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Comment Re:Buy plain bricks.... (Score 1) 425

Go online:

You can buy tubs and boxes of generic bricks, pick a brick or themed groups such as all windows and doors or all wheels.

The Creator range is where you find your classic feel sets. Generic buildings and cars with multiple ideas per set.

City is still there if you want the early 80s style minifigs and fire stations vibe.

And for those with a sense of the dramatic, they have their huge modular buildings line.

Stores don't sell them due to licensed sets selling faster. But Lego absolutely still makes "plain kits."

Comment Lego or the retailers sold out? (Score 1) 425

You can absolutely buy raw bricks and simple generic sets still. You just need to go to Lego's website, Legoland or somewhere like Amazon. If you go to Target or Walmart, they'll sell you the odd tub but everything else is branded because that's what sells better. Where shelf space isn't a premium, you can find the whole range. So is it Lego selling out or the retailers?

You can buy tubs and boxes of generic bricks, pick a brick or themed groups such as all windows and doors or all wheels.

The Creator range is where you find your classic feel sets. Generic buildings and cars with multiple ideas per set.

City is still there if you want the early 80s style minifigs and fire stations vibe.

And for those with a sense of the dramatic, they have their huge modular buildings line.

If you want "traditional lego," it's very much still available. You just can't buy it in stores because the stores choose to stock the faster selling branded sets. I'd argue that's not Lego selling out - as they still make their product for anyone who wants it - but rather the retailers doing so.

Comment Resignation Genius (Score 5, Interesting) 214

Resigning is the RightThingToDo(TM), it's the ultimate apology

His payoff is equal to one year's pay of £450,000 (approaching $700,000).

Which he gets to claim for 54 days of work that he's also already been paid for. By quitting now, he's made just a hair under £10,000/day ($16,000/day), including weekends.

If he'd stayed for five years plus a final year's payoff, he'd have been paid a fifth of that rate.

I wish I could fail that hard.

Comment They May Be Evil... But No One's Car Lot Evil! (Score 1) 217

"When I buy a car the dealer doesn't tell me that I have to buy a car alarm with it at extra cost."

You've not bought a car from a dealer lot recently, have you?

Expect to find LoJack (even in markets where the local police have bought zero units), alarms, windshield VIN etching, clear paint protectors, sealants, rust proofing, teflon upholstery protection and a wide variety of exciting floor mats pre installed and added on to the price of every actually available car, taking them way above and beyond the "Starting From..." low, low advertized MSRP on the banners around the lot. Listen to the radio commercials where whichever "mile of cars" with "over X thousand vehicles to choose from!" has "three at this price."

The difference between Blizzard and a car lot is, if Blizzard were a car lot, they'd be telling you, "We're sorry, the only copies we've got on hand today already have their accounts hooked to a validator and we can't remove it. We could order you a copy without a validator in 8-12 weeks or you can pay the premium to take a copy home today."

Comment As Kim Dotcom Just Heard That (Score 4, Funny) 531

US Government: "You don't own anything stored in the cloud."

Kim Dotcom: "Sweet. The US government has declared cloud stored data is not 'owned.' If you don't own it, if it's not yours, how could you possibly be liable for it? Everyone please subscribe to my new service fuMPAAItsAllInTheCloud.com!"

Comment If the dock connector's the problem, don't use it. (Score 1) 158

"Our first choice would be to give each pilot an iPod, but Apple is notoriously anti-hacking and anti-open source, plus you have to pay them ridiculous licensing fees to get access to their USB interface."

If your first choice would otherwise be an iPod but you can't hack their USB... don't. You don't need to.

Every time I ride my motorcycle, I control my iPhone playlists just fine without anything USB driven. The bike headset uses bluetooth and gives me play, pause, skipping in both directions, volume, controls.

I'm guessing what's already on your flight controls is no more than that. So find someone else who's already done the work and piggyback off it. All you need to do is wire your controls to the controls on the pre-existing device and you're done.

The iPod/iPhone connects in via aux so it's not hard wired. The controls themselves, you were always going to have to reconnect and get FAA approval anyway. If you want to save even more money and go with a pre bluetooth spec iPod, bluetooth receivers that mount in to their dock connectors are $50. Should be solveable in an afternoon and you get your first choice of player.

Note: It's pretty much taken as a confirmed rumor that Apple's changing dock connectors with the new iPhone. That said, bluetooth means you're only replacing the charging cable anyway.

