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Comment Continuing a terrible trend in UIs (Score 1) 265

Microsoft, Apple, and even to an extent the various Linux desktops, are all moving to UIs that use lots of negative space, and removing visual cues as to the type and mode of interaction with the visible elements. Buttons are flat, sometimes swipable, sometimes not. Things could be buttons, text fields, drop downs, etc. and you don't know until you give them a poke. The whitespace is getting so big as to spatially break up things that should be grouped, etc. It's terrible. Even the window borders no longer exist, losing context when they don't contrast with those behind...

Comment Re:what about h.265? (Score 1) 76

It's not just a matter of money. h.264 caught on specifically because the entire patent portfolio for is pooled and licensed as a single entity from a single organization. h.265 is not only patent encumbered, but the patent holders have not agreed on terms to form a pool for licensing. If you want to license h.265, you literally need to negotiate with a half dozen different organizations.

Comment It's not that hard a thing to do. (Score 1) 488

Given the Slashdot audience, I find the skepticism that it's possible kind of surprising.

First, the FBI has some very sophisticated tools for discovery in place for just this sort of thing. I've used an earlier version of one of them (we were evaluating the vendor that provides some of these tools) and, more importantly, people that know how to use them.

Since the specific question to be answered here is about Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State (review of e-mails related to Abedin and Wiener are a separate issue), they would go through this process: ingest the e-mails (including header metadata and the message bodies) into the indexing engine (it's only about 650K e-mails; say about 5-10 minutes - this stuff runs in an AWS cluster and is pretty quick), then they would load a list of all e-mail addresses associated with Hillary Clinton and search for all messages that contain that in a From, To, Cc, or Bcc header -- and possibly anything that passed through the clintonmail.org domain -- which is VERY fast (on the order of 20 seconds or so), then they load the Message-ids for all of the messages in the set of e-mails that they already have reviewed and exclude from the prior subset all of those that matched (because they've already been reviewed; maybe 1-2 minutes of processing time). The FBI then would have the subset of Clinton e-mails in Abedin's e-mail that they have not already reviewed, which is no doubt a pretty small number given that Clinton was neither a prolific writer nor recipient or e-mail in the first place.

I would be quite surprised if they found more than a handful of new messages for review, if any. But the procedure for finding those e-mails is very straight-forward to do and would take less than 30 minutes for their techs to do. I can't tell you how long it would take for the FBI to manually review each of those messages, but I suspect not too long.

Comment Re:Order of operations is important (Score 1) 78

Not only that, but apps can detect that happening and remove access from the malware before they save a password. The point is that most vendors don't bother looking at the access control list for keychain items. This is discussed in the developer docs for Keychain Access Controls.

Comment We all know what we expect is not what we want (Score 5, Insightful) 208

Here's a short list of what certainly awaits in a Microsoft Minecraft 2:

- Registration requires a multi-part authentication process that involves at least 3 e-mails and the creation of one Microsoft outlook.com mailbox -- for each member of your family that wants to play
- The game will still cost $19, but multiplayer or network storage will require an Xbox Live account and gold subscription.
- The game will be retooled to appeal to an older audience, so expect ultraviolence and maybe some skin (which will usher in an era of very crude "box" jokes).
- Minecraft mods will be easy to write in C#, but no longer be supported in Java; they will implemented as SOAP services instead of plug-ins; and to use them you will need to register as a developer go through a multi-stage certificate generation and validation process to sign your mod which will only be available through the Microsoft store
- The Microsoft store will be integral to the game and appear as a building in the shape of the Windows logo; they'll sell diamond pickaxes that otherwise will be impossible to get
- There will be Windows-phone exclusive features, including a Smite button that allows people to kick other people off a server.

Comment Two concrete examples: (Score 5, Informative) 598

iWork and iLife.

After iWork '09, the iWork applications had very little in the way of updates, but the Keynote and Pages applications were very capable. Pages didn't have all the features of Microsoft Word, but the typography and page layout capabilities were exceptional in comparison, and users had a fairly clear list of improvements that they suggested - mostly improvements to mail merge, tables-of-contents, footnoting, indenting, and creating indices. Keynote was excellent. Numbers was simply not what people expected from a spreadsheet and it had the most suggestions for improvements. However, by and large the apps were quite good and a bargain.

iWork '13 destroyed everything that made the iWork applications great. Not only did the UI regress, but the feature set, rather than meeting user requests / expectations, jettisoned swathes of functionality - in exchange for compatibility with iCould and the web version. The highly usable productivity software became a Google Docs wannabe overnight. Worse, the old version ceased to be available. Subsequently, improvements to iWork have included no restoration of the functionality of the product, but changes in the file format (that introduce incompatibilities with older versions). iWork took a nosedive.

iLife hasn't fared much better. iLife originally included GarageBand, iMovie, and iDVD for creating DVDs (with menus, title graphics, scene previews, and control over flow between menus - simple, but functional). iDVD is gone. Even Apple's "pro" video tools no longer support similar functionality to what iDVD provided in 2009 -- there is nothing available that can claim the same function, and you can no longer obtain the abandoned software. GarageBand has some added instruments and lessons, but at the loss of their video / podcast scoring and advanced podcast authoring capabilities. The filters are now more primitive and skewed specifically towards guitars (why?). iMovie has gone through various iterations of UI and library management changes that make moving between versions confusing and it focuses on iCloud and iMovie Theater - features almost completely unused because of their awkward implementation and storage requirements (particularly in iCloud) that are ridiculous.

Aperture, their prosumer photo database and editing app, is about to be jettisoned and replaced with an upgraded iPhoto with many of the most professional and workflow-related features of Aperture removed. Aperture will no longer be available afterward. In effect, their ceding this software to Adobe's Lightroom and their subscriber-based pay-to-play model.

A lot of people will also probably bitch about Final Cut Pro X, Motion, Compressor, and those video tools. However, I think Apple is doing OK there. They released FCPX prematurely - they needed to wait until they got FCP7 project importing working, but the changes they made were really necessary. Where they have failed is the workflow and integration points of FCPX - Motion - Compressor, and they've dropped the ball on creating optical media. There was also still some room to keep Shake in the mix.

I don't worry too much about things like Apple ID as that's more or less par-for-the-course for that sort of service these days. Nobody does it much better. However, I chafe at the idea that they are spending so much development money, time, and effort on that dog called 'iCloud'. It's a disaster of a service and it's dragging down their productivity software.

Comment They probably don't know how it spreads (Score 5, Insightful) 172

A regular user process is not going to be able to create the sub-directory in Application Support or install the launchd file to auto-start the service. For that, you'd need admin privilege, which has to be given explicitly by a member of the admin group. To get there, it has to trick an admin user to explicitly install it (in which case, it's not a worm/virus, it's a trojan), or it has to remotely trick an OS X application that runs as root or has admin privilege to do so -- but there's not much opportunity there as most services don't accept incoming connections, and those that do generally generally run as an unprivileged user. Looking at my Mac, the only service that can be connected to remotely and has sufficient privilege (if enabled) is SSH. Macs don't have that enabled by default.

Comment The real question is, can they sell it? (Score 1) 730

The iPhone 6 is a nice evolution, but not revolutionary. Allowing users to call Wi-Fi to mobile (rather than pure VOIP) or vice-versa and transition smoothly from Wi-Fi to mobile is a nice touch. I like the way they implemented the payment system - it SHOULD be more secure than NFC and be more convenient. The new screen sizes will piss of developers a bit, I'm sure. The iWatch -- that's a hard sell for me. A one day battery life, tethered to a phone, and a $350 price-tag for a piece of technology that Apple helped go out of style? On it's face, it seems stupid.

iPhone 6 - fair update. iWatch - dud.

Let's see how many they move in 6 months. Frankly, I'm surprised we didn't see more stuff announced.

Comment No kill switches - Tech levels. (Score 1) 448

There are all sorts of reasons that kill switches are not implementable. A better approach is to not leave advanced weapons all the heck over the place. Don't sell them, don't loan them out, ... If someone wants a weapon from the USA, they get something primitive, or they get a US soldier. We've got to adopt a policy where we are the only people with the best weapons.

Comment Enabling industrial espionage. (Score 2) 212

I remember reading a story, which may well have been apocryphal, about organized crime and foreign agencies exploiting the old FBI carnivore e-mail intercept system to use for extortion and industrial espionage.

It seems to reason that if the NSA is compromising telecommunications protocols, having routers forward copies of data, stuffing radio transmitters in computer equipment, etc., then some enterprising third parties are going to piggy back on it for their own purposes. That, and the NSA can't possibly be the only players in town undermining the integrity of the system. It seems to me that we've enabled a new class of criminal information enterprise, not just by or for the NSA.

Comment Anecdotal Experience (Score 4, Interesting) 314

The company I work for has been migrating to the open-office concept over the past year or so, first with a new building, and then by doing floor-by-floor conversions of existing buildings on the campus. Some of the people are being migrated from offices to desks, some from cubicles to desks. Almost everyone has been very good about going along with the plan and giving it a shot. The results are a mixed bag, overall, but as time goes on, it's proving to be more a liability than an improvement.

Everyone gets new furniture, and the worse shape their old furniture was in, the better the first impression.
The lighting is MUCH better - even in areas that don't have direct sunlight; the large number of smaller light sources on the ceiling with little obstruction works well.
There's more people in the same area
- makes more efficient use of space
- don't have to walk as far to get to someone

There's more people are in the same area
- in the older buildings, this means that the number of toilets is no longer proportional to the demand
- its noisy; sometimes a little, sometimes a lot
- people sneeze and it hits their neighbors
- you can't make a phone call without annoying everyone, so now nobody uses the phone unless in a conference room; phone communication in general has dropped precipitously and now takes a back-seat to e-mail
- folks are increasingly annoyed with their neighbors and it increases stress and some talk less
There's visual distraction (things always coming in and out of your field of view)
The clever storage ideas don't make up for the overall lack of storage volume or shelf space
You can't have a conversation without annoying everyone, so you have to spend time hunting for a "huddle room" or chat in a stairwell or utility closet
Older employees (>40) especially have a hard time with the din (and the white-noise generators don't help).
It's super difficult to work on certain types of things - anything that has personnel info, or HIPPA protected info that you're not supposed to let your neighbors
Anything that really takes focus (reading a complex scientific paper, for example), is really out of the question
Lots of people try and drown out the din with headphones (which produces noises that annoy those without), and effectively the employees are being trained to tune each other out
There's lots of "unplanned interactions"

I think everyone agrees that we: are less productive, are not collaborating any more than before, and are collaborating less with the outside. HR is already noticing that people are using more sick days. However, I presume that the loss in productivity and decreasing office morale are offset by gains in energy and space efficiency (lower cost facilities).

For me, it means that my work space has shrunk by 50% and I no longer have shelf space that I used to put reference materials and manuals on (all that's not sitting in boxes in my attic). I also just walk away from my desk when the din gets to a certain level where I can't concentrate on what I'm supposed to be working on. If you call my phone extension, it automatically forwards you to a voicemail instructing the caller to e-mail me (there's not even a phone at my new desk, none of have them). I don't read papers in the office anymore, and sometimes take what the office calls "productivity days" where I work from home (no, they don't give anyone money for home office stuff or to pay for Internet service). All of our experienced job candidates that have rejected offers have cited the open-office plan as a contributing factor in their decision not to accept the offer (we lead in compensation, so it's not like they wouldn't be well compensated).

Comment Microsoft as a device company (Score 2, Insightful) 1009

Microsoft themselves stated that they're corporate goal is to migrate away from the software business to become a device and service company. This plan means pushing people to the tablet as the delivery mechanism and the proverbial "cloud" as the platform. Microsoft sees the desktop PC as a dead-end and wants to be the one that drives a stake through it's heart - the future is software as a service and thin (razor) clients.

In that light, the dichotomous UIs of Metro and the Windows desktop make sense in an agenda where they want to slowly deprecate the desktop entirely. Once Office is migrated from the Windows platform to the Microsoft cloud platform, the desktop version of Office will also be deprecated. Users may not want the Microsoft, but, heck, if they do it sufficiently gradually enough, users will acclimate to the new world order.

I think this is one of the sources of friction between Microsoft and OEMs like HP. The manufacturers business models aren't aligned with Microsoft's objectives. I suppose the reason that a number of those vendors showed Android - Windows hybrid devices at CES wasn't because the vendors though anyone would be particularly interested or that it was a good idea, it was more to demonstrate that computer manufacturers would be just as happy (if not more happy) to jump in with the Android or ChromeOS camp unless Microsoft starts making certain concessions to them.

I see it going one of two ways: Microsoft succeeds and the Windows PC becomes history and long-time Windows users find themselves software subscribers with dedicated mobile consumption devices, or Microsoft shoots itself in the foot and stumbles about while the rest of the world grabs the Android / ChromeOS ball and runs with it. At this point, I think it's increasingly Google's game to lose rather than Microsoft's game to win.

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