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Comment: Re:Software testing ... what a novel concept (Score 2) 108

by TuringTest (#49093343) Attached to: Scotland's Police Lose Data Because of Programmer's Error

Software testing doesn't protect against a user pressing the wrong button, which then works as expected. I agree it's a management error, but the failure in such cases is a lack of user testing.

Systems should be designed to follow the interactions that are more likely to be made by users, not the other way around - forcing users to follow the path that a developer thought would make sense. Unfortunately, user-centered design is still a foreign concept to a good chunk of developer houses.

Comment: Re:"Millions of dollars spent" / state of Flow (Score 1) 94

Like wiki pages, Flow posts have their own revision history. Flow-enabled pages have a wiki-style header. Each thread has a summary which can be community-edited. Threads can be collapsed and un-collapsed by anyone. All actions are logged. In short, wiki-style principles and ideas are implemented throughout the system.

However, a core property of wikis -that the structure of the page can be edited in any shape without the need for programming- is missing. Flow is a threaded conversation system by design, and only a threaded conversation system - it can't be tweaked by their users into something else, and the sequence of comments is shown in order enforced by the tool. All discussion regarding how the tool could be generalized to support other kind of collaboration workflows or those basic needs such as reordering and merging comments, which are trivial to make in the basic wiki "everything is a stream of text" model, were dodged or delayed to be studied at future "more complex" use cases. That didn't provide any confidence that those needs were understood by the design team.

Comment: Re:"Millions of dollars spent" / state of Flow (Score 1) 94

I find your post interesting, and your points in many ways are an accurate analysis of many major problems with Wikipedia - yet I still find your point 11 ("The wiki is the problem") a non-sequitur. A wiki is in essence a model for data storage, where the expectations for interaction and data management are closer to control versioning than to the classic CRUD cycle. As such, it's a neutral tool that could be used in many other ways and improved to cover most of the current shortcomings; in particular, there's no reason why those other "practical solutions" and workflows for organizing content couldn't be built on top of a wiki-like storage layer, so the contradiction you see doesn't exist in essence.

The problems you mention are for the most part caused by the community dynamics and rules, with a few caused by the current wiki platform, rather than the wiki storage model itself.

The only point directly related to organizing things as a wiki is point 6, "Page ownership" - which is a real problem, but only exists because of the decision to build an encyclopedia where each page is an article that can be edited by anyone, not because the tool for storing the page is stored a wiki system. Every other point is caused by the project's original view as an anarchist playground which permeates all its policies, not any inherent limitation of the software.


As for the approach taken by, I agree that there's a need to give visibility to contributions from any user without giving the next editor in the line the possibility of removing them completely without trace; though that doesn't the benefits of a wiki.

Newslines is good for news-driven topics, but there's a need for an encyclopedia-like description of the topic, that a list of unrelated news doesn't cover; there needs to be a coherent wording that describes the highlights of the topic and how each part relates to the whole, and a wiki page covers that need. Compare the pages for Ebola at Wikipedia and at Newsline - which one would you prefer for first learning about the disease, and which one for staying up to date with recent developments? It's clear that they serve different, complementary purposes.

Comment: Re:"Millions of dollars spent" / state of Flow (Score 1) 94

I've been following the development of Flow, and it's definitely not hyperbole.

The problem with Flow is not that it's not a valid talk system, it's that Wikipedia talk pages are not mere talk system. Even if Flow was the niftier, most standard, most boring talk software, there were needs in the ways that the users actually use the software that were never addressed in its design, and which caused all the backlash.

Wikipedia talk pages are based at their core on a wiki system, and wikis are the closest thing to the original vision of a hypertext made for "augmenting the human intellect" - it's the purest native digital way to store information for collaborative authoring and communication; it's the equivalent of clay for modelling thoughts, and Flow was a mere striped notebook. Flow took the power away from their users, and the users revolted.

Flow might have been an interesting tool to be used on a different new project, but was a poor fit for the existing user base, who were already used to a more powerful and flexible tool.

Comment: Re:Another one? (Score 2) 55

by TuringTest (#48863241) Attached to: Jim Blasko Explains BitCoin Spinoff 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 1 of 2)

There are over a hundred different altcoins by now. What makes this one so different that it's Slashdot-front-page worthy?

It has hit Slashdot front-page, therefore it has got exposure to some high profile geeks (or it would, if there were any high profile geeks left reading Slashdot).

Comment: Re:I switched from Excel (Score 1) 70

by TuringTest (#48837701) Attached to: Andy Wolber Explores Online Word Processors' ODF Support

I actually wonder why anyone pays for the Office Suite now

One word: styling. In a corporate environment that needs to 1) allow mostly untrained office workers to share, cut and remix content and 2) stage it with corporate branding of tolerable quality, MS Office is still the easiest software stack to set up.

There are other platforms for technical writing that are more flexible and provide better, more professional results, but they're a nightmare to mount from scratch, and require a good deal of training. MS Office only requires to follow an install wizard to have it up and running.

The huge investments MS makes on making it obvious to use for simple use cases ensure a gentle ramp up where users can start using it at their own pace and being productive in a short time. Learning its numerous and frustrating quirks to achieve more complex results can happen later, as knowledge disseminates within the organization, which then gets locked-in in this software platform.

Comment: Re:Cheaper option, Google Cardboard (Score 1) 74

by TuringTest (#48810307) Attached to: Ars: Samsung Gear VR Is Today's Best Virtual Reality

If your phone has Project Tango hardware and a good amoled screen with high resolution, and if the manufacturer implements a high refresh rate, you will have a lot of what the Occulus Rift has in terms of image quality

...and if the hardware has high latency, half of their users will report headaches and severe dizziness that last for days after using it.

Occulus limitations are there to provide an extremely low latency, which is needed to reduce the above effects. Full immersion in a VR environment has disorientation effects much more intense than those of 3D cinema. There are some users immune to them, but major publishers are not interested in this technology unless they can sell it to 99% of common people.

Cardboard is a cheap way to test what it's like to have a virtual environment with head position tracking, but it doesn't compare to the quality of an Oculus device. Heck, even Oculus is having problems with creating lasting nausea for many, and it's being created by an all-star team of world-class developers.

Comment: Re: No. Hell No. Bad Idea. (Score 2) 480

by TuringTest (#48794763) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

For this to have any effect someone would need to force 100s (small-town election)

Which is easy to do when the small town is dominated by the local chieftain.

to millions (presidential election) ppl to vote the way they need.

Which is certainly doable by a well-coordinated syndicate of local chieftains with a shared interest in a pro-local-chieftain candidate.

With just a few percent of the victims testifying anyone trying to pull this off should find themselves in serious trouble.

This is why vote anonymity is essential. If a ruler is powerful enough to impose the votes on a whole community, no one would be silly enough to risk their neck by openly testifying against them. This may look hypothetical today, but if you open the possibility for coercion in elections, its only a matter of time that it gets abused on a wide scale.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.