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Comment Use of Caps Lock key (Score 5, Informative) 968

For modern web-based applications, you are correct that there is little or no reason for the Caps Lock key.

But for the MILLIONS of people whose job requires them to use antiquated legacy systems, it is often essential.

The largely character-based systems used for accounting, order entry, invoicing, and other core functions are often accessed through terminal emulation software or first generation client-server software. These systems often have a great number of "lookup" codes for everything from SKU to client numbers that fail when using lower case. Those still using first generation client-server software are especially inconvenienced as some of these programs have no option to remap the keyboard.

The sheer volume and costs of re-engineering these systems mean that they will be with us for years to come, no matter how ugly and inefficient when compared to modern systems.

(Well, you did ask.)

Submission + - Ask /.: Overseas short term ISP & cell sources

managerialslime writes: Web and cell phone recommendations for international travelers?

I support employees and customers who infrequently travel outside of the United States for both work and pleasure for one to three weeks at a time.

The destinations can be almost any country in the world.

Invariably, they need my staff to find them (a) rental of a "mi-fi" like device so they can get web access for their laptops, iPads, Android, and iPod Touch devices (without onerous surcharges), and (b ) find them short-term cell phone rentals where the per-minute rates won't empty their wallets.

In the last year alone, countries involved included Nicaragua, China, Chile, Finland, and Russia. A trip to India is pending.

I feel like every time someone plans a trip, we need to start over looking for rental vendors.

Is there a web site that keeps travelers up to date on web and cell phone options for short-term trips?

Sites like do a great job of keeping travelers up to date on hotel cleanliness and transportation, but I have yet to find a site to help with voice and data communications for travelers.

(If you don't know of such a site, how about just advice for India?)


Comment OO more important than some know... (Score 2, Interesting) 589

I use OO as a file-conversion utility (but never for anything else), and was originally dismissive of the amount of attention this thread generated. Over the years, I have supported companies large and small. If you include my direct reports, I have supported thousands of users. Maybe twice in that time have I run into (or heard of) anyone who disclosed that they use OO at home or work.

So I did a little Googling and was amazed to find that multiple sources ". . . estimated that market share of Open Office amounts to 7% for office use and 20% for home use."


If accurate, this makes OO a larger threat to Microsoft than Google as each copy of OO represents a bigger threat to one of Microsoft's three significant streams of profitable revenue (Office, Windows, and Xbox) than anything offered up thus far by Google.

That this "underground" success has happened despite distro companies from Redhat to Ubuntu failing to develop marketing campaigns to bring OO to greater public attention means the opportunity for greater success for OO may still lay before us.

Right now, iPad and Android users are adopting non-MS office apps by the thousands. Perhaps forks like Libre Office will rejuvenate efforts to finally bring a cross-platform (Windows, MAC OS, MAC IOS, Android, and Linux) office that will simplify support efforts.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Best practice or inspiration for presenting forms and tabular data?

Amazon is bursting with books and Google is bursting with pages on how to make attractive pages using images. But what about those of us who live and breathe textual tabular data? Do our web pages and reports need to be deadly dull? Most of IT is still focused on data (as opposed to charts, graphs, pictures, and video). Whether by using easier-to-read colors, fonts, backgrounds, headers or footers, who can refer to a web-site or book that sets the standard for presenting numbers and lette

Comment Can be a usedful course, actually... (Score 1) 118

Stanford University's "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP)" ( ) has an analysis of how literature of Western Civilization has treated the subject of Zombies beginning with Descartes at

If the course in question incorporates this level of discussion in the classes and homework and enable the students to improve their critical thinking and related analytical skills, it really doesn't matter if the "hook" to get students to take the course was the subject of Zombies, slasher flicks, or even a "critical" analysis of the Police Academy movies.

I have one off-spring currently in college studying to be an electrical engineer and can only hope that sometime in the next few years he can take a course that provides that type of "cross subject" context.

Comment Re:how many web 2.0 companies (Score 4, Insightful) 564

Why do ISPs not have the right to run their networks however they want?

If an ISP built their business without special advantages over their competition, your point would be valid. However, in the U.S., most high-speed ISP's successfully lobbied for monopoly or duopoly positions as utilities where competitors were prohibited from stringing their own wires on utility poles and tunnels. In return for this advantage, they agreed to operate as regulated entities.

Perhaps as 4G and other high-speed wireless companies come to market, there will be more competition and those original companies can then lobby for removal of the regulatory environment. Until then, we will hear a lot of screaming from both sides.

The Internet

The Puzzle of Japanese Web Design 242

I'm Not There (1956) writes "Jeffrey Zeldman brings up the interesting issue of the paradox between Japan's strong cultural preference for simplicity in design, contrasted with the complexity of Japanese websites. The post invites you to study several sites, each more crowded than the last. 'It is odd that in Japan, land of world-leading minimalism in the traditional arts and design, Web users and skilled Web design practitioners believe more is more.'"

What US Health Care Needs 584

Medical doctor and writer Atul Gawande gave the commencement address recently at Stanford's School of Medicine. In it he lays out very precisely and in a nonpartisan way what is wrong with the institution of medical care in the US — why it is both so expensive and so ineffective at delivering quality care uniformly across the board. "Half a century ago, medicine was neither costly nor effective. Since then, however, science has... enumerated and identified... more than 13,600 diagnoses — 13,600 different ways our bodies can fail. And for each one we've discovered beneficial remedies... But those remedies now include more than six thousand drugs and four thousand medical and surgical procedures. Our job in medicine is to make sure that all of this capability is deployed, town by town, in the right way at the right time, without harm or waste of resources, for every person alive. And we're struggling. There is no industry in the world with 13,600 different service lines to deliver. ... And then there is the frightening federal debt we will face. By 2025, we will owe more money than our economy produces. One side says war spending is the problem, the other says it's the economic bailout plan. But take both away and you've made almost no difference. Our deficit problem — far and away — is the soaring and seemingly unstoppable cost of health care. ... Like politics, all medicine is local. Medicine requires the successful function of systems — of people and of technologies. Among our most profound difficulties is making them work together. If I want to give my patients the best care possible, not only must I do a good job, but a whole collection of diverse components must somehow mesh effectively. ... This will take science. It will take art. It will take innovation. It will take ambition. And it will take humility. But the fantastic thing is: This is what you get to do."

Timberwolf (a.k.a. Firefox) Alpha 1 For AmigaOS 152

An anonymous reader writes "We're happy to announce the availability of the first alpha release of Timberwolf, the AmigaOS port of the popular Firefox browser. Timberwolf needs AmigaOS 4.1 Update 2 installed. Please read the documentation for information about usage and limitations. This is an alpha release, meaning it will have a lot of problems still, and be slower than it should be. We are releasing it as a small 'Thank you' to all those that have donated in the past to show that development is still going on. Timberwolf is available on For further information and feedback, check the Timberwolf support forum on"

Submission + - Court rejects FCC rules on Internet (

managerialslime writes: U.S. appeals court on Tuesday struck down rules that restrict Comcast Corp. from dictating how customers can use its Internet network.

In a 3-0 vote, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacked the statutory authority to set and enforce such rules.

The decision could reignite a simmering debate in Congress over whether new laws are needed to guarantee "Net Neutrality" — the right of Internet customers to use the Web for almost any purpose they want.

The lawsuit stems from several incidents in 2007 in which Comcast blocked some subscribers from sharing large video and audio files over the Internet in what are known as peer-to-peer transactions.

Comment What reads serial these days? (Score 1) 325

Mind you, what are you going to put at the other end - what reads serial, these days? I guess the port is still there on ATX motherboards, so it probably still works!

Assuming you dump twice and compare the output, lack of error checking should not be a problem.

With regard to do the transfer to a newer system, sells a 25-pin Serial-to-USB cable (

Have fun!

Comment Not so fast (Score 1) 430

The first argument in favor of CFLs is that their total environmental impact (energy used plus manufacturing costs) are more favorable than incandescent bulbs. Maybe that is true in your home, but doubtful in mine. While most CFL packaging claim they should last 4 to 8 years with regular use, they seem to last less than year in my home in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

While the power fluctuations here might be above average, my 3 televisions, 5 monitors, 3 desktops, 4 laptops, Xbox, Wii, and Playstation have not had shortened lifespans that I can recall.

With regard to your assumption that I am buying inferior product, I am buying the popular name brands offered by my Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears. If you are saying that the consumer needs to go online an search out some industrial-strength superior product, I volley back and say that CFLs are "not ready for primer time" in many parts of the US.

As an example, I have 5 "high hat" lights in my living room. Three are "dimmable" CFL flood lights rated for both indoor and outdoor use. As my control, I left two lights as incandescent. I replaced all five lights in January of 2009. All 5 lights failed and required replacement before Halloween.

I have other mixtures of CFL and incandescent lights in many rooms and outdoors as well. The only uniform observation that I have is that there is not a single month of the year that I am not required to change a CFL in my home.

As a result, I doubt if my switch to CFL has had any positive impact on the environment.

Comment No excuse for lazy programmers (Score 2, Interesting) 1051

With ads - without ads - what a waste of argument when geeks could instead debate an interesting arms race.

The ad-blocking technologies work because the ads themselves are easily identified by the source web site as different from the main web page. A small change in architecture would allow ads to be funneled through the main presenting web page server and integrated with the main web site in real-time.

Current versions of Ad-block plus and No-script would then be rendered useless for the purpose of ad-blocking.

What the opposing side would then need to do is develop databases of ads, analyze screens and then repaint screens with blank space where the ads where.

No wait! The ad presenters would then need to problematically vary every ad as appearing to be unique.

No wait! The blockers could then use Bayesian logic to detect areas of presentation close enough to ads to be suppresses anyway.

Whole new levels point-counter-point spy-vs.-spy program evolution!

Whole new discussions, trolls, and flame-wars about the nuances of why one approach is SO MUCH BETTER at blocking (or overcoming blocking).

That would be the, SourceForge, and Mozilla Add-on communities I have come to know and love.


Comment Solution: Install monitoring s/w (Score 1) 951

Some of my users are either overwhelmed with multiple distractions or uncomfortable with technology or both. In any case, my team is responsible for figuring out what triggered error conditions and getting them fixed regardless of user cooperation or contribution.

When users do not give detailed and accurate information about an error condition and what they were doing prior to the error condition, there are some creative options available.

The download site has any number of screen monitoring products (i.e e-Surveiller, The Best Keylogger, Shadow Keylogger, Local Keylogger Pro, etc.) for recording and monitoring PC activity. These products not only record keystrokes, but also provide screenshots and/or video.

For my users, I always let them know before installing such software and let them know that any performance impact will only be until we identify the error conditions and the activities that triggered the error conditions. (We also notified all employees in the employee handbook that we do this and also have the employees re-sign their understanding of this every year.)

By using these tools, we can reduce problem-solving time and associated user frustration.

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