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


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Using the appropriate device for one's purpose (Score 1) 328

by mattmarlowe (#48696895) Attached to: Is the Tablet Market In Outright Collapse? Data Suggests Yes

Smart Phone - Mobile Communications Central + quick access to any information needed and ability to do common tasks remotely (not sure why anyone really needs to upgrade this more than every 2-3 years)

Amazon Tablet - General Video Consumption Device (we only turn on the TV when viewing family movies these days) that can also be used for decent video conferencing, Also great for some specific android apps that are designed for larger tablet screens, can substitute for laptop for most purposes, especially when traveling light. (can probably go 4-5 years between upgrades)

Phablet - Those who somehow need to take the worst aspects of both smart phones and tablets and combine into one, but definitately a reasonable choice for when one gets older and using small smartphone screens is no longer appropriate.

Computer + Large Monitor - For doing everything else, especially for extended duration. Build it well and it can go 4-10 years between major upgrades.

Laptop - When you are willing to pay double for less performance, substantial reductions in upgradeability, and a smaller screen in exchange for using less space and being able to move a computer easily.

Comment: Re:Mind boggling (Score 1) 167

by mattmarlowe (#47979533) Attached to: Now That It's Private, Dell Targets High-End PCs, Tablets

Not exactly...it's not that shareholders don't want you to take chances, especially if higher profits emerge down the line....it's who is held accountable.

If you just regularly have meager profits, the worse that will likely happen to you is that the board of directors will fire you - but even that risk can be ameliorated by maintaining good relations with board members, ensuring your friends get elected to the board, keeping aggressive investors from becoming stockholders, and/or getting the rest of the board to "buy" into your strategy. For the most part, this is the safe path to take.

Alternatively, you can take a big risk to potientially generate huge profits down the line - which will help your career if it works out, but if it doesn't, you'll face a situation that will look like:
* Large investors with lots of money lose some of it on your stock
* One of those investors might get upset and point out that CEO's are protected from being liable for loses only if they follow the law and perform their primary responsibilities.
* They point out that your primary responsibility is to safeguard and look after the interests of shareholders and that you _didn't need_ to take the risk that you did.
* They ask a judge to remove your legal protection and personally sue you for whatever $ the investor lost.

Given that situation, what choice would you make as CEO?

This is a big reason why smaller companies with closely held shares generally grow faster. If we want larger publically held companies to act different, we have to change the decision calculus - however, I'd hardly expect any proposed law changes that increase corporate executive legal protections to be popular.

Comment: Having been building linux boxes for almost 20 yrs (Score 2) 294

by mattmarlowe (#47806127) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Linux-Friendly Desktop x86 Motherboard Manufacturers?

- Go with a reputable motherboard vendor that will be there for the long haul (Asus, Gigabyte, or Intel)
- Get a workstation class board marketed specifically for workstations and durability, focus on the lifetime rating for capacitors/electronics and overall heat/thermal management. Ensure the system has nice diagnostics to help troubleshoot when critical components fail. These boards are generally $300-500.
- Wait for the motherboard to go through a few bios revisions and for the particular model to be added to one of the major distribution hardware compatibility lists (Redhat or Ubuntu).
- Check the motherboard manual to see if there are any limitations on ECC memory, frequently ECC memory is only supported at lower speeds and reduced sizes - generally go with boards with more comprehensive ECC memory support.
- When you have the option, choose motherboards with Intel parts for networking/etc and avoid Marvell and other parts from no-name or niche vendors (unless those vendors have a good record of supporting Linux with up-to-date patches to mainline kernel).
- If you want something commercially off-the-shell already fully built supported long term, you need to buy a workstation system marketed as Linux compatibile from a major vendor (Specific Dell Precision Workstation Models, HP) but the price markups on these will exceed most budgets.

Comment: Doesn't solve anything, pure politics (Score 1) 649

by mattmarlowe (#47267361) Attached to: Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

If education is done right, with teachers and schools that care to really develops a childs mind, then the kids learn the difference between science and religion, what it means for a scientific theory to be credible and widely held, how to evaluate scientific evidence, and what questions that religion attempts to answer that science at least, at this point, can not. They also can go through all the current scientific evidence for and against evolution, creationism, and other theories. Kids learn how to identify their own values and make their own decisions on what to beleve. It isn't hard and parents should be responsible for ensuring their kids find the best schools and teachers, and ensuring that religion and science are both addressed properly in the classroom.

