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Comment This is a good thing (Score 1) 133

Once the zombie apocalypse happens, paper book stores will be the only way for us to get information on how to use baseball bats (cricket bats in the UK) along with chain saws and other weapons to kill the walking dead. That is until, or unless, we can get enough infrastructure back to be able to read ebooks again. Come to think of it, I hope some of those books will be on acid free paper. No telling how long a supernatural event featuring the undead will last once it gets started.

Comment See how long USB lasts (Score 1) 299

RS-232 (classic serial ports) were introduced in 1962 in order to connect teletype machines. Although USB has replaced them for most desktop and home use, there simplicity means that they certainly are still used in many different applications. USB is nice and all that but let's come back in another 50 years or so and see if they are still used for much of anything.

Comment Always had a problem with laser pointers (Score 2, Informative) 161

Most laser pointers are class IIIb laser devices. The class III means not at all eye safe (though it isn't a burn hazard and you don't have to worry about specular reflection from a target other than a mirror.) The b part means that the manufacturers spread some money around to come up with a class of lasers called, "sure it isn't eye safe but really no one is going to shine it directly in their eyes, will they?" But now they are so cheap that people can buy them as if they were toys. What do you think the chances are that some parent will buy a laser pointer for a child (or maybe someone will just carelessly leave it out) -- then the child (thinking it is a toy anyway) will shine it in his eyes just to see what happens. Heck I would be really surprised if this hasn't happened already.

On a side note I would imagine that if the plane were at a very high altitude then it would not be as easy as you may think to shine a laser pointer on any part of the plane (let alone into the cockpit window.) Then again if the plane is at a high altitude then a beam from a common laser pointer will likely expand enough to no longer be that dangerous. I guess this is only a when the plane is very close to the ground almost immediately after a take-off or right before a landing.

If this really continues to be a problem then maybe the government should step in and only allow laser pointers to operate at certain wavelengths. Then Boeing and Airbus can put coatings on their windows to block those wavelengths (turn the cockpit window into a giant set of laser goggles.) Or maybe people can just stop shining laser points at airplanes. Just because something is cheap doesn't mean it is just a toy.

Comment alt 255 on old dos computers (Score 1) 246

Back in the day, we used to hit alt-255 when naming executable files in dos. That would put an ascii character in the file name that looked like a space (spaces themselves were not allowed in dos file names.) You could see the file there when you issued a "dir" command (if you put the alt-255 at the end of the file name then you wouldn't have much of a clue that the character was there.) But if you tried to execute the file w/o using the alt-255 trick then you would get a "command not found" error. Ah old useless dos tricks!

Comment I don't understand ad blockers (Score 2) 161

I understand why people want to block pop-up and pop-under ads. I have those blocked too (and I don't think you even need to block those since not many people use them anymore.) But I don't understand why people want to block regular banner ads. Coming up with content then hosting it on a website isn't free. If advertisers want to pay for it because they think displaying an easy to ignore banner at the bottom of the page makes me more likely to buy their crap then all the better. It is better than having to pay a subscription for the content.

But since no one wants to pay for a subscription, and because so many people have ad blockers (or maybe advertisers have figured out how easy it is to ignore banner ads) websites are starting to go with sponsored content. I am sorry but sponsored content is at least 1000x more annoying than banner ads. Wonder why that site is singing the praises of some POS product? Well zoom into that tiny little dot at the bottom of the article to see the words "sponsored content."

I say bring back the banner ads. It really is a pretty painless way to pay for content. I think John Oliver gave a really good summary of the problem with sponsored content AKA native advertising:

Comment Re:Can he win? (Score 0) 395

Bill Clinto left a balanced budge along with the largest peacetime expansion of the US economy in history. Bush lied us into two wars and almost caused the second great depression. Once Bush got in the "fiscal conservative" seemed like he couldn't spend us into a deficit fast enough. But if you want to lump them both together as disasters then be my guest.

