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101  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: *FIXED*: Help! Problem with NoScript add-on in Firefox 35.0.1 on: February 03, 2015, 01:03:57 PM
@SB - that's perfect! Grin Grin Grin
102  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sad news for scifi booklovers. Borderlands Books of San Francisco is closing. on: February 03, 2015, 12:45:26 PM
Ok...your background and mine is similar. I worked bookstores and I have friends who owned one so we both have a down in the trenches bird's eye view. I have also run a few businesses of my own, including the current one, so I deal with this sort of reality every day.

"Passion," and "differentiate your offering," and "don't compete on price," are all well and good. But they don't really make any difference when you can't contain operating costs despite all your "good faith" efforts and heroic sacrifices. People who work need to get paid. People who own businesses need to make a living. Your sales volume and profit margin need to provide enough surplus to meet operating expenses - of which wages make up the bulk in most small businesses; along with rent, utilities, and taxes.

You can't do much about rent costs in retail since location is critical - and landlords know it. So regularly shopping rents and relocating isn't viable. Utilities are fixed. You can reduce your use as much as possible. But health & labor regulations determine just how far back you can cut the heat or A/C before you get into trouble. And if your customers are uncomfortable, they leave and often don't come back. Taxes aren't worth getting into. Most real tax strategies don't apply to small business. You can minimize taxes with competent ($$$) help. But taxes don't go away. And they generally keep going up.

So where does that leave us? With the prime gross margin (i.e. gross sales minus returns and discounts minus prime cost of goods sold - which includes freight-in). Costs are largely driven by volume here. Big orders = higher discounted unit price + more advantageous shipping charges. Small shops can't compete in that arena. So to a certain extent, you could say cost of goods is largely out of a small business's control. You can do some adroit shopping for vendors and try your best to "buy smart." But at the end of the day, your suppliers don't really need you in the book publishing world. Most times you'll need to order your stock through aggregators such as Ingram rather than deal with the major publishers themselves. And these middlemen will take a cut too.

So what's next...ah yes...prices!

Nope. Amazon has got you skunked there. Those discounts they offer customers are killer. So much so that I see people in B&N routinely see a book they like, pick it up, scan it with the Amazon app on their smartphone, put it in their online shopping cart - and then put the book back on the shelf. "Thankee B&N! I just wanted to take a look at it before I bought it!" Then, on the way out of B&N, they hit the one-click purchase key and Amazon delivers it to them a few days later. If B&N is lucky, these folks (and there are many) maybe bought a magazine, or cup of coffee during those two hours they were "shopping" in the store.

So what's left? Labor expense? Lay off non-family workers and work longer hours yourself? Ok. But for how long? And besides, even though you can elect not to pay yourself as the owner - everybody else (at least in my state) has to be paid minimum wage. To run a store responsibly takes at least two people. One to cover the front plus one to help out in front and cover everything else like shipping and receiving, paperwork, janitorial tasks, stocking shelves, doing the bank and PO box runs, etc. These two may swap roles back and forth. But you still need at least one person available to serve the customers and watch the store at all times. So small business labor savings are pretty much determined by how able the owner is to do without a paycheck. Not a very compelling proposition for most folks who don't have a trust fund to fall back on - as one of our town's former booksellers did. (interestingly, she was the first to close shop when things got really bad. ("Old money" doesn't tend to continue backing a losing proposition - even when they can afford to. A least not the "old money" crowd I've known.)

Despite all the fancy management bromides and new age business thinking, the two things that will most often sink a small business are:

  • Insufficient sales volume
  • Bad cash flow

Not enough money coming in - and not on a regular and predictable enough basis - are what kills small businesses more often than every other factor combined.

So no...I don't think the change in the average customer's expectation to pay lower prices than small bookstores can afford to offer is oversimplifying things at all. It goes right to the root of the problem. And that is what is most directly shifting the sales of books away from the traditional local shop, and over to large discount booksellers.
103  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / *FIXED*: Help! Problem with NoScript add-on in Firefox 35.0.1 on: February 03, 2015, 10:02:25 AM
UPDATE: Never mind. Found it. Bad setting in about:config. Fixed. Yay!


Has anybody else run into this? After the latest update (now FF 35.0.1), the NoScript add-on no longer seems to be working.

It shows itself as being installed (v2.6.9.11). I even removed it, closed FF, reopened and then reinstalled it. Same result. It's not working.

Suggestions on where to look?
104  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sad news for scifi booklovers. Borderlands Books of San Francisco is closing. on: February 03, 2015, 09:44:44 AM
It's a change in venue and a change in distribution.  Adapt or die.

It's actually more a change in expectations that's the tipping point AFAICT. As the owners of Borderlands Books said in their blog, the list price of books are set (and printed on the cover of books) by their publishers. And with the advent of Amazon, nobody expects to pay list for a book today. So the indie stores can't push the price up above list because that's simply "not done" (nor is it doable) when it comes to books that are in print.

"Adapt or die" is one way of looking at it. (I suspect Renegade would applaud that one.) But there are practical limits. What's happening to these small stores is the equivalent of sealing them in a glass jar and telling them: "You have a simple choice. Learn to live without oxygen - or perish."

105  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Sad news for scifi booklovers. Borderlands Books of San Francisco is closing. on: February 03, 2015, 09:08:40 AM
^It's whole new world for word publishing. The landscape of which is looking pretty grim. I mean seriously...for a shop like Borderlands to be shutting down in a city like San Francisco???

I'm not getting warm fuzzies.

Ten or so years ago, my town used to have three independent bookstores, two used book shops, and a Borders.

It now has no bookstores...unless you want to count the half-assed one our local college installed in the ruins of Borders old location. It's mostly school-branded stationary, campus swag and course texts, with a very small fiction/general book section - plus the de rigueur coffee shop. (This school has a lot of off-campus residents living in the immediate area.)

About the only saving grace is that our local library association still throws its major used 'book faire' in the summer, plus one or two smaller ones in the fall and spring. (And they're invariably mobbed so it's not like nobody is reading physical books any more.)



106  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Internet of Things thread (IoT) on: February 03, 2015, 08:56:28 AM
Dunno. There are specific situations where an IoT would be a godsend. Unfortunately, I don't think it will stop there.

In my head I keep hearing the words to the Alan Parsons song To One in Paradise where they go:

I believed in my dreams...
Nothing could change my mind.
Till I found what they mean.
Nothing can save me now.

107  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B on sale now. Lots more for the same $35 on: February 03, 2015, 08:08:45 AM
Gotta admit...I am HUGELY tempted to buy a batch of these to cluster together (Maybe 10-16 of them in total), and run Windows 10 on them...would be a sweet little supercomputer to have at home xD

Out of curiosity, how would you implement it? Using Arch Linux as a base and setting up a Beowulf Cluster seems to be what most are doing. But it may not be a panacea. I've heard that one of the limitations for clustering with the Pi is the lack of power in the CPU. So while it worked rather well for some distributed processing scenarios, parallel processing cases didn't work out quite so well. Maybe with the faster ARMv7 and that additional RAM it will be less an issue?

Another consideration - the roughly $2k (all in) you'd need to budget to do it right would allow you to build a bumpin' PC with a high-end i7 and a ton of RAM. With that machine you could run VMs until the cows come home. So it might be more practical for normal PC use if you don't actually need a render farm or similar non-mainstream environment. Because unless your app supports distributed processing, having a cluster won't get you anything.

Still...it would be fun to build one purely for esthetics... Thmbsup Cool
108  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B on sale now. Lots more for the same $35 on: February 03, 2015, 05:38:15 AM
This looks beyond awesome!...We are just talking about that in #donationcoder

Cool! - I'll cross reference it in my OP above and direct people there to keep it all in one place. Thmbsup

Erm, that wasn't a thread haha, that's the link to the chat room cheesy  Sorry if I wasn't clear on that haha  Cool


Fixed.  smiley
109  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Sad news for scifi booklovers. Borderlands Books of San Francisco is closing. on: February 02, 2015, 07:49:40 PM
SF writer Cory Doctorow posted some very sad news on Boing-Boing. One of the very few independent science-fiction bookstores left in the USA, the famous Borderlands Books in San Francisco is planning on shutting its doors by March 31, 2015.

Their blog post serves up a neat summary of the seemingly insurmountable challenges an independent bookstore faces under the current realities of retail book selling.

You can read it here.

