posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Please help my little union find an online platform for decision-making. We would like a secure way to dis/approve proposals and vote yearly for officers. Anonymous voting with a unique identifier is required. Bonus points for discussion capabilities and ease of use.I've worked a bit with Loomio and love it for the discussion capabilities and slick UI. But there is no anonymous vote functionality and it's based around consensus, which we thankfully don't use. Could Survey Monkey could do the trick? Something called ADoodle is also an option but ugly as sin. Our 40 some-odd members are tech savvy and spread out over 8 states. We would need to use this 5 or 10 times per year, realistically. THANK YOU!

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Car Talkers of MeFi, help me solve a mystery! My 2001 Subaru Forester had a cylinder misfiring: car shook, check engine light flashed. Then it healed itself and the mechanic couldn't tell what was wrong, or that anything was wrong at all, so I brought it home. Then it started misfiring again tonight. Then it healed itself partway, but the check engine light is still on. What should I think and what should I do? Details below the fold.Two nights ago, on the way home from work, my 2001 Subaru Forester started to judder and shake while I was stopped at a light. A few seconds later, the check engine light started flashing -- something I'd never seen before -- and the car was clearly laboring, not driving at full power. When I called the garage the next morning, they told me that a cylinder was misfiring, and that driving the car was likely dumping raw fuel into the catalytic converter, potentially destroying it, and that I should have AAA tow the car to the garage. So I did -- and when they started it and drove it around, it ran completely smoothly! He said misfires like this are usually caused by bad spark plugs, but my spark plugs are new. He also said that the car's computer didn't have any record of any codes being activated the previous night. He said sometimes a car just "loses its mind" and the odds were there was nothing wrong with it. So I brought it home. Drove it around on several errands today, ran completely smoothly, but coming home tonight, same thing happened: car shakes, check engine light flashes, engine feels underpowered. When I parked at my son's school, I could smell a kind of burned rubber smell in the back of the car. Leaving the school, though, the engine smoothed out, the check engine light went from flashing to steady, and the car ran, as far as I could tell, normally. What is going on here? Should I have the mechanic change the spark plugs even though they're new? Is it OK to drive it to the garage tomorrow so I don't have to wait for the tow truck again? Is it normal for a misfire to come and go like this? Is my car gaslighting me? Am I right that it would be immensely stupid to try to drive this car 90 miles to the airport on Saturday?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Without having to ask HR directly, I am wondering if a job offer is binding or nonbinding.I got a job offer which denotes the annualized salary and offer of the position. In order to respond to the job offer, one must follow up on a link filling out personal identification information for payroll services. At the bottom of the link is before I sign off is: "By digitally signing this you acknowledge that your on-line consent is equivalent to a binding legal signature. And By digitally entering your legal name, you acknowledge that your on-line consent is equivalent to a binding legal signature." So my question is, if I were break this offer - how would I know what the consequences are? And is the binding portion of this digital signature just to let the company know I am going to commitment to them and accept the salary and position? I have heard that unless the consequences for breaking the offer are written out, then I would be subject to financial penalty. However, there are no consequences scripted out in this document. Since I would like to protect my privacy and the company, but am short on time - I won't be too specific on all the details. Anyone can PM directly. THANKS a bunch for any insight

