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Comment: I think most are missing the politics. (Score 3, Interesting) 125

by tlambert (#47795999) Attached to: Microsoft Shutting Down MSN Messenger After 15 Years of Service

I think most are missing the politics.

This is surprising, coming as it does on the heels of Microsoft's refusal to comply with the U.S. Federal court order to hand over overseas held emails.

So I will spell out some of the political consequences here.

The service closure forces a service switch on the remaining people who were using non-Microsoft MSN clients and thus avoiding the Guangming, which operates the Chinese version of Skype, which has been modified "to support Internet regulations", which is to say The Great Firewall of China. If these users want comparable services, the only comparable one now available to them is Tencent’s QQ messaging software, which from the start has been designed "to support Internet regulations". So there are no longer any "too big to shoot in the head" options which do NOT "support Internet regulations".

So really the only people who care about this will be Chinese dissidents who want to communicate with each other using an encrypted channel through a server inaccessible to the Chinese government, and any journalists seeking an encrypted channel whereby they can move information out of China without having to have a government approved satellite uplink handy, or a willingness to smuggle out data storage some other way.

Comment: Hardkernel wasn't using Broadcom SoC anyway? (Score 1) 164

by tlambert (#47795915) Attached to: Update: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Cancelled

Hardkernel wasn't using Broadcom SoC anyway?

The linked article makes it pretty clear they were basing it on Samsung Exynos SoCs - who *cares* whether or not Broadcom would source them parts, if they weren't even using Broadcom in their design?!? This is like using a Motorola 6502 in a design, and then claiming that Intel wouldn't sell you 8008's ... what the hell?

Comment: Re:One good meme... (Score 2) 62

by tlambert (#47772165) Attached to: Fish Raised On Land Give Clues To How Early Animals Left the Seas

No, no, no! You have it backwards. Here on Soviet Slashdot, developmental plasticity fish overlords welcome you!

Ironically, it's a revival of Lysenkoism, which has its supportive roots in Soviet era propaganda - making your comment quite apt, given that there was official party support from Stalin, to the point of those opposing the idea being executed. It's gained popularity again due to possible epigenetic mechanisms, but this hasn't really panned out in terms of direct heritability of the induced characteristics.

Comment: Get your own training. (Score 0) 441

by tlambert (#47731877) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

We're too cheap to hire a less experienced person and train them to do their job properly.

Get your own training. If I have to train you to do your job properly, I damn well don't want you.

If I wanted to run a training program, I'd open my own version of DeVry University or University of Phoenix. I am in business to do what my business does, and as we are not a vocational education institution, get your freaking vocational education somewhere else.

Comment: What you say is partially true. (Score 1) 441

by tlambert (#47731717) Attached to: Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

What you say is partially true.

Companies are not interested in making over someone who isn't a good employee into one. It's the same reason you don't buy burnt out light bulbs, and remanufacture them into working light bulbs yourself, when there are perfectly good light bulbs sitting on the next shelf.

The idea that companies should provide vocational training to potential employees because the educational system has failed to provide them with the ability to be an asset to a potential employer is wrong headed. It is not the responsibility of the employer to make a person employable, it is the responsibility of the person to make themselves employable.

IF we were talking about blue collar manufacturing jobs, or sales/cashier/hamburger jobs, then yeah, apprenticeships and on the job training make sense; in technical areas, it doesn't make sense, any more than it would ti hire someone at a hospital, and on-the-job train them until they were a doctor.

Comment: Re:Just red tape? (Score 1) 142

by tlambert (#47686869) Attached to: Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry

As you surely know, coal plants exhaust is filtered to the extend that the exhaust is cleaner than the intake. At least that is so in germany

Accepting your premise...

It sounds like the Germans need to set up some big filter plants that do nothing but intake, filter, and exhaust the air, if their air is so shitty that running it through a coal fired power plant cleans it.

Comment: Any software requiring documentation is broken. (Score 4, Interesting) 199

by tlambert (#47672681) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Any software requiring documentation is broken.

I blame Bob Wallace.

Bob Wallace was one of the originators of the concept of "shareware", and he got paid not for his software. This made people wonder how Quicksoft was able to stay in business.

When questioned about this at one convention, he made circling motions with his hands on either side of his head, and said "Software is ... all up here ... it's not real, it's ephemeral. I don't sell software, I sell manuals". So Quicksoft made its money, and its livelihood in the margin between the cost of mass-producing a manual vs. printing it out from a floppy disk and using up a bunch of tractor feed paper and expensive ribbon.

Or, to put it another way, Quicksoft made their money by having a relatively feature-full product which was nearly impossible to use without documentation. And people have been mistakenly trying to copy his success by utilizing the same technique, ever since.

Why did WordPerfect lose out to Microsoft Word? It wasn't because WordPerfect didn't already own the market; it did. It wasn't because Microsoft Word had more features; it didn't. Was Word a lot better, intrinsically, than WordPerfect? It actually wasn't.

Frankly, it was because of the F1 key. By the time WordPerfect got around to deciding they needed a "Help!" key, some of the function keys were already assigned, and so they assigned the next available one to be the "Help!" key. It helped sell a hell of a lot of keyboard templates. And it hid the help from anyone who'd experimentally go looking for it by hitting unlabeled keys in order until they found it (in fact, this would totally screw you up in WordPerfect).

Microsoft hit on a UX innovation: when something goes wrong, make the "Help!" key the first key someone is likely to hit, before all other keys.

And then they did it one better: The F1 was assigned to be the "Help!" key in *all* their products. Instead of just being a great UX thing, locating the key where they did on the basis of probability, they turned it into a Schelling Point: anyone who wanted "Help!" in any Microsoft product knew where to go to find it, if they had ever used some other Microsoft product, and needed "Help!" there.

So back to the original question: should you invest in documentation? Well, yes... if your product has already failed to the point where it's nearly impossible to use without documentation, or because, like Bob Wallace, you intentionally made it nearly impossible to use without documentation because that's one of the premises of your business model.

Maybe you want to write books on your project, once it's used by enough people to make that profitable, and that's how you plan to turn your hobby into a vacation fund. Or maybe you want to get to be a published author about a product so you get hired as a tech writer somewhere, or you get a lot of speaking engagements, and monetize your efforts that way. But if making your product hard to use was one of your initial conditions, then I think your software is broken.

Comment: Re:When arguing solar vs. nuclear... (Score 1) 409

It is more cute that you don't kniw the difference between waste and spend fuel.
Reprocessing spend fuel produces more waste than not reprocessing, hint: for fuck sake read about the topic instead of making cute comments that in hint seight only show you are a dump ass, and not a smart ass.

It's also cute when someone who can't spell attempts to "correct" a theoretical physicist on a physics topic, and their correction is wrong:

Comment: Re: what a douche (Score 0) 166

I've known "rock star" coders. If you don't want someone like Vint Cerf or W. Richard Stevens or Kirk McKusick or Eric Allman or Mike Karels or Dennis Ritchie or Sam Leffler on your team, then you are a freaking idiot.

And if you haven't heard it before, then you've probably never done a startup in Silicon Valley: Talent attracts talent.

Uncompensated overtime? Just Say No.