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Comments

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Microsoft Research Shows Off Multi-Touch Mouse Prototypes

Gldm Re:FTIR looks most practical (137 comments)

The problem is the material dictates much of the design. For FTIR to function, the curvature of the clear material must be such that the angle of refraction causes the light inside it to bounce back from the surface internally instead of escaping, like a superball in a narrow hallway. This means you need both a material with a high refractive index (i.e. Poly Methyl MethAcrylate aka Lucite/Plexiglas) and a shape that propigates the light beam. This then will dicate the overall design of the mouse.

Which means features such as handedness ergonomics will be difficult to do with this design. All the existing designs on the market would need to be modified to accomodate it. The process and materials involved in attaching the lightpipe to the base may not be easy or cheap. The shape they use at least in this demo will have issues with the front wanting to drag from the low area of contact with the desk relative to the pressure. And since it's a brittle material, I'm betting that thin arch with nothing supporting it will crack from stress as it ages, rendering the mouse useless in a much shorter time than users fine satisfactory.

Buy an acrylic cup from the supermarket and use it. See how long it takes it to develop the first cracks. Now assume any crack over 1mm will cause a diffraction of the light beam rendering the whole thing useless. I'm betting an optimistic 6 month product life is not ideal for a mouse.

Oh and the fad for "green" everything will hate it, since PMMA takes twice its weight in petroleum to produce.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Research Shows Off Multi-Touch Mouse Prototypes

Gldm Re:This looks VERY bad. (137 comments)

Ok, I did. The FTIR seems to have this issue, so does the side mouse. The orb clearly DOES NOT, as you can see from the sensor image that his fingers are on it most of the time. The cap mouse is tricky to tell due to the video length and quality but if you look at 2:24 it seems like his fingers are on it while moving the pointer to the window before clicking to drag, just like a regular mouse. Arty also does not have this issue.

Now, please go and actually use a touchpad. They work like I've described. The hovering finger problem can be solved in drivers by coding for differential activation. Which behavior do you think will be in a final product, the one that's in a lab prototype that causes discomfort, or the one that's been an established industry standard for a decade?

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Research Shows Off Multi-Touch Mouse Prototypes

Gldm The boob mouse will need a nipple. (137 comments)

I just realized something. If the "orb" mouse becomes common, it's going to need a tactile indicator for hand alignment. Like the little raised bumps keyboards usually have on the home keys so you can find the default position by feel.

If it doesn't get named the boob mouse after that, I'll eat one.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Research Shows Off Multi-Touch Mouse Prototypes

Gldm Re:This looks VERY bad. (137 comments)

Not true. Put your finger on a touchpad and hold it there. Does the mouse move continuously? Does it continually click from the double-tap function?

No, because it works on a differential. So resting your fingers on the mouse as normal is fine. There may be a bit of an issue about registering clicks, which will take either pressure sensitivity at a basic (binary) level, or a change in user habits to lift the mouse and put it down again as the click action instead of the reverse.

But I think most likely some smart manufacturer will just put the capacitive surface over existing mouse buttons, which are wired to their normal function. People will still want the tactile click feedback, and this does not impair the functionality of the capacitive surface.

If there's no reason the choice must be exclusive, then the choice will be both.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Research Shows Off Multi-Touch Mouse Prototypes

Gldm Re:Mice the same, keyboards to change (137 comments)

Nope, there have been keyboards with trackpads for quite a long time now. Also, how are sales of USB trackpads for desktops? I remember buying a 9 pin serial port based one back when they just came out and were the hot new things. But I found it wasn't all that great.

The main reason I don't see touchpads taking over desktops is a simple one. A touchpad requires you to use fingers for both positioning AND clicking. It's an overloaded operation. What was one of the earliest improvements to touchpad design? The ability to tap to emulate a left click. Because it's a royal pain to position with fingers and click with the thumb, it makes common operations like dragging difficult and imprecise. Then throw in scrollwheel functionality and ugh! The reason it flourishes in laptops is because it doesn't require any space to operate, and most people wouldn't use a laptop they couldn't use on a lap. The eraser nub mice lost out because their control precision was even worse than the touchpad.

If people aren't buying aftermarket touchpads for their desktops in significant numbers let alone more than mice, I don't see the evidence for an actual user preference of the touchpad over the mouse. The market's had more than long enough for that kind of bias to assert itself and it hasn't.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Research Shows Off Multi-Touch Mouse Prototypes

Gldm Re:Multiple interfaces, MULTIPLE METHODS! (137 comments)

The natural extension of multi-button mania is infinite buttons, i.e. a continuous surface. So is it a surprise that it's come to this?

I agree that the flat panel to mouse mapping may be akward since the mouse isn't flat. It's the main reason I favor the orb-shape on they showed, since it's got its own potential for a lot of interesting things, and has enough area that you could fit a lot of control functionality on it. But I think it will lose out on appeal and cost. I'd love it if at least one gets to market though, it looks like someone took the old SpaceOrb controller and did it right.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Research Shows Off Multi-Touch Mouse Prototypes

Gldm Re:You overlook his analyses (137 comments)

Yes but it's easy to compensate for the motor control by reducing mouse sensitivity. In general I find people who opt for the finger controlled mouse posture are used to needing to vary sensitivity to perform precise tasks (like CAD or sniping in games). Before the advent of mice with adjustable resolution controls, the only really practical way to change sensitivity was the analog one - to use arm movements for the big changes and fingers for the fine tuning. The opposing pressure to this was in the cases where people valued access to higher numbers of buttons over adjustable precision control, resulting in a different mouse holding posture that emphasises functionality at the exexpense of precision.

It's pretty easy to change mouse sensitivity to adjust for finer control, especially on modern mice. It's really hard to grow extra fingers to push more buttons. Therefore it's possible for one of these systems to compensate for its lack (by adding sensitivity controls on the mouse), but the reverse is not true. So I'm predicting you and the other guy will be in the minority on this since younger users tend to be more comfortable with extra buttons than us fossils who grew up with 2 and 3 button mice with cords and balls.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Research Shows Off Multi-Touch Mouse Prototypes

Gldm Finger vs palm mousers are an issue. (137 comments)

There are two general classes of mouse posture: finger-based and palm-based. There's also the "claw" one, which people contend the standard finger based posture is a subset of just less optimal for clicking response time. There's a heated contention between them among gamers who take things like this too seriously. Razer designs mice to fit the various styles, which they describe in their ergonomics guide: http://www2.razerzone.com/MouseGuide/html/palmgrip.php

Some people prefer to use the fingers for fine motor control, as you mention. Others prefer to just use a lower sensitivity and arm motion for positioning, freeing up finger control for more buttons. These inventions aren't aiming at a specific ergonomic target, they're adding functionality. If anything, a prevalence of multi-touch support in the future will dictate the common mouse holding posture, and I suspect you may be in for some grumbling about it for the forseeable future as it does not fit your natural tendency.

Your kids will wonder how the hell you can hold a mouse like that and still use it though.

more than 4 years ago
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Microsoft Research Shows Off Multi-Touch Mouse Prototypes

Gldm I think the cap mouse will probably win out. (137 comments)

Well change seems inevitable because developers want the same multi-touch apps for all the new phones to work on desktops without redoing the interface. So the PC is going to need multitouch. So either the screen goes multitouch (which it has in some cases), or the input devices do. Since touchscreens have issues with things like smearing and comfort distance, that leaves the interface devices. Multitouch pads have been done, but most people still prefer mice. They're more precise due to the size of the working area, and easier for certain tasks like dragging because of the extra degrees of freedom on the arm/elbow which frees up the fingers for clicking instead of overloading them for both position and input.

Of these candidates, the cap mouse is most likely to win out, followed by the orb mouse, which may see a competing run in the high end. Why? Let's see:

FTIR mouse: This is basically an internal reflecting material like a lightpipe or fiberoptic cable. The problem is it limits the mouse because it requires this kind of material (think the demo uses acrylic), and design such that the camera can always see it. The shape has poor balance, CG, and drag properties, and will probably result in breaking or issues sliding for many people. The restrictions to mouse design will annoy existing manufacturers, unlike say optical sensors, which were just drop in replacements for mouse balls.

Articulated mouse (Arty): Not happening, for a simple reason - people won't want to readjust to left/right click being thumb/forefinger instead of index/middle. It sounds stupid, but believe me it will be a showstopper. Plus the design is a bit fragile, and I'm not sure on the ergonomics of having to extend the finger and thumb like that, seems like an RSI issue waiting to happen.

Side mouse: This has some potential, but it will be plagued by unintentional inputs. Any time you drum your fingers impatiently, drop a pen on the desk, move the camera too close to something sitting on the desk, it will go nuts. It might be useful in cases where you can't build a touchpad into a device, but in most of those cases the device is so small you want to hold it not rest it on a desk anyway, so there'd be no surface for the side mouse to track on.

Now for the showdown between the two serious contenders.

Orb mouse: Really nice input image. Can easily do a variety of applications with it, since there's so much area. Datacenters sometimes use illuminated vein pattern recognition for biometrics, which can be efficiently integrated with this, and it's a better solution than those stupid touchpad fingerprint readers. But for more conventional apps it's got the most area, the best shape to exploit the use of all fingers, and in deference to the mention of clock-based positioning on the Gizmodo article about it, will probably be the easiest for people to extend thinking to. The main showstoppers are cost (not sure) and bulk/shape issues. People may not find the bulgy shape appealing though I suspect it will test well with male audiences.

Cap mouse: Probably going to win, despite the low resolution sensor image. Why? That "$1 gesture recognition" on the video says it all. Not the gesture support part, the $1 part. Cost wise it's probably cheapest, and it seemed to work sufficient for the apps in the demo. It's also just a bolt-on to existing mouse designs. No need to modify the existing shape or ergonomics to accommodate it, which means it's the path of least resistance. If it's also the path of least cost, which given most of the rest need a camera-quality sensor it most likely is, then the winner seems pretty obvious.

more than 4 years ago
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MIT Project "Gaydar" Shakes Privacy Assumpitons

Gldm Re:MIT Gaydar should be Facebook app (508 comments)

No, they dislike it, but much less than the average human male heterosexual.

No, we like it as much as the average human male heterosexual, which is to say more than the average female heterosexual due to anatomical differences (see prostate). The primary difference is we've accepted or adapted to the implied dominance association males struggle to divorce from sexual acts (much like how women attach love to sexual acts), so we're not afraid that having someone do something that feels so nice somehow makes us inferior. Secure heterosexual males generally enjoy the same kind of stimulation from their partners but few seem to ever get over their hangups, despite the high percentage that "experiment" early on. Many wind up seeking it out secretly on the side, usually on craigslist.

about 5 years ago
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Blizzard Confirms No LAN Support For Starcraft 2

Gldm Didn't the movie industry try something like this? (737 comments)

You know, the whole phone-home every time you want to use the product model? Claiming it would be awesome for consumers. What was it called again?

Oh yeah, Divx.

Whatever happened to that?

more than 4 years ago
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AMD's Six-Core Istanbul Opterons

Gldm Re:No. (123 comments)

I know the Ted Stevens quote. HT is commonly organized as tunnels though, hence the pun.

more than 5 years ago
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AMD's Six-Core Istanbul Opterons

Gldm Re:No. (123 comments)

HyperTransport is not a big truck! It's a series of tunnels!

more than 5 years ago
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AMD's Six-Core Istanbul Opterons

Gldm Re:No. (123 comments)

How bout the 4.0Ghz Core 2 Duo I paid $10 for last month?

No really, Newegg was selling E5200s for $10 extra on bundle with a Lexmark X4850, and I needed a printer. So hey, $10 CPU, how bad can it be? So I throw it in a P45 board and shake some DDR2 out of the box o random dimms, and it turns out it really likes 12x333 at stock voltage with a cheap heatsink. Since the board supports the 333/1333fsb officially, the rest of it runs at stock speeds like ddr2 1066. Prime95 and HyperPi run all day without crashing so I figure it's good.

Not sure exactly what Mr. Single Core is doing wrong, but I would think anyone who could afford the cameras for a REDOne setup would be able to afford a big GPU accelerated setup for their HD rendering and not worry so much about CPUs anymore.

more than 5 years ago
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Hacking Our Five Senses and Building New Ones

Gldm Or the reverse in my case. (290 comments)

I found DMT did not produce any of those effects for me personally. Instead in my case it disabled my synaesthesia for about 15 minutes or so. This was extremely disconcerting at first but once I understood the effect a bit better (and realized I was still breathing despite not receiving the normal feedback from my lungs) it was more interesting than alarming.

While I'd been aware that I have multiple forms of synaesthesia, ranging from the common ones like grapheme-color, to more rare like lexical-gustatory, to just outright weird like numeric-topology, there were quite a few more subtle ones I hadn't taken into account. Some standouts in particular were synaesthesic mixes from channels like emotional state, internal sense (from organs), facial recognition, and temperature. It can be a hard thing to explain because to me that's just how the world is.

Before I saw a documentary on it in my 20s I thought everyone experienced things this way. Then I learned otherwise. After experiencing things without it for a little while, I feel kinda bad for everyone else. But on a positive note, I was able to understand how I was generating social anxiety in a feedback loop (emotional-visual overlay with complex things like facial recognition bias) and haven't needed anything for anxiety since the experience with DMT.

more than 5 years ago
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I prefer to consume my caffeine from a vessel of ...

Gldm Caffeine yes, coffee no. (571 comments)

My thanks to the creator of this poll for specifying "caffeine" and not "coffee". As a person with the (rather rare) condition of an allergy to coffee, it is appreciated.

It may sound petty, but you have to realize how annoying it is to constantly explain why I don't want to go for coffee on a date, don't want any after eating at a restaurant, or on a plane flight, or when buying a donut, bagel, or breakfast combo. You should see the looks I get at McD's when I ask for milk with an Egg McMuffin. People don't often take just "no thanks" for an answer, they want to know what's wrong with me that I don't consume the default beverage.

And of course then once I explain they say something along the lines of "Oh that's so horrible, I couldn't live without caffeine!", and then I have to explain that I enjoy caffeine very much (within moderation), it is probably one of the other thousand or so chemicals, possibly one of the dozen-plus carcinogens that is a problem for me.

The worst part is the sensitivity to the smell. It is by far the most sensitive allergy I have in terms of air quality. I sympathize with those allergic to peanuts because I have some inkling of what they must have to deal with. Fortunately it's not quite that bad for me, but bad enough that I forbid it from my own house/car and constantly battle severe nausea in places that specialize in brewing it.

more than 5 years ago
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Are Quirky Developers Brilliant Or Dangerous?

Gldm Re:Ignore... (1134 comments)

Interfaces are often overrated like that.

more than 5 years ago
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Are Quirky Developers Brilliant Or Dangerous?

Gldm Re:Brilliant doesn't have to be dangerous. (1134 comments)

Having dealt with the very specific headache of having to use and modify an FFT function before, one problem that is difficult to avoid is the fact that most coders who write math libraries and things like FFT functions tend to write them in math terminology. I.e. there are lots and lots and lots of confusing little single letter variables that are obvious in purpose to a math major (or someone who's done the math for engineering/physics/CS) but completely obscure to anyone else. Sometimes x or w or n or k as a variable choice is just a lazy programmer. Other times it's mathematically significant. And if you don't have the experience to know it's the latter and not the former, especially since many math programmers are very lazy about documentation since they assume everyone will either know the math or go look up the math, it can turn into a real headache real fast. And if you're somehow in the position of having to deal with functions written by programmers from different scientific disciplines (math + physics for example) you can just forget about consistent and descriptive variable naming. Because to them a single letter IS descriptive and not obscure at all, but to anyone else it's not, and the systems are not consistent to each other (too few letters for that).

more than 5 years ago
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My longest stretch without sleep (catnaps count) ...

Gldm Re:Crank (605 comments)

You only THINK you had a horrible weekend. You're actually just a personality fragment of the guy still in the deprivation tank from a few posts up. :P

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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The Future of Mice

Gldm Gldm writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Gldm (600518) writes "Gizmodo has a story about prototype mouse designs seen while touring Microsoft's hardware division. All of them seem focused on adding multitouch functionality or a way to emulate it so that applications designed for multitouch devices can be used with a mouse on a desktop. Designs include a capacitive surface, a semitransparent hemisphere lit by IR internally, articulated arms, a side-mounted camera tracking fingers, and even a frustrated total internal reflection lightpipe. The Orb seems the most useful in terms of functional extension, but my money's on the Cap design to win due to low cost and the ease of which it can be bolted on to existing designs and ergonomics."
Link to Original Source
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Tax software that can handle dual filing status?

Gldm Gldm writes  |  more than 5 years ago

General Lee D. Mented writes "I encountered a bit of a problem with my taxes this year and have filed for an extension to sort it out. Does anyone know of any free (I've been out of work a long time) tax programs or sites that can cope with the fact that I have different state and federal marital status?

The problem is this: I have a spousal contract that legally defines me as the spouse of a South African citizen under SA's Immigration Act of 2002 Section 1, subsection xxxvi, which was ruled equivalent by the Constitutional Court, upheld on appeal, and also gained formal legislative support. Last year I moved back to New York (where I was born and raised, so yes I'm a US citizen), and in May it was reported that the Governor had issued a memo ordering state agencies to recognize marriages from foreign jurisdictions. I later applied for welfare, and the NYC Human Resources Administration did a review where they declared my status as legally married with respect to New York State. However, under the Defense of Marriage Act, the United States still considers me single.

So now I'm a bit stuck. All the efile tax solutions I tried didn't have a way to file as married filing separately for state and single for federal. I found ways to do just the federal filing, but never found a free one that would just do the state filing so that I could do them one at a time. Since Slashdot tends to have a userbase knowledgeable of the capabilities of free software, I was wondering if anyone knows one I might have missed. Or am I just going to have to practice being able to form recognizable handwriting and do it on dead trees?"

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