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Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1) 235

by JanneM (#48935205) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

Unfortunately, the US does not have free market capitalism on broadband communications. In most areas it is either monopoly or duopoly

That's what a free market will usually naturally gravitate to. Competition is bad for all competitors, so cartels or monopolies are strong attractors in the system. If you want competition and choice you need market regulation to make it happen.

Comment: Re:I prefer a tablet for some things to a smart ph (Score 2) 278

by JanneM (#48927927) Attached to: The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One

I kind of want the opposite. I've got a big, capable laptop at home, and several computers at work. When I go out, though, I'm not going to do any real programming or make a presentation or things like that when I'm at a cafe with my wife, or sitting on the train home from work. I'll surf the web, read a paper or play games. A tablet lets me do that just fine.

A small, light laptop has too many compromises; little memory, slow CPU (that gets throttled after more than a few seconds at 100%), small screen and keyboard. And it's still much heavier than the Tablet Z I carry. The tablet is light and thin enough that I really don't notice it in my bag at all.

We're all hunting for the impossible: a matchbox-size computer with the power of a workstation and a 40" screen. Instead we have to compromise. And we all end up with different compromises. I've even thought of cancelling my smartphone and go back to a small, light feature-phone. It's cheaper, more durable and the battery lasts for a week. Use only the tablet for apps.

Comment: Re:Image quality (Score 2) 141

by JanneM (#48786765) Attached to: 3D Cameras Are About To Go Mainstream

Think passive near-field 3D-sensors, not holiday snapshots. User position, gestures, navigation, that sort of thing. Kinect-like functions everywhere. Fire phone, but with actual uses.

You could do a lot of subtle UI improvements if you can localize the users in space around the device for instance; you could figure out who is speaking and if they're turned toward the device. No more "Yo, googly Siri-man, what's mein wiener kapiche?"-keywords, as the device can figure out if you're addressing it or not.

Comment: Re:VERY INACCURATE (Score 3, Interesting) 155

by JanneM (#48752155) Attached to: The Fire Phone Debacle and What It Means For Amazon's Future

It is just the nature of a combined software / hardware solution that hardware teams tend to win. They have tangible manufacturing, costs and physical limitations that managers understand. While software has very different kinds of limitations -- often human limitations -- that managers don't understand.

Basically so, yes. Although - and I say this as a software person - there's good reason for that to be the case. Hardware incurs per-unit costs, so any design change that makes it cheaper to build will be paid back million-fold. If that increases the cost/time of developing the software you have to show that increase is higher than all the money you save in manufacturing. Unless the hardware changes are truly extreme, that is unlikely to be the case with a volume consumer product. Software has no unit margin cost, so the same logic doesn't apply in reverse.

The Rashomon reference was not an idle one, by the way. No matter how honest and well-intentioned, you're unlikely to have an unbiased or particularly correct view of what happened if you were involved directly in something. It's great to hear the point of view - but that's what it is, a point of view. Other teams and people at other levels certainly have others, and it'd be foolhardy to try to understand what happened based on ony one or two of them.

Comment: Re:EU grant (Score 3, Interesting) 61

by JanneM (#48728257) Attached to: The Next Big Step For Wikidata: Forming a Hub For Researchers

They have four partner universities and several other research institutions, most or all of who already have one or more full-time staff dedicated to help projects with their grant application process.

Yes, EU grant applications are big and cumbersone - though the payoff is commensurate - but the process is not going to be the main hurdle. With all the available expertise at their disposal, if they can't navigate the application process then they're unlikely to successfully steer a major project over several years either.

Comment: Re:See nothing (Score 2) 104

What I tried to say was more or less that without regular exposure to the night skies, fewer and fewer people will be interested in ever looking. Just seeing the skies clear skies once or twice will give you a "wow!" experience. But it's only once that pretty surface is old and familiar to you that you start asking deeper questions about what you're seeing.

I think the same thing is happening in other fields. Naturalists, or green biologists, may be losing mind share to lab biology and to other fields - in part of course because there's more money in white biology, but also, I suspect, because fewer people are familiar with and interested in local biotopes, and don't realize there's a lot of interesting things going on.

tl:dr: you tend to never become interested in things you have no personal experience with or connection to. And as humans become more and more urban, then fields such as astronomy will gradually lose mindshare. Regrettable but probably unavoidable.

Comment: See nothing (Score 4, Insightful) 104

Of course, the majority of humans now live in urban areas, and see little or nothing of the night sky at all, whether northern or southern. Perhaps I'm taking this a step too far, but would it be possible that we'll see a continuing decline in interest and support for astronomy and space technology as more and more voters and influential people grow up and live their lives without ever really seeing the skies?

Comment: Re:No unicomp ? (Score 1) 190

by JanneM (#48683833) Attached to: Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

And no Happy Hacking Pro. That's my go-to keyboard for any stationary use.

I do like the feel of the new chicklet Lenovo Thinkpads as well; I don't know why many people don't like them. Whoever decided on the layout, though (PrtSc between right-alt and ctrl?!) should be sent to the unemployment line as fast as possible.

Comment: Re:Interesting, but ... (Score 1) 150

by JanneM (#48607289) Attached to: Want To Influence the World? Map Reveals the Best Languages To Speak

Great idea! Now we all only need to agree on which language to standardize on. I'm sure that worldwide discussion will be calm, focused and productive. Please post the results here in the thread once it's been decided.

I suggest Swedish. It's just about equally well known by almost everybody in the world, so nobody is starting out with an unfair advantage. I get a lifetime gig teaching Swedish to everybody. And you get umlauts! Win-win.

Oh, and by "suggest" I of course mean "absolutely demand or I will refuse any part of this scheme".

Comment: Re:I use Unity. It's OK. (Score 1) 125

by JanneM (#48559313) Attached to: Unity 8 Will Bring 'Pure' Linux Experience To Mobile Devices

I pretty much agree. I'm an old-time Unix and Linux user, but Unity works pretty well for me. It mostly manages to get out of the way of my work - the single most important feature of any desktop - and things such as the single menu gives me vertical space for another line or two worth of visible code.

There are some real irritants. The window/app switcher has never gotten the distinction right (and I don't think it's possible), and the quick search misses things it should find. But these are smaller irritants on a desktop that does what it should do - be invisible unless I explicitly need any of it.

Comment: Re:So why no neural interface? (Score 2) 56

by JanneM (#48510649) Attached to: Stephen Hawking's New Speech System Is Free and Open-source

"we've got monkeys that have rapidly learned to control a robotic arm using only signals from a tiny cluster electrodes in their brain,"

"rapidly" and "control" are very much relative terms in this case. And note the "in their brain" - you need to implant an electrode array to get good, reliable signals. With monkeys you can do it to half a dozen animals and hope than one or two get a fully working implant. And the array has to be working for a few months or so. With a human patient you need to get it right every time, and the array has to be viable for a decade at the very least.

There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923