Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

User Journal

Journal: Web Dev on the Mac

Journal by stoolpigeon

I've been working on a little side project. I would like to have an app where people can read updates that I send out. It seemed like a fun way to learn more about programming mobile apps and it's something I could actually use if I can get it to a decent state.
I'm keeping it simple. I decided the app would just be an rss feed reader. And that meant I need a feed. I want it to be very specific to my app so I decided the way to go would be to just create my own back end for creating the feed. I decided to use php and I wrote a simple set up using the codeigniter framework. That gave me a quick way to set up authorization and it was easy to tie in styling from bootstrap so that things can look decent without any effort.
I've been doing all the work at my office, on my desktop running Fedora. I have two nice big lcd monitors and developing on Linux is just so easy. I had the environment up and running in no time.
Then this week my son got sick. Nothing serious - but enough for him to stay home from school for a few days. I worked from home to keep an eye on him. I've been putting off getting my Macbook set up to do this kind of stuff but now I really needed to tackle it. Ugh - what a pain. The machine itself has grown on me. The hardware is decent and works pretty well. The software isn't horrible. But oh my word - when I want to do anything 'out of the ordinary' and by that I mean any kind of meaningful work with the system, it is pretty bad. I know lots of professional developers use Macs but I'm stunned at what a pain it is to do things that are trivially easy in Linux.
Getting Mysql installed and running with Apache was a lot more work. Getting PHP working the way I want took more time than it ever has before. Things are far from ideal even now, but I've got it to a point where it works.
And now I have my code in 3 places. So I'll be using github to keep code in sync between them. It's a little more of a challenge because I have the production environment set up a little differently than the dev environment. But not so differently that it is a huge deal. I have ssh access to my hosting environment (Bluehost) so that makes it pretty easy. - Oh and that is the one thing that saves the mac - having bash. If it didn't I'd have given up on it long ago.

User Journal

Journal: fun with CSS 3 I guess 2

Journal by Bill Dog

So go to (I just type in the middle part and use the Ctrl-Enter thingie, a lot), presumably in a modern browser, and type in "askew" without hitting Enter.

It probably only works in the mode where upon typing the first character into their home page it automatically jumps to the search box being in the upper left and intermediate results being displayed as you type, so might require JavaScript being enabled.

You can restore things by backspacing all the way and then begin typing say "askance".

Anyone come across any others? I see that "skew" is one of the keywords in the 2D transforms of the CSS 3 spec, but that word doesn't affect Google, as neither do some of the others.

p.s. On a partly unrelated note, what's with Google removing my dang commas. Paste in "275,908.952 watts" and then type " to hor", and it says "Showing results for 275 908.952 watts to horsepower", and only one document in the results listing. Click on the pop-up suggestion of "horsepower" and... you don't get your conversion. Go back and put the damn comma back and you'll get it. (But then notice in the conversion output that it lists the wattage without the comma!)

User Journal

Journal: just think how some conversations could go 5

Journal by Bill Dog

An errant capitalization in a comment triggered a thought: It will be a confusing day when Dodge announces an electric Charger.

"So, what do you do for a charger?"
<points to car> "That."
"No, I mean how do you charge your electric charger?"
"With an electric charger."
"It charges itself?"
"No, I put it in my garage and charge it there."
"So you've got an electric charger in your garage then."
"I just told you I did."
"So what's the power output of your electric charger?"
"About 275,908.952 watts."

User Journal

Journal: I wish we had coalition governing here in the U.S. 14

Journal by Bill Dog

Barb wrote in smitty's journal:

We have it [political polarization] up here [in Canada] too, but it tends to be more muted when we have minority governments, since then you need at least some votes from one of the opposing parties to pass legislation.

We're exceptionally dysfunctional in the U.S. because we have two major parties. It means each can take turns ignoring the will of people, as when one is booted out of power in one election, they'll just get it back next go-around when we punish the other party for screwing us over. They've got us convinced there's only two choices, and so our voting ends up assuring that.

And so there's no need for compromise, if you'll just be given power again the next cycle. I've long thought, for efficiency, and to do their jobs representing the people, why not take all the stuff that both sides agree on, stuff it in a bill and quickly pass it, and then wrangle over the contentious stuff after that. But I think both sides hold the agreeable stuff hostage to get more disagreeable stuff passed.

Or refuse to do a give-and-take on the disagreeable stuff, like this from 8.5 years ago. To better serve their respective constituencies, both parties could do an even swap and let the other side have 3 things to get 3 things for their voters. But neither party needs to worry about serving us well.

And there's no need for restraint, when you'll just be given power again the next cycle. Political litmus tests for judicial appointees, applying the fillibuster (meant for legislative bills) to judicial appointees, the "nuclear option" ("In 2005, Obama opposed [it, when Republicans had control of the Senate] before supporting it in 2013 [when Democrats had control]."), being against usage of a lot of executive orders when your side is not in power and then flipping when it is, declaring by fiat that Congress is in recess to make recess judicial appointments, refusing to pass a budget for 4 years, not allowing legislation to come to floor to be voted on (when there might be enough dissenters in one's own party to pass it), not allowing amendments from the minority party to legislation that is brought up for a vote, skirting debate by passing things via slipping them into funding bills.

The misuse of power keeps escalating giving the minority party at the time even less power. But if the minority party in the Senate is 46% of it like it is now, about half the country wants those values put forth, and not 90% or 100% of the values of the 54%. For example, there's absolutely no excuse for something as significant as Obamacare passing, when it got not a single vote by the minority party. Representation of the political diversity of the country is nowhere close to happening, in the U.S.

I wish we had more "sides" than just two. It's really bad for voters who are, for example, fiscally Conservative but socially Liberal. They don't get represented no matter what. We should have at least 4 major parties, one for each side of both axes. And then we should get 2 votes to cast, one for each axis. Then Congress should be made up of the winning proportions of each. Then we'd get things like 35 Senators who ran on socially Liberal positions, 30 who ran on fiscally Conservative positions, 20 who ran on fiscally Liberal positions, and 15 who ran on socially Conservative positions.

Then we might see things like those who think social issues are the most important be willing to compromise on fiscal things to let one side or the other win on fiscal issues, in exchange for compromise on social issues by those who don't consider those to be of upmost importance. Where it's not a simple "us versus them", because it's more complicated than that. Where it's about constantly building temporary coalitions between strange bedfellows, and expecting to give something up to get something. And then if for example the fiscally Liberal party just refused to work with the other three, the voters could punish just that one party and not expect the remainder to go hog wild in abuses, because there'd still be divisions left to keep them somewhat in check.

With only two parties, it's too easy to get people thinking in black-and-white terms about things, as if there are only two sides to every issue, the right one and the wrong one. It dumbs us down. With only two parties, it's too easy to make it not about the issues, but about the parties; people think "I'll never vote for a Republican" instead of "I'll never vote for anyone who differs from me on my top 3 issues of x, y, and z". Maybe I'm for gun rights but some people in both parties uphold that. Maybe I'm for private ownership of certain guns but not others. Only two major parties means we tend to only get to choose from extremes. More major parties would better reflect and remind us that there are nuances, and that there's a lot more to things than to just remember that Republicans are racist and to vote Democrat if you're brown.

User Journal

Journal: Catch 22 6

Journal by stoolpigeon

I got a thing from the IRS and they want me to fill out an on-line form.

To successfully complete the form I have to enter my filing address and it has to match my return. The form fields don't allow me to correctly enter the address.

So the address has to match for the form to validate, but the form wont allow me to enter the address correctly. It's beautiful. There's an email address to send information about the process and it says below the address that you can send an email but they wont respond. Super.

So I go to the page with a phone number to call. It says "You can call between 7 am and 7 pm your local time." I'd wager not.

I've never had a problem with the IRS or filing until this year. Something has put me onto some list with them, which they wont tell me about other than in a general way and now everything is exponentially more difficult. Fantastic.

User Journal

Journal: Youtube Video Editor 2

Journal by stoolpigeon

The video editor built into youtube is surprisingly decent. It lets you cut videos up, add transitions, add photos, add text, put in music, all kinds of stuff.
With it running on their side I was able to edit up a bunch of separate videos, and then leave them processing while I did other stuff. It made it possible to do a lot of videos in parallel and not have my machine bogged down with it. Not bad.
It's not the greatest but for simple stuff that you just want to get up - it is pretty awesome. And it's really easy to get authenticated (or authorized or whatever) to load longer content than the default. I've been putting up stuff that is over an hour long without any problems.

User Journal

Journal: Parents aren't perfect 7

Journal by squiggleslash

Seen rather a lot of the "Parents are evil because they did something wrong because they believed that something was right" meme that's going around at the moment.

Worst case: massive harassment and threats against the parents of a trans teenager who killed herself blaming their insistence on "Christian" therapy. Horrible case, entirely the wrong approach by the parents, but at the same time if the parents hadn't cared, there wouldn't have been any therapy to begin with, bogus or not. The parents were convinced by people they trusted that the wrong thing was the right thing. Screaming at them, particularly at a time when they are mourning, that they are evil and heartless is evil and heartless.

Now seeing it in the vaccine "debate". Not the only problem I'm having with the pro-vax side (Reminder: yes, I'm pro-vax, and yes, I'm in favor of it being mandatory for the obvious deadly common diseases), but there's a world of difference between a lazy parent not having their kid vaccinated because they can't be bothered, and a parent being too scared to vaccinate their child because they've heard from convincing sources that vaccinations can cause terrible things.

User Journal

Journal: Tesco Home Delivery 5

Journal by stoolpigeon

We did our first home delivery from Tesco yesterday. My wife ordered on-line and they brought our stuff inside the window we were given for the delivery. The fee for delivery was 299 HUF which is about $1.10 right now.
It was a pretty awesome deal. The guy brought everything right in. There was a slight mix up - but that's because when people use GPS to come to our house it always takes them to my neighbor a little down the street. I don't know how it works in other parts of Europe, but in Hungary they seem to change the numbering of streets at a higher frequency than the U.S. So my house number is 6 but that use to be my neighbor Zsolt's house number and a lot of systems still think it is.
So the guy called me and after a moment or two of me fumbling around for the right Hungarian words, I realized he was 'here' and went outside to bring him in. A few minutes later we'd checked everything over, paid and we were all set. With gas going for around 400 HUF a liter, I doubt we could drive to the store and get it for less than we paid to have it delivered. On top of that the whole thing took maybe 10 minutes at most. If I go get it all myself I'm gone for over an hour. So we'll be using it again.

User Journal

Journal: Question for any reading this 1

Journal by Marxist Hacker 42

My wife is looking for a Wifi network security camera for the daycare. Ideally, we want one that we can set up an account on a remote server with a username and password that we share with parents.

Anybody have any suggestions?

User Journal

Journal: Lollipop on 2012 Nexus 7 Wi-fi 4

Journal by stoolpigeon

I got a message that the OTA update to Lollipop was available for my Nexus 7 so I installed it.

It made the tablet unusable. Performance was atrocious, battery life could dropped to a couple hours. It couldn't play music. Doing anything took so long (if it worked at all) that it was really not worth it.

I googled around. One suggestion was to clear the cache. I tried to do that but when I tried to boot into recovery that always failed with an error about "No command found."

So finally I just flashed it back to Kit Kat.

I'm wrapping that up now. Google backup is reinstalling my apps and such. Hopefully things will improve. I know it's 3 years old but I really like it and I don't think it's too much to ask for it to still run well.

My son updated his too (he has the 2013 model) and he's been complaining. So this was a good run through if he wants me to do the same for his. I don't think the impact on his was as bad. He may just not like how lollipop looks. I'll talk to him about it this week-end and see what he wants to do.

Fun times.

User Journal

Journal: Compile FFMPEG 1

Journal by stoolpigeon

To get the most out of ffmpeg on Fedora - as far as I can tell - it needs to be compiled, not installed from a package manager. This is the only way I could find to get it with libfdk_aac support. I tried other stuff and then just went ahead and followed the very thorough guide on installing from source, right here:

Though there was one thing I needed that they didn't have in the dependencies - libtool. That was quickly rectified. So if you do this - might as well add that on the front end. I noticed the need when there was an error with autoconf for one of the parts.

User Journal

Journal: Is the Touch UI irredeemable? 4

Journal by squiggleslash

Thoughts related to the Windows 10 "Desktop is a desktop, no "Start" screen" thing:

From 1984 to 1990, there was a serious debate as to which was better, the command line or the WIMP (Window/Icon/Mouse/Pointer) UI. Why? Well, because Mac OS's Systems 1-4 were user friendly in the sense people knew how to use them, but user unfriendly in the sense that they got in the way, were kludgy, awkward to use, and offered zero advantages - beyond a lack of training for users - over the command line. At best you could say some applications needed a mouse, but some, such as word processors, were actually harder to use in the prehistoric era of WIMP user interfaces than the keyboard based versions.

What changed? Microsoft Windows. From Windows 1.0 onwards, Microsoft offered a vision, initially a very, very, ugly vision, as to how a computer could be more, not less useful with a WIMP UI. The critical feature was multitasking. Windows offered a better way to multitask than command line based systems, because each Window, representing an application or document, could co-exist in the same "world", the desktop.

Windows wasn't anything like the best implementation, but it was the only implementation of the concept available on standard PCs.

When Microsoft pretty much forced manufacturers to provide Windows and a mouse with all MS DOS based computers, users had a straight choice of using one UI or the other, and they overwhelmingly chose Windows. By comparison, when GEM was bundled with many PCs in the late nineties, GEM was a nice to have that was ignored by most users (anecdotally, outside of stores, I never saw an Amstrad PC1512 running GEM in the wild, despite it becoming with it and being a major advertised feature.) GEM, a Mac OS UI clone, did not offer multitasking.

So: timeline:

1. Mac OS released around 1984. Causes schism between WIMP and command line users
2. Windows 1.0 released 1985ish. Most users recognize it's a very powerful system, but are put off by user interface and memory requirements.
3. DOS vs WIMP rages for next five years largely because Windows is crippled by other factors.
4. Finally PCs are forced to be powerful enough to run Windows in 1990, and Windows UI improved enough to be "good enough" compared to Mac OS. Everyone jumps to Windows. End of DOS vs WIMP debate.

Touch UIs? Where is the touch UI that is more powerful, as opposed to being easier to use, than the WIMP UI? It took Microsoft (and Commodore too) less than a year to come up with something that was actually an improvement on the command line having seen WIMP. It's been nearly a decade now, who has come up with a touch UI that is more versatile than a WIMP desktop?

User Journal

Journal: Classifications 1

Journal by squiggleslash

Apropos of nothing, just some thoughts in the shower this morning: I see people getting very upset when they hear Doom being described as "3D". "It's 2.5D!" they scream, pointing out that the maps are two dimensional albeit augmented with a height map.

The thing is while I kinda see their point, it essentially puts Doom in the same category as, say, Isometric games, while Quake is in the same category as numerous 1980s Flight Simulators. And then there's "First Person" vs "Third Person" where, again, the latter is so overly broad that it puts, uhm, a lot of isometric games in the same category as modern 3D games that are clearly "nearly" FPS but with a view of the protagonist.

Me, I'm kind of wondering if any of it is ever going to be anything but misleading anyway. 3D Monster Maze (for the ZX81), Hired Guns, the various flight simulators, Quake, Doom, Wolfenstein... all with slightly different takes on technologies that were ultimately trying to converge on the idea that you could see something broadly real, rather than an abstraction. The classifying makes it harder, not easier, to see the leaps forward each type of game engine made.

"An entire fraternity of strapping Wall-Street-bound youth. Hell - this is going to be a blood bath!" -- Post Bros. Comics