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I have been going to a number of estate sales lately, and they always vary so much. I have a number of questions about structure and what-not, and I am hoping that people who either have run them, have worked for companies that have run them, or have used companies to run them, might be able to help me. 1. How much does the average estate sale gross? 2. What happens to all the leftover stuff? 3. Does the deceased's family do anything to prep the merchandise, or do they just take whatever they want to keep and then let the company set up 100%? 4. Do the companies typically price stuff off the tops of their heads, do they look things up one by one, or do they have people with specific areas of expertise? 5. Is it really worth doing, after the company takes their cut? 6. How are all these companies pricing tube TVs at $25-100? I keep seeing that. It seems bizarre. 7. What are the liability rules? If I fall down a flight of poorly-lit, steep stairs at an estate sale, who's responsible? 8. What's up with estate sale companies who have hand-made signs that look like a 5-year-old wrote them? Is this deliberate? 9. What's up with the perpetual sales that just run for weeks and weeks and weeks? Is it really worth the seller's time? 10. Does a fair amount of the nicer stuff disappear to eBay and consignment shops ahead of time? 11. How much theft is there? Breakage? 12. Are there fewer sales in winter, at least in snowy areas? It seems that way. Thank you for your help in satisfying my curiosity.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I need help wording a Christmas card that's accompanying a gift. The message I want to convey is that I really, truly, do NOT want a gift in return.I need to be a bit vague about the precise situation, but this is the deal: there's a group of us who all pitch in to do something, but one person does more than his share and is really the one who keeps everything organized and running smoothly. (This is not paid work and we are not coworkers in any sense.) I was the last to join the group and, in my first xmas with them, I gave him a small edible gift to thank him. He was appreciative and said nobody had ever thanked him for the extra work he does, which blew my mind a bit. If he were to quit doing this, we'd be in trouble! The next year, I gave him something again. A few days later, he gave me something in return. Nobody else in the group exchanges gifts; I'm sure he did this because I gave *him* something. The last thing I want is for him to feel obligated to give me something, though! I'm trying to show my appreciation, but if he feels the need to reciprocate the gift, it's like I'm just making more work for him. Is there a polite message I can write that will convey the fact that I want nothing in return? Is it rude for me to tell someone their nice gesture is unwanted? Another thing I want to avoid is coming across like I'm paying him for his work, because it is not that kind of dynamic at all. In last year's card, I did emphasize that this was a "small token of appreciation," trying to imply it was more for that than for xmas itself. You might suggest that I just give him something at a time other than Christmas, but it's not possible in this case. You might also suggest that I simply do more to help ease his workload, but I already do as much as I can (and I can't coerce the others). Either way, I would still need to come up with a way to word this card. Thanks!

