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Comment Re:Would they believe (Score 1) 292

Wow, what kind of super-futuristic place did you live in with your fancy-pants downloading and modems and BBSes? In 1983, I think I was still typing the source code for games from books into my little ZX81, and praying that I didn't knock the 32K RAM pack loose and crash everything before I had a chance to play!

Comment Re:FYI (Score 3, Insightful) 292

So if you are posting with any handle other than "Anonymous Coward" you will need to provide that handle to your friendly neighborhood spy.

Or just not travel to countries that don't treat their visitors with respect and basic human decency.

There are many places I would love to visit in the world, far more than I ever will be able to in one lifetime I expect. Why would I voluntarily subject myself to the kind of culture we're talking about here, when I can be welcomed as both a tourist and a business person in so many other places?

Obviously some people have no choice, and I hope things work out OK for them, but this sort of policy seems absurdly counter-productive for people who do have a choice and do care about the way they are treated.

Comment Re:doh! (Score 2) 448

Obama didn't release his birth certificate for one very good reason, he is very clever and Trump is very stupid.

The fact is that the Republicans will always invent some crazy idiotic 'scandal' that they obsess about and endlessly throw up smoke. The birther conspiracy was mind numbingly ridiculous. It would require someone to go back in time to plant the birth notice in the papers. Or for some group of conspirators to go to an enormous amount of trouble in order to make a particular black kid president.

So rather than release the birth certificate and let the Republicans invent a new scandal, Obama held onto it and let them obsess about a scandal nobody else thought made the slightest sense, knowing that he could knock their house of cards down any time he chose. Which of course he did a week before the Bin Laden raid which was guaranteed to end the story.

George W. Bush opened torture chambers across the world and collected photographs for a sick sexual thrill. Yet nobody ever talks about that. None of the people complaining about Hilary ever complained about GWB refusing to comply with Congressional investigation or the deletion of 5 million emails.

So here is what is going to happen. Trump is going to go down to the biggest defeat since Carter and he is going to drag the rest of his party down with him. And afterwards there is going to be a new civil rights act that prohibits Republican voter suppression tactics and the gerrymandering that give them a 5% advantage in elections. And by the time it is all done the Republican party will have two choices, either boot the racist conspiracy theorists and Trumpists out or face two decades in the wilderness.

Comment This is the problem—Linux is inherently unfr (Score 0) 260

to the kinds of development that UX needs.

In the commercial world, there is a hierarchy whose basic job is to say "no" to everyone's pet idea. To refuse to adopt an initiative proposed by someone, and instead to allocate their resources, against their will, to the *single* direction that the team has been ordered to take. Good or bad. Because even if bad, a single bad direction properly executed by a sizable team with enough labor to complete it well is better than a thousand bad directions each executed by a single individual or a small handful of individuals who lack the resources to complete it, yet chuck it out there alongside all of the other 999 incomplete bad directions.

But the whole *point* of OSS *is exactly* that if you don't like what everyone else is doing, you can do your own thing. That is the basic philosophy. And that's why Linux UX never improves in the free and open space. Because there is nobody with the authority so say, "No, the product will *not* include that, and you *will* dedicate all of your labor to what it has been decided *will* be included."

So the bazaar happens. But the problem with the bazaar as opposed to the cathedral is that the bazaar is only a single story high. You can't build seriously tall stuff without an organized, managed collective of labor. Surge, you get lots of interesting stuff. But very little of it, if any of it, is epic. It's all the size that one single bazaar shopkeeper can build, to man their own little shop.

The Linux kernel avoided this problem because of the cult of personality (not meant in a bad way, but in the technical sense) surrounding Linus. People defer to him. He decides what's in and out, and he does a reasonable amount of labor allocation even if in an interesting, socially backhanded way that's not common. But it works—he is "in charge" enough in everyone's minds that there ends up being one kernel, with leadership.

Nobody similar has emerged in Linux userspace, and it would seem that Linus-like people are a rare enough phenomenon that it's unlikely that one will emerge at any point before the question is irrelevant. The pent-up demand just isn't there now for good Linux UX, like it was for a sound kernel and high-capability OS that didn't cost a fortune, as it was during the late '80s/early '90s boom. The social mechanics just aren't there to generate it.

The Linux desktop as a really sound piece of tech and UX engineering... will never happen. That era has passed, and the problems have been solved—by other platforms. And Android is a very good counterexample. There *was* enough emerging demand for a mobile operating system that wasn't iOS but that offered the same capabilities, and voila—Android. When there is enough demand, there is space for one shopkeeper at the bazaar to emerge as a champion for the needs of others, and to accumulate sufficient influence by acclamation that a cathedral structure can emerge organically.

The bazaar is merely an incubator of ideas. The cathedrals are the epic and actually useful accomplishments. It takes demand and allegiance-pledging at the bazaar from many attendees to lead in the end to a cathedral. This means that the bazaar has to be big, and that the shopkeeper in question has to have an idea that many, many are not just interested in, but willing to work toward—enough to sacrifice their own autonomy and submit to leadership. This just doesn't exist for desktop Linux any longer. It got close during the height of Windows dominance, but there was never quite enough demand to make it happen organically. And now the time has passed. The desktop Linux people are running little shops at the bazaar that don't get a lot of foot traffic, and nobody is seeking them out. They are the kings of very tiny, forgotten kingdoms without enough labor resources or wealth to even maintain their castles any longer—and as a result, there is nothing but infighting, strange hacks to maintain castles on the cheap, and lots of started-but-never-to-be-finished foundations of castles for historians to pick through (or, more likely, forget).

I predict that Linux will continue to be a significant part of whatever new "booms" in technology happen, so long as Linus is significantly involved in kernel development. But the window for desktop Linux has just plain passed.

Comment I can't tell you how many times (Score 1) 260

I had this exact conversation with family and friends in the '90s. The answer was always "nothing."

Q: What do you see?
A: Nothing.
Q: I mean, what's on the screen?
A: Nothing.
Q: There is nothing at all on the screen?
A: No.
Q: So the screen is entirely blank. No power?
A: Pretty much.
Q: Pretty much? Is there something on it or isn't there?
A: There's nothing on it.

I go over... And sometimes there would be words ("Operating system not found" or similar), sometimes even a complete desktop but hard-locked or similarly hung.

Me: That's not nothing (pointing).
Them: I don't see anything.
Me: Don't you see words? and/or Don't you see windows?
Them: Not any that mean anything.
Me: If they didn't mean anything, I wouldn't have asked you about them. If you'd told me, I wouldn't have had to drive all this way.
Them: What was I supposed to tell you?
Me: I asked for the words on the screen. Next time, read me the words on the screen!
Them: Okay. Sorry.

Next time...

Q: What does the screen say?
A: Nothing...

Comment Re:I love DSL (Score 1) 137

I think it depends on whose DSL you are using. My mom was paying $95/month for phone+DSL that was slow when it worked, and often didn't work at all. When she complained, AT&T reduced her monthly bill to make up for the poor performance, but even then she was paying $75/month for phone+Internet service that was inadequate and painful to use.

Eventually we switched her Internet and phone lines over to cable (Comcast), and now she is much happier, can stream video reliably, doesn't call me up regularly to ask why her computer "isn't working" today.... and is paying less than before.

TL;DR: service quality depends a lot on which neighborhood you live in.

Comment Use Android and Chrome OS at times. (Score 2) 260

I am a big fan of Linux in technical terms, but not a big fan in terms of UX (basically, the social end of computing, where collaboration across large teams is basically required for a high quality product).

Android is illustrative of what Linux *can* be, but on the desktop has never managed to be because of the obvious differences between the social (i.e. people and hierarchy) infrastructure behind Android vs. behind the Linux desktop.

I used Linux from 1993 through 2010. Early on I used the same .twmrc files with TWM that I used on my HPUX and SunOS boxes at CS school. At the time, the Linux desktop was *light years* ahead of the Windows desktop. 16-bit color, high resolutions, fast, lots of very powerful applications from the Unix world and experimental desktop projects like InterViews that seemed very promising. People with MS-DOS or GEM or Windows 1/2.x computers were envious.

Later on I used FVWM. Then I switched to KDE in the KDE Beta 3 era. But then (mid-late '90s), Linux on the desktop had already been outrun by Windows 95 and Mac OS. The level of integration amongst services and components wasn't that of a coherent system like it was for Mac OS and Windows; the Linux "computing is a network" philosophy—very good for things like business and scientific computing—was obvious in comparison.

When KDE 4 was released, I tried to use it for a while but it got in my way. I had to rebuild my entire desktop over and over again as objects were lost, lost their properties, etc. After about two weeks on KDE 4 during which I mostly nursed KDE along rather than doing my actual work, I switched to GNOME 2.x. I see that as something of a golden age for desktop Linux—basic parity with what was going on in the Mac and Windows worlds if you used a polished distribution like Fedora. Install was different, equally demanding of skills, but the actual install and setup process for the desktop OS on a bare machine involved approximately the same amount of work as was true for Windows, and the result was basic feature and experience parity.

Then, the bottom fell out. I suspect that a lot of the need for the Linux desktop with experience parity to Windows was met by an increasingly revived Mac OS, and users flocked there. Myself included, in the end.

GNOME 3 came out and KDE 4 was finally becoming usable and there was something of a battle, but both were behind the curve relative to the stability and seamlessness of OS X, and OS X had end-user application developers already. They screamed and moaned during the transition from legacy Mac OS, but most of them hung on and redeveloped their applications for OS X, and there were a bunch of new application developers to boot.

On top of that, the major applications of the business and academic worlds made their way out for OS X as it became a viable platform. You now had a seamless desktop OS that offered all the big brands in user applications, plus stability, plus easy access to a *nix environment and command line if you wanted it.

I was busy fighting Linux during that "instability era" just as KDE4/GNOME3 happened and duked it out. Things were changing very quickly in many facets of the Linux base installs, in hardware, etc. and every update seemed to break my Thinkpad T60 which at the time ran on Fedora. I was spending a lot of time fixing dotfiles and scripts and trying to solve dependency problems, etc. Meanwhile, lots of new things that were starting to become commonplace needs (cloud services, mobile devices, etc.) didn't yet work well with Linux without lots of command line hacking and compiling of alpha-quality stuff from source.

A couple of fellow academics kept telling me to try Mac OS. Finally I did, I installed a hackintosh partition on my T60. By mid-2010, I realized that I was using my OS X boot, along with the GNU tools environment from MacPorts, far more than I was using the Linux partition, and that there were Mac applications that I was *dying* to start using on a daily basis, but hadn't purchased yet because "I'm not a Mac user, I'm a Linux user, this Mac partition is just to play around with."

Well, I finally bought one of them. And then I started using it all the time. And then another. And soon enough, most of my serious workflow was stuck on my Mac partition and the Linux partition was fading into the background, unused and unmaintained.

By the end of 2010, I'd bought a Macbook Pro and didn't have a Linux installation at all, after 17 years of exclusive Linux use. I'm still on OS X. I use the shell environment extensively. My old scripts and files and removable media from the Linux era still work, including ext2-formatted stuff (there are free extensions to support the filesystem). Basically, I don't feel like I lost a thing.

But I gained a HUGE amount of time that I used to spend hacking dotfiles, moving packages around, and trying to get source code that hadn't been packaged yet for binary distribution—and its many dependencies to compile properly. And I no longer worry about whether a particular piece of tech or software will "work for me" on compatibility grounds. I just buy the applications or hardware that meet the specs that I need, presuming that it will work with OS X. And so far, it always has.

Desktop Linux is basically over. It's not that it couldn't catch up, it's that I don't see any initiative anywhere in Linux-world that is likely to deliver competitive results to the OS X desktop experience before the era of the desktop is entirely over anyway.

Linux has found its niches (as pointed out—scientific computing, data centers, mobile/embedded) and there is basically no push any longer to compete for the general desktop, because it is a shrinking market anyway.

Comment Still the dark ages of music apps. (Score 1) 64

Milk was ok, but it used Slack as its back end. Milk was the bridge of radio playing that Spotify/Google needs. Pandora would be the closet to it. Even SirrusXM's streaming app is very close to Milk, and includes nice advanced tuning features. (popular vs ecliptic)

So we have a mix of music service that really are mashup or good in certain areas, discovery (slack/pandora), playlists (google/spotify), buying (amazon/google/itunes), podcasts (stitch/itunes/spotify is trying add this), tracking songs (Last.fm).

Slack was first to offer off network caching which was great, but when spotify offered this, I dumped slack and went Spotify full time. I dropped Pandora for slack also due to better mobile offering.

So now, I'm down to Spotify, Last.fm (paid), and amazon for buying my music. Google gave me Google Music for free because I bought Youtube Red (no commercials), Amazon gave me free Amazon music with Prime, but its interface is horrible, even for buying. Google music design is horrid.

Spotify runs well on my linux laptop, android phone, and windows PC, lists are synced. Now if they could add DFX into the app for linux/android, I'd be in paradise, the fidelity option is a good start.

Still feels like the dark ages. I had a co-worker try to start a multi app suite with all the different features including identification (like shazam/musicID), but it was too early in the market during the days of rhapsody.

Wouldnt say we are even close to being perfect in the music realm. There is so much good music on Spotify, but it needs an translations for non-english band names and music. Also really needs better ways to find non-american music. Theres so much out there, and they keep us in a tiny walled garden.

Oh, and spotify allows you to follow distribution labels, which is AWESOME if you follow great producers. But that could be way easier to use.

Comment Interesting idea (Score 1) 439

We need the 'I'm not in business, I facilitate micro business" model to exist.

But at the same time, we have to admit that those micro businesses avoid the regulation that normal small (and large) businesses have to do. This is an unfair advantage. As such, it makes a good compromise to allow them to exist, but have them pay a tax to equalize things out. They avoid the business regulations, but have to pay to do it.

Ideally, this will allow the innovation - such as getting clients via apps - but prevent the major abuses.

We should use this same model for the other 'facilitating micro businesses" such as AirBnB.

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