: What is your computer most often plugged into?

One story I like to tell: I had a client who kept all their important records on the computer. They had it plugged into a wall socket.

Occasionally, it would 'act funny' or even shut down. I knew there was a good chance they would lose data. (I also set them up with an external drive and a back-up program)

I put on a new, sine-wave UPS.

I started getting calls that 'the new battery is making noises periodically all day'. I went out there and, sure enough, the UPS would switch to battery for several seconds many times during the day.

Turns out their power source was sagging (voltage-wise) frequently. Even though it was in the city, there must have been some nearby customer that would run some equipment that would 'dim the lights'.

Their computer never acted funny again (at least not for that reason).

Comment: Roof over my head (Score 2) 635

by PuddleBoy (#47789459) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

I've lived in the same house for almost 30 years and it was over 90 years old when we bought it.

You learn to do almost everything: electrical, plumbing, carpentry, paint, roofing (ugh!). You learn on a basic, visceral level how things work, fit together, fall apart. You 'feel' aging. You learn to predict.

In that time I've probably been through 25+ computers (many were servers), who knows how many peripherals, software, etc. Many are just a blur now.

And in the basement is a darkroom for, wait for it,.... film development and printing.

So, I can wake up in the morning, walk across 120 year old floors, and partake of a hobby that goes back over 150 years, essentially unchanged.

Ah, you young whipper-snappers...

Comment: Distinguishing shades (Score 1) 267

by PuddleBoy (#47620225) Attached to: My degree of colorblindness:

I seem to recall reading a stat some years back that approx 20% of men were colorblind to some degree; the percent for women was lower, but I don't remember it.

It can manifest in situations like; you have several pairs of socks, you wash them at the same time, but some are dark blue and some are black. You go to sort them and you can't distinguish in order to pair them up. Some people have tremendous difficulty telling the difference.

And judging by some of the house color choices in my neighborhood recently, colorblindness is becoming an epidemic!

Comment: Film cameras (Score 1) 702

by PuddleBoy (#46794447) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

I have owned a few (formerly-high-end) film cameras and they were built like tanks.

My Nikon F4 is 25 years old (?), has lots of scuffs and dings, but just keeps on working accurately and consistently. They were built for hard, daily professional use. I seem to recall that it was recommended that you get them CLA'd (Clean, Lubricate, Adjust) every 150,000 frames. They are complex cameras, with lots of adjustments and accessories. (Have you ever seen a cut-away of the insides of a high-end film camera? Amazing how they fit so much stuff in there.) You can pick these up for a few hundred dollars. (An interesting side-note: the F4 will take Nikon lenses made from 1960 to the present. Talk about backward-compatibility!)

Look at the way the bodies of the old 500-series Hasselblads were made. Take a solid ingot of aluminum alloy and mill out all the metal you *don't* need for the body. No seams, no rivets, no screws. Very rigid. (Of course, if you smack it so hard that it deforms, toss the body - it can't be repaired. But that takes a serious fall.)

Comment: Why send humans (Score 1) 307

by PuddleBoy (#46661049) Attached to: Should NASA Send Astronauts On Voluntary One-Way Missions?

I wish we could get past this obsession of feeling like we have to send humans everywhere (in the short run). (I'm thinking of long distance missions more than popping up to the ISS.)

If you look at the overall costs associated with programs sending humans versus programs that are all robotic, we could fund many times as many robotic missions for the cost of one human-containing mission. How many Hubble's or Cassini's could we fund for the cost of one manned Mars mission? I'm as big a fan of the space program(s) as the next nerd, but we have to be realistic about costs in a world where we have a long list of human and environmental issues to deal with just to keep our existing house in order.

After we have a solid handle on things like managing the health effects of zero or micro-g, food production, propulsion and radiation exposure, then we can consider a manned, long-distance mission.

Comment: on Mac OS (Score 1) 531

by PuddleBoy (#46381341) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?

(I have not had to install a fresh OS of 10.x in years - knock on wood)

Firefox - lots of control thru add-ons
GraphicConverter - I shoot lots of digital pix and this piece of shareware does most of what I need to manipulate the bulk of them
BBEdit - just the best test editor
JAlbum - easy way to make web albums of hundreds of pix at a time
Transmit - most refined ftp client I've ever run into
LIttle Snitch - nice to know what's coming and going on your box

Comment: We worship capitalism, right? (Score 1) 822

by PuddleBoy (#46082113) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve?

So he should negotiate on those terms.

He has a portfolio of assets of significant value (as-yet-unrevealed secrets) that can be traded for options/assets that the guv'ment possesses (jail-time, amnesty, for example). Not revealing ABC is worth taking XYZ off the table. Two columns/sides - come to an agreement and be sure to make it very public. Use a third-party to draw up papers (Switzerland?).

Or, go the clandestine route: Snowden agrees to drop from public view for so many years and not reveal anything further and the US agrees (in writing) to leave him alone wherever he goes (except maybe the US).

In case of injury notify your superior immediately. He'll kiss it and make it better.