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
My roommate is snooping and sleeping in our rooms when we're not home. I'm scared there's more to it and I need advice.One of our roommates has been going into our bedrooms when we're not home. She has been hanging out in my roommates room when she's not there and has taken topless photos of herself in her room. She's been using her things. She's been caught several times and been told to stop doing this and a week later, been caught sleeping in her bed when she thought she was out of town. I'm not home right now and I checked my gmail log online and my computer last synced with gmail at 5pm. Apparently she goes through peoples computers and reads all their shit when they're not around. I had a weird feeling my computer had been used a couple times when I got home but I thought I was being paranoid. Well now I've checked the activity, I know it has. I am away from the apartment for days at a time and for all I know she's been in my room on my computer, so what the hell else has she been doing? Is she sleeping in my roommates bed, why not mine too? I feel completely violated and unsafe in the apartment. I know she's been to hospital a couple weeks ago for psychiatric reasons, and it could be nothing, but at the same time all this behavior is scaring me. What else is she doing? What is she capable of? I don't want to be in the apartment at this point and I don't want to leave my dog there but I have no choice. I also found out today, she hasn't been paying rent since she moved in. Her and another of my roommates is subletting and the other roommate is a leaseholder. When the person I am leasing from moved out, this girl started going to her apartment every day uninvited and hanging around her. She had to tell her to give her space. Please, what the hell can I do? I have 2 months left of my sublease but I don't want to be there. I assume I can't break my sublease. She's not paying rent, can we get rid of her? Isn't it almost impossible to evict people in NYC? What the hell do I do?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Darius Kazemi, aka @tinysubversions, is a bot-maker extrordinaire. Known for his inspiring talk on creativity and the lottery at XOXO last year, Kazemi has founded NaNoGenMo and the Bot Summit, created such wonderful Twitter Bots as Olivia Taters, (actually by @robdubbin) For My Real Friends, Miraculous Pictures and Two Headlines. Today he posted about his process in creating Content Forever, a writeup which covers many angles in creating readable bot writing, including escaping phenomena as the Wikipedia philosophy phenomenon.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Are you interested in plants? The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew aren't just a tourist attraction -- they also run one of the world's leading botanical research institutes. To show off how important and fascinating modern plant science can be, they've commissioned a series of snazzy short videos to showcase their work. Start with the award-winning Forgotten Home of Coffee (6:00) (based on this worrying Kew study from 2012), then come back for the rest. 1. Beyond the Gardens - The Future of Taxonomy (7:23) Taxonomy unlocks our knowledge of the living world, but it has to change to keep pace with technology and the demands of society. ***************************************************** 2. Beyond the Gardens: The Plant Family Tree (9:09) The Herbarium at Kew is a vast Victorian maze filled with arcane books, learned scientists and cabinet after cabinet of dried catalogued plants. Tracing 160 years, Mark Chase, Head of the Jodrell Laboratory at Kew, reveals how the Herbarium has evolved from a modest collection of dried plant specimens, to a hub of ground-breaking scientific discovery that has shaped our understanding of the plant family tree forever. 3. The Plant Family Tree - Gwilym Lewis on plant relationships (3:33) Behind the scenes, Kew houses over 7 million plant collections representing the different growing stages and geographical range of the world's 250,000 known flowering plants. Gwilym Lewis, Head of Legumes at Kew, talks about the biggest buzz of his life, his passion for taxonomy and the importance of plant relationships in our every day lives. 4. The Plant Family Tree - Felix Forest on plant evolution (2:23) Over millions of years, a few plant species at the bottom of the plant family tree have evolved and multiplied into thousands of new species. Each new plant is of a different shape, texture, colour and size, and can sometimes be entirely unrecognisable from its ancestor. Felix Forest, Head of Molecular Systematics at Kew, talks about the humongous task his team has undertaken to understand why and how plants have evolved over millions of years, and what triggers their evolution. 5. The Plant Family Tree - Ruth Clark on all life on Earth (2:34) Without plants, no other life on the Earth can survive. Animals, birds, insects and humans all rely on plants to live. Ruth Clark, Legumes Assistant at Kew, explains the vital role plant taxonomists play in understanding and protecting plant life around the world and the habitats we rely on, and why plants are the key to safeguarding our future. 6. The Plant Family Tree - Mark Chase on plant DNA (4:00) If too many plant species become extinct, habitats around the world will collapse and be unable to deliver the vital ecological services needed to support life, such as modifying the climate and providing clean water and cool air. Mark Chase, Head of the Jodrell Laboratory at Kew, talks about why plant names matter to science and how DNA technology is enabling scientists at Kew and around the world to answer new questions about the relationship between plants and our changing climate. ***************************************************** 7. Beyond the Gardens: The Crop Wild Relatives Project (7:13) 80% of our calorie intake comes from just twelve plant species, 50% of our calories come from just the three big grasses; wheat, maize and rice. What would happen were we to lose one of these crops? This video discusses why wild crop relatives are so important for our future food security, and how Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank are helping to safeguard them. You can read more about this work on the Kew website. ***************************************************** 8. Beyond the Gardens: The Forgotten Home of Coffee (6:00) Coffee is one of the world's favourite drinks, one of the most important commercial crop-plants, and the second most valuable international commodity; Arabica coffee is considered to produce the finest coffee beans. A study conducted by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in collaboration with scientists in Ethiopia, reports that climate change alone could lead to the extinction of wild Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) well before the end of this century. ***************************************************** 9. Beyond the Gardens: The Fungarium at Kew Gardens (5:35) The largest organism in the world is a mushroom that is over 1,000 years old, covering hundreds of acres in a forest in Oregon USA. All plants on Earth relay on fungi to live, and fungi out number plants six to one. Kew has the largest collection of dried fungi in the world, around 1.25 million specimens. ***************************************************** 10. Beyond the Gardens: Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (5:17) Discover more about the importance of plants to our lives and how the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is helping to save wild plants and habitats for our future. Over the last ten years we have successfully banked 10% of the world's plant diversity. Seeds from deserts, to mountains, of all different shapes and sizes. Find out more. ***************************************************** (via the awesome @KewGIS twitter feed, itself via this mildly polemic essay: The Horticulture of Happiness).

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Best Ever Albums aggregates 17,000 "greatest album" charts to establish a statistical consensus on popular music rankings. A few presentations of that data: -What are the "best ever" albums overall? -How have the "best ever" rankings shifted over the last five years? -What are the "best" albums of 2014? -What were the "best" albums of the 1960s? Of the 70s? The 80s? 90s? 2000s? 2010s? -Who are the top-ranked artists of Sweden? Who were the most acclaimed artists of 1954? -What are Frank Zappa's best albums?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I got my front teeth fixed a year ago. 34 combined years of teeth not growing in, braces, terrible falling bridges, and bad dentists had taken their toll before I managed to find a dentist who could do a good job. I do smile and did smile before but it was often self-counscious; nice kid, shame about the teeth.I know I missed out on a lot of experiences for fear of my teeth falling out or my own sense of embarassment. I feel really happy having great new teeth that let me bite into a crispy apple but want to really accept this is a permanent change so I can progress. How in any way can I approach this?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
For Christmas, my mother has said she wants a fitbit/jawbone style fitness tracker and I'm trying to pick one out for her. I'm looking at newer, mid/high range models that will sync with ios and are easy to use.Most important is ease of use, at least as easy as other basic iPhone functions. Mom doesn't have the patience to learn a new, complicated app. Bluetooth pairing (or any syncing) should be reliable after initial set up and not require constant fiddling. Also, since her phone is an iPhone 4s, the app should work with ios 7 and not require the upgrade to ios 8. For everyday use, my mom's really wants something with accurate sleep tracking, but will also use it for excercise, fitness levels, diet, etc. I'm leaning towards a Jawbone up24, Fitbit Flex, or Garmin Vivosmart.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Neither Thucydides, Gibbon, von Ranke, nor Braudel ever cited a paper appearing in Geophysical Research Letters. They did not worry themselves about fluctuations in the Siberian High or the Southern Oscillation. The vast majority of more recent historians also remained untroubled by such concerns. However, in the past five years, a handful of highly distinguished historians have come out with new books that put climate at the center of historical explanation. What on Earth is going on? Perhaps a historiographical wheel is turning.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
"Too often, when I'm using my fiber-optic space to share, vent, rant, and process the realities of being Black in America, I'm faced with White people responding with comments and private messages that I'm attacking, disappointing, angering, or hurting them. Or, they use patronizing language like, 'Stacey, you're much smarter than this,' or 'I thought you were a more reasonable person.' "How do I let them know that when I say things like 'White supremacy needs to be destroyed,' that I'm not talking about personally destroying them? How do I not become frustrated at those who jump in to debate and discredit what Black people are experiencing, in our own threads?" White Women, Please Don't Expect Me to Wipe Away Your Tears, by Stacey Patton at Dame Magazine. I Don't Know What to Do With Good White People – Brit Bennett, Jezebel "The problem is that you can never know someone else's intentions. And sometimes I feel like I live in a world where I'm forced to parse through the intentions of people who have no interest in knowing mine. A grand jury believed that Darren Wilson was a good officer doing his job. This same grand jury believed than an eighteen-year-old kid in a monstrous rage charged into a hailstorm of bullets toward a cop's gun. "Wilson described Michael Brown as a black brute, a demon. No one questioned Michael Brown's intentions. A stereotype does not have complex, individual motivations. A stereotype, treated as such, can be forced into whatever action we expect. "I spent a four hour flight trying not to wonder about the white woman's intentions. But why would she think about mine? She didn't even see me." Hat-tip: Imani ABL (@AngryBlackLady)

