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Comment: Rolling staaaaart! (Score 1) 79 79

I never much cared for realistic racing games... except the arcade games. Something about trying to get to the next checkpoint before the timer runs out is very satisfying in a primal, visceral way. I'm glad that the power of PCs and home consoles has let us explore the world of game design like it has, but I wish more developers would look back to the arcade era for design cues. Just about any game is worth spending a quarter to try. It's the game that get you to come back and spend more quarters that really had something going for it, and I think there's something to learn from those.

Comment: What rules to the reddit admins follow? (Score 5, Interesting) 474 474

I used to moderate a couple of forums about a few different video games, sizable at the time but nothing the size of Reddit, for sure. But there were some rigid things about our setup that I liked.

  • We had very specific rules. No "community guidelines," but hard rules.
  • When disciplining a user, we had to cite specific rules that had been broken, and it was good form to cite or quote the infraction.

I feel like the backlash (maybe shitstorm is more appropriate) on Reddit is because the users don't feel the admins are playing by a set of rules. They haven't cited any specific rules the banned subreddits were violating, just "harassment" (which they didn't define.) Moreover, the punishment has not been doled out uniformly, with plenty of users pointing out subreddits that also should have been banned if harassment subs are banned.

The judgements being handed down seem, to apparently fucking everyone on Reddit, arbitrary. Like some far off god on Mt. Olympus has suddenly decided mess with people at random.

Maybe I'm just talking out of my ass because I've never had to manage a community the size of Reddit, but this just seems like an admin took offense to something ("got triggered," in the parlance,) and dusted off the ol' banhammer without thinking. I don't know if that's what happened, but that's how it seems, and that sort of abuse of power always triggers (the way the word is really used) a community schism.

Comment: Re:False early advantage (Score 2) 150 150

When I was a kid, I had a book called the Young Naturalist, or something like it. Published probably sometime in the mid-80s. It was full of nature activities: building a bat house, setting up a freshwater aquarium with fauna from your local creek, how to distinguish and identify bird calls, that sort of thing.

Towards the end of the book, there was a chapter on computer-aided nature observation. The book claimed that if you had a microcomputer, with a little BASIC know-how and a little bit of math, you could get the computer to do things like predict what birds were around in a given time of year based on your bird-call observations. At the time we had a Packard Bell Windows 3.1 machine, and I really wanted to be able to do this, and I was just crushed that apparently computers don't come with BASIC anymore. I eventually settled on using some kind of spreadsheet software.

But I never forgot the feeling of power I had when I learned that with a handful of commands and some math I could get a computer to do anything. My rural community had a local access number by the time I hit middle school, and I learned after some AltaVista-ing that Windows (or MS-DOS, really) had qbasic all along. So I finally got to write my bird observation program.

Mostly I wanted to tell this story. But also, I feel like a lot of kids just aren't exposed to the notion that the computer is something other than a Facebook and games machine. A lot of kids probably think "computer programmer" is up there with "rocket scientist," when it used to be the case that any 12-year-old with a microcomputer had to learn a little programming to get a computer to do anything outside of running purchased software.

I don't know enough to advocate programming classes for kids, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to make programming more accessible. I wish Microsoft or Apple would include a "hey kids, make the computer do anything you want!" entry in a menu somewhere.

Comment: Re:How about equality in iPhone sweatshops? (Score 2) 1168 1168

So I have a question. If I wanted to buy a smartphone that wasn't made by teenagers handling dangerous chemicals on 16 hour shifts for pennies an hour, what brand phone would I buy, and how much could I expect to pay for it?

Does there even exist such a smartphone?

Comment: Re:What do you mean, modern? (Score 1) 716 716

One of the things I love about Linux is that there are a gazillion flavors of it. We call them distros, and they span a whole continuum of configurations. My personal preference is for some, but not too many, bells and whistles, and there's a distro for me! The people who want more bells and whistles than me, but who don't want the whole shebang, there's a distro for them too!

Comment: Re: Who cares what RMS wants? (Score 2) 551 551

He has the freedom to throw a tantrum. You, and everyone else, also have the freedom to distribute a version of Emacs with LLVM support.

... coming soon GPL v4.

Clause IV "...any code GPLv4 may not include, link, or run on any non GPLv4."

But serisouly GPLv3 started because of his tantrum with Tivio. It would not surprise me if he did a version 4 if clang takes over.

Tivo, not Tivio. And Tivoization is a real problem. It's frustrating enough that I'm locked out of modifying my own devices without risk of breaking them or the law. But it's even more frustrating when I have a device that purports to run free open source software that I can't modify. (I'm looking at you almost every Android device ever.) It's against the whole point of the GPL if I can't tweak the code to fix or improve my device because the manufacturer locks me out.

rms is often not the most mature orator, but he saw a problem, and he fixed it to the best of his abilities. Don't belittle GPLv3 by saying it started with a tantrum.

Comment: Re:It's called self-interest (Score 1) 181 181

I will soon be graduating with my PhD in mathematics, and my experience thus far as a graduate student in the US is that it's really hard to get a position in academia where your research is more important than your teaching, and it's almost impossible to get an industry job where you can research what interests you instead of what's immediately applicable to your company.

I won't have any trouble getting a job. I won't even have trouble getting a very well-paying job. But getting a job that lets me pursue my research interests as I see fit? Not without 2 - 5 more years of postdoc positions and some really great papers. And then 5 more years of writing papers like a maniac to get tenure. A lot of pressure to go after low-hanging fruit, even if it's stuff that doesn't interest you. That's a lot of years of 80 hour weeks just for the privilege of studying what you want.

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.

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