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Comment: Fun, But Useless (Score 3, Funny) 125 125

This is a fun device that can show you what can be done with 3D printed plastic. That said, it's useless. It would be really cool if I could apply 1 pound of force to the crank, turn it a Million times, and have it apply a Million pounds of rotational force at the other end. But it's made of plastic, so it won't do that. Indeed, the fast-rotating parts would wear out before the slow-rotating part made a single turn. So it's not even good as a kind of clock.

All that said, it's a good conversation piece, and probably worth the price for that.

Comment: Re:pardon my french, but "duh" (Score 4, Insightful) 240 240

Well that may be so. But as you get older you get less patient with people wasting your time.

Let's say you're 90 years old. You're using a webmail system which does everything you need it to do. Then some manager has a brainwave and suddenly all the functions are somewhere else. How much of the 3.99 years the actuarial tables say you've got left do you want to spend dealing with that?

It's not just 90 year-olds. Take a poll of working-age users and find out how many like the MS Office Ribbon; how many people are cool with the regular UI reshuffling that takes place in Windows just to prove you're paying your upgrade fee for software that's "new"?

Comment: Re:Therac 25 (Score 2) 240 240

I was working as a developer when the news of the Therac 25 problems broke, so I remember it well. You actually have it backwards; it wasn't bad UI design at all.

The thing is mere functional testing of the user interface would not have revealed the flaw in the system. What happened is that people who used the system very day, day in and day out, became so fast at entering the machine settings the rate of UI events exceeded the ability of the custom monitor software written for the machine to respond correctly to them.

If the UI was bad from a design standpoint the fundamental system engineering flaws of the system might never have been revealed.

Comment: Re:"Harbinger of Failure" = Hipsters? (Score 1) 292 292

Actually the exact opposite is true.

Which is necessarily true in any kind of fashion, even if it's anti-fashion. Hipsterism is a kind of contrarianism; the attraction is having things that most other people don't even know about. But strict contrarianism is morally indistinguishable from strict conformism.

Now outside of major metropolitan centers like Manhattan when people say "hipster" they mean something else; there's not enough of a critical mass of non-conformity to cater to an actual "hipster" class. What they're really talking about is "kids taking part in trends I'm not included in." In other words its the same-old, same-old grousing about kids these days, only now by people who've spent their lives as the focus of youth culture and can't deal with their new-found cultural marginalization.

As you get older the gracious thing to do is to age out of concern, one way or the other, with fashion.

Comment: Re:"Harbinger of Failure" = Hipsters? (Score 2) 292 292

I thought hipsters all owned iPhone and Macbooks, and shopped at The Gap. I.e. they are all about conformity, fads and Buzzfeed.

No, those things are actually anti-hip. As soon as something gets big enough for Buzzfeed it's for a different audience.

"Hip" implies arcane knowledge possessed by a select few. A great band with a small local following is "hip"; when they make it big they're no longer "hip", although they may still be "cool". The iPhone is pretty much the antithesis of hip, no matter how cool it may be. If I were to guess what hipster phone model might look like, it might be something low-cost Indian android phone manufactured for the local market and not intended for export -- very rare and hard to get outside of India. Or even better, hard to get outside of Gujarat. Or even better only a few hundred were ever manufactured then the company went bankrupt and the stock was sold on the street in Ahmedabad. Provided that the phone is cool. Cool plus obscure is the formula for "hip".

It follows there is no such thing as "hip" retail chain. It's a contradiction in terms. A chain may position itself in its marketing as "hip", but it's really after what the tech adoption cycle refers to as "Early Majority" adopters.

Hipsters reject being the leading edge of anything; as soon as something becomes big, it is no longer hip. This means they're not economically valuable on a large scale, which some people see as self-centered and anti-social. Compare this to cosplayers; the media always adopts a kind of well-the-circus-is-in-town attitude when there's a con, but while they're condescending toward cosplayers the media can't afford to be hostile because those people are the important early adopters for economically valuable media franchises.

