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Comment Re: File a Complaint (Score 1) 153

I don't have a landline anymore, just a cell phone. If I don't recognize the number calling me, I let it go to voicemail. And since I use Google's Voicemail service, I get texted a transcript of the voicemail pretty quickly. That's a pretty good filter for telemarketers v someone I might want to talk to.

If it's a telemarketer, I then add the number to a "Do not answer" contact in my cell phone. That contact is set up to not ring, just send to voicemail. Sometimes, telemarketers try again from the same number, but I never get the call.

Comment Re:Tried it, couldn't use it (Score 2) 352

I can speak to this. I focus a lot of my free time on the usability of free/open source software, and a few years ago, I looked into the usability of GIMP. I didn't do a full usability test, but conducted surveys of different people who used GIMP, versus Photoshop. What I found is that a person's perception of GIMP's usability depends on their familiarity with Photoshop:

People who used Photoshop all the time complained that GIMP had poor usability. This seemed to be because people knew they way around Photoshop very well, and were put off when the same functions were not accessed via the same menu path, or were called something slightly different. So they felt lost, like GIMP was broken even though they recognized it was very powerful.

People who used Photoshop occasionally, but not all the time commented that GIMP had good usability. These users understood the basic concepts behind Photoshop, such as layers and channels and plugins and tools, and could transfer that knowledge easily to GIMP. Because they didn't have a "muscle memory" of Photoshop, these users weren't put off by having the same functionality located elsewhere or with a slightly different name, because they probably didn't remember exactly what the feature was called in Photoshop, or in what exact menu it was located.

People who did not use Photoshop said that GIMP had poor usability. That seemed to be because these users didn't understand the basic concepts of Photoshop, about layers or tools or filters or what a "raster" image was, and felt overwhelmed by GIMP. If these users did any image manipulation at all, they used a simple "Paint" program like Microsoft Paint.

From your comment, it sounds like you use Photoshop quite often. So I'm not surprised you find GIMP has poor usability.

Comment Re:Is that even possible? (Score 1) 578

So it looks like he was already a control freak back in 2011, and was attempting to reserve the right to impose retrospectively whatever licence he felt like issuing in the future. I suspect this wouldn't stand up to serious legal scrutiny, but it was already a big red flag before he went off the rails completely.

Correct. You can only change the license for future versions of software. You cannot retroactively change the license for previously released versions.

My understanding of the legal principle at work is called estoppel. (IANAL)

Basically, you cannot prohibit someone from doing something that you already permitted them to do. If you allowed them to use your software before (the previous or current versions) you cannot later go back and say "I changed the license on you." Sure, you can change the license for future versions of the software. From my reading of his website, he is the sole author of the program, so he holds the copyright. He can choose to release the next version under a different license. But you are not allowed to retroactively change the license for previous versions.

Comment Possibly affects lightsabers too (Score 2) 138

From my reading of this article, I think the ruling could be problematic for other makers of props that are meant to be similar to film props. Park Sabers leaps to mind.

They explain in their FAQ "Q. Are you associated with Lucasfilm Ltd.? A. No. We are not associated with any Lucasfilm Ltd. Film or frachise. All of our designs are the property of Parks Sabers, Inc." However, I think it's pretty obvious that the designs for many of these sabers are lifted from the movies: Luke's first lightsaber and Luke's second lightsaber?

I have the Graflex ESB (bought it the month before Episode I came out, but it was called something else then) and it's a dead ringer for Luke's first lightsaber in Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. The "ESB" name is a big hint.

This ruling should concern makers like these. As others have pointed out, the key factor is these are made to be sold. Looks like the ruling doesn't affect people who make their own props for their own use.

Comment Thinkpad X1 Carbon (Score 1) 237

I have the Thinkpad X1 Carbon. Mine was the first-gen model, and I still use it. I can't speak to following generations. Works great with Fedora Linux (GNOME desktop).

And before anyone asks: Yes, I completely wiped the hard drive and re-installed with Linux. It's a total "start from scratch" so I didn't inherit any spyware (that I know of).

That said, I'm thinking that my next Linux laptop will be a Purism Librem. I've read very good reviews, and I kind of want to support someone who built a Linux-only laptop.

Comment Re:Photoshop (Score 5, Interesting) 889

Gimp eventually did become decent feature-wise, but of course it can't replace Photoshop for people who want Photoshop. [..] For me, I never learned photoshop, I tried to, several times, but just couldn't do basic stuff. Gimp was very easy for me to learn, I use it only for very simple stuff [..]

I think that's the important point, and something that I found a few years ago when examining the usability of several free/open source software packages. Does GIMP have good or bad usability? There were some strong statements on either side: About half said it had good usability, and about half said it had bad usability. However, I decided to skip GIMP in my usability study, as it is intended for people who do need/want to do graphics work, and my usability test targeted the general user. But I didn't discuss the split opinions in the usability of GIMP.

