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Comment It improves your Klout(tm) (Score 1) 120

XKCD 1057.

So are you saying that fake Twitter followers increase your Google page rank? How does Google connect a Twitter user to a web page? I can see how posting a link to your website and having lots of people click on it is potentially useful, but I don't see how having a bunch of fake robotic followers clicking on the links you tweet about does anything other than look suspicious to Google. And maybe I'm cynical, but I don't see how anybody can sell "getting real people to be interested in the stuff you Tweet and pay actual attention to it" for fractional pennies per human follower.

Comment Guns generate hype faster for 3D Print than CNC (Score 1) 333

If you're a 3D-printing company, and you need to get your name in the press, making Yet Another Plastic Head of Cory Doctorow just isn't going to do the job, even if you 3D-print the googles and red cape all in one pass. The first 3D-printed gun was mostly done to make a political point (certainly not to be a useful gun.) This one's probably a lot better manufacturing, and that's going to generate some technical hype and possible demand for printing other metal things that previously had to be made using more traditional technologies (like low-cost CNC milling machines :-) but it's the fact that guns get lots of people to freak out that gets their name in the press. (And even if you don't remember their name, if you're looking to get something made of metal that's a similar complexity, you'll probably remember that it can be 3D-printed now and Google will find them for you.)

Comment Missing Crapware on Android Tablet - Outlook Sync (Score 1) 201

I've got an older HTC Android phone with lots of crapware, and a Coby Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablet with almost none. The HTC phone includes one really important feature that's not included in the extremely vanilla Coby, which is syncing the calendar and contacts with MS Outlook over USB. There are some non-free apps that claim to be able to sync the calendar (haven't tried them), and a couple of freewares (one couldn't connect successfully; the other is a "limited to 20 events" demo that worked very well once.)

Yes, I can sync my tablet calendar with Google Calendar and theoretically sync my work calendar with Google Calendar also. But I don't want Google messing with all my data and metadata, and I don't think work really wants me to sync calendar entries titled "Name of Secret Program" with "SecretProgram.ppt" and "SecretProgramRequirements.doc" attachments. I just want to export an iCal calendar and have Android's calendar app import it.

Comment Get up early if you want (Score 2) 462

Set the clock so high noon is at 12:00 for somewhere in the middle of your time zone and don't mess with the clocks.

If you like to get up in the morning, get up in the morning. If you want to get up early while pretending you didn't, hide the screen on your alarm clock and get up anyway, or set a timer so your bedroom lights come on the morning before your alarm. Don't go telling the rest of us to change our clocks just because you're a wimp about getting up in the morning.

At least now that DST is over I don't have to start my East-Coast-Morning phone calls in the dark this week.

Comment Music vs. Noise-cancel vs. Telephone Headsets (Score 1) 262

For phone calls, I need either a headset or speakerphone, and when I'm at an office with other people or lab with noisy hardware, or working at home and my wife's around, the speakerphone's impractical. I used to be on the phone for an average of 2-3 hours a day; with my current work it's usually a bit less, but there's still a lot.
  And switching between different kinds of headsets is annoying, so I usually don't bother.

Noise-cancelling headsets are nice if I'm not going to talk to people much. The Bose set I have is good enough that I can actually talk to people with them on, but it looks weird to them so I usually don't.

For some kinds of work I can listen to music, but it mostly has to be instrumental, not anything with lyrics; programming's too verbal to have other verbal distractions. And sometimes with spacier music (some jazz, or Grateful Dead instrumentals), I'll occasionally notice that I've floated off into the music instead of concentrating on work.

For mostly-physical jobs like cabling or especially driving, I really want radio or music to keep the monkey-mind busy so I can concentrate.

Comment Idiot selling product, governments like tracking (Score 1) 658

This Bad Idea has been floating around for a few years. Some idiots built a product and have been aggressively lobbying governments to take them up on it, and even though governments really like being able to do big brother tracking of everywhere everybody drives, they still haven't bought it. They've tried selling them to Oregon and California, they've tried selling them to San Francisco for congestion pricing for drivers in the crowded downtown business district, they've tried selling them for highway toll collection, they've tried selling them to the Feds. They've tried selling it to states as revenue enhancement ("People buy Priuses which use less gas, so you're collecting less gas tax, so buy our thing instead of just raising the tax rate!") There's always at least one legislator or bureaucrat who likes the idea and tries to convince their fellow legislators or bureaucrats, which is enough for the pushers to put out a press release.

But because these guys really want to sell their product, the good guys have to keep squashing it. It's usually not hard, because it's a terribly unworkable idea, but the Big Brotherness of it is really obnoxious, and as far as I can tell, wasn't even the purpose of this system.

Comment "Free Market" == "Demo your working code for us!" (Score 1) 143

Dude, it is a free market, for most people in the world; if you're a draftee into some army that only uses X.400 email, or your country only allows unencrypted SMTP to pass through their Great Firewall, then I'm sorry, and I can recommend some good anti-censorship tools for you, which you can get from a guy named Bennett Hasleton.

But otherwise, you're free to use tools other than SMTP/POP/IMAP/Webmail, and we'll be happy to see your running code and give you opinions about whether you'll get rough consensus from anybody else about using it.

Comment Text-only mail is your friend (Score 1) 143

Yes, it's nice to be able to receive images from people who are actually your friends, not spammers, and who don't overdo sending annoyingly cutesy images (e.g. that cousin who forwards stuff to everybody.)

But being an old guy doesn't just mean that I want you to send text email and stay off my lawn, it also means I want to set the font I use to read email with so it's easy for me to read, instead of having you pick a font that you think looks great to you on your screen, because I need a font that's big enough and dark enough to read easily, and if I'm reading mail on a phone instead of a full-sized screen, I *really* want to have my choice of font size, not yours, and while maybe you think Comic Sans is cute or <BLINK>want to send your Halloween party announcement in a blood-red font that's bleeding down the page</BLINK>, I'd much rather be able to read what you wrote.

And because I'm an old cranky security guy, I really really don't want my email client trying to run your Javascript on my machine, thank you very much, even if all you think you're doing is trying to center the text neatly in ways that might look good on a 24" monitor but utterly fail when I'm reading in an SSH session or on my phone.

<href="https://nsa.gov\/web-bug.js\">Not the Web Bug You're Looking For</a>

Comment Everybody who runs mailing lists gets spamblocked (Score 1) 143

I maintain a small announcement list for about 200 mostly highly tech-savvy people. We've been around for 25+ years on a range of different platforms, and are currently using a hosting platform with Linux and mailman (as opposed to the previous home Linux box and majordomo), but we still occasionally get spamblocked. It's text-format mail, no automated verification, and it's possible that some mailbox services are blocking us silently instead of bouncing, but most of the bouncegrams I get these days claim that the recipient's mailbox is full (maybe true, sometimes not), or the usual things you get when somebody moves and their forwarding breaks. Occasionally I get a burst of greymail-grams. The site that seems to do the most silent drops is pobox.com, which is annoying because it's where I do my own mail, so I have to have a couple of duplicate subscriptions of my own just in case it's cranky again.

Comment Images are Web Bugs if senders use them that way (Score 1) 143

If the sender uses an image in the email to bug the recipient, then it's a web bug. If the sender doesn't keep track of who opens the image, then it's not a web bug.

If the image is 1x1 in the same color as the background, it's pretty much guaranteed that the sender is using it as a web bug, because about the only other thing you can do with images like that is try to tweak kerning or fill in a table entry that gets misaligned if you don't, or something like that.

Twitter's web page constantly tells me it thinks I'm not receiving its emails correctly, and offers to send me more test emails, because they're using web bugs, and I use an email client that shows me email as text, not as HTML, and they so thoroughly assume that everybody uses buggable web mail that they don't even include a URL link saying "Please click this in a browser to confirm we got your email correct." And the banner on their web page that offers to send me a test email doesn't have a choice for "Yes, I'm receiving it just fine, stop whining." Idiots.

Comment Metal IS why TSA started making us take shoes off (Score 1) 218

If you were paying attention back when the TSA started telling people to take their shoes off, it wasn't because of the Shoe Bomber incident, which hadn't happened yet. It was because a lot of mens' shoes have metal shanks in them and were setting off the metal detectors, and they didn't want the lines getting held up sending people back to run their shoes through the X-Ray machine.

At first it was a "Please take off your shoes" request, but if you knew you had non-metallic shoes they didn't force you to take them off (I tended to wear Teva sandals, and lots of people in Hawaii wear flipflops, especially inter-island.) Or sometimes they'd yell at you for not doing it, and they really dislike being challenged by anyone, such as being told "If it were actually a TSA rule, it'd be on the sign", which often got me an honest response of "we can take you in the back room and search through all your stuff long enough that you'll miss your flight, so obey orders or we'll do that."

Then a few airports started saying "Everybody must take your shoes off, it's ALWAYS been the rule", because it's easier to have the grunts think it's always been the rule than have them actually have to think or do different things for different people (and realistically, a lot of travellers don't realize they have metal in their shoes, and sometimes there's just a bit of metal like shoelace hole reinforcers in sneakers, so it only sets it off if the metal detectors are turned up high and not if they're set lower.)

Then the shoe-bomber idiot did his thing, and after that the TSA started making everybody take off their shoes, and then they started making videos for people to watch when they're stuck in unreasonably long lines, which dishonestly tell people that the shoe rule was made for our safety.

Comment Metal IS why TSA banned shoes in lines (Score 1) 218

If you were paying attention back when the TSA started telling people to take their shoes off, it wasn't because of the Shoe Bomber incident, which hadn't happened yet. It was because a lot of mens' shoes have metal shanks in them and were setting off the metal detectors, and they didn't want the lines getting held up sending people back to run their shoes through the X-Ray machine.

At first it was a "Please take off your shoes" request, but if you knew you had non-metallic shoes they didn't force you to take them off (I tended to wear Teva sandals, and lots of people in Hawaii wear flipflops, especially inter-island.)

Then a few airports started saying "Everybody must take your shoes off, it's ALWAYS been the rule", because it's easier to have the grunts think it's always been the rule than have them actually have to think or do different things for different people (and realistically, a lot of travellers don't realize they have metal in their shoes, and sometimes there's just a bit of metal like shoelace hole reinforcers in sneakers, so it only sets it off if the metal detectors are turned up high and not if they're set lower.)

Then the shoe-bomber idiot did his thing, and after that the TSA started making everybody take off their shoes, and then they started making videos for people to watch when they're stuck in unreasonably long lines, which dishonestly tell people that the shoe rule was made for our safety.

Comment Most TSA peons are bullies (Score 1) 218

Yes, I've met a few decent people working for the TSA, but the vast majority have been bullies. Whether they started out as bullies who couldn't find better jobs, or who consider the SHOUTING to be one of the benefits, or whether they started out as average people put into confrontational jobs with bullies for supervisors and start bullying people habitually, they're still bullies.

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