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Comment: Being able to filter results (Score 1) 174

by Dixie_Flatline (#49501729) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Features Would You Like In a Search Engine?

So say I'm searching for something with really common words in it. I can't think of anything specifically right now, but this is my most common search failure.

I get back a bunch of results. They have all the words I'm looking for, but they're all about two or three more popular topics. I'd like to be able to select a search result and tell the engine that results like this are incorrect for some semantic reason. Maybe it's a band name and I'm looking for a book titleâI should be able to say I don't want anything related to music. No bands, albums or songs. I'd be willing to tag results with some context to provide hints to the algorithm.

Things like 'windows' tend to mess up results; Google assumes that I either mean the Microsoft kind or the house kind, but sometimes I'm trying to figure out what's wrong with a particular application window. I run into this sort of thing surprisingly often.

Comment: Re:Pioneers get arrows in back (Score 1) 124

Yeah, and Microsoft and Blackberry had phones YEARS before Apple did. Just because you've been doing it for a long time doesn't mean it's better than what Apple's done. Just because Apple's been working on it for a couple years doesn't mean it'll be perfect out of the box. This is a first generation product, and it suffers from everything a first gen does. Nobody escapes that.

Apple nailed a couple things with the watch, from all accounts. The watch looks good--which is critical if you want to sell it to non-nerds, the HR monitoring is good, you can use it with Apple Pay. Give it a couple years. All sorts of tech needs to advance and have something like this watch driving it to be good at exactly what they need.

Comment: Re:Overrated (Score 5, Insightful) 200

by Dixie_Flatline (#49423047) Attached to: Snowden Demystified: Can the Government See My Junk?

Oliver is a master of taking a terrible, boring and critically important subject and making it palatable. Net Neutrality, predatory lending--we've seen people cover these topics for years and get no traction. But John Oliver keeps us watching for the whole thing.

I find it sad that nobody knew who he was to begin with. I do, and I live in Canada. I think it's a really important piece of news. But then again, I'm a nerd, and I'm bombarded with this information, relatively speaking. I guarantee my non-geek friends only have the most meagre understanding of who he is.

Snowden's information is important, and he has the right idea of what should be done with it. But John Oliver is one of the best ways to communicate the information. He managed to get Snowden to summarise things into really relatable chunks of data--it was brilliant.

Comment: Re: Yawn (Score 1) 94

Until I started using nintype, I couldn't find a single swiping keyboard that was faster or more accurate than tapping each letter. I used at least 4 different keyboards and they were all terrible. (Nintype lets me swipe and tap in the same word; it's a far better implementation of a swiping keyboard. And as far as I know, it's still only officially on iOS.)

I think the iPhone 6 is too bigâI think all 5-ish inch phones are too big. I have a 20cm handspan (8") and long fingers. The ergonomics are terrible. Even with the reachability feature, I find it incredibly irritating to reach the top far corner. Apple had the ergonomics of small devices entirely right, the problem is that most people prefer seeing more over better ergonomics.

Anyway, you don't find value in Apple products and that's fine. But many of us appreciate the design decisions they make. Don't try to pass of their work as merely being about marketing and high margins. I like their products better for HCI and quality reasons. I've used a nexus 4 and 5 and Samsung S5 and found them all sorely lacking. Just because you have some beef with Apple doesn't mean they don't actually make good stuff.

Comment: Re:Easy as 1-2-3 (Score 1) 269

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) 496

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) 452

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.

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