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Submission + - So long, and thanks for all the Twinkies (wsj.com)

bjb writes: According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Hostess Brands is shutting down, firing about 18,000 workers and seeking liquidation. "A victim of changing consumer tastes, high commodity costs and, most importantly, strained labor relations, Hostess ultimately was brought to its knees by a national strike orchestrated by its second-largest union.". Apparently the remaining inventory of breads and cakes will be sold off to big box retailers and the future of the brands will be determined by the highest bidders in the liquidation.

Comment Will you ever go back to teaching school kids? (Score 1) 612

Many years ago I read about how you were dedicating a lot of your time to teaching school kids how to use computers. I was always a fan of yours prior to that, but reading about your work there solidified you as a hero in my book. I think I even sent you an email years ago saying that if you were willing, I'd come out on my own dime to help out for a week (I've always been one of those highly technical people who can actually be patient and teach effectively as well).

Are you ever going to return to this? Sure, I can imagine that kids might not need as much help these days; for those of us who stopped our family VCRs from blinking 12:00, I've always thought that my kids are going to have something similar as they get older with me. But still, do you think you would ever do this again?

Comment Re:Disable it! (Score 1) 198

Actually, the button does work but in most cases is probably disabled.

In an apartment building, most likely the button does function.

In an office building, most likely the button is disabled. Specifically, the button is disabled by the operator switches (usually those fire marshall keys below the buttons) since they do need to control the doors in some situations. On some of the more advanced elevator systems, I think they might work after a period of specified delay (just an observation).

I forget where I read about this, but it was in the same article explaining how most of the cross walk buttons in NYC aren't even hooked up though at one time they were; when the systems were computerized and synchronized with the rest of the grid, the cost of removing the buttons outweighed the small perceived benefit of having people think they're making a difference.

Comment How to reduce the number of mosquitoes (Score 1) 167

<public-service-announcement>
I've seen this so many times it amazes me. Think you have a lot of mosquitoes on your property? I bet you have a lot of stagnant water pools. No, it isn't your neighbors pond because if they have fish, they're eating the pupa. Most likely, it is that bird bath or that wheelbarrow or that childrens see-saw with the foot wells that collect rain water or, as I see almost all the time, that tarp you have over your firewood that has ever so small puddles of water (like half a cup). Those little wiggling specs of dirt? You better believe they're flying tonight!
</public-service-announcement>

Comment Re:Still using Office 2003 (Score 1) 369

Besides file format, the only compelling reason I can think of is greatly improved speed.

Sure, for 95% of the users out there, they'd never notice and think that Office 2003 is fast enough. However, start working with a several hundred page document in Word. Any time you do anything, you'll see that it drags to a crawl.

Next, take a spreadsheet that includes thousands of rows across multiple sheets with references and calculations across them. You'll discover that 2003 was single threaded and can take 20 minutes to calculate a sheet (ever wonder why there is the option to disable automatic calculation?). Introduce Excel 2010 (never tried 2007) and you'll see that it will happily parallelize the problem across all CPUs.

Comment Avoid ear canal sealing buds (Score 1) 448

Though I think the sound quality tends to be awesome, I would suggest avoiding buds that seal your ear canal with a gasket of some sort. For an example, see this picture of what I mean.

Why? Because if you put on your headphones after taking a shower these headphones will seal the moisture in your ear and if you don't keep both your ears AND headphones clean (I mean wiping with alcohol or something), it will create a perfect environment for an ear infection to form. I had two painful ones before I realized it was the headphones and switched to a different design.

It is a shame since you can hear everything beautifully with these kinds of headphones. I've realized it is either buy some cans (read: large whole ear covering kind) or "fits in your ear" type buds (like what comes with an iPod) for the best and least infection prone experience.

Comment Re:mac pro only got a small bump (Score 1) 683

If they're using standard components, then why is the darn thing so expensive? Sure, the Xeon processors gouge your wallet, but the fact that you're supplying your own display should at least put the cost on par with the high spec iMacs.

