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Submission + - Unfinished vs new technology: 12 years later

VincenzoRomano writes: Back in September 1998 bug #915 got filed at the Netscape (good ol' days!) bug tracking system. Nothing special, "just" the wrong rendering of table column alignment. Something a lot of web developers has had to work around so far.
Interestingly, this bug affected and still affects almost all web browsers. All but Internet Explorer, though.
In August 2010, far from being fixed, the very same bug got marked as "INVALID" as "this feature is no longer present in HTML5, and has not been implemented in browsers other than IE". In other words "don't bother us as this is not even a bug any more: we are working on the next forthcoming standard, whenever will it come".
Or "none else but IE has it, so we don't mind, even if everyone else is just me"
A tsunami of angry comments flooded bug #915 entry until a couple of days later the bug got turned back to "NEW" (yes, 12 years new).
This seems to follow a trend in the technology development policies for a number of projects, not just open source software.
As soon as the development steering board decides something new (like HTML5 or the next Ubuntu release) requires the focus, suddenly unfinished or unfixed old stuff (HTML4 compliance or the current official) goes to the attic to be forgotten as outdated or uninteresting.
Apart of the humoristic implications for this very case, I'd like to ask slashdotters about their point of view and possible suggestions.

Submission + - The rising of video manuals. Evil or boon?

VincenzoRomano writes: I'm encountering a growing number of cases when you find some kind of (technical) documentation and manuals as online videos.
From listing the features of some new electronic equipment to procedures on how to root it (:-), from programming examples to troubleshooting guides to software.
I personally find this trend quite annoying when not actually evil.
First of all, the perusal of a video needs to follow a defined pace. The one chosen by the person who shot the video, which could not be your very own. Instead you can read text the way you want.
Second, you need to stick to the actual quality of images and speech/sound recorded. Which tends to be very poor as a number of them is shoot with a mobile phone. Text can be shown and printed to the quality you need.
Third, you cannot copy/past any piece of information (like command strings) shown there. You have to carefully read and type. With text this is trivial.
Fourth, you need to stay online with some equipment in order to peruse the document. I know there's a way to "fix" this issue, though, but with text is a trivial task again.
Fifth, If the audio is not in a language/lingo/accent you can understand well, then you are in troubles. With text you can always read more carefully or try some translation.
Sixth, shooting a video is considered somehow easier than writing a text. Which could not be really true if you want to decently document something like CLI or even GUI stuff.

So my question to slashdotters: is my opinion shared among the majority of you or simply I'm getting too old to keep up with new technologies?
Or, in a different form, should we fight this trend or should we all embrace it?

Submission + - No End of the World (TM) by law?

VincenzoRomano writes: There's an article on PhysicsWorld.COM (registration required), which I would define somewhere in between weird and interesting.
It's about a lawyer wondering whether judges should order a full stop to the LHC in the fear of an "end of the world" event.
It's an old story the one about the supposed ability of the LHC to trigger a real armageddon thanks to the creation of stable micro black holes, strangelets and other exotic particle physics stuff.
From the article:

Eric E Johnson, a lawyer at the University of North Dakota in the US, believes that such jurisdictional problems should not prevent justice from being done. Johnson has published a 90-page paper in the Tennessee Law Review arguing that the courts must use their power to halt hypothetically cataclysmic experiments such as the LHC if they are called upon to do so, and he puts forward the criteria by which the courts could pass meaningful judgements in such cases.

The point to that clever lawyer is that if you gather enough clues and proofs, you can ask a court to rule against the use of fossil fuel for engines and radioactive matter for power reactors!
What'd be your opinion?

The "End of the World" is a trade mark by Zarquon


Open Source Software For Experimental Physics? 250

jmizrahi writes "I've recently started working in experimental physics. Quite a few programs are used in the lab for assorted purposes — Labview, Igor, Inventor, Eagle, to name just a few. They are all proprietary. This seems to be standard practice, which surprised me. Does anybody know of any open source software intended for scientific research? Does anybody work in a lab that makes an effort to use open source software?"

Modern LaTeX Replacement? 918

javierzinho writes "For many years I have been using LaTeX to compose scientific documents, but truly I am getting tired of its complexity. You have to install new packages for new features, compatibility issues are everywhere, you need to know commands for everything, table composition is torture, image insertion is an odyssey if you don't have the 'right' format, and you need to be a LaTeX Jedi master to create a new document class. I'm looking for a document processor (not a word processor) that is a viable replacement for LaTeX, possessing all of its advantages — consistency between text and math text, automated cross references, direct PDF creation, etc. — but that is not stuck in the 1980s with the compiler metaphor and weird font technology. An application with visual interface and so on. I've tried Scientific Word and Lyx but both are front-ends for LaTeX. Publicon only produces PDF files by exporting to LaTeX and subsequently using pdflatex. Add-ons for MS-Word are a joke, and webEq is intended for web publishing, not for PDF production. Does anybody know of a decent, scientific-structured document processor that is a modern application?"

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