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Comment Railroad switches managed by PDP-11 (Score 1) 620

A few years back I did some consulting for one of the big cargo train companies. They had a big mission control type room with maps of all the tracks they manage, with lights indicating switch status and train positions and so forth. The actual switches were managed by a bunch of racks full of PDP-11s running RSX-11, equipped with digital I/O boards linked to the switch motors and sensor relays out in the field. The computer room was amazing, immaculately clean and completely free of static, with air cleaners that popped periodically when they caught a piece of dust. I asked them why they still used those, seeing as there are much more modern computers capable of doing the exact same job, and they replied that they just didn't have faith that new machines would be as reliable.

Comment Who cares, you can just turn them off. (Score 1) 531

Tiles are nothing new; I immediately found them annoying and have always turned them off. These new "sponsored" tiles will only appear on the existing tiles page, which can still be turned off:

When you first launch Firefox, a message on the new tab page informs you what tiles are (with a link to a support page about how sponsored tiles work), promises that the feature abides by the Mozilla Privacy Policy, and reminds you that you can simply turn tiles off. If you do turn them off, you’ll get a blank new tab page and will avoid Firefox’s ads completely, including these upcoming suggested tiles.

So, it really doesn't matter.

Comment Re:Cat and mouse... (Score 1) 437

In a world of physical media, there was at least some plausibility to the notion of export restrictions and region coding.

I'm not sure how it ever made sense. Back in the '00s, I bought a $30 region-hackable DVD player from Sam's Club just to watch "They Live". The reason being, I could either buy the out of print Region 1 version from a third-party seller on Amazon for $150, or the in-print Region 2 version from for $5. I probably could have downloaded it from somewhere, but I was willing to throw a few dollars at it to have a legitimate copy (and I liked the idea of a region free player in any case). But hey, the studio made money, Sam's made money, and some Chinese DVD maker made money. Now, with region-locked streaming, they've managed to make it completely impossible to legitimately stream certain movies, so nobody makes money. I guess that's progress?

Comment Dual Monitors and Decent Keyboard (Score 1) 312

I hate typing on laptops. Unless I am working at a customer site, I plug my laptop into the network and use it as a file server, and do my actual work on a workstation. I use two 24" ViewSonic monitors running at 1920x1080, and a Filco Majestouch 2 keyboard. I have almost the exact same setup in my home office as I do at work; the difference is that at home I use a keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches that are super loud, while work I use the version with Cherry MX Brown switches that don't have the loud "click" so it won't bother my office mate. $150 may seem excessive for a keyboard, but I've had them for several years and they're the best productivity investment I ever made.

Comment Eleven years of gaming evolution? (Score 4, Insightful) 102

I just checked out the video from HuskyStarcraft, and I guess I must be missing something. Aside from the DRM that forces you to be online to play, and the fact that they censor your character names, how is this an improvement over Diablo 2? It looks like exactly the same game, just at a higher resolution.

Way back in the WoW beta, I remember fantasizing about Blizzard making a Diablo III using some of WoW's technology. By which I meant the best of both worlds, a game that looks and plays like WoW but set in the darker Diablo universe with single player and LAN play. Instead, we get basically the worst of both worlds, a dated look and feel saddled with unnecessary online requirements. Next.

Comment Congratulations, you've been trolled. (Score 1) 380

This is an obviously fake site. Do a whois on and you'll see that it was registered two weeks ago by a Georgia Tech graduate student named Tarandeep Gill. Further, you'll find that the majority of the content on the site was copied verbatim from, which is apparently a "real" psychometric evaluation firm. Even the "about us" page features the same profile pictures, but with some of the names and credentials changed.

But it sure was funny watching y'all pat yourselves on the back about how smart you are.

Comment Re:Get ready to read another.... (Score 2) 377

GM offered him $1million for it, with the explicit promise that they'd sweep it under the rug and never develop it further... being ethical, my grandfather told them to stuff it, and ended up never selling the design.

This is obviously not true. Car companies have no vested interest in reducing fuel economy. In 1984 GM was struggling to meet consumer demand for the big, comfortable cars Americans want, while also meeting ever-stricter emissions and fuel economy rules. Since GM really didn't know how to make cars that were both small and good, they were stuck with a stable of large, underpowered cars and small, unpopular ones, and losing market share every year. A technology like you describe would have allowed them to leapfrog the problem altogether; instead of sweeping the technology under the rug, they would have bought the exclusive rights and dominated the market.

Now, maybe if you claimed your grandfather had tried to sell it to Exxon, it might be more credible.

Comment Inside the System (Score 1) 661

The rule is not that you can't bring a weapon aboard an airplane, it's that you can't take a weapon through security and into the gate area. The reason should be obvious: if different rules applied to passengers on different types of airplanes, then a person flying on e.g. a private jet could bring a weapon through security and hand it to someone who is flying on a commercial airliner. I'm sure some airports keep general aviation isolated from the airlines, but as the article states, "The airport doesn’t have separate boarding arrangements for private-jet users". So whether or not Jobs was really involved in such an incident, all of this outrage is silly.

PlayStation (Games)

Sony May Charge For PlayStation Network 212

In an interview with IGN, Sony's VP of marketing, Peter Dille, responded to a question about the PlayStation Network by saying that the company is considering charging for the service. He said, "It's been our philosophy not to charge for it from launch up until now, but Kaz recently went on the record as saying that's something we're looking at. I can confirm that as well. That's something that we're actively thinking about. What's the best way to approach that if we were to do that? You know, no announcements at this point in time, but it's something we're thinking about." This follows news of a customer survey from last month that listed possibilities for subscription-based PSN features.

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