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Comment: Not so much winding down as becoming moot. (Score 1) 60

by aussersterne (#48151411) Attached to: KDE Releases Plasma 5.1

The Linux desktop wars mattered when Linux was the future of the desktop.

Now that the desktop has a much smaller future, and Linux clearly doesn't play much of a role even in this drastically reduced future, it's just that KDE and GNOME really don't matter much.

Desktop Linux is a niche product, and it behaves like one—adoption is vendor-driven, and clients use whatever the vendor supplies.

For individual Linux users, things haven't moved in half a decade or more. Linux is still a mostly complete operating system with mostly working desktops. None of it is very polished (polish, as always, is just a couple years off in the future). Significant time and customization are required to make any stock distro+DE work well, things are generally cluttered, kludgy, and opaque, and for the hobbyist that fits the profile—the sort of person that will actually put up with and use this kind of computing environment—one or the other (KDE or GNOME) is already a clear favorite and this isn't likely to change.

Of course there is also the developer group, probably Linux's largest cohort of "serious" users on the desktop, but they just plain don't care much about which DE is installed. They're much more concerned with toolchains and versions of environment components.

So the KDE vs. GNOME thing is just plain...not that big a deal any longer, for most anyone.

The only possibly interesting development in a very long time is Elementary OS, which appears to have adopted a different philosophy from the one traditionally associated with Linux development/packaging groups. But whether this will ultimately translate into an important operating system and user experience, with its brand that supersedes the branding of the desktop environment itself, remains to be seen.

Comment: You're mistaking "we" in "we need." (Score 5, Insightful) 283

by aussersterne (#48088317) Attached to: Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

You mean study something that enhances profits for the very, very wealthy.

Academic research works on an awful lot of problems that *the world* needs to solve, yet it makes no money for the propertied class, so there are no investment or funds available to support it.

Many fighting this fight aren't fighting for their pocketbooks; they're fighting to do science in the interest of human goods, rather than in the interest of capitalist kings.

Comment: Close, but I think it's simpler and more normal (Score 3, Insightful) 460

by aussersterne (#48020019) Attached to: Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

than that.

It's not that the public doesn't trust the abilities of scientists.

It's that they don't trust their motives. We have a long literary tradition that meditates on scientists that "only cared about whether they could, not whether they should," and the politicization of sciences makes people wonder not whether scientists are incompetent, but whether they have "an agenda," i.e. whether scientists are basically lying through their teeth and/or pursuing their own political agendas in the interest of their own gain, rather than the public's.

At that point, it's not that the public thinks "If I argue loudly enough, I can change nature," but rather "I don't understand what this scientist does, and I'm sure he/she is smart, but I don't believe they're telling me about nature; rather, they're using their smarts to pull the wool over my eyes about nature and profit/benefit somehow."

So the public isn't trying to bend the laws of nature through discourse, but rather simply doesn't believe the people that are telling them about the laws of nature, because they suspect those people as not acting in good faith.

That's where a kinder, warmer scientific community comes in. R1 academics with million-dollar grants may sneer at someone like Alan Alda on Scientific American Frontiers, but that sneering is counterproductive; the public won't understand (and doesn't want to) the rigorous, nuanced state of the research on most topics. It will have to be given to them in simplified form; Alan Alda and others in that space did so, and the scientific community needs to support (more of) that, rather than sneer at it.

The sneering just reinforces the public notion that "this guy may be smarter than me, but he also thinks he's better and more deserving than me, so I can't trust that what he's telling me is really what he thinks/knows, rather than what he needs to tell me in order to get my stuff and/or come out on top in society, deserving or not."

Comment: Re:I still don't get this. (Score 0) 304

by aussersterne (#48009859) Attached to: Consumer Reports: New iPhones Not As Bendy As Believed

I frankly don't see any difference. Big, fat force, tiny little space. That's not good for a sheet of glass, a sheet of metal—hell, you've seen what happens to a sheet of paper after spending all day in your pockets. People learn that in grade school.

If it really has to be on your waist somewhere, get a holster. Otherwise, just carry the damned thing, or put it in a shirt or coat pocket, briefcase, backpack, etc.

Since the '90s, I've never regularly carried a mobile device in my pants pockets. Obviously, it would break, or at least suffer a significantly reduced lifespan. On the rare occasions when I do pocket a device for a moment, it's just that—for a moment, while standing, to free both hands, and it is removed immediately afterward because I'm nervous the entire time that I'll forget, try to sit down, and crack the damned thing.

Comment: I still don't get this. (Score 5, Insightful) 304

by aussersterne (#48009653) Attached to: Consumer Reports: New iPhones Not As Bendy As Believed

Who thinks it's okay to sit on their phone? Why do people think they ought to be able to? It literally makes no sense. It's an electronic device with a glass screen. If I handed someone a sheet of glass and said, "put this in your back pocket and sit on it!" they'd refuse.

But a phone? Oh, absolutely! Shit, wait, no! It broke?!?!

Comment: Yup. (Score 1) 287

by aussersterne (#47943091) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: What's In Your Home Datacenter?

Same conclusion. It's too easy to feel that precarity from the early computing age (not enough storage! not enough cycles! data versions of things are special!) if you were there. I think there's some of that going on here on Slashdot a lot of the time.

People in love with old Unix boxen or supercomputer hardware. People that maintain their own libraries of video, but all that's stored there is mass-market entertainment. And so on. It's like newspaper hoarding.

Storage and computation are now exceedingly cheap. 8-bay eSATA RAID cases run a couple hundred bucks, new. 4TB SATA drives run less than that. With 6 raid ports on a mainboard and a couple of dual- or quad-eSATA port PCI-x cards, you can approach petabytes quickly—and just for four digits. The same goes for processing power—a dual-processor Xeon setup (in which each processor can have core counts in the double digits) again just runs $couple thou.

And data is now cheap and easy. Whatever you want—you can have it as data *already*. Movies? Music? Books? Big social data sets? They're coming out our ears. The investment of time and equipment required, all in all, to put yourself in a position to rip and store a library of "every movie you've ever rented," and then actually do so, is much larger than the cost of simply licensing them via streaming. The same goes for music, ebooks, and so on.

There's just no need. Even my desktop is now starting to feel obsolete—for the work computing I do, there's a good chance I'll just go to Amazon cloud services in the next year or two. At that point, an iPad, a wireless keyboard, and a couple apps will probably be all the computing power I need under my own roof. If I have a desktop, it'll just be to connect multiple monitors for screen real estate.

Comment: No datacenter. Just a desktop computer (Score 1) 287

by aussersterne (#47942863) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: What's In Your Home Datacenter?

with 20 cores, 128GB RAM, 48TB online storage, and gigabit fiber coming in.

Yes, I use all of it, for work. But it's definitely not a "data center." These days, I don't know why anyone would want one—even moderately sized enterprises are increasingly happy to pay someone else to own the data center. Seems nuts to me to try to bring it into your basement.

If you just need the computation and/or the storage, desktops these days run circles around the datacenter hardware from just a few years ago. If you need more than that, it's more cost effective and reliable to buy into someone-or-other's cloud.

Comment: Why do this? (Score 4, Interesting) 287

by aussersterne (#47942793) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: What's In Your Home Datacenter?

I sort of don't get it. White box PCs with many cores, dozens of gigabytes of RAM, and multiple gigabit ethernet ports cost next to nothing these days with a few parts from Amazon.com. If the goal is just to play with powerful hardware, you could assemble one or a few white box PCs with *many* cores at 4+ GHz, *tons* of RAM, gigabit I/O, and dozens or hundreds of terabytes of online RAID storage for just a few thousand, and plug them straight into the wall and get better computation and frankly perhaps even I/O performance to boot, depending on the age of the rackware in question.

If you're really doing some crazy hobby experimenting or using massive data storage, you can build it out in nicer, newer ways that use far less (and more readily available) power, are far quieter, generate far less heat, don't take up nearly the space, and don't have the ugliness or premium cost spare parts of the kinds of gear being discussed here. If you need the features, you can easily get VMware and run multiple virtual machines. 100Mbps fiber and Gigabit fiber are becoming more common and are easy to saturate with today's commodity hardware. There are an embarrassment of enterprise-ready operating systems in the FOSS space.

If you really need high reliability/high availability and performance guarantees, I don't get why you wouldn't just provision some service for yourself at Amazon or somewhere else and do what you need to do. Most SaaS and PaaS companies are moving away from trying to maintain their own datacenters because it's not cost effective and it's a PITA—they'd rather leave it to specialists and *really big* data centers.

Why go the opposite direction, even if for some reason you really do have the need for those particular properties?

Comment: Same. I'm on 1Gbps Google fiber (Score 1) 243

by aussersterne (#47919855) Attached to: AT&T Proposes Net Neutrality Compromise

and am soooo pleased to be rid of the other ISPs I've been stuck with in the past.

And of course *the moment* Google rolled out in this area, a bunch of other ISPs magically offered a competitive 1Gbps fiber plan as well.

Too late—you had me. And you pissed me off. And now I'm gone.

Comment: Never been a fan of multiplayer. (Score 5, Insightful) 292

by aussersterne (#47915015) Attached to: The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

Maybe I'm dating myself here, but multiplayer games are still newfangled and weird to me, and I don't know if that will ever change.

When I used to play games, I played to get away from social interaction and enjoy myself in isolation. It was a kind of recuperation. A world of gaming in which you have to face social interaction once again as part of gameplay was unattractive enough to me that I stopped playing games altogether. These days I mainly do crossword puzzles and read e-books for the respite that I used to get from gaming.

Comment: Re:Oh, but it does. You can't make a backup (Score 1) 222

by aussersterne (#47892393) Attached to: iPhone 6 Sales Crush Means Late-Night Waits For Some Early Adopters

You can't backup everything that's on the phone.

Your process sounds great to a technology-enabled person. But for mere humans?

They don't remember their Apple ID password.
They put in random answers to security questions for password recovery.
Their email address has changed, their computer has changed, etc.
They installed all that music, all those videos, and all those apps, like, a *year* ago or more. Who remembers how?

"Can't you just copy everything from my old phone over to my new phone?"

As you say, the process ends up being:

Initialize the phone as new, to their current computer.
Create a new Apple ID and sign them in.
Install and position all the apps one by one by looking at their old phone as you hold it.
Get ahold of all the music that they already bought in some other format so that they don't have to pay for it again.
Give them the bad news about what can't be tracked down/reinstalled (apps no longer in app store, music that can't be found elsewhere without re-buying, etc.)

I could have sworn that in a recent case, we lost all of SMS and she was upset about that, but may I'm remembering incorrectly. Still, the process is onerous.

It pisses people off—"You mean I can't just move all of *my* stuff from my old phone to my new phone? Why do they call it an *upgrade?*"

I'm not saying they're right. Sure, they should remember their passwords, take care of their online identities, etc.

But the fact is that you cannot simply do this:

1. Connect old iPhone to computer
2. Back up full contents
3. Connect new iPhone to computer
4. Restore full contents

I've been on to Apple a couple of times with people standing next to me while I try to act as an intermediary, and the people on the other end of the line end up just throwing their hands up, apologizing, and saying they can't help.

To be fair, this isn't exactly easy on Android either. But it's slightly easier. And both platforms need to seriously work on it.

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