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Comment: Re:If there was only one viable choice ... (Score 2) 156

by Dutch Gun (#47914393) Attached to: Court Rules the "Google" Trademark Isn't Generic

It wasn't just about interface. People tend to forget how search engines did an absolutely horrible job of intelligently ranking the sites you wanted to see. They relied primarily upon keywords and other sort of fairly obvious metrics on the site itself, which of course can be significantly gamed. I've seen "tag clouds" on some sites and blogs, which I'm presuming is due in part to one of the historical metrics being how large a visible word is on a site - the obvious presumption being that keywords in titles should be weighted more heavily.

Google showed up and not only provided a vastly superior interface (look, all you want is to search, right? Here you go!), it also was the very first search engine that actually had a really good chance at returning the most relevant search as the very first result due to it's PageRank algorithm - hence, the "I'm feeling lucky!" button. Such a button would have been labelled "I'd love to win the lottery!" for other search engines, since the results you were looking for might well be on page 13 of a hundred pages of results returned.

One could argue that although Google did not invent web searching, they may have been the first ones to invent truly effective web searching algorithms. It was only the pressure of Google's overwhelming effectiveness that forced other companies to significantly improve their own search engines. Even today, other companies have a hard time even reaching parity with Google search, let alone exceeding it, although such metrics are obviously somewhat subjective.

Comment: Re:it's means it is (Score 4, Insightful) 132

by Dutch Gun (#47904885) Attached to: 3D-Printed Car Takes Its First Test Drive

I think people are just getting a little tired of the 3D printing hype. Yes, it's a cool emerging technology, but the sensationalism of these headlines and articles are a little grating at this point.

Calling it a "3D printed car" is not exactly lying, but it borders on disengenuous, seeing that the guts of the car are, of course, still manufactured the traditional way. It's apparently the body and frame that were printed, from what I can tell. Seriously, would that have been so damn hard to mention in the summary or the article? Oh, but that sounds a lot less impressive, doesn't it...

It was stated in the article that the car had 40 parts. I'm pretty sure they meant there were 40 printed parts, because there's no way in fuck you can build a car in 40 parts, unless you're conveniently counting the engine and frame as a single "part". Or maybe they're just counting each pre-packaged assembly as a "part".

I don't think people would complain quite as much if there was any real semblance of critical reporting here - less hype and more tech.

Comment: Re:Double-edged sword (Score 1) 110

by Dutch Gun (#47897753) Attached to: Software Patents Are Crumbling, Thanks To the Supreme Court

I stand by my statement that parents haven't been good for the industry. I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon has spent more on fighting patent-related lawsuits than they ever received in royalties from their own patents. Bezos himself has famously expressed his doubts about the current patent system both many years ago, and again more recently. Having entered the cutthroat world of mobile devices, I can imagine the patent minefield there is a pretty massive headache for them, as it seems to be for other major players.

In any case, the One-Click patent is a perfect example of why the patent office can't be trusted to adhere to the "patently obvious" principle anymore - at least, not with software. Such a mechanism was pretty damn obvious to anyone who knew how cookies worked, and was a pretty obvious extension of that existing technology, certainly not worthy of a patent, and not for such a ridiculously long time. It was simply a legal license to extort money from competitors because Amazon happened to beat everyone to the punch in patenting a rather obvious web-based mechanism for making shopping more convenient.

Comment: Re:Double-edged sword (Score 5, Insightful) 110

by Dutch Gun (#47892795) Attached to: Software Patents Are Crumbling, Thanks To the Supreme Court

As an independent software developer, I'd feel much more relieved if software patents were completely abolished. I *know* I'll never willingly infringe on someone's trademark or steal their source code. Those are things that are simple enough to check for. However, software patents are a ticking time bomb waiting to explode in your face. The sheer number of them and the impossibility of easily searching for them means any significant piece of software I write has a high likelihood of infringing on someone's patent.

At the moment, software patents are really nothing but legal nuclear missiles. Every company of significant size has to keep a significant arsenal in order to prevent getting nuked by others. So, now instead of mutually assured destruction, we have "cross-licensing". And you have the patent trolls (arms dealers) who simply leech profits from the legal system by amassing quantities of patents on the cheap, and them attempting to sue "infringing" companies, hoping that a settlement will be cheaper than a legal battle, and the damned thing is, it often works, perpetuating the whole sordid system.

Honestly, I'm not really even generally opposed to the concept of patents, or even of software patents in general. My stance is a more pragmatic one: I feel that we've seen demonstrable evidence that software patents have done a significant amount of harm to our industry, and I've seen no real evidence that the industry benefits in any real way, save for those few people that directly benefit from the "industry" around patents themselves. The government has proven itself absolutely inadequate to the task of judging the merits of these patents in a responsible way, and as such, I think we need to either revoke the ability to patent software altogether, drastically shorten the patent length, or put into law a much, much higher bar for new software patents.

Comment: Re:Not all contributions / sacrifice are equivalen (Score 1) 121

by Dutch Gun (#47892133) Attached to: Publishers Gave Away 123 Million Books During World War Two

You are forgetting that in order to justify invading a country, there has to be something worth invading for, and the perceived value of the invasion has to exceed the perceived cost. Factored into that are the effects of politics on the market, which generally doesn't respond positively towards war. So, while the solution is to not drop the military at once, we can make efforts to greatly reduce our military while calling out other powerful nations that don't in kind as imperialistic assholes stuck in a 19th century mindset or earlier in some cases (with providing the people in the countries you listed with the technology to communicate securely being a vital part of such a campaign). All we need to secure our safety is enough of a military to make us not worth invading, and with less and less of the world's GDP being resource centric, it's easier than ever to accomplish this.

You are forgetting that in order to justify invading a country, there has to be something worth invading for, and the perceived value of the invasion has to exceed the perceived cost. Factored into that are the effects of politics on the market, which generally doesn't respond positively towards war.

I think your fundamental error here is that you're an intelligent and rational person, and tend to expect others to be similarly rational. People, both individually and in groups, regularly make highly irrational and unintelligent decisions. What is rational about wanting to wipe some particular ethnicity or religion from the face of the earth, for example? And, keep in mind that in many countries, the arbitrary whim of a single irrational person can foolishly commit an entire nation to war.

History is replete with examples of invasions that ended up disastrously for the aggressors, but still ended up costing millions of lives before the situation was resolved. The advantage of overwhelming military force is that it prevents all but the lunatic fringe from even considering aggressive action. A closer military parity may allow the more deluded to believe they can achieve victory, especially if they don't mind throwing away a few million peasant lives to do so.

Comment: Re:Separate hardware from software (Score 1) 418

by Dutch Gun (#47891779) Attached to: Windows Tax Shot Down In Italy

I can't think of a better way to annoy typical customers by passing a law like this. "Market pressure" has already made the OS installation as simple as it can be: zero steps by the consumer. They want to take home their computer or laptop, plug it in, turn it on, and start using it.

Linux advocates seem to have this eternal dream that gosh, if people just knew they had an alternative they'd dump Windows and flock to Linux. No, they wouldn't. Consumers have had twenty years or so of opportunities to learn about alternative operating systems like Linux, which is both technically competent and completely free to use, and the desktop market for Linux still hovers around 1%.

Don't get me wrong... I'd love to see a healthier OS ecosystem for the PC. Windows 8 happened because MS dominates the PC market so completely. In fact, one could argue that it happened precisely because the competition is kicking the crap out of them in the mobile market, so they tried to leverage their PC market and failed miserably at that.

But even so, passing bad laws isn't the way to improve the situation. I'm not sure I have a magic bullet answer on how to improve the situation. At the very least, as a Windows user, I can certainly point to plenty of reasons why each and every time I looked at using Linux more seriously, I ended up turning away in frustration.

Comment: Re:Not all contributions / sacrifice are equivalen (Score 1) 121

by Dutch Gun (#47891273) Attached to: Publishers Gave Away 123 Million Books During World War Two

Stating that the US doesn't face any viable military threat is something of a tautology, isn't it? The US doesn't face any viable military threat because it has an unrivaled military force that makes it far too dangerous to take head-on. So, no, with our current military strength, there's pretty much a zero percent chance of an enemy invasion on our home turf, which is a fine percentage for such an unpleasant prospect. How about our smaller and much weaker allies? Is it in our own national interest to help ensure their safety as well, including the many American citizens living and working abroad? It's a question for discussion, but our current military and foreign policy indicates affirmatively.

The world is, unfortunately, still filled with types that would love nothing better than to conquer their neighbors with military force, for a variety of reasons (power, ethnicity, religion). You don't have to look all that far even today to see a real-life example in action. Do you think China wouldn't simply roll over Taiwan if the US Navy wasn't there as a deterrent force? Or that N Korea wouldn't immediately drive their tanks over their southern border? Do you think the application of military power is a theoretical exercise to the folks in the Ukraine? One wonders if Tibet wished it had a more formidable military force to resist their current occupation. Israel is surrounded by countries who would make them disappear in an instant without their military force. Likewise, Israel is also using their military to hold areas beyond its own original charter borders which it won in previous wars, and has been creating civilian settlements in those territories.

Like it or not, we still live in a world where, in the end, liberty still must be safeguarded by military might. Those who refuse to acknowledge this are just as ignorant as the people who think the Internet just sort of happens by itself, and thinks that issues like net neutrality don't really apply to them. In the end, the military has done such a good job at defending us from external military threats that most civilians believe there *are* no real external threats. I suppose that's a nice problem to have, but much of the world isn't so fortunate.

In the end, it's the civilians' jobs to help ensure our leaders don't send our military out on unnecessary foreign adventures, which is a very real danger of having such a strong military, contrary to the stabilizing force it provides in the world when used as a deterrent for real aggression. The military is, after all, ultimately under civilian control.

