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Comment: Replacement batteries are nearly useless (Score 1) 131

by rnturn (#47735085) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries?

I have some cordless phones that have served our household well for a number of years. The original batteries lasted a couple of years before they wouldn't hold much of a charge. I was able to work via the cordless phone via the speakerphone for over an hour before the batteries gave out. Now, a couple of replacement batteries later, I consider it a good day if I can stay on a phone call for, say, 20 minutes and that's using a battery that's only a couple of months old. It almost makes me wonder if they're not selling used batteries. With the replacement batteries costing $15+, it's not likely that we're going to do it any more. The missus is the last major user of the cordless phones and she's switching to mobile next month. The crappy battery life is one of the reasons she's switching.

I have worries that I'll run into the same battery rip-off with my laptop. And those batteries run upwards of $100. Given the track record of the supposedly equivalent batteries we've been finding for our phones, I'll probably go with an original manufacturer battery for the laptop.That's probably no guarantee but I'm guessing they won't be as bad as the third-party batteries.

Comment: Re:Software Documentation is bad everywhere (Score 1) 430

by rnturn (#47602683) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

My favorite commercial software error message fiasco was when I was asked to figure out where a cryptic error message was coming from. The message had no prefix telling which component of the software package was issuing the message. The message did not appear in the appendix where error messages were listed. When I grepped for the error message in the application's "bin" directory it turned out that all the binaries contained the error message; even utility programs that had nothing to do with the operation that was generating the error. It turned out that all of the executables contained all of the potential error messages that might be issued by any of the executables. (An insane use of an "#include" directive or something similar.) So much for the high quality of commercial software and documentation.

The best -- and last -- commercial software that I think had really thorough documentation was back in my IBM mainframe/mini and DEC mini days. You really couldn't fault the documentation that came with those systems at all. Except, maybe, the quantity of it; some serious shelf space was required.

Comment: Re:No thought required (Score 2) 135

by rnturn (#47588939) Attached to: If You're Always Working, You're Never Working Well

``It's apparently far cheaper to just muddle along with a problem for years and years and years. Or at least until the company tanks.''

Or the people who constantly point out the problem leave the company in frustration. No more complaints... no more problem. It'll be a while before the replacement hires (if there actually are any) re-discover the problem and begin complaining about it.

Comment: Re:Trash (Score 2) 172

by rnturn (#47513405) Attached to: Firefox 31 Released

I would welcome with open arms and tears of joy a Firefox release that could survive a day -- heck, even half a day -- without crashing. It's such a joy to come back from grabbing a cub of coffee or lunch to find that I have to restart effin' Firefox and reload all my tabs again.

Comment: Re: USPTO management structure... (Score 1) 211

``Currently, the office is being managed by former Googler Michelle Lee, who was appointed deputy director in December. Earlier this month, Republican Senators led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to President Obama that praised Lee but that also described the current UPSTO management structure as `unfair, untenable and unacceptable for our country's intellectual property agency.' ''

Knowing the business-ass-kissing^W^Wfriendly nature of your typical Republican Senator, I think the way to read that last bit is that the Republicans were unhappy that any restrictions are still in place on patentability and that they'd like the PTO to do nothing more than rubber stamp their campaign fund benefactors' patent applications and the quicker the better.

Comment: Re: Someone put gum in the outlets. (Score 1) 119

by rnturn (#47353541) Attached to: Boston Trying Out Solar-Powered "Smart Benches" In Parks
Forget liquids, though those could be a problem. Call me pessimistic but I predict that within weeks of rolling these out, each bench will have inoperable USB ports because the little plastic tabs in the connectors will be broken off. (Does anyone make a USB port with the internal tab made out of something more durable like nylon?) After a year, these could just be ordinary benches with some decorative but unusable electronics attached to them.

Comment: Re:Contempt for Curiosity (Score 2) 190

by rnturn (#47353251) Attached to: NASA Launching Satellite To Track Carbon

``So you work for the Heritage foundation.''

