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Mozilla Scraps Firefox For Windows 8, Citing Low Adoption of Metro

backwardMechanic beta still sucks (200 comments)

So the "no beta" link goes right back to the front page. I can have the front page without beta, or read the stories? I'm off somewhere else.

about 5 months ago
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Altering Text In eBooks To Track Pirates

backwardMechanic plus ca change (467 comments)

From what I've seen of the copy editing in ebooks, this has already been happening for some time. Or they're just badly checked. I can't wait to see the first science books coming through with random additions in the equations - that will be helpful.

about a year ago
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What Keeps You On (or Off) Windows in 2013?

backwardMechanic Mac just works (1215 comments)

OSX just works. Windows and Linux are both behind, in different ways.I happen to like tinkering, so Linux is attractive to me. I don't really understand why anyone would still choose to use Windows (I am forced to use it, for some critical software I can't get for the other platforms).

about a year ago
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What Keeps You On (or Off) Windows in 2013?

backwardMechanic Windows failures (1215 comments)

Moving back from running only Linux for a few years to running both Linux and Windows, I was genuinely surprised how bad the Windows driver experience is. Windows 7 usually needs a round or two of searching for the driver download (the CD in the box is always some way out of date), installation, remove crapware, reboot, remove more crapware. Using older devices under Windows is often impossible. Usually I just plug stuff into my Linux machine and it works. Being able to type apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade is magic. Windows is so far behind here. Funny, when the target audience (less computerate users) would benefit the most.

about a year ago
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Google Gives 15,000 Raspberry Pis To UK Schools

backwardMechanic Re:Donations never replace real funding. (159 comments)

I think Eton might disagree with you. Maybe you're a geologist or something, but it's been running since 1440 - that's quite a long run. I'm not saying I like it, but it clearly works.

about a year and a half ago
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Bad Grammar Make Bestest Password, Research Say

backwardMechanic Re:My question is this: (193 comments)

That's great until you have to use a different keyboard layout. Around here (CH) the keyboard may be EN-US, EN-GB, CH-FR, CH-DE or even FR-FR (which is just stupid). Y's, Z's and punctuation are best avoided.

about a year and a half ago
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Europe's Got Talent For Geeks

backwardMechanic Re:At least one has merit... (97 comments)

I never intended to say we shouldn't try. What I meant to say is the approach of "let's simulate a whole brain" is a bit of a party trick and not a whole lot of use. I simply don't believe that making huge simulations with a very big computer is the answer. Simulating bits of brain is interesting. The true art in simulating - well, anything - is in the abstraction. Climate modelling is pretty cool, and often wrong. That doesn't mean it is of no use - the 'wrong' results are often as interesting as the right ones. I just have the feeling that the BB project is the equivalent of trying to model the dynamics of every raindrop, and hoping to show global warming. It's the wrong approach to a good question.

about a year and a half ago
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Europe's Got Talent For Geeks

backwardMechanic Re:At least one has merit... (97 comments)

It's an interesting idea, but suggests a far greater understanding of how the brain works than we actually have. How can you abstract the important parts, when we have no idea what they are? We're still trying to figure out the many, highly complex biochemical pathways. Maybe that explain why, even though the project employs a full-time science writer, it never seems to publish very much?

about a year and a half ago
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Australian Uni's Underground, Robot-Staffed Library

backwardMechanic Re:Am I the only one who thinks... (46 comments)

The Bodleian Library in Oxford has operated a similar underground system for many years, although I think they use minions rather than robots to find the books. I always found it a rather empty and disappointing experience to be so close to so many books, but to only handle the particular one I had requested.

The new library at EPFL in Switzerland is much better. They have a fancy building above ground, some of which houses books. But most of them are kept in stacks underground, so they're tightly packed but still accessible.

