Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: re: everyone staring at their phones (Score 1) 343

At least 5 years ago, I heard the exact same complaint about what it looked like on your typical college campus.... Dozens of people wandering around the courtyards, faces buried in their phones.

Perhaps it only "seems very abnormal and unhealthy" because we're all part of the older generation that didn't ever have the devices in the first place?

I, too, used to think it was a "disturbing" trend ... but I often find myself doing the same thing now, when I'm grabbing lunch at work or waiting for the metro train, or just waiting someplace in line. Truth is, the younger generation really uses these things as their primarily communications tool. When it looks like they're a bunch of zombies staring into smartphone screens, they're actually *interacting* with each other via those screens -- so it is a form of being social.

And I know in my own case, I was never a very social, outgoing person in the first place. Large social settings full of strangers were always uncomfortable for me. Looking back, I would have LOVED to have a smartphone back then to pull out, instead of just holding a drink and trying to look like I was having a good time.

Comment: More likely ..... (Score 2) 343

Kids with pre-existing mental health conditions find their problems amplified by the use of smartphones and the various social media tools typically used on them?

My 12 year old daughter has a few issues (anxiety, depression, mood swings) and we wound up taking away her smartphone after it seemed to keep causing problems. (Everything from a constant stress inducer when she "forgot to charge it and it was almost dead" when we were out someplace, to forgetting where she put it, to fights over putting the phone away while we were eating at the table, to eventually catching her sexting a guy on it and having inappropriate IM chats using it.)

On the other hand, I don't see why for many kids, a smartphone is anything more than another useful tool to carry around in one's pocket?

Comment: Re:I've been through this myself. (Score 1) 129

by King_TJ (#49245589) Attached to: Linux Might Need To Claim Only ACPI 2.0 Support For BIOS

I did read the article. What's your point?

Despite the article's claims, the discussion directly below it makes it pretty clear that a lot of finger-pointing is going on around the whole thing. Some people assert that "firmware should never try to adjust anything to get around an OS bug", yet that's been commonplace for well over a decade now!

(Anyone remember the old PC BIOS's which would require you toggle "Plug and Play" to Yes for a Windows '9x type OS, or select "No" for others? How about the ones that let you enable or disable the USB 2.0 "high speed" functionality? If that wasn't a work-around for OS/driver issues, what was it? Because USB 2 is supposed to be backwards compatible with the slower 1.1 devices. Heck, I remember a few BIOS's out there where I had to specifically set "OS/2" to "Yes" so they'd work right with installing it.)

The poster I replied to was talking about a Toshiba machines the purposely disabled ALL of the devices if it couldn't determine you were booting a version of Windows. That's a lot more extreme than things like "the on-board sound not initializing if the Linux default value for ACPI gets presented to it".

Comment: Re:I've been through this myself. (Score 3, Interesting) 129

by King_TJ (#49244913) Attached to: Linux Might Need To Claim Only ACPI 2.0 Support For BIOS

Now THAT would make me apt to return the computer for a refund and buy something different.... It's one thing for Linux to support a newer level of ACPI that many popular vendors/machines don't behave well with. (I get the idea of reporting a value of 2 instead of 5 to make things work in these cases. Why not? It's a one character solution to the OS misbehaving on those systems. Just make a note as to why it's done and allow users to edit a file to change it to 5 for full ACPI functionality in cases where it will work.

But to have a computer that willfully disables hardware because it thinks you're "trying to run something other than Windows"? That's done on purpose by Toshiba, if you ask me -- and was a ploy to ensure only Windows stays on the machine. (Maybe for tech support reasons, so they don't have to worry about fielding calls from users of Linux or other OS's who they have no support database built for?) I'd prefer not to use something designed like that.

Comment: Who has the rights to the moon's resources? (Score 1) 214

by King_TJ (#49234449) Attached to: Billionaire Teams Up With NASA To Mine the Moon

I thought at one point in time, it was agreed on that no single nation "owned" the moon. Therefore, what happens if someone goes up there for a commercial project and sells material gathered there? Is it "first come, first to profit"?

It just seems to me that although right now, people might think it obvious that whoever spends all the money and effort to get there and retrieve a substance should have the rights to it -- what happens when this process gets cheaper and easier to do? Will people who arrive there try to stake a claim for a certain number of square kilometers of the moon as "their work area" and fight about it if someone extracts helium 3 or something else while on their claimed area?

Comment: Re:People are creative (Score 1) 498

by King_TJ (#49224633) Attached to: Mental Health Experts Seek To Block the Paths To Suicide

If nothing else, I'd certainly advocate for changing railroad overpasses/underpasses to make them less accessible to people, wherever possible. My reasoning is, anyone wanting to use "getting hit by a train" as a means of suicide is selfishly affecting the lives of others who shouldn't have had to get directly involved. Those trains aren't automated ... They're operated by engineers, who have to deal with the memories of running over a person while operating the locomotive and are often haunted with the "What if?" questions, if they could have stopped the train sooner or not approached a station so fast, or ?

Comment: Suicide: the planners and the spontaneous (Score 3, Interesting) 498

by King_TJ (#49224603) Attached to: Mental Health Experts Seek To Block the Paths To Suicide

The person who equated this article to advocating "blocking the exits" is exactly right. The individual who actually plans to end their life in a fully conscious, fit state of mind has also surely come up with a plan that will get around any number of "blocked exit" strategies (like locking up personal guns in a cabinet, or hiding the keys to the car). They're not who this article refers to, IMO.

But the person who is distraught enough to actually go through with a plan that has a high likelihood of ending their life (as opposed to FAR more of them who might talk about it or use a half-hearted attempt as attention-seeking behavior) are going to do it when the mood strikes them. And the original article seems to be saying it's effective and appropriate to remote as many possible means to accomplish this as possible, so the means will be lacking when the mood strikes.

My problem with this is that it's only a band-aid for the underlying issue ... someone's severe depression. If it's not possible to get a person to get back the will to live, what quality of life do they have anyway, while you've "succeeded in preventing their suicide" by locking all of your knives up in a box?

Comment: That depends.... (Score 1) 671

by King_TJ (#49177959) Attached to: Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial

As others said, there's not necessarily a guarantee Russia wouldn't decide to use Snowden as a bargaining chip or sorts, turning him over to the U.S. govt. at a very inopportune time for him to get any hope of justice. Surely, that's in the back of his head as at least a lingering possibility?

Also, he has quite a bit of support in the U.S. from people who think he's a hero, not a criminal. (Not everyone makes the front cover of Wired magazine, covered in a positive way.) Our current folks in political office may not care for him -- but *if* he could negotiate a high profile trial here, at least there would be a LOT of eyeballs watching, concerned that he received a fair outcome.

I'm positive he'd instantly find work in the private sector too, doing infosec of some sort.

Comment: I'm thinking Azure here? (Score 2) 208

by King_TJ (#49177021) Attached to: What Would Minecraft 2 Look Like Under Microsoft?

I just attended a seminar today where a couple of Microsoft people gave presentations. One thing that they made pretty clear is that Microsoft's Azure "cloud" is a HUGE part of their future business model.

Right now, when you ask the typical MS user if they can name 3 things Azure does, they usually get stuck naming even one item. But one of these days, Microsoft hopes to embrace the software as subscription model to the point where practically everyone will just pay for Azure to spin up and host whatever servers they wish, vs. trying to run their own on their own hardware, in-house.

They've also made a big deal in their recent marketing about the Titanfall game running on Azure -- and I'm sure there will be more of this to come. If they do a Minecraft sequel, I'd suspect it will be designed so people can easily host Minecraft servers on Azure (probably with a friendly web front-end to create and configure them?). Maybe that will be the ONLY authorized way to do it?

Comment: How do they know they're getting paid fairly? (Score 2) 143

by King_TJ (#49167039) Attached to: Unreal Engine 4 Is Now Free

I think this is a great strategy, but how would Epic Games know what a developer's gross income was, year after year, on a particular game title?
Is this a matter of Epic trusting them to report it honestly, or is it part of contractual terms where you're required to supply them with your tax records each year, or what?

Comment: Couldn't this be handled with dual firmware? (Score 1) 324

by King_TJ (#49161143) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

I'm thinking this might be similar to what some of the video card manufacturers have done (such as with the R9280X cards), where a physical DIP switch on the card selects between firmware flash A or B. If you suspected corruption, you could flip the switch to use the alternate, which presumably would be loaded from the factory with good, working firmware of whatever version was most recent at the time the product was manufactured.

I suppose this would technically only give you "one shot" at recovering from a firmware hack ... but better than nothing, right? And in the meantime, it would give protection to people from such things as a corrupt flash update or a way to do an easy A/B comparison between 2 firmware revisions.

Comment: So will it finish successfully without crashing? (Score 1) 52

I know that sounds a little snarky .... but that's been one of my issues with the Civ games for quite some time. It seems like as you get into the "thick" of the game, with a lot of units occupying more and more space -- the system resources taken get pretty large. It often leads to slowdowns and a freeze-up or crash before the game can be completed.

Comment: re: unrealistic activity in games (Score 1) 163

by King_TJ (#49151855) Attached to: Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected?

The difference, IMO, is that obtaining a real guitar to play with one of these games is really not much more "out of reach" than getting the plastic toy version.

If you want to play a sport like football, you have to gather together a willing team of players. If you want to drive a real car on a racetrack, that involves some expense and a suitable car. Chuck rocks at pigs? Umm.... sure, if you have a handy pig pen to go visit at whatever hour of day or night you're ready to play that game, and you have an ample supply of rocks to throw, plus nobody who'll call the cops on you.

Comment: As a former guitarist myself.... (Score 1) 163

by King_TJ (#49151817) Attached to: Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected?

I never had much interest in the Guitar Hero franchise, because meh.... playing a fake plastic guitar with buttons similar to the old "Simon" game I had as a pre-teen seems rather pointless. People put all that effort into mastering it and it's a useless skill for anything else. Why bother?

Rocksmith did interest me, because it was all about actually learning songs using your favorite electric guitar. But only a few minutes into that one, I realized I wasn't getting into it either. I like what they tried to do with it, but like others here said -- why no standard guitar tablature? The whole scrolling neck thing works for Guitar Hero, but I found it pretty disorienting and non-intuitive for learning music on a real guitar. Maybe offer a toggle between views/modes at least?

Also, maybe it's just me ... but I feel like the era of the "guitar god" and stadium rock is pretty much behind us. These games still cling to that theme, that you're trying to play bigger and bigger live shows, seeking the applause of the fans, etc. etc. But do people even really relate to that anymore? I guess it's one mechanism to try to make the game rewarding -- but part of me feels too old for that nonsense. I want a game that makes practicing songs and new guitar techniques fun, but without making me pretend I'm 25 years younger and striving to make it big in the era of 80's hair metal.

Comment: Umm.... no. (Score 1) 374

by King_TJ (#49131029) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Net metering doesn't force the utility to provide a service without getting compensated for it. Here in Maryland, I'm billed for the transport costs to move the power BOTH to or FROM my residence. So I have to cover a cost of my generated solar power getting pushed back out over their lines.

As I also pointed out, if the utilities were more forward-thinking and less resistant to change, they'd embrace PV solar as a useful addition to their overall system. There are pretty large losses involved in transporting power long distances to customers from the central power generation plant. That's why you see those big structures surrounded by chain link fence. They contain transformers needed to step up the voltage to compensate for resistive losses going over miles of copper wire on the poles.

If they've got people scattered about with small solar power generation capabilities on their roofs, they can purchase and immediately resell excess power generated there and avoid the big transmission losses.

I completely agree that this stuff requires some coordination with the utility company, for best results. As it is, you can't even get a solar system up and running without filling out a lot of paperwork, undergoing an inspection, and waiting for an approval from the utility though. So the ball is in their court in this respect. (They DO have first-hand knowledge of exactly where the solar systems will go online and how much power they're capable of generating.)

Most likely, what will happen is when particular neighborhoods reach a certain saturation level of solar installation, the power company will have to say - "Sorry... We won't approve any more new systems here with more than X amount of generation capacity because we've got all we need for this geographic area."

What good is a ticket to the good life, if you can't find the entrance?