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Comments

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Native Netflix Support Is Coming To Linux

Art3x Re:Finally! (178 comments)

Silverlight and Flash had a reason when they were created.

Flash had a reason when it was created. Silverlight did not.

4 days ago
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SanDisk Releases 512GB SD Card

Art3x Re:Overkill much... (210 comments)

"But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

--- JFK, 1962

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Killing Off Windows Phone Brand Name In Favor of Just Windows

Art3x Oversimplification vs. overcomplication (352 comments)

Compared to the Microsofty cacophony of yesteryear:

- Windows Starter
- Windows Home Basic
- Windows Home Premium
- Windows Professional
- Windows Enterprise
- Windows Ultimate

and that's just for the Desktop edition. I'll take a move in the opposite direction, hoping they'll eventually settle on a happy medium.

about two weeks ago
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Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

Art3x False dilemma? (387 comments)

A programmer should be able to pick up another language in a matter of weeks and master it within a year. Do your best in whatever language you like or need now. While it's fun to talk about the pros and cons of different languages, the idea of being stuck in a language is silly.

DISCLAIMER: You may have to network socially to bypass those who rely too much on words in resumes. You may have to do a couple hobby projects. You may have to take a pay cut while an employer waits for you to get up to speed.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Service To Digitize VHS Home Movies?

Art3x Video capture card and ProRes (130 comments)

I don't know of any services. The only way I know would be to get my own gear:

1. S-VHS VCR. Even if your tapes weren't recorded in this higher-resolution format, S-VHS VCRs make VHS tapes look better.

2. Analog-to-digital capture card, like from Blackmagic Design or Grass Valley. Make sure it has an S-video input jack.

3. S-video cables. This cable keeps the brightness and color portions of the picture separate as it goes from the VCR to your computer. This is the best you can do from VHS. The only thing better would be RGB cables or some kind of digital output from the VCR, but no VCR has such outputs. The best is S-video, and only S-VHS VCRs have that. However, it is noticeably better than the standard composite cable, the single RCA jack, typically yellow, on most VCRs.

4. Time-base corrector (optional). The capture card might do this well enough. If not, this device would stabilize and correct the video signal. So you would connect your VCR to the time-base corrector, and the time-base corrector to your VCR --- all with S-video cables.

For your capture format, I guess you could go completely uncompressed, but ProRes is 10-bit 4:2:2 and already overkill for VHS.

about two weeks ago
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Newly Discovered 60-foot Asteroid About To Buzz By Earth

Art3x Short notice (68 comments)

Is anyone else unnerved by the short notice of passing asteroids? Anyone who finds themselves assuming that some agency has this taken care of?

On the one hand, I say, "Hey, it's 2014. We should see these months or even years ahead of time. Furthermore, we should have an asteroid defense system. Don't ask me exactly what. But it's 2014, man."

On the other hand, I say, "Hey's it's only sixty feet wide. How could we possibly have seen it much sooner in the whole sky surrounding the earth? We're not so advanced. I don't care if it's the twenty-first century. Look at global warming, how long it took to uncover Osama Bin Laden. Look at Windows, systemd, Slashdot beta ;)

about two weeks ago
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Google Introduces HTML 5.1 Tag To Chrome

Art3x It's about time for a code upgrade (94 comments)

Last night I finally started reading an old book, HTML: The Definitive Guide, 3rd. ed., published in 1998. "HTML is a young language, barely five years old," it begins, "but already in its fourth interation. Don't be surprised if another version appears before you finish reading this book."

I smiled to myself. If only he had known that HTML 4 would stay with us for eleven years, and that when 5 came out, they said they wouldn't update the version numbers anymore.

But the book was right: another version came out before I finished it.

about three weeks ago
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The Grumpy Programmer has Advice for Young Computer Workers (Video)

Art3x Re:Different ages of development (120 comments)

I liked the part about poetry. That rings true. I came to programming from writing. They have a lot in common.

I am not sure there's much advice us older programmers can give new developers because the industry is a lot different now.

Experience counts. It's wiser to hire someone with 25 instead of 5 years experience. I generally get better results from the elders, whether they are my server admin, plumber, or barber. The years round off rough edges, and they're just more relaxed. They may be grumpy, but they always seem ready to make a joke. In their work they are more methodical and deliberate. They seem to be working slowly, but they finish sooner. They're mainly just less frantic, less wasted motion, more thoughful. There's no problem they can't figure out, eventually. They also are more likely to be the ones to insist on doing the job right, or thoroughly, more than the customer is asking them to. They are more likely to describe something as elegant or know what the word means.

This obsession with youth is sort of like how everything's new "on the Internet." Eventually the gleam will wear off, and society hopefully will realize that it's better to hire old people, just like it's better to hire master plumbers, 60-year-old architects, and gray-haired graphic designers. Steve Jobs, for NeXT's logo, paid $100,000 to Paul Rand, who was 72.

I recently worked with a younger programmer on a project and it was miserable. He couldn't give me 20 lines of code that didn't have a bug in it, because he was dependent upon having some QA person test his work and an IDE that would hilight every mistake.

I'm a web programmer in my 30s, but I use vi, psql, and --- well, that's about it.

about a month ago
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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

Art3x I'm open to it (826 comments)

I thought this was a nice response, and I would be interested in the naysayers' response to this response: The Biggest Myths, by Lennart Poettering.

Also, the main complaint against systemd is that it is big and monolithic, instead of a series of simple tools strung together, like cat, awk, and sed. But what about Apache, OpenOffice, and PostgreSQL?

Disclaimer: I am just a lowly web programmer, not an operating system developer or even a sysadmin.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

Art3x Writing (548 comments)

I'm going to answer this in a different way: what I knew when I started that I think most programmers, and most people, don't. That may sound arrogant, but I keep seeing it every day of my working life.

I wasn't a computer science major or anywhere close: I was a film major and English minor. It was the English that has helped me more than anything learn very quickly certain secrets to programming effectively. And yet it wasn't even the English classes themselves, because a lot of what is fashionable to teach in English is misleading or harmful.

What really happened was a certain approach to writing. It is taught clearly in just a few books, like The Elements of Style and On Writing Well. Reading these books literally changed my life. If I were to try to summarize it, it would be that the goal of writing is to reach the reader as plainly as possible, instead of writing in a flowery, fancy, or important-sounding way. To do that actually is the greatest amount of work. It actually is the opposite of everyone's inclination. Even for professional, longtime writers, it doesn't happen on the first draft or even the seventh draft. It involves adhering to certain non-glamorous principles like using as few words as possible and preferring the short word over the long one. It means putting yourself in the background. In short, in trying to be elegant.

about a month ago
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Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year

Art3x Now, how much are ads costing us? (611 comments)

Just $20 a month? And that's from someone biased towards it?

Anyway, now let's see a study of how much advertising has cost each of us from:
- clicking, scrolling, and squinting for the actual content
- giving up, quitting, clicking back, and missing something
- buying, setting up, and using antivirus and adblocking software
- buying some of the frivolous things advertised, after at last being worn down by it, even a bit
- waiting for the page to load
- waiting for computer to run at all, given the heavy load some of our protective software puts on our computers

about a month ago
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Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

Art3x Re:Surprise? (579 comments)

there are inevitably going to be complaints; that happens any time *anything* changes

Obligatory

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Should You Invest In Documentation, Or UX?

Art3x Major in UI, minor in docs (199 comments)

GMail is a good example of an interface that you don't need to read a user guide first for --- although they do have short articles for those who get stuck. Google in general does user interfaces well. I credit it to: (1) using one-word, plain-English text labels instead of icons (or at least they used to), (2) clean and simple layout (which, by the way, is anything but simple to make) and (3) just a thousand little things to make the user's life easier. For example, while most email programs showed just the subject in the list, GMail showed as much as the message as possible. After all, people are bad at writing subjects. Little things like that, a hundred times over. There's no one big thing that turns it from a bad UI to a good one. It's just lots and lots and lots of polishing.

37Signals at least writes about what I think is the most efficient route to good software. See their book, Getting Real. I haven't used their software much, so I don't know how well they execute, but lots of people like it.

I think you should major in UI and minor in documentation. I think you will always need some documentation. And maybe your software needs a lot. Some software does. And a few of those projects have outstanding documentation. I don't know, see how PostgreSQL keeps theirs up to date.

about a month ago
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Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording

Art3x Re:What about Oregon and Washington? (368 comments)

It's crazy that each state has its own laws!

I'm taking this quote totally out of context, I know, but I think the idea of The United States, instead of The Large Monolithic Country Spanning This Much People and Land was ingenious. Like anything, it can be abused. No matter how many laws you make, you can't stomp out wickedness. By the way, this was the original meaning phrase, "You can't legislate morality."

about a month and a half ago
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Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

Art3x No (421 comments)

I loved school, but I'm for summer break, a generous one from Memorial through Labor Day. In fact I've been mulling whether grown-ups should have summer breaks too, if we could.

School is a narrow, weird world. It readied me in some ways, but in others I was a seedling. There are other ways a child must grow. Playing at home and in the neighborhood, hanging from trees, exploring, etc., are very good for the brain and the heart. Some kids go to camp, whether it be outdoor, sports, music, or whatever. You can't very well spend a month concentrating on a certain field when you have to go to school. I myself wasn't a joiner. I rejected Boy Scouts, band, and all sports. But I made up for it when I discovered moviemaking. In high school I made about 40 movies, short ones, but they had screenplays, multiple camera angles, special effects, editing, the best I could do.

I lament that I no longer have that creativity, and I blame it on the year-round non-stop drudgery that is the American way. Someone once said that a Frenchman told them you need five weeks: one week to get ready, two weeks to go somewhere, and two weeks to recover from vacation. Here we nary get more than week off at a time. There's just never a chance to recharge.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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What's the cost of build quality?

Art3x Art3x writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Do cheap laptops have to be flimsy, with plastic shells instead of metal, dinky hinges, and mushy keys? I’m a programmer, not an industrial designer. Am I missing something? I would think that a solid build takes two things: good materials and fitting them together well. As for material, is metal really more than a dollar or so more per pound than plastic? As for fit, that’s a matter of knowledge and technique. If the manufacturer has well-built laptops at a higher price, they clearly have such knowledge. This same question applies to other devices, such as cameras. Why is anything over a few hundred dollars poorly made, especially by a company that can make it well?"
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Where do you find good programmers?

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Kernighan said, 'Controlling complexity is the essence of computer programming.' My past four coworkers subscribed to the copy-and-paste method of code reuse, preferred long names (they sound more official), and built unrequested features so they "wouldn't have to code it later." The code samples from applicants indicate they believe the same. Where do you find programmers who believe in tight design, DRY, and less-is-more? I feel that it would be easier to find an architect, painter, or writer and teach him programming than to find a programmer and teach him good design — or even get him to acknowledge its existence."
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The Internet is killing local news, says the FCC

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "The rise of the Internet has led to a 'shortage of local, professional, accountability reporting' says a a 475-page report by the FCC, and the consequences could be 'more government waste, more local corruption,' 'less effective schools' and other problems. Even though there are more media choices today than ever, newspapers have been laying off reporters, leaving a gap that is yet to be filled."
Link to Original Source
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Google Chrome tag to abandon H.264

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "As you know, HTML 5 introduced the <video> tag, so you don't have to use Flash, QuickTime, etc. It can even enclose several versions of the same video (H.264, WebM, Ogg, etc.) for different computers or browsers. Well, for Google Chrome in a couple months, you will have to provide it something other than H.264, because it is dropping support for H.246. 'Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies,' wrote Mike Jazayeri, Product Manager."
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Netflix likes open source

