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User Journal

Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

Journal by CleverNickName

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.

User Journal

Journal: How losing a brother may save other lives

Journal by joaommp

The event that took my brother's life inspired me to come up with some sort of gadget to prevent any more lives from being lost. So, I figured that a low power device monitoring life-signs, transmitting a continuous ping to a central server, could eventually provide enough warning to prevent others from suffering the same fate my dear brother suffered. I also immediately noticed a bunch of possibilities to extend the functionality of the device and make the idea usable for many more situations like monitoring people in healthcare facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals, giving them more freedom, and keeping track of kids in amusement parks to help prevent accidents and kidnappings. I turned to my team at the non-profit I'm involved with and we agreed the project had merit and could go forward. Now I'm left with the difficult task of gathering the funds necessary to start the development of this system. So I turn to you all, slashdotters, for opinions, constructive criticism, advice and, if possible, that you contribute with work or donations to make this initiative flourish.

User Journal

Journal: My brother has passed away

Journal by joaommp

It was on 25th that one of my brothers, Miguel, passed away. He was found on the bottom of a public pool, already too late. The company responsible for managing the pool failed, by incompetence, since they had no lifeguard present at the moment, who might have saved my brother's life.

User Journal

Journal: C++ Programming: Good Principles For Excellent Endings

Journal by joaommp

A few months ago, after leaving my job at the time, I decided to finally start writing the book that a lot of people have, for so long, been asking me to write, a book about C++ programming, specifically, about good programming principles. Now I ended up with "C++ Programming: Good Principles For Excellent Endings". It's been released on the 19th of April. It features a few important topics, including the social part (team management, hiring, resources), project management (tools, methods and documentation), defensive programming, object oriented programming and optimizations. The difference about this book? Being an Edition Zero. The main objective was to come up with a manual for students and the trainees of the non-profit organization that I'm involved with to learn and improve their skills. It is called Edition Zero because the idea behind it was to release a non-definitive version to gather input from the community. Later, we will be offering a free copy of the First Edition of the book to the persons who provide the most important bits of constructive criticism on how to improve the book so it can reach that milestone. Also, all the profit made from the book will be used to support the projects being developed at Onda Technology, our non-profit R&D institute. I found this to be a much more interesting way to ask for support, not only we can get the much needed money to buy equipment, but we're also giving something more in return besides the joy of helping. So take a look and, if you feel like it, help our projects.

The Almighty Buck

Journal: European Union wants to send the ATM system back into stone age

Journal by joaommp

Portugal has one of the most, if not the most, advanced ATM networks in the world. While on most countries the ATM networks seem to be handled by individual banks, the Portuguese ATM network, called Multibanco (yes, as in multi-bank) is owned and ran by a state entity called SIBS (Sociedade Interbancária de Serviços - roughly inter-banking business society). This unified ATM network allows the state and the banking businesses to save millions in equipment, maintenance and headcount, as well as in transactions between banks. Besides the TPA terminals that allow people to comfortably pay for their shopping on the establishments with their precious credit and debit cards, there are also ATM machines, but these are packed full of features: not only can you withdraw money from your account, but you can also pay for your taxes, your electricity, water and phone bills, your Internet, top up your mobile phone credit, buy train tickets, buy seats for some shows and a lot more. All this on any of the more than 10000 ATM machines spread around the country. This is all free for the users. How's it paid? First: the businesses that receive money paid through the TPAs pay 0.8% of the transaction for "small values" and 3% of the transaction for "big values" to SIBS; and second: all credit and debit cards have an annual fee of 10€ (about $15).
But now, the European Union wants to link all countries together with a single system. However, even though it could seem logical, there are a few problems: first, there is no public or financial demand for it (as, between other reasons, trans-border credit/debit card transactions are less than 3% in almost all countries and less than 2% in Portugal); second, it's estimated to cost 3 billion euros; third: the banks plan on starting to charge 1.5€ for each transaction (withdrawing funds, paying stuff, etc); fourth: on the ATM machines, the european system will only support the fund withdrawal feature, which would effectively result in Portugal losing a very advanced and successful system that is also free. The consequences? Some people will stop using banking accounts, others will resort to checks, there will be an increase in robberies as the wallets will again be carrying large sums of money to avoid the fee. So, not only will we lose functionality and be setup with a critically inferior system, but we will also have to pay more for it.

Microsoft

Journal: MSN Messenger down

Journal by joaommp

Seems like MSN Messenger is down and messenger.msn.com & messenger.live.com were taken offline. It has been like this for the last 3 hours. Having messenger.msn.com offline, there's no way to know what's going on, since it's there where they post information about the status of the messaging network. MSN Messenger is allowing successful logins, but the messages are bounced back with a "connection error" message, despite the online status and the continuing update of the other contact's status in the contact list. It is affecting several users.

UPDATE: Seems fine, now.

User Journal

Journal: a return which is long overdue (plus achievements!) 17

Journal by CleverNickName

I've lurked at /. without posting for ages, mostly because I just don't have the time to interact like I used to.

But I've been clicking through the old RSS feed more and more lately, and when I saw the PAX Plague thread today, I came over to comment, since I'm kind of affected by the whole damn thing. I thought I'd take a look around since I haven't been here in awhile, and I saw that there are freaking ACHIEVEMENTS associated with our accounts. It's silly, and I'm sure it's been here forever, but I thought it was awesome and I was delighted when I read it.

I didn't realize how much I missed Slashdot until I spent some time here today, and I bet that anyone who joined in the last 2 years doesn't even give a shit about my stupid comments or anything, but it felt good to come back here, and feel safely among my people again.

User Journal

Journal: Hardware overhaul, so many cases, so many choices...

Journal by Kranfer
Recently, I decided that I want to replace my full tower antec case. Many computer parts have lived inside this case and served me well. However, I want something that might offer more in the line of cooling. Currently, this case has 5 80 mm fans. However, I would like to find a case that has larger fans, and possibly more spots for 80 mm can fans, a blow hole on the top, maybe a fan or two for motherboard cooling. My searching the interweb have dredged up a few cases like this in the $400 range, but I am wondering if any of you slashdotters out there might know of something less expensive and from a company that offers a good selection of accessories and eye candy mods.
User Journal

Journal: Announcing the release of my new book 22

Journal by CleverNickName

This feels like a mega-spam entry, and I'm very self conscious about posting it, but I'm excited about this and I wanted to share . . .

I just published my third book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives. I mention it here because it's all about growing up in the 70s, and coming of age in the 80s as part of the D&D/BBS/video game/Star Wars figures generation, and I think a lot of Slashdot readers will relate to the stories in it.

I published a few of the stories on my blog, including Blue Light Special. It's about the greatest challenge a ten year-old could face in 1982: save his allowance, or buy Star Wars figures?

After our corduroy pants and collared shirts and Trapper Keepers and economy packs of pencils and wide-ruled paper were piled up in our cart, our mom took our three year-old sister with her to the make-up department to get shampoo and whatever moms buy in the make-up department, and my brother and I were allowed to go to the toy department.

"Can I spend my allowance?" I said.

"If that's what you want to do," my mom said, another entry in a long string of unsuccessful passive/aggressive attempts to encourage me to save my money for . . . things you save money for, I guess. It was a concept that was entirely alien to me at nine years old.

"Keep an eye on Jeremy," she said.

"Okay," I said. As long as Jeremy stood right at my side and didn't bother me while I shopped, and as long as he didn't want to look at anything of his own, it wouldn't be a problem.

I held my brother's hand as we tried to walk, but ended up running, across the store, past a flashing blue light special, to the toy department. Once there, we wove our way past the bicycles and board games until we got to the best aisle in the world: the one with the Star Wars figures.

I'm really proud of this book, and the initial feedback on it has been overwhelmingly positive. I've been reluctant to mention it here, because of the spam issue, but I honestly do think my stories will appeal to Slashdotters.

After the disaster with O'Reilly on Just A Geek, I've decided to try this one entirely on my own, so I'm responsible for the publicity, the marketing, the shipping, and . . . well, everything. If this one fails, it will be because of me, not because a marketing department insisted on marketing it as something it's not.

Of course, I hope I can claim the same responsibility if (when?) it finds its audience . . . which would be awesome.

Supercomputing

Journal: i need a new computer - advice? 29

Journal by CleverNickName

Simple tasks like switching between Firefox and Thunderbird are driving the load on my machine up over 4, and if I'm trying to run Amarok at the same time, it drives it up to 8. In fact, my machine frequently climbs up into the 7-9 range, bringing my apps to a crawl and frustrating the hell out of me.

So I've decided it's time to buy a new computer. I'm going to replace my aging Sony Vaio desktop machine (which runs Linux) with something newer that has more RAM, a faster processor, and a bigger hard drive.

The thing is, I'm not entirely sure where to start looking. A quick walk through Circuit City a month or so ago lead me to believe I can get a rather "big" computer for as low as five hundred bucks, which further leads me to believe that if I were to buy something online, I can get a huge pile of RAM, a fast processor, and a big honkin' hard drive for even less.

I run Kubuntu, and use KDE as my desktop (though I occasionally switch to Gnome when I get bored) and I mostly use Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org, Amarok, and run PokerStars in wine. I'm looking for something that can do all of that without slowing my machine to a crawl.

Anyone have any suggestions on where to start looking?

Edit: I don't think I have the patience to build my own machine out of individual parts. I also don't have any real loyalty to any particular company or architecture. New Egg has lots of machines with AMD processors, and though I've always had Intel processors because more things seemed to run on x86, that's not as much of an issue as it once was, right?

Editorial

Journal: Oil Industry-sponsored FUD at Slashdot? 12

Journal by CleverNickName

I am absolutely stunned that Slashdot's editors would give credibility to a completely false story, pushed by a paid industry PR professional. As Rugrat said,

The "article" is not an article, but a press release written by an employee of a public affairs company.

"Tom Harris is mechanical engineer and Ottawa Director of High Park Group, a public affairs and public policy company."

For a website that spends so much time and energy combating FUD from Microsoft, and the MPAA and RIAA, it is baffling that FUD that was paid for and is pushed by the oil industry would make the front page here.

Come on, Slashdot. You can do better.

Debian

Journal: So, About Dapper . . . 24

Journal by CleverNickName

For the last year or so, I've been happily using Debian, with a mixture of sources so I was stable, but current, just like nearly everyone who uses Debian.

Then I tried to upgrade or something insane like that, using aptitude, and the whole thing went tits up on me. No amount of cussing, kicking things, or actual tinkering with the software could save my machine.

I thought about asking for some advice in the Debian forums, or on one of the lists, until I ran out of fingers in my entire family tree to count the times someone said some variant of, "Shut up, noob! Your stoopid and not leet leik I am! Go back to Winblows! Ha! HA! HA!!!1"

Yeah. Guess I'm not venturing into those waters, so I figured I'd just have to grab my network install CD and start over (luckily, I set up /home on its own partition a long time ago, so if I fuck something up really bad, I don't lose all my porn very important data.

The day I planned to reinstall Debian, I read that Dapper Drake had been released, and everyone loved it so much, they totally wanted to marry it. A friend of mine, who is wise in the ways of science and the air speed velocity of unladen swallows has also been singing the praises of Ubuntu for a long, long time, so I grabbed a Live CD to see what all the fuss was about.

Holy shit. What an awesome bit of work it is! It's the first Linux distro to find every single bit of hardware on my old Sony Vaio desktop machine, including all the USB ports. It looked great, too, and was the most "Mac-like" Linux I've ever used.

I realize that a lot of you are mocking me right now, but listen for a second: I'm not interested in hacking on my kernel to make sure something is detected during boot, or modifying all sorts of settings in a text editor just so I can make the damn thing find my camera . . . and don't get me started about CUPS. I love technology, and I love and fully believe in "free" as in speech, and I'm grateful for free as in beer. But also really into "works," as in just does. And on my machine here, Dapper Drake just works, and it's awesome. This is the Linux distro that I can take to my parents, and to my friends who are drowning in a sea of FUD, and convince them that they don't really have to be part of the Borg if they don't want to.

And ultimately, I believe that has to be our goal if we're going to convince people to give Linux a real, serious try as an alternative to Windows. We need to be able to tell them, with confidence, "Put this CD in your machine, and give it a try. I think you'll like it, because it just works."

Announcements

Journal: play poker for a good cause on sunday july 17th 6

Journal by CleverNickName

(Cross-posted to WWdN)

The final table of the 2005 World Series of Poker started at 4pm yesterday afternoon, and wasn't finished until just after 7am today. I'm not sure, but I think that's a record. I'd call Pauly to be sure, but something tells me he's crashed out until at least Sunday.

Two qualifiers from PokerStars made the final table, and one guy, who qualified using free play points, made it to the final two tables, finished in 13th place, and won $400,000. Not bad for a freeroll!

Speaking of Pauly and PokerStars, we're doing a charity tournament on Sunday in memory of Pauly's friend Charlie Tuttle:

Charlie is from Clarksville, Tennessee and he's a twenty-six year old music enthusiast who loves hanging out and playing poker with his friends. Charlie was dealt a bad hand in life when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which he has been battling this past year. A couple of weekends ago, he was hospitalized because two tumors in his chest pressed up against his lungs, causing him breathing problems. I don't have to tell you how serious his condition was.

Felicia Lee, who is fighting her own battle with cancer, knows several top professional poker players, so she got several of her friends to call Charlie: John Juanda, Marcel Luske, Max Pescatori, and Barry Greenstein to name a few. In fact, when Barry Greenstein won his bracelet in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event, he dedicated it to Charlie.

As Pauly wrote:

Situations like this one make you reassess what's really important in life. Las Vegas is a city built on greed. Poker is a game that often attracts some of the lowest forms of life. However, in the past two weeks, there has been a small group of professional poker players who have earned my respect and admiration. Amidst all the darkness and debauchery, I have caught a few glimpses of the bright side of humanity. The hearts of some of the biggest sharks in Las Vegas are filled with compassion.

Thank you, Charlie, for inspiring us all. We'll never forget you.

Charlie passed away on June 22 and his friends have organized a charity poker tournament this Sunday at PokerStars. It's going to be a lot of fun, and I hope to see lots of WWdN readers there.

Details:

SUNDAY, JULY 17th
18:00 EDT (15:00 CDT)
PokerStars
Buy-in is $20 — all of it goes to charity.
"WPBT Charlie Tournament" under Tourneys -> Private tab in the lobby

The Internet

Journal: a little help? 28

Journal by CleverNickName

I'm sure this is just begging for vandalism (unless those douchebags have grown up and finally kissed a girl) . . . but there is an error on my Wikipedia page that needs to be corrected. I'd do it myself, but that's against Wikipedia editing policy.

I am not in Brother Bear. Willie Wheaton, Wil Wheaton, Jr., and Reginald Maudling (Mrs.) are all not me. I've tried to get this taken off imdb, but someone (well-intentioned, I'm sure) keeps putting it back, and Wikipedia editors (also well-intentioned) are putting Brother Bear back up . . . so we're in an infinite improbability loop, and my towel is getting dirty.

Would someone please correct that, and cite this journal entry so it doesn't get corrected back?

Google

Journal: Rejected Article: Gaggle Sues Google 2

Journal by Rob Carr
According to articles on the Prague Post and MSN's Money Central, American Blind, AXA, Geico, L.L. Bean, and Louis Vuitton are suing Google over keywords that produce advertisements on a Google search page. The paid advertisements do not change the results of the search, but they do result in advertisements placed on the boarder of the search page. The companies involved in the litigation claim that this is a violation of their trademarks. Since the linking of keywords and advertisements was patented by Yahoo, that organization is suing Google as well.

Wherever you go...There you are. - Buckaroo Banzai

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