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Comment: Re:Automated digesting (Score 2) 143

by nine-times (#48205857) Attached to: Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

Actually, I'd like to see better methods of processing/digesting email, but not for personal email.

My work email is flooded with all kinds of junk, and I wouldn't mind someone trying to improve that. I get a bunch of ads that I wouldn't necessarily call "spam", but their ads. I actually want to get some of them (they're sometimes relevant to my job), but it's always super-low priority. I also get copied on a bunch of stuff that I might want to look at, often don't really need to, but that I do want to keep a record of the exchange in my email.

I also get automated notifications for certain kinds of things which could stand to have automated intelligent processing. For example, I might have an automated alert set to email me when a server isn't responding to a ping, and I *do* want to see that. However, if the server's internet connection goes flaky overnight, I might end up with 80 messages saying, "Error: is offline", and then a little while later, "Recovery: is online". It'd be nice to have all of those rolled up into a email digest that says, "You received a flood of messages with similar subjects. Here is a list of them, in order." I don't know practically how you'd do that, but I wouldn't mind if someone were to figure that out. Considering how much spam still gets through my spam filters, I don't expect a solution anytime soon.

Anyway, my only point here is that there are improvements that could be made.

Comment: Re:Compelling, but a mix still better... (Score 1) 391

by nine-times (#48191929) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

That's no good as an answer. If you can't narrow the possibilities at all, then there's no point in planning at all. Maybe there will be a weird set of circumstances that require we send a donkey along on the mission. I mean, the possibilities are indefinite, so who knows what we could run into. Maybe the best solution is to send a crew made entirely of 5 year olds.

You've got to narrow it down. How can you make things as robust and redundant as possible, covering all the most likely possibilities, and as many of the unlikely possibilities as you can, without being wasteful? That's why NASA needs smart people to try to figure things out, rather than throwing up their hands and saying, "Oh well, we can't figure it out!"

I don't know that it would mean an all-female crew. I'm just saying it's not as simple as saying, "Well it's possible that you'll need strength, because anything is possible."

Comment: Re:Diversity is best (Score 1) 391

by nine-times (#48189491) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

companionship from the opposite sex will likely be important for long term mental health.

Or it could cause problems. Imagine having to break off a relationship while stuck in a tiny spaceship with that person for months. Imagine if one of the women became pregnant. Lots of things could go wrong.

Comment: Re:Compelling, but a mix still better... (Score 1) 391

by nine-times (#48189457) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

However I'd argue in a truly remote environment where no external help is to be had, that the raw strength a few very fit males could provide could be useful in an emergency.

I don't know... I think it'd make sense to try to evaluate the likelihood of needing that raw strength. What are possible situations that a manned mission to Mars would need strength? Now eliminate all of those situations where a group of women would be strong enough to accomplish the task. Now that that set, and eliminate the situations in which men would not be strong enough. Now you have the set of situations/tasks where men's strength would be of benefit to the mission.

Now you do a sort of risk analysis. Take each of the remaining tasks, and start looking at what the probability that the crew will be in a position to do that task. If the probability is low enough eliminate that task from your list. Look at what the consequences are for failing to perform that task. If the consequences are below a certain level of importance, eliminate them from your list. Look at what the alternatives are for performing each task.

Now take the remaining tasks, and weight the cost of the additional weight (and any other complications from including men) and weigh it against the consequences of not being able to complete those remaining tasks. How does that comparison work out?

I have no idea, frankly, but that's roughly how the decision should be made. I really don't know how often raw strength becomes an issue for space travel.

Comment: Re:Bad statistics (Score 1) 191

by nine-times (#48188577) Attached to: Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries

Career-wise, it would be useful to tell us the likelihood of making each earning bracket *by career*.

Of course, depending on how you break it down, that might not tell you what you think it will. Like "Most likely to make millions of dollars per year" might give you top careers like:

* Heir to grandfather's fortune
* NFL Quarterback
* Billionaire philanthropist
* Lottery winner

Sure, with those careers, you're pretty much guaranteed to be rich. But what are the chances that you'll get one of those careers? If you wanted to try to plot your career path, it'd probably be better to look at the most common jobs that are most likely to pay well. So there are a lot of physicians making a lot of money. If you set out to become a physician, your chances of getting rich are better than if you set out to be a lottery winner.

Of course, there's another problem. These are the top earners right now, but we don't know what things will look like in 10 years. If you're 18 and trying to figure out what to do with your life, then being a physician would seem to be a great choice. Hypothetically, if there were medical breakthroughs in the next 10 years that completely cure all diseases and health problems, then you might find you get out of medical school without much of a career lined up.

Comment: Re:How many really make $140k ? (Score 1) 191

by nine-times (#48188053) Attached to: Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries

It's not below the "poverty level", but $100k isn't exactly "rolling in it" if you're living in NYC. It's enough for a single person to live in a good apartment in a pretty good neighborhood, but you're not talking about a second sports car for a "sweet downtown loft". $100k is still in the range where you're probably just hoping your tiny Brooklyn apartment's rent doesn't go up, because if it does, you don't know where you're going to be able to move to.

Comment: Re:First taste of Mac OS X (Score 1) 303

by nine-times (#48170057) Attached to: OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review

I'm not trying to convince you to like OSX, but just to attempt to give an explanation:

Compared to Dolphin, I find Finder far too limited, especially the inability to show hidden files. I've got no idea why there is no such menu toggle built into it. What are Apple afraid of? This is especially annoying when I have to look for .m2 and .git files. Sure, I can use the command line, but it's not as intuitive.

As someone who provides support for general users, I think Apple has handled this reasonably well. There are a lot of hidden files that a lot of people would find confusing. There are .DS_Store files and .Trash folders, along with the /etc directory in the root. If they had a little button on the Finder to "show hidden files", I have no doubt that there would be a lot of users who would hit it, see all the "Junk" in places they didn't like, and try to delete it.

Apple provides a option to show all files that can easily be changed from the command line. If you have trouble making this change, then you're not someone who should see those files. Seems reasonable to me.

The mouse scrolling was odd; the whole concept of "accelerating" while operating the wheel doesn't feel as natural as moving 2-3 lines with each movement. I had to download an app to get it the way I wanted (or, the same as it works in Windows and KDE).

Seems like a preference issue. To each his own, I guess. I thought you were going to complain about the "natural scrolling", which is something I'd have a lot more sympathy for, but which is also an option that can easily be changed.

It took me ages to realise that Command-Tab cycles through open applications, but not the windows. I found several windows all hidden behind one another that had been there for days, because OS X's window manager didn't present them to me. Apparently, I have to use Expose or something like that to see all of them.

Again, seems like a bit of an issue of preference. Ultimately, Apple's logical breakdown of running processes is much more aimed at whole applications rather than windows. Notice that each application has one button on the dock, regardless of how many windows you have open. Notice that you can often close all the windows of an application without closing the application. Notice that you can (depending on some thing) close the application without actually closing the windows, i.e. the application closes and the windows disappear, but when you reopen the application, the windows are all there where you left them.

Their approach is sensible, and it doesn't seem to be obviously wrong, but I can understand why you'd want it the other way.

Oddly, most things on Mac are Command+. However, on the command line, Ctrl+C is still used to break a program.

In my opinion, it's actually fairly nice that way. You can use Command+C to paste text into a terminal window, and Ctrl+C to break the current program. Less confusing than windows, where the short-cut's effect will change depending on context. In fact, Microsoft has been advertising the ability to use Ctrl-V to paste into a command line in Windows 10. Apparently, it's one of Windows 10's biggest features.

My Mac has been set up to be case insensitive. LS, GrEp, cAT, TAIl all behave as if they had been typed lowercase.

Yeah, this is... well... it's a bit unfortunate because it can cause some confusion. It's an issue with their file system (HFS+), which has been made semi-case-sensitive. For example, you can do "mkdir tEsT\ dIrEcToRy" and you'll get a directory called "tEsT dIrEcToRy", maintaining the case that you types in. However, if you then type "rmdir 'Test Directory'" then it will delete it. Essentially, it's case-sensitive when writing but not case-sensitive when reading.

The reason for this, to a large extent, is lazy/bad developers. You can set the filesystem to be completely case-sensitive, and OSX will run fine. Apple's applications will run fine. Last time I did it, though, Adobe applications would crash constantly if they ran at all. Apparently Adobe had developed their applications without paying attention to the case of their library files. It's worth noting, also, that Windows seems to have the same problem. Also, this doesn't really keep things from working.

Pressing home and end take me to the top and bottom of the document, rather than the line I'm edit, making me have to do some finger gymnastics when I want to highlight an entire line I'm working on. That's probably just personal preference, though.

I think this was actually how things were done first (even on old Unix systems), and the Home/End buttons got re-purposed later to be the beginning/end of the line instead of the beginning/end of the document. Again, I'm not sure this is a matter of right and wrong, so much as a matter of what you're used to and what you prefer. Also, it's worth pointing out that Command+Right-Arrow will bring you to the end of a line, and Command+Left-Arrow will bring you to the beginning of the line. So you can still do that.

I can see if I were to switch to a Mac, I'd spend a lot of time downloading hacks and scripts to bring back the features I like to work with, and other scripts to do away with those that I don't.

My honest opinion is that doing so would be a bad idea, and largely a waste of time. Apple would release an update, and all your hacks and customizations would be broken. You'll be better off just getting used to the way things work instead of trying to tweak every last thing to work like KDE. It's largely not doing things wrong, but just doing things not the way you're used to.

Comment: Re:Wait, what? (Score 4, Informative) 303

by nine-times (#48169079) Attached to: OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review

including things like their version of Androids Intents (that they call "extensions")....notifications pane from iOS (stolen from Android, natch)...

Right, so you're upset that Apple is using plugins, extensions, and notifications because all of those things were invented by Android developers. Sure.

They're making it possible to make and receive phone calls on the desktop.

So they've added functionality. I don't' think anyone is complaining about Windows 8 for added functionality.

They're changing a bunch of apps to more closely mimic the cellphone UI. According to the review itself, this is resulting in UIs with excessive whitespace...

You might need to point that out in the review. I don't doubt what you're saying, I just need context, and skimming the review for a second, I didn't see anything specific about that.

Having used Yosemite for a while, I don't see there being a lot of extra unused space due to "mimicking the cellphone UI". It actually seems like, in a lot of cases (e.g. Safari), they've cut down on "wasted space" in a way that may have been inspired by the cellphone UI, but not in a way that sacrifices functionality. I definitely haven't had the experience of noticing that things are spaced out strangely as though it were optimizing OSX for touch interaction.

Mostly it seems like they just re-skinned it. The textures and colors are different, with almost the same spacing.

Comment: Re:Baby steps (Score 1) 348

We'll never reach a stage of certainty that nothing will go wrong. To paraphrase, it's difficult to make things foolproof, because fools are so ingenious.

Yes, I agree with you. There's always risk. However, when it comes to going into space, the whole process is dangerous and expensive enough when we've done everything we can to control the risks. Like you said, I think we mostly agree. I'm just arguing that we should work on the problem of sustainability first, keeping in mind the eventual aim of using that knowledge and technology for space travel and colonization. We shouldn't try to employ those techniques in space before we have good reason to think that we can be successful.

So, for example, the whole bio-dome thing failed the two times that we've tried it, but as you point out, we learned things. Let's try it some more! Let's continue to learn from that until we have a solid grasp on the requirements for building a sustainable biosphere.

Comment: Re:Wait, what? (Score 4, Interesting) 303

by nine-times (#48168709) Attached to: OS X 10.10 Yosemite Review

From what I can see of Yosemite, Apple is doing the same thing with Mac OS X.

Can you be more specific as to what you're referring to? The biggest difference in the UI is that they reskinned things and change the icons and whatnot. You might not like the changes, but it's hardly the same thing as Windows 8's problems. The only things I can think of that make it more like their mobile OS-- at least this is all I can think of off the top of my head:

1) They added "Launchpad", which was done a couple of versions ago and is completely optional. Remove it from the dock and you never have to see it again.
2) They expanded the functionality of the notification area, and I don't really see there being a lot of grounds for complaints
3) They have a controlled "App Store", which again, was added a few versions ago and is optional.
4) They added an application for Maps...? I guess this makes it more like a mobile device. Again, optional.
5) Their chat/messaging application has increased support for SMS messages, which is additional functionality, and at least sort of optional.

