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Comment: Re:Two options (Score 1) 464

by djrobxx (#49144885) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Old PC File Transfer Problem

WFWG will do file transfers fine, just remember to enable the NetBEUI protocol on XP, because WFWG doesn't natively speak TCP/IP.


Failing that I'd probably try to get laplink (DOS has a built in version called INTERLNK/INTERSVR) going against a more modern machine with a real parallel port. The disk might get interesting (remember you need a FAT32 volume and DOS 7.1 or later). A USB stick might actually work if the BIOS presents it to DOS as a fixed disk.

Comment: Re:The big thing that is missing (Score 1) 631

by djrobxx (#49141661) Attached to: FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

Local loop unbundling only made sense for traditional DSL since there is typically a dedicated pair of wires back to the CO that some other company can tap into and truly provide better service. With Time Warner Cable, or even AT&T VDSL (U-verse FTTN), there's a lot of shared infrastructure between your home and the central office. That makes the prospect of "unbundling" the infrastructure from the provider less technically feasible.

In both cases there are already choices of ISPs: Earthlink Cable, and DSLExtreme TrueStream. The choice, however, is mostly an illusion. If the connectivity sucks, "having a choice of ISPs" doesn't really do you a damn bit of good, you're actually renting the same connectivity you would have had from the incumbent provider. Speeds and pricing (the things you really want competition for) are also pretty much dictated by the incumbent. About the only thing it's good for is the possibility of improved customer service or add-on services like email servers. With the incumbent taking the lion's share of the profit, those improvements tend not to be so great anyway.

With old telephone infrastructure not able to keep pace with old cable infrastructure, we're facing a true monopoly. We need to encourage deployment of new fiber infrastructure or other alternatives. I'm afraid making existing companies share their aging infrastructure isn't going to be very fruitful.

Comment: Taping over switches is doing it wrong (Score 1) 248

by djrobxx (#49051833) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

In a proper home automation setup, the light switches are replaced with smart switches. This leaves the simplicity of turning lights off at the switch in place, but adds the ability for remote control.

I've had a "smart home" for many years, and it takes a long time to figure out which aspects of having a smart home are actually useful in practice. While most of the lights in my home can be controlled remotely, I only control a small number of them from my phone on a regular basis. For the most part, I've found that I want automation around switches that are not likely to be in convenient locations. For example, I commonly use my smart interface to shut off my back porch light, because I often forget when I go to bed, and it's way easier than running downstairs. I also use various climate controls (thermostat, ceiling fan) a lot. Light switches in the same room that you're occupying, not so much - it's faster to just walk to the switch and flip it than pull the interface up from a controller.

Automatic timers and sensors I've found to be a mixed bag. They work well until you want to "override" whatever behavior they're doing automatically. For example, I have an automatic sensor that turns on my hallway lights to a dim setting if I approach it at night time, so I can see at night. That automation is helpful 95% of the time, but the other 5% I may want to turn the lights on bright and leave them on. I don't have an easy intuitive way to tell my automation to stop trying to show the dim light without pulling out my smartphone.

My hot tub is probably the best example of where my automation really shines. I can turn it on remotely so it's ready for use by the time I get home. Once I'm home, I can control everything about it from one screen - I can turn the filter pump on/off, turn the heater on, turn the light on, and turn the outdoor speakers on, even fill the water up if it's low, all from one place. Doing those things manually otherwise requires going to many different places and getting into weatherproof boxes to access the manual switches.

I think lighting control, in general, is the least useful part of my home automation setup, despite it being the most iconic.

Comment: Re:Another silly decision (Score 1) 480

by djrobxx (#49034931) Attached to: The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket

buying a home. Hasn't made sense since the 1970s. The social contract is broken, you no longer can rely on job security or a decent pension. Yet the banks still expect you to pay them on time. A home is a *liability*, not an investment.

Landlords expect you to pay them on time, too.

I bought a home in 1998. It's paid off now and worth over double what I paid for it. Somehow, I'm just not regretting my silly decision to buy.

Comment: Re:Probably just holding it wrong (Score 1) 120

by djrobxx (#48942699) Attached to: Wi-Fi Issues Continue For OS X Users Despite Updates

Alternate option would be that people with issues aren't using official Apple® AirPort® Extreme® wireless stations.