Comment Re:JCVH? (Score 1) 336

3) He survived in a desert without any food or water for 40 days & nights

Rather a lot of sun in the desert. Few recorded reports of him sparkling.

Plus vampirism doesn't explain, "Whoa, like look at my fish. It's so awesome, it could, like, feed thousands of people. Hey, I bet I could walk on water. Dude, did you see that, he totally rode in to the sky on a cloud?!"

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Hanlon's only slightly less well known Shaving Brush: Never attribute to vampirism that which is adequately explained by a big bag of weed and some shrooms.

Comment I'd pay for JUST an HBO subscription (Score 1) 1004

"The fact that the show is only available to those who pay for an HBO subscription doesn't help either."

It's worse than that. An HBO subscription is only available with a cable subscription. That generally comes with a cable box subscription. That generally comes with an upsell for the DVR version. That generally comes with another upsell for an HD compatible box and HD DVR. All conveniently priced such that, after the initial outlay for the basic service, you'd be stupid not to add these very small and reasonable charges on top.

I'll happily pay HBO or Showtime's monthly fees for access to their HBO Go and Showtime Anywhere services. But I can't without paying another ~$60/month for a cable service I don't want.

Game of Thrones, Californication, True Blood, Dexter, they're all great shows. But they're not worth an additional three quarters of a grand a year on top of HBO and Showtime's subscriptions just to be allowed access to pay for those subscriptions.

Comment First Ask, *Then* Get Angry (Score 1) 345

All of the comments I'm reading are making the assumption you've actually tried getting the ISP to send an engineer out first.

They're assuming the ISP is maliciously shorting you on service and talking about calling lawyers, BBB, FCC, cancelling service, etc. Yet it's worth making sure you actually have called the ISP and had them send an engineer out.

My cable internet from Cox was similarly terrible. I'd convinced myself they were spreading their connection too thin amongst too many houses, that they knew they were giving me a fraction of the bandwidth their ads promised "up to." I looked for FIOS but it hadn't rolled out to my area, I hated Uverse previously. Not being able to find a decent alternative, I decided to deal with the inevitable stupidity of the dreaded tech support call. I knew I was going to waste an hour being told to turn everything off and back on, that I would be talking to a guy in India... and that was after it took me half an hour to find an actual customer service as opposed to sales number.

The call was predictably painful but, after a few tests, they sent someone out... And the guy was utterly amazing.

He got to the appointment a little early, while I was still heading home. I found him at the top of the phone pole outside the house already re-running cable. He had checked it, it was noisy, so decided to re-run the line in to my house. The house had been used as a nursing home at some point so there were splitters to every room. He pulled all of those out with a clean run to where I actually wanted the line to come in. He tacked the cable up neatly, he disposed of the old garbage.

Inside, he rewired the plug where it came through the wall then showed me how to hit up my cable modem at http://192.168.100.1/. Recognizing I work with the net and was curious, he then explained the signal to noise ratios, the power levels, the frequency spread. He explained what the previous values were, what I should be looking for in general, in best cases and showed me how what I was getting now was within it. He then asked me to pull up the speed test of my choice and we confirmed I was getting everything I was promised, not just an "up to" fictional value.

I had lousy cabling left over from half a centurty of abuse to an older house. I wasn't being ripped off by the cable company, I just had such a stupid amount of noise very little signal made it through and even less when others jumped on in the evenings and added to the noise.

Yet I'm a coder. I know the web pretty well. I knew tech support would be a terrible waste of time so I didn't call them for months, getting angrier and angrier at the perceived terrible service.

The moral of all of this is: Before you assume malice, incompetence, cheapness, etc., give them a chance to send a tech. You may find the answer's much simpler and doesn't require going to war.

And, yes, I totally recognize I got a tech in a million. I made a point of calling Cox to make damn sure his bosses heard my praise. But the core's still there - it's not always as nefarious as we like to assume.

Comment Two Book Recommendations And A Philosophy (Score 2) 575

The key, as others have said already, is to stop fighting it.

JavaScript, as it was seen five years ago, was just an ugly language with horrible conventions. Then some very smart people looked at how to embrace those conventions and start doing utterly cool things that you can't do in other languages.

Learn from what they've done. Look at the cool tricks you can perform when everything is a hashmap, is an array, is an object. Look at how stupidly easy it becomes to do concepts that are endlessly painful in other languages. Have fun with it.

