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Comment: Re:Good for greece (Score 1) 1222 1222

And nobody has a drachma press - it takes longer to set up a press for mass production of a new currency than one might think.

That is a fascinating point. If they were serious about their stance one would imagine that, in the background, they would have been readying their drachma-printing equipment, to a) actually be ready in case the worst-case happens and they leave the Euro, and b) to /show/ they're ready to everyone else in the EU to help clarify how serious they are.

I don't recall seeing anything about this anywhere and a cursory search doesn't show anything obvious (e.g., Greek Finance Minister making a V for Victory sign over a printing press).

Comment: Re:Good for greece (Score 1) 1222 1222

So whilst undoubtably there will be many further spending crises in advanced nations, democracy is not the problem - it just means a society has to learn to control their borrowing impulses as a group.

I would add to this that democratic societies - i.e., the citizens living in democracies - also need to get much much better at holding politicians to account for how they decide they spend their money.

The profligate wastes of government are nothing new, but - especially in the US - citizens in general seem to feel almost completely disenfranchised. They can vote, but almost every single conversation I see indicates that they feel that their vote is worthless and that it won't change anything.

This is terribly sad for a nation that holds itself up as the flagship of democracy. I am from Australia (though living in the USA for the last 18 months) and while it is not so bad in Aus, I can see the same sort of apathy starting to form.

Citizens need to become better at looking past the smoke and mirror show and holding their elected officials accountable, especially when they preach one thing and do something different.

Comment: Re:Alternatively... (Score 1) 85 85

I don't know. I'm all for exoskeletons... in the military and otherwise. But telling me it teaches people how to shoot in the military seems like a solution to a problem that we already have a better solution for... no?

Well, that's the only question that matters - is the exoskeleton solution better than having a human train you?

That question can only be answered by building it and trying it out over a series of tests, comparing it against the baseline of having a human yell at you to stand up straight or whatever.

I have often wondered if something like this could exist for skiiing - I've been skiing maybe 5 times now and I'm starting to get the hang of it, but every time I get a lesson I'm frustrated by the instructor saying "oh, just do this with your body", because I can't figure out how to map what they're doing or saying onto my body.

Sure, if I took a bunch more lessons (and if they screamed at me like a drill sergeant) I'd probably figure out it - but having some exoskeleton thing that "guided" me into the right actions seems like it could be really useful.

The other question though is - even if the exoskeleton solution is better, is the cost worth it? Assuming it's more expensive - if only improves outcomes by 10% in one key metric, but costs 50% more, does that work out? What if the outcome goes up to 80%?!

Comment: Hangouts is baffling (Score 3, Informative) 62 62

I know there area lot of smart people at Google so the constant trainwreck that is Hangouts is baffling to me.

Never have I encountered a piece of chat software that is so confusing to so many people. I have been using chat software for a long time and am a tech-savvy person but I struggle understanding Hangouts. My relatives, who are scattered all over the world and are quite tech savvy, have been communicating amongst each other online for years with a variety of technologies from ICQ to MSN to Skype to GTalk, all struggle with Hangouts.

I know it's popular to bash UI/UX people on Slashdot and it's something I've never been comfortable with - UI/UX is an important part of software and I've worked with some phenomenal people. But it's like the Hangout team have decided to ignore all the previous years of the chat application design paradigms and have gone out of their way to overcomplicate the interfaces.

I am just perplexed at how hard it is to tell if people are online or offline in the Android app. The default views simply DO NOT SHOW this information - only a "last seen" timer. I assume this is intentional to try to make you just send messages anyway to get you using it like it's an SMS service, but fuck me if you want to actually have a chat with someone knowing whether they're online or away is important.

Some other specific gripes:
- I /hate/ how hard it is to sign out of Hangouts on Android. You have to go into some obscure sub-menu. They clearly want it running all the time.
- On one of the rare occasions I had it running on my phone yesterday, I sent a message to my partner (overseas from me atm) to see if she wanted a chat. My wifi dropped at the same time, and Hangouts reported the message wasn't sent; I had to go out so just left. But it WAS sent, and my partner sat around swearing at me for asking to chat and then vanishing.
- When someone tries to voice call me it seems to ring in Google Talk in Gmail, but does not always answer reliably. I note they are in the process of removing the old Google Talk from Gmail and replacing it with Hangouts.
- When trying to call someone from Google Talk in Gmail it does not seem to reliably call them.
- Message delivery seems flaky - it is not uncommon for me to find out messages never arrived. (Though this seems to be almost exclusively when one end of the conversation is in the Android app).

I would LOVE a good, simple, cross-platform chat application at the moment. My friends and relatives have fragmented across a billion platforms.

Comment: Re:$15/month for one channel? (Score 1) 39 39

If you're on Comcast's lowest tier TV-included package - "Internet Plus" - HBO is a free add-on. Right now we're paying ~ $70/month total for internet plus Cable TV (The TV channels include HD and are basically a throw-in, it's how Comcast tries to hide how many of its customers don't want cable TV anymore). I can't imagine paying $15 for any single channel.

The way I see it (as an Australian that moved the US ~18 months ago and is agog at the variety of entertainment options), Netflix is awesome because it's a nice cheap catalogue of mostly older content that I either haven't seen or am happy to watch again.

HBO for $15/mo seems reasonable to me because they have a (much smaller) amount of really amazing content (The Wire, Rome, Sopranos, Deadwood, etc) which I'll happily watch again and again, but they're almost always running the New Hotness (Game of Thrones at the moment, which I actually don't really care about that much).

The one channel of HBO for me is more value than many, many of the other available channels here put together. I have little or no interest in most of the other channels - almost everything I want to watch is on Netflix or HBO.

But, of course, YMMV depending on taste. I've been looking forward to getting HBO on a non-Apple device to try the trial and see how much of it I watch. I might end up deciding $15/mo is too much 12 months of the year but I'll definitely roll it out a couple of times and binge.

Comment: You know what'd be more useful than this? (Score 2) 126 126

I suspect availability of good things to read isn't really the big problem here. You know, because, libraries.

And let's not forget Project Gutenberg, over 46,000 free ebooks.

So how about some copyright reform! Fuck, give the $250m directly to the MPAA/RIAA. Do something about the ludicrous copyright period. Imagine how many more great books would enter the public domain?!

Comment: Boom and bust of Australian gamedev (Score 1) 170 170

The Australian video game industry has always been a bit boom or bust. We had some great stuff going on in the late 90s and some great titles coming out, then a bit of a downturn during the dotcom bubble burst.

But when that happened, one USD started buying two AUD, and a lot of US companies started setting up studios in Australia. They had a few good years, taking advantage of the cheap cost of labour thanks to both leveraging the exchange rate and the enthusiastic and excellent Australian staff, but once the AUD starting doing well the benefits started fading. Studios shut up shop and vanished with barely any notice.

There's a lot of awesome Australian talent scattered over the globe now; most of the people I know who were serious about the industry decided that if they wanted to make a reliable career out of it they needed to head stateside.

Now the AUD is waning again it's possible we'll see some more American dollars going into it, but it's easier than ever for US companies to bring Australians to the US, so I suspect that's more likely.

Comment: Re:What I really want to see (Score 1) 96 96

I'm genuinely embarrassed to be part of a community where people use 'socialism' like a scare word to try to argue against state-provided healthcare. What you had before Obamacare was way closer to a free market, and it's directly responsible for why more dollars are spent per capita on health care in the US than anywhere else in the world. Still there are many people not actually being properly covered, people driven to bankruptcy because of insane medical bills, not even health economists understand health care plans... the list goes on.

I, like most other people who live in countries with state-provided healthcare, find the resistance to providing healthcare to its citizens utterly confusing. Using 'socialism' as a scare word to try to convince your fellow citizens that it's some weird Soviet-era affliction that everyone will suffer under is a cheap trick.

I know everyone wants "freedom", but you'll live with much more genuine freedom if you have a healthcare system is /just there/, rather than it being something that you're constantly fighting against.

(FWIW, I moved from Australia to the US a couple years ago; my father, sister and grandfather are doctors in Australia and my uncle is a doctor and works in IT healthcare in the US - so I have accessed a fairly wide set of viewpoints before forming my own.)

Comment: Re:Would you like next door kid reprogram his car? (Score 1) 292 292

Not that I necessarily disagree with you, but I found your comment pretty funny given the general groupthink on Slashdot about the typical quality of software engineers and how most of them shouldn't be trusted to do anything more complicated than "hello world".

The air of superiority on here (which may or may not be misplaced, thanks Dunning-Kruger) when it comes to programming is such that I'm amazed to find people supporting the concept that people should be hacking on their own cars from a pure quality-control point of view.

I firmly support the EFF's perspective that users should own their own devices and be able to do whatever they want with them. If it's hacking on their entertainment systems or the seat warmers, who cares? But there are parts of the automotive system that are designed by actual engineers and go through serious testing to ensure they perform to certain parameters, presumably in some cases according to state-provided regulations. So there's a case to be made on that side.

Comment: Re:I'm sorry officer.. (Score 1) 232 232

In my country, you can actually drive while not in physical possession of your license - if pulled over by the police, you have a period of time in which to go to a police station to show them the license.

This allows citizens and police to gracefully deal with a wide range of legit issues like people forgetting their wallets, people losing their licenses, etc. I'm sure this could be extended easily to phones.

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

Oh jeeze the last thing Thunderbird needs is to be raked over the trendy UX coals the way Firefox has

[author of the article]

Completely agree, and it's what I dislike most about Firefox today (you can look at my history for several +5 comments about FF UI/UX).

I think Thunderbird is in that pre-awesome Firefox stage. It's feature complete but not polished or awesome enough to drive adoption and force other players to respond.

I also do not like random UI/UX spasms that lead to Australis-esque results. I just want a solid client that people can /rely/ on, like Firefox was.

I've used Thunderbird as my sole email client for a few years. It's OK. There are bugs - not crippling bugs, but enough that make it not a solid enough product for me to recommend to the kind of people that like battling beta software to get their shit done.

But it could be so much more. Like Firefox was, when I recommended it for years to people that wanted to browse the web safely using the magic juice that their nerd friends commended.

There are many other battlegrounds. "Social" is part of what Mozilla want to compete in, but until email has been conquered...

+ - Forgetting Firefox->

trawg writes: It’s been more than 10 years since Mozilla released version 1.0 of Firefox, one of their first steps in their mission to “preserve choice and innovation on the Internet”. Firefox was instrumental in shattering the web monoculture, but the last few years of development have left users uninspired. Perhaps it is time to move on to the next challenge — ensuring there is a strong Thunderbird to help preserve a free and open email ecosystem.
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I'm still waiting for the advent of the computer science groupie.

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