* Posts by Bob 18

163 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

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Mom and daughter SUE Comcast for 'smuggling' public Wi-Fi hotspot into their home

Bob 18

I agree with jimbo60, it shouldn't be a big deal. But if she doesn't like it, she can buy her own router rather than using the one Comcast provided. That's what I did, and it's a whole lot easier than launching a lawsuit. Saves $5/mo too. Since that option is available to all Comcast customers, I don't see how she has much of a case.

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Windows desktop VDI

Bob 18

KISS

As someone who's been there too with charities, I repeat the warning about keeping things simple. Don't make the mistake of the aid workers who installed fancy electric pumps in the developing world, only to see them end up useless for lack of electricity, spare parts, etc. You have to install technology commensurate with the organization you're putting it in.

Does your charity have professional IT services available to fix things? Do they have a reliable network, both internal and external? If they don't have these basics, then don't give them a solution that needs them. How will new user accounts be added? How will they be shut down? Can people gain access to their stuff from outside the office? Will YOU be required to do all these mundane chores, and what kind of response time can you realistically provide?

Through hard lessons, I have come to some principles:

1. The less hardware in the office, the better. Ideally, you want to go serverless. If you MUST have a server, try for one that just serves files. You will still have to set up backups for it, of course.

2. Cloud services are great: professional-level IT services for pennies (or even free). Google Apps solved many problems at once (email servers, access from outside the office, large file sharing). Email was a BIG problem --- lost password, email client configuration, email password management, and of course SPAM. And it ALL went away in one fell swoop when we went to GMail.

3. Use consumer products as much as possible. They are VERY cheap: new computers can be had for under $300. More important than the dollar price, end users have a ghost of a chance of being able to do self-service if something goes wrong. We used to use Mac OS X Server with network logins. Now we use just basic consumer desktop machines with local logins. Whether we use Mac or PC on the desktop no longer matters. If they buy something from MicroCenter and put it on their desk, they can get it working. They just have to connect to our fileserver, to Google Drive, and then point their browser to GMail. They can get this stuff working without me, at least temporarily. Or an easy call over the phone.

4. Move to web-based databases. See above about eliminating servers from your office... CiviCRM is one free possibility, and there are many paid companies as well.

5. Desktop support is the achilles heel of charity IT. You pay top dollars for bottom skills. Anything that can be administered remotely, you can pay a lot less for better skills. And it's often so easy to do, you can just do what they need done during a coffee break. One more reason to go serverless in the office.

6. Remember that your time IS valuable. A new computer is $300. Setting up a new computer can cost a lot more than that, if you don't keep things simple. Free hardware isn't as much of an asset as you'd think at first, unless you have a VERY quick way to turn it into USEFUL hardware with proper stuff installed. Old hardware is deadly because installs are slower, and thus more costly for you in the end than just buying something new that works.

7. Do anything to avoid viruses. Each virus infection requires full rebuilds, see the costs in (6). We've had good luck with Macs, at least, which somewhat justifies their high price. Linux is better on this front, of course, if you can make it work.

8. Tech Soup is a good place for licensed software. But even better is software that doesn't need licensing. It's not just that it's free --- but also you avoid the hassle of managing license keys.

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Are driverless cars the death knell of the motor biz?

Bob 18

Re: A hacker's paradise

Maybe YOU would drive the car when you're inside. For this scheme to work, the car only has to be driveless when vacant.

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Bob 18

Even if this reduces demand in the developed world, increases in the developing world are likely to keep global automobile demand on the upswing for at least a few more decades.

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Hitch climate tax to the ACTUAL CLIMATE, says top economist

Bob 18
Flame

Highly Flawed Proposal

The problem with this proposal is there is a time lag (40 years) between the CO2 we put into the atmosphere and the warming we measure. Even if we stopped all CO2 emissions today, we are still committed to warming caused by the past 40 years of emissions. Markets tend to overshoot when there is this kind of time delay --- meaning, we would end up with 40 more years of warming than the market said it wanted. That could be quite costly.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climate-Change-The-40-Year-Delay-Between-Cause-and-Effect.html

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Google accused of hypocrisy over Glass ban at shareholder shindig

Bob 18

The difference between Google Glass and a camera phone is... you have to hold the phone up to take a picture, and everyone knows it. Google Glass lets you take photos incognito.

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Your Flying Car? Delayed again, but you WILL get it, says Terrafugia

Bob 18

Better batteries

In making claims of the vertical take-off vehicle, they're probably assuming better batteries in the next 8-10 years, with a significantly higher capacity per kg.