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Netflix's VP of Systems and E-commerce Engineering, Kevin McEntee, just blogged his appreciation for open-source software and open standards. 'At Netflix we jumped on for the ride a long time ago and we have benefited enormously from the virtuous cycles of actively evolving open source projects,' he writes, and he says that Netflix not only uses but has contributed back to projects such as Hudson, Hadoop, Hive, Honu, Apache, Tomcat, Ant, Ivy, Cassandra, and HBase. Instantly streamed in a bunch of comments asking why there's no player for Linux."
Link to Original Source
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Google puts forth new image format: WebP

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Google has come up with another image format: WebP. Based on the intraframe compression of VP8, it shrinks JPEG files another 39%, on average, in their test of a million pictures across the Web. 'Images and photos make up about 65% of the bytes transmitted per web page today.' said Google. 'They can significantly slow down a user's web experience.' While some images shrank a mere 10%, some were 75% smaller than a JPEG at the same quality. Still, do you think a new web image format will take?"
Link to Original Source
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Lightworks video editor to turn open source

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "EditShare will release its video editor as open source this summer. Lightworks handles high-definition media, DPX, and RED, shares projects with Final Cut Pro and Avid, and was recently used by Academy-award-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker on Shutter Island. Introduced in in 1989 and bought by EditShare last year, it 'has come from over one million hours of software development,' says EditShare's James Richings. But he says releasing the source will 'generate concepts and capabilities never seen before. I expect that the Lightworks Open Source initiative will transform not only the technology, but also the opinions on what a professional editing tool can achieve.'"
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Will the iPad usher in HTML5 video?

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "A page on the Apple web site lists a dozen major web sites publishing their audio or video with the HTML 5 tags, including: CNN, the New York Times, ESPN, NPR, The White House, People magazine, CBS, and National Geographic. It might be that the HTML 5 media shows up just if you're on the iPad, but I was surprised by so many so soon."
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Microsoft lost by ignoring search query long tail

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Microsoft focused on returning good results for popular queries but ignored the minor ones. 'It turned out the long tail was much more important,' said Bing's Yusuf Mehdi. 'One-third of queries that show up on Bing, it's the first time we've ever seen that query.' Yet the long tail is what makes most of Google's money.

Microsoft is so far behind that now maybe they won't crush Google but can live side by side, with Bing specializing in transactions like plane tickets, said Bing Director Stefan Weitz.

I doubt that will ever take off."

Link to Original Source
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Google Chrome Extensions Gallery Opened

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "The Chromium team opened the extensions gallery today. If you are running a beta version of Chrome in Windows or Linux (Mac still to come), then you can now browse a gallery of about 300 extensions.

The closest thing to the coveted Adblock equivalent is Adsweep, but it is right now broken. Who wants to take this on?"

Link to Original Source
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Google releases JavaScript Library

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Google has released an open-source, modular JavaScript library called the Closure Library," which it developed in house for its own web applications like Gmail and Google Docs. "Web developers can pull just what they need from a wide set of reusable UI widgets and controls, as well as lower-level utilities for the DOM, server communication, animation, data structures, unit testing, rich-text editing, and much, much more.""
Link to Original Source
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Convincing my company to use open source

Art3x Art3x writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Art3x (973401) writes "Are there any good resources for helping move a company from Microsoft to open source? I work for a self-proclaimed "Microsoft shop." From time to time I have the a chance to present to the leaders, and I would like at least to plant a seed. Most of them think Microsoft is THE software vendor. Upon mention of open source, they say "Oh, yeah, freeware," — the hobby of a single hacker instead of a serious worldwide effort. Especially, software without "support" is an anathema to them.

I'm sure I could comb the Internet and cobble something together. But are there any good articles or books — or even companies — for just this purpose: to systematically guide an IT department to exchange (no pun intended) each of their Microsoft products for the open-source equivalent?

As a bonus, any article that clearly tells the story of how Microsoft came to dominance (i.e., not by merit) would also be appreciated."

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