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Comment: You're absolutely right. The desktop is over. (Score 1) 391

by aussersterne (#49071329) Attached to: PC-BSD: Set For Serious Growth?

I have no idea why people are arguing with you about this. The evidence (not least from the desktop computing industry) is everywhere, with catastrophically declining sales over the long term, offset by increases in mobiles and tablets—which, incidentally, Linux has already won, though in large part by leaving the distro community behind.

Linux could actually conquer the desktop in the end—a few years down the road when desktop computing is a specialized, professionals-only computing space. The users of other desktop operating systems are slowly bleeding off to mobile and tablet.

But this can only happen, ironically, if distros and devs stop trying to conquer the desktop in the present. If they continue down the path they're on, the long-term desktop community, which would be a natural fit for the Linux of yore, will probably be on some other OS. (MacOS? Surely not Windows at this point.)

Comment: Are the job description and your actual requiremen (Score 1) 809

by aussersterne (#49048685) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Portion of Developers Are Bad At What They Do?

That is to say, did you call for applications from *deeply* experienced people that know esoteric systems X, Y, and Z and that have previously worked with New Hot Language Q and Languages Of The Week I and J?

Or did you ask for unusual gurus that understand and have a *broad* range of experience with a wide variety of fundamental computing concepts and theory and can apply them correctly while rapidly getting up to speed on new environments and/or languages?

Because you're complaining about not getting the second group, while most of the job listings posted in industry are the first group.

There is often little overlap between the two, and HR departments and managers seem to default to looking for the first even when they actually need the second.

At a more prosaic level, if you specifically need someone that is going to understand general purpose encryption tools, you can also put that in the description.

A lot of the frustration with "not being able to get talent" in tech comes down to not asking for (or being willing to hire based on) what is actually needed. Instead, everyone is in CYA mode and making job listings and hires that are buzzword-rich and, thus, easily quantifiable ("he hit the right series of checkboxes, it's not my fault that he sucks, I did my part...")

Comment: Re:How about just don't buy a phone from the carri (Score 1) 100

by aussersterne (#49045179) Attached to: Starting This Week, Wireless Carriers Must Unlock Your Phone

Try NET10. If you got in last year, you could get 2GB + throttling to 3g HSPA unlimited everything for $40/mo., month-by-month (no contract).

New signups right now get 3GB + throttling to 64kbps unlimited everything for $45/mo., month-by-month (no contract).

AT&T's 2-year contact for 3GB is currently $80/mo.

NET10 GSM plans use the AT&T network, so the coverage is the same and the phone compatibility is the same.

Comment: How about just don't buy a phone from the carriers (Score 4, Interesting) 100

by aussersterne (#49043037) Attached to: Starting This Week, Wireless Carriers Must Unlock Your Phone

in the first place?

There are some FABULOUS devices coming out of China these days, readily available on eBay and Amazon, with high specs, Android KitKat or Lollipop, and sold at half the price or less vs. offerings from the carriers.

Just got a Huawei Honor X1 and am using it with an MVNO in the US. The retail price of the new off-contract phone from China, purchased on eBay, was about what the two-year on-contract retail price of a similarly specced Android device is in the U.S. The MVNO contract, with "unlimited" data (throttling to HSPA+ after the first several GB every month) is less than half the price of a similar contract at a major carrier.

There's no reason to buy on-contract phones any longer.

Comment: Yup, bewildering management. (Score 2) 294

by aussersterne (#48995839) Attached to: Radioshack Declares Bankruptcy

They seem to have decided a number of years ago to try to be Best Buy, only in 1/20th of the floor space, with higher prices, and while ensuring that they rebadge any major brand products to bear their own, woefully antiquated and little-known brand badges instead, to ensure that consumers would gravitate to Best Buy instead, where said major brands with which consumers were familiar continued to remain on display.

It started to make zero sense sometime in the late-1980s and it just got worse and worse from there.

I still buy parts, diagnostic equipment, and accessories for many tech items in the house. Just now I buy them on Amazon.com. I just bought a pack of about 30 DPDT switches the other day for $5.00 or so. I don't need 30, I just need one. I'd have just as well paid Radio Shack $2.99 for a switch and had it the same day—only the local store doesn't carry that stuff any longer.

Comment: Mom-and-Pops don't survive in America (Score 3, Insightful) 294

by aussersterne (#48995829) Attached to: Radioshack Declares Bankruptcy

because suburbanites and flyover folks won't shop in them. Mom and pop and competing national chain open on the same block, the entire crowd flocks to national chains, particularly in smaller communities. Hell, they're even proud to have them. Getting a Wal-Mart means they've arrived, it puts them on the map.

The only place where Mom-and-pop shops still survive are in heavily blue urban areas, where they continue to do well. That's no accident.

Comment: Same, with Olympus. (Score 1) 422

by aussersterne (#48995795) Attached to: What Happened To the Photography Industry In 2014?

I've been shooting with four thirds since it was released, and I have the same great lenses that remain perfect as they day I bought them.

This year I finally upgraded my body (to an E-3) for the first time in years. Logged over 150k actuations on my E-1 previously.

So I bought one body and zero lenses in a decade.

Once all of the pros and semi-pros and serious shooters have made the switch from film to digital, and are fully satisfied with the quality they're getting, and once all of the snapshot shooters have a camera that is automatically included and upgraded each time they get a phone (which everyone has), there's just not a lot of growth market left.

The switch from digital to film was a one-time boom until parity was reached in quality, and now it's done.

Comment: That's the point. Nine times out of ten, you don't (Score 1) 422

by aussersterne (#48995779) Attached to: What Happened To the Photography Industry In 2014?

WANT greater depth of field. You want LESS.

That's what the non-photographer public senses when they talk about the difference between "professional photos" and "snapshots."

In a snapshot (small camera), everything in the picture is in sharp focus, which makes the photo about the "scene" and distracts eyes from any one particular subject.

Shooting at f/2 on a tiny sensor, you get only snapshots.

Shooting at f/2 on a DSLR, only the subject (the person, the face, the rock feature, whatever) is in focus, and everything else is slightly blurred, which brings attention to the subject of the image, and at the same time blurs out distracting, unimportant details in the background.

Here's a good example from Google Images: http://ns12.sovdns.com/~nich61...

On a small camera or a smartphone, only the photo on the left is possible. In fact, on the smallest phones/cameras, you won't even get that much blur in the background; nearly everything can be razor sharp.

Generally, that's not good for subject work—only for scene work.

Comment: Working with state agencies in the '90s (Score 1) 189

by aussersterne (#48877153) Attached to: User Plea Means EISA Support Not Removed From Linux

I saw a lot of EISA systems. It was a reasonable performer and physically robust (not as sensitive as PCI cards to positioning in slots, etc.). I'd say that EISA hardware was generally of very good quality, but high-end enough that most consumers wouldn't run into it despite being a commodity standard, sort of like PCI-X.

The systems I had experience with were running Linux, even then. :-)

Comment: Seconded. (Score 1) 93

by aussersterne (#48800329) Attached to: The Next Decade In Storage

For a very long time, tape drives and media gave tape drives and media a bad name.

Consumer QIC — about 1% of tapes actually held any data, total snake oil that took 10 days to "store" 10 megs (immediately unreadable in all cases)
4mm — Tapes good for one pass thru drive; drive good for about 10 tape passes
8mm —Tapes good for maybe 10 passes thru drive; drive good for about 100 tape passes before it starts eating tapes

For all three of the above: Don't bother trying to read a tape on any drive other than the one that wrote it; you won't find data there.

Real QIC —Somewhat more reliable but vulnerable to dust, magnetic fields; drive mechanisms not robust, finicky about door closings

Basically, the only tapes that have ever been any damned good are 1/2 inch or wider and single-reel for storage. Problem is that none of these have ever been particularly affordable at contemporary capacities and they still aren't. Any non-enterprise business should just buy multiple hard drives for their rotating backups and replace the lot of them once a year.

