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Comment Re: What could possibly go wrong (Score 1) 382

macbooks freeze all the time.

You either have a hardware problem or you're installing OSes too soon after they are released. I generally avoid installing 10.x.0 and 10.x.1 for all values of x, and I can count the number of freezes I've seen in the past fifteen years on one hand.

Comment Re:You missed the PC, too (Score 1) 205

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) 236

"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) 236

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) 205

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.

Comment Re:Calling all rockets (Score 1) 126

No probably more like there's an understood level of accepted risk to buying a car by an automaker that didn't exist not all that long ago with technology that had never been implemented in cars quite like this to produce a true electrical replacement for vehicles that has never really been attempted before at any kind of reasonable scale. You kind of expect there's going to be bugs along the way since you're an early adopter. Now if in 10 years their cars are still highly unreliable, that's a different conversation but as the summary itself states -- Model S reliability has increased as you would expect from ample improvement cycles.

Comment Re:Can't outsource or robotize human bodies. (Score 1) 523

You can't outsource or replace with robots services catering to humans and their bodies.

Give it time.

Nor can you outsource or robotize salesmanship, leadership and all the other -ships.

Salesmanship? Amazon made that moot already. Leadership? Only matters if there are still workers left to lead.

And there will probably always be legal reasons why legal services and public administration can't be out given out to foreign employees or machines.

I stand corrected. There's a third category: Government jobs, where you're required to act like a robot.

Comment Re:IT and CS need to be split up (Score 1) 523

Really, IMO, there are three separate divisions that are fairly distinct:

  • Theoretical CS: Reducing one NP-Complete problem to another
  • Practical CS: Software architecture and software engineering methodologies
  • IT: Network engineering and server administration

Everyone in each of those tracks needs to know a little bit about the other tracks, but not a lot.

  • Theoretical CS people need to know what's happening in practical CS and IT so that they can come up with interesting new problems to reduce to other problems, and thus benefit the world rather than being in a bubble. However, they don't need to know how to set up a network or write significant amounts of code.
  • Practical CS folks need to know enough about computational complexity to avoid writing O(n^3) algorithms as much as possible. They need to know enough about networks to understand why doing certain things can be slow, and why certain other things can bring the network to its knees. They might toss together their own servers for testing purposes, but if they're deploying something, they'll bring in IT people.
  • IT people need to know a bit about theoretical CS so that they can recognize that loops in network topology are bad. They need to know a bit about practical CS to understand what's going to be done on their servers and how their network will be used, because that enables them to plan better and design setups that will meet their users' needs. However, they aren't likely to do a lot of programming beyond the most basic scripting, or else they'll hire a programmer.

My guess is that each of these sub-fields has a very different makeup in terms of gender diversity, because they're very different fields. One is almost pure math, one mostly involves setting up computer systems, and one mostly involves writing software. Each caters to an entirely different type of personality. This is not to say that folks in one field can't do stuff in the other field, but rather that folks in one field aren't necessarily going to be interested in doing so.

Comment Re:I thought there *were* programs? (Score 1) 523

I think it is more likely that the ratio is wrecked by the increase in popularity of CS among men more than anything else. NPR suggested video games as one possible cause, but I think it goes deeper than that. Guys are more likely to be exposed to tech at a young age (in part) because of video games. The younger you're exposed to computers, the more likely you are to go into CS. But that still doesn't explain the numbers fully, I don't think.

One thing I have noticed is that there are a lot of male programmers, but there are a lot fewer good male programmers. By contrast, I haven't known very many female programmers who weren't competent. Could a big part of the gender gap be because guys are more likely to pick a career based on ROI rather than based on whether they enjoy it and are good at it?

Comment Re: Oh noes!!!!11111 (Score 2) 523

The fact is that programming is a shit field over the long term. If I had to do it over again, I would have just kept it as something to toy around with.

That's true for every field in one way or another. In the long run, every job is something that can eventually be outsourced, replaced by robots, or both. Getting ahead financially is about playing the percentages, picking something that pays well and that you can stand, and saving up as much money as you can for the inevitable drought later.

Comment Hold down power button and ... (Score 5, Informative) 427

... keep holding it down.

Seriously, this is such an unconscionable violation of basic privacy that even people who have done nothing wrong should automatically have that reaction. And anybody who has done something wrong should know better than to use a fingerprint for unlocking anyway. What was this supposed to prove other than that they have a judge who will rubber-stamp any order no matter how appalling?

Comment Re:Budget and Timelines (Score 1) 343

First, no reactors built in the past twenty years (except in China, IIRC) lack those safety features. Passive safety might not be an official standard from a regulatory agency, but is still effectively a standard.

Second, yes, passive safety most certainly does make a plant significantly safer than active safety, particularly when you have two plants right next to one another. Imagine a scenario where a containment accident occurs at one reactor, along with a fire that damages the external power feed to the second reactor. At that point, it is unsafe for people to bring diesel fuel in to keep the emergency generators running to keep the pumps running to cool the second reactor while it shuts down, and suddenly you've gone from one meltdown event to two.

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