Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

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).


Comment: Re:Call me an old guy with a short attention span (Score 1) 63

by tlhIngan (#49379225) Attached to: No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC

I have never been able to stand more than 5 minutes of a MOOC video before telling myself 'OK, I'll find a proper textbook.'.
I usually have a basic view of the MOOC topic ; at least the textbook allows me to skim it and dig deeper on the points that I'm interested in.
Just sitting at my desk and watching a video is usually boring and requires to watch the complete segment before realising it was not what I was looking for.

The same goes for all these video tutorials : why bother making a 5-min youtube video on some software installation when a one-page text with command lines would be appropriate?

The real problem is inappropriate use of media.

Video, text, pictures/photos all are appropriate, depending on what you're doing.

A picture or illustration is ideal if you need to show something visual - like a map. Doing so in words makes text verbose and inevitably, unclear. (Remember the saying a picture is worth a thousand words?). however, that doesn't mean you simply put up a gallery with no explanatory text. Pictures don't convey actions, but they help illustrate. A tutorial showing screenshots with explanatory steps between each screenshot is way more useful than a tutorial without (even ASCII art is still an illustration), or a tutorial consisting of just pictures.

Likewise, video has its place. It's use is to show people an action. Not action as in "click this button", but complex actions that cannot be shown by a mere image and explanatory text. Perhaps a part is particularly hard to remove and requires a tricky amount of manipulation - text and illustrations help, but it should ALSO be supplemented with a video showing it visually. Note: you need ALL THREE methods for this - video alone is insufficient. Text with video isn't sufficient either (you cannot follow the text and video simultaneously), and video and pictures isn't sufficient either (see text and images).

Oh, and no, videos must be properly produced with proper sound tracks and narration. And even more importantly, angles must be the same between the illustration and video. Sorry, but if the only place you can film from is upside down, then you should show your illustrations from that POV as well so users can correlate the illustration with the action. If alternative POVs are more appropriate, you must illustrate the POV shown in the video so users do not waste the entire time trying to figure out the POV.

Text is descriptive. It tells what to do.
Illustrations, photos, pictures are visual. They show things at static points in time and are useful tor pointing out, illustrating actions, or providing visual information.
Videos show action that cannot be captured by mere text nor illustrations. Perhaps a location is tricky to get to - a drawing can show you where it is, but it can't show you how to get there or what you should see. (Not without a lot of shots sequentially taken, that is). Oh, and videos must be long enough to show a lead in (how you got there), the action, and a lead out. Jumping right into the action is bad when viewers are trying to orient themselves at first. If you're showing a jumping action to reach a hidden room, you need to start from a familiar room, pause there for a couple of seconds to let viewers get bearings by showing landmarks, then proceed.

Truth is, you need all three media to teach or do anything effectively. The real problem is too much over-reliance of one medium or another - typically too much video, not enough text nor illustrations. No media is perfect - they all have their shortcomings and one cannot be substituted for another.

Text is always a must. If anything it's the backbone of the whole thing and it serves to tie the other media together to form the cohesive unit of what you're trying to communicate. You cannot use the other media without text. Next level up is illustrations, pictures, photos, and other static displays. Again, text must tie together the visual display - the visual cannot exist on its own. And a visual is not a substitute for text - if you're describing a series of steps or a location, it has to be written out, then called out on the visual.

Finally, comes the video, which should be used sparingly and appropriately. It's inappropriate to show the whole thing as a video when most of the steps are static (meaning static graphics are more ideal). Complex actions are suitable for video as long as properly decorated.

Of course, this is VERY HARD WORK. Most people are lazy which is why we get the crap we do. It takes real work to put together something appropriate and it cannot be slap-dashed together in a few hours.

Comment: Re:Advantage is in immediacy (Score 1) 54

by tlhIngan (#49373601) Attached to: Apple Extends Its Trade-In Program

You can get more selling a device yourself for sure. But that's a lot of hassle, ant not everyone has eBay accounts.

That's really the reason why there's a big discount between what you can get off eBay, Craigslist or Kijiji over just doing it at Apple.

There's a risk vs. reward (you could post it and no one replies, scams, etc), so it depends how many dollars you want for that, versus how much are you willing to give up so someone else "can do it for you". Plus, it also costs time - you have to drive to the transaction location or your local PD and wait for the seller (who might bail on you, meaning you stand around for half an hour).

or you can just eat the difference and bring it to Apple and have it immediately swapped out. Presuming you already had in mind the iPhone you wanted, this brings you a small discount.

Comment: Re:Way to piss off customers, Apple. (Score 2) 188

This runs contrary to any experience I've had with Apple, especially in their retail stores. If I can't walk in and try something without booking an appointment, it'll be awhile before I get around to buying one.

Try buying an iPhone. Only on launch day is it generally a free-for-all with long lineups. After that, it's pretty much make an appointment to buy iPhones. And that's to purchase - you can have them set up as well, but if you just want to be in and out, you need to make a reservation.

It's really a way to control demand because supplies will be short at first, especially since Apple doesn't have enough data to figure out which ones they need to make. You'd think maybe the Apple Watch Edition ($10K+) wouldn't sell too many, but Apple has been surprised before and quite possibly each store might only get 2 or 3, only to sell out consistenly. And maybe the Watch Sport (cheapest version) sells poorly over the Watch.

Plus, it also helps control scalpers to a small degree - just makes it a tiny bit harder if you want to order 10 of them.

They scalp iPhones - you won't believe the prices people will pay just to have a PHONE A MONTH EARLY.

Comment: Re:And what good would it do? (Score 3, Informative) 440

by tlhIngan (#49370881) Attached to: Why the Final Moments Inside a Cockpit Are Heard But Not Seen

Exactly where you draw the line isn't entirely clear. I'd have thought that an aircraft's cockpit would be a reasonable place to put a camera. I imagine the main objection from the union is that the airline will be looking over their shoulders the whole time, which could be dealt with by making it a rule that the recording only be in the black box and only accessible in case of an accident.

They're still opposed.

But they can be persuaded, for a few bucks.

You may not realize it, but pilots are in general some of the worst paid people given the responsibility - it's very possible the public transit bus driver earns more than the pilot!

In a regional airline, salaries are barely above minimum wage - $20,000/year is not unusual for someone "starting out" - after spending $50k+ on their own training (including the necessary hours to even get the right licenses - airlines don't pay for the ATPL). Even top end captain is rarely much above $60K, and most want to hop onto the heavies before that because you start at the very bottom again with the shit routes, shit times, and shit pay.

Oh yeah, you may also have to "commute" which can easily kill an entire day just flying standby from your home to where you're supposed to start your route. It's only the past few years that the FAA and other bodies have started including commuting time as part of the duty day calculation (notably because more than a few accidents have been caused by pilots basically only getting 1 hour of sleep the past 24). It's still unpaid, though, just like you don't get paid driving from your house to the office.

Once you have your 20 years, you probably have enough seniority to get 6 figure salaries ($130K or so) and left seat captain time as well as the ability to pick the nicer routes.

I can bet you the unions will use video cameras as a bargaining ticket to bring raises all around from "barely able to live" to at least livable.

And yes, more than a few people who earned big bucks have considered a career in flying - the basic rule is if you can cut back your standard of living significantly (you're basically going from a high pay to barely nothing), or have a spouse that earns enough to pay the bills for the first 5 years or so, it's potentially doable. But if you're going to miss the money or such, it's not worth it because pilots are really low-paid professionals.

Comment: Re:What really is happening? (Score 1) 196

For a few bucks more, they can add a separate standby power circuit, optimized for low power and high efficiency.

A few bucks is expensive. Sorry, even a few cents (the true cost) is expensive for a loss leader. Both the PS4 and Xbone have done what, over 10M units each? A $1 increase in BOM means $10M more spent making the things that sell for a loss.

Sorry, these things are built to a price. Admittedly, The Xbone is probably costing Microsoft less money than the PS4 is costing Sony, though price cuts probably made the losses larger.

If you examine the components, you'll find if there's a nickel to be shaved, it's been shaved at least at the time it was initially designed. Both are probably entered their second revision with more cost saving measures after seeing the general results of the first revision

Hell, even the packaging is shaved - cardboard gets thinner, things are stuffed closer than ever, and boxes even more user unfriendly.

Comment: Re:What really is happening? (Score 2) 196

WTF? "Sleeping" should draw way less. It doesn't take a lot of power to keep a couple of sticks of SDRAM alive. Okay, probably also the NIC and a MCU to monitor the remote. I bet your console is reporting to the mother-ship or something.

First off, a power supply is less efficient at the low end than at the high end. A 200W power supply may be 80% or 90% efficient when running at its design load of 150W, but when you want 5W in standby mode, you can easily get into the 50% or lower efficiency range.

And 5W is probably perfectly reasonable for keeping SDRAM alive and refreshed, the NIC and other bits alive. It's just the power supply is only 50% efficient, so it draws 10+W at the wall.

Comment: Re:Item 1 is all I need to read (Score 1) 14

by tlhIngan (#49363869) Attached to: Europe Agrees On Regulatory Drone Framework

Or in other words "fuck you CAA you don't need £3000+ of training to fly a £1000 1kg drone"

Ha. Given how Europe is a mess with fees on GA aircraft (flying in Europe is pricey if you want to do GA thanks to tons of taxes, levies, fees, etc. Europeans are jealous as to how much flying in North America is better because there is so much less burdens).

You may not need UKP3000 in training, but I wouldn't be surprised if you're not hit with a UKP500/year license, a UKP100 take off and landing fee, airspace fees, etc. etc. etc.

Comment: Re:FTA (Score 2) 195

by tlhIngan (#49363857) Attached to: Best Buy Kills Off Future Shop

Because Amazon Canada's selection is pretty terrible compared to Amazon USA.


Amazon Canada is the whole reason why Canadian online shopping is such a terrible experience.

First off - Amazon Canada is NO CHEAPER than retail. I'd find stuff cheaper at Future Shop/Best Buy than at Amazon. Most Canadian retailers are like that - online prices generally aren't great - if you're savvy, you can find it available at the brick and mortar cheaper and available right there. And, save the shipping since few Canadian retailers other than the big guys (Future Shop/Best Buy, Amazon, Walmart, etc) offer free shipping.

Then there's taxes, you're not saving there either since everyone charges at least GST or HST. And many places insist you pay PST as well. So shipping and taxes, which means it has to be either hard to find locally, or at a really good price.

Occasionally, shopping at, despite the shipping and import charges, comes out cheaper.

I know I just had that happen to me - in the end charged me $42 for an item with EXPRESS (2 day) shipping. In Canada, it was $60 with STANDARD shipping from a zShop. That $42 was what it came out to in Canadian dollars it was $35 US or so.

Online shopping in Canada is not necessarily cheaper or more convenient - either Canadian retailers know how to adapt to an online world, or online Canadian retailers are just plain terrible.

Hell, even Best Buy/Future Shop isn't necessarily terrible... I've lost out a few times because they beat Amazon pricing, and even my preferred online retailer can't beat their price.

(Nevermind that Best Buy/Future Shop are one of the few retailers that let you buy online and return/exchange in store to save shipping costs)

Comment: Re:So You are Saying (Score 1) 68

by tlhIngan (#49363837) Attached to: Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC

That MPEG2 had hundreds of patents would suggest that there is a problem. That makes it sound as if basically every step had at least one patent, possibly more. If that's the case, then meaningful competition is going to be impossible.

Every standard has patents. When you make standards by committee, whether it be video encoders, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, what have you, it's really a give-and-take of patent and technology holders trying to squeeze their thing into the standard. Sort of the "I'll let your patent go in, if you'll vote for mine in too"

Now, MPEG patents are typically not a problem - because MPEG set up the MPEG-LA that serves as a patent pool - instead of trying to negotiate with 500 patent holders on licenses, you go to the pool administrator, pay the appropriate fee according to the fee schedule and walk away with the licenses.

It's why you rarely see patent holders suing licensees over patent violations - Motorola suing Microsoft being about the only one for h.264 - every other licensee has paid MPEG-LA and thus licensed the appropriate patents.

Cellphone companies, though, haven't created a patent pool which is why you have everyone suing everyone else.

This HEVC alliance will be interesting because it'll be interesting if them and the MPEG-LA will respect each other's licenses. If not, this could easily tank HEVC if people can't figure out how they're supposed to license the patents. VP9 could easily squeeze in the gap despite HEVC being acknowledged as the next-gen codec - but if the licensing agreements can't be worked out between MPEG-LA and HEVC-A, then people wouldn't dare use it.

Comment: Re:Ikea good points (Score 4, Interesting) 70

by tlhIngan (#49363819) Attached to: Ikea Refugee Shelter Entering Production

You don't need to have the best quality or be the cheapest, even from a customer perspective. As long as you offer the best value for money. Ikea does pretty good there as long as you know what to buy there and what to avoid.

Exactly. Though, I've done other flat packs and by far Ikea is the best. Their furniture might not be the cheapest, last the longest or be the best, but if you're talking flat pack, they are. And yeah, you could get better, but they're usually something that's pre-built and you have to move it as-is. At least flat pack you can break down into sub assemblies that are 100 times easier to move.

And it's incredible - the non-Ikea flatpacks I had were just awful - the holes would NEVER align, they were usually the wrong size for the dowels (too big or small) and when you're done it either was wobbly (see holes), or the entire panel was misaligned and thus you had gaps. It's as if they laid it out in a computer and never bothered trying to assemble it. Or even just seeing if comes close to resembling what it was supposed to be.

It's not like Ikea uses better materials - they pioneered the use of particle board, but that desk... it fell apart in short order. I've got Ikea stuff bought at the same time that's still around made from particle board.

No, putting IKEA stuff together is fun. I've never understood that complaint, and I'd guess that many of the people repeating the meme have never bought anything from IKEA.

I've usually enjoyed it - it's a good puzzle. And you have to admit that the instructions are designed to not use words (which have to be translated) and try to be as neutral as possible while still explaining what to do in across cultures, languages and history. Whoever draws those instructions might actually have insights into the human race.

About the only time I don't like them is when they don't clearly illustrate which way a piece goes around. For the spatially challenged, this can mean they put it all together only to have the wood exposed instead of veneer.

You'd think maybe a red X on the part that's going to end up in a hidden location, followed through with the illustrated X would help identifying which way it goes.

Comment: Re:*sigh* (Score 3, Insightful) 291

by tlhIngan (#49360283) Attached to: Iowa's Governor Terry Branstad Thinks He Doesn't Use E-mail

Because smart people don't seem to want the job.

Let's not make the equivalence between tech savvy and intelligence, because /., is a perfect example of people who claim to be intelligent, yet painfully ignorant at the same time.

Just because you can use a computer doesn't mean you know how the world works. Heck, tech-savvy people are among the worst people in the world for a job that requires extreme interaction with people who are unpredictable, where how you say something is extremely important (more than what you say), and where how you dress and appear is critical.

Comment: Re:Ummmm ... duh? (Score 2) 378

by tlhIngan (#49357189) Attached to: Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

No, he's saying it should be illegal to keep things like mental instability and dangerous suicidal mindsets secret from the state when the state is what licenses you to be entrusted, day-in, day-out, with the lives of hundreds of people. If you've got mental problems, don't look for a job where that is by definition a disqualifier. It appears this German guy knew that, and was hiding his problems from his employer and the regulatory agencies that license his operation of giant passenger aircraft.

Except if that was truly the case, the economy would take a nosedive - approximately 1/3rd of people are suffering from mental illness (typically depression) at any point in time.

In fact, depression that's treatable is no longer a disqualifying factor - the FAA has just recently allowed a whole pile of antidepressants as safe to take without grounding.

This was done because guess what? Pilots WERE hiding mental illness from the FAA because it was, until recently, a grounding factor.

Truth is, mental illness is wildly under-reported - it's not seen as either a "real" illness, or they think you're headed to the rubber room - depression, etc., are all seen as "just man up, suck it up and get on with it".

So yeah, that's sort of why mental illnesses are problematic - no pilot wants to be associated with straightjackets, rubber rooms, short buses, electroshock, etc., so they're not likely to want to report it, nor take (until recently) medicine that grounds you. Plus well, the whole "man up and be happy" attitude prevails.

Comment: Re:"to provide support for the cultural sector" (Score 4, Informative) 236

And remember, when you're a Quebecer and want to participate in a contest, you're excluded, just like Iranians and North Koreans. Banana Republic of Quebec.

Quebec is an oddity because they have a ton of things that no one else does - they are ... special.

So if you want to hold a contest Canada-wide, you follow basic legislation that applies federally (generally easy) and maybe have to make adjustments for each province (again, easy). But if you want to add QC, you suddenly are beholden to a TON more regulations. Most companies simply choose to avoid it because the benefit of adding QC is very small compared to the burden.

It's also why in Canada you often run into things like "Not for sale in Quebec". Electronic toys are even more fascinating because you often have "Quebec edition" and "Not for Quebec edition" (usually marked as "Not for sale in Quebec").

It's really an independent nation of its own - they just happen to use the Canadian dollar and passport.

Comment: Re:Be careful of the term "terrorist attack" (Score 1) 736

by tlhIngan (#49346509) Attached to: Germanwings Plane Crash Was No Accident

it could be as mundane as depression

but then we're talking about depression and overwhelming narcissism here

because depressed suicidal people still know right and wrong: they aren't going to take 150 innocent people out with them. the desire to harm the self for various reasons is not the same as the desire to harm others. so when you're talking murder/ suicide, such as when a dad or mom kills the spouse/ kids then themselves, you're at a level far beyond and far different than just depression and suicide, you're dealing with a narcissistic asshole

if it is simply suicide and not terrorism, this suicidal guy is still a complete piece of shit on the level of a terrorist. to be so overwhelmed with such a selfish egotistical internal drama that 150 lives simply don't mean a thing? wow

man, if this is all because some fucking girl broke up with him... fuck this douchebag

It could even be ... money issues.

Silkair Flight 185 is particularly controversial, but the captain had rather bad money issues so on the anniversary of getting his license. He lost it big during the financial crisis, running up a debt of $1.2M.

I say "controversial" because there are those who believe it was a mechanical failure, despite the only way to reproduce the performance was deliberate inputs. The co-pilot was locked out, and both recorders were disabled (the CVR and FDR were not recording at the time of the dive). It did lead to an investigation that determined if the recorders breakers popped naturally due to a short, the recorders had enough power that they recorded the event - the CVR would record the sound of its own breaker popping. But no such sound was heard.

There was also an Egypt Air flight that was potentially caused by deliberate human inputs, again contested by the authorities involved (usually between the NTSB and the local investigation board). Of course, national pride is often at stake as well as political pressure within the country.

Comment: Re:I'd rather the FAA get it's ass in gear (Score 1) 60

by tlhIngan (#49346341) Attached to: Amazon Blasts FAA On Drone Approvals, Regulations

I'd rather the FAA take a proactive, and active, role in creating rules which allow operations and enforce existing damage and nuisance laws. Letting the FAA "take it's time" is like telling ID that there's no rush on getting Duke Nukem Forever out as long as they do it right.

Drones are tricky.

The FAA has no choice BUT to take it slow because there are a lot of stakeholders to consider - including regular airspace users, air traffic control, etc.

I mean, there's a hobby advisory circular that's just that, advisory. People flying drones under those terms are still deemed to be flying aircraft, and there has been a case where a drone pilot flying their drone in an unsafe manner has been charged under the FARs (it was initially appealed but the NTSB upheld that advisory circulars were not law).

At best, the FAA can apply what they feel is appropriate, i.e., advisory circular rules. But if your drone exceeds it, then it has to be part of the big boys including see and avoid, communications, transponders, etc., if it comes close to controlled airspace.

And then there's the whole controlled part of it - if it's in controlled airspace, then it needs to obey ATC. We've already had issues where drones piloted by people who really do know better still not properly doing their part. Enough so that the FAA had to basically declare areas of airspace as "drones only" because testers couldn't assure that their drones would participate properly.

then there's the whole taxing thing - if drones use ATC, they need to pay for it. Right now aircraft pay for it through fuel taxes (thoughts of user-based taxing keeps coming up as the airlines keep proposing it, though it gets shot down because GA objects - they already pay the taxes for it).

You want agile drone development, you need to go into a place where airspace is controlled and there aren't so many stakeholders. China is one, for their military controls all airspace. GA is practically non-existent (the military has started allowing local GA flights though). Now there the only stakeholder is the military.

Europe works too since GA is suppressed through high taxes leading to mostly only airlines having to be consulted.

What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do.