Comment: Experts are busy. (Score 2) 84

by aussersterne (#48794381) Attached to: KDE Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1 – First Impressions

And they ALREADY have expertise.

A computing expert already has decades of highly detailed experience and familiarity with a bunch of paradigms, uses, and conventions.

Experts are the LAST people that want to read manuals for basic things they already have extensive experience with, like desktop environments. Again, they're busy. Being experts.

So, reading the manual on new tech that needs to be implemented in a complex system—great. Reading the manual on a desktop environment? Seriously? That's the last thing an expert wants to be bothered with. "I've used ten different desktop environments over thirty years. Can't you pick one set of conventions I'm already familiar with and use it, so that I can apply my expertise to the actual problems I'm trying to solve? Why reinvent the wheel in such a simple, basic system?"

DEs should leverage existing knowledge and use habits to enable experts to get their real work done quickly. For an expert, using the desktop is NOT the problem at hand requiring a solution. It's not what they're being paid for and not what they care about. Experts love to learn new things—in their area of expertise.

So sure, desktop environment developers probably love to poke around in KDE's front end, code, and docs. But anyone else? People that are not DE specialists are not so excited about the new learning project that is "my desktop," I assure you. The desktop is the last thing they want to be consciously focusing on over the course of the day.

Comment: In the very first image... (Score 4, Interesting) 84

by aussersterne (#48790819) Attached to: KDE Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1 – First Impressions

The tree widgets on the left are mismatched: some solid lines, some spaces with alphanumeric characters; the alpha characters are black, yet the lines are gray visual noise that creates visual processing and cognitive load for no reason, adding nothing.

The parenthetical text at the top has a title whose margin (left whitespace to other widgets) is significantly different from the text below it; there are spaces between the parentheses and the text, which no text or print style guide in the world endorses because it separates the parenthetical indicators from the parenthetical text, when they should be tightly bound for clarity.

The window title preserves the absurd convention of using both the binary name and a descriptive title together, and separates them with a typographical element (an em-dash) which is inappropriate in a label or design element because it is asynchronous—it indicates a delay in interpretation and pronunciation (as the em-dash just a few words ago in this paragraph does) and thus suggests long-form reading, which is not the intent for at-a-glance window titles (unless you don't want them to be very usable).

The title of the list widget, "Information Modules" is superfluous and redundant; the user starting an "About" dialogue expects to see "information" from the start, and they do not need to know about implementation ("modules").

The resize handle contrasts significantly with the window background, drawing undue attention to this particular area of the window above others (why is it "louder" than the window title, for example? Window controls should be secondary to window content and all at the same visual "volume" for usability).

In short—they still don't get it; they are signaling, in conventional ways that most users process subconsciously, thought habits and forms of attention that are not contributing to efficiency and use, but rather detracting/distracting from it. This is the same old KDE with poor, unprofessional design that leads to cognitive clutter. It's not that KDE has "too much going on" but rather that KDE has "too much going on that isn't actually functional and adds nothing to users ability to get things done).

Yuck.

Comment: Nope, their work isn't shit. (Score 1) 153

by aussersterne (#48785525) Attached to: Fewer Grants For Young Researchers Causing Brain Drain In Academia

But they can earn 3x as much by going into the non-academic private sector and doing their research for profit-driven corps that will patent and secret the hell out of it, rather than using it for the good of all. Because the general public doesn't want to own the essential everyday technologies of the future; they'd rather it be kept inside high corporate walls and be forced to pay through the nose for it to wealthy billionaires.

And because bright young researchers actually have to eat, and actually want a life, they grudingly go where the money is, knowing full well they're contributing to deep social problems to come. Myself included.

But why would I settle for a string of one-year postdoc contracts that pay like entry-level jobs and require superhuman hours and commitment when I can go earn six figures at a proper nine-to-five, with revenue sharing, great benefits, and job security? Yes, the company owns everything I do. But I get to pay my bills and build a personal future. Of course, society's future is much dimmer as the result of so many people making the same choice that I have, and so much good work ending up in private hands rather than public ones.

But them's the beans. If you want to own the future, public, you've got to be willing to pay for it.

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