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Comment: Re:Year of Linux on the desktop? (Score 0) 103

by schnell (#47942385) Attached to: Microsoft Lays Off 2,100, Axes Silicon Valley Research

Anyhow, good luck without your researchers.

What, all 50 of them in Silicon Valley? FFS, I didn't even RTFA but I got enough from the summary to understand that this is less than a rounding error compared to Microsoft's overall R&D and engineering staffs.

Also, can we make it Schnell's Law that anyone who mentions the Year of the Linux Desktop without irony has triggered Godwin's Law about the Occam's Razor of Linux zealots' Panglossian combination of The Seven UI Laws, the Joel Test and Newton's First Law of Motion? Unless of course they have done it as part of a Russian Reversal.

Comment: Re:Parallax. (Score 5, Insightful) 424

by schnell (#47923423) Attached to: Apple Edits iPhone 6's Protruding Camera Out of Official Photos

Yes, amazing things like announcing a smart watch (Multiple manufacturers are already selling these), introduced a larger form factor for their phone (Multiple manufacturers started this trend years ago), and introduced an NFC payment method (Multiple parties have already implemented this)

For fuck's sake, can we get rid of this tired meme finally? "Apple never invented anything" is a straw man faithfully trotted out by anti-Apple fanbois time and time again, seemingly oblivious to the fact that this is really not the point. Anyone who tells you "Apple invented X" is almost certainly wrong, and anyone who says "Apple never invented X" is missing the damn point.

To wit:

* Apple did not invent the Personal Computer. Apple took the idea and made (one of) the first PCs that were user-friendly enough that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it.

* Apple did not invent the GUI. Apple took the idea and made the first GUI that was user-friendly enough that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it. (Note: it took them two tries to get it right, including the Lisa.)

* Apple did not invent desktop publishing. Apple took the idea and put together the right user-friendly 3rd party software, GUI and laser printers that made lots and lots of people want to buy it.

* Apple did not invent USB, nor was it the first to use it. They took the idea and put it into a computer that was "cool" and user-friendly (and whose users were forced to use USB whether they liked it or not), and lots and lots of people started to buy USB devices.

* Apple did not invent UNIX, or *NIX-derived PC operating systems. They took the idea and made the first *NIX-based OS that was user-friendly enough that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it. (Note again that it took Steve Jobs two tries to get this one right, including NeXT.)

* Apple did not invent MP3 players. They took the idea and made the first MP3 player that was user-friendly enough and supported by an ecosystem that made it easy for people to legally buy music so that lots and lots of people wanted to buy it.

* Apple did not invent smartphones. They took the idea and made the first smartphone that was user-friendly enough that normal people wanted one instead of just work-issued mobile email tools, so lots and lots of people wanted to buy one.

Do you see a pattern here?

So please, please can we get over this "Apple didn't invent anything" BS and recognize what it is that Apple actually does, and hence what criteria their success or failure should be judged on? Apple doesn't live or die on being first. They live or die based on being the first one in a given market to do something really well ... at least until other people catch up and equal them. And then they are on to the Next Big Thing. If they ever run out of Next Big Things, then they are done.

Comment: Re:Hangouts is, in turn, part of plus, right? (Score 1) 162

by schnell (#47877371) Attached to: Google Hangouts Gets Google Voice Integration And Free VoIP Calls

This is usually the part where someone says, "You don't have kids, do you?" I don't, but I fail to see the pressing need for a cell phone just because you have children.

Umm, yeah, that's because you don't have children.

WRT kids, you want a cell phone for:

  • Your kids' school/nanny/day care to call you about an emergency, even if you are home, at work, or in transit
  • Your child to tell you that their after school activity/field trip/lesson/sports practice/whatever ended 30 minutes early or an hour late and they need to be picked up
  • For older teenagers, giving them their own (locked down) cellphone so that you can track their location in case of an emergency

It's clear that you don't have a living situation where having a smartphone is of any advantage - such as apps that can provide directions, show the best route through rush hour traffic, show mass transit times/schedules, book restaurant reservations, receive public safety/AMBER alerts, read the news or talk to friends while mobile is important. That's all well and good.

It's also pretty clear that you don't have the type of job where responding to e-mails or phone calls in a hurry or outside regular hours is important. So, for you, I would agree that a cellphone is superfluous. For many, many other people, having a cellphone (especially smartphone) is very useful. So your mileage may vary. I would just expect that your experience will become less and less common over time.

