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Comment Re:Think Different! (Score 1) 696

Actually, I only meant to grant you your first point. It's not likely to be advertised anytime soon. I'm counting on a cost advantage to win the day. Maybe businesses will adopt linux faster than consumers.

I also agree that the selection is currently limited, but Dell's highest spec'ed laptops come with Redhat on request - no special webpage to find, it's simply listed in the OSes that it can come with. So it's true that there's a limited selection and they're not in retail stores, but you can get fast machines. Also, the selection is improving at a rate faster than linux adoption. I think it's a question of achieving critical mass.

Your second point is the one I was mostly speaking to. Manufacturers only need one linux platform with one of their chips to make that driver available to anyone using that same chip. Once you've supported Linux the first time, you then have an existing code branch and programmers with linux expertise to support the next generation. Even the manufacturers who didn't win the platform had to write the drivers to bid on it. The latest pre-installed linux computers are a bigger deal than you realize. Linux users should soon see a higher rate of supported hardware than ever before. (and it wasn't bad before)

I don't need the Year of the Linux Desktop to be happy. I want more drivers and more applications that support linux. Currently I need more linux users for that to happen. So, I'll settle for the Year of More Linux Users. I think that's a safe bet.

Comment Re:Where do free items fit in? (Score 1) 194

Will someone tell those ass-wipes in Hollyweird that they are losing valuable customers with this practice of putting in useless ads and trying to force people to watch them.

If their accountants tell them they are making more money with advertisements than they are losing in sales, why would you expect them to stop doing it? That is why you get commercials on cable channels. They eventually figure out how much annoyance people will put up with, and that's how much you get.

You need to reclaim the time they are stealing from you. Backing up the DVD will extend the life of the original and skip the menu entirely when you watch. Tivo or its equivalent will commercial skip and time-shift the small fraction of TV worth watching.

Comment Re:They still don't get it (Score 1) 504

I still think most of it wouldn't have been purchased even at a discount. Also, they should subtract those who actually bought after downloading it first, but they won't. Based strictly on the volume of software and media downloaded, obviously most teenagers could only buy a tiny fraction of what they have, even if they wanted to.

I don't have any problem with the companies trying to estimate their losses - they have lost - but it seems clear that they have an economic incentive to overstate it.

Comment Re:Think Different! (Score 1) 696

OK, pre-install isn't just for grandma. It's also for dad who doesn't know how to get movies and wireless working on his own. Let a vendor pick the hardware and resolve any significant issue with the installation and set up essentail applications too. After-sale installs of the OS are never going to be 100% functional on all hardware. Due to legal reasons, some software will not be included on free distros. The vendor can set this all up, if it's worth their time.

I see two things working in favor of pre-installed Linux. Businesses that need to save money can find ways to do it with Linux - the TCO lie is about to get exposed. The lower cost of laptops and netbooks will make cheaper Linux equivalents a selling opportunity.

Will it be enough? Who can say, but as long as Linux adoption increases as a percentage every year, I am happy with that. It just gets easier and easier for this to happen.

Earth

Scientist Patents New Method To Fight Global Warming 492

SUNSTOP writes to tell us that a relatively unknown Maryland scientist has proposed a public patent that he claims could combat global warming. The proposed plan would require massive amounts of water to be sprayed into the air in an effort to bolster the earth's existing air conditioning system. "First, the sprayed droplets would transform to water vapor, a change that absorbs thermal energy near ground level; then the rising vapor would condense into sunlight-reflecting clouds and cooling rain, releasing much of the stored energy into space in the form of infrared radiation. Kenneth Caldeira, a climate scientist for the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University whose computer simulation of Ace's invention suggests it would significantly cool the planet. The simulated evaporation of about one-half inch of additional water everywhere in the world produced immediate planetary cooling effects that were projected to reach nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit within 20 or 30 years, Caldeira said."
Handhelds

"See-Through" Touchscreen Solves Fat Finger Problem 170

Urchin sends along a New Scientist writeup on Microsoft Research's nanoTouch prototype, a way of operating a touch screen from the rear (video here). The prototype will be presented at the Computer and Human Interaction conference in Boston, Mass., in April 2009. Coming soon to a wristwatch or neck pendant near you. "Electronic devices have been shrinking for years, but you might be forgiven for thinking that one that's only a centimeter across would be just too difficult to operate. Microsoft Research's new nanoTouch device suggests otherwise. Touch-screens are difficult to control with any precision — the fingers get in the way of the tiny targets you're trying to hit. But putting the touch interface on the rear of the screen instead gives users more precision because they can still see the whole screen as they interact with it. Microsoft Research has produced a prototype device called nanoTouch with a rear-mounted touch interface. User tests show it lets users accurately and reliably hit targets just 2 millimeters across on a screen under a centimeter across."

Comment Re:How convenient (Score 1) 93

I consult Wikipedia a lot, but I'd never up-mod it. What I want to see are the actual rankings, based on popularity and relevancy, in order to make my choice. I don't need Google to remind me what my own preference is. That's not helpful. Moreover, I know when to apply exceptions to my usual preferences, a computer does not.

It would be nice to be able to blacklist domains from my search results, however. That's a feature I could use.

Comment Re:Think Different! (Score 1) 696

Grandma gets her OS pre-installed. Buy her a Dell with Ubuntu. Guaranteed to work out-of-the-box.

Typical dabblers will still need to go through the time-consuming trial and error to (1) install and play with multiple distros until they know what they want

Hobbyists need to do that kind of experimentation. Dabblers can just pick a major distro and use and learn that one. They'll have their machine up and running in less time than they would consume installing Windows, identifying the hardware, and tracking down the drivers - not to mention spending time on hold and having alphanumeric exercises with the Microsoft representative to get your bought and paid for OS activated. (the last two times for me. What use are these damn holograms? Their call center can't see the cd and product id sticker.)

Too bad about your desktop though.

Novell

Novell Cancels BrainShare Conference 102

A.B. VerHausen writes "While OSCON and SCALE organizers ramp up plans for their events, Novell shuts down BrainShare after 20 years, citing travel costs and budget tightening as main concerns. 'Instead of the traditional in-person conference, Novell plans to offer online classes and virtual conferences to make education and training available to more people at a lower per-head cost to companies,' says the news story on OStatic.com."

Comment Re:surprise? (Score 1) 417

Not surprising for anyone! All of this was well known. That they already call it "The Death Zone" should have been a clue. Those familiar with mountaineering know that cerebral edema is a primary risk. Everything I've read on the subject focuses on the dangers of high altitude exposure and storms - not avalanches.

Avalanche and ice fall? Who thought that?

BTW, dying on the descent is true of rock climbing too. It's easy to lose concentration when you're tired and you've already finished the hard part. Don't let it happen to you.

Medicine

Why Climbers Die On Mount Everest 417

Science Daily reports that researchers have conducted the first detailed analysis of deaths during expeditions to the summit of Mt. Everest. They found that most deaths occur during descents from the summit in the so-called "death zone" above 8,000 meters, and also identified factors that appear to be associated with a greater risk of death, particularly symptoms of high-altitude cerebral edema. The big surprise that the data indicate those deaths aren't primarily from avalanches or falling ice, as had long been believed.

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