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Flying a Cessna On Other Worlds: xkcd Gets Noticed By a Physics Professor

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Not going anywhere... (148 comments)

http://m.xkcd.org/ is a better version for mobile. The title below the comic has a clickable superscript (alt text) link that will display the alt text underneath.

about 2 years ago
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Fedora 17 Released

CynicTheHedgehog Re:rpm, yumm & package managers (141 comments)

Yum is pretty solid. There are only two things that kind of bug me about it:

1. Sometimes (especially when dealing with third-party repos e.g. RPM Fusion) you'll see what looks like the same package listed 4 times. My guess is that there is a separate package for each architecture. Simply omitting the package portion from the name when you run the install command seems to pick the correct package(s). Still a bit confusing though, especially in cases where there are other compounding factors like different graphics card chipsets (I think I saw 16-20 different packages for NVidia drivers at one point).

2. You are kind of forced to use third-party repos, because the official repos don't contain any non-free stuff (MP3 codecs, binary drivers for NVidia and AMD cards, etc.) Setting up the third-party repos isn't as dummy-proof as setting up PPAs in Ubuntu. (It's a pretty straightforward but largely manual process, unless I'm missing something. And if I'm missing something, then that is a problem in itself.)

And for a while the KDE Package Manager integration was broken as well, but I think that's been fixed for a while now. Overall it's much better than it was, but I'm still more comfortable using apt in Ubuntu (although as a distro I like FC better).

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Transitioning From 'Hacker' To 'Engineer'?

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Reading List (446 comments)

I agree, and would add to this that when tracking down issues with multi-threaded apps (deadlock, race conditions, etc.) the debugging instrumentation itself may mask the problem. Instrumented code executes more slowly, which may completely avoid the issue, and often you have to freeze other threads so that you can follow the path of a single thread. Most of the time it's simpler to throw a thread ID and state information in a debug log and run the code several times to repeat the behavior, and then walk through the logs to figure out what is happening.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Which Web Platform Would You Use?

CynicTheHedgehog Re:J2EE (519 comments)

In most JEE apps I've dealt with the only think kept alive is HTTP session state. Using a framework like Seam, a session- or conversation-scope component can be instantiated, have the session state applied, have its dependencies injected, process the request, and then be disposed of (although typically object pools are used to avoid the overhead of instantiation).

(Granted, vanilla JSF is prone to session-scoped managed bean proliferation/abuse. I personally have never managed to get very far with plain JSF before inventing some sort of conversation scope. The view model and its state can get rather large and tends to pollute user sessions, but that can be stored on the client side.)

In the rare case where a stateful session bean is needed (hardly ever) a similar thing happens with passivation and activation. But more importantly, stateful session beans are released at the end of a conversation/unit of work and are most certainly not kept alive for the duration of the users session.

Memory was never really an issue for us (except maybe permgen space due to Hibernate proxies). The problems I've had dealt with resource contention in the DB due to JEEs rather aggressive transaction management defaults and distributed transactions. PHP et. al. avoid such issues by leaving transactions entirely in the hands of the user and RBDMS providers.

If you're writing an application (data model, web services, etc.) then JEE is a good choice. If you're writing what is essentially a group of pages with some dynamic bits, then PHP, Python, etc. is probably a better choice.

more than 2 years ago
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Speculating On What a Microsoft Superphone Might Mean

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Easily explainable: Nokia (371 comments)

Depends on your phone. I bought an HTC a while ago (my first smartphone) and thought it was pretty neat. I was surprised at how much different other Android phones were when I compared them, particularly the lack of consistency between the various apps. (HTC includes their own media player, mail, calendar, etc. so it all looks the same throughout.) I have a few gripes with my phone, but on the whole I'm very satisfied with it.

more than 2 years ago
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Canonical To Remove Sun Java From Repositories, Users' Machines

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Running Ubuntu 11.04 (307 comments)

That has been the default for some time now. The only reason to install sun-java-6 is if that is the target runtime for, say, a production Java application you happen to be writing, especially if you rely on esoteric command line arguments (-XX:MaxPermSize for example). So while it's not the end of the world, it certainly will cost a day or two of productivity for many Java developers and admins running Ubuntu as they will need to install the official Oracle packages, update alternatives, change symbolic links, etc. on any workstations and servers that are currently running sun-java-6. For developers targeting Java 7 this might not be that much of an issue, since the Oracle Java 7 packages are based on OpenJDK (although the commercial Oracle Java packages do have JIT and GC optimizations that may could result in unexpected behavior between dev and production environments).

