Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×

Comment Re:The end justifies the means (Score 0) 294

It's probably not that meaningful, anyway. Somewhere around 20-40% of the info in these documents will turn out to be wrong or misleading in some critical way. Mostly, it'll just be a case of "name files", with info about different people with the same (or similar) names entered in the wrong place. People will learn pretty quickly to deny anything they don't like. Of course, others will believe whatever they want about you, especially if it was in some "secret" document. But they too will learn that the info about them is also full of errors. More importantly, your friends and relatives will learn the same thing.

I've yet to see any official document about me (including medical records) that didn't have some bizarre thing with unknown origin. The people who keep the records just respond with a grin and a comment starting with "Yeah ....".

Actually, my favorite example, which my wife loves telling other people, is one of those "not even wrong" things that a nurse wrote down after a routine exam, saying that I was 5'13" tall and weighted 135 pounds. I am in fact about six feet one inch, but 135 pounds would make me one of the scrawniest six-footers on the planet. She'd used one of those old-fashioned scales with sliding weights, and had forgotten that she'd slid over a third 50-pound weight. But I've since then seen several personal histories that include that 135-pound weight back then. Once such things get into the database, they're almost impossible to correct. This is especially true of medical records. This can be really annoying to those that've had a "false positive" diagnosis somewhere along the line. But such things are pretty good at teaching you how much you can trust the "official" data about other people.

(I sometimes wonder if official records in other "advanced" countries are as screwed up as they are here in the US. I'd guess that they probably are.)

Comment Re:DONT LET THE FBI RE-WRITE HISTORY FOR YOUTHS (Score 1) 70

people do have their names :)

Not really; according to the US Census Bureau, there are about 1800 Americans with my (first+last) name. And probably a whole bunch of them have the same middle name, which is also one of the top 10 men's names in the US. My parents didn't have much imagination when it came to baby names.

OTOH, my wife continues to use her birth name for most purposes (which is fine by me). She likes the fact that, as far as she can determine, she's the only living human with that name. (And it's not even some unpronounceable "foreign" sounding name. She also likes to point out to people that her name is a syntactically correct English sentence. She has even found archived newspaper images that have her name at the top of a story. ;-)

But anyway, most of us don't "have" our names in any meaningful sense. We're just one of many who are using the name for a few decades, until we drop out of the crowd that are using it.

In college, I had a friend who was a member of the Bill Smith Club, whose only membership criterion is that you be named (or married to someone named) Bill Smith (or William Smythe or Wilhelm Schmidt or anything else that maps onto the name).

Comment Re:Man = 1000 (Score 1) 160

Infinite places does not mean everywhere. This is a common misconception when dealing with infinite sets.

Suppose you have infinite many places, as many as the natural numbers.
You may have infinitely many places numbered by even numbers, while still not have the other, infinitely many, places with odd numbers.

So a more correct translation would be "in many places". But then again, if you are talking about infinite sets, the concept of "many" is also tricky, and leads into questions of set cardinality, aleph numbers, etc. which fortunately is a lot more interesting than the usual Netflix soap operas.

Uh, thanks Lars. Where would we be without iconoclastic pedantry on Slashdot?

Since we're being pedantic, you may wish to learn how to parse the phrase "loosely meaning".

Comment Re:doh! (Score 2) 517

Obama didn't release his birth certificate for one very good reason, he is very clever and Trump is very stupid.

The fact is that the Republicans will always invent some crazy idiotic 'scandal' that they obsess about and endlessly throw up smoke. The birther conspiracy was mind numbingly ridiculous. It would require someone to go back in time to plant the birth notice in the papers. Or for some group of conspirators to go to an enormous amount of trouble in order to make a particular black kid president.

So rather than release the birth certificate and let the Republicans invent a new scandal, Obama held onto it and let them obsess about a scandal nobody else thought made the slightest sense, knowing that he could knock their house of cards down any time he chose. Which of course he did a week before the Bin Laden raid which was guaranteed to end the story.

