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Comment: Nadella seems like a hype-driven choice for CEO (Score 2) 124

They appointed Cloud Guy to run the show, at a time when Cloud was a buzzword. No big surprise there from a trendy board/investor point of view, but to anyone with technical chops that move went against basically every major strength Microsoft had left and played straight to their weaknesses.

Based on historical trends, I suspect MS get 2-3 disasters with Nadella at the top before he gets forced out. The difference this time is that now Microsoft itself can probably only survive 2-3 more disasters on the Vista/Win8 scale before it ceases to be a major player in the industry at all.

The worrying thing is that there is no clear successor, with neither Linux nor OS X having the application base to be comprehensive competitors to desktop Windows yet, while the average web app is still a child's toy in comparison to serious software (and often a child's toy with serious security and privacy concerns). It is possible that the 2010s will be remembered as the decade when progress in software development reversed and the industry became dominated by cheap, "good enough" software that left professional/power users out in the cold, though I have some hope that OS X and the relatively polished, diverse and sometimes disruptive applications running on it will take over before all is lost.

Comment: Re:Start menu usage dropped in lieu of what? (Score 1) 124

It is not a good habit to pin apps to the task bar.

Why? I have a large screen and have literally every application I use on a regular basis pinned, as well as Explorer with the directories I most often want to open. For me, the task bar and jump lists were the two UI developments that made Windows 7 a significant win over XP. Most days I don't even open the Start menu except, ironically, to shut Windows down at the end of the day.

Comment: Re:Gobernator (Score 1) 64

Single-issue voters deserve all the bad things that happen to them because of their narrow-minded, short-sighted choices.

If you have any electoral system where

(a) voters get one chance every few years to vote,

(b) the choice of candidates is small, and

(c) there is no effective power of recall or override allowing the electorate to express binding opinions between elections

then everyone is reduced to little more than a single-issue voter.

If you're lucky, you have a candidate available whose policies match your preferences on a range of issues, but that is not guaranteed. If there's no-one you broadly agree with then in reality some issue that matters to you is probably going to determine who gets your vote. Worse, the successful candidate has no way to know why they got your vote, and will typically treat it as a mandate for all of their policies whether you agree with them all or not.

In any case, such elections are only ever decided on a handful of major issues, meaning candidates can have essentially any policy they want on the millions of smaller issues that still affect many people's daily lives.

Comment: UK regulations (Score 1) 138

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47955015) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

I would guess these drones are not flying LOS, therefore disrupting video and telemetry would make it very difficult for a drone operator to effectively maneuver, make any interesting video, and even return the drone back to safety.

This is in the UK, where there are clear legal requirements if you want to operate a drone. People can be and have been prosecuted for violating them.

So it is highly unlikely that any such drones were flying without LOS at close range or that they would be used by any reputable commercial surveillance firm without permission. As the cases mentioned above demonstrate, someone who violates the rules may well wind up in court with a hefty fine, and the authorities aren't going to look sympathetically on any excuses about losing control of the aircraft or being somewhere it shouldn't be accidentally.

By the way, responding to drones by disrupting frequencies using jammers as you suggested would, as a minimum, probably land you in hot water with the communications regulators yourself.

Comment: Re:The Drone Wars (Score 1) 138

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47954935) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

Plot twist: This is all a big double bluff, and they deliberately set up both the familiar-looking ships and "unexpected" delay in the "shield" that would prevent the leaks. Meanwhile, the real models are being filmed on interior sets no-one knows about at a studio far, far away...

Comment: Re:Change Jobs (Score 1) 275

That is IMHO a much more realistic view. Conflating management with technical leadership is a sure path to bad things happening. Certainly some people can do both, but for any given project at any given time, everyone should know what their current role is.

To answer the original question, I think you can sum up the cause of a lot of programmer fatigue very easily: they got into programming out of a desire to create things, and they found themselves surrounded by a (bad) organisational culture where they instead spend their work time doing anything but create things.

It's not the need for a degree of administration and management that is the problem. Most programmers understand this, and will happily go along with it when it's helpful for the project as a whole. Nor is it the need to create something that serves the needs of the project, even if that isn't the most fun job to do right now. Again, I think most programmers understand that if you're working as a professional then you're being hired to make something that is useful/valuable for someone else, and as long as what they're making is in that category it can be satisfying.

