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Comment: Re:"It's just metadata" (Score 1) 146

by Dr_Barnowl (#47426875) Attached to: UK Gov't Plans To Push "Emergency" Surveillance Laws

I thought so too, until recently, when their apparently inability to report many fairly significant events of social unrest has been very obvious.

There have been anti-government protests with tens of thousands of people marching against the current regime, relegated to 2 minute slots on the local news shot from a low camera angle to conceal the fact that there were 50,000 marchers (by the estimates of the police observing).

Coverage on the destructive privatization of our National Health Service is notable by it's absence.

Even if they are not wholeheartedly supporting the Tories, they would appear to be under their thumb.

Comment: Re:Normal humans exlcuded from practicing law/medi (Score 1) 586

by Dr_Barnowl (#47415733) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

Or the marathon race of medical residency where 100 hours is a normal week and 36 hours straight is a standard shift?

That's because people are cheap bastards. They'd rather have medical residents who are tired to the point where they make decisions like they are three times over the legal alcohol limit, than pay to have more doctors. Hilariously, the USA spends nearly double what we do in the UK, but a lot of it goes on administration staff because of the whole insurance and billing thing. This is why you guys have such a hard-on for electronic health records ; automate all that shit and things get a lot cheaper. In the UK we just avoided most of it by having a single-payer system.

I used to work those marathon weeks (here in the UK, where they are similarly cheap), but I quit due to stress. So the vast sums spent on training me went largely to waste ; although I do still make use of my medical background in my day job which is writing software for medical purposes.

Comment: Re:And in other news (Score 2) 139

by Dr_Barnowl (#47405833) Attached to: Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi

That's only for one limited elite class of taxi drivers, the London Black Cab driver.

The exam you're referring to is called "The Knowledge". Minicab (pre-booked hire car) drivers in London do not need "The Knowledge", but driving a black cab has a certain cachet that means they can charge higher fares - you know you're getting a driver that knows his way around beyond the cold and unadorned data that a GPS navigator can provide. The privilege for this differentiation is that only licensed taxi drivers are allowed to pick up fares off the street - all other hire cars have to be booked through their controller.

The main problem that folks like the Black Cab drivers have with Uber is that the technology makes booking an Uber essentially as immediate as raising your hand and yelling "Taxi!", which erodes a substantial part of their competitive advantage. But as you point out, the same technology also makes their principal unique selling point (being able to navigate London without embarrassing pauses to flick through an A-Z) rather less relevant as well.

Comment: Re:Misused? Murder is intrinsic in communism. (Score 1) 526

by Dr_Barnowl (#47405759) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

Ayn Rand's observations about human nature are heavily skewed toward broken people, such as she was.

This is a woman who's mother didn't love her, who lied to her to take her toys away just so she could gain some social capital by giving them to charity.

Her observations are thus very pertinent in the light of a capitalist society such as we have, because capitalism is a system that treats people like that - as something to exploit for profit, regardless of their need. This is justified by the accurate observation that the striving that results creates wealth, but it is not shared appropriately - the "out for what I can get" mentality perpetuates the notion that, for example, the selling of a product is intrinsically more worthy than the manufacture of the product, when without the manufacture of the product, both the seller and the maker would be in equal penury.

Children naturally have a sense of fairness and sharing. The main reason humans developed big brains was not to figure out the world, but to figure out other people - cooperation was the "secret sauce" that elevated us above the other monkeys. I don't think the kind of human nature that Ayn Rand observes is our actual "natural" nature, but merely something that emerges from the interaction of humans with the capitalist system, a system which is observably dominated by those who do NOT have these basic human traits - corporate officers having more than their fair share of sociopaths.

Comment: Re:What's the point? (Score 4, Interesting) 178

If you ask any IT team lead, the real reason is the usability and it-just-works qualities of the software.

If you ask most IT team leads, the real reason is that they know that users in general treat computers like voodoo - perform a particular ritual a particular way, and you get the desired outcome. This lack of mental flexibility means that when someone learns a particular GUI they are not keen to change to a new one - which is the reason you get exactly the same inertia about switching to a new version of MS Office (vis: all that Ribbon hoo-hah) that you do for switching to another OS (with it's other applications with other GUIs).

