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Comment: Re:Easy as 1-2-3 (Score 1) 264

by Dixie_Flatline (#49338211) Attached to: Developers and the Fear of Apple

The reality is that those things are actually becoming less important for the consumer market. I hate to be of the '8GB should be enough for anybody' ilk, but for the kind of things that people are actually doing, that's probably true.

Think of it this way: the Macbook is the laptop you should be recommending to MOST people that ask you for advice. You only deviate from that advice if they have some sort of restriction or requirement. There are times where you might want to recommend the air, and for nerds you should recommend the pro. But the stock Macbook is going to be my recommendation every time without any extra info.

Similarly, if you need something with upgradable RAM, you're simply not the market for a Mac Mini anymore. I had my Mom buy a new Mini last year when her old one kicked it. She will never need to upgrade the RAM. For the things she does (playing MP3s, watching YouTube, email) the machine is vastly overpowered for her needs. That they make it in very few configurations is less of an issue because it's reached appliance status. You may as well complain that your fridge doesn't come with an upgradable cooling unit and spare bays for future extensions. It's just not that sort of tool when you're talking to most people.

For my part, I'm still on an early 2009 iMac with a 2013 Mac Mini that runs headless. 8GB of RAM really IS enough for 100% of what we do at home. I'd only want more RAM because it's one of those things that it's always nice to have more of just so you don't have to care about what's running, but it's not really necessary. I'm already running a lot more things than I need to.

Comment: Re:Eat less than you burn (Score 2) 491

by Dixie_Flatline (#49327745) Attached to: Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Pounds

Ugh, one of the things that I hate about BMR calculations is that they always seem to think that you're going to have an active job AND be an athlete when you get to high activity levels. I've got a sedentary job, but I'm an active competitive swimmer.

And then not all exercise is created equal. I burn more calories training 6 hours a week as a swimmer than I did training 10-12 hours a week as a cyclist. Part of it is just biomechanical efficiency--bikes make everything easier--but there's actually an effect of being in cold water 6 hours a week that's not insignificant. Not to mention I have more muscles being active while swimming than when I'm cycling.

But I guess at this point, I'm actually beyond using these estimators. I've got good direct estimates of power and calories while I'm on the bike, and my swimming is just more than that. Now I just eat to keep up and stop feeling hungry.

Comment: Re:Is the smartwatch fad stillborn? (Score 1) 60

I think they're nice looking watches, but I'm not enthralled by them, certainly. I'm more actively looking at the Withings Activite Pop and Garmin VivoActive because I'd like to have swim tracking, and I'm willing to put up with an ugly (or at least not-pretty) device to get it.

But I'm almost 40 and I'm having trouble figuring out what's actually cool any more. ;)

Comment: Re:Is the smartwatch fad stillborn? (Score 4, Insightful) 60

Some tech writers have made this point already, and I probably won't get it out as clearly as they have, but the problem with smartwatches and our perception of them is that we're thinking about them in the here and now, and not in the future. Microsoft (well, Ballmer) famously laughed at the iPhone as too expensive and useless before it took off and crushed the Microsoft Mobile business into dust. He was thinking of the here and now, and not the future.

This is where Apple's so-called fanboys can be used to bootstrap a tech shift that would've taken much longer otherwise. When enough people start wearing these watches, they'll start to have more applications. Apple Pay will work with the watches out of the gate, so the people that (legitimately) complain that the phone is just as convenient as pulling out a wallet will now have to re-examine the position. The phone is on your wrist and is unlocked by being there and tethered to the phone. (Presumably, one day you won't need the phone at all, but we're not there yet.) And if you can trust your payments to your phone/watch, you can probably trust your car, computer, office door, etc., to that combo as well.

Without Apple, there's more of a chicken-and-egg problem. Nobody wants a watch because the services don't exist, and nobody wants to make a service because there aren't enough watches out there. Get a few million Apple faithful to buy a watch, and suddenly people that are a lot smarter and more creative than me will be making services that can interact with it.

I don't know if this market has legs—I can easily believe that those are things people will shy away from as too insecure or too cumbersome or too ugly. Having to charge one more device every single day doesn't really appeal to ME much, I admit. But if I try to think about the smartwatch market and how it might work in the future, when a bunch of these concerns are addressed, I can see there being somewhere for it to go.

(As to your comment about tablets, my iPad 3 is my most used computing device. I happen to be sitting at my computer right now, but this is the first time I've made a comment on /. from my home PC in months. I bought it originally to give me less of a reason to buy a new phone, but the unexpected side-effect is that I don't really care about home desktop computers anymore either. I'll upgrade in a year or two, when it stops getting OS updates.)

