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Slashback: Stapler, Interface, Gaming 295

Slashback tonight (read on below) has updates on next-generation aircraft, KDE user-interface improvements and suggestions, a special warning for those obsessed with Milton's stapler from Office Space, SmartFilter's attitude toward SourceForge, and more.

You've got to admit it's getting better all the time. Gentu writes: "In parallel to the KDE 3.1-alpha release today, OSNews published an interesting article discussing a number of User Interface issues found on KDE 3. The article suggests a number of changes, some small, some pretty drastic. Towards the end of the two-part article, the author discusses the 'integration' problem found in today's X11 desktop environments, and how fixing this issue would bring Unix closer to average Joe's desktop."

Yes, you're allowed to have more than one friend. A NuKeFaN writes: "Following the article titled Are you a Friend of GNOME I wanted to point you out that the most used GPL'd software for the Web, PHP-Nuke, also has a similar page/system for their friends. It's a Club (MandrakeClub like) where you can be a member for a little monthly fee and you can get some extra benefits. You can access the Club area to know more about it. This can be, maybe, another example of how to get some money to fund a free software project, the matter is if we, as users, will support those project's developers this way? I think we can."

Wait, the scam was to take just a few pennies from everyone! MrBlue VT writes "In reference to the previous Slashdot article about the red Swingline Staplers, I click on the add to cart button on the Swingline website, and it pops open an ordering window with a 4 staplers added to the shopping cart. Ok, I think it's a little strange, but change the quantity back to 1, and hit continue to checkout. Next thing I know, I'm looking at an order form with all the text boxes filled out with somebody else's personal information. He's from Bellvue, WA apparently (I'm in Virginia). It also has his credit card number and expiration date!

This has to be the worst security I've ever seen in an online shopping site. The company who apparently provides the online shopping service for Swingline appears to be an outfit called SureSource.

I just wanted to let anyone who happened to order from them know about this. Your credit card info could very well be compromised."

Please fasten your belts. hondo77 submitted this follow-up to this article about next-generation aircraft, writing "Boeing says that their blended-wing aircraft will be ready for test flights in 2006. The article also has a picture of a 3% scale model. See, it doesn't look like the B-2 at all."

But thanks anyhow. flonker writes "Smartfilter no longer lists! Link for those who want to see for themselves."

Great at stealing them, too. MrDingusMcGee writes "After the recent posting about a study suggesting that video games decrease brain activity, I thought it would be interesting to read the results of another study which has shown that video game players score better on a range of attention tasks (mirror here)done by Shawn Green at the University of Rochester Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department, and that this could possibly rate video game players as better drivers. Worth seeing the other side of the argument and having some validation for those hours of gaming."

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Slashback: Stapler, Interface, Gaming

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  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:14PM (#3868027)
    I have never lurked around dark tunnels running from ghosts and eating pills I find on the ground. I have never had the urge to strut up and down the street making Boop Boop noises. I have never felt the need to grab a BFG and go hunting demons. Video games have yet to affect my real life at all (other then reducing the amount of time I spend there). If you don't want your kids to play these games don't let them. Do not turn to society as a whole to police what your kids can do.
  • by FattMattP ( 86246 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:18PM (#3868042) Homepage
    There's one thing about pretty much every GUI program that I really hate. It's the About menu item. It never tells me about the program. It just tells me who wrote it and what the copyright is. That sort of stuff should be moved into a Credits menu item and the About menu item should devote a few sentences to telling me what the program does.

    I ran into this problem a lot when I first started using both GNOME and KDE. I had no idea what half the programs did and there was no clue within the program itself. After a while it became too much of a drag to go find the docs just to read a one paragraph summary of what a given program was. I would hope that in the future developers would start putting a small description of their program within the About menu item.

  • Re:Staplers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jonny Ringo ( 444580 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:20PM (#3868053)
    He's from Bellvue, WA apparently
    which is right next to Redmond, most Microsofties live in Bellvue.
    So, I'm just saying its probably justified is all :-)
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:20PM (#3868054) Homepage Journal
    Heh. I have been playing GTA3 (way too much actually) for the last week. Let me tell you something, I about died laughing when I managed to run over a person with a boat. (That was a sight to see!) Just for giggles, I like to run around and wallop people with a bat. Sometimes, I take the sniper rifle and blow people's heads off for no real reason other than it's fun to watch. Sometimes I instigate car chases with the cops just for the thrill of seeing how many I can take out before they take me out.

    So I'm somebody that's more likely to go commit a crime, right? Wrong. GTA 3 is a hell of a lot of fun to play, but let me tell you something: That game taught me that the last thing I want to do is play games with cops.

    The thought of ramming a cop car and seeing how far he and his buddies will chase me scares the shit out of me. Why? Because even in a game where my car can put up with a good deal more abuse than my real car can, I can't get away from the cops. The only real chance I have of getting away involves luck. That's it, luck. They will get me.

    If anything, I think GTA 3 will reduce hoodlumism. Why? Because the physics in the game are a little different than they are in real life. For example: You can mow down a stoplight and still keep tooling along at 90 mph. In real life, striking a stoplight would end the chase rather suddenly.

    Things happen much faster on GTA than they would in real life. Cars acellerate faster, and you can keep the chase going much longer than you possibly could in real life. And geez, there's no way you're going to acquire grenades to lob at people. GTA 3 really spoils reality for people. It's a lot more fun to destroy stuff in GTA 3 than it could possibly be in real life.
  • The obvious answer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Weasel Boy ( 13855 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:29PM (#3868068) Journal
    "It frightens me that we allow these sort of games to be played by our youth"

    So don't allow your kids to play these kinds of games. Duh. The answer to mature subject matter is attentive parenting, not government curbs on basic rights.

    This point is so basic... I don't even know why I'm letting you jerk my chain. You can't be serious. I should just mod "-1 troll" and move on.
  • PHP-Nuke Club (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MoThugz ( 560556 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:32PM (#3868085) Homepage
    Other than the club, PHP-Nuke [] also has a donation link as well as an Amazon wishlist for Mr. Burzi (developer for PHP-Nuke). The club contains priviledged downloads for unreleased (beta and alpha codes) versions of PHP-Nuke. Members also get to download released versions five days earlier than non-members.

    Although the club is a good idea, I prefer the donation method... or maybe Mr. Burzi could create some PHP-Nuke merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts or caps and sell them on the site. It's nice to have material things to cherish as mementos for the support you gave.

  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:40PM (#3868115) Homepage Journal
    Actually, while that would seem to be the ideal answer, sadly, many stores will happily sell these sorts of games to teenagers without letting parents know. Congress is poised to make this sort of thing a federal crime, which while harsh is an excellent first step towards curbing underage viewing of what I would term 'a pornography of violence'. However, the only long term solution is to follow the more enlightened policies of some European countries and ban this sort of trash outright. Nazi symbolism is outlawed overseas to prevent the most horrible of atrocities from resurfacing in our youth, so why do we permit this promotion of antisocial behavior wrapped in a shiny teen-friendly package?

    I honestly don't mean to troll, but am merely providing an alternative opinion that I know won't wash very well here. I never understood why people who ostensibly promote free speech actually just mean free speech that agrees with their thoughts.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:47PM (#3868148)
    >What's wrong with three Home buttons?

    It is redundant, dangerous for a newcomer and overly confusing. A good UI design, would not need more than 1 button/option. Plus, it bloats things up.
  • by BeBoxer ( 14448 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:58PM (#3868183)
    Actually, I don't think that's what he's recommending. He's talking about the desktop context menu, and whether or not it should include a "Quick Browser" item like the KMenu does. He thinks that a normal user should have his home directory available there, and root should have / available there. Both of which seem quite reasonable. Being able to open a new window to any directory with a right click on the desktop is a feature I use a lot in BeOS. It's not unreasonable to reduce clutter by only have ~ there for normal users. They can still get to / thru other means if they need to.
  • by numark ( 577503 ) <jcolson@ndgonline . c om> on Thursday July 11, 2002 @08:58PM (#3868186) Homepage Journal
    First off, I'll say that I respect your view, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with it.

    That said, I believe that this problem still can be solved by attentive parenting. Even if a store sells a violent game to a teenager, it seems unlikely that teenager would be able to keep their parents from ever discovering the game.

    If parents don't approve of certain games, they can merely randomly observe what their child is playing. They can easily do this by placing the gaming system in a common area, such as a living room or study. If a parent isn't willing to do this to enforce their rules and views, then the problem lies with the parents, not with the store or the video game manufacturer.

    Government is not meant to be an end-all and be-all for the "sanitation" of our lives. This especially holds true in America, where we have the fundamental right to make decisions for ourselves and our children with a minimum of governmental interference. If we want freedom of speech for ourselves, we also have to advocate freedom of speech for those who disagree with us and our views. It's that simple.
  • by Russ Steffen ( 263 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @09:04PM (#3868218) Homepage

    Unless your "victim" has something more sophisticated than a fax machine, like say a PC with a fax modem or a fax server. In that case you're just tying up a phone line.

    And, why bother with the construction paper? Just a FAX modem, an all-black TIFF file and some know-how and you can do the same job in a much more reliable way (the tape seams tend to fray and split after 15 or so passses). And, it'll be more impressive to your cow-orkers.

  • by jheinen ( 82399 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @09:25PM (#3868313) Homepage
    I guess I find it scary that you learn *any* moral lessons from a game. That you would come to the conclusion that you shouldn't get into a car chase with cops based on the outcome of a game is, well, disturbing. I would hope that you wouldn't engage in criminal activities because such activities are wrong, rather than because a game led you to believe that it's hard to outrun the cops. let me ask you this; if it had been easy to outrun the cops in GTA, would you have had a different opinion on ramming cop cars? God I hope not. Games aren't reality. I always assumed that people who played games realized this intrinsically, and could easily seperate fantasy from reality. Based on your post however, maybe I'm wrong. You seem to be applying information gleaned from a game to real-life situations. Please tell me I'm wrong.
  • by FattMattP ( 86246 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @09:29PM (#3868335) Homepage
    I am pontificating but not pointlessly. You assume that I'm talking about KDE in particular and therefore missed my point. KDE does now have short descriptions but it didn't when I first started to use it. GNOME didn't have these either. There are still many GUI based programs that are not KDE- or GNOME-based that don't provide a summary of what they do.

    Also, something as brief as "KDE Advanced Text Editor" may be enough to describe a text editor but it's still rather skimpy on the details. As another poster pointed out [], it would help to have some more detail so that the end user could make a better decision about which program to use.

    An example of a better description for Kate:

    Kate is a multi document editor, based on a rewritten version of the kwrite editing widget of KDE, offering all the features of that plus a bunch of its own including unicode support, syntax highlighting, and a plugin interface.
  • Plane problems (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @10:17PM (#3868523) Journal
    1) Evacuation - people are on average much further from the edge of the plane. This probably isn't too big an issue - people already often have to go quite a way along the airplane to get to the closest exit.

    2) Cargo - the constant cross-section of cylindrical planes means you can have standard size cargo pallets that fit anywhere in the plane. This plane has a much less regular shape. Perhaps they have sufficient volume they can afford to waste some.

    3) Engine maintenance. The engines on this plane are very high and hard to access from the ground. This is already the case for the number 2 engines of DC-10, MD-11 and L1011's, so there is prior experience in handling this, but it will add to maintenence cost.

    4) Manufacturing cost. In a constant cross-section fusilage, many panels, ribs etc. can be used many times over.

    5) Difficulty in adjusting size. You can stretch or (rarely) shrink the length of a cylindrical fusilage fairly easily.

    Of course, you can accept quite a few negatives in return for a 30% gain in economy.

    Finally, there is the risk of the unexpected - revolutionary designs frequently stumble over unexpected problems that take a while to iron out - e.g. Comet (metal fatigue in presurized airframe), high tail planes like the DC 9 ('deep stall'), A320 (human/computer interface problems).