I'm not seeing the problem.

Comment: Re:Baby steps (Score 1) 348

I do generally agree with you, but, I don't think we should get too hung up on the idea of an enclosed system, as that's not actually what we live in

Yeah, that's fair, but it's a system without a lot of input or output, and the input is mostly sunlight. For example, I'd have no problem with the idea of an artificial biosphere having solar power. Still, my point is that we can't seem to make a successful almost-closed system here on earth, so why would we attempt doing it on the moon first, where the stakes will be so much higher?

My memory of the sorts of problems they faced were-- yes, some kind of insect infestation. Also, they made parts of the building out of concrete that they only later realized was either absorbing oxygen or putting out CO2. Part of my point here is, you wouldn't want to drag a bunch of people to the moon and then have that problem there. Let's get our shit together first.

And people tend to focus on things like, "can we renew the oxygen and food sources?" But then there are problems like, "What do we do when all the solar panels break or degrade? Do we have the facilities to recycle them? Can we gather the materials needed to build more?" Shipping more to the moon might not be too bad. But if we want to talk about having a sustainable colony on Mars or eventually interstellar travel, we would need to consider that kind of thing.

Comment: Re:Baby steps (Score 1) 348

by nine-times (#48165771) Attached to: White House Wants Ideas For "Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization"

Step 2: build a new station to experiment on establishing a small biosphere

I think this is a problem that we need to confront first: Figuring out how to live in a sustainable closed system.

Were people ever successful in those bio-dome experiments? Are we now able to build an enclosed biosphere that can function sustainably, indefinitely, without bringing in materials or resources from the outside once you get started? There's not much point in trying to build something like that in space until we know how to build a sustainable closed system, reliably, without fail, here on Earth. Doing it in space will be more expensive, and failures will be less forgiving. It seems to me that we don't even know how to live sustainably within the biosphere we inherited, already running, the size of the Earth.

The key word here is "sustainability". Can we live in an enclosed system, indefinitely, without using up all of our resources or making it unlivable with our waste and pollution? It's the key to being able to conduct long-term space travel. It's the key to being able to build an off-planet colony. It's the key to continuing to live right here on this planet.

Comment: Re:I don't get it... (Score 2) 187

by nine-times (#48164591) Attached to: Warner Brothers Announces 10 New DC Comics Movies

I think your best point is "They have a built in market." It's true that, if you release a big-budget movie about a popular character, there are some people who will watch it pretty much no matter what. That's why so many new movies are some kind of adaptation or remake-- so that they can count on a pre-existing audience who will see it, even if it's bad, if only out of curiousity or loyalty to the original work.

The rest of your points aren't quite fair, though. You could argue that the writing isn't amazing and that there's a lot of action, but the movie industry has been putting out dumb action movies for an awfully long time now, and it didn't start with comic-book movies. And really... the writing isn't necessarily bad.

I don't think they're easy. You have a few decades of really bad comic-book movies to demonstrate how easy it is to make a bad one. And I don't think "people are rarely disappointed". There's a bit of a consensus that the third X-Men was bad, the first Wolverine movie was terrible, and the Fantastic Four movies were pretty awful. A lot of people weren't particularly happy with "Man of Steel", either. Go back to the Joel Schumacher Batman movies, and I don't think you could sum up people's feelings about them with a word better than "disappointed".

I think the real explanation is that Sam Raimi showed everyone that you could make a good superhero movie that took the source material seriously, and then Christopher Nolan showed that you could make one that is also simply a good movie. Those were still one-offs and flukes, though, until Marvel showed that you could take a systematic approach toward leveraging these kinds of properties into a series of movies, and DC/Warner (as well as Fox) are looking to emulate that.

And though they might not be to your taste, a lot of these things aren't bad movies. Especially not if you compare them to other summer blockbuster action movies.

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard