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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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Comment: Re:Often the comments *are* better (Score 1) 267

by solios (#49062027) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

Humor is pretty subjective - I set "funny" at a -1 and found that it improved the quality of the comments I was reading enormously. Funny posts are still in the mix, just not at the default intensity. This was a lot more of an issue a decade or so back, when the Slashdot Effect was a real threat to websites and the site was practically my home page. These days the sort of shoot-from-the-hip snark that swamped the comments section "above the fold" has migrated over to Reddit, where, depending on the subreddit and subject, I may have to hit the Page Down key up to half a dozen times to get past the jokes, one-liners, and associated snark - all upvoted far past the point where my downvote would have any meaningful impact. While that's where the fun is for a lot of people, I really like being able to de-prioritize that sort of commentary or toss it out entirely - the fact that Slashdot allows for a degree of user-controlled comment display means we're not as subject to groupthink... and I'm far more likely to use my modpoints to upvote deserving comments than I am to spitefully downvote "funny" posts that don't mesh with my sense of humor.

Comment: Re:Often the comments *are* better (Score 2) 267

by solios (#49060483) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

Slashdot's comments are upvoted/downvoted in a more granular fashion than any other site out there and comment display can be skewed by user preferences - I penalize "funny" posts and really wish I could do the same on Reddit. The best the rest of the internet has managed to implement is a Nero-style upvote/downvote system, which puts the same weight on puns and one-liners as it does on trolls and insightful responses.

Commenting in general is ripe for disruption - if Disqus upgraded from upvote/downvote to something along the lines of the system Slashdot has had since the 90s it would change the Comments section overnight.

Comment: Re:Our local time capsule... (Score 3, Interesting) 166

by solios (#49055453) Attached to: Vint Cerf Warns Against 'Digital Dark Age'

Part of my old job (in a museum Exhibits department) was upgrading interactives and videos from the 80s and 90s to modern equipment - that included "transferring" laser discs the old fashioned way - plugging one of the still-working players from the floor directly into the capture hardware.

The thing is, I was transferring LD to DVD, which is actually a step *down* in quality. Kind of but not quite like how VHS is a step down from Beta (which I also dealt with).

The great thing about standards is there's so many of them!

Comment: The Apple business model. (Score 4, Insightful) 166

by solios (#49055425) Attached to: Vint Cerf Warns Against 'Digital Dark Age'

Anyone who's used Apple software for more than five years has been burned by forced format obsolescence - ClarisWorks, AppleWorks, old QuickTime codecs, the PICT format, SimpleText, Font Suitcases, the list goes on. And on. And that's just *one* platform and set of formats off the top of my head. I lose data to software "upgrades" so often that it's the single biggest determining factor in my upgrade cycle and a huge determining factor in the uptake and use of new software. We aren't heading for a digital dark age - we're in one already.

Comment: Re:If you don't authorize it, it can't divulge inf (Score 4, Interesting) 330

by solios (#49039279) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Affordable Large HD/UHD/4K "Stupid" Screens?

This is where Comcast building wifi hotspots into their cable modems becomes pretty damned insidious - how long until devices like this are "pre-authorized" to automatically connect to the mothership through any available wireless connection?

Imagine if a Samsung TV automatically phoned home through your neighbor's Comcast wifi/modem link not because you enabled it but because Samsung had paid Comcast to allow its devices through. And of course this behavior is on by default and block it, thanks to some timely lobbying, is now a violation of the first amendment (or something equally deranged-but-feasible vis-a-vis corporate personhood).

Comment: Re:They didn't drop number ratings... (Score 1) 135

by solios (#49033169) Attached to: Are Review Scores Pointless?

Over the years I've learned that I can rely on two factors when it comes to games - word of mouth and development staff. Somebody who knows me and knows what I like probably isn't going to recommend something outside of that sphere (or if they do it's due to incomplete information, for a laugh, or for reasons unrelated to gameplay), and if I like a game or series of games it's usually a good indicator that I'm going to like whatever the people that made that game work on next - usually but not always.

I agree on "multiple reviewers per game" - different reviewers have different priorities and play styles and that can subtly skew impressions. While I find Rock Paper Shotgun reporting on FPS games to be solid and reliable, my impression of their review of Just Cause 2 - which I read after playing the game - was "Did we play the same game? o_O"

Comment: Re:Meta scores and user's meta scores (Score 1) 135

by solios (#49031647) Attached to: Are Review Scores Pointless?

I've found that high ratings tend to be simple and very echo-chamber - people that praise a game tend to like it for similar reasons. The real variety is in the negative reviews, which is where any issues with gameplay or story (or both) tend to surface. If I'm interested in a game enough to want more than the upvoted reviews on the Steam Store (which tend to give a fairly concise answer to the question "Why would I buy this?") I've found that one or two positive Metacritic user reviews and then three or four negative reviews generally give me a good idea of what to expect.

Comment: Re:Meta scores and user's meta scores (Score 1) 135

by solios (#49031575) Attached to: Are Review Scores Pointless?

Metacritic is also a great - and in some cases the only - way to get *negative* reviews. Review sites are astroturf at best and completely useless at worst. I could care less how awesome a paid reviewer thinks a product is; I want to hear about the experience somebody who paid money for a thing has had with it - if they think they got their money's worth, what pisses them off about it, etc.

Then there's the fact that with games the product is largely subjective - for example Metacritic gives Dishonored a 91 (see here) and Metro: Last Light a an 82 (see here). I've played both and personally I'd rate Last Light an A+ and Dishonored a solid D, maybe a C. Both games curve pretty similarly on graphics and gameplay - Dishonored *looks* like an Unreal engine game and the reward curve on stealth mechanics feels capricious at best - it's possible to finish a level without tripping any alarms but you still "fail" (accumulate chaos) if the guy you knocked out and stuffed in a dumpster at the beginning of the level is eaten by rats - and the end-of-mission screen is the only indicator this has happened. Last Light, on the other hand, is a similar-length game that rewards stealth but also requires a satisfying amount of run-and-gun, and is 100% pure lighting porn. It's gorgeous, immersive, and you aren't capriciously penalized for non-lethal kills - stealth mechanics are strong, realistic, and don't penalize the player with unforeseeable consequences.

I bought Dishonored based on the studio, price (sale), and alleged stealth gameplay. I didn't care for the steampunk aesthetics and found the lore intrusive - books all over the place easily triggered but less easily backed out of. The story didn't do anything for me and the art direction so strongly evoked Half-Life 2 that it felt like City 17 had been ported to the Unreal engine. I bought Last Light based on the studio and prior work of the development team, price (sale), and full knowledge of what to expect for gameplay. The story was engrossing and the art direction was film grade and incredibly immersive. Reviews contributed to neither purchase and review scores in no way reflect my experience with either game... and these are just two examples that I've played recently.

Comment: Re:"The Next Challenge..." (Score 1) 296

by solios (#49002939) Attached to: Firefox Succeeded In Its Goal -- But What's Next?

Re-read what I wrote. I didn't say Everything works in Chrome, I said Chrome Just Works on everything I run it on.

I don't care what features a browser has; if it's using large bold fonts and fear-mongering fraidy-text to try to goad me into upgrading my operating system so I can upgrade my browser, I'm going to switch to a browser that runs on the OS that I'm using and doesn't cry about it.

It turns out I don't miss greasemonkey all that much - I just shut off javascript on any website that feels like it's taking forever to do nothing. It's a steadily growing list but I'm not actually missing anything. Oh, I can't read the article because your content farm grabs it from somewhere else via javascript? Oh, I can't read the comments? Oh, I can't load your video ads or your video "content"? Man, you really don't want me around.

The fact that the internet has gotten progressively less useful over the last decade isn't a problem that Chrome or Firefox can solve. It's their job to render the garbage... and it's the job of the hosts file to keep it from getting to the browser in the first place.

Comment: Re:Rich user experience (Score 1) 140

by solios (#49002559) Attached to: Why It's Important That the New Ubuntu Phone Won't Rely On Apps

In the case of Chrome at least, the "three horizontal bars" isn't just the way to Settings, it's where everything is if you're using Chrome on Windows. Settings is just one of the items in the list that pops up - bookmarks, tabs, history, etc. are all in there and boiling all of the menus down to a single item frees up a considerable amount of real estate, at least on Windows (on the Mac the menu at the top of the screen is retained and has most of the information and options of the dropdown, though that's Chrome behaving like software running on OS X should).

Otherwise, agreed - seems like it's easier to change out the hubcaps on the newly reinvented wheel than it is to investigate other ways of crossing the ocean.

Comment: Re:"The Next Challenge..." (Score 1) 296

by solios (#49001887) Attached to: Firefox Succeeded In Its Goal -- But What's Next?

I thought the Yahoo move was pretty hilarious, if only in the fact that Yahoo reported an uptick in people actually using Yahoo for search at some point shortly after.

I also find it hilarious that Bing loads faster and returns results a lot faster than Google does on Chrome, though that's not strictly relevant to the conversation.* One thing I can say for Firefox - whatever they try to default the search box to the danged thing has never sat there spluttering and not bothering to send/load content the way the Chrome combined address/search bar occasionally does.

* Point of fact if bandwidth and hardware are an issue literally every non-google web service I've used is faster than the google equivalent.

Comment: Re:"The Next Challenge..." (Score 1) 296

by solios (#49001741) Attached to: Firefox Succeeded In Its Goal -- But What's Next?

I'm glad Pale Moon exists. Although windows isn't my primary platform I'll download it and give it a test drive. I've never had any issues with Gecko; it's been the progressively heavier stack of everything sitting on top of it that made firefox unpalatable... then Chrome integrated so well with my general web usage across several machines that I doubt I'll be heading to anything else any time soon. That doesn't mean I don't need to occasionally look at websites in other browsers, though.

Agreed, Thunderbird does not need "improved," at least in the sense that the article summary seems to be implying. It's been a long time since I've used it and when I did my *only* complaint was execution speed, and that may well have been due to running it on ancient hardware.

Comment: "The Next Challenge..." (Score 3, Insightful) 296

by solios (#49001413) Attached to: Firefox Succeeded In Its Goal -- But What's Next?

Oh jeeze the last thing Thunderbird needs is to be raked over the trendy UX coals the way Firefox has. If Chrome's market share has come at the expense of Firefox it may be in part because many people who jumped ship - myself included - found that each Firefox release was becoming successively more and more "chrome-like" without offering any of the benefits that make Chrome a compelling offering. In my case it was speed and performance on a 2006 Mac Mini running 10.6 - firefox was bloated slug that constantly screamed at me to upgrade my OS; Chrome ran as fast as it does on modern hardware and never complained about anything. Chrome's UI and core functionality haven't changed much since I started using it, either - I grew to dread Firefox updates as you never knew if it was going to pull an iTunes and reboot with some new horrible "feature" that didn't have extensions to revert the behavior back to prior functionality - Firefox deciding it was going to handle PDFs inline, and that functionality being far beyond slow and a real pain in the ass to disable - was the last straw for me. When I left the browser half of my extensions and customizations were to undo things the devs had "improved" over the years - the other half were ad and flash blocking extensions, which Chrome does almost as well.

TLDR; Firefox was awesome when it was Mozilla Without The Cruft. Then it started to cruft up and bloat up and horrible terrible very bad things started to happen to the UI and now it's Just Another Browser. Which is fine, really. Thunderbird does not need to be "innovated" in the same way - Firefox needs to be replaced by Firefox Without The Cruft the way Firefox replaced Mozilla. Maybe stick to the UNIX idea of "do one thing well" this time around, instead of "do one thing reasonably well and an increasingly lengthy list of perpedicular things in a totally half-assed fashion."

I used Netscape Navigator until IE5 (Mac) came along, then I used Mozilla until Safari popped up, then Firefox until it drove me to Chrome. Chrome Just Works on everything I run it on and has never nagged at me to update or screamed at me to upgrade my operating system Because Reasons. It has yet to roll out a game-changing UI element that I hate, and it isn't slowly modeling its overall UX to resemble the competition. I hope the Mozilla foundation keeps going because we need choice, now more than ever - and maybe one day they'll be my choice again.

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