George W. Bush opened torture chambers across the world and collected photographs for a sick sexual thrill. Yet nobody ever talks about that. None of the people complaining about Hilary ever complained about GWB refusing to comply with Congressional investigation or the deletion of 5 million emails.

So here is what is going to happen. Trump is going to go down to the biggest defeat since Carter and he is going to drag the rest of his party down with him. And afterwards there is going to be a new civil rights act that prohibits Republican voter suppression tactics and the gerrymandering that give them a 5% advantage in elections. And by the time it is all done the Republican party will have two choices, either boot the racist conspiracy theorists and Trumpists out or face two decades in the wilderness.

Comment Man = 1000 (Score 1) 160

The Korean "man", which incidentally is actually pronounced with a long "a" to rhyme with the English word "on", is the same as 1,000 but can be translated as "infinite" in many situations. For example, a fountain pen is translated into Korean as a "1,000 year pen" or "man-youn-pil" (see here).

The "bang", which is also pronounced with a long "a" to rhyme with the English word "on", means a "place" or a "room", as others here have noticed.

Thus this word (as with many Korean words) is a portmanteau, in this case loosely meaning "infinite places", which makes the translation to the English word "everywhere" fairly reasonable.

All that said, like most of the posters here, I think this choice of branding is truly hilarious.

Comment This is the problem—Linux is inherently unfr (Score 0) 306

to the kinds of development that UX needs.

In the commercial world, there is a hierarchy whose basic job is to say "no" to everyone's pet idea. To refuse to adopt an initiative proposed by someone, and instead to allocate their resources, against their will, to the *single* direction that the team has been ordered to take. Good or bad. Because even if bad, a single bad direction properly executed by a sizable team with enough labor to complete it well is better than a thousand bad directions each executed by a single individual or a small handful of individuals who lack the resources to complete it, yet chuck it out there alongside all of the other 999 incomplete bad directions.

But the whole *point* of OSS *is exactly* that if you don't like what everyone else is doing, you can do your own thing. That is the basic philosophy. And that's why Linux UX never improves in the free and open space. Because there is nobody with the authority so say, "No, the product will *not* include that, and you *will* dedicate all of your labor to what it has been decided *will* be included."

So the bazaar happens. But the problem with the bazaar as opposed to the cathedral is that the bazaar is only a single story high. You can't build seriously tall stuff without an organized, managed collective of labor. Surge, you get lots of interesting stuff. But very little of it, if any of it, is epic. It's all the size that one single bazaar shopkeeper can build, to man their own little shop.

The Linux kernel avoided this problem because of the cult of personality (not meant in a bad way, but in the technical sense) surrounding Linus. People defer to him. He decides what's in and out, and he does a reasonable amount of labor allocation even if in an interesting, socially backhanded way that's not common. But it works—he is "in charge" enough in everyone's minds that there ends up being one kernel, with leadership.

Nobody similar has emerged in Linux userspace, and it would seem that Linus-like people are a rare enough phenomenon that it's unlikely that one will emerge at any point before the question is irrelevant. The pent-up demand just isn't there now for good Linux UX, like it was for a sound kernel and high-capability OS that didn't cost a fortune, as it was during the late '80s/early '90s boom. The social mechanics just aren't there to generate it.

The Linux desktop as a really sound piece of tech and UX engineering... will never happen. That era has passed, and the problems have been solved—by other platforms. And Android is a very good counterexample. There *was* enough emerging demand for a mobile operating system that wasn't iOS but that offered the same capabilities, and voila—Android. When there is enough demand, there is space for one shopkeeper at the bazaar to emerge as a champion for the needs of others, and to accumulate sufficient influence by acclamation that a cathedral structure can emerge organically.

The bazaar is merely an incubator of ideas. The cathedrals are the epic and actually useful accomplishments. It takes demand and allegiance-pledging at the bazaar from many attendees to lead in the end to a cathedral. This means that the bazaar has to be big, and that the shopkeeper in question has to have an idea that many, many are not just interested in, but willing to work toward—enough to sacrifice their own autonomy and submit to leadership. This just doesn't exist for desktop Linux any longer. It got close during the height of Windows dominance, but there was never quite enough demand to make it happen organically. And now the time has passed. The desktop Linux people are running little shops at the bazaar that don't get a lot of foot traffic, and nobody is seeking them out. They are the kings of very tiny, forgotten kingdoms without enough labor resources or wealth to even maintain their castles any longer—and as a result, there is nothing but infighting, strange hacks to maintain castles on the cheap, and lots of started-but-never-to-be-finished foundations of castles for historians to pick through (or, more likely, forget).

I predict that Linux will continue to be a significant part of whatever new "booms" in technology happen, so long as Linus is significantly involved in kernel development. But the window for desktop Linux has just plain passed.

Comment I can't tell you how many times (Score 1) 306

I had this exact conversation with family and friends in the '90s. The answer was always "nothing."

Q: What do you see?
A: Nothing.
Q: I mean, what's on the screen?
A: Nothing.
Q: There is nothing at all on the screen?
A: No.
Q: So the screen is entirely blank. No power?
A: Pretty much.
Q: Pretty much? Is there something on it or isn't there?
A: There's nothing on it.

I go over... And sometimes there would be words ("Operating system not found" or similar), sometimes even a complete desktop but hard-locked or similarly hung.

Me: That's not nothing (pointing).
Them: I don't see anything.
Me: Don't you see words? and/or Don't you see windows?
Them: Not any that mean anything.
Me: If they didn't mean anything, I wouldn't have asked you about them. If you'd told me, I wouldn't have had to drive all this way.
Them: What was I supposed to tell you?
Me: I asked for the words on the screen. Next time, read me the words on the screen!
Them: Okay. Sorry.

Next time...

Q: What does the screen say?
A: Nothing...

Comment Use Android and Chrome OS at times. (Score 2) 306

I am a big fan of Linux in technical terms, but not a big fan in terms of UX (basically, the social end of computing, where collaboration across large teams is basically required for a high quality product).

Android is illustrative of what Linux *can* be, but on the desktop has never managed to be because of the obvious differences between the social (i.e. people and hierarchy) infrastructure behind Android vs. behind the Linux desktop.

I used Linux from 1993 through 2010. Early on I used the same .twmrc files with TWM that I used on my HPUX and SunOS boxes at CS school. At the time, the Linux desktop was *light years* ahead of the Windows desktop. 16-bit color, high resolutions, fast, lots of very powerful applications from the Unix world and experimental desktop projects like InterViews that seemed very promising. People with MS-DOS or GEM or Windows 1/2.x computers were envious.

Later on I used FVWM. Then I switched to KDE in the KDE Beta 3 era. But then (mid-late '90s), Linux on the desktop had already been outrun by Windows 95 and Mac OS. The level of integration amongst services and components wasn't that of a coherent system like it was for Mac OS and Windows; the Linux "computing is a network" philosophy—very good for things like business and scientific computing—was obvious in comparison.

When KDE 4 was released, I tried to use it for a while but it got in my way. I had to rebuild my entire desktop over and over again as objects were lost, lost their properties, etc. After about two weeks on KDE 4 during which I mostly nursed KDE along rather than doing my actual work, I switched to GNOME 2.x. I see that as something of a golden age for desktop Linux—basic parity with what was going on in the Mac and Windows worlds if you used a polished distribution like Fedora. Install was different, equally demanding of skills, but the actual install and setup process for the desktop OS on a bare machine involved approximately the same amount of work as was true for Windows, and the result was basic feature and experience parity.

Then, the bottom fell out. I suspect that a lot of the need for the Linux desktop with experience parity to Windows was met by an increasingly revived Mac OS, and users flocked there. Myself included, in the end.

GNOME 3 came out and KDE 4 was finally becoming usable and there was something of a battle, but both were behind the curve relative to the stability and seamlessness of OS X, and OS X had end-user application developers already. They screamed and moaned during the transition from legacy Mac OS, but most of them hung on and redeveloped their applications for OS X, and there were a bunch of new application developers to boot.

On top of that, the major applications of the business and academic worlds made their way out for OS X as it became a viable platform. You now had a seamless desktop OS that offered all the big brands in user applications, plus stability, plus easy access to a *nix environment and command line if you wanted it.

I was busy fighting Linux during that "instability era" just as KDE4/GNOME3 happened and duked it out. Things were changing very quickly in many facets of the Linux base installs, in hardware, etc. and every update seemed to break my Thinkpad T60 which at the time ran on Fedora. I was spending a lot of time fixing dotfiles and scripts and trying to solve dependency problems, etc. Meanwhile, lots of new things that were starting to become commonplace needs (cloud services, mobile devices, etc.) didn't yet work well with Linux without lots of command line hacking and compiling of alpha-quality stuff from source.

A couple of fellow academics kept telling me to try Mac OS. Finally I did, I installed a hackintosh partition on my T60. By mid-2010, I realized that I was using my OS X boot, along with the GNU tools environment from MacPorts, far more than I was using the Linux partition, and that there were Mac applications that I was *dying* to start using on a daily basis, but hadn't purchased yet because "I'm not a Mac user, I'm a Linux user, this Mac partition is just to play around with."

Well, I finally bought one of them. And then I started using it all the time. And then another. And soon enough, most of my serious workflow was stuck on my Mac partition and the Linux partition was fading into the background, unused and unmaintained.

By the end of 2010, I'd bought a Macbook Pro and didn't have a Linux installation at all, after 17 years of exclusive Linux use. I'm still on OS X. I use the shell environment extensively. My old scripts and files and removable media from the Linux era still work, including ext2-formatted stuff (there are free extensions to support the filesystem). Basically, I don't feel like I lost a thing.

But I gained a HUGE amount of time that I used to spend hacking dotfiles, moving packages around, and trying to get source code that hadn't been packaged yet for binary distribution—and its many dependencies to compile properly. And I no longer worry about whether a particular piece of tech or software will "work for me" on compatibility grounds. I just buy the applications or hardware that meet the specs that I need, presuming that it will work with OS X. And so far, it always has.

Desktop Linux is basically over. It's not that it couldn't catch up, it's that I don't see any initiative anywhere in Linux-world that is likely to deliver competitive results to the OS X desktop experience before the era of the desktop is entirely over anyway.

Linux has found its niches (as pointed out—scientific computing, data centers, mobile/embedded) and there is basically no push any longer to compete for the general desktop, because it is a shrinking market anyway.

Comment eh (Score 3, Interesting) 306

I first ran Linux back in the mid-90's though it's been a while since I did much with it (maybe like 5 years). Back when I started it was 2 generations ahead of Windows at least, destroyed it in terms of performance and stability, and was just a lot more fun to use. Fast forward to today and any lead has pretty much evaporated. Recently when I got too annoyed at how slow Windows 10 was running on a cheap laptop I picked up (4 gigs of RAM, AMD a4-6210 and a SSD), I decided to replace it with Linux and was honestly pretty underwhelmed. Performance was about the same, and this was a Linux Mint distro running XFCE with bells and whistles turned off. It was still sluggish to the point that it was annoying. The user experience was pretty much identical to what I remember from 10 years ago. Honestly, if I installed a 10-year-old distro it would probably scream. I'm not a programmer so not sure what could be done at this point; even Torvalds has admitted the kernel is bloated, and as a user it seems like the graphics system is just an increasing number of layers, managers, and toolkits piled on top of each other.

Slashdot Top Deals

Life is cheap, but the accessories can kill you.

Working...