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
A lovely friend of mine in London is keen to go vegan, but there are some requirements for the cookbook below.My friend Ben, who is a delight and helluva knitter, has decided to try and go vegan. I am pleased, but after seeing his continual FB posts about being disappointed as to how to make decent vegan food--I think we've entered "oh god, is it lentils every single fucking time" territory--I wish to gift him a cookbook for Christmas. I am a vegan cookbook queen, but my skillset in the kitchen seems to be higher, so I would like: *something very easy *something for a vegan on a budget as he doesn't have a lot of money *UK-friendly, or at least has ingredients that one can buy in the UK *something that I can somehow purchase through the magic of Amazon UK to be shipped there, instead of buying something here and mailing it I thought about Vegan with a Vengeance as my go-to, but maybe there's something better for a newbie vegan? Thanks, Hive Mind!

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Turns out reading aloud to lovers in bed is hot, but I'm close to exhausting my library of things that work for me. I'm looking for stuff that...- is short enough to be finished in under 15 minutes (chapters of a book are ok) - has a good read-aloud "flow" and is a literary fit - is interesting but not too dry - may have an element of dark or absurd humor (a self-deprecating narrator works well for me!) - is not erotic, per se - is not poetry (read-aloud flow is tricky) - is not bitter or ranty Things I've grabbed from my shelves that hit all the right notes are Zen and Sufi teaching stories, articles by David Sedaris and John McPhee (some may find issue with my "not too dry" request above, I know), How to Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen, E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel, and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I'm looking for descriptions of mid-19th-century passenger rail trips. I prefer contemporary accounts, and particularly of travel in the South. I can also use later research, and descriptions of travel anywhere in the country are helpful.In the South, of course, many accounts include accommodations for war damage (e.g., we had to detrain to cross a bridge on foot). But I'm looking for ordinary experiences as well. I need a better feel for what it was like, in order to furnish accurate backdrops for a fictional piece.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I guess it's time to finally give up Xobni...I just updated to Outlook 2013, and have discovered that my beloved Xobni really doesn't work too well with the new version. I'm looking for some sort of add in that would let me quickly search by a person's name and then look at all the attachments or messages they've sent me or that I've sent them. The people pane has the gist of what I want, but it doesn't allow me to type in a person's name and search through it-- I have to have a message from that person highlighted. For example, let's say I want to find messages from John Smith, jsmith@gmail.com. With Xobni, I can type "John" to get a list of all Johns that I've emailed with (not just those in my contacts). I can also search by "Smith" or "jsmi" to get results. With the people pane, I need to be on a message from John Smith to see the metrics, and then it only gives me attachments they've sent to me. My goal here is productivity-- I really don't care about the metrics aspect of it. I'd like to keep the costs under $100 a year, and please let me know if this is already in Outlook-- I'm still working through the learning curve! Any general tips/tricks would be appreciated as well!

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
ⓂⒺⓂⒺ ⒷⒶⓁⓁ - the Internet meme-themed pinball machine

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I've seen a few articles about dresses, clothes and other structures designed by algorithm: you input a shape (a scan of a body, a 3d model of a dress, etc), and the algorithm reduces it to a mesh of triangles. These triangles can then be cut out of fabric and stitched together to make an odd-looking but well-fitted garment. What's this technique called? Is the software freely available?I'm mostly interested in garment-making for now, but I'd be interested in being able to do this for arbitrary 3D shapes. The general case of this seems like it must be a really trivial operation for anyone comfortable with 3D modelling, but I don't have the vocabulary to search for it.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
A fascinating BBC Radio Seven Four xtra audio documentary about life and events in the UK in the run up to World War One. Written and narrated by Michael Portillo, but don't let this put you off. Starts with "The long summer." If you are not in the UK, you may need to spoof your IP address to listen to them.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Alamo Drafthouse aside, not many movie theater chains have reported increased attendance in the past few years. Large chains have propped up revenues with ticket price hikes, premium concessions and drinks, but the specter of Netflix and other home viewing platforms looms ominously over the industry. Annual ticket sales in the U.S. have declined to 1995 levels from their high in 2002 (although revenues have grown 3.6% annually over the same period, well outpacing inflation). This January, AMC Theaters will begin testing a new business model in partnership with MoviePass, beginning in Denver and Boston. Subscribers can pay $30-45 a month for a membership good for one film per day at any AMC location. The move echoes a 2013 effort to reopen an independent theater in Oakhurst, CA using a member subscription model. Will it be enough to get more film aficionados off their couches and into a theater seat? The jury's still out.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
My mother obtained this grocery bag (1 and 2) back in the 90s at our local grocery store. It is the best grocery bag EVER. However, we have never been able to find another one like it.There's no tag in it anymore that says what it was made out of, but it feels like plastic/vinyl over some sort of mesh. It's about 1.5 feet in both directions. The local grocery store has been sold/changed names a few times and they don't carry these kind of bags anymore. I don't particularly care about having the rivets in the top, but handles are definitely necessary, as is something around this size. I've looked around at different places that sell reusable grocery bags, but most are those crappy paperish ones or are completely fabric.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
A Pessimist's Guide to the World in 2015. Skirmishes in the South China Sea lead to full-scale naval confrontation. Israel bombs Iran, setting off an escalation of violence across the Middle East. Nigeria crumbles as oil prices fall and radicals gain strength. Bloomberg News asked foreign policy analysts, military experts, economists and investors to identify the possible worst-case scenarios, based on current global conflicts, that concern them most heading into 2015. [Bleah interface; interesting content.]

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Mrs. Sense and I live in Baltimore, and we'd like to take this coming weekend for one last shot at a quick weekend getaway. Help!Before the holidays, family visits, and of course, the arrival of Baby Sense in late January, we'd like one last opportunity to take a mini-vacation. Sure, we don't HAVE to do it — I wouldn't say we've been insanely stressed lately — it would be nice, and I know it's the last time we'll be able to do anything like this for a LONG time. We're located in downtown Baltimore and can do a 2-3 hour drive (each way). Our preference is for a Friday-Saturday thing (we could head out Thursday night, perhaps), and we lean toward mountains over ocean/bay (though we're open to the latter). We could do Saturday-Sunday or Friday-Sunday instead; we'd just have to move a Sunday class to another day. So far I've been told about the Bartlett Pear Inn in Easton, MD, which sounds great, though it's not in the mountains and I'm left to wonder "what's there to do in Easton?" We're also big on good food, so if there's quality dining (like at Bartlett Pear), that's a great bonus as well. We aren't terribly active (sad to say), so extensive hiking trails, etc. probably wouldn't be a selling point for us (though great natural beauty around those trails would be). Peace and quiet are a great bonus, but "overly rustic" is not — some creature comforts (if not mild luxury) would be kind of required. I know there's places like this; I'm just failing at finding more than a couple. Any help from the collective would be much appreciated!

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Why is DNS lookup failing for both my computer and my smartphone when connected to public (library) wifi, when it is working for everyone else?I had been using my library's public wifi on both my laptop and my phone all morning with no issues. I stepped out for lunch, and when I came back, I was getting DNS lookup failures, on both devices. (DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_BAD_CONFIG, DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN, and some others) Meanwhile, no one else in the room was having any issues. I changed the DNS server to Google's public DNS server (8.8.8.8) on both my phone and computer, and now I'm back in business. So what happened here? What is baffling to me is that it affected both my devices (a Macbook and an Android), and I refuse to believe that everyone in here has at one point changed the DNS settings on their devices.

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