Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×

Comment: Hangouts is baffling (Score 3, Informative) 61 61

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.
Link to Original Source

Comment: Love the XPS 13 series (Score 4, Interesting) 118 118

I normally avoid hardware review posts but I'm on my 2nd Dell XPS 13" laptop so wanted to check this out.

I have been super happy with these devices. The first one was the XPS M1210, which in all seriousness was one of the best computers I've ever owned. It's a bit dated now - it was pre-Macbook Air, so by comparison looks huge and chunky, but compared to previous lappys it was a joy to travel with.

The first battery piked after a couple years but this is back in the Good Old Days when buying replacement parts was easy.

The screen crapped out after about 4 years - still usable but had weird patterns all over it. I could have replaced it but by then the newer model was out, and the change in weight profile was significant enough to justify the change.

I've had the new one for over two years and have been really happy with it. I basically only use it when I travel, and it's slimline form is great.

The model I have (2012 I think) only has 4GB of RAM, which has been a bit of a hassle, and the CPU is a bit on the slow side compared to my desktop - but this new one with 8GB looks like it would be great.

It has a nice keyboard with broad, easy to press keys, making it as not-terrible as possible to type on for extended periods (if I'm using it for ages I still plug in a real keyboard though).

If you're looking at a slimline laptop and don't want a Mac, then I seriously recommend checking the XPS series out.

Comment: The silver lining (Score 2) 139 139

The positive side is that hopefully it provides further incentives for companies like Microsoft to work harder to try to mitigate DDoS problems at the source.

Microsoft are in a unique position as their operating system is - it seems - in many cases the base platform for launching these attacks. It'd be great to see a concerted effort along with a company like Google to start actively trying to massively reduce the number of systems that are regularly involved in DDoS attacks.

Machines have less problems. I'd like to be a machine. -- Andy Warhol