Politicians interjecting themselves into what subjects teachers are allowed to introduce in the classroom and how such subjects must be discussed does _nothing_ to produce an educated population. It is nothing more than blowing at windmills to gain votes on whatever educational topic is popular for the day. The farther education decisions get removed from the parent, the more students become trained to become regurgitators of approved politically correct information rather than becoming adults with adapative minds capable of of grasping subtle connections and knowing truth from falsehood.

Comment: Re:No wonder, Amazon Prime Streaming is awful (Score 1) 96

by mattmarlowe (#46665637) Attached to: The Amazon Fire TV Is Kind of a Mess

Really? Amazon streaming works wonderful here.....

Tried netflix, couldn't find any real advantage of it over amazon and we already had a prime membership for our regular amazon orders so reason to pay for netflix....eventually replaced cable TV with an amazon kindle fire hd 10.7" and season passes to shows on amazon that we now own and can download to the tablet or stream as desired.

The firetv appliance seems to be nothing more than Amazon trying to find a way to shift programs at will between the tablet and a larger display for family viewing. It's also a subtle way for amazon to test out the waters of the the gaming set top box business via use and expansion of their existing android app store.

Using this box primarily for netflix or not trying to take advantage of tablet tv transfer would seem to be missing the point of the whole endeavor.

Comment: Re:Love the quotes (Score 4, Interesting) 233

by mattmarlowe (#46199689) Attached to: 25% of Charter Schools Owe Their Soul To the Walmart Store

Public school teachers are all well and good, but from the Parent perspective (who has the strongest interest in the education of their child):
* The parent has no control over which specialist/teacher is chosen. In fact, in many school districts, the assignment of students to classes isn't known until 5pm on the Friday before the first week of school. This just hammers in that the child will be forced to attend the school assigned classroom regardless of the parent's interests or concerns about the teacher.
* The parent has little to no control over what is taught in the class - and has little ability to protest or take their child out if they find some material offensive or inappropriate.
* The school sets the emphasis on the various subjects, which might be completely opposite of what the parent believes is correct for his child.
* Even if a parent is willing to work with the child when he comes home from school on those areas he/she wants to emphasize or reinforce, typically the child will have other conflicting homework or be worn out - simply lose his creativity after attending public school for many years.
* Sometimes the parent believes the teacher/school is actually teaching wrong information, or the child is being exposed to bad influences/culture - How much time does the parent spend every week deprogramming their child when he/she could have been teaching/reinforcing instead?

Taking active direct control of the childs education by reading up, becoming familiar with educational topics and curriculums, which books are good/bad, what teaching philosophies work/etc and then choosing the right educational venue (public, private, tutor, home school, coop) would seem to be a better approach.

But honestly, a lot of parents are afraid of homeschooling because they think they couldn't stand being around their child all day or that they just can't teach effectively....or that the child is somehow losing out. For grades K-8, it honest is not that difficult and with a larger family and some careful planning there is no issue with socialization. And just 2-4hrs/day of direct 1-on-1, or 1-2 education time between a parent and child easily matches or surpases what a child learns by being one out of 30 students during 5-7hrs of public school. All home schooling really requires is an educated parent with a reasonable amount of time, modest resources, and the drive/commitment to make it work. As for specialists, I'm currently home schooling my 3rd and 5th graders and will consider exposing them to community colleges professors or dedicated online classes when they get to high school for those subjects that need substantial expertise.

Comment: Re:Love the quotes (Score 1) 233

by mattmarlowe (#46198861) Attached to: 25% of Charter Schools Owe Their Soul To the Walmart Store

Most states allows groups of parents in a neighborhood to group together and form homeschool co-ops. This can significantly reduce costs and save time - but the tradeoff decision should be made by the parent based on what they think is the best interest of the child. In any case, public schools really are just one option among dozens and there is no real reason why it should be the default - especially these days with the huge amount of educational resources available online or via amazone or various community groups.

Parents only have a limited number of years to set the entire trajectory for their childs life - Taking 10 years off work to homeschool a child shouldn't be something that unusual - and, if more parents just took the time to investigate the education options available and what could be taught via a customized curriculum tailored to the child - I'd expect we'd see much higher overall academic achievement, stronger families, and more realistic/better balanced kids.

Comment: Re:Love the quotes (Score 5, Insightful) 233

by mattmarlowe (#46198167) Attached to: 25% of Charter Schools Owe Their Soul To the Walmart Store


Good parenting means taking _complete responsibility_ for your childs education. If your public school is awesome, great - but that only goes a little way. The culture, values, education, and effort/commitment of the parents has always been the number one predictor of a childs future academic success. Public schools are also limited in what they are allowed to teach your child - forced to comply with what is polically correct, what politicians and businesses have managed to redefine the subjects and ideas to study as, and what the local/state/federal government have compromised as the textbooks and teachers that your kid will interact with. These are usually far from the best choice which you learn about in great detail if you go and investigate on your own and then put together your own educational plan which you implement via home schooling, careful selection of private schools, or selective hiring of tutors.

Having kids was never supposed to be about the state taking over most of the responsibility for education, or for being a gloried childcare center because both parents work, or something that could be handled without careful planning and ensuring one had the necessary resources ahead of time. Politicians and the public can talk all they want about improving public schools and overall childhood education, but the further responsibility and teaching moves away from responsibile active parents - the worse the result will always be. We've had a 100 year slide away from families and responsibile parenting and nothing is going to be fixed in education until we reverse it.

Comment: Wii U is decent, but needs quality games (Score 2) 559

by mattmarlowe (#46021011) Attached to: How Can Nintendo Recover?

I'm a casual gamer 'dad' interested in fitness with several home schooled kids. I'd expect my family to be the ideal target demographic for the WII U - and indeed, we purchased one since the playstation/xbox were essentially banned - we don't want to feed FPS and junk games to our kids.

Still, what does WII offer us in terms of quality games?
- Wii Fit Plus (just a modest bump over the older wii fit, should have been better).
- Wii Sports Club - OK, took forever for them to release it, some of the sports (e.g. bowling) do not simulate as well as they should. The best game seems to be golf...but come on, it isn't that much better than the old wii sports game.
- Legend of Zelda - Finally released, kids are interested in it...we'll see.
- Mario Junk...no, not interested
- Not much else...

So, basically, the WII U is a decent platform hampered by a lack of quality games for its target market, and the few good games took forever to be released...

I might feel better if I knew Nintendo worked well with third parties and was planning to release a large set of good games over the next year....but I think Zelda and Wii Sports Club have been taking nearly all their resources and it doesn't seem like the relations with third party devs are that good at the moment...

Comment: Re:we will not be happy... (Score 1) 539

The city of rome being sacked by barbarian invaders from 390-500AD is what historians commonly use as a milestone to mark rome's fall. It is however, more interesting, from a comparitive perspective to note the long decline and increasing struggles of rome from ~100BC onwards. This is partly because it clashes so much against the amazing and astonishing rise of rome during the preceeding 650 year period. It is almost like history plays itself forward and reverses itself in a pyramid shape across a 1100 year period. People can not help but wonder about it.

The actual sacking of the city is almost irrelevant to the story.

In any case, there are hundreds - if not thousands of discussions, movies, and books that one can ingest to get a better understanding. Rome and its leaders were aware that they were in decline relatively early on, but they could not stop the momentum.

With regard to military spending, some have argued that it was not the spending so much as the romes need for ever increasing borders to protect itself which required ever more soldiers to patrol/fortify which also involved ever more absorbtion of other cultures/people without traditional loyalty to rome or roman work ethic.

Likewise, many historians have suggested that during Rome's rise, the conflicting classes of roman society were able to compromise, share common values, sacrifice for common good, and accept the results of elections even when their candidates did not win. All of these necessary components of society stopped functioning around 50BC and there is no single reason. The decline was as much cultural as economic as military.

Comment: Re:Common knowledge (Score 1) 270

While consumer drives overall might not have a significantly higher failure rate than enterprise ones, I can think of a few differences:
a) consumer drives are nearly always 7200rpm for normal models, 5400rpm for green or laptop models which directly influences the number of small random disk operations that can be performed per second and the overall maximum throughput. Enterprise drives typically range from 18000rpm at the very high end to 7200rpm at the absolutely lowest end, with 10K rpm probably the most common for bulk storage and 15000rpm for data intensive settings.
b) Enterprise drives are usually available for multiple connection types (fiber/SAS/SATA) whereas consumer drives are nearly always SATA only.
c) For some drive vendors, SMART reporting is much more consistant for enterprise drives. Also, the number of extra sectors on the drive made available for bad blocks to ensure the full capacity of the drive and to remap defective sectors can be significantly higher.
d) The newest difference between enterprise and consumer drives is that some manufactures are intentionally disabling typical enterprise firmware features on the consumer models, drive commands that are helpful for hardware raid/etc.
e) Guarenteed repair warranties on enterprise drives are frequently at least 1-2yrs longer than consumer
f) More attention is usually given to the impact of constant drive usage in the design of enterprise drives than consumer. While the average failure rate for drives in a 2-3yr timeframe may not be that different, I wouldn't be surprised if usage patterns over 5-10yrs resulted in a significant divergence. It's not that unusual for enterprise storage systems with dozens to hundreds of drives being in operation for at least 5 years, and frequently 10 years.

Also, I'd be curious about temperature variation tolerence. The longer a drive survives, the more likely it is to be exposed at least at some point to a brief period when normal building a/c fails or the computer chassis fans/etc fail....Not a few datacenter drive replacements have been required after datacenters have had power blips that resulted in a/c going offline for 10-20 minutes. This may not be a big deal for modern consumer drives where usage is relatively minimal and the drive is at least partially in low power mode.

Comment: Simple Solution - This isn't a difficult issue. (Score 1) 222

by mattmarlowe (#45416557) Attached to: Legislation Would Prohibit ISPs From Throttling Online Video Services

What we need is a mandatory uniform labeling and advertising requirement for internet access services.
We have nutrition labels telling us what is in food.
Whe have labels telling us exactly what is and not included when we buy a car.

There can be perfectly legitimate reasons for internet access providers to block or prioritize traffic. Consumers may even want to pay for a cheaper plan that has more limitations.

As long as it is simple and easy for a consumer to compare and see what they are buying, the government doesn't need to be involved in what internet access services can and can not be sold. If we ever get to a point where internet access impacts consumer safety, there may be a minor role for ensuring specific sites and services are accessible - but there really isn't any reason to treat the internet any differently than a myriad of more mature industries.

Creating a rule specifically addressing video services is a bad law, and is crony capitalism. A few generations ago, the American voting public would have understood this and punished politicians that tried to make an end run....now we are all just a mob that opportunistic politicians cater to based on whatever is the fad of the momement. We are getting the government we deserve.

Comment: Uh, duh, blue states want to kill nuclear/coal (Score 0) 93

by mattmarlowe (#45146815) Attached to: Uneven Enforcement Suspected At Nuclear Plants

Redstates want to keep nuclear, and even *gasp* coal because they believe society needs jobs and cheap energy to grow and be stable.....so, yeah, they don't overregulate and hound the industries to death with mini-taxes meant to increase costs under the guise of safety....

Blue states - however......for them, the sanctity of gaia and a pure green earth is more important than anything else so......in those areas, they gladly double and triple energy prices and make do with much higher levels of unemployment and consider the nuclear/coal industries, when they are not banned all together, as free sources of additional state taxes....any possible violation is a way for the state to charge another fee....hip hip hooray. Whatever....it's not like someone else won't end up burning all that coal and it all goes into the same atmosphere...witness california coasts getting polution via ocean winds from china and having to export its manufacturing jobs elsewhere.

Comment: Re:Who shut down the government? (Score 1) 341

by mattmarlowe (#45043081) Attached to: Lockheed To Furlough 3,000 On Monday, Layoffs Also Kicking In

Correct me if I'm wrong, but budgets themselves are meaningless as far as funding the government goes. What actually counts are funding bills for the individual major departments of the federal government. To my knowledge, it was only the house that went through the effort of sending those real funding bills to the senate where the senate tabled them. The house ignored this because that is what they are supposed to do....for the legitimate funding process to work, the senate needs to take up the house bills, modify them as they see fit, and then send back to house - if both chambers are roughly in agreement, then for each bill the congress selects a comittee to merge both bills into one and then have both chambers approve the resulting merged department budget. So, if I'm following this correctly, the senate actually hasn't done anything necessary to fund the government this year....except to request that the house avoid doing any work and pass a combined bill that funds all departments at the inflated budgets agreed several years ago when democrats had the super majority and a major stimulus was passed minus some meager spending cuts/sequester the house did manage to get through during the last debt increase vote... That hardly seems responsible... I can't see how the senate can legitimately complain at all about the house if the above is true.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll