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Comment Re:WTF (Score 3, Interesting) 187

Also, this is just a more advanced variation of a project included with the original Lego Mindstorms kit.

This kind of thing goes back WAY further than that.

I've got a book from the mid-80's with a whole lot of C64 robotics projects in it, which features a lego pen plotter. The paper handling is more convenient - that project was a drum plotter - but otherwise, it's a variation on that basic design. In some ways it's both a step up and a step down from that project - this rasterizes everything, whereas the old C64 project could draw non-jaggy lines in any direction.

I'd say the paper handling alone makes it a step up from the C64 project in terms of convenience and usability, though. Plus, any advancements over the Mindstorms project make it worthy of attention IMHO - it's great that we can all learn from other tinkerers.

Comment Re:Gee, didn't someone get lynched for saying that (Score 1) 310

Interesting thought, just for comparison I did some research: it seems the PS2 has sold around twice as many as the Wii. I am not sure when the PS2 sales started slowing down, but there is definitely room for more Wii sales.

The PS2 has also been out for a lot longer than the Wii, with some super-low prices towards the end that were cheap enough to entice the late-adopters and the "I want to play $PS2ONLYTITLE - guess I'd better get one of those too" gamers.

It's also been chippable and able to take a hard drive rom loader for a lot longer than the Wii has. Hey... I wonder how much THAT has to do with the fact that Wii owners are only buying two titles a year?

Comment Re:Australia and Debit Cards (Score 1) 511

Interestingly, in Australia, Westpac has made a cynical grab for their share of the merchant fees by FORCING customers (like me) to have Debit Mastercards instead of regular ATM cards - they won't admit it, of course, but a free additional revenue stream for them has to be a huge attraction. My response, since they wouldn't let me keep my non-MC card, is to not use Mastercard side of it at all. What benefit does it give me? Nothing - it can take a few days for mastercard transactions to be properly reflected in the balance, unlike EFTPOS transations which are just about instantaneous, and I rely on that balance as a sanity-check for how much I have left in any particular week... plus I'm not the only one with access to that account, so unaccounted-for pending transactions could cause some embarrassment.

They make a huge deal out of how there's no limit to the number of Mastercard transactions per month, unlike EFTPOS ones, and cite it as a customer benefit. Their marketing drivel that came with the card stated how wonderful this was for the consumer, letting you use your money how and when you like with fewer fees (they helpfully neglect to mention that the merchant has to pay for the privilege of accepting Mastercard). They tried to avoid the subject of how somebody with the 16 digits on the front and three of those on the back could reach into my account without a PIN from the other side of the world, and wouldn't give me a plain ATM card instead - saying that it was done "because most customers want them", and they couldn't reverse it once the card had been converted over. Fuckers. Should have taken it to the Banking Ombudsman, but I just couldn't be bothered at the time.

I refuse to use it on-line or use the Mastercard facility; that's what the credit card and Paypal are for.

Comment Actually... (Score 1) 334

...if I found myself suffering from methanol poisoning, and I had a bottle of vanilla essence or a tube of hand cleaner close by, I'd probably mix it with a cup of water and squirt it up there just after calling the ambulance. I believe intravenous alcohol solutions are used in hospital to treat methanol poisoning, but rectal administration is about the best I think anyone could manage safely by themselves with ordinary household items.

....FSVO "manage safely", of course. It's also somewhat disturbing that I can come up with a valid reason for a self-administered alcohol enema.


Steampunk Con Mixes In More Maker Fun 50

California has once again been blessed with another steampunk convention, this time to be held in Emeryville, CA on March 12-14 as the "Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition." This year's event promises to mix in much more of the DIY/maker flavor for a greater hands-on feel. Steampunk has been gaining much broader appeal in recent months with the continued growth of maker communities, and the many delightful varieties of music and literature. The con will feature, among other things, a 2 day track of 2-hour how-to, hands-on, and interactive workshops gear towards makers, DIY-ers, mad scientists, and evil geniuses. Of course, if you are an evil genius you probably don't need a workshop except as a gathering for potential test subjects.

Apple Patches Massive Holes In OS X 246

Trailrunner7 writes with this snippet from ThreatPost: "Apple's first Mac OS X security update for 2010 is out, providing cover for at least 12 serious vulnerabilities. The update, rated critical, plugs security holes that could lead to code execution vulnerabilities if a Mac user is tricked into opening audio files or surfing to a rigged Web site." Hit the link for a list of the highlights among these fixes.

FreeNAS Switching From FreeBSD To Debian Linux 206

dnaumov writes "FreeNAS, a popular, free NAS solution, is moving away from using FreeBSD as its underlying core OS and switching to Debian Linux. Version 0.8 of FreeNAS as well as all further releases are going to be based on Linux, while the FreeBSD-based 0.7 branch of FreeNAS is going into maintenance-only mode, according to main developer Volker Theile. A discussion about the switch, including comments from the developers, can be found on the FreeNAS SourceForge discussion forum. Some users applaud the change, which promises improved hardware compatibility, while others voice concerns regarding the future of their existing setups and lack of ZFS support in Linux."

