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Leaked Build of Windows 9 Shows Start Menu Return

MyNicknameSucks Re:Fuck Tiles! (346 comments)

Just pointing something out ...

I've seen people complain that Microsoft doesn't innovate, doesn't try new things.

And I've now seen people excoriate MS for trying new things and trying to innovate.

And, FWIW, some some aspects of Metro have been popping up elsewhere -- I don't think Metro has been an unmitigated disaster. At the venerable NYT, http://nyt.com/ useful bits can "slide in" from the margins when you move the mouse over to the left side of the window. Tiles are the lingua franca of The Toronto Sun, http://torontosun.com/ .

  MS, however, did screw up some things. Well ... a lot of things with Metro for the desktop.

First, it's a UI designed for media consumption (and single- and double-tasking) -- that ship has sailed. Phones, tablets, and, to a lesser extent, notebooks (and, in my house, the WiiU) are for media consumption. Desktops are for productivity.

Second, Metro is actually pretty decent when you figure out how the keyboard shortcuts (win-key +s for searching, alt-tab to switch windows, alt-f4 to shut a window, etc.). But it's pretty awful if you go at it with a mouse -- and MS did not, at all, make this clear.

Third, the Start button thing is ... almost, but not quite, a red herring. If you're looking for a program that's two or three menus deep, good luck to you. It is usually faster (if you're a decent typist, at least) to hit the win key and type the name of the program. If it's a program you use frequently, it should probably be pinned to the taskbar. I've watched my kids on the Win8.x desktop -- the only time they bother with the Start button is when they log out. I think the problem here is that we've had nearly two decades of living with Start and it's proving to be a tough habit to break ...

Fourth, and probably worst of all, MS foisted Metro and its apps on users in situations where it shouldn't have. If you were writing up an email in Outlook (desktop program) and wanted to open the calculator to check your math, it defaulted to a Metro, full-screen, four function calculator. That's stupid. MS has two built-in picture viewers, both relatively equivalent. But, using the default programs app, the Metro app can be set as the default app for several times more file types than the desktop app ... even though the desktop app can open those files and be set as the default viewer through Explorer. That's bad. And some OS settings can only be set through Metro -- and that's inexcusable since Metro is not supposed to be for "power users". And there are lots of other goofy places where the Metro app is the default choice, even when launched through the desktop.

about two weeks ago
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Amazon Dispute Now Making Movies Harder To Order

MyNicknameSucks Re:Now wait (210 comments)

I know a bunch of independent filmmakers -- no, none of them can make the Lego movie. They can make low-budget rom-coms. They can make cute animated shorts. And they can make some superb docs ...

But they don't have the render farm required to make an animated 3d movie (even outsourced, I am thinking that kind of processing power and the pipes required to move the data won't come cheap). They don't have the money to get quality voice actors. They don't have the marketing and negotiating chops to land a serious IP. And artists don't come cheap. The gulf here is rather large.

FWIW, basement sound producers are still having trouble making music sound as good as music (played by musicians on instruments, at least) recorded in a studio with an a-list crew.

about a month and a half ago
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Amazon Dispute Now Making Movies Harder To Order

MyNicknameSucks I think Amazon's trying to extend its reach ... (210 comments)

With Hachette, I think Amazon is trying to ... crush is not the right word ... but marginalize marginalize traditional publishers. Amazon already has a jumbo-sized self-publishing business for small and independent writers, but less well known is Amazon's publishing business, http://www.apub.com/ . The tin-foil hat wearing me says that Amazon might be squeezing the publisher in order to get at the writers, either for self-publishing or to build up APub. I.e., Amazon might be trying to eliminate the middle man in a play to get at all the revenue in the book trade, save that which goes to writers and printers (for dead tree versions).

The full on conspiracy theorist side of me says that the scary thing is that, if Amazon does become something like a traditional publisher with a stable of writers, other retailers will have to buy stock from their largest competitor.

That's the bit that sends shivers up my spine.

