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2014 Geek Gift Guide 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the watch-out-for-robot-santa dept.
With the holidays coming up, Bennett Haselton has updated his geek-oriented gift guide for 2014. He says: Some of my favorite gifts to give are still the ones that were listed in several different previously written posts, while a few new cool gift ideas emerged in 2014. Here are all my current best recommendations, listed in one place. Read on for the list, or to share any suggestions of your own.

Comment: Re:Have Both (Score 1) 567

by RR (#48578053) Attached to: The Case For Flipping Your Monitor From Landscape to Portrait

Resolution though is largely irrelevant to most usages - it's the physical size of the screen real estate that matters.

Let's compromise: Both physical size and resolution matter. You're not getting a lot of work done on an old-school 240p Apple II screen, no matter how big it is.

There are many limits against low resolutions. I can totally read a 14-pixel-tall 'a' much faster than a 6-pixel-tall 'a' and more pixels would be even better. You can see a lot more content when your icons, that need to be at least 12 pixels tall to be recognizable, use 1/100 of your screen instead of 1/20. I used computers in the 1980's. I remember what they looked like. Using more than 50 pixels for 'a' is a bit silly, though.

Resolution makes a difference when you're working with stuff that is laid out like pages. Ever tried to read a PDF in less than 1000 horizontal pixels? I did. It's illegible. On the typical 1080p widescreen monitor, you split that 1920 pixels horizontally between 2 windows, and you get only 960 pixels per window. That's not enough resolution to see an entire page reasonably.

I have a 20-inch 1600x1200 monitor that I run in portrait mode with 1 program on screen at a time. 1200 pixels is frequently not enough, unless I'm doing work in classical terminals. 2560x1440 would allow me to show multiple programs at the same time, less need for portrait mode, and 3840x2160 would be great.


An Algorithm To Prevent Twitter Hashtag Degeneration 162

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes The corruption of the #Ferguson and #Gamergate hashtags demonstrates how vulnerable the hashtag system is to being swamped by an "angry mob". An alternative algorithm could be created that would allow users to post tweets and browse the ones that had been rated "thoughtful" by other users participating in the same discussion. This would still allow anyone to contribute, even average users lacking a large follower base, while keeping the most stupid and offensive tweets out of most people's feeds. Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say.

Twitter Should Use Random Sample Voting For Abuse Reports 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-us-everything dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: Twitter has announced new protocols for filing and handling abuse reports, making it easier to flag specific types of content (e.g. violence or suicide threats). But with the volume of abusive tweets being reported to the company every day, the internal review process will always be a bottleneck. The company could handle more abuse reports properly by recruiting public volunteers. Read what Bennett thinks below.

Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC? 720

Posted by timothy
from the or-any-spouse-reallly dept.
shadeshope writes Having just gotten married, I find that for some inexplicable reason my wife doesn't like my huge, noisy, 'ugly' gaming PC being in the living room. I have tried hiding it in a TV cabinet: still too noisy. I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games. Have any other slashdotters encountered this problem? I don't want to buy a console (Steam sales let me game so cheaply), or mess with water cooling. Ideally I would just hide it in the attic, is there some wireless technology that would be fast enough for gaming use? I have become quite attached to 'behemoth.' I have been upgrading him for years and he is the centre of my digital life. I run plex home theatre, media centre, steam, iTunes and air server. Will I have to do my gaming in the spare room? Once I have sorted this small problem going to try and make a case for the efficacy of a projector to replace the television..... it takes up less space, motorized screen could be hidden when not in use, etc.
Operating Systems

The Schizophrenic Programmer Who Built an OS To Talk To God 452

Posted by Soulskill
from the there's-an-app-for-everything-these-days dept.
rossgneumann writes: Terry Davis, a schizophrenic programmer, has spent 10 years building an operating system to talk to God. He's done this work because God told him to. According to the TempleOS charter, it is "God's official temple. Just like Solomon's temple, this is a community focal point where offerings are made and God's oracle is consulted." [The TempleOS V2.17 welcome screen] greets the user with a riot of 16-color, scrolling, blinking text; depending on your frame of reference, it might recall DESQview, the Commodore 64, or a host of early DOS-based graphical user interfaces. In style if not in specifics, it evokes a particular era, a time when the then-new concept of "personal computing" necessarily meant programming and tinkering and breaking things.

Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change 652

Posted by timothy
from the mined-all-mined dept.
_Sharp'r_ writes Two Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein and David Fork, worked for Google on the RE<C project to figure out how to make renewables cheaper than coal and solve climate change. After four years of study they gave up, determining "Renewable energy technologies simply won't work; we need a fundamentally different approach." As a result, is nuclear going to be acknowledged as the future of energy production?

Comment: Re:Flash? (Score 1) 267

by RR (#48429511) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

For me, the biggest issue is that most videos still require Flash.

Google is the biggest hypocrite here. One part of the company paid a lot of money to promote patent-free video on the Internet, but the YouTube team won't use it for music videos and prefers to use Flash even when HTML5 <video> is available. The Chrome team not only backpedaled on removing patent-encumbered <video>, but also partnered with Microsoft and Netflix to bring DRM into the HTML5 standard.

My practice is to use Google Chrome when I really do need Flash or some other Google monstrosity, but otherwise keep that browser closed.

Comment: Re:systemd (Score 2) 267

by RR (#48429155) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

Oh, come on, it's not just that. It's also PulseAudio, also from Poettering, and udev, from RedHat's Kay Sievers, and how glibc emphasizes performance over security, from (formerly) RedHat's Ulrich Drepper, and possibly some of the silliness around RedHat-funded KVM, and the NIH silliness around ZFS vs (Oracle) btrfs, and dtrace vs strace/ftrace/whatever, and the performance of NetFilter and its proposed replacement nftables vs BSD's pf...

systemd might be the straw that breaks the camel's back, but there are many areas where someone might have issues with Linux. Personally, I'm not that invested in it either way, so I'm most swayed by software and hardware compatibility, where Linux wins really, really big. Though, I wonder what sort of reality distortion bubble RedHat is projecting around their developers, that so many of the issues are with RedHat stuff.

Comment: Re:Boo, PowerVR (Score 2) 56

by RR (#48424243) Attached to: Jolla Crowdfunds Its First Tablet

> I refuse to support PowerVR outside of iOS, so I'm going to sit this one out.

Somebody on quoted a Jolla employee from IRC as saying, it will be an Intel GPU.

Even better, The Register found somebody from Intel to claim that it's an Atom 3700 series device, meaning Bay Trail. Now I'm much more interested in this device, but I'm still inclined to wait until firm confirmation.

Comment: Re:What? 64-bit? (Score 4, Informative) 56

by RR (#48421093) Attached to: Jolla Crowdfunds Its First Tablet

And ONLY 2 GB of RAM? What's the fucking point of including a 64-bit processor?

A couple points that come to mind:

  1. Better performance per clock, due to instruction set simplification and larger working set of registers.
  2. Slightly better security, because of more address space to do ASLR.
  3. Finally enough address space to mmap everything. If your memory usage is dominated by static assets like graphics, this would allow you to use the operating system's virtual memory paging to handle which assets are in RAM at any time.

Comment: Boo, PowerVR (Score 2) 56

by RR (#48421043) Attached to: Jolla Crowdfunds Its First Tablet

They don't explicitly say, but it looks very much like they're using a Moorefield system, like the Nokia N1. The PowerVR graphics in the Moorefield benchmark well on Android, but it's no good.

The PowerVR drivers are closed-source, the company is hostile to open source, and even on Android the performance is inconsistent. See page 2 of Ars Technica's review of the Nexus Player. And in Jolla, the device driver is not native to the operating system, but goes through libhybris.

I refuse to support PowerVR outside of iOS, so I'm going to sit this one out.

The Internet

AT&T To "Pause" Gigabit Internet Rollout Until Net Neutrality Is Settled 308

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-happens dept.
An anonymous reader writes AT&T says it will halt its investment on broadband Internet service expansion until the federal rules on open Internet are clarified. "We can't go out and just invest that kind of money, deploying fiber to 100 cities other than these two million [covered by the DirecTV deal], not knowing under what rules that investment will be governed," AT&T Chief Randall Stephenson said during an appearance at a Wells Fargo conference, according to a transcript provided by AT&T. "And so, we have to pause, and we have to just put a stop on those kind of investments that we're doing today."

Comment: Against it! (Score 1) 613

by RR (#48290401) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Stand on Daylight Saving Time?

Honestly, every year, twice a year, the DST haters come out of the woodwork, because apparently adjusting your clocks twice a year is soooooo difficult. ... And if you're one of those people who uses their smartphone as their alarm clock and pocket watch, you never have to worry about the adjustment; smartphones and computers make the adjustment automagically, *and* they even alert you that this happens.

You're an idiot (from Greek: "idios," meaning someone thinking only of yourself). Just because you find it so relaxing to change your clocks on cue like an animal in a circus, doesn't mean I want to do that.

There's nothing magic about the clocks in smartphones and computers. Those things take a lot of human labor to build and maintain, and frequently the humans make mistakes. Which you can't fix because with all that "magic," they leave out the manual controls. Or have you forgotten how iPhones sometimes make people late to meetings, or how Zunes used to die completely, or how every new program that deals with local time acts weird during the time switches, or how your unpatched system would show you the wrong time for about a month ever since this latest time switch?

I hate experiencing anxiety every time I get a new gadget that has a magical networked clock, wondering whether the clock will change correctly, or whether I'll unnecessarily wake early in the autumn or come to work late in the spring. That's on top of the general misery of changing my biological clock, and knowing that all this hassle is scientifically proven to be wrong and counterproductive but still it continues.

I don't mind having more sunlight in the afternoon. I hate changing the clock.

Comment: Against it! (Score 1) 613

by RR (#48289995) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Stand on Daylight Saving Time?

I don't care whether it's DST all year or standard time all year, but I hate switching back and forth. It's responsible for so much loss of life and productivity. I feel that DST switching is a twice yearly reminder that our "betters" in Congress are in charge and easily capable of messing with our lives. Until it's eliminated, I'll continue voting against my local Representative and Senators.

No problem is so formidable that you can't just walk away from it. -- C. Schulz