Don't worry, the great unwashed will never buy these puppies and invade "your" airspace en masse. Beyond the issue of plunking down $200K to buy one, most of us probably won't be able to afford the gas to run it either.

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Adobe price hike: Your money or your files, frappuccino sippers

Bob 18

Opening Old Files

They should provide Creative Cloud access for free to everyone, to open files. Saving or otherwise making changes to files would be restricted to subscribers. That would solve the "can't open my files" problem, and I think would bolster their potential revenues (because otherwise, people will shy away from them if nothing else for this reason).

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T-mobile US in invisible handset handcuff contract smackdown

Bob 18
Facepalm

Silly Ruling

Aww, come on. T-Mobile has been great in offering this unbundled system for buying phones and paying them off over time (at zero interest, I believe). You can cancel the plan at any time, but you still have to pay for the phone that's in your possession. It should be obvious that if you buy something on credit (say, a phone), then you will have to pay off the loan.

Why do we waste our court's time on this? We should be going after the companies that really are cheating consumers out of millions each year through dodgy means: high-interest credit cards, banks full of hidden fees... and of course "free" handset offers that are coupled with high-priced two-year phone contracts.

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Microsoft leads charge against Google's Android in EU antitrust complaint

Bob 18

Poor Complaint

I hope this doesn't get very far.

1. I chose GMail because my old ISP was falling apart and Google did a good job with the bear known as Email. I also use the K-9 IMAP client on my Android phone, for my non-GMail account. If MS (or anybody else) makes an email service as good as GMail, I will consider it.

2. I use Google Maps because it's better than the other services out there. There are many --- and I've tried them on my Android phone.

3. I use Google Search because no one else on Android has bothered to make an App that sends search their way. I don't think anyone has tried. I can't even change search engines on my Firefox. If there IS an anti-trust issue, this is where it would be.

4. I use Google's browser because (at the time I made the choice), nobody else had made one that works.

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Young model ruthlessly fingers upskirt iPad petshop pervert

Bob 18

Two thoughts:

1. I never let anyone pet my dog, for any reason.

2. I would've knocked his iPad out of his hands, hopefully breaking the glass. Then I would've told him to get lost (without his iPad, of course).

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First sale doctrine survives US Supreme Court

Bob 18
Thumb Up

Long Live Dead Trees!

This is why I buy dead tree books and DVDs.

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En Garde! Villagers FIGHT OFF FRENCH INVASION MENACE

Bob 18
Happy

A Solvable Problem

Cellphones don't (usually) just appear out of nowhere in a cell: they travel from one cell to the next. If you look at the cell history of a particular phone, I'm sure it's not hard to write a computer program that distinguishes between users hanging out in Dover, vs. users who actually got on a boat or train to head to France.

This technology could be used to bill UK users domestic rates, even if they happen to have connected to a French network from Dover.

An even better solution: implement EU-wide standards to remove roaming charges. Here in the USA, my T-Mobile offers free roaming anywhere in the country. Last summer, I called home to the East Coast from remote areas of Alaska, for no extra fee.

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Firm moves to trademark 'Python' name out from under the language

Bob 18

What a bunch of jerks.

Yes, what a bunch of jerks.

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Doped nanotubes boost lithium battery power three-fold

Bob 18

Results of this

If this is real, it will be pretty great. It will go a long way to making electric cars range and price-competitive with gasoline cars. And when I replace my electric bicycle's battery, it will give me a 90-mile range --- enough for a full day of touring.

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Climate watch: 2012 figures confirm global warming still stalled

Bob 18

Re: What a moron

What is climate? If you look at Jim Hansen's articles, climate is the AVERAGE weather you get. It's a bell curve dstribution. And he has shown that the bell curve we're getting this decade is shifted significantly warmer from the bell curve we had for the 1950-1980 period. Make of it what you will. (Look up "climate dice" to see this topic in greater detail)

Even if global warming has "stalled," it's still stalled at a level that is significantly warmer than when I was a child. And it doesn't take a genius to see that glaciers and ice sheets are melting at an alarming rate --- rates that in most cases are increasing, certainly nothing like a "stall" there.

And think about it... we've spent decades pumping CO2 into the atmosphere as fast as we can, and we've been able to measure increases in global temperature since 1980. And now the year 2012 is within the top 10 hottest years ever. We would most reasonably conclude that things are getting warmer, although there is some noise in the year-to-year signal. But instead, we use the fact that 2012 is not THE HOTTEST YEAR EVER to conclude that global warming has "stalled" and we have nothing to worry about, and we should keep burning as much coal as we can? Crazy... Only someone with a pre-determined agenda would make that conclusion.

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Bob 18

Re: Interesting

Nice hypothesis. But actually... cutting pollution, perversely, INCREASE warming in the short term. Because all that SO2 we pump into the atmosphere actually reflects sunlight. All the pollution over China actually keeps China a little cooler than it would otherwise be.

But I agree, China is doing its best to add CO2 to the atmosphere as fast as it can. Although it's still way behind the USA, in per capita CO2 output.

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Bob 18

Re: Riding Up the Down Escalator

Yes, we're nearing a maximum of sunspots. But that maximum is much lower than the maximum we had in the year 2000, really only moderate.

So... if sun spots have anything to do with T on earth (which they do), then it's quite reasonable to expect that we might not be getting yearly RECORD BREAKING temperatures this year, even as global warming continues. But if you could have today's CO2 with sunspots of year 2000, you'd see a different story. Just wait a few more years... as CO2 continues to build and we happen to get another solar peak, we will expect to see a lot of records broken.

Conclusion: if you want to be honest about measuring the direction of the T of our planet, you need to average over more than a couple of years. And if you ACTUALLY want to know the truth... why don't you look at all the available data, including ALL thermometer readings, as Mike Mann did? Oh yes, I know why.. because you don't like the conclusions that pop out so obviously. Nor do you like the fact that this procedure has been repeated many times, even by former climate deniers funded by Koch money, and the result has been the same each and every time.

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Bob 18
FAIL

Riding Up the Down Escalator

The logic of this article makes about as much sense as measuring the temperature at night, and using the results to claim that global warming has been stalled for the last 12 hours.

Look at this graph:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variation

Solar output has been declining for much of the past decade. That decline has counteracted increased forcing due to increased CO2, leading deniers to claim that "global warming is stalled" for the past decade. Unfortunately for all of us, global warming is almost certainly going to un-stall as solar output increases over the next decade --- since it's pretty clear that this solar output thing is cyclical. Expect a series of scorcher years.

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Now Microsoft 'actively investigates' Surface slab jailbreak tool

Bob 18

More Irrelevance

With its late-to-market products commanding miniscule market share, it is doubtful whether MS will ever become relevant in the tablet space. This is just one more reason they will fail. Anyone who wants freedom to install any software they like will be Android. Anyone who doesn't care will buy Apple.

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Windows RT jailbreak smash: Run ANY app on Surface slabs

Bob 18

Yawn...

Why would anyone bother to jailbreak a Windows RT tablet? If you want a tablet that you can run anything on, just get an Android. Nobody's forcing you to install dodgy software, but you can if you like.

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Another Apple maps desert death trap down under

Bob 18
FAIL

The Outback

I dunno... if you're driving out there with no more preparation than a glance at your iPhone, you deserve what you get.

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Stallman: Ubuntu spyware makes it JUST AS BAD as Windows

Bob 18

Ubuntu in the Workplace?

Whatever your views on this behavior from an OS and Richard Stallman... I can't think of any workplace environments that would be happy with this stuff on their employees' desktops. We use a lot of Mac and Linux on our desktops at work, and Ubuntu is now NOT one of the options.

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Belgian finds missus was born a MAN after 19 YEARS of marriage

Bob 18

Good to Hear..

The article was small-minded, bigoted, and practically condoned domestic abuse. But reading the sheer number of enlightened comments and reasoned discussion was really a breath of fresh air. It looks like things really are getting better (slowly) for the trans community.

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Nowhere to hide for Google users as Play is given Plus treatment

Bob 18
Thumb Down

Google+ NOT!

This is Google-

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Super-thin iMacs WILL be here for Xmas, cram warehouses even NOW

Bob 18

Re: Uh....

Your iMac desktop computer doesn't run on batteries. Nor is portability a primary issue.

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Bob 18

Uh....

Thin matters in smartphones and tablets (to a point), and even in laptops. But desktop computers? The previous-generation iMac with built-in DVD drive was more functional.

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Microsoft's OWN tests on Kin 'social phone' foretold its doom

Bob 18

The Marketing Strategy

So.... you have this phone you're going to sell with a $70/mo data plan. And you're trying to sell it to children and young adults.

What's wrong with this picture?

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Why is the iPhone so successful? 'Cause people love 'em

Bob 18

Proud Android Owner

Apple makes great stuff. I don't own an iPhone for one reason: their restrictive policies in which THEY reserve the right to decide what I can and cannot run on MY phone. Watching numerous iTunes app rejection dramas play out over the years has confirmed my decision to go with Android. That is far more important in the end than whether or not my Samsung phone retains its bounce-back scrolling feature.

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Eco-nomics: Was Stern 'wrong for the right reasons' ... or just wrong?

