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Comment Re:I stopped Win 7 updates long ago (Score 1) 275

I also stopped after the first few Win 7 service packs - everything's running great. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. They got all the major stuff ironed out early. I have not had a crash or a problem in many years.

This is fine for a home user who runs with noscript and adblock plus and is very careful in general with security. I wouldn't try to force that paradigm on my family or anyone not a serious computer enthusiast, however.

Comment Mostly junk... (Score 3, Informative) 83

I played with and also searched for various titles. Mostly it is endless demo scene disks, demo versions of games and many of them don't work properly. The ones that do load play sound erratically, the emulator timing ramps up and down like a record with variable speed playback.

There were some really amazing games on the Amiga, and you're not going to get the sense of what it was like here. No Psygnosis games, and I couldn't get even the Turrican Demo to work properly. Plus no options that I can see for scanline emulation, the line doubling looks pretty bad and doesn't present what it actually looked like on a CRT monitor.

The fascinating thing which is hard to realize now is that when games like "Shadow of the Beast" came out in 1986, the PC / DOS crowd was still largely on 16 color CGA with no sound beyond beeps and clicks unless you bought an expensive add on sound card like a Turtle beach. The Macintosh was just discovering color. We were enjoying arcade quality graphics and sound as far back as the Amiga 1,000 thanks to a set of discreet graphics and sound chips. (Paula, Agnes, Denise etc.) It was heady times and a great time to be an Amiga user, from the mid-80s till the early 90s.

Comment Shouldn't a good ad-blocker be undetectable? (Score 2) 534

A good ad-blocker should let the page think it is being rendered exactly as requested, but actually removing the display of the ads to the user.

What manner of Javascript trickery or feedback loops do large site owners use to try to get around that?

It seems like the paradigm needs to be a sort of sandbox for the page and its anti-adblocker scripting, and then the page is delivered to the user sans ads completely unknowingly to the page.

I guess the one thing Facebook could do to make it very hard to remove the ads is to make them look exactly like a user post. you would need a sort of fingerprinting as another poster mentioned to get around it.

Comment IMDB etc. (Score 1) 136

Aahh. and look how fast that page loads, devoid of all the needless crap we pile on now.

I don't have a grey beard (it wasn't THAT long ago and I was young) but I do remember downloading the entire IMDB as a file and parsing it with a reader. They would post periodic updates.

I was also the designer of the original set of icon buttons for web version of IMDB, which were made on my Amiga. Good times.


Comment What's the use? (Score 2) 44

What good does extra speed do when there are very low data caps, at least here in the US?

Right now the typical account gievs you 1 - 3 GB per month. Pretty easy to burn though in no time watching a few videos.

Their new account tier 'adjustments' announced a few days ago change nothing.

If higher speeds are to be useful, and mobile streaming is to be useful, they need to do away with the data caps again. Right now we're starting to see a very non-neutrality focusd solution where certain companies streaming services are exempt from the data count. This is a problem when the little indie streaming station I want to listen to is not included. Listener supported indie radio outlets like and Radio Paradise are left out in the cold, shutting out diversity. I can't listen to them in my car, only at home.

Many people feel that data caps are strictly a business decision, and not a technical issue. Which means that there is not enough competition in the cellular wireless sphere. The barrier to entry in this market is very high so it's not surprising.

Comment A nuanced problem (Score 1) 126

This is an interesting issue because it's become so complex. To browse privately and still allow a website to function has become a difficult prospect.

You want each website to work, but you don't want any cookies or other data from one site to be able to be read by another. So individually sandboxed pages and cookies are the idea. Even if you block third party tracking cookies, other sites might be looking for cookies set by other discreet sites, not just cookies from tracking firms. The problem is so many sites use third party services for photo and sometimes entire article syndication that it's very difficult to tear everything apart. It's almost a case by case basis.

The worst offenders are news sites. Browsing with noscript, the list of third party URLs sometimes scrolls off the page. It can be difficult to pick through the content and find the correct one to enable an embedded video to play, for example.

For now I browse with noscript and adblock plus and occasionally private windows, but noscript is not an option for anything but serious enthusiasts who are willing to pick through all the trash to get what they want.

Browsing without an ad blocker and noscript on most sites is like sex without protection. You might be looking on that one day when a mainstream ad network has become infected with malware, and oops, you're fucked! I'm not against advertising but how you can trust any of it when so many ad networks have been compromised in the past, repeatedly?

Comment Re:HomeSeer (Score 1) 183

I second Homeseer as the local server of choice that will work with a variety of PLC (power line carrier devices) such as Insteon products (more modern X-10 equivalent) and security systems, thermostats. etc.

It's extremely powerful as you can do pretty much anything with the scripting language, or just stay within the confines of the UI and make some very flexible ladder logic and timed events.

To access the system remotely, open a port on your firewall for it and use a dynamic DNS service to make sure you have consistent access to it. That's all.

I ran a Homeseer setup with Insteon light switches and outlets about 10 years ago and even then it was pretty neat. Haven't gotten back into it lately, just hasn't been a priority for me.

Also it looks like Insteon themselves have started to make UI control for mobile devices, don't know if it talks to a central server but I imagine it does because aunt prudence isn't gonna know anything about port forwarding.

