Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×

Comment: Re:Apple Should Pay - It's Advertising (Score 1) 368 368

I imagine Swift's reluctance has something to do with having a high-flying album still on the charts that will probably not be selling anywhere near as well 3 months from now. It's one thing to give out free introductory samples of, say, nachos expecting that to drum up more customers who will be hungry for them next week. But in this case the performers being asked to give away their product are giving away something that's time-limited for them. Sure, Apple will still have more music to sell 3 months from now, but Swift will have to go back to her bedroom and come up with more silly, catchy hits - and may well not be able to.

Comment: Re:Jurisdiction (Score 1) 210 210

But the TPP wants to extend US Copyright terms to a lot of new jurisdictions. So, watch out Klingons - if you happen to live along the Pacific rim.

The TPP may not be an entirely bad thing, and Obama may not be lying about that. But without fixing US intellectual property laws, extending them to the world negates any possible good aspects of these trade agreements. So no TA's without fixing US law, please. And of course, there will be no fixing US law until this same Supreme Court decides that it's really not a good thing to have bribery as the basis of our entire political system...

Comment: Re:SFLC's brief explains parts of this well (Score 2) 210 210

It depends on what you mean by 'entire API'. Modern computer languages are more than just the syntax and compiler. Even C would be pretty useless as a language without a standard set of libraries that every C app uses. sprintf is arguably not a library API, but an intergral part of the C language. Same goes for the classes in the 'java' API. Without them, it's not Java, and you can't claim that the language is freely implementable without those API's also being freely implementable. Otherwise, there are no standards at all.

Comment: Re:KDE versions, my experience (Score 1) 155 155

Interesting. But could you address my suspicion that C++ has something to do with how drastic the changes end up being. I would assume that the QT folks at least try to keep things as backward compatible as possible. And that after the KDE4.0 fiasco, they made the transition from 4 to 5 smoother than prior ones. After all, the explanation for how hard the 3 to 4 transition was was that big changes were needed so that future enhancements would be less disruptive.

In any case, you'd think that it would be possible to provide libraries that simply allow KDE4 binaries to be compiled to run on top of KDE5. But my suspicion is that C++ classes suck in so much of the code and structure of the objects in question that it becomes hard to build shim libraries to mediate between the versions at the source code level. Not impossible - but not on anybody's radar to do... Am I wrong?

Comment: Re:Allow me to respond from the perspective of an (Score 3, Insightful) 614 614

You leave out the other obvious alternative. Accept that your long-time developers are adding something irreplaceable to your company - and instead of thinking of them as an ever-growing drain, consider them your partners and accept that they deserve to be well compensated for the depth of company-specific knowledge they've acquired over the years. More, probably, than you - who were probably brought in to manage the company well after many of them.

H1-B workers are good only to the extent that they are treated the same way your existing long-term workers are. And that they themselves become long term - and gradually more expensive. Training these cheap workers entails a productivity hit. And if you don't keep them and grow them, you will never have a next generation of senior developers to carry your company forward. This system of 'managed, intentional turnover' may keep development costs down, but it is suicidal for the company. And it only works for managers that themselves plan to move on before the whole house of cards collapses. But if you must, blame 'the turbulence of the world' if you think that justifies your sociopathic view of it...

Comment: Re: Such a nice, sugary story.... (Score 5, Insightful) 614 614

You left out the best part. After all these savings, productivity drops precipitously. And it stays down, because what these Indian outsourcers are pushing (the one I worked with is Cognizant) is 'flexibility'. They tell the US company that they can provide a workforce that ramps up to handle any project you throw at them. But in order to do that, they 'train' a pool of workers and then rotate them off of the project. The result of this is that the workers on a project at any given time are by design never experienced in the particulars of the given system they're working on. They can provide absolutely no creativity to the process, and in fact, will spin their wheels on a wrong aproach for weeks before asking for help and revealing how little they know. They're only human, after all, and they've been thrown into a project cold and are being evaluated based on metrics that have little to do with actually producing working code.

