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Comment We've lost email convenience (Score 1) 662

We've lost the basic ability to store and process email. Back when we all used terminals connected to one big computer (Unix, etc.), it was clear where your mail lived: in specific files. You could access it from anywhere (via modem), and you could process it with tools (grep, sed, etc.), use "tar" to back it up, encrypt it with PGP, or basically do whatever you wanted with it, effortlessly. It was YOURS.

Nowadays, half your email lives on a remote IMAP server: accessible from anywhere, but inaccessible to your local tools, and if your mail provider ever gets shut down, you could lose it all. The other half lives in local mailboxes on your desktop or laptop, accessible only when you're physically next to the machine. Or worse, if you use two desktops (one at work, the other at home), you might have local mailboxes on each, making it impossible to do a full search of your email. Some people work around this by carrying a thumbdrive and putting all local mail folders on it... but then you have to back up the thumbdrive, etc.

This is why I download all email from my ISP to a Linux machine at home (via fetchmail), access it via OpenSSH, and read it in emacs, or run a local IMAP server. This provides all the benefits of the old "terminals" model. The downside is you have to be a computer wizard to set it up.

Comment Re:Go for it (Score 1) 1065

Google is your friend. You have the name of the scientist. Go check out the papers and read 'em!

As for your claim, "In real life, the majority of people WILL stop talking if they need to concentrate for a busy intersection / dangerous road and if there's an "OH SHIT!" situation, they won't keep holding the phone".... You've missed the point entirely. If you enter an "oh shit" situation while on the phone, you will NOTICE THIS MORE SLOWLY. That is what the research says: your reactions are delayed due to distraction. And then it's too late to drop your phone.

Comment Re:Go for it (Score 4, Informative) 1065

That's a fine opinion, but look at the research. The data don't agree with you. Driving while talking on a cell phone turns out worse than all the things you mention, when actually measured. There seems to be something special about the way the brain handles a phone conversation that impairs the ability to multitask more severely.

Don't take my word for it. Read the research.

Comment Go for it (Score 4, Insightful) 1065

I'd love to see this happen. Just yesterday, I watched the driver in front of me smash his car through a fence into someone's backyard. He'd been on the phone. If someone had been in the way at the time, they'd be dead.

Unfortunately, the same corporate CEO's who make calls in their cars also buy congresspeople, so I think the odds are slim this kind of legislation would pass.

Comment A few simple tools (Score 1) 366

The basics:
  • Finances organized in Quicken
  • Digital photos and music organized in simple folders/directories: photos by date, music by artist & album
  • Computer files (25 years' worth) organized into directories on Linux PC by topic. Nightly cron job does "find ~ -print > ~/ALLFILES" so I can find any filename with a quick grep. Backups to two 2 TB portable drives, swapped monthly into a safety deposit box.
  • Job stuff organized in Outlook Calendar at work... and kept at work. Don't bring the job home at night if you can help it.
  • Social calendar kept by spouse. :-)
  • Truly important stuff kept in safety deposit box.

That's basically it. No "smart phone", no iWhatever gadgets, no portable electronics. I prefer my machines to sit in one place so I can walk away from them.

Comment Not addiction (Score 1) 307

This isn't addiction, any more than watching too much TV is addiction. I've been using the Internet daily for decades but can (and do) walk away from it, completely, for vacations etc., without any difficulty. It's actually nice to get away. Calling something an "addiction" takes away personal responsibility. That's appropriate for truly addictive substances (when you're chemically dependent) but not for sitting on your ass in front of a computer.

Comment "After all..." (Score 1) 609

>"...after all linear algebra is no help when building database driven websites...."

Unless the web site is totally trivial, you definitely want math skills. Any programmer who can't estimate the runtime of an algorithm (say, several interacting, nested loops) doesn't get a place on my project. And combinatorics & graph theory are a very good idea for any interesting web software. And how the heck can you build a data structure of any complexity without understanding how fast you can insert, delete, and find members?

I'm sure there are thousands of mediocre developers who don't think about these issues and just build stuff that seems to work.

Comment Don't lose your files... (Score 5, Informative) 456

No matter which provider you choose, never depend on them for backups. Keep your originals locally and copy them to the webserver. Rsync is a great, effortless tool for this kind of synchronization. If you're maintaining SQL databases on the webserver, back them up at least daily with cron and download the backups. A few simple scripts will work wonders for your protection and your sanity.

Comment Re:Expelled (Score 1) 684

This was clear copying, all the way down to the comments. Literally 100% identical code. There are various ways to proceed in this case, but the parent article's claim (a sufficiently harsh punishment is all you need) isn't one of them.

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