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Comment Re:Here's my theory (Score 1) 329

When Firefox was new it was considered a controversial skunkworks project. The idea that Mozilla might not be an integrated suite anymore upset a lot of the existing users, believe it or not, especially as Firefox bore a rather strong resemblance to the primary competitor at the time..... Internet Explorer.

Firefox is caught between the rock and the hard place that many products get stuck in: a competitor comes along that leapfrogs them with a design that appeals to the majority of the market. But it also is disliked by a minority of the market. They pretty quickly lose the majority to the competitor and are left with the ever-shrinking minority that vocally disagree with any change.

Comment Re:Tested in the courts (Score 1) 118

Employ? Who says anything about employment?

Implement a "public forum" where all applications are published and input from the broad public can be gathered - if someone knows prior art, or is able to point out triviality of the patent (e.g. "[doing an extremely common thing] over the Internet" ) they can post it and the USPTO clerk will just reject the application without further ado.

Comment Re:He did jot adress the dubplicates issue (Score 1) 76

The solution is:

- ask the question one more time.
- link previous "duplicates"
- tell exactly how they don't answer it
- tell what you expect from the answer, that the accepted answer doesn't have.

Example. The original question asked "how to deal with the problem". My question was "Why the problem exists; what are its potential consequences?" - I had to state I'm not looking for solution but for a rationale, not "do it because standard says so" but "what rationale lies behind this entry in the standard?" - it was three close-votes down before I got the point across.

Another one, not on SO but on Arquade, one of SE sites. A Minecraft question, which was at first deemed a duplicate... except the original was about the Creative mode, and mine was about Survival, making the (trivial) answers for the original useless in my context. Again, underlying the difference... made all the difference.

So: Just re-ask the non-duplicate, just make sure to show clearly why and how it's non-duplicate.

Comment Re:"Not in THIS Stack Exchange site!" (Score 1) 76

Nicely ask in the question that if it doesn't belong here, could you (please) be redirected to the right site? :)

"Programmers.SE" is also a good site for questions that can't be answered with a snippet of code. You may get a better track record asking there - especially that it's not so ridden with competition between vicious addicts of the karma that swarm every new question and fill it with loathing if they find they can't gain any karma to be earned from it.

Also, if the situation was regular, it would be a good idea to bring it up in, asking for advice.

And if the answer is "there is no site in the SE network that would be a good match for your questions currently", the right course of action might be a visit to ...

Comment Re:Three cheers for selfishness! (Score 1) 76

Yeah, I'm sure to master systemd from reading its manpages.

Good documentation is hard to come by. Most of documentation out there seems to be more of a logbook where developers log their achievements and describe what they made in terms only they can understand. It's way too often unreadable for the outsiders.

A good documentation needs a document that describes the structure of the whole thing, how its elements influence each other and how the user can affect them. Provide usage patterns, examples with explanation of what and how is being done, caveats, processes.

Most of documentation, instead, lists available functions in alphabetic order, with perfunctory descriptions of their parameters and vestigal mentions of their purpose. Mapping intended action -> sequence of functions is about impossible for anyone not already trained in the system. Instead of "How to do [task X]" you get "which [mysterious parameter] does knob Y tweak?"

Imagine trying to learn flying an airplane given only a list of names, locations and briefest descriptions of every switch, dial and knob in that airplane.

Comment Re:Three cheers for selfishness! (Score 1) 76

In the (not so rare) cases where a question was closed as a duplicate even though it was not, the right course of action is to act the question for a third time. This time - underlying differences and focus; linking the existing "duplicates" and telling how they don't answer what you need. It works.

Also, don't treat every single closure as a "punishment".

"Duplicate" closures mean people still get the correct answer (at the original question) but they still provide alternative paths to find it.

"Migration" closures mean there are people better qualified to answer that elsewhere, so you're better off going there.

"Too broad" closures - you really won't obtain a comprehensive answer because it's impossible; it would require a library, not an answer entry. In these cases Either split your question into smaller, bite-sized chunks or explicitly ask for a shallow, broad summary of the topic.

Also, before you ask a question that has numerous possible answers, think how are you going to pick that single "correct" one. If you know some quality that would let you choose, include it. If you don't - you should really rethink your question.

Also, in case "is there any...?" type of questions, don't hesitate to state "this is a yes/no question, I'm not asking to list all, just drop me any single example or 'none' if there is none." Some mods are allergic to list questions and unless you narrow it down sufficiently, it will be closed. Same about short, closed lists - if the list goes on and on with no way to find its tail, the question is too broad. But if the list is like "which out of these five?" then its answer will not exceed five items and it should be perfectly acceptable. And sometimes people forget "none" is a valid answer, it's good to remind that in the question.

Last but not least, each site has its chat. If you have trouble formulating a neat question, you can drop in and ask for help there. Not for answer as such, but help in phrasing your question right.

Comment Re:The dark matter between their ears (Score 1) 167

The way it varies though - mapping out the "dark matter" - suggests interactions with common matter both ways. So it's not like "the underlying fabric varies" - it really behaves like matter, forming clouds, strands, that "hair" - it's not a generic field or a generalized property of space "resulting in galaxies".

MOND suggests some unknown as of yet function mu(a/a0). If that function was to fit the observational data, it would be incredibly complex; nothing as elegant and common as common [something]/r^2 or sqrt(v^2/c^2). It would be more like a function to describe shapes of clouds basing on air flow, temperature and humidity.

We don't know any other physical entity that would behave that way - move, flow, gather - than matter. And while still some predictions are defied and we can't say for sure it's matter, if we compare the effects to known behaviors of various physical entities - waves, fields, energies - this one has strong similarities to matter and very few to others.

For example, space expansion is uniform; about all of cosmos expands at the same, flat rate that slowly changes over time, but is independent of location. Its source is described as "dark energy" but you can have justified doubts if it's really energy because its interaction with reality seems really unidirectional: it affects space, but the space and its contents don't seem to affect it. In case of dark matter though, the similarities are striking.

And if you think about difficulties of detecting it - it doesn't interact with electromagnetism... What percentage of our observation methods are not based on electromagnetism? All known matter keeps its structure - solid, gas, structure of atoms - due to electromagnetic forces. Bindings between atoms are all about electrons and protons interacting electromagnetically. All of light is EM wave. Most of non-electromagnetic observations like neutrina or collisions of neutrons - boil down to interactions that *eventually* produce some EM influence; be it an emitted photon, a neutron decaying into a proton and an electron, and so on - we observe them indirectly. If Dark Matter doesn't interact electromagnetically, it could sit right in front of our noses and we'd be unable to spot it. A solid chunk of dark matter could directly phase through a solid chunk of steel, because there's a lot of room between electrons and the nuclei and no force (electromagnetic!) that would prevent particles of the dark matter occupying locations in between; it could even phase through the nuclei because who says it needs to follow Pauli's Exclusion Principle? It's enough that it interacts gravitationally, and so your chunk of steel would exhibit 30% higher gravitational pull - but since its original gravitational pull is piconewtons, the change would be undetectable.

Comment Re:Fair warning (Score 4, Funny) 495

Hey look buddy, I'm an Engineer. That means I solve problems.
Not problems like 'what is beauty?' Because that would fall
within the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve
practical problems. For instance, how am I gonna stop some
big mean motherhubbard from tearin' me a structurally
superfluous new behind? The answer? Use a gun. And if that
don' work, use MORE gun. Like this heavy caliber tripod-
mounted little ol' number designed by me... Built by me...
And you best hope...not pointed at YOU.

Comment Re:It probably comes down to ... (Score 4, Funny) 96

The difference in the way of thinking is simple.

Mathematician: "This is too complex for my brain. I can grasp the outer layer of the problem, but the underlying thing is beyond any human's capacity."

CompSci guy: "Oh, I can write a program that handles the outer layer of this problem; I have no clue what that underlying thing is but I bet it can be brute-forced."

The clothes have no emperor. -- C.A.R. Hoare, commenting on ADA.