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Comment: Re:Opinion of a Opera 12.x user (Score 1) 167

by AFCArchvile (#49203157) Attached to: Hands-On With the Vivaldi Browser

I agree on the "no title bar" con; UI flattening has already been abused, literally ad nauseam, by Microsoft (Windows 8) and Apple (OS X Yosemite). It looks insulting to window UI conventions... but at the same time, it reclaims some height space, and there's still plenty of titlebar handle to grab. That said, the actual functionality of the menu clicking feels glitchy in Windows 7, as though there are delays in rendering the highlights while hovering, and in drawing the menu while clicking. Was it really not worthwhile to use a standard Windows frame like everything else? (I guess that falls under "ugly UI, no native look"). Also, I'd love to see the option to disable all animations and blends; I find them to be a waste of time.

I also think that Vivaldi should shamelessly copy the NoScript per-server Javascript disable functionality. Firefox and NoScript have become my standard browser; I've seen far less memory usage, and far faster page load times. Sure, some pages load half-broken, but those are mostly JavaScript abominations chock full of web fonts, animations, and silly effects, and if I care enough, I'll enable only the domains I need in order to carry out the task I wish to execute by visiting the webpage. Bonus points for sites that continue to work almost completely even with Javascript disabled (including

Comment: Re:Why are windows users so whiny? (Score 1) 516

by AFCArchvile (#49137427) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

It's funny you say it that way, because with Windows 8's Start Screen default on all computers, Microsoft was effectively telling keyboard and mouse PC users that they were using the wrong human interface devices, and should have been using a touchscreen (perhaps a Microsoft Surface, hmmm?).

Since the run up to Windows 8, Microsoft's marketing plan for their OSes, and by extension, Visual Studio and XBox. This isn't by accident: you can tell the direction from the comments of Julie Larson-Green (creator of the Ribbon) at the 2013 Wired Business Conference:

"There have been discussions... meaningful discussion [of bringing back the classic Start menu]. But we believe fully in the Start screen and the model of having these live tiles. The [old] Start menu was never really built for multiple applications... the Start screen offers dramatic improvement. Windows today is so much more than launching applications... the [old] Start menu is not the be-all, end-all. [But] the button might be helpful to have on the screen. We're principled in the direction we're heading, but we're not going to be stubborn... It's not to spite you." [Laughs]

Yes, Hanlon's Razor applies here, but it feels like there's been a veritable conspiracy of intentionally orchestrated ignorance in Microsoft's UI design. There was plenty of resistance to the Ribbon when it was forced onto Office, but at least the legacy key combinations remained. But many of those UI changes, as well as the Metro marketing push, were force-fed onto the userbase, so I don't blame those users for complaining vehemently. We're at the point where UI duct-tape utilities like Classic Shell are compulsory for proper usability in content-creation scenarios for an operating system, and right now it looks like this is going to continue for Windows 10, as far as icons are concerned.

Comment: Re:Visual Studio (Score 1) 516

by AFCArchvile (#49137225) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

Visual Studio has been a veritable breeding ground for bad design decisions, particularly the ALL-CAPS menus and monochromization of the entire interface in Visual Studio 2012. The now-fully-expected Microsoft PR cycle materialized: a salvo of Delay, Defend, Deny... ...followed by an admission by Visual Studio product manager Brian Harry: "The implementation of the new UI in 2012 was a mess" ( )

Probably the most damning quote from Harry is this: "...there was a bit of a 'cone of secrecy' around the new UI because we didn't want it 'leaking'. Even I didn't get to see it until months into it." That seems emblematic of the era when the Metro design team going full steam ahead with Metrofying every Microsoft product before, during, and even after Windows 8's buildup, launch, and colossal customer repudiation, as well as the ouster of main Metro proponent Steven Sinofsky. And yet even now, we continue with an MS PR demeanor that could be charitably described as "proselytizing" (yes, that's normal for PR, but that's only one part of their job; another part is to listen to customer feedback).

Comment: Re:Bad usability, man (Score 1) 516

by AFCArchvile (#49136973) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

I wholeheartedly agree that the "flattening" and "thinning" of all of the icons has crippled usability for me. Sure, I grew up being stuck with DOS at home when I was a kid, while watching the Macs at schools progress to System 7 and their 3D buttons adding depth to the interface, back in the old days of UIs having to account for low-color displays (especially in the bad old days of Windows 3.1, where increasing the color bitdepth would reduce the amount of icons that Program Manager could hold in memory; I remember reading about that in the manual for a videocard, either Cirrus Logic or Number Nine). Windows 2000 brought in a really nice evolution of the 95 / NT 4 UI with drop shadows and menu fade-ins; on my Windows 7 PC, those are currently the only effects enabled (I've disabled minimize/maximize effects to eliminate the delay and distraction of those window sizing events).

However, with Metro, I feel that they've spearheaded a terrible trend, and put it on life support (with an assist by Jony Ive at Apple). Putting all of the touchscreen-centric exasperations aside (and I'm truly glad that Microsoft literally HAS put many of those aside in Windows 10), the Metro design language is too flat, too thin, and too sparse. First, the Segoe typeface is too thin. Yes, thin is trendy, and Jony Ive did the same thing over at Apple by putting Helvetica on an anorexia diet and making it the official typeface of iOS 7/8 and Yosemite. My second major gripe is the reliance on ultra-sparse XY grids of "icon boxes", with icons that are intentionally monochrome, so they can be vectorized (if you look at many trend-chasing websites these days, they use a web font to populate icons). I'm personally baffled, because multiple colors and depth add context that the human mind can interpret, and most OSes these days support high-resolution icons (Apple Icon Image Format supports up to 1024x1024; Windows icons go up to 256x256).

In the Softpedia screenshot of the Windows 10 Explorer, I don't mind the folder icons too much, though I do wish they could at least give them drop shadows in the icon itself, as was the case in Windows 7. But drop shadows are apparently forbidden because they would belie the "flatten everything" ethos of the Metro design language.

The way I see it, this will all phase away, much like another design era that was pervasive at the time, and had plenty of fervent proponents shouting down anyone who said anything negative about it: the 1970's era of bizarre typefaces and orange and brown everywhere:

I also find it hilarous that Microsoft used a George Orwell quote in one of their design blog entries:

I'll volunteer another slightly altered Orwell quote: "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on an interface -- forever."

Comment: Re:No wonder. (Score 1) 188

by AFCArchvile (#49132447) Attached to: Google Now Automatically Converts Flash Ads To HTML5

I agree; ads should portray a product or service in a tasteful, non-distracting manner. Unfortunately, those standards were thrown out the window entirely about 10 to 15 years ago, with an ever-escalating arms race:

- Popup ads
- Java ads (yes, remember those? The "Punch the monkey and win $20" banner ad from 2000 was one of the most notorious instances of this.)
- Flash ads (vector-based)
- Flash video ads (made more prevalent with the increasing consumer bandwidth)
- And now, HTML5 ads.

Most of these types of ads had some form of ultimate opt-out:

- Popup ads: from 2001 onward, an increasing number of browsers received either plug-in or native support to screen or fully disable popup ads. This ultimately made the "" Javascript method taboo in most legitimate website design (and rightfully so; it was abused ad nauseam by ads like X10).

- Java ads: don't install Java. Unless you want to play Minecraft or use software which (unfortunately) requires Java, this is pretty easy. Alternatively, there are other ways to disable Java, including an Oracle-sanctioned method to disable it via the Java Control Panel:

- Flash ads: you can set Flash to "click to activate", and never activate it. I'm still waiting for Firefox to natively support HTML 5 playback so I can finally dump Flash on my Windows gaming PC.

- HTML5: .... .... *crickets chirping* ...yeah. Well, the ball is in your court, browser coders! I remember back in 2001, I switched over to Opera 5.11 (and purchased it!) mainly due to its tabbed browser functionality, and uncanny ability to block any and all unwanted popups. My ideal HTML5 control panel would be something similar to NoScript, which would block various levels of abuse of the audio, video, and canvas capabilities, on a per-domain or per-server basis. (Most canvas abuse is perpetrated via JavaScript, which makes NoScript an excellent tool for defusing annoying redraws, faux-paywalls, ad networks, and other cross-site shenanigans, but for the other HTML5 multimedia elements, I'd like stronger tools to prevent their abuse.)

Comment: Re:The obvious capitalist solution (Score 1) 270

by AFCArchvile (#49132257) Attached to: It's Official: NSA Spying Is Hurting the US Tech Economy

Baby steps; the first step is to use component manufacturers in Taiwan. Though yes, eventually tech component manufacturer will be one of the many, many things that the tech business landscape will need to reconcile while not jeopardizing civilization. That means no tech product hyperinflation, and a minimum on sweatshop hunting.

The way I see it, China is going to continue on this tack, which was probably planned years or decades ago (hmmm, 5-year plan, I remember hearing that terminology somewhere...). It's as irresponsible as assuming that everything will be fine if all the oil comes from the Middle East, or if all of the hard drive component manufacturers are in Thailand. Diversification pays off in the long run; as the old Navy SEAL proverb goes, "One is none; two is one."

Comment: Re:I've posted this 1312 times (Score 4, Interesting) 147

Installing NoScript onto Firefox is one of the best things I've done for Firefox memory usage. It's also more secure since it stifles most cross-site scripting connections, drastically reduces load times since said cross-site scripting isn't being loaded.

Then again, I'm still looking over at Pale Moon, and thinking that I should abandon Firefox entirely and shift my primary browsing over to Pale Moon. It accepts Noscript, and doesn't even need Classic Theme Restorer or Status-4-Evar installed, since it never messed with the UI, and never removed the status bar. (I don't know if Firefox 36 still has this problem, but Firefox 35, 34, 33, etc, all had an issue where a new window would sometimes result in the status bar not appearing. I like seeing a status bar in a windowed program, since it does what it says on the tin: provides status cues, as well as providing far less annoying insight than hovering the mouse over something and waiting for a tooltip to appear.

Comment: Re:Great if optimizing the wrong thing is your thi (Score 3, Informative) 171

by AFCArchvile (#49080735) Attached to: HTTP/2 Finalized

Most of that bloat you speak of is delivered via Javascript. A few weeks ago, I finally put my foot down and made my default browser Firefox with NoScript. I have a (very) small list of sites allowed to execute scripts, and most of the time I will browse a website in its broken state, since I can still see all the text and images. It even foils the news websites that use Javascript to "faux-paywall" their content behind canvases, as opposed to only sending part of the story content from the server (I'm still shaking my head as to who on the business side thought this was a good business stance since one can still read most of the articles for free, but that's another discussion entirely). But lo and behold, once I started a staunch NoScript policy, page loads completed much faster, cookie sprawl was reduced, and Firefox's memory usage stayed relatively low. I also started to learn which scripts from which servers were truly allowed for things like externally-served comment systems (disqus, etc.), and also noticed the way that some webpages end up triggering a cascading dependency of server connections due to scripts calling scripts on other servers, etc.

One of the worst instances of cascading Javascript sprawl that I've seen was a page from The Verge, with 33 domains allowed (including executing 133 scripts. The SBNation "eulogy for RadioShack" article had the "script counter" go over 160. Oh, and that's leaving out web fonts, which NoScript also blocks (which also reveals how often some websites use custom fonts to draw vector-based icons; you can see the Unicode codes for each character since the font isn't loaded). Vox seems to love abusing Javascript in their designs; it's most of the reason why I've abandoned reading Polygon (the other reasons being the banal editorial content, aside from a few notable articles). In comparison, Slashdot is currently asking for 21 scripts, but is running perfectly fine without any Javascript enabled (despite nagging here and there).

I've ended up moving YouTube browsing to Pale Moon, since it natively supports the HTML5 player without issues. I may end up moving all of my browsing to Pale Moon with NoScript, since it natively supports a status bar.