But most programmers are also acutely sensitive to overheads that are unhelpful and requirements that are unnecessary -- not that they really need to be if they're at the kind of shop where those overheads take up most of their time. Geeks will rapidly lose enthusiasm in the face of uninspiring leadership, lack of project progress, and generally incompetent management, and often I suspect it really is as simple as that.

Comment: Re:So everything is protected by a 4 digit passcod (Score 1) 504

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47940045) Attached to: Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

If they want it to be admissible in court, then it doesn't work so well.

The trouble with that argument is that it relies on legal rather than technical barriers, and the same guys who want to get you (generic "you") are the ones making the laws.

For example, right now in the UK, the law is effectively that you can be required to provide either decrypted data or the encryption keys to various authorities, and if you don't then that is in itself an offence that can in theory get you two years in jail. Naturally this is controversial, because like many laws relating to privacy and surveillance there clearly are real dangers that the law could help to protect against but there are also real civil liberties concerns.

Regardless of the ethics of the situation, right now that is what the law in my country says. They don't need a £5 wrench, and they don't need evidence gained using that wrench to be admissible in court. All they need, essentially, is suspicion and your silence.

Comment: Symmetric gameplay is all we get now (Score 1) 292

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47916435) Attached to: The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

I find many games where the AI is just too dumb for it to be fun. Overall, it's not smart, and it works for a casual player, but for hardcore games, it's just too dumb.

I agree. The thing is, I'm not a 19 year old student any more. I don't want to be a hardcore gamer today. I don't have time to learn FPS maps well enough to navigate them with my eyes closed and still lob a grenade/rocket everywhere the respawn/power-up/camper is likely to be. I can't sustain multiple keyboard/mouse actions per second over a half-hour RTS game. I have no interest in playing against an arena where 1 in 3 opponents is a bot that never misses, nor installing so much mandatory crapware to prevent this on my computer that something outside the game breaks.

For symmetric competitive games, things like arena-based FPS or RTS genres, the "single player" has been going up against bots on PCs since at least the days of Quake 3 Arena, which was around the turn of the century. The big RTSes of that era often had some sort of contrived plot and a series of preplanned missions, but the replay value as a single player was all in open gaming against bots. In each case, playing against real people on-line was always the natural successor; this is not a new thing.

But there used to be asymmetric games as well, where the storyline and gameworld made for a much more compelling experience that could feel more like being in an interactive movie than playing round 17 of laser tag. Classics like the Baldur's Gate series or the original Deus Ex come immediately to mind. They avoided the boredom of facing what you called "pattern AIs" by having actual progression through the game, so the situations and capabilities you'd face would be changing. You can't really do this in a multiplayer gameworld when everyone wants to start with everything and the game only ships with 2 maps. (*97 more maps are available as DLC. Payment required.)

AIs have improved since those days anyway, but the biggest problem for single-player gaming is that the industry has so completely given up on games that require actual progression and development that fighting AIs on the same handful of maps is all the replay value they've got.

Comment: Re:Well now. (Score 1) 102

The argument about committing crime being outlawed would be more convincing if basic copyright infringement were treated as a crime and was actually investigated and punished in some proportionate way by the authorities when it occurs. The reality is that copyright is in most cases a civil matter, which means that while the cumulative damage to a genuine victim can be significant, they are essentially responsible for their own protection, without any police or public prosecutors to help them the way a victim of say theft or fraud would have. And the costs of bringing an action to recover losses are disproportionate in most cases, because copyright infringement kills with a thousand cuts.

Also, we're talking about the EU. Everything your wrote about fair use doesn't apply here. We tend to have more specific exemptions to copyright in our national laws in Europe, often including certain special privileges for libraries because of their unique public service role, and that is the matter at hand.

Comment: Re:Well now. (Score 2) 102

The thing is, as many a Slashdotter has pointed out, you can't accomplish the same thing virtually. If you let people download material from a library then there are only two realistic options. One is that you provide the material with huge amounts of DRM and interfere with readers' own systems in dubious ways. The other is that you create a blatant avenue for copyright infringement and inherently give it special legal blessing that is intended to protect the public resource of a library for entirely different reasons. It is highly unlikely that libraries would support the former, and there is no way the latter was going to fly legally.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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