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Comment Apps are Craps. (Score 1) 84

Hrrmmm.... Don't care about an "app" -- I just want to be able to go to in a real web browser, and quickly manage my streaming queue AND my DVD/bluray queue -- right now, it's a PITA because when you're looking at the disc detail for a title, it won't tell you whether it's available on streaming, which it did for years, but is gone now.

It's annoying to have to load up two tabs, and do a search for the title on both sites to figure out if I need to order the disc or can watch on streaming, especially since the streaming catalog changes all the time. It also used to tell you right in the disc queue if a title was available on streaming. Also gone.

The disc queue is AWFUL now if you have more than a few dozen titles, it takes forever to load and times out with a browser warning half the time before it paints the whole screen. I guess I could purge out a lot of crap I might never watch, but I shouldn't have to. They should be able to write an interface that can quickly and easily display 400 items in a modern browser. Their old interface (2-3 years ago) handled it just fine, and my queue was much bigger then.

I'd cancel the disc feature, but there are a LOT of titles they only have on disc that I'm not interested in buying or paying amazon five bucks to watch.

I bet that netflix figured that the studios would be on board by now with streaming for back-catalog stuff (like what spotify did for back catalog albums), so that the disc rental service could just go away for everything but new releases, but apparently the studios still aren't ready to do that.

The only bright side is that their disc library is still getting new stuff added to it weekly, though they might be losing older stuff faster than they add new ones.

I wish someone could figure out how to offer a service that has every film and tv show ever produced available (in some format, don't care what) -- I'd gladly pay $50/month or even more if it was good, even if it didn't have new releases.

Comment Becky Chambers (Score 1) 338

Becky Chambers "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" and it's sequel, "Closed & Common Orbit" come to mind. They're sci-fi with good plot and intrigue, but without being overly dark and heavy, as is the case with so much sci-fi and fantasy of late...

Comment Re:Pipeline protests make no sense (Score 1) 203

I was actually referring to this part of the wikipedia article (emphasis mine):

According to a report done by The Associated Press, North Dakota had nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in less than two years, all of which went unreported to the public. According to the report, from January 2012 to September 2013, those pipeline spills were only a part of approximately 750 “oil field incidents” involving over four thousand barrels of oil that were spilled without the public’s knowledge.

I don't know what the accident rate for trains and trucks hauling crude is, but If there were more than 150/year in one region of the country, it might have made the news, though I guess since most of the pipeline spills didn't make the news, maybe the trucks and trains that spilled crude didn't either :(

However, I think a major concern with pipelines is that a single leak can produce a much larger spill than an incident with a truck or even a fully loaded train, and that they have a track record that leaves much to be desired. The fact that many of these leaks (in un-populated places) go unreported demonstrates that the operators realize that there's a problem.

I realize that we still need to get our energy from somewhere, but the crux of this particular issue seems (IMO) to be that water safety and common courtesy are being observed for some (the people of Bismark) but not others (the Standing Rock Sioux). Not to mention that the response by militarized police is unjustified and unwarranted.

Comment Re:Pipeline protests make no sense (Score 4, Interesting) 203

... decrease the amount of energy and risk of transporting it via conventional methods..

Only problem is that doesn't seem to be true:

The risk to fresh water supplies is very real. The pipeline has already been rerouted once due to concerns of water supply contamination in the event of a spill for Bismark:

The current route would take it right past the water supply for the reservation. Contrary to information that's circulating, the tribe has been very active in it's opposition to the pipeline being near their water supply since it was proposed to reroute through their land. They most certainly didn't "wait around" just so they could protest. The the objection has nothing to do with "burial grounds" but access to clean drinking water. This is complete and total misinformation.

Pipelines aren't safer, just more profitable. Maybe they _could_ be made safer than truck and train tankers, but my guess is that then they wouldn't be any more profitable.

Comment Verizon is probably going to lose me to Comcast. (Score 1) 104

As much as I don't want to -- after almost 20 years of being on Verizon DSL, I'm going to have to switch to "xfinity".

I can only get ~3Mbit via DSL, due to my distance from the CO, combined with Verizon's aging equipment (circa 1992!) in my semi-rural location. There are people in all directions about 10 miles away from me that have FIOS as an option, which I'd gladly pay more for, but Verizon (in a surprise bit of candor) has told me that we'll "never get" FIOS at our location.

I can pay about the same for 20Mbit cable internet (or a lot more for 50Mbit) but then lose the dry copper pair that I've had forever and that's literally never gone down (we have virtually no cell service at home, so we have to have a landline). The DSL has been nearly 100% as well.

I've been putting off the switch for quite a while, since I'm nervous about being left with no comm at all when there's an (inevitable) outage, but eventually I'll have to bite the bullet and get "xfinity", since I simply don't have any other (affordable) options.

I've looked at voipo for VOIP, since comcast's overpriced "voice" option leaves a lot to be desired. I don't have and don't want premium cable TV. I'd happily pay (a reasonable sum) for local broadcast TV signals over clear QAM cable, since our OTA TV reception isn't great, but they won't sell it to me. I don't want their crappy cable box, when my TV has a perfectly good built-in tuner. Gets my goat, and is half the reason I haven't switched yet.

I wonder how many of those new comcast subscribers are internet-only? I'd guess many of them are verizon refugees in similar situations to myself.

Huh. I didn't even know that AT&T still sold residential internet service.

Comment Voting for candidates should be in person, period. (Score 1) 182

For our "Representative" democracy, as many others are saying, electronic voting simply makes no sense. Too easy for coercion, too hard for identity confirmation, etc.

However, a "teledemocracy" system makes sense in the form of a national referendum, or maybe more like a national conversation about specific issues. It could pull some issues back into the realm of direct democracy. Probably not for everything, and probably not all at once, but having a serious system (unlike previous attempts which were largely ignored by our representatives) that could guide reps and congresspeople more directly than the current system(s) of "polling", which is again, all too-often ignored.

Such a system could be not unlike the one here on slashdot, with moderation, karma, etc., which though perhaps less than ideal, could lead to a system where the American People actually get to set (or at least nudge) the agenda, rather than the status quo, where lobbyists, and power-brokers get to not only set the agenda, but write the legislation.

I'm sure it wouldn't be perfect, any maybe not any better, but it's hard to see how it could be any worse than what we have now.

Comment Re:Solving the problem by ignoring the results. (Score 1) 908

This may fall on deaf ears, but I'll give it a go anyway.

Just because one finds manually-computing equations difficult does not make one dumb.

I was a straight-A student in math right up to Algebra II, after which point my grades suffered -- I went on to get A's again in geometry, trig, and later stats but later again struggled with my advanced Calc classes and struggled terribly in Linear Algebra, to the point where I ended up leaving college after 3.5 years in a computer science program with a 3.0 GPA (only not a 4.0 because my math grades were mediocre at best)

I excelled in all my other courses, and ultimately found a satisfying career as a software developer despite my lack of a degree. I don't regret any of my years in school, but I don't doubt that it would have been an even more rewarding experience if it were possible to tailor the curriculum to my specific interests and talents.

For the most part my difficulties in math all stemmed from my inability to accurately do the algebra *quickly* -- it wasn't that I couldn't do it at all, and in fact I had many epiphanies in math classes while absorbing the concepts being presented -- especially in Linear Algebra -- some of which I find quite useful to this day. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I'm quite sure I could have done better in most, if not all of my math courses simply given twice as much time to complete my exams -- granted I had the motivation that I actually wanted to learn all that stuff. If I had wanted to become an actor or lawyer, for example, I'm sure I wouldn't have bothered to even try.

It's possible that I may have had a different experience all the way through if I had had a different Algebra II teacher (she wasn't bad, but I sometimes had a rough time following her methods) though I think it's more of a thing with the way my brain works.

Am I dumb? I don't think so. I'm a good visual designer, as well as a competent programmer in any language I need to use. I pick up human languages fairly easily, am a decent cook, and have a knack with most machines. I do my own electrical and plumbing work (to code), and am a passable carpenter, welder and machinist.

My personal experiences aside, it's possible to be a frigging *genius* in one field, and yet unable to find even basic competence in another. I'm sure there are many great composers and choreographers (for instance) considered by not only their peers, but by the world at large to be at the top of their professions, that can't solve complex equations. Does that make them dumb too?

You're also discounting social intelligence, and the myriad other forms of intelligence that humans (and some other animals) can possess.

Humans tend to specialize, and even "generalists" like myself are a kind of specialist in a way. The ability to just pick things up and learn practical things quickly is (in my opinion) a form of intelligence. Granted I may be biased, since I seem to have that one.

We (as a society) need to recognize each other's value: simply as fellow human beings, as well as the specific talents we each possess, particularly when they don't conform to the "curricula" that happen to be in vogue at any moment. The talents to care for the sick and elderly, dance exquisitely or counsel the mentally ill (for just a few examples) are all vitally needed -- and to simply label people who have those important skills "dumb" because they can't reach a particular watermark in an academic discipline that they may, or may not actually need, does them, as well as the world at large a huge disservice.

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