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Comment So... (Score 2) 56

Burning Man looks like a tentative near-future where robots work the menial crap for us and as we dip our toes in the waters of Culture-like leisure everyone experiments being a hippie and a DIYer artisan and a stoner and a furry and a badass craftsman all at once, and you know what? I'm glad it exists. Bring along the rabbit ears, I'll bring the swiss army knife, and let's see what we can make work.

Comment What Publishers Do. (Score 2) 306

Whenever this topic comes up, we end up discussing what publishers really do.

Every time, someone with some knowledge of how the publishing industry works turns up and explains how there is this long road between the author's draft and the book in your hands, made of editing, copy-editing, typesetting, cover design, marketing and more, and the publisher is the truck driver that sees the draft to the end of that road. That's correct.

But I've come to the conclusion that none of that is the one irreplaceable service publishers perform in the system.

All of the above can, to some extent, and for a fee, be performed just as well by independent contractors. (There are great independent editors out there, and aren't we all glad for that.)

The one important thing publishers do is: they take the loss on books that don't earn out.

Now hear me out.

I know how we, Slashdot readers, tend to think about those things. In our minds, if the book doesn't earn out (that is, it brings in less money than the publisher gave the author as an advance), then it's got to be someone's fault, right? Bad writer, bad publisher. Something.


The thing is, a successful book requires a lot of factors. Great writing doesn't suffice. The public is fickle. Yesterday, supernatural romance sold by the truckload, now it doesn't. GRRM was a great writer for decades before you even heard of him. Harry Potter didn't start hitting it big until three or four books into the series. Word of mouth matters, but only after the readership has exceeded a certain critical mass. And until then... someone has to take the loss.

Because, here's the thing. GRRM, Rowling, they're outliers. Many books -- most books, AFAIK -- don't quite earn out. Many deserve to, but don't, because that's not how the world works.

But they still got written, you still read some of them, you still loved some of them, and that only happened because someone, somewhere, was willing to pay an author to keep writing, and take the risk that the great book in their hands may not earn that money back.

And that, friends, is what publishers really do.

Comment Re:Disengenous (Score 1) 306

I hate to state the obvious, but right now Amazon is attempting to muscle in a 43% markup just to do, basically, cp /publisher/book.epub /customer/. There is no reason I can see to explain this large a margin for digital distribution. So I wouldn't necessarily trust them to keep prices all that low once they get free run of the market.

Comment Uh, whoa. (Score 2) 87

I've tried a lot of desktops over the years and always returned to KDE as the most able to be useful when I need it to and stay the fuck out of the way the rest of the time. (Unity, despite its reputation, is good at that too.) But the love was no longer really there. Like a favorite old workhorse that you just no longer really ride for the pleasure of it alone.

So I've not kept track of KDE 5 developments, and honestly I expected to be way underwhelmed. It was, after all, supposed to be mainly a port of the same old thing to the new Qt 5.

But I just tried the live CD linked in the article and, uh, whoa. It looks so *tidy*. Full of that orderly neatness that Gnome, for all its faults, has generally been better at than KDE. And I find myself excited for the first time in a long while, and that's a very nice feeling to rediscover.

Comment Re:Open Source drivers? (Score 2) 134

The open source Gallium3D driver for Southern Island Radeon GPUs has come a LONG way in the recent months. Given a 3.14+ kernel and the soon-to-be-released 10.2 Mesa libs, you can expect performance within 80% of that of the Catalyst driver, and it only keeps getting better. The stability is also pretty good. I love being able to flip smoothly between a full screen game and a chat window or a Web browser.

Comment Re:Damn Fascinating (Score 2) 124

It's a learn-as-you-go sort of deal. Don't start off with the end boss and you'll be okay. I would be pants-pissingly terrified in some of the situations described here, but some of the situations I've been in would make you at least a little queasy, I wager.

As an addendum to the press card thing: if you're working for or with any sort of official organisation that the locals would know of, find their logo, even a crappy small one ripped from a website, print it out on a large piece of paper, US Letter or so, along with the org's name in large bold letters, and tape that to the inside of your windshield. Does not open every door. But does open many doors.

Comment Elegant code is like a great teacher. (Score 5, Insightful) 373

Maybe you've been lucky enough to have that once in a lifetime great teacher. The kind of teacher who somehow explains stuff in such a way that everything makes sense to you; things follow logically from one another and it all seems obvious when he explains it. (And you may not even realize it until he falls sick and the substitute trying to explain the exact same stuff leaves you confused and baffled.)

Elegant code has the same property of apparent obviousness. You read it and just nod because it makes sense and flows logically. There isn't one single way to achieve this, of course. It's not about functional vs. imperative vs. object oriented, but how you employ them for clarity.

Needless to say, such clarity is a very hard property to achieve, and a lifetime of experience will only let you approach it asymptotically. It's still worth the attempt, though.

Comment Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (Score 2) 77


Thank you for the additional details. You are right -- I meant to make it clear that the Wayland design was thought up by people with some serious experience of the internals and limitations of X, and not a competing team of newcomers, as appears to be assumed all too often. But yes, things aren't as simple as I made them look and there is only a partial overlap between the Wayland devs and the Xorgs devs. Thank you for the correction.

I also agree that Wayland is largely about canning the legacy in order to make current and future needs easier to tackle.

I don't agree with your opinion of the move as a technical choice, though, for three reasons.

1/ Taking X out of the rendering loop does not mean dropping X altogether. It just means that future X servers, when and where they are still needed, will run on top of Wayland. It does deprecate X as the default API, yes. But that's not remotely the same as breaking compatibility.

2/ The comments that Daniel Stone (core Xorg and Wayland dev) made in that oft linked video aren't in agreement with the idea that everything Wayland does can be done on top of X, let alone done well. In his talk, DS mentions e.g. issues with input management when one window wants to grab every input that can't be solved in X.

3/ As a more general philosophical principle, the world moves and everything changes. Everything has a shelf life, up to the universe itself, and there is a point where resisting change for the sake of keeping past things going becomes harmful. And this is the actual reason I've been so active in this thread. Not just because I've got a pretty good hunch that once the dust settles Wayland will largely work better than X. But because I think that we, Slashdotters, Linux users, geeks and nerds, are becoming fearful of change, and that's not a good thing. This, here, is an entire new toy and it opens entire new possibilities! It may break shit and it may be awesome and it will probably be a bit of both. Let's freaking check out the code and play with it! Is this not exactly what we should be about? :)

Have a safe flight, and thank you for the constructive reply!

Comment Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (Score 1) 77

> Nobody uses Weston so the fact it has RDP support is dick all use to anyone using GNOME or KDE.

Ding ding ding. This, here, is what I think is the main problem with the Wayland ecosystem as it currently exists.

As things currently stand, the Wayland protocol is designed to give compositors a lot of flexibility in what kind of buffers they support, with what capabilities.

The drawback is fragmentation.

So okay, the Unix world at large is not a newcomer to fragmentation issues. But it's still a problem that will have to be addressed.

As I said in another comment, I think that things will probably converge on the common ground of either a de facto standard compositor, or a set of common libraries. Wayland itself will probably ship with a generic, non-optimized implementation for common capabilities like remoting.

But until then, it is an issue, and it would be dishonest not to acknowledge it.

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