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Comment: Re:Micromanagement reigns... (Score 1) 420

by Saint Fnordius (#48710861) Attached to: The Open Office Is Destroying the Workplace

Agreed, as most "agile" workflows try to reduce the contact between stakeholders and the development team. The whole point of Scrum's product owner is to reduce the number of managers down to one, and the idea of things like sprint goal is to say "look, we can promise this by the end of the sprint. Now let us go do it!"

It's just that the internal tools are often abused by traditional managers, instead of leaving them to be tools for the team to manage itself.*

* I don't consider the scrum master to be a manager, as the role of the scrum master is more of a subordinate role than a managing role, a person who helps to smooth the way and referee, not to make sure everyone is working on what he feels is important.

Comment: Re:Transparency is supported. Pronounciation? (Score 1) 377

by Saint Fnordius (#48571437) Attached to: Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

Considering the number of images we push through the internet, a "retina"-resolution JPEG is still a factor of ten smaller than a PNG. Since many mobile plans have data caps, and many more are still forced to drop to EDGE speeds due to spotty coverage, it does play a role. Those that argue that image size does not play a role have not seen now average surfers have little to no tolerance for delays. Even speeding up the load time from three seconds to under a second is very important.

A PNG is still used a lot, though, due to its support of alpha channels. But that means they tend to be used where they can be cached. It has more or less replaced the venerable GIF for those areas where a SVG cannot (yet) be used. The old rule of thumb of choosing JPEG for photographic images and PNG for more solid colours still applies.

Comment: Re:Even if their wet? (Score 1) 194

by Saint Fnordius (#48546949) Attached to: Trains May Soon Come Equipped With Debris-Zapping Lasers

I think the system would be dual-powered, with a sensor placed where the laser's reflection off of the rail would normally hit. Others have mentioned that there were already tests, where the leaf isn't incinerated so much as insta-dried and thus not so slimy. It would restrict speed, though, as the train could not travel faster than the speed of the laser leaf-dryer.

Comment: Re:you're doing it wrong (Score 1) 368

by Saint Fnordius (#48546101) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

I think it is best to remember that this is his own personal constructive criticism of why a story doesn't work for him as a reader, namely because he has an expectation that technology included in the story have its societal ramifications referred to.

I like to compare it to set dressing in a play or a movie: the story may be good, but if the stage isn't appropriately set, then it makes it harder for the audience to maintain suspension of disbelief. Part of why I detest Michael Bay movies so much is how he relies only upon glamorous explosions, but doesn't really make them match actual physics. That blatant disregard makes it impossible for me to build up even a smidgen of disbelief.

Comment: Re:you're doing it wrong (Score 1) 368

by Saint Fnordius (#48546067) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

It is actually an old argument, which Charlie is presenting here. I recall even Isaac Asimov himself mentioning this how a classic pitfall of a speculative fiction writer is to add tech but not consider the political ramifications of the technology. It was also at the root of the cyberpunk writing movement, and part of what reviewers loved so much about Neuromancer when it first came out.

I found Mr. Stross was being nice here. Instead of merely stating that he hated a certain book, he did say why specifically he couldn't finish reading it. And since he writes a lot of SF himself, it is only polite to be constructive in his criticism.

Comment: Re:The number one thing (Score 1) 250

One midterm solution that Munich helped pioneer is to have central heating on a large scale. The city's power plant got rid of its cooling pools, and instead pipes the water heated by generating electricity into homes. The city has bee pretty successful in expanding the network so much that the electricity plants have slowly moved from heat being the by-product to electricity being the by-product to the demand for hot water and warm radiators now a driving force. Oh, and it is popular in the city also because it cut down on soot so much.

But that is more of a centralised solution. In your case, the two things you might look into are personal electrical turbines (yes, they are coming on to the market) as well as a modern wood oven. The thing about wood ovens is they are less efficient as wood just isn't that efficient a fuel, but the psychological effect of a wood fire is that it just feels warmer.

The suggestions others make about a water-based solar heating system is also worth noting, as they are really cheap to make yourself. The main issue here is planning, as the water reservoir that you are heating needs space, the pipes have to be laid (though you might be able to use your current radiator network), but it is a good way to at least augment your solution.

Comment: Re:For the rest of us (Score 1) 299

by Saint Fnordius (#48301307) Attached to: It's Time To Revive Hypercard

I think that's the biggest issue - not that SuperCard isn't a worthy successor, but that it is hard to find and it costs money. HyperCard used to be free and available for every Mac user, so it was a natural gateway drug for programming. What also made it accessible was that it was meant to handle data - the "card" in the name comes from its roots as a database program. It was easy to whip up a recipe database, or an address book, and so teach hobbyists about how data is stored.

I do not expect HyperCard to come back, as that vital element of giving it away for free and still have a powerful tool has been tried. In fact, I suspect that love for HyperCard is fuelled more by nostalgia than anything else. Eventually we may be mourning the loss of WYSIWYG HTML editors for the same reason.

Comment: Re:5e: Best D&D, MHO (Score 1) 203

by Saint Fnordius (#47755655) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

In mechanics terms, that is true, but when talking about characters they were referred to by their former careers: "ex marine", "former scout", "retired navy" and so on. And back then, that's what was most important to us nerds.

Now excuse me while I dig out my LBB version of Traveller, all those notes I wrote in high school and college about that and FASA's Star Trek RPG, and wallow in nostalgia!

Comment: Re:Munich - sort of like Detroit? (Score 2) 190

by Saint Fnordius (#47747285) Attached to: Munich Council Say Talk of LiMux Demise Is Greatly Exaggerated

I don't suppose you ever heard the term "Laptops and Lederhosen", have you? Munich is where most of the German IT industry is, and population and job growth are still outstripping the real estate market. In that respect, it's the anti-Detroit with its abandoned neighbourhoods.

Comment: Re:5e: Best D&D, MHO (Score 2) 203

by Saint Fnordius (#47710789) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

I started playing AD&D back in 1980, where the only systems available without a class system were the more obscure The Fantasy Trip and Champions. Tunnels and Trolls, RoleMaster, Arduin's Grimoire, Palladium, they all had classes, and Traveller had careers to generate your skill sets (and most famously, no rules for improving skills during play). GURPS didn't come out until 1986 or thereabouts, long after AD&D had been the FRPG of choice.

So I don't think you really know what you're talking about.

Comment: Re:They're nuts but right (Score 1) 1374

by Saint Fnordius (#46897883) Attached to: "Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

Cars aren't typically used in life and death situations. Guns are. Changes the game, so to speak.

Actually, cars are used far, far more often in life-or-death situations. The big difference is that they have uses outside of those. Guns have little use outside of inflicting fatal damage to fauna (humans included), or target sports.

Comment: Re:Gun nuts (Score 1) 1374

by Saint Fnordius (#46897843) Attached to: "Smart" Gun Seller Gets the Wrong Kind of Online Attention

There is always a non-zero chance. If you are getting a gun for self-defence, though, this gun makes it harder to use it against yourself, or for someone to steal it. If someone wants that option, then let them have it.

Or to put it another way: just because you don't like iPhones doesn't mean you should be able to keep them off the market. Fnord.

Comment: Re:Rewarding the bullies... (Score 1) 798

Agreed. It is the convenience that makes guns so popular for when someone decides to go postal. They are readily available, and some might even say seductive. Something about a firearm also appeals to us, suggests all sorts of power at our fingertips.

Bombs have the appeal of the big destructive bang, but as you point out there is less certainty, and often more work involved than simply taking your dad's keys to his rifle locker. Poison seems to also be ruled out by the fact that it is too sneaky, doesn't make enough of a violent statement.

"How to make a million dollars: First, get a million dollars." -- Steve Martin