Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Wrong tool (Score 1) 143 143

The morals of this is never, ever use spreadsheets program for non-trivial work.

This is only really a valid conclusion if you compare it against the lost billing rate of other solutions though. I have seen organisations that would happily allow billing stuff to fall through the cracks with specialised software simply because it was easier than trying to fight the software for certain situations.

I can imagine that someone with Excel might end up saving more money for that reason, although I certainly agree the average complicated spreadsheet probably has a lot of errors.

Comment Re:No nuance allowed. You're for us or against us. (Score 1) 551 551

Thank you for neatly summarising exactly how I feel about Gamergate. I wasn't sure if I was an idiot and was just missing the point, but I felt a staggering amount of the commentary I read on it was /clearly/ trying to take a position - but I could never understand /what/ position!

Comment Re:Do your part nerds! (Score 1) 283 283

I'm not sure what Firefox or Chrome have to do with the discussion (or why you feel the need to be abusive towards me). Perhaps you are thinking of the other Slashdot thread that popped up a few hours later about Firefox blocking Flash?

Technically competent users are at less risk of Flash exploits, of course. But they are not the problem. Non-technical people take their cues from what their technical friends do and say; my point is that without us continuing to do the work that Apple started it's just going to take forever to get rid of it.

It's clear that as long as Flash exists it will continue to be a major vector for security-related problems. Entirely the point of the Facebook bloke that started this entire thread, of course. I am merely saying that we should do what we can to hasten its demise and encourage others to do the same. But I guess I'm not so helplessly dependent on a handful of sites that continue to use Flash as some people might be.

Comment Re:Do your part nerds! (Score 1) 283 283

The writing is on the wall for Flash. Everyone knows it. It has been ever since Apple gave them the epic finger.

The only question is how quickly people abandon it. If you're a nerd - the precise person that I was addressing in my comment and the precise person I expect to be reading comments on Slashdot - I feel you have a /duty/ to lead the charge.

Uninstall Flash. Tell Pandora why you can no longer use their service. Find a competing service that offers HTML5 or some other mechanism.

I've never used Pandora; I stream radio for my music discovery (via a good ole fashioned mp3 stream that I can play in a wide variety of software). Certainly I don't get people that are married to Pandora that hard - but if you're an actual nerd - you have options.

Comment Do your part nerds! (Score 4, Interesting) 283 283

Uninstall Flash. Just stop using it. Encourage your friends to do the same.

I uninstalled it a couple months ago. I no longer have to worry about updating it or being exposed to the vast amount of vulnerabilities - it should be clear to everyone by now that it is a /major/ vector for infection.

Only a few times have I hit content that still requires Flash - usually sites that have an old Flash video player. Most big sites or sites using modern players happily support HTML5 video. Those that don't I can live without. (Bonus: far less irritating animated ads. For now.)

But make sure you provide feedback to sites that still have Flash - let them know you can't use the site properly. Fortunately - largely thanks to Apple's refusal to allow Flash in iOS - there are fewer and fewer of these today.

Comment Re:My Plans for Firefox (Score 1) 208 208

I feel like most technical people - the people who you really want filing bug reports - know that big open source projects are something of a blackhole for bug reports.

I think Firefox especially has an uphill battle at the moment - threads like this demonstrate that users clearly think that most dev effort at Mozilla is focused on new features rather than bug fixes.

The thought of going to the effort of battling Bugzilla, logging a bug report only to see it languishing (or WONTFIXed) for months or years is certainly a strong motivator not to bother.

Comment Re:Good for greece (Score 1) 1307 1307

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) 1307 1307

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) 86 86

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.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein