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Comment But that's part of the fun of running Linux! (Score 1) 1231

Call me masochistic but the little kinks and quirks when upgrading my Linux distros are part of the fun. I've been running Ubuntu for the past 2 years on my laptop and I've always had little issues crop up - this time it was some of the repositories of the apps that i was using had moved to the main release - but I thought that Karmic handled them quite gracefully.

I find that Karmic is much more elegant and a shade faster than Jaunty for most things I use it for (granted I am a desktop user only). But I didn't find the "most usable OS" hype justified. I don't see huge changes in usability, the Ubuntu Software Centre is a little better organised, but I found Add/Remove fairly intuitive in prior versions as well so no great gains. Also I don't notice the faster boot time using ext3 file system. Well, strictly speaking, it lets me log in faster, but once I've logged in it takes a bit longer to actually let me do anything (for the icons to appear in panels etc).

Comment Re:Depressing, but not uncommon (Score 1) 1251

- In short, it is impossible for universities to provide vocational training for professions.

I wholeheartedly agree. The role of universities is to provide education not to provide training. The crucial difference between training and education is that training prepares you to handl known situations well, and education prepares for to handle new situations well. So by definition, university education is meant to give you the ability and tools to think for yourself in a professional or academic setting.

But it is a sad truth that the standards in university education are rapidly declining. Many universities make it all about pass rates and use tools like scaling grades to improve the pass rates. Universities are commercial institutions nowdays, out of necessity really. And that brings with it the good in the sense that hopefully there will be more funding for furthering human knowledge, but also the bad in the sense that you "gotta keep feeding the monkey" (as The Dude eloquently put it) and if you put too high standards on the courses you won't get a high pass rate and the numbers will wither and die.

But the evolutionary meme seems to have found the way to nurture great talent by keeping standards in certain institutions that are hard to get into and hard to do well in. It may seem elitist but it is what it is. And if you think about it, good education has always been hard to get and in a sense elitist, whether through wrong means like being a child of an aristocrat back in the day, or (hopefully) the right means by being smarter than the others these days.

Comment Increase in profit due to price hike? (Score 2, Interesting) 174

Interesting statistic. I am all for pushing digital content out to the masses and being able to pick songs you like. I'd much rather buy a couple of songs that I like off an album and not having to fork out the bucks for the rest of the dross. It also creates competitive drive for artists and makes them dig deep into their creative juices or shell out the money for people who know how to produce stuff that sells better (whether of better quality or not).

But it would be interesting to do a follow up statistic on how much concert ticket prices have changed with the onset of the digital file sharing. I have certainly noticed the hike in prices over the last 5 years. I am sure there will be arguments about recession being blamed for it, and I am not denying it may be true. It would just be worth a second and deeper look into the profit stratas to figure out whether it's really digital file sharing that's causing the profits to soar or if it's something else.


Submission + - Hot Off The Press - Google OS announced today

dg5 writes: Google today announced Chrome OS, the new operating system for netbooks and PCs. Google Chrome OS will be aimed initially at netbooks, the low-cost portable computers that have turned the PC world upside down. Google said netbooks with Chrome OS could be on sale by the middle of 2010.

Comment Re:What languages? (Score 1) 1359

New Zealand won't disappoint you if you're prepared to travel long hours for your holidays outside of South Pacific. Especially with UK industry experience which is seen as something worthy, you won't find it too hard finding work in IT (of course take into account the recession and be prepared to wait it out a little).

And it's a breeze getting stuff sorted there - forget queues and appointments - walk in and it's sorted on the spot (bank accounts for example).

If you've never been to NZ though, bear in mind that you might go through a bit of a culture shock. Especially if you're from a big city. It's got much better in the last 5 to 10 years in terms of bars and restaurants being open late during the week, but streets will still be fairly empty during the weekday evenings. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the day - it's all on.

And forget about public transport - if you don't have a car in NZ it's like not having one leg. But you should be able to buy good Japanese imports cheaply, so it shouldn't worry you too much.

Gosh, having re-read my post sounds like an ad for NZ, but it's not really. I am originally from Europe and I lived in NZ for a decade and a half, and I couldn't get used to being so far away from Europe. So I am back. But for the stuff that seems to bother you NZ should do the trick, at least for the next 5 to 10 years. By then, UK might be back to its ole self ;-)

Comment Learnability is usability too (Score 1) 849

Kudos to Jakob for his legacy of work, but sometimes he just points out problems and does not suggest solutions. Sure passwords are a necessary evil in this day and age, and obscuring them will make it arguably more difficult for users to not make a mistake. But I guess that's the point really - security requires focus and unless you suffer from something like ADHD you should be able to focus on what you're typing for 5 or 10 seconds.

Besides, usability covers learnability of the interface, and I don't think it's very hard to understand that dots, exes, whatever represents the letters that you type and warns you that you should be careful when you type this thing in.

I think it's a great idiom - it stresses importance and calls for focus and vigilance - which is exactly what you want when you're dealing with sensitive information.

So until fingerprint readers or retinal scanners are the main means of authentication, obscured passwords are one of the more successful ways to marry usability and security.

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