In following up, it seemed that two types of users thought GIMP had poor usability:

  1. Those who used Photoshop a lot, such as professional graphics editors or photographers
  2. Those who never used Photoshop, and only tried GIMP because they needed a graphics program

Users who thought GIMP had good usability used Photoshop occasionally, such as hobbyist photographers or casual web designers. Digging further, I believe this is because:

  • Those who only occasionally use Photoshop understand the concepts and terminology used in Photoshop and so are easily able to transfer their knowledge from Photoshop to GIMP.
  • But those who never used Photoshop were completely lost in the terminology and concepts. GIMP relies on layers for image construction (so does Photoshop). "Layers" are a difficult concept for someone who has never worked with them before. A simple paint program like MS Paint usually suffices for these users.
  • And those who use Photoshop all the time were confused that functionality and features differed slightly from Photoshop v GIMP, or was accessed differently, or used different terminology; these users were stymied by what they perceived as a dramatic change from Photoshop to GIMP.

So GIMP is an interesting case. It's an example of mimicking another program perhaps too well, but (necessarily) not perfectly. GIMP has good usability if you have used Photoshop occasionally, but not if you are an expert in Photoshop, and not if you are a complete Photoshop novice.

Comment Google didn't grab the opportunity (Score 4, Insightful) 279

I've said it before, but I'll repeat it here: Google didn't know how to capture public interest at the time.

I remember when Google+ first appeared as an "invite only" service. That was just before Facebook made the huge blunder of putting members' profile photos in ads for any pages they "Liked," suggesting an endorsement. A lot of people everywhere got really angry at Facebook about "faces on ads," and even threatened to leave Facebook because of it.

That would have been a great opportunity to open up the Google+ service to everyone, seize the opportunity when people wanted to abandon Facebook. But Google+ remained invite-only. Only a few people could get new accounts.

Over the next week, pretty much all you saw in the news was how people wanted to leave Facebook because of the "faces on ads" thing. What an abuse of privacy! You're stealing my image to sell products! There were a bunch of petitions for Facebook to undo the new "faces on ads," or else they would delete their Facebook accounts. The only problem was that there wasn't a viable alternate social network out there. Twitter wasn't really a replacement for how most people used Facebook.

And Google+ still remained invite-only. By then, a few people I knew had accounts, but had run out of invites to share. So few others could get in.

After a few weeks, Facebook decided to calm the storm, and undid "faces on ads." And as expected, people stopped freaking out about Facebook. After another week, even the tech websites stopped writing about "faces on ads."

And finally, Google+ went "live." Anyone could join. I had an account, but few of my other friends bothered to sign up. Why? Because they were still using Facebook, they got over the "faces on ads" fiasco. Without other people to share with, Google+ failed to gain critical mass.

Google+ failed because they didn't know how to respond to the opportunity that Facebook gave them.

Comment They didn't grab the opportunity (Score 5, Insightful) 359

I remember when Google+ first appeared as an "invite only" service. That was just before Facebook made the huge blunder of putting members' faces in ads for any pages they "Liked," suggesting an endorsement. I remember a lot of people everywhere got really angry at Facebook about "faces on ads," and even threatened to leave because of it.

And Google+ remained invite-only. Pretty much no one I knew had an account.

Over the next week, pretty much all you saw in the news was how people wanted to leave Facebook because of the "faces on ads" thing. What an abuse of privacy! You're stealing my image to sell products! There were a bunch of petitions for Facebook to undo the new "faces on ads," or else they would delete their Facebook accounts. The only problem was that there wasn't a viable alternate social network out there. Twitter wasn't really a replacement for how most people used Facebook.

And Google+ still remained invite-only. By then, a few people I knew had accounts, but had run out of invites to share. So few others could get in.

After a few weeks, Facebook decided to calm the storm, and undid "faces on ads." And as expected, people stopped freaking out about Facebook. After another week, even the tech websites stopped writing about "faces on ads."

And finally, Google+ went "live." Anyone could join. I had an account, but few of my other friends bothered to sign up. Why? Because they were still using Facebook, they got over the "faces on ads" fiasco. Without other people to share with, Google+ failed to gain critical mass.

Google+ failed because they didn't know how to respond to the opportunity that Facebook gave them.

Comment Buy an IBM Model M (Score 1) 452

Your best bet is buy an IBM Model M keyboard from Unicomp. That's where I bought mine. It is a really nice keyboard, solidly built, good travel on the keys. Yes, it's a mechanical buckling spring keyboard, so it does make noise. But my fingers just don't get tired. It's great. I ordered mine as a USB keyboard.

Unicomp also seems to sell a few keyboards in the more common "rubberdome" format, so maybe that's more your style.

I'll admit that sometimes my carpal tunnel flares up and I need to switch back to an ergonomic keyboard. I still have my Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite from a few years back. It's a rubberdome keyboard, just like any keyboard you'll find, but it lets me keep my wrists and forearms in a relaxed position. It's a PS2 connector with a USB adapter.

