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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: New Bill Would Repeal Patriot Act on: March 25, 2015, 01:19:47 PM
I also haven't read it yet. But if it's as described, this is probably the most important potential legislation we'll see for years. Although DC isn't the best place for the discussion, I'd urge all of you to call your legislators and urge them to get on board.
2  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Robert A. Heinlein - atmospheric processor question on: March 20, 2015, 03:51:34 PM
This doesn't answer your question, but....

In the novel Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson discusses an approach that is probably both faster and more efficient.

They distribute a lichen everywhere they go on the planet, leaving behind the means to pump oxygen into the atmosphere. Every one of these little things grows and multiplies, powered just by the existing environment and sun. And that multiplication means that once things get going a little, you've got a huge mass of little factories converting atmosphere for you, all for free and at an ever-increasing rate.
3  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, Ebooks. These 9 Studies Show Why Print Is Better on: March 09, 2015, 04:02:13 PM
The reference book bit really hit home with me, so true.  It is a painful experience.  However, I do have to say that on the flip side, I have found it extremely handy to be able to take screenshots or clip text and such things like that.  Interesting.  I wonder how this will go in the future...how do we marry the two together?

One thing that I do find pretty useful in this vein is Evernote. I can copy out interesting pieces from various sources, including images, and tag them appropriately. When I want easy access between them, I can just search for the appropriate tag(s) to focus on just those. But I don't want to derail the discussion into note taking (for which there are already a zillion threads around here) - I just mean to acknowledge your point, that the digital realm does have some good solutions in this area.
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sorry, Ebooks. These 9 Studies Show Why Print Is Better on: March 09, 2015, 02:43:56 PM
For fiction and other pleasure reading, I'm all-in for ebooks. I use my Kindle almost exclusively for this. However, I do have a bunch of shelves of treasured books, mostly hardcovers, that I just feel good having near me.

On the other hand, I find the ebook experience for reference material - like programming manuals - completely awful. I find that I'm always wanting to flip back-and-forth between pages, and even have multiple books open simultaneously. Paper books laid out on a desktop, with bookmarks at important spots, accomplish this very well. It seems like this is an experience that ebooks *could* emulate, but I haven't found anything that does so well.
5  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Matchstick - A streaming stick using Firefox OS [Kickstarter] on: February 07, 2015, 10:01:55 AM
I understand delays, and I always thought their February promise was optimistic. But it really sucks that they'd wait until three weeks before it's promised in our hands to announce a 6-month delay. With a delay of this scope, it had to be something they've known about for quite a while; why wait so long to tell those of us who financed the project from the start?
6  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Windows 10 Announced on: February 05, 2015, 11:41:58 AM
Thanks for the screenshot. I'm glad to see that the developers finally have control of their Caps-Lock key, so the menus can have lowercase letters as well! This has been one of the two things I hate most about the current version.

(The other thing I hate about the current version is that you can no longer set Outlook to show the first few lines for only *new* messages.)
7  DonationCoder.com Software / N.A.N.Y. 2015 / Re: NANY 2015 Release: WhenLast (Android app) on: January 23, 2015, 09:26:07 AM
Dumb question: these aren't coming through in PlayStore updates. Should I delete my playstore version while you're still testing, and load the APK that's referenced from the topmost post in this thread?
8  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Secure Email As a Potential Terrorist Indicator" ??! on: January 19, 2015, 05:28:37 PM
What about kiddie pr0n?

But does that actually fall under the umbrella of "free speech" ?

Yes, as long as people are prosecuted for just being in possession of a photo, absent any evidence of being involved in any actual abuse. Heck, you'll get prosecuted for photos of adults made to look sufficiently like children, or photos that are pure CGI.

And I think that you asking the question proves my point. It seems that *everyone* draws the line somewhere, and to that person (or to people from that culture), that line is obvious. "Well, sure we want free speech, but *that* is just so far beyond the pale...").

Every culture has their sacred cows. And from their own perspective, they don't look like cows at all.

And since we can see that we ourselves fall victim to this, we need to be careful when criticizing other groups who just choose different cows.
9  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: "Secure Email As a Potential Terrorist Indicator" ??! on: January 19, 2015, 10:48:10 AM
@Renegade - I'm not disagreeing with you, but at first this may sound like it does:

What about kiddie pr0n?

This seems to be the ultimate sacred cow in America, where virtually everyone agrees that free speech stops before it gets to this, and that virtually any amount of encroachment is justified in preventing this.

So, two questions:

1) How confident are you that this type of speech is fundamentally different? Or are we just like every other society on the planet, just setting the line a bit differently?