Anyway, notice how Bernie is attaching the republicans more than Hillary. He probably isn't running for president really -- he is running to push Hillary further to the left. At most he might be running for vice president. If he were running for president he would be attaching Hillary more.

IMO Bernie is doing a good thing by pushing her to the left and not letting her make the same mistake Obama did. Seems like Obama only recently figured out that no matter how far to the right he moves fox "news" and the republicans will continue to act like he somehow manages to be a cross between a fascist and a communist (I wonder which side of WW2 they think Obama would be on.) And then when the democrats tried to run to the right of Obama in the last election they got their collective butts handed to them. Hopefully Bernie will encourage Hillary to just come out with policies that will help average Americans and not to pander to the tea partiers who aren't going to like her no matter what she says or does. If it is between a real republican (even one who pushes policies that are a disaster for average Americans) and a fake republican, America will and always has voted for the real republican.

Comment technically Moore's law is still in effect (Score 1) 101

Yes I know technically the number of transistors on a chip is still doubling every 18 months or so; and yes that means cheaper chips that use less power. Yes that is all fine and good. But kids today don't seem to remember back when having twice as many transistors pretty much meant having twice the computing power. That 486 could do twice as much at the same clock speed as the 386 -- and the 486 was eventually going to be sold at higher clock speeds. And you didn't need to recompile anything to take advantage of all the cores they stuck in there -- even if you didn't bother to recompile anything it would still run twice as fast. Then a few years later the pentium/686/k5/"whatever they called it to avoid intel's army of lawyers" would run twice as fast as the 486 for the same clock speed and once again the chips would eventually come out with higher clock speeds.

Today you don't have to spend a lot of money on a new computer and you can still be confident that your computer will still be able to run all of the latest software many years after you buy it. In the 80's and 90's that really nice and really expensive computer (much more expensive than today's computer if you adjust for inflation) was completely hopeless in just a few years. We all knew that in some ways buying new and expensive hardware was a waste because in a few years that hardware will be so slow that it will have no purpose but to sit in the corner and gather dust. But we bought the new hardware anyway because each time we did it was like making a down payment on the future. The 80's and 90's were an amazing time to be a nerd and I just don't know if computer hardware has the same optimism as hardware of yesteryear. Or maybe it is just that I am older now than I was then.

Comment Long term purchase based on short term metrics (Score 1) 334

So people make long term purchase decisions (like a new car) based on short term metrics (the price of gas right now.) No one ever thinks that maybe the price of gas will go back up before they are finished paying off the car? It is almost like fossil fuels are a finite resource and that gas prices may go up and and down in the short term but will always keep going up in the long term unless or until we find some other way to meet our energy needs. Sometimes may faith in humanity tends to waiver. OTOH if you want a fuel efficient car now would be the time to get it. I promise the price of gas will go back up before you are finished paying it off. I would wait until gas prices go back up to get that gas guzzler though.

Comment Striking air traffic controllers fired (Score 3, Insightful) 223

Remember when Ronald Reagan fired all of the air traffic controllers because they had the nerve to form a union and strike for better pay? Now the air traffic controllers work on obsolete equipment, get paid very little, have a stressful job with long hours, oh and are the only people stopping planes from running into eachother. I am almost amazed no one has gone crazy before now.

Comment The economy is supposed to make our lives better (Score 1) 778

The purpose of an economy is to support humans; the purpose of humans is not to support the economy. If your business is not successful enough that you cannot remain profitable while paying your employees a living wage then maybe we don't really need your business. Maybe you should go out of business and if your company really was filling a need then someone smarter than you can figure out how to fill that need while making enough profit to pay their people enough to live on. In the end only the really competent business will survive and workers will have enough money to actually live (and they will just end up plowing their income back into the economy thus spurring even more growth.) Or I guess we could have it the other way. We could have just a few rich people who can't figure out how to sell anything anymore because a large part of the population is too poor to even buy a pot to piss in.

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