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Comment: Re:I wonder how much damage... (Score 3, Insightful) 273

by fermion (#46779659) Attached to: Apache OpenOffice Reaches 100 Million Downloads. Now What?
Excel is about the only component in the MS Office suite that is still arguably superior. When it came out on the Mac almost 30 years ago it was revolutionary. And this is from someone who was quite adept at Visicalc and Quattro. OTOH, it is my wish that no one use MS Powerpoint anymore. It is dated and ugly. MS Word is truly useful in a few use cases, buy mostly it is just that people know how to use to get simple tasks done and teaching them how to complete those tasks differently is cost prohibitive.

Due to the way MS products are licensed, and the cost of training, and the fact that the average person gets confused easily with software, it is cheaper for large organizations to buy the MS products for use by the minority of users that actually need it.

Comment: Depends (Score 2) 248

by fermion (#46778741) Attached to: SSD-HDD Price Gap Won't Go Away Anytime Soon
if you are talking about throw away worker drones or server machines, then no. There is no data on these machine, the costs to swap them out are minimal. I recall a place that had racks of a few hundred machines, a dedicated person to swap them out, and two died a day. Putting anything but the cheapest product in there would have been a waste of money. But the data machines, those were special. Probably cost more than the combined servers the fed to.

Likewise, worker bee machines that are pretty much dumb terminals are not going to use SSD. But other machines that people actually do and store work on, that may be something different.

Look, tape is on the order of penny per gigabyte. Hard disks are somewhere between 5-10 cents a gigabyte. SSD is about 50 cents a gigabyte. Many people still back up onto hard disk even though tape is more reliable. We are going to use SSD because there are benefits that justify the order of magnitude increase.

Comment: Re:Make Magazine (Score 1) 282

by fermion (#46776137) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?
One thing that surprises me is that every talks about Byte, but not the spin off of a great column in Byte, Ciarcia's Circuit Cellar. Circuit Cellar is a bit expensive, and very technical, but if you like really making hardware it is a must. Circuit Cellar is the part of byte that was hardware making. There was another part that review and broad industry connections, another part that was software, and of course the musings of Jerry Pournelle. If you are into reading international English fiction, Granta is also a must have.

Comment: Re:Spare Change (Score 3, Insightful) 318

And this brings up charity versus philanthropy.

Charity is something you do because you believe you are wealthy enough to give someone money with no strings attached. This is what the salvation army wants you to do during Christmas. Not thinking that your money is going to be used to promote hate, teach people that science is bad, and generally ruin the minds of children. But many people still give because charity is good.

Then there is philanthropy. That occurs when people with money want to control the world. They decide what is best for everyone, and use their funds to make it happen. It is no better or worse than charity, just different.

Comment: Re:The sad part here... (Score 1) 266

by fermion (#46773387) Attached to: Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago
This was not really an innovative product for the time. The Apple Newton had full network capability, for instance. I know I had it connected to the internet and think I had a basic web browser. When the internet was pushed to the public, there were a number of dedicated machines, or internet appliances, that were introduced to the market, most few have heard of because they were failures. WebTV was a big one, I only know how it worked because I had to visit a dealer to fix a bug on a website I was working on. there were others during the 2000 time frame, but mostly the technology was not there.

Comment: Re:All I can say to that is... (Score 2) 68

When I converted a family member from MS Office to Pages years ago it was a struggle. The expectation was that there was only one way for a such an application to work, and that was defined by MS Office. Everything that was different was wrong, everything that missing was a glare. I get that. Most people in the US at least were trained on MS Office and they don't know anything different. OTOH, I got through the struggles, and Pages did the job as well as anything.

I have seen a similar situations with open textbooks. I have seen lately several that have clearly used MS Word. The layout and formulas are awful. I do technical work in LaTex. Obviously, because these authors have never used anything else but MS Office, and when all one has it a hammer everything is a nail, they just assumed that MS Word is the best thing to in which to write a book.

As an aside, I did write a short, 60 pagish, book back in the late 90's. I specifically chose because it had some features at the time that made putting together such a thing very easy. Also, 10 years ago, was much better at open old MS Word files than MS Word. Ms Word is still the absolute best way to right a Memo. MS Excel is still the best spreadsheet, but it is no longer so good that it is the only choice for many projects. MS Powerpoint is the worst presentation creator that I have used., Libreoffice is better, and Keynote used to be way better before Apple shoehorned it into the iPad and made that the official version.

MS Ofiice is the defacto format for file transfer though, and because MS is horrible at managing such a thing is becoming increasingly difficult to see such files with an MS tool.

Comment: Re:Easy Militia States (Score 1) 1571

by fermion (#46769649) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

There is certainly a fantasy that militias are unregulated and are there to defend the local population against the government, but much like Mitt Romney and the South, the anti-federalists lost. Get over it. The amendment says 'well regulated'. As far as militias go, it did have a pretty good definition, I think it was in the Virginia charter or some other document relating to incorporation. Therefore if we did have militias, the people would have to be recorded, and there would have to be further regulation to insure that order was maintained.

Consistent with this fantasy, it would theoretically be perfectly legal for these groups to attack federal officials as was done in Waco and currently done in Nevada where a criminal has groups of militias defending his right to be a criminal. This really hurts no one because, as in Waco, if we had someone who was as forceful as Janet Reno, the feds would just go in and kill everyone and be done with. Which is really the issue here. Superior forces win. And as long as the militia can't own working tanks, or rocket propelled grenades, or tactical nuclear weapons, it is unlikely that a 'militia' is going to be anything but hamburger.,

Comment: previous art (Score 1) 140

by fermion (#46769391) Attached to: Bill Gates Patents Detecting, Responding To "Glassholes"
This device detects a flash and then overcomes the image with and LED. I don't know if it every made it to market,but this is the only way I can think of to detect a camera. Detect the infrared from the active sensor, and flash a high intensity LED back. I assume that the camera using the Google Glasses uses such an active sensor.

Comment: Re:Quite logical reaction (Score 2) 789

The interactions between children are not the same as the interaction between adults. Even in high school there is judgement call. If we are honest, we admit that there are these kids running around being aggressively annoying and the solution is not only to punish the bully, but to teach the person who is being bullied how to act in civilized society. This is probably not what happened here, but the point is we don't have all the facts. It could be that it is a simple case of group aggression against a individual perceived as not having the power to stop it. The fact that the school felt they needed to protect the bullies speaks to the possibility that this was some sort of group with status and they were showing that status by bullying. That said, bullying, especially at the high school level, is not going to be solved by inspirational PR campaigns. It is going to be solved by identify bullying as a precursor to future criminal behavior and treating it as such. Right now aggressive behavior, especially in boys, is seen as something to be cultivated. The physically strong who are willing to use their strength for evil are considered superior to those who are actually creating things and making the world a better place. As long as those who go to class and learn to be productive and informed citizens are seen as inferior to those who are merely willing to do anything to show strength, nothing will be solved.

Comment: Re:It was a "joke" back then (Score 1) 275

And it is the innovators that can imagine the context in the present that make the future. This idea that we might all like a computer on our desk. That radio might be supported by more interesting things than just reading out a list of prices. That a punch card might be used for more than making cloth.

BTW, I think Heinlein got it right with the waterbed.

Comment: why? (Score 1) 157

by fermion (#46750337) Attached to: Will This Flying Car Get Crowdfunded?
A hovering car certainly has applications. It would require less expensive roads and would be, in principle, much more self driving than a car on wheels. It would have to be as it will likely be difficult to control purely by human means. But a flying car. We essential have those. You just need a pilots license and have begin and end locations near an airfield for takeoff and landings. Of course air fields are not nearly as prolific as they used to be.

Comment: Re:Wrong. Amazon profit from abuse of min. wage co (Score 1) 83

by fermion (#46749103) Attached to: Seattle Bookstores Embrace
Not sure what this has to do with anything, even though it is true. I order through amazon from independent book dealers. The books appears to come from the dealers, packed by the dealers, often with a nice note from the dealers.

The article states that the workers in the amazon warehouse are frequenting the book sellers in the area. Whether they are treated badly, these workers have the disposable income to buy a book. I am big book buyer, but there have been times in my life when I went to the library instead of a bookstore. So as badly as these employees are treated, they are paid, though probably not as much as they should be, enough to have some expendable income.

And honestly, no matter what no independent retailer can compete with the big box or online stores. I used to pay extra just to support the local book and music dealers. Ultimately there were just not enough of us and they went out business.

Comment: don't blame amazon (Score 1) 83

by fermion (#46744205) Attached to: Seattle Bookstores Embrace
Although not in Seattle, from what I can see most people who do not shop from Amazon shop at Powell's. I guess they think Powell's is cooler. But here is the rub. I often order books through Amazon from other book dealers. Amazon gives these bookstores the online infrastructure and allows them to reach an audience outside of the neighborhood, and an Audience, that, like me, hasn't spent hours in a bookstore going through books, at least has not done so in a decade or so. I read the reviews, and but the books. So it is good that the Amazon sweat shop pays enough so people can buy books and helps the economy in this way. I am sure it helps the economy in other ways. That does not mean that bookstores have any long term potential. it simply has to do with stock. New stock is too expensive as publishers have always punished the independent bookstore with higher prices. Used stock is going to become increasingly hard to come by.

Comment: Re:Here's what troubles me about Apple and the med (Score 4, Insightful) 266

by fermion (#46740045) Attached to: Apple's Spotty Record of Giving Back To the Tech Industry
Innovation is always built on the back of others. Nothing pops out of the blue. It is only the lack of education that makes on believes otherwise. The entire affordable microcomputer industry is based on Compaq's reverse engineering(stealing) of the IBM OS. The free browser for everyone is due to MS conning a profitable firm, then giving away the browser and forcing that firm into bankruptcy. Innovation has never been about pulling a product out of you ass. A knife was not suddenly one day made. We had to figure out how to mine the melt, smelt it, and then how to make it a knife that is not brittle.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.