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Comment: Re:Pull the plug on RT (Score 1) 337

by Graymalkin (#47651205) Attached to: Microsoft Surface Drowning?

Windows 8 does support right clicks via long clicks on the Desktop. There's a number of problems with the UI however. On most devices I have used (including and especially Surfaces) the right click menus and menu items are too small to hit accurately with a fingertip. You need to use a stylus to effectively use the traditional Desktop with a touch screen. Besides the targets being too small your finger occults the very target you're trying to hit. Your fingertip is larger than the Windows mouse cursor and it's attached to your hand which is vastly larger than the Windows mouse cursor. Without at the very least a stylus the Windows desktop is almost impossible to use effectively on a touch device.

just because it is capable enough to run a parallel full desktop interface doesn't mean the whole thing is stupid, it means it is trying to be 2 things at once. And that can be a brilliant thing, if you manage to pull it off.

Unfortunately for everyone involved Windows 8 does not implement its different UI paradigms well. The Metro interface is absurd when using a keyboard and mouse and the traditional Desktop interface is absurd when using a touch screen.

Comment: Re:Bring back man pages as the primary documentati (Score 3, Insightful) 430

Now you might say that much of today's software is too complex to describe in a man page --- but IMHO - that's the bigger problem. If people write complex monolithic bloat, writing pretty documentation for it is the least of our problems.

I wouldn't say that today's software is too complex for man pages but instead man pages have never really been ideal for the tasks for which they're used. Software has always been complex. Man pages might have been appropriate for some short window of time but technology quickly left them behind.

Man pages do not have an effective system of hyperlinking, indexing, or even searching. They were meant to be read on a teletype or printed on paper. For documentation any more complex than instructions on how to use console commands they are completely inadequate. Even for looking up instructions on console commands they're less than adequate because there's no sort of authoritative hierarchy, if you don't look up the exact right term man won't point you to the correct documentation (or best guesses).

Besides man being inadequate it is difficult to write proper man pages. This is just adding insult to injury as it makes it less likely that developers will write even bad documentation.

Of existing documentation systems I'd most like to see GNU Info become the primary documentation mechanism for FOSS. It solves most of man's problems without introducing its own new ones. Even GNU Info isn't perfect and could use some improvements.

I don't disagree with the idea that FOSS desperately needs some reliable offline documentation. This idea might require that FOSS distributions themselves maintain their own documentation. The Arch wiki for instance is fantastic, it's some of the best Linux/Unix documentation around. While the Wiki is great it would be really nice to see this information turned into texinfo/manpage/whatever files so everyone could have good references and not need access to the internet.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 225

by Graymalkin (#47527397) Attached to: Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

If only tablets had on-screen keyboards or supported Bluetooth keyboards or keyboard docks! Those poor students with tablets! They're unable to do anything but watch Netflix!

This sort of commentary just sounds stupid. Even if you want to make a point that tablets don't have good native input solutions don't go full hyperbole. All you're doing is reducing the impact of the point you're trying to make.

In the real non-hyperbolic world tablets are perfectly capable of being typed upon. I would even suggest tablets (especially higher end ones like iPads, Nexuses, and Galaxy Notes) can be more capable than laptops in some situations when given to students.

It's entirely possible for a kid and with iPad to produce their own podcast or video presentation for a class. They've got an audio recorder, video camera, and still camera in their hands. There's also plenty of apps that let them splice all of that together into something coherent and interesting. They can also use that same device to type up a more traditional report.

The idea of kids putting together multimedia presentations has been around for a long time but the technology to do so has really sucked. It's either been overly complicated or vastly underpowered. There's room for both traditional written reports as well as multimedia projects. Having devices that can handle all of them is a good investment.

Comment: Re:Since there seems to be some confusion, (Score 1) 93

by Graymalkin (#47115765) Attached to: Hunt Intensifies For Aliens On Kepler's Planets

For starters the Drake Equation is not something to really be "believed". It's just a way to form a guess. It doesn't tell anyone anything useful.

As for nuclear wars on extrasolar planets, we're just at the edge of being able to detect terrestrial extrasolar planets. We do not currently have the ability to gather the sort of data that might suggest an extrasolar planet had been the site of a nuclear war.

Comment: Re:Too little, too late (Score 4, Insightful) 227

by Graymalkin (#46992863) Attached to: Microsoft Finally Selling Xbox One Without Kinect

Microsoft has more or less annoyed. confused and alienated their potential user base.

Microsoft's big problem with their policies and backpedaling is that people like me simply cannot trust anything they say. Rational buyers aren't now going to run out and buy XBones because there's no guarantee Microsoft won't go back to their original policies once sales improve.

If anything they need to abandon disliked policies and declare publicly with some manner of legal obligation that they will never go back to them. Until then I won't even consider buying an XBone or any subsequent Microsoft console.

Comment: Re: Chlorrophyll makes a big assumption (Score 2) 46

by Graymalkin (#46900473) Attached to: Astronomers Calculate How To Spot Life On an Alien Earth

Hence the line about "light gathering chemicals like it". There's a few different chemicals that can be used by organisms in photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is simply the most popular on the surface of the Earth. Other pigments are optimum for regions that receive different light spectra than the surface. On worlds whose stars had different spectral maxima than Sol these pigments would likely be more abundant in photosynthetic life.

Comment: Re:We don't know that. (Score 1) 161

by Graymalkin (#46189343) Attached to: Graphene Conducts Electricity Ten Times Better Than Expected

To start: fuck the beta. Everyone involved in it should be ashamed of themselves.

The comparison to dinosaurs is a bit ridiculous. Slashdot fucking itself over is not the fault of the users, especially disgruntled long time users. It's the fault of myopic management with delusions of grandeur.

Slashdot is not a destination because it aggregates somewhat nerdy stories hosted on other websites. It is also not a destination because of the impressive grammar and spelling skills of the "editors".

It's a destination because nerds with an interest in the stories published will come and opine on them. Not only will they opine but they'll provide additional details or corrections. That's not something readily found on other news aggregation sites. The user comments section of most websites is something to be avoided at all costs.

The beta not only discourages the sort of commentary that has made Slashdot a worthwhile destination but the policies around it are driving away users. Without the users as a value-add Slashdot is really little different from any other news aggregator.

+ - Slashdot Beta: Because They Hate You 3

Submitted by boolithium
boolithium (1030728) writes "People on here are missing the point of the Beta roll out. The elimination of the existing user base is not a side effect, it is a feature. Slashdot as a brand has value, but as a site has limited commercial appeal. The users are the kids at the lunch table, where not even the foreign exchange students want to sit. Nobody ever got laid from installing NetBSD.

Once they are finished with their nerd cleansing, they can build a new Slashdot. A sexier Slashdot. A Slashdot the kids can dance to.

They aren't ignoring you. They are exterminating you."

+ - If we Buck Feta and leave, where should we go? 17

Submitted by Covalent
Covalent (1001277) writes "I am a long-time slashdot reader (don't let the UID fool you), and I agree with most of you that the Beta is a disaster. Dice has promised a fix, but what if this garbage is the new reality? Is there a suitable alternative to slashdot that members would find equally (or more) fulfilling? Is someone going to fork slashdot and start it anew (Taco can you hear me?) Or is this just the end of an era?"

Comment: It could'a been a contender (Score 5, Insightful) 2219

by Graymalkin (#46182189) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!

Timothy et al, please just stop and look at what you're doing. The beta is awful. The beta is awful because it seriously fucks up the one feature that has made Slashdot a site worth using since its inception: the user contributions.

The stories themselves are rarely why I bother to check Slashdot, I've always been more interested in the discussion. The discussion on Slashdot has been more interesting than the stories for several reasons. One major reason is the discussions would almost always add information about a story that wasn't linked to by the story itself or the editors. A Slashdot post would bring up a topic and then allow a bunch of nerds with an interest in that subject to chime in and share what they knew. Many times the people being written about in the Slashdot stories were Slashdot users themselves and could give first hand information.

Besides the contributions themselves the moderation system is actually pretty damned good. Positive discussion more often than not gets highly promoted. Because of the way mod points work there's little incentive to do anything but promote interesting commentary or demote outright trolling. Because of this system it's pretty easy to find worthwhile discussion no matter the topic.

It's because of these things that Slashdot's value comes almost entirely from its user contributions rather than news aggregation. In 1997 news aggregation like Slashdot was new and interesting. Today every site does it. What every site does not have is an intelligent and interested user base that will add value to the stories themselves.

The user comments section of almost every large website is a cesspool. Not only do they not have meaningful moderation but there's no community interested in promoting discussion. The design of the sites themselves also discourage long form commentary and encourage useless drive-by commentary.

The beta is it seems to be promoting Slashdot's weaknesses and hiding or abandoning its strengths. Promote user commentary and support the users in commenting on and moderating stories. Fix the character encoding problems and support Markdown for markup. Give the comments a lot of room with readable fonts and don't add whitespace just to add whitespace. Lose the fucking JavaScript popups and animations, I should be able to park my cursor anywhere on the screen and not have to worry about some attention grabbing animation happening.

In short remember that Slashdot users are not an audience, they are a community of contributors. Without the users there is no Slashdot.

Comment: Make a library a place to go (Score 1) 231

by Graymalkin (#46052985) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Reimagine a Library?

What ideas do you have to turn an elementary school library into an environment that fosters innovation and technology?

I'm really worried about this whole endeavor if you're asking that question. A library shouldn't need to foster âoeinnovation and technologyâ. If you want to foster innovation and technology build a technology lab. Libraries should be a place students can borrow books and other media to enjoy. It sounds like you've got an earmarked budget for one thing (libraries) and you're trying to shoehorn it into another area (technology).

Now if technology is your buzzword that draws funding then add media besides books to the catalog. Pick up some cheap (and/or durable) televisions and DVD players with DVDs of educational shows like Reading Rainbow. Put a few donated computers loaded with educational software in the back. LTSP terminals instead of full desktops might even be more survivable.

If you want to get really innovative and technological you could add hobby projects to the list of things students could check out. Hobby project kits like Arduino and Raspberry Pi. You could even lend out eletronic science lab kits. Besides stocking science and electronic books for kids sync up with a local Maker group and have them come in for special electronics lectures and demonstrations.

Comment: Re:1.21 PetaFLOPS (RPeak) (Score 1) 54

by Graymalkin (#45419423) Attached to: 1.21 PetaFLOPS (RPeak) Supercomputer Created With EC2

There's several potential problems with renting out time on another university's cluster. For one there may simply be a lot of bureaucratic steps involved in renting out resources from another university. The second is that some cluster you don't own might not support your particular software/platform/project.

One attractive aspect of cloud services is the customer gets to load on whatever wonky configuration they want into a virtualized instance. Using someone else's cluster may not provide that sort of flexibility. Being able to load an EC2 instance with the same (or similar enough) configuration as your work laptop is a feature. Researchers aren't necessarily developers so the code/configuration they need to run may be very messy. A "cloud compute" service is more attractive in that case than a highly optimized HPC cluster.

A very real use case for this sort of set up is "man my laptop doesn't have the power to churn through all this data, let me upload my project as-is to Amazon and throw a few petaflops at it". I've seen a few people use AWS for things like rendering 3D scenes (Blender et al). It's a nice option to have a few teraflops at your disposal when you need them for a relatively low price.

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. -- Jerome Klapka Jerome