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Comment: But Google *does* now update components w/o OS (Score 1) 579

Alternatively; "Here is how Google royally screwed up writing their OS so that updating even relatively minor parts requires a full OS upgrade while Apple and Microsoft seem to have figured out how patching works."

But that's precisely one of the reasons why they aren't bothering to patch this; in fully up-to-date Android releases, WebView has been replaced by a Blink component which Google can update via the Play Store, independently of OS updates. Many, many components of Android are like this these days (which is a problem for anyone not wanting Play Services, but that's another story). And actually Apple is a bad example, since they still for many OS components need to update the entire OS, it's just that unlike Google they've retained tight control and thus can push out those updates whenever they want.

Comment: Developer mode (Score 1) 648

by Phil Urich (#48860065) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming
Actually, Chromebooks do indeed have a shell and a default text editor. I think it's VIM? I forget now, and I left my Pixel at home and normally have it booted into a normal Linux desktop. The trick is just that you have to flip it into developer mode, which then gives a scary warning screen every time you start it up, and you're giving the kids a lot of leeway to muck up the system then I suppose, but on the other hand resetting it entirely is as simple as hitting spacebar and then y (if I'm remembering correctly) upon boot one time, and giving the kids who want to fiddle the ability to fiddle is probably the best education you can give many of them---figuring out how school computers and networks worked so I could install Doom and play it with my friends taught me more valuable lessons and skills for my current sysadmin job than any actual classes did!

Comment: Cygwin to the rescue (if it's even needed) (Score 2) 648

by Phil Urich (#48859979) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

The argument goes both ways -- I've spent hundred hours of my life learning POSIX, and if my boss wants me to run a POSIX program in Windows, I'm pretty much doomed.

Aha, but see, that's another reason to argue against proprietary systems and stacks. When things aren't proprietary, it's nearly inevitable that crazy, determined people will port it to everything you'd want to run the stack on; if your boss wants you to run a POSIX program on Windows, Cygwin certainly provides a pretty damn complete environment for doing so. Nearly every CLI programs I've ever wanted to use on Windows that I can on Linux is already in their repos, even, so the chances that you've written a POSIX-compliant application that can't run through Cygwin seems quite small.

And hell, a lot of the time these days things aren't necessarily so low-level, so stuff like MinGW are all that one needs to compile a Linux/BSD/whatever-aimed CLI program for Windows. And Free toolkits like Qt supply all you need to write and compile full GUI programs that'll run on POSIX-ish systems just as well as Windows, and hell, the few things you're for some reason doing low-level enough to require POSIX somehow can probably be #ifdef'd with what little WinAPI you know.

Comment: Safe Search is never 100% off now (Score 4, Informative) 155

Turn off safe search?

Actually, back in December 2012 Google tweaked things so that SafeSearch is, to a limited degree, always on; unless you explicitly search for "pornographic" materials they will generally filter out such results. As a Google rep put it in a statement to the press,

We are not censoring any adult content, and want to show users exactly what they are looking for -- but we aim not to show sexually-explicit results unless a user is specifically searching for them.

Comment: Disparity in anonymity is a major factor (Score 3, Interesting) 189

by Phil Urich (#48779087) Attached to: EFF Takes On Online Harassment
A lack of anonymity means people are held accountable, but that "accountability" is in the eye of the beholder, so it cuts both ways, and it definitely cuts against the person who isn't anonymous if others going after them are anonymous. The first thing that comes to my mind, then, is to have some degree of separation between anonymous/pseudonymous areas of communication and debate and "real name" ones. I'm not sure that's feasible (how to really draw such hard boundaries in such an interconnected age?) and I worry there'd be problematic results from such segregation. But it does seem to me like some of the more recent issues have been as bad as they've been due in no small part to a disparity of where the harassers and the targets are on the anonymous->pseudonymous->eponymous continuum.

Comment: Yes, it is the cause (Score 3, Interesting) 155

TFA almost says as much, basically, with Google losing 2.1% share, Yahoo gaining 1.8%, Bing gaining 0.4% and all others combined losing 0.1%. It's a pretty dramatic win for Yahoo and considering it occurs right after Firefox switched, I think it's pretty clearly that.

I had to help the non-technical staff around my office because they were utterly confused when suddenly they started getting Yahoo results rather than Google, and sites they used to find so easily weren't showing up in their searches. I too had thought it was only going to be for new installs; was a bit of a rude awakening.

Comment: Google Now (Score 5, Interesting) 155

Google is actually trying to do exactly this with Google Now; predictively presenting you with information you'd otherwise be searching for is simple yet fairly innovative, arguably, and they're positioning it as the next advance in search. One might argue about the philosophy or practicality of that, but they are at least explicitly trying to completely remake what a search engine/page is.

It's certainly noticed that I go up to my local university campus in the afternoon on a specific day every week (although it doesn't know why...yet) and when I pop open the Search app it already shows at the top result, before I even have the chance to enter a search for bus and train schedules, a set of routes and times for transit up to campus. There as sense in which that's all just an obvious outgrowth of networked data, so perhaps calling it "extra-ordinarily innovative" is a stretch, but it's definitely something new for a search engine, and at least for me (again, your mileage may vary, especially vis-a-vis privacy concerns) is very convenient.

Comment: Yup, I run behemoth systems that are near-silent (Score 1) 720

by Phil Urich (#48502807) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC?
Use big fans, and be picky about your parts. Power efficiency is key, you want something that generates very little waste heat and thus requires minimal cooling. Many good PSUs these days will only spin up the fans when on heavy load, which is a good compromise so that most of the time it's quiet but you don't have to worry about silently cruising to thermal extremes. Also be aware that the noise level isn't the entire story, you also want the noise to be as "white" as possible, because it's often the overtones and such whines that catch the ear. My primary computer acts mostly as a server but doubles as a second gaming PC when needed, has 5 drives and a powerful GPU and CPU in it . . . and because I was picky about the parts (among other things I mostly went with lower-RPM drives that are known to have few distinct tones to their operating noise) I have huge amounts of storage and a powerful gaming rig but it can stay on without much notice. Hell, my housemate fires up his PS3 or xbox360 and the noise level in the room is suddenly extremely high by comparison to how it was.

Comment: Hear hear! The view out a plane window is unique (Score 1) 286

by Phil Urich (#48257745) Attached to: The Airplane of the Future May Not Have Windows
There's no other time and place I get to look down on cities from above, soaring past, or gaze out at a landscape composed of clouds. I wouldn't want to give that up. I can sit around with my laptop or smartphone or e-reader anytime; I can only see such a view during a plane flight, and I wouldn't want to give that up. If airlines started introducing such planes, i'd go rather far out of my way to avoid them.

Comment: Re:Gabe Newell is perhaps the biggest driver of th (Score 1) 77

by Phil Urich (#48225797) Attached to: PCGamingWiki Looks Into Linux Gaming With 'Port Reports'

Linux has had 20 years to prove itself, clearly it is not the right solution, or it would have made some traction at this point...

Yes . . . and it has. Hell, even demonstrated by the article in question here, or does "a big enough audience to justify day-one releases of AAA games" not count somehow?

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell