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Massive Job Cuts Are Reportedly Coming For Microsoft Employees

EXTomar Re:of course (300 comments)

I don't doubt that if you are a large company the licensing fees are very reasonable but for a small scale company that has to make purchases ad-hoc, MS Licensing is a struggle and costs a lot. I have been at multiple smaller companies with an ops budget so tight, development could not afford to buy more cals of Windows Server let alone the multiple you need because of the (artificial) configuration requirements. This requires the annoying situation where you setup multiple machines but do not activate them that will ultimately lock up when time expires requiring a full wipe and install.

This "small scale side" of the market been Microsoft's weakness for awhile and where Linux shines. Maybe there is a program or small scale license level that allows for these but they don't advertise it well enough for me to know let alone a scrounging CEO acting like a CTO.

about 2 months ago
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Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled

EXTomar Re:Politics (139 comments)

First I must point out: Shows like "Wait Wait..." are entertainment and never present themselves or any of their guests as news or analysis or anything of the like. They don't need to be objective about anything they comment on.

Secondly: The conservatives make it pretty easy to make fun of them. They can write up a funny joke about a liberal going basaltic because no one is paying attention to global warming or they can write up a funny joke about a conservative who wants to stone to death sinners. I am not a professional writer or comedian but it is easy to spot which one would be more "fertile material".

That said, I do think there is a legitimate complaint about funding going into a general fund and being distributed to shows they don't appreciate. One can be a conservative and really love the news coverage NPR does but hate that any part of the funding they hand over goes to "Wait Wait..." To solve that would require changing how funding works with NPR.

about 3 months ago
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Oil Man Proposes Increase In Oklahoma Oil-and-Gas Tax

EXTomar Deficit Spending In The Guise of Job Creation (182 comments)

Texas has this issue too where Perry runs around to "over regulated liberal states", dishes up big tax breaks for them to put a plant in Texas, and ignores the costs while claiming all of the unrealized future benefits! Going to California and cutting a tax break to a small company of the tune of $50 million is a boon to that company but it makes no sense to the market or the state because they will never "create" $50 million in revenue for the state.

This behavior is stuff that creates bubbles and is just government deficit spending under the guise of "job creation". But that isn't their concern today is it because when the time comes that the business fails or overloaded infrastructure needs upgrades and expansions they won't have to deal with the raising taxes or a bond because they'll be long gone.

about 4 months ago
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Microsoft Launches Office For iPad: Includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

EXTomar Re:Still holding out for DOS for ipad (184 comments)

DOS? Surely you jest! Applesoft BASIC is the only way if you want really real work done. You have to break out a magazine and type out 1000 lines without error because that is the only way to be sure to be the code is correct.

about 6 months ago
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Xbox One Reputation System Penalizes Gamers Who Behave Badly

EXTomar Giving "The Bully" Another Tool (183 comments)

It is all well and good to give users com controls to their com features but trying to enforce a reputation system like this is just another tool for bad guys to behave like bad guys. If a group of 4 bullies wants to make someone's day miserable, they form up and join a game and focus on one player using all tools available where a reputation system like this is just the thing they need: One player getting 4 warnings is more serious than 4 different players getting warnings from one player.

What they and successful systems do instead is establish a "trust relation". If you are matched in a team with some complete stranger, then neither of you have "trust" and neither should do "trusted" actions with each other. If you form a party, you automatically trust them more than a stranger and access more "trusted" features. If another player is in your "friends" list and formed a party with you then you have a high level of "trust" with that player and should be allowed a lot of "trusted" features with them.

There does need to be moderation tools and they should be as automatic as possible but "reputation" systems seem to be built upon a flawed premise that complete strangers can judge each other fairly when it turns out there is little reason to trust what either have them have to say about the other.

about 6 months ago
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Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires

EXTomar Microsoft Is Correct But Missed The Point (860 comments)

Microsoft is completely correct that if they are on the hook for stability and security of Microsoft products then they need to kill off software they can no longer sustain or maintain. Microsoft should be free and clear to "end of life" both Windows XP and Office 2003. What the problem is that their "replacement" for the products seem dubious.

We know what the problems are with Windows 8 where you can find the issues all over the Internet with simple searches. Since /. loves the car analogy: Windows 8 is a replace for Windows XP like scooter is a replacement for a 2001 sedan. Or more exactly, it is like trading in your quirky but workable 2001 sedan for a new 2014 model but find the car manufacturer thought scooters were the superior are the future so they completely rearranged the inside around one big scooter seat, a Y steering stick instead of a wheel, and threw out a bunch of nice features normally found in cars under the guise "it was too complex for people". And after all of that the dealer perks up and says, "But don't believe the hate....the Bluetooth integration works great!" Lots of things work really well in Windows 8 but the major interface features do not.

As for Office 2003, many places have already "dealt with it" where they are sticking with it or moved onto simple alternatives. If one is still using Office 2003 then they didn't need the "cutting edge features" of modern Office where Google Docs is easily more than enough for them. Convince this "bottom segment" of the market to upgrade is a lost cause for Microsoft. These customers feel like they don't need the new features and complexity and not at the price they are asking.

about 6 months ago
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Free (Gratis) Version of Windows Could Be a Reality Soon

EXTomar Re:Is Win 8.1 that bad? (392 comments)

Yes it is especially given the context of a machine that is under $500 where the cost of a brand new Windows 8 license is large for this class of machine but doesn't seem worth it compared to just reusing your old Win7 install.

about 6 months ago
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Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?

EXTomar Regional Crisis (491 comments)

There is not a national STEM problem but there are places with very local and very acute problems with finding enough people for the work available. For multiple reasons and factors most of those STEM style jobs left for elsewhere but the need for scientists and engineers didn't from places like Idaho and Tennessee.

I fully expect you can't walk through a crowed mall in Seattle or San Fransisco without bumping into someone who is STEM educated. I also fully expect that there are people who would do anything for another lab scientist or engineer on staff in a company located in Omaha, Nebraska.

about 7 months ago
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E-Sports Gender Gap: 90+% Male

EXTomar You Missed The Problem (Re:A Couple of Thoughts) (320 comments)

You clearly don't see the problem.

Lets say you are a new guy (or girl) who has only heard of "Dota 2" from the guys at work who won't stop talking about it so you want to watch a few games to see for yourself. You need to install the client which isn't that hard (as difficult as anything else on Steam) but it is not stupidly trivial either. You can try the default settings but that is a "your mileage may vary" situation where one might have to tweak the graphical settings to get a smooth running display. Now that you have system setup what game do you watch. As you astutely point out there is a big fat WATCH button at the top but the problem is that it is a giant list of games of public games which are of varying quality but ultimately not that important matches. Tournaments are on the other tab and those are better quality matches and often have commentary attached but they (often) require buying a ticket which may be a shock to someone new.

Finding out what is going on the next episode of "Survivor" is easy. Finding out when the next game for the Boston Celtics is easy. Finding out when the next game Na'vi is going to play is difficult. Where is "corey" from Zephyr right now? You have to follow their FB page and follow reddit.com and even follow a few players to figure out the right time to be online to start watching. All of that makes it hard if not impossible for anyone who wants to be casual about following games because by the time they see this stuff pop up in a new feed or whatever it is too late.

The point is that for a new guy, they are given no clues on what to watch or when to watch or even why they should bother to pay money to watch. Forget the gender thing, the only people who are watching competitive MOBA games know exactly what they are doing and the neophytes are left out. No one should be shocked that random men or women aren't interested because its convoluted to follow and sustain interest.

about 7 months ago
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E-Sports Gender Gap: 90+% Male

EXTomar A Couple of Thoughts (320 comments)

1. "It Is The Tools (Stupid)." And by that I mean "the tools" I mean the software used to watch and participate. None of this is exactly "user friendly" or easily discoverable. I don't play "League of Legends" but I do play "Dota 2" a lot and you have to actively follow reddit.com/r/Dota2 and know where to look for the information on the software let alone matches. It is difficult if not impossible to even use social "share" mechanism. And even using the hooks offered from Twitch.tv into FB/G+/Twitter just means your "regular" page becomes a spammy mess.