There is still some small hope. From their blog:

Quote
Some of you reading this probably have questions popping into your minds -- Is there a way to keep Borderlands open?  What alternatives have you considered?  What about moving out of SF?  What is going to happen to the cafe?  Is the business for sale?  And so on.  Before asking us your questions, please wait for a week.  We'll be sending out and posting updates frequently over the next week or so and those updates will probably answer most of your questions.  We will also be holding a public meeting in the cafe at seven P. M. on Thursday, February 12th. We'll be on hand to answer questions and moderate a discussion about alternatives to closing the store.  Although we do not believe that any viable alternative exists, we also think that we have a very smart and imaginative group of customers.  It is not impossible that we've missed a potential solution, and so we want an opportunity to hear your thoughts.

Hopefully some clever Jill or Joe will come up with an idea in time.

If not, "So it goes."
110  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Raspberry Pi 2 Model B on sale now. Lots more for the same $35 on: February 02, 2015, 07:14:05 PM
This looks beyond awesome!...We are just talking about that in #donationcoder

Cool! - I'll cross reference it in my OP above and direct people there to keep it all in one place. Thmbsup
111  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Raspberry Pi 2 Model B on sale now. Lots more for the same $35 on: February 02, 2015, 04:52:31 PM


It's got a quad-core 900Mhz ARMv7, processor, 1Gb RAM, and 4 USB slots - and the I/O ports are finally (mostly) grouped together.

Specs:

Quote
Here is the full list of specs for Raspberry Pi 2 Model B:

    SoC: Broadcom BCM2836 (CPU, GPU, DSP, SDRAM)
    CPU: 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex A7 (ARMv7 instruction set)
    GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV @ 250 MHz
    More GPU info: OpenGL ES 2.0 (24 GFLOPS); 1080p30 MPEG-2 and VC-1 decoder (with license); ​1080p30 h.264/MPEG-4 AVC high-profile decoder and encoder
    Memory: 1 GB (shared with GPU)
    USB ports: 4
    Video input: 15-pin MIPI camera interface (CSI) connector
    Video outputs: HDMI, composite video (PAL and NTSC) via 3.5 mm jack
    Audio input: I²S
    Audio outputs: Analog via 3.5 mm jack; digital via HDMI and I²S
    Storage: MicroSD
    Network: 10/100Mbps Ethernet
    Peripherals: 17 GPIO plus specific functions, and HAT ID bus
    Power rating: 800 mA (4.0 W)
    Power source: 5 V via MicroUSB or GPIO header
    Size: 85.60mm × 56.5mm
    Weight: 45g (1.6 oz)

Info and order links here.
112  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: stickies Notezilla memoboard as full-blown personal note system on: February 02, 2015, 02:31:55 PM
Outline 4D emphasizes in their blurbs screen writing and fiction writing.  And it does look like a solid tool in many ways. The question is whether it adapts well to non-fiction writing.

I've used it for everything. It's not a genre specific tool. smiley
113  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: I've not been happy with Macrium Reflect Free, and perhaps their paid versions.. on: February 02, 2015, 10:31:00 AM
re: Paragon. They make a fine partitioning tool. I own a copy. But I still think GParted is the single most useful and reliable tool out there for general drive partitioning work. It's FOSS software, very actively maintained and regularly updated - and it's free. This is the partitioner every Linux distro installer uses, so it's been extensively field-tested for reliability. I've never encountered any issues when using GParted. YMMV.
114  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Memory lane for motorists on: February 02, 2015, 10:04:37 AM
I hate sites that provide only slide shows rather than letting you see a list of the items, and life is too short to step one-by-one through 100 slides.

Agree. But  that's how it works when you get ad revenue for each page visited.

I went through 10 or so out of curiosity before I quit. These were all well outside my self-imposed price range.

[attach]

Guess I'm just not that into it. huh My GF, however, would have probably run through the entire list. Unlike me, she actually likes cars. And she's not immune to the automotive siren's song of 'fine motoring.' (In many respects we're as opposite as they come. Grin)
115  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: I've not been happy with Macrium Reflect Free, and perhaps their paid versions.. on: February 02, 2015, 09:54:17 AM
I have no wish to enter into a detailed analysis of what does or does not work in various pieces of backup software. My own experience with Macrium Reflect has been entirely satisfactory, and that's good enough for me.  smiley

Same for me. And same here. I've not encountered any problems with Macrium Reflect. It's always worked as advertised for me. smiley
116  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Interview with John McAfee on: February 01, 2015, 10:25:24 PM
Is it just me or does he look like some evil incarnation of the late Frank Zappa? He sure spouts some stuff good enough to belong in a Zappa and the Mothers tune. Grin
117  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Recommend some music videos to me! on: February 01, 2015, 10:11:21 PM

Quite impressive !  I am just wondering why she is not using real arrow tips ?

Because accidents can happen? I'm sure it was the show management that insisted. smiley
118  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Memory lane for motorists on: February 01, 2015, 10:08:52 PM
Hey Chris? You need to fix your link above... Wink

It's showing as http://www.carophile.com/...t-changed-history/http://
119  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: server 2008r2 x64 VPN to Windows 8.1 Home Premium x64 for remote access on: February 01, 2015, 10:04:41 PM
Any advice on the best way to accomplish this on a small scale would be appreciated.  This is not a "Domain" network, simply a need to share file access by about 30 people regardless of whether they are on-site or working from home or on the road.

I'd strongly advise you to set yourself up to use a domain and AD if at all possible. Microsoft's entire security model is built around using both of them. Once those are in place, everything (i.e. additional "roles" such as VPN, routing, and remote access/desktop services becomes relatively easy to accomplish using the features built into Windows Server itself. (Note: you'll also want a separate hardware based firewall in addition to what Microsoft provides on your network perimeter for boundary protection.)

This is something you really might want to consider having someone (who's local) handle for you if you haven't done this sort of project before. Seriously! To do it right isn't something that can be accomplished by simply working off a checklist if you don't know the ramifications, or the whys & wherefores. Done wrong, it can open your company up to a host of headaches and woes.

So again, I'd have to recommend you contract with some qualified local resource to help you out with this one. It shouldn't be that expensive.

Just my two cents  smiley Thmbsup
120  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC? on: February 01, 2015, 09:13:41 PM
stoic bassists...lol.  Yeah, that is a thing.  

To go back to the stoic bit for a moment, this is an example of that "gimmee more bass" thing guitarists love to do to their bass player when they launch into an interminable solo.

My old band had a few 'rules' when it came to solos:
 
  • No drum solos. (fine by our drummer)
  • No bass solos. (fine by me)
  • Guitar solos to run no more than 1 minute long.
  • Always leave the audience wanting more - not less


Unfortunately, my band had this one particular (very fast) song that one of our guitarists staked out as his showcase piece. He gradually stretched his speed solo beyond our 1-minute limit until it ran as long as he thought he could get away with. He'd just close his eyes and go into the Ego Zone until the rest of us (and sometimes the audience) were on the verge of mutiny.

When he launched into his solo, I'd be playing this for his backing riff in second position, with the metronome running around 155:

[attach]

It's not a difficult a passage to play. But since this song was invariably played just before break at the end of our second 50 minute set (most clubs where we worked contracted for three 50 minute sets if you were the only band on the marquee) - it was not the most reasonable time to expect me to play this part for 5+ minutes straight while he bored the tar out of everybody. (I think he was doing it mostly to impress his girlfriend, who was convinced he was a 20th century Orpheus or something.) Nobody but him was shocked when our lead singer (who wrote the song) finally removed it from our playlist.

This is the sort of nonsense a bassist often gets to put up with. undecided  Wink
121  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Would appreciate some feedback on my new logos on: February 01, 2015, 11:27:48 AM
Since you're retooling your logo, a suggestion?

There is one school of wisdom (mine) which argues: "If a logo truly 'works' - it works as well in B&W as it does in color."

That's important because you want your brand mark to be readily identifiable no matter where it shows up. Not every publication or platform uses color - and color reproduction adds significantly to cost once you exit the web and enter the physical world.

While it may not seem that important now, what about in the future when you're (hopefully) the acknowledged go-to guy for all things game? What will you do for t-shirts, visor caps, and related swag when you do a keynote or sit on a panel at a gamer's convention? Or you need to emboss your logo on some hopefully "collectible" plastic trinket, doo-dad, or similar giveaway? Or to put it on something you want to sell on your website? If you need color to make your logo immediately identifiable, it will jack up your costs and selling prices.

So don't just think logo. Think identity.