Nope. I can say first hand the issue happens with an Apple® Time Capsule®. Issue started with Yosemite. The wifi randomly (but infrequently) decides to disconnect and just stays idle with a grayed out signal indicator. It reconnects fine if you just click on the network from the list, but at the VERY least, OSX should try to search for, and connect to known wifi networks when the current one becomes disconnected. It doesn't do that, it seems like the whole process for managing the wifi connection just falls asleep.

Comment: Re:No Custom Building? (Score 1) 68

by djrobxx (#48694375) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless LED Light Setup for 2015?

This isn't too far off of what a lot of the virtual pinball cab folks are doing to add light shows and other toys alongside their virtual pinball machine (currently controlled by emulated ROM). They've designed whole APIs that abstract hardware (arduino, cheap Sainsmart USB relays, LEDWiz, etc) from lighting commands and macros. It could be used with any combination of lighting controllers. There is a lot of off-the-shelf hardware that is designed for this purpose, including the amplifiers you can use to control more power hungry arrays of lights.

For the software that runs it, see the DOF project:


Notice how it has a bunch of built in effects - that would be perfectly suited to this. It would probably be very trivial to modify this project to trigger off time codes instead of the ROM solenoid requests that it currently looks for to activate a sequence.

Comment: Re:Car Jukebox.... (Score 1) 269

by djrobxx (#48591883) Attached to: Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

> Bluetooth works but it sucks for music quality and you only have rudimentary controls on the head unit.

I've seen bluetooth interfaces that support what looks like the full iPod interface (playlist selection, listing tracks within playlist). There are also bluetooth profiles that allow an iPod to just send an AAC stream to the head unit for decoding. So I think both of those concerns are mostly solved unless you need lossless quality audio.

There's actually a gizmo that almost provides a bluetooth-to-iPod interface with full playlist selection support and whatnot, and supposedly it uses one of the higher quality audio profiles


Comment: Re:Great. More touchscreens. (Score 1) 233

by djrobxx (#48586297) Attached to: Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

well, there is one component that is pretty standard and easilly upgradable, the stereo. I just purchased a used car (2008 miata). The stereo came with a 30 pin ipod connector tucked in the glovebox. Ive outfitted it with the required lighting adapter to work with my phone, but i wouldn't mind having a modern stereo that can do bluetooth. The upgrade might be painless, but there's one big issue: THIEVES. The big selling point of the kind of crummy factory stereo is it's good enough and nobody is going to want to steal it.

There's an app, I mean, a product for that!


And yes, you raise a great point about thieves. When I used to use aftermarket radios I was always stressed about them being stolen. These days I just use aftermarket speakers / amps with the factory head units.

Comment: Re:Great. More touchscreens. (Score 1) 233

by djrobxx (#48586233) Attached to: Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

Hey Detroit - stop trying. Give up. Let Apple/Android/[new startup] give me the tech I want. If you want to get fancy, give the phone a read-only API to the car's status.

You're right that the interface is probably better left to Apple and Google. Cars used to have standard din and "double-din" spots for radios. Thing is, Detroit isn't the only one dong a horrible job. The third party junk from the usual suspects (Sony, Pioneer, Kenwood, etc.) is even worse. Last year we bought a new Pioneer AVIC-X930BT for a 2004 truck. The online reviews on it were generally favorable but I'm blown away by how terrible it is compared to say, the basic system in a Chevy Cruze rent-a-car.

1) The device takes about 30 seconds to boot up when you start the truck. It's apparently based on Windows CE.
2) Once it boots, it then takes another 30 seconds or so for it to initialize bluetooth.
3) Once bluetooth is initialized and connected, it goes through another "connecting" process to connect to bluetooth audio, but it will not automatically start playing music. You have to manually press the play button after it "un-grays out". If you're driving on a short trip you're probably halfway to your destination now.
4) It supports USB sticks too. After the boot process it always re-scans the entire memory stick. If you have a lot of songs it takes about a minute before the music starts playing.

Seriously, does Pioneer not do any usability testing?

It has all kinds of other gimmickry, including "AppRadio" that's supposed to let you use your phone's interface as an app but it's so clunky we'd never, ever use it.

Comment: Re:Any one know? (Score 2) 222

by djrobxx (#48569225) Attached to: Dad Makes His Kid Play Through All Video Game History In Chronological Order

I'd like to know how the kid fared on E.T. for the Atari 2600.

It sounds like the Atari 2600 got mostly glossed over, which I think was an error on the Dad's part in the way he conducted his experiment. He started the kid off with "real" arcade games then tried to graduate to the 2600. While that's chronologically correct, it doesn't match the actual experience we had as kids. We only got to enjoy arcade games on a limited basis (when going out to arcades/pizza parlors). Arcade game plays were limited by quarters. The 2600 had woefully inferior versions of games, but could be played at any time.

Not too surprising that the kid wasn't interested in the 2600 when he had unlimited access to the "real" versions of the games. Would seem like a huge step down, unless he happened to have a supercharger with "Escape from the Mindmaster" or "Dragonstomper" :)

Comment: Re:Oh, really? (Score 4, Interesting) 222

by djrobxx (#48568997) Attached to: Dad Makes His Kid Play Through All Video Game History In Chronological Order

I haven't played it myself; but they say that Robot Odyssey will either break your pitiful hominid brain like reject before The Monolith, turn you into a hardcore programmer geek for life, or turn you against any computer game that isn't Medal of Halo Gears of Assault 3.

I played and beat Robot Odyssey when I was in 6th grade. It was in the bargain bin at Radio Shack. Mom thought it might be fun. The box said it was from The Learning Company, which was an instant turn off, but I gave it a shot anyway and am glad I did!

Crappy graphics but it was easily the best game I've ever played, and may ever play. The way the game let you "walk into" and wire up robots with logic gates was pure genius. There were some really tough problems, solving them was so rewarding. The Learning Company actually sent me a plaque for having completed it, I wish I had kept it.

Comment: Re:I'm waiting to see who gets compromised first. (Score 1) 558

by djrobxx (#48241211) Attached to: Rite Aid and CVS Block Apple Pay and Google Wallet

Let's face it. With the exception of cash, there isn't an easy way to pay where you cannot become compromised. It seems like every week another retailer has their databases compromised. Do I really believe even for a moment that letting google, apple, or someone else manage my cards for me will stop that? Can you imagine a situation where one of these companies is compromised and not just one but maybe all of your accounts become compromised with it?

You're right to be skeptical, but the current method of credit card payments gives every retailer the data they need to go on a shopping-spree. The bar for security is currently very low anyway.

Apple already has a lot of people's credit cards in its database (think app store). What you're describing is one of the problems that Apple Pay (NFC payments) is trying to solve - handling credit card transactions with one-time tokens so it's less likely to be compromised by men in the middle. In theory, it eliminates the Home Depot/Target database breach issues as well as payment terminal skimming problems. Putting re-usable credit card information into less people's hands should reduce the attack surface a bit.

Comment: Re:What a wonderful article (Score 3, Informative) 296

by djrobxx (#48218659) Attached to: How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

Iphone development in 2007 driving Mac sales? Probably not. iPhone didn't even get an app store until 2008.

Boot Camp was a feature specific to Intel-based macs. People using Parallels was more common though. Prior to the Intel Mac, nobody in their right mind depended on Virtual PC, it was way too slow.

I think being able to run Windows software at acceptable performance levels was the safety net a lot of people needed to invest in a Mac. That ability was also critical to Mac adoption in the workplace. I also think the increasing prevalence of Windows malware helped convert some folks who were bitten too many times.

Comment: Re: The real questions to ask (Score 1) 209

By denying you subsidized upgrades, Verizon has effectively increased the price of the unlimited data plan by about $18.75 per month. I come to this figure because you have lost the value of them being willing to kick in a ~$450 subsidy every two years.

So, if your wireless data rate plus around $20 per month is still better pricing than a limited data plan given your current usage, it's worth keeping unlimited.

I have unlimited data from AT&T still. They haven't gone down this road (yet). If they do, I'm going to have a hard time justifying keeping unlimited as I really don't use that much data usually, but I like not having to worry about it. They will be at a much higher risk of me defecting to another carrier, though.

Comment: Re:I dunno about LEDs, but CFLs don't last (Score 2) 602

by djrobxx (#48002833) Attached to: The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

Further - no viable light bulb replacements will work with dimmer switches (Which my house has many).

Although I'm sure some must exist, I haven't seen an LED bulb that's NOT dimmable, even the newest cheapest ones. Their dimmability is one of their their best advantages over CFL. Dimmable CFLs do exist, but they don't work very well; they are usually quite bright at the lowest dim setting.

I put in around 20 recessed CREE (EcoSmart-branded) LEDs almost 4 years ago. All of them are on dimmer switches. None have burned out yet. I've since put in lots of others both indoors and out. I did have one landscape LED fail - it started blinking like a turn signal a few weeks after I installed it. I also had one screw-in bulb that failed within a week. In both cases I was able to exchange them at the store since they were early failures.

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.