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Comment: Re:No. (Score 1) 451

by Burz (#46730325) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

Its very typical in FOSS to think UI design goes no further than the 'doorknob' level. That's a big part of the problem right there. Y'all don't get it.

I do 'like' KDE. But as a SuSE and Xandros veteran, I can say that the more finely you tune the surface looks to Windows, the more the user will later feel dismay when they should have their curiosity piqued instead. The default KDE look isn't too bad in that regard.

The irony here is that KDE also lets you get closer to OS X look and behavior than Gnome will. Unity, however, comes pretty close in its default config.

What makes Unity a better OSX than heavily tweaked KDE is at being Windows-like is that Canonical actually does pay close attention to how well these cutesy graphical details line up with the vertical integrations they provide (and with each other). Xandros (around versions 3/4) could probably lay claim to an equivalent level of excellence, except that was achieved with a bunch of proprietary components.

Comment: Unity is actually very nice. Its Dash that sucks. (Score 1) 53

by Burz (#46700099) Attached to: A Conversation with Ubuntu's Jono Bacon (Video)

Removing Dash/shopping and adding Classicmenu makes for a system that's easy to navigate.

Having people text-search for everything all at once--when all they want is that banking or other occasional tool they run occasionally (what's the name?)--and getting tons of cruft in the results just isn't working.

Comment: This is risible! (Score 2) 312

by Burz (#46681113) Attached to: Why No Executive Order To Stop NSA Metadata Collection?

Sites like Salon and The Guardian broke the Snowden story, and they keep running with it. There is a very long list of left-leaning sites that keep the issue highly visible, including HuffPo, DKos, Raw Story, TruthOut, DemocracyNow! and I dare even list Ars Technica in that group. Yes, there are Obama-worshippers who try to paint anti-NSA info and sentiment as fifth-column betrayal, but overall if you sample the comments in places like DKos and DU, you'll see some skirmishes over the issue of party loyalty (and accusations of racism) with the anti-NSA crowd handily coming out on top.

As for the lack of protest, lets just say the story was still developing in the fall and its been one heck of a winter.

Android

Illustrating the Socioeconomic Divide With iOS and Android 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-phone-is-your-class-marker dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "Android has a huge market share advantage over iOS these days, but it hasn't had as much success at following the money. iOS continues to win over many app developers and businesses who want to maximize their earnings. Now, an article at Slate goes over some of the statistics demonstrating this trend. A map of geo-located Tweets show that in Manhattan, a generally affluent area, most of the Tweets come from iPhones. Meanwhile, in nearby Newark, which is a poorer area, most Tweets come from Android devices. In other tests, traffic data shows 87% of visits to e-commerce websites from tablets come from iPads, and the average value of an order from an iPad is $155, compared to $110 from Android tablets. (Android fairs a bit better on phones). Android shows a huge market share advantage in poorer countries, as well. Not all devs and business are just chasing the money, though. Twitter developer Cennydd Bowles said, 'I do hope, given tech's rhetoric about changing the world and disrupting outdated hierarchies, that we don't really think only those with revenue potential are worth our attention. A designer has a duty to be empathetic; to understand and embrace people not like him/herself. A group owning different devices to the design elite is not a valid reason to neglect their needs.'"
Space

How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System? 392

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-volunteer-everyone-in-california dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The nearest star systems — such as our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, which is 4.2 light-years from home — are so far away, reaching them would require a generational starship. Entire generations of people would be born, live, and die before the ship reached its destination. This brings up the question of how many people you need to send on a hypothetical interstellar mission to sustain sufficient genetic diversity. Anthropologist Cameron Smith has calculated how many people would be required to maintain genetic diversity and secure the success of the endeavor. William Gardner-O'Kearney helped Smith build the MATLAB simulations to calculate how many different scenarios would play out during interstellar travel and ran some simulations specially to show why the success of an interstellar mission depends crucially on the starting population size. Gardner-O'Kearny calculated each population's possible trajectory over 300 years, or 30 generations. Because there are a lot of random variables to consider, he calculated the trajectory of each population 10 times, then averaged the results.

A population of 150 people, proposed by John Moore in 2002, is not nearly high enough to maintain genetic variation. Over many generations, inbreeding leads to the loss of more than 80 percent of the original diversity found within the hypothetical gene. A population of 500 people would not be sufficient either, Smith says. "Five hundred people picked at random today from the human population would not probably represent all of human genetic diversity . . . If you're going to seed a planet for its entire future, you want to have as much genetic diversity as possible, because that diversity is your insurance policy for adaptation to new conditions." A starting population of 40,000 people maintains 100 percent of its variation, while the 10,000-person scenario stays relatively stable too. So, Smith concludes that a number between 10,000 and 40,000 is a pretty safe bet when it comes to preserving genetic variation. Luckily, tens of thousands of pioneers wouldn't have to be housed all in one starship. Spreading people out among multiple ships also spreads out the risk. Modular ships could dock together for trade and social gatherings, but travel separately so that disaster for one wouldn't spell disaster for all. 'With 10,000,' Smith says, 'you can set off with good amount of human genetic diversity, survive even a bad disease sweep, and arrive in numbers, perhaps, and diversity sufficient to make a good go at Humanity 2.0.'"

Comment: Is all the firmware open? (Score 1) 88

by Burz (#46646583) Attached to: Bunnie Huang's Novena Open Source Laptop Launches Via Crowd Supply

I have toyed with the idea of installing CoreBoot on my Thinkpad as a way to enhance security. The Noveena doesn't appear to have a BIOS, however, and there is little mention about firmware in their pitch... I'm more concerned about this than who designed the motherboard traces.

I'm not much of a hacker, but I do love the overall concept here. Hopefully they will divulge more details as the time progresses.

Communications

WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever 449

Posted by Soulskill
from the rotary-phones-won't-breed-in-captivity dept.
retroworks writes: "Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS — the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years. Is landline obsolete, and should be immune from grandparents-era social protection? The article continues, 'Last week, Michigan joined more than 30 other states that have passed or are considering laws that restrict state-government oversight and eliminate "carrier of last resort" mandates, effectively ending the universal-service guarantee that gives every U.S. resident access to local-exchange wireline telephone service, the POTS. (There are no federal regulations guaranteeing Internet access.) ... In Mantoloking, N.J., Verizon wants to replace the landline system, which Hurricane Sandy wiped out, with its wireless Voice Link. That would make it the first entire town to go landline-less, a move that isn't sitting well with all residents."

Comment: Re:Infighting: Linux's biggest weakness (Score 2) 155

by Burz (#46590467) Attached to: Canonical's Troubles With the Free Software Community

Here's a thought experiment:

Imagine you're a 7th grader who has become intrigued by computers. If that kid tries programming on "Linux" and creates her first couple of apps using whatever tools and libraries she can grasp at the start-- then what will happen??

1. She becomes a web developer. OK, fine... but don't expect desktop apps from her. In fact, don't even expect "Linux" to enter her mind when she thinks of users.

2. She gains a yen for all the *nix plumbing and becomes a system-level tinkerer, writing some KDE or Gnome apps as a way to fill some acute voids in a way that fits into her elite usage patterns. Again, don't expect *good* apps from her. She is interested mainly in cool new ways to arrange the plumbing and impressing only her hacker friends.

3. She STOPS coding when those first tentative steps toward her big ideas ended up having zero chance of running on her uncle's or her classmate's "Linux" systems; copying her code to those other systems resulted in a flop. What's more, she wasn't able to describe to those people ways of troubleshooting the problems that prevented the apps from running, getting puzzling descriptions back from them that she didn't recognize.

3. a) She discovers Windows and Mac systems have the consistency she needs to show-off to her non-technical friends and family, and since those are the people she's trying to impress early on (instead of impressing hackers) her personal development as a coder gains a healthy appreciation for the non-techies' point of view and she becomes a good app developer.

TL;DR; The Linux distro eco system cannot "grow" good app developers. It just cannot. Its too chaotic for the right kind of nurturing of talent to take place.

I think Shuttleworth has been inching away from the distro culture and this is part of the reason why Canonical is frequently criticized; they have needs for future releases of Ubuntu that the non-forked 'plumbing' projects aren't meeting. And then there is ElementaryOS, which seems to have a fully realized platform philosophy that doesn't include "Linux compatibility" (whatever that means) in its future; They plan to diverge increasingly in the future for the sake of internal consistency and usability. I wish them both great luck, and advise Canonical to commit to diverging the way ElementaryOS has, because the pack they're associated with now are just pretenders.

Comment: Re:Infighting: Linux's biggest weakness (Score 4, Insightful) 155

by Burz (#46587165) Attached to: Canonical's Troubles With the Free Software Community

The apps don't materialize because serious app developers (instead of the system tinkerers in FOSS who like to imagine themselves as good apps developers) with passion and committment to their ideas try out "Linux" and experience the following:

1. Scant control of hardware features (even getting the screen to turn off can be a challenge) and the controls that exist suck, because the proper level of vertical integration isn't there.

2. Myriad desktop environments and administration applets that make the thought of guiding users through tech support a nightmare. This is the most obvious reason why "Linux" is not a desktop platform, because most non-techie users of said distros wouldn't even be able to recognize most other distros (or the same distro with a different DE).

3. Myriad combinations of support libraries; even the common ones are bundled together with versions of each other that create a unique and unsupportable platform 'landscape' for each distro.

4. Distro culture itself: 'Thou art a creepy skank if you sell apps and/or offer direct downloads of a product.' Invoking Yum and Apt are almost like genuflecting before entering a pew. Only its a cult, not a religion, because strong dynamic relationships with people outside the repository are frowned upon.

Bitcoin

Researchers Find Problems With Rules of Bitcoin 301

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ruining-everything-with-math dept.
holy_calamity (872269) writes "Using game theory to analyze the rules of cryptocurrency Bitcoin suggests some changes are needed to make the currency sustainable in the long term, reports MIT Technology Review. Studies from Princeton and Cornell found that current rules governing the mining of bitcoins leave room for cheats or encourage behavior that could destabilize the currency. Such changes could be difficult to implement, given the fact Bitcoin — by design — lacks any central authority." The main problem discovered is that transaction fees do not provide enough incentive to continue operating as "miner" after there are no more bitcoins left to be mined.

If a subordinate asks you a pertinent question, look at him as if he had lost his senses. When he looks down, paraphrase the question back at him.

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