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Hardly Anyone Is Buying 'Smart Guns'

Moraelin Tragic, but useful (814 comments)

Well, we're talking types who think they absolutely need a loaded gun everywhere they might be in the house, including racks by the bed and whatnot. And that their life WILL depend on it any day now, when squads of evil government black muslim communist ninjas will burst into their home to confiscate their bible and replace their medicare with an evil socialized one. And their kids who think that playing cops and robbers with daddy's gun, presumbaly in between eating paint chips and being homeschooled in how many dinosaurs fit on Noah's arc, is a good idea.

I dunno, it certainly is tragic, but their noble sacrifice to improve the species' gene pool will be remembered.

1 year,16 days
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Mastermind of 9/11 Attacks Designs a Secret Vacuum Cleaner

Moraelin You don't really want a black hole (284 comments)

Actually, you probably don't want an appliance powered by a black hole, because those convert matter into energy via Hawking radiation and the energy output actually ramps UP as the size decreases. A very small black hole, say, 1 kg in weight (a little over 2 pounds) would convert itself into energy in about 84 attoseconds and release the same energy as a 21 megaton nuke or so.

You'd need a pretty big one for it to be stable, and I doubt you really want a vacuum cleaner weighing as much as the Everest :p

On the other hand, if we ever tame one, it would make an awesome source of energy for something that needs a lot more energy. Such as a continent. Or a warp-capable ship. Hmm, the Romulans were up to something.

Of course, it would still be a Tamagochi that blows up with the fury of a supernova if you forget to "feed" it, but, hey, it's all good as long as we call it a warp core breach. Right?

Hmm, maybe I shouldn't have mentioned Romulan singularity warp cores though... I hear the Tal'Shiar are nastier than the NSA and CIA put together ;)

1 year,19 days
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Things That Scare the Bejeezus Out of Programmers

Moraelin True story (641 comments)

True story, at some point in the past I had to work on a company's internal application for data entry. Well, it was a lot of data and, as requested by the PHBs, pretty much half the fields were needlessly mandatory. (Which brings us of the fear of working for incompetent people;))

Most of them were pretty much impossible to validate too, because they were stuff like city or street names, and even in telephone numbers people tend to use letters. So the only real restrictions were field lengths and that they're mandatory.

So then comes the request to basically make reports and searches on that data.

And I kid you not, half the records had stuff like "n.a.", "I don't know", "no idea", etc in at least one of those fields.

And these were internal users, not some 6 year old over the internet.

1 year,29 days
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Scientists Work To Produce 'Star Trek' Deflector Shields

Moraelin Well, duh (193 comments)

Well, duh, they'll just run an electroplasma manifold between it and the warp core ;)

about a year ago
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Scientists Work To Produce 'Star Trek' Deflector Shields

Moraelin Re:Tea, Earl Grey, hot. (193 comments)

Why not spend that time trying to produce a replicator?

Or am I to expect a "Replicating food is killing farmers, and it's illegal!" response?

There was news recently that NASA _is_ paying someone to develop a 3d printer that prints food, for their spaceships. Which I suppose is as close as we can get to a replicator with the tech level we have for now.

about a year ago
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Scientists Work To Produce 'Star Trek' Deflector Shields

Moraelin Well, sorta (193 comments)

Well, sorta. If you do enough technobabble and you're willing to count close enough as a hit, then getting it right isn't that hard.

Point in case, in ST's case the Navigational Deflector (emitted by the deflector dish) was actually supposed to protect against space debris, micro-meteorites, etc. (Still a good idea, mind you, because when you're moving even close enough to the speed of light, a single grain of sand packs more energy than a broadside from a 20'th century battleship.)

Dealing with particles via magnetic field was actually the job of the Bussard Collectors (you know, those red glowing things at the front of the nacelles), a.k.a., ramscoops. Which actually didn't deflect it, but collected all that mostly hydrogen in the ship's path.

So, yeah, if you make a complete hash of which did what, and how, and still call it a ST deflector shield, yeah, you can count it as a hit.

But then by the same lax standard I can claim that Jesus endorsed binary code. Matthew 5:37: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." :p

(And yes, I'm a huge ST and SW nerd. I know, I know, I'll go not get laid now.;)

about a year ago
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Why Your Sysadmin Hates You

Moraelin Two wrongs don't make a right, though (572 comments)

Well, yes, but my experience is that even if I've never screamed at an admin, nor informed them of their mothers' extramarital activities, the majority seem to make it their duty to keep me from doing my job anyway.

In fact, for some (I'm looking at the fucktard duo administering the MQ server,) the nicer you are and more willing to explain why you need a queue for the application already approved by anyone who had a legitimate say, the more they'll abuse that and your time by MAKING you have to explain for weeks or get nothing from them. The guys who do tell them to STFU and do their own job, now those get what they asked for.

Now I have sympathy for admins, and understand that other people shit on their day. But WTH does it solve to in turn have them shit on MY day and my coworkers' day?

If X bullied admin Y, and Y bullies innocent bystander Z in turn, what did it solve, other than make an extra person unhappy? And how does the former even excuse the latter, anyway? Much less make it right. Two wrongs don't make a right.

about a year ago
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

Moraelin Actually, now that makes me wonder (259 comments)

Actually, now that I said that only morons would believe EA's BS about the CPU not being enough for their game, and that they're actually processing your city on the server... it kinda makes me wonder if they ARE trying to get morons as a target demographic.

I was reading a paper a few months ago about Nigerian widow scams and such. The question they had basically asked themselves was: why those scams don't try to be a little less ridiculous and more plausible? Why don't they try to snag more people?

Their conclusion was that basically the scammers don't really want everyone. They actually want only the morons, who are more likely to then go through with it. If a smart person gets tipped off that it's bogus... GOOD! That's one less dead end to waste time on.

So I'm thinking, hmmmm, maybe that's EA's plan. Maybe they do want to reach the morons. More morons with money probably means more crap DLCs sold down the line :p

about a year ago
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

Moraelin Well, that much is clear (259 comments)

Well, that much is clear.

In fact, here's a thought: they said that the processing was so complex, they had to do some of it on their servers. But... if my still fairly top of the line 4 cpu / 8 thread Intel couldn't do it... what was EA going to do that actually makes a difference? Add one more CPU of their own for everyone who plays at a given time? Yeah, I'm so going to believe that they'll buy a 1 million CPU server farm just to handle everyone at launch. NOT.

So, yeah, it was clear that they're just shovelling ridiculous BS and hoping that enough morons would actually believe that.

The sad part, though, is that I've actually seen morons repeating it in excuse of the crashing servers fiasco.

about a year ago
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

Moraelin Actually, I think they did consider the use-case (259 comments)

Actually, considering how the game works, I'm 100% convinced that it's the result of EA considering the single-player case... except in EA management lingo that use-case sounds a bit like, "OMG, gazillions of people will pirate our game, or buy it used on EBay."

Seriously, the game IS at heart a single player game. I've managed to squeeze in between server crashes and start a game or two, and guess what? The game functions exactly the same when the server crashes while you're in your city.

The lie that the game is too complex for a single CPU and they need to do server-side processing too, was just that: a lie. The only "server-side processing" they do is saving the game and publishing your game events.

But here's the funny thing: Steam for example manages just fine to send your achievements to the server in the background, without needing the game to be tethered to a server all the time. Skyrim, Fallout New Vegas, A Game Of Dwarves, etc, take your pick, they're all single player games that Steam can both provide DRM for and save the achievements (and for some even the save games) on their server without pretending it's an online game.

So anyway, the game IS perfectly able to run single player. It's not a real client-server product like WoW or EA's own TOR. It doesn't need a server or a server emulator to play exactly the same. It's a single player game, which is perfectly able to function without a server, plus some artificial tethering to their servers that doesn't really add much.

So why IS a single player mode missing at least as an official option to start the game, when the game functions perfectly well in single player?

It seems to me like the only reasonable explanation is that they considered single-player offline mode as something to prevent.

about a year ago
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

Moraelin Spectacularly defeats the purpose of DRM too (259 comments)

You know, it just occurs to me... their problem with piracy and with second hand games is that someone gets to play one of EA's games, and EA doesn't get paid for it.

So let me get this straight, the result of putting the idiotic DRM in SimCity, is... that now a LOT of people get to play one of EA's (other) games, and EA doesn't get paid for it.

Sure, most of those wouldn't have bought the other EA game, but then neither would have most pirates. That is, outside of putting the BS in BSA.

But if you do the the maths BSA style, where every single copy downloaded is a lost sale -- and you just know whoever came up with that over-the-top DRM is -- yeah, great job, EA. Did you need a scope to shoot yourself in the foot so neatly, or is it a natural talent?

No, seriously, releasing SimCity without DRM would have probably resulted in less people playing an unpaid copy, AND saved them from all the negative publicity and angry customers.

about a year ago
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

Moraelin Reminds me of some of the Amazon comments (259 comments)

At least on Amazon.de there were a couple of comments to the effect of, "Well, they couldn't have guessed that all the idiots who paid a lot of money for a game actually intend to play it." :p

about a year ago
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In Wake of Poor Reviews, Amazon Yanks SimCity Download

Moraelin Not just that (511 comments)

It's not even just the personal attacks. It was also a combination of both annoying and amusing to see the fanboys come up with stuff like:

- Well, they said it would be online and have DRM, whoever is complaining can only blame themselves, bla, bla, bla, I'm giving it 5 stars out of principle!

(Really? Did they also say it would be impossible to play because the servers crash all the time? And what principle would that be? Fanboy devotion?)

- I don't believe any of the 1 star reviews, such a complex game can't be judged in just a couple of hours!

(Which part of "can't even start the tutorial" is too complex to judge? Would, say, 8 hours of servers crashing and being unable to even 'claim' an empty spot to build on, reveal some subtle nuances of experiencing a server crash, or what?)

- The game is pure genius and incredibly much fun, I'm giving it only 4 stars because I can't actually start it.

(Then how the eff would you know first hand if it's fun to play or not?)

- I didn't play it myself, I bought it for my kid and he seems happy with it, so I'm giving it 5 stars.

(Way to confess in public that you're paying exactly zero attention to your kid. Plus, if you have no personal experience with it, shouldn't the kid be writing the review?)

Loosely translated from German from Amazon.de, for what it's worth.

Really, it's the... faith-based giving top ratings or objecting to vad reviews for something they didn't even play that was disheartening at times.

about a year ago
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In Wake of Poor Reviews, Amazon Yanks SimCity Download

Moraelin Bullshit (511 comments)

Nobody claimed that their servers were handling the number crunching. And even if they did, you'd have to be a moron to believe it. GPUs exist for a reason -- because CPUs are too slow for the job. The bus between your CPU and video memory is what, about a million times faster than an Internet server to your video memory?

However, that doesn't mean that critical logic to play the game doesn't reside on the server. The random things that happen in the game could very well be generated by the server. Certain mechanics, no matter how dull, simplywdon't exist in the game client. That makes it difficult to pirate -- you can remove the logic that prevents it from needing to connect to a server, but nothing would work. Want to place something? Well, the server dictates whether it's a valid location or not. Could someone "crack" that logic, effectively making it okay to place anything anywhere? Sure. But now it's not the same game.

The parent was 100% correct. The game is tied to logic on the server. It might be trivial (for EA) to such logic to the client, and you can dislike EA for not putting the logic on the client. But, it doesn't change the fact that the current design makes it very hard to pirate.

Bullshit. Stop just imagining what fantasy details might keep you trusting your corporate idol.

I can tell you first hand -- thanks to servers going up and down like a yoyo today -- that the game continues doing everything just fine, for extended periods of time, even while it has a message in the upper left corner that the connection is lost. People still move in and out, houses and businesses grow or shrink and merge adjacent lots when growing into something physically larger, cops still respond to crimes and firemen to fires, oil and water deposits run out, and the city responded just like I expected to stuff like my demolishing a power plant (which made the trade depot stop too, which stalled the factories) and then building a new one (which reversed those effects.)

It's not just that such code COULD be in the client, it's that it obviously IS in the client. The client continued doing all that just fine without a server connection.

If you know anything that doesn't, please do list it. Just asserting that EA's lie is true, won't cut it, no matter how hard your fanboy brain just wants to have faith in your corporate idol.

about a year ago
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In Wake of Poor Reviews, Amazon Yanks SimCity Download

Moraelin Not just server load per se, it's incompetent code (511 comments)

For a start, ok, let's look at the server load issues. Other games had server load issues too. E.g., WoW at launch, EA's own TOR, etc. They just had a login queue, but the servers continued working, and whoever got a connection, actually kept having it.

In SimCity's case they supposedly had a "login queue"... except it wasn't actually a queue. It didn't keep an order or adjust its predictions based on how many quit in front of you. It was just an enormous time (20 minutes!) being blocked from trying again. The clue that it wasn't really a queue was that it didn't change or even start differently if you tried different servers. You always got blocked for the same time, and there is no indication that someone who wasn't blocked and tried at the right time wouldn't skip in ahead of you. So, yeah, in 20 minutes you'd just get blocked again for another 20 minutes.

Not that it mattered for most servers, because they just were down and weren't accepting connections at all. So you wouldn't even get that joke of a "queue", you'd just get a network error.

And not that it mattered if you actually managed to connect, the server would die and nix your connection before you even managed to actually claim a city, or while trying to claim a city. (I.e., get your empty map to start a city on.)

I'm sorry, making a server that can only take a finite number of connections is ok and natural. You don't have infinite memory, nor CPU power, nor bandwidth. Making a server that crashes and burns if too many people attempt to connect, though, is just bad quality.

Not that it's the only case of bad coding. The game for example seems to have serious trouble even remembering the fucking settings. E.g., I keep deactivating the option to publish my achievements, but it seems to randomly pop back on. Especially it seems that a server crash makes it forget that option, which is to say, they fail to persist it. (And on top of that, when they pester me with it at the main screen, the game can't seem to tell if it's on or off anyway.)

Really, how stupid and incompetent does one have to be to botch saving the options, e.g., as some simple key/value pairs? I'm pretty sure even complete novices would find it hard to screw that up.

And really, what did they need multiplayer for, anyway? Reading their blog makes it sound like it being multiplayer opens so many oportunities and, werily I say unto you, make it a whole new game... except it doesn't.

The game is multiplayer in the same sense as publishing your minesweeper score makes minesweeper multiplayer. I.e., I can't even imagine how much brain damage someone would need to think that.

You can't actually be in the same city with a friend or anything. At most you can have your cities in the same zone and have a look at each other's city.

Plus, the sad part is right on the main menu screen, where it pesters you with that publishing your city events. The game tells you something to the tune of "Playing is more fun with friends! We can publish your game events in the GameLog for your friends!" Not an exact quote, but close enough and the meaning is that.

I'm sorry, but that's not "playing with friends", it's just putting a frikken log on the web. It's no more "playing with friends" than keeping a list of your Minesweeper scores on a blog page is.

I can't even imagine what kind of sad moron are they aiming for as a target demographic, that actually thinks publishing a list of events from an essentially single player game, is anything like actually playing a game together with some friends. Where the heck is the "playing together" part, ffs?

Even skipping after that, who the heck even cares to read such drivel on a web page as, basically, "PigBenis City reached 50,000 people?" Seriously, if some marketroid moron from EA is reading this, trust me, even if I were your BFF, I still wouldn't give a flying fuck about mundane events from your single player video game. The only people who care about that are those who can get something out of that, e.g., the people in the raid group who need you to be able to tank the boss, so THEY get their own chance at their own epic loot and tokens. Trust me, they're not checking your equipment out of care for you, nor are going to envy your gigantic virtual penis because you got the epic Sword Of Ganking +5. And even that requires an ACTUAL multiplayer game, not just a web page.

But ok, let's say they do think there is a whole market segment of friendless morons, for whom having a site with their game log is the closest they'll ever come to "playing with friends." WTH does that need a permanent connection for, or being an online game at all? Can't the game just upload the list of achievements at the end or in the background? Steam manages to do that just fine, for example, without making every game be online.

So, anyway, to sum it up: it's not even just that it's DRM, or that it calls home (Steam can do those without being intrusive), or even the lack of infrastructure. It's that the DRM and infrastructure are stupidly and incompetently implemented, that caused the problems. And on top of that, what's causing insult to injury is that the whole hype about it being online, is just BS, and that thus what caused the whole problems was a "feature" that the game needed like we all need a hole in the head.

about a year ago
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Former FCC Boss: Data Caps Not About Network Congestion

Moraelin Sure, I can give you a link or two (238 comments)

Sure, I can give you a link or two. Far from me to discourage a healthy dose of skepticism :p

http://definitions.uslegal.com/b/breach-of-fiduciary-duty/

"When one person does agree to act for another in a fiduciary relationship, the law forbids the fiduciary from acting in any manner adverse or contrary to the interests of the client, or from acting for his own benefit in relation to the subject matter."

So, yes, if you just decided to just give this year's profits to charity and it's not obvious what that does for your investors, you might just get sued.

Also, for an actual law, you can check out stuff like Fiduciary Obligations Act

Note that as per section 1, ""Fiduciary" includes a trustee under any trust, expressed, implied, resulting or constructive executor, administrator, guardian, conservator, curator, receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, assignee for the benefit of creditors, partner, agent, officer of a corporation, public or private, public officer, or any other person acting in a fiduciary capacity for any person, trust or estate." My emphasis.

So, yeah, if you thought being a CEO meant free hand to do whatever you wish with other people's money, think again.

That said, note that there is leeway in exactly what is the best for the principal, i.e., best for the person whose money you're entrusted with. Nobody is forbidding you, for example, from whitewashing the company image with ads, PR or, yes, by playing the charity card, if you can make a case that you expected more profits as a result of it. There's a lot of 'oh, we care so much' act that basically is ok if you can make a case that a corporate asshole image would hurt your clients' interests more.

That said, also note that most of the big charity is actually private. A guy like Bill Gates is perfectly within his rights to spend his own money however he sees fit. Basically if you decide to just give 20 million of the company's money to charity, you might get sued, but if you can pull a 20 million salary as a CEO (and God knows some people got paid even more even to drive a company into the ground) and then give that money to charity, well, nobody can tell you what to do with your own money.

Also note that the rules are a bit different from non-profit organizations. Those are by definition not supposed to make a profit for anyone. So if an organization is registered as a charity, well, it's safe to say it won't be sued for actually spending its money on charity.

about a year and a half ago
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Former FCC Boss: Data Caps Not About Network Congestion

Moraelin I don't think it means even that (238 comments)

Fair means they'll leave the customer with some money for other corporations to fleece.

I don't think it means even that. In fact, I don't think "fair" was ever meant to mean "for you".

From my subjective experience just means "we want more money". The idea is that what they're already getting is so incredibly unfair, when they could be getting more with just a little PR, disinformation and maybe a little collusion. Why, the CEO is probably still driving a Mercedes, while his neighbour is driving a Bugatti Veyron. Can you imagine how unfair that is?

Sarcasm aside... Not that it's necessarily a bad thing or evil. They're expected, and indeed the system is such that they have a legal obligation, to make as much money as possible for the investors. Not fleecing you as hard as physically possible, would be a breach of that obligation. Whether you have some money left after that, is more of a side-effect, than intended. Indeed, it would be a breach of trust if they actually intended to take less money for fairness sake.

I suppose the system just works. Might as well enjoy it. But the corollary is that whenever some large company is talking about something being for your own good in any way, better bring your own lube, they want to shaft you. They're supposed to, after all. Some just are more subtle than others.

about a year and a half ago
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Learn Basic Programming So You Aren't At the Mercy of Programmers

Moraelin Re:I don't think that's enough (313 comments)

The difference is that a wood deck is a simple thing and a thing that doesn't need any maintenance. There will be no point where someone will come and say, "you know, I thought about it, I want that deck to be able to reconfigure into a boat when I want to sail."

THAT is the problem with programming, and the one thing you won't learn by just building your own deck.

Making a thing that's written once and stays that way for ever, is EASY. Dealing with something that the client told you would be a deck, and next month he wants it to be a separate house, and next month he wants it to be a boat, THAT is the problem. Or even if the specification doesn't change now, next year someone comes with the idea that their business requirements changed a little, and now he wants that deck turned into a glider. The real art is to make something you can turn into something else without having to rip everything out and start from scratch.

The problem isn't with knowing how to cut wood and hammer nails, or in the case of programming, how to write functions and loops. That's the EASY part. At least half the population can do that, if they wanted to do a few tutorials.

And the problem is when everyone who barely learned to cut wood or respectively write a for loop, thinks they're somehow qualified to judge architecture. Or worse yet, be incompetent enough to think everyone is trying to scam him, if they try to do a good and maintainable design.

That's the nightmare boss. The kind who knows just enough to think you're trying to scam him if you want a real database, instead of going with his idea to use the Windows SDK and save all the date in .ini files. (Again, I'm not making it up. I actually saw a client throw a fuss about our not just using the Windows SDK to save his data in .ini files.)

Or the kind who's just barely competent to come with an idea like running the source code through an automated translation program, and maintain 3 different projects, one for each language, with the strings hard-coded in the text, and think you're trying to scam him if you want to do the extra work of extracting the strings into resource files. Strings which should have been in resource files in the first place, but, well, he didn't let the guys who programmed that monolithic monstrosity "unload him from money" by doing all that resource file stuff. (Again, true story.)

Etc.

Oh, each of those knew the programming equivalent of cutting wood and hammering nails. But they were just in the Dunning-Kruger zone when it came to judging a design. They didn't know how to design something more like a pagoda than a deck, but were stupid enough to think that knowing how to cut wood is making them an expert on that too.

That said, of course, testing a candidate is still a great idea.

about a year and a half ago
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Learn Basic Programming So You Aren't At the Mercy of Programmers

Moraelin I don't think that's enough (313 comments)

I don't think that's enough.

Most of the problems with programming aren't writing the code. Anyone can do a write-only program. You can even deliberately go the wrong way about it (I used to do program flow with ONLY goto statements just to annoy a professor who hated goto religiously) and still bend it to do what you wanted.

IMHO to really understand why you need all those patterns, and refactoring, and unit tests, and why you don't just put a connection as a public variable in class X and directly assign it in classes Y and Z (true story, saw that done verbatim), you need to really be thrown into a team and be given a million lines of code written by someone else and be told to make it do something that goes against every assumption that was made at design time. Again, it's not a particularly large system these days, but it will serve to illustrate the point that it's different from immediately finding everything in your own 1000-line test program.

So, no, I don't think just a little BASIC experience will make them understand the real problems better. In fact, it might just make it worse IMHO.

IMHO part of being a good leader is knowing how to delegate. If you're an MBA with no real skills in programming, GUI design, database management, etc, IMHO the solution isn't to learn just enough of ALL of those as to move from "outsider" to "taking decision based on being dangerously incompetent in that field." The solution is to find some people who know that and delegate.

If you don't have anyone you can possibly trust, or, like in TFA, you've actually gotten to the point where you think you're at the mercy of the programmers... well, the first step would be to ask yourself WTH went wrong. But that's ok. You can ask a second opinion. You can get a consultant to eyeball the design and tell you what's wrong or right about it. Or, you know, whatever.

But delegate to those who are the experts. Don't think you've become an expert by learning just a little BASIC. In fact, the latter is the worst possible thing you could do. Or close enough to the worst.

(Of course, in all above it's a generic "you", not, you know, you personally.)

about a year and a half ago

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Fucked Up Fables: Six Soldiers Of Fortune

Moraelin Moraelin writes  |  more than 5 years ago (With apologies to the brothes Grimm.)

There was once a man who was a Jack-of-all-trades; he had served in the war, and had been brave and bold, but at the end of it he was sent about his business, with three farthings and his discharge.

"I am not going to stand this," said he; "wait till I find the right man to help me, and the king shall give me all the treasures of his kingdom before he has done with me."

Then, full of wrath he went along the road and came to a huntsman who was kneeling on one knee and taking careful aim with his musket.

"Huntsman," said the leader, "what are you aiming at?"

"Two miles from here," answered he, "there sits a fly on the bough of an oak-tree, I mean to put a bullet into its left eye."

"Oh, come along with me," said the leader; "the two of us together can stand against the world."

The huntsman was quite willing to go with him, and so they went on till they came to a man standing on one leg, and the other had been taken off and was lying near him.

"You seem to have got a handy way of resting yourself," said the leader to the man.

"I am a runner," answered he, "and in order to keep myself from going too fast I have taken off a leg, for when I run with both, I go faster than a bird can fly."

"Oh, go with me," cried the leader, "three of us together may well stand against the world."

And to make the long story short, he went and gathered a few more companions, each with a grander claim to some super-ability than the others.

Meanwhile, the old king had tried to persuade his daughter to marry the young and respected son of a duke, for he had no sons and was thinking that the future duke might once make a good king too. Unfortunately the young princess had read a few books too many, and was fond of imagining herself as quite the real Amazon. She demanded of her father that if any man is to win her hand, he must best her in a contest of speed, endurance and military skill, like some ancient queen was said to have chosen her husband. And any man entering the contest must be willing to bet his very life on the outcome.

Now the king was fairly open minded for that age, and more than willing to admit that some women could make fine warriors. His people were still remembering the fierce shieldmaidens of the northmen, for example. But his daughter had always been a sickly bookworm, always short of breath, and also a little on the chubby side. The thought of her besting a trained knight was too much.

Wisely, the king said he'll go to his room to think about it, and laughed himself nearly to death into the pillow.

Still, he figured out that it's simpler than arguing with his daughter. So he agreed to send the town cryer to proclaim the decision. Secretly, he also sent a runner to the duke, urging him to send his son with the swiftest horse to enter the contest he cannot possibly lose.

Unfortunately for the duke's son, the ex-mercenary and his merry band were just entering to city as the cryer proclaimed the news. Thinking that with the help of his marvelous companions he cannot lose, he went straight to the king and asked to be tested against the princess.

The king was taken aback by the audacity of a common man to ask to marry a princess, but he realized that his announcement hadn't actually mentioned any restrictions. Fancying himself a man of great honesty and honour, the king agreed to keep his word and let him try, and sent for the princess to decide the test. She chose a race to a far away well, and the first who would make it back with a pitcher full of water would win.

"Easier than I expected," thought our ex-mercenary. "My runner will surely best any man or woman in the land." And asking for a little time to prepare, he went and asked his man with a detachable leg to dress in his clothes and run the race in his stead.

So the court gathered to watch, and at the blow of a horn the two competitors were off... much to the amusement of everyone present. The princess was soon panting and tripping over her long skirt, and making very poor progress. Unfortunately, her opponent was making even poorer progress, limping and cursing and dragging a leg behind him.

By evening, the race was over, with the princess handing her father the pitcher a good ten minutes before her opponent.

The ex-mercenary was aghast, He went to the man with the detachable leg and started screaming at him, "What was that all about?! What did you think you were doing?! Why didn't you run faster than a bird, like you said you would?!"

"Dude, " said the other man to his defense, "I thought you were kidding and I answered in kind. Haven't you seen a wooden leg before? I lost my real leg to a cannonball at the siege of Altdorf."

The conversation would have continued longer, but a squad of the king's guards showed up and took our depressed ex-mercenary to the king.

"Son, " said the king, "I figure you've lost fair and square, and it's only fair that you keep your end of the bargain. You have until morning to make your peace with God, assisted by the castle's priest. But since I like your courage, you shall not hang like a common rogue. You shall be beheaded at dawn, by sword, like a knight or noble would."

"No, father, wait!" intervened the princess who, truth be told, was starting to find the man more handsome than the groom her father had chosen for her. "This man has shown great valour in taking the challenge. Should we not give him a second chance?"

The king rolled that thought around in his head for a bit, then spoke, "That is very chivalrous of you, my daughter, and it would hardly be befitting me to stand in the way of such chivalry. Fine. Choose your next challenge, then, and tomorrow he shall face you again for his life."

This time the princess chose a contest of archery. Our hero politely inquired if he may use a gun, saying that it was a more familiar weapon to him. The princess agreed. With that, the king called the meeting over, and asked the guards to lead the man and his companions to a guest room in the palace.

So this time the ex-mercenary asked his hunter companion to dress like him and go in his stead the next day.

The next day, two large targets were set at a hundred paces away. The two contestants were given a dozen arrows and respectively a dozen bullets, and told to start shooting.

Again the princess did rather poorly, only now occuring to her that reading about ancient Scythian archer women didn't actually count as archery training. Only half of her arrows hit the target at all, and none of them went even close to the bullseye.

Unfortunately our hero's sharpshooter did even worse, with barely two of his shots even touching the target. As the court jester remarked, he did at least get one bull's eye. He actually shot the eye of a bull across the road to the right, dropping him dead on the spot. But since it wasn't on his target, it didn't count.

Again, our ex-mercenary was shocked and he went to berate his huntsman, "What in the Lord's name was that all about?! Didn't you say you could hit a fly in the eye from two miles away?! How could you miss a five foot wide target at a hundred paces?! I could have shot a higher score myself than you and that tomboy put together!!"

"To be honest, " the hunter answered, staring at his own shoes, "that was a joke, and it never occured to me that anyone would take it seriously. I mean, really," he continued as he showed his gun, "this is a smoothbore musket. You said you were in the army, for crying out loud. Two miles? It can't even shoot a ball past two hundred paces. Even at one hundred, as my old captain used to say, the only way to hit a man is if you aimed at another man."

And as the guards were taking him first to the king, and then to the place of his execution, it occured to our hero that maybe he should have tested his employees instead of simply believing any wild claim.

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Moraelin Moraelin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

One day an Ass put on a Lion's skin and proceeded to amuse himself by taking a stroll through the woods, trying to scare all animals he encountered. He brayed at a Wolf in what he thought to be a good enough imitation of a lion's roar, and the Wolf ran away into the bush. He did the same to a Monkey, and the monkey too ran up into a tree. The Ass was proud of himself. At long last he saw a Fox, and proceeded to do his best imitation of a lion's roar at him too.

The Fox however was a lot less than impressed, and answered, "Ho ho ho, if it isn't an ass trying to look important. Congratulations, though, I almost took you seriously until you opened your mouth."

Not minding the Ass's dejected looks much, the Fox continued, "But seriously, don't you have something else to do or someone else to bother? I've worked 60 hours this week so far, and it's only Friday _morning_, and, frankly, I have neither the time nor the mood to entertain you guys." And the Fox trotted along, ignoring the Ass.

The Ass was now depressed and he went to the side to munch on some leaves, and he started drawing doodles in the dirt with a hoof to pass the time and take his mind off the brutal rejection he had just received. He ate and he doodled, but somehow he just couldn't take his mind off it.

Suddenly he heard a voice nearby, "Ah, finally someone with some fashion sense. I was starting to think it's a lost cause..." As the startled Ass rose his eyes, he saw an impressively tall Lion in front of him, eyeing him and his doodles in the dirt.

"I'm toast," thought the Ass, "there's no way a Lion would mistake me for the real thing."

So, in desperation, the Ass started to bray at him. "Syyynergy!" He brayed. "Leverage! TCO! Customer-centric! Industry best-practices!"

"Ah, " brayed the new 'Lion' right back, in the best donkey language, "so you speak management too. This day is looking brighter already. Between you and me, the other candidates are a joke. Have you seen what they wear to an interview? By the way, you _are_ here about the job opening, right?"

"Huh? What job?," replied the bewildered Ass.

"Well, to keep the story short," brayed the 'Lion', "I used to be the manager of this forest clearing, but they promoted me, so now I have to find a replacement. And Tim here," said the 'Lion' pointing to yet another Ass dressed in a lion skin, "is our HR representative. He'll help me pick a good candidate. I guess you haven't sent in a CV either, since you're not here for the interview, but I guess we could bend the rules a bit if you want to take part anyway."

"Uh, ok..." answered the Ass, still not entirely sure what he's walked into.

"I see you brought a sample of your work too," continued the 'Lion', pointing a hoof at the doodles in the dirt. "Nice flowchart. What is it of?"

"Oh, that," grinned the Ass, "nothing in particular. I was just thinking of food, mostly."

"And you drew a good hundred square metres of flowchart just about that? I'm impressed. Reminds me of some of my best work: the corporate regulation and flowchart of how to piss. Admittedly, it was mostly to annoy the Wolf, but I digress. Well, I can't make a definitive commitment yet, so this is strictly off record and non-binding, but I think your chances are good. We'll call you later if we decide to hire you."

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Moraelin Moraelin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

In the interest of fanboys and zealots everywhere, and to spare them the minimal thinking effort, I propose the following form. All the options are genuine from genuine posts encountered on the Internet in the last decade. The wording may not be the original, but the spirit hasn't been altered at all.

You are a liar, and the feature/bug (cross out the one that doesn't apply) you talk about doesn't even exist, because:
 
[] I haven't personally seen it happen, therefore it doesn't exist.
[] It only happens once every 1-2 hours on my computer. (But that won't stop me from both it doesn't exist.)
[] ... and even that is my fault. (But that won't stop me from pretending that I'm an expert on what to do on your computer.)
[] Nobody told me about it.
[] It only seems to happen to a couple (of hundreds) of whiners.
[] "Everyone" knows it's not true.
[] "Everyone" knows it can't be true for programs made by _______________ (insert company.)
[] I once worked as Level 1 tech support at an ISP, and had to deal with your kind of idiots every day.
 
You're only claiming that because you're:
 
[] paid by _______________ (insert same, or competitor company) to post that
[] brainwashed by __________________ (insert same, or competitor company)
[] not elite enough to like the right stuff, let me tell you what your tastes should be.
[] a liar.
[] a troll.
[] in denial.
[] against innovation.
[] having mental problems that you confuse for having different tastes than I do.
[] too stupid to use a computer.
 
The problems you encountered -- and which I still claim that it doesn't exist -- are your own damned fault, and can be solved by:
 
[] defragging your computer. (Race conditions and crashes just appear out of nowhere, if you forget to defrag your computer.)
[] activating AA in your drivers. (AA solves rendering artefacts. Broken graphics and glitches are called artefacts too. You do the maths.)
[] buying a new quad-core triple-SLI compressor-cooled overclocked computer. (What do you mean your config matches the recommended specs? If you don't have a computer that cost $5000, you shouldn't be playing games at all.)
[] replacing your motherboard with a compatible one.
[] turning off your firewall and/or antivirus.
[] rebooting your computer. (As any Level 1 tech support guy knows, that's the miracle cure for everything.)
[] learning to play the damned game. (Yes, falling through the ground is just because you're a noob.)
[] stopping being so lame as to do or like other things in a game than I do.
[] saving every 5 minutes in a different slot.
[] using the cheats / external trainer programs. (Hey, it's already playable with that cheat, so stop asking to fix the game.)
[] stopping posting about it! If people find out that the game sucks, there won't be enough players to make mods that fix it!
[] introspection and realizing that only your mental problems and personality deffects prevent you from seeing things exactly my way.
[] packing your computer in the original carton, taking it back to the shop, and telling them that you're too fucking stupid to own a computer.
 
I am an authoritative source on the subject because:
 
[] I have used the program for few minutes.
[] ... on a friend's computer.
[] I have installed it on a computer.
[] Although I haven't yet, I plan to use the program in the future.
[] ... and I have a good feeling about it.
[] I have read about it in another thread.
[] A couple of people have aggreed with me before.
[] I know that _______________ (insert company) would never do that.
[] My user id is lower.
[] I have a gazillion of level 70 characters! On every server!
[] I was in the beta! (But somehow it's just not recorded anywhere.)
[] I could pwn your sorry ass in the game.
[] I could beat you up IRL.
[] My dad probably makes more money than yours.
[] I once worked as Level 1 tech-support for an ISP, and that makes me the expert on all software, hardware and users.
 
Furthermore, I'd like to state that:
 
[] you're a liar.
[] you're a noob.
[] I'm going to mod you down in other threads for disaggreeing with me.
[] someone should mod you down in this thread too, for disaggreeing with me.
[] you'll only have the right to criticize it, when you can make a better program.
[] if you don't like it, fix it yourself.
[] you're too damn impatient. It will rule after they patch it and/or people make mods that fix it.
[] it's people like you who are the problem with society today.
[] you're living proof of what's wrong with education today.
[] we need a goddamn IQ test before letting idiots like you use a computer.
[] you mis-spelled "math" as "maths", therefore you're stupid and uneducated, and nobody should listen to your opinion.
[] I don't even understand what your problem is. Learn to write more than a paragraph, noob.
[] nobody has time to read a whole page about where the bug happens. If you can't say it in 1 sentence or less, it's not worth reading.
[] people should just respect and listen to us who've earned our expertise in Level 1 tech support.

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Fucked-Up Fables: Aesop and the Bread Basket

Moraelin Moraelin writes  |  more than 5 years ago

There was once a slave born in Phrygia in Asia Minor, named Aesop. He wasn't particularly handsome or strong, but he had a particularly remarkable wit. One day, when the caravan and its slaves were leaving for Ephesus, the slave driver divided the burdens into rather unequal shares, and let each slave pick his. Aesop picked the heaviest burden of them all, a large bread basket, about twice as heavy as anything else there. The other slaves called him a fool for it, but Aesop knew that he'd have the last laugh. For, you see, the bread was used to feed the slaves and by the end of the very first day, Aesop had nothing to carry except an empty basket.

He was pretty proud of its wit.

On the third day, the team leader... err... slave driver called a meeting and announced that the caravan owner wasn't satisfied with their progress, and they'd be late in reaching their goal (Ephesus) at this rate. So the tasks would have to be re-evaluated, to match each team member's strengths.

Aesop was given half of Wally's share, who was already limping under the load of four papyrus scrolls, about half a pound each, with prayers for the Temple of Aphrodite in Ephesus. So two of them were dumped into Aesop's empty basket. "Well, that's still not too bad," thought Aesop.

The next day, a couple more slaves complained that they can't keep up the pace, and Aesop got half of their share too. One more day, and he was back to his original load. When trying to complain to the slave driver, Aesop was reminded that he's already shown off his strength, and it's only normal to use each resource to its fullest. As a consolation, he was also given a few canned motivational slogans, like "There's no I in team", which only managed to insult Aesop's intellect.

By the end of the week, Aesop was not just tired, but also hungry. All the energy for carrying that heavy basket had to come from somewhere, and he was already at the limit of his body's reserves. Aesop went to ask the slave driver for a raise in his rations, but was told he should be thankful to still have this job.

"We could use slaves from India instead of you!," he was told, "They carry twice the load for half the rations."

"So what are you going to do, then? Free me?"

"Well, no," said the slave driver, "you're still a slave, you still have to work for your bread one way or another. And you've signed a non-compete clause, so you're not going to work for a caravan any time soon. But we could sell you to a tin mine or to an asbestos weaving shop. I hear they have a life expectancy shorter than a mouse in the temple of Bastet in Bubastis."

Aesop doubted that anyone can carry twice the load for half the rations, but went back to hauling the basket. By the time they reached Ephesus, Aesop was looking disturbingly like a walking skeleton, but they made it in time. The caravan owner and the slave driver gave themselves a bonus for the good job, while the slaves were told again that they should be happy to still have their jobs. Still, they had the rest of the day off.

By the start of the next day, the caravan was assembled to leave again for the next town, this time a nearby town. While the others got their loads, Aesop was taken aside and told the good news that for his performance on this project, he's getting a raise of half a slice of bread a day. Then he was given a large empty sack and a shovel and told to fill it with sand. That would be his load for this trip.

"You've got to be kidding!" said Aesop, "Do they really need sand over there?"

"Well, no, not really," answered the slave driver, "See, they're on a beach anyway. But we'll only make the big trip to Ephesus again next year, and I have to somehow justify keeping the team until then. Otherwise the corporate rules say I'd have to get rid of you here, and get someone else next year. So we'll have to make up some work, so you can still get paid. Well, or at least fed."

Aesop rolled that around a bit in his head, but somehow "at least I get fed" failed to reduce the sting of the fact that he was doing something purely useless and fake.

"Can I at least fill it with leaves or grass, then? I mean, it's not like anyone actually needs the sand."

"I'd love to let you do that," shrugged the slave driver, "but, see, we're paid by the kilo. Plus, I couldn't justify keeping someone with your abilities around, if you'd actually have less workload than someone cheaper."

A couple of years go by like that, and Aesop is starting to look pretty muscular by now, if rather thin. He's even up to two extra slices of bread per day, which isn't bad by slave standards. Or wouldn't be if the workload hadn't doubled in the meantime too.

The team is assembling in Ephesus to pick their burdens, and Aesop is already reaching for his usual shovel and the two empty sacks. As I was saying, the load had increased in the meantime. As he's picking the shovel up, the slave driver approaches Aesop. He's accompanied by two hoplites from the caravan's guard.

"I'm sorry, Aesop, but I'm affraid I'll have to let you go. Sorry. Rest assured it's nothing personal, it's just business."

"You mean, as in, go free?" a broad hopeful grin widens on Aesop's face.

"Well, no," the slave driver shakes his head, "you're still a slave, you still have to work for your bread, and we still have a duty to make the most money out of you one way or another. But we sold you to some guys from Etruria who needed a gladiator. When they saw your muscles, it was an easy sell. Said something about needing a match for some slave from Gaul called 'The Ripper.' Our security people here will accompany you out."

"But... why?" stutters a shocked Aesop. "Have I not been your best slave? Have I not hauled loads that nobody except a mule or Hercules himself could have hauled?"

"Try to understand, Aesop, it really is just business." answers the slave driver. "You also eat more than any other slave, and we have a fiduciary duty to make money for the shareholders. It adds up, and the market is tough. We don't make as much per transport. Management has already promised to reduce costs by firing the most expensive personnel and replace them with cheaper slaves from India. Which reminds me, before you leave, show that new Indian guy where you usually get sand from."

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Moraelin Moraelin writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Guess all I've been trying to say all along, sometimes in rather trollish terms, is that the real world isn't made of good-vs-evil, black-vs-white. My world has no pure immaculate white, and no pure light-sucking black.

Both extremes are just that: extremes. They're something to be feared, rather than something to seek. (If nothing else, seeked as something to reduce everything to.) And most people do fear them.

The real world is nothing like "Microsoft=EVIL vs SUN=GOOD", nor viceversa. It's not like "Windows=EVIL vs Linux=GOOD" either. Nor viceversa. And it's not like "Government=EVIL vs Pure Anarchy=GOOD". Same thing about corporations.

The real world is a lot more complicated, and a lot less comfortable than those simplifications.

There are plenty of good sides to choosing Solaris or Linux for your desktop or server, but then there also are plenty of damn good reasons to choose Windows. Either choice won't be 100% perfect, but rather a compromise. Either choice won't be 100% universal either: what worked for you, may not work at all for someone else. Etc.

Same about the corporations themselves. If you look at the history of computing, whoever was losing always wanted open standards. Whoever was winning, always wanted proprietary and preferrably patented stuff to lock the customers in.

Sun, IBM, Novell, etc, were all once in the same position where Microsoft is now: trying to lock the customers into one single vendor for upgrades, and into fundamentally incompatible formats and interfaces. That's how the Unix fragmentation happened, if you didn't know that already. (And that's what paved the way for Microsoft to win, incidentally.)

There are no villains and heroes. Just a bunch of greedy people trying to make a buck. Your buck.

Right now, pumping resources into Linux and promoting open standards is their best weapon. But if either of them got back on top, they'd do the same thing all over again.

Either way, remember if you still just feel a need to be a zealot for a multi-billion dolar corporation's interests, at least do yourself and it a service: don't sound like an extremist. Try to at least _look_ aware that the real world is made of shades of grey.

And try to at least look like you care about someone's actual problem, not like a rebel on a holy jihad. Your bosses might listen to a business plan where Linux will save them this much money. They will _not_ however listen to foaming at the mouth about how MS is pure evil and needs to be uninstalled from all computers, at all costs.

Try also to at least look like you've actually taken everything into account. Blowing one single problem out of proportion ("but Windows has viruses!"), and obviously avoiding all else (e.g., the cost to retrain everyone to use Linux), you've lost their attention. Or mine.

Again: a real solution is always the best compromise, among a bunch of crappy compromises. If yours is a clear cut case of 100% good vs 100% evil, you've just told everyone that you didn't do a real analysis. You might as well wear a "I'm not giving you a solution to your problem, I'm giving you a dogma" sign, because that's what everyone will understand.

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Moraelin Moraelin writes  |  more than 10 years ago

The more I read Slashdot and other IT sites (e.g., www.theregister.co.uk), the more I'm starting to doubt that it's got anything to do with either technology or journalism. It's pretty much a case where you can predict that any article will be just an excuse to rehash one or more of the following fashionable black-vs-white prejudices. Just because it's fashionable to do so.

1. Microsoft = EVIL, IBM = GOOD, Intel = EVIL, Sun = GOOD, Apple = GOOD, etc. Clear cut cases of super-heroes vs super-villains. (It doesn't matter what MS does. Even if we're talking about offering a compiler for free, it's inherently evil just because it's MS, and it's fashionable to be Anti-MS. Conversely it doesn't really matter what Sun does, and how it never offered more than hot air to support its occasional "We love F/OSS" fits. It's good just because it's foaming at the mouth against MS and Intel.)

2. Any corporation is inherently an incarnation of the Supreme Evil (TM). Unless, of course, it happens to be fighting against MS or Intel, in which case the exact same behaviour now counts as Lawful Good.

3. Anyone who dares question the Good Anti-MS corporations in any way (e.g., a stock analyst daring to say that Sun's cancelling every single CPU it was supposed to release in the next 3 years doesn't exactly inspire confidence to buy Sun stock) is automatically
(A) A loonie,
(B) a retarded drooling user running pirated MS software,
(C) a MS fanboy,
(D) paid by MS to spread FUD, or, of course,
(E) all the above.

4. Your bugs suck, while ours smell sweet and never cause any harm. That the Opera browser I'm writing this in crashes by itself every couple of hours, is of course benign, and shouldn't keep anyone from thinking that it's a great browser. But if IE has some obscure bug in all that pile of code, it's time to gather a proper medieval angry mob, with pitchforks and torches. And call every IE user an idiot, while we're at it.

Corolary: having to update our favourite non-MS programs (e.g., Mozilla or Opera) every 2 weeks against bugs, is just normal and benign, and only idiots don't have the latest version already anyway. Having to download an update to IE 4.5 (or God forbid actually upgrade to IE 6) is an outrage, and someone should kill MS for that.

5. Noone should be allowed to keep me from stealing their work. It doesn't matter if it's music or algorithms. (See the endless foaming at the mouth about algorithm patents.) The fashionable IT whore should never have to pay for anything ever. If you worked to produce something, I should be legally allowed and encouraged to just come over and help myself.

6. Nothing should change, ever. Doubly so if, God forbid, it requires one to learn new skills. Not only we should all still be using a command line, but we should probably still all be programming in COBOL on punched cards.

Corolary: everyone who did learn new skills is to be ridiculed and called names.

Etc.

Wake up people. Reality isn't as simple and clear cut as Superman comics or Star Wars movies. There are no super-heroes or Paladins in shiny armour, and there are no super-villains cackling manically over death-ray blueprints.

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Moraelin Moraelin writes  |  more than 10 years ago

If you've read my posts, you may have noticed I'm not quite anti-Microsoft. Let me explain.

I think the computer is a tool. Its worth is no more, and no less, than what programs you run on it and what data you have on it.

Linux has come a long way since I have first used it. It came on a stack of 5" floppies back then. No doubt there. I even installed it on my workstation at work nowadays.

It's not even the only non-MS operating system I've used. Before my rabid Linux zealot days (yeah, hard to believe, but I was one, roughly between 1999 and 2001), I used to be a rabid IBM OS/2 zealot. That wasn't my first non-MS OS either. I've used GEM, CP/M, and a few others before that.

But for what I use my computer at home, and especially for games, I find MS Windows to be a better choice at the moment. Or an easier choice. It's easier to just run something in Windows, especially since I do have a license for it anyway, than to try to make it run in Wine or Wine/X.

Also from my experience it's _far_ easier to tell Joe Average how to run something in Windows, than to educate him in the finer points of Unix administration. You also don't end up explaining stuff like "why isn't my new card supported" or "why can't I play this little VBscript web-based game in Mozilla" or whatever.

Basically that's all I'm saying. It's simply a pragmatic choice. No particular love for either camp.

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