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Amazon Workers Strike In Germany As Christmas Orders Peak

Qubit Robots (606 comments)

I sense a whole lot more of them in Amazon's (near) future...

about 4 months ago

Munich Open Source Switch 'Completed Successfully'

Qubit Send them a hybrid PDF (275 comments)

More ODF files should be put into circulation in the business world.

I fullhartedly agree! When I have to send a company a file (most of the time my CV, alas :-( ), I always ask if I can send it as an .odt file. Many times I am asked what that is, and then I explain, but offer to send the file as .pdf. I do this, just to make clear that there ARE other things around than MS-Office. However, I find that, slowly, .odt files get accepted more, and companies that do accept them have a plus for me.

One option is to send them a hybrid PDF -- a format that allows you to embed the source LibreOffice document inside the PDF. Here's how to do it.

Many people don't know it, but MS-Office has pretty good ODF support in recent versions, so people should feel more comfortable sending ODF documents to people who are using it.

Props on promoting ODF to your potential employers. Surely but slowly we will win this format war :-)

about 4 months ago

NSA Collect Gamers' Chats and Deploy Real-Life Agents Into WoW and Second Life

Qubit You mean like in Tron? (293 comments)

NSA Collect Gamers' Chats and Deploy Real-Life Agents Into WoW and Second Life

...or more like the Matrix?

about 4 months ago

Putting the Wolfram Language (and Mathematica) On Every Raspberry Pi

Qubit Re:tl;dr - Still Proprietary Software (99 comments)

I hope the Foundation folks say "Thank you, much appreciated", and let the kids decide.

That was pretty much what I spent the day saying.

Educators the world over have often decided to insulate and protect children from the gamut of choices available to them in the Real World(tm). I don't always agree with the extent to which we "protect" children, especially as they grow older and feel very limited by society's restrictions, but I believe some amount of guidance can be helpful.

Letting the children decide between Mathematica and alternatives sounds amazing to me, and I'm very appreciative that you proposed the idea.

Atmosphere among the educators in the room when Conrad announced it this morning was pretty electric.

What do these educators think about Sage and other alternatives to Mathematica? Do you think these educators are famiilar enough with the Pi system, Mathematica, and mathematics software alternatives such that they can explain the differences and pros/cons to their young charges?

If people don't like the fact that it's only free as in beer, there's always Sage.

Yes, there is Sage, but while Mathematica's efforts got a big boost with front page billing, I see nary an article about Sage Math on the RaspberryPi blog. Whereas you just "announced a partnership with Wolfram Research to bundle a free copy of Mathematica and the Wolfram Language into future Raspbian images" (the officially-built/recommended OS), I believe that Sage has never been included in these images.

If you do want to give schoolchildren a choice between the two of them, why not start by writing an article about Sage and putting it in the default install as well? Unlike Mathematica, children will be able to download and run Sage easily and for no fee on any Win/Mac/Linux computer accessible to them, which will allow them to start projects on the Pi and move to beefier hardware later, or start a project on a school computer and bring it home to their Pi.

If children are able to make an informed choice between Mathematica and Sage (or other alternatives), then I support their opportunity to do so. Computers and the software that lives upon them should be given to children to explore, investigate, break, and repair. To truly give our future generations an opportunity to see the beauty of hardware and code I believe we should allow them to tweak and fiddle with the frobs inside these complex systems. A closed-source package like Mathematica curtails the possibility of investigation and dampens the fires of curiosity and innovation that can be seen in children everywhere.

Give children a choice? Certainly. But make sure that our educators can provide our students with exploration limited only by one's own imagination.

about 5 months ago

Putting the Wolfram Language (and Mathematica) On Every Raspberry Pi

Qubit tl;dr - Still Proprietary Software (99 comments)

Just in case you thought things might have changed:

As with Wolfram|Alpha on the web, the Wolfram Language (and Mathematica) on the Raspberry Pi are going to be free for anyone to use for personal purposes. (There’s also going to be a licensing mechanism for commercial uses, other Linux ARM systems, and so on.)

I give the RaspberryPi folks credit for making amazing and fun toy for children (that turns out to actually be a quite powerful and useful system for all ages, but shhhh, don't tell the kids! :-). I dearly wish that more of the RaspberryPI system could be Open Hardware, and love the fact that schoolchildren are getting their hands on their own computer that runs FOSS that they can program and tinker with and invent and dream.

But I dearly hope that the Foundation folks say "Thanks but no thanks" to this offer of crippleware. The platform should remain open to all, and putting something like this in a default install will perpetuate a system of haves and have-nots. If Wolfram wants to market this independently, then that is their perogative, but educational tools given to kids should be reuse- and remix-friendly.

about 5 months ago

Project Rescue Expert Todd Williams Talks About Healthcare.gov (Video)

Qubit Company is a part of the NSA (276 comments)


Surely they could have come up with a different name than "National Speakers Association"? Did they think that the initialism for "National Association of Speakers" was far too apt?

about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Can Bruce Schneier Be Trusted?

Qubit Re:Bruce Schneier (330 comments)

If he's not too busy, it would be great if he could log-in and provide a helpful comment on this story (I suggest a single-word reply such as "Yes" or "No" :-)


about 6 months ago

Obama on Surveillance: "We Can and Must Be More Transparent"

Qubit Every 5th visitor gets a "Virus Scan" for free! (537 comments)

There will also be a new website for citizens to learn about transparency in intelligence agencies

Whenver I visit one of the intelligence agency websites, my webcam light turns on and it won't turn off until I reboot my computer :(

about 8 months ago

Most precise measuring tool I've used ...

Qubit Cowboy Neal (328 comments)

Although he didn't come with a storage case, there was a helpful note included:

Warning: Be careful when cleaning this measuring tool with alcohol, as it may affect its accuracy.

about 10 months ago

Apache OpenOffice Downloaded 50 Million Times In a Year

Qubit Re:It is a shame that OpenOffice gets the nice nam (155 comments)

I've been using LibreOffice for a number of years, and love it (having written two, and typeset three, books with it), but the name is a hindrence. When I speak to my wife and use the term LibreOffice her eyes glaze over, whereas Open Office has a natural name people understand.

Free Office would have been better than LibreOffice, or any of a dozen other names I can think of (Community Office, OpenSource Office, New Office, World Office, even abbbreviating it to L-Office ...anything like that would lead to far better name recognition).

I personally think the name LibreOffice is pretty good. Yes, the abbreviations aren't great ("LO"? "LibO"? "LibOff"? ...), but the name itself captures a bit more about the project and its purpose than some other names out there. When I tell people about the Free Software Foundation, I have to explain to them what "Free Software" means and how it's different from Open Source. Have you ever tried to google for "Free Software"? Now try "Libre Software" -- much better :-)

So basically you get the concept of "Free Software" + Office suite, wrapped up in a name that is much less ambiguous, at least in English. Unfortunately (fortunately?) it sets up all users/contributors to be in the position of explaining this to everyone they talk to. Tradeoffs, tradeoffs...

I wasn't involved in selecting the name, but I wonder if there was a strong preference for keeping the word "Office" in the title. I understand that the name might help people understand that the project is an Office suite in a similar fashion to Microsoft Office, Corel Office, etc..., but perhaps a distinct name like "Firefox" or "Inkscape" would make for a much more recognizable and powerful brand?

about a year ago

Apache OpenOffice Downloaded 50 Million Times In a Year

Qubit Re:It is a shame that OpenOffice gets the nice nam (155 comments)

Personally, I say "OpenOffice" anyway when I mean LibreOffice.

*concerned stare* ...that's very interesting.

It has more currency with less technical people and those who never update, and only occasionally does it prompt a concerned stare when someone actually knows the distinction.

Speaking as a LibreOffice user and contributor, I am impressed that the OpenOffice name is so well known these days. I remember a number of years ago when *nobody* knew the name "OpenOffice" ("Is that some kind of template pack plugin thing for Word?"). It's very interesting to hear that now the name is well known enough that technically-minded users use the OpenOffice name to refer to both LO and AOO. Brand recognition is really quite strong!

Questions for you:

  • What do you think LibreOffice should do to make its brand more recognizable?
  • How 'known' would the project need to be for you to start calling it "LibreOffice" ?

Maybe we could just go back to calling it StarOffice?

Well the binary is still called "soffice" :-)

about a year ago

Windows Phone Actually Gaining Market Share In Some Countries

Qubit What countries? (114 comments)

Nokiastan...and where else?

1 year,15 days

A New Benefit For Logged-In Readers: Meet Slashdot's ROT13 Initiative

Qubit But what happens when you rot13 the ponies? (261 comments)

(I feel like this is what a machine made by Dunderbeck's son might do...)

I'm surprised that there's not a page or at least a reference on Wikipedia for Dunderbeck/Dunderbeck's machine

1 year,15 days

Educational Linux Distro Provides Tech-Bundle For Kids and Educators

Qubit Answer: Built on top of Ubuntu (55 comments)

"ubermix is based on Ubuntu Linux, the world's most popular Linux distribution."

First question in my head, anyhow... (the name did seem to hint in that direction, but I wanted to RTFA to confirm :-)

about a year ago

SXSW: Al Gore Talks Surveillance Culture, Spider Goats

Qubit what tags? (260 comments)

. ....Note the sarcasm tags.

You must have written them in Unicode, because Slashdot doesn't seem to be able to display them...


Also, your scientists are really small. Or are you just approximating your scientists as a point mass when they fall down the well?

about a year ago

Is Daylight Saving Time Worth Saving?

Qubit Re:Get rid of the time zones already! (646 comments)

It's 23:50 and I'm debating the finer points of time policy with a 20-year old car on Slashdot. Woooooooooot! :-)

What time does the local office open over there in Paris?

If you have to talk to the Paris office, wouldn't have have to either plan a meeting or look up their hours, anyhow?

How would you schedule a lunch 2500 miles away without doing research?

Unless you want to experience some kind of IRL chatroulette, couldn't you just plan with the other party?

Is the dude you want to talk to even awake?

You could check his longitude/latitude. And anyhow, lots of people keep weird hours, so I'd just suggest pinging him via text, IM, or etc..

One way or another, you're still effectively dealing with time zones.

One way or another you're still dealing with the transit of the sun across the sky. Adjusting the "time" around to make 12:00pm match up with the sun being overhead is just a weird approach to the problem.

The idea of switching to UTC for normal day to day stuff is silly. It makes one narrowly-defined problem easier for computer geeks, and most everything else a bigger pain for the rest of the population.

If we can treat time as monotonic and the same in all places on the globe, then that really simplifies a lot of things. Just plan to get 8 hours of sleep when it's dark (yes, we can make an app for that, or we can just look outside), and plan the rest of your day around when other stuff is scheduled.

I don't think it would be that crazy of an idea, but then again we still can't grok metric units in the US, so...

about a year ago

Is Daylight Saving Time Worth Saving?

Qubit Get rid of the time zones already! (646 comments)

Seriously -- let's just all use GMT, and get rid of Daylight savings, and all use 24 hour time.

Want to schedule a meeting with your coworker 1 cubicle over? How about with your coworker over in the Paris office? Awesome: Let's meet on Monday the 22nd, at 17:34 via (insert voice/video chat system of choice).

Time zones?
Daily savings time?

Ain't nobody got time for that!

about a year ago



Qubit Qubit writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Qubit (100461) writes "DefectiveByDesign.org is making Oct 3rd a Day Against DRM:
"Defeating DRM is all about awareness. The direct actions that we have taken are all about this. Today we are asking you to let the people around you know that DRM is bad for our society. Let's create space for the debate. Do we want handcuffs and locks on art and knowledge? As our friends at Disney recognize, if there is this debate, we will have won."



I wonder

Qubit Qubit writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I wonder if I'll get an achievement for writing in my journal...

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