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Comment Not such a bad deal (Score 1) 224

If the API for something is open and well document, that's already one major step toward implementation. I think open API's are a good thing, because when that kind of information is out in the open, proprietary services may exist, but also open source developers are more free to implement their replacements for those services or systems. This is much better than, say, having to deal with software systems that have secret and closed API's, to the extent that you can't make anything that's even compatible with it.

Comment Supplement your phone (Score 1) 851

I became an accidental smartphone user when I was a teenager because my father worked for a wireless service provider, so it was basically cheap for us to own one. I was lucky enough to be able to own various phones at different stages of smartphone development (my first smartphone was a fat, heavy Treo, and I had owned a Palm Pilot even before having a cell phone, which, ironically, was sleek and slim since the hardware was more spartan). Since I had used PDA's like the Palm Pilot, smartphones weren't anything new or amazing to me except that they were always connected to the Internet.

As other posters have mentioned, if you are doing work that is heavily communication intensive and especially if you're traveling a lot or on the go, then smartphones are worth the money. Sometimes it's imperative that when someone sends you a text, you e-mail that text to three people, call one of them, reply to the text, go to a website and enter the information, and then look up directions to your new destination on Google Maps, all while you're sitting in your car in a parking lot with no nearby Internet access.

Now, if you're looking to save money, dumping your smartphone can easily save you a chunk of cash throughout the year. You can cut corners in various ways; if you need Internet access while traveling, take your laptop to a cafe with a hot spot or your hotel. I used to have a 3G modem for my laptop, but I ended up getting rid of it because wifi was available in so many places that it didn't justify the additional expense. Or, if it's really not necessary, just do without Internet access for a bit and wait until you get home or to the office. The Internet can wait. Get a GPS that works offline (Lenovo IdeaPad A1 tablets do this, by the way).

If you really just love mobile technology and want to play with it, get a nice wifi device such as an Android Tablet, iPad, iPod Touch, or something similar that gives you the functionality without the monthly bill. Use it at home or carry it with you and log on to hotspots.

Comment Variety of OS's (Score 1) 268

When I was in high school and was a budding sysadmin, I was really fascinated with operating systems. I didn't just want to use Linux, but I wanted to try every OS that I could get my hands on. I tried all kinds of Linux distros, and I also spent a lot of time running FreeBSD. I also tried BeOS, but it was dead by the time I got to it.

What would be really neat is if students had access to a variety of OS's that they could play with and learn to work with, such as Linux, OpenSolaris, BSD, and of course even Windows and Mac OS. You might even try getting some of the oddball systems to run like SkyOS, Syllable, ReactOS, Haiku, FreeDOS--the more the better.

Of course, computer labs are for more than just OS experimentation, but if you set aside a couple of older boxes with multiboot or maybe just install some nice VM software somewhere I think you'll attract some inquisitive students and inspire them to learn.

Comment Re:Firefox - Too little, too late (Score 1) 330

Chrome does consume more memory than Firefox tab for tab, but one important thing to note about Chrome's memory usage is that even though it can take a bit of memory, you are more likely to get it back. Open up 50 tabs and close all but 1, and Chrome will shed the resources almost instantaneously.. Firefox will take longer to free up memory and won't give all of it back. This works great for me because, while I usually go long periods of time between closing the browser completely, I open and close tabs constantly, so each new tab in Chrome is like a fresh start, whereas with Firefox it's all still running in the same process.

Chrome's modular design is the real reason I use Chrome. It not only makes it faster but more reliable and efficient as well.

The only thing I don't like about Chrome is that the Linux port is not as good as the (presumably native) Windows build. I'd stick with Firefox just because it's more free and it runs beautifully on Linux.

Comment Re:U.S. (Score 1) 451

Oh how you assume that Press TV is for US citizens... sure, they broadcast in English and are critical of the United States, but then again most of the world speaks English and is critical of the United States as well. Therefore, Press TV is generally well received worldwide; I don't really think how Americans feel about them matters that much to them.

I expect Press TV be biased, but I also expect bias from the BBC, Reuters, Associated Press, New York Times, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, and many others. Sometimes Press TV has the kind of bias that is worth paying attention to. Sometimes it doesn't.

Comment A Muslim Perspective (Score 5, Insightful) 1319

First I should say that we ought to know a little bit more about this story before we can make a complete analysis, but as a Muslim, I will be the first to say that there is no problem with evolution. I'm not going to go into all the details of the argument about whether or not evolution explains the biological origins of man; there are mountains of evidence supporting evolution and no other plausible alternative explanations. What I would like to say is there is really no inherent conflict between believing in a Creator and accepting evolution. In Islam especially the case for conflict is weak because the Qur'an lacks a creation story as detailed as the one laid out in Genesis. Yes, the Qur'an has references to creation and even Adam and Eve (the first humans), but conspicuously absent from the Qur'an are any statements that defy the scientific view of evolution. Does the Qur'an say that Adam and Eve were put on the Earth right after the Earth was created? No. Does it say no other creatures existed or preceded humans? No. In fact, one verse of the Qur'an talks about God breathing His spirit into Adam, which some scholars have read to mean that Adam was alive prior to becoming human (in a spiritual sense), and that Adam may even have had parents instead of being materialized spontaneously. Either way there is really no timeline for creation, and Islamic theology suggests that God is *active* in creation, meaning that God didn't just create everything all at once and stopped, but that creation is a current and ongoing process (in line with evolution).

I do believe that there is no basis in Islamic tradition and culture for rejecting evolution--on the contrary, Islamic emphasis on science and knowledge would make Muslims more receptive to the idea. To me this habit of denying evolution is something that Muslim communities learned from Christian communities, and the article actually does a good job of pointing this out.

As for the lectures, what I want to know is if it's really the mere idea of evolution that is offending the students, or if the lectures contain unnecessary statements that are specifically hostile to God and religion. If the course material or the professor is unfairly preaching atheism or making wild assumptions like "God has nothing to do with evolution" then I'd say the students have some legitimate grounds to object. The article doesn't make this part of the story very clear, but at least in one way suggests that this may be what's happening.

Comment Forget about Tizen (Score 2) 168

If I were you I would not wait for Tizen or take the project seriously. Back when I bought my first netbook around 2009, my expectation was that I would use it to run Moblin, since I had read about the system and seen the demos. My expectation was that it was pretty much going to be the most awesome thing ever, and I thought it was interesting that the project was backed by Intel (now I think that it was stupid). In retrospect, Intel probably saw the project as a cheap way to get people to buy more Atom chips, but had no real interest in actually investing in the software.

Anyway, Moblin actually did make releases, which I eagerly gobbled up and loaded onto my netbook with anticipation. Every release sucked badly; it was just a shitty Linux distro hastily thrown together by a bunch of buffoons that didn't know what they were doing. The project was all hype and no elbow grease; the window manager was cool, but the overall environment was barren. My optimistic self was saying, it's OK, these are just initial releases! They're working hard on it! The project died abruptly, and Intel decided to dump the thing on Nokia, who thought that somehow it was a good idea to just merge the system with Maemo and call it Meego. I thought, "Ah, finally, the project has been rebooted and we'll see some results." I eagerly gobbled up the subsequent Meego releases. It was, in fact, no different Moblin... it has just been rebranded. They did smooth out enough of the bugs to actually make the system usable and implement some internal changes, but ultimately the system was still pitifully stagnant.

Lo and behold, they finally decided to throw in the towel, and one morning I visit Meego's website to check for a new release only to find an announcement that the project was canceled. Meego is no more, but wait! They want all the Moblin/Meego people to go follow Tizen now! It's backed by the Linux Foundation! The Linux Foundation has already proven that they can't develop shit. They're just a marketing organization that knows how to make nice little web pages.

Seeing Meego going and Tizen coming is like listening to the HURD project talking about why it switched from Mach to L4. OK, so you decided to cancel development of an unfinished project and radically redesign it and start over from scratch. We should care why? The people behind Tizen are probably right now flying to a conference to meet with the teams from HURD and Duke Nukem Forever to share development strategies.

The question is, why do we need Tizen? Every description I've read describing what Tizen is supposed to be looks like it was just copied and pasted from Palm press releases when they began developing webOS. webOS is now a mature, complete, functioning system running on big name hardware. Sure, HP royally screwed things up, but my faith is that webOS will live on. In the mean time, Android is pretty much unstoppable. Neither Android nor webOS are as open source to the extent that Tizen would be, which will probably be the one thing that keeps me following Tizen regardless, but I don't have much hope for it.

