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Comment: We must be winning? (Score 1) 401

by Duggeek (#46278179) Attached to: US Secretary of State Calls Climate Change 'Weapon of Mass Destruction'

If climate change is WMD, it must be wielded by a certain faction

The most potent element in climate change is methane gas.

The greatest living producers of methane gas are bovines, (cattle) on its own, contributing up to 30% of world greenhouse gas emissions [EPA report

The number of bovines in captivity (in US, Europe and Asia, excluding India) tend to outnumber those in the wild

For the captive cattle population in the US, roughly 1/3 are converted to foodstuffs each year [source: "download fact sheet"]

We've got them right where we want them, but somehow they still manage to execute their global-climate attacks. Time for a diplomatic solution?

(j/k ... this is 'Murica, we don't do diplomatic solutions.)

Comment: Re:..you'll be able to scream, 'fire the lasers!'" (Score 1) 376

by Duggeek (#46240521) Attached to: Laser Headlights Promise More Intense, Controllable Beams

Car powers lasers. Lasers shine on phosphors. Phosphors emit wide-spectrum normal light at high efficiency.

Quite true! The current convention of excited-gas luminescence (High Intensity Discharge, or HID) is very bright indeed. Sports venues are looking into feasibility of replacing stadium and indoor-arena lighting with HID or something similar for the sheer savings in energy consumption.

Headlight glare from HID is only dulled for oncoming traffic by shaping the beam. The technology for laser-bombarded phosphors will probably have the same optical harnessing as HID. (most likely due to cost-efficiency by automakers so they don't have to fully replace their precision manufacturing) As for the 'annoyance' factor, there will continue to be hill-crest and sharp-rise blindness from oncoming traffic until such a time as when all cars are equipped with a solenoid-controlled lens assembly tied to a comprehensive pitch-sensing array. It's also clear that, unlike LED light sources where luminescence is hard-wired in the manufacturing, laser-excited phosphors can be precisely controlled through the phosphor material and packaged optics. As this report shows, the exact nature of the phosphor-impregnated material affects the color and amplitude of the light emitted.

Are they potentially brighter? Quite possibly. Would manufacturers be able to easily mitigate that effect as they roll-out production? Absolutely.

In the meantime, I doubt I am the only one that's concerned with the term, "laser headlights". The emitted light is not actually laser light, it's the broad-spectrum light (as correctly stated by PP) emitted by energized phosphors. The laser only energizes luminescence, the phosphor is what actually emits the light. But it's the "laser headlights" term that implies that the beams are made-up of laser light. Sure, it's a finer point, but I think it stands for comprehensive accuracy. This tech should be known as "laser-powered headlights" or even "Laser Energized Phosphor Emission | LEPE headlights".In fact, I sense a good marketing angle in the latter, at the very least for laser-energized-phosphor emission manufacturers.

The way it's written in those articles is, plainly put, misleading to just about everyone on that point.

+ - Geeks.com Online Shop Has Closed 5

Submitted by Duggeek
Duggeek (1015705) writes "After 17 years, one of the best kept secrets in shopping, Geeks.com have shuttered their online doors. Myself, I have a small book of sales orders from years past. According to the latest announcement, that stack will not be growing any larger.

From the announcement:

Our vision has always been to provide the geeky tech consumer an alternative avenue to purchase quality refurbished and new techy products and gadgets. That vision was the cornerstone of our slogan “Best Deals Every Nanosecond”. Unfortunately after a lot of difficult consideration the owners of Geeks.com feel we are unable to come through on this vision any longer.

There are many why's... The e-commerce landscape, as well as the consumer electronics market, has changed dramatically with intense competition and a 1000lb gorilla (do we really need to say who) competitor that can lose millions of dollars to buy customers and suck up inventory. They can lose money with impunity, supported by the stock market. We cannot.

The landing page of their website now goes directly to this announcement; the storefront is switched off.

They maintain a Facebook page where a combination of remorse and surprise is rapidly growing. The letter also asserts that they will fulfill all business obligations to online customers during their transition to both a solitary, brick-and-mortar presence in California and a wholesale division, Evertek.

Personally, just about every keyboard in my closet was purchased from them, and another box full of USB devices as well. Five of my PC builds exist because of their competitive pricing and reasonable service. Feel free to share your own memories of the former Computer Geeks Discount Outlet."

Comment: Re:Ever wonder? (Score 1) 165

by Duggeek (#44288861) Attached to: Say What? Wading Through the Nonsense In Microsoft's Re-Org Memo

Have you ever watched an interview with Ballmer and after thought to yourself "Did he actually answer any questions?"

Where is the actual story?

Indeed! Executives are just politicians without the need for public vetting; their job is essentially to look smarter than they really are, because they make the decisions behind millions, if not billions, of shareholder dollars.

If that analogy applies to Ballmer, then heaven help us. He's been outed time and time again as one of the most monkey-brained, bull-headed and chair-throwingest XOs of all time.

I often mirror exec-u-speak to the challenge of a/v content of the early Internet era. Those tiny, blocky, postage-stamp videos of the 90's and early millennium. In the sub-48kbps MP3 era, the sounds and music bits were just crap; a tinny, hissing cacophony of some approximation of the original piece. This blew the comprehension of many podcasts, back when they were just starting out.

So, we all remember those experiences. Now, consider that the executive "dialect" is much like that over-compressed media. The XO types just believe that the words they pick are somehow so concentrated and potent that they simply must represent the exact ideas they have. The reality is the sheer ambiguity of the semantics is a minefield of confusion, miscomprehended statements and basically invites rampant guesswork to their entire organization.

Then again, maybe there's an art to it? Consider for a moment that the ambiguity, obscurity and guesswork has been infused into these speeches by design. What we view as incompetence is instead a patchwork of intentional obfuscation, the clear and present question-mark of words that could mean something, or nothing at all. In the end, is it really about communication, or a thinly disguised non-committal of accountability? You decide.

Comment: Re:I've seen similar slogans before ... (Score 1) 165

by Duggeek (#44288549) Attached to: Say What? Wading Through the Nonsense In Microsoft's Re-Org Memo

Check out the bit under How We Work: (from the memo)

Each major initiative will have a champion who will be a direct report to me or one of my direct reports. The champion will organize to drive a cross-company team for success, but my whole staff will have commitment to the initiative’s success.

Bringing the word champion to the table seems like a noble and heroic undertaking, but listen to the undercurrent. It says each champion will be "a direct report to [Ballmer] or one of [his] direct reports." Hrm... is there an historical precedent for such a caste? I think so, and their uniforms had pairs of matching letters; I believe it's the letter just after "R" and just before "T". (and depicted in the 1970's Detroit Arena Costumed Rock Band fashion)

Now note the second statement, how these champions will "organize to drive a cross-company team for success," but he also makes a point of informing how "[Ballmer's] whole staff will have commitment to the initiative's success." Is the parallel getting through yet? This is moving from an inefficient dog-eat-dog tribal model--as Ballmer previously molded MSFT in the early millenium--into a clear model of Gestapo fascism. It's lovely how this "initiative" is not named at all; might it be called "The Final Solution" at some point? (If you haven't grasped the insinuation by now, then I can't help you any further without degrading this into a trite labeling of a particular historical world figure that has vilified so many in the past decade.)

And before anyone pulls out the "welcome to corporate culture" card, just be clear that this is MSFT, or an equivalent to the population of a small first-world nation we're talking about here. The gravitas is a bit greater than some tri-state, regional or even continental US conglomerate. The scope of this one corporation is like a moderate-sized government with world-wide reach, and one which reasonably and in all practical sense can (and does) have a major influence on world affairs. This isn't just name-calling here.

Later in that paragraph:

Our focus on high-value activities — serious fun, meetings, tasks, research, information assurance and IT/Dev workloads — also will get top-level championship.

If you get the implications of the former passage, then this one should chill you to the bone. Great, just what we need... a 'champion' for "serious fun" and "information assurance."

Comment: Re:Have tried everything (Score 1) 205

by Duggeek (#44265207) Attached to: How Do You Get Better Bug Reports From Users?

I have tried a bunch of ways. Trained the 'expert' users in the area on how to put in a better ticket.

The fact that you need 'expert' users to effectively utilize the bug system says less about your users and more about your system.

[...] users will use what method is easiest to them

Indubitably, so why aren't your methods getting any easier? Ah! Maybe you haven't tried everything after all!

  • If they're calling someone they know, then why else do they have that number? (same goes for direct email)
  • Why is that capture address visible at all?
  • Uncivil behavior between employees is a matter for HR, don'cha think?
  • Email chains, tickets, log files... you're gonna have to sift through some crap at some point, right?
  • Who doesn't complain to coworkers?
  • Now, doing nothing is the worst offense, but only because the user feels like she has no viable options.
  • What sort of ticketing system allows "call me" as a sufficient description? If anything, that's a clear "cry for help" about your ticketing system.

So, what you're saying is that the users don't make your job any easier, and in return, you're going to make your workflow less accessible and make their job even harder? I'm feeling sorry for someone in this story, and it isn't you.

