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Comment: Re:GPS and laser guidance systems for centuries? (Score 1) 116

by MacTO (#47705213) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine

Even as an outsider, I heard about many of the advancements cited in the article. However, I wonder if the project's intent is to reduce the cost of automation in agriculture. While that may not be a huge issue in developed nations, where food is already relatively inexpensive, surely it is an issue in developing nations.

Comment: Re:Surprise? (Score 1) 539

by MacTO (#47705097) Attached to: Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

My point was that you can find issues with every OS if you lean upon anecdotal evidence, so it's probably best to avoid assessing an OS based upon such evidence.

Clearly you can assess based upon your needs based upon your experiences. Yet your comments seem to generalize the issues for other issues based upon limited evidence. That isn't the greatest idea. To give you an example of what I mean: I've had issues with the stability of KDE across multiple versions and on multiple systems, so I don't use it personally. Yet I do not go around declaring how unstable KDE is because I am one data point. That data point may be useful when in assessing KDE in conjunction with other user experiences, but it is useless when considered on its own. Overall though, I trust that KDE is stable for enough users to sustain it for nearly two decades.

Comment: Why the ridicule? (Score 5, Interesting) 131

by MacTO (#47691349) Attached to: Facebook Tests "Satire" Tag To Avoid Confusion On News Feed

Sometimes satire is obvious, sometimes it isn't. In the latter cases, you have to be familiar with the source or familiar with background information. When you are talking about a medium that supports a profound number of sources, it can be difficult to judge whether a source that you are not familiar with is satirical. When you are talking about a medium that can deliver news from all parts of the world from varying perspectives, it can be difficult to have the necessary background information to judge whether a portrayal is satirical. Sites like Facebook only compound that problem because it is not a news site in the traditional sense, nor is it a news aggregator. It is simply a site where people post links, links that may be informative or may be whimsical based upon their mood. Making matters worse, a lot of people don't even know their Facebook "friends" particularly well, which makes it means that you can't even use the source of the link as a guage.

While I do have deep concerns about how Facebook would go about vetting links, I can understand why some people would see this as a valuable feature.

Comment: My main concern ... (Score 2) 303

by MacTO (#47678955) Attached to: Humans Need Not Apply: a Video About the Robot Revolution and Jobs

At the end of the day, it is humans that control the bots. So unlike the cited example of horses, we are not going to be replaced. All of our jobs may be replaced, and a great many jobs have already been replaced. That is my main concern.

Now this isn't a concern about people having a place in society. We can do that without defining ourselves by our work. Rather my concern is about what we do.

A great many people will find constructive things to do. Think of our hobbies. Many will find neutral things to do. Think of passive consumption. Yet there will also be people who find destructive things to do. There always have been, and always will be, that type of person. The problem is that the bots will free up time for those destructive self-indulgers. How are we going to control that? Then again, maybe that's a job for robocop.

Comment: A long time ago in a land not so far away ... (Score 3, Interesting) 81

by MacTO (#47678407) Attached to: Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

I recall reading an article in a university rag about 10 years back that was discussing how their campus was designed around telepresence for instruction many decades prior. Unfortunately things didn't go that way because it proved to be ineffective and not what the students wanted. But never fear, it was a great boon in our modern age because TV studios could easily be repurposed to server rooms and the buildings could easily be rewired for computer networks for the age of online learning.

While they were right about it being easy to repurpose that old infrastructure, they also missed the point: people want to learn on campuses and they learn more effectively on campuses. (At least that seems to be the case for programs of study. Learning particular skills is likely a different matter.) In otherwords, university administrators were forgot the lessons of the 60's and 70's while choosing to believe in some technology utopia.

That isn't to say that education should be devoid of technology. Computers and networks are clearly valuable learning tools. They have applications ranging from research to simulation, and from content delivery to content creation. The thing is that they're just a tool in the process, and not the core of the process itself.

Think of it this way: would we go around praising the merits of pencil based learning? Or, to choose something less absurd, textbook based learning? Of course we wouldn't. So why are we going crazy over computer based learning?

Comment: Re:Overstating cat's role? (Score 5, Insightful) 110

by MacTO (#47643967) Attached to: Connected Collar Lets Your Cat Do the War-Driving

Cats can wander around without arousing much suspicion. In residential areas, that includes going into front and back yards. In commercial areas, that includes going into secured lots. In that respect, cats would be able to perform better. Of course, that leaves the issue of getting cats to explore areas that you're interested in in the first place.

Comment: Re: You're welcome to them. (Score 3, Insightful) 402

by MacTO (#47586317) Attached to: Comparison: Linux Text Editors

Another often overlooked advantage of vim is continuity. Thos of us who learned vi because it was one of the best editors at the time can still use those skills. When the need arises, we can also build upon those skills with a modern implementation. In all likelihood I'll be able to make the same claim 20 years from now, when most (if not all) of these upstarts will be long forgotten.

New and improved is great. Constantly relearning skills that you already have, to adapt to new interfaces, isn't so hot.

Comment: Re:What do I think? (Score 3, Insightful) 225

by MacTO (#47526865) Attached to: Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

Writing by hand remains an essential skill, and will continue to be an essential skill for the foreseeable future. It is true that it is no longer the domain of people who author reports or books, corresponding with friends and businesses, and many other areas. Yet it is still used extensively for note taking, completing forms, and in many situations where it is easier to use the pen than the keyboard (diagrams, equations, etc.).

In time, that may change. In time, it will probably change. Yet I am getting quite tired of reading the handwriting of adults that wouldn't pass the muster of a grade 3 teacher.

Comment: What's old is new again ... (Score 3, Interesting) 176

by MacTO (#47338027) Attached to: Meet Carla Shroder's New Favorite GUI-Textmode Hybrid Shell, Xiki

MPW did something similar, only they used their own command set. This had a unique benefit: the output from MPW utilities often included commands that could be executed by clicking on the line with your mouse and pressing enter. It worked very well since the utilities themselves generated those executable commands, and users could extend upon the system with their own utilities. (MPW was a development environment after all.)

Here's the thing though, Xiki cannot do that because its trying to use existing Unix utilities and development tools. While the output from that software is usually intended to be used by other software (e.g. via pipes), it is rarely intended to be used by the shell itself. That means Xiki needs to understand how to interact with each piece of software. As a result, it will end up being an unwieldy mess of plugins and unsupported commands.

Don't get me wrong. The Xiki demos were doing some pretty neat and fairly useful stuff. In that sense, it is a success. The problem is that you'll never be able to use the full power of the metaphor because the software that it interacts with was never designed to interact in the way Xiki needs it to.

Comment: Re:What logic! (Score 1) 139

by MacTO (#47335339) Attached to: Norway Scraps Online Voting

Calculators didn't present the risk of undermining mathematics. (Some people suggested that calculators would reduce people's proficiency at arithmetic, but it calculators didn't create invalid results.) Electronic voting does run the risk of undermining democracy. Even if the systems were secure with respect to voter privacy and vote tampering, the mere suspicion could influence people not to vote to change their vote or the question the results of an election.

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