Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Firefly (Score 5, Interesting) 274 274

I thought we just called those people Browncoats.

As a wise fictional character once said, "May have [picked] the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one." Not sure that applies to the Zune, though, although it was brown...

Presumably "Crystal Pepsi" wasn't brown (and, hopefully, wasn't so pure that it had a slight blue tint...)

Comment: Re:My next car will be an e-Golf. (Score 1) 646 646

Every inch a Golf, works in New England. Charger by Bosch installed in your house for mere hundreds. What's not to like?

Well, in the UK e-Golf prices start at about £26k (after deducting the £5k gov subsidy) and regular Golf prices start from about £16k.

One of these cars you can jump in to and drive the length of the country without worrying about how you are going to refuel. For an extra £10k you get a car that turns into a brick after a maximum of 100 miles, and less if you have to use the heater etc.

Translation: the £16k car would be the only vehicle you need. The £30k car is a commuting machine that would leave you needing a second car (or a rental) every time you needed to make a long trip.

Comment: Re:touchpad (Score 1) 79 79

For example, in the text I'm writing, if I want to select a range of it it takes me around five more seconds to pinpoint the location I need with a touchpad as opposed to a mouse.

Have you tried enabling the "three finger drag" operation? I found it made a great difference to the usability of a trackpad.

I still prefer a mouse when working at a desk - but since Apple introduced the large, glass trackpads I've felt no need to carry around a mouse for use 'on the road'.

Comment: Re:Crab Apple (Score 1) 310 310

A better question is is Apple the new Microsoft?


The thing about Microsoft was there was only one Microsoft. Now we have Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon... and Microsoft was still there, last time I looked. Consumers are now free to choose which of half-a-dozen evil empires to sell their soul to. Hurrah for consumer choice!

...but at least Macs now run Unix.

Comment: Re:My own two cents (Score 1) 249 249

Your house becomes a gas station.

If you have a garage or private drive where you can install a charger...

Your work becomes a gas station.

If your employer provides charging points in the car park...

Just like today's phones which only last a day, you get home , you plug it in.

...and as soon as something breaks your routine, you're carrying a brick. Fortunately, its rather easier to find a power socket with space to park your phone than a power socket with space to park your car... even more fortunately, phones are available that can survive more than 12 hours between charges.

There exists a subset of people who meet the profile for EVs: they have a daily commute short enough to be within EV range but long enough to make them want a full-sized car; they have a garage or driveway where they can charge and maybe even a charging point at work; they probably have at least one other car in the family, so they're not stranded while the car is recharging, and they have an alternative for long road trips; any regular long trips they make have fast chargers en. route and at the end, and/or they're within EV range of the airport.

For people in that group - great - for others, EVs still don't have the flexibility of conventional cars, and you're looking at paying 50% over the odds for an EV and still having to keep renting a conventional car for long trips.

I only need a small car for my regular short-ish commute and shopping trips, but I sometimes have to do a 200 mile drive, sometimes at short notice and with no guarantee of a charger at the destination. So, first I'd need a small/compact EV with a 200 mile range (none around, AFAIK - you need the size to carry enough batteries) and then I'd still need to make 2 30min-1 hour stops on the way out and probable 1 on the way back.

Why so many stops? First, as stated by the earlier poster, "200 miles [asterisk] range" doesn't mean "enough for a 200 mile trip" - it means "200 miles AT THE MOST before your car turns into a brick". So you'd have to top up at least once on each 200 mile leg. Then - did I mention "no guarantee of a charger at the destination"? So you have to make sure that you're at least half full when you arrive.

The BMW i3 with range extender almost does it for me, but oh god, the price... Your main concern would be forgetting to plug it in, just like forgetting to get gas. The car will let you know, and in the case of he Tesla tell you where you can go to charge without any special action required.

Comment: The trouble with "loss leaders"... (Score 1) 134 134

...it may well be worth giving up 3 months of income for the sake of greater profits in the future provided your cashflow can take it. If, however, you're going to be defaulting on your debts by the end of month 2 - not such a good plan. It shouldn't be Apple's decision as to whether or not you can afford to offer a loss leader. I doubt Ms Swift would be affected, but lets be magnanimous and assume that she's acting out of concern for smaller, independent music labels who don't have 3 months of operating costs stuffed in their mattresses.

Also consider that Apple is huge and high profile. If they offer free streaming for 3 months then it is going to put a noticeable dent in all music sales, not just existing streaming services, while people try it out.

Comment: Re:One more in a crowded field (Score 4, Informative) 337 337

Is Swift suitable for writing applications for all? If not, developers would be writing for a limited, albeit popular platform, but limited to a certain subset nonetheless.

Well, Apple just announced that they are planning to open-source Swift and will be also be releasing a Linux version of the compiler. So the language itself isn't going to be Apple-only for much longer.

However, that only solves the language problem - the big divide between platforms is the totally different APIs that developers have to learn. Frankly, that's usually a bigger learning curve than picking up a new language.

Mind you, you can say the same for most of the big languages - off the top of my head only Java (and maybe Javascript/HTML5) come with baked-in crossplatform APIs suitable for writing GUI applications.

Comment: Re:Commodore Amiga or Commodore PC? (Score 1) 456 456

It was in use before there was an IBM PC, along with "personal computer" and "microcomputer." History proves you wrong.


"Personal Computer" definitely precedes the IBM PC - the British magazine "Personal Computer World" started in 1978. It also used the abbreviation PCW. I'm sure I had a book called "The Personal Computer Book" too but it annoyingly disappeared.

Looking at a 1980 issue of "Personal Computer World" right now. The ad for the Sinclair ZX80 describes it as a "Personal Computer". However, skimming through the pages, the dominant term is "microcomputer" or "micro" and I certainly don't see any uses of the abbreviation "PC" jumping out at me from the pages (and I don't recall using it at the time) apart from the aforementioned PCW abbreviation of the magazine's title.

Its pretty inconceivable that, since "personal computer" was in use, nobody ever abbreviated it, and I think someone's already posted an example of a computer with PC in the name. I think, though, its quite possible that the IBM PC popularised the use of PC as a stand-alone abbreviation.

(Pity, because I don't like to give any credit to the mediocre pseudo-16-bit clunker of a CP/M box that stifled innovation for decades)

Comment: Re:i was just thinking... (Score 1) 246 246

Funny, because I was just thinking, what the computing industry really needs is stagnation.

All joking apart, I think it could do with a slow down. We've already got a growing gulf between the bleeding edge and the mission-critical users who need a year or two just to test and plan migration to a new OS. Start a 2-year project on a new development platform and you're two major, often incompatible, releases behind by the end of the project. You end up with a workforce bifurcated between the old legacy project people with wisdom and experience but out-of-date technical knowledge, and the bright, young, naive things up with all the latest trends but with no experience. That's how things like NoSQL, significant whitespace, binary log files and flat mystery-meat UIs happen. That's why we're awash with tech innovations that would be wonderful if only they actually worked and/or could talk to last year's tech innovations.

Innovation is one thing - but "if it works its obsolete" is unsustainable.

5-10 years of stagnation. Hurrah! Time to refine designs, sort out that crufty code you've been meaning to fix for 10 years, deal with 10-year-old feature requests and sort out interoperability, let the kids find out what happens if you edit your significant-whitespace code in a different editor with the wrong tab setting, teach them how to create a document store in Postgresql and how great that is when you come to add ownership, ACLs and such. It might also save Ubuntu from having to wrap around to Aasvogelic Aardvark.

Comment: Re:Well, no wonder Dr. Who is so big over there... (Score 2) 214 214

Except that, even if you don't care for the pantomime style, Doctor Who often rips the shit out of politicians, the military and religion. Plus, there are other British shows like Utopia, Black Mirror, Life on Mars/Ashes To Ashes and Orphan Black (OK - the latter is a US/BBC co-production) that 'do' conspiracies and social comment in ways that the traditional US TV networks wouldn't touch with a bargepole (looking forward to "Humans" although I understand that's a remake of a Scandinavian show). US viewers might not have seen them because they don't have 500 episodes and (with the exception of Who) tend to finish when the material is tapped out.

The US output has got vastly better in the last 20 years, but in the past they really couldn't touch the sort of dark, anti-establishment or morally ambiguous content of British shows like Quatermas, Blake's 7, Doomwatch (X-files without the aliens), UFO, Edge of Darkness (not the film!) or the non-SF 'House of Cards' (original British version). The sets may have wobbled (only UFO had state-of-the-art effects for the time), they all had good and bad episodes, but the stories didn't pull any punches. Yes, Star Trek had a strong social justice message, but it was mostly morally squeaky-clean and moralistic, with nice happy endings.

Comment: Journalism 101 (Score 4, Informative) 214 214

The headline:

Scotland Yard was worried that fans of shows like the X Files and Star Trek might run amok during the Millennium according to secret files.

The actual story:

'The documents show the police and security services were concerned about the export of some new religious movements concerning UFOs and aliens from the USA in the aftermath of the mass suicide by followers of the Heaven's Gate.'"

Slight difference...

Anyway, was this going to be the Star Trek Wars or the Star Wars Trek?

Comment: The Shopping Mall curriculum... (Score 1) 387 387

When was the last time you used a piece of chalk to express yourself

When was the last time this guy saw a piece of chalk in a classroom... or saw a classroom, for that matter?

Kids text.

Know what else kids do? Hang around in shopping malls looking miserable. Many will also drink alcohol if they can get hold of it, or jiggle around in darkened rooms to music that consists of some guy making misogynistic comments over a drum machine.

So perhaps we should turn all the schools into shopping malls with rave venues, and serve lots of alcopops? Kids would be much happier. Whether they'd actually learn anything is questionable, but at least they'd stay in school. Except: they wouldn't because any cool thing to do becomes uncool as soon as an educational institution tries to do it.

Seriously - school curricula do need to make better use of technology, but that entails a major shift in the curriculum and assessment, to stop training kids to do things that technology can do better, and start teaching them to use technology properly. You don't do that by throwing a lot of tablets at schools and using them to deliver powerpoint-ized versions of the old curriculum. Shading bubbles on screen is no better than filling bubbles on paper. Nor do you learn how to interact constructively with people or construct and defend an argument by "liking" a picture of someone in Japan lighting a fart (...you didn't actually like it but all your mates 'liked' it so you went along in case anybody unfriended you).

Or, for any under-20s reading:


Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman