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Comments

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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain

NorbrookC Re:Article's arguments are weak. (360 comments)

Core reason why? Their limited shelf life. I happen to own the original Doom series, and in a fit of nostalgia, I decided to reload it on my new computer. After a hell of a lot of tinkering, as well as using an open-source engine mod, I was able to get it running again. More often than not, I've ended up chucking my old games simply because it's not worth the effort to get them working again. Yes, I have DOSBox on my system, but seriously, what's the point?

Manufacturers aren't going to be marketing them, and to be honest, few people are going to go through the effort of trying to make it work on new systems. So complaining that they shouldn't move into the public domain long after their day in sun is done feels more like "my precioussss..." than any economic argument.

about 7 months ago
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Does Even Amazing Partisan Tech Deserve Applause?

NorbrookC Re:Not really (209 comments)

The problem is that in trying to make his point, he's pointing at various commercial sites as "good examples," when in reality they aren't quite up to what he's talking about. I also note that there is nothing stopping him ... or any of the complainers here ... from developing and fielding such a system.

about 2 years ago
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Will Online Learning Disrupt Programming Language Adoption?

NorbrookC Why do we need a renaissance? (193 comments)

Seriously. Considering the amount of bitching, griping, moaning and whining I've seen about businesses failing to move to new operating systems and carrying around large amounts of legacy code, it doesn't appear that there's a pent-up demand for brand-new languages. The OP seems to be operating under the assumption that "if you build it, they will come" when it comes to programming languages, but the real world seems to be of a different opinion.

about 2 years ago
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Google Chrome: the New Web Platform?

NorbrookC Re:LOOK MOM - I JUST WROTE AN AD FOR GOOGLE (290 comments)

Exactly. The first thing I thought when seeing this story was "Where have I seen this before?" Oh, yeah, that was what Navigator was going to be.

more than 2 years ago
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Bob Anderson, the Man Behind Vader's Lightsaber, Dies at 89

NorbrookC Not just Star Wars (99 comments)

He was the swordmaster behind LOTR and the Princess Bride. His skill was not just being able to do it, but to teach others to do it so it looked right on screen. RIP, Bob Anderson.

more than 2 years ago
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10% of IT Pros Can Access Previous Jobs' Accounts

NorbrookC Not surprised at all (218 comments)

It's always been a problem, and I see it hasn't changed. One of the things I remember from leaving one place a decade ago was just how many systems I had access to as a function of my job as a system admin, and the number of user accounts with that - including support vendor accounts. Even though I was ethical enough to tell them what I had access to, and that they needed to change all those passwords, it turned out that they didn't. I learned that when I was recalled as a contractor, and it turned out I didn't have to get a set of new passwords for the system, about half of the old ones still worked. Even worse, the ones that still worked were ones that gave me root access.

more than 3 years ago
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Autism-Vax Doc Scandal Was Pharma Business Scam

NorbrookC Re:This is a Big Deal (541 comments)

What bothers me about it was that no one at Lancet, not the editors or the peer-reviewers, bothered to question the data and the assumptions to begin with. I'm also curious to know just what role the other co-authors had in this paper. Were they just "courtesy additions," or were they complicit in this research? Having written a few research articles, I can only think of one that went through without a request for revisions, or additional data. Most of the time, we were put through the wringer.

more than 3 years ago
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What's the Oldest File You Can Restore?

NorbrookC Re:Dead Media Project (498 comments)

About 5 years ago, I was able to recover data I'd written on some old (circa 1990) diskettes using an old 486 computer I had in my "spares." which worked surprisingly well. One of the challenges was that I'd used an archiving program called ZOO, and a lot of my data files were stored in that format. It took some digging to find a program that would extract the files, and then saved them onto a hard drive, which was then written to CD. The files themselves were actually from the mid-80s, and fortunately, were in an ASCII readable format, although the word processor used to create them (WordStar2000) was long obsolete.

more than 3 years ago
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Bloom Laptop Designed For Easy Disassembly

NorbrookC Re:Easily swappable parts (151 comments)

Exactly. It's a problem across many industries - just ask any auto mechanic. The people designing the product aren't thinking in terms of servicing the product. I've had to disassemble an entire laptop just to replace a case fan. I had to buy specialty tools just so I could remove and replace the hard drive on another laptop. Those are just some of the examples I've had to deal with - and yes, each of them have been "top of the line" laptops. What was frustrating was that it shouldn't have required that much effort - I mean really, why the hell would you use a screw head type that no standard fitting matches?

more than 3 years ago
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Taco Bell Programming

NorbrookC Re:Simplicity (394 comments)

It seems to me that the point is that programmers have a variant of "if all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail" saying. In this case, they have a huge toolbox, so every time they need to drive a nail, it means that they must design and use a methodology that will, eventually, cause the nail to be pushed into place, instead of just reaching for the hammer and getting the job done.

more than 3 years ago
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Survey Shows How Stupid People Are With Passwords

NorbrookC Re:Survey Shows How Stupid People Are (427 comments)

A good point. One of the other things I saw there was the assumption that people are going to easily remember passwords - and that they have a limited number of places they use them. Neither assumption is true, and particularly so these days. I have over thirty different sites I visit on a regular basis that require me to use a password of some sort - including this one. Keeping those straight using the "strong passwords, changed regularly" rule would mean that I'd stop visiting them after a while, or not bother participating - mainly because I lost the password or forgot it. That is, unless I committed the oldest security violation of writing down my passwords.

more than 3 years ago
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How Can I Make Testing Software More Stimulating?

NorbrookC Re:Too close to the subject... (396 comments)

My serious wake-up call came when I had to add the following line to my instruction sheet: "1. Turn on the computer. The switch is located..."

about 4 years ago
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How Can I Make Testing Software More Stimulating?

NorbrookC Re:Too close to the subject... (396 comments)

When I wrote code, I knew how the program was supposed to work. I made the user interfaces "obvious" - to me. So my "testing" was along the lines of "does this compile properly," and "does it output what I expected it to?" The rude awakening came when I handed off the "finished" product to someone else. All sorts of errors I hadn't thought about handling happened, people were confused by the user interface, and more than one "oops" cropped up. While the "boring" testing you're doing on your code may catch the obvious things, it's always better to have someone else test it.

about 4 years ago
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Do Home Computers Help Or Hinder Education?

NorbrookC Not surprising (305 comments)

Very little about studies like this surprise me. I'm of the age where I went to school before computers - or even calculators - were used in schools. Amazingly enough, somehow I managed to learn to read, write, and do arithmetic (and later on advanced mathematics) without them. Are they handy, and useful? Yes, absolutely. The advent of relatively cheap calculators made my college years a lot easier than it would have been otherwise. Computers have made a lot of what used to be very onerous and time-consuming tasks simpler, easier, and faster. I know that because I had to do them by hand at one time.

That said, what I have noticed is that a lot of people have become totally helpless when the technology fails or isn't available. I've watched people struggle to add a simple column of numbers or make change when a calculator wasn't available. Something I consider trivially simple - even do in my head - they can't without technological help. GPS navigation systems seem to have caused many to have forgotten how to read a map or follow directions. What appears to have happened is that the technology isn't teaching them anything except which buttons to push. It's not teaching them the actual skill.

more than 4 years ago
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Ubuntu Moves To Yahoo For Default Firefox Search

NorbrookC Re:Question (370 comments)

I doubt it. Firefox has always given users the ability to change the default search engine. While Google was paying Mozilla to make Google the default search on those products, it doesn't necessarily affect other deals made.

This is interesting, but I don't think it's all that big a problem. Although it's fun to get all paranoid about Microsoft - with some justification - I don't see this as an attempt to "take over" Ubuntu.

more than 4 years ago
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Print News Fading, Still Source of Much News

NorbrookC Re:top flight journalists? (140 comments)

The problem with what you just said is that it's reactive, not creative. Yes, the traditional media misses the boat, or gets its facts wrong at times. It's just as bad - if not worse - in the blogosphere. I've seen any number of blogs detailing how 9-11 was a conspiracy, "break" a story that turns out to be totally wrong, and drop the ball on a number of stories. The idea that blogs are going to be able to supplant the functions of the professional journalists isn't realistic.

more than 5 years ago
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Print News Fading, Still Source of Much News

NorbrookC It's the problem (140 comments)

How do you make what you do pay when the distribution medium changes? While we like to celebrate the Internet for it's ability to disseminate information, the fact is that gathering that information has to be done by someone. Bloggers have done quite a bit in terms of gathering news, or breaking it, but the problem is that most of it is scattered, and tends to be narrowly focused. The other stories, coverage, and news is still done by the traditional media. It's going to be that way for quite a while - we need people who have expertise (and get paid for that) to dig into the complex stories, we need organizations who are going to aggregate it and check it. The actual functions of newspapers and television reporting are needed, but the distribution channel changed. The question for them is can they hold on long enough to make what they do pay in a new medium.

more than 5 years ago
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Tech Firms Oppose Union Organizing

NorbrookC Re:UAW (715 comments)

Unions are the parasites of corporations, taking profits that could have gone to R&D, new jobs, and channeling it to people who are paid much more than they are worth.

LOL! You mean like the number of non-union corporations have done? Last I looked, they weren't creating many jobs, were shipping them overseas, cutting R&D, and, speaking of people who were paid much more than they were worth - loading up CEO's and other executives with pay packages. Mind you, I'd love to be paid a few million dollars a year to tank a company. Heck, if necessary, I'd even try to shed tears as I took a multi-million dollar buyout to leave!

more than 5 years ago
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Tech Firms Oppose Union Organizing

NorbrookC Re:UAW (715 comments)

Exactly, and it's the same in the U.S. Most of the things employees take for granted - "it's my right" - are there because of unions. Wage and job protections. Workman's compensation. Health and safety regulations. Unions fought for all of those things. I've seem some stating that good employees don't need a union, it's amazing how often someone's perception of their capabilities doesn't always match their employer's perception.

That isn't to say that unions are perfect, either. Like any successful movement, they've gotten fat and happy, and at times, corrupt. That doesn't mean that unions are "evil" or that they still aren't necessary.

more than 5 years ago
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What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down?

NorbrookC Re:Backups, backups, backups! (203 comments)

There's now the assumption (and we all know what assume means) that if it's "in the cloud," the data is safe or backed up somewhere. Servers fail. Backups fail. Software glitches happen. Disasters - natural or other - happen. Even if you're lucky and you don't lose the actual data, losing access to it is the same - and for an extended length of time, it can be expensive.

No matter how much we preach to the choir, it seems that most people simply don't get the message.

about 6 years ago

Submissions

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NorbrookC NorbrookC writes  |  more than 6 years ago

NorbrookC (674063) writes "The BBC is reporting that there is a security hole in Vista's speech recognition feature. Apparently, when the feature is activated, it is possible for a sound file to delete files and folders. Microsoft doesn't seem too worried about it. FTA: Microsoft said the exploit was "technically possible" but there was no need to worry. The firm has pointed out that in order for the flaw to be exploited the speech recognition feature would need to be activated and configured and both microphone and speakers would have to be switched on. "

Journals

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Reviewing Hardy Heron

NorbrookC NorbrookC writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Over the years, I've tried a number of Linux distributions. Some I've liked, some I've hated, and some I was neutral about. I've been through dependency hell, I've had the frustration of attempting to find a configuration setting that would make my mouse work smoothly, or get my monitor resolution right. I've had the times when something in my hardware just wouldn't work because a driver wasn't available, or the driver wasn't quite what it should be. I think at one time or another, I have seen most of the problems in one form or another. Having said that, over the past 8 years, I've seen Linux distributions get steadily (even drastically) better.

Despite my liking for Linux, I still have to work with Microsoft Windows. Windows is the "standard", and though I like Linux myself, I always had trouble recommending it to non-technical people. One look at the disk partitioning at set-up, and people would get really nervous, even when I assured them it wouldn't hurt their computer. Forget the idea of handing many of the people I know a CD and telling them to "just try it!" I'd do it if they were only going to use it as a LiveCD, but unless I could be there watching, not to install. Even then, if they didn't like it, they were going to have trouble removing it without help. There is only so much time I'm willing to dedicate for things like that.

However, a statement in a recent interview with Mark Shuttlesworth caught my eye: Ubuntu 8.04, "Hardy Heron" could be installed and uninstalled under Windows. If it were true, it would be one of the best ways to get people to actually try a Linux distributions. They could install it, and if they didn't like it, they could use the Control Panel and Add/Remove Programs to remove it!

With that in mind, once it was released, I decided to attempt this as if I were a complete newbie, who had only used Windows. I downloaded two Hardy Heron versions - Ubuntu 8.04, and Kubuntu 8.04. After burning the CD's, I put the claim to the test. I'll also admit that I've never used either of them before, so in a way I could be considered a newbie.

