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Comment: Re:Blah (Score 1) 175

Of course, the employees probably already spend 2-3 hours/year dealing with the piece of shit that is Microsoft Office. They probably also devote some amount of IT time and resources to dealing with licensing and activation issues, additional troubleshooting associated with imaging and installation procedures, etc.

Actually, really, I'm not being fair. MS Office is not a piece of shit. It's a really good application, though the whole installation/licensing/activation thing can be a bit of a nightmare at times. LibreOffice is also a very good application that most people could use as their office suit without serious difficulties. Mostly people just get upset because people know it's free. The fact that it's cheap makes them think it's "cheap" in the sense of "flimsy" and "poor quality", so they resent being moved onto it. That seems to be the single largest issue, in my experience.

Comment: Re:Sounds like something someone should do (Score 1) 104

by nine-times (#47534335) Attached to: Google Looking To Define a Healthy Human

but are there any examples of our successfully reverse-engineering a system as complex as we are robustly enough to make those sorts of determinations?

I don't know if there is a system as complex as we are, so you're right, it's going to be difficult. On the plus side, we've already been working on the project for a few thousand years, and we started making some real progress in the last hundred years or so.

Comment: Sounds like something someone should do (Score 1) 104

by nine-times (#47534091) Attached to: Google Looking To Define a Healthy Human

As someone with a science background, I always find it shocking how much random guesswork goes on in medicine. You'd think that we could take a person in, take a bunch of different samples for analysis, test their DNA, run a full body scan, and just find anything that wasn't working the way it should. Ideally, I think our goal should be to be able to find illness even when the patient doesn't know it's there.

It'd be great, for example, if you could go to the doctor and get a battery of tests, and have him say, "Hey, so you've been feeling a bit tired recently, right?"

The patient says, "Yeah, I guess I haven't been sleeping well, and..."

And the doctor interrupts, "Nope. I'm pretty sure the problem is that you haven't been eating enough [whatever]. It's causing too much of [something] in your system, which is causing you to be lethargic."

I would imagine that part of the problem is that you can't establish what constitutes a problematic variance from "normal" until you establish what is an acceptable variance from "normal". You can't establish what constitutes an acceptable variance from "normal" until you have some baseline of "normal".

Comment: Re:What do I think? (Score 1) 215

by nine-times (#47531487) Attached to: Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

I'm not particularly happy with the state of education, and I might agree that it'd be more effective to spend extra money on having more/better teachers rather than more computing equipment. I would just argue-- and you don't seem averse to this-- that providing each student with a computer *could* be a helpful educational tool. I think the problem that we run into tends to be that we want computers to be a replacement for good teachers and high-quality educational materials rather than a supplement.

Comment: Re:umm duh? (Score 1) 167

by nine-times (#47530963) Attached to: Dropbox Head Responds To Snowden Claims About Privacy

then you may as well just give the server the AES key and ask it to decrypt the file

But in that model, if "the server" has the key, wouldn't Dropbox have the key? I thought that was the whole thing people were freaking out about.

I understand what you (and the AC) are saying about storing an encrypted key on the server, and then re-encrypting the key for each new user you'd want to share with. That's a clever arrangement and I admit that I hadn't thought of it, but it still seems like it has the potential to create more complexity than most people want to deal with. It still means you need to manage various encryption keys, and we (Internet culture) seem intent on not developing a coherent system for managing encryption keys.

Comment: Re:What do I think? (Score 1) 215

by nine-times (#47527923) Attached to: Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

There is nothing that providing a laptop per child affords that can't be accomplished through classroom media presentation devices (computer & projector) and a good school computer lab.

I would guess it depends on the implementation of the program. Giving kids laptops and then doing everything else the same old way doesn't really help. However, it opens up the possibility of having lessons that include multimedia, interactive lessons, and lessons in logic/programming. If you have some kind of open-source textbooks available on the computers, then you might be saving money over buying textbooks. The kids can' use the computers to write their papers, which is potentially more convenient and efficient then writing by hand. Teachers can potentially provide tests online which are automatically and immediately tabulated. They can take paper submissions online, grade online, provide faster feedback.

Media presentations in the classroom can't be interactive, and can't allow students to focus on the area that they're interested in or need the most help in. Everyone needs to look at the same thing. Computer labs assume that you have a few discrete tasks that will take place on the computer, and that computing isn't integrated into the curriculum. I remember the days when kids had to write/edit their papers by hand, and were only allowed in the computer room to type up the final draft, which is a dumb way of doing things.

I don't know what the best solution is, but it seems to me that it would be worth providing a cheap tablet to children just to avoid having them carry around 50 lbs of books.

Comment: Re:Even higher for other degree fields. (Score 1) 169

by nine-times (#47525271) Attached to: For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

I think the problem here is, to some extent, people assume that "STEM" degrees are somehow special. I suspect that impression largely comes from the egocentrism of people who hold "STEM" degrees.