This is the "usability" part of that statement. That's the reason that people railed so heaviliy against Windows 8. Why do you think MS invest so heavily in giving copies of their software to schools? Get those GUI rituals in peoples heads.

As for it-just-works... MS software does plenty of infuriating and irritating does-not-just-work things.

* Linux : I can move a file while I have it open in an editor, and saving the file in the editor saves to the new location
* Windows : Won't let you move the file

Microsoft would solely have to lean on selling support and consultation services after that.

I can imagine that terrifies them ; presently, even if you pay for support, you get very little. You get better support for Windows and other MS software from the community. With popular OSS projects, you typically get good support from both the community and the authors, AND you get the ability to look at the source code to understand your problem better or even fix it (or hire a contractor to do this). This is one of the cornerstones of why I use OSS wherever possible in my technology stack - the larger the software company gets, the less my problems matter to them. IBM manages just fine in this model.

Windows works today, out of the box.

This is so untrue on so many levels.

When I install Linux, it usually takes about 20 minutes, with no driver downloads (because I do my homework and buy compatible hardware). Most distro's leave you with a machine that has a bunch of useful applications, out of the box.

With Windows, I've had to hunt for drivers, download drivers, slipstream special drivers into special install disk images (so that the install can proceed far enough for the real drivers to be installed...). This is for machines that were sold with Windows and provided with install images. It literally took me all night to reinstall my wife's laptop (reboot! reboot! reboot!) after her office decided that because the Linux install didn't support their proprietary disk encryption program it wasn't suitable (never mind that it had perfectly good encryption on it anyway). And that's just for the core OS, never mind the vast list of applications that you have to add to make it even marginally useful.

At that moment, the Linux guy will still be applying various fancy patches and trying out different distro and desktop environment combinations to see which works best.

I use Linux for all my real, productive work on a daily basis, use stock packages for the vast majority of things, use the standard Ubuntu image, again, out of the box, without doing anything to it bar installing packages and configuring a few of the options a little.

Unlike Windows, I don't need to tweak my install ; If I move to another machine (say, a hardware replacement cycle), I can literally move the disk from one machine to another and keep on trucking - Windows throws the most epic tantrum imaginable if you try that. If I want to go crazy and upgrade to a new version of the OS, I back up my home folder, install the new OS, install the packages I had before with a single command, restore my home folder and move over most of my files and config folders... and I'm off again. Again, if you try that on Windows, you're screwed, because most of the apps store all manner of settings and license keys in the registry, which you can't just remove from one machine and transplant to another.

Enterprise setups? Both require work. The amount of screwing around with Active Directory that it takes to maintain our machines at work is legendary.

Comment: Re:...and.. (Score 1) 178

It wouldn't work at all - there's nothing magic about them numbers.

The only way to be sure that you got a copy of binaries that corresponded to the source code would be for each agency concerned to get it's own copy of the source, and build Windows for itself, using it's own audited compiler toolchain. This is not something that MS will allow to happen.

Comment: Re:Better way for Microsoft to earn trust (Score 2) 178

Hundreds of legacy code developed for Windows platform using Windows development tools run only on XP and are not supported by 7 or 8.

This is generally because they were really badly written and do things that have been recommended against for years - like storing settings in the same folder as the program, which means that in some cases non-admin users can't even use the program because they don't have permission to create the initial settings file. I'd like to say this is generally confined to amateur developers but I've seen it so many times from so-called professionals that it's sad.

It's not something specific to Windows, but not something you tend to see as much in the POSIX world because there is such a long-standing culture of *nix machines being multi-user machines - programmers tend to grok from the outset that user programs need to store user settings in a user's home folder.

In general, Windows 7 is impressively compatible with code written for Windows XP (and Windows 2000, etc.). The difference is that IT departments have started locking Windows 7 machines more than they have done in the past.

I put up my thumb... and it blotted out the planet Earth. -- Neil Armstrong