The whole situation with the Javascript bloat reminds me of the scene from Spaceballs where Lonestar tells Princess Vespa, "Take ONLY what you NEED to SURVIVE." We're stuck with a bunch of prima donna web designers who want to duct tape on more adverspamming and social spying avenues to their website, and not standing back and taking a look at how bad it's impacting the user experience, not to mention the bloat from the hundreds of extra scripts and objects loaded by the browser, as well as the tens of connections to third-party servers.

Comment: Re:Meta scores and user's meta scores (Score 2) 135

by AFCArchvile (#49035367) Attached to: Are Review Scores Pointless?

One example of Metacritic scores being contractually tied to bonuses was with Fallout: New Vegas. Gamasutra reported on it almost 3 years ago:

I never played Fallout:NV, but I remember hearing Jeff Gerstmann describe it as "...very well written... and kinda broken." I also remember someone posting a Windows 7 Reliability Monitor graph, with the only crashes reported coming from "FalloutNV.exe".

One thing I really like about Eurogamer's approach is that they're simultaneously:

1. Moving away from a traditional arbitrary numeric score (which is among the old systems of 100-point, 10-point, 5-star, and academic-style scoring)

2. Retaining a set of summary badges where they can make it easy for readers to find the most notable games, and avoid the games that are broken (as much as the AAA games industry wants to deflect and deny it, broken games are released, and are marketed as though they are 100% functional and are the most outstanding game ever... because that's how all AAA games are marketed).

3. Forbidding Metacritic from aggregating their scores. This is probably the most important point here; Eurogamer is essentially saying, "Yeah, we're going to score our game reviews with an honest, non-traditional ratings system, and you can't subvert it for your commercially exploitative purchases."

I hope that more game reviewing outlets take this stand, in order to attempt to stem the worst aspect of Metacritic: its influence on game development. Of course, that won't stop the bigger problem of dishonest marketing plans (E3 shenanigans, mock reviews, cherry-picking outlets for review copies, or not sending review copies at all for games that are forecast to tank while customers who are none the wiser may still be eagerly preordering or obsessing over screenshot and video galleries).

Comment: Elinks as dream mobile browser (Score 1) 223

by AFCArchvile (#48984087) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Gaining Control of My Mobile Browser?

My dream mobile browser would be elinks. What better way to reduce bandwidth for phone-based news reading than to never download any of the images, ever? Also, elinks has no Javascript support, and it does a nice job of controlling layouts (for the most part; some canvas-heavy websites will look "flattened", where you can see canvases for status updates that haven't actually occurred, because some Javascript code segment normally doesn't reveal it until the proper time).

For when you do need to view an image, it would be nice to cross-link an image viewer browser app that also doesn't support Javascript. Most of the time, if I'm looking for a specific image from my phone browser, I'm using Google Image Search, the mobile version of which does a very nice job of presenting smaller thumbnails for the search preview.

Comment: Annoying prediction in Find dialog (Score 0) 158

by AFCArchvile (#48919661) Attached to: Opera Founder Is Back, WIth a Feature-Heavy, Chromium-Based Browser

I installed both the Windows and OS X version, and it looks pretty good (aside from having that disgusting "page flattened" look of every fad-chasing program ever since Windows Metro and OS X Yosemite). However, I tried to search for a specific word in text, and the prediction pre-empted user input (which violates the trust of user input always being respected). I tried to reproduce this a minute ago on the front page, and it couldn't find the word I was typing in, despite me looking straight at it. That's a whole other flavor of broken, so I'm guessing that the "Find" functionality needs to go back in the oven.

(I reproduced the text prediction bug just now; the cursor seems to jump back on a prediction hit, but the lag between the start and end of the jumpback seems to be dependent on the complexity of the rendered page; perhaps it's Javascript complexity. This is not good, because heavier pages will always exist, and will always behave slower.)

To its credit, when you find a specific word, it will highlight its location in the scroll bar on the right. That's really cool.

