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Comment: You are wrong Sir (Score 1) 93

by frovingslosh (#49152385) Attached to: Vandalism In Arizona Shuts Down Internet and Phone Service
What? You think they consider that some sort of privacy issue? Actually, they do just the opposite. They print out their customer lists and bind them into thick books. Then they "hand out" those customer lists with addresses and phone numbers to telemarketers and other nuisance callers. Want off that published customer list? OK, but it will cost you. Just another way for AT&T to screw their customers.

Comment: Re:Old School Kermit (Score 4, Interesting) 427

by frovingslosh (#49143863) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Old PC File Transfer Problem

Kermit is a good choice, should be able to do all he needs with no extra cost as long as he can cable 2 computers together.

I specifically dislike those telling him to buy a UBS adapter for the old disk drive or other solutions that require spending money and waiting. I do have such an adapter, and a PCMCIA firewire card that would open other options for me, but they are not needed in this case.

Another option that seems to be ignored is that XP computer he says he also has. At that vintage it likely has USB and Ethernet. I would try swapping the drive into that (if it isn't too thick to fit) and booting the XP computer with a Live Linux CD (the 3.11 Windows disk will likely not boot properly and would not have the needed drivers even if it did). Then from Linux you could easily write the 160 meg drive contents to a USB flash drive or transfer it across ethernet to the destination computer (I would do that with FTP but there are any number of options).

Comment: Feasible = Pointless (Score 1) 129

by frovingslosh (#49089881) Attached to: Delivery Drones: More Feasible If They Come By Truck

The imagined benefit of the drones was that some people who didn't care at all about costs but wanted intimidate gratification (and who lived near an Amazon warehouse) would supposedly pay an outrageous fee to get their little order delivered quickly by drone. Quickly meaning in the next few hours, and definitely today. You can already pay an exorbitant fee for next day delivery if your a rich prick who thinks that they need their Amazon toy tomorrow rather than today. It would be pointless to pay more for drone delivery and then wait for the truck to be loaded tomorrow and drive to your neighborhood (perhaps late in the afternoon by the time it gets to your neighborhood) and then risk the complications of drone delivery just to claim that it was delivered by drone rather than by the smuck in the truck. Similarly, we're a long way from having it be economically practical to drive to a neighborhood and then deploy the drone rather than just have the driver punt the fragile package to the door himself. And we've seen plenty of evidence lately that the UPS and FedEX drivers are quite capable of abusing fragile shipments all by them selves without the help of a drone.

Quite frankly, a "Delivered today by an Uber driver" plan makes a lot more sense and is much more economically feasible than delivering by drone (via truck) tomorrow. And in the long run, delivered by a self driving vehicle makes more sense than delivery by drone. A self driving vehicle could drive up to my house as well or better than the UPS man can do today, and I don't have to worry about providing a drone landing pad or other drone related issues.

This discussion in no way should be taken as an indication that I ever believed Amazon was serious about drone delivery.

Comment: Stunned and Duped (Score 1) 280

by frovingslosh (#49076063) Attached to: 1950s Toy That Included Actual Uranium Ore Goes On Display At Museum

You're a chump if you believe the hype. Very few of these were ever turned into bombs to blow up the neighborhood. This is just a prime example to people over-reacting to great toys that should be encouraged, not discouraged. If anyone managed to hurt themselves with one of these they should get a well deserved Darwin Award.

I actually had one, a hand-me-down from an older cousin (I have no idea how it was purchased in the first place, as no one in the family had that kind of money). I don't remember the ore (maybe I never got that), but I still have the Alpha, Beta and Gamma sources. The Gamma source had a half-life of a year and was pretty burnt out by the time that I got it, but the Alpha source had a 50 year half-life and I expect that it is still very detectable.

This wasn't the only "toy" that included uranium ore. The old American Basic Science Club kit was sold well into the 1970's or so and included both an Alpha source and some uranium ore. Experiments included making a cloud chamber and using the ore to image a key or other small metal device to photographic paper and then developing the image. I got my ABSC kit new, not second hand. And yes, I still have that little plastic bag of uranium ore, as well as the alpha source. But I'm not as likely to call in the has-mat people over it as the people over reacting to this story.

Comment: Re:No shit (Score 3, Informative) 248

by frovingslosh (#49051175) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

Oh, you children! Something doesn't need transistors or ICs to be digital (and things with transistors and ICs can still be analog). Switches and relay logic is digital, and you don't get much simpler than turning on the switch to light the light. In this case the voltage is the signal, and its message is "I want some light". It doesn't matter if the switch is controlling DC or AC, it is still a basically digital on/off concept. Dimmers can be either digital or analog in design, but in function the end result is that they are analog in nature, in that they allow for an apparent variable range of output (light) from a single source..

Remember, there are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don't.

Comment: Re:X10 Home automation (Score 2) 248

by frovingslosh (#49050789) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple
I was a pretty early adopter of X10, back in the days of the ultrasonic remotes and the interfaces for C64s and their like. But it never lived up to expectations. Switches failed constantly. The remote stations were marginal at best. I would come home and find lights on that were off when I left. I could do a few nice things with the programmable interface (bypassing the childish software supplied with it), but overall the system was more trouble than it was worth. As I started adding surge suppressor power strips in various rooms, and even a UPS or two, I quickly found that even the surge suppressors suppressed so much signal that the X10 would no longer work. Not just for things plugged into the surge suppressor but for any X10 controller on the same breaker that the surge suppressor was on. X10 is simply bad technology.

Comment: Bad Math (Score 1) 480

by frovingslosh (#49035731) Attached to: The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket
The odds could be favorable if the jackpot got high enough, but they are still far from that. You need to consider more than just the odds of winning and the potential payout. Of course the increase in the ticket price from $1 to $2 effectively halved your per dollar payout. But three other important factors need to be considered, and only one in three favor the player. The one that favors the player is the chance of winning the smaller prizes. Overall, it is a drop in the bucket, but it does add to the player's odds. On the negative side is that if there are multiple winners, and there often are when the jackpot gets large, you split the winnings. This very significantly reduces the potential winner payout, but is usually not mentioned when factoring the odds. The other big loss is that if you win the government (federal and most states) take back huge part of what you supposedly won (as much as 50% or more total). So you really need to factor that in and compute the odds after taxes, not on the supposedly won amount. And, of course, start rmath with the small one-time cash payout amount, not the inflated thirty to fifty year payout. If you want a long payout you can take the smaller sum and buy an annuity and get a better return that the hype the lottery is offering.

Comment: here's an idea (Score -1) 57

by frovingslosh (#48995907) Attached to: With Insider Help, ID Theft Ring Stole $700,000 In Apple Gift Cards
Here is my idea (Apple would call it an invention and patent it). All banks, instead of bothering with nonsense like my mother's maiden name, should ask a series of questions like "Are you an Apple fanboy?" They could protect themselves and me from a lot of grief and fraud by recognizing that there are a lot of customers who would be glad to share the fact that they will never buy an Apple product and don't want their card to be used for such purchases. I would gladly list other biases that I have that I never want my credit card involved in financial transactions for. Compiling that information from those who voluntarily contribute it could go a long way to stopping and catching this kind of fraud.

Comment: well rounded is BS (Score 1) 259

by frovingslosh (#48990459) Attached to: Washington May Count CS As Foreign Language For College Admission

Many decades ago my HS "guidance counselors" told me that I would need two years of a foreign language to get into college. My first effort was Latin, which was the only grade school / high school course that I ever failed. (I'm my defense the teacher only knew two languages and they were Latin and German, he couldn't have passed English any more than I could pass Latin. Many others failed, and some students did pass and even excel, but most of those had previous exposure to another Foreign language earlier, the damn nuns never taught us a foreign language, they wasted too much time on teaching us their fairy tales.). So I switched and wasted two years in Spanish, which I got Bs in (dragging down my GPA slightly). In my senior year I applied to three engineering schools, including Carnegie Mellon and was accepted to all 3. I ended up going to Purdue.

I had a pretty full high school schedule. I had doubled up on sciences my junior and senior year, taking both Chemistry and Physics in my junior year and Chem II and Physics II in my senior year (there were only 7 students in the school with 600 seniors that took Physics II). I didn't have time for some electives that I would have liked to take such as mechanical drawing and drivers ed.

Then I went back to the high school guidance counselor, for who who I had a question. My question was: "You and your predecessor told me through all of my "counseling" that I would need two years of a foreign language to get into college. Now I've been accepted into three top engineering schools. Yet none of them ever asked or cared about a foreign language. What's going on? Why did you have me waste two years (actually three counting Latin) for something that nobody cares about? The counselor looked over my file, and my acceptance letters and my applications that I had brought copies of, and then said "Oh, you went into Engineering. You would have needed the foreign languages in you wanted to get into something other than engineering." All I could say was "you idiots, I've always said I was working to get into Electrical Engineering. You're not doing your job."

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux