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Comment Re:Microsoft see, Microsoft do (Score 1) 94

"Microsoft's response to the Amazon Echo and Google Home is Home Hub, a software update for Windows 10's Cortana personal assistant that turns any Windows PC into a smart speaker of sorts."

No it's not. Based on Microsoft's track record it will be a poorly-designed, late-to-market, barely functional piece of shit that will garner no market share except for that of the die-hard Windows fanbois. After a year or two of disappointing reviews and craptastic software updates they'll discontinue it.

That may well be true...but there's a one-in-a-billion chance that Microsoft will be able to make it stick if they can successfully court the XDA community. If a device is mod-friendly, and it becomes "the Echo you can mod", it's possible that it'll carve out a niche for itself...because both Google and Amazon have taken steps to ensure that the modding community isn't welcome.

Microsoft clearly has no recent evidence of this path, which is why I'm perfectly aware that it's such a remote possibility. However, it's a market hole that neither Google nor Amazon have any chance of filling.

Comment Re:better yet ... (Score 1) 553

we should eliminate the popular vote for president. The president should be elected by the congress from it's seating members. That way the goverment gets things done and the elections people focus on are the local ones they have more influence over.

The challenge with this is that you end up with one of the problems seen in the most recent election. I know a handful of people who held their nose and bathed in air freshener and voted for Trump simply because Hillary pledged to appoint activist judges for the Supreme Court, something far more concerning to them than Trump's intended choices - and I'm sure the reverse was also true. To me, the biggest concern was that both of them intended to use the Supreme Court as a way to make an end run around actual-legislation, a parallel that eluded most people thinking this way, but the bottom line is that plenty of people had their votes largely swayed by the intended nominees - a concern that didn't affect the last several presidential elections.

If Congress appoints the president, now you have the same problem - Team Coke promises to appoint Smith, Team Pepsi promises to appoint Jones. That basically becomes the bedrock of their campaign - you might disagree with Team Coke's candidate on foreign policy or tax reform or social security or highway building or education or intrastate zoning reform, but if you're worried about the negative effects of a President Jones, you've now got to choose between the plans in your state to build a football stadium a mile away from you and not going to war. Conversely, neither Senator has incentive to base his campaign on anything other than the intended presidential nominee, and House Representative campaigns alternate between "actual campaigns" and "nominee campaigns".

Obviously, there is no perfect system, but I'm not quite sure that this method doesn't cause just as many problems as it solves.

Comment What's left? (Score 1) 22

Seriously, Facebook Messenger is basically becoming its own all-consuming entity at this point. It does text chat, voice chat, video chat, image exchange (complete with filters, IIRC), payment exchanges, stickers, and now video games. It's either an overly bloated chat client, or a really slimmed down fork of systemd.

Comment Re: Easy (Score 1) 229

Team Password Manager ( self hosted and has a Chrome extension, and free for two users.

So you have to trust a closed source program, and run it on a server with PHP, IconCube, MySQL (with ALL privileges, no separation between user and admin rights) and Apache, and poke a hole in your firewall to reach its web server? That's increasing security?

Never mind the mind boggling idea of using a browser extension to give your browser a backdoor into it to increase convenience.

LastPass doesn't provide access to source code, either. However, if Open Source == Security, that can be arranged. I have no idea how LastPass isolates its database. Really, the question is who I'm trying to protect my passwords from. Hackers by way of a firewall? At a purely technical level, yeah, LastPass probably wins this one, though my Untangle firewall is pretty strict. From three-letter-agencies and mass data dumps? If nothing else, security-through-obscurity would land squarely in my favor.

Regarding the Chrome extension, it works on Chromium, it's optional, and "Over a VPN" is a perfectly viable way to avoid poking a hole in my firewall.

Comment Re:Why is that bad? (Score 2) 395

Why is it bad to be able to pay more for higher speeds to some selected destinations?

Because no proposal I have ever heard for "preferred traffic" has ever involved letting me decide what those destinations are.

Overall your cable bill could be lower if you just need browsing speed for most sites but want to have a very fast connection for a handful of streaming video sites you use regularly...

Has your cell bill gone down since carriers implemented data caps? This graphic is years old, but please provide literally any evidence that it is not the logical conclusion of such a plan.

That would actually make 4k streaming practical, for example.

What would make 4K streaming practical is for the backhaul to be upgraded to the point where 100mbits/sec down is a de facto standard, with 300mbit/sec remotely affordable. Comcast isn't hurting for a buck, and even if this was the case in "selected cities" to start with, it's not the kind of thing that needs cooperation from everyone, everywhere, all at once. Then again, it's not like the general public is clamoring for 4K content - 1080p is so heavily compressed that good picture quality is still more dependent on Blu-Ray or 1080p file downloads than streaming.

You say that's bad, I say that's progress which is something we've not seen in a while. Under existing laws our network speeds are stagnating, Google is pulling out of fiber now...

Google is pulling out of fiber because they are Google, and pretty much everything that isn't Search, Mail, or Android is a 'pet project' to them...and also because being an ISP delivering gigabit is not the kind of thing they were charging properly for. Meanwhile, what online destinations besides Netflix aren't served 'well enough' by a 25/5 connection for 7 out of 10 Charter customers, and is my cable company's 300/35 tier not enough for 7/10 slashdotters? I'm not saying that progress should stop marching on or that the first round of Carbonite backups isn't going to be a pain, but internet speeds are well within the region where the router can very well be the bottleneck, and though the 300/35 tier is relatively new for my cable company, their standard level is 60/25, up from 25/5 about two years ago, and up from 15/2 from five years before that - and I'm nowhere near a Google Fiber area. Admittedly, my cable company is somewhat-regional and I know that AT&T hasn't done its customers any favors recently, but now we get into the classical argument of whether everyone's speeds need to go up in order for progress to be considered 'reached'.

Comment Re:Why not postgres? (Score 2) 153

OK, I'm not a DBA (IANADBA? Hmm, I like the sound of that, 'yanadba', which syllable to put the accent on though.)

But, really, why do corporations not use postgres? Is it some inherit deficiency in the product? A general antipathy to Open Source? Lack of publicity and marketing on the part of Postgres? Nobody from the company to hold the customer's hand when they first get it? (In that case, maybe there needs to be a Red Hat Postgres) Or something else?

Honestly, it may be a bit of everything, but I'll share my own personal anecdote...

I used to provide desktop and network support to a relatively small insurance company (about a hundred employees). Their line-of-business application that handled everything from claims to brokers to billing was coded and maintained by a firm who built the product on an Oracle backend. It's a relatively small Oracle installation - $90,000/year was the number I remember hearing, which is obviously peanuts for an Oracle install.

The coding company was mortified of change. Virtualizing the old Solaris boxes was months of meetings and performance metrics ("virtualized servers will be slower" - we were migrating from servers old enough to still have "Sun Microsystems" logos on them to a high end Poweredge blade chassis...). The people coding for it knew Oracle and Java, and genuinely believed that "write once, run everywhere" was a promise that Java delivered - it took over a year to convince them that "running in IE compatibility mode was not a long-term solution"; the product was indeed written for IE6, though to be fair they did indeed update it to run properly in Webkit and newer iterations of Trident.

Checkbox Compliance is a very, very powerful thing. No matter how much PostrgeSQL and EnterpriseDB promises to be a drop-in replacement, and no matter how true that actually is, the fact that it isn't "Oracle" scared the crap out of the developers and the people who supported them. MariaDB was able to overcome this to an extent because it was literally the exact same code at the beginning, and answered to the same SQL commands (still using 'mysql' where appropriate). The first time something goes wrong, no matter whose fault it is, it's blamed on the recent change. It very well could be - and probably is - someone else's fault...but when you're dealing with management - even remotely competent management - and saying that something they asked for isn't going to work right because Postgres != Oracle, or the upstream vendor keeps saying "we don't support PostgreSQL" no matter what the issue is (...the website isn't compatible with Edge...), migrating to Postgres becomes a headache for 100% PEBKAC reasons.

Comment Re:An important study... (Score 1) 157

I guess my point was that back then, you *had* somewhere else to go, and your online persona in the IRC rooms wasn't as nearly a big a part of social circles as it is now. If you didn't log into your IRC room, that was one social circle with whom you didn't interact. Now, *all* the social circles are there, so "walking away" is walking away from everyone. Is it a drug addiction? Well, solitary confinement is a worst-of-the-worst punishment in prisons for a reason, and it is effective on people who have never logged into I would file it somewhere between "unhealthy obsession" and "implementation of core human need".

Comment Re:An important study... (Score 1) 157

An important psychological study may be to determine why younger generation doesn't just "walk away" from the online bullying when there isn't a physical intimidation keeping them from it.

Like me, I'm assuming you're old enough to remember when "socializing online" was primarily done by IRC and BBS...things that 95% of kids then and 99.8% kids today wouldn't be able to figure out. Those dedicated to clearing that bar tended to be smart enough to have already learned "words are words", so even when we did have mean things written to us, we generally had the sense to ignore it. Additionally, the name 'voyager529' is about 20 years old, and although *now* it's pretty simple to figure out my real name, it was far more difficult in a pre-Google, pre-Facebook world. Social Media has so normalized the lack of a pseudonym that having a creative or whimsical e-mail name is considered "juvenile" or "from the 90's" - even places that don't require it live in a world where the concept of an online/offline disconnect is a relic of a bygone era. What you remember dealing with and what the younger generation actually deals with are two very different levels of online interaction.

I remember my daughter freaking out because she participated in this absolutely weird "" where you anonymously ask and answer questions about a person. My first response to seeing what was being said was rage, but then I said to her...just don't go there. Don't ask anonymous questions about yourself...don't answer questions about other people. No one has power over you if you just ignore it. And luckily that was enough and it was no longer a problem.

It is amazing what adolescents will do in the name of peer pressure. Again, by virtue of you being a Slashdotter, I'll wager that there was a point in your life when you more-or-less had a choice between "pursuing your technical aptitude" and "pursuing high social status", and coming to terms with the fact that they were mutually exclusive and choosing the former. Again, with no technical barrier to internet-based things, use of the internet to achieve or retain high social standing is going to happen.

But years go by and kids seem just so attached to their social personas that they can't just walk way.

In a world where kids can't play outside or meet at the arcade or the soda fountain because they barely exist..and if they do, kids can't go without their parents needing to know exactly where they are and where and when they're returning, and providing transportation in either direction. Staying inside and curating one's online persona is basically an extension of who they are, because staying inside and playing with iPads and Playstations is the only "safe" thing left to do. Walking away from online communication is basically walking away from communicating with peers at all, and that's about the worst thing possible for adolescence.

I get into an argument on facebook or whatever and I'll just close it if I get too worked up. And voila I stop thinking about it. But kids don't seem to have that capability and it makes me wonder why not.

Because you're a grown-up. You're a parent. You are a digital immigrant, not a digital native. You've matured enough to say, "sucks to be that moron!" and move on with your life - you've got 1,001 other things to do that getting worked up and running a fool's errand to sustain an argument on a forum somewhere gets to a point where it's clearly a waste of time. Meanwhile, kids who are bullied online are stuck trying to argue their way into social acceptance, or out of having their peers turn on them. You're well beyond the stage in your life where that's a problem, and I'm certain that if ten people unfriended you on Facebook, it would have approximately the same affect on you as ten people /quitting an IRC room - you've got plenty of other things that contribute to self-worth. When self-worth is tied to one's quantity of Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat followers, it's far more damaging...and even if your daughter has a parent who is competent enough to do whatever is practical to ensure her self-worth is reliant on things other than the acceptance of her peers (and is successful in doing so, a miracle in itself), she goes to school with hundreds of other children whose parents have not done so.

Comment Re:Maybe they shouldn't be using the largest... (Score 4, Insightful) 127

They probably don't have a choice of OS. That is likely determined by their software vendor.

That merely shifts the blame. The software vendor was foolish for choosing that OS. Collective foolishness is still foolishness.

The problem isn't "the software vendor", it's "all the software vendors".

EMR is more frequently than not a SaaS application like PointClickCare. Have Browser, Will Travel. This is the height of "cross platform awesomeness". It's also basically the end of the highlights.

Prescription medication inventory and ordering software is a trainwreck, and even if that's ported to Linux, now you have to worry about some highly specific printers, some with MICR funcitonality, for which you'll need drivers.

Then, let's get into all the different gadgets in a hospital, from MRI machines to EKG logging to weight distribution sensors to X-ray machines to chiropractic thermal sensors to sonogram machines to things I simply haven't spent enough time in a hospital to recall. A nontrivial amount of these machines cost a solid six figures or more and require dedicated training in their use...and all have a highly vertical software stack that even flows into downstream situations (doctors don't exactly get 3D MRI scans in PDF formats...), and yes, there's frequently DRM involved.

There's also the billing office, which is the kind of place where drop-in replacement for the existing billing software *and* near-infinite accessibility of archived data is going to be a requirement. I wouldn't be surprised if more than a handful of hospitals are either still directly using an AS/400, or a frontend for one. To be fair, this is one place where a number of EMR vendors as well as separate cloud vendors have products, but incumbent data is going to be a major problem.

Remember how I said it wasn't "the vendor"? I wasn't kidding - it's *all the vendors*. If a hospital is going to switch to Linux, everything above has to be compatible. Tell a hospital they need to replace their three year old, $4 million MRI machine because it's not Linux compatible, and see how far that gets you. Conversely, the software developers who write the custom software to run that MRI machine aren't going to reinvent the wheel because one hospital says "pretty please", and even if half of those vendors *did* revamp their software for Linux *and* they managed to avoid situations like one company only supporting Red Hat while another company only supports'll still need to have Windows around for the other half.

Ultimately, it's a chicken-and-egg problem, because it requires far too much cooperation from far too many people at once to write some highly expensive software for a niche within a niche. Don't get me wrong, if Mark Shuttleworth wants to spend a billion or two to target a specific hospital and cover the bill to bootstrap the development of a fully HIPPA compliant Ubuntu software stack and ensure that there isn't a device, application, or workflow in that hospital that would require Windows, I'd be beyond thrilled. However, I'm not holding my breath on that.

Comment Re:Microsoft's collaboration problem (Score 3, Interesting) 113

Is that they rely on IT Teams to deploy their collaboration tools. [SNIP] the people in control are not the users.

The problem is a constantly moving pendulum.

MBA: "We need to do better document and revision management than a shared folder because everyone overwrites my stuff!"
IT: "Okay, here's Sharepoint."
MBA: "Great! People will just figure this out, right?"
IT: "It's a bit more complicated than that. We can do a one-hour training session in shifts, and have the whole company trained in 2-3 days."
MBA: "We can't afford the downtime! Just roll it out, provide a cheat sheet, and prepare for the service desk tickets to come in!"
IT: *shrug*

A month later...

MBA: "Sharepoint sucks because people keep locking documents and setting the permissions so only they can access them!"
IT: "Users aren't respecting the policy, or don't know how to set them properly...which we'd have taught them all to do in the training class."
MBA: "We don't have time for that! Disable the ability for users to set permissions!"
IT: ", everyone has access to everything?"
MBA: "Exactly!"

A month later...

MBA: "Sharepoint didn't protect our data! How did Steve in HR manage to take financial documents with him when he got fired?"
IT: "...because we gave everyone permissions."
MBA: "Why would you do that! Our information needs to be secure secure secure!!"
IT: "...because management was having a tough time with the permissions and told us to revoke them all."

The endless cycle of IT deployments is from convenient/insecure when things are annoying, to inconvenient/secure when hackers rule the news circuit, and back again when everyone is sick of 12 passwords and the budget is too tight for SSO systems to be implemented. Rules and procedures when the rollouts start, to the real-world workflows they impede because the committee who designed them didn't account for corner cases they didn't know existed.

Sharepoint and Team and any number of other collaboration tools *can* be used effectively in an organization. Those who require their implementation, however, are unlikely to account for the fact that the super-smooth tech demo they saw at a conference assumed a use case that perfectly fit with the tool and its demonstration, as well as the fact that all the users spent hours and hours rehearsing that demo. When management thinks in terms of a rollout as a combination of research, acquisition, more research, implementation, even more research, training, and is only then that any collaboration tool will work. They cannot work in a situation involving separate fiefdoms and immovable workflows or unwilling users.

Comment Re:You missed the PC, too (Score 1) 245

I still haven't completely given up hope, though, that this will change one day.

Unfortunately, I have.

We'll talk exclusively about desktop apps, and ignore web-based applications and mobile apps for the moment.

Who are some of the big players in the desktop software market?
Adobe, Autodesk, Intuit, Sage, and Nuance are all in the list of top-100 software companies by revenue, admittedly a list heavily skewed toward the enterprise market - SAP and VMWare are clearly outside the scope of this exercise.

Most of these companies' flagship applications (Photoshop, AutoCAD, Quickbooks, ACT, NaturallySpeaking) are cross-compatible with MacOS/OSX, so to be honest, Apple is a more viable path than ever before...once one gets past the sticker shock of not only buying the hardware, but re-buying the software. The real cross-platform challenge is all the niche applications, everything from software that runs law firms and software that runs intelligent lighting arrays to software that runs dental offices to the knockoffs of industry standards.

However, none of those applications run on Linux. Look, I like Linux on the desktop. I too would love nothing more than for commercial software vendors to consider Linux a viable platform for development. Game developers have started to do so, which is a great start...but for commercial software houses, there's the classic chicken-and-egg problem. Who wants to wipe a computer that ships with Windows in order to install Linux when their line-of-business applications won't support it? What software vendor is going to take the plunge on making something like that happen, knowing it's a gamble that may well not pay off? Plenty of Slashdotters have made Linux their primary, and I am glad that they have, but there are very few lawyers here, and even fewer dentists.

The only thing that I think will push software vendors to make this happen is for Microsoft to fully depreciate the Win32 API and push for Modern-Only apps on the platform. Nadella may not always make the decisions I agree with, but I can't possibly believe he would be stupid enough to push *that* button. If he does, he creates a vacuum that will suddenly be viable for desktop Linux to fill.

Comment Re:Come on... (Score 1) 239

"There are certainly improvements (>1 million rows in Excel"

Encouraging people to use a spreadsheet for large amounts of data (or anything else!) is *not* an improvement!

Yes, but the alternatives are awkward. Obviously, that much data belongs in a database for actual-storage, but how does one implement that for end users?

"Use Access!"
Well, Access is only a part of the professional versions of Office now, and it's twice as expensive. Therefore, most users don't have Access.

"Use LibreOffice Base!"
The closest thing to an actual-answer, but there's still a solid learning curve there, as well as import problems.

"Use MariaDB!"
So, now end users need to learn how to use command line SQL?

"Use MariaDB and phpMyAdmin!"
So, now end users need a full LAMP stack?

"SQL Server Express and ODBC!"

Yes, Excel is a very crude application for database functions. It's also ubiquitous, and for relatively simple things like averaging a single column in half a million rows, spending hours getting that data into a database to then process it back in Excel is an absurd notion.

Comment Re:Come on... (Score 1) 239

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...

Why do you care? If I have a 2TB HDD then 400MB or 2.4GB is equally trivial. Same goes for RAM.

I'd much rather have features than save disk or RAM space that cost peanuts to upgrade.

For one program? No. The problem comes when *everyone* starts thinking that way. Applications use more and more RAM because "It's cheap" and "everyone has plenty". Nobody optimizing means that multitasking becomes needlessly more difficult. Applications use more and more hard drive space because "everyone has plenty". Everyone using twice as much disk space as they could if users were shown a real custom installer menu or simply optimizing their usage means that I *need* a larger hard disk to fit the same amount of personal data.

Optimized applications show that the developers value my resources.

Comment Re:Developers, developers, developers (Score 1) 245

The failure of windows phone had nothing to do with 'developer engagement'. Simply put they were far too late to market to compete with the already established iphone & Android.

They might have had a shot if they had realized it and focused from day one on the business market (which they were already a player in), but instead attempted to compete with Google and Apple who had more cachet with consumers.

Smartphone history doesn't start in 2010. It didn't start in 2007 with the iPhone, either.

Those of us who have longer memories are aware of the iPhone's predecessors. For quite some time, it was a three-horse race between Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Palm. Blackberry was preferred by many businesses because of BES - it was a bit expensive, but it was super secure and made it possible to replace a lost or damaged Blackberry with a fresh one in about 20 minutes, with all the user's accounts and data intact. Palm was very simple to use, had great battery life, and Palm Desktop was like Outlook Lite and Salesforce Lite rolled into a bundled application.

Believe it or not, Windows Mobile was amongst the most versatile platforms of its day, and it was king of the third party apps. Those apps weren't purchased through the App Store, they were purchased at retail on SD cards or from developers' websites...but there were more for WinMo than anything else. It was kinda ugly on the surface, but in HTC's heyday with the Touch Diamond, Touch Pro2, and HD2, it had more eye candy than the iPhone. WinMo was easy to manage because it was treated like a desktop in Active Directory, and though Windows Media Player for WinMo had its idiosyncrasies, it wasn't until maybe the Blackberry Curve that there was a media playback application for a mobile platform that outperformed it. As an added bonus, XDA-Developers started with WinMo phones. If you think Android is customizable, you should see some of the mods that were done back when WinMo was a thing.

The writing was on the wall for WinMo when it became abundantly clear that stylus-based input was a compromise, not a desirable state of existence. With the exception of the HD2, everyone else had a resistive touchscreen, which has long since been obsoleted. If you've never used IE Mobile, be grateful - it'll make you pine for IE6.

Microsoft attempted to reinvent itself with Windows Phone 7, right around when Android hit the scene. It was definitely more polished at the time than Android was, but they bet on XAML and Silverlight-based applications, which wasn't the best start. They also bet that having a rooting/modding community was a liability rather than an asset, so they put the kibosh on it early and were pretty successful at preventing third party ROMs and mods from making the platform attractive to the technically savvy. Meanwhile, stability was a major problem, Nokia phones took *years* to arrive, and when they did, most carriers had more options in their iPhone lineup than their WinMo lineup. On top of that, Microsoft was still trying to not-suck at the media management department; WMP10-12 wasn't bad for local media syncing, but this was back when iTunes was actually good, and Microsoft still didn't have a good way for users to download music and movies.

Developers had to start from scratch upon the arrival of WP8. WP7 apps weren't compatible with WP8, and WP8 wasn't compatible with the majority of WP7 devices - keeping in mind that this happened when 2-year handset contracts were still very much a thing. Microsoft could have given themselves excellent mindshare by allowing WP7 users to trade their phones in for WP8 phones at no cost, but instead they released 7.8 which had about half the heralded WP8 features...and for all the complaints about Android fragmentation, the complete incompatibility between WP7 and WP8 was far worse. There was all kinds of attempts to do Google-style integration with Bing, which worked as well as you think it did, and Cortana tried to eat Siri's lunch, but especially in its early days it was terrible with doing anything other than transcribing Bing searches. Stability issues still abounded, there's still no third party keyboards for the platform, still no rooting or modding of consequence, and then they promised Windows 10 Phone.

And they broke backwards compatibility AGAIN.

So, once again, all the developers who made the attempt to invest their time into making a WP8 app were now told that, once again, they wouldn't be compatible with W10P. Now, to be fair, I do believe that Microsoft did provide a set of porting tools to facilitate the transition, but once again, there were WP8 phones left behind, so the WP8 apps still needed to be maintained. During this time, Microsoft spun off a bunch of their useful Nokia holdings, Steve Ballmer was ironing out the details of his golden parachute, and I'm certain the board was looking critically at their single digit market share, wondering exactly whether to double down yet again, or to just make it desirable for Microsoft apps to run on iOS and Android, while giving app developers reasons to put the back end on Azure.

So yes, there was plenty to do with developer engagement, they were established in the market long before iOS and Android were ever a thing, they had a focus on the business market that didn't pan out, and they lost cachet with consumers because they were focusing on all the wrong things and didn't have a good enough reason to jump ship from iOS or Android.

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