It would be nice if Oracle would extend the distributors license indefinitely for Java 6. Not sure why they're bothering with it now, other than branding.

more than 2 years ago
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Carrier IQ Drama Continues

CynicTheHedgehog Re:How unexpected is this, really? (244 comments)

While this is true, the part I find most disturbing about CarrierIQ is its capture of HTTPS request details and traffic over Wifi, neither of which would be available to the carrier otherwise. Yes, meta data related to calls are logged... carriers are in fact required to do so for a number of reasons (billing, mediation, audits, and servicing subpoenas, etc.) However, I do not subscribe to a data plan and any traffic I send over a Wifi connection should be between me, the Wifi router, and the remote machines I am connected to, particularly when using "secure" protocols like HTTPS.

more than 2 years ago
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Congress May Permit Robot Calls To Cell Phones

CynicTheHedgehog Re:This bill prohibits telemarketing to cellphones (619 comments)

File a complaint. It takes a while, but they do actually process these. I filed several of them years back and recently received E-mails notifying me that they had taken action. You don't get any money out of it, but it's my understanding that the companies in violation are fined, so filing enough complaints will (hopefully) provide a disincentive to harass people.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft Reveals More Windows 8 Details

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Ubuntu support, please start gearing up (538 comments)

p>Having the same interface from 4 inch to 40 inch screens --- I really dont see how they can make something that scales SO well, will wait and watch, but I have serious doubts regarding the success

Isn't this what Ubuntu was trying to achieve with Unity and Gnome with Gnome Shell? The smartphone/tablet market is the one that's growing right now, so everyone's chasing those dollars.

(Incidentally, I happen to like Gnome Shell and it seems to work well with large desktops and multiple monitors, so it seems like the goal is achievable.)

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Programs To Learn From?

CynicTheHedgehog QMail (329 comments)

I suggest QMail. The code isn't that big, it's well written, and it's modular (lots of executables calling other executables). I wrote some authentication plugins for it about 10 years back and as I recall it wasn't too hard to figure out what was going on.

more than 3 years ago
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I say (N. Hemisphere) Fall starts ...

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Too hot to be Fall (454 comments)

Fall in Florida starts somewhere around November.

more than 3 years ago
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Building 2011's Sub-$200 Computer

CynicTheHedgehog Re:a brick (394 comments)

AMD CPUs come with adequate stock coolers, especially the 65W range. Both motherboards I've purchased in the last 3 years each came with 2-3 SATA cables (as well as old school ribbon cables).

I put together a quad core Athlon system with 4 GB of RAM (integrated sound/video) for less than $300 ($400 including a 20 inch LCD 1900x1080 monitor) over 2 years ago, so it wouldn't surprise me at all that a halfway decent system could be had for $200-$300 (including monitor).

more than 3 years ago
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Sandy Bridge-E CPUs Too Hot For Intel?

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Warranty (244 comments)

As much as I like AMD, the stock cooler that came with my Phenom II X6 was garbage. It was incredibly loud and while CPU temps were acceptable they were borderline high/critical. Contrast with the Zyman I replaced it with, which ran silently and dropped temps by 12 degrees on average. Having gone through that, I'd definitely take a discount on a high-end CPU without a heatsink and provide my own aftermarket cooling solution--I don't think I'll plan on using stock coolers anymore...

more than 3 years ago
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PC Designer Says PC "Going the Way of the Vacuum Tube"

CynicTheHedgehog Re:The decline of civilization (685 comments)

It's simply a matter of terminology. The PC is going away, but workstations are here to stay

more than 3 years ago
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New USB Specification Promises 100W of Power

CynicTheHedgehog Re:PoE replacement (287 comments)

My previous company provided managed/hosted communications services and we used PoE quite a bit. When deploying 100 or so phones it ends up being cheaper to put in a PoE switch than it is to buy power bricks at $5/pop. In the consumer space you only have, what, maybe 3 devices on a switch? At home I have an Ooma, LinkStation NAS, and my computer. PoE only provides enough power (~25W) for the Ooma (maybe), so as much as I'd like to get rid of three power cords it just isn't possible or cost-effective.

100W USB might work for the NAS and the linkstation, but to eliminate the extra cord it would require support for IP over USB and an upstream USB NAT or bridge device. (It would be neat if the standard evolved to the point where every device could request an IP address from the host and be treated like a network device.)

So this technology might work for:

1. Charging larger devices (netbook, tablet) from a PC / standardizing charger form factor
2. Powering and driving external displays
3. Some kind of smart power standards ... being able to put a powered device into sleep mode from the host or vice versa using signals, and adjusting the power supply/draw accordingly.

more than 3 years ago
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Linus Torvalds Ditches GNOME 3 For Xfce

CynicTheHedgehog So am I the only one that likes Gnome 3? (835 comments)

So I started with Gnome (Kharmic) and tried KDE 4 on a lark (Kubuntu Kharmic). Loved it, except that it was too buggy. Stuck with it through 4.5.2, and then went back to Gnome in Lucid. I liked Ubuntu's added touches and it seemed more solid, so I stuck with it until Natty. Hated everything about Unity, so I stuck in a FC15 Alpha LiveCD and after about 5 minutes decided it was so much better than Unity I installed it and have been running ever since.

I do Java development, system administration, E-mail, photos, backups, samba shares, PHP/Apache, and make heavy use of VMs. And for every single one of these tasks I find that my workflow has improved significantly. The notifications system, while immature, is a huge step forward over any other desktop environment I've used. With a few shell extensions and the gnome tweak tool I have everything I need: date and time top center, weather icon and details on the panel, places menu with shortcuts to the filesystem, etc.

I'll grant you, it's not perfect. The power options stink. I can't pin certain Java apps (NetBeans) or custom shell commands to the shortcut panel (e.g. VBoxManage --startvm "Foo"). It would be nice if there was first class support for samba configuration and other things. The system configuration menus are anemic and confusing, and a lot of stuff has to be configured via gsettings. But I only deal with those things very infrequently. For my everyday tasks everything is much better. (I make a lot of use of the expose feature and the search tools.)

Now FC15 as a distro, on the other hand, is a complete pain to deal with, and if Ubuntu provided decent support for Gnome 3 then I'd switch back in a heartbeat.

more than 3 years ago
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Java 7 Ships With Severe Bug

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Not just a malware trap (180 comments)

Perhaps a bit off-topic, but relevant to the OP...

In Linux everything I need comes from one or more trusted software repositories, and all of the updates are performed through the same tool in the same way, so I do not need to familiarize myself with the different update systems for different pieces of software.

In iOS everything is downloaded and installed through the app store, updates are similarly pushed through a single (presumably trusted) source. Same with Android and the various marketplaces and presumably with Windows-based smartphones. (Symbian and RIM aren't really in the game anymore, and it is likely related to this.)

So that leaves Mac OS X and Windows as really the only predominant platforms where you grab stuff from every which where and install it. And IIRC, even Mac OS X tries to consolidate the updates into a central tool (I remember Java and Adobe updates coming through the Mac OS X update tool).

I expect that this model will prevail and within 5 years the majority of software for any system (Windows included) will start coming through central repos (or "App Stores"). Linux has been there for over a decade, but hasn't got their act together with respect to branding, ease-of-use, and revenue sharing (Ubuntu is bridging that gap). So if we can get to a point where software is signed, or at least has a verifiable hash, and it all comes from the same trusted place, then a lot of these issues will be moot.

more than 3 years ago
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KDE 4.7.0 Released

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Best Distro to try this new KDE with? (212 comments)

As much as I hate to say it, Kubuntu is the one I've had the least amount of frustration with (I've tried OpenSuSE, Fedora, and Chakra besides). There's a lot more eyes on Kubuntu and a lot more forum posts related specificly to Kubuntu, so it's easy to find answers, and Canonical does a good job of installing the basics by default (codecs, flash, binary drivers, etc.).

more than 3 years ago
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GNOME Shell Hurts Gaming Performance

CynicTheHedgehog Re:Not seeing the downside to this (232 comments)

If we called PPAs "subscriptions" or "app stores" instead, we'd be fine. That's all it is. If we made it to where the ppa: URL scheme was associated with the software store and automatically launched it when clicked, then viola, problem solved. Prompt the user for their admin credentials, confirm that they want to add the subscription/store/software source, run apt-get update, and then prompt them to install new packages. Not hard. There's probably even a way to monetize PPA subscriptions that way, too.

more than 3 years ago

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