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Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 473

No, I really have no idea what they teach in school.

That's just how it went down in my neck of the woods, based on my own research into local history and reading texts and periodicals from the period: Inter-urban passenger count went down to such an extent that it was no longer profitable. Various mergers between rail companies happened in an attempt to regain profitability (or just take advantage of fire-sale pricing, which is really the same thing), and ultimately things just plain failed.

Same as what happened to the local ferryboat which traveled up and down the river, between downtown and a park which was (then) at the edge of town: With the advent of affordable cars, people eventually stopped using the boat in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile.

This may not be a valid generalization of the rest of the country, but it's what happened here.

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 473

Perhaps it's better.

But frankly, I don't care how much energy my neighbor uses. It's plain and obvious that good insulation pays for itself, but if someone chooses to do things differently then I've got no business telling them otherwise: It's their money, and they can burn it however they wish.

Meanwhile, there's lots of reasons that Germany's average per-capita efficiency is better, and insulation is just one small aspect of it.

At a glance:

Germans seem to be more willing to live closely together. This tends to allow things like food to be profitably sold closer to where people actually live, while also allowing greater access to public transportation. This leads to fewer big things (trucks, buses, trains) ferrying things and people about, instead of the US version which generally has everyone driving some distance to go about their daily business, buying in bulk because it's a pain to get to the store, and requiring a larger vehicle in order to move it around.

The US used to have functional passenger rail between neighboring cities, but we killed it by driving cars and have since built things in support of that habit.

I, and my neighbors, seem to like it this way: We could easily choose to live more closely together (by moving to a downtown apartment or a larger city or both) but we instead prefer to have big houses, big yards, and all of the detrimental effects that the resulting sparsity brings.

For instance: I enjoy having enough space that I can have a huge bonfire and a modest fireworks display without worrying about burning down the neighborhood, park my three cars and have room to work on more, have enough distance between myself and my neighbors to have a rock band perform in my front room without annoying others, and have multiple people sleep after a party without crowding or putting anyone on the floor..

Accordingly, I also have to drive several miles to get anything much more complicated than beer or a loaf of bread.

It's a tradeoff. It's expensive. I'm OK with that. If some other nation decides to do things differently, that's OK too. *shrug*

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 473


I live in a smallish (38k) town which does not have, and never has had, any manner of residential building code. At all. Folks can (and do!) run their own electrical and plumbing, or remodel whatever they want. Permits are required for new construction, but that's for reasons of zoning and flood zone restrictions -- not construction technique.

Somehow, houses aren't falling down. They seem to stand up to heavy snow and high wind just fine.

Sewage doesn't run through the streets, no home I've ever seen here has been wired with 20-guage speaker wire (unlike the Florida hotel I stayed at the other night), and etc.

Things here seem to work fine, though we accordingly don't have very many architects in town. (I consider this to be a good thing.)

Comment Re:foreign banks? (Score 1) 173

But AFAICT, BMW didn't have any manufacturing in the United States. Just dealers, drivers, mechanics, and the folks that manage them from an ivory tower somewhere. They are not the domestic employment juggernaut that is GM or Chrysler.

Would they be missed if they were gone? Sure. But then, so is Saab. *shrug*

(Disclaimer: I drive a BMW. It's a perhaps a bit older than relevant in this discussion, but I've had most of it apart. Almost every part is proudly stamped with the name of some European country or other, except for a random electronic module for the HVAC which was made in the US. Even the fuses and many of the bolts can be traced to their European origin.)

Comment Re:Why? Should make you happy (Score 1) 333


I'm still nursing along a Droid 1, and it's terrifically RAM-starved. The CPU is fast enough, the storage is more than adequate, video playback is fine, audio works well enough for the car or while walking, and the battery life is acceptable. (And it's paid for, and I can find parts for it for free when it breaks. Which it has, a couple of times...) But RAM? Heh. Even with tricks, it's just not enough.

And it's uncannry: I was doing much of the same stuff with X under Linux a long time ago, with a about a tenth as much RAM. I'd have a dozen or more simple programs running, a handful of browsers browsing, with music playing, and interactive widgets running along the side of the screen in Afterstep, all on a high-resolution display. I could even have animated desktops. Just like a Droid.

The only thing that was iffy was video, but then I didn't have dedicated hardware for video decoding back then (while my Droid does).

So now, it's hard work for a 32-bit CPU running at 900MHz with hundreds of megabytes of RAM to play an MP3 and launch a web browser.

Comment Lies, damned lies, statistics (Score 3, Interesting) 319

So a web page today is about 10x bigger than it was in 2003. I can accept that.

But in 2003, I had a baseline 2-megabit-per-second Internet connection and could have had a 3- or 5-megabit connection for a bit more cash.

Today, 8 years later, the "normal" connection speed for my ISP is 6-megabit.

So according to my observations and their statistics, folks are expected to download 10 times the amount of stuff using just 3 times as much available bandwidth.

In other words, the web is currently more than three times slower than it was in 2003.


Comment Re:Most people don't understand that it's a bad id (Score 1) 405

Here's what I know:

If I'm Dell, and I buy a lot of 1,000 CPUs, I take them in OEM packaging without a warranty from the manufacturer. Why? Simply because it's cheaper that way, from start to finish.

Meanwhile, Intel has a lovely little FAQ about their processor warranties that you can amuse yourself with once get done imagining things.

Comment Re:Google versus Apple (Score 1) 360


I just tried it. I don't have "Asteroids Galaxy Tour" or any Rush, but I told Google Voice Search to "play Magical Mystery Tour" and a moment later, Subsonic fired up and started playing it from my home server.

"Play Kinko the Clown" works. So does "play beers steers and queers." And "listen to prick" and "listen to Hips, Tits, Lips, Power."

