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Comment BBB, Attorney General's Office (Score 1) 526

When I was having issues with my Alienware and their support stopped being helpful, I contacted the Better Business Bureau and the Florida Attorney General's Office (where Alienware was based at the time, not sure if they'd been fully acquired by Dell at the time). Soon thereafter I received a call to arrange for a 'please don't sue us' replacement laptop that worked fine for years after.

Comment Use the instructions once (Score 2) 425

I always put the set together the way the instructions say once. It's a good way to see what techniques they use for certain things (building trees with some of the recent sets, for example). After a while it gets recycled back into the bins of Lego to be reused. I'll often buy a set specifically because it has new pieces or minifigs I want. When I was a kid, I'd often start with one of the spaceship or boat sets and just keep adding pieces. Ended up turning a tugboat into a 4' long freighter once. :)

Comment MS OneNote (Score 5, Interesting) 364

If you're on Windows, Microsoft OneNote is fantastic. You can drag in other files as printouts, then write on them. The text of the printouts is searchable. The individual note pages can be organized in numerous ways (I have tab groups for semester, tabs for classes, then subtabs for each lecture). It can record and transcribe notes, does handwriting conversion, allows writing using a mouse or tablet pen (I use it on a ThinkPad Tablet PC, which makes it even handier).

With a tablet PC, I've used it to write mathematical and chemical formulas directly in my notes, or highlight parts of diagrams from lecture notes or even just dragged from websites (or cut with the snipping tool; with OneNote installed, you can use windows-S as a shortcut key to the snipping tool and past things into your document). You can also export your notes as PDFs.

OneNote has been remarkably useful in undergrad and now in grad school. I highly recommend it. I'm always kind of boggled that MS doesn't market it better; it just sort of 'comes with' Office and they don't really advertise that well.

Comment Re:Only a threat in multiple computer households (Score 1) 352

I have an X220. It's great. I use it to take notes in my classes and in my tabletop RPGs with MS OneNote. I love being able to cut-and-paste arbitrary segments from the screen (windows-S if you have OneNote installed), paste them into my notes, then type notes and markup the graphics with the pen. It was especially handy for my Molecular Cell Biology class (being able to mark what's relevant on a gel or slide is nice).

Comment Re:thinkpad iPad. (Score 1) 425

The current Lenovo tablet PC (X220) senses the proximity of the pen to the screen and disables the touchpad automatically, so resting your wrist on the screen will no longer mess things up (my previous tablet had that problem and I just disabled the touchscreen altogether). With an i7 in it, mine has no appreciable input lag when I'm writing. The screen's a nice size, so you can get a lot onto it. I use MS OneNote, which can also convert your handwriting to text (and does a pretty good job of it that I've found). I mostly type my notes into OneNote, then past in graphics or use the pen to draw on the screen when I need to put in a formula or chemical structure (I'm working on a Master's in Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology, so math and biology need a bit of freeform input).

Comment Tablet PC works well for me (Score 1) 425

I'm in graduate school and I picked up a Lenovo X220 Tablet PC (to replace my previous Gateway tablet PC, which performed admirably for many years). It gets about 6 hours of battery time with the larger battery, the pen input is great and includes pressure sensitivity, and I love Microsoft OneNote for taking notes. The professor gives us PDFs with the slides, and I can either drag the PDF into the app and insert it as a printout so I can take notes directly on it, or I can use the snipping tool that comes with Windows 7 to cut out sections of the slide and paste into the notepad (which makes for better flow than inserting as a printout, but can be time-consuming in class when I'm quickly cutting something out and pasting it in while the instructor is talking).

The Almighty Buck

EA Flip-Flops On Battlefield: Heroes Pricing, Fans Angry 221

An anonymous reader writes "Ben Kuchera from Ars Technica is reporting that EA/DICE has substantially changed the game model of Battlefield: Heroes, increasing the cost of weapons in Valor Points (the in-game currency that you earn by playing) to levels that even hardcore players cannot afford, and making them available in BattleFunds (the in-game currency that you buy with real money). Other consumables in the game, such as bandages to heal the players, suffered the same fate, turning the game into a subscription or pay-to-play model if players want to remain competitive. This goes against the creators' earlier stated objectives of not providing combat advantage to paying customers. Ben Cousins, from EA/DICE, argued, 'We also frankly wanted to make buying Battlefunds more appealing. We have wages to pay here in the Heroes team and in order to keep a team large enough to make new free content like maps and other game features we need to increase the amount of BF that people buy. Battlefield Heroes is a business at the end of the day and for a company like EA who recently laid off 16% of their workforce, we need to keep an eye on the accounts and make sure we are doing our bit for the company.' The official forums discussion thread is full of angry responses from upset users, who feel this change is a betrayal of the original stated objectives of the game."

Canadian Blood Services Promotes Pseudoscience 219

trianglecat writes "The not-for-profit agency Canadian Blood Services has a section of their website based on the Japanese cultural belief of ketsueki-gata, which claims that a person's blood group determines or predicts their personality type. Disappointing for a self-proclaimed 'science-based' organization. The Ottawa Skeptics, based in the nation's capital, appear to be taking some action."

Comment Re:Define ad, though. . . (Score 1) 352

Dunno if they're still doing it, but CoH had real ads for a while (which could be disabled in the options if you wanted) mixed in amongst their usual assortment of fake billboards. Not sure if all of them were themed this way, but seeing billboards for a T-Mobile Sidekick in a superhero world was actually pretty amusing. :) As long as the ads actually 'fit in' with the world, I really don't mind.

Comment BBB (Score 2, Informative) 505

I've had good luck reporting companies to the Better Business Bureau if their customer service is highly uncooperative. I was receiving unsolicited credit card offers from Citi, even though I'd signed up for the permanent do-not-sell list. Their customer service couldn't tell me who sold them my information, but after talking to the BBB, I got a call from someone higher up who let me know Equifax had sold it to them.

I had much worse issues with Alienware, whose customer service was atrocious. I eventually had to go to both the BBB and the Florida Attorney General's office, but they finally swapped out my lemon of a laptop for a new one.


English DJ Claims Wi-Fi Allergy 515

path0$ writes "British Ex-DJ Steve Miller claims that his Wi-Fi allergy is making his life one big misery , forcing him to live in an iron-clad home far from any neighbors. According to the article, more and more people are suffering from an allergy like his. The only positive side to this is that at least Miller didn't think of suing anybody yet, like these people did, who claim to suffer from the same condition and were mentioned in a Slashdot article in 2008."

Comment Re:firewall, fdisk, or just wait it out... (Score 1) 811

I think it boils down to what you do other than playing games. If the only answer is 'eat and sleep', then there could be a problem. I definitely had a problem. I just managed to turn it to my advantage after it had completely ruined all of my plans. I ended up doing something I'm good at, and pays well, but about which I'm not particularly passionate.

Comment Re:firewall, fdisk, or just wait it out... (Score 1) 811

Still figuring out the 'what to do with my degree' part. ;) There are so many different subdisciplines in Biology that picking one to pursue a graduate degree in is proving complicated. I've also picked up a mortgage in the meantime, and paying that on a grad student stipend (~22k a year, about a quarter my last salary) is just not possible. I finished the degree while still working my programming job, so I just stayed at that job until the office closed September of last year.

I had wiz-access on about a dozen MUSHes at one point. Drove me nuts. But it gave me enough experience that I was able to call it 'customer service' and 'administration' and get a tech support job. After a year or so of that, I applied for an opening in our R&D department as a buildmaster and got it. Worked on my C and Perl skills there. After some consolidation, I ended up in QA, then lost my job there when they sold the company.

Got a QA job at my next company, where I ended up writing and maintaining our test tools. That office got closed, moved on to my next QA gig at another company. A year there and I requested a transfer into development and got it, and was there for ~4 years before the office closed (there's a trend there :).

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