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Comment: Fun places to watch fireworks (Score 1) 138 138

Your own front yard, or back yard, or the street, of course, preferably with illegal fireworks. Or the beach. As a friend put it, for any holiday celebrating the overthrow of the government, the question of whether your fireworks are legal simply shouldn't come up.

Most of California's way too dry to allow the things, but there's one town near San Francisco (Pacifica) that's always wet enough they're not worried about moderate levels of fireworks, so the local fire department sells them, and you're allowed to set them off down on the beach, and in practice locals also set them off on the street. Several friends have lived there, and we've had a few good July 4th parties and a Canada Day party (too foggy, but lots of fun; it's July 1, and it was the weekend that year.)

My town used to have a freeway exit that was closed for construction, so there was a big pile of dirt twice as high as the bridge is now, and the neighbors would all take our lawn chairs up to the top to watch fireworks, including the official town shindig (minus the traffic), and the amusement park down the road, a couple of towns north and south, and the illegal backyard fireworks. Another place I lived was on a bay, and for some big firework years we could go down to the dock and see fireworks from a bunch of different towns across the water.

Comment: 5 GHz bands are much quieter (Score 2) 152 152

Almost everybody's on 2.4 GHz, and the bands overlap with each other as well as with your microwave oven. If you can run your Wifi on 5 GHz, and don't have distance problems, it's really what you want.

Unfortunately, while my Linksys WiFi router can use both frequencies, it can only use one at a time, and I've got a few 2.4GHz-only devices in the house, so I'm stuck with 2.4. Occasionally it gets tempting to switch it to 5 GHz and drag out its dumber predecessor to run 2.4 on. (I bought the newer one because I needed 802.11n to compete with all my neighbors' 802.11n drowning out my wimpy 802.11g system. I was also surprised to find that it didn't support IPv6 sigh.)

Comment: Most phone spammers are thieves (Score 1) 193 193

Sorry - anybody who works for Rachel from Cardholder Services or Fake Microsoft Technical Support or Fake IRS is a scammer, and knows that their job is to rip people off. Thieves don't rate the "just doing their crappy job" excuse, unlike the people who call up trying to sell me legitimate services when they know (or should know) that I'm on the Do Not Call List so I'm not interested.

Comment: Spammers with Broken Robots and Bad VOIP (Score 1) 193 193

Look, it's one thing for spammers to call up and waste my time. But more than half of them these days call up and don't ever play a message or put their agent on the phone so I can waste their time. I don't know if they're just badly understaffed (at least they could play a recording), or their equipment is broken, or their call center is checking my number against the Do Not Call List after I answer instead of before (presumably because of how they charge each other for various services.) And lately I've been getting people with bad VOIP systems calling up and playing crackly versions of the "Rachel from Cardholder Services" tape - at least they could use a higher bit rate.

I work from home most days, and my wife usually get up a couple hours after I do, so I answer the phone on first ring to avoid having it wake her up if I let the answering machine get it. Real calls at that time are usually the pharmacy's robot saying there's something ready, or the gas company robot saying they're still going to be digging up the street; other calls are usually spam robots.

Comment: IRS Scammers (Score 1) 193 193

I've had some interesting conversations with them, when they called my cellphone instead of my home phone. One of them was telling me how stupid Americans are, we only speak one language while he speaks lots (I asked him in French, German, and Spanish if he spoke any of those languages, but he was on a rant.) Eventually he decided to just start insulting me, thinking that telling me I was a "black n-----" would be a useful insult. Since I was in the lobby at work, I didn't go into a long rant about how racist that was and how he probably didn't get along with the various colors of people in his country, but hung up on him. The other guy was mainly bragging about how I'd never be able to trace his call, and he was using Magic Jack for VOIP, and how he could break into my mobile phone (which he demonstrated to me by calling with his caller-ID set to my number), and was at least more amusing to talk to, for a shameless thief.

Comment: Re:Best "nice try" was the guy in India... (Score 1) 193 193

My mom was amused by those scammers. She's used Macintoshes for nearly 30 years, and her Mac is only on the internet when she tells the modem to dial up her ISP. (Her vision's not good enough to use the web, and modem's plenty for email, much to the frustration of my siblings who don't like using sub-broadband speeds when visiting her.) So the "Your Windows machine is sending out viruses!" got a very quick hang up.

I've kept some of them on line for over an hour, when I've had time; eventually the caller's boss came on and yelled at me for wasting his employee's time. Other times I've told them I didn't have time for their lying bullshit right now, and got aggressively cursed at.

Comment: HTC Aria on AT&T also (Score 1) 104 104

Apparently there was a period of a couple of weeks when I could have gotten the upgrade from 2.1 to 2.2, but the carrier didn't actually push it, just made it available if you noticed and asked it to download, and soon after that, when Google Play came out, my Locked-To-Android-Market phone could no longer do any updates. I couldn't find a smartphone that small to replace it (sorry, but smallness is a feature for something you carry in your pocket), and eventually replaced the phone when apps I wanted were only running on 4.x anyway. I suppose I should go back and Cyanogenize it.

Comment: How we know they didn't crack Snowden doc cache (Score 1) 222 222

If the Commies (more likely Russians than Chinese, for economic reasons) had cracked Snowden's document cache, they'd be able to throw lots of people at reading them all quickly and correlating them, and they'd need a month or so to recall any spies that were outed, or give them good false information to spread, and bust any US and other countries' spies they can (or give them even more disinformation.) But after that, they'd be free to start releasing documents embarrassing to the Obama and Bush Administrations and the permanent NSA/CIA/DIA/FBI/DEA/TLA/etc. agencies, totally tanking most of their composition here and throwing the US into chaos, along with GCHQ, UK Parliament, and probably some Canadians or the Deutsche Bundesfoo..

They haven't. This either means they haven't cracked the document cache, or that they're a really devious conspiracy, blackmailing US/UK politicians or waiting until after the election or something. (Maybe they want the Tories to trash the UK, for instance.)

Comment: I have an HOA, but they're my neighbors (Score 1) 557 557

I'm in a 32-unit condo. Yes, we've got an HOA, but it's just us. We've occasionally hired management companies to do stuff for us, but only when it made sense. And yeah, we've occasionally gotten into arguments, like the current one about what trees need to be cut down (the cheapskate builder who built the place in the 70s did things like planting redwoods and some fast-growing trees right next to the building, so we're having problems with roots and roofs that stay wet all the time, but they are nice for shade. And we do occasionally have people who get grumpy about the monthly fees, but the accountant is one of the residents, you can see all the numbers, and possibly we need to be putting even more into some of the maintenance funds than we do.

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955