Heh, heh. The same thought went through my head as well. I'm surprised that some ultra-right-wing, climate-change-denying House member didn't notice the impending launch and try to pass an emergency budgetary measure to prevent NASA from putting up any satellites that might be used to monitor CO2 emissions. I'm predicting that the measurements will show large amounts of CO2 being released around large cities -- especially American cities -- and these folks will draw the conclusion that, since most large cities are Democratic-voting strongholds, the cause of any climate change is the fault of Democrats. The large CO2 releases from Bejing will be evidence that climate change is a Commie plot. Similar data showing London as a source will be proof that government-run health care is bad for the climate. And they'll get tons of air time on the Sunday morning talking head shows.

We need a good name for these people. The technology/progress-phobic we can call Luddites. We need a succinct name for the science deniers. Something catchier than "Effing Stupid Anti-Science Whackjobs".

Comment: Re:Step 1 (Score 1) 196

by rnturn (#47343439) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

I've never used used Beats headphones so I can't personally attest to their being crap. My daughter has picked up more Skull Candy earbuds than she should have had to so I can attest to their being fairly crappy based on the short lifetime they seem to have under regular use. The cables break down internally so that they become useless. My personal choice are Sony's earbuds. I bought a pair years ago to replace the stock iPod earbuds that hurt my ears or fell out all the time. (I don't even notice that I'm wearing the Sonys.) The next time my daughter needs an new pair, I'll pay the difference so she can have a decent pair of Sonys.

Of course, I'll never buy an Apple audio player (the iPod I have was a gift) so I really couldn't care less about what they do with their headphone or earbud jacks.

Comment: Re:Shouldn't be a problem (Score 4, Insightful) 176

by rnturn (#47328007) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

The OP seems to have all the HW and SW he'd need. I'm not even sure why he's worried. Aside from the possibility of bit rot having degraded his media, I would be more concerned that the hardware would be a problem and become a major time sink -- bad capacitors on the m'board, etc., that have you chasing your tail.

You might be able to run a modern Linux on hardware of that vintage but you might have to borrow memory from another, similar motherboard to get the installer to run. Back when I was running Linux on a 486, I had to borrow memory from another system to get the installer to run during an upgrade. Then I returned the memory and Linux itself ran fine with only 16MB. The oldest system I currently have running -- an old Pentium MMX system with only 127MB installed (it used to only have 80MB before I stumbled across some more memory in a box of parts) -- hasn't been updated to anything really recent because I no longer have any systems that use the same kind of memory that I can borrow to perform an upgrade and the older RAM, while still available, is not something I want to invest in. (Yeah... I do have plans to phase that system out in the not-too-distant future.)

Comment: What about ... (Score 1) 57

by rnturn (#47312663) Attached to: Programming On a Piano Keyboard

... using computer code or math to make music. Back in the (early) '70s, you'd sometimes see these weird commercials where Fred MacMurray (I imagine most /.ers just said to themselves "Fred Who?") was showing how a bunch of Korean schoolkids were doing math using their fingers on their desks in a piano-playing sort of action. The commercial was for some kind of learning aid to teach your kids how to do that. (Q: Does anyone recall those ads? What the heck was the name of the technique being hawked?) This was some years before hand-held calculators even existed let alone were actually affordable. I thought it might be interesting to use that to numerically integrate equations, somehow translate the finger action involved onto a standard 88-key keyboard, and see what comes out. Composition titles would be the equation being integrated. I figured the resulting music would have sounded something like Philip Glass or Steve Reich so public performances might have been hazardous to your health in certain venues. (For example, a place like this.)

Comment: Re:More (Score 1) 150

``There's a special humiliation in seeing your home stripped...''

Yep... how would you like to face your neighbors after they've watched the contents of your home carted away for auctioning off?

Not having closely followed this case/trial (where's Groklaw when you need it) but surely there was an email trail that led to this decision/settlement. Either one that was revealed in court or one that would have named names that would have been revealed during the discovery phase. Extract all the names of those involved in those email threads and let the games begin!

Bus error -- please leave by the rear door.