With Warner, it seems different. I don't think Amazon wants to make blockbusters; something else is at play. It could be that Amazon senses blood in the water since the physical media business, while lucrative, is slipping away. Maybe, just maybe, Amazon is trying to squeeze Warner on physical media in order to get favourable terms on streaming or digital sales. 48 hours of availability ahead of iTunes? 2 weeks of availability ahead of Netflix?

about a month and a half ago
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AT&T Charges $750 For One Minute of International Data Roaming

MyNicknameSucks You can roam internationally without leaving USA (321 comments)

In parts of Niagara Falls, Canada, it's also possible to bounce between US and Canadian carriers.

I just turn off data roaming for my phone and pick up a SIM for wherever I'm staying.

about 2 months ago
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Microsoft Won't Bring Back the Start Menu Until 2015

MyNicknameSucks Win8 has two UIs for a reason ... (516 comments)

Long version: see pwnies' (IU designer at MS) posts at reddit, like this one: http://www.reddit.com/r/techno...

Metro has 2 UIs: Metro for casual use; classic for power users / production. MS wasn't particularly clear on the split and made it seem like Metro was the only UI going forward with classic atrophying in the background. That, apparently, is not the case. But MS pulled a boner here and mis-sold the UI.

It was always easy enough to restore the old school start button with either Start8 or a handful of free utilities. But ... you had to go and find them. MS was hoping that was just enough hassle that casual users would stick with Metro. So ... casual users get a UI optimized for touch and keyboard (alt-f4 to close windows; alt-tab to switch; win-w to search settings; win-s for searching docs / the web / whatever; type to find apps). Further, the included apps tend to be basic ("dumbed down") so that your grandpa can figure them out. Metro is also optimized around the idea of single-and double-tasking (i.e., media consumption). Metro isn't made for your typical /. user.

Classic is for people with multiple windows open, Office users, and so on -- those who can find OS settings and utilities (I think MS' definition of power user might have been overly generous).

Metro is really, really good for what it is. Once you grok the keyboard shortcuts or the gestures (swipe from the sides to make stuff happen), it's actually pretty cool.

What MS screwed up is not the UIs, but, rather, how they interact with each other. With release-era 8, if you opened, say, the picture viewer from classic, it punted you into full-screen Metro. Ditto for the calculator (true story, needed to check some math for an email, opened the calculator, and was presented with a full screen, 22" four function calculator -- that's just stupid). Some settings are accessible only through Metro (again, that's stupid -- hiding settings casual users shouldn't need to touch in Metro was bad design). Some default associations, like those for RAW photos, can only be set through Explorer if you want to use the classic app -- the Set Associations app only shows the Metro viewer as being available for those types. And so on. And forth.

As for the Start menu? It's easy enough to get back ... but I'm torn. I don't honestly use it all that often since I read about hitting the win key then typing the name of what I wanted. It's ... different than using the mouse. But, most of the time, it's also faster than going through nested menus.

Win8 is flawed. And weird. And occasionally antagonistic. And the dual UI aspect was very, very poorly handled. But its bones are good (fast, stable, secure). I like Win8, but it seemed to take longer to properly set up my desktop than it should've (Modern Mix also helps to control full-screen app pop-ups by running Metro apps windowed).

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful?

MyNicknameSucks Brewing (158 comments)

Craft brewing increasingly has IT bits and gadgets in it -- from tracking and delivery systems to cell counters (and even PCR widgets in larger breweries) to controllers on the brewing equipment (solenoids and the like), often controlled through what looks suspiciously like cheap Android tablets.

I don't know if you could make a living out of solely implementing an IT infrastructures at small breweries (seriously, I know of lots that get into trouble with the feds over poor record keeping), but it's something to consider. Ruggedized, waterproof tablets for brewers to enter notes and logs into. Tracking info for kegs and batches. Record keeping for tax purposes. Mobile connectivity for sales and delivery guys. Accounting. At your smaller breweries, all those systems are ad hoc, if they exist at all.

And, of course, your larger craft breweries may have some systems in place, but, like any other modern business, all those systems need tending to.

It's a growth industry (beer sales are, overall, down, but craft sales are still seeing double digit growth). A reasonably high good person to douche ratio. Beer.

about 2 months ago
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Amazon Confirms Hachette Spat Is To "Get a Better Deal"

MyNicknameSucks Re:It is more subtle than thatRe:Books aren't spec (211 comments)

The overall quality of the books is likely to go down -- part of what publishers do is editing (although not always -- increasingly, lesser writers have to hire their own).

