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Comment Re:Barcode scanner = keyboard (Score 1) 79

we reprogram them with the vendors control codes to work as USB ACM (serial)

Yes, you do that, and I do that, because you're absolutely right: wedge mode is a kludge. Problem is, lots of existing deployments do have them set in dumb keyboard mode. Why ? Because the development of that POS appliance or software was farmed out to the lowest bidder (meaning China/India), where the product was made to "work", and the project manager(s) have no idea how barcode readers even work nor why wedge mode is a bad idea.

The same is true of mag-stripe readers. I have seen countless setups in restaurants and movie theatres where the mag reader was in wedge mode. In at least one case the software hid this by enabling/disabling the device when it was expecting a swipe (using an NT filter driver) - but once enabled it would accept any input and pass it through the OS. Now the "good" thing about mag cards is the encoding does not typically support control characters, so you won't be rooting an ATM by that route. I mean... not unless the ATM has a pretty colossal backdoor triggered by a particular string of alphanumeric data.

Comment Re:Will there ever be self-storage type datacenter (Score 1) 39

In my city (Ottawa), we have a few such datacenters. They'll have one guy working the sign-in desk in the daytime, and I think they're on call after-hours. They have biometric access doors, so anyone with a private rack or cage can come and go as they please. I never counted, but I'd estimate maybe 250 racks or so. It's pretty small. Now, they are not exactly cheap, but we Canadians love to get financially sodomized by our ISPs, or so I've been led to believe.

Comment Re:AGP not working with SMP (Score 1) 232

That board was launched in 2007, but I agree it was a bit of a WTF even at that time. Anyone still buying an AGP card in 2007 was paying top-dollar for inferior performance, since the entire GPU industry had moved to PCI-E, and what few AGP cards they did release were little more than a regular card with an AGP-PCI bridge chip that sucked the life out of it.

Comment Re:KDBus - another systemd brick on the wall (Score 1) 232

As someone who does a fair bit of fiddling with init systems and other boot-time fun (I do lots of appliance-style builds), I whole-heartedly agree with you. SystemD is a solution to a non-existent problem. Classic init is elegantly simple and works perfectly fine, with the bonus that it won't make your system unbootable if you happen to swap in a new (or rescue) kernel.

Myself, I *want* SystemD to crash and burn, just for the lost hours trying to troubleshoot this unwelcome and unnecessary complication. I don't use it in my appliances, but when I have to debug someone else's bricked servers, SystemD and udev are disproportionately at fault for so much unwarranted downtime. I mean, sure, I get paid regardless, but I'd much rather not see this cruft in our beloved free OS.

Comment Re:That is the reason US should Control (Score 2) 459

Yes, because everything else the US controls has been so hunky-dory in terms of freedom and transparency. It doesn't matter who controls ICANN, it will never be 100% fair. People aren't fair. Just because the UN is a giant spin agency to cover up atrocities and foreign corruption doesn't make the US any less evil by default. You're looking at it from the wrong perspective.

What ICANN should be is a system designed to be as open as possible, and if certain networks object, they can censor it themselves as is already done. The issue of Saudi Arabia being an unenlightened medieval shithole of theocratic sociopaths has nothing to do with converting letters to numbers on the internet. Let ICANN worry about the internet, and let the warmongers figure out who's right and wrong in the world.

Comment Re:It's about damn time (Score 1) 193

For what it does, and does quite well, $50 is indeed cheap. It does have its quirks, but as a primarily Win/Linux guy, I find Textmate quite tolerable, unlike the vast majority of other Mac apps I've tried.

Sure, we PC freaks are spoiled with a gazillion free Scintilla-based editors, but that freeware culture is nowhere near as strong on the Mac. $50 is peanuts compared to the time and frustration saved (read: more hours billed). You have to put it into perspective, I don't know many Mac users who code "just for fun"; it's a work tool.

Comment Re:Single Point of Failure (Score 1) 194

Depends on the network. On Steam, yes they're fairly respectful about it. VAC only bans you from other VAC servers and that's mostly fine. Every other delivery platform I know of simply locks your account, so you can't even play solo games anymore. I would love to be educated otherwise on this, but it has been the major reason why I have a Steam account and nothing else.

Comment Re:Single Point of Failure (Score 1) 194

Agreed 100%. In fact, I find the notion of banning an entire account absolutely vile. Banning users at all is vile. Protect the non-cheating population, sure, but cheaters paid for the damned game/app, let them use it. Cheating has been a part of gaming since the dawn of home computing. They should deal with it far more gracefully, like segregating cheaters to play against each other in a separate lobby (can't remember the company that did that). Even with MMOs, they could shift cheaters to a different server - that would nearly kill gold farming since they could only trade with other farmers.

To now mix in productivity applications, they're going to have to tread very lightly. The day someone gets locked out of their business records due to some draconian lockout, will be the day Valve gets sued into the ground, EULAs be damned. After all, where is the distinction between a game and an application ? At their core, they both move information in response to user input. The difference is, gamers don't tend to sue for lost wages or name publishers in tort cases.

Comment Re:After Rage (Score 1) 635

And he's not the man who used to push the limits of PC hardware anymore. That would be Crytek. Rage is a shitty game but also a shitty engine, it can suck a cock compared to Crysis 2.

Bwahahahaha! You, my friend, are a perfect confirmation of the G.I.F.T. Rage may or may not be terrible, I haven't tried it yet so I wouldn't know, but its "megatexture" engine is quite an achievement technically. It definitely does push the limits of PC hardware, and it does things conventional engines (including Crytek) simply cannot do.

I think what our ill-informed friend meant was: Crytek makes prettier games, but that is the result of brute force. They throw a lot of shader effects at everything, to give their visuals a strong wow-factor. That's why they use a lot of offshore labour, they pump an inordinate amount of man-hours into everything, so of course it looks shiny as fuck. iD is more of a "proof of concept' kind of shop. Carmack works smart, comes up with tricks that even Crytek would think impossible, solutions that cannot be reached by blindly throwing more money and resources at the problem. He's got more in common with demoscene coders of yore than any modern game developer. He just doesn't have the skill nor desire to make things pretty, that's not his job.

Comment Slashdot: time travel for your brain! (Score 4, Funny) 206

Dear Slashdot,

I've been doing exactly this for, oh, I dunno, 8 or 9 years. I even have several fellow /.ers as clients on my VPN/proxy/privacy service. Thank you, Soulskill, for this lovely little time capsule from 2004.

Stay tuned for our next story, where a young startup named Apple plans to change the world with a new kind of graphic calculator, tentatively called "Newton".

Comment Re:Its Carmack! (Score 2) 635

Sure, they have the extra cash to burn, but they can also dual-boot into Windows. It takes all of 30 seconds, runs all the games faster than native OSX ports, and well, I don't know about you, but when I'm playing a serious, full-screen game, I couldn't care less about which OS is running in the background. I actually like the separation, since when I'm booted into OSX or Linux, I'm in work mode with few distractions. It's a semi-conscious association that helps me focus.

Comment Firefox is alright, but add-ons suck balls (Score 3, Informative) 665

Firefox itself seems pretty decent these days. The biggest and ugliest problem is the extreme sluggishness of its most popular add-ons. I don't think I'd want to live without Firebug and AdBlock, but these two are huge performance hogs and I almost think they should be absorbed into the main codebase, rather than being sandboxed and crippled in their current incarnation.

A clean install of Firefox loads instantly, just like Chrome and IE9. As soon as I load those two add-ons, it starts taking 2-3 seconds to launch, pages often freeze up due to the repetitive and redundant DOM swizzling. This over-reliance on Javascript-based functionality leads to really sloppy performance and sometimes massive memory leaks. Right this second, with only two tabs open, Firefox is guzzling 450mb of memory. Chrome uses 1/10th of that to display the same content, with the same add-on functionality.

I've been holding out for a long time, but Chrome is starting to lure me over. I don't like being at the mercy of Google's totalitarian whims, but Firefox' idealism is wearing thin unless some real programmers get in there and clean things up. For the average user, Chrome is a clear winner simply because it's faster.

Comment Re:He's obviously right (Score 1) 635

Modern gamers aren't anything like that. Sure, they will buy the latest GPU and run the vendor-supplied overclocking tool, but that's about the extent of it.

The vast majority of gamers, the "butter zone" as far as marketing and profits are concerned, are not tweakers. They know how to double-click an icon, type in their password and right-click things until they die, but ask too much of them and they will flee to the nearest PS3 or X360. If Linux gaming catches on, these people will run Ubuntu. Even better: they will run a spinoff of Ubuntu that asks even less questions.

Comment Re:After Rage (Score 4, Insightful) 635

Carmack's relevance is not overinflated. He is a brilliant programmer. He's just not a designer. That used to be Romero's job, back in the glory days. Romero would put out the cool ideas, and Carmack would bring them to reality.

A lot of programmers are like that. You can be a technical genius, a creative genius, or somewhere in between. You can even oscillate between the two poles, but I've never heard of anyone being a creative technical genius. They are fundamentally contrasting modes of thought.

Give the man a great, fleshed-out concept and he will turn it into a top-tier game. He has a gift for tackling complex, multi-faceted problems that seem insurmountable. He just needs someone to provide those challenges, otherwise he will continue to churn out the same tired old crap.

Comment Re:After Rage (Score 1) 635

Rage was indeed a half-assed game, as are most recent iD games. Good code, terrible design. That doesn't mean the man isn't intelligent or insightful. It just means he's a terrible gameplay designer. He knows the fuck out of the technology side of it, he's a nuts and bolts kind of guy, and that's why his opinion matters here.

If he were bitching about how Call of Duty has a crappy UI, well then he'd be talking out of his ass. Just like you are.

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."