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Comment: Don't (Score 2) 60

by bmajik (#48185235) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: LTE Hotspot As Sole Cellular Connection?

I've had a Verizon 4G LTE hotspot as my sole home internet for the last year. It is the only type of service available where I currently live.

It is expensive and unreliable.

I live in a rural area. I am using an external LTE antenna on the device. I can see that the LTE signal is moderate to good where I am; the problems I am having do not seem to be LTE signal related.

The device itself is about as reliable as other consumer level networking gear -- meaning you need to power cycle it now and then to make it start working again. It has a remote web admin interface, with no way to remotely reboot it. You have to physically touch the thing to power cycle it.

I don't know what's available where you are, but here, Verizon charges me for every byte that goes through that LTE connection, in both directions. I think they're overcharging me, but I have no realistic power to do anything about that, because they are Verizon and I am not. Overages are excessively expensive. My bill for last month was $250. We watch no streaming videos at my house -- not even youtube.

The device stops responding to pings from certain nodes on my internal network, causing all kinds of networking fun. DNS queries randomly fail during logical browsing sessions. I've investigated all of this thoroughly with tcpdump and other tools. This happens on clients of multiple types - OSX, WinRT, Windows, OpenBSD.

So near as I can tell, the box itself is just shit. There have been 2 or 3 firmware updates for it in the year that I've depended on it for my internet. None of them have improved the symptoms I describe.

It's a Pantech MHS291LVW

The entire time I've had it, I've been researching how to replace it with something that isn't Verizon. I'm nearly done with that plan; I'll be backhauling a nearby DSL service back to my site using a 3.5 mile p2p wireless link. I'm paying to upgrade the site infrastructure and wiring at both ends of the link. I am spending thousands of dollars to do this.

My neighbors also have Verizon LTE service. They have the VZN Home Broadband service, where Verizon will mount an antenna at your site and do the install themselves, and the CPE has 4 switched Ethernet ports in addition to WiFi. They haven't complained about the reliability as much, but the price is still too high.

You can only get that hardware from Verizon in my area if you agree to a 3 year contract. I didn't and won't ever agree to any contract with any US mobile operator, so, I couldn't get the VZN home broadband hardware, which may be more reliable than the Hotspot hardware.

They are not power users; they are a young family with ipads for their kids. They recently shared with me that they just had an $800 monthly bill.

If you have any wired broadband choice available to you, take it.

Comment: Re:Trolls are the lowest form of life. . . (Score 1) 354

by bmajik (#48183845) Attached to: In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

I figure that trolling is one of the reasons for the US's 1st amendment.

Speech that upsets somebody for some reason is the only kind that somebody is going to try and restrict.

If you're not upsetting somebody, you're doing life wrong.

The UK is a lost country. It's a shame.

Comment: Re:May I suggest RTFA? (Score 1) 251

by bmajik (#48183427) Attached to: No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

Disclaimer: I have no Enfield experience.

It turns out that patent encumberance isn't the only thing that makes something difficult to make.

Many older weapon designs were optimized for low volume manufacturing by skilled machinists, and required hand fitting by gunsmiths and armorers. That made sense when human labor was cheap and skilled.

The Garand and M14 receivers, for instance, are very complicated to build. The 1911 is also a much loved design, but most 1911s are either built to loose tolerances or require custom, per-example fitting.

Comparatively, the AKM receiver is bent sheet metal. Any workshop that can do basic metal work can build an AKM; the barrel is the only specialized part.

The M4/AR15/M16/AR10 family of receivers were designed post-aerospace industry, and are made to be mass produced by machining down aluminum forgings. I know multiple people who have completed their own AR15 receivers on CNC equipment.

The SIG handguns manufactured in the USA are taken from billet to serial number in a single machining center; no operator intervention required.

It turns out that it can be very difficult to re-create old things. Often, the original tooling is missing. The techniques used may no longer be taught nor widely practiced.

Comparatively, building a modern mass produced firearm is a matter of having the right CAD files.

Comment: Re: It's the OS, Stupid (Score 1) 244

by bmajik (#48178627) Attached to: Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone

The NeXT heritage is still very strong in OSX

Calling it "Mach" is correct in the sense that the kernel is still the Mach microkernel, which came from NeXTSTEP. It does not have a BSD kernel.

It's BSD in the sense that _much_ of its userland is BSD, but certainly not all.

It also has many things that BSD does not have, which were proprietary from {NeXT/Open}STEP. For instance, the "netinfo" subsystem, the "defaults" subsystem, the plist architecture, Objective-C, XCode (which, afaik, is a modernization of NeXTs InterfaceBuilder).

OSX is much more like NeXTSTEP than it is *BSD.

Apple has of course added some more of its own stuff that isn't BSDish at all. Look at how the system startup stuff works, for instance.

If you tolerate people that want Linux called "GNU/Linux", because they are separating the userland and the kernel, the right thing to call OSX might be "BSD/Mach", but that nomenclature really ignores all of the things that NeXT did and that Apple has done since..

I spent lots of time on NS 3.3, OS 4.2, Rhapsody DRx, and every released version of OSX.

(in my view, OSX is a regression in usability from NeXTSTEP . Get off my lawn!)

Comment: Re:For those who said "No need to panic" (Score 3, Interesting) 415

by bmajik (#48127433) Attached to: Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

The CDC is now saying that the transmission in TX was caused by a "breach of protocol", which is not surprising given that the barrior protocols are exacting and onerous.

I don't want to misattribute something to the CDC, but what I read was glaringly clear on this point.

What the unnamed party said, was, "there HAD to be a breach of protocol, because this person is infected. However, we haven't identified what the breach was yet"

Circular reference?

Comment: Re:Robots? (Score 1) 415

by bmajik (#48127413) Attached to: Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

Any protocol that results in you dying if you make a single mistake in a very long list of mundane tasks is a poor protocol.

Organizations with operational excellence have basic things like written checklists and safety tags and other stuff. The USAF for instance has methods of managing risk and mitigating risk that can be carried out by people who aren't anywhere near as well educated as most American medical professionals.

Comment: Re:Sergey Brin needs a reminder (Score 2) 344

by bmajik (#48127255) Attached to: ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards

I have no idea what tree you are barking up, but I'm not in it.

Your mechanic doesn't advertise that he is providing a free service. It is entirely clear to both parties what is changing hands.

In the case of FB, google, and most other online services that are free-to-use, you are absolutely the product, because the revenue model depends on selling data about you to 3rd parties. These services also don't make it abundantly clear that this is their business model. In fact, facebook in 2011 advertised that it would "always be free"

I actually raise bees, chickens, and sheep. I'm quite familiar with the sacrifices involved in keeping livestock. I also know why I'm putting my money and effort into keeping them alive.

They don't.

Comment: Re:Sergey Brin needs a reminder (Score 4, Interesting) 344

by bmajik (#48123587) Attached to: ChromeOS Will No Longer Support Ext2/3/4 On External Drives/SD Cards

Yes.

Another adage seems appropriate.

If a for profit company is taking care of you for free, you aren't the customer.. you're the product.

You should feel like a pig on a farm....well fed and happy right until the end.

Google's business model has always been about analyzing your data and selling "you" to others.
They need your data.

Each person needs to decide for themselves if what they're getting (free web email?) is worth what they're "selling" to google and others..

btw, I started using facebook's ads manager earlier this week for a project. If you haven't looked at it before, you should. The amount of data facebook thinks it knows about people and that it is willing to let advertisers target is pretty interesting.

Comment: Re:Performance (Score 2) 283

by bmajik (#48113651) Attached to: Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S

Bingo.

I would modify your statement a bit though - because different people want different things out of cars. I know Prius and Leaf owners that are already sold on electric vehicles. Those vehicles are insufferable yawn-inducers, so I'll never be interested... but plenty of people already are.

However, the Teslas (so far) are clearly drivers cars made for discerning buyers by real enthusiasts. I've taken a model S on a test drive and it was really magnificent.

Here is a selection of my current crop of cars:
Audi A4 Quattro, 6MT
88 BMW M5, 5MT
87 BMW 325is, 5MT, gutted race car

I've been a driving instructor with the BMW Car Club of America. I've done countless track days on multiple race tracks. I love fast cars and I love pushing them hard.

The Tesla model S is awesome. I took it for a nice test drive. It is easy to drive around town, and it accelerates, turns, and stops very well. It is comfortable and quiet. The acceleration is instant. It will make you smile every time you hit the throttle. The regenerative harvesting is great; you rarely have to use the brakes, but if you want to, the brake pedal has a good feel and the car stops in a hurry.

At less than autobahn speeds, it is as fast as an M5. It handles very well for a large sedan. It is quieter than a Mercedes. With the Model D's, it will also have AWD, like the best Audis.

After a short drive, I would say that the car is clearly head and shoulders above the other luxury sedans it competes against.

The model S has two downsides: range and price. It's a great car for 350 days out of the year. The other 15 days, you may want to take medium to long road trips. Then you'll have some difficulties - for now.

However, even there, the difference between its luxury sedan competitors isn't night and day. All of those cars I mentioned require premium fuel, and that can be very hard to find when on longer trips, especially in the mid west. So in fact you need to plan your trips anyhow to make sure that compatible fuel will be available along your route.

Comment: Re:"Rest assured, the data is going to be obscured (Score 5, Informative) 269

by bmajik (#48028231) Attached to: Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time

Disclosure:

I work extensively with Microsoft customer usage data (although on Visual Studio, not Windows)

Odds are, unless you've been very intentional about ticking the checkboxes the right way, Microsoft is already collecting usage data from you -- for a variety of products. Never without your consent, of course.

The issues around anonymizing your data and removing PII are taken very seriously. It's damn frustrating, because I often look over the data for user 234209342349 and think, "I wish I could email this guy and ask why the hell he is doing that". But there is no way for me to recover PII for VS client customers.

For the Visual Studio products, a typical approach is that data that might have a PII impact is one-way hashed on your local machine, so that PII never goes over the wire and never gets to Microsoft to begin with.

You can use tools like filemon to see where VS dumps the usage data files it generates. I don't remember if these look like binary mess on disk or not, but they get written to disk, and then you can see them go over the wire some time later. You could of course use a packet sniffer to see the on-the-wire format, and if it differs from what is stored on disk.

The data we scrub in VS covers the obvious things -- account names or email addresses -- but also some more subtle things -- like file paths (because these could contain your username, or a company name, or anything else), and even thing like VS Project Type names (because Company Foo can create their own Project Type, and might put their company name in the Project Type Name)

So anyway, there's actually not much of a story here. I can't comment on the truth or accuracy of what MJF is saying. However, what she is saying is that, in effect, the latency between usage data being locally captured/calculated, and that data being sent to Microsoft (assuming the user has allowed usage data to be sent), is now much lower than it was in the past.

For VS, at least, I know what data we have available to us. I opt-in to all of the MS data collection stuff, because I see no evidence of it being used inappropriately, and, because I know that we use it to try and understand what users are doing and why they are doing it.

Opting into the data collection stuff effectively gives you "a vote" in how we do things in future releases.

Comment: Re:More importantly (Score 1) 393

by bmajik (#47932599) Attached to: Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

Sure, the regenerative braking probably reduces the wear on the brakes.

Point being, brake pads and rotors are normal replacement items. You should expect to replace them more than once in 12 years on a normal vehicle. I can wear down a set of pads in a weekend at the track. It depends a lot on how you drive.

I will agree that on the Tesla I test drove, I barely touched the brake pedal. The regen was turned up to maximum and that does a good job of slowing the car down if you are paying attention.

BMWs also tend to have static negative rear camber, and are RWD like the Tesla. But the wheels are smaller dia, which means the tires are more affordable.

I think over 12 years you will spend similar or more on Tesla model S brake and tire components as compared to an average BMW. I look forward to hearing from Model S owners 11 years from now...

Comment: Re:More importantly (Score 3, Informative) 393

by bmajik (#47930553) Attached to: Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

Heck. At 12-years on a BMW, there are any number of wearbale parts that replacement may exceed car value (tires, brakes (you have to replace the rotors with the pads on a BMW), etc).

Not unless the car has been damaged.

BMWs have very high resale value. 12 year old BMWs are currently 2002 models. Very few model year 2002 BMWs can be found for under $5000 in _any_ condition.

In fact, if you do a quick search on autotrader.com for model year 2002 BMWs, you'll see that there are 1200 listings with an average asking price of $9700

I happen to be quite familiar with the running costs of old BMWs. The drive train of a BMW will easily last 12 years without substantial work. The exceptions would be the plastic cooling system components, and, on some models, premature VANOS failure. Sadly, on the newer N54 engines the HPFP is a disaster, but that is not the majority of used BMWs, and certainly not MY2002 cars.

Even paying dealer prices, to replace brakes, suspension rubber, tires, cooling system, etc, will not cost you $9000.

The brake rotors and pads are a few hundred dollars per corner, and you could replace them yourself in your own garage with a jack and hand tools.

FWIW, I really like Tesla. I look forward to a time when buying one of their cars makes sense for me.

However, your consideration of the repair costs of a 12 year old BMW is way off. Thus, my response.

Also, Brakes and Tires are functionally identical between a BMW and a Tesla, and, on the Model S, the Tesla replacement parts are probably more expensive (I haven't priced them to be certain), because the Tesla has very large low profile tires and very large brakes, especially compared to the "average" BMW (instead of their X5 trucks with big wheels, or their high performance M models with larger brakes)

So comparing a 12 year old BMW and a 12 year old Tesla, the wear and maintenance parts differences are the Tesla's battery vs. the BMW's conventional drivetrain. The latter requires coolant flushes, oil changes, transmission fluid changes, air filters, etc.

The one maintenance surprise that I learned about when chatting with a Tesla service technician was that on the model S, the A/C refrigerant is serviced regularly, because it is an integral component of the battery cooling system.

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