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Comment I Already Do This (Score 2, Interesting) 1124

I actually completely hide the textual menu with the addon Hide Menubar. I still leave the standard back, forward, reload and friends, but only because they're on the same bar as the address bar, which I pretty much always want visible.

I started doing this after realizing that the only elements of Firefox's UI that I actually use with any frequency is the address bar and quick search bar. For the rest of it, I'd rather just have a larger viewport. If I need the menus i just press ALT, which is consistent with the rest of a Windows Vista/7 UI that hides menubars. Incidentally, the most common reason for me to need the textual menus is to unclose a tab. This is a feature I need regularly, but not terribly frequently compared to most other functions. I hate that it's buried in the History menu - I just don't make that connection. It's also very hard to bind to mouse gestures in the common mouse gesture addons (Usability be damned, I heart my mouse gestures).

Comment I Buy Computer Parts as Toys. (Score 2, Interesting) 316

With Intel's new SSDs coming out that support the Trim command, a lot of the older gen SSDs (and not just Intel's) have been running on sale. I picked up a 60 GB OCZ mode for something like $120 after mail-in-rebates (which I'd never count on, but it was still very cheap even if it doesn't come). While that's something like half it's initial selling price, it's still not very cost effective. It's well within my budget for computer hardware though, and when I'm done with it it may go into an enclosure. I've never been particularly fond of the "laptop drive in an enclosure" portable drives I see running around - spinning disks that people can swing around look like a problem waiting to happen.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 756

If I remember correctly PAE was actually enabled in at least some versions of Windows XP 32-bit. It was disabled in one of the service packs or something because it caused a bunch of trouble for people with code that wasn't PAE-aware. I may be mis-remembering things, but that's how my fuzzy view of history is choosing to remember things.

Comment Re:A Bad Idea Made Worse (Score 1) 174

I believe it was the philosopher Kant who offered as a moral test the question, "What would the world be like if everyone did this?"

It's not a hypothetical question when it comes to auto updaters. Look at your average Windows box and you'll see that there's quite a few of these, and they're typically annoying and consuming far more resources than is called for. Off the top of my head, I know I have to kill the one that comes with Java regularly. Google's is nigh impossible to keep gone. Apple's Quicktime updater is common as well. HP's fond of cramming one in their hundreds-of-megs-of-god-knows-what printer drivers. Far too many Windows applications leave things running in the background. Even OpenOffice installs a damn quickstarter app. Installed a recent version of Nero lately? The newer versions absolutely rape your computer.

It's getting to be a problem to the point where in addition to removing all the malware I kill most of these background processes, and I'm not sure which one improves the performance more. It wouldn't be such a problem except Windows gives programs a thousand ways to start up at boot, hidden, with no UI to control it. Is it a service? A shell extension? Or a registry entry? In the Startup section of the boot menu? Time to whip out regedit and third party apps, because Windows in no way consolidates any of this, and some it is just flat out hidden from the user. When people say Windows is hard to administer, this is a good example of what's being talked about.

Comment Either Too Expensive or Too Cheap (Score 1) 858

I've been using the same laptop for years, because despite the various vendors, models, and form factors portable computers come in these days, I've yet to find a replacement I like. So Apple with their exactly 3 options for portable computers will almost never convince me to buy. I really don't this the Apples are overpriced for the hardware you get, but the lack of options means I can never buy from.

I want a decent discreet graphics adapter in a 14" or smaller notebook that can switch to integrated when it's on battery. I need rendering power when I'm plugged in, but I do want good battery life. I don't think this is too much to ask; Nvidia practically gives you the solution when you combine their northbridge and GPUs. Yet the only notebook I've seen that makes any use of it is Dell's Studio XPS 13, which would be a perfect system except they somehow managed to negate both benefits: the graphics adapter is still only marginally better than the typical garbage, and the battery life still sucks. Also, slot loading optical drives, glossy finishes, and leather on my notebooks doesn't excite me. I think most notebook designers eat paint chips for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Comment Re:Not new news (Score 2, Insightful) 601

Maybe people in general are just driving faster for no real reason.

Maybe people drive faster because it's such a frustrating situation, at least in the US. I drive to work every morning, and drive home every afternoon, in rush hour traffic. I really have no choice in the matter. My employer says I will be at work at 9 am, and I can leave at 5 pm. There is no public transit that would get me where I want to go and the apartments near where I work are way out of my price range. It takes me half an hour and two toll roads that cost over $2 a day. If I don't take the toll roads it's even longer in the car.

It really grinds my nerves that voters continue shoot down competent public transportation, but I can't drive anywhere without seeing miles of road covered in orange cones, snarling traffic for miles because the already congested highway system is in need of expansion (half the reason it takes so long to drive anywhere in the first place). And by the time they finish the work (five years from now) they'll just have to start again. I really just hate driving. Even without all the traffic, I'd rather just get on a train and have someone else do the driving. You can drive and eat breakfast, listen to music, and basically turn your car into a living room, but you need only see rush hour once to see that everyone does it poorly. Traffic would probably move faster if people didn't try. Or if they had another option for eating that breakfast while commuting.

Comment Re:App Installation (Score 1) 936

Yes, repositories are a source of trusted software assuming that everyone doesn't just run their own repository server, which is what's happening now. Joe's repository with his self-signed certificate is really no better than downloading random tarballs off the internet from a security point of view. Read what I wrote again: I am not saying repositories are bad. In fact I think they're great. They allow distros to make it dead simple to keep your OS and the apps it comes with secure and up to date. What I'm arguing against is XML syndrome - it doesn't apply everywhere.

Repositories have their limits. Repository selection will never be as good as the internet. Google will always beat your repository, no matter how many people you hire to keep your repository up to date. Some are more up to date than others, but less popular packages are often neglected; Ubuntu let my wireless driver rot for over a year, and it never worked to begin with. In a twist of irony, package managers sometimes make it harder to install software, because they get totally borked if you try go around them.

I've used .deb files on Ubuntu before and that seems to be pretty simple to use, but not every project releases in that format - the author of the article mentions that he was trying to use RPMs, which is why he couldn't make it work, of course. And here we come to the crux of the problem. RPM, DEB, TAR; I really don't care how you do it, but any installer we did would have to be an agreed-upon format. This is exactly why we don't have an installer system. Because we could never have an installer system; there would be no less than three. And they'd all be woefully incompatible. Instead we got three or so walled-garden repository systems. I love the open source community, but damnit...sometimes you guys piss me off.

It could be worse, I suppose. But it could have been so much better.

Comment App Installation (Score 4, Insightful) 936

The author had lots of trouble installing things. I've gotten into arguments over it before, but here's my take: package managers were the wrong answer to the installation problem. They make installing and updating the the libraries and components that make up the the OS itself very easy, but you'll never satisfy diverse application preferences with a central repository. In his original piece, he tries to update OpenOffice from the web because the package manager isn't offering the update yet. Naturally, this is difficult and not really designed with users in mind. This is why I hate package managers - they leave you with two really crappy choices: either don't use it and have no install management at all, or use it and be doomed to only what's in the repositories and having to wait until New Widget 3.0 is blessed by your distro. Certainly don't try to mix the two options or you'll break everything. The fact that some projects now offer their own repositories is just a terrible band-aid.

My Windows box on the other hand always has the latest version of OpenOffice, and I didn't have to touch a console - anyone could do it. I just go download the installer and run it, without even bothering to uninstall the old version. And it's very easy because it's not just a tarball full of crap - it's actually a well-tested package. This way, I get managed installs - I have a list of programs and if I chose to remove one I just choose it and click the uninstall button. I know the Windows install system is much-maligned for being fragile (breaks, or breaks other stuff), messy (throwing crap everywhere, and not completely removing things), and causing as many problems as it solves. I don't disagree with that assessment, but I'd blame the implementation. The open source community could have made a standard install system. Something nice for a front end, something reliable. Hell, you could even integrate it with your fancy package manager, if you really want to. But apparently nobody finds having to wait to get software they want to be as unpleasant as I do. While I could honestly care less about system libraries most of the time, I demand very specific things of my applications, and I don't like handing control over to whoever runs the package servers.

