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Comment The best keyboards these days (Score 1) 115

I am a keyboard snob. The keyboard is the part of the computer with which I interact the most, so I hate the mushy feel of membrane keyboards that are based on the same technology as VCR remotes.

If you want to be a keyboard snob too (in a good way), then start by going to and buying their sampler kit (""). For $8, you get eleven keycaps in different colors, four Cherry MX switches (blue, brown, black, red), and fifteen dampeners in three types. This is a cheap way to understand the difference between the four kinds of Cherry MX switches and decide which you prefer. You can then buy a custom-made keyboard from, choosing the switch, keycap color, and text for each individual key if you want.

I don't use my numeric keypad much, so I opted for a tenkeyless keyboard. doesn't yet offer these (current estimate is March), so I got it from "".

If you want an old-fashioned IBM Model M clacky keyboard, you can get it from "".

Comment Re:Reading between the lines (Score 1) 290

"No consequence to dying" - untrue. It's true that you can be resurrected, but dying damages your armor and makes it harder to continue to stay alive until you head back to a town to have it repaired. And if everyone in your party is dead and there's no one left to resurrect you, then you have to go back to the last waypoint. I've seen huge zergs go after bosses and fail by being entirely wiped out.

"Players versus door" - you're missing the fact that the other team is trying to reinforce their door and kill you while you try to break down their door and kill them. Strategy, boy, strategy.

"Complete ghost towns" - I've reached a level 75 PvE area in the game (Malchor's Leap) and there are plenty of people around to join, help, and be helped by. I've seen no evidence that people are abandoning Guild Wars 2; to the contrary, the events they've had so far (Halloween, Lost Shores) have been well conducted and extremely well attended, and a lot of people are looking forward to Wintersday.

It's a beautiful game, I've been enjoying the exploration and the crafting, the Trading Post (auction house) is done right, there's enough challenge to the dungeons to keep me coming back, the world is dynamic with a lot of things to do, and there are lots of other players to help make the going easier.

Comment Re:Obligatory (Score 1) 816

So, here's the funny thing. I heard the news right after it broke. I saw a discussion thread about it and I wanted to post a link to

Except, at the moment, that site was responding really slowly and took two minutes to load.
... as if, all over the world, millions of other people were also hitting the site at the same time...

Comment Re:Four more... (Score 1) 700

I will second "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah". That got me into a lot of early Richard Bach books, primarily "The Bridge Across Forever" as well as his biographies of piloting a biplane across the midwest. They showed me a different way of looking at life. Also, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull".

Comment Explain Metro to me? (Score 1) 172

While we're on the subject of Windows 8, would someone please explain the Metro interface to me, and the lack of a Start menu?

I'm serious. I tried the W8 public beta, and it felt like I had one hand tied behind my back. I don't understand why the Metro tiles are different sizes, or how to resize them. I don't understand why dragging the interface left/right doesn't 'snap' to the next page like an iPad, but instead lets me see the right half of one page and the left half of another. I don't understand why some tiles are static icons and why others update with information. I don't get why apps now run full-screen one-at-a-time - right now (not in W8) I am typing in this Slashdot window while I have another window open to a Google Search of Metro images, and partially behind that I have a chat window and a notepad open; how is the Metro interface supposed to handle all of this? And a large part of the interface seems to involve wide, sweeping motions with the mouse to simulate dragging a finger back and forth across the interface; I hadn't realized how rarely I do motions like this, so it looks like it's time to lower the mouse sensitivity.

Yes, I can get to the old-fashioned Windows desktop, but ... how do I *do* anything there? I have no access to any of my apps from there, so how do I pin them to the task bar in the first place?

I'm willing to embrace the future, but I just don't understand how people are supposed to use this interface on the desktop.

Comment Keyboard (Score 1) 461

Everything is better about PCs these days ... except the keyboard.

I missed the IBM Model M until I bought a USB version from "". So much better to type on than the modern things that use the same membrane rubber-dome technology as you find in a DVD remote control.

Comment Re:A long time ago... (Score 2) 177

To be fair - my high school faculty were good at encouraging me in any direction I chose, and I owe some of my teachers a great debt for the effort they put forth for me. It was my peers, my classmates, who made my daily life a living hell. Being bullied was what disconnected me from other people and sent me deep into my studies, and that's what got me through an Ivy League education and a Silicon Valley IPO small fortune. But it also left deep emotional scars that I still deal with. I would gladly have given everything else up if I could have escaped the scars.

These days, being a "geek" seems much more socially acceptable, and there's a lot more work being done to stop bullying. Of that, I'm glad.

I don't follow the kinds of sports for which universities give scholarships. I know that the students are expected to keep up a certain GPA to be allowed to compete, but I don't know how well their courses prepare them for their post-athletic life, or what the students do when their athletic careers end.

There was a time when I imagined that my former "jock" classmates would never achieve the kinds of things I had in my career, and it helped me to feel better than they were. Then I imagined that even if this were so, they probably were living comfortable lives with comfortable families and comfortable friendships together, and I felt cold and alone. Finally I found wisdom in the words of the Desiderata: "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." I hope that the people in my past have led good, satisfying lives. It's my job to find the same for myself.

Comment A long time ago... (Score 4, Insightful) 177

In the summer of '87, just before I graduated high school, I was among a small group of students chosen to spend a week in a computer science summer camp run by Stuart Reges at Stanford. The lectures were all across the board, a smattering of a lot of stuff. We had a lab of Mac 512Ke computers (and a Mac Plus fileserver) on which we learned the basics of Lisp, and there was a networking lecture which posed the Two Generals' Problem, and a lecture on artificial intelligence gave us the Muddy Children Puzzle, and we got to learn Emacs on the school's VAX running VMS, and we got a glimpse of X windows running on a Sun workstation, and I remember a night in an auditorium where we got to see an Amiga use its 4096-color palette to display photorealistic images!

But the most important thing I learned that week - the thing that I've carried with me all the years since then - is that there are *other people like me*. I was a geek in an athletic high school. I was the kid who got beat up and picked on. I was told I had no future because I spent my free time disassembling Apple II games and figuring out how they worked instead of kicking a football. And I believed it - until the day I arrived at that Stanford camp and found other kids who did this sort of stuff, and built robots at home, and memorized pi to a hundred digits, and knew magic tricks, and had a whole bunch of other neat things in their heads which today seem stereotypically nerdy but, back then, the important thing is that none of them involved kicking a football, and these kids were *proud* of who they were and what they could do.

It was only a week. I could say that week changed my life, but it would be more accurate to say that, without it, I might not be here today.

Comment What about the following year? (Score 1) 246

In 1995, Microsoft came back to Netscape with another proposal: dividing the market. If Netscape would stop developing its browser for Windows, then Microsoft would leave the Mac and Unix markets entirely to Netscape.

Netscape declined, of course, and so in 1996 came the first release of Internet Explorer for Mac and the announcement of Internet Explorer for Unix.

It seems crazy today to think that Microsoft would have been interested in something so blatantly antitrust as dividing the market, but that's the kind of company they were back then.

Comment A stacked deck (Score 3, Informative) 176

For all of you who are pointing out, with some rightness, that Netscape Communicator 4 had quality issues - let me remind you of something.

This was the time period when Microsoft had decided to, as a Microsoft executive stated during the antitrust trial, "cut off [Netscape's] air supply". For each product Netscape was trying to make money on - web servers, proxy servers, ecommerce solutions - Microsoft was giving away a workalike product for free, funded with the earnings from Microsoft Windows.

And, at the same time, Microsoft was forcing its OEM partners to keep Netscape Communicator off the computers they sold. Any company that refused would no longer get volume licensing discounts on Windows, which would then price their computers out of the market.

So Netscape was starved for cash at the same time as it had to put in a lot of effort to keep up with the extremely-well-funded Internet Explorer. There was no way that Netscape could have survived, much less competed, against this.

Comment Tron: Betrayal (Score 4, Interesting) 429

There's a graphic novel titled "Tron: Betrayal" that helps bridge the gap between the two films. I read it before I saw Tron Legacy; I think it helped me enjoy the movie a lot more.

The graphic novel goes into more depth about Flynn being split between his responsibilities in the real world and in the computer world, his creation of Clu to help him achieve a perfect society in the computer world, and Clu's frustration at Flynn's increasing absence. Eventually Clu decides to take a more active role in realizing the perfection he believes Flynn wants. This makes him more of a sympathetic villain; instead of just being a generic "bad guy", he is genuinely trying to do what he sees as right and he resents Flynn for having a problem with it.

The graphic novel also goes into more of an explanation of the "Isos". In the novel they're interesting; I felt disappointed that the movie does away with them quickly and plays the whole "last of your kind" card.

Ten bucks from Amazon:

Comment Re:Yes, that Lenski (Score 2, Informative) 461

Another account of the story is at RationalWiki:

RationalWiki is a site that exists to poke fun at Conservapedia and the anti-science movement. (I particularly like its WIGO page, "What Is Going On At CP?".) Conservapedia forbids any mention of RationalWiki, going so far as to ban members who make oblique references to it. In fact, the part of Lenski's letter that was censored on Conservapedia as "Ed.: citation omitted due to spam filter" was, originally, a reference to RationalWiki; this is explained at "Censoring of Lensku's RW ref".

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