Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:This one lasted a year... (Score 1) 217

by darylb (#47436243) Attached to: My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...

Not the same thing.

This was a bulb in an upright lamp that just started smoking, out of the blue. I was in another room during the middle of the day, smelled the foul odor, and went looking for the problem. If the CFL had been knocked over, covered up, or otherwise compromised, that'd be one thing. But this malfunctioned in this way in the regular course of expected operation.

Comment: Instead of buying a phone every three years... (Score 1) 129

by darylb (#47399853) Attached to: Android Wear Is Here

you can now buy a watch every one to two years.

C'mon. There are three broad categories of watch people these days:
1. The "I have a phone, so why do I need a watch?" category. Most people under 30 are here.
2. The "My watch is the measure of my style." category. They either view watches as cheap and disposable (watch as fashion statement), or expensive and long-lasting (watch as jewelry or mark of status). Who among these will buy a $100-$200 device that will be obsolete every couple of years?
3. The "My watch tells me the time without fuss and hassle" category. These people buy watches that last, but don't really want to think much about it. It needs to tell time, and perhaps have an alarm. They don't want to charge it every day. (I'm in this category. My Casio G-shock cost $40 5 years ago. I've changed its battery once. Otherwise, it requires no maintenance.)

I don't know which of these people these Android watches appeal to. What possible advantage does a tiny display on an expensive item offer that really beats out what your basic smartphone can do, and which is still required in the equation?

Comment: What was desirable about it? (Score 1) 71

by darylb (#47361453) Attached to: Improv Project, Vivaldi Tablet Officially Dead

Open hardware sounds cool, but as others have noted, good hardware design is both difficult and expensive. Considering how rapidly the components advance (CPU/SoC, I/O, displays, etc.), it would be hard for a small shop trying to live up to competing demands of "quick to market," "affordable to produce," "doable without a larger company's backing" to compete seriously against the likes of, say, Google's partners. Of note, even Google outsources the hardware.

But then there's the software. What does a "generic" Linux core with KDE offer that's a real improvement over the open source pieces of Android? Why not put a different UI (even KDE) onto Android? What am I missing here? Does anyone really want to reinvent the wheel of making a Linux kernel and its accessories meet the dual needs of good performance and economical power usage? Considering the variations already available for Android, what was the goal?

We're in a world where a first generation Nexus 7 tablet sells for $140 or less. At Walmart.

Comment: Streaming's great until it not available (Score 1) 477

by darylb (#46924555) Attached to: Sony Warns Demand For Blu-Ray Diminishing Faster Than Expected

I'm an old fart (comparatively) on Slashdot, and so I still buy physical media. Streaming is great until the content provider yanks it from the service you use, or moves it to a competing service in an exclusive deal (cf. HBO's recent deal with Amazon; no more Wire on Netflix, I suppose). Do people really want to subscribe to ALL of these streaming services? Or, hey, go pirate it off some torrent and hope the DRM cops don't start sending letters with invoices for $2,000 in fines.

In contrast, you can buy the DVD or Blu-ray and (hypothetically) rip it to whatever format, or make a backup DVD or SD card for the family minivan.
You can also give it to someone else, sell it, or even bequeath it to your heirs.

Comment: He's right. Windows Phone is pretty decent (Score 1) 81

by darylb (#46845169) Attached to: Microsoft/Nokia Deal Closes

Kalriath notes the built-in bias against Microsoft's Windows Phone. I had it, too, until my brand new Galaxy S4 went missing. So I bought a no-contract Lumia 520 runnings WP8 for $75. (The sub-$100 Android phones all suck.) After about 20 minutes, I was completely impressed. It was easy to setup and configure. The apps and navigation mostly made sense. It was no speed demon, but it WAS usable, on $75 hardware even. (The Lumia 520 runs a dual-core 1GHz CPU, with 512MB of RAM, 8GB of built-in storage and support for microSD cards. The battery is even user-replaceable.) I ended up returning the Galaxy S4.

Face it, the Android phones worth using have an inordinate amount of CPU horsepower. Windows Phone seems optimized to run better with less, and it showed. The built-in hubs for social networking (freeing me from the disastrous Facebook mobile apps) were a stroke of genius.

WP8.1 holds even more promise. It goes backward in a couple of ways (like doing away with hubs, and the new Xbox Music is, at present, a disaster). Nonetheless, it's making technological progress.

It's all precarious for Microsoft. They've got a lot of ground to regain (or gain in the first place), and Google and Apple aren't sitting still. However, you can get devices that run Windows Phone very well for very little cash. It's nice to use a sub-$400 device that actually works.

Comment: Re:John Thompson as Chairman? (Score 1) 177

by darylb (#46126403) Attached to: Reports Say Satya Nadella Is Microsoft's Next CEO

Sorry, but there's a difference. Compare the high-end iPhones and Galaxy devices with their oil-resistant coatings to, say, an entry level Lumia 520. (I own the latter.) The entry-level Lumia lacks the coating, and it needs a daily cleaning. My wife's iPhone 4S needs it only after a sloppy toddler coats it with spaghetti sauce or yogurt.

You're right that gestures aren't always very precise. A finger is bigger than a 2-pixel point on an arrow driven by a mouse. Yet the touchscreen allows for direct manipulation of something. Turn here, pull that, etc. I didn't think I'd like it, but, after a couple of days, I notice that I use the mouse for (as you say) very fine work. But for other stuff -- clicking OK, or resizing a window -- the touchscreen is easier.

Comment: Re:They sell something other than exchange? (Score 2) 177

by darylb (#46126393) Attached to: Reports Say Satya Nadella Is Microsoft's Next CEO

Skydrive (soon to be OneDrive, after their settlement with Sky Network) is more than a Dropbox knockoff. It's more similar to Google Drive. Namely, it's an online storage area for documents that aren't tied to a particular computer. Edit that Word document on your Windows Phone? Save it to Skydrive, and it'll magically appear on your tablet or desktop.

Office 365 is just following in the steps (or alongside of) Adobe in offering a continual-pricing model. You get all the upgrades, and the up-front price is cheaper than a perpetual license. But you'll pay the annual fee perpetually. It DOES cover up to 5 machines. Whether it's what any given person wants is up to them. Being the family dad, I can see the appeal of having the software available for everyone in the house to use, on whatever machine. I don't like the recurring cost, though.

Active Directory has displaced pretty much all the other directory services. There's some suckage with it, but less suckage than their former competitors.

Exchange! Microsoft was the one company that, over time, figured out how email-contacts-calendar-todo-scheduling should really work in an in-house environment. (Google's suite in the cloud works well, but companies won't want a cloud solution for corporate-wide use.) I hated Outlook forever. DESPISED IT. In the end, the Outlook-Exchange combo does a lot of very valuable things. As you note, Lotus is hardly a competitor, and POP3/IMAP solutions are stone knives and bearskins compared to Exchange/Outlook.

The rumors of Microsoft's demise are premature. They need some fresh leadership, to be sure. But there's lots of talent and lots of research at Microsoft, backed up by their entrenchment in a lot of companies' infrastructure. It'll be a long time replacing all of that.

Comment: Re:John Thompson as Chairman? (Score 1) 177

by darylb (#46125449) Attached to: Reports Say Satya Nadella Is Microsoft's Next CEO

The nice touchscreens resist oils on fingertips. Even my low-end Inspiron 14R laptop's touchscreen doesn't need a cleaning very often. It encourages me to wash my hands after eating the french fries, too. :)

Seriously, now that I've been using a touchscreen for a few weeks, it's WAY more natural than a mouse. Scroll bars? Feh. Reach out and touch that 3-D assembly and rotate it.

Comment: John Thompson as Chairman? (Score 3, Interesting) 177

by darylb (#46125251) Attached to: Reports Say Satya Nadella Is Microsoft's Next CEO

Thoughts on all of this:
1. John Thompson (former Symantec CEO) as Chairman? Oh no. Symantec produced more steaming piles of crap called "software" than any company really has a right to. This wouldn't bode well.

2. People can say what they want about consumer devices, but enterprise software is worth LOTS of money. Having a guy like Nadella that understands a lot of the enterprise angle running things is a good idea. Yeah, you can sell people a phone (with a final cost of some $500), and a bunch of $1 and $2 applications, and some fraction of a $50 monthly cell bill. OR, you can sell them an OS for each computer in the place at a cost of $30-$50, an indispensable office suite for $150 per seat, client licenses for file servers, active directory, databases, web servers, and the like, PLUS the costly licenses for the server software, PLUS annual maintenance. It's easy to see where the cash is, and it's not in consumer devices.

3. I can see why people might prefer Windows 7 to Windows 8, but most of the time people are speaking from ignorance, never having used Windows 8 (or having used it only with a mouse). It's a different beast entirely with a touch screen. As for usability, Apple is on a downward slide, IMHO. We're getting nothing but gratuitous changes in every release now, and Mavericks positively ruined an otherwise serviceable 5-year-old MacBook by destroying its performance. Windows Phone 8 is really nice, especially in the way it emphasizes the productivity uses of the phone over games and glitz. It's a lot tighter resource-wise than Android for sure.

4. Microsoft spends like four times as much on R&D as Apple does. Apple's a rather minor player in this regard.

I think Microsoft could be positioned for a real resurgence with the right leadership.

Comment: Development Tools? (Score 5, Interesting) 1264

by darylb (#39847077) Attached to: Why Desktop Linux Hasn't Taken Off

At work, I write code that has to run on Windows (multiple versions, multiple bitness), Linux x86-64, and Solaris SPARC 64. Maintaining compatibility across multiple versions of Windows and Visual Studio is trivial compared to Linux. Worse, GUI applications have more complex code execution paths that, under Windows, can be debugged without too much pain. On Linux, I cringe every time I have to fix a broken GUI.

I'm sure there are lots of Linux developers that are smarter than I am, but, really, Microsoft has pushed hard to make the developer tools usable and productive, so much so that they're actually worth the cost. The result is that it's easier to develop more apps faster on their platform.

Just one opinion.

A computer scientist is someone who fixes things that aren't broken.