Let me give you a more authentic hipster trend than the one you named. Last year there was a fad for hipster men to buy black fedora hats from Brooklyn shops that cater to Hasidic men. While as soon as something gets big enough to draw media attention it's dead to hipsters, this fad illustrates the elements of hipster aesthetic: (1) resurrecting obscure and obsolete fashions; (2) exoticism or syncretism; and (3) authenticity.

Now from an objective standpoint there's no good reason to favor or disfavor fedoras as opposed to, say baseball caps. It's just a different fashion. Likewise there's no practical reason to value a hat from a owner-operated store in Brooklyn over an identical one purchased from Amazon. But it does add rarity value, and that's the key. Something has to be rare and unusual to be hip. As soon as hipness is productized it appeals to a different audience.

Comment: Re:"Harbinger of Failure" = Hipsters? (Score 3, Insightful) 292 292

Is this just another term for hipsters? People who seek out things that everyone else has dismissed for (usually) good reasons.

No. Because the "good reason" usually is "most people aren't doing that anymore." The article is about things that *never* become cool, not things that were cool in grandpa's day.

The real problem with being a hipster is that the ideal of non-conformity is inconsistent with the idea of fashion.

Comment: Re:Drop the hammer on them. (Score 5, Insightful) 1256 1256

"Drop the hammer on them."

That's the easy part. The hard part is dealing with what happens after the hammer has been dropped.

Someone once said that the definition of a bad policy is one that leads to a place where you have nothing but bad options. I believe everyone (not just the Greeks) thought back in 2000 it woudl be good policy to bring Greece into the Eurozone. But now we've now reached the point where otherwise rational people are talking about "dropping the hammer", as if having an incipient failed state in Europe is a small price to pay for 600 euro in your pocket. The frustration is understandable, but the the satisfaction of dropping the hammer on Greece would be short-lived -- possibly on the order of weeks depending on the scale of financial disruption.

The unhappy truth is that bad policy choices fifteen years ago means all the options available today lead to long-lived, complicated, and expensive consequences.

Comment: Re:The reason is more simple (Score 1) 658 658

= = = You had official numbers for the same years, and then added an unofficial number 9 years later. You then compared people per household in 2001 to vehicles per household in 2009. Why? = = =

Because the first set of numbers came from US DOT which has not published an official number for 2010 yet; the 2010 value is from a widely-quoted private source of statistics on automobiles but is not an academic quality publication.

sPh

Comment: Re:Road trips. (Score 2) 658 658

Sure. And you are an outlier:

http://www.statisticbrain.com/...

15 miles one way, 30 miles round trip is the 70th percentile. That's well within the range of a Leaf not to mention a Volt.

And there are some extreme outliers out there, but that shouldn't set either perceptions or policy:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

sPh

Comment: Re:So many reasons (Score 1) 658 658

Fear of change. Funny thing is my late grandfather-in-law told me about having the same discussion with his father when he (grandfather) proposed replacing some of the horses and mules on the farm with gasoline-powered tractors. Great-grandfather admitted 5 years later he had been wrong which from what I've heard down there was not something that happened very often.

sPh

Comment: Re:So many reasons (Score 1) 658 658

If your region loses electricity for any significant period of time your local gas station won't be pumping any liquid fuel. OTOH during the last hurricane evacuation from Houston - bumper-to-bumper traffic for 16 hours - Priuses made it through due to regenerative braking while liquid fuel vehicles ran dry. So there's that.

And entire economy cannot be structured based on 1-in-100-year worst case scenarios. Los Angeles (earthquake), Seattle (earthquake, tsunami, lahar), St. Louis (earthquake) are not so structured and no one is proposing it be done. A daily driver cannot be justified based on a 0.00001% use case.

sPh

Comment: Re:Design Counts (Score 1) 658 658

= = = Who wants to roll around town looking like the "before" picture in a testosterone replacement ad? = = =

It was only ever a certain percentage of the US population that ever participated in that "my sexual identity is wrapped up in and reinforced by my car/horse/mastadon" game. And by observation, among the current generation that percentage has dropped drastically since the 1970s. So I don't think automakers really need to tailor their design and marketing campaigns to reproductive organ insecurity anymore.

The computing field is always in need of new cliches. -- Alan Perlis

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