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Comment Re:Welcome to the rental economy (Score 2) 43

I concur that the benefits of "upgrades" have been a matter of diminishing returns for quite some time now. Even if there's upgrades and features now, I worry that in five years from now, the real value will be "not losing access to your data".I share your staunch aversion to software subscriptions for that reason.

The problem with relying on the Open Source community to fill the vacuum is that there are lots and lots of factors that are involved. People genuinely do appreciate and benefit from ubiquitous access to their data. That's certainly possible with a whole lot of self-hosted software, but those methods require back end resources, a firewall of consequence, backups, and an internet connection that not only has enough upload bandwidth to support these applications, but an internet connection that doesn't block ports 80 and 443. Here at Slashdot those things aren't a problem, and the Synology NAS units (as well as a few others) help to streamline these through things like QuickConnect, but now we've left OSS solutions.

If we're looking at desktop applications, Quickbooks' greatest asset is the fact that every accounting firm will take a .QBW file, and any Main Street business owner can talk to any other Main Street business owner and probably find out how to do what they need to do. Meanwhile, virtually every OSS accounting package I've looked at has either had a Spartan UI, doesn't do payroll, is gross overkill, or is cloud-only...and all of them are double-entry. The closest I've found from a UI perspective is Xtuple, but its server requirements are insane compared to Quickbooks for a single-machine install. Thus, I submit that the reason why Intuit (whose level of evil in the software world is only eclipsed by Oracle) owns the small business accounting market is because there aren't any single entry OSS financial management applications at all...and with the exception of GNUcash, the only reason why there are the higher end OSS products is because all of their commercial packages have massive price tags attached to them that will rival Intuit's enterprise editions.

On the creative software front, OSS is still very difficult to acclimate to. GIMP can generally do the job in spite of its suboptimal interface, Inkscape is limited but can do the basics well enough, and Scribus is in the uncanny valley between Publisher and InDesign. KDenLive isn't the worst thing ever, but video editing = patent encumbered formats = OSS license hell. Ardour and Audacity can do the job, but they definitely lack the polish of Audition. Honestly, the best competitor to Adobe is Corel, not Github.

There are lots of places where OSS shines (pick just about anywhere in the server closet - you're crazy to run Windows Server as a router, but pfSense, Untangle, Smoothwall, Endian, ClearOS......). There are, however, going to be areas where OSS just will always play second fiddle to commercial software houses. As my very loose rule of thumb, I've found that the further away from programming a discipline is, the worse the OSS software packages are for it.

Comment Re:Come on... (Score 1, Insightful) 234

The definition of the term "better" is the key here. In broad terms, a product is "better" if it more closely meets the needs of the person or organization than what was previously being used.

One thing that comes to mind that made old software "better" was how much smaller it was. The oldest Microsoft Office ISO I have immediately available is 2003 Professional. It's 410MB for, if memory serves, everything including Access and Frontpage. The Office 2016 Professional installer is 2.4GB, and doesn't allow for any installation customization unless you use the volume licensed editions. There are certainly improvements (>1 million rows in Excel, multiple Exchange server support in Outlook, sparklines, and better PDF support and WordArt in Word), but a sixfold upshot in installer size? Those don't align. A kitchen-sink installation of the current version of Winamp is about 50MB - a number that is incredibly bloated by 2.91's 26MB full install, but a bargain compared to the 200-300MB required by iTunes. Then, there is the train wreck that are HP printer drivers...

Older software was much more frugal with its system resource usage. Today's software couldn't care less. Whether the increase in user friendliness really justifies the much larger increase in application size is an exercise left to the reader - there are plenty of examples in either direction. Install size is just one example. The increased requirement of an internet connection is a point of contention for me. The mass migration to "cloud applications" that are indefinitely rented, but never owned, isn't something I'm generally a fan of. The increase in telemetry and decrease in customization options are two things that I find are not things from which I benefit. There is a reason why is a thing - because newer is not always better.

Comment Re:They are stopping? (Score 3, Informative) 377

They're called SHARPs, Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice. If you haven't heard of them before, that's probably because you live in a severely insulated bubble. If you actually knew some skins or even some punks you'd have heard of SHARPs.

lol, this is like chastising someone for not knowing the difference between a Playstation and a Nintendo

"Mommmm! I'm not a neo-Nazi, I'm a SHARP! And it's not just a phase, it's who I am now!"

Comment Re:How many of these "anti-Semites" are DNC plants (Score 1) 377

Oh, so you're mad that they misrepresented themselves, that they were more organized than they appeared? That counts as "false flagging"? You poor thing. Tricking dumb people is cheating. It's just not fair.

Yet somehow that is different than James O'Keefe's conspiracy theorists pretending to be people they weren't.

I think you're mad because of your video demonstrates: Democrats are master manipulators whose main weakness is they like to brag, and Trump supporters are violent rubes who can be provoked into a frothy rage on cue. Your big coup is evidence that you're easily trolled.

Comment Re:How many of these "anti-Semites" are DNC plants (Score 1) 377

You're confused. "False flag" is not the word you're looking for, "agents provocateurs" is.

It's funny that the most damning thing you can say about these political agitators is that they're very good at making Trump supporters drop their tendies and REEEE at the slightest provocation.

Comment Depends on what you get (Score 1) 183

I am a simple man. A touchpad from ten years ago can fit my needs - left button, right button, edge scrolling. I do like the "chiral scrolling" as well, but that's a bonus. These are all provided with every Synaptics touchpad ever, and Synaptics even awesomely has a driver right on their website that'll handle basically every touchpad you install it on. They have enable/disable/optimization controls for every gesture control available, as well as tutorials on how to use them. It's great. I can't speak highly enough about them. I only realized that there were worse touchpads because I'd been spoiled by getting Synaptics touchpads on my laptops for years, and boy was that lucky.

Alps touchpads aren't too bad either, but that entirely depends on whether you get a Dell branded driver or not. Alps drivers are pretty feature complete, but when they're rebadged as Dell, it's luck of the draw whether there's useful stuff or not. Literally, there are Dell touchpad drivers that don't allow the disabling of tap-to-click.

The ones I can't stand are the touchpads with the "virtual buttons", and HP I'm looking squarely at you. May the lovechild of Carly Fiorina and Leo Apotheker be sentenced to use one of those atrocities until the end of time. They think you click when you don't, and they invariably end up with a slight mouse movement when you do actually click. It's nearly impossible to get an exact location clicked without a mouse on those stupid things, and the drivers for them don't do much to compensate.

The somebody-hates-you company when it comes to touchpad, though, is Sentelic. I returned a $3,100 Origin laptop because the touchpad was THAT bad. I attempted to use the multi-touch features, but it was terrible at its ability to discern exactly how many fingers were on the pad. The PalmCheck discernment was abhorrent, and the button placement was such that I was right-clicking when I typed because I'd hit the button. The drivers were a year old when I got the laptop, and good luck finding Sentelic online. It was the worst touchpad experience I've ever had.

So yes, Windows providing a standardized interface is a godsend for people who have Sentelic touchpads or the crappy Dell drivers on the Alps ones. I do hope that Precision is able to be overridden by my Synaptics drivers though, because I'll take them over the Windows implementation any day.

Comment Re:I reject the premise... (Score 0) 116

Tim Cook is a either a moron who doesn't know what words mean, or he is trying to spin his company's product direction (or lack thereof) in relation to its competitors with gibberish evasion so ridiculous it would make Donald Trump and Baghdad Bob embarrassed.

How will Apple fanboys spin this one?

Comment Not 5G (Score 1) 168

Roadside sensors are a natural for a mesh network. Each sensor can use something akin to WiFi to talk to the next one in each direction along the road. Data can pass from each sensor to it's neighbor in two directions, providing a measure of fault tolerance and detection.

However, cars are gradually becoming connected - it might be easier for them just to talk to each other and back to the net using the sensors and radio gear that they already have. That way you don't have to monitor sections of road where nobody's driving.

Comment Honest Thought: Free Speech + No Platform = ? (Score 5, Interesting) 369

If I can get a bit more theoretical here, a number of people have posted the Free Speech xkcd comic. It's absolutely right that there is a difference between 'the government won't arrest you' and 'no one should be compelled to host content they disagree with'. For this reason, I am indeed glad that Milo is keeping 4chan as a place where people can indeed post unpopular opinions.

However, I've been thinking about this recently: to what end is it not required for there to be a platform given? Twitter doesn't want to host offensive tweets. Fine. I'll join the four people on Google Plus and do it. Well, seems the other three people on Google Plus don't like my offensive speech, either.

Okay. I'll head on over to HostGator and install Friendica and make my own place where I can post my offensive things. Well, HostGator says I can't do that on their servers, rinse and repeat for GoDaddy, BlueHost, and 1&1. I head over to Amazon and rent some server time there, but Amazon says I can't post my offensive things there.

Fine, no more cloud for me - want something done right, DIY time. So, I call up Verizon and get their you-can-have-a-web-server FiOS package and load up an old desktop with a LAMP stack and host it myself. Verizon says they're not obligated to give me a platform, and when I call Cablevision, I get the same story. So, "no one is required to give me a platform" is, at its logical conclusion, a statement that can prevent a sufficiently offensive message from ever reaching the internet.

What is the reasonable expectation here? Should someone sufficiently down the line be expected to provide the same platform to hate speech as they provide to acceptable speech? Obviously I paint a picture of a fairly remote possibility, but it does raise the question of how "freedom of the press" works if no one will sell you a printing press.


Comment Great Programmer deliver us from smart morons (Score 4, Funny) 1042

So the kind of people who take Dork Enlightenment and Roko's Basilisk seriously now want to create an actual Tower of Babel.

Can't we just take it down a notch and worry about something reasonable - like the AI apocalypse or being wiped out by aliens?


Interviews: Ask Martin Shkreli a Question 410

Martin Shkreli has agreed to answer your questions. Shkreli is the co-founder of the hedge fund MSMB Capital Management, the co-founder and former chief executive officer (CEO) of the biotechnology firm Retrophin, and the founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Shkreli has been active on Twitter about a wide range of topics, including the 2016 presidential election. Most recently, he expressed interest in buying 4chan.

Ask him your questions here, and we'll post the full interview with Shkreli's answers in the near future.

Comment Re:"free of snow and ice" (Score 1) 163

The thing is that incident sunlight is ALREADY melting the snow - don't need no fancy solar panels for that. The only thing these gizmo's could do would be to "time-shift" the sunlight from the period before it started the concern isn't so much the power they generate as the power they can store. Once the panel has snow on it, it's not getting much sunlight anyway.

This whole concept is broken in so many ways - it's laughable.

Comment Re:Saving Money (Score 1) 250

Except: View everything on-demand. Have as many TV's as you like, no need for DVR's for time-shifting. No adverts.

In a home with 4 TV's we'd have needed to rent 4 cable boxes - we saved $120/month on cable fees (still paid for Internet)...added $10 for Netflix, $4 for Acorn, $10 for Amazon Prime. We probably spend another $20 on Amazon for movies and non-free TV shows. We have an antenna on each TV for local news and stuff like that.

We're saving a little money - but that's not the point. Watch what we want, when we want, no adverts. That's a game changer.

Better still, the quality of shows that you pay for directly is WAY higher than those that are paid for by some collection of advertisers. Netflix make shows that their customers want to watch - not shows that advertisers will pay to stuff adverts into. Binge watching is a great way to see long-running shows. Weird niche stuff is always available as well as the obvious content.

We cut the cord about 4 years ago - we tried going back to cable briefly - but cut the cord again after just a few months. Every year, the online streaming stuff gets better and better.

Comment Re:The most most seriously needed LEO database (Score 3, Insightful) 185

I get, and to a certain extent agree with your premise that the newsworthy cases of police brutality are most certainly the exception and not the rule, there are two parts of your post with which I shall formally rebut:

While it is true that there are a few officers that deserve jail time (and the do get it most of the time) 99.99% of the LEOs our there are the good guys. They go out every day with a target painted on their back to protect the rest of us for crap pay. I am fine if they want to make sure their neighbors/acquaintances/dates don't have drug or assault convictions. Using that information to blackmail is different, but just having the information is fine as long as they are responsible with it.

I think the 99.99% figure is exaggerated, but I'll roll with it for the moment. I don't get to check if my date has an assault conviction. Just because the police office is in a place where such information is readily accessible doesn't mean that they are allowed to just use it for whatever they want. As an IT/support tech, I have remote access and admin passwords to dozens of servers for dozens of companies. Only once have I ever used one of my clients' servers for personal use, and that was to demonstrate a particular piece of software for a friend of mine, with explicit consent of the owner of that server. LEOs don't sign up to be LEOs with the promise of a $250,000 salary and then realize it's between $40K and 70K a year. That information is abundantly clear long before they ever step foot in the police academy. Access to my confidential data is not penance for making less money than a doctor or lawyer. Even if you are okay with it (as is your right), I am not. The question is which one of us should be able to impose our feelings upon the other.

The second issue I have is with this part...

Put yourself in their shoes. [snip] You have no clue if he just murdered his girlfriend, has $5M in heroine in the trunk, is off his meds or is high out of his gourd.

Nope. But the foundation of everything LEOs are required to uphold is summed up in the following sentence: Innocent until proven guilty. Maybe he did just murder his girlfriend...but unless there's a dead body in the front seat, he didn't. Maybe he's got $5M of heroin in his trunk...but until there's probable cause to search the vehicle, he doesn't. Maybe he is indeed high...that will become bleeding obvious in about 30 seconds of interaction.

If he is not obeying orders and is putting his hands in places where a weapon might be concealed, you have a very reasonable fear for your life. So while not 100% of police shootings are justified, you are a sociopath if you can't at least empathize with the people in our society who put their lives in danger to protect us from the criminal element.

My level of empathy is strenuous at best, for two reasons. First, if the job is too hard, quit. It's not hard to stop being a police officer. There is no shame in saying, "being a competent police officer is too hard for me". It is a tough job, but the difficulties of that job are no secret. If someone signs up to be a police officer, they are signing up to carry a gun that they will hopefully never have to use, but are lawfully authorized to use far more liberally than the average citizen. With that authority should come accountability...and the perceived lack of said accountability is the root of the challenges at hand.

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I cannot believe that God plays dice with the cosmos. -- Albert Einstein, on the randomness of quantum mechanics