  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @10:41PM (#3868590) Homepage Journal
    I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your tactfulness even though it appears I disturbed you. Let me answer your last question first:

    "I always assumed that people who played games realized this intrinsically, and could easily seperate fantasy from reality. Based on your post however, maybe I'm wrong. You seem to be applying information gleaned from a game to real-life situations. Please tell me I'm wrong."

    Okay: You're wrong. The whole purpose to explaining my thoughts on it like I did was so the parent poster would realize that I know what I'm talking about. Any images of me fantasizing about ramming cop cars or sniping people's heads off you can just flush. As a matter of fact, you have indirectly touched onto why I am against censorship of video games.

    I have been exposed to nearly every kind of video gaming experience one can have. I've played Mortal Kombat and all the GTAs and so on, so I know what's really involved there. Based on the reactions of people that claim that video game violence causes violent behaviour, I should be a hoodlum.

    But I'm not. I'm 24 years old. I've already started my career. I've worked at the same job for 5 years. I have no criminal record. I've only had 1 speeding ticket in my life, and that was shortly after I got my car heh. Ive never had a parking ticket. Never done drugs. Never punched anybody. I don't even raise my voice. I'm a pretty well rounded person. Hopefuly you can see why it is extremely difficult for me to imagine that exposing children to violent video games results in harmful behaviour changes.

    I told my view of GTA 3 so the parent poster would understand that the more realistic video games are, the more likely a child would realize the consequences of what he or she does. I've heard arguments like "When a child plays a game like Quake, he/she learns it's okay and fun to run around and shoot people." In my experience, instead the child learns "Guns kill people."

    I think these anti-video-game types are looking at them in entirely the wrong way. In fact, I'm offended that they think kids are stupider than they really are. If you treat a child like they are incapable of making good decions, you're emotionally damaging the kid. I think saying "You're not allowed to play Mortal Kombat because it's too violent" is akin to saying "You're too stupid to know the difference between right and wrong. So I'm going to shelter you from anything that can give you ideas."

    I appreciate you asking me before drawing a conclusion about me, though. It seems to be a popular thing here on Slashdot for somebody to listen to what you say and then draw the most absurd, extreme conclusion they can come up with. It's sorta like this: "I love to eat hamburgers.... I can't believe you like to murder innocent animals!"

    I guess it's my own fault for not clarifying that I knew before playing the game that ramming cops was wrong. I kinda figured that'd be a default assumption that people'd make, heh. I didn't phrase it very well I suppose. Hopefully you'll understand why I didn't really worry too much about that.


    P.S. Again, I appreciate you asking before passing judgement. You have no idea how many times I've had people send me insulting messages because they came up with really bizzarre interpretations of my comments. You're a better human being than most I've run across here.

  • by Spy Hunter ( 317220 ) on Thursday July 11, 2002 @10:52PM (#3868629) Journal
    Alt-F2, man, Alt-F2! Run Command has no business on the desktop context menu, because items on context menus should relate directly to their parent object. Context menus shouldn't be a generic drop-box for misc. useful items, because they have a specific context. Running a command line does not directly relate to the context of the desktop, which is a temporary repository for files and/or a place for keeping frequently used icons (though the panel is better for that). If anything, the "Run Command" item should be on the K menu (and I think it can be, optionally). However, simply having a keyboard shortcut for the "run command" window makes lots of sense since you need to use the keyboard anyway once you bring it up.
  • Freedom of Speech (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 12, 2002 @08:31AM (#3870050)
    >However, the only long term solution is to follow the more enlightened policies of some European countries and ban this sort of trash outright.

    Um, isn't that a limit on freedom of speech? The same freedom of speech that you wish to use to express your "alternative" view?

    I hate censorship via banning. It's really stupid in my opinion. Rating systems that can be bypassed via parental permission I think are good. The movie rating system I think works alright. I think video game ratings should work in a similar way and the industry should voluntarily self regulate.

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.