Wednesday, October 29, 2014

OS X 10.10 Yosemite: The Ars Technica Review

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OS X 10.10 Yosemite: The Ars Technica Review

When the book is finally closed on the product line known as OS X, last year’s release of OS X 10.9 Mavericks may end up getting short shrift. Sure, it brought tangible energy saving benefits to Mac laptop owners, but such gains are quickly taken for granted; internal changes and new frameworks are not as memorable to customers as they may be to developers and technophiles. And while Mavericks included many new user-visible features, and even new bundled applications, the cumulative effect was that of a pleasant upgrade, not a blockbuster.

But for all its timidity and awkwardness, Mavericks marked a turning point for OS X—and in more than just naming scheme. It was the first OS X release from the newly unified, post-Forstall Apple. If iOS 7 was the explosive release of Jony Ive’s pent-up software design ethos, then Mavericks was the embodiment of Craig Federighi’s patient engineering discipline. Or maybe Mavericks was just a victim of time constraints and priorities. Either way, in last year’s OS X release, Apple tore down the old. This year, finally, Apple is ready with the new.

Ars Technica has an incredibly detailed (and long - 25 screens) article all about the latest version of Mac OS X. There's lots of interesting information in here for everybody, from system programmers to power users, to Mac afficionados, to people who just like to admire and criticize industrial design.

Monday, October 27, 2014

CVS, Rite-Aid, WalMart and others are all on crack

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USA Today: CVS follows Rite-Aid, shuts off Apple Pay

Last Thursday drug store chain Rite Aid Inc. (RAD) reportedly stopped accepting payments made through the just launched Apple Pay system from Apple (AAPL). On Saturday, CVS Health (CVS) was reported to have followed suit at its CVS pharmacy stores.

The issue appears to be a conflict between Apple Pay and a mobile payment system called CurrentC that is being developed by a retailer-owned mobile technology outfit called Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX).

I'm sure you've heard about the above news already. For more information on this, TechCrunch wrote a great article all about CurrentC, how it works and why it even exists.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Interpreting Verizon's contract buzzwords

I recently upgraded my phone to a new iPhone 6+. It's great, but that's not the point of this article. In reading through the contract information, both before and after signing, I became aware of the fact that my contract has a lot of buzzwords that are not clearly defined.

In Googling for the definitions, I found that it is very hard to find definitions for most of these. As a service to my readers, here are all the line items from my contract, and the best explanation I've found so far for them. Some come from Verizon or from user-forum discussions I ran across. Some are based on my own intuition and understanding of wireless technology.

Corrections are welcome and will help to make the list more complete. I don't promise that it's all correct, but I hope people with specific knowledge will be able to help me improve it and make it correct.

Updated on June 4, 2015, based on reader comments. Thanks much!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gun humor

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h/t HappyGoth_Fanboi at The Devil's Panties:

(Click on image to enlarge)

Here's a Wikipedia link in case you don't know what "Mosin Nagant" refers to. I assume "AK" and "AR" will be self-obvious to the reader...

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Digital Reader: Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries

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In the "Gee, I was looking for another reason to continue hating Adobe" department...

Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries

Adobe is gathering data on the ebooks that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order. All of this data, including the title, publisher, and other metadata for the book is being sent to Adobe's server in clear text.

I am not joking; Adobe is not only logging what users are doing, they’re also sending those logs to their servers in such a way that anyone running one of the servers in between can listen in and know everything,

But wait, there’s more.

Adobe isn’t just tracking what users are doing in DE4; this app was also scanning my computer, gathering the metadata from all of the ebooks sitting on my hard disk, and uploading that data to Adobe’s servers.

In. Plain. Text.

And just to be clear, this includes not just ebooks I opened in DE4, but also ebooks I store in calibre and every Epub ebook I happen to have sitting on my hard disk.


I have never installed Digital Editions, but you can be certain I won't ever install it in the future.

Please click through to the article. There are some followup posts. Adobe claims you agreed to all this when you clicked on the license agreement that everybody knows you didn't read. They also claim they are only phoning home about documents opened in Digital Editions, even though it's been demonstrated that such a claim is a lie.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Register: Marriott fined $600k for deliberate JAMMING of guests' Wi-Fi hotspots

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Marriott fined $600k for deliberate JAMMING of guests' Wi-Fi hotspots

The Marriott has been fined $600,000 by the FCC for paralyzing guests' personal Wi-Fi hotspots, forcing them to use the hotel giant's expensive network instead.

The US watchdog today said the Marriott Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, used monitoring equipment to illegally boot hotel and convention center guests off their own networks, which were typically smartphone hotspots.

Meanwhile, Marriott managers encouraged everyone to connect to the hotel's Wi-Fi network, which cost from $250 to $1,000 to access.

Ever notice how the most expensive hotels charge the most for internet access?

For those who don't know, the Marrott Gaylord chain of hotels is incredibly expensive. A "cheap" room is several hundred dollars per night. And then they have the gall to charge an additional $250-1000 for internet access? And then deliberately jamming anybody who dares to try and access the internet through their own means? I'm surprised they didn't decide to jam the entire cell phone spectrum and tell people to use their room phones at $10/minute.

It's sleazy scumbag policies like this which convinced me (many many years ago) to avoid all those expensive "prestigious" hotels. When I travel, I stay at cheap places like Holiday Inn, where my room rate is 75% less expensive and where they include internet access and breakfast at no extra charge.

These self-described luxury hotels can keep their designer soaps pillow-chocolate. It's not worth paying hundreds of dollars extra per night and losing amenities that I consider critical when traveling (internet and breakfast.) Maybe they'll learn someday, but I doubt it. They're happy catering to business travelers who will just bill everything to the company without even thinking about the cost.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Comcast speed test

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The above graphic is the result of running Comcast's speed test. (I'm paying for 25/5 service - which is what I'm getting.) Now that I've got my router straightened out, it's pretty nice. Interesting how IPv6 is about 2.7Mbps slower than IPv4.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Daily Signal: 6 Steps to Subtract 2 Numbers: Common Core Homework in 1 Photo

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The Daily Signal: 6 Steps to Subtract 2 Numbers: Common Core Homework in 1 Photo

For third graders learning Common Core math in Georgia, there are four ways to subtract—and only four ways allowed. The picture above is just one of the methods for subtraction under Common Core straight from RedState editor in chief Erick Erickson’s third grade daughter’s math book.

Missing from the four methods: borrowing and carrying numbers. You know, the old-fashioned-taught-the-same-way-for-decades-granny-method-not-approved-by-bureaucrats subtraction.

Click through to the full article to see one insanely complicated approach to subtraction that kids are forced to memorize.

And this is a great example of why education should not be controlled by faceless Washington bureaucrats. Our schools are being forced to teach according to academic theories and experiments, without regard to whether or not the children will actually learn anything.

I'm very glad that Virginia (for the moment anyway) is not one of the 43 states participating in this brain-dead Common Core curriculum. But I'm sure Washington will find some way to force their will on us. They just need to shred another few pages of the Constitution before they decide we have no rights whatsoever.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

What an $18,400 airline ticket gets you

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What It's Like To Fly The $23,000 Singapore Airlines Suites Class

In 2008, Singapore Airlines introduced their Suites Class, the most luxurious class of flying that is commercially available.

The Suites were exclusive to their flagship Airbus A380, and they go beyond flat beds by offering enclosed private cabins with sliding doors that cocoon you in your own little lap of luxury. The interior was designed by French luxury yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste and comes along with a plush soft leather armchair hand-stitched by the Italian master craftsmen Poltrona Frau. Perhaps most well-known of all, Singapore Airlines became the first and only commercial airline with a double bed in the sky.

I will never experience this first hand. Something about not having a spare $19,000 lying around, or if I do, I'd rather do something other than buy a round-trip plane ticket with it. But wow! That is the most luxurious plane ride ever. First class is just so pedestrian in comparison!