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Comment Re:Political Correctness has no place in Kernel De (Score 3, Insightful) 1501

If you're a n00b who posts something stupid on LKML, you are not going to get massive old-school-Usenet-style flames.

I wonder how many n00bs never get that far, because they see how the leader of the community treats others and decide to go do something else instead. Maybe Linus does personally know the recipients of his infamous rants, but on a high-profile public forum not everyone watching might realise that.

If you walked into an office for a job interview, and the first thing you saw was some management type openly berating a subordinate, what tone would that set before you even started the discussion you were there for? Some conversations are best held privately, as much for the benefit of the community as for the participants themselves.

Comment Then let the "wizards" go (Score 3, Insightful) 1501

I have often seen this same "enforced politeness" tried on other mailing lists, and the result is always the same. The "wizards" soon migrate somewhere else

Then wish them well and send them on their way.

I find your implied association between smart people who get useful things done and rude people who can't act like adults unlikely. I know plenty of smart people, and the overwhelming majority of them would prefer to work with others in civilised fashion. Sure, when people are passionate about something then occasionally someone might cross the line, but then they apologise and everyone carries on.

I know plenty of blustery people as well, and a lot of them bluster to cover the fact that they aren't nearly as smart or valuable as they would like everyone else to believe. As with any bad apple, the best management decision for the project as a whole is usually to fire such people at the earliest opportunity rather than let them contaminate things any further or dig in any deeper.

Sometimes doing that will hurt in the short term, but no-one is irreplaceable. Once the bad ones are out of the way you can get on with bringing in other smart people to replace them. That can now include all the smart people you couldn't bring in before because they had no interest in working in a hostile environment and, being smart, they had plenty of other choices.

Comment Re:UPS (Score 1) 241

FWIW, I'm in the UK, in an area where the power supply is less than brilliant. We don't get many complete outages, but moderate surges and brown-outs seem to be happening all the time if the behaviour of a UPS is to be believed.

The working life of our electronic devices was surprisingly short across the board for the first few years after we moved here, with many formerly reliable devices all failing within a couple of years of the move, including (coincidentally or otherwise) multiple consumer-grade broadband routers. In contrast, in the years since installing a UPS for all the serious gear and at least basic surge protectors for everything else that plugs into a wall socket, we've seen almost no surprising failures of that kind.

Of course we don't know for sure whether it was really the dubious power supply that was responsible, and as other posters have mentioned there are several alternative explanations that would also make sense. But given how many things we saw fail within the window where the power supply was bad, and how few failed before and afterwards, the odds of the power supply being a factor seem quite high in our case.

Comment Re:Typical console developer rant, IMO. (Score 2) 157

Any attempt to raising a point about how you don't need to optimize everything but only few critical zones of your code (what matters) ... immediately results in myself being dismissed or treated as ignorant

To be fair, if you were debating with someone who writes applications that really do need the very top levels of performance, and you claimed that optimising trouble-spots would be sufficient to achieve that, then you were ignorant. For most software, being within a factor of 2 or 3 of hand-optimised low-level code is easily sufficient, and a bit of work with the profiler to identify the most serious flaws will go a long way. The rules change when you shift from that kind of performance standard to needing the very top levels, because then the emphasis on speed permeates everything.

Comment Re:UPS (Score 0) 241

Yes, that sounds unpleasantly familiar. It seems that these days a small business can't rely on any major vendor for a complete range of good quality, compatible gear. :-(

Maybe the likes of Cisco and HP are worth it if you have 24/7 IT teams running dedicated servers room full of equipment and measure the cost of downtime per second. For those guys, the high-end gear and management facilities and expensive support contracts might justify the cost.

For the rest of us, it feels like the best strategy now is to build heterogeneous IT systems and networks. Look for recommendations of individual devices, often from smaller and more specialised manufacturers, that do one job well. Anecdotally, I've found that in recent years these boxes tend to be pretty good at supporting the major standards, so if you buy best-in-class for each device you need then compatibility doesn't seem to be a major issue as much as maybe it used to be. And if anything does go wrong or you do need help with some awkward configuration, you have more than a snowball's chance in hell of speaking to someone who can help without coughing up most of this month's revenues for a support contract.

Comment Re:UPS (Score 5, Interesting) 241

Agreed, given the repeated failures here, the power supply might be less than wonderful.

It's also worth remembering that "enterprise" equipment is often more about the management features (which no home user is ever likely to need) than the hardware itself. Sometimes the low-end business gear actually turns out to be worse than decent consumer kit. For example, we bought a bunch of Cisco's small business branded equipment for a small office once, paying a premium for it but expecting that the quality and support would be better than some disappointing consumer grade equipment it was replacing. In fact, the NAS turned out to be a rebadged device from another vendor that Cisco never really supported properly, the wireless access point turned out to have buggy firmware that would just drop connections, and so on. It's a mistake we'll never make again.

Comment A course change for MS, but is it the right one? (Score 4, Interesting) 387

or else by 2020 when Win 7 reaches EOL it'll see MSFT reach EOL with it

I doubt even Microsoft would have made it to 2020 on its previous course, mostly because it didn't really seem to have one, so it's not surprising that things are changing.

Whether things are changing in a good direction is a different question. Microsoft have, with some justification, dominated business desktops for decades, and they have a serious presence in the server room/back office as well. They appear to be almost throwing that away and betting the farm on mobile and clouds with this new strategy.

If I were a betting man myself, I'd wager that the current cloud/software-as-a-service trend is going to overstay its welcome long before 2020. Objectively, there just isn't enough in it for the customers and it's being sustained more by groupthink than actual merit. When CIOs stop being cool just because they're moving everything "into the cloud", they'll start evangelising the security and reliability and performance and financial benefits of having everything in-house, under their direct control.

If I were in Microsoft's position, I'd be tempted to build a client/server model based on "private clouds" for business, probably with a three-way split between back-end tools, portable devices, and less portable but more flexible/multi-purpose devices. I'd want a unified set of ideas in the software and I'd want silky smooth data sharing and real-time collaboration and easy software management around the network, but I'd expect a different presentation style for the software in each of the three cases. They've got the war chest and continuing revenues to wait out the current cloud boom. They could be better placed than anyone else in the industry to lock up the business market for another generation, if they could just offer the right balance between cloud/mobile flexibility and depth/power of traditional business computing, without the cheap-and-nasty feel of most cloud and mobile experiences today.

Comment Re:Budgets out of control? (Score 1) 132

That's a fair point. Things really started going downhill when graphics card drivers become all about the benchmarks, which seems like an eternity ago now. I personally gave up on most PC gaming a few years back, at which point the last few AAA titles I'd bought as a keen gamer had all been in the crashes-too-often-to-be-fun category, often due to those flaky graphics drivers. Sometimes it was flaky game code instead, and occasionally it was trying to do things to my computer that my security software routinely blocked because it looked like malware.

It's funny how plenty of us have managed to write high performance applications for the PC throughout that time without those applications crashing every few minutes, yet for all their huge budgets the gaming and graphics card companies often couldn't.

Comment Re:Budgets out of control? (Score 1) 132

But the reality is that PC's for most people are too difficult to maintain.

Unfortunately, that is certainly true. Installing and updating software on Windows is absurdly messy and error-prone, and Microsoft haven't fixed it in literally decades. (And before anyone dives in with the obvious troll: desktop Linux distros are actually worse, if you need anything that strays from the canned packages you can apt-get or similar.)

If we've learned anything from the rise of web apps, and more recently the rise of mobile apps, it's that software doesn't always need to be huge and complicated. Something simple, effective, and easy to install and use, can go a long way.

So I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that browsers are turning into operating systems, mobiles and tablets are the new shiny, and development of applications for heavyweight desktop systems is stagnating. I'm as guilty as anyone. I used to love programming little toy programs just for fun, and there are plenty of quick utilities that would be handy to make my daily work more efficient, but the tools and development processes are so onerous now that I don't think I've ever installed anything to develop native Windows executables on my latest PC.

Comment Re:Playing together on a sofa (Score 1) 132

Some people like to play together on a sofa instead of in the basement over the Internet

Sure. I'm not arguing for PC gaming at the expense of other platforms, I'm just arguing that treating a substantial part of the "serious" gaming market as a second-rate platform that you might support as an after-thought is not smart for business. It's a huge industry, and there's plenty of room for both on-the-sofa-together games and over-the-Internet games, and for single-player games for that matter.

I've been reassured by several other Slashdot users that the number of living room gaming PCs is negligible.

Whereas I know plenty of people who have a computer in their living room, and probably not as many who have consoles. Who's to say which is really more representative? Does it even matter? It's clear from the sales figures that both are huge groups as a whole.

If console-style controls and user interfaces are inherently poor, then how would anyone make good controls or user interfaces for a local multiplayer game?

With respect, I think you're falling into exactly the same trap as the industry execs. You seem to have a view of gaming as something you do with multiple players on one large screen. And if you enjoy fighting games or racing games or other console-friendly genres, that's fine. But when was the last time anyone made an RTS or RPG for a console that didn't have a dumbed-down control system? Some of the most interesting user interfaces in console gaming in recent years seem to be the ones that don't use the standard controllers at all.

Comment Budgets out of control? (Score 3, Insightful) 132

With budgets growing out of control so quickly, what the hell do you expect them to do?

Learn to budget? Seriously, you don't just "lose" $200M by accident.

Live within their means? They could try not spending absurd amounts for the rights to have some big name involved, for example. Good games will create their own brands, as we've seen time and again.

Try alternative business models instead of making often futile and always customer-hostile efforts to fight piracy within the current model? Try radically different pricing models. Learn from both the successes and the failures of subscription models and in-game purchases and DLC and building extensible games with modding communities around them and all the rest.

Tell the console makers to take a hike? Without games, consoles are nothing, but no individual console represents more than a modest fraction of the market. Why should any studio make a AAA game title and then agree to make it an exclusive on a certain console, unless the maker of that console is basically offering to treble their revenues?

Try bringing PC gaming back? There's a lot of emphasis on consoles, mobile gaming and social gaming today, but PCs have more flexibility than all of the rest put together, and even if the new generation of consoles is competitive in raw power at launch it won't be for long. And yet many modern high-profile PC titles are nasty console knock-offs that justifiably get criticised for weak gameplay mechanics and poor controls/user interfaces.

Seriously, there are about a million things that a lot of game studios are doing wrong. Anyone with moderate objectivity and some basic knowledge of the industry and general economics can step back and see them. But the big studios often seem to be run by people who don't want to step back and challenge their views, and until that changes, the rest is academic.

For now, please enjoy EA Super World Championship Series Sports Game 2016, exclusively on your locked-down XBox 3D Kinect Sports Edition, sponsored by Coca Cola and brought to you in generously compensated partnership with the Super World Championship Series League. Unless the DRM servers are down, that is.

Comment Re:Yep (Score 5, Insightful) 181

The NSA surveillance is directed at terrorism and national security issues, not at ordinary criminal activity.

Even if that were true -- and there have been way too many dubious cases now to believe that without qualification -- it would only apply today. A lot of the danger in these systems is not how they are used right now, it is how they might be used by someone we haven't even identified yet who's running the show in 5 or 10 or 50 years.

If you think that it could never happen, may I remind you that just months ago, shortly after the Boston bombing, several prominent US politicians including a man who ran for President stated publicly and unambiguously that the surviving suspect should be treated as an enemy combatant and thus excluded from the normal rules of due process. Given that he was suspected of murder, a crime that can still carry the death penalty in the US but normally does not in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, that's a particularly disturbing footnote to an already tragic event.

Comment Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 330

For example, I doubt we'd get stronger data protection laws without the EU.

Maybe. Then again, we've actually had pretty good data protection for at least 15 years now and while relatively impotent in enforcement terms the Information Commissioner system does at least seem to provide vocal advocates for why these things matter who are independent enough to criticise government policy when it's justified. We have plenty of civil liberties problems in the UK today, but at least in spirit, this is one area where I think we're not doing too badly (until everyone and his brother's national government flagrantly ignores the law, at any rate).

Isn't the working time directive a good thing, and our opt-out a bad thing?

I'm in two minds on that one. In general, I think it's valuable for government to distinguish between employment-type relationships and more flexible ones, which doesn't always happen very well at the moment, and to enforce some common basic standards for the protection of employees, such as preventing abusive working conditions and expectations of long hours without fair compensation.

On the other hand, I'm wary of allowing this to stray too far into areas where people genuinely want to be working more than 48 hours per week. For example, I started a business on the side while doing other roughly full-time work. I was always careful not to over-exert and compromise the work I did on either side, but sometimes I worked way more than 48 hours in a week. No-one lost out, and in the end I'm the beneficiary of that extra work because the new business is mine. Who are the government to tell me I may not do this, if it's my own choice and everybody wins?

The one that always gets me is junior doctors, who routinely seem to work extreme hours, raising concerns about both their own health and potentially putting patients' care at risk. This seems absurd to me, yet almost everyone I know who actually works as a doctor, regardless of their current level of seniority, seems to think it's necessary so the juniors can develop the required skills before becoming more senior/responsible, and that the practice of doctors of different levels of seniority working together mitigates the risk. I'm not sure that, not being a medical expert myself, I have any right to go telling a whole industry of doctors how they should do their jobs.

This is the fault of the British media -- in other EU countries the press report on what MEPs are doing.

It's not so much the MEPs I'm worried about, but all the other unelected positions that control a huge amount of the real power even post-Lisbon. I don't for an instant think that our appointed Commissioners are actually accountable to the people back home just because they were chosen by a Prime Minister who in turn was only indirectly elected as a result of leading the largest party in a government that is itself elected by a system with heavy built-in biases that is trying to serve several very different purposes at the same time. You can see the real picture here by looking at how many of those Commissioners have historically been people who basically lost all political credibility at home and lost their elected position as a result and who were then given a cushy EU job by their pal the President/Prime Minister to make them feel better.

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