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Comment Re:Ubuntu is a perfect Linux-newbie distro (Score 1) 281

Well son, my first install was SLS on a 486 (from a bunch of 3.5" floppies) and it ran a pre-1.0 kernel. My first Debian install was also pre-1.0. I kept upgrading a Debian system for longer than 10 years, moving it from computer to computer and from hard disk to hard disk as technology advanced (and money allowed) without ever reinstalling it. I finally ditched it in favor of Ubuntu, and don't regret it at all. I don't want to fiddle with the computer anymore, I want to use it and that's what Ubuntu allows me to do. And, for the record, Unity is not perfect, but isn't an abomination either as many people here want to believe, and I'm currently happily using it on two machines, one netbook and one regular desktop.

Now, please draw your own conclusions from this as well...

Comment Re:Does the average user expect flexibility? (Score 1) 331

Here in /. we're not average computer users, so we have a hard time figuring out what average people expect from computers. There's an easy way to get around that, though: we're average users of many other products. The answer to your question becomes a lot more obvious when we apply it to other things:

Does the "average" user who picks up a washing machine expect it to be capable of more than what it does out of the box? Does the "average" user who picks up a frying pan expect it to be capable of more than what it does out of the box? Does the "average" user who picks up a screwdriver expect it to be capable of more than what it does out of the box?

The answer is a big "no". Now, people here will tell me that computers are way more flexible than washing machines, frying pans and screwdrivers. For a motivated tinkerer with proper mechanical and/or electrical abilities, though, washing machines, frying pans and screwdrivers may appear as full of interesting alternative uses as computers appear to us. So this is not the point, either.

Most people aren't looking for flexibility, and they'll happily will trade it for ease of use and convenience as soon as they can.

Comment Re:Uh oh (Score 1) 433

You're right! If Venezuela were to attack Columbia, Columbia would wipe the floor with Venezuela, that's for sure! On the other hand, if they were to attack Colombia things may turn out to be different.

Still, as a Colombian (that is, from Bogotá, not from Washington) I think this is a very unlikely event. Chávez barks very often about deploying his shiny new war toys against Colombia, but reality is that nobody knows how long he'd be able to keep his war gear running, given the current sad state of Venezuela's finances. But probably the main reason why a war wouldn't make any sense is that Colombia and Venezuela share their history and culture to a large extent. We have really no reason to atack each other, and Chávez's delusions of grandeur aren't going to change this.

Comment Re:Why do people like Ubuntu? (Score 2, Insightful) 366

People like you, who obviously seem to have fun at dealing with things such as ALSA, nVidia drivers, Ratpoison, FreeBSD, upstart, fstab, disk mounting, and GRUB won't probably like Ubuntu. People who don't want to deal with such things, will probably like Ubuntu, because it does a decent job of hiding the technical details from them in such a way that they can actually use the system. So, what you seem to perceive as a lack of transparency in the system design, is deliberate and seen by many as a feature instead of as a defect.

It isn't simply a matter of people being superficially drawn to a "nice shiny Gnome". It's actually that they want to use their computer without having to understand the gory technical details of the software installed in it.

Comment Re:Mass confusion (Score 1) 641

If a dictator is a miserable failure, thats OK too, since its all open source it just works.

This doesn't sound like my actual experience with Debian (yes, back in the days, I used to be a Debian maintainer). Doing anything that requires several packages to be modified in a consistent fashion was always very hard, because a single maintainer who didn't like the idea or who simply wasn't responsive enough was able to stop the whole effort on its tracks. As a government model, Debian looks a lot more like a feudal system, with a myriad of lords who are absolute rulers in their tiny feuds, and who only owe some symbolic allegiance to a distant, and often not very powerful king. Making any significant changes in such a country is of course very difficult, and even traveling there could become a real problem.

I once wanted to help Debian become a serious desktop distribution, but for the reasons I mentioned above, this proved to be an exercise in frustration. I ended up becoming inactive as a maintainer and finally moved to Ubuntu as soon as it became available. I haven't looked back ever since.


Israeli Scientists Freeze Water By Warming It 165

ccktech writes "As reported by NPR and Chemistry world, the journal Science has a paper by David Ehre, Etay Lavert, Meir Lahav, and Igor Lubomirsky [note: abstract online; payment required to read the full paper] of Israel's Weizmann Institute, who have figured out a way to freeze pure water by warming it up. The trick is that pure water has different freezing points depending on the electrical charge of the surface it resides on. They found out that a negatively charged surface causes water to freeze at a lower temperature than a positively charged surface. By putting water on the pyroelectric material Lithium Tantalate, which has a negative charge when cooler but a positive change when warmer; water would remain a liquid down to -17 degrees C., and then freeze when the substrate and water were warmed up and the charge changed to positive, where water freezes at -7 degrees C."

Disney Releases 3D Texture Mapper Source Code 83

dsavi writes "Ptex, Walt Disney Animation Studio's cutting-edge 3D texture mapping library which was first used on nearly every surface in the 2008 animated feature Bolt, was released under the BSD license on Friday. Quoting the announcement on 'We expect to follow Ptex with other open source projects that we hope the community will find beneficial. We will soon be launching a new Walt Disney Animation Studios Technology page under It will include links to our open source projects as will as a library of recent publications.' This looks good for open source 3D graphics."
Classic Games (Games)

M.U.L.E. Is Back 110

jmp_nyc writes "The developers at Turborilla have remade the 1983 classic game M.U.L.E. The game is free, and has slightly updated graphics, but more or less the same gameplay as the original version. As with the original game, up to four players can play against each other (or fewer than four with AI players taking the other spots). Unlike the original version, the four players can play against each other online. For those of you not familiar with M.U.L.E., it was one of the earliest economic simulation games, revolving around the colonization of the fictitious planet Irata (Atari spelled backwards). I have fond memories of spending what seemed like days at a time playing the game, as it's quite addictive, with the gameplay seeming simpler than it turns out to be. I'm sure I'm not the only Slashdotter who had a nasty M.U.L.E. addiction back in the day and would like a dose of nostalgia every now and then."

Comment Re:Javascript is actually a great language (Score 1) 531

Global variables, lack of namespaces and block scopes are nuances that can be worked around with proper coding practices and a good understanding of the language.

Why would you go through all this work when there are languages that provide all of this and much more and are as flexible a JavaScript?

Comment Re:How to get Ubuntu 9? (Score 1) 744

For the most part, they keep working well. The major problem is that the upgrade changes the layout of files on the disk, and, since the highly optimized boot procedure depends on that, your boot will likely become slower. You can at least mitigate this problem by rebuilding the boot readahead list as explained here.

Comment Multi-touch for developers but not for end users (Score 3, Interesting) 121

The good news are that they seem to finally have added the long-awaited support for multi-touch. As listed in their relese notes:

MotionEvent can now report simultaneous-touch information for devices that support it. Up to three pointers can be tracked simultaneously.

The bad news are that, apart from some improvements to the on-screen keyboard, the GUI doesn't seem to be making use of it at all. So, those of us hoping to impress our acquaintances by zooming web pages in and out iPhone-style will probably have to wait until 2.1...

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