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Comment My Black Friday Stories (Score 1) 146

My wife talked me into going to Walmart 2 years ago on BF. We went to Walmart to try to get a cheap laptop for my kid. When we got there they had handed out tickets ahead of time for the 2 laptop deals. (tickets were gone when we got in the store) We divided up and each got in the line for the laptops anyway. The lines wound around isles that were blocked off. The thing is that some people in line actually left and decided not to buy. We ended up with 2 laptops for around $200 a piece. I sold one to a friend for what i paid. The actual laptops were terrible though. Loaded with tons of junk and even when that was removed the slow AMD processors were underpowered.

Another interesting thing was that they kept covers on a whole pile of deals until midnight. When they removed the covers people went nuts. I saw a Walmart employee get a human bite in the arm by some crazed shopper trying to claw his way to the front. Totally not worth it.

There are good deals to be had though. I once waited hours to get one of the first reasonably priced GPS units for the car. (before smartphones) It was a MIO brand device made for Canada with US maps that were one year old loaded. It worked fine and was cheap. (though not great)

I have bought TVs on BF or the next day. Those were good deals but if I had waited 6 more months or so I could have had the same deal.

Cyber Monday is more interesting to me really. Deals without the pain.

Submission + - Quake Live is Back Online After 2 days (

weazel2006 writes: Quake for the past two days had a simple message stating, "quake live is offline for maintenance". Now that is it up, the Quake Live team posted, "QUAKE LIVE is now back online. We have temporarily reinstated service and are monitoring its stability as we conduct further testing. Service may be sporadic, and the site may be taken offline again if needed as our staff continues to resolve the performance and instability issues we have been experiencing. We will have a more detailed post, containing our plans going forward sometime in the near future." The QL community posted over 900 replies to a post by the QL team on their Facebook page during the outage. It is rare that this site goes down and usually it only goes down for scheduled maintenance and then for a very short period of time. Do other games have outages that last this long? Some are speculating that the site was hacked but I guess we will have to wait for the details from ID.

Comment Progress Bar accuracy is a compromise. (Score 1) 736

It can be very difficult to create a single progress bar that communicates the progress of several unlike tasks. I attempted this once for a project I was doing. I had several file system intensive processes and many other types of processes. (About 40 different unlike tasks in all)

I gave a 'weight' to the different processes based on my observation of how long each took. It worked great "on my computer" when I was done. (Though the progress bar accounted for about 30 percent of my code at that point and added quite a bit of complexity)

When I ran it on the production machine it was way off. I adjusted my 'weight' values for different processes to make it better and eventually changed it to give a text description of each time consuming step with percentage complete of each major task. My customer said the exact same thing "is it that difficult to make an accurate progress bar?" The answer is yes.

I agree that little progress bars flickering all the time are not useful other than that they show that it is doing something. The lack of any feedback would cause the user to want to end the process before it is complete. (Worst case scenario if you don't give the user any progress indicators)

I think that unless extensive testing is done, most developers put a relatively small amount of effort into creating a progress bar and go on in ignorant bliss believing that it is fairly accurate. It is difficult to get project managers to classify progress bar accuracy as a high priority item. (Especially since most of them are so inaccurate and we are all used to it)

If you really want an elaborate and accurate progress bar you would have to first come up with a benchmarking system to test the system resources on the system you are installing. (this would run before anything happens) You would then need to apply weight to each type of process based on the tests. Run it on hundreds of different configurations with different amounts of available resources. Write something to capture the results and adjust your weighting system accordingly on the fly.

All of this will add cost and delays to the project and the installer will take more time to account for the benchmarking and constant checking and adjustments to the weighting system. I guess anything is possible given enough time and money.

In my opinion after adding hundreds or even thousands of lines of code and a self adjusting weighting system you may or may not be happy with the accuracy of the progress bar. It would most certainly have to go forward and backwards to be as accurate as possible if estimates are constantly changing or it would have to freeze at a certain percentage until the new estimate catches up to the old estimate. (either way would not be perfect)

Programmers love to go down rabbit holes like this but in business you will go broke spending thousands of dollars on progress bars unless the project is really huge and the progress bar is an essential part of it. (I cannot think of a scenerio that meets these criteria but one may exist)

Comment Re:There is nothing to envy from the iPhone (Score 1) 587

Can you control an Android phone from your steering wheel of your car? I know you can use the aux cable and control it from the device but not from the car's stereo. The fact is they are very close in features and functionality. IOS is super stable and easy to use. In fact I was a bit dissappointed when I got my iPhone that there wasn't more to it. That being said it does everything. Nothing should be more complicated than it needs to be right? If you want a fresh new look all the time and are willing to sacrifice a standard interface to get it then Android is the only way to go. Do Android phones have voicemessages downloaded to them like the iPhone or do you have to call like on a dumb phone? That may be another thing albeit minor.

Really there isn't enough difference to cause envy in either direction. Android phones can be cheap or free but so are last years iPhones. Aluminum and glass cases are more expensive to make than plastic and glass. (though more durable)

It seems that everyone makes a decision to go one way or the other then spends the rest of that 2 year contract arguing why they made the best decision. Both are excellent and way better than Palm or Blackberry. (the devices previously known as smart phones) The best thing is that we have competition and staying stagnant and charging more is not ideal for either side. Competion will cause both side to get better, cheaper and faster.

There are some strange misconceptions going around about why one is better than the other but personal preference is really the only difference in my humble opinion.

Comment Well put (Score 2) 587

I agree. I wanted to replace my old smartphone and had to enter a 2 year contract to get something better. I read reviews and watched videos, etc. Certain phones have larger flaws than others. No one review pointed out all the flaws so you had to keep reading. At some point it wasn't worth my time. I knew that IOS would be updated and would work. Carriers do hate updates. Whey do they want to give you something for nothing when they already have you in a contract?

I am geeky enough to deal with the technical challenges but at some point I just want it to work. (I spend all day fixing other peoples software problems on the PC platform)

I have used "smartphones" for years including Windows CE and Windows Mobile devices from HTC. One executive at my company said something amazingly true about one of those devices. (blue angel) He said it was a great PDA with a poorly thought out phone app added as an afterthought. Three way calling and even normal calling was painful. It wanted to dial people that you didn't intent to call.

Maybe I've been brainwashed or something but I spend almost no time trying to get stuff to work right with my iPhone. That is really convenient when you have lots of things going on in your life.

I am really impressed by the Android OS. It has come a long way. I just don't want to get a device that I'm stuck with for another 2 years that may have a major flaw or get stuck with an old OS. Standardization would help a lot. Make the phones the same size and shape, maybe make 2 or 3 form factors. Make it so it can be docked and work with your car radio or alarm clock. Make them durable with long battery life and make upgrading OS versions easy and appealling to the carriers.

I may be a little older than the average reader here but I'm technically savvy. I just choose to use my skills on other things than my phone. All the hacking Windows phones and older smartphones has made me realize that I don't care for it. (not enough payoff for the time involved)

I like that Apple puts the upgrades out and the carriers don't have to do anything. I'm not an Apple fanboy and never even owned an Apple product until a couple of years ago. One of my biggest things is resale value. I will probably get what I paid for my iPhone 4s when I'm done with it and I like cars that hold their value as well. My old Windows phones were worth less than 10% of what I paid for them when I was done and my Palm Pre was work about 25% of what I paid after subsidies.

Also, do Android phones have to dial to get voicemail? The iPhone gets the voicemessage sent to it and you can listen without calling. (instantly) I thought that Android phones have to 'call' to get voicemail but I'm not sure.

Comment Re:Product design mentality (Score 1) 587

Apple does seem to do more testing on their products. The products are refined and finished. (rare in the 4.88 walmart world) You know what to expect, easy to use reliable products. Whenever there is any type of issue it makes the news. When was the last time you heard of an Android bug/issue making the nightly news? (never) Nobody expects Android phones to work perfectly or be as reliable as the Apple product. (no news if there is an issue)

I think it comes down to this, they are both really good. Price is roughly the same. A couple bucks for apps with Apple products but no ads, bugs or issues that you don't hear about on CNN. Resale value is better on the Apple product line and always has been. (get more for your used phone than what you paid after 2 years) Aluminum is stronger than plastic making the iPhone more durable. (watch videos on youtube to see this) I personally like a pocket sized phone that can be used with one hand. (the thumb can reach anywhere on the screen of an iPhone, not true of Android) I prefer good battery life to a tablet sized screen and 4 cores that are not used for anything other than marketing.