+1 for guided random searches (a.k.a. following the shelf where you found a good one).

about a year and a half ago
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Color-Screen TI-84 Plus Calculator Leaked

backwardMechanic emulation is not the same (245 comments)

It's fast. Not the calculation speed (it's horrible on my old calc), but the speed of typing stuff in. I have an old TI-60 that I've been using since school, and I use it daily. I can hammer out numbers quickly with one hand, while holding a 'scope probe, soldering iron, or whatever with the other. I have a calculator app on my phone (RealCalc) - it's handy when I'm not near a real calculator. But in the time it's taken you to start your calculator emulator, I've been around three or four iterations of capacitance/inductance/resonant frequency calculations.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Can I Protect My Android Devices From Hackers?

backwardMechanic blocked MAC adresses (295 comments)

Maybe he's being blocked because it's not his access point?

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Equipment and Furniture For an Electronics Hardware Lab?

backwardMechanic What's it for? (208 comments)

It's all nice and dandy that you want a bunch of high-end professional equipment, but what do you actually want to do with your lab? Analogue? Digital? RF? Do you want some mechanical capabilities (drilling boxes, etching/machining PCBs, CNC, 3D printing, etc)? Do you need a microscope for really small stuff?
Rather than getting all excited about the shiny new toys, start with what you want to do. Then figure out what you need/want to help you do this. That's a question we can help with.

about 2 years ago
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Kickstarter Introduces New Hardware and Product Design Project Guidelines

backwardMechanic what about amateur radio? (157 comments)

I agree that hardware is hard. But radio hams have been building hardware, and sharing designs, for longer than software has existed. A large part of their success is about the mindset. A professional RF engineer will demand a certain set of instruments to make their job possible. A ham will either find a way to make the tests with cheaper equipment, or find a way to build the instrument first (see, for example, the various homebrew network analyser projects). Partly this means relaxing design specs to make a project more likely to work. Partly it means recognising that building one of something is different to building 10,000 - if your project takes time spent at the bench tweaking individual components, well, that's part of the game.

If you come from a professional background, open source hardware looks impossible. But if you add a little more ingenuity, and pick your projects carefully, it's entirely possible and can produce some very impressive projects.

about 2 years ago
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Raspberry Pi Revision 2.0 Board Announced

backwardMechanic Re:What is this?!? (155 comments)

Because, you know, while the guys are designing the r2.0 board they're not putting r1.0 boards in boxes and licking stamps?

about 2 years ago
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GNOME 3.6 To Include Major Revisions

backwardMechanic Re:Why Linux? (327 comments)

When we say Gnome sucks, we're talking relative to other open-source desktops. Gnome 3 annoyed me, so I'm now a happy XFCE user. At work I'm forced to use Windows 7. Now that really sucks. When Windows finally figures out how to delete/move a couple of thousand files in less than half an hour, then maybe we can start talking about a 'premium experience'.

about 2 years ago
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Touch Interfaces In Cars Difficult To Use

backwardMechanic Cameras (233 comments)

Think of a modern digital SLR versus an old pure-mechanical film version. The modern design is a pretty impressive balance between keeping the old layout for things you want to find quickly without looking (knobs, buttons, dials), and adding a load of new features that you don't need very often (menu based). Car UI designers would do well to learn from this approach.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Good Books and Tools For a Software/Hardware Hobbyist?

backwardMechanic Re:obvious choice here (85 comments)

What the Arduino crowd have done fantastically well is get a load of people who wouldn't normally mess with a microcontroller to do just that. The community is the strength. There are hundreds (thousands?) of microcontroller demo boards out there, but without the support network they're hard work to use. Not impossible, but development is slower, and restricted to users with more time/enthusiasm. As someone with no previous microcontroller experience you could buy an Arduino kit, unwrap it in the morning, and have something running before dinner. That's pretty incredible.

about 2 years ago
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Windows 8 Graphics: Microsoft Has Hardware-Accelerated Everything

backwardMechanic Re:Fixing Office 2010? (563 comments)

Until there is an alternative to Solidworks and CST Microwave Studio under Linux, I'm stuck here.As I'm forced to use Windows, and everybody around me uses MS Office, I might as well use it too. Sad but true.

more than 2 years ago

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