Comment: Re:Interesting line from TFA: (Score 1) 212

by Dutch Gun (#47802827) Attached to: Radioactive Wild Boars Still Roaming the Forests of Germany

Now you want to call praying mantis people too? wow, what an abandonment of specieism that would be.. So when are mosquitoes gonna be protected as having individual rights under the Constitution? Not anytime soon, I reckon..

Whoosh? Pretty sure that was just supposed to be funny. Granted, it's sort of hard to tell if people are kidding about that sort of thing nowadays, with some extremists actually declaring the life of a human and a rat as equivalent in value.

Comment: Re:Great post - shame humans AREN'T as rational (Score 3, Insightful) 369

by Dutch Gun (#47790175) Attached to: Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague

FUD works because people don't think things through; we are very bad at proper risk assessment. The question remains whether we should trust our government to do better - or suspect it of abusing the opportunity this allegation makes. Recent history encourages the latter!

Keep in mind that it's quite literally the government's job to try to protect against or prepare for worst case scenarios. FEMA does it with natural disasters. The military plays end-of-the-world wargames and trains for battle against people we hope never to fight against. And of course, the various Homeland Security agencies look for people who want to do America or its citizens harm. It's their job to try to anticipate or prevent worst-case scenarios. We hire people to do this so we won't have to.

This create a quandary of sorts. On the one hand, they're by far the most qualified to answer the question as to how legitimate the potential threats are. On the flip side, it's in their own best interest to magnify the threats so as to increase their own budgets and importance, which is a natural trend for any bureaucratic agency. We can, however, blame them for overreaching their legal and constitutional bounds in carrying out their mandate. And we need to call them out when we see that they've magnified threats beyond their logical probability as well. That second part is a bit harder to do - realistically, only our elected officials have access to the most sensitive raw sources and data, so we have to trust that they'll exercise proper oversight in that regard.

As lay persons, you and I (and the general public) are not really qualified to determine whether various threats are real or not, both because a) it's not our area of expertise, and b) we don't have enough data to make a well-informed judgment. For instance, many terrorists may have been stopped by good intelligence, but it's possible this information can't be released to the public (similar to the allies Ultra/Enigma project in WWII), for fear of compromising the source or techniques used. This leaves the public feeling like there is no credible threat, which on the one hand, is a good thing, but on the other, leads people to question the necessity of the very agencies preventing the attacks. It's unfortunate that these agencies have undermined their own trust, because now we have a hard time believing them even if they're telling us the truth.

Who do you turn to when your best guard dog has been crying wolf?

Comment: Re:Yup - the story is doing its job (Score 3, Insightful) 369

Jihadists succeeded in a pretty big way with the 9/11 attacks. I fail to see why another group wouldn't be capable of doing something of that magnitude again, given some proper funding and competent planning. It seems illogical to conclude that there isn't a real threat against western targets after we've seen those and other attacks.

I'm not saying we should panic, overreact, or (in the case of the NSA) overreach, but I think some vigilance is surely warranted.

Comment: Re:*drool* (Score 1) 181

by Dutch Gun (#47788299) Attached to: Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory

Game developer here. A lot of stuff still happens on the CPU, especially when you're talking about large-scale AAA 3D games. Note that some of these items may make use of additonal GPU or specialized hardware, but that's still somewhat rare.

* Model animation is performed on the CPU. This is probably the biggest CPU hit in most AAA games today.
* Audio engines are all in software now, and they're applying a lot of real-time effects, in addition to the costs of real-time decompression and mixing overhead.
* Physics and collision detection is performed on the CPU.
* Pathfinding can be very CPU-intensive.
* Particle effects are sometimes performed on the CPU, especially if they need to interact with the world in any way or have complex behaviors.
* AI and any sort of scripting is, of course, performed on the CPU

Obviously, some games push the CPU a lot harder than others, but it's still important to have a reasonable CPU/GPU balance if you want to be able to play a wide variety of games.

That being said, of course it's pointless to upgrade your CPU if you're already GPU-bound, and that still tends to happen faster, because it's easy to crank up visual complexity until your video card chokes and sputters under the load.

Comment: Re:Not quite old but... (Score 4, Insightful) 635

by Dutch Gun (#47788083) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

Yeah, completely with you there. I'm fine with the anti-skeumorphic trend - it's silly to continue to make things look like now decidedly old-school real-life countparts for it's own sake. But why did color, gradients, gloss, and borders have to go as well?

Now we have flat, borderless, and ugly designs all over the place, and what's worse, I've found these UIs more difficult to use, not less, because you're often left guessing as to where buttons begin or end, or what even is clickable/pushable. A lot of the visual elements removed were important visual cues that simply got tossed out the window.

Comment: Re:Just proves the point (Score 1) 1262

Mind telling me which one that was? I just watched "damsels in distress (part one)" and it seemed pretty reasonable, handing out a lot of criticism but also pointing out some positive examples as well. Did she get a lot more vitriolic in later videos or something?

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982