Think of your logo in terms of how it looks on the web. On paper. On a t-shirt or mug. On the banner over your booth at a GameCon. In color and B&W. It takes time to establish a "look" and get people to immediately associate it with you. And switching horses later in the game can be costly, or in some cases, simply not doable. (There's probably a thousand successful businesses that absolutely hate their logo and corporate identity. But will they change it for any reason other than the most dire necessity? Not if they have an ounce of brains in their heads.)

So think it through now if at all possible. Because while you may be thinking "It's just for my personal website." - you never know when unexpected success may pounce upon you. Or you're forced to try to make a go of it professionally. In this volatile employment environment, "job-loss opportunities" aren't that uncommon. Many people, of necessity, started their own business or transformed a former hobby activity into one, after they unexpectedly found themselves out of a job. Cinderella stories do still happen. So prepare and position yourself for it "just in case."

Just my two cents Thmbsup

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbWg-mozGsU" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbWg-mozGsU</a>

 Cool Wink

122  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: Post your Linux/FOSS humor here. on: January 31, 2015, 09:48:54 PM
  [attach]
123  Other Software / Developer's Corner / Re: Would appreciate some feedback on my new logos on: January 31, 2015, 04:53:52 PM
Agree w/Chris above. For same reason. smiley
124  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Do we have any musical people on DC? on: January 31, 2015, 03:59:35 PM
Getting away from all things bass (and bass players) for a moment (YAY!), here's something useful I recently found.

If you want a regulated hum-free power supply to handle multiple effects pedals, but don't cotton to paying the prices some of the commercial versions go for, it's fairly easy to build your own IF you have some electronics project experience.

The key to the ease of building this particular power supply is an unusual transformer sold by a company called Weber Magnetics. It takes 120VAC-in and provides eight separate isolated 11VAC @ 300ma pairs - plus one with 9VAC @2A.

If none of the above makes sense, STOP READING. You don't have enough experience or technical background to safely attempt a homebrew project like this.

To continue...

This transformer, which is specifically designed to power effect pedals, is called a WPDLXFMR-1 and it runs for $25 per unit. There's also a 120/220/240VAC configurable primary version for non-US voltages called the WPDLXFMR-2 available as well. Info and links can be found on this page - look towards the bottom.

[attachthumb=#]  [attachthumb=#]

Quote
Pedal and effects power supply transformer, Eight 11 volt, 300ma windings and one 9 volt, 2 amp winding. 120VAC input. This is a transformer, NOT a power supply. The output is AC, not DC. You must build a power supply that converts AC to DC in order to use this transformer.

Drop a voltage rectifier and (optional) voltage regulator circuit after each pair and Bob's yer uncle! A discussion (with schematics of suggested circuits) can be found on on the project page for the Geofex Spyder power supply located here.

I'm being sketchy about details because a project of this type involves potentially lethal voltages on the side of the circuit you'd be plugging into a wall outlet. If you don't know what you're doing - DON'T. And even if you do know what you're doing - be extremely careful. All the usual "At your own risk" disclaimers apply.

Note: This post is only being provided for educational purposes. Any safety risks are the sole responsibility of the project builder.
125  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / The Serengeti Startegy - Sowing doubt for fun and profit on: January 31, 2015, 03:27:23 PM
Good read by Michael E. Mann over at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists website.

Quote
The Serengeti strategy:
How special interests try to
intimidate scientists, and
how best to fight back


Michael E. Mann


Abstract
Much as lions on the Serengeti seek out vulnerable zebras at the edge of a herd, special interests faced with
adverse scientific evidence often target individual scientists rather than take on an entire scientific field at once.

Part of the reasoning behind this approach is that it is easier to bring down individuals than an entire group of
scientists, and it still serves the larger aim: to dismiss, obscure, and misrepresent well-established science and
its implications. In addition, such highly visible tactics create an atmosphere of intimidation that discourages
other scientists from conveying their research's implications to the public.

This "Serengeti strategy" is often employed wherever there is a strong and widespread consensus among the world's scientists
about the underlying cold, hard facts of a field, whether the subject be evolution, ozone depletion, the environmental impacts of
DDT, the health effects of smoking, or human-caused climate change. The goal is to attack those researchers
whose findings are inconvenient, rather than debate the findings themselves.

This article draws upon the author's own experience to examine the "Serengeti strategy," and offers possible
countermeasures to such orchestrated campaigns. It examines what responses by scientists have been most successful,
and how to combat the doubt-sowing that industry has done regarding the science behind climate change and other fields

Read the full article here.
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