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Comment: X Windows Isn't Very Big, and Servers Need it (Score 1) 280

by billstewart (#47859473) Attached to: Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

Yes, X is a lot more bloated now than it was back in the late 1980s, when I was running it on 386/25 PCs or Sun3s. But on just about anything but an ARM microcontroller, it's still small enough that you can run a basic X distribution that's enough to fire up a browser, and still not make a dent in the system resources. And you need that browser to use lots of management applications, some of which you're going to need before all the networking is really done, and you probably also want to run a couple of X-terms at the same time, doing something that alternatively you'd have to do on a 24x80 Emacs screen.

Yes, there are lots of tools that want Gnome or KDE, which are both a lot more bloated than some TWM upgrade or Motif or something, and sometimes they're useful enough to drag them in, but you can still have enough X Windows for a server machine without including all the LibreOffice, GIMP, and other large desktop application suites.

Comment: No, Reclining is *not* "socially unacceptable" (Score 1) 811

Reclining is perfectly reasonable, even though there are people who whine about it because they'd like to be using a laptop. The exception is during meals, where people behind you need to be able to reach their tray and where most airlines no longer provide enough space (though they've mitigated this by no longer providing meals either.) And as a tall passenger, I especially need to recline, because airplane seats aren't built for tall people's backs.

However, I agree with you that you should recline slowly, giving the person behind you time to move a laptop.

Comment: I *like* Robusta coffees! (Score 1) 228

by billstewart (#47849601) Attached to: DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

Sure, it's not the only thing I drink, and there are lots of really great arabicas, and even some of the libericas are drinkable. The taste is different, and if you haven't had it, Vietnamese coffee is the easiest source to find. (There are some non-Vietnamese robustas, and some non-robusta coffee in Vietnam, but basically they dominate the market for good robusta, plus there's some from Africa as well.) Many of the varieties of coffee out there were developed by looking for mutations in existing coffee strains, trying to find weird beans that would breed true, and mainly looking for disease resistance and good production quantities.

And you really should go read the recent research article on DNA results from coffee, or at least the popularized summaries. Interesting stuff about how caffeine evolved separately in coffee and tea plants, in both cases probably because it kept insects from eating them.

Comment: Pre-rendering web pages (Score 1) 107

by billstewart (#47814535) Attached to: Raspberry Pi Gets a Brand New Browser

Sorry, but web pages get rendered into images before displaying them. (Though at least Firefox's semi-recent versions don't bother rendering web pages until needed when you crash&restart Firefox, which I do all the time - usually not on purpose, though I'll occasionally do it to scavenge memory or when performance has become unbearably slow.)

Comment: Re: Redshirts vs. Old Man's War (Score 1) 180

by billstewart (#47726175) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

Guess you and I are on opposite sides of the fence about Scalzi. I read Old Man's War, and while it was well done, it didn't grab me at all. Most military sci-fi is pretty soulless. Redshirts started out looking like it was going to be a fun Star Trek parody, but then went into a bunch of totally new directions. It wasn't my first choice of the nominees that year, but it way exceeded my expectations.

Comment: Re:So, what controversy? (Score 3, Interesting) 180

by billstewart (#47726127) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

Correia seemed to be trying to rudely bully a lot of people to make it clear that he doesn't like all of you politically correct liberal liberal liberals out there in the publishing business. He was the one who brought Beale in to offend anybody who's even vaguely possible to offend; I don't like people doing that at parties I'm attending. (He also ran a campaign slate for nominees, which is pretty much not done (except every publisher saying "hey, vote for all OUR stuff.") I assume they did that together, but I don't know either of them. Their other main slate-member was Torgerson, who writes Mormonish mil-sci-fi. (He also threw the Schlock Mercenary comic in as a graphic work, which I found quite enjoyable back when it was originally nominated but which wasn't eligible as a 2013 work, so I thought that was tacky.)

Beale's fiction wasn't, in my opinion, Hugo quality, but it would have been ok in a pulp magazine back when those were the dominant form. His personal writings are so creepy that I can see why anybody willing to vote for his work would get criticism; reminds me of the "Vote for the Crook" election in Louisiana a few years back. Correia's writing is entertaining, in a mostly cartoonish way, and I'm ok with that. Not super deep, moderately fun if you like the stuff. Torgerson's work was so utterly soulless I ranked it below Beale's.

Comment: Ideological right-wing whiners don't speak for me (Score 1) 180

by billstewart (#47726069) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

Sorry, I'm a Libertarian, from a relatively conservative background (which is not at all the same thing as a right-wing background, so I guess I was the "wrong" type of conservative for you), and I'd much rather read good writing by somebody whose politics I disagree with than bad writing. There are writers who really need gatekeepers to keep them from wasting my time, and there are good writers who still need editors to rein them in (how did Neal Stephenson get to burn a Baroque Cycle worth of paper?) or to help them fix stuff that isn't working. Small presses or big presses can both do that, while electronic publishing usually means "self-publishing" by people who might know to hire a copy-editor, which isn't the same thing at all. And while Charlie Stross* is a socialist who hangs out with Paul Krugman, his economic writing is great stuff; I'm planning to finish Neptune's Brood after reading the Hugo nom excerpt.

Publishing on dead trees is a tough game these days - it has to compete with TV, video games, and the Web and other internet distractions for readers' time, bookstores are dying, getting people to sit down for an entire novel is harder than it used to be, and forget trying to make a living as a short-story writer now that the pulps are gone and the remaining outlets can't pay as much a word. "Hollywood accounting" is more of a problem for writers selling to the alternate-publisher press than the traditional houses.

And yeah, there's too much formulaic dreck out there; Sturgeon's Law hasn't changed, and many publishers are still willing to make literary decisions based on what they've been able to get bookstores to buy, but that's no different for Baen's mil-sci-fi writers than for the urban-paranormal subgenre or the million Tolkien imitators.

* (Yes, Charlie's published in London, and mostly only later in New York, because of the international publishing rights weirdness, but most of the other Scottish SF writers are fairly radically socialist just to annoy people like Anonymous Coward.)

Comment: "New York" was London this year - Orbit Excerpts (Score 1) 180

by billstewart (#47725923) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

BTW, you might not have noticed, but three of the five nominees for the Hugo novels this year were published by Orbit Books, in London. The ideology that marked them was "Hey, we don't want to lose book sales by giving away free copies in the voting packet, let's just do excerpts!" Correia's trilogy was published by Baen, and the Wheel Of Time series, 15-or-so volumes, which got nominated as a single work, was published by Tor, both of whom included the entire sets, which I liked much better. (In Correia's case, Volume 3 was the new work that was actually nominated, but including the first two made it make a lot more sense.)

Excerpts didn't do the job for me. It's not just that I'm grumpy because I'm cheap and consider getting the nominated novels part of what makes it worth paying for the voting membership*, but it also affected how well I could judge the work before voting. For Stross's book, which I was planning to buy anyway, it was enough; for Mira Grant's, it probably was (though so far it doesn't look like as strong a work as the Feed series.) But I know both of their work and have read most of their novels, so I've got some idea of where they might be going; Ancillary Justice was Leckie's debut novel, and while the excerpt was enough to get some flavor of her writing skill, and see some of the things she did in the first few chapters, it's a bit of a slow start, I didn't get sucked into it, and also I can't yet tell whether the main character is just an interesting and complex post-human or a totally creepy slave-taker.

* The package includes the Hugo novels or excerpts, the Campbell-nominated works (mostly novels), all the shorter works, most of the graphical material, a lot of short stories in this year's short-form editor award, a really amazing related-works section (this was a good year for that), all for the cost of a supporting membership for the upcoming Worldcon, which is usually about $40. You get to nominate for the Hugos if you bought it in time, and you get to vote on the winners.

Disclaimer: "These opinions are my own, though for a small fee they be yours too." -- Dave Haynie