2) Can you see any way to avoid the abuse of children in this manner, while not explicitly attacking the speech that communicates it?
10  DonationCoder.com Software / N.A.N.Y. 2015 / Re: NANY 2015 Release: WhenLast (Android app) on: January 14, 2015, 07:26:49 PM
For me, the critical feature is that it will re-start the countdown only when I acknowledge that I've completed the task implied by the first alarm. So if I'm using the app to remind myself to refill my medication every 30 days, and I'm out of town for the week that it triggers, I want to do it as soon as I return - and because my insurance forces me to space orders by 30 days, I have to wait that long even though I was late on the refill. Similarly, if I want to water my plants every 4 days, and I'm 3 days late, I don't want to water today, and have it remind me again tomorrow.

To actually answer the question, though...

I always have a tendency to try to push too much in, and this may be an instance of that. But I think that for nagging, each reminder should have an nag frequency attribute. You could set this to one of these values:
  • One and Done - just remind me once, and then assume I'll take care of it
  • Weekly - remind me one week from the first reminder, and once a week thereafter. This would be for low-priority tasks like changing the filter in the HVAC
  • Daily - remind me once a day until I say I've done the task

And then, just to really over-complicate things, maybe I could open the app, and for a task that's triggered buy I haven't acknowledged yet, I could say "remind me again on Saturday" (without changing the fact that it's a 180-day cycle) so I can get to Home Depot to buy those filters.
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Beware of download sites on: January 14, 2015, 02:41:46 PM
Similarly, I still use MajorGeeks, and I believe them to still be above-board. But I may be wrong.
12  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Congratulations Terrorists, You are getting what you want! on: January 13, 2015, 01:18:38 PM
Author Charlie Stross posted the best retort to Cameron's idiocy.

Our glorious prime minister, failed TV company marketing director David Cameron, has proposed banning all forms of encryption that can't be broken by the security services. I'm not the only person who thinks this policy is beyond bonkers and well into criminal insanity (even his own deputy prime minister has reservations), but for the record, let me lay out why this is such a bad idea.

Worth reading the whole thing.
13  DonationCoder.com Software / N.A.N.Y. 2015 / Re: NANY 2015 Release: WhenLast (Android app) on: January 12, 2015, 01:04:48 PM
Next planned feature is timed reminders

I would have payed double - or more - your $0.99 for this!

It'll remind me
  • When I need to water the houseplants
  • When I need to check swimming pool chemistry
  • When I should rebalance the investments in my 401k
  • And probably a ton more I haven't thought of yet
14  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Beware of Freeware downloads on: January 12, 2015, 11:50:59 AM
Sorry if the title was offensive. What I really meant to say was the aggregation portals (like download.com cited in the article, but also even sourceforge recently). But even so, it is applicable, unfortunately, to many small developers themselves.
15  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Beware of download sites on: January 12, 2015, 10:54:43 AM
How-To Geek has an interesting cautionary tale.

We installed the top 10 apps from Download.com, and you’ll never believe what happened! Well… I guess maybe you might have a good guess. Awful things. Awful things are what happens. Join us for the fun!

We’ve been railing against freeware download recommendations for years, and recently we taught you how to test any software safely using a virtual machine. So we thought, why not have some fun and see what really happens if you download software like a regular clueless user might?

For the purpose of this experiment, we’re going to just click through all regular installation screens with the default options using a fresh virtual machine. And we’re going to install ten applications from the most popular downloads list. And we’re going to assume the persona of a regular non-geek user.


Why do nice things always have to go to crap?

EDIT: changed title of thread to not cast aspersions on all freeware
16  DonationCoder.com Software / N.A.N.Y. 2015 / Re: NANY 2015 Release: WhenLast (Android app) on: January 07, 2015, 04:26:47 PM
i figured the play store might not help you update if you downloaded it elsewhere, but that's pretty crappy that they don't at least tell you there is an update available.

Check out Changelog Droid. I use this primarily to check on the changelogs of apps that have recently been updated. But it'll also point out any apps for which your installed version doesn't match the current play store version.
17  DonationCoder.com Software / N.A.N.Y. 2015 / Re: NANY 2015 Release: WhenLast (Android app) on: January 06, 2015, 12:48:42 PM
I'm in for the $0.99 Play Store version. As CyberDiva said, it was surprising to find the app so far down the list. For a direct match, I'd expect it to be at or near the top.

I don't want to derail the conversation, but it's already half-way there, so...

I don't mind the ads so much. What really irks me are in-app purchases. I don't like the idea to begin with, because I'd like to be able to plan from the start how much something's going to cost me. But on top of this, it's almost never clear what features are free, and what you'll need to spend extra on.
18  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Tool to facilitate transcribing speech on: December 21, 2014, 08:37:38 PM
My wife is working on transcribing her father's memoirs - he recorded about 39 hours of cassette tapes, which I've digitized for her. She wants to get it all into text. I'm looking for ways to make the job easier.

The obvious solution is something like Dragon software's speech-to-text. But the catch is that the speech is in Mandarin, and so far as I've been able to find, there's no software available to turn Mandarin speech into text.

Short of that, though, can anyone suggest a tool that might help her get through the audio more systematically? Since she's constantly listening to a minute or so, replaying it maybe a couple of times, and then proceeding to the next chunk of text, I think that the beginning of any tool might simplify this looping process.

Another usecase is for when she encounters something she doesn't understand, frequently a name that she doesn't know how to write (Chinese is funny with not being able to write a word if you've never seen its character). She needs to remember these spots and go back over them with her dad, so he can tell her the right characters to use. It might also be useful to store numerous bookmarks for the file, facilitating this process.

Anybody have suggestions I could pass on to her?
19  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Decibels, loudness, amplifiers, formulas...complete confusion! on: December 10, 2014, 03:36:50 PM
I think that all you really need is an amp that goes to 11.
20  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Decibels, loudness, amplifiers, formulas...complete confusion! on: December 10, 2014, 01:16:22 PM
I think Vurbal hits the nail on the head: given a given loudspeaker system - meaning that the efficiency of the driver, stiffness of the cone, dampening in the box, rigidity of the box, etc, are all held constant - then Ohm's law and all that other stuff will tell you how changes to the input will affect changes in the output. And that's precisely *why* it's expressed in db's - we don't know the actual absolute value, but we can still safely talk about relative values. So for your headphones, if you've got an amp design that produces X in your headphones, you (in theory) could tweak it to produce, say, 2X. But in real life you can't, of course, because that amp is a proprietary product, a black box to you, so you can't actually tweak it yourself.

As far as factoring in those values above, I think it's largely voodoo. There are rules of thumb, even things that pretend to be scientific and formulaic, but as far as I'm aware that's just formalizing those rules of thumb. They're as useful as high school physics formulas that assume point-masses and zero friction.

I also agree with the sentiment here that the final impression of the sound is determined largely by the music's mastering. It seems clear to me that the perception of the sound volume can be very decoupled from the actual sound energy being output. And generally speaking, it's that cleaner sound, even at higher "sound pressure", isn't perceived as loud, but when there's audible distortion, that quickly drives up the perception of loudness.
21  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Matchstick - A streaming stick using Firefox OS [Kickstarter] on: October 29, 2014, 03:09:35 PM
I signed up a couple weeks ago.
Will this device be able to play media from a local source like samba, NFS, or windows file share?
Not supported yet. Sorry.

This is the Local Play extension that was mentioned in the OP. Apparently they're going to let subscribers choose which of those two extensions to have added to the feature list. I sure hope it's this Local Play thing.
22  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: android app to set my vibration mode on specific hours on: October 29, 2014, 09:59:49 AM
omg, how am I supposed to find that?

DuckDuckGo is your friend, or go to relevant web fora and search within them.
23  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: android app to set my vibration mode on specific hours on: October 29, 2014, 09:02:15 AM
I had some headaches getting Tasker to actually close stuff. As far as I can tell, an outright close doesn't work. But if you can find it, many apps have a built-in way of requesting that they close.

For example, I found that with Waze, the way to get it to close is by sending an action "Eliran_Close_Intent" to Package "com.waze" targeting "Broadcast Receiver".
24  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Satnav for android on: October 22, 2014, 11:21:45 AM
Initially I was amazed by the good amount of warnings before turns and the timing they occur.
However, I used the Serena voice, the only UK English voice that has 'street names' and it was awful!
The quality is so bad, that it is heard like she speaks from a bad phone line!
Also, it is not loud at all!
Compared with Google Maps' voice which is loud and clear.

Any hint?

Well, you could use a USA voice.

Regarding the volume, there is a setting for that. Go to Settings -> Sounds -> Prompts volume. That's a slider that determines the voice volume (I think), so make sure the slider is all the way to the right.
25  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: android app to set my vibration mode on specific hours on: October 22, 2014, 11:17:47 AM
The part I can't figure out how to do it is the 'automatically navigate to work' part

You said you're using Waze, right? For me, Waze handles that part automatically. When I start it up in the morning, it knows itself that what I normally do is drive to work, and it offers me that straighaway. And similarly in the evening, it knows that I'm going to be driving home.

how does that do it? how did you set it to do it?

It just does it. It seems to notice the pattern of what destinations are chosen consistently at a given time of day. When it starts to see a pattern, it will automatically pop up a box asking if you want to repeat that pattern for this trip.
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