If you can see JavaScript for what it's become, you can have a huge amount of fun. The same part of your brain that has fun with optical illusions, M.C. Escher and even Jon Carmack's ability to break all the rules set before him to create amazing code that does amazing things, the nerd part that liked the idea of Neo bending reality? Don't fight it, revel in it. JavaScript, as it's become over the last few years, is an amazing playground.

So where do you learn to have fun poking all of those holes in reality? I learned a lot by looking at the uncompressed jQuery code and figuring out how they did things smarter than I knew how. I've also found two great O'Reilly books... Douglas Crockford's (learn that name) JavaScript, The Good Parts and Stoyan Stefanov's JavaScript Patterns.

JavaScript, The Good Parts will give you a really solid understanding of what JavaScript really is, how it can be used for evil (the old assumption) but also a lot about how it can be used for good (what we've all been discovering over the last few years).

JavaScript Patterns is fascinating because Stefanov certainly covers the standard patterns you should already be used to (Factories, Builders, etc.) but then, and this is key, recognizes that JavaScript functions in sufficiently unique ways it's worthy of having its own patterns considered.

Both of those books, plus the jQuery code, will give you a real sense of how it's possible to play in JavaScript's playground. When you're aching for structure again and miss having a compiler tell you you're an idiot and you've done everything wrong... Run it through jslint. JSLint is brutal. It's not there to be your friend. But use it constantly and it'll turn you in to a way better JavaScript coder. Now you get to code fantastic rule breaking whilst still keeping it clean and intelligently structured anyway.

It's not C/C++. But, let yourself think in the new ways JavaScript offers and it's incredibly refreshing.

Comment Correlation != Causation (Score 2) 290

People who most heavily use a phone are the most likely to upgrade.
People who less heavily use a phone care less and don't upgrade as much.

The iPhone 4s has the heavy users who've migrated.
Leaving the iPhone 4 with still fairly heavy users who're stuck in a contract and so it's not quite worth upgrading.
Leaving the iPhone 3Gs users who are the ones who could've upgraded if they cared but their phone works and they don't do much with it anyway so why bother.

So clearly it's the new feature, Siri, on the iPhone 4s and not that heavier users are simply the ones who upgrade.

In other news, the s on the logo uses 20% more bandwidth! Scientists investigating bandwidth savings if only Apple would consider other lower bandwidth letters!

Although, sadly, as most blogs have discovered: Sensational headlines, even if untrue, do get attention. And scientists, even more sadly, are learning that attention, even in place of good science or basic statistical understanding, gets research funding.

Comment Set Top Box != Set Top Ad Server (Score 1) 406

Microsoft seems to be rushing to embrace the set top box world.

Unfortunately, with their latest dashboard release, Microsoft have announced their intention to be a set top ad service with a tiny amount of space in between dedicated to content. When sites are having to post how tos on how to hack your dashboard back to something less offensive, you've gone too far more.

On top of that, they've apparently intentionally degraded video quality for third party providers more.

If you want to be the best set top box, Microsoft's setting the bar very, very low. Just show up*, don't be evil and, simply by default, you'll offer a far more compelling service.

*Note: By showing up, you actually have to show up in reasonable time with a product this time. That whole need to run a DVD from Netflix just to run the software to stream Netflix? That barely counts as showing up. Sure, you fixed it eventually but how many users got used to turning to their 360 instead because you put out such a boneheaded system? Even if it was Netflix's fault, they're a huge plus point for your system - send engineers over there to help them, do whatever it takes, get the core services right.

Comment The TSA Are Not Officers (Score 5, Interesting) 1059

The first thing to remember is the TSA are not officers of the law. This isn't my opinion, this is something making its way thought the senate at the moment:

"Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the lead sponsor of the Stop TSA's Reach in Policy (STRIP) Act, said that TSA has essentially allowed its airport screeners to play dress-up by giving them metal badges and police-like uniforms in recent years. But she said many airport screeners have no "officer" qualifications, and should have this title removed." source

They've had the ability to abuse rights, previously, because they've had you in confined situations where you've already had certain rights removed. The two most obvious examples being:

You'd like to get on that plane you've already paid a lot of money to travel on? Then, whether you like what we're doing or not, you have to pass through us to get to it. Plus, you've already entered in to a secure screening area. Declining our searches and simply choosing to leave means you violate the security protections and are subject to a $10,000 fine.

