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


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Typical short sighted viewpoint (Score 2) 594

by Thumper_SVX (#48293489) Attached to: Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

You want a better analogy?

We had planes with props for what... 30 years before someone started to develop the jet engine. Are you saying the jet engine was pointless because we already had the power to fly? No... and the first development articles were less powerful than the props they were aiming to supplant or augment. Some people just had ideas and vision that this was a technology that would go somewhere and they were right.

Now granted, that was one component and what Scaled Composites is trying to do is test a bunch of components and technologies at once. That may or may not be the right move, but they're doing it with (currently) Richard Branson's money and intend to use the money from the space tourists to continue to advance those technologies. The entire mission statement of the company is that they want to advance flight.... you can neither do that in a void nor without risk. Flying is risky... ask me; I'm a pilot who had a near miss in a Cessna with a bizjet a few years ago. I was lucky I survived... but that didn't stop me flying. I accept the risk for the pleasure it gives me and it gives me no appreciable gain other than the experience of having done it. I don't fly planes for travel... I fly planes for the pleasure of flying. By your arguments I should stop immediately... but what do you care because it's my money I'm using for my pleasure... and it's a pleasure that many others before me died for?

Honestly, if I were in that financial position to spend the money on a VG flight I probably would just to say I'd done it and just for the experience. And yes, I'd accept the risk because flight and especially SPACE flight is inherently dangerous. You don't have the stomach for it... I get it. That doesn't make it wrong. You are risk averse, I am not... if I were I'd probably still be living in Belfast and most likely spent most of my life on the dole instead of building a life for myself in another country (the USA). That was also something filled with risk... but I decided the risks were worth the potential reward. I was right.

Comment: DIY? (Score 2) 115

by Thumper_SVX (#48186819) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good Hosting Service For a Parody Site?

Seriously, why not do it yourself? You can get a pretty cheap virtual host from any number of providers and just do it. You don't even have to manage the entire server, plenty of virtual hosting services too... but personally I'd recommend doing the entire server. My Linode is cheap as hell and provides a great place to host my mail and web host, as well as providing a hub for my VPN network. Yes, I have to manage it as well, but apart from the occasion patches I don't really do much with it once it was all set up except use it.

Comment: Re:Second the recommendation (Score 2) 267

by Thumper_SVX (#48014291) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?

God, I hope not. After the well-intentioned trainwreck that was Prometheus I really don't want to see The Martian by Ridley Scott. Seriously, the man has no sense of humour, which is key to why that book was so damned good, and so accessible to the non-SF person.

For my part I am not sure who I'd want to direct it... but I'd really want to see Ryan Reynolds in the lead. He was exactly who I imagined through the entire book :)

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 1) 494

by Thumper_SVX (#47936003) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

:) Fair enough, and I apologise. Yeah, context is hard in text. Not knowing you or seeing any context myself, your comment could easily be viewed as being a facetious remark from someone just familiar enough with Irish history. Myself I like to correct people like this because I honestly think Irish history is absolutely fascinating and I encourage people to learn something about it.

I agree though with you and the other respondent to my note; the history of Ireland is incredibly complex. These Americans think they have it bad with the Native Americans... that's a cakewalk historically speaking to understanding most of the migrations, invasions and wars that have occurred throughout most of Europe. But yes, I agree that from an outside perspective the British Isles seems pretty consolidated culturally. But at the same time I would note that a lot of this is due to an homogenisation of culture within the British Isles mostly due to English-language media, movies and so on from the US. Culturally while most of Europe is tending to lean more "American", the BI in general is far further along that path and sometimes even accelerating mostly due to the commonality of language with the USA.

Still, thanks for the response :)

Comment: Re:This isn't scaremongering. (Score 2) 494

by Thumper_SVX (#47929869) Attached to: Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

If you know Irish history you'll know that's not true. Generally the populous of the North are the ancestors of British settlers and hence Protestant. Thus their history is actually separate.

While they've had a shared history for a while, that's not always been the case. And culturally the two "halves" of Ireland (majority are actually Nationalist) have little truly in common. Lignuistically they all speak English mostly as a method of simplifying trade and cross-border relations; there are only a very few small pockets of Gaelic-native speakers in Ireland any more and even then they tend to be much older and therefore less likely to be around very long.

The issue of increased Irish integration comes down to one of both tradition and economics. While the UK may not be the best horse upon which to hitch your wagon, economically-speaking it's probably better than the rather horrible train-wreck of the Irish economy. Tradition simply comes down to the fact that as mentioned above nearly all Unionists are the Protestant descendants of the "Planters".

And contrary to popular belief in the US, the strife has nothing to do with religion. Not all Unionists are Protestant, while not all Nationalists are Catholic. There is crossover and diversity among those two groups... though true, religion does provide a handy "cheat-note" for those unfamiliar with the real history of Ireland.

Disclaimer: Northern Irish Protestant here, living in the USA. Though curiously far better educated on the history of Ireland than most of my family or peers I went to shcool with :)

Comment: Re:Watches? (Score 1) 129

by Thumper_SVX (#47400237) Attached to: Android Wear Is Here

I agree, as that was almost certainly me up until about a year ago. I wore a watch most of my adult life, and it became really useful when I became a pilot as time is absolutely key when you fly. So I had a nice watch that was functional in the cockpit and a nice piece of jewelry. However, as smart phones got more common and got more dependable, that went away. I started using my phone for time more than my watch because quite frankly I had a pretty good idea that my phone was accurate. While my watch also was always accurate, I traveled enough between time zones that resetting my watch became a chore... having the phone do it for me was golden.

Now, six months ago I got a Pebble. I hadn't worn a watch on a daily basis in years... but I got it because a good friend was clearing out some of the toys he had (he's a classic early adopter... buys stuff, barely uses it and then stores it... but was cleaning out his closet). As a result, I got it a good chunk below retail as a toy. And you know what? The surprising thing to me now is I use it. Daily. I wear it every day and use it a lot. The notifications are really nice, and it's really nice not to have to pull my phone out of my pocket. Particularly when I'm sitting down... the watch is just there. Oh, and the time's always right because it's set from my phone. And the face? Well, it can be whatever I want it to be... I can have it cluttered and techy one minute (my default 'cos I'm a geek) and the next I can push a button and have a clean, easy to read face. No muss, no fuss.

Plus, I just LOVE the "flick the wrist to turn the light on" function. It means I can check the time in the dark even if I only have my watch-hand free.

Having said all this, not really interested in either of these new contenders. The Pebble does everything I need it to and then some... the display is easily readable in every condition I've had it in and doesn't ever appear washed out. And I charge it maybe weekly... the battery life is really good on this. Yes, it does suck a little bit having to charge my watch at all, but it's not really any great chore. I just schedule to charge it on Mondays at work along with my FitBit :)

Comment: Re:Great deal! (Score 1) 365

Honestly your comment would be valid if you'd actually used one, I think.

I'm definitely NOT a Microsoft shill; I have a Macbook Pro I still use for photo editing that I do rather like even if the lead-free solder on the GPU is a problem (I plan to fix soon). But anyway, for years I've avoided most Microsoft products; I have had several Android tablets, my MBP is my fourth, I've had Macs since the 604 days (and had an original Mac before that)... I've put Linux on dozens of laptops and still manage Linux boxes at work as well as storage and Windows servers. I tell you this because I want you to understand where I come from with my next statements:

I got a Surface Pro... first gen, 128GB storage, 4GB RAM. I have the Type Keyboard 2 attached to it. And you know what? When I leave the house it's the computer I take with me most often. It's small enough that I can carry it anywhere, and resilient enough that I don't worry about throwing it in the pannier of my motorbike. It'll survive... damn thing's built like a tank. Most times if I'm at a coffee shop, I'll be reclining with the keyboard folded up the back... or just detached and left in my car or bike. This little laptop/tablet hybrid has become my go-to device every single day.

Is it as good at photo editing as my MBP? No... the screen's not set up for that and the storage is WAY too small to manage my significant library of 12MP RAW pictures from my Nikon. But you know what? When I did a wedding shoot a couple of weeks back I was able to pull the Micro SD card out of my camera (it's in an SD adapter for my camera, but I digress), I was able to slip it into the MicroSD slot on my SP and then the happy couple were able to swipe through the raw, unedited shots from the wedding before they'd even finished their first drink. Then I was able to download the pics to the local storage, clean off the card and repeat the whole process at the reception. When I got home two days later I moved the pics to my MBP for editing. No muss, no fuss.

Is it a games machine? No... but no laptop is. I have a dedicated machine for that.

But damned if it hasn't become the most useful laptop I have. It's supplanted an iPad and a Nexus 7 in terms of tablet functionality because it can do everything they can. It's supplanted most of what my MBP used to do (you know, being portable...) because it does ALMOST everything that thing does. The high-end stuff I need to do (photo editing is resource heavy) just isn't great on the SP, but it doesn't have to be. Chances are my gaming rig will get some new hard drives and start serving duty as my Photoshop machine, too and the MBP will go up on eBay.

That's the thing though; the SP might not be what you need and might not fill a niche in your life. That's cool, but personally I've found my SP to fill niches I didn't think of when I first got it. I take notes during meetings using the stylus (which by the way is freaking awesome!) and I find myself whipping out my SP at work and propping it up on my desk as a third "reference material monitor" or even a photo frame if I feel like it. It's amazingly adaptable because it's a computer. The fact that it runs Windows is actually irrelevant to me any more. There's very little that can be done on OSX or Linux that can't be done on Windows. Hell, if I want to run X applications from my Linux servers I can fire up MobaXTerm, SSH in and launch whatever I want and have it seamlessly on my desktop. You know, just like I used to do with OSX. It's also no more locked down and limited than OSX, and it might even become the more open of the "big two" commercial OS's the way Apple is going. So what do I lose?

And there's the rub. For people who are really OS-agnostic in what they do (which should be everyone in 2014... seriously), the SP is a great laptop and a great tablet. It's heavy, yes... that's probably the worst thing I can say about it, but it's seriously no heavier than the first gen iPad that I still have gathering dust somewhere. At least it feels that way when I hold both of them. And it might just push me back to Microsoft full-time as Windows for all its warts is still a better gaming OS than OSX or Linux. They've come a long way, but SOOO many games are still Windows only. Since Photoshop is literally all I have left that requires my MBP and by extension OSX any more, what's compelling me to stay with the Apple ecosystem? Nothing. Photoshop runs just as well on Windows, if not better... and I get the advantage of leveraging the GPU for something that makes me a bit of money (photography) so I can then start to prop up my gaming with that.

And Windows 8? Really... you have to try it on a device that it actually makes sense on. While I don't like Metro foisted upon me, either I do find that it works fantastically in "Tablet Mode"... i.e. you have no keyboard and want to relax on the couch and surf the Internet / watch a movie. In some ways I find it a better "two-thumbed OS" than iOS on the iPad. And the desktop... well, just install Classic Shell and you get your Start Menu back for when you want to use it as a desktop machine. I do... I use it both ways and love having that flexibility. On a machine that isn't dual purpose, the dual UI makes no sense and I still think Microsoft's retarded for foisting it upon users who have no use for it... but again, with Classic Shell on my work laptop (that also runs Win 8.1) I haven't seen Metro in months. It boots to the desktop and then I work.

TL;DR: Ex Mac addict, ex Linux evangelist, current Surface Pro user finds it actually delivers on the promises Microsoft makes. Probably going to replace his Macbook Pro with a Windows PC on the strength of that alone. And OP's TL;DR is full of false dichotomies that do not relate to the subject at hand.

Comment: Re:Desk Accessories? 1984. (Score 1) 411

by Thumper_SVX (#47154447) Attached to: Apple WWDC 2014: Tim Cook Unveils Yosemite

Seriously, why attribute this to a corporation and not to the engineers who... you know... actually invented stuff? Apple didn't invent the desk accessories but were the first to bring to a commercial market. Yay. Microsoft was also first in a lot of places, though again they were merely capitalizing on the successes of their engineers. You know... like... capitalism.

I've been a Mac fan for a LONG time... I made some good money on the stock market through my belief in Apple. But really, the hatred of a lot of "Apple Fans" on this very site really turn me off. It's becoming less like a tech company and more like a religion every day. What happened to using the best tool for the job?

And I must say that you're going to find this a really unpopular opinion, but Apple right now have yet to come out with anything that competes with my Surface Pro as my "all day computer". More functional than an iPad and more portable/usable in odd environments than my laptop. My only gripe is the relatively short battery life, but even that is fixable. My iPad is languishing in a drawer and while my Macbook Pro still does sterling duty for Photoshop (since I'm a photographer) it's never the computer I throw in my bag when I leave my house for the day any more.

Comment: Re:price and ROI of solar panels (Score 1) 131

by Thumper_SVX (#46948413) Attached to: Tesla Logged $713 Million In Revenue In Q1 and Built 7,535 Cars

I agree there unfortunately. I did the math a few years ago, during which time the electric price hasn't really risen substantially in the midwest. I basically figured that the cost of installing the PV panels would be recouped at about the same time that the panels reached about 30% of their original capacity... in other words by that point you'd be so close to replacement time that it was almost a wash. It just didn't make sense to me because when I also included costs of routine maintenance (you have to clean PV shingles or panels frequently to ensure maximum efficiency) it really was a net negative.

Now, if electricity prices were higher like in Australia then I could definitely see it making a lot more sense.

Comment: Re: Sponsor? (Score 1) 131

by Thumper_SVX (#46948389) Attached to: Tesla Logged $713 Million In Revenue In Q1 and Built 7,535 Cars

7 years? Yeah, it'll be around. It may not be the same /. as it is today, but this is hardly the same place it was 7 years ago either. That's not necessarily a bad thing; evolve or die.

It's also interesting to me since I IMDB'd her birthday that she's one day older than my girlfriend :)

Comment: Probably Unpopular Opinion (Score 4, Interesting) 179

by Thumper_SVX (#46880551) Attached to: Microsoft Continues To Lose Money With Each Surface Tablet It Sells

Honestly, I know it's probably an unpopular opinion around here because it's fun to hate on Microsoft... but having now owned a first-gen Surface Pro for about 2 months I have to say that it's the best tablet I've ever owned. I picked it up on the clearance when the Gen 2 was released because despite some misgivings I really did appreciate the concept.

It's not a great laptop, and it's a rather bulky and heavy tablet but the ability to have a REAL computer that I can carry around easily is incredibly valuable to me. That and being able to use WiFi on planes any more means that I can be in touch and even work in a coach seat while flying across the country. Given I've just completed business trip #4 for the year so far this has become very useful to me.

Despite its limitations, it has surprisingly managed to supplant any number of laptops or tablets I have had at home for just about everything except for very niche uses. It's really fast for just basic web surfing when kicked back on the couch, the stylus is awesome for writing a few hand-written notes in OneNote and having my Type keyboard close at hand means I can plop down on my dining room table and do everything from write a quick email to fire up MobaXterm and get some real work done on the Linux systems I have at home and at my virtual hosting service. As a general-purpose computer it has become a better form factor and a better system than anything else I have at home. My iPad is gathering dust in a drawer due to lack of really good productivity apps or SSH apps, my Macbook Pro sits around mostly waiting for me to feel like firing up a game on Steam or to work in my image library (the big hard drive helps, here!) and my Linux laptop is... well... mostly gathering dust next to the iPad. I have a smattering of Android tablets including a Nexus 7 that I haven't charged in months.

I know this is anecdotal and the Surface Pro isn't really for everyone. For my needs though it's absolutely perfect. Since I moved to a smaller home a year ago (by choice, a condo) I no longer have a study or even a desk so a desktop PC is out and a laptop has to be used on my dining room table or (uncomfortably) on the couch. My Surface Pro I can hold like a tablet if I see fit or plonk down on the table at a moment's notice. This works for me, and as well as the aforementioned coach seat it's also awesome when I travel so I can bring it to breakfast at hotels with me and check email/Slashdot/etc. while I eat and drink coffee.

And a quick snippet of advice for anyone with a 1G Surface Pro... if you want to significantly increase your battery life you can set the maximum CPU on battery to ~60% in the power management settings, then you get at least 30-40% more battery life with no noticeable decrease in performance unless you're doing something really heavy duty. Since I mostly just do web surfing and email on battery and more intensive stuff (like work) on the power adapter this works really well.

Oh and we have looked at other tablet/convertible type laptops at work recently and are probably going to standardize on the Lenovo Yoga as our corporate standard. However, in terms of sheer build quality I still feel my Surface Pro has the Yoga beat hands down.

Comment: Re:Ability to design and write software... (Score 2) 581

by Thumper_SVX (#46726479) Attached to: Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

Good for you... but truth is you're probably an exception.

Not everyone can code; it requires a very specific mindset and very specific way of thinking to effectively code. It also requires a desire to code. Being a carpenter probably actually set you up much better to be a programmer than you think; it's all geometry and understanding load. I know because my best friend happens to be a carpenter. A coal miner... well I'll be honest I don't know what skill set is required for that but I'd wager that it falls into the realm of unskilled labor, whereas carpenter is definitely skilled labor. There's a difference.

Now on my second point; desire to code. I'm really good at coding. I learned at an early age, self-taught and was writing assembly language stuff in my teens while my class at school was struggling with Pascal. I wrote tight, well-written code that I shared with friends and took code they shared with me and together we built great stuff including a game... which granted didn't do well but it was a hell of an accomplishment for four teenage boys with no Internet and communicating mostly through the phone and by mailing floppy disks. But when I was in my 20's I realized suddenly that I didn't like coding. I still don't. While the feeling of accomplishment was great when something worked, there was a degree of slog in getting there. After a fashion I made the realization that hardware was where I found the most interest, not software. So I pursued work as a hardware engineer in embedded systems.

Now at 40 I have settled into being a (well, actually THE) storage administrator and systems engineer for a multinational company... because it interests me. The skillset is extremely specialized, but used in a lot of companies and so therefore isn't going to leave me without a job anytime soon. The risks are high because if I screw up I potentially affect a lot of people, but the rewards are also pretty damned good. The closest I've gotten to coding in the last 20 years has been writing scripts to make my job easier. I do it quite a bit, and while it's similar to coding it's far more focused on immediate needs. I still build great "code" but it's an adjunct to my day job, not my entire day job. I think if I were to code for a living I would've quit long ago to pursue something more enlightening. But that's just me.

Also be aware that there are people who have no desire to learn. I've dealt with them many times too. They settle into unskilled labor not because their brains can't handle the information but because they choose not to. And add to that whether you like it or not as one gets older it becomes far harder to learn a new skill. Add all these factors up and yes... Bloomberg is probably right on this one. He's an ass, and quite often wrong... but on this one I have to give him credit.

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer