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Comment The cult of UNIX (Score 3, Insightful) 1348

I have been a devotee of Linux for nearly 15 years. I have faithfully followed first redhat, and now the fedora releases. All my PCs at least dual-boot, if not run native Linux all the time. I even TAUGHT Linux for a major computer company for a while. In my informally gathered experience, there are three things holding Linux back- 1) The cult of UNIX mentality - this is a belief, deeply held by many OSS fans, that it is morally wrong to make software easy to use. If it was hard to code, it should require effort from the user to make use of it, otherwise how will they appreciate your hard work? Microsoft on the other hand got it a loooong time ago. Ease of use isn't just nice to have, it is the one overiding factor that outweighs all others in software design. Flexibility just confuses most users. security is a sick sad joke that only security wonks care about. Until the Linux community embraces the overwhelming truth that ease of use is ALL that matters, they will be doomed to be a hobby OS for out-of-touch tech weenies. 2) Endlessly re-inventing the wheel. I think Redhat/ Fedora is now on their third version of the X-windows package, and there is talk of scrapping the whole thing for a new windowing paradigm. Every six months I do a version upgrade, and my desktop breaks, my icons disappear, my scripts stop working because the directories have changed. For the love of sanity PLEASE knock it off. If it ain't broke, DON"T FIX IT!!! If you want people to really use Linux, focus on a consistent user experience, keep the magic behind the curtain, and stop screwing up the user interface. 3) Fear of licenses. Every time I upgrade fedora, I have to spend hours getting my Xine video player, web browser, and games to work again. Give up the insanity guys. The world is not going to change to suit your whiny childish prejudices. There's all kinds of industry standard free software out there that EVERYONE uses. You are just marginalizing Linux by not supporting it in your distros. 'Nuff said.

Submission + - Creating a new agency to study climate change (noaa.gov)

couch_warrior writes: Are you worried about climate change? So is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( currently home to the National Weather Service amongst others). That's why they are working with Congress to create new "National Climate Service" ( http://www.noaa.gov/climate.html ). Recently an important milestone was reached, as the National Academy of Public Administration's study on the rationale for a NOAA Climate Service was released to NOAA and Congress. You can read about it here ( http://www.napawash.org/publications-reports/building-strong-for-tomorrow-an-independent-assessment-and-recommendation-for-the-organizational-design-of-the-national-oceanic-and-atmospheric-administration-noaa-climate-service/ )

Comment Maybe we're just too primitive (Score 2, Funny) 452

Imagine this scenario. Since our sun is a 2nd generation star ( we know this from the presence of heavy metals - only created in supernovae), that means that most solar systems in towards the galactic center probably could have been at our stage of technical development 4-5 Billion years ago. At the VERY least, we can reasonably assume that they have learned to send communications via technologies as advanced and subtle as quantum-entangled pairs. And here we are broadcasting primitive RADIO waves at them. Why would they want to waste their time coming to visit a backwater, dirty, disease-ridden, slum like Earth ? Think of a nuclear submarine cruising by an island populated by primitive primates. The local baboons see the wake of the sub and decide to try to attract its attention. They rush to the beach and begin frantically beating their chests, screaming, and flinging their poop into the ocean (think escaped TV broadcast signals). Yet the sub makes no attempt to return their communication, nor does it stop to share its technology with them. Why should we be so conceited as to think we have anything interesting to say to an advanced alien race?

Comment Warped perspective (Score 1) 393

Mr. Gates has a long history of making warped predictions about the future. Remember this is a guy who has computer monitors hanging on the walls of his house that change the artwork to suit each visitor, because clearly a digitized picture of a masterpiece is just as good as the real thing, right? In the same way, a digitized copy of an education is just as good as a real education, right? But where will chemists perform labwork online? Where will biology students do dissections? Other than being a pale washed-out copy of a real education, there's the problem of quality control. On-line materials are going to include lectures on the "Jewish Communist Bankers" conspiracy written by Josef Goebels, and treatises on how the "government" is hiding reverse-engineered UFO's at "Area 51". What Mr. Gates is doing is hawking yet another revenue generating app for the Windows PC. Look at what the cesspool of the internet has done to corrupt the quality of everyday life, and you can easily see, Mr. Gates concern is for increasing his already vast fortune,. The public welfare can go to hell, as long as Mr. Gates and Microsoft get to charge a toll at the entrance.

Comment A holdover from the days of royalty and privilege (Score 2, Insightful) 828

A modern liberal arts degree is a mostly worthless piece of paper. The degree is chock full of courses in dead literature and useless philosophy. All of which are a holdover form the days of royalty and privilege. The upper classes didn't have to work, so they spent their leisure time filling their heads with literature and philosophical trivia. This made them appear more intelligent than the working-class slobs whose days were filled by 16-hour shifts in the coal mines. And this in turn was used to rationalize a mythical genetic basis for the wealth and leisure of the upper class. It's time to bring colleges and universities into the 21st century. Instead of trying to recreate the old European culture of wealth and privilege, let's trash the whole university system, and create a whole new, publicly funded set of technical degree generating institutions that don't bother with dead and arcane subjects like English or Art. It would be well worth the investment of public funds to have a populace that can compete on a global scale in technical fields. Of course the useless f-tards from wealthy families can still waste their lives on "private sector" liberal arts degrees, the difference being that their lack of technical focus will label them as useless idle slugs instead of the erudite and effete members of the upper crust.

Submission + - Your Feces is a wonderland... of viruses (sciencemag.org) 1

sciencehabit writes: Thanks to an anlaysis of fecal samples from four sets of Missouri-born female identical twins and their mothers, researchers have concluded that human guts harbor viruses as unique as the people they inhabit; the viral lineup differs even between identical twins. Even more surprising? These viruses may be doing good work inside of us.

Submission + - Paper questions whether gravity is a force (nytimes.com)

couch_warrior writes: An article in the NYTimes describes a paper by physicist Erik Verlinde, in which he questions whether gravity is a fundamental force at all. Instead he appears to propose that the effects of gravity are simply the accumulated effects of increases in entropy.


While it is not stated in the article, an analogy might be made to the former belief that "fire" was an element. It was easy to observe that when you let the fire out of wood, you were left with ashes (earth). Therefore fire+earth=wood. However, "fire" is simply the aggregate release of energy as the carbon and hydrogen in the wood combine with oxygen and are reduced to a lower entropic state. Gravity, like fire, may not be a "thing" all by itself, but rather a cumulative effect of a net reduction in entropic states.


Submission + - Microsoft Shows Off 'Milo' Virtual Human

adeelarshad82 writes: Microsoft released a video showing off its "virtual human" technology, named Milo, designed for the company's hands-free Xbox 360 motion controller called Kinect at TED Global in Oxford. Milo is built to react to people's emotions, body movements, and voice, allowing players to interact with the virtual character. It was built using artificial intelligence developed by Lionhead studios, along with undisclosed technology from Microsoft. According to games designer Peter Molyneux, the game exploits psychological techniques to make a person feel that Milo is real. Each Milo character will be unique because every player's interaction with the virtual character will sculpt the type of virtual person Milo will evolve to become.

Submission + - Wireless PCIe to enable remote graphics cards (techreport.com) 1

J. Dzhugashvili writes: If you read Slashdot, odds are you already know about WiGig and the 7Gbps wireless networking it promises. The people at Atheros and Wilocity are now working on an interesting application for the spec: wireless PCI Express. In a nutshell, wPCIe enables a PCI Express switch with local and remote components linked by a 60GHz connection. The first applications, which will start sampling next year, will let you connect your laptop to a base station with all kinds of storage controllers, networking controllers, and yes, an external graphics processor. wPCIe works transparently to the operating system, which only sees additional devices connected over PCI Express. And as icing on the cake, wPCie controllers will lets you connect to standard Wi-Fi networks, too.

Submission + - World's Most Efficient Supercomputer Crowned (inhabitat.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Grape DR, a Japanese cluster at the University of Tokyo, has just been named the world’s greenest supercomputer, beating out a German supercomputer according to the Little Green500 list. Since the fastest computers are accelerator-based computers, their efficiency is defined as ‘millions of floating-point operations per second’ (MFLOPS) divided by ‘watts’ (W) or MFLOPS/W. University of Tokyo’s Grape-DR computer has an efficiency of 815.43 MFLOPS/W, which just beat out Forschungszentrum Juelich’s computer, which has an efficiency of 773.38 MFLOPS/W.

Submission + - Microsoft Wanted Seperate Servers for FFXIV on 360 (eurogamer.net)

Kirin Fenrir writes: Ever wondered why MMOs seem to never appear on consoles? Part of the reason for this seems to now be clear, thanks to FFXIV producer Hiromichi Tanaka: "The main reason why we couldn't go with Xbox 360 was the Xbox Live system. [Live is] different to the normal internet environment, so when we wanted to introduce this game in the same environment as Windows PC it had to be PS3, so that was our choice. Microsoft has a different point of view: they want to have a closed environment for Xbox Live. We're still talking to... We couldn't come to an agreement on Xbox Live."

Combined with the PS3 version delayed due to issues with it's 256mb of system RAM, it's no wonder MMO developers seem to consider consoles more trouble than they're worth.


Submission + - NASA's Juno: An armored tank heading for Jupiter (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: When it comes to ensuring that its upcoming Juno spacecraft can survive its mission, NASA is surrounding the spacecraft's electronic innards with titanium to ward off mission-threatening radiation. Juno's so-called radiation vault weighs about 200 kilograms (500 pounds), has walls that measure about a square meter (nearly 9 square feet) in area, about 1 centimeter (a third of an inch) in thickness, and 18 kilograms (40 pounds) in mass. About the size of an SUV's trunk — encloses Juno's command and data handling box, power and data distribution unit and about 20 other electronic assemblies, according to NASA.

Comment The great data repository (Score 2, Insightful) 52

NASA has been collecting earth-observing data for five decades now, and in spite of the current wave of interest in climate related matters, little or no effort is put into examining this historical record. A small group of scientists within the US Geological Survey have heroically attempted to preserve this enormous treasure of historical climate data at a small data center in South Dakota. But hundreds of terabytes of irreplaceable data are at risk of being lost forever because no one seems to care. There are lobbyists galore for NEW satellite systems, but in many cases you might as well pour the data into a bit bucket, we spend billions of dollars collecting data, and pennies storing and analyzing it. Instead of relying on flawed computer models and bogus prognostications, the Global Warming debate could be based on real hard data, if anyone wanted to take the time to go look at it. http://eros.usgs.gov/#/About_Us

Comment End of an era (Score 1) 525

It appears that we have seen the last of an American icon, namely the "big block" V8 engine. There could not be a more poignant, even stirring example of the slow steady wimpification of US culture than the passing of this pillar of young male manhood. My brother Jim and I had a phrase for the thrum-thrum noise made by the revving of a big-block V8, we called it the "Happy Engine Song". Singing it required a displacement of no less than 350 cubic inches (about 6000cc's in today's parlance). But that song will now pass into obscurity, the victim of oil prices and economic decline. Global warming may give us a lot more beachfront property, but we'll be driving to those beaches in little tin 15HP hybrid-mobiles. No one will ever sing a song titled "She's real fine my 60mpg 2cylinder-electric hybrid".....meh!

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Established technology tends to persist in the face of new technology. -- G. Blaauw, one of the designers of System 360