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Comment XMPP still supported (Score 4, Informative) 68

From what the email I received from Google says, chatting over XMPP using a client like Pidgin or Adium should continue to work after the GTalk stuff is shut down in Gmail:

Third-party XMPP clients will continue to work with Hangouts for 1-on-1 chats after June 26. XMPP federation with third-party services providers will no longer be supported on June 26.

The talk about federation is referring to using Google Apps on your own domain. They dropped federation years ago for, but I never knew they had kept it for private domains.

Keeping XMPP support at least is fortunate because Hangouts still lacks basic features like buddy lists. No, I don't want my entire list of contacts to me my buddies for hangouts. And yes I do want to see who's actually logged in at the time. Seems like Google isn't really sure what hangouts is. Is it just glorified SMS messaging (IE not necessarily interactive), is it Google voice? Is it Google Chat?

Sadly, Google doesn't seem to care that much about end users. Though I guess it's not surprising since we really are the product, not the customer. Google has done some amazing things that provide incredible conveniences to us, but I'm getting really tired of all the ADD hipsters that seem to have taken over on their development teams. It's getting rather fatiguing to have Google screwing up all the services I actually used (Picasa, GTalk, Google Voice).

Comment Re:Finally, I can switch to Gnome! (Score 1) 114

I know of quite a few people using Surface Pros and they love them. I've even heard of long-time mac users considering moving the Surface Pro. On the tablet, Windows 10 actually works pretty well. I recently bought an el cheap windows 10 tablet to do a bit of development on and it was surprising how usable it was. I still prefer my Android apps, but if you need to use traditional apps like MS office, they work surprisingly well on the tablet.

Comment Yet Global Shipping Program still a rip off (Score 1) 62

This is all great for American customers, but everywhere else they've been foisting the Global Shipping Program scam on us. Rather than let the seller use something economical like USPS to ship to, say, Canada, they pressure sellers to use the Global Shipping Program which gouges the buyers, sometimes by doubling the shipping costs. But, they say, we handle all the import fees and duties. Except that for many products that we typically buy in Canada, there are no duties. USPS packages come right to my door with no additional charges. Because of this problem, I hardly use Ebay anymore. Sometimes I can contact the seller and get them to switch shipping methods, but only if there are no bids from anyone on the item. Also the GSP claims they will package multiple items from the same vendor into one package, saving money. But that's apparently untrue.

Comment Re:With a non-stop stream of (Score 1) 320

Glad to know someone does! Most people I know really don't like the flat white look. It's quite hard on the eyes. I've found a couple of free themes that make things look a lot better. Sadly it's really hard to find good, free themes. A lot of nice ones are from cleodesktop, but they not free. And themes only work on certain builds, due to requiring hacks to the Windows theming dlls.

Comment Re:Why 12.04? (Score 1) 88

Well it was very stable, has a good desktop environment. In fact if I recall it was the last LTS before unity. Of course Mate desktop gives you an upgrade path now that wasn't apparent back when unity was rolled out.

LinuxCNC has been based on Ubuntu 12.04 for years. I have a hunch that Tormach still uses that base distro for their advanced fork of LinuxCNC. Again for the same reasons as above. Stability and lack of change in the underlying system are very important in this space. Not saying they were right to stick with Ubuntu 12.04. Just giving their reasoning.

Comment Price fixing? (Score 0) 49

So if I am the sole manufacturer of a certain product and I set my price at $10, I'm price fixing? If people don't want to pay $10 for my product they'll go elsewhere and buy competing, different products. Price fixing distorts the market, but I don't see that happening here. Not allowing retailers to sell for profits below or beyond what Apple dictates is not illegal either. It's all done on a contractual basis between Apple who supplies the product and the retailers who sell it (essentially for hire).

Comment Drove a car with mobileye camera unit (Score 4, Interesting) 31

Recently I drove a rental car that was equipped with a mobileye vision unit below the rearview mirror and I was quite impressed with it. It was pretty accurate at seeing speed limit signs, even in construction zones. It also was very good at measuring following distances and alerted us when we were coming up on a car (or other obstacle) too fast. Saved us a couple of times in stop and go traffic. Shoulder checked to see if it was safe to change lanes and suddenly got a beep when someone hit the brakes in front of us. Also was fairly good at lane departure warnings.