Comment Re:Winamp (Score 4, Informative) 267

Winamp supports playlists that are separate from the files themselves. You can drag songs into a playlist and save that playlist as a .M3U text-based file, which is a widely recognized format.

In any case you know where all your data is and it's not wrapped up in a bloated, proprietary interface.

It's easy to edit a playlist to remove songs you're bored with, rearrange it, save multiple versions. It does not allow for behavior such as "play me all the music I haven't heard in a while" but I tend to know my collection well enough that I know what I want to hear. For those of us who grew up with album based music we already have it organized in our heads that way. I realize that this is now old school, but it's what's comfortable for me. I am guessing that this method of organizing music will die out with my generation.

In the garage I use a 15 year old throwaway laptop just to play music, and it works very well running Winamp's very light footprint.

Comment Re:Winamp (Score 4, Insightful) 267

I continue to use Winamp to this day. I like organizing my music files directly as files and folders. I never understood the attraction of a piece of software that slurped in all your music haphazardly and piled it all together trying to rely on ID3 information to sort it out. Easy enough to create playlists in Winamp via drag and drop.

In my car I use a thumbdrive organized by folders, navigated with the car's entertainment unit. Fortunately most manufacturers are still supporting this method.

Comment Re:Bah - they're just plugins, and no Linux. (Score 1) 52

Yes these are plugins for popular photo editors such as Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. The plugins were originally targeted at the professional photographer market. Pretty much all of us use at least one of those applications.

Most photo editing these days is done in nondestructive RAW mode in Aperture or Lightroom, and photoshop is now only touched when more precise editing tools are needed to fix a localized problem or paint out a telephone line (for non-editorial images.) So it's nice to have the plugins available directly in LR or Aperture.

GIMP still has some serious shortcomings when applied to a professional workflow, so it was never really on the radar for this market, and why plugins like this do not typically support GIMP.

Comment speaking to computers is annoying (Score 5, Insightful) 50

There's nothing more annoying than speaking trite phrases to a machine as if it were a human. Especially if you're an introvert. You just want to type it or a push a button.

I never use voice anything, and I have it on my phone and in my car. I tried the car thing the first few days I had it and it felt so stupid talking to the thing and it was so slow I wanted to punch it.

The worst is voice based tree menus on corporate voice jail systems. Please let me punch numbers.

Comment A common argument (Score 2) 265

That's a common argument used against ANY human activity by zero growth advocates and radical environmentalists. Just pick an activity and make something up. (lets not have backup cameras because it will allow the elderly and disabled to drive more, which will lead to a tiny amount of increased pollution, nevermind the lives it saves)

By using that argument you are demeaning all of the people that the post admits would benefit the most, such as the elderly, disabled, the most vulnerable of our population.

The idea of arguing against something because it is easier to use therefore more people will use it is mind boggling. The vast majority of road pollution today comes from semi trucks. Modern cars are incredibly clean and efficient compared to their counterparts 30 and 40 years ago. By comparison they emit almost no pollution at all. You're debating over a small percentage of a small percentage that's not even worth worrying about on any scale. Also, having automated car services will lead to less cars on the road overall.

Comment A teacher's opinion (Score 3, Interesting) 107

After my previous post I went and talked to my teacher wife directly about this. She said at the age level that she teaches (first and second grade) it would be a really bad idea. They are just then learning their directions and compass directions and changing the perspective would make it very confusing.

Also, she pointed out that some, but not all of the lessons use compass directions, North South East and West. Switching East and West on them when they are just learning about them is not an age-appropriate thing to do, their brains are not ready for that yet. You and I get that concept easily but at that age it's not there yet. She did say that the programs are an excellent and applied way for kids to learn compass directions.

The interesting thing however is that if you DID want to teach it, the tools are there. One of the first things that they learn to do is to define the function of the direction buttons in the GUI when making interactive games. You could wire them in reverse. But there's no way that she would be doing that with her grade level.

This is a concept that should be saved for and given as a lesson for the older kids using the more advanced classes that are programming directly in javascript.

I'd like to hear from more actual teachers who are actually using with their kids.

Comment "screen" left and right works just fine. (Score 2) 107

Some have mentioned the idea of "stage" left and right. Coming from a theater and television background I can relate to this, but it is unnecessary in this application.

My wife just got her entire school to do the hour of code. She teaches a 1st and 2nd grade combo class. Adding the difficulty of character-centric directions from the get-go would make it more difficult for some first and second graders to do this, that is a concept that can come later. A few of her students breezed through the entire first lesson set, most can just grasp all the concepts, and some need a little more help but always succeed. (they work in teams, trading off keyboard/mouse time, and that works best for kids of their age.) and it teaches an amazing wealth of concepts even without having to deal with third party perspective direction.

It would be a good concept to switch it up on a much later lesson and specifically talk about the difference between screen direction and character perspective direction. They did not 'get it wrong' for the basic lessons in any way shape or form.

This is much ado about nothing. The hour of code and offerings are amazing as they are. They are giving kids a big boost in fundamental concepts they would not normally learn or at least in an applied manner until much later. It makes learning fun. Unlike most technology oriented education programs, this one actually is useful and works. When first and second graders go home and explain to their parents what an algorithm is and how they use one that's a pretty awesome thing.

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