This isn't about "dumbing down" or "making it easy for girls". If you want casual players to participate by simply watching a match that can be a chore even for hard core gamers because they haven't followed "the scene".

2. I am suspicious of the data because a lot of the metrics that float around for "Dota 2" don't even collect "gender". Dotabuff.com catalogs a huge volume of stats on all matches played where it can tell you things win/loss of any particular hero, item popularity, stats for some players (that enable public posting), and a bunch of other tidbits but for all of the data and stat tracking it has it can't answer a simple question: How many matches where played by women? There are 530,000,000~ matches stored and yet there is no evidence supporting it either way. Using one survey at one event (is this even a major?) is the definition of "inconclusive".

about 7 months ago
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Windows 8 Metro: The Good Kind of Market Segmentation?

EXTomar Sorry For The Blunt Language... (389 comments)

But suggesting that Win 8 Metro is "designed to be the anti-thesis [of power user desktop]" seems like big time BS. All you need to do is look at the lock/login screen: Only a power user would have the inclination to start taping and pushing and dragging things around trying to figure out how to activate the login process. A less experience user would just click around aimlessly looking for a button missed or can't see wondering what the next step is.

The best interfaces seem to have simple expressions with simple feedback that extend into powerful combination. Win 8 Metro fails at this pretty badly because so many things are never explained or demonstrated or even suggested let alone expressed cleanly or completely. What does putting the pointer in the corner do? Why does click-drag direction-release count as a swipe only in the shell? Expecting a new or neophyte user to figure this out with the intuitive help of Windows 8 is kind of fanciful.

about 7 months ago
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The Ultimate Hopes For the New Cosmos Series

EXTomar Can't Find It (183 comments)

I don't mean that I doubt the quality or the content but I just looked for iTunes and Amazon and didn't see it. I see a lot of music with "Cosmos" in it. I see a few TV shows like "The Universe" and a good Nova special on "The Fabric of the Cosmos" but no "Cosmos" to buy and download as the episodes air. I guess I won't watch it or I'll end up watching "by other means" if I really get motivated. Or I'll wait for it to pop up on Netflix...if it shows up there and isn't throttled to hell.

I love watching shows and content like this. Too bad I no longer love watching any sort of TV.

about 7 months ago
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Google's Scanning of Gmail To Deliver Ads May Violate Federal Wiretap Laws

EXTomar Re:Oh for crying out loud (325 comments)

To apply "Junk Mail Filtering" requires scanning the contents. Even doing the basic things like checking DKIM and SPF to just do basic validation requires reading and extracting data from the message and storing it for metrics/heuristics is an important thing all modern email systems do now. And this ignores even the fundamentals of delivering the message.

This is not black and white situation. Email systems need to read email messages to make the system work but they also need to read the email to do ads.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu?

EXTomar Rock And Hard Place (631 comments)

If the technology languishes and is just the same stuff over and over again with hardware updates, then Ubuntu get into situation which Microsoft is in where people struggle to find a reason to use the new versions of the product.

If the technology is radically changed and experimented on, then Ubuntu gets into the same situation Microsoft is in where they did try a dramatic break and redesign and is reviled and people struggle to find a reason to use the new version of the product.

Can we have it both ways? Ideally Ubuntu should strive to give both a consistent and experimental experience but let the user choose the experience they like. Or an extension to that is to offer "Windows like" or "Mac like" or "Ubuntu like" experiences.

I have been using Ubuntu from before 10 and I don't mind the interface changes where I felt it is taking bits multiple platform interfaces and working well. I am more bothered by disappearing apps more than the changes in the graphical shell versions.

about a year ago
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Windows 8.1 RTM Trickling Out, With Start Menu and Boot-to-Desktop

EXTomar Re:Too little too late (496 comments)

It can be done with Linux where it involves initial settings in install image, "company repo", and the software packages alter whatever is needed. When something changes you update the "company-settings" packages and it gets updated.

The issue in my mind is that in my experience the value of this isn't that high in Linux environments. What are the enterprise settings that need to be set on 100 workstations post install? Outside of a few server changes, most changes can be handled and managed by service settings rather than workstation changes. If some software package goes from 1.x to 2.0 that requires a complete wipe/reset of settings that can be done at the package level and put on the "company repo".

I'm sure Windows Admin love using AD to roll out changes but I have so far failed to figure out what that would be that falls outside of "roll up package" scenario.

1 year,21 days
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Ballmer To Retire

EXTomar The Right Time Was Years Ago (633 comments)

Although it is fluffy marketing speak, the statement that "There is never a perfect time for this type of transition..." is funny because leaving before 2006 and Windows Vista would have been the best time for him to make an exit. A lot of scrambling after Vista seemed like wasted energy from misguided efforts that seem to come from the top down. At that point onwards Microsoft seemed to be off balance and felt like they were scrambling and groping from that on wards.

The board should look out side the company for the top spot not because I believe they don't have any one internal who could do better than Ballmer but they really need to break with the past decisions and reboot.

1 year,23 days
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After a User Dies, Apple Warns Against Counterfeit Chargers

EXTomar Re:The Quick EE Version (Re:How?) (457 comments)

Quick Physics: The reason why AC is great at power distribution is because energy can be delivered at long distances without loss through heat. There would be no "burning up" for a USB cable connected to a faulty power transformer...until someone picks up a device and shorts to ground.

The wiring in your house is just ordinary metal and it carries 120V AC without heating up where there is nothing magical about a USB cable connected to a shorting power transformer either.

about a year ago
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After a User Dies, Apple Warns Against Counterfeit Chargers

EXTomar The Quick EE Version (Re:How?) (457 comments)

Relying on vague memory of EE classes of 15 years ago: A badly built power transformer wouldn't shock someone with the transform voltage but the direct line. Poorly constructed circuits short from melting stuff contacting metal they shouldn't. If the circuit shorts and there are no GFI or fuses or other safety features, the power lines instead of being 12V DC or 5V DC or whatever are now 120V AC.

Safety features like fuses and GFI cost money where if one is seeking to make a fast buck on knock offs throwing out a few of them will make it even more profitable.

about a year ago
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Will Your Video Game Collection Appreciate Over Time?

EXTomar Most Cases, No Because It Is Software (127 comments)

In most cases software doesn't become more valuable. Technology in hardware and software changes. Features become superceeded by new or improved ones. I have a copy of VisiCalc for the Apple IIe and I'm pretty sure that no one is looking for VisiCalc as much as a working floppy drive let alone an Apple IIe.

There maybe occations where a game generates some nostaliga but that isn't "appreciation" in the economic sense. Maybe if such a game only had a few copies left in the world that could increase in value but with the advent of emulation of entire platforms in current hardware which means an copying is limitless this doesn't seem feasible either. The only thing that would appreciate would be the physical parts: the plastic, paper and metal that went into the crafting of that item but the game itself can go on and on and on.

In the end it would seem like "a video game collection" is only meaningful if it is complete or near complete because any specific piece of software isn't particularlly valuable no matter how many cat helmets or figurines they throw in.

about a year ago
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Mozilla Delays Default Third-Party Cookie Blocking In Firefox

EXTomar Re:Disqus is the problem (106 comments)

Disqus is only an example but the point is that there are "third party web components" that will be effected by a platform wide block. For cases like this it is good to give legitimate component software a "transitional grace period" to move away from the deprecated behavior before locking it out from modern versions onward.

I view control over "third party sources" in web content as a serious security issue but I also admit that I don't know the full ramifications of an outright ban either where taking the grace period to do some metrics is probably a good idea. What I would like Mozilla to do is allow it in Firefox 22 but expose it an option under Options/Advanced so it can be toggled with removing the option and enabling it later.

about a year ago

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