I've read a number of (admittedly inexpensive) self-published books ... and it's like the authors didn't know how to turn on spell check. Tangentially, I've noticed a funny thing in online reviews of books: people increasingly include the price of the book in the review. Reviews are no longer based on quality but value (i.e., the $0.99 book wasn't as good as the $9.99 book, but, damn, what a price!).

FWIW, people will always write books or make music; many people need to express themselves creatively. What's really going to be cut out of the equation are the people in the middle (editors, researchers, engineers, producers) who help to make those works better as we race to the bottom.

about a month ago
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Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

MyNicknameSucks Re:Yeah, but.... (1198 comments)

First let me say that I agree that this discussion is pretty silly. That being said, "because someone else does it too" is not a valid justification of bad behavior. And frankly with the supposed intellectual superiority that many (not all) profess, it's even less acceptable. I have a lot harder time forgiving someone for doing something wrong that they understood was wrong, than someone who doesn't even know what they did was wrong in the first place.

However the [nerds] who were not professional were so far past appropriate it was cringe inducing as they self rationalized their behavior as being perfectly acceptable.

A former co-worker would ask waitresses and female hotel staff about their porn preferences. I used to do IT for traders; not even they would go that far.

Yes and yes. While I would agree that proportionally those groups may contain more people who are likely to say something inappropriate. They also tend to accept that they did something wrong when it's pointed out to them and even apologize for being offensive. I've seen many more "nerds" argue this point.

That co-worker? Thought he was being charmy and flirty and never did notice the shocked look on everyone else's faces. When asked to stop, he would say things like, "Just having fun," or, "Loosen up."

about 2 months ago
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Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

MyNicknameSucks For some /. examples ... (1198 comments)

Just read through the comments in Four Weeks Without Soap Or Shampoo, http://tech.slashdot.org/story...

Some examples, modded to 5 stars: "She sounds hideous." "A 4 week test on something related to skin and they used a female journalist? Could by chance her skin complexion improved because of her menstrual cycle? There's about a 75% chance that she wasn't coming off of her period right before application so of course she probably noticed improvements to her skin, especially her face, over a 4 week test."

OMG, she's ... the other! Her appearance and aroma are what make her of interest to me! Menstruation! Blaaaargh cooties!

Some of the comments that were modded less than 5 were ... ummm ... well, yeah. Worse.

Seriously, folks? Seriously? Aren't nerds supposed to smart? Educated? Sensitive towards bullying?

There's an obnoxious sense of entitlement and superiority in some parts of nerd culture that isn't worthy.

about 2 months ago
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Four Weeks Without Soap Or Shampoo

MyNicknameSucks Funny / snarky / sexist comments aside ... (250 comments)

There is a lot of research to be done on human bacteria.

I know many people here react dismissively towards wet science, but there's ample evidence that, for as long as there has been animal life, there have been closely related bacteria hitching a ride with us. And some of those bacteria have co-evolved with us to do useful things -- like termites being able to digest cellulose because of their gut bacteria.

If we wipe out those populations of bacteria that have been evolving with us for tens of millions of years (or more), it seems pretty reasonable to suggest that there will be repercussions.

On the more speculative side, my hay fever is largely gone now (no more runny nose, ever, during pollen season -- but my eyes still get scratchy on the worst days) since I've been dosing myself with bacteria (some commercial, made for sufferers of ileitis colitis, and some wild, homemade kefir and spontaneously pickled veg). I've talked to a researcher in the field; he said I basically hit a home run. Out of the possibly hundreds (thousands?) of species of bacteria I'm missing (sickly kid, lots of antibiotics, born by C-section, bottle-fed), I managed to load myself with probably a couple dozen strains of bacteria (mostly bifido and laco) that managed to help regulate the inflammation causing my seasonal allergies (i.e., my nose dripped like a tap).

FWIW, yogurt as a probiotic is unlikely to do much of anything for you. Most of those bacteria have been bred to produce lactic acid, and little else, as fast and as reliably as possible. Most of them are also unlikely to take up residence in your gut; they've been bred to survive in milk.

I, for one, really want to see more research in this field.

about 2 months ago
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Harvard Study Links Neonicotinoid Pesticide To Colony Collapse Disorder

MyNicknameSucks Mod this up (217 comments)

As above.

about 3 months ago
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Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Over Climate Change

MyNicknameSucks At the risk of being modded down ... (661 comments)

Just to point something out.

/. has always had this weird thing going on -- for all the talk of intelligent discussion and acceptance of science, many of the readers have a strong libertarian streak. If something clashes with personal experience (or causes personal discomfort), a knee-jerk reaction kicks in that starts up denial. You see it in discussions of our bacterial biome ("my kid gets ear infections; the infection gets cleared up after a round of antibiotics: therefore, antibiotics are good because I believe the evidence of my eyes"), you see it in discussions of corporate geek culture for another angle (nerds are among the hardest people to support, and they often know just enough to cause mass damage, but not necessarily more than the plebes who actually work in IT).

In the case of climate change, the debate gets tinged with a touch of disdain for wet science.

Nerds like absolutes. They like believing they know better. The like to think that the wet sciences are lesser than engineering and physics.

And climate change, for better or worse, has this ... hint of doubt surrounding it. Climate swings are natural (although this current swing is happening particularly fast). It's more or less impossible to see the connection between climate change and and your car (unlike, say, the cause and effect nature of classical physics). And libertarians object, on principle, that their personal choices can have anything beyond short term, immediate effects; what is good for the self is good for everyone. And it's good that I can continue to do things as I've always done.

Let's face it. There's almost no point arguing climate change with some people; too many underlying beliefs would have to change.

We need to incentivise actions, corporate and personal, that improve our planet's chances of surviving our collective stupidity so that we can drag the deniers along for the ride. Hectoring simply isn't working now, and is unlikely to work in the future.

about 3 months ago
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Ben Starr Answers Your Questions About Sustainability and Kitchen Tech

MyNicknameSucks Re:Removing gluten in the mash? (46 comments)

FWIW, I'd be wary of calling a beer treated with Clarity Ferm "gluten free" unless you did a proper analysis on each and every batch of beer. When you're dealing with allergens that can cause anaphylaxis, I'd be terrified of making someone ill. "Reduced gluten" is probably a better phrase.

What I'd like to know is ... what's the price difference between making a reduced gluten beer from a standard recipe and process, but with CF added, versus a sorghum / millet / rice / corn beer?

about 3 months ago
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Elderly Mice Perk Up With Transfused Blood

MyNicknameSucks There's also a cancer risk (178 comments)

Most of the coverage of this story is reporting the "Happy happy joy joy!" aspects (cure heart disease! reverse aging! improving mental agility!), but a few outlets are reporting that there's also a risk for cancer.

about 3 months ago
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Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta

MyNicknameSucks Win8 is deeply weird (387 comments)

Background from a UI designer at MS: http://www.reddit.com/r/micros...

Metro was designed for, paraphrasing pwnies, your mom so she could watch her favourite cat videos without getting bogged down in the OS. So ... it's really good at single- and double-tasking, less good if you juggle multiple windows, and kinda' confusing if you run a mix of Metro and standard desktop apps. Metro's downright nasty to use with a mouse, but works great with touch (at least once you grok that swiping from the edges makes stuff happen) and keyboard shortcuts (type to search is nice).

But what kills me is how hard it is to just use one UI or the other, even after significant tweaking. Win8, as far as I can tell, always defaults to Metro apps, even if launched from the desktop and there's an equivalent (or more powerful) desktop app available. Many settings are only found in Metro. File associations, even for file types that casual users are unlikely to use, like .CR2 (a RAW image type) are associated with Metro apps. And the default programs app doesn't even list all of the file types that the desktop pic viewer can handle; you have to set image types like .CR2 through Explorer. Seriously? Weird choice, that.

The flip side, of course, is that if you want to do something other than media consumption you get bumped into the desktop. Somehow, I think it's telling that Office 365 is not a suite of applications for Metro. And that most of the apps in the store seem more ... well ... tablet- and phone-oriented than desktop-oriented. MS doesn't want people to work in Metro, but never really had the stones to say it bluntly.

For my part, I got so pissed off at Metro on my desktop PC that I installed Start8 and another app that opens Metro apps in a desktop window so that, if Windows decides once again that a 22", full screen, four function calculator is really what I need when I'm trying to double-check some math for an email ... I won't have to deal with Metro.

And, hell, if I want to kick back and surf or play a stupid game, I'm going to grab a tablet or smart phone ... not use my PC.

And ... you know what? I set up a new PC for my mom a few months ago. I didn't want to deal with tech support for Metro on her PC (no touch screen, and didn't want to bother with teaching her keyboard shortcuts or deal with her chucking her mouse through her monitor when she can't find the hot spot to switch apps). But ... she's like ... the target audience for Metro. There is a giant bullseye on her head. She is the casual PC user defined and distilled down to its most basic. And I couldn't face down the prospect of explaining charms to turn off her PC (or how to open the charms bar). Or how to switch apps with a mouse.

On the other hand, I do like the idea of MS finally adding some new functionality to the desktop. Even if I'm unlikely to give 2 shits about live tiles in the start menu (seriously, given how much MS knows about me from 20+ years' worth of product registrations, configurations, IP addresses, and that MSDN sub a few years ago, you'd figure they could get at least the country right for the default locations for the weather, sports and news apps -- I deleted them because I couldn't be bothered to configure them).

And yet ... Win8 is fast. Stable. Runs on the same hardware Vista did.

It's kinda' weird, ya' know?

about 4 months ago
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Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires

MyNicknameSucks Metro wasn't designed for people who read /. (860 comments)

Here's some insight into why Metro is the way it is and why it's the default UI for Win8: http://www.reddit.com/r/techno...

Metro exists, specifically, for the segment of the population that (mostly) single tasks and doesn't want to get bogged down in the nitty gritty of the OS. They don't want multiple desktops or have 10+ windows open; they want to, in the words of pwnies, do nothing more intensive than watch cat videos. It appears to be a deliberate move by MS that most of the included apps suck for "power users" (Mail and Calendar get singled out) and that Office 365 is meant to run in Classic. And, apparently, it's why Metro is Win8's default UI; so-called power users can figure out how to nuke Metro and work more or less solely in classic desktop. Casual users would, apparently, never find Metro if the default UI were classic -- or, at least, they'd never use it since it's unfamiliar. And familiarity's a big deal when it comes to UI design. Think about it for a moment; it's apparently straight-forward make an app that returns the classic UI -- MS must have made it very, very easy to do so from the OS-side of things.

That's why, in large, part MS has been flouting colours! and customization! and Bing integration! in its marketing -- they're trying very, very hard to get media consumers to use Metro and like it.

But there are some very large problems to this. Metro is designed around touch and keyboard shortcuts -- not mouse. If you're using a touch screen, Metro's not bad once you grok that swiping from the edges of the screen makes stuff happen. But, damn, good luck figuring out hot corners with a mouse (switching between open apps is not, in particular, very intuitive). Or alt-tabbing. Or "type to find program" (in Win7 / classic, Windows key then type). But ... how many casual PC users have touch screens? To me, it's the flip side of Kinect; with XBone, you get a piece of hardware that's tightly integrated with the system, but provides comparatively little user benefit. With touch screens, there's a low installed user base among the people who would get the most use out of Metro.

The funny thing is that, by so forcefully going after casual users MS has incurred the wrath of people who need their PCs for work. And those people? If they have to set up a new PC for granny, the first thing they do is install something like Start8. For whatever reason, MS's marketing people have focused on the improved casual user experience for Metro and made it seem like classic is being phased out (apparently, it isn't). And ... Win8 IS a good OS. It was fast and stable out of the box. Driver support is excellent. Security, apparently, is superior to Win7. Unlike Vista, it works well on (comparatively) old hardware.

MS has become a deeply weird and schizo company. They're supporting a handful of separate UIs (Office: ribbons; Win8: classic; Metro). It's been marketing its new OS as being a superior choice for media consumers who have either already switched to smart phones and tablets or, simply, don't want to change from something that works well enough. The only possible way Metro on a desktop makes any sense is if MS is using it as a Trojan horse to get people to consider using Windows phones and tablets. But, damn. That's kinda' crazy.

about 5 months ago
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The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

MyNicknameSucks K-cup coffee is $40(ish) a pound in Canada (769 comments)

You can drive the price down with bulk buying and so forth, but you're paying a rather hefty premium for mediocre coffee that would otherwise retail for about $10 a pound.

I worked it out one time and our fancy-schmancy Jura that does about 4 cups a day has proven to be more economical than a Keurig, mostly because it can make a good cuppa out of $10 beans. Yeah, it took nearly two years, but we've had it for four. At this point, we can splurge on Blue Mountain beans and still be ahead of where we'd be with a Keurig or Nespresso.

For those who don't know, all in one espresso machines operate on the basic principal of "water container on one side of the machine, beans on the other, finished coffee out the middle, grounds dumped into a small container that takes about a minute to clean out once a week." In general, they make very good, but not mind-blowingly great, coffee. But ... in terms of overall convenience? Yowza, we're in tough to beat territory. Plus I don't have to drive to the supermarket to recycle the pods. And I can use any beans I want while supporting local roasteries.

And yes, I know, a French press would be OMG cheaper and (possibly) make better coffee. But after 15 years of arguing over who makes the coffee, my wife and I figured that a mostly automated coffee maker would be cheaper counseling.

about 5 months ago
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Windows 9 Already? Apparently, Yes.

MyNicknameSucks My experience with Win8 (1009 comments)

Early adopter here -- it came pre-installed on a notebook.

What I eventually realized is that MS is now supporting 3 separate UIs, all with quirks, and all with separate design philosophies.

The classic, window-based UI has been evolving over 15 years; it's straight-foraward, if cluttered. Start button; apps binned to the task bar; random crap on desktop; text-based menu bars; high contrast, colourful design elements.

Ribbons in Office. Similar to windows, but it replaced the menu bars with ribbons. More customizable than the menu bars, but my old eyes find the muted colours, grays on white, and small icons troublesome, especially in Outlook. Runs exclusively in classic UI.

Metro -- which actually comes in two flavours, touch and keyboard / mouse. The touch interface isn't bad, although I personally find it a pain to sort through open apps. But ... I find it hard to stay in Metro. Open up the calculator app, and you end up with a full screen calculator that looks STUPID on an 18" monitor (similar calculator on a 4" smartphone looks great, mind you). Open up Outlook? Back into classic. Further, the apps themselves feature scrolling vertically and horizontally which is ... disconcerting. If there's a pattern as to the reasoning behind H v. V scrolling, I don't get it. While the tiles themselves are colourful (a reference to the classic UI?), the apps are back to scroll bars that are grey on white (Office?). And the Music app is mostly black / grey / white. Weird choice, that, since it removes a design element that can highlight useful information. And, having a whole bunch of live tiles scrolling information on an 18" monitor is distracting, not illuminating.

But Metro with a keyboard and mouse? I know it can work ... but "put mouse in corner and pray" seems like a poor design choice. Further, I'm unaware of any helpful hints within the OS itself about how to use keyboard shortcuts. Seriously, MS made one of the most counter-intuitive UIs I've ever used with a keyboard and mouse, but did an outlandishly poor job of introducing it. First impressions last -- and if the first impression was "rage", good luck to you.

And, finally, my grousing aside, but if MS had released Win 8 with useful, clever, and outlandishly cool apps, we might not really be having this conversation. Instead, MS has my geographical location (Toronto, ON), but the installed apps gave me news, sports and weather for NYC (seriously, they got the country wrong?). Again, it's small -- but it would've been a nice touch if the apps tried to have a local flare because, frankly, I don't care about NYC. At all. The other apps? Music is interesting, especially since it includes free streaming (something of a big deal in Canada), but the interface blends local libraries with cloud streaming not-quite-seamlessly. The other apps, like mail and calendar, suck.

Win 8 is a deeply weird beast. It's fast. It's stable. And I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, especially if you're wedded to Office. The weird blending of multiple UIs is, plain and simple, goofy.

Looking back at my comments. What I think I would like is a small, tablet-sized second monitor for running Metro, connected to my desktop. I'd have whatever I'm doing on the classic desktop open, but could easily glance over and see Twitter updates, incoming e-mails -- a lot of things I use my iPhone for. Weird thing, that.

about 6 months ago
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David Lowery On the Ethics of Music Piracy

MyNicknameSucks GPL violation bad, music theft good? (713 comments)

What's funny is how myopic many /.ers are: if a software developer comes on and talks about getting screwed over by a client (the recent article on someone wanting support forever) or by a distributor (the recent article on someone getting screwed over by Amazon's app store), there's sympathy, solid advice (including legal advice), and links to resources. If a musician comes on and talks about getting screwed over by Google (Google publishes DMCA takedown notices that list offending URLs; YouTube doesn't, AFAIK, pay royalties), Apple (Apple acts as a middle man, only, and does next to nothing to produce works or discover new artists), or by Torrent sites, he "doesn't get it" or is told to find "new ways to monetize your work". I.e., the lamest and most non-specific comments (not even advice) possible.

What makes me shake my head is how lacking in empathy most of these posters are towards people who work in non-geek fields. The same suite of laws that protect software licenses like BSD and the GPL also protects artists. While it's OK for a software developer to put strings on software and how it gets distributed, it's bad for a musician to put similar strings on his work?

At the end of the day, Lowery's argument boils down to, "I did the work of making music. I assumed the risk (financial liability) of producing this piece of music, I paid for the engineer, I paid the factory to manufacture the CD. Why shouldn't I get paid for work I did? Why can't I control how it gets disseminated? How is it that there are cases where download sites make money from making my work available, without my permission?" And have a look at the last /. article mentioning Lowery -- he was an early adopter of using the Internet to connect to fans AND give away music he chose to give away.

Why is it OK to tell a software developer to lawyer up if he's getting screwed, but not OK to give the musician the same piece of advice? Again, it really is all about people getting paid for work they did AND having control over distribution.

It is, IME, fair game to argue over the details (like how long copyright should be), but it should be a non-starter to argue that someone should have no control over, and chance to benefit from, their own work once it's in the wild.

FWIW, I think software developers are AWFULLY lucky that they have the choice to squirrel away their source code and only distribute binaries. That puts an absolute limit on how widely and easily bits of code can be moved.

more than 2 years ago
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Are Programmers Ruining the Design of eBooks?

MyNicknameSucks As an avid reader ... (470 comments)

This is what I've found:

I love reading novels on my kindle. I love the sharpness of the next. I love the ability to resize text. I love having a library in my hands. I love that my wife and I don't have to buy new bookshelves or drop off a bunch of books at Goodwill every six months.

I feel cheated when I come across an e-book that obviously hasn't been reviewed by a human familiar with English -- even mainstream(ish) books like Pratchett's latest, Snuff, had to be revised shortly after release due to some appallingly bad errors. I've been an avid reader for decades; I've seen typos and spelin' mistakes aplenty, but I've never had to slog through entire pages of gobbledygook with dead tree editions of works.

Reference books on my Kindle can be downright painful -- tables are usually inserted as lo-fi images that are often all-but-unreadable. Worse, if the corresponding page in the dead tree edition includes images and tables, on the same page, all hell breaks loose. Things get ... ugly.

But the real killer for me is indexes. I love them. The indexes on my reference books are usually rather dog-eared. I find them indispensable. But only once have I found an e-book, Bloodlands, that included a functional index (i.e., you select a term, you're taking to the correct "page"). Every other reference book I've purchased has an index that is simply a list of words. I freaking HATE that. That is bad design in that a feature you expect to be functional does NOTHING. We're talking Web 1.0 functionality here, people.

But ... you know what? For me this isn't an arts v. science thing many of the people here are making it out to be. The best interfaces are those that involve graphic designers (seriously, Susan Kare's a genius) and nerds. You need design AND implementation to pull things off. The gobbledygook I've seen in e-books? That's obviously some kind of script that fugged up its conversion -- that's a fault of implementation. Tables and pictures that are supposed to show up in proximity to each other, but don't in e-books? That's a fault of design. The data's there, but it needs better presentation.

We all just have to, you know, get along.

more than 2 years ago

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