Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×

Comment Re:Stagnant? (Score 1) 116

I was just looking at this article which points out that Apple's R&D has gone up many times over since Job's passed on...

The thing is, that's usually a bad sign. It means that your development teams are growing very quickly, which has two effects:

  • The median age/experience level drops precipitously, resulting in poorer output quality.
  • The amount of effort required to maintain the products designed by more people grows by the square of the number of people involved.

Eventually you reach a point where every additional person makes the product worse or more delayed, rather than better or faster. These days, I keep getting the feeling that Apple passed that point a while back, and they just haven't noticed yet. This is one reason why innovative ideas almost invariably come from small companies, not big ones.

The other reason is that the larger Apple grows, the harder it will be to innovate, because the breakage caused by doing so will become an ever bigger problem as the code base increases in size. At some point, it will be necessary for Apple to start over from scratch—probably by buying a company that creates some innovative alternative. At that point, it will have fully become Microsoft or IBM. And that's okay. Eventually, somebody else will come along and become the next Apple. It's the circle of life.

Comment Re:Sterilized long ago (Score 2) 173

In our solar system only moons are tidally locked to planets, but no planets to stars.

Mercury comes pretty close with its 3:2 spin-orbit resonance. It spins 3 times for every 2 orbits. That's close enough to being tidally locked that the difference is mostly moot from a "cooked on one side" perspective.

Comment Re:No surprise - same erorrs in finance & ops (Score 1) 319

In the year 2016, a disturbing amount of human activity is run through Excel instead of proper databases.

A similar study from 2009 tested for errors in various operational spreadsheets and concluded, "Our results confirm the general belief among those who have studied spreadsheets that errors are commonplace." The Financial Times commented on the prevalence of spreadsheet errors in business, saying it's probably a function of training and organizational culture.

I've heard from a few salespeople in the software industry that their biggest competitor in the SMB space isn't $BigCRMCorp, but Excel spreadsheets that have acreted over the years.

This absolutely doesn't surprise me. The concept of thinking about where one's data lives is nearly extinct outside of technical circles, and even Access is seen as "too complicated" by a lot of people. The utility of third normal form is obvious to us, but lots of people are perfectly served with pivot tables. How many people receive formal training in any form of database anymore? Even lots of web designers who use MySQL on the back end of their CMS software don't do a whole lot in PHPMyAdmin unless they have to.

Excel is very simple, ubiquitous, and has a low ceiling of functionality. It's the lowest common denominator, and unfortunately, it's "good enough" for lots of people.

Comment Re:There is no "removing" of anything... (Score 3, Interesting) 368

If the new phone doesn't have a headphone jack, it'll be all over the Internet. There will be almost no way to avoid knowing that the iPhone 7 doesn't have a headphone jack.

That's not where the user impact comes in. Most people don't use headphones constantly. They use them occasionally. And they will think to themselves, "That's not a big deal." Then, at some point in the distant future:

  • They're at a friend's house and want to play some song. Their friend has an Android phone, and a stereo with only an 1/8" plug.
  • They're out somewhere and think, "I'd like to listen to some music while I walk from A to B" and then realize that their Bluetooth earbuds aren't charged.
  • The stewardess tells them that they can't use wireless headsets (that's a per-airline policy decision) and offers to sell them a headset for $3, but oops, no adapter.

And so on. And suddenly, what seemed like it didn't matter suddenly matters, and you have a pissed off customer.

Comment Re:Fix Apple (Score 1) 368

Apple will do no fixes of anything until it learns its lesson with very bad iPhone 7 sales because of the removal of the 3.5mm audio jack.

What would be worse for Apple would be if they don't lose sales, because there's definitely a non-negligible percentage of their customers who will be negatively impacted significantly by removal of the headphone jack, and if those folks buy the phone anyway, then they're going to end up with a bad impression of Apple products, and Apple will lose them as customers. In the long run, Apple should hope that they lose those sales, because at least they'll have a chance to make up those sales by releasing a future generation that isn't missing critical features.

The ultimate destruction of Apple as a brand of amazing hardware will come if they ship a device without a headphone jack and 30% of their users don't realize how much they'll miss the headphone jack, buy the phone anyway, and then start trash-talking their new iPhone on social media before switching (permanently) to Android. If Apple ships this product, I may start doing covered calls on my Apple stock to limit my losses. As a user, this is just a big annoyance, and I'm hopeful that they'll pull their heads out of their a**es before I'm due for a new phone. But as an investor, this is absolutely terrifying, oddly reminiscent of the period where a certain Pepsi exec was running the show.


Facebook Knows Your Political Preferences ( 180

Facebook knows a lot more about its users than they think. For instance, the New York Times reports, the company is categorizing its users as liberal, conservative, or moderate. These details are valuable for advertisers and campaign managers, especially ahead of the election season. From a BusinessInsider report: For some, Facebook is able to come to conclusions about your political leanings easily, if you mention a political party on your page. For those that are less open about politics on social media, Facebook makes assumptions based on pages you like. As The New York Times explained, if you like Ben and Jerry's Facebook page and most of the other people that like that page identify as liberal, Facebook might assume you too are liberal.

Comment Re:Cat got my tongue (subjects are dumb) (Score 1) 38

Question 1: Who the hell reuses passwords, and why? Anyone left not using password managers?

Statistically, almost everyone:

  • Anyone who created at least one account more than a few years ago and has continued using it without changing his/her password
  • Anyone who is using a site that doesn't support the browser's build-in password manager (usually by not showing a username field)

There are probably others, but most users have at least a few sites that use shared passwords, and most of them are the fault of the people who designed the websites.

Comment Re:25 years, still garbage for the mainstream (Score 1) 301

ImageMagick definitely has its place; it is invaluable as a backend to Piwigo, Coppermine, (presumably) Pixlr, and plenty of others. No hate against it at all. However, the benefit to using it on a CLI, by your own admission, is based upon its capacity to perform batch actions like resizing. Would you do one-off image processing using a CLI rather than using GIMP or Photoshop? What about things that aren't easily automated, like color correction? There are some things that still require human input, and the process/export/evaluate/repeat concept doesn't save anyone any time.

By contrast: GUI tool that will do virtually all of the same batch processing as ImageMagick, giving users a simple to use GUI that does not take nearly as long to use or operate.

Comment Re:25 years, still garbage for the mainstream (Score 1) 301

When will Windows get rid of the registry?

Windows has 'the registry'...which for all its hate and faults is, from an objective standpoint, about as difficult to work with as .conf files.

And what is it about this GUI obsession with you millennials?

The GUI changes the paradigm from 'fill in the blank' to 'multiple choice'. I can find what I want to do and figure it out pretty simply, between programs, even ones I haven't used before. The CLI is great when you know all the switches, but I personally can never remember if it's chmod 644 -R /dev/null, or chmod -R 644 /dev/null. CLIs don't scale down well - something like 'creating a mailbox in Exchange' requires a massively long command that takes far longer to type than to click through the GUI wizard, so while making 100 mailboxes is faster in a CLI because it can be scripted or copy/pasted, making 1 mailbox without copy/pasting will always be quicker in a GUI...and there are endless examples of this sort of thing.

A good terminal (like bash) lets you do stuff faster and easier than any GUI. editing then? Or audio editing? Did you type this comment in Lynx, or Chrome/Firefox/Whatever? PC games? Again, it's only "faster and easier" if you already know the commands. If you don't know the commands, add in all the time it takes to discover the commands, read the man page to figure out what order the arguments go in, and then input it while substituting your own data properly. Also, how do commands deal with spaces and special characters? The command line absolutely has its place, but eschewing the GUI wholesale is just as ignorant as eschewing the CLI in its proper context.

It's also damn easier to give the advice to "open terminal, copy past these lines" than it is to have to create multiple screen shots of how to do the same thing in a GUI and then hope and pray that the end user is using the same language and version of OS as you do.

Yes. And in those cases where that is properly done, it most definitely is preferable. However, anything other than a perfect set of copy/paste lines gets very complicated, very quickly. I tried five times to get Rocket.Chat installed in a Linux VM, before I gave up and asked my friend to help. He did, and the server is up now, but when the copy/paste directions are incorrect, change between versions, make assumptions that aren't there, or are otherwise ineffective, now any advantage to a CLI over a GUI is completely gone.

Slashdot Top Deals

Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. -- Aldous Huxley