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Comment: Re:Worked with blind programmer (Score 2) 79

by MacTO (#48947057) Attached to: How Blind Programmers Write Code

For those small companies, I can foresee two ways to contribute to the GUI. One is to test for and implement accessibility features. Another consideration is that they can still learn about GUI fundamentals and implement them. While they won't be able to see the outcome (as well or at all, depending upon the limits of their vision), this is certainly a possibility in many development environments.

Comment: Re:Now I understand why most UIs are so awful (Score 2) 79

by MacTO (#48946569) Attached to: How Blind Programmers Write Code

I realize that you are just cracking a joke, but the reality is that computers are a great enabler. My deficiency is minor in comparison, being colorblind, but knowing a bit about the theory of color and having colors being handled numerically allows me to overcome that in the digital realm. I may not see the world as other people see it, but I'm not going to create an eyesore either.

Comment: Responsiveness ... (Score 2) 592

by MacTO (#48844431) Attached to: Why Run Linux On Macs?

OS X does a good job on my 2012 MacBook Pro, yet I have noticed that it becomes very unresponsive at times. It appears to be due to memory management issues, and switching to Linux is a far less expensive upgrade route than bumping up the memory. The other consideration is my ability to maintain the system. While OS X does make certain things easier, Linux is easier to maintain over the long-term.

Comment: Re:Shame it's not open source (Score 4, Informative) 19

by MacTO (#48786635) Attached to: Crowdfunded Linux Voice Magazine Releases Second Issue CC-BY-SA

Third parties can charge whatever you want for FLOSS software, including Linux, because that is not what they mean by free. The only restriction is that they cannot violate the terms of the license agreement. That means, among other things, that they cannot place restrictions upon duplication and distribution. In other words, Linux is usually gratis because there is no incentive to pay for it unless services are bundled with it (e.g. technical support or development).

Yet none of that is relevant because we are discussing a publication about Linux. Anyone is free to write about Linux, place restrictions upon the articles or books that they write, and charge whatever they please. That is because they are not distributing open source software (beyond excerpts of code and documentation) so the license agreements simply do not apply.

Comment: We need definitions for "speech" and "freedom" ... (Score 1) 189

by MacTO (#48778727) Attached to: EFF Takes On Online Harassment

A lot of people will be talking past each other on topics like this because we don't agree upon what is meant by freedom or by speech.

Sometimes the answers are easy. Many nations protect the people from the government with respect to the political freedom of speech. That's great, but harassment is rarely political and is usually an act of individuals or (non-governmental) groups. Yet expanding the definition of freedom of speech presents problems. Harassment is not about imposing upon people speaking loudly or frequently. It is about intimidation. This intimidation takes many forms: threats, diminishing one's sense of self, reducing a person in the eyes of others. All of this is to achieve a particular aim, by reducing a person's ability to respond to the harassment. That includes creating an imbalance of speech to favour the perpetrator (i.e. the victim cannot speak out). The question isn't so much, "is it a valid form of speech," as it is, "should one person's speech be able to suppress other people?"

Comment: Tried it, sort of ... (Score 3, Informative) 437

by MacTO (#48763489) Attached to: Is Kitkat Killing Lollipop Uptake?

People have to wait for their vendor or carrier to release an update, or use an alternative ROM like Cyanogenmod. In the case of the latter, Cyanogenmod only started releasing official nightlies for a limited range of devices 2 days ago. Prior to that, it has been a case of scouring forums to obtain unofficial releases of alternative ROMs.

Even after the upgrade has been released, people actually need a chance to perform the update. For some people, that may be several months down the road -- e.g. when they know that they'll have a chance to perform the update and get used to the changes. It isn't a matter of being good enough. It is a matter of giving people an opportunity to perform the upgrade.

Comment: Why the anger ... (Score 0) 95

by MacTO (#48731261) Attached to: After Outage, Sony Makes Peace Offering To Users of PlayStation Network

Sony is extending memberships to account for the downtime and offering a discount on top of that, for a type of "hacking" that they can only marginally protect themselves from. Yeah, it inconvenienced *some* PSN members by reducing their enjoyment of the service over the holidays. On the other hand, I suspect that many Sony employees had a much less pleasurable time of cleaning up the mess.

Comment: Lots of missing software ... (Score 3, Insightful) 421

by MacTO (#48730023) Attached to: What Isn't There an App For?

Quite frankly, I don't care about small single-purpose apps. The UI on phones and tablets aren't designed to help us find one app among dozens. In most cases, you bump into limitations as soon as you start using it. In many cases, you'll use it a handful of times then never use it again.

If you are looking for anything that is even moderately sophisticated, chances are that no one has made an app for it. There will already be an app in many software categories, but they provide basic functionality at best. Consider what passes for word processors and spreadsheets, or even web browsers and email clients these days.

If you are looking for anything that doesn't lock your data into an unsupported proprietary file format that is hidden in some unfathomable directory on your device, or forces you to use a network service to access your data -- well, good luck. While there are usually options for content consumption, content creation is hit-and-miss.

There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest one is profitability. Very few people want to make a cheap app that takes a lot of time to develop. A lot of people want to translate the sale of cheap apps into more profitable online services. So what we tend to end up with are a bunch of apps that go after the low hanging fruit and sound revolutionary, when in reality they are little more than toys that you could easily accomplish with a single generic application.

Comment: Well understood technologies ... (Score 4, Insightful) 252

by MacTO (#48729357) Attached to: US CTO Tries To Wean the White House Off Floppy Disks

There is a chance that the Whitehouse is using obsolete technologies because that's the way that things were always done. Yet there can be other reasons behind it.

Consider that floppy diskette. Assuming the OS is properly configured, a disk is a disk. Contrast that to a USB flash drive: is it behaving as a flash drive, or is the firmware causing it to behave as something else? Contrast that to a network connection: properly handled physical media has a clear chain of responsibility, while network connections (even internal ones) may be managed by many more people and have more access points. Yes, there are ways to deal with security in such situations. No, they are not foolproof. That's particularly true with high-stakes institutions like the Whitehouse.

Another consideration is the providence of the technology. It is bad enough when you have to go through a single vendor (e.g. Blackberry or Microsoft) or are dealing with contractors. Many modern technologies make things worse by being a service. Products become property of the government when purchased. Contractors can be replaced when contracts come up for renewal, or in the intervening period if terms are violated or appropriate clauses are added. Services are a different issue though, and that's exactly what a lot of modern "technologies" are. Does the Whitehouse want to create a situation where another party has control over their data. Even if they could guarantee the security and portability of the data, it could be difficult to find or create a replacement. Businesses take advantage of this difficulty all of the time, and literally milk the government because of it. In most cases it is because of the cost of complying with government regulations. In the case of services, it could simply be because there is no alternative.

Comment: Re:Stop playing games with the courts ... (Score 1) 349

by MacTO (#48697329) Attached to: United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

Oddly enough, some restaurants force customers to share meals. That is to say, customers can only order separate dishes and serve themselves according to their own tastes. Even more traditional American establishments will offer at least a few dishes in this fashion.

As for those that forbid it, I honestly don't see what their problem is as long as people don't bring in outside food. It is quite antisocial to suggest that people should not be able to accompany their friends in a restaurant just because they are sharing a dish.

Comment: Stop playing games with the courts ... (Score 3, Interesting) 349

by MacTO (#48695475) Attached to: United and Orbitz Sue 22-Year-Old Programmer For Compiling Public Info

I understand why the airlines price flights this way, and it benefits some consumers by reducing the cost of some flights. Yet the easily exploited flaw is a flaw of the business practice, not the consumer. If some consumers exploit it, there is no good reason to hold them accountable. It was the business' decision after all to use this practice, not the consumer's. If too many consumers exploit the practice, then the business should change the practice.

Put in other terms, using the courts to enforce the practice places too much control of a product or service that the consumer paid for into the hands of the vendor. Consumer's wouldn't be very happy if business told them they couldn't resell a product at a profit just because they bought it when there was a good sale, or if they couldn't split a meal because they bought the larger dish instead of two smaller ones. Why should they be happy about being told that they must use all of the tickets for a flight?

Comment: Re:Shut it down (Score 4, Informative) 219

Different ways of looking at it:

The space program has been, on average, 1.15% of the US budget. Giving it a proportional share of the debt means that it contributed 204 billion.

Even if you consider space exploration as entirely frivolous, it has only contributed 508 billion to the debt (before interest). That amounts to 2.85% of the debt.

Yes, the US needs to get its "house in order". Yes, NASA needs to produce better results in order to justify its existing budget. On the other hand, attacking the space program will do very little to address the debt problem. Actually, it will do very little to address the deficit. (Again assuming that space exploration is completely frivolous, it only accounted for 2.48% of the deficit in 2013.)

Comment: Re:Put this same government in charge of healthcar (Score 3, Insightful) 279

by MacTO (#48679857) Attached to: Newest Stealth Fighter's Ground Attack Sensors 10 Years Behind Older Jets'

First of all, those older jets are upgraded while the F-35 is being delivered according to a contract. That's not government incompetence. That's contract law, and no respectable contractor is going to write an agreement where the specifications can change at the last minute. In all probability, the military has already accounted for this and has planned upgrades.

Second, very few people are saying that government should control healthcare. They are saying that the government should control health insurance. Other countries already do this and have had very positive outcomes.

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