Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?
I was one of those that preferred slideout-keyboard phones for the longest time. However, earlier this year, when I was considering moving to a phone without one, I tried an experiment. For 2 months, I went without using the hardware keyboard, using the touchscreen exclusively. Surprisingly enough, it turned out that the software keyboard was faster and more efficient, most notably due to the swipe capabiities. For the most part, I found I could live with it, minus some inconveniences. First, it does use up screenspace when you're typing, but I find that when I'm typing I don't really need much screenspace anyway. Secondly, entering in non-standard text, such as console commands when I'm using ssh, is slower and less reliable. But those cases turn out to be few and far between. (The ssh sessions tend to be short, and if they need to be longer, I'm more likely to pull out my netbook for the task anyway. Yeah, I still use a netbook. 5 years old, and still a beast. But that's for another thread.) And finally, the tactile feel of pressing the keys, along with the individual key precision is really nice to have.
But despite that I've been using a touchscreen-only phone for about half a year, and I don't really mind at all. Neither the slideout nor the touchscreen is ideal, but of the two, the touchscreen (on modern phones) probably has enough benefits to give it the edge.
Some other things to consider: Slideouts are more prone to breakage and malfunctioning. They add to not only the monetary cost, but also the time cost of the phone. They make the phone bulkier and less marketable. They make accessory design more complicated.
And here's a really important one to consider: Language. With a software keyboard, there is virtually no effort required to make a phone accessible to any audience, in any country. A keyboard requires a lot of extra manufacturing considerations and iterations to deliver the same accessibility.
On the downside, it's harder to get a software keyboard to work out for the vision-impaired, but for the most part, hardware keyboards are hardly ideal in that area too.
Was Watch Dogs For PC Handicapped On Purpose?
I adopted these principles about 3 years ago, so I've had a chance to play a wide variety. Since then, all the games I enjoy most have met the requirements with the exception of a couple. And fortunately, now games seem to be meeting my requirements more frequently. It seems to work out.
Was Watch Dogs For PC Handicapped On Purpose?
If I'm going to play a PC game, one of my absolute requirements is that it is PC-exclusive, or that at least it was PC-exclusive for the initial release. If this isn't the case, then no matter how enticing the game is, no matter how much I'm drooling in anticipation, I won't give it a second glance.
Somehow, I've managed to get by. Not once have I regretted missing out on a game that hasn't been PC-exclusive. And as an added bonus, since I only have so much time to play games in my life, and there are so many of them, this requirement brings it down to a manageable number. (No, I don't pirate them out of "protest." If your game doesn't meet my requirements, I'm not going to PLAY it.)
Other requirements for me to bother playing a game:
- No DRM (Dota 2 is the sole exception, since it's free to play, and meets the following requirement)
- Native Linux Version available (that runs well)
So thanks, Watch Dogs, for reaffirming my principles.
OKCupid Warns Off Mozilla Firefox Users Over Gay Rights
A lot of people seem to be making the assumption that because Eich, or any other person, supported measures such as Proposition 8, they are hateful, or bigoted, or support the restriction of the rights of the LGBT community. While I'm sure there are those supporters that do, this view often doesn't apply to a majority of these people. In this case, the rights that concern many members of the LGBT community with regards to gay marriage have to do with a gay couple getting the benefits that a straight couple would, as well as the freedom to not be persecuted for their union. For the most part, there is no problem with this among the opposition.
While the benefits associated with marriage were originally put in place to ease the challenges of raising a family, financial or otherwise, there's no reason why a gay couple couldn't raise a family of their own through adoption/surrogacy/etc. As such, these benefits should certainly apply to them. Likewise, a straight couple may get married, but have no children, meaning the benefits are probably of less need, but are still given. So for the most part, people opposing gay marriage aren't necessarily doing so to restrict the benefits a gay couple would receive. And with regards to the freedom from persecution for a gay couple, there is even less reason to oppose it.
More often than not, the focus of the opposition often boils down to the spiritual concept of marriage. This has less to do with the rights and freedom of gay couples, and more to do with the preservation of marriage as a spiritual concept. You can bet that if it were only a question of the government administering the rights and benefits of a civil union to a gay couple, there would be a lot less of a furor from those that oppose gay marriage.
As such, it's fairly presumptuous to assume that those who are against gay marriage are against the rights of gay couples. Sure, there are those who walk around with signs saying "God Hates Fags," but they certainly don't represent the majority. As such, vilifying those who supported such measures as Prop 8 comes across as hypocritical, especially from a community that has had to endure similar persecutions for such a long time. (It's reminiscent of how after WWII, Germans across Europe were thrown in concentration camps as revenge for the actions of the Nazis during the Holocaust.)
So this whole reaction to Brendan Eich is pretty disappointing to me, since it was his own, personal money that he contributed, and especially since he has stated he won't let his personal viewpoints affect Mozilla. As another Slashdotter pointed out above, if you boycotted all the companies lead by those whose personal opinions you disagreed with, you might as well become a hermit.
Also, bite me, OKCupid. I'll use whatever internet browser I want to use. You know what I won't use? Your website.
Happy Pi Day
As much as I've enjoyed Vi Hart's videos in the past, the whole tau movement always struck me as a bit of a hipster attempt to convert a system that works fine as it is.
Yes, tau makes some of the more basic equations simpler, but it also makes some of the more complex equations messier when compared to pi.
Government To Require Vehicle-to-vehicle Communication
Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention. None of this takes control of your car in any way. It would just be used to provide information to built in indicators in the cars. Perhaps a HUD that would show the locations of other cars with relation to yours, especially in your blind spot. Or to flash a collision warning if you're pulling out of a blind intersection while another car is coming. Or to warn you when a vehicle 5 cars ahead of you on the freeway has slammed on its brakes.
I'm sure that self-driving cars would be able to use the information as well, but again, the core system simply provides an interface that would be used for awareness systems, as developed by the car manufacturers.
Government To Require Vehicle-to-vehicle Communication
So I'm actually working on this technology, and every time I see an article about this, there's inevitably some concern about safety, security, government spying, etc.
First off, the reason this technology would be required in all vehicles is that it essentially consists of in-car wifi routers that send their GPS location to other cars. In order for the technology to work properly, all cars would need it, so they can all see each other. Obviously it's a big transition, but it has to be done eventually. New cars would come with the devices built in, and older cars would have after-market devices that can be purchased and installed. However, once in place, vehicle awareness will greatly reduce accidents and increase roadside efficiency. (Think of it this way; The traffic signals are almost always green when you approach an intersection.)
But wouldn't all that be pretty expensive? Not really. The core technology is pretty basic stuff. It's just gps and wifi, really. The fancy stuff, like in-car radar, video cameras, and so forth that you find in some of the luxury cars today isn't really necessary, though from what I gather, it could be plugged in to augment the system. For the most part, consumers won't notice a price change, and in the worst case, they'd have to spend a couple hundred to retrofit their old cars.
All fine and dandy, but what about hackers and people that would abuse the tech? Well, the system is being designed from the ground up to be heavily encrypted and secure. One of the government requirements for the companies developing this is that it meet certain security standards, and since this stuff is used to keep people from dying, you can bet testing will involve trying to exploit every aspect of it. The only issue I can see is malicious signal jamming, though since it requires a unique frequency, people doing this would be caught pretty easily.
Finally, we get to the issue of government spying. Since every vehicle is transmitting its location, doesn't this mean that the government could track everybody, or gather other information about them? This is actually very unlikely. The development of V2V tech has been fairly hands-off on the government's part. Their primary contribution has been to lay down certain standards and requirements for the tech, and then let the commercial companies implement it. One of their requirements has been that none of the data can be used to identify any vehicle in any way, which has certainly been a challenge to implement from the development side.
And to add my own anecdotal evidence, I've looked through all of the code used, from the firmware to the utilities, and I've seen nothing that could be used as a backdoor to get the information. Likewise, I've worked extensively with the hardware and done all kinds of signal analysis, and as far as I can see, there's nothing illicit on the hardware end either.
And don't forget, the V2V tech isn't only being implemented in the US, but Japan, Europe, and China as well. (To the best of my knowledge.) A lot of the hardware and software is shared between the companies working on it and they all have to fit a certain standard.
In any case, I'm sure few people will be placated by my explanation, but I myself would not be averse to having this system installed in my own car.
Ask Slashdot: What Video Games Keep You From Using Linux?
I mostly play indie games nowadays, and the ones I like tend to release Linux clients. Other games I really like (read Warsow) are already for Linux. On the RTS front, I really only play Supreme Commander, and with the success of the Planetary Annihilation Kickstarter, it won't be long until my RTS itch is taken care of. On the RPG front, there are rumors that The Witcher 2 is being considered for a Linux release, and if that's true, we can expect CDP's future games to be on Linux too. I do really like the Evochron series, but as much as I bug Starwraith about it, they just don't have the resources to port it over, so I guess that would be a major reason.
So right now is essentially a transition period to using Linux on my main, gaming desktop for good. All my other computers already run Linux.
Slackware 14.0 Arrives
Lilo tends to be easier to get working with less effort. It's simple and does its job well, which follows the concept of using a Unix style environment. I've also found that saving your system from a disaster tends to take less fiddling when using Lilo. The configuration is very straightforward.
However, there are some things that Grub2 can do that Lilo can't. Fancier boot screens, more advanced command line arguments, etc. But if you aren't using those in the first place, then there's really no reason to use Grub2.
That said, Slackware does come with Grub2 in the extra packages directory of the install cd, so it's easy enough to use instead of Lilo.
Slackware 14.0 Arrives
The Slackware documentation has a summary on what makes it stand out:
In other words, it really doesn't have a lot of inconveniences after all. I think the biggest reason I moved to Slackware in the first place was the glut of dependencies that were installed whenever I installed a package in Ubuntu. With Slackware, you start out with a good portion of the packages you need, and manage the rest when you do third party installs. And while that may seem challenging, it ends up being fairly easy, since once you have your install set up and customized the way you like it, you can run it for years without having to make any drastic changes.
Also, the packages are all plain vanilla software, with very few distro-specific patches. While this tends to make the distribution seem less "uniform" out of the box, you also end up with more stability.
Full version upgrades also tend to be easier and more stable overall. Granted there's more work done under the hood, and there's always a chance you can mess up, but I've found that every time I've made a mistake, I've been able to rectify it using some simple method.
And that brings about the most important aspect of Slackware. It's the distro that puts you the closest to working with Linux, without having to delve through layers of "convenience" UI. It may seem harder at first, but after a bit of learning, you'll know Linux better than just about any other distro. (Excluding Linux from Scratch.)
That said, Slackware isn't for everyone. If you just want a distribution that takes the minimum effort to get going, you're probably better off with some of the other big names. But if you have the time and a bit of spare hard drive space, I recommend giving it a try nonetheless. Just be patient.
Slackware 14.0 Arrives
This only matters if you use KDE. (In which case you're going to get Nepomuk no matter what distro you use.) Also, Nepomuk is easy enough to disable,
If you prefer not to use KDE, Slackware comes with several other DEs and WMs, like XFCE and Fluxbox, out of the box. In fact, you don't even need to install KDE when you install Slackware. And if you're a Gnome user, there are several Gnome slackbuilds available. This is really a non-issue.
Slackware 14.0 Arrives
I've been waiting for this one for a while. Running Slack on my PC, my netbook, and my 10 year old laptop. I even managed to sneak it onto my work computer! Here's hoping Slackware keeps going for a long time . . .
Ask Slashdot: What Distros Have You Used, In What Order?
Mandrake (Just a little)
Red Hat (Just a little)
Slackware: I'm Not Dead Yet!
I'm a relatively new Slackware user, having only been using it for the past 2 years, but I can't think of another distro I'd rather use. So I'd be devastated if Slackware did die.
However, I knew from the start that this was just people overreacting. Eric regularly posts updates on his blog, and although the changelog and updates in -current aren't as frequent as some other distros, they are there.
I'll definitely be getting a subscription as soon as the next release comes.
New Doctor Who Companion Announced
Tennant ran around and yelled a bit too much for my taste. Eccleston felt far more like the classic Doctors, in that he was more of thinker than a man of action. I definitely preferred Eccleston to Tennant. (Though Tennant does look dashing, and has some great moments.) I haven't gotten to Matt Smith yet, but from what a few friends of mine have told me, his Doctor is a lot closer to the classic Doctors, which is something I really liked. (FYI, my favorite Doctor is still the 7th, though I thought each one brought something unique to the table.) In any case, I have a feeling Tennant would have gone over a little better if it weren't for Russel T. Davies' writing style. But I guess I shouldn't complain, as RTD did bring the show back from the dead after all.
Remastered Star Trek: the Next Generation Blu-ray a Huge Leap Forward
I just recently watched a few episodes of the remaster of the original series, and I'm quite amazed at how good it is. The details are crisp, the color balance is very appealing, and, most importantly, the graphical tweaks remain true to the original show. This is what George Lucas SHOULD have done when remastering Star Wars. I also got a chance to compare it with some episodes from The Next Generation, and surprisingly, the remaster of the show from the 60s looked better than the non-remaster of the show from the 90s.
So I'm very eager to see how The Next Generation turns out. People could scoff and say that this is just a money-grab, and I guess it kind of is, but it's definitely worth it to the viewer. If you don't believe me, watch an episode of TOS Remastered alongside a non-remastered version. (And then put a non-remastered TNG next to that.)
I've always disliked blu-ray, but this may be the thing that coerces me into buying a player at last.
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Won't Fit On a CD
Slackware ships on a DVD, and a full install is about 5-6 GB. But it certainly isn't bloated. It's one of the quickest and most stable distributions I've used, so I hesitate to say that adding more stuff to the Ubuntu install justifies people calling it bloated. Ubuntu's selection of software is still conservative in quantity. If anything would be blamed on bloat, it would be implementing it in such a way that it negatively affects your system's performance. So if they're adding unnecessary things to the system startup, or a lot of background processes that you don't use, then that would be bloat. (In Ubuntu's case, this has been happening, but it started long before they ever decided to ship a release that was too large for a cd.)
Cloud Gaming Service OnLive Unofficially On Linux
The original poster has a good point. However, I don't necessarily have an issue with closed source game releases for Linux, provided they don't have any sort of DRM involved. There's nothing wrong with closed source software (provided there aren't any ridiculous software patents involved), and having that software available for Linux gives the user the choice of buying it, or skipping it in favor of an open source solution. But that choice is important, as it provides the impetus for people using other platforms to migrate over to Linux.
But, I will admit that as much as I dislike OnLive, it's good that Linux users have the choice to use it if they wish, just like they have the choice to support closed source games.
PC Gaming's 10 Commandments
I have 2 rules for any PC game I buy:
1. No DRM. No exceptions, not even Steam. I don't care how much I'm drooling over an upcoming game. If it has DRM, I'm not touching it.
2. No console ports. Said game must be developed for PC first. I don't care how well it was ported over from console, I'm not interested.
These rules are actually pretty easy to abide by, as nowadays I just don't have as much time for gaming as I used to. Plus there are a plethora of indie games, not to mention the whole catalog from GOG, that I can turn to if I want something to play.
How serious am I about all this? Deus Ex was my all-time favorite game. I'm not even considering DX3, because it fails to meet my criteria.
Ubuntu 11.04, Slackware 13.37
I started using Slackware with the 13.1 release last year, and I've been hooked ever since. I love the amount of control I'm given as well as the simplicity of the design. Plus it's fast, stable, and secure. The releases tend to be pretty up to date, and the packages that use an older version I really don't mind all that much. Granted the initial setup takes a bit of work, but once that's done, I never really have to touch anything else. The package system is actually pretty flexible and reliable. The official packages are guaranteed to work, and using the Slackbuilds website, third party packages are relatively easy to acquire. If worst comes to worst, it's easy to wipe everything back to the default package setup, as well as the default configurations.
I've installed it on my home desktop, my ancient laptop (for testing stuff out), and my netbook, and they all run quite well. I definitely recommend Slackware for anyone who wants more control and a better understanding of their system, without sacrificing speed and stability.