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Comment: Physical and Touch Keyboard awful, try Voice? (Score 1) 544

...but I've gotten better results from Swype and the continuous-swipe Google keyboard, than I ever could from the physical keyboard.

I had a 1st-gen Moto Droid with the slideout keyboard, and found that I rarely slid out the keyboard, because (a) it was nearly as inaccurate to use as the on-screen keyboard, (b) it only worked in landscape mode, and (c) I was faster with Swype. The downside of Swype, of course, is that if the word recognition fails to find your word, you're going to have to peck it in all over again. I've been slowly entering all my ethnic cooking terms, but I probably find a couple new words to enter every week.

On the other hand, for anything more than a sentence or two, I will pull out my laptop and type with a real keyboard. I just bought a bluetooth keyboard for my 8" tablet -- I'm looking forward to seeing how useful that turns out to be.

On the gripping hand, voice recognition in Google Now is very, very good at local place names (I'm not sure if it's also indexing off my contacts). Unless you're off the grid, as it requires network access to recognize voice at all.

Comment: written, nothing special. but debugged?? (Score 1) 310

Many years ago, pre cell phones, I was paged by an FDA reviewer writing on a database system I wrote, Friday night at the drive in theatre.

Fixing his proven required stepping through the code (Borland Paradox) over a pay phone in the concession stand, remembering exactly how the code worked, to tweak the behavior.

Admittedly not millions of lines of code, but still a pretty nifty feat.

Comment: What it was actually good for (Score 1, Insightful) 224

by unfortunateson (#46868849) Attached to: 50 Years of BASIC, the Language That Made Computers Personal

Text.

Long before Lisp or Perl, Basic made things much, much easier to deal with text.
C (and its children) had pointers and allocation to deal with.
Cobol, Fortran and Pascal, by default, dealt with fixed-length strings (yes, later versions improved it).

On the Digital operating systems (RSTS, RSX, VAX/VMS -- whose technology ended up influencing WinNT), BASIC was relatively sophisticated, long before Visual Basic: explicit variable declaration, access to database routines, etc. I got a LOT of stuff done where the Pascal and C programmers were spending time just making things work. Speed? Perhaps slower, but most of what I worked on was interactive, where the bulk of the time was waiting for a human being.

Comment: Bose Wave Radio (Score 1) 702

by unfortunateson (#46789539) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

Scoff if you must -- I'm not using it for audiophile, but as an employee-project-completion gift, it's made a fantastic $300 alarm clock.

I've had it for close to 15 years now (it debuted in 1998). It does exactly what I need: Good UI, wake up to radio, tone or CD with slow volume increase, two alarms. Most CD players I've seen don't last this long, and this thing has been a rock.

Comment: Re:LaserJet II and LaserJet 3 (Score 1) 702

by unfortunateson (#46789463) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

Those early-generation LaserJets were built like tanks. I've seen them pushed off a table (which took some effort -- the early ones were 70 lbs), hit the floor, and aside from some cosmetic damage, just keep printing. The same-era Digital Equipment Corp LN03 was pretty good too (except for having a toner tub which could spill); corresponding Xerox printers while larger-capacity and faster were much finickier.

HP and Apple's printers of that generation used the Canon print engine and optics. Whatever happened to that quality?

Comment: Lucky Peach and Archaeology (Score 1) 285

by unfortunateson (#46774271) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

Two magazines I still read in print are Lucky Peach and Archaeology.
Lucky Peach is a bit of insanity: Food travel, recipes, and steam of consciousness weirdness. Not cheap, and so far as I can tell, not all of it is available online.
Archaeology is great because you get to see real science actually in use -- unlike the pap most newspapers post, where the big words are all left out. It does have digital subscriptions, but because most of its articles are short, I'm happy to take this into the (ahem) powder room, where I really don't want to bring a screen.

Comment: Even if all legal media, not easy to recover (Score 1) 983

by unfortunateson (#46463297) Attached to: How Do You Backup 20TB of Data?

Even if 100% of that 20TB is legally owned content, recovery is a huge process: re-ripping hard media is still awfully slow -- if you can even find where you stashed it (I think a few CD's have walked off the reservation)
Purchased digital media is no better: you've got many sources to find it from, and it may disappear: preview tracks, live tracks, etc. may disappear when they stop updating their MySpace, or a local distributor goes belly-up. That's also assuming you're still using the same providers: if you had download privs on some of the music servers of the 2000's, you'd have 'ownership' of that media, but you may not be able to get it again if you aren't still paying for the account.

The most economical and reliable is probably a mirror RAID array. It sounds like this guy accidentally issued a command to erase the content, rather than a RAID failure. Ordinarily, the RAID should be good for most stupidities, but this falls a little outside that. The question is, if you have mirroring software, how frequently does it try to match, and would it clean off the mirror too?

Comment: The US is an insurance company... with an army. (Score 1) 676

I can't take credit for this, it's a quote from Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman.

Payments are up through mostly automatic processes: People are out of work due to the financial industry shenanigans, so unemployment checks are written, more people end up on Medicare or SNAP (nee food stamps), and because of the aging population, more people on Social Security. Obamacare barely has had any effect

Comment: Spoilerific Comment - He did *what* at the end? (Score 3, Insightful) 732

by unfortunateson (#45348861) Attached to: Movie Review: <em>Ender's Game</em>

The movie suffers from the compression of the novel -- the audience deserved more of the battle room, if nothing else, and a better idea of how grueling the schedule there and in Command School really was -- it looks like a couple days at most.

But the biggest issue with compression is moving command school to near the Formic homeworld. I couldn't figure out why, especially as they kept with the concept of instantaneous control with the ansible (FTL communication). But it was mainly so that they didn't have to break from Ender's shame at his destruction of his enemy to the hope of restoration by finding the last queen's egg.

Ok, I can see how that helps streamline things, until you realize that, uh, he just stepped off a military base, brought something alien back with him, and now he's going to traipse across the galaxy to find a place to put it? Um, no. That can't happen until he's already been out of the military.

They should have split it in two: Battle school, maybe up until the first victory of Dragon Army (going any further leaves too little for a second movie), then the rest. That would have let the characters breathe, let them have a decent epilogue reuniting Ender and Valentine, and the Hive Queen, and maybe even some way of bringing in Locke and Demosthenes.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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