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Submission + - Microsoft's OpenXML SDK released under Apache 2.0 License (

fatalGlory writes: Microsoft has released version 2.5 of the SDK for OpenXML under the Apache 2.0 license. Because of this license, there are now no platform restrictions, and Eric White blogs about his plans to port the SDK to Linux and OSX via Mono. Hopefully this will help interoperability between MS-Office and other office software going forward. The code is on GitHub:

Comment Re:Web hosting providers slow to offer new PHP (Score 1) 261

If you do need a host that will babysit those processes for you, I strongly recommend WebFaction. They have the best support, best documentation and easiest management console for deploying multiple sites that I've ever had from any host, hands-down. They give you guaranteed memory, shell access, the ability to compile your own code on the server and a low number of accounts-per-server (meaning noticebly faster page-loads than my previous host). Under $10/month.

Comment System76 (Score 1) 274

I hope that this whole Secure Boot issue pushes more people to buy computers with Linux (or whatever other open system) pre-installed. Even if you need to dual boot, buying a copy of windows that's not pre-installed is reasonably cheap nowadays. Buy a free-as-in-speech laptop and install Windows as the secondary OS. This would be in contrast to the old days where you'd generally get windows pre-installed (because it was cheaper that way) then install Linux later.

Comment Britannica supporting Young Earth Creationism (Score 1) 373

Interestingly for the nostalgic amongst us, today released a story about the first edition of Britannica, published 1771, which speaks of Noah's flood as having covered the globe (with an illustration) and suggests a creation date of around 4007BC.

Imagine living back when these things were part of the mainstream understanding of world history.

Comment Crunchbang - Pre-packed Debian (Score 1) 319

Xubuntu is good, its clean, functional and doesn't load you up with broken crap just for the sake of being shiny. Stuff that should work, does.

As another interesting option, I would actually recommend Crunchbang Linux for enterprise desktops. It's based on Debian Stable, so the support period is very long, its rock solid and you know it will stay that way through any security updates. But its a lot more out-of-the-box functional than straight-up Debian. Many of the post-install chores typical to desktop installations (like installing multimedia codecs, configuring a nice desktop, etc) are done for you. It's clean, fast and there's also an XFCE version (I think XFCE is better for newbies than Openbox, because there are integrated GUI tools for things that should be simple - like setting keyboard shortcuts, adding panel items, etc).

Comment Why not XBMC? (Score 1) 210

The XBMC team has already (IMHO) conquered the issue of providing intuitive access to all its features with a very simple remote. Really, you can do everything in XBMC with four cursor-keys plus four control keys (Space, Return, Backspace and a key for the context menu). Map these onto virtually any remote control (I even did it with a Wiimote once) and you have yourself an unbelievably intuitive system with tactile buttons you can use without looking.


Trying to have more complexity in the remote is a move in the wrong direction.

Comment Re:Look we are all the same, expect for them and . (Score 1) 559

I absolutely agree that there are a lot of translations (English in particular has a wealth of them). In general though there are good reasons. A translation project is no small undertaking, and not generally done without reason. From my research over the last few years (I'm writing bible software, and reviewing translations for a church to use in their pews), the major reasons for separate translations are as follows:

* Philosophy of Communication: translations exist on a sliding scale between "formal equivalence" (word-for-word) and "dynamic equivalence" (thought-for-thought). This is the reason that the ESV and KJV (more formal-equivalence) use the technical theological word "propitiation" in Romans 3:25, whereas the NIV (more dynamic-equivalence) uses the phrase "sacrifice of atonement". Both have their place, and are preferred in different contexts.

* Evolution of Language Usage: as great as the KJV was for its time (1611), it may confuse many people if modern English translations rendered James 2:3 as "And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing". The ESV instead says "and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing".

* Disagreement over Manuscript Significance: Some people regard what has been called the "majority text" as the true critical text of the original new testament. Therefore, they prefer English translations based on this text (generally the KJV, but also including the WEB and EMT) rather than translations based on other critical greek texts (e.g. Wescott-Hort, Nestle-Aland). The reasons for this dispute are fairly involved. A good book, summarising academia on the topic for the lay person, is D.A. Carson's The King James Version Debate .

* Ideological Preference: Some people do seem to stand by the KJV through thick and thin, as though it were a matter of faithfulness to God, without much in the way of actual rational arguments why it is a better translation. This may also include a sentimental desire to remain connected to the history of christendom.

These are generally not bad reasons to create a new translation. Now, some of the arguments do become petty (particularly under the Ideological Preference heading). But generally, translators have good reasons for thinking that more people will understand the content of the Bible much better, because another translation is made available that attempts to communicate the same ideas to a slightly different demographic.

Comment Notes on the scale (Score 1) 657

If I was in the UK, now would certainly be the time to release a copyrighted sound-effect pack containing each note on the musical scale (let's say one set on piano and one on a slightly distorted guitar). Bam. Now I can apparently legitimately claim that essentially every song in existence infringes my copyright. Sure, the song uses my copyrighted notes in a particular arrangement, but they still recorded their own copy of middle-C to avoid paying the 100-euro-per-play licensing fee for using the middle-C from my sound-effect pack.


Comment Re:Atheism isn't a belief system (Score 2) 907

Ummm... hence the reason for my qualifier "at least a component of [a belief system]". Obviously there can be different broad worldviews that have atheism as a common element. For instance, as far as I understand his arguments, Sam Harris seems to hold that morality is objective. Michael Ruse, on the other hand, seems to hold that morality is a darwinian adaptation, subject to evolutionary change and therefore subjective. On the basis of that rather large distinguishing factor, it may be worth classifying these as different belief systems/worldviews/philosophies. But they are both atheistic. They both hold that the non-existence of god(s) is propositionally true. What's more, in common discussion, we would generally not have a problem with the phrase "Harris and Ruse are both atheists", as though we were oversimplifying the issue using the term "atheist" as a broad categorisation of multiple worldviews with common elements.

Claiming that atheism is not a metaphysical belief is very much like claiming "pro-life" is not a belief about abortion, but rather the absence of belief that abortion is acceptable. Such claims involve assuming the a priori correctness of the position in question, so as to frame the opposing position as a perversion of natural or self-evident logic. It's circular reasoning, assuming the conclusion in the premise.

To put it another way, when an otherwise articulate person defends their position by saying it is "just obvious", it is probably because they lack any legitimate arguments to defend it.

Comment Re:This is terrible (Score 1) 907

By that same logic couldn't we also argue that flat-earthism is the most persecuted belief system still in practice?

As insane and counter-intuitive as it may sound, sometimes the majority rejects things because they are false. I'm just sayin'. Not to defend the ensuing behaviour of said majority in the slightest. I'm a christian, but I'm entirely in favour of freedom of religion (and I include the freedom to be an atheist, even a proselytising atheist, in that statement).

A belief that is true should welcome critical analysis. If christianity is true, then it should welcome the scrutiny of a Richard Dawkins or a Michael Shermer. But by the same token, if atheism is true, it should welcome the scrutiny of a Michael Behe or a William Lane Craig.

Comment Re:Atheism isn't a belief system (Score 1, Insightful) 907

Oh, how I wish my mod points hadn't just expired. Mod^^^^^. Listen up slashdot nerds, we're doing symbolic logic. Let's call "god does not exist" proposition P.

* Atheism: the value of P is "true"
* Agnosticism: the value of P is "unknown"

Thus "atheism" is by definition a metaphysical belief system (or at least a component of one), because it affirms at least one particular propositional statement about metaphysics. Defining atheism as a lack of a belief system is merely a convenient way of using weasel-words to avoid having to defend the propositional statements contained in one's position.

"The misuse of language induces evil in the soul" -Socrates

Comment I love Arch, but... (Score 1) 103

vanilla doesn't suit everyone. I've used Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu and Arch (and several of their derivatives) full-time. From that experience I've learned two things:

* Arch is my favourite distro.
* My life is better when I use Ubuntu full time.

Arch has a simpler init, a better config structure, a better filesystem layout, a simpler packaging format that's easy to create build scripts for and amazingly good documentation. Also, all the points people make about AUR are valid, its marvellous. Much to love there. And that would be enough to outweigh the initial time investment of a day or two to get the system up and running how I want. But the vanilla packages are what kills the experience for me.

That's sort-of a sad realisation to come to, but it is a practical reality for many. It's not that I don't have the skills to maintain an Arch system well (I used to do sysadmin for Debian and CentOS systems), it's just that I don't have the time. Nowadays, I genuinely appreciate the Debian packaging philosophy where the package maintainers go out of their way to make sure the package is compatible and well-integrated with the rest of the distribution. With Arch, installing a new package also often requires me to spend half an hour or so configuring it or figuring out some little compatibility issue with another application. The pain is ongoing.

Rolling release doesn't help me either. I used to think it was a great idea. "Never need to reinstall again!", not like Ubuntu where I tend to reinstall every 6 months when there's a new release. However, in practice the releases give packagers some idea of the environment they are creating packages for and actually result in less time spent tinkering with the system.

Arch is a magnificent vision for what a distro could be, but it is geared a little too strongly to hobby purposes for my needs. I have work to do. Maybe Slackware would fill in the niche I've been describing, but it seems to be even less up-to-date than Debian stable.

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