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Comment: Exactly! (Score 4, Insightful) 353

by dfm3 (#49080709) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Most Useful Browser Extensions?
If I had mod points, I'd mod you up.

First, having a platform onto which developers can build plugins that users can choose from and enable as needed is far superior to being stuck with the single half-baked implementation that is built in to the browser.

Second, building features directly into browsers eliminates any chance of security-through-obscurity that comes with an ecosystem of security and ad blocking plugins. Two examples: popup blockers (everything is done in javascript now), and the do not track header (arguably, useless even before major browsers implemented it, but even more useless now...)

Comment: Re:Is it just me? (Score 2) 330

by dfm3 (#49041305) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Affordable Large HD/UHD/4K "Stupid" Screens?

These "features" are pretty much all literally unavoidable in all cars these days.

True for some models, but not for all, despite what dealers want you to think. The reason that fully loaded vehicles are pushed so heavily is because it means more money for the dealerships, who can charge a ridiculous premium for each extra feature. Even worse is the practice of bundling features into a "package" with one feature you want and another half dozen that you don't. If you aren't set on a specific model and can find a dealer who is willing to work with you (none of the usual, "I can't get one of those on my lot without the extras" bs), you can definitely find a vehicle without those features.

For example, I have a friend who just purchased a Honda Fit with no extra features, manual transmission, manual everything else - probably not the vehicle you had in mind but it does lack all of those extras.

Comment: Re:Never had such issues (Score 1) 325

by dfm3 (#48766379) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: High-Performance Laptop That Doesn't Overheat?

There are plenty of laptops out there but if you want a somewhat decent one, go for a Macbook Pro.

That was my first thought, until I noticed that the submitter specified this: "...3-6 disk slots which we badly need...."

and this: "....manual fan control plus easy access to the fan for cleaning."

My counter-point would be, why do you need 3-6 disk slots? Could any of that storage be networked?

Also, there used to be third party utilities for OS X that could manually control MBP fans, but I don't think that's been the case for several years and I don't think it could ever be done reliably in Windows. However, the submitter didn't specify which OS they'd be running.

Comment: Re:Huh? (Score 1) 573

by dfm3 (#48746913) Attached to: Gun Rights Hacktivists To Fab 3D-Printed Guns At State Capitol
I was going to post the same response. I live in an open/concealed carry state, and have the appropriate permit. This means that I could legally carry a handgun, concealed or not, in most public spaces... but I NEVER carry openly*, and nobody I know does either, for several reasons:

- gun control advocates who would give me grief
- well meaning citizens who call the police on anybody whom they see carrying (I've known people this has happened to)
- the tactical advantage that comes with the element of surprise (you are less of a target if they are unsure whether you are armed)

* Actually, I prefer not to carry at all, and instead try to stay out of situations/places where I feel that I'd need a gun to feel safe. The only exception to this, and the reason why I got the carry permit, is for defense against possible encounters with wild and aggressive animals in a mountain wilderness where we frequently hike.

Comment: Re:Why not fine the 3rd party companies?? (Score 1) 51

by dfm3 (#48639613) Attached to: T-Mobile To Pay $90M For Unauthorized Charges On Customers' Bills
I would suspect that many of them are shady, fly-by-night operations based out of a PO box somewhere, and that the people responsible tend to be near impossible to track down. By the time the legal system gets around to them, they are long gone with the money and have closed down their "business" only to start up another one under a different name/address.

Comment: Re:The industry will NEVER allow you free energy.. (Score 1) 517

by dfm3 (#48008957) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

I too have off-the-grid dreams as a house-owner, but the power companies always find a way, same thing with the electrical car that could run on water. Lobbyist will manipulate (read: FORCE) politicians into their direction, so you'll be depending on them one way or the other.

Huh? I guess there are places where you are required by law to hook up your house to the power grid, but nobody can force you to USE electricity. What's to stop you from just keeping the main breaker switched off?

I've actually known more than one person who didn't have utility power to their house, and they made it just fine. One of them engineered a small hydroelectric turbine system using a small creek that flowed across their land (they had several hundred acres in the North Carolina mountains) which they used to power a small refrigerator and occasionally a computer. The other used a collection of lead-acid car batteries which they charged up using a solar panel, then could hook up to an inverter as they needed.

Comment: Skeuomorphism vs. flat (Score 4, Informative) 336

by dfm3 (#47593187) Attached to: Windows XP Falls Below 25% Market Share, Windows 8 Drops Slightly

Maybe it's also because I hate the new skeuomorphic design aesthetic. What's wrong with gloss, gradients, transparency, and attractive animations, or even a bevel or link here and there so we can actually tell something is clickable rather than playing mystery-meat navigation? I swear, everything is going flat-shaded, blocky, ugly, and indistinguishable, all because that's now the new "hip" look.

Skeumorphism - the use of design elements that mimic real life objects with similar functions, is actually the opposite phenomenon from the flat, light-on-pastel design trend. Though I fully agree with you - both of these UI philosophies have been severely overused.

A bit of googling will turn up plenty of articles analyzing the history of the skeuomorphism-versus-flat debate particularly at Apple, which I would argue has been one of the biggest influences in UI design over the last few years. Basically, the loss of skeuomorphism advocates such as Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall led to the pendulum swinging completely in the other direction, and many gimmicky and dated interface elements such as notes apps that look like real paper and a game center that looks like a cheap felt billiard table have been stripped away. But - what to replace it with? Well, everybody wants to stay on top of the latest design trend, and Microsoft and others seem to be migrating to flat designs, so flat it is.

Although you could argue over who copied who, essentially what you have is Microsoft and Apple in a race to see who can flatten their interfaces and strip out any traces of skeuomorphism the fastest. Sure, it looks trendy, but it's reached the point where we are sacrificing usability and accessibility in order to have the most "modern" design. Here's where I have a problem with the whole thing: computer interface elements have been pretty consistent over the last 20+ years or so. Everything behaved as expected and usually acted pretty consistent between operating systems. This is great for users, since they can focus on the task rather than the tools needed to accomplish them, and using the interface becomes second nature. To those who *design* computers rather than *use* them, this is a problem - you want the bling to be noticed. The old way of doing this was to show off your new hardware by making the UI flashy, bright, colorful, inviting - basically by ramping up the skeuomorphic elements to 11.

The problem is, the novelty of this wears off fast, and these interfaces quickly become dated. Now, flat is in, and anything that even remotely resembles skeuomorphism is stripped out. I have a number of problems with the current trend:

1) interface elements are hidden or played down, making them hard to find. Often it's hard to tell if I'm just not looking hard enough for that feature, or if it has been removed altogether.
2) It does away with conventions that have been standard for decades. This means that every time designers go wild designing a new interface, users have to spend time and effort learning a new way to accomplish a task.
3) It's less accessible. Razor thin text is hard for some people to see. Pastel on white and white on pastel text may look "hip" but can incredibly difficult to read. Interface elements that are marginalized can be hard to hunt down if the user doesn't know where to look.
4) It's inconsistent. Some programs hide buttons and scroll bars, some do not. Some use vastly different elements for simple actions such as "close window" so that the user is left guessing at the function of a UI element.

My prediction is that in a few years, "flat" will look as equally dated as skeuomorphism does now.

Comment: Re:e. coli and salmonella? (Score 5, Informative) 106

by dfm3 (#47280443) Attached to: Researchers Find "Achilles Heel" of Drug Resistant Bacteria
As a microbiologist, I agree that the Telegraph article is rife with errors. The original article is paywalled, but from the abstract it sounds as if the researchers described a mechanism by which lipopolysaccharide, a component of the gram-negative cell wall which provides some degree of antibiotic resistance, is exported from the cell. I understand Dong, et al to be suggesting that a compound which prevents proper transport of LPS could be used synergistically with another drug which would otherwise be blocked from entry into the cell by LPS.

Further, the use of the term "immunity" to describe antibiotic resistance is a pet peeve of mine, as these terms do not mean the same thing!

Comment: Re:And the question of the day is... (Score 1) 327

I can't decide if this should be rated funny, flamebait, or insightful. You have a point though... in an age of App Stores where users are faced with the noise of thousands of copycat apps, it seems that the key to success is how well you catch the attention of potential users, whether through pretty UI screenshots or a flashy looking icon. One of my (formerly) favorite weather apps was recently swept up into the modern "pencil thin white text on a light pastel background with flat UI" design craze, and removed about half the app's features while moving the rest to a single, long scrolling column. Half of the users decried the change for removing valuable functionality and destroying ease of navigation, while the other half offered praise along the lines of: "look at that pretty animated background!" and "ooooooh, shiney!"

Comment: How can I relate this to a car analogy... (Score 1) 146

by dfm3 (#46848719) Attached to: Texas Family Awarded $2.9 Million In Fracking Lawsuit

We are not anti-fracking or anti-drilling. My goodness, we live in Texas.

Yeah, we love fracking! Now give us the 2.9 million dollars...

I love cars. However, if you drove a car into my house and caused serious injury to my family, I would expect monetary compensation from you to cover the damages and medical bills.

Good day to avoid cops. Crawl to work.