One other thing that Vivaldi so desperately needs is tighter control on content. These days, browsing on websites is a nightmare of cross-domain Javascript scripts, to the point where users are no longer rendering a document, so much as involuntarily debugging a Javascript programming mess. (NoScript listed 76 blocked scripts when I went to an article from The Verge; Vox loves them some web fonts and crazy canvas effects.) Back in the day, Opera gave the user a lot of control on how to parse CSS, whether to play embedded sound (the old "BGSOUND" tag), whether to load images, and so on. Vivaldi has the "Block images" switch (but unfortunately forces a page reload when its state changes; IMO it should not force a page reload, but should instead leave loaded images cached, or hide all images). Vivaldi could use a modern CSS hackery option akin to Stylish, but I'd really love to see something like NoScript used instead. And of course there's add-on selective block, but hopefully that will become less of a problem once I uninstall Flash.

Also, I'd love to see a themes / skin option, complete with a few selections of "anti-flattened" themes, for those of us who don't want to follow along with the design diatribes of Jony Ive or Julie Larson-Green. I like drop shadows and 3D raised elements; they help me locate controls in the window. I'd like to see a Vivaldi theme with 3D raised buttons, and with an option to disable all slide / fade animations (because those animations are a waste of time IMO).

That said, it's really good to see a proper successor to Opera, instead of that Chrome-clone joke that I unfortunately installed under the pretense of it being called "Opera". THAT browser is NOT Opera; Vivaldi is the true Opera.

Comment: Re:3, 2, 1... (Score 1) 225

by AFCArchvile (#48919515) Attached to: YouTube Ditches Flash For HTML5 Video By Default

Yeah, I've been waiting for YouTube to drop Flash (and for Firefox to get up to speed with other browsers in terms of HTML5 video playback). I've avoided installing Java if I don't have anything that uses it (if only LibreOffice didn't use Java; alas!), I don't have Adobe Reader installed (previously there was Foxit, and now there's pdf.js in Firefox), and now I'm going to hold the same policy for Flash.

Flash (and by extension Shockwave) had their time as an extension to interactive multimedia back in the late 90's (remember the [Baz Luhrmann] Romeo & Juliet interactive CD with the "Made with Macromedia" slideshow demo?). Unfortunately, these kinds of addons are too lucrative as attack vectors, since they get used so often among so many different ranges of content.

I don't think I'm going to uninstall it right this minute, but I'm going to make an inventory of all the websites I visit, and whether they legitimately use Flash (BeepBox is one that is a legitimate and fun use of Flash). And if I've reconciled all the outliers, I'll uninstall it, and use the same policy as I have for Java: never install it again, and avoid programs that use it (or contain its effects).

Comment: Re:No (Score 4, Insightful) 545

by AFCArchvile (#48535083) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

As a newly unemployed individual contributor, I vote yes, because we're at the point where most businesses are too entrenched (or incompetent) to correct their business model. Well over 75% of the job listings I review have phrases like "Availability to occasionally work some evenings and weekends", which could mean anything from once a quarter to every single week, depending on staffing (or lack, thereof). Also, in multiple phone screens and interviews, I have heard the expectation of departmental employees working over 40 hours a week, even for locations with long train commutes. Just because I'm single doesn't mean I want to stay that way forever; I need to eat right, exercise, have a decent amount of life in my mythical "work-life balance", and so on.

We are past the point of companies regulating themselves in this matter; we need a law to enforce it. There are going to be many companies whining about lost revenue, but most of that revenue will come back to them in consumer spending, and frankly, it's the fault of the United States government for leaving these regulations so stagnant for so long.

The Media

Cory Doctorow Calls Death To Music, Movies, Print 336

Posted by timothy
from the low-hanging-fruit dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow depicts an unfortunate near-future for a handful of media industries being transformed or killed by the Internet. Predicting a large-scale transformation of the music, movie, book, and newspaper industry, Doctorow says, 'The Internet chews up media and spits them out again. Sometimes they get more robust. Sometimes they get more profitable. Sometimes they die.' While the Internet has the potential to help the dying book industry, for example, Doctorow predicts the 'imminent collapse' of the American newspaper industry because advertisers are uninterested in spending money on the remaining offline readership, such as senior citizens, who prove less valuable."

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir