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Comment: Sorry to lose feature phones (Score 2) 145

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47550835) Attached to: Microsoft's Nokia Plans Come Into Better Focus

I'm actually quite sad to read this. I have little interest in so-called smart phones. I have computers and tablets for running serious software and for web browsing. I don't use a lot of cloud services like those hosted by Google and Facebook, and I have little need for the kind of software that exists only as a smartphone app.

So, for many years, I have just bought a cheap and cheerful Nokia feature phone. They invariably have good battery life compared to any smartphone. They are much smaller in my pocket. They run reliably for their entire useful lifetime, without breaking or shifting everything around arbitrarily during some dramatic firmware update. They don't come with the same level of creepware that smartphones from all the major brands now do. I can buy one for next to nothing at any phone shop, without signing up to pay half my salary on a phone plan with a multi-year lock-in to the same network. And they still let me do what I actually need a phone for: pushing a couple of buttons and then talking with someone, or maybe sending the occasional text message.

I realise that smart phones rule the universe these days and I'm some sort of technological Neanderthal (aside from all the other bleeding edge tablets, computers and software I work with everyday, obviously) but I for one will miss Nokia feature phones. I guess I'll go back to hoping for a resurgent BlackBerry that at least has a business focus and therefore something resembling security and not assuming I want a Facebook icon on my home screen that can't be deleted.

Comment: And then the next step is... (Score 3, Interesting) 181

Meanwhile, someone who isn't Google and doesn't have offices in the EU will surely make up a page of links to this information. If the page generates traffic, someone will pay for add space there.

And then the next logical step is for the EU to impose some sort of sanctions on the infrastructure and payment services involved if any of them have any connection to the EU -- just as the US government has done with things like DNS and payment services that are conveniently within its jurisdiction.

I'm not sure I like where this is all going. I'm sure we can all agree that overall the Internet has been a great advance for humanity, and in recent years governments from all over the world have presumed to carve it up and control it in their own interests, almost invariably to the detriment of people somewhere else (or, in some cases, their own people).

However, we are going to have to confront some difficult philosophical and ethical differences sooner or later, because clearly we also can't have a situation where the Internet is somehow above the law, but we don't always agree on what that law should be. Frankly, the US government have been throwing their own weight around for years, and Google have been doing things that push the boundaries of typical European legal and ethical standards for a long time too. Neither has shown any particular concern or remorse about the effects of their actions abroad, and neither has suffered any significant negative consequences so far, with the possible exception of the Snowden fallout. Sooner or later the rest of the world was going to push back.

In as much as this marks a change in the general acceptance that the US can export its laws and ethics but won't be subject to anyone else's, that is probably a good direction to move in. It will force the issues of Internet governance and extra-territorial law enforcement into the open, where at least we can scrutinise and debate them honestly, instead of everyone's government doing sneaky things often without much public scrutiny and often because of coincidences involving which infrastructure happened to fall somewhere they could get at it.

Comment: Re:If you can get a devkit, that is (Score 1) 368

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47523667) Attached to: 'Just Let Me Code!'

I don't disagree in general, but please remember the original context here was whether going it alone as a start-up might be a liability if Big Players declined to let you into those programmes, i.e., we are talking about precisely the situation where the platform maintainer might not have that implicit interest in your success.

The key difference IMHO is that I don't need Microsoft to care about me. I can write Windows-based software and sell it to Windows-using customers with no help from Microsoft except selling us Windows and any related tools in the first place, and all three parties win on the deal. If I want to sell an iPhone app, my entire revenue stream is entirely dependent on Apple, and Apple are not known in these parts for the care with which they examine new apps or the caution or neutrality they exhibit when banning something they decide they don't like.

Comment: Might that still benefit the US another way? (Score 1) 223

No... The H1-B program is a way of making people more successful in their home country not to bring that knowledge and talent into the U.S. on a permanent basis.

As an outsider with no bias here, it occurs to me that the above is probably in the long-term interests of the US as well. India is a big place, with lots of people, many of whom today are struggling with things we take for granted in the West. Helping to improve things like education standards and technological advancement potentially develops a vast export market for US products and services in the future and/or a mutually advantageous trading partner.

People often look at international aid schemes as charity, and support them on that basis, but the truth is that there is often a level of "enlightened self-interest" behind government support for those schemes, because things like global security and having stable economies in your trading partners are in everyone's interest. Much the same arguments could be made, as I understand it, for the US H1-B programme.

Comment: Re: Just let me do brain surgery! (Score 3, Insightful) 368

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47519129) Attached to: 'Just Let Me Code!'

Programmers are just cogs in a machine nowadays.

Code monkeys are, and that's the way that managers who hire code monkeys like it.

There are plenty of programmers out there creating interesting and useful new software, and plenty of customers/clients willing to pay serious money for the value that software offers them without all the unnecessary bureaucratic overheads and middle management crap.

If you are a good programmer and professional in your general conduct, you owe it to yourself not to be a code monkey for anyone, IMHO. You have to be really, really unlucky with the time and place when your current gig(s) run out not to have better options in 2014.

Comment: Re:If you can get a devkit, that is (Score 2) 368

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47519099) Attached to: 'Just Let Me Code!'

If you're developing on a platform as developer-hostile as that and you're locked into it so your business can't port to other platforms if necessary, I would submit that you have bigger strategic problems and long-term risks than merely being a small company. An arrangement like that is an axe hanging over the head of almost any size of company and you have absolutely no control over when it might fall.

(No, I don't develop iOS apps or write console games, despite occasionally getting enquiries in those fields, and this is why.)

Comment: Re:What is BSD good for? (Score 1) 77

by epine (#47479327) Attached to: FreeBSD 9.3 Released

So I am honestly asking, what is BSD good for.

When exactly did "honestly" become a synonym for living under a rock? This question comes up on almost every thread where FreeBSD is mentioned, though granted this is barely more often than its major releases.

The first answer in every such thread for years now is always ZFS, but actually this just disguises how many people have been using it for years or decades and just plain like the way FreeBSD does things even if nine out of ten, or ninety nine out of a hundred, or nine hundred and ninety nine out of a thousand have different tastes.

I get intensely piqued over the implication that there's a nuisance hurdle that needs to be cleared just for existing. When "honestly" becomes a cover story for living under a rock (or an equivalent not-be-bothered-hood) this ultimately seems to resonate as the main implication.

It's especially irritating when FreeBSD predates all the Johnny-come-latelies. It would have needed to be clairvoyant to have correctly decided to not exist, so as not to strain the reputational resources of open source groupthink.

I used to use an axe, but I stopped using it when I had to cut down a tree ten-feet wide at the base. I am presently using a Husqvarna and I am perfectly happy with it but for some reason the axe retains a magical "hard core" allure. So I am honestly asking, what is an axe good for?

Comment: Re:I won't upgrade. (Score 1) 681

HP don't seem to have ditched Windows 8 in the UK, at least not for consumer machines you buy in stores. (Source: Multiple friends and family have recently been in the market for laptops and we looked at several HP models via multiple suppliers. I can't comment on what their on-line or business sales are doing right now though.)

Comment: Re:I won't upgrade. (Score 3, Interesting) 681

I do think they care about hardware OEM's shipping old versions of their OS.

That seems to be one area where Microsoft have actually been successful so far. I know a handful of friends and family who have bought new desktop/laptop PCs since Windows 8 was released. The ones actually running Windows 8 are those who didn't have a reasonable alternative, because what they bought came with version 8 preinstalled by the manufacturer and for one reason or another upgrading to Windows 7 wasn't a practical option. Several of them have been extremely vocal about their views on Windows 8, which are typically not things you would repeat in polite company, but buying a good laptop that even has the option of Windows 7 preinstalled instead of 8 now seems very difficult, at least here in the UK.

Comment: Tired? (Score 2) 131

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47344417) Attached to: Facial Recognition Might Be Coming To Your Car

There is already technology available in some high-end models that will monitor the driver and take steps to warn them if they appear to be losing concentration. That technology is surely going to save lives sooner or later, given the amount of road accidents caused by tiredness or falling asleep at the wheel.

I'm as concerned about creepy surveillance and illusory security as much as the next geek, but image recognition technology does have positive applications as well.

Comment: Re:It flies like a drone, it watches like a drone. (Score 2) 268

by Anonymous Brave Guy (#47340591) Attached to: That Toy Is Now a Drone

I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you -- in fact, I suspect from your choice of phrase that we would very much agree on the basic principles of how laws should work -- I'm just saying the law should apply equally to everyone. If certain areas are acceptable for this kind of hobby, they should be acceptable for other similar "drone" flights. Equally, if for whatever reason certain areas are not acceptable in law for general "drone" flights or if the default in law is that these devices aren't considered acceptable but they are then allowed under specific conditions, the same rules should apply for hobby aircraft with similar characteristics.

Comment: we'll see if this cures my ten-year Slashdot habit (Score 1) 454

by epine (#47333441) Attached to: CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking


@namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);
@-moz-document domain("slashdot.org") {
div, p, h1, span, table, footer, header {
      display: none !important;
}
body:after {
    content: 'CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking';
    color: #FF0000;
    display: block;
    text-align: center;
    font-size: 1.5vmax;
}
}

Comment: article headline sucks ass (Score 5, Insightful) 454

by epine (#47333011) Attached to: CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

This does not deserve to live on Oprah, much less Slashdot. Not on Fox News, not on Rush Limbaugh, not on Howard Stern, not on Jerry Springer. On its own, exactly as it stands, it would set a new standard for outright stupidity in any legal jurisdiction that has yet to legislate pi = 3.

Oh, but wait, there's a footnote: preventable deaths among working-aged adult Americans. THAT'S NOT FUCKING FINE PRINT. My credibility circuit assigned six zeros (0.00000% chance of being true) before I managed to read the next line.

In all the many long years I've been here, I can not recall a single story headline that revolts me to this degree. I was reading recently Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics by Michael Ignatieff. At some point during his election campaign he said something stupid about the Middle East. His campaign manager pulled him aside and explained to him: "Politicians have nine lives. You just burned eight."

I have a finite amount of all-caps to expend on Slashdot outrage. I just burned 80% of my lifetime supply. Next time I resort to all-caps, I'll never post here again.

Two can Live as Cheaply as One for Half as Long. -- Howard Kandel

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