Comment: Re:Seems fine to me. (Score 2, Insightful) 184

by schnell (#47868865) Attached to: Device Boots Drones, Google Glass Off Wi-Fi

I think the notion that police are there to protect you or me is somewhat archaic.

I've read your posts before so I know I'm tilting at windmills by trying to engage rationally. But you do know that, Ferguson aside, there are more than 4,000 police/sheriff agencies across the US and that day-in, day-out, 99% of what they do is actually protecting/helping people? Somebody has to respond to 911 calls, and defuse domestic violence incidents. Somebody has to take drunk drivers off the road. Somebody has to investigate rapes, assaults and violent crimes. Those people are the police.

I know a number of police officers personally. Pretty much all of them are nice socially, although I can tell that a few of them like their job a little too much and I wouldn't want to meet them on the wrong side of "at work." And, like many other middle-class people, all my early (pre-college graduation) interactions with police were about underage drinking when I thought to myself, "boy, these guys could be doing something more valuable somewhere else."

But ultimately the police in the US do an unpopular job - by and large - very well, and pretty much all of them that I have met do really care about making the public safer. There are bad cops - maybe the nature of giving people authority makes there be a few more bad cops than abusers of any other random job - but they are the minority by far. I know it's fun and cool to act like every cop is the Bad Lieutenant or Judge Dredd or something, but it's ignorant and disrespectful to say that thinking police are there to help you is "archaic."

OK, karma seppuku committed. Mod away.

+ - US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

Submitted by schnell
schnell (163007) writes "A New York Times article reports that Midwestern "Rust Belt" towns and their manufacturing economies in particular have rebounded greatly due to the US resurgence in fossil fuel production, driven by production of shale gas and natural gas from "fracking" and other new technologies that recover previously unavailable fuel but are more invasive than traditional techniques. “Both Youngstown and Canton are places which experienced nothing but disinvestment for 40 years" ... “[now] they’re not ghost towns anymore," according to the article. But while many have decried the loss of traditional US manufacturing jobs in a globalized world and the associated loss of high-wage blue collar jobs, do the associated environmental risks of new "tight oil" extraction techniques outweigh the benefits to these depressed economic regions?"

Comment: Re:Where to draw the line (Score 1) 326

by schnell (#47849973) Attached to: Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx

From what I can tell, he draws the line quite clearly. There is no place for traditional paid commercial software. It is okay to make money writing software, but it is never okay to keep even a single line of software secret from the general public.

Fair enough. Clear line. I guess the problem is that I - as a tech professional but non-programmer - could not give a dead rat's ass about access to a single line of the source code of the software I use. I do not have the skills, time or interest to do a security audit, understand the source of, or contribute to a single line of code to any one of the thousands of pieces of software I have used over the past 30 years. I am happy to pay money for the software I like (especially as I have grown older and had more disposable income), although I have always preferred to find gratis software when it was of equivalent or better quality. But, to be very honest, the "gratis" element mattered to me, not the "free" element. For example, I was and continue to be a huge fan of the MAME project but I do so because I don't have to pay for it, not because I expect to contribute any arcade PCB dumps or source code.

When I was younger, I downloaded and used metric shitloads of "pirated" software that I used because I could, but that was thanks to the "Internet community" of crackers and file sharers, not to the "free software movement." I didn't care about the license, I just wanted the best available software for my platform that I could afford (i.e. $0).

So thank you Richard Stallman for your efforts in making a lot of software gratis for people like me so I could get software for free without feeling bad (really) about "pirating" it. Gratis software was a revelation, and I don't think much of the early Internet would have happened without gratis Apache, Perl or Linux/BSD, for example. But most users of that software cared, frankly, far far more for the "gratis" component than the "libre" element. I hope that someday that Stallman understands that his principles are of interest (Pro or Con) to ~100% of the people who make software, but are of interest to ~.01% of the people who use software.

And at the end of the day, the mass market of people who use software will vote with their feet and wallets and decide who "wins" based on if the free software is good enough that it's worth not paying for vs. the non-free software. So maybe couching this argument more in terms of user experience that means more to the "99 percent" (i.e. software users) would behoove Stallman instead of speaking to the "elite" of software developers if he wants to make a long-term impact on freedom.

Comment: Re:well... (Score 5, Informative) 246

by schnell (#47844339) Attached to: Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

MS just donate to politicians to reduce the amount of taxes they pay

Kinda sort of but not really. What most posters here seem not to understand is that it is 100% normal for companies who employ lots of people in area X to negotiate with that city/county/state's government to say in effect "because of us you have many thousands more people paying property/school/sales taxes and supporting the local economy. Other places would be willing to offer us a break on our corporate taxes if we moved there instead and benefitted their economy. So why don't you?"

On some level this sounds like playing dirty pool but it's really not... it's the exact same thing you would do if you had your employer behind the eight ball in salary negotiations: "Other companies are willing to pay me X for my skills, so why don't you match it or I will leave?"

So long story short, every company with the clout of Microsoft (which IIRC employs >40K employees in Washington State/Seattle Metro area) gets local or state tax breaks that Joe Schmoe's auto garage does not. Apple gets tax breaks in Cupertino, Google gets them in Mountain View, Sprint gets them in Kansas City, Verizon gets them in Basking Ridge NJ. In the greater Seattle area, Microsoft, Costco, Starbucks and other businesses with HQs there get them... Seattle felt the sting years ago of not offering enough tax breaks to Boeing and seeing their corporate HQ relocated to Chicago. (If you're interested to see who's probably getting big tax breaks where, look at the map of Fortune 500 headquarters by city.

So it's rational to give large companies tax breaks to keep them in your city as a way to keep your economy strong. It may seem unfair, but all these cities and states have done enough research to conclude that doing tax favors for these big companies is worth more than taxing them at regular rates and losing the employment. So it's neither illegal or irrational on the part of the government or the corporations.

Comment: Re:I can't believe we're afraid of these assholes (Score 3) 542

by schnell (#47798119) Attached to: Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

It's like they WANT to remain in the 8th Century. Why is it exactly that we're afraid of them?

Because while they're eager to keep an 8th century moral code (and dress code for women), they seem decidedly more modern in their choice of military forces and interest (but not yet attainment of) nuclear weapons.

Because, you know, when you're the Grand Ayatollah, some "Bikinis" are OK but definitely not others.

Comment: Re:Revolving door (Score 1) 117

by schnell (#47797345) Attached to: Google's Megan Smith Would Be First US CTO Worthy of the Title

Academia is part of the real world, easily as much as industry is.

HA HA HA hee hee hee ha. Wait, you were serious?

Academia, technically, is part of the "real world." It's just the part with 180 degree different rules and priorities than the "industry" part that employs most Americans is. I have plenty of friends in academia and I love them to death but when we compare "what's happening at work" I will talk about the life or death of some multi-million dollar project that's keeping me up at night, and they will reveal their big pain point at work is that some guy caused an uproar at a conference because he give a citation in a paper to an ally and finessed his work around giving a citation to someone who he got in a snit with several years ago about different interpretations of a theory.

Now, that doesn't make one job better than the other but they sure are different. As they say, same planet, different worlds. Or, as the great academic Dr. Ray Stantz once told a colleague, "Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything. You've never been out of college! You don't know what it's like out there! I've worked in the private sector. They expect results."

Comment: Re:Thanks (Score 1) 122

by schnell (#47781093) Attached to: No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

Reporting in general seems (or perhaps it's always been this way, but I just wasn't as aware of it.) to have gotten a lot more lazy recently, especially with the explosion of news blogs and other internet only news sources.

You are correct, it has gotten a lot more lazy recently. Once upon a time, when newspapers were printed once or twice a day and TV news aired only at 6 pm and 10 pm, there was a lot more time to get your facts straight and - most importantly - request a balancing comment from the "other side of the story." Today, there are so many sources of "news" - heavy finger quotes there - that operate in near real time that people are exposed to lots of rumormongering in the guise of journalism due to pressure to be first to get clicks (and the low reportorial standards that accompany a rush to publish in minutes).

Generally speaking, if I see something sensational online I will wait until I see it from an outlet that hires actual reporters (like CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, et. al.) instead of "bloggers" who just scour Twitter for unsubstantiated scoops (like Gawker properties, Deadspin, whatever) or "writers" who are just paid to write opinions with no pretense at balance (like Slate, HuffPo, Fox News, et. al.). So even if Facebook "told" me that Robin Williams was dead at noon, I was perfectly content to wait until someone did some fact checking and reported it on cnn.com two hours later before I believed it.

Comment: Re:Send in the drones! (Score 1) 848

by schnell (#47780949) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

We pissed nothing away invading those two.

Iraq: 4400 American lives lost - some of whom were people some of us knew and loved - in the service of a falsely-premised, bullshit-justified war. So fuck you.

Oh, and if you care about that sort of thing, we also pissed away $1.1 trillion in Iraq. Which is, like, kind of a incredible shit-ton of money.

Also, fuck you again for diminishing the loss of the thousands of American personnel and hundreds of thousands (if not more) of Iraqi civilians who died.

Comment: Re:NOT LULZ - LIES ! (Score 1) 848

by schnell (#47780595) Attached to: Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

Same EXACT crew who declared Iraqi WMD confirmed fact.

I have yet to hear George Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell or George Tenet weigh in on the Russia/Ukraine conflict. Or did you mean someone else?

How many times will you be neo-conned, by the "bogey-man dictator" ploy?

Sometimes there actually are real bogey men dictators. The Bush administration lied terribly about the rationale for invading Iraq 11 years ago. Does that necessarily mean that all the countries of Europe that are decrying the activities of Vladimir Putin today are lying? Because Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande are not exactly the first people I think of when I hear the term "neo-con."

Comment: Re:I have worked at a few ISPs (Score 2) 251

by schnell (#47709665) Attached to: Comcast Training Materials Leaked

example would be bell labs.. then the business got greedy and killed innovation.

The Slashdot crowd can't have their cake and eat it too. "Classic" Bell Labs did a tremendous amount of innovative research that transformed the telecommunications and computer industries. But they did it precisely because they were a regulated monopoly that had no competitors and fat, government-regulated margins. In essence, the old AT&T spent lavishly on Bell Labs projects that in many cases they not only didn't make money on but were actually forbidden (like UNIX) to make money on because they had no need to be competitive.

But on the flip side, everyone here seems to agree that monopolies are bad and competition is good. Which, for consumers and shareholders, I agree is ideal. But if you're looking for someone to subsidize basic research with little or no investment return potential, don't look to a competitive company to do it. Even Google's "research" is almost always connected to a profit-making initiative, although whether they actually bring it to market is a much different question.

So long story short - the old Bell Labs only made sense as a luxury that could be afforded by a monopoly that had cash to burn. If you want competition, you don't get businesses that can throw cash into a burn pit for the benefit of science.

Comment: Re:McDonallds should sue ... (Score 5, Interesting) 251

by schnell (#47709609) Attached to: Comcast Training Materials Leaked

Ugh. Please don't make me sound like I'm defending Comcast, which I loathe.

But the fact is that every large consumer-oriented business has a part of their playbook that every employee who touches the customer should be a salesperson. Are you the McDonald's cashier? You're selling. Are you the rep in a Verizon store? You're selling. Those are easy. Do you work the fry machine? Then you don't talk to the customer, and you're not selling. That's the difference in your example.

But pretty much every consumer services megacorp has done the research and learned that every "touch" you have with a customer needs to be a selling opportunity, and you get very good sales results - which seems counterintuitive, but it's true - if you do so. When you call for support, that's a touch and up-sell opportunity even if you were angry when you called in; same when the DSL/cable installer shows up to your house, even if they are late showing up. You may be angry at first, but a shitload of real-world research shows that most consumers are simply unaware of any given company's latest/greatest/whatever, and you might be interested in it once you have vented your frustration with $MEGACORP.

Again, I have no love for Comcast (I am a Xfinity subscriber in Seattle for TV/Internet and for more than two years I have struggled to read my cable bill and figure it out in a line item fashion) but they are certainly no more evil than almost any other large company in this respect.

Comment: Re:Sitting on the floor? (Score 1, Interesting) 181

by schnell (#47697759) Attached to: Xiaomi's Next OS Looks Strikingly Similar To iOS

Does he also park in the handicap space?

I have no idea if it's true, but a story used to circulate among Apple employees that one engineer worked up the bravery to leave a note on His Steveness's windshield that suggested he "Park Different." There was reportedly an effort to track down the offending employee by Apple security but it never bore fruit.

Real Users never know what they want, but they always know when your program doesn't deliver it.

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