When a new update is available it lets me know AFTER it has been downloaded and installs in 10 minutes. No bugs or issues arise after. (though the media made a big deal about the maps they have never failed me in my part of the country)

The availability of cases and accessories along with car integration and alarm clock integration, etc is one place where Android needs to catch up. Apple needs to add micro USB though most will never actually use it.

I would love to say that Apple should keep the screen that is usable with one hand but they are losing market share and Android fans love to show off their small tablet sized screens so they may have to cave and make it too big for my pockets. (solution: larger pockets and longer thumbs?)

Apple already makes a more durable device with better battery life and more reliability. (less overall issues) IOS is super simple though. Nothing should be more complicated than it has to be so that may be ok but it almost seems too simple. Android seems to take longer to learn though it is not rocket surgery. My 4 year old learned to use the iPad when he was 3 and knows everything he needs to to use it as he wishes. He does get confused by ads and in screen purchases which are worst on Android. He can use an Android tablet but not near as easily as the iPad.

Android has come a long way very quickly and is very refined at this point. If they can come up with some standards and figure out how to get auto manufactures to integrate with it that would help them. Sturdier cases and longer battery life would be huge for me. Samsung seems to be the phone to go with as far as I can tell. My next phone may be Android unless Apple can come up with some killer features. (which Android would implement quickly)

The best thing about this situation is that we have competition. It drives both platforms to be better. (though Apple is held to a different standard than Android) Some things people say often are true and some are just nonsense. (example: whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger is basically a lie)

People say that Android is less expensive which is not true. People say they save a ton of money on apps which is pretty much untrue. (most IOS users get lots of apps for free and pay little for what they do pay for) People say the iPhone is limited which is pretty much not true. They are both great, around the same price and do pretty much the same thing.

Apple is more refined but not by much anymore. Android is more open which is good and bad. Iphones are sturdier and may have better battery life. iPhones are easier to use but not by much. Iphones fit in my normal sized pockets and can be used with one hand. Android phones tend to have glorious huge screens and angry birds is better to play on them aside from the ads.

I plug into my car and control the iPhone from the steering wheel and that is not possible with the Android. Less bugs = less time fixing issues which I find particularly annoying. If there is a bug I will hear about it on CNN before I notice. Nobody cares when a specific Android model has an issue. (every heard a news story on an Android phone having an issue?)

Comment Re:Check me if I wrong... (Score 1) 587

When it first came out the iPhone was leaps and bound ahead of anything else. Not one step for many steps ahead of Palm OS, Symbian, Blackberry and other "smart" phones. They said they reinvented the smart phone and it is pretty much true. Andoid would not have existed if it weren't for the iPhone.

That being said the iPhone wouldn't be as good as it is if it weren't for Android. (and wouldn't likely be way more expensive) Carriers subsidize the iPhone more than the Android phones so the price is about the same now.

I believe Woz may be correct that Apple is getting behind and Samsung Android phones are very good. I'm glad I didn't get the early buggy ones with bad battery life though. Apple needs to innovate again. (wireless charging, bettery battery life, stronger cases, micro USB, larger screen, better sound from the internal speakers or something)

Up until now the camera(s) and stuff mattered quite a bit. Now they are too close to call in some cases. (personal preference)

Comment Re:about the same as my fembots (Score 1) 587

True we use our standard system and the rest of the world uses metric. At one time we different sized railroad tracks in this country and had to unload/load trains to move freight. Android has a similar problem in that they cannot seem to standardize things. Cases will never be standardized in my opinion. Apple cases (many of them) case be used across the 4/4s platforms.

Both platforms are good, in fact both are great. I chose the iPhone mostly based on battery life. I don't want the larger than pocket sized screen either. (which also effects battery life) The iPhones aluminum and glass case is more durable according to videos, reviews and tests. (which may or may not be reliable)

I haven't spent much on the phone, accessories or apps so price is not a major issue in all honesty. (accessories are very inexpensive and widely available) I paid only 199 for the phone. (there is a misconception that the iPhone is somehow more expensive) Resale value will more than make up for my 2 dollar angry birds app without advertising.

My next phone may be the next Android phone unless Apple innovates again. (they had better to keep their market share) Android fans keep talking about price and free apps. Most of my apps are free. $20 a year in apps doesn't matter either way when I will make up the difference in resale value and cheap accessories. Find a car that has an Andoid integration port and I may be more optimistic about buying Android for playing music. They really need to come up with a standard way to control it from the car or alarm clock or other external device.

When Android first came out it was quite a bit cheaper than the iPhone. I don't believe that is true anymore. (though the perception persists) My friend waited months to get the Jellybean upgrade that was officially supported by Verizon only to have the Netflix app not work properly. (no sound) I don't have these issues with iPhone. I am a geek so I could hack my phone for hours on end but I choose not to. (just make it work and I will talk, surf, etc)

Comment Re:iFirstPost (Score 3, Interesting) 587

I used to have the Palm Pre before getting the iPhone 4s. I heard how much better the battery life was with the iPhone than the Android phones and that was a big factor in my decision. That being said the Pre had WAY better battery life than either of them. It also had a flashing light on the device when a notification was present. (it was the first to have the notification center but not for long) The Pre was very slow and didn't work great as a smartphone but the battery made it a great phone. I use smartphone features to the fullest but I use it as a phone and that is very important to me.

My friends with older Android phones have to reboot and I have never rebooted my iPhone in 16+ months.

My battery lasts all day but the Pre lasted 3 or 4 days. I wouldn't want to go back to the dumb phone becasue I would have to print google maps again and lookup phone numbers manually or use directory assistance. Travel is made easier because I can lookup which parking ramps are full at the airport and which have spots open.

Either platform is good. Samsung phones seem reliable and have good battery life. When I buy my next phone I will seriously consider them. (though they don't seem pocket size to me) I believe Apple will have to come up with a serious upgrade this time around if they want to keep their market share. (something amazing)

I have spent $20 on apps and enjoy extremely inexpensive accessories for the iPhone. I paid only 199 for the phone and know people who spend more on Android devices just because they think the iPhone is more expensive. I used all of my iCloud storage due to 3 devices on the account and not managing it very well so I spent another 10 bucks on a years worth of storage. All said I have spent less than many Andoid users and have easy access to accessories. (example: backup external charging battery for 10 bucks and cases for 5 bucks)

The biggest thing though is when I am done with it I will sell the phone for as much or more than I paid for it. Resale value of specific superior Android models may be good but I don't want to spend much time trying to figure out which is the best for that 3-6 month period.

I have the skills to root an Andoid and spend 40 hours making something better but I choose to keep my free time for other things. Jailbreaking the iPhone is quick and easy but I choose not to. (just want it to work and 2 dollar apps are not big deal to me) I know I could be the first (insert carrier name) user to run vanilla ice cream surprise or whatever they have but if I want to hack on something it would be my linux box.

I have had a ton of conversations with people who are convinced that one is better than the other. The best answer is that both are good. (now that Android is more reliable and has better battery life that is) Apple phones do not cost more in my opinion even though you may not get as much memory for the price or screen size if that is desirable to you. That seems to be a misconception. My inlaws told me they couldn't afford the iPhone so they spent $250 on Android phones. The all glass and aluminum case does add to manufacturing costs vs plastic and glass on Android and I dislike the fact that Apple doesn't allow external storage. I wouldn't watch movies on my phone anyway and have a tablet for stuff like that so I really don't need it but come on Apple, give us the things the competition has.

The price differnce on apps is largely due to full screen advertising and other in game/app ads. I will pay the dollar or two. (I save it by buying my widely available accessories on the discount rack at TJ Maxx or Amazon)

My advice is to discuss it calmly with open minded fair thinking people and when you run into someone who is passionate about the other platform agree with them that theirs is superior and tell them you will get theirs next time around. Don't encourage them to talk about it and change the topic to Dr Who or something.

Comment Re:7 times the price of gold? (Score 1) 248

It doesn't say how they get the venom out of the hive. Even if they kill the bees in the process it probably mean more bees will exist than do now. Bees are becoming more rare but look at chickens and cattle. There are more chicken and cattle on the planet then there would be if we didn't eat them. The buffalo is a good example. They roamed this country in large numbers then became almost extinct until some farmers decided to raise them to eat. Now they have come back in large numbers again.

Comment Work on your congitive abilities (Score 1) 396

The post states that the author knows how to test and does attempt to test. (his mind wanders off during the process) I believe the answer is to improve or work on your cognitive abilities. (meta thinking if you will)

Tony Robbins has some easy to listen to motivational material that could help. Focusing on the task at hand without becoming distracted is the key.

Try testing other peoples code and when you come across a very obvious bug and you cannot understand how the programmer missed it, you will find more motivation to test.

Nothing can take the place of QA testing but I find that performing my own simplistic tests saves everyone involved time.

Comment Re:You have an ego problem - Job Repellent (Score 1) 736

The author is tempted to bring this up to the CEO in an interview setting. I would suggest he bite his tongue until it bleeds if necessary.

Mark Twain said:
"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

As a hiring manager, I would love to hear this type of 'strong opinion' expressed before I commit to hiring someone. (I usually think to myself, something's not quite right with this one.....)

IT people can be great performers regardless of education. The education snobs end up wearing their degree like "job repellent".

I would think that over confident, first time IT managers, (from the sounds of the post) would be much encouraged to share their enlightened points of view so they can be immediately implemented.

The question was posed, "am I being petty?", the answer would be yes. There has to be a more important consideration when accepting a new position. (almost anything, it's easy to top this one)

  Good grief, get over your bad self.

The Internet

FCC Begins Crafting Net Neutrality Regulations 297

ceswiedler writes "The FCC has begun crafting rules for network neutrality. The full proposal hasn't been released yet, but according to their press release (warning, Microsoft Word document) carriers would not be allowed to 'prevent users from sending or receiving the lawful content,' 'running lawful applications,' or 'connecting and using ... lawful devices that do not harm the network.' There will be a three-month period for comments beginning January 14, followed by 2 months for replies, after which the FCC will issue its final guidelines." Reader Adrian Lopez notes that US Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain has introduced legislation that "would keep the FCC from enacting rules prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking or slowing Internet content and applications." McCain called the proposed net neutrality rules a "government takeover" of the Internet.
Update: 10/24 16:32 GMT by KD : jamie found a Reuters story reporting that the Sunlight Foundation has revealed John McCain to be Congress's biggest recipient of telco money over the last two years — "a total of $894,379..., more than twice the amount taken by the next-largest beneficiary, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev."

Comment Trust and Business (Score 1) 730

My opinion is that trust is earned. This is true whether you are talking about onsite full-time employees or third-party providers.

I don't think looking over one's shoulder will provide anything other than a false sense of security.

The best thing may be to use a remote control tool that requires a trusted user to 'log in' the outside resource each time they need access. (not 24X7 on demand access) You can record the sessions and review them later, but file transfers and other activities may not stand out in the recording.

The comment about locking out the third-party and forcing them to be onsite is interesting. I am certain that you can find third-party companies that will come onsite, possibly causing their services to be more expensive. The level of service may be lower due to travel time. Remote administration is likely saving you much time and money, realize the benefits of this before you lock them out. Locking them out is a business decision based on risk assessment and comfort level with the third-party. (showing a lack of trust on your part)

You need to protect yourself by ensuring that you can recover any password and lockout any user account used by a vendor. If you do decide to change vendors, the new vendor will need access and the old vendor's accounts need to be disabled.

From my experience in the IT industry, you are much more likely to be a victim of excessive billing hours or 'milking' a project than any type of malicious activity. (think about it from their point of view)

If the administrators should not have access to critical information, don't give it to them. (example: if they are not your database admin, don't give them database access) Try to develop a relationship with your vendor and protect yourself at the same time. Doing business involves risk, assess the risks and realize that they exist. Make them come onsite and pay for their travel is that is a priority. Meeting them at least once may help you to trust them remotely. Know your passwords just in case you need to change vendors.

Someone will need to be able to administer your network. Who do you trust, that is the question.

If security is a priority, involve a security professional or two. This leads to the question, do you trust the security professional. We have no choice in life but to trust other humans. Do you trust your doctor or your airline pilots?


Submission + - IE6 search engine being changed to ( 1

weazel2006 writes: "CNet just posted a story that confirms my suspicions that the default search engine for anyone using IE6 has been reset to Earlier today a story on Slashdot explained that IE6 is still very popular amongst corporate users. The reason for this is that large enterprise applications would need costly upgrades to be compatible with a newer browser version. (from CNet..) Microsoft confirmed on Tuesday that it is looking into an issue in which users of Internet Explorer 6 are forced into having Bing as their default search engine. "We are aware of the issue with Bing on machines running IE6 and are investigating a solution," Microsoft said in a statement. "This issue is not impacting IE7 and IE8 users." Although it is only affecting its older browser, many people still use IE6 and Microsoft has faced a lot of regulatory scrutiny over how default search preferences are set and changed within Internet Explorer."

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