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Comment: Re:Ergo! (Score 1) 452

by pthisis (#49278521) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard?

There's nothing imitation about Mac OS X. It's actual UNIX.

Only in a legalistic sense (they can use the trademark), not in a technical sense.

The OS X kernel name XNU literally stands for "X is not Unix". There's a lot of BSD code layered on top of it, but the core is a non-Unix Mach-based system.


Comment: Re:What's TSYNC ? (Score 1) 338

by pthisis (#49211063) Attached to: Google Chrome Requires TSYNC Support Under Linux

Flash still exist, is still in use by an awful lot of websites, and Chrome is the only way to get this content under Linux.

Quite the opposite in my experience--running Flash is pretty much the only reason I launch Firefox these days.

Most Flash sites are so terrible at detecting Chrome's built-in Flash on Linux that they refuse to run at all--I get the "Hey, this site requires Flash! Download it now!" message all the time in Chrome even though it already has the latest Flash support.

Thankfully HTML5 is making this much less of an issue.

Comment: Re:Alternate Bank of Canada Press Release (Score 1) 223

by pthisis (#49183991) Attached to: <em>Star Trek</em> Fans Told To Stop "Spocking" Canadian $5 Bill
Whoops, is that legal? In the U.S. you cannot decline payment made in cash (if you normally take cash). But it's also illegal to deface money. My understanding is that it is not illegal to deface money in the US. It's illegal to deface coins or bills with intent to defraud, or to deface bills with the intent of making them unfit for reissue/circulation. There are sites like Where's George that are designed to deface currency for the purpose of tracking it, which is clearly not intended to make it unfit for circulation since the whole point is to track it in circulation. IMO it's highly unlikely that spocking US currency would result in prosecution, for logistical reasons alone. And there's a reasonable argument that the reason to spock a bill is to make a joke that will not have an audience if the bill is removed from circulation, and therefore the intent is not to render it unfit for circulation. I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.

Comment: Re:Same error, repeated (Score 4, Informative) 309

by pthisis (#49126393) Attached to: Moxie Marlinspike: GPG Has Run Its Course
Why use gpg instead of s/mime, which has native support in most e-mail programs, with no need for plugins? S/MIME relies on centralized key servers or opens itself to man-in-the-middle attacks. You can hand-authenticate individual CAs with some effort, but there's no equivalent to PGP's web of trust. And CAs are single points of failure, making them extremely desirable points of attack. Marlinspike, of course, has developed his own proposed solution to the CA problem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... It's up to the reader whether this contributes to his credibility on the issue because he knows what he's talking about and has taken the time to contribute code to help fix the problem, or whether he's someone with his own personal dog in the fight and hence has an ulterior motive in denigrating PGP's trust model.

Comment: Re:Simple solution (Score 3, Interesting) 431

by pthisis (#48896709) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?

I presume "real computer" was snark for "not Microsoft Windows".

Selections and the clipboard both have their uses.

Selections are faster and leaner--you can just highlight some text, then center-click wherever to copy it there. It's faster than having to highlight, then explicitly copy with Ctrl-C or whatever, then click somewhere, then paste with Ctrl-V or whatever. It's also guaranteed to give you plain text, rather than bringing along formatting and images and stuff.

The clipboard is more featureful, it's useful when you want to bring along formatting or images or other non-text stuff. It also allows you to highlight another area and paste over it, as you mention. It's also more persistent, so if you are working on code or something and have a string you're going to paste repeatedly, you might put that on the clipboard with Ctrl-C and have it until you explicitly cut something else; you can still do selection copy/paste for quick little stuff in the interim, but still have your main item saved on the clipboard so you don't have to go re-copy it.

Having both is useful. Selections are a lot faster, I use them the majority of the time but still use the clipboard sometimes.

Comment: Re:LOL ... w00t? (Score 5, Informative) 292

by pthisis (#48652717) Attached to: Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens

Propose such a "simple" perl script.

Here are some cases it should know how to deal with:

Between numbers (note that slashdot eats some of these characters; the numbers below all have different dashes or related symbols between "555" and "1000"):
"Pages 555–1000 discuss this matter" (this should be an internumeral dash, which is typically an en dash, U+2013).
"Her phone number is 5551000" (this should be a figure dash, U+2012).
"There were actually a lot more of them than the estimated 555—1000, to be precise" (this should be an em dash, U+2014).
"The teacher asked me to solve 5551000. I told him negative 455 was the answer." (this should be a minus sign, U+2212)

Between letters/words you have a similar problem: even if you know it shouldn't be a minus sign (which symbolic algebra makes tough to know for sure, but suppose you could surmount that), you generally have no idea what kind of dash or hyphen it should be turned into.

Comment: Re:100% Agree (Score 1) 567

by pthisis (#48573843) Attached to: The Case For Flipping Your Monitor From Landscape to Portrait

For most all other cases, reading documents, coding, surfing the web, portrait view is better. Think about the flow when you are reading, isn't it natural that you want to see more rather than scrolling up and down?

I'm with you on e-reading.

Landscape is vastly superior to portrait for coding--I always have multiple windows open side-by-side. Stacking them vertically makes line-by-line comparison more difficult. And you can easily have a web browser open on the right half of the screen for stackexchange/docs/whatever while you edit on the left half.

Comment: Re:Competitors? (Score 1) 203

by pthisis (#48445343) Attached to: Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4, Promises No More Broken IPhones

At least most studies show it is more shatterproof glass than scratch resistant, which is Gorilla’s forte it seems.

That's too bad, I was about to complain about Corning worrying about drop tests when scratches are a far bigger problem for most people. It's easy enough not to drop your phone, it's difficult to avoid scratches from everyday wear without resorting to crappy screen protectors and the like.

Comment: Re:should be easy enough to change it back (Score 3, Interesting) 400

Yes, but there are rumblings of them trying to launch their own engine again. http://searchenginewatch.com/a...

Yahoo's never been effective at writing their own search engine; they were powered by Google up until 2004, and before that Inktomi. In 2004 they tried their own engine for the first time, but it sucked. In 2009 they cut a deal with Bing.

Comment: This is the latest in a long unfortunate evolution (Score 5, Interesting) 331

by pthisis (#48281749) Attached to: Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans

A liberal arts or pure science education is not meant to be a professional degree. It's a way to learn a lot about a particular topic, independently of whether that directly helps your employment chances or not.

Historically, there was a fairly sharp delineation between universities and vocational schools--even "white collar" vocational schools like engineering were at separate institutions (often A&T or A&M schools), and lawyers and doctors were primarily apprenticed. At some point doctors, and later lawyers, became highly skilled professions that needed more formal training. To a degree it made sense to combine medical schools with pure sciences under one university, since some of the basics overlap.

But it had the unfortunate side effect of starting the thought in people's minds that universities are vocational institutions, rather than institutions of higher learning. I certainly don't mean to insinuate that a liberal arts degree has no application in the real world--quite the contrary. But it's intentionally targeted at longer-term learning rather than particular vocations per se, and not everyone who pursues a higher degree does so as a job entree.

Nonetheless, the law schools and med schools were followed by a spate of mergers between technical institutes and universities. Suddenly non-university vocational institutes were looked on as crappy and inferior, and it became a mantra (for no good reason) that you needed a 4-year college/university degree to succeed at jobs that historically had been done quite successfully without it. Even a shorter professional program started to become more prestigious if allied with a 4-year college, for no good reason (e.g. nursing schools at universities being, generally, valued more highly than independent nursing colleges).

The result was a massive spike in the number of people going to 4-year colleges--that number has sextupled or so over the past 60ish years--and a massive decline in the number of people going to vocational and technical schools. The latter have become a joke to the point where vocational school brings to mind TV commercials for Devry or Andover tractor trailer driving or dental hygeniest schools.

The downfalls of this are manifold. University prices skyrocket as everyone seeks to get in, whether they are really interested in a university degree or not. Vocational schools fold and a large percentage of the people who'd have attended them are forced into universities, exacerbating #1. Jobs see more and more college degrees, and start expecting them, making people start viewing colleges and universities as professional/career prep schools.

And universities become disincentivized to teach pure liberal arts or even theoretical mathematics, as they start being judged based on how good they are as job factories rather than as educational institutions; the result is a short-term focus that harms long-term research and eventually job opportunities (much akin to eliminating R&D budgets, but on a national scale).

Comment: Re:Read Tesla's patents (Score 1) 140

by pthisis (#48125767) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Books On the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla?

If you want a non-bullshit view of Tesla, read his patents. His real achievement was that he figured out most of the kinds of modern AC motors. It's not at all obvious how you get an AC motor started and turning in the right direction. Clever tricks with bits of copper in the magnetic circuit are used to bias starting direction, and synchronous motors start up as induction motors. Tesla worked all that out

Like Edison, Tesla had a surprising knack for suddenly inventing and patenting things that had been invented shortly beforehand by people in other countries, and then failing to credit the original inventor while pocketing their profits; the modern induction motor is one example. Galileo Ferarris worked it all out and published in 1885; Tesla (supposedly independently) invented it and filed for a US patent on it a couple of years later, and Tesla and Westinghouse abused the patent and court system to deprive the original inventor of credit and rights (Even if Tesla actually did come up with it independently, he was second to the table).

Walter Bailey had also demonstrated induction motors in 1879, but they were a more primitive design.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.