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Comment Re:Holding Back Progress (Score 1) 45

It's nice to have competition in the marketplace; I don't think things would be nearly as good with just HTC or Oculus.

However the Rift and Vive are not perfect substitutes. The Vive Lighthouse system is fantastic for room-scale, but (relatively speaking) a pain in the ass to install if all you want to do is sit in a chair. And the lenses HTC uses induce a lot of chromatic aberration, which really does a number on text. So having either the Rift or the Vive pulled off the market would be a notable loss.

Comment Re:Talk about a subset of a subset (Score 1) 59

If VR takes off you'll have plenty of other uses besides gaming. Scientific visualizations, vertical applications and whatnot. You'll want to support Linux as an OS just like NVIDIA supports it for GPGPU, workstations and embedded applications. That it gives Linux desktops 3D gaming ability is just a small bonus.

Comment Re:Not me (Score 4, Insightful) 130

My grand total of app expenditures for all of 2016 was ZERO.
I haven't even spent a dime on Pokemon Go and I play it daily.

Is that really something to be proud of, though? You spent $500+ on an iPhone, and then rejoice in not paying anything for the software you use daily?

This current environment of ad-supported nonsense is why smartphone games are such poor games (and such good Skinner boxes). And I fear studies like this just further adds to the stereotype that smartphone owners are cheap bastards.

Comment Re:A Painful But Necessary Transition (Score 1) 225

So please tell me what is the point of Firefox even existing at that point?

Because we need someone who isn't an OS vendor or an advertiser making an open source browser and to champion open standards. But that does us no good if it results in an inferior browser.

Apple is indifferent, Microsoft would rather we go back to IE6, and Google would just as well take over the whole web and track your every move (and then they'd pull an IE6 on us just to be extra evil). Firefox is the outsider, the rebel.

There exists a suitable balance between customization and performance somewhere. But right now Firefox is increasingly intolerable because if you use add-ons, one tab slows the whole thing down. NoScript, Ghostery, uBlock, Anti-Adblock Killer, etc are all great. But all that work they do comes at a cost of further bogging down the single process. e10k means multiple processes, and that means we can layer on these things and have them going on in multiple tabs without grinding away on a single core in the age of 8-core workstations.

Comment A Painful But Necessary Transition (Score 3, Insightful) 225

I know this must've been a hard decision to make at Mozilla but I feel it's not the right one.

You do a great job of outlining the pros and cons. That said, I do have to disagree that this isn't the right move. I would argue that it is in fact the right move; it's just that the right move is the most painful move.

Firefox is a wonderful browser. But I fear we're losing sight of just how limited its legacy core is. Legacy Firefox offers no threading, no privilege separation, and no meaningful isolation between tabs or windows.

The browser-as-an-OS concept is no longer a gag, but the actual reality of how browsers work. Browsers are expected to do everything from executing code (JS) to graphics (WebGL) to video (HTML5, etc). Furthermore they are being treated as a multitasking operating system - via multiple tabs - with those tabs all competing for resources. Worse, some of those tabs may be hostile to the system or to other tabs.

This is something Legacy Firefox is ill prepared for, and in doing so it's the odd man out among the major browsers. Legacy Firefox is the MacOS Classic of browsers; a time-tested piece of software with parts going back to the earliest days of the Web. But like OSes 15 to 20 years ago, the world has moved on; it's akin to MacOS Classic going up against MacOS X/WinXP/Linux. The lack of real, preemptive multitasking and security has become a major liability, and becomes downright embarrassing when you realize that Microsoft of all companies was doing things like putting their browser in a low-privilege context a decade ago. Similarly embarrassing is the fact that a single runaway tab can take out the whole browser!

But all is not lost. Firefox can and is being upgraded with electrolysis (e10k). e10k Firefox has taken far too long to be developed - Mozilla should have been working in earnest on this a decade ago - but at long last it's here. And it finally brings with it all of the threading and isolation features that will make the browser safer and more reliable. Or more to the point, it will make the browser competitive in these respects with Edge/Safari/Chrome.

However just like giving up MacOS Classic meant giving up the OS's legacy applications, there is a price to pay for giving up Legacy Firefox: XUL and legacy add-ons. XUL is incredibly powerful, but the Moz devs have laid out a very good case for why it (and the rest of the legacy add-on system) can't be used with e10k Firefox. There's no concept of threading or safety; it's an API that has an unsafe level of access to the browser and can't handle being split up among threads. Its power is why we power users love it so much, but that power is dangerous. Worse, maintaining that power ultimately gets in the way of operating the browser with a safer multi-threaded environment.

And I won't dance around the issue: losing XUL and the legacy add-on system is going to be painful. Just losing the Classic Theme Restorer alone is going to be complete and total hell for this crowd. Never mind the other add-ons that enhance privacy, block ads, and do so many other nifty things. And not all of those add-ons can be remade for e10k Firefox, since they rely on a level of power that will no longer exist.

But you know what? It has to happen. Just like with MacOS Classic, at some point we have to stop using an archaic, unsafe environment origially designed around unitasking in order to move on to something better that can actually fulfill our needs. Even if we were to explicitly design/limit Firefox to Slashdot-level power users - and I would argue that doing so would ultimately be the end of the browser - it's still not in our interest to be using a browser that, at the end of the day, relies on cooperative multitasking. It's a crappy (if not horrific) execution paradigm for the real world. And while I admire the Pale Moon devs for what they're doing, Pale Moon just prolongs the problem. We still have to face this demon some day, if not today.

Is it going to suck giving up Legacy Firefox? Hell yes. But what other option is there? To continue using a browser core that can't handle a single rogue tab? No. We're going to have to grin and bear it, and then after the transition to e10k we as a community are going to do what we do best: make it better. And we'll do so by developing new add-ons for e10k, leveraging the strength of open source software development, and ultimately pushing Mozilla to better serve our needs. Without this change Firefox has no future, and even with e10k it may still have no future. But with e10k at least there's a chance.

Which is not to say that the Mozilla devs are saints. Far from it in fact. We wouldn't need Classic Theme Restorer if they didn't screw with the UI in the first place. But despite their painful inability to see why cloning Chrome is the wrong way to go, they're not wrong in this case. We need e10k, and to have e10k XUL has got to go. After that's done, then we can get back to beating some sense into the UI team...

Comment Re:Compares to Old Unlimited Plan how? (Score 3, Insightful) 62

I have to wonder how this compares to the old unlimited data plan (which I'm still on)

It's exactly the same plan, with exactly the same limitations, at exactly the same price.

Which wouldn't be so bad, except that everyone else is cheaper, and everyone else offers some amount of tethering. Which is damned useful to have in a pinch.

Comment Re:Artificial language limits (Score 1) 374

Any language that could replace C and assembler would need to be statically compiled. So for Java, C#, Python and so on you'd have to define a subset that does not require a runtime parser or standard library. And you'd need extensions (or a static module system) that allows you to add assembler for direct hardware access. And a new compiler that can generate static code instead of the intermediate VM they target now. Not impossible by any means and probably a fairly interesting exercise too, but the languages would end up rather different and more restricted than the full versions people are used to.

Rather, I expect and hope that something like Rust will eventually supplant these languages in this space. Rust gives you the best of both worlds, with a statically compiled binaries and good memory safety at compile time, rather than runtime. You pay for it by having to be much more explicit about ownership than in these languages though. I've followed that project for a good while and it's clear that targeting small embedded systems is a struggle even for such a language; Java and friends would be much more difficult still.

Comment Re:Artificial language limits (Score 1) 374

FORTH is the rare language that tends to be even more memory efficient than C. The runtime interpreter is truly minimal (really just following a bunch of jump tables); you can have a small environment and application code in less than 8K.

On the other hand - and I say this as someone who likes FORTH a lot - you'd be hard pressed to find people claiming that FORTH is any higher-level (or easier to develop in) than C or assembler.

On the third hand - and off-topic here - it's quite a fun little language to use. Just like you can say that Scheme is programming directly in an AST, using FORTH is writing code directly for a stack machine. It's probably good for you to have a bit of experience even if you never do anything "real" with it.

Comment Re:They said the same about mobile (Score 3, Informative) 374

The high-level VMs and the drivers to drive the specific hardware isn't developed by magical Low-Level Elves in Happy Rainbow Fairly Land. Every IoT device is going to have their oen special hardware stuff, and somebody needs to write the low-level code to interface with it. That is done in a combination of C and assembler.

Also, at volume the price difference between a MCU that can run a VM and one that can not will be on the order of tens of cents (either currency). If you plan to make on the order of a million devices, then 20 cents per unit will more than pay for a programmer that knows to use the small MCU over a Java hack that does not.

Comment Good, It Just Wasn't the Same (Score 1) 259

Good, I'm glad to hear they're putting back the Playmates.

Even though it's primarily a men's magazine, I still pick up an issue on occasion. It just hasn't been the same over the last year; the faux high-culture style of the magazine lost something essential when it lost the nudes. They aren't the only reason to read the magazine, but it makes for this interesting mix of wit, beauty, and far too many ads for liquor.

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