Comment Re:A popular laptop OS? (Score 5, Interesting) 133

FreeDOS gets used in several pre-built computers. HP is one example - HP EliteBook comes with a FreeDOS option. And Dell used to do this, don't know if they still do. There are a bunch of vendors (especially in Europe and Asia) that pre-install FreeDOS, too.

Alas, these pre-built computers have FreeDOS on them mainly as a clever way to get around a licensing agreement with Microsoft. I understand that Microsoft put a term in their Windows OEM license that prohibits system builders from selling "naked" computers - systems without operating systems. If you want to get the huge discount on Windows OEM licenses, so you can sell pre-built computers with Windows already installed, you may not also sell these "naked" computers.

But there are plenty of people out there who don't want an operating system pre-installed (I presume these people are like me who prefer free software, and who would install a Linux distribution on their new computer) so system builders started shipping computers with FreeDOS pre-installed. I think the premise is that customers will reformat the drive and install Linux anyway, but the system builder didn't technically sell a "naked" computer.

I actually think this is very clever and I like the idea. A few users do keep FreeDOS installed on their system; occasionally I get emails from people who decided to keep FreeDOS installed (and probably dual-boot into Linux) so they could use FreeDOS to play old DOS games.

Submission + - FreeDOS is 20 years old

Jim Hall writes: In a June 29, 1994 post in comp.os.msdos.apps on USENET, a physics student announced an effort to create a completely free version of DOS that everyone could use. That project turned into FreeDOS, 20 years ago! Originally intended as a free replacement for MS-DOS, FreeDOS has since advanced what DOS could do, adding new functionality and making DOS easier to use. And today in 2014, people continue to use FreeDOS to support embedded systems, to run business software, and to play classic DOS games!

Comment Internships and experience (Score 1) 309

It's not too early for job hunting, although you are shooting a little too high for your experience level. What you should be looking for now is an internship somewhere. Many companies are looking for students to do basic coding for them over the summers. Yes, you can even do the Web development you were looking for. When I was in intern, I worked on several things: Code cleanup, a program to audit a database and report stats, experimenting with new methods and writing & documenting a sample program, etc. It can be good summer employment while you are on summer break. And when you graduate, you'll have a ton of experience for your resume. Finding internships may be challenging. Check with your job placement office at your university. They likely have a list of places that are looking to hire paid interns. Start with that. You might also call around to places that you like and ask to speak to a manager in the software (or web) development group. Then just ask if they are hiring interns, introduce yourself, tell them what you are interested in. You might get lucky and find someone to hire you, even if they weren't planning on hiring an intern. Remember, even if they aren't hiring interns or don't have a slot for you, they might be able to point you to someone who does. Often, IT managers know other IT managers at other companies, so they might at least be able to recommend somewhere to call where you'd have more luck. Focus on getting the experience through summer internships, and you'll be able to find a great job when you graduate. I did that when I was at university, and it led to a job at a company I interned for, after I graduated, and I didn't even have a CS degree (I was physics).

Comment Start with the applications (Score 1) 452

"Since I am the only guy with Linux experience I would have to support the Linux installations. Now the problem is what works perfectly fine for me may be a horrible experience for some of my coworkers, and even if they would only be using Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice I don't know if I could seriously recommend using Linux as a desktop OS in a business. Instead I want to set up one test machine for users to try it and ask THEM if they like it. The test machine should be as easy and painless to use as possible and not look too different compared to Windows. Which distro and what configuration should I choose for this demo box?"

What you are describing is an impromptu usability test. And that's a good thing to do, especially if you are planning to recommend a particular desktop environment.

But what you need to start with is applications. Running Linux on the desktop is great (I do it at work and at home) but if you have users who need to run Photoshop, or a Windows IDE, or some particular finance application, it's going to be awfully hard to do that on Linux. But let's say your organization has all your applications in the Cloud or on an internally-hosted web application server, and these web applications run fine in Chrome or Firefox. That's a different story. But my guess is that you'll have at least a few programs that require running on the desktop.

My recommendation would be to find interested groups who'd like to try Linux on the desktop, and start there. Make it a pilot project. Take it slow, and meet with someone from that group daily to make sure you're addressing any pain points that come up. Things you'll want to watch out for are shared storage (like on a file server) and printing.

Submission + - Target's data breach started with an HVAC account (krebsonsecurity.com)

Jim Hall writes: Security blogger Krebs reports that Target's data breach started with a stolen HVAC account. Last week, Target said the initial intrusion into its systems was traced back to network credentials that were stolen from a third party vendor. Sources now claim that the vendor in question was a refrigeration, heating and air conditioning subcontractor that has worked at a number of locations at Target and other top retailers. Attackers stole network credentials from Fazio Mechanical Services, then used that to gain access to Target's network. It’s not immediately clear why Target would have given an HVAC company external network access, or why that access would not be cordoned off from Target’s payment system network.

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