I keep putting "STEM" in quotes because it's a dumb term. I don't know why people have suddenly decided to use this term. I suspect it was come up with by some marketing/propaganda professional, at the request of either a politician or businessman who was looking to push an agenda. Otherwise, I can't think of how such a stupid term came on so quickly, in apparent ignorance of the fact that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics cover a broad range of fields, education, and types of work.

But it seems as though programmers and CS majors have really latched on, I suppose in order to place themselves in the same class as astrophysicists and god knows what else. This has lead to an assumption that, if you have the capability to work in a "STEM" job, of course you'd want to. I mean, it's understandable why a marketing major would want to become a programmer, but why on earth would a CS major want to work in marketing?

The truth is, lots of us chose our major in college when we were in our late teens, when we didn't have a lot of experience. Maybe the we chose a major because we were interested in the subject, and not for vocational training. Maybe we chose a major for vocational training, at at some point afterwards realized that we didn't want that vocation. It will happen for marketing majors and CS majors both.

Comment: Re:Server 2012 already looks like Windows 8. (Score 1) 318

by nine-times (#47524185) Attached to: Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows

Not really. About 10 years ago, the word actually referenced a particular group of people. A few years ago, it meant something like, "People who think they're cool, but I don't think they're cool, and so I don't like that they think they're cool." Now, apparently it means, "something I don't like."

Comment: Re:Flat UI Design (Score 1) 161

by nine-times (#47523741) Attached to: Mac OS X Yosemite Beta Opens

I haven't tried out Yosemite yet, but I generally like the flat look.

More specifically, I think things should generally be flat so that texture and dimension stand out. Having textures, depth, and animation in a UI can be a great way to provide visual cues, letting you immediately grasp the differentiation between elements and give you a sense of what the UI can do without explanation. However, the texture, depth, and animation can only provide those cues when it stands out against an otherwise static and flat UI. Having a UI where everything is textured and in motion creates a confusing mess. Remember web pages in the mid-90s?

I've actually thought that Windows, since XP, has overdone things in the UI. It has too may bright, garish colors and gradients, fake glass effects, etc. It doesn't make it attractive, and doesn't make the UI easier to understand. Metro aside, the Windows 8 flat design is easier on the eyes. I think the Yosemite screenshots so far look pretty good, though I want to withhold judgment until I see it in action.

Comment: Re:Server 2012 already looks like Windows 8. (Score 1) 318

by nine-times (#47523641) Attached to: Microsoft's CEO Says He Wants to Unify Windows

I don't know. That's not what "hipster" meant as of a few years ago, but now it seems to mean everything. My mom is a hipster because she owns an iPad. My dog is a hipster because it eats canned dog food. Microsoft is a hipster because it created a new GUI.

I think we're just done with that word.

Comment: Re:Cloudy, chance of rain (Score 1) 167

by nine-times (#47522043) Attached to: Dropbox Head Responds To Snowden Claims About Privacy

My hard disk has nothing to do with privacy; anyone who can SSH into my computer can read my hard disk.

Really? Can you give me the IP, login, and password? I'm curious. I normally set up SSH in such a way to prevent any ol' person on the Internet from logging in, but that's just me.

anybody logged in to the Internet can read your dropbox

Maybe if you share your whole Dropbox publicly, and then pass the link around. But as for me, I usually don't do that. In fact, my company Dropbox is set up so that I can't even share files with people outside of my company. I guess Dropbox can see my data, but that's not the same as "anybody logged in to the Internet".

How is this insightful?

Comment: Re:umm duh? (Score 2) 167

by nine-times (#47522031) Attached to: Dropbox Head Responds To Snowden Claims About Privacy

Also, Dropbox is quite popular because of the capability to share files. So I upload a file to Dropbox, and then at some point I want to make it available to my coworker. I can either share it so that it appears in my coworker's Dropbox, or I can just create a public link and allow anyone to access it if I want.

The simplest model of client-side encryption would not allow for that kind of sharing. I'd encrypt the files with an encryption key, and then I'd need that private encryption key to be able to decrypt it. The next simplest scheme would be standard public-key encryption, which would mean that when the file was encrypted in the first place, I'd have to already know who should be allowed access, and I'd have to use their public key for encryption.

Now I'm not saying that the problem is insurmountable, but it certainly increases the complexity of the system required. The simplest solution that I can think of would be to set it up so that, when you changed the permissions on the file, it would need to be downloaded, decrypted, rencrypted, and reuploaded. If it came to that, I'd generally rather forgo the encryption, since my data doesn't really require that much privacy. The other option that I could see would be that, when you want to share your data, you pass a private encryption key to the person you're sharing with. However, that would mean that you're either giving them the encryption key to your entire Dropbox, or you're going to end up managing a different encryption key for each file.

Maybe I'm missing a simpler solution, but in the end, it doesn't seem like a trivial problem.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"