Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×

Comment The Verge is 100% wrong (Score 3, Insightful) 56

The Verge's advice focuses on value in a packed market, and explicitly recommends against attempting novelty. This is crap advice, the kind of numbing pablum that Walmart gives to reps with a new product. "You want to make jeans? Sure, you have to make them in a way that fits on the existing shelving and matches the existing pipeline of ass-coverings, and don't come to us in the spring without lighter weight stuff and shorts." The message is that innovation doesn't sell, which is completely wrong, you can still sell the hell out of yoga pants (high volume/moderate margin) and utilikilts (high margin low volume) if you are careful. Innovation doesn't sell in volume right away. Was Tesla thought to be a competitor to the big automakers? Puhleez. But they put out an innovative niche product and did it goddamn well, and now as they ramp production and solve nontrivial production problems, they are becoming a serious threat to a super-defined market dominated by a few big players.

Also, the Verge article mixes up the use of the word "value" between low-cost+performant product vs premium product, and implies you must choose one end of the spectrum or you are fools. This is also complete BS; it's entirely possible to put out a mid-market device that eats the premium product's lunch (with the exception of the 1% of the market that buys Kardashian-style gold-plated iPhones just because of the logo and the gold). This is how Samsung arrived at its current market position. Let's not forget that along the way to it's current dominance, Samsung put out versions of the Galaxy phone that had stylii, projectors, card slots, display adapters, etc etc. Some of those are still highly profitable products at high volume today, and there's certainly room for improvement -- particularly with respect to flexibility. To dismiss as "high school science fair" and unaware of the global market is profoundly ignorant of the history of this market.

Not only is this a viable play-book for Moto, it's exactly what they should do in order to not become part of the "value" market on the clearance shelf.

Comment Re:posting from my BlackBerry PRIV now (Score 1) 78

Battery life is good. ---- By that I mean I'm an extremely heavy user, and a charge lasts me all day on most but not all days. I run probably 2hrs of voice calls and 4hrs of video calls a day on average, w/Google hangouts, Starleaf, Zoom, and Webex. There's a constant flow of email, handful of document downloads every day for review (tho I edit on laptop/not a complete masochist), and Hipchat is constantly running in the background which is a total battery hog. On top of that there are a few personal items; vlc, spotify, duolingo, etc for about an hour a day. Many of these are total power sinks, and the Priv handles all of this adequately, almost as well as the Passport held up and I have far more running on the Priv. TL;DR: I would rather keep this form factor than have them make it fatter.

Out of the box, battery life was terrible, but it improved markedly after the first 3-5 days. I don't know if that's because it finished a bunch of background updates, or if the battery optimization algorithm needed time to figure things out, but instead of starting at 6am and dying at 3pm, it started to last until 9-10pm. if I'd based my judgement on the first day or two's battery life, I would have returned the phone. Glad I didn't.

Comment Re:posting from my BlackBerry PRIV now (Score 1) 78

Passport is not running Android at all, it is running BB10 based on QNX

Incorrect: Android apps run on top of BB10 in a proper Android runtime subsystem, not in emulated functions within BB10/QNX. This provides a proper architecture for sandboxing*, and allowed for them to smooth things out in later versions -- e.g. direct appstore support with Amazon in 10.3. The integration is really smooth, though -- to a casual user, BB apps and Android apps run identically, task switching between different-OS apps is quick and seamless swiping back and forth, and it's unexpectedly pleasant to use.

*I wish they'd done more with this on the PRIV. AppOps works with a few glitches on the Passport, since the Android runtime is 4.3 iirc, but not always. With the PRIV, I've actually lost ability to control info-harvesting apps, which means you have to root the device to make it more secure. Go figure.

Comment posting from my BlackBerry PRIV now (Score 1) 78

This is a fabulous device. Seriously. What's tragic is that Rim seems unable to market a fire hose to a man in a burning building.
For years and years, I see people posting here lamenting about missing a good physical keyboard wanting a good touch screen, and to mitigate crap security on Android. After a series of halfway decent Android phones, I bought the passport and was extremely pleasantly surprised. Android support, a great keyboard, surprising innovation with touch support across the keyboard surface and exceedingly good build quality. On top of all that, a default configuration that includes mildly sandboxed Android with much better security. Not quite the detailed control I wanted, but a damn sight better than you get with default Android without rooting.
Then I picked up a Priv. It's a different set of trade-offs and certainly far from perfect. But it's pocketable, fast, great screen, and carries many excellent features over including a decent version of Hub. And the keyboard is very good, if a little small.
What I find most telling is that my kids want it. These are the same teenagers who referred to the Windows phone as "the punishment phone" and have been very picky about their other Android devices. A surprising majority of their school work is now completed and submitted through Google Docs, so this device totally fits the bill.
How the hell you market to this weird amalgam of people who want a serious piece of hardware that doesn't look like a frosted iPastry is Beyond me. But clearly the money and desire is out there, it's just that RIM is unable to communicate or put their hands on it.

Comment not worth reading (Score 4, Insightful) 30

I got to "Stuxnet, arguably the world's first digital weapon" and hit the limit for stupid in the first sentence. No need to read further.
I could also argue that dirt is water, and it'd be just as ridiculous.

How about Buckshot Yankee in 2005, using a modified version of agent.btz that combined compromise with persistence, worm, and staging tool?
How about the automation portion of Titan Rain in 2003, that combined seeking, filtering, persisting, gathering, and moving on?
Or maybe the 2007 Sinowal/Torpig/Mebroot variants that were pretty much fully autonomous self-updating weapons once launched -- do weapons against commercial entities not count as much as weapons from or toward nation-states?
Does none of that count? Stuxnet had more self-contained payload tuned for the target environment, but less self-updating/persistence and other capabilities. So what the hell kind of n00b idiocy is "world's first digital weapon"?

FFS, if you don't know the first thing about history, please don't try to pontificate on the topic.

Comment Re:borg^h^h^h^hSpaceX interpret damage as educatio (Score 1) 150

Sort of... there's far more heat stress behind the engines on re-entry than launch. And while low-level fire suppression (misting, more or less) on the drone ship is more or less par for the course, the SpaceX operators had to be significantly worried to fire up a high-pressure nozzle toward the engines, what with the potential thermal damage from sudden uneven cooling, not to mention physically pushing it sideways. All speculation, but yeah, it was alarming.

Overall, though, another serious win for science and balls.

Comment borg^h^h^h^hSpaceX interpret damage as education (Score 3, Interesting) 150

On one hand, it's thrilling to see the incredible become very credible. The very idea of this kind of spacecraft landing was thought to defy the laws of physics a decade ago, considered an engineering impossibility just a few short years ago, foolish to attempt last year, and by the end of this year, it probably won't get a headline. I'm not sure I'd want to work there, but the pace of SpaceX's science and engineering advancements is astounding. Kudos to anyone who can take the stress; the output is truly impressive.

More in the moment, though, I see what they meant by "subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating" as it appears the octaweb shielding took enough heat damage from the 2x re-entry speed and 3-engine retroburn that the shielding and some underlying componentry continued to burn for a bit. But the borg over there interpret damage as education, and I doubt we'll see the same problem again. F*ing impressive. I look forward to more info in the morning.

Comment Re:Oh well (Score 5, Informative) 361


Often people are surprised at how well scanners work on Linux in general. For example, I was in the office recently and needed to scan a lengthy document, so I borrowed one of those nice Fujitsu scansnap-style scanners. The owner cautioned me that the software and drivers were a 300+mb download for Windows, and was astounded that it was fully supported in xSane and SimpleScan with *no* driver download. I have a similar one at home and knew the drill, but it was fun to see someone really take in how bad the experience is on Windows these days. I plugged in the USB cable, started xSane, threw 50+ pages into the feeder, clicked just a couple adjustments, and saved the project as PDF with no fuss, no driver fuckery, etc etc. Works better, faster, cheaper in Linux than the "fully supported" Windows config.

Otoh, there's no convincing some people, and I'm not the geek evangelist I used to be. More for me, I guess.

(Oh, and Hi there, fellow 2K slashdotter... )

Comment Re:Oh well (Score 1) 361

The O'Really Windows DLL parody is hilarious. Source?
(The goog gives me nothing, and bing just stares off into space....**)

** So I suppose that's exactly the problem:
Google gives answers that range from [precisely-right] --- to --- [not-quite-relevant-but-i-see-where-you-were-going]
Bing gives answers ranging from [didn't-understand-the-question] --- to --- [utterly-random-shit-the-bed-schizophrenic].

Comment TSA = amateur hour^h^h^h^hdecade (Score 4, Interesting) 382

I fly a lot. Not as much as the tech sales guys I work with, but enough to get Alaska's MVP75K top-level status in just the last half of last year. A few years back I had top-tier status on United and Alaska in the same year. So I have one of those nice little cards that lets me go thru the "premier/first class" lines at every airport. AND STILL the process sucks, and remains a constant source of despair for the state of business, security, and the country.

To wit:
1. Orwellian PRE bureaucracy: I cannot get a PRE approval, because my state ID (DL) doesn't list my middle initial, while my passport does. I would have to produce a certified copy of my birth certificate to correct the state ID, and my original birth certificate has a one-letter misspelling of one of my parents' names. It is a clusterfuck. And why the hell should I have to pay a private company for what amounts to a national ID card anyway?

2. The nakey microwave: The goddamn "millimeter wave" (high frequency microwave) xray machines are STILL NOT TESTED OR CERTIFIED as medically safe for xray exposure, only that they're safe from a heat damage perspective. It would be a federal crime to use one in a hospital, because there have been "no human tests or studies to prove scanner safety." And yet the TSA video playing at top volume above the line makes baseless claims that it's perfectly safe...

3. False positives: Even when I resign myself to go through the untested scanner, for me it gives a false positive about 75% of the time. Apparently I have oddly shaped legs. So I have to wait or step to the aide and get a patdown, which often takes as long as the opt-out groping (without the RF exposure).

4. The intentional delays: When I opt-out, the procedure is to let me stand there for at at least 5 minutes before calling a screener to come grope me. Not joking about this -- I had about 60 TSA pat-downs last year all across the US, and often the gate agent would just call "MALE ASSIST" off into the void to no one (literally calling out to an empty area). A few minutes later, they would say it again to the agent on the other side of the microwave box, and then someone would come up and walk me back. It was consistent enough to wonder if there's a policy to make sure that opt-out takes long enough to discourage others.

5. Nonexistent training for TSA: The opt-out manual screening procedure is passed on through oral tradition. I'm supposed to be read a statement about the procedure, asked if I want a screening in private, asked if I have medical devices (I do, so it matters), or if I have any sensitive or painful areas. Only 1 in 4 TSA agents remember to ask all of these, and I've frequently had to remind agents of what they're supposed to ask me. On 4 different occasions in the last quarter, I've had a newly hired TSA agaent being instructed on how to do the procedure by a slightly less inexperienced agent -- with no written instructions, no consistency to the procedure, and the instructor omitted one of the key points EVERY TIME. It's clown school.

6. Total failure to detect: They have no idea what to look for -- through some unintentional testing. I found an unsubtle pocketknife (a kershaw switchblade my teenager had bought) stuck between the frame and outer covering of one of the rolly bags I use -- after I'd used it half a dozen times as a carry-on, and TSA had missed it EVERY time. I can carry on a bag full of a dozen lithium-ion battery packs, and they don't even blink. A ziplock baggie full of random powder? No problem, as long as it's not a liquid or gel... But god forbid my girlfriend use a Lush product with too much glycerine in the lotion, and they're calling the explosives expert.

I could go on. A lot. But there's no point; there's already way way too much money invested into this security theater, enough that it has become its own ecosystem. Stopping now would mean publicly acknowledging the total lack of success or value. Not gonna happen... And the real tragedy is that I don't feel safer than I did pre-9/11, and there are no valid metrics to show that I am safer. I flew home yesterday, and back out on a flight tomorrow. I used to hate this idiocy with a vigorous anger, but now I'm just exhausted by it. SO much stupid. SO much money. SO much wasted opportunity.

Comment DOJ did not want precedent from a loss in court (Score 5, Insightful) 255

The last salvo from Apple's lawyers was fairly devastating to the DOJ's case: It pointed out errors of law, errors of logic, technical mistakes and omissions, and general arrogance. The DOJ knew lat week that they were getting shot down, so they'd rather not have that happen in court where it could affect their future error-and-arrogance-filled filings.

Last week someone pointed out that Apple has far better lawyers than the DOJ. True. Tragic, sad, demoralizing as an American, but obviously true.

Comment the punishment phone (Score 4, Funny) 44

I picked up a Win8 phone back while working at MSFT, in an effort to be a good corporate citizen. Never really used it much, so it stayed in pretty good clean shape. When one of my teen kids broke or screwed up their phone (all too often), it was handy to have a spare they could use. It was also handy to have around when they misbehaved by spending too much time or data using their phones; swapping this one in curtailed their usage just by being itself. Fewer apps, limited access because they aren't bought into the Live/msft account ecosystem, generally iffy UI, etc. I find it very useful. They don't appreciate that.

TL;DR: My kids refer to the spare Windows phone as "the punishment phone"

Comment cannot just stand by (Score 0) 370

(Disclaimer: longtime slashdotter, inveterate geek, about 25 years in tech, spent about 1/3 of that consulting or as fte for msft. Been on both sides of the win/linux fence, and for a time Big Beige over in Redmond was good to me. Donor to Mint too.)

I find this crap unconscionable. My brother got caught by it just a few days ago, and called me in desperation because declining the eula after it ran the unprompted install has put the machine in to a blank bluescreen reboot loop. He's shipping the hdd to me to recover a few gigs of pictures and music. He does not want WIn10 because (his words, not mine) -- "We tried it out at work, and the new interface is shit. It's ugly. I don't want it." And then a family friend emailed in the same desperate situation. AND THEN ANOTHER. I've got THREE of these kerfuxxored computers queued up to de-Win10/fix/help out this weekend. Jesus.

So here's the question: What kind of fool would I be to reinstall Win7 or even Win8, after I get his data off the borked drive? Win10 is unacceptable to these customers, but MSFT is unapologetic about their the-customer-is-wrong-fuck-them mission, so this is bound to happen again.

Answer: No damn way am I reinstalling Windows. Mint Linux seems like the obvious choice for the foreseeable future. Mint is pretty, fast as hell, stable, reasonably securable, runs Office 2010 just fine under Wine/Playonlinux, and *everything* else is easier/faster/more stable natively. Mint takes under 15min for a complete install/update and scripted app install, compared to 3-5hrs each for Windows+apps+drivers on bare metal (plus a f#@kpile of $$$ for licenses they can't find/etc). And given that MSFT is hell-bent on forcing Win10 (because of the telemetry-based revenue stream if nothing else), with any Windows reinstall it's likely I'd quickly be right back to the beginning on one or all of these.

Linux is what I've used myself for years, and I knew it was fast/stable/etc/etc but I was always hesitant to push my geeky preferences on others who just want crap to work. In recent years I knew that the ease-of-use equation had tipped away from Windows despite the bluster from Redmond, but still I didn't push. The real surprise for me now is that run-o-the-mill users are so utterly hacked off at MSFT that they're clamoring for what I have: they just want a good stable system with control and no bullshit surprises.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Here comes Mr. Bill's dog." -- Narrator, Saturday Night Live