Comment Re:Why I Quit GIMP After 2 Minutes (Score 1) 900

Note how both MS Paint and Photoshop are way MORE straightforward in this operation, and yet avoid sarcasm in their tutorials.

I hadn't seen that one before. I found it vaguely amusing, in a "Let's watch the spotty 15-year-old telling his parents that they're idiots" kind of way. And don't get me started on Doug Engelbart and Bill English actually coming up with the first mouse in about 1963 (and "Get Off My Lawn!")

I don't see the problem as the non-obvious way that GIMP goes about it, so much as the quality of the documentation. It tells me exactly what I need to know to accomplish the task and acquire new skills, and a little levity something I appreciate even in technical documentation, but this seems too condescending and is not the kind of thing I would expect to see in commercial documentation. The "lusers are idiots" implications have no place in modern high-quality end-user documentation, although as someone who has had personal experience of the "Where's the ANY key" phenomenon I can vouch for the fact that sometimes assumptions about how much the user knows can be dangerous. And perhaps, in a world where the left-shift and right-shift keys are treated differently by some software, mention that GIMP uses both in the same way is of some use...

That documentation is also seven years old, and dates from a time when the software had a VERY limited target audience; it may well have been intended as a first-approximation, a placeholder for something better that would come later (and yeah, anyone who's coded ANYTHING serious, EVER, for someone else will understand how crufty crap you aren't proud of becomes production and then mission-critical because it's "good enough" for most purposes, and the same thing can clearly happen with documentation). I understand that getting people to write documentation is hard, getting them to do it right is even harder, and that in an environment where everything is done by volunteers you sometimes need to either do it yourself or accept whatever someone else is prepared to do, but it's time for a refresh of the documentation to bring its quality in line with that of the software.

Comment Re:name change (Score 1) 900

You think this is much better than being compared to a physically handicapped person? Face it, neither the pejorative term or the plastic string is a particularly positive linguistic association. I'm not implying that unfortunate linguistic associations are a good reason not to use a particular program, but I just don't see how you could spin this acronym to sound positive.

imp-free or impfree

Image manipulation and processing, for free (freedom AND beer)

Software that's free from troublesome supernatural entities, or at least the minor ones...

Image manipulation and processing, free from the unfortunate linguistic baggage that has plagued the project.

I respectfully submit to the community imp-free or impfree as possible names for a "branding fork"; now we just need to get the developers to take a look at what was done with Firefox et al in Debian, and perhaps what CentOS have done with the RedHat sources, for a couple of hints about what could be done to facilitate this. "The GIMP" was a great in-joke when it was a homebrew-but-crippled Photoshop-wannabe, used only by the people who wrote it, but let's face it - branding is important. If this was a commecial product, and the name had negative connotations in particular markets, they'd change it as part of the localisation.

I believe Mitsubishi re-named a particular series of four-wheel-drive vehicles for Portugese-speaking markets because driving something that loosely translates to "Wanker" was unpopular for some reason, although I can't think of any particular software examples off the top of my head.

Comment Re:I was recently wondering... (Score 2, Interesting) 231

See, i remember the 3c509's well - that's all they would support at my university (no generic isa NE2000 cards allowed in 1996...)

$ORKPLACE (a university) mandated the 3c509 because we apparantly had lots of problems getting Banyan Vines to work properly through generic NE2000 clones. When PCI came along we moved to the 905. Then we went Netware, and the on-board Intel and Tulip chips got really good, and separate NICs became an un-needed extra cost for most applications here - I could easily believe the same thing happened elsewhere, too. A couple of years ago I fished about 20 new-in-box 3c509b's from a skip; don't know what I'll use them for but they were just too good to let go into landfill, I'll probably wait until supplies dry up and eBay the suckers to the desperate if I can't find anything else to do with them.

The 905's were good - I may have one or two various revisions lying around - they always seemed to work with every OS I would ever throw at them.

They're lovely. I've got a whole stack of various revisions of them too, mostly pulled from computer carcasses because they were too good to throw away, and they're great as second or third or fourth interfaces in machines that need them.

Comment Re:Shameful, how? (Score 1) 586

there's no reason to take nude pictures of your kids running around or taking a bath. That kind of voyeurism is sick and extreme.

It isnt' done out of voyeurism, you sick fuck. Parents do it because they want pictures of their kids. The fact that kids are sometimes nude is just a natural, normal part of life.

I wonder if AC's rebuff to arekusu was posted AC out of fear for being labelled sick and extreme by a society that doesn't see any nudity as appropriate?
I don't have any nude photos of my kids, but I'll pose a question. Lots of people in the 1940s and 1950s had naked photographs taken on bearskin rugs by professional photographers - so why are their children being prosecuted for dropping off rolls of film containing a shot or two of their grandchildren playing under the sprinklers? If the test is whether some weirdo somewhere could jack off to it, I'm sure there are people out there who get their jollies imagining all sorts of things about pictures of three year olds with lollypops - and if we invoke the Quantum Fetish Theory, we probably shouldn't have any photographs of anyone under 18 at all. There's a line that has to be drawn somewhere, but I don't know if anyone can say for sure just where that should be without appearing foolish or perverted to someone else.

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