In our case, the outsourced projects included custom in-house platforms. And the Indian workers spent much of their time watching videos of us teaching the first round of them our jobs. I know this, because I was hired by the contractors to be the one 'employee' that actually knew how to do the work - and who did the lion's share of it. That's the other dirty secret - they hire a few key ex employees to maintain a semblance of continuity.

Also, in our case, none of this really mattered. It turned out that the company was for sale, and the real purpose of the outsourcing was to make the financials look better for the sale to a private equity firm. The eventual buyers probably knew they were buying a dog - but not how much of a dog they were buying. Now that they've realized the extent of it, they're dropping their plans for an IPO and firing the rest of us so they can milk whatever profitability is left from existing customer contracts. The empty hulk will be abandoned when those contracts run out - and the private equity guys will have gotten their money back. Nothing lost - except a viable company and a bunch of American jobs...

Comment: Re:Linux Mint gets it right. (Score 1) 155 155

I had some trouble with an HP laserjet printer that was set up to present itself as a USB drive. Apparently, HP thought it made sense to have the printer be a 'disk drive' with an autorun driver installer on it. Nice, I guess, if you're hooking it to a Windows machine, but I had to figure out how to disable that nonsense to get it to show up as a printer to Linux. Once that was done, Linux found a driver for it, and it works perfectly.

Comment: Re: Linux Mint gets it right. (Score 1) 155 155

Well, okay. But I wasn't asking about KDE 5. No comments on KDE 4 in Mint today vs Cinnamon?

I do kind of hate how KDE has to break everything and start over for each new QT version. When is good enough enough? KDE 4 works really well. I'm sure QT 5 has some nice goodies in it - but why the hell do they have to break stuff to add those goodies? Seriously. I still suspect it has something to do with C++. You want to add a new feature that doesn't fit your current class structure? Simple, rework all your classes to now finally be right. Except it's never right for long (enough). With C you may not have as much structure - and it may not port as nicely to other platforms, but adding new functionality almost never requires you to rethink everything...

Comment: Re:Linux Mint gets it right. (Score 1) 155 155

I use the Mint KDE edition, and have never tried Cinnamon. But it's still worth asking why Cinnamon was needed. I get that nobody liked Gnome 3 (at least at the beginning), but how different - when you get down to it - is the Cinnamon desktop from the KDE desktop? Aren't they both continuations of the standard 'task bar + start menu' paradigm?

Mint KDE is really nice, and since KDE is still being actively developed, why would the Mint folks feel the need to develop yet another desktop? If it's only 'because they can' or 'we need our own DE in order to stand out', then why would users go along with it - just because it serves the Mint folks' purposes. To me, it'd be better to adopt KDE and, if necessary, tweak it to suit their purposes (e.g., simplify some of the settings - or improve the default theme). I get that KDE had its own problems early in the 4.0 series - and that a big portion of the Linux desktop world went with GNOME due to former KDE licensing issues. But all of that predated the birth of Mint. To me, the only reason to go GNOME was because it was the path of least resistance for a Ubuntu remix. But now that they're ditching the 'standard' Ubuntu Unity desktop, why build their own?

Comment: Re: Marketing-driven deadlines (Score 1) 290 290

That may be true. Few enough people even know about Linux to qualify as wanting it. And yet... millions of people are buying Linux desktop devices in the form of Chromebooks. You may not think those are viable - and for your purposes, they may not be. But the definition of what a personal computer does is changing pretty quickly, and for a sizeable (and growing) part of the market, an Internet terminal is basically what their PC's are being used for. So, yeah, that portion will probably buy Chromebooks - or a Windows equivalent (Microsoft's not dumb). And Linux loaded on a cheap desktop (or an old XP machine) provides much the same functionality. No, not for those of you who need Windows and all the apps written for it, but yes for all those who just need something to get them access to the internet.

Comment: Re: Marketing-driven deadlines (Score 1) 290 290

Pricing OSes isn't hard to do - Microsoft's been doing it for decades. And the price has been largely coming down - just like the price of everything else in computing. For a while there, Windows prices went up - but that was when the monopoly was riding high. And back then, they were providing a lot of new functionality. But the functionality plateaued with XP. How else can you explain how many systems are still running it - even now that it's unsupported. The new bells and whistles in Windows 8 (and 10?) are tied to the new Metro API's that don't have enough apps to make a difference. So desktop OS's have become a commodity - and are priced accordingly.

