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Comment: Replacement batteries are nearly useless (Score 1) 131

by rnturn (#47735085) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries?

I have some cordless phones that have served our household well for a number of years. The original batteries lasted a couple of years before they wouldn't hold much of a charge. I was able to work via the cordless phone via the speakerphone for over an hour before the batteries gave out. Now, a couple of replacement batteries later, I consider it a good day if I can stay on a phone call for, say, 20 minutes and that's using a battery that's only a couple of months old. It almost makes me wonder if they're not selling used batteries. With the replacement batteries costing $15+, it's not likely that we're going to do it any more. The missus is the last major user of the cordless phones and she's switching to mobile next month. The crappy battery life is one of the reasons she's switching.

I have worries that I'll run into the same battery rip-off with my laptop. And those batteries run upwards of $100. Given the track record of the supposedly equivalent batteries we've been finding for our phones, I'll probably go with an original manufacturer battery for the laptop.That's probably no guarantee but I'm guessing they won't be as bad as the third-party batteries.

Comment: Re:Software Documentation is bad everywhere (Score 1) 430

by rnturn (#47602683) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

My favorite commercial software error message fiasco was when I was asked to figure out where a cryptic error message was coming from. The message had no prefix telling which component of the software package was issuing the message. The message did not appear in the appendix where error messages were listed. When I grepped for the error message in the application's "bin" directory it turned out that all the binaries contained the error message; even utility programs that had nothing to do with the operation that was generating the error. It turned out that all of the executables contained all of the potential error messages that might be issued by any of the executables. (An insane use of an "#include" directive or something similar.) So much for the high quality of commercial software and documentation.

The best -- and last -- commercial software that I think had really thorough documentation was back in my IBM mainframe/mini and DEC mini days. You really couldn't fault the documentation that came with those systems at all. Except, maybe, the quantity of it; some serious shelf space was required.

Comment: Re:No thought required (Score 2) 135

by rnturn (#47588939) Attached to: If You're Always Working, You're Never Working Well

``It's apparently far cheaper to just muddle along with a problem for years and years and years. Or at least until the company tanks.''

Or the people who constantly point out the problem leave the company in frustration. No more complaints... no more problem. It'll be a while before the replacement hires (if there actually are any) re-discover the problem and begin complaining about it.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

Comment: Re:Trash (Score 2) 172

by rnturn (#47513405) Attached to: Firefox 31 Released

I would welcome with open arms and tears of joy a Firefox release that could survive a day -- heck, even half a day -- without crashing. It's such a joy to come back from grabbing a cub of coffee or lunch to find that I have to restart effin' Firefox and reload all my tabs again.

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"

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