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Comment: Re:Only in America! (Score 1) 820

by penguinchris (#40770339) Attached to: Feds Ban 'Buckyballs' Magnets

I had no idea they were actually banned in the US... I used to get them regularly in Canada when I was a kid growing up in a border town (Buffalo, NY). I regularly brought them back across the border, too, when I was older and went to Canada by myself or with friends. Canada has a whole different selection of non-toy-containing candy from us so I assumed it was just another thing we didn't get in the US (even though you can easily find other Kinder-brand items in the US).

The chocolate in those things is fantastic, by the way, and the toys are decent for what they are.

Comment: Re:I think Best Buy and the author missed the poin (Score 1) 143

by penguinchris (#40574237) Attached to: Best Buy Cuts 650 Geek Squad Techies

I'm not sure about the "great layout" part - I love Fry's as much as the next slashdotter but the way the stores are organized is ridiculous. For many categories of things there will be at least two separate places in the store with a selection of said things (not the same selection, a different selection). You can't just go to one aisle and expect to see everything in that category.

I mean, that does make it fun, because you have to hunt around the store meaning you'll see all kinds of other neat stuff - avoiding the salespeople as best you can along the way :)

Comment: Re:Google Maps Gripes (Score 1) 179

by penguinchris (#40193237) Attached to: Apple, Google: Battle of the Cloud Maps

It's always seemed to work fine for me in NYC, either driving or as a pedestrian, with my Nexus One. But you do need to have more situational awareness there than you do in more spread-out places, though of course that applies no matter how you're navigating there. You can't rely on following voice instructions like you (usually) can elsewhere because sometimes the signals bouncing off the buildings will confuse it - but you can glance at what street it wants you to turn on next and look for it yourself, and it will give you a rough idea at least of how close you are to the turn.

I suspect that smartphones mostly uses wi-fi triangulation in places like NYC, actually, and standalone GPS units are probably much worse.

The only parts of town where these things are an issue (anywhere in Manhattan) are relatively easy to navigate anyway because of the way the streets are gridded and numbered - and unlike that episode of Top Gear you won't have a problem with one-way streets because in NYC anyway they're all known to Google (and presumably GPS companies).

Comment: Re:Google Maps Gripes (Score 1) 179

by penguinchris (#40193189) Attached to: Apple, Google: Battle of the Cloud Maps

That must be a localized issue, it's known about every toll bridge/tunnel I've been across, on the east and west coasts and lots of different states and cities in between. It can even get you from mainland New York to Long Island and back without paying the ridiculous NYC bridge tolls (the least-convenient bridges don't have a toll but even if you look it up ahead of time it can be difficult to figure out where to go).

Comment: Re:Which isn't Tomtom's market (Score 1) 345

by penguinchris (#40140555) Attached to: TomTom Flames OpenStreetMap

You are right, that when I go visit my parents in Canada I can't use it, unless I want to pay roaming charges...

I'm from Buffalo, NY and drive to Toronto occasionally for various reasons. If you've updated the google map and nav apps lately, you can pre-cache map areas. What I do is make sure everything along my route is cached (I've only needed to cache it once but I'm not sure under what conditions it'll clear the cache so I just always check), and set a nav route to my destination in Toronto (if it isn't someplace I know how to get to already) before I leave.

Once you're there you can't get a nav route back unless you find wi-fi somewhere, of course, but you can just backtrack and like you imply, it's really not necessary - even if you're looking for a specific destination you haven't been to before. It's just nice to have sometimes.

If there are multiple places in Toronto I'm going (and there usually are) I just star them in google maps. Cacheing unfortunately doesn't let you search for places (although if you zoom in it has most place names including businesses so I hope they'll allow searching the cached data in future updates) but the stars still show up.

Comment: Re:Facebook (Score 1) 222

by penguinchris (#40053225) Attached to: Golden Age of Silicon Valley Is Over With Facebook IPO

You're kind of missing the point. Facebook *is* the "cloud" that replaces e-mail, forums, blogs, etc. (at least for a lot of people - I have an account but never use it, but do use the other options you mention). It's accessible from any device, anywhere, and if your friends and family are all using it too then you can handle essentially all of your correspondence on it. In two years everybody will certainly not be hosting their own communication systems.

Why would people who use it in that way - which, again, is not me but it is a lot of people - want to look for "other means" to do these things, when it's all already in one place?

We geeks will do our own thing. We tend to form connections differently, and more regularly have discussions with strangers (on the internet, like we're doing now). But even a lot of geeks see the appeal of all the people they care about being in one place.

This isn't to say that there isn't a better solution, in theory. A cloud-based decentralized system not controlled by a megacorp would be ideal - but it has to have all the features Facebook has and more, and it has to be seamless across any device like Facebook is. I think this is the idea behind Diaspora, but excepting some major event (like Facebook and Google Plus and Myspace and whatever else all suddenly disappearing, or forced integration into Windows maybe) Diaspora is probably going to remain a Linux-like niche.