Comment Re:I had a little glimmer of hope (Score 1, Insightful) 249

Proper user account permissions? Like the ACL system that Windows has had for more than a decade? The one that's more granular than what you can get on Linux? I guess Linux needs to ditch sudo and get real "user account permissions" too?

I don't see what you're getting at here: UAC fills almost the same role as sudo on a Linux system. Okay, I admit - it's a little different "under the hood" from the way sudo works under Ubuntu, but it legitimately works, and Microsoft actually did sit down and think this one through. For example, instead of asking to elevate for every piece of software that does terrible crap like writing into the Program Files directory, it just virtualizes that file system operation into a folder in your user account. Doesn't even ask to elevate. It does kinda cause problems when files don't end up where you expected them to, but most users never notice and it's actually a very nice way to deal with developers who refuse to follow the rules. Thanks to nice things like that, I generally only get prompted for elevation when I install new software or legitimately need access to a restricted directory, which is exactly the way it should be.

Don't misunderstand me here - there's plenty of things wrong with Vista. UAC and the NT security model weren't one of them, though. UAC was a step towards a sane default of limited users instead of having everyone run as an administrator. Defaulting everyone to admin is one of those bad decisions Microsoft made and we've been paying for ever since. Windows needs UAC, and it's the main reason I use Vista on my home box.

Try this: enable Vista's Administrator account (it's disabled by default), give it a password, then make your user account a "Limited User." What happens when it asks to elevate? Yep, a password prompt instead of the regular UAC. It's not technically sudo but it's the same effect and it works extremely well.

Comment Keeping It Simple (Score 1) 504

I only have one phone, and it's a personal cell phone with a very simple plan. I have no work phone; it's a small company so your options to get in touch with the IT guy are to knock on his office door or send him an email (though there are plans to get me a blackberry at some point). I get pretty much nothing except voice service on the personal cell. I suppose all the other features of the phone still work, but they're all prohibitively expensive without a plan, so I don't ever use any of it. I don't even use the phone all that much - I received a single call on it yesterday, and sent none.

Come to think of it, I just don't use much communication service at all. Email is mostly for work, only a few personal messages and spam on my private account. IM just seems like an annoyance at this point - too easy to misinterpret and means I have to babysit my computer. My most common point of contact with my friends is through a cheaply hosted Ventrilo server. If I'm not on the server, I'm probably not in a position to be talking on the phone either, so nobody even bothers with the cell phone at that point. This probably wouldn't work for most people as Ventilo is less than straightforward to configure and Windows makes setting up your mic and headset volumes harder than it needs to be, but for the group of about 5 to 7 people who frequent the server it's basically our private IRC channel, only better. I think we pay less than $5 a month for a server with 15 slots.


Submission + - Mars Global Surveyor died from single bad command

wattsup writes: "The LA Times reports that a single wrong command sent to the wrong computer address caused a cascade of events that led to the loss of the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft last November, NASA investigators reported Friday.

A command that oriented the spacecraft's main communications antenna was sent to the wrong address. The mistake caused a problem with the positioning of the solar power panels, this in turned caused one of the batteries to overheat, shutting down the solar power system and the batteries drained in 12 hours."

Submission + - YouTube Takedowns: Any 15-year old can do it

BillGatesLoveChild writes: Recently Slashdotters wondered how easy it would be to take down YouTube videos. Wonder no longer:

A 15-year old Australian Boy with nothing more than a HotMail account emailed YouTube saying he was the "Australian Broadcasting Corporation" and under the DMCA ordered YouTube to take down hundreds of videos. They did without immediately and without question. YouTube did not try and call the ABC back, nor ask why the email came from Hotmail. Given Cringely's recent report which lead to Slashdotters asking the question, YouTube seem remarkably slow to learn. How many more DMCA attacks will there be before they get the message?

Many of the Video's were from the ABC's The Chaser, including one where a prankster rolling a cigar asked Senator Hillary Clinton if he could be her new intern. The Chaser Staff were impressed with the youngster, "I don't think we should prosecute him — we should probably hire him."

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