Comment Re:I haven't burned a CD in years... (Score 1) 488

Sometimes USB boot just works too... granted, I'm not an expert on everything that makes USB booting tick, but I used work for a company with about 100 workstations that were a few years old, and all of them were able to boot what was apparently a standard USB boot disk (SystemRescueCD, to be exact). I thought, yeah, but those are new-ish machines. What are the chances that it'll boot on older machines? Well, it just so happened that we had about 30 boxes in our inventory that were of the previous generation (they were in-house-assembled Pentium 4 machines with whatever cheapo motherboard in them). All of them booted my flash stick just fine, and these machines had AGP slots, mind you. I mean, holy cow, when was the last time you saw one of those? They even had ethernet cards with coax connectors on them.

In addition to all these machines, I used the same USB boot disk with laptops of various makes and years as well as any other random box we came across. They all worked. The first computer I owned that I know for sure can boot from USB I purchased in 2004, and the machine I had before that may very well have been able to, but I had never bothered to check or try because nobody was doing it back then. Heck, even in 2004 I was still installing operating systems using floppy disks (eg FreeBSD network install).

I hear you that some older systems don't support USB boot, but nowadays there's no excuse for machines not to be able to do that. I honestly wouldn't even want to try running Ubuntu 12 on a system that was too old to support USB boot (it probably lacks the memory, cpu strength, and disk space for it). Such old machines are quickly becoming a curiosity, kind of like my old Windows 95 laptop or the Apple ][e in my closet.

When I started using USB to do Linux installs a couple years ago, I starting thinking, "Well, it's about damn time. Why wasn't I doing this 5 years ago?" When you're the kind of guy who installs Linux every 6 months and has a knee-high stack of old Linux distro CD's that are good for absolutely nothing because they became obsolete months after you burned them, well you'd probably do just about anything to stop using CD's for this kind of stuff. I probably right now, somewhere in my room, have Fedora discs whose version numbers are in the single digits just sitting there collecting dust. I'm saving them for the next time I go skeet shooting.

Nowadays 1gb flash drives are basically free, so if distros could pack their images under a gig, I'd find that efficient; speedier download times and low cost availability are a little more attractive to me than multi gigabyte images that are DVD-worthy.

Comment Re:Duh (Score 1) 548

Don't forget the OLPC XO-1. I got one of the original XO-1 units sold to the public, and its firmware was locked pretty good and would only load signed code. In order to just gain access to the firmware, I had to electronically send my laptop's serial number to the OLPC project, and they had to send me back a special code that would unlock the firmware *temporarily* (this happened whenever the code was present on a removable storage device during boot). Upon doing that, I then further had to modify an environment variable in the firmware to disable boot security on the device once and for all. Of course, that couldn't stop someone from simply booting into the firmware prompt and re-enabling it with a single command, causing the headache all over again. And guess what? I don't even have the unlock code anymore!

Comment Stupid (Score 1) 574

Issues like this are stupid. Projects ought to adhere to design principles. There is a clear rationale for why the tabs are on top and not below the address bar; chrome developers made this design choice deliberately since the very beginning. The same goes with other aspects of chrome's design.

I can understand that if chrome is not a suitable browser for your personal use, that you would prefer to use a different browser instead, but what I don't understand is why all the bitterness and hostility? That's just stupid.

A good compromise would be for users who desire an alternative UI to create their own web browser using components from chrome that they desire, such as WebKit and V8.

Comment Re:Never considered the MMOs part of FF (Score 2) 234

9 definitely had its redeeming qualities. Heck, even 8 was a pretty good game, but the problem is that neither of them even came close to reproducing the magic that went into 7. Now I'm just convinced that Square got lucky with 7 and that was just a fluke--a one-off occurrence that will never be repeated in the series. It's been more than 10 years so we should all just accept that fact and move on.

Comment Internet Radio Streaming? (Score 1) 144

What I've always wanted is an app for my phone which can stream internet radio stations. Most online radio stations stream at a low bitrate and don't require much bandwidth, but I haven't yet found an app that can just open any stream I want from a URL. Whenever I search the market for radio apps, all I get are a bunch of crapware that stream preset stations you can't change.

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