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Comment: Re:Windows 7 end of life... (Score 1) 669

I can't comment on the file format issue in Office, as I'm not familiar with that.

As far as DirectX goes, I do recall how they released DX 10 on newer platforms (Vista and up). Personally, I think it was a stupid decision, because it limited the potential adoption of DX10 rather than providing an incentive to upgrade to Vista as they hoped. They're pulling the same boneheaded decision to limit the latest DX release to the Windows 8.1, if I recall correctly. Again, trying to shore up a crappy OS release using DirectX will do nothing but cause DirectX to stagnate. The OS's will be replaced in their own sweet time. This seems to be a more recent trend of Microsoft's, and it's a bad one.

I think that the examples you cite are bad decisions on Microsoft's part, not because of what they did, but because they simply did it too soon. I think it's reasonable for them to stop developing software and platform updates for their older software at some point, but with DirectX 10 it sort of had a backlash effect. Even today, overall DX11 use is often paired with a DX9 compatible rendering engine simply for legacy WinXP support, even though any modern video card has long had DX11 support in silicon. We're only now seeing a trickle of DX11-only games starting to come out, all because of that decision. Well, that and the fact that the Xbox 360 was roughly a DX9-equivalent machine.

So yeah, some good examples there. I was thinking mostly in terms of 3rd party application compatibility, for which they have a really good record (i.e. you can pretty much play any DirectX videogame ever as long as it was properly written, which I think is pretty amazing). But they've done some fairly silly things with releasing their own software and platform updates.

Comment: Re:Nearby... (Score 1) 105

by Dutch Gun (#47410389) Attached to: Mapping a Monster Volcano

Yeah, that was the weird part. I lived close enough to feel the blast, but the winds blew all the ash east (I lived north of it), so didn't see a bit of the stuff. Felt bad for some folks in eastern Washington, who got blanketed by several inches of ash, if I recall. Fortunately, they're much better equipped for snow removal than in Western Washington, so that was fortunate. I'm guessing by the time it got to Texas it was a much lighter dusting? Still pretty impressive.

Comment: Re:Monster Volcano? (Score 1) 105

by Dutch Gun (#47410333) Attached to: Mapping a Monster Volcano

After all, no volcano in the world today can really compare to the potential of that one.

I disagree. I can think of two, just in the US - the Long Valley caldera in eastern California and the Raton hotspot of New Mexico. Further, the largest volcanic eruption of the past 20 million years occurred at Lake Toba in Indonesia. What is special about that site (perhaps a large, geologically "rapidly" replenished reservoir of high viscosity, high volatile content magma?) may occur elsewhere in the Ring of Fire and other subduction zones.

Sorry, I meant currently active volcano. Unless I missed a major geological event, I'm presuming there aren't any currently active supervolcanoes.

Comment: Re:Start menu is only part of the answer (Score 1) 669

Agreed. The flat, ugly UI is just nasty, and they tried to justify it by explaining how the shared UI would save on battery life. My desktop and it's insanely powerful video card doesn't give a shit about battery life on some Windows phone, and that's not a valid reason to uglify your desktop OS. It was a stupid excuse then, and they still haven't retracted it.

I'm sort of looking for a revival of an attractive UI as a touchstone to see if MS is really recanting all the idiocy involved with Windows 8. It probably won't prevent me from buying Windows 9 if I get new hardware, but I'll be damned if I pay for an upgrade to an OS I can't stand looking at. Call me shallow, but when you spend ALL DAY EVERY DAY on the damned OS, I'd like to at least not cringe when I look at it. Besides, there isn't a real compelling technical reason to upgrade at this point either.

Comment: Re:Who cares? (Score 1) 669

Is Windows relevant to anything anymore?

Only to about 90% of home computer users who still run Windows applications and such that don't work on other operating systems. On the server, it's a bit more balanced, but Windows is still a major player. And of course, Windows is a relatively small player in the smart device market (a bit more than Linux on the home desktop, for comparison).

If you think Windows isn't relevant, you're living in a *nix or apple bubble. Good for you, but don't mistakenly project your version of reality onto the rest of the world.

Comment: Re:Windows 7 end of life... (Score 1) 669

You forgot to quote "improvements".

BTW, when has MS ever created incompatibilities with old versions for no reason? I assume you're talking old versions of software? They've historically jumped through ridiculous hoops to provide backward compatibility. It's an area in which they've actually done a rather outstanding job, in my opinion. There's plenty of reason to criticize MS, but seriously, backward compatibility is not one of them.

Comment: Re:But, will they learn from their mistake? (Score 1) 669

While it is nice to see Microsoft undo a horrific mistake for once, lets not be too quick to forgive and forget.

Why? I'm not in some personal relationship with them. I buy operating systems and other products from them. If they're good, I buy them. If not, I don't, and wait to see if they'll improve, or find an alternative. Why should I worry about their long-term survivability? It's not as though someone wouldn't fill up the market share should they disappear tomorrow. And let's not kid ourselves - MS could completely stop developing new products and they'd probably be around for another decade at least.

Also, as much as I disliked Windows 8 personally, calling it a "horrific mistake" and a "monster" smacks a bit of hyperbole. Many users actually like Windows 8, and honestly, the ones most hurt by the product was MS's bottom line. Other than the UI and usability blunders (and let's not kid ourselves - they're huge blunders), it's actually a fine OS.

Comment: Re:It's as if (Score 1) 669

Microsoft doesn't know the meaning of the term "focus group testing". Although I guess it is sort of pointless if you already know the masses are going to eat whatever shit you dish out.

I'm betting they did a lot of focus testing, but ignored the result of them at a very high level. There was too much momentum in the wrong direction (the idea that touch/metro should supplant the "legacy" desktop in their main OS) to change it by the time consumers got in front of it.

In the end, the market forced them to acknowledge what the focus groups were probably telling them all along.

Comment: Re:What's wrong with reselling? (Score 1) 131

by Dutch Gun (#47409127) Attached to: Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

You're conflating the issue, because there are two different products and two different markets (game developer kits are typically NOT the exact same hardware as the final product). It makes no sense to expand the developer supply (at potentially enormous cost) to meet the consumer demand. The issue is that developer kits are being taken out of the developer market and being sold to consumers, where it does the company absolutely no good at all.

Developer kits are produced in limited supply at greater costs because the final hardware is likely not ready for manufacturing yet, or else large-scale manufacturing facilities are still being set up. Don't forget that the laws of supply and demand don't exist in some abstract form, especially for manufactured goods. You seem to be ignoring the realities involved in the massive initial infrastructure costs in setting up physical assembly lines, and the inevitable ramp-up time that involves.

I'm not sure how to explain this any more clearly.

Comment: Re:Monster Volcano? (Score 3, Interesting) 105

by Dutch Gun (#47409017) Attached to: Mapping a Monster Volcano

"Monster Volcano" is perhaps a bit overstated, but comparing it to a super-volcano-potential such as the Yellowstone Caldera is perhaps a bit unfair. After all, no volcano in the world today can really compare to the potential of that one.

I live nearby (relatively speaking), and got a chance to see the devastation first-hand within the first year or two after it occurred. The forest service built a viewing station where you could look out over the devastated landscape, and, even neater, watch the forest start to grow back. It's easier to dismiss it as geologically minor when you haven't personally seen the miles and miles of trees snapped and laid down like so many matchsticks. On a human scale, it's incredibly massive, and was damn impressive to see.

Comment: Re:blast radius (Score 3, Interesting) 105

by Dutch Gun (#47408951) Attached to: Mapping a Monster Volcano

I live within the blast radius (Portland) of the majestic Mt St Helens. I saw the 1980 eruption from my back yard. 24 explosions around the mountain? What could go wrong?!

I lived quite a bit further away, about an hour north of Seattle, but we actually felt the blast as a minor tremor. Someone in my family actually joked "Well, there went Mt St Helens". There was quite a bit of news about a possible pending eruption, of course. We were pretty shocked when we heard what had actually happened though.

Comment: Re:Do they need to give a reason? (Score 2) 49

by Dutch Gun (#47408857) Attached to: Indie Game Developers Talk About Why They Struck Out On Their Own

Or for a reason why every other entertainment industry profession in California(whose Hollywood friendly laws EA was exploiting) is unionized.

The last thing I want is my industry to become unionized. I'd prefer to negotiate my own salary rather than be paid some standard scale based on seniority, etc, and pay union dues for the privilege. Maybe that's attractive to some, but not to me. But then again, I'm okay with a higher risk-reward ratio than many, since I threw away a very attractive and well-paying job for a chance to make my own game.

Keep in mind that not every company is like EA. While "crunch time" horror stories abound, there are companies out there that promote a healthy work-life balance as a selling feature of the company, like my last company. I think that more companies are realizing that forcing your best people to burn out on death marches doesn't produce better products and simply makes your best talent flee. From those inside EA, I heard that the "EA Spouse" story helped to turn things around inside the company, although I've only heard this third-hand. I've witnessed myself how a team forced through an insane crunch all but disintegrated at the conclusion of the project. I had a friend who worked at Sierra On-Line, and suffered for many years under incredibly poor and abusive management practices. Eventually, there tends to be something of a Darwinian process at work, where a company will get a very bad reputation inside the industry, and it suffers as a result. I think that this is one of the reasons EA had to clean up its act - you couldn't have paid me or a number of my friends any amount of money to work there.

Many former devs have started at companies with these stupid policies, and have vowed not to make the same mistakes (like my last company, in fact). They understand that "crunch time" is really nothing more than an admittance of poor planning at the management level, or poor execution at the developer level, or even simple exploitation. In well run shops, a certain amount of ramping up is inevitable at the conclusion of a project, but extended death marches are all but an admittance of a poorly run development cycle.

I'm fortunately at a point in my career where I can afford to pick and choose my employer, and can ask questions such as "what's your company policy on work-life balance and extended crunches without overtime pay?". It's harder for someone trying to break into the industry.

What's worse, to me, is when I hear other developers bragging about their death marches as though it's some sort of fucking rite-of-passage or some heroic war story. No, idiots, it just means you were being exploited. Granted, some developers (especially young, single devs) don't seem to mind having no life outside of work, but that's not acceptable to many of us. The sooner that permissive mentality dies a quick death, the better off the industry will be.

Comment: Re:Grass is always greener (Score 1) 49

by Dutch Gun (#47408595) Attached to: Indie Game Developers Talk About Why They Struck Out On Their Own

I guess I can speak only for myself as a relatively new indie developer. I've been at both ends of the spectrum of game development. My last commercial project before I left was enormous - almost 100 million in development costs and well over a two hundred developers. It was a great job and I had good friends there. It was not an easy decision to leave. I'm now head of my own one-man studio, developing my own game for the past year.

The reason I started my own company was pretty simple. I wanted to chart my own course - make the games that *I* wanted to develop. I'm in this industry because I love games and love making games. I could have made a lot more money by working at Google or Microsoft, but it's hard to beat really enjoying your work. And for me, the ultimate expression of that is to not only program games that someone else designed, but to try my hand at creating the entire thing by myself.

It's an incredibly risky endeavor - I figure I only have about a 50/50 shot at making it past the first game to continue with a sequel. But I'd rather regret trying this and failing then not failing at all. I harbor no illusions about becoming super successful like Notch - it's not wise to plan on lightning striking, but hell, I sure wouldn't mind, because that would let me continue doing this indefinitely. Rather, I'm hoping to be successfully enough to continue self-development. I require only a modest amount of success because I have reasonably low overhead, being just me developing the game. So, that's my definition of success - just successful enough to make a sequel, and I can start building my company from the ground up that way.

When I talked to my colleagues at work, I was surprised to hear how envious they were at what I was attempting. After all, they're working at what I'd consider to be one of the top game companies in the world, and probably the best place I've ever worked in my career over fifteen years. It's not that they were unhappy there, but it seems like every game developer has the same sort of desire - to try their own hand at creating their own game, with no strings attached.

After over a year of working on my own, I'm still loving being independent. I work long hours, but I set those hours myself, of course. It's hard to stay motivated all the time, except that I see my savings slowly draining to zero (I'm funding my own game). When I run into a technical problem, I can't walk over and ask one of my colleagues for advice. Nor can I really do that when making a design decision (a new job for me, as I'm a programmer by profession), and that's sort of difficult. But overall, I wouldn't have traded this experience for anything. If I do have to go back to work for someone else, I know that I'll be a much better programmer as a result of broadening my experience like this (having to build a modern game by myself from start to finish).

Comment: Re:What's wrong with reselling? (Score 1) 131

by Dutch Gun (#47402221) Attached to: Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

Yes they're developer kits, and nearly everything in the world is limited in supply, how does this change the situation? Secondary markets like this expand access to the product to those who want it, not limit it. It encourages people who have one to sell it, and it makes it possible for those who need one now to get it now.

The market for dev kits can't expand in time to meet consumer demand, nor would it be cost-effective to try to do so. It takes a lot of capital to ramp up to full consumer production capacities. And, any dev kit taken out of the hands of actual developers will tend to limit eventual dev support at launch time. It's crucial to get those devices into the hands of actual developers in order to ensure there is actual support for the product at launch time. There's no need to expand access to this particular product, because it's not a consumer product.

Comment: Re:Incoming international flights (Score 1) 683

by Dutch Gun (#47401969) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

Very true, I didn't mean to imply they don't. All I'm saying is that blowing up a shopping mall is a page three story, while blowing up a 747 is a page one story - nothing more than that. I'd guess that airline bombings just play into an already existing fear of flight for many, so the psychological impact tends to be magnified beyond the simple fact of the incident.

As far as why the US hasn't been hit (I assume you're talking about shopping malls, because we've certainly been hit plenty of other ways) - I'd guess it's perhaps because most people that *would* like to do so would logistically have problems getting to the US along with their bombs. It could also be that any major terror campaign against the US would be likely to bring down the wrath of the US military / law enforcement against said organization and any supporters. It's hard to say, really.

Honestly, I find it hard to get into the mind of people who randomly kill and maim civilians, including innocent children, so who knows what they're thinking. I'm glad the US is relatively free of terrorism, but I wish the rest of the world didn't have to suffer at the hands of those animals either.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp