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Comment Re:What for (Score 2) 118

The only reason that I've been anticipating VLC on Android is for SMB streaming on my Xoom. The 10.1" screen is perfect for watching a flick in bed, so the tiny screen concern kind of evaporates. I have no interest, whatsoever, in configuring transcoding: I just want my device to be able to play videos natively, and across my existing network.

Can someone who's tried the Beta comment on whether it has SMB support? Bonus points if you can tell me whether Tegra 2 seems to be able to play an average 720p H.264 reasonably well.

Comment Re:Pirated and still paid for tickets (Score 1) 663

But your argument is exactly what my comment about Twilight was meant to prove. Most of us, especially on Slashdot, probably consider the Twilight movies to be neither special or unique. It still made a (relative) killing at the box office.

You're absolutely right: There's a market for just about any kind of movie, even if most of us think it's shit. Which is exactly the point I was trying to get across by highlighting Twilight, and contradicts the GP's point about "Unique + Special = Profit". A movie doesn't need to be either to be considered a success. A success, as far as Hollywood is concerned, is a profitable movie.

It's no coincidence that all of those God awful parody movies made by Friedberg/Seltzer (Epic Movie, Date Movie, Scary Movies) kept being made. They were universally panned by critics, and were the exact opposite of unique and special. They only kept churning them out because there's an audience for them... at least a large enough one to make them profitable.

Comment Re:Haven't had bad luck lately... (Score 4, Insightful) 513

One of the primary reasons that Best Buy tries to push their extended warranties so hard is because the margin on PC sales are extremely slim. The stores barely make a profit at all off of the sale of a computer, now more than ever. The only decent profit margins are on the higher end gaming computers, or Apple.

When I worked at Best Buy ('99), it was during the emergence of the "e-Machine". If you don't remember those, they were ultra cheap computers ($300 - $700 at a time when the average desktop price was still around $1k). They packed the computers with adware and useless garbage in order to sell at a low price. They also usually had an underpowered processor (usually a Pentium Celeron). We, employees, were told that the store didn't make any money on these computers, so selling add-ons (warranties, MSN subscriptions) were vital. I actually believe them on this point. The problem is, nobody wants to pay a few hundred dollars for a warranty on a $300 computer.

To compound problems, a good slice of our customer base was parents and grandmothers who only want to casually browse the Internet and occasionally e-mail their children/grandchildren. It's nearly impossible to tell these people that they should spend $900 instead of the $300 and be able to sleep at night with a good conscience. So, we found ourselves in a position where we'd sell the cheaper computers with a near impossible warranty attachment rate.

It's even worse these days. You can easily find a great computer for under $500 (without the adware) that will satisfy nearly all consumers needs. The PC gamer enthusiast already builds his own PC's or knows where to buy them online, and does. As the profit margins on computers shrinks even more, the need to attach add-ons increases. Balancing that with customer satisfaction quickly becomes an impossible task. I do agree, though, that it would be smart for Best Buy to offer premium brand computers though it's simply not what most retail consumers are looking for (I think they mostly do "built to order" kiosks for those... at least, they used to).

Comment Re:Haven't had bad luck lately... (Score 5, Informative) 513

Best Buy is strictly non-commissioned. I worked there for a year when I was in high school at a store opening, and they made sure that the first thing we said to shoppers, with exuberant pride, was "Just so you know, everybody at Best Buy is not working on commission so we're only going to sell you what you need and never what you don't!". What we didn't say, which is actually the truth, is "... but we do need to give you the hard sell on product service plans (fancy words for extended warranties) or we'll get fired, and that guy hovering over there is our manager who is only listening to how well we can sell one to you". If you worked in the home theater department (I was in PC home/office), add high margin cabling to that.

Those of us who weren't naive knew we were being screwed. The only reward for pushing these products was job security and it's all so we could emphatically tell customers a lie: that we wouldn't try to sell them things they don't need.

This was 13 years ago, too... back when Best Buy was a much better place. I'm sure it's only gotten worse in recent years.

Comment Re:Best Buy stores? You mean.... (Score 1) 407

1. Time is money. The time I would spend writing down the information I need to make the purchase at home, then finding it on the web, making sure it's the same product, entering my information to make the order, etc. It just takes too long and the price difference usually isn't enough to make it worth while. Plus, if I get home and the item isn't available online, I have to spend nearly an hour to go back to the store and buy it.

Smartphones are nearly ubiquitous now, and iPhone/Android have an Amazon app (or access to a great Amazon mobile interface in the browser). You can even scan the barcode and it'll immediately bring the product up on Amazon. Storing your information on Amazon, and if you're really concerned about time, enabling 1-click can save lots of time. This should eliminate your concerns over matching product and time wasted entering information.

2. When I want to buy something I want it today, not a week from day.

Consider splitting an Amazon Prime membership. Find friends, or look up one of the many threads online where people split them. $75 / 5 for a year's worth of free 2-day shipping, or $3.99 overnight. Trust me; the money spent on a split Prime membership will more than pay for itself in the money you save. Some places even have same-day delivery.

3. If the item I buy is broken or not quite what I expected, I can return it to the store while I'm out shopping. I don't have to pay shipping and handling for this service or worry about repacking the item. And I get immediate confirmation that the item has been received and my refund has been granted.

Amazon's return service is leaps and bounds better than any I've ever encountered. They pay return shipping, and in many cases, will issue you a credit ($5 or $10) for the inconvenience. They'll also advance ship replacement items. Box stores nearly ALWAYS hassle me on returns. I have to argue before they'll even consider giving me a replacement or refund. NEVER with Amazon.

So, sure... with Amazon you may have to wait longer than the instant gratification that you get from picking something off the shelf. In my experience, though, it's absolutely worth it for the majority of my purchases (especially electronics). Big box stores do NOT train their employees on the products that they're selling (trust me, I worked at a Best Buy and Staples over a decade ago); they only train on the upsell... especially in warranties.

Here's a scorecard:
Best Buy (or other Big Box):
+ Instant gratification
+ Instant returns
- Sales reps generally (but not always) don't have much product information. If they do, they won't speak on it much because their bosses only care about how much they can upsell.
- Higher prices, and tax
- Return process is cumbersome
- Unreliable stock

+ Excellent return process
+ Items are generally cheaper (and no tax for most people)
+ Simple ordering
+ Knowledgeable customer reviews that are unfiltered
+ No upsell pressure. What you buy is what you want
- No instant gratification
- Fast shipping costs money (though can be mitigated with a Prime account over time)
- Returns can take a day or two to receive

Comment Re:I've said it before... (Score 5, Interesting) 777

This story reminds me of something that a friend is going through at the moment. He's a recently released felon that's trying to get his life back on track, and has routine visits from his parole officer. The PO was looking through his computer's disk drive and found a file named "LICENSE.txt". He was immediately accused of creating fake driver's licenses, and had to explain in great depth that the file he'd found was a software license (just opening the file and showing the contents didn't even placate this guy).

A few weeks later the PO came to inspect again, and found an e-book titled "Google Hacks". It's a book on optimizing search engine results/etc. The PO accused him of attempting to hack Google and left. He was placed in a halfway home 2 hours away from where he was staying for observation until they could come to a decision on what to do with his "offense". Most of the authorities involved agreed that this was an offense worthy of revoking his parole and sending him back to prison. There were gears in motion to do just that, until someone stepped in and outlined what the book actually was and how it in no way violated any conditions of his parole. They backed off on sending him back to prison, but they'd decided he should be shipped to Texas to live in a halfway house "just in case". He's OK with this, because he's legitimately scared of the vendetta that his PO has against him at this point and will be under the jurisdiction of a different one where he's being sent; though he no longer has the option to live with his family.

Technological ignorance and fear in those with authority is a very, very scary thing.

Comment Re:It's only fair. (Score 1) 235

When I was in grade school, calculators weren't allowed until 7th grade (strictly banned from elementary school). Even then, they had to be simple calculators that couldn't solve complex problems (graphing calculators were strictly disallowed until high school). Approaching it like this forced the students to learn to do new kinds of problems by hand. The expectation was that by the time tools were given, students should already know how to accomplish the same things their calculators do for them.

I don't know whether that's how calculators are still used in grade school or not, but it ought to be (in my opinion).

The same should apply for using spell check on exams. If they're at a level where they should be familiar enough with spelling to do so with a reasonable level of accuracy, then I think a spell checker should be okay.

What concerns me is that once spell checkers are introduced all of the time, the students may start to learn new words and not even attempt to learn to spell them properly (spell checker will do that for them, right?). For it to be equivalent to my logic on calculators above, the students would need to learn to spell the new words properly before being allowed to spell check them. Which isn't realistic to monitor or force upon students, unfortunately.

Comment Re:The steady slide to Police State continues (Score 2, Informative) 1123

The same Rampart division, yes. The show is loosely based on it. The characters in the show do have alliances/pay-offs with fictional rap moguls, were involved in a "money train heist" where the money was never found (similar to the bank robbery of Rampart's "David Mack"), and they used similar acronyms/symbols (instead of CRASH, it was STRIKE team and they had cards with symbols for their division).

So, no... it's not supposed to be a direct documentary on the Rampart division, but it's similar enough. The show was originally titled "Rampart", even, but was changed to not anger the LAPD.

That said, The Shield is one of the best television series ever produced and it's worth watching all 7 seasons. Each one is better than the last.

Comment Re:Android Speech Recognition Rules (Score 1) 342

You're right, with the caveat that most people tend to try to speak differently when they know they're speaking to digital transcription. The Android voice input also requires that you actually say the punctuation, as well (i.e. Hello comma Mom period Yes comma a visit would be nice exclamation point). So, unfortunately, even with Google's web powered voice transcription, you're still not speaking naturally.

I'm assuming that Google Voice uses the same technology for their automated transcription. In this case, the person will definitely be speaking naturally. The transcriber is spotty at best in that setting. I can usually get the gist of what's being said without needing to actually listen to the message and I appreciate how it applies different style types for things it thinks it could have gotten wrong (guesses are in a lighter shade of gray)... but it's far from perfect.

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