I have an early 2008 model and I think it is great, but after realizing that the only real upgrading I could do within a reasonable budget was RAM and hard disk (graphics card is price locked for Mac-usable ones), I think I'm fairly relegated to getting an iMac instead next time.

Comment Re:What's With All The RIM Hate? (Score 1) 220

Battery life? half a day if I'm lucky.

I've had a BlackBerry since the 950 "belt clip 2-way pager with a AA battery" (circa 1999). Always from the company, never personal purchase. I've never had a battery that bad. You either have a defective battery or you are killing it with how you're draining or charging it (and this would go for ANY rechargable battery in ANY phone).

I will admit that my current Torch 9810's battery just got replaced at the AT&T warranty shop since it would no longer take a charge after letting it completely drain over 4 days. Device and battery isn't 7 months old. However, I have read on the forums that the F-S1 battery (which I think is only the Torch 9800 and 9810) seems to have had a bad batch or two out there. Funny though, it would hold a charge for 3 days with usage even though they said it was bad.

Usability? It freezes for minutes at a time.

This I won't argue too much with. I've had my 9810 freeze for 20 seconds at times for no reason. Memory management? Heavy garbage collection? No idea. Certainly not as fluid as my iPhone, but minutes? I think you're exaggerating.

Comment Re:Jobs was 10 years too late - "freepc.com" (Score 1) 255

1024*768 was pretty much the standard in 1999. Though a lot of idiots may have ran at 800*600 no one ran at 640 * 480 unless they were still running windows 3.0!

Actually, I knew of people running at 640x480 because "it was easier to read". Tried to show them that if they increased to 800x600 or 1024x768 they could increase the font size, but then your icons got smaller and thus the cycle repeats...

Comment Re:As a former Apple II and C-64 programmer ... (Score 1) 301

True, the revision A board wouldn't work. There was actually a jumper on the Apple Extended 80-column Card that existed because of this (I'm figuring it simply enabled/disabled the feature). However, since this only affected the initial run of motherboards and Apple did offer free upgrades, I left that detail out.

I got my //e in May 1984 and it wasn't a revision A.

Comment Re:As a former Apple II and C-64 programmer ... (Score 1) 301

Back then the Apple II had swappable video cards. Huh? *If* such cards existed they were certainly so rare that hardly anyone had them, a real niche thing. Are you thinking of the 80 column card? It added 64K RAM too but I don't recall this card enhancing graphics. My recollection as a former Apple II, //e, and C-64 programmer is that on the Apple II you had bitmapped graphics and that on the C-64 you also had bitmapped graphics, but it was better, plus specialized hardware support for sprites. The Apple was primitive in comparison.

Actually, the 80 column card on the Apple //e did enhance the graphics capabilities. It added what was referred to as Double-LoRes and Double-HiRes modes.

On the Apple ][ series, there was always Lo-Res graphics that were 40x40 with 16 fixed colors. Good for things like Breakout and used the memory space of the text mode display. Hi-Res originally was 280x192 with 4 colors on revision 0 boards, but updated to 6 unique colors shortly thereafter (we're talking 1977). There were 80 column boards made by various companies back in the day for the Apple ][ series, but they tended to be separate output connectors and non-standard. As well, there was at least one graphics board that used some TMS chips (I think), but I don't recall ever seeing software utilizing it. As well, there were later RGB boards but similar fate, if I remember correctly.

When the Apple //e came out, most people installed 80 column boards in the AUX slot to enable a standard 80 column mode and add an additional 64KB with the "extended" version. The "double modes" were basically taking advantage of bank switching and doubled the horizontal resolution of text (80 cols!), lo-res (now 80x40) and hi-res (now 560x192). Lo-res didn't gain color capability, only resolution. Hi-res, on the other hand, since the original mode was basically an NTSC hack, it allowed the Apple to tweak the colorburst and phasing more to produce 16 colors instead of just the original 6.

So in short, the 80 column card in an Apple //e (and subsequent models) did enhance the graphics, but only for applications which used it. However, unlike other graphics boards that did exist, the double hi-res mode was far more commonly taken advantage of.

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