Bob 18

It's Not Just Extinction

"But far more dramatic changes in the climate have been experienced within the past 20,000 years, Lilley contends, with humans able to draw on far more primitive technological resources, and yet survive."

There's a difference between avoiding extinction and avoiding decimation of human society as we know it today. The challenge isn't just to keep SOME human beings alive in a changing climate, it is to keep ALL 7+ BILLION of them alive. A much harder problem.

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Disney sitcom says open source is insecure

Bob 18

Follow the Money

Someone paid them to slip this line into the show. Looks like a kind of stealth "product placement" to me.

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Facebook shares hit all-time low

Bob 18

Still a big honkin' company

Even at today's share price, FB is still worth $50b. That's about what Goldman Sachs valued it at in January 2011. Anyone who got in before then could still be making a ton of money, even at $19/share.

What will be interesting is to see if these early investors sell or not. If they're selling, it's because they don't think FB has much more potential, and they want to take their profits and run.

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Hypersonic Waverider scramjet in epic wipeout

Bob 18

Useless

This has absolutely no civilian use, especially not with $100/barrel oil. The Concorde was never more than a niche product because it was a total gas guzzler. High-bypass turbofans, turboprops, blended wingtips and similar technology are the wave of the future, not hypersonic transport.

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Arctic ICE PANIC sparked by half-baked sat data

Bob 18

Why Sea Ice Matters

It's true, melting sea ice will have no perceptible direct impact on sea level. But ice reflects 70%+ of the sunlight it receives, whereas open water reflects only 30%. The arctic receives sunlight 24/7 in the summer with few clouds to block it: that is more energy from the sun than the tropics during the summer months! Without ice to reflect the sunlight and insulate the ocean, the Arctic ocean would become more like a tropical sea during the summer months! And THAT is the real problem: remove the sea ice, and you set up a whole chain reaction of effects that result in a significantly warmer arctic, changed ocean currents, etc. All of which ultimately contributes to the astonishing melting of Greenland we have been observing in recent years.

http://www.science20.com/chatter_box/george_best_elizabethan_climate_scientist-76675

http://www.science20.com/chatter_box/arctic_ice_march_2011-76831

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What happens when Facebook follows MySpace?

Bob 18

Re: Trust

There is an open standard for social networking, it's called Disapora. But without billions of advertising dollars behind it (fueled by invasive privacy policies), it will be slow going and is in no means guaranteed of success.

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Bob 18
Meh

Seagate

Ever hear of that company known as Seagate? Put all the photos and documents on your hard drive. Use a long-lasting format, such as those from the OpenDocument Foundation or MS .doc/.docx, or PDF. Keep your photos as .jpg. Configure automatic backups for your hard drive, and keep at least one backup off-site.

I've hung onto things for the last 20 years this way, I fully expect to be able to deliver tens of thousands of photos to my child as well. Sorry if it is "boring" or "90's." Automobiles are "boring" and "early 20th century" but they still work great for what they were designed for.

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Mozilla and Google blast IE-only Windows on ARM

Bob 18

Google Calling the Kettle Black

Google is crying foul here? What about Android, where their built-in browser is about the only thing that works. Even worse, it is just not possible on Android to choose any search engine other than Google. Nor is it possible to turn off cookies and take other privacy measures that are possible with (say) Firefox on the desktop.

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Apple's HTML5 bet against Android extermination

Bob 18

Android Open?

We all know Android isn't really open like, say, Ubuntu. But in the 1990's, Windows was the "open" alternative to the Mac, and it was open enough to win handsomely. Moreover, Windows was, and has always been, more open than iOS today. Microsoft never tried to dictate which third-party programs you can and cannot run on your Windows box.

I think Android's got a great long-term future, even if it is never more open than today.

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Cheap MacBook Airs for all!

Bob 18

Macs ARE Different

Not radically different? Sorry, Macs are physically the best-constructed laptops out there. Nobody else even attempts the unibody construction. I've had many laptops, and my Mac hardware has been the best. And it keeps going, and going too.

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Tablets are the future of the PC, says researcher

Bob 18

Battery Life

Most of the "inherent advantages" of tablets listed in this article are simply due to the use of inefficient x86 processors in laptops. Laptops will get the battery life advantage too when they start using ARM. Apple will lead the way, and then everyone else will scramble to catch up.

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Gaia scientist Lovelock: 'I was WRONG and alarmist on climate'

Bob 18

Not so fast...

There's a difference between scientists spouting off random predictions, and scientists publishing peer-reviewed research. Let's look at some of the past peer-reviewed publications. For example, Jim Hansen's paper on CO2 and climate change from 1981. (Hansen is considered "climate alarmist enemy number 1" by the climate change denial cabal). His predictions from 1981 have been pretty spot-on, actually a little on the LOW side. I think that's pretty remarkable.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/04/evaluating-a-1981-temperature-projection/

Sure, the Earth hasn't been fried yet (and hopefully never will). But 10 years is a blink of an eye in geological time. If Hansen's predictions continue to hold true for the next 30 years, we'll be dealing with some serious consequences.

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Himalayan glaciers actually GAINING ice, space scans show

Bob 18

Re: Look at history (geological that is)

"There have been both warmer and colder times (whether global or local). There have been times with more rain and less rain. There has been more CO2 in the air and less etc.etc. What we're seeing here has all happened before and will happen again in the future. Climate change (in general) is perfectly normal and part of the natural cycle for the Earth as has been shown for millions of years. "

As was pointed out, "There has never been this high level of CO2 in the atmosphere in the history of human evolution." That means, it is not clear that the biosphere will be able to sustain 7 billion people as the climate shifts far more rapidly than many species can adapt.

Another problem with this argument is that the last time CO2 levels were really high and the Earth was really warm, the sun was 10% dimmer than it is today. We need lower CO2 levels now than in the distant past in order to just maintain the SAME climate.

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Bob 18

The Real Science

Yet another cherry-picked fact, mis-represented by Lewis Page in support of a pre-determined agenda. There is no debate that glaciers worldwide are retreating at an alarming rate: this is immediately evident from numerous before-and-after photos.

The Himalayan glaciers are remote, and not so well studied because they are remote and hard to access. The recent data showing that they are not currently shrinking is therefore incredibly valuable. We can speculate why, of course, but that doesn't negate the well established fact that glaciers worldwide are retreating at an alarming rate.

Mass balance of a glacier is a complex interplay between many factors, including temperature and snowfall. Increased snowfall could cause glaciers to advance even in the face of warmer climate. Increased precipitation (thus snowfall) is the Himilayas could easily be caused by a warmer Indian Ocean: more water evaporates, so more snow falls in the mountains.

Speculation aside, more work is require to get the story on what's going on here. It's interesting science. But that does not negate the main story of glacial retreat, or anthropogenic climate change, or what we might need to do about it.

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Apple, publishers and ebook pricing – what does it all mean?

Bob 18

Effective Competition

Amazon may have a lot of e-book market share. But they got there by being a price leader. As long as there is effective competition in the e-book market, they will not be able to simply jack up prices, Apple style. And right now, I see plenty of competition. Amazon may sell a lot of Kindles, but Apple sells at least as many iPads.

I think Apple was just trying to use their monopoly position in iPad to leverage into controlling the eBook market. Which MOST DEFINITELY runs afoul of anti-trust laws.

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Google, Oracle settlement talks fail, trial to begin April 16

Bob 18

Jurors

Good luck to the poor Jurors who will undoubtedly end up spending months away from their jobs on this case.

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Coders' 'lives sucked out' by black-and-white Visual Studio 11

Bob 18
Facepalm

Mac or FORTRAN?

Looks like they're trying to catch the cool that is all the rage at Apple these days. Unfortunately, they don't have the designers that Apple has, or the cool cachet. Instead, they mistakenly send developers back to the land of FORTRAN 77 --- all-caps and Black-and-White.

It would be funny, if it weren't a company the size of Microsoft doing it.

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Elsevier's backpedalling not stopping scientist strike

Bob 18

One more casualty of the Internet...

along with newspaper classified ads, neighborhood record stores, etc. Why would I ever pay to get my papers printed? I do everything electronically with PDFs these days. The old journal business model is a total dinosaur.

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Enormous Apple market cap swells and swells ... like a bubble

Bob 18

Not Really a Bubble

According to the latest info I could get, Apple's P/E ratio is 16 or 17. That is not usually considered a bubble. So... I must conclude that Apple's high price is justified by its enormous profits.

Will those profits continue? They are based on high market share and high margins, both of which will likely drop in the future. Will Apple find another blockbuster product to maintain such a high level of profitability? Nobody knows...

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NASA: The future of space is public/private partnerships

Bob 18

PROFITS?

Can someone please explain to me how manned missions to Mars would EVER be profitable? What on Earth could justify spending all those billions to send people to Mars (and maybe back)?

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Linode hackers escape with $70K in daring bitcoin heist

Bob 18
Thumb Down

If it Ain't Broke....

I don't see what bitcoin is supposed to do (for the normal legitimate user who pays taxes) that would improve on our traditional banking system. And I see plenty of downsides.

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