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Comment: Re:Goodbye skeuomorphic... (Score 1) 506

by itsdapead (#49139029) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

The Windows GUI has always used oblique projection.

Go look at the folder icons in Windows 7. If you're not convinced by the simple fact that they don't suck at your eyeballs like isometric or oblique drawings always do, switch to "extra large icons" view, and trace back the top and bottom edges of the folder cover. The lines converge. The facing edges of the sheets of paper in the folders are slightly shorter the further back they are in the view. That's perspective, that is.

Comment: Re:Note that this is a little different from softw (Score 5, Insightful) 207

by itsdapead (#49100597) Attached to: Wired On 3-D Printers As Fraud Enablers

There can be difference in qualities, and the originals may be collectibles...

I don't think people are seriously worried about someone scanning some priceless marble figurine, printing a copy and selling it for $100,000,000 to some very stupid collector who doesn't notice that it is made rather roughly from plastic.

They're more worried about someone scanning a $20 Popular Cartoon Character(R)(C)(TM) doll and printing a copy for their sprog, without the House of Mouse receiving their rightful tithe under the 2016 "lets keep Mickey copyrighted forever" act.

Comment: Re:This is OK... (Score 2) 199

by itsdapead (#48979887) Attached to: British MPs Approve 3-Parent Babies

... but GMO food is OMG DEADLY!

Mitochondrial transplants: Seems to be driven by doctors and scientists genuinely trying to help (I'm assuming that the drug companies would make more money out of sick children). Risk: A few kids are born sick, or go on to have sick children. Tragic on a personal scale, but the world doesn't end. Humans are at the top of the food chain, so its not going to fuck up the ecosystem any more than humans have already fucked it. You're only moving DNA between humans, and with a small number of people. Benefits: parents with bad mitochondria can have disease-free children.

GMO food: driven by Big Agrochem trying to make shitloads of money, acquire copyrights and patents on key food crops and 'bundle' their own special seeds with their own special pesticides and weedkillers. Risks: you're fucking with the bottom of the food chain - screw up and the results will affect everything further up the chain (including us). You don't even want to take a tiny, tiny risk of killing off pollinating insects or having 'terminator' genes or antibiotic markers jump species. Benefits: only if you own shares in big agro (unless you think buying expensive seed and complimentary chemicals from multinationals and not being able to re-plant harvested seed is somehow going to cure third world hunger).

Comment: Re:Actually, no. It's 2.0001 parent babies (Score 1) 199

by itsdapead (#48979569) Attached to: British MPs Approve 3-Parent Babies

It doesn't affect height, eye colour, intelligence, musicality. It simply allows the batteries to work properly.

Great - I'll choose Usain Bolt's mum's mitochondria then. As for intelligence, I must have been asleep the day the great nature vs. nurture debate was finally resolved on that point, and even if my kids don't grow up to be 7' I'm pretty sure that improved "batteries" will be good for the development of bones, muscles and brain (and the inclination to use them). Musicality... well, it depends on whether they want to play the triangle or the trumpet, really.

You know, I'm broadly behind this idea and it seems like the real scientists have done a risk/benefit analysis, but some of the comments from the pro- lobby have been just as stupid as the ones from the FUDdites.

Oh, yes, however you try to split these hairs, these babies will have genetic material from 3 people, and female babies will pass the mitochondiral DNA to their own children, so mitochondria are for life, and beyond, just for Christmas.

Like I said - I'm in favour of this but it needs (and if you sift through all the nonsense in the media, it seems to have received) careful thought.

Comment: Vital information lacking... (Score 1) 514

by itsdapead (#48938387) Attached to: The Gap Between What The Public Thinks And What Scientists Know

It would help enormously if the survey makers would kindly supply the correct answers to those questions (along with some indication of confidence intervals) so we could judge whether the "scientists" or the general public had got it right.

(Hint: in most cases I suspect the correct answer is "Please could you ask a more specific question that could lead to a meaningful answer, not one borrowed from a tabloid headline?")

E.g. I don't worry about dropping dead because I've eaten a GM tomato, I worry more about GM crops who's raison d'etre is to sell more weedkiller, or what insect-repellant varieties could do to insect populations (and whatever used to eat the insects that fed on the non-GM plants) and I worry like hell about all the world's essential food crops ending up '(c) & Pat. pending Monsanto , all rights reserved'.

Comment: The scale just doesn't compare (Score 1) 237

by itsdapead (#48923319) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

There was still plenty of room left in Europe when pilgrims settled in America.

You're assuming that the task of crossing the Atlantic in the 17th Century is a feat comparable to a more advanced civilisation travelling dozens of lightyears in space. We are a more advanced civilisation - and not only are we still doing pretty badly at human space exploration, we're staring to form pretty successful scientific theories that show the task will be very, very difficult - and could be impossible. You're basing your argument on the (non-falsifiable) notion that an advanced civilisation will develop technology indistinguishable from magic - in an age where science is capable of asking quite a few awkward questions about magic w.r.t. little things like causality and the laws of thermodynamics...

At that time, travelling to America may have not been a picnic, but was still "only" a matter of months. Ships were readily available (the Mayflower was just a garden variety merchant ship). Coming back was unlikely (for the majority of the passengers) but not impossible. Trade with the old world was still feasible (much of the exploration of the new world at the time had a view to bringing resources back to Europe) and the climate on the East coast of America may have proven to be a bit nippy, but you could breathe the air, drink the water, eat native plants and animals and be reasonably confident that your seeds would go.

So, the question is, would the pilgrims still have left Europe for America if it meant a shipbuilding programme that made Apollo look like a science fair project, then spending the rest of their life on a ship, never seeing land, in the hope that their great-grandchildren would finally arrive in America - and then face the task of another generation or two on the ship terraforming the land before they could start ploughing and planting?

Especially given that, if you could buy a ship that could survive for many lifetimes in the middle of the Atlantic without support, wouldn't it be a hell of a lot easier just to build a big raft and park it sufficiently far offshore that the people you were running from wouldn't bother you?

Then, seriously, what do you think the chances are of a bunch of religious fundamentalists crewing a generation ship without overpopulating, schisming, squandering resources, killing each other and regressing to savagery (the 56th law of Science Fiction)? Yet in a society without the tendency for people to persecute each other in an argument over the colour of the sky fairy's wings, their motivation for embarking on the journey wouldn't have existed...

Comment: Re:Ugly as it can be? (Score 2) 214

by itsdapead (#48922901) Attached to: Latest Windows 10 Preview Build Brings Slew of Enhancements

But it's a stretch to say this trend is copying Apple. Windows 8 came out long before Apple's new "flat" look came out, unless I'm aware of a trend that started before that in the Apple camp.

Nah - I think the "skeuomorphism considered harmful" movement comes from form-over-function graphic design numpties who were tired of actual content, meaning or useful visual cues for functionality polluting their minimalist design and stealing valuable screen area that could be used for whitespace, irrelevant generic images of shiny happy people or corporate identity guff. It was showing up on websites etc. (Slashdot's Bucking Feta was fairly late to the party) long before Apple went flat. Google have been going down the same route for some time, too.

Apple didn't help by coming up with some appallingly bad skeuomorphic UIs shortly before they went flat: someone had completely forgotten that the point of making something look like, say, a physical book is to suggest to the user that it works like a physical book (e.g. with data arranged in pages). Apps like Contacts and Calendars looked like books, or flip-over calendars, but didn't work remotely like such things, leaving the user with a load of totally misleading visual cues. (Subsequently copying them from iOS to OSX, where the mouse-based interface made them work even less like the physical object didn't help, either). Now, the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater, and we're left with "mystery meat" UIs with nothing to distinguish the controls from the content.

Comment: Early fragmentation (Score 4, Interesting) 492

by itsdapead (#48899661) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

One early problem with Pascal was fragmentation: while there were various decent, proprietary, dialects that let you actually write code that did stuff, *standard* Pascal was as much use as a chocolate teapot. Standard Pascal had lousy I/o and minimal libraries. the standard didn't even specify how to open a file, whereas C always had a decent subset of the Unix API as part of the de-facto K&R standard.

Had Pascal come a few years later when the IBM PC had crushed all before it, then something like Turbo Pascal might have been far more successful. However, back when there was more than one type of PC to worry about, C's huge standard library, and it's preprocessor for fixing minor dialect issues made it unbeatable for writing portable code.

Comment: (Score 1) 332

by itsdapead (#48894143) Attached to: UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

I miss the days of NTSC, a standard that lasted half a lifetime. This upgrade-your-TV-every-6 months crap is getting old. And get off my lawn.

Some of us grew up with PAL, which made HD even less of a priority.

Quite frankly 720 or compressed-to-shreds 1080i isn't worth the effort c.f. PAL, and although proper 1080p from BluRay is rather more impressive, I can't say it has spoiled me for anything less - a PAL DVD on a ~40" HD screen with upsampling doesn't exactly make you want to claw your eyes out.

Comment: Re:3-format packs coming (Score 1) 332

by itsdapead (#48894065) Attached to: UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

DVD, Blu Ray and UHD in the same box. For only $10 extra, be even more future proof than with just dvd and blu ray!

Don't forget the 3D Blu Ray version and free Digital Copy (download only, not compatible with iTunes, Linux or any system that our proprietary player takes a dislike to, offer expired 1 month before this disc dropped to a sane price).

Comment: Depends on the need... (Score 2) 302

by itsdapead (#48874481) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Has the Time Passed For Coding Website from Scratch?

I'd ask yourself (or the client):

  1. Is the content regularly changing?
  2. Does the client want to update and add content themselves?
  3. Are they happy with a slightly generic look and structure rather than a completely bespoke interface?
  4. Do they want 'blog' functionality - i.e. users can comment directly on each article?
  5. Do they want a system where the bloody <ol> tag is still bloody broken? :-)

If the answer to several of those questions is "yes" and you don't already have a bulging toolkit of your own solutions, then I'd go with off-the-shelf CMS or blogging software. Alternatively, you could do a really nice front-end "sales brochure" in lovingly handcrafted HTML and then link to a CMS/Blog for news, support, customer forums etc.

Frameworks... can have uses but beware the "rapid application development" tarpit whereby you get your basic site/application working in record time and then hit a brick wall because you need to do something that the framework designer never anticipated.

Comment: Easy... (Score 1) 648

by itsdapead (#48856887) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

So, if it was your call, what would be your choice for the Best Programming Language for High School?

The problem I'd have with VB at that level is that it is PC/Windows-only, and only available for free/cheap subject to Microsoft's licensing whims.

Pros: runs on anything with a web browser - if you host the kids work on a server they can run their work on their unrooted phones, tablets, games consoles, chromebooks...; you can get jobs writing it; it goes hand-in-hand with web design skills and its relatively easy to make nice UIs in HTML; easy for kids to share their work.
Cons: it's Javascript!

I think I'd seriously look at Javascript because of that list of 'pros' - and if that is unconscionable, something like Dart or Haxe that 'compiled' to JavaScript but fixed its, er... more easily misunderstood features, set up with a web-based editor/UI that made writing and running a simple function straightforward and hid all the boilerplate.

Of course, an important part of the course, later on, would be to learn about other programming languages, compilers, libraries etc.

That said, the main thing is not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and not to force teenagers into something obscure or incomprehensible on the belief that if they didn't learn {insert trendy programming paradigm de jour}, or used something that didn't have a A**** freeness rating from the FSF, that they'd be scarred for life. The world will not end if they learn VB, Python or Java.

Comment: Re:Just World Fallacy vs. Vanity Industrial Comple (Score 2) 168

by itsdapead (#48849211) Attached to: FDA Approves Implantable Vagus Nerve Disruptor For Weight Loss

Well, I don't know who to root for.

Don't worry - the tendency to see both sides of an issue is a genuine medical affliction brought on by an over-active brain. Soon they'll have an implant to help such people reduce every issue affecting the world to a simplistic false dichotomy, taking away the uncomfortable urge to try and deal with complexity.

Meanwhile, you just need to rely on willpower to suppress your skepticism when reading stories like this.

Comment: Re:Can I have four? (Score 1) 148

by itsdapead (#48830141) Attached to: Best current live-action TV show based on comics?

After being burned by them so many times I'm afraid of watching the show and liking it, only to turn around and watch it get cancelled on some cliffhanger

Spoiler: Gordon survives to become police commissioner, young Bruce Wayne survives and grows up to be Batman, Selena Kyle survives and becomes Catwoman; Cobblepot survives and takes to wearing a tux and top hat; several "good" characters with familiar names and hints of a "dark side" survive and turn into villains; while any character that doesn't appear in the comics probably won't survive a cliffhanger.

C for yourself.