First up was Ubuntu 8.04. I put the CD in my Windows XP Pro box, and immediately an installer window popped up. After selecting "Install under Windows," it asked me the size on my hard drive I wanted to assign to Ubuntu, my user name, and a password. I put them in, and clicked the ok button. It proceeded to run an install, copying an image over (it told me), and at the end, it asked me if I wanted to Reboot.

On rebooting, I saw a menu choice: Windows XP or Ubuntu. I selected Ubuntu, and watched as Ubuntu went through its setup paces. It extracted its files, set up a swap ext3 partion, and then went through a hardware detection. It then cleaned up and booted. Within 5 minutes of starting, I was in! Now the fun part - just how usable is this?

It didn't take me long to browse through the menus, and see what programs were on there. I saw a little flashing icon at the top of the desktop, and when I clicked it, it asked if I wanted to install a "restricted" driver for my NVIDIA card. I said "yes", and it went and got the new driver, installed it, and after a reboot, I was on again. I started playing around with the programs. Firefox. OK, worked fine. Pidgin for IM. I put in my AIM account and password, and was on in a heartbeat. Open Office - great. Media players - I needed codecs, but they went and got them. They worked fine, until I tried to open a WMV file. Oops! I opened up Synaptic, and went looked to see if I could find anything. Nope. I then did some looking and found Medibuntu, a restricted repository which did have the codecs, so I added that repository to Synaptic.

Let me take a moment here to go over what's not quite right here. As someone who uses Linux regularly, I knew that I needed to add codecs (actually, even more so, that I knew what they were), how to go look up repositories, and use a package manager. I know the difference between "free," "non-free," and "restricted" packages. Someone who only knows Windows will not know any that. Opening a terminal, and going through the whole apt-get procedure(s) was not bothersome to me, but would confuse the heck out of someone not aware or used to it. Another confusing issue is that Ubuntu puts the Windows partition in a file folder called "Host". This is non-obvious to anyone. It took me a few minutes of stumbling around when I happened to trip across it. Despite that, it wasn't long before I had a nicely functional Linux distribution up and running. I could browse the web, check my e-mail using Evolution, IM, and play media files.

It was at this point, before getting into serious tweaking, I decided to check out the removal. I rebooted, went into Windows, then to the Add/Remove. I got the standard removal queries, along with an option to save my Ubuntu settings. I said no, and then went through with it. A few seconds later, it was uninstalled. A reboot put me right back into Windows - no grub menu, no Ubuntu. Gone.

In went the Kubuntu 8.04 CD. Once again, the Windows installer popped up. After again selecting a user name, password, and size of the partition, it went through a similar process to the Ubuntu install. After rebooting, I again saw the Grub menu - and chose Kubuntu. Again, as with Ubuntu, the process ran seamlessly, with the exception of having (or at least telling me) several more steps. Shortly later, I was looking at a standard KDE desktop

This came with most of the standard KDE software: Konqueror, Kopete, and so on. One nice addition that was not in Ubuntu was Wine. A head scratcher was the apparent decision to not synchronize application offerings with the parent distribution. No Firefox, Pidgin, Evolution, Synaptic, etc. Having not used either of these distros before, I had come in thinking that Kubuntu was Ubuntu using the KDE Desktop. Instead, it appears to to be a completely different distro. My overall impression was that this was a much "rougher" distro than Ubuntu. When I pulled up the installed media players, they didn't attempt to look for codecs for me as they had in Ubuntu. Instead, I had to go out and locate them, and install them. Then there was the problem when my sound card didn't work - yet it had worked perfectly in the Ubuntu trial.

After trying both, I have to say that that Ubuntu 8.04 is probably the single easiest install for Windows-only people who want to try out Linux. I feel this is a very big jump towards a Linux desktop that can be used by the Windows-only crowd, but it's still not quite at the stage where I'd just hand a CD to someone who's not technology literate and expect them to run with it. It doesn't need as much hand-holding as previous distributions, but it still will need some. So be prepared to answer some questions if you recommend this to your "non-techie" friends. Having said that, there are still some hassles to be worked out, particularly with Kubuntu. While I generally prefer KDE, and feel that it is an easier migration path to Linux for Windows users, I'm going to hold off recommending Kubuntu until they smooth out the rough edges.

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