You're not on US soil. Until you've passed through customs, you're in magical land where we deny you're actually on US soil and as such have zero consititutional rights. We'd like your phone and laptop to take a copy of all data on it? You have no fourth amendment here, hand it over.

Yes, it's true that the government has basically torn up the constitution in the last few weeks. They can no detain anyone, forgeign or American, indefinitiely, without access to a lawyer, without charging them, without judicial review, just because they say that they're a terrorist threat. They do have a safeguard however: once a year, you're allowed to ask them if they'd like to keep doing it.

The thing is, big brother as that is, it's massively overkill for someone politely telling a TSA goon that the fourth amendment does still apply on the streets of the US and, unless they can provide a legitimate reason for your search and seizure, you will be polite but you will not comply with unreasonable requests from minimally trained screeners who, by the senate's own definition, don't have the qualifications or training to call themselves legitimate officers. If they disappeared every politely spoken person who passively resisted, their jails would rapidly fill and every news channel would run sensational headlines about it. The street goons are going to try to hype their authority a little, they'll most likely call a police officer over to back them up who does have a little more legitimate authority, but you're not going to end up in a secret prison.

So, my take? Stay very polite. Don't get heated. Don't get angry. Simply express that you recognize they are not law enforcement officers, they are essentially an extra type of security guard at this location and that you are happy to comply with reasonable requests that any other security guard makes. If they make unreasonable requests, you will simply leave that location. (If it's a venue, leave, write the management company about how their new security made for a hostile environment and how you'll be encouraging friends not to return until better training or their replacement is arranged - if it's a subway entrance, walk the extra couple of blocks and, again, contact the transportation authority and government to tell them how you were happy to abide by legal requests but their overstepping should not be allowed.)

Politeness, walking away, then slowly burying the decision makers with the weight of the bad decisions usually works far better than shouting and screaming, overstepping in to something you can legitimately get arrested for, then just making their point for them.

Also... The more people politely passively resisting, the harder the abuses become to maintain. I just spent the last week flying. At every scanner, I requested a pat down and was very polite about it. I also pointed out to everyone else in line that the scanner only has a 1:30,000,000 risk of killing you from cancer but terrorists only have a 1:60,000,000 risk of killing you on your flight so the TSA doubles your risk of death in order to save you. It really starts overloading them when everyone wants a pat down.

Comment The Law's Not On Your Side. Are Your Skillz? (Score 1) 848

Legally...

IANAL etc. but I do see pretty similar happening all the time...

Are you using ideas and concepts you learned at that place of employment? Are you developing software specific to their environment? It sounds a lot like it. If so, they've got a pretty good case that you're using the benefit of their privileged information in order to develop this product and thus, yes, they have a pretty good claim on it.

Also, be careful what you say in massively public stories on very public websites. You say, "The entire source was developed on personal equipment off company hours." You also write, "I have a lot of down time." I'd say, "Which one is it?" but it doesn't matter. You've now publicly said the latter. Even if you meant it in terms of, "I have a lot of down time at home," you didn't say that when announcing it to the world. In a court filing, they'll present it nicely out of context as a clear admission on your part that you used downtime they were paying you for.

You've given enough ammunition, if an employer is sue happy, for them to drag you through the courts long enough to bankrupt you. At the point you can't pay a lawyer to defend another round of investigation and have to settle, they own the idea anyway. Don't make the mistake of thinking courts are about the person in the right winning: most business vs. small individual stuff is about them running up your legal bills until you can't fight back. You will lose.

Pay Grade And Leet Skillz...

If your skills are that wonderful and you can genuinely charge for them at a higher pay grade, why aren't you? If you can do so, leave, collect that higher pay grade, fulfill your belief in people "not getting something for nothing." At the very least, an offer in writing from somewhere else may serve as leverage for your getting the pay grade you clearly feel entitled to.

Unless, of course, you're not that good. Don't worry: a lot of people can do basic enough hacking of code that they can get something sort of working if there are low expectations for it. They make great personal tools but it's also not the level someone'll pay you for as they expect it to work properly, all the time, with all the features they can think of and not just the easy ones. If that's the case, you're not going to get that pay grade you deserve elsewhere and that should tell you something about how much you genuinely deserve it where you are. If that is the case, you're at best going to deliver them some nice hacky tools and you're probably already being compensated for that kind of development. Not stating this is your level, you may well be capable of the former option. But it's always worth taking an honest self assesment before getting entitlement complexes.

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