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Comment Re:Fallacy (Score 1) 329

I have a relative who is an engineer at an automotive manufacturer. One job he held was to analyze why certain parts failed more often than others. All parts were designed in the US and the alloys were carefully spelled out.

They flew him to various outsourced shops around the world to try to understand why, even when every detail was carefully spec'd, some parts (often cast) failed too often.

One thing he noticed was that, in some parts of the world, it is not uncommon to have some shop floors made of just dirt, rather than concrete. When you (as a manufacturer) have reduced costs associated with your choice of alloy to the bare minimum, there is little room for error 'in the mix'. Turns out that a dirty work environment can kick up a lot of dirt and dust and some of that finds its way into your alloy. And it surprised me how little it took to reduce the strength of the metal significantly.

There are subtle details that you and I might take for granted (like a clean work environment) that others have found as ways to shave their daily operating costs (locate in a primitive, less-expensive setting). You have to spec EVERYTHING.

Comment Gotta mention Powells (Score 4, Interesting) 133

Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland. A full city block, multiple floors, of new and used books (and maps and book-related kitsch). So big (and popular) that they had to expand their technical books to another storefront nearby.

On many days, the place is backed with shoppers - and it's a huge store. They even have a map of the store, so that you don't get lost. The store is divided into general subject sections: Reference, Mystery, SciFi, Art, Languages, Magazines, etc.

It's such a trip to browse, and find, practically any book you can think of. And, if it's not on the shelf, go to their website and see if they have it in their warehouse. (You can check their website from any of the many terminals set up throughout the store) If they do, you can buy it and have it appear in Will Call at the main store.

You can sell them your old books at their buying counter. (I've sold a couple hundred there myself...)

If you're into books (the kind that are made of paper), you should visit this place at least once.

(I'm not associated with the place - just a customer for the last 20+ years)

Comment Stealth mode (Score 1) 265

Maybe a silly question on my part, but...

Do you have your firewall set to discard unwanted packets silently? In other words, unless someone from the outside is hitting an IP and a port that you want open to the outside, there should be *no response* to outside queries (including port scans). If the firewall acknowledges the ping of the port *in any way* with a return packet, then the outside party knows there's something attached to that IP/port.

It's always best to give the appearance that there's nothing residing at that IP/port....

Comment Local, local, local (Score 2) 268

There are undoubtedly small, local, homeless shelters that need clothing, toiletries, various consumables. Those things will go directly to those who need them.

Is there a local group who recycles/reuses electronics? (maybe turning old PC's into Linux boxen, to be given to low-income families) Donate a couple items and drop off $20.

There are very small, not well known women's/family shelters that are always desperate for anything from socks, underwear, blankets, toys, to dishes, cleaning supplies, etc. Sometimes not easy to find these - they tend to keep a low profile, but their services are vital for people who find themselves in a very difficult situation.

Check the websites of local charities - they usually list the specific things they are most in need of.

I donate stuff to Goodwill... after I have offered it to groups like the ones listed above, but they don't have an immediate need.

Comment Re:Get a T1 (Score 1) 536


I had a T1 to my house for several years, because I was running a business out of the house. My business *required* dependable, 24x7 Internet access, so, even though it was expensive *compared to residential service*, it met my business needs and could be paid for via revenues.

Expensive is a relative, not absolute, term.

Comment EasyDNS (Score 1) 295

I migrated away from NetSol years ago when they became a marketing machine.

EasyDNS has great support and is very easy to use. You have the option of an email address with them that appears in the official public record, but only works from within easyDNS.

I have a couple dozen domains with them.

Comment Props to the Evoluent (Score 1) 431

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

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

>>>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

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

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

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

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

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!

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