Comment: Re:Nice job guys... (Score 2) 426

by penguinchris (#40052063) Attached to: Aero Glass UI No More On Windows 8

You clearly haven't used a Mac in several years. For at least the past three versions of OS X there's no ugly brushed aluminum anymore, and the stoplights (which were indeed ugly) are now all grey. In fact the entire UI is now almost completely greyscale (which is not necessarily ideal for usability, but it's not ugly anyway) and completely unobtrusive. And once I got used to Finder, I hate having to browse files on other computers - for me, Finder is far superior (of course I was coming from Linux where file explorers are terrible but I'm just as familiar with Windows Explorer).

I don't mean to start a Mac vs. Windows flamewar, but you're misinformed. And - crucially - the UI that one person prefers may feel like an abomination to another person. That's how I feel about Windows - even the classic NT/2000 interface, but especially the latest versions which even in stripped-down modes look ugly and feel awful in use to me.

Comment: Re:They got it all wrong (Score 1) 426

by penguinchris (#40052005) Attached to: Aero Glass UI No More On Windows 8

The Model T didn't have the same UI as modern cars. There was a great Top Gear segment where they went to an old car museum and drove a bunch of cars, including the Model T (and one created by my great-great-grandfather Duryea), to show all the different interfaces that were around before everyone decided on something.

It's true that it did have a steering wheel and pedals, but other than that superficial similarity (and the fact that the steering wheel works essentially the same) everything works completely differently than a modern car :)

Comment: Re:They got it all wrong (Score 1) 426

by penguinchris (#40051969) Attached to: Aero Glass UI No More On Windows 8

You know, to most people motorcycles/motorbikes are a huge statement (both fashion and otherwise). Whether or not that's your intent when you ride your motorbike, that's how people perceive you - as making some sort of statement.

If you wanted to avoid making a fashion statement with your "ride", your best bet would be a common (and thus fairly anonymous), mid-priced (being either cheap or extravagant is a statement but even rich people drive mid-priced cars sometimes) sedan/saloon car in a neutral color. A motorbike is pretty much the last thing you'd choose :)

Comment: Re:I had a clue (Score 1) 169

by penguinchris (#40012393) Attached to: Kodak Basement Lab Housed Small Nuclear Reactor

After animal activists went after Wegmans for their egg farms a few years ago, they preemptively quit selling their own duck. You can still find it there, but it's in the "Game Meats" section which is all prepackaged stuff brought in from elsewhere.

After that, it became a lot more dangerous for urban explorers to go into Rochester's abandoned subway...

Comment: Re:Buying product with better resale throwing mone (Score 1) 114

by penguinchris (#39717223) Attached to: MacBook Pro Fragrance Created

I think there may be a difference in the type of problems Mac users typically have vs. what other users have, but that's just speculation.

What isn't speculation is that if you have a problem with your Mac, you can take it to an Apple store and they will fix it right there while you wait (if they can - obviously not everything can be fixed in-store quickly), for free. I recently took my 3-year-old Macbook Pro in because the touchpad stopped working, and they fixed it for free even though it was two years past the warranty expired (it turns out I could have fixed it myself, but I didn't have the right screwdriver for their security screws... but that's a different discussion, and the point is that I didn't have to do it myself and neither do people who aren't experienced techies).

What do you do if your Asus or Toshiba has a problem? I honestly don't know, but I guarantee it's not as convenient and is probably quite unpleasant.

Apple has an obvious advantage because they have retail stores and are able to offer that service, but, there's really nothing stopping the other manufacturers from doing the same thing (except the fact that they care more about profit margins than customer service). I'd think it'd be a huge boon for the other manufacturers if they decided to get together and install non-douchey customer service and repair people at certain retail stores across the country (e.g. they'd take the place of Geek Squad at Best Buy, or at Radio Shack or some other nationwide chain) to provide a similar service. Or maybe an expansion of the Microsoft Store nationwide - I've been in the one at Costa Mesa and it seems like they could provide similar things that the Apple Store does.

Comment: Re:Just turn off the car? (Score 1) 911

by penguinchris (#39679045) Attached to: Mandatory Brake-Override Proposed For All Cars

I don't know what difference it may make but when I had to do that for a while (starter broke on my manual car and I was working at a summer camp sort of in the middle of nowhere) I always put it in 2nd, or reverse, and pushed with my left leg out the door a minimal amount before popping the clutch (a bit of fancy footwork was required unless I had a passenger to push). Perhaps if you put it in 5th you wouldn't get as big of a lurch (unintended acceleration!), but is it as easy to get it to turn over?

BTW the summer camp was in Canada north of Toronto, and I lived in Buffalo NY at the time. After driving 5+ hours back to the border with no issues, the customs guy told me to turn off the engine! I've crossed the border dozens (if not hundreds) of times and never had them ask me that before or since - only when the starter was broken :)

You have a tendency to feel you are superior to most computers.

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