And ever since Linux provided a viable alternative, the prices have been falling. For netbooks - and now any small-screen Windows device, the going OS price is $0 - the same price as Android, OS/X and Linux. So it's not a question of $109 being too expensive - it's just that a desktop computer OS is now a commodity that doesn't need to cost half as much again as the hardware it runs on. Same should be true of word processing software (face it, the only component of MS Office that gets used by the majority of people that buy it) - but lingering (overblown) fears of incompatibility have held the line there.

Comment: Re: Marketing-driven deadlines (Score 5, Insightful) 290 290

It's free to upgrade for a year, because they need it to become the new 'standard' - fast. They need people writing apps that'll run nicely on the mobile version. And, if the rumors are true, they're planning to make up for all those free upgrades with a hefty OEM price for new computers (isn't it nice to be able to extract Monopoly rates when you need it). $109 OEM for the home version, $149 for Pro. Makes Chromebooks look better and better - not to mention Linux loaded on your old PC.

Not to say that'll keep people from buying laptops with Win10. Unless somebody sells the same hardware with Ubuntu for $100 less...

Comment: Re:So Creepy! (Score 1) 175 175

Well, you can go onto Google Drive and delete the backup copies there. I guess that's not so bad. I once accidentally deleted all the photos from my Camera folder on my phone when I was simply trying to delete the most recent one that the app used as a thumbnail for the folder. Stupid, yes, but it let me do it without so much as a "are you really sure?" warning - or an Undo option (which seems to be there now). I didn't have G+ backups enabled, and lost them all. If deletions automatically deleted the backups, I'd have also lost them.

What might be nice is some kind of setting to let you control automatic deletion of backups, say:
1. Provide a 'delete backup' option on the Undo screen that shows up anyway.
2. Provide a setting to just keep backups for a month or so until you go onto drive and request that then be kept indefinitely.
3. Define any photo deleted within X days of taking it as a 'reject', and then automatically delete backups of rejects. Or at least provide a way to see your rejects on Drive and easily delete them there.

Sure, Google has a bias toward keeping everything. But at some point that becomes more of an annoyance than a convenience. Gmail lets you select true deletion over archiving - and archived mail is more searchable than old photos. So why make it impossible to automatically delete stuff - if that's what the user wants.

Comment: Re: Exodus (Score 1) 692 692

I read all the passages except the big 70 page tirade, which I simply couldn't get through. And I liked the book. It's an appealing fantasy that leaves out every inconvenient aspect of society to make its political points. You're the one who's blinded to Rand's heavy hand. Like every utopian fantasy (be it Atlas Shrugged or Das Kapital, or Supply Side economics), there's a nugget of truth it's built around. But that nugget is extrapolated into utter nonsense.

And yes, I have been told that paid REALLY, REALLY WELL line by professed Rand fans. So don't blame the reporter. I imagine that if you think an objectivist wouldn't say that, then they'd simply say that some people's talents are best suited to cleaning toilets and the ennobling qualities of work are enough to bring happiness. Or else, that John Galt provided self-cleaning toilets. Or cattle prods to keep the low producers working without needing smiles on their faces - which of course, would contradict the 'ennobling qualities of work' aspect of the fantasy.

Comment: Re:Exodus (Score 4, Insightful) 692 692

And at least part of the reason your mom's parents lived in the great school district that allowed that fortunate chain of success to happen was a government commitment to great school districts - and subsidized universities, etc. That commitment is less solid today, and wasn't universal even in their day. Had your mom's parents happened to be black (especially when they were coming up), things might not have turned out so rosy.

None of this is to justify poor people not trying. But fuck, can't you at least acknowledge that the deck is stacked? Maybe there are perverse incentives built into today's programs to help the poor. But don't blame that on the poor themselves - how about proposing better programs. And 'no programs' is not an option. You are by your own admission the product of several generations of programs that gave you the life you have today.

Getting the job done is no excuse for not following the rules. Corollary: Following the rules will not get the job done.