Comment: Re:It is time to get up one way or the other (Score 1) 1089

by Dixie_Flatline (#49301675) Attached to: Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US

I suppose the arguments FOR it would be that if you're going to be forced, more people will attempt to make an informed choice.

But really, I think the aphorism, "You get the government that you deserve," applies whether there's mandatory voting or not.

But I don't think that these low voter turn-outs is sustainable or good for the democracy of countries. Australia does okay. They elected a bonehead this time around, but their democracy moves along much as it ever has. I think it may be worth the experiment.

Comment: Re:Yes simplicity (Score 2) 269

by Dixie_Flatline (#49278653) Attached to: Fraud Rampant In Apple Pay

We have the same readers here in Canada--or at least the same basic concept. I have my card in a thin (Bellroy) wallet, and even with it open I can't get the touch-to-pay to work without pulling out the card a bit to expose the little symbol. Or at least, it doesn't work reliably.

Paying with my phone wouldn't be any less burden, but it wouldn't be any MORE burden either, and it would save me some space. When I go on long bike rides, I always have my phone, but I may leave my wallet at home and only bring a couple cards instead. This would eliminate the need for me to carry (and worry about) my cards all together. That's pretty nice.

It's the same reason why I have a keyfob on my car-keychain that is hooked up to my credit card. If I forget my wallet before I get in the car, I'm not hopelessly doomed if I need to fill up. It's happened, and the keyfob saved me.

Comment: Re:Aren't these already compromised cards? (Score 1) 269

by Dixie_Flatline (#49278593) Attached to: Fraud Rampant In Apple Pay

I thought the deal was that the fraud was paid for by the least secure element in the chain. That is, if you're a merchant and you're still using the old swipe system after a certain date, you'll be on the hook for any fraud. However, if you've switched to the new systems that are theoretically more secure (and they are, provided that the data isn't pre-stolen) the bank is once again taking on the responsibility for the fraud. (Of course, merchant prices go up to cover the bank's costs when the bank screws up too, so...)

Comment: Re:Kinesis (Score 2) 451

by Dixie_Flatline (#49275489) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard?

One for for the Advantage. I've been using this model of keyboard for around 15 years now. When I wear one keyboard out, I buy a new one. I have them at home and at work.

If you work in emacs (or really anything that requires a lot of modifier keys), it's unbeatable.

But honestly, beyond the curve, THE killer feature is that backspace and return are thumb activated. Your thumb simply doesn't get tired the same way your pinky does. Considering how much I have to hit those two keys during the day, there's really no way that any normal keyboard will ever be better than the Kinesis.

Comment: Re:Bwahahahahahahwahahahaah (Score 1) 529

by Dixie_Flatline (#49218641) Attached to: Apple's "Spring Forward" Event Debuts Apple Watch and More

Sure, the Rolex is obsolete right now. :)

The Rolex works, but as a timekeeping device. A pretty poor one, really, since even the best mechanical movements are no match for a digital watch and will drift over time. Besides, why do I need to strap a thing to my wrist to tell the time? I can see three clocks on my desktop as I type this (the Windows start bar one, and two emacs buffers--I have a clock in the modeline).

The Apple watch is marginally more useful, and arguably easier on the eyes in certain configurations. (There are luxury watches that are the most obnoxious affront to good taste. Most of them, really.)

Anyway, I don't want one, but it's really no worse than spending money on a Rolex.

Comment: Re:Not Dumb.... (Score 1) 199

Not only that, they're probably not naive when it comes to this sort of thing. They know that if they don't want to be liable, they have to operate at arm's length from the data. Not only will they be able to tell their customers that they don't snoop, they're never on the hook legally for what their customers are doing because they're not involved.

Comment: Re:Best money Tom Steyer ever spent (Score 1) 437

by Dixie_Flatline (#49127979) Attached to: Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

There are about 300 spills a year from pipelines. You can do the googling yourself, but that's how many spills were considered 'significant' in the USA in 2014.

I tried to find a source that isn't obviously left-wing so you wouldn't reject it out of hand: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ja...

Admittedly, every single method of transporting oil is bad, and all of them lead to environmental problems and costs. So while pipelines may be 'best'--for some meagre definition of 'best'--there is an absolute amount of damage that's done. Conventional bombs are 'safer' if you drop them on my house than nuclear bombs, but it's a distinction without a difference when it comes to whether or not my house is still there.

Maybe the maintenance is as good as we could hope (I doubt it; we're talking about fallible humans and corporations with a bottom line), but this isn't exactly a solved engineering problem.

Nobody really knows how bad a bitumen spill would be. There's a lot of extra chemicals in there to keep it diluted and flowing.

In the end, one catastrophe a year is too many, even if it seems like 20 years later maybe things would be okay. I'm dubious about that number; 25 years after the Exxon Valdez spill, Prince Edward Sound is *mostly* recovered but still has problems. 20-30 years is a big chunk of time to humans, and we still have to live in this world.

Comment: Re:Best money Tom Steyer ever spent (Score 1) 437

by Dixie_Flatline (#49127863) Attached to: Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

No, not really. Almost everyone outside of Alberta is either ambivalent or pretty much against the pipeline. The tar sands are a disaster enough without giving more incentives to them to mine more bitumen.

I'm delighted to hear that he vetoed the pipeline. Of all the ways to produce oil, the tar sands are among the worst. They use an enormous amount of (fresh) water and energy. There are significant pipeline breaches every few weeks. Some you hear about, some you don't. A pipeline that long, well, I don't give it much of a chance of running for its intended lifetime without a leak. As a former Albertan, I find the idea of a bitumen slurry being dumped on the prairies really sad. I can't imagine it would be any better once it crosses the border.

I think this is great news.

Comment: Re:Artists paid 16 times as much for Spotify than (Score 1) 305

No, actually, I'm not. I'm assuming that people would put that $10 towards a specific album and thus, a specific artist. If I stream dozens or hundreds of artists a month, the $10 is really diluted, so even if I spent most of my time listening to one artist, they necessarily won't have made as much money off of me as they would've if I'd bought their album.

Comment: Re:Artists paid 16 times as much for Spotify than (Score 1) 305

Well, I mean, to a certain extent I agree. But you and I are having this conversation, which means that we've thought about it. Spotify and services like it mask the conversation from the public. They think that the artists are getting paid an amount commensurate with their skill, and roughly corresponding to the amount that the public enjoys the artist's music. If you ask someone what they think a band gets paid from a streaming service, I'm sure they'll tell you a figure that's much higher than it actually is. To an extent, it even removes the ability of people to vote with their dollars. When $10/month is being split between dozens of artists, even the person that comes out on top is poor. In the end, it may end up backfiring on the streaming services. If bands decide they can make more money doing releases on BandCamp and Spotify is undermining their album sales, maybe they'll pull out of the streaming services to sell fewer albums, but still make more money doing it.

But on a more philosophical level, I think it's sad that art is reduced to a mere calculation and balance sheet. I paid $10 for some albums and I've gotten joy out of them that can't be defined in dollar terms. In a very fundamental way, a lot of music shapes the way we interact with the world. I mean that very literally; music changes and shapes your brain as you listen to it. Emotion and music are tightly interwoven. It's a surprise when you meet someone that takes no enjoyment in music at all.

So while there's a fundamental truth to what you say, driving potential artists away from what could be a workable career doesn't really benefit us. If streaming revenues were enough to make up a decent, middle-ish class living, I don't think I'd argue with you. But these streaming revenues aren't enough to do anything other than have making music as a hobby, and really undermine important album sales. I'm sure there will be lots of artists that continue to make music and live in poverty--that's been true through the ages--but the promise of the age we live in was that MORE artists would be able to reach more people and more EASILY make a living.

Comment: Re:Artists paid 16 times as much for Spotify than (Score 4, Insightful) 305

While true, it's irrelevant for two reasons:

1) The radio doesn't play the songs you want on demand; and
2) The radio is effectively a way to drive album sales. Spotify is a REPLACEMENT for the album.

It used to be that it was worth it to play your songs on the radio (even at a loss) because people that liked your one song might want to hear the 10 hours you wrote--that would never be heard on the radio--and spend $10 on the album.

Now you pay Spotify $10/month for unlimited access to the entire album. To the entirety of the artist's catalogue. To the entirety of all the included artists' catalogues.

This is obviously and trivially less money than any one of those artists would make previously from you if you liked their music. Perhaps the argument could be made that more people are listening and giving a tiny amount of money to each artist, but I rather think that given the stats I've seen, this isn't even close to true.

This is much different from the time when people were pirating albums, since many fans would go out and buy an album that they downloaded because they wanted to support the artist. Now people feel that because they're paying $10 to Spotify or Rdio that they ARE supporting the artist. They're not going to pay for a subscription AND an album. That's exactly the opposite of the point of these services.

They need a new model. Streaming on its own for $10/month is clearly not enough money to go around. Spotify has infrastructure costs and has been bleeding money (I think they had a break-even or profitable quarter just recently?). Meanwhile, they also need to distribute the remainder of the already paltry $10 between a zillion artists. It makes no sense.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan

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