Comment: Re:Use the software yourself (Score 1) 205

by Duggeek (#44264991) Attached to: How Do You Get Better Bug Reports From Users?

Users do not work for you. When they do post bug reports, it is most likely in frustration.

I think the point is more: Why are your users not working for you?

As for the bit about frustration, that's more of an overall issue. That's a bug in the human system; not the user, the whole organization.

If users had an approachable, understandable and friendly way to report bugs, there wouldn't be such stress. The frustration comes from the expectation of how a bug report (or opening a ticket, or calling IT, etc) will play out. Often, for them, it's an exercise in futility and exasperation, dealing in a great many things that they don't understand and, more to the point, don't care to understand.

If the process wasn't so confusing or demeaning, it wouldn't be considered as a "last resort" for so many users.

Comment: Re:Follow up (Score 1) 205

by Duggeek (#44264877) Attached to: How Do You Get Better Bug Reports From Users?

I have some users that love translating text errors into numeric error themselves. Any time a page doesn't load, it's a 404. So that's what they report. "I'm trying to connect to thisdomaindoesntexist.com and I'm getting a 404."

Hell, we could recount "worst user" stories all day long. This does point to a typical social phenomenon; perceived competence.

The user in question probably just wants to be seen as more-competent, so they remember a time when they spoke to someone knowledgeable. It may have been the Geek Squad guy or a Desktop Support person, it doesn't really matter. Back then, they were told that the "page not available" paragraph that appears when they expected to see ReadNewsAllDay.com was sometimes called a "404", because that's what machines called the error. (not that the HTTP error table is all that accurate in the first place)

That impression, when you combine it with the syndrome of brow-beater IT personnel, makes for a false association. The user then thinks, "So an error in my browser is called a '404' by the pros. I don't want to be talked-down to, so I'm going to use it the next time I call them and they might relate to me like I'm a human!"

Brilliant, right?

So, who carries the blame?
I say it's a systemic problem, not a causational relationship.

Blame the user?
It's not his fault, nobody explained the actual significance of '404' to him, they just gave him a connection to it.
Blame the sales geek?
Not really his fault either, because his job is to make the technology more 'shiny' and less 'scary' --just doing his job.
Blame the browser source?
How can we? They caved to pressures from thousands of users to make errors "more understandable" and so the numbers were replaced with friendly paragraphs of hit-and-miss suggestions.
Blame the brow-beating IT professionals?
Can you really blame those guys after dealing with all of those ignorant, demanding and thankless users?
Blame the makers of HTTP?
Y'know... maybe we can!

What can we take away from this?

Here's one thing; technology has its deepest roots in obscure, cryptic and sometimes senseless nomenclature. The numbers, codes, acronyms and techniques being used were once so mystifying to the average person, it was almost like magic to them. As technology keeps evolving, it also keeps becoming more accessible to Joe Q User. However, some of the older technology has nigh-immortal longevity and persists it's often non-sensical origins of coded gobbletygook, (e.g., http) and--like an ancient language--requires an interpreter.

The challenge then presents itself; being an interpreter without the implication that you are imparting actual, workable knowledge. Good luck.

Comment: Re:it all goes south from here... (Score 1) 482

by Duggeek (#43744385) Attached to: Global Warming Shifts the Earth's Poles

Technically correct... or in other words: Yes, but south is also to your left, as well as in front of you, to your right and behind you.

To "go east" from the North Pole, you would, literally, turn to your left. When you stop turning, you've arrived at your 'eastern' destination. It's not like there's an Eastern Pole and the North Pole is drifting towards it.

TFS is more confusing than enlightening, especially with these egregious references to cardinal directions that cannot possibly apply to a polar-zero coordinate. Have we lost our way so completely that we cannot remember how to manage these simple paradoxes? (HINT: Longitude)

At the North Pole, when you take one step in any direction, it's a southward direction. Same goes, but vice-versa, for the South Pole.

The biggest difference is that you will still be able to stand on the South Pole in twenty years.

Comment: This certainly proves it. (Score 1) 470

by Duggeek (#43668253) Attached to: <em>Ender's Game</em> Trailer Released

Oh no... not what you think. All of the opinions about the trailer (movie.trailer != movie), the rants about Card's personal views, the woe and despair over how bad everything is and the doom of sci-fi... 100% conjecture, categorically unprovable.

What this thread does prove is how pivotal and evocative Ender's Game, as a work of literature, is and will continue to be for the science fiction genre. This thread would not be so controversial if this wasn't already true.

I read the novel right after HS graduation. (yeah, go fig'... I'm a "seven digit"... how did that happen!?) There's more strong opinions here than there were at the NRA conference-nay-coronation-ceremony, and in the same light, the same tones are struck about the same old flawed arguments. Despite that, or rather because of it, this is clearly one of the greatest works in all of science fiction!

I'm going to see it, and pay to do so—in theaters and in 3D—not because I think the trailer depicts a good movie, but because I don't believe that a trailer is always an accurate synopsis of the film. (e.g., remember the Matrix trailer? How about any of the M. Night Shyamalan works? Those didn't reveal the entire plot, either.) Just because we know how it ends doesn't mean we know how the movie gets there.

No piece of cinematographic work can be measured by how it ends, for it is the journey that entertains. Anyone who claims that their judgement is certainty is only upholding the theory of self-fulfilling prophecies. Plain and simple; you don't know until you've seen the whole thing.

As for Mr. Card's personal views, I may not agree with them, but I will defend to the death his right to have a different viewpoint. In the meantime, if he can continue to create and imagine deep characters and interesting plots, then I will continue to appreciate his work. Doing so does not–in any way–validate Mr. Card's personal views, saying "I agree with Mr. Card's views," does.

In the same sense, paying to see Tom Cruise in Oblivion is not supporting Scientology in any way. I just happen to believe that The Last Samurai was the absolute last movie wherein Mr. Cruise played a believable character. Also, I'm not going to pay to see another movie with Morgan Freeman having to explain everything to a clueless protagonist; although I do love Morgan Freeman as an actor... and titty sprinkles.

Comment: Re:Not as strange as it sounds (Score 1) 976

Or... to take the argument at "face value"...

Yes, it's true that a human riding a bicycle has elevated heart-rate and respiration, therefore producing higher levels of CO2, when compared to another human sitting in a driver's seat.

Classic bait-and-switch, we're not supposed to think of the car as a CO2 producer (or CO producer, or O3 producer, or NO2 producer, etc) but simply take it as rote that bicycles are contributing to the demise of the global climate.

It seems that Orcutt believes that cars run on magical dinosaur blood and not the oxidation process of a dense hydrocarbon. Q.E.D. Prima facie!

Comment: Re:Can't Go Backwards (Score 2) 736

by Duggeek (#42906619) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is It So Hard To Make An Accurate Progress Bar?

What happened with OP was, technically, an exception-handling bug. The exception was that some condition of the next event wasn't satisfied, and did so with time-sensitive language on the screen. That's not a poor progress bar, that's just negligent coding.

Kudos for pointing out the difference with the Progress Bar and Time Estimation. A good example for both? wget

A properly crafted Progress Bar is not hard to do: Amalgamate the task at hand into a number of homogeneous units and express those in the graphic bar as [ units.done / units.total ] and you'll be fine. Where most fail at this is in keeping the units consistent and/or appropriate. A classic fallacy is one of file-count vs. byte-count, but the most egregious of those failures is a total-units value that dynamically updates. (vis-a-vis, the "dancing left and right" progress bar)

OTOH, there's Time Estimation, which is a far more fickle beast, especially when applied to ISP throughput. This requires more of an understanding of statistics and averages, where the algorithm is actively measuring units of time as well as units of data. A classic approach is to simply calculate the mean throughput and apply it to the bytes remaining to get the ETA, but this quickly falls short when the connection hangs or if the algorithm is relying on throughput statistics to ratchet the loop. The best—and most frugal—implementations of Time Estimation have used a timed loop with throughput calculated on a rolling average from a fixed number of samples. Again, the most common errors here are; using incorrect units; using an unreliable source for rate and/or throughput; using too small of a sample base before starting prediction trends, and the icing on the cake; mistaking a partially completed task as an accurate measurement of throughput in the sum prediction. (Back in the days of 56k dialup, I would resume d/c downloads all the time, and the download managers were regularly telling me that the 10MB chunk I already have somehow sped up the process to twice—or even ten times—the highest possible speed of my dialup connection. el. oh. el.)

Now, all of this goes "out the Windows(tm)" if you happen to be at Microsoft any time in the past fifteen years. Their idea of a "progress bar" seems to be just a mechanism to make the user sit and do nothing for a number of minutes at a time. The progress bars they typically have made are either (A) simple timer animations that masquerade as a progress bar [see: browsing the network] or (B) the obsequious progress bars from Win98, that fill up to 100% and stay there for another two minutes before actually triggering the next process.

Thankfully, someone in the Win8 file manager team actually got the memo, as you can see here.

So, there's really no mystery. The "how to" of making an accurate progress bar or time estimation algorithm is really quite well established. The real question is, how to convince software developers to implement one?

P.S. Units. Units! UNITS!!!

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.

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