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Comments

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Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP

Zitchas Re:Good for you. (641 comments)

I continue to think that about 95% of all computer users would be happy if their current OS locked the feature set exactly where it is now and henceforth do nothing except patch bugs.

Maybe do a "new version" if they really must, but only if it doesn't eliminate or forcefully change the current workflow, doesn't require any additional resources, and can demonstrably *IMPROVE* the user's experience with the OS. Which for most people, means that the time that they spend actually using the OS is decreased. After all, for 95% of users, the OS is simply the digital equivalent of their desk. Most people don't want to spend their time staring at their desk, no matter how "pretty" it is, but rather they would prefer to be doing stuff with whatever they put on it.

Side question: How many people would upgrade their desk if the new version of their desk had drawers that took twice as long to open but made a fancy "Wooosh" noise when they did it? Or where you had to push a couple buttons on the side of the desk before you could pick up a pen (or touch the keyboard)?

about two weeks ago
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Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP

Zitchas Re:Good for you. (641 comments)

Exactly!

I've been saying this for years in regards to "new" operating systems. I don't need more "features", I don't need it to look "prettier", I don't need animations when I do something.

Pretty much all I need is something that will organize my files and provide the necessary APIs and backend support for running a predetermined set of programs. (a set that has remained pretty much unchanged for the past 2 years, and only a few additions in the past 5)

about two weeks ago
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An SSD for Your Current Computer May Save the Cost of a New One (Video)

Zitchas Nice, but.... (353 comments)

Well, I'm glad that someone's out there talking about it, but here on /. it really is preaching to the choir.

That being said, I'd love to see this video get sent out to the masses of people on some major news channels. Getting a couple million more people interested in upgrading and modding their own computer would do wonders for increasing the interest of computer parts manufacturers in catering to the upgrade/modding community.

about two weeks ago
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How much time do you spend gaming compared to 10 years ago?

Zitchas Re:EVN (Escape Velocity Nova) (270 comments)

I'll have to look those up. Like with most old games, EVN doesn't really need sequels, it just needs to be updated to use more recent hardware, such as bigger screens.

about 2 months ago
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Japanese Firm Proposes Microwave-Linked Solar Plant On the Moon

Zitchas Awesome! (330 comments)

Are these ideas realistic anytime soon? Not really. Are they possible with today's technology? Iffy, although some probably are. Would I like to see most of them actually in existence now, if it were possible? Most definitely!

Especially the space ones, and the pyramid city. I like those ideas!

about 2 months ago
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How much time do you spend gaming compared to 10 years ago?

Zitchas Re:EVN (Escape Velocity Nova) (270 comments)

Deffinitely one of the top shareware games ever. I played it when first released, played it for many years after. Even made a few mods. Still have a copy of it kicking around, too. :)

about 2 months ago
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Is Google Making the Digital Divide Worse?

Zitchas Re:Faster internet will help regardless. (259 comments)

Probably the amusing part is that this all assumes that increased internet speeds actually *help* people. Being able to load funny cat videos 100x faster isn't really a significant benefit, really. And lets be honest: Most people getting these gigabit connections are not going to be spending their time exclusively doing research and watching online courses. If they did, maybe it will help the rich more than the poor, but chances are they won't.

And I fail to see how any online service could start to default to 4k video anytime in the near future. 4k screens aren't exactly common. There isn't even enough market saturation of high bandwidth connection (and big screens) for 1080p to the the default size on youtube. (I think it's generally defaulting to 480p or maybe 720p).

about 2 months ago
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Is Google Making the Digital Divide Worse?

Zitchas Faster internet will help regardless. (259 comments)

Having widespread gigabit internet should, in theory, continue to benefit the entire society, not just those capable of affording it. Even if the lower segment of society can not afford it, they should still benefit from it. After all, libraries and other public access points should be able to afford it, especially given that encouraging education is part of their mandate.

That being said, I disagree with the logic that one needs to have access to top-tier internet in order to advance one's education. Most of that bandwidth, in private use instances, is going to be taken up in streaming netflix, videogames, and torrents. (and related services) Very little is going to be used for educational purposes. If one is actually intent on learning, a tiny fraction of a gigabit connection is all that is needed, so long as one focuses on that and not trying to multitask.

about 2 months ago
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SpaceX's Dragon Module Successfully Re-Enters

Zitchas Re:Orbit? Check - Moon Mission? Mars? (156 comments)

The point, I think, is to get the government institutions (who are the ones who don't have to make money at things) OUT of the business of doing repetitious, potentially profitable things. Like putting satellites into orbit, doing ISS supply runs, and other generic things that are pretty much routine these days.

If they are barred from doing easy stuff, maybe they will take their budget where it is supposed to go: into exploration and the development of new things, things that the the private industry won't do because there is no profit there yet.

more than 3 years ago
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Would You Take a One-Way Ticket To Mars?

Zitchas 38% would go so long as they made it... (561 comments)

... and 7% think they already live there. In summary, out of 27844 respondents,26% would go on a one way trip so long as they had some chance of survival, and another 12% would go so long as they made it to Mars and died on impact. That makes 38% of the /. community who would gladly go on a one way trip to Mars. While not particularly representative of anything, it is interesting to see so many willing to go there, permanently. Hopefully the day will come when we have our opportunity. Oh, and I thought the Mars trilogy was awesome. That being said, the first part, where they are actually going to and starting up things there was the best part. For the first large portion of the book we actually have all the technology they use there. We just need some way to get it all assembled and used to take people there and help them survive. If it was not for the economics aspect, we would likely already be there.

more than 2 years ago
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Civilization V Announced For This Fall

Zitchas Re:Worth checking out, but not spectacular... (326 comments)

I'm not griping about features I wish it had, I'm just pointing out that a lot of the features they (or others) are claiming as new additions are, in fact, things that Alpha Centauri had about a decade ago. And I'll point out that it was, by and large, made by the same creator...

And yes, it would change the tone. I want another AC. Actually, I'd be happy with the old AC, with updated engine. (something that runs on modern systems, uses millions of colours, and supports modern screen resolutions. Maybe expand it to support having the whole slew of factions active simultaneously, too. (and bigger maps)

more than 4 years ago
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Civilization V Announced For This Fall

Zitchas Worth checking out, but not spectacular... (326 comments)

Well, it's nice that they're issuing a new Civilization game, but I'm still hoping they'll include more of the stuff they used in Alpha Centauri. That being said, some of the things they mention here *are* from Alpha Centauri, so there's hope yet. (for those unaware, Alpha Centauri was produced by Sid Meirs and Firaxis (among others) around 2000. Or at least, that was when they issued the last official patch.

For instance, ranged combat: Alpha Centauri had an artillery system built in, and the computer AI used it fairly effectively. Including artillery duels, bombardment, etc. Ship to shore combat was automatically a bombardment.

Modability: All the files for creating your own scenarios were there, easy to modify, written in plain english, and usually with explanations. And the game had a built in map editor. Which includes modifying factions, creating new ones, etc.

In fact, that leads directly to the one feature I really want to see in Civ V: Customized units. Not mods, but the ability, in game, to create new units by combining technology. For example, you've figured out how to make iron armor. Great. But you only know how to make longbows? So you now have iron-plated archers. Or whatever. That was one thing in Alpha Centauri that made the game truly unique: Tech developments gave you aspects of units, not the units themselves. As in they gave you a new type of weapon, a new type of armor, a new special ability, a new reactor (aka more hitpoints), new chassis (determines whether it's land, water, or air, and how fast it is, how often it needs to return to a city, etc)... Then the player puts them together to create the unit they want, the system figures out how much it costs, and there you go.

It led to some funny possibilities, like when you have really high powered cities, that you can create terraformers (equiv to engineers) that have tougher armor/hitpoints than most combat units. (although they still got a non-combat penalty) Or whatever one's heart desires, really. Not planning on going anywhere, but need defence? Then put together some sentinels with top of the line armor and hp, but leave them with the bare minimum for weaponry and chasis, and maybe give them one of the defensive special abilities. Or planning on doing some exploration? Throw together some rovers with high speed equipment, and deep radar (see 2 squares instead of 1), but leave off the weapons and armor. Almost anything is possible, really. And it adds so much variety to the game, so much re-playability.

The other thing I'm looking forward to seeing is the automation control. Can you activate an automated "governor" for a city? Can you tell that governor to only build stuff towards a specific end (say, research, or population expansion). Can you forbid the governor from building certain types of units (or any unit, for that matter)? On the same vein, can you give specific limits to engineer's automation? (for example, only allow them to build certain types of terrain improvement?

These are all things that they had in Alpha Centauri back in 2000, but have been almost entirely absent to all the Civ games produced since then. Otherwise, I'll probably just keep playing AC. Sure the graphics are bad (by 2010 standards, anyway), but it's the gameplay that matters.

more than 3 years ago
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My keyboard has X-many keys; X=

Zitchas Re:i'd count... (430 comments)

By default on the iMac keyboard, F14 and F15 are screen brightness controls. F17 reduce volume, F18 increases, F19 mute/unmute, and F20 is eject. I think on the newer macbooks there's controls for the keyboard back-illumination. Not sure if those count as F keys or not.

more than 4 years ago
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Where Should We Focus Our Space Efforts?

Zitchas Re:The Moon (703 comments)

So? I know it sounds a tad harsh, but who cares? I'm pretty sure that, if there were calls for volunteers for a one-way trip to Mars, they would most likely get thousands of applicants for EACH SPOT on the team. I'd certainly apply.

That being said, a serious manned mission to Mars would need a fairly large crew, and one with different training than modern space missions. These days, we're usually sending up highly trained specialists for specific experiments and suchlike. On a Mars expedition, while there would be some specialists, we would need a lot more people who could handle a large range of work conditions. And we would need trades people. Welders, construction people, etc.

Personally, I think that will be the sign that space is really starting to open up, and actually be useful: When we're sending electricians, welders, and other trades people into space because we need people actually capable of *building* and *repairing* things there, not just assembling them or replacing them, or doing experiments

more than 4 years ago
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BrainPort Lets the Blind "See" With Their Tongues

Zitchas Re:Why restrict this to the blind? (131 comments)

Exactly. The possibilities of this are endless, and it could be a major step down the path towards true cybernetic integration (or the Mind/Machine Interface, as some think of it). Starting out with applying it to the blind and otherwise visually impaired serves two important points:

1) Public perception. There is bound to eventually be an outcry in some sectors about the sanctity of human beings and how machines shouldn't be wired into people and vice versa, machines reading our minds, etc. If the technology has a working application of serious humane benefit, which the gov't is actually pursuing, this negates this to large extent.

2) Technological progression. If the gov't and others are putting money into it, it will most likely progress faster and more reliably than if it has to depend on commercial sources who understandably want to make money off it. And if it stops looking like it will make money... There goes the project into obscurity.

There have been numerous articles on Slashdot and various science sites on how the human brain can adapt to other forms of "senses". The vibrating belt that always indicated North, the possibility of humans learning to echonavigate, and many, many others. While the tongue is maybe not the most convenient way of integrating with our neural system, it is at least demonstrating the possibility. Once the technology starts to mature, deeper and more invasive integration starts to become possible. While I doubt we'd get to the point of being like the Matrix, how about something more like Harper from Andromeda? A network jack of some kind in one's neck, and thus a direct link in to appropriately configured equipment.

And on that note, while I'd find it immensely cool and useful to be able to access, manipulate, and process data via a direct cable feed, I'd hate to have a wireless connection. Imagine being able to drive-by hack somebody's head? Talk about the privacy issues with that...

more than 4 years ago
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BrainPort Lets the Blind "See" With Their Tongues

Zitchas Wonderful! (131 comments)

I don't have the link ready to hand, but the technology behind this was posted to slashdot quiet a while ago. (At least many months, possibly over a year ago) Anyway, I was wondering when we would hear about this technology again, since it has tremendous potential both for sight-restoration applications, as well as furthur development towards the integration of machine and brains. If the resolution was high enough, for instance, a pilot could use this to see underneath the plane, or in other directions normally blocked. The potential application for guided search and rescue, and other remote controlled devices is also large. "being" there is better than simply seeing on a screen, after all, even if virtually. I hope that the various gov't and none-profit groups that support the visually impaired take note of this as a way to help people become active and contributing parts of society again. It's nice to take care of the impaired, but better to help them regain their independence.

more than 4 years ago
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The Grid, Our Cars, and the Net

Zitchas Seems like a good idea that needs some more work (222 comments)

I think this is an excellent idea, so long as there are limits to it. For instance, the network should NOT be connected to, or capable of connecting to, the actual functioning of the vehicle. Worst case example being it should NOT be even vaguely possible for someone to hack into your car and turn off the engine. Or slam on the brake/gas. That being said, being able to read/broadcast status reports would be good. Such as letting the driver behind me know that I just slammed on the brakes. I know tail lights are supposed to do that, but anyway. Or possibly acting like the yellow flag at the racetrack : "a car 500m ahead just lost control, be careful". Likewise, for areas subject to snow storms, fog, or other conditions of poor visibility, such tracking would be *very* appreciated just knowing how far away the next car is in front/behind. Likewise, if such a mesh network was actually part of the internet, it could conceivably make it possible to connect to the internet, access it, and whatnot without going through *any* ISP. On the one hand, the potential for tracking should worry the privacy and rights advocates, and with good cause. On the other, such distribution of networking could also enable rights and privacy, since it'd be hard to track anything through such a constantly changing network, and even harder to filter anything. I would say it pretty much eliminates the option of filtering our internet. All that being said, I'm not too sure what the connection is with the electrical grid, aside from the potential of "smart" use of electricity, which would be good.

more than 4 years ago
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Portables Without Cameras?

Zitchas Or buy an older laptop... (442 comments)

Since you mentioned preferring to use Apple's stuff, buy yourself an older laptop. You don't have to go back too far before they stop having cameras. That being said, I'm currently using an iBook that's well into it's 7th year, and still works great. It won't play the latest games, and doing large scale graphics is slow, to say the least, but otherwise it works quiet well. Just find one that hasn't been abused.

more than 4 years ago
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

Zitchas Re:Start making scientific sense (870 comments)

This is definitely the attitude we need to take with space exploration. There have been many valid points made in these posts. I would like to highlight just a few: Firstly, the gov't has no place competing in commercial markets, that's not it's point. NASA should not be trying to provide commercially available services, whether it is ferrying rich tourists into space, or launching satelites. So it should get out of these markets, and let private firms do the research and development that is the focus of this. Let the private folks do the LEO stuff. On the other hand, private firms have no interest in going where there is no immediate profit, or even short term profit. Gov't, on the other hand, can and should be aiming at things that aren't profitable now, but will be critical and likely very profitable in 15+ years. Manned space flight to the moon, and especially to points beyond are a case in point. Asteroid mining, a staple of Sci-fi, is not profitable right now. Nor is it likely to be in the next ten years. But when industry gets into space, when we actually start having cities on the moon (or mars, or space stations, take your pic), mining the rest of the solar system is going to be very profitable. There is the potential for millions, possibly billions of jobs in that, since, eventually, the entire economy, from janitorial all the way up to senior management, will be replicated in space (hopefully more efficiently, but probably not). The country that gets there first, that actually becomes an space power (not just who can reach space, but who actually is permanently in space) is going to have a tremendous advantage in nearly every sphere of influence. Throwing money at it won't help much, but taking away what they have is likely to hurt a lot more than the potential benefit of increased efficiency. Efficiency is good, but not if it means retarding the entire manned space flight program by decades. In reality, we are still in the pre-space age. The space age will truly have arrived when space is a work place for more than a select elite and a few rich guys.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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SpaceX's Dragon module successfully re-enters.

Zitchas Zitchas writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Zitchas (713512) writes "Following the news of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon module on-board, and its arrival on orbit, we now have the news that is has successfully re-entered the atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific. As their website proudly claims, this is the first time a private corporation has recovered a spacecraft they orbited, joining the ranks of a few space nations and the EU space agency.

A great step forward for space travel. Hopefully everything continues to go well for them."

Link to Original Source

Journals

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For the record...

Zitchas Zitchas writes  |  more than 8 years ago I passed the written portion of my flight exam. Huzzah. One short step from being a legal pilot the world over. Or at least, eveywhere with the same standards as up here in the frozen north, anyway. Z

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