Maybe that's not what what you meant, but meh: It works for me. Usually.

It's easy to confuse if I'm deliberate about it: "listen to KMFDM" returns "K M F D M" which doesn't match any of my tags. "Play Houses of the Molé" doesn't work, either. Nor does "listen to Red Birds Will Fly Out of the East and Destroy Paris in a Night," but it does give me a multiple-guess selector that includes the correct spelling and if I tap on that it begins playing a moment later.

I suspect that I could also reliably confuse Siri if I wanted to and had a few minutes to kill. *shrug*

(For what it's worth, not even Slashdot knows how to parse "Houses of the Mole' " with an acute e.)

Comment Re:Free isn't cheap enough? (Score 1) 223

I really don't care if the argument is solid and bullet-proof: It's still a realistic scenario, especially if one considers the human (error-prone) aspect of it and the resultant derivatives.

While I created it as a fiction, I've seen similar things happen first-hand in the real world more than once.

And it's just one scenario. There are are also real-world scenarios resulting in honest end-user surprise that I simply do not care to elucidate, and am simply unwilling to generalize.

I've currently got better things to do (like pay attention to the lovely ale in front of me) than argue about a free service which may have recently become annoying for some folks whose Kung-Fu is lacking.

Comment Re:I live with pain (Score 1) 385


Tylenol (acetaminophen), when mixed with other drugs, is the work of thugs and crooks and politicians.

It's somewhat useful by itself (as long as the patient doesn't drink much alcohol), but is easily deadly when abused (and/or the liver is otherwise-compromised).

I have a wide array of pills in my medicine cabinet, for a wide array of ailments, and when I decided one day to childproof it the very first thing I did was to get rid of everything containing (or consisting of) acetaminophen.

Because, frankly, nothing else in there was anywhere near as dangerous -- even in fistful-of-pills sorts of doses.

To be clear, I'm not necessarily against doctoring up various "fun" drugs to make them less fun [or downright unpleasant] for those who want to eat them in recreational quantities, but killing their liver [and thus the user] is going just a wee bit too far.

Death sentences should only occur at the hand of a jury.

Comment Re:Free isn't cheap enough? (Score 1) 223

So what if Joe had Localgeek work the Kung-Fu more than five years ago, and switched ISPs less than five years ago. What then? Does that make my argument "not an issue"? Why, or why not?

dyndns has been around for a very long time in Internet years, so the above is not anything of any particular unlikelihood.

Meanwhile, it's not that it's really important. It's that it can be very surprising to the folks actually using the service. Please scroll up a few comments, read what the fuck I actually wrote, and try to understand that I'm really not biased in this conversation (having rolled my own dynamic DNS for a long, long time -- because I can): I'm just attempting to raise the point that some folks who keep track of things to the best of their own technical, cognitive, and organizational abilities will be legitimately surprised by this move.

Maybe it's a rather meek point, but it is only what it is, and my intent is no greater or lesser than exactly that.

Comment Re:Free isn't cheap enough? (Score 1) 223

Wow, you sure do like to froth at the mouth. *and* *stuff*

So, picture it. A long time ago, Joe installs a few cameras around the outside of his house connected to a hardware DVR, which Joe installed himself because Joe is handy enough with running cables. It works adequately, and Joe is happy with it. But Joe's Internet Kung-Fu is not very strong, so it just sits there disconnected from the world.

Joe runs into his acquaintance Localgeek, and in the course of a normal conversation, Joe mentions to Localgeek that he has this camera system. Localgeek, after learning that it's not connected to teh Interweb, mentions that Joe can view his cameras from Randomspot with a bit of Kung-Fu.

Joe likes the idea, which Joe didn't even know was possible, and asks Localgeek if he would mind stopping by to have a look at it.

Localgeek stops by and leisurely configures the port forwarding and dynamic DNS in about 20 minutes time. Joe tosses him a few bucks, and says thank you.

Years go by, everything works fine. Joe switches ISPs to a company called Newhost, and everything works fine. Localgeek has long forgotten having even worked on Joe's cameras, and Joe still enjoys viewing the system from Randomspot.

Except Newhost doesn't rotate IP addresses very often, and Joe's old router isn't bright to send updates to dyndns unless the IP address actually changes.

And then, one day, Joe finds that he can't view his cameras from Randomspot anymore. (Woops.)

Joe is bemused by this, because things always worked fine. Joe calls up Localgeek, and Localgeek immediately understands the problem and decides to change the firmware on the router to one with a better dyndns implementation that can send updates regularly.

But then both Joe and Localgeek are very surprised when they discover that the previous service isn't available anymore. Joe never received an email from dyndns warning him about the expiration because his old email address (from way back when) stopped working when he switched to Newhost.

Is Joe's surprise because:

1. He has a warped sense of entitlement and lacks sufficient public admonishment for his overwhelming greed

2. He neglected to retain Localgeek with an ongoing service contract for maintenance on his $50 router


3. His Kung-Fu is simply very weak.

Comment Re:Power (Score 1) 255

Unfortunately there's still lots of stuff produced for a 1080i output format, because that's what TVs use.
And it's good enough for today because displays are capable of handling it in a pixel-accurate way.

And I don't think it's going to go away anytime soon. Folks working on (say) a PBS program just pick "1080i" for their project because it's just easier that way, and their source material will be squished up/down/sideways in order to fit no matter what it started out being.

At some point in the future 1080i will be looked upon with the same disdain that 480i currently is, since scaling interlaced video is always an ugly process and displays won't be stuck at 1920x1080 forever.

So it oughta be dead, but it just isn't. Bummer. I want to blame ATSC for being short-sighted, but that was decided a long, long time ago in computer years...

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I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman