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Comment User Interface and Complexity might be a factor (Score 1) 155

Let me start with a little history which will bore you, then I'll get to the idea.

I'm smack in the middle of Gen X. When I was growing up, we had a remote with volume, power and channel control on it. We had a regular TV, but there was no such thing as a DVR. Video tape recorders were out by the time I was in high school, but there were lots of jokes about how it took an engineer to figure out how to program one. Makes my wonder why I followed the career path I am on.

"Fast Forward to" (Gen X) "Skip to" (Gen Y+) current times.

I now have two daughters. Both have nice smart phones. We also have a 4k Smart TV with an Apple TV and a Cable DVR. I have no problems using any of the devices, but grumble about how the DVR programmers must have never heard about global variables.

Here are some other observations:

The interface on the Cisco DVR is poor. My youngest daughter (8th grade honors math when she should be in 5th grade, but skipped a year) has figured out the interface, but hates using it because it's "stupid." She prefers using the Apple TV and has mastered the art of changing the Input on the Smart TV to it.

My oldest Daughter (all honors courses too) took a while to figure out the way to switch the smart TV input (2 different remotes) to the Apple TV (one mediocre touch pad remote plus a Bluetooth Keyboard.)

My wife... Magna Cum Laude at UofA and now a 2nd grade teacher... lost it when the Tivo came out.

All three of them watch videos a lot. All of them use their smartphones. Seldom do my daughters use the TV.

I wouldn't call it even a Hypothesis, but it seems like the era of the big screen TV at home is waning. Perhaps if TV's and content were tied together as cleanly as shown on the TV show "The Expanse," then things would be different. I understand why content companies want to keep full control over their work, and why electronics companies want exclusivity which makes working with other devices harder, but we have a lot of work to do to keep large TV's and content made for them relevant.


Comment Walmart pays the lowest price, but charges... (Score 1) 467

No doubt about it, Walmart IT is sophisticated. I've heard stories about how they monitor weather and when hurricane is approaching, fill shelves with extra beer and pop-tarts. Oh, and at a higher price too in stores more likely to have people around who will stock up and ride it out.

Walmart always pays low prices. It's part of their game. They dominate the low-end retail sector and prevent brands from selling to that market unless they cut prices and quality to match Walmart's demands. If the brands don't play, Walmart gives cheaper ones better shelve space and then returns unsold inventory tot he manufacturer for a refund.

They are like any other retailer in that they charge what the market will bear.

Example: Walk in to the TV section. In the hallway before it, you will see many cheap and/or refurbished TV's. As you walk in, you will see better ones at a slightly higher price. Walk further and they have their best sets at full retail. Did they pay full wholesale? Probably not.

As I see it, Walmart isn't a destination. It's what happens at 2am when you are done partying and need to buy something to eat.

Comment Re:Critical thinking (Score 1) 281

Thank You! This is a perfect example of why we should teach critical thinking. is a site that uses strong-arm tactics to sell you stuff. In sales parlance, it finds the fear, then offers a DVD to make you feel better. I'd call it a trap for those under the spell of a strong selection bias. In reality, it's nothing more than a scary scam site that is trying to foist off its wares to unaware passers by.

Comment Critical thinking (Score 3, Interesting) 281

I'm one of those *few* parents who had a child that was allergic and could not be vaccinated against one of the more virulent diseases. Fortunately, when she was older she outgrew that allergy and is now current on all her vaccinations. As a parent, sending my daughter to school where others CHOSE to not vaccinate their children thereby risking exposing mine to something nasty was a hard thing to do. I felt like I was living in the dark ages where being a part of any group could be anywhere from bad to a death sentence.

We might say that the parents who decide not to do the right thing are simply "dumb," or, as I called them, "*(!^*(&^!*%**'s." Time has taught me otherwise. In the US and elsewhere, many people aren't taught or don't remember basic scientific method. They have no idea what the difference is between doubting what they have been told, and actually engaging in critical, productive, thinking. STEM is important, but perhaps we should require those who can't handle it to take something more akin to STEM lite. Barring that, penalties for parents who refuse to take care of *OTHER PEOPLES CHILDREN* shouldn't be frowned upon. IMHO.

Comment Another Reason - Profit (Score 1) 310

I recently had a memory issue in an Apple MacBook Pro that was manufactured in early 2014. Before I brought it to the Apple Store, I removed the SSD, wiped it in a different computer, then put it back. The Apple "Genius" (Who didn't even go to College, and of course didn't have an Engineering degree) looked at me funny and, in an extremely over friendly way, made it subtly clear that people just don't do that with Apple products.

Apple charged more than $650.00 for a new logic board with installation. A single ram chip, new and in low quantity is a few dollars.

If it were a PC and used standard RAM, it would have cost less than $50.00 to replace all the memory and that would have been that.

Third party companies aren't provided the utilities to accurately figure out which chip is bad and needs replacement. Some specialist Apple repair shops can do the job, but that's totally without Apple's support. It also takes time to ship the computer there, have it fixed, and get it back.

Next time I'll just bite the bullet, send the computer to Louis Rossman and be done with it.


Comment Jobs vs Cook (Score 1) 328

Steve Jobs = Imagine what the user actually wants.
Tim Cook = Imagine what the user actually wants to look like.

There is always a balance between form and function.
You cannot choose one over the other.

Anodizing an under-powered micro laptop in pretty colors is cool, but pointless.
Anodizing a bleeding edge micro laptop with features (think more than size) that no other has (in pretty colors) is cool and to the point.

The value I expect to receive for my dollar is much more than what I see, it's what's under the hood that lets me work more efficiently and make that dollar work for me.

Remember the old adage: Looks Fade.


Comment How about how "fake news" applies to the US? (Score 1) 143

Politics and Parties aside:

The right to free speech comes great responsibility.

The heavy-handed approach that China is taking to the "fake news" problem is fundamentally different than ours. What works for them cannot work for us. In the US, we have a long history of protected speech and we would not be where we are now if we didn't. We are a country of people from all parts of the world. Free speech is a fundamental tool we use to find common ground.

Obnoxious and repugnant forms of speech are protected -- for good reason -- in the United States. The purpose of free speech is to promote alternative view points and guarantee our liberty through discourse. That said, there are forms of speech that can be used to cause harm to others.

In the case United States v. Schenck (1919), Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes used the concept that shouting "Fire" in a theater was not protected speech. Incitement to commit criminal acts, obscenity, and a few other very specific things are also not considered as protected speech.

Now, to the point, freedom of the press is also guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. It specifically codifies the right to publish without government restriction and subject only to the laws of libel, sedation, obscenity, and so on. Again, these laws are in place to guarantee our liberty.

Based on the summary above, I have a question:

All else equal, is a "fake news" article protected if it contains false information designed to scare or panic people into reading it for the purpose of profiting the writer?

Submission + - Security Fatigue Is Real – We Need Usable Security (

Orome1 writes: A preliminary study involving 40 computer users of different ages, occupations, and living in different settings has shown what most of use already know to be true: security fatigue is a real thing. Security fatigue – weariness from dealing with computer security as well as reluctance to do so – leads to risky computing behavior such as avoiding security decisions altogether and going with the easiest option, failure to follow security rules, and so on. It also carries with it a sense of dread and, ultimately, resignation.

Submission + - Google releases open source 'Cartographer' (

BrianFagioli writes: Machine learning and vision are essential technologies for the advancement of robotics. When sensors come together, they can enable a computer or robot to collect data and images in real-time. A good example of this technology in real-world use is the latest Roomba vacuums. As the robot cleans your dirty floor, it is using sensors combined with a camera to map your home. Today, Google releases Cartographer — an open source project that developers can use for many things, such as robots and self-driving cars.

Comment Umm... Idea: (Score 1) 127

Ceti Alpha V!

(Sorry, just being a geek...)

In reality, I think it's cool that they are going to give names to a few.

In the end, it seems it will wind up to be like trying to assign dns to every possible address in IPv6.

Nice to think about, makes things seem much more in scale, but it's always going to be less than a drop in the oceans.

Comment CTRL-History Cool things happen all the time! (Score 1) 521

...but no we have automobile correct on our spilling.

Ok, seriously, what we are seeing is just another incremental step in mass-computing. One of the many millions of cool things that have happened since the beginning of computing.

Years ago (Pre-Fidonet), one of the almost daily "Big Things" was that you could actually have a "Disk Operating System" where you didn't have to type call -151, then c600g to actually load a program. No Play on Tape. Just turn the computer on. It was cool.

If we go further back, no punch cards (before my time), and no acoustic couplers (also before my time). Must've been cool!

Still, management tools aside, if only there was a switch/router operating system that maintained automatic revisions at the command-line.

Comment That one's an oldie but goodie. (Score 1) 265

Some minor problems:
In general: laptop speakers and microphones are optimized for recording and producing sounds the human ear can detect. Lousy for networking.
Laptop speakers and microphones are also not calibrated with a high degree of precision.
You would need access to the boot loader which would have to come from a different "virus" or at the factory -- in which case, you already "own" the computer.

Decent anti-virus software and a reasonable security policy.
Tin Foil lined Laptop Bag.


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