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Comment: Re:Borders Played a Pivotal Role in My Career (Score 1) 443

by pyser (#36815308) Attached to: Borders Books, Dead At 40

For a lot of people, discovering something new that they didn't know about is part of the enjoyment of reading. If you know exactly what you want, you can order it from Amazon. If you don't know exactly which title, but you are looking for something in a certain genre that you enjoy, or by an author you like, a real-live bookseller can help you find something interesting. This works better for fiction than it would for reference or technical books, but the decline of the large-scale bookstores means that this sort of personal advice will become unavailable to large segments of the population. You can't exactly go look at the table full of new non-fiction or trade paperbacks, pick one up and leaf through the pages, and if you like it, use your 30% off coupon and take it home with you today, if you're sitting in front of your Mac logged in to Amazon.(OK, I know Amazon has this great algorithm for predicting what you'll like based on what you and others have purchased, and you can download and read an e-book immediately, but see my comment about mom's basement, again, and there's this thing about actual books versus having to read it on a gadget.)

Wal-Mart is the cause of the decline and fall of small town commerce. Time after time it's been shown that when Wal-Mart builds a store on the outskirts of a small town, business in that town dries up, the jobs at these stores go away (to be replaced by part-time employment at said Wal-Mart), and the money that people would have spent at locally-owned and operated shops goes out of town. All to save a few cents on light bulbs or pickles. (Even big cities are seeing the same thing.) When the town dries up and blows away because there's no way to make a living there anymore, Wal-Mart closes up shop too (another article), and moves on to conquer the next small town. Much has been written about the aggressive tactics that Wal-Mart uses to exact the lowest prices from its suppliers, many of which have had to move US jobs overseas in order to meet these demands, or have even gone out of business because they could not continue to sell goods to Wal-Mart at a loss.

To turn the subject back to books, Wal-Mart happens to also be one of the largest book and music retailers, and they are known to censor what they sell, to the point of requiring publishers to provide expurgated versions of books and CDs. (Maybe it's a good thing we have Amazon, then.)

Comment: Re:Borders Played a Pivotal Role in My Career (Score 1) 443

by pyser (#36812186) Attached to: Borders Books, Dead At 40

Today, you'd just go pirate the books. Much simpler, actually.

In your mom's basement, no less.

At least Phoenix666 had a Borders to go to. And therein lies part of the problem. Who hasn't gone to Borders or another bookseller, browsed their selection, found just the right book, then gone home and ordered the same title from Amazon? (Or gotten out their smartphone and ordered it right in the store.)

Have you ever attended a book talk by an author? You know, the actual people who really write all those words? They don't just grow on paper while sitting in a big warehouse somewhere, you know. Amazon could never offer you the opportunity to meet, chat with, listen to, shake hands with, and share thoughts with the people who write the books you love to read, and to get out of the house and enjoy the company of others who also do (see earlier comment about mom's basement).

I view it as another consequence of the Wal-Mart problem. Low price is the driving factor - not customer service, a community environment, knowledgable booksellers (Borders used to test prospective employees on their knowledge of books), fairness to workers, or most importantly, keeping your money in circulation locally and not run through some credit card company on its way to Delaware. We have become conditioned to go to almost any length to save a few cents or dollars, even if it costs more to do so (do you drive several miles out of your way to save three cents a gallon on gas?).

Maybe the upside is that the closing of Borders stores will result in the opening of more locally-owned small booksellers who previously couldn't compete well with a company like Borders. A couple have already opened here recently in the shadow of one of the largest and most popular Borders stores.

Comment: Re:Response from Another VP (Score 1) 596

by pyser (#35091470) Attached to: Microsoft Vehemently Denies Google's "Bing Sting"

And how many of us actually read those opt-in agreements when we use software?
Opt-in consent to this electronic eavesdropping is, essentially, meaningless. If the agreement contained a provision where you granted them permission to watch over your shoulder when keying in your PIN at the ATM, you'd click it in order to go on using the software. Heck, people will even give up their passwords for chocolate.

Security

+ - Should You Really Implement DNSSEC Yet?->

Submitted by wiredmikey
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "So the question is, do you implement DNSSEC now, or wait? DNSSEC has been grabbing big headlines, and many are thinking of it as a "must do" implementation. But organizations need to really take a step back and say, “Is it the time TODAY to implement DNSSEC?” The answer for many should actually be “not yet."

DNSSEC is not for everyone, and here's why...."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:It definitely depends on the situation... (Score 1) 376

by pyser (#33018144) Attached to: Amateur Radio In the Backcountry?

Long time ham here too and I love low power (QRP) operation but it isn't for wimps or beginners. Still, I definitely recommend it once you acquire some operating skills. I have a FT-817 and love it - I use it mobile, portable, while camping, and even at home and have worked an amazing array of countries including New Zealand with its 5 watts and a 12 foot whip fastened to a hotel balcony. Small and capable as it is, it's still heavy if you are watching every ounce as you would on a long trek.

The lightweight champ I recommend is the Elecraft KX-1. It's a kit, so electronics assembly skills are required, but the manuals are very clear (think Heathkit) that anyone who knows how to solder to a circuit board can build it. Smaller than a paperback book, it measures 3x5 inches x 1 inch thick, weighs less than a pound (plus 6xAA batteries), will work on 20, 30 40 or 80 meters and has its own built-in antenna tuner and battery pack, so all you need is a key, your iPod earphones and a roll of wire to throw up into a tree for an antenna, and you are on the air. It is a Morse Code-only rig, though, so you'll have to know the code, but if you are serious about it, it isn't difficult. I take mine on campouts as well, and it's nice to kick back in the sleeping bag and have a few contacts before dozing off.

A couple years ago a ham hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and his communications was a KX-1. He kept a schedule with another ham and would check in regularly. His story was featured in one of the ham magazines. If you want to keep in touch with non-ham family members or associates, you could do the same. You'll meet plenty of hams through your local radio club, and it's likely someone would be willing to set up a sked with you. In that case, he is not only a hiker but was a ham already - he didn't get into ham radio solely as a means of communication while hiking. If you do, you might end up enjoying it - it adds another facet to being outdoors, off the grid but still in touch with just what you carry in your pack.

Comment: Re:Sweet (Score 1) 268

by pyser (#32340414) Attached to: Fedora 13 Is Out

I think I'm going to hold off. I just finished upgrading most of my Linux boxen to Fedora 12. It was several months and 6+ yum updates before all were finally stable and things worked as they should.

Upgrading is inevitable, because the old stuff falls out of "support", but it's not worth it to me any more to jump on a new release just because it's there. Same thing happened to me back at Fedora 5, and 10 disagreed with some of my hardware.

Space

Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Posted by kdawson
from the toil-and-trouble dept.
Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."

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