So I can see how their technology as a driver assistance device is quite useful. Technology is coming along quite nicely. The only problem is that car makers are already putting all of this in their new cars, so the market for these units is small. At the same time, I don't see a lot of money to be made in autonomous cars just yet. Quite a gamble for Intel.

It's very interesting when you consider that Mobileye just sold for $15 billion and they make very little in physical terms, and sell even less. Yet Opel, which does actually make and sell real physical things, sold for $2 billion. Kind of throws cold water on Trump's idea that we can make America great/white again through returning to manufacturing. From an investor's point of view, the money is just not in manufacturing.

Comment This farmer in favor of DST (Score 2, Interesting) 352

I farm and I'm actually in favor of DST, sort of. The reason is, without DST, during the very long summer days, I would have to wake up at 4 am to do herbicide applications (it's calmest around dawn). With DST I can sleep in until 5am. So I'd much rather have it than not have it. It makes a huge difference. Without DST I would just have to go to bed a lot earlier, but to make that effective I'd have to simply go to bed early all the time to condition my body to wake up earlier. That just doesn't work all that well when everyone else is going to bed later.

But I would be in favor of simply having DST year round. The reasoning is that without DST, in the winter, folks usually wake up in the dark and drive to work in the dark, and then by the time they head home from work, it's dark again. With DST, you'd still drive to work in the very dark hours, but at least when you got home from work you'd enjoy a short period of daylight. At least for the northern latitudes.

Comment Re:Start our own farm equipment company (Score 1) 136

Aftermarket GPS guidance is very common. for example, AutoFarm can interface with any color, especially if you install a compatible steering valve block. Other companies like Outback also sell steering solutions for all makes and models. Kind of makes it easier to run multiple colors on one farm when you've just standardized on a third-party GPS solution.

Comment Re:Start our own farm equipment company (Score 2) 136

It's true, and there is a lot less brand loyalty now than there was even a couple of years ago. We regularly see large operators change colors these days. And if you trade off every couple of years, then the repair-ability stuff doesn't even factor into the decision.

But there are other factors to consider too. There's a certain amount of buy in to the GPS guidance and data acquisition technologies each color uses. Each brand has its own set of non-interoperable computer systems.

As for me, these issues are becoming more and more important. I still prefer John Deere machines at present, though, because all other things being equal (IE cost), I just prefer the comfort of the cab and controls of the Deere to the other colors. I prefer the way their auto steer works, and I like the IVT. In the past Deere's quality really was above the rest. That's no longer true, unfortunately. Except for issues of personal preference and comfort (some cabs really are less comfortable), all the colors are about the same these days in terms of quality.

The locked up software really bothers me. But for general repair-ability, at some point it's just a machine, which can be taken apart and understood. Sensors can be tested and replaced. Hydraulic seals can be replaced.

Electronically, probably the best we can hope for is to route around the damage. If they don't want to let me control hydraulics over the Canbus, I can always interface with the control in a more analog manner. If I want to do my own auto steering system, I can always replace the steering valve with one that's easy to work with.

Comment Might bring about some standardization finally (Score 4, Insightful) 193

ARM has been an interesting platform of late, but a lot less useful than it could be. Proprietary bootloaders, custom hardware trees, all work against it. No ARM device that I know of can run a stock, off-the-shelf Linux distro with a fairly stock kernel. Not even the Pi. Maybe if MS starts pushing a Window ARM platform, it might provide impetus to manufacturers to standardize the boot loader and the platform so off-the-shelf OS's can run.

I have a drawer full of various ARM devices that were theoretically really neat and useful but in practice proved to be more trouble than they were worth. For example I have two sheevaplugs but the effort to try to update them from their default ancient ubuntu distro is via tftp and serial port u-boot prompt is just not worth the effort. I got more utility with a cheap Intel NUC, even though it was several times the cost of the plug.

Life is a bit better with the Pi since I can just burn a new SD card and boot on it. Still requires a custom distro and kernel. Repeat for every SBC like the Pine64.

Until things get more standardized, I'm skeptical that ARM will do any serious damage to the Intel hegemony, low power notwithstanding.

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