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Comments

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Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

billstewart X Windows Isn't Very Big, and Servers Need it (280 comments)

Yes, X is a lot more bloated now than it was back in the late 1980s, when I was running it on 386/25 PCs or Sun3s. But on just about anything but an ARM microcontroller, it's still small enough that you can run a basic X distribution that's enough to fire up a browser, and still not make a dent in the system resources. And you need that browser to use lots of management applications, some of which you're going to need before all the networking is really done, and you probably also want to run a couple of X-terms at the same time, doing something that alternatively you'd have to do on a 24x80 Emacs screen.

Yes, there are lots of tools that want Gnome or KDE, which are both a lot more bloated than some TWM upgrade or Motif or something, and sometimes they're useful enough to drag them in, but you can still have enough X Windows for a server machine without including all the LibreOffice, GIMP, and other large desktop application suites.

about two weeks ago
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DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

billstewart Re:I *like* Robusta coffees! (228 comments)

If it's in the San Francisco Bay Area, which roastery is it?

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

billstewart No, Reclining is *not* "socially unacceptable" (818 comments)

Reclining is perfectly reasonable, even though there are people who whine about it because they'd like to be using a laptop. The exception is during meals, where people behind you need to be able to reach their tray and where most airlines no longer provide enough space (though they've mitigated this by no longer providing meals either.) And as a tall passenger, I especially need to recline, because airplane seats aren't built for tall people's backs.

However, I agree with you that you should recline slowly, giving the person behind you time to move a laptop.

about two weeks ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

billstewart Re:Anthropometrics (818 comments)

It should be pretty obvious. Reclining seats is more comfortable, and that matters more on long flights or flights where you want to sleep.

about two weeks ago
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DNA sequencing of coffee's best use:

billstewart I *like* Robusta coffees! (228 comments)

Sure, it's not the only thing I drink, and there are lots of really great arabicas, and even some of the libericas are drinkable. The taste is different, and if you haven't had it, Vietnamese coffee is the easiest source to find. (There are some non-Vietnamese robustas, and some non-robusta coffee in Vietnam, but basically they dominate the market for good robusta, plus there's some from Africa as well.) Many of the varieties of coffee out there were developed by looking for mutations in existing coffee strains, trying to find weird beans that would breed true, and mainly looking for disease resistance and good production quantities.

And you really should go read the recent research article on DNA results from coffee, or at least the popularized summaries. Interesting stuff about how caffeine evolved separately in coffee and tea plants, in both cases probably because it kept insects from eating them.

about two weeks ago
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Raspberry Pi Gets a Brand New Browser

billstewart Re:Not the correct application for this (107 comments)

I don't know how many tabs I have open right now, probably around 500. And while most of those are mostly text, Firefox might very well keep them as full-color images to avoid re-rendering when it needs to display them.

about two weeks ago
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Raspberry Pi Gets a Brand New Browser

billstewart Pre-rendering web pages (107 comments)

Sorry, but web pages get rendered into images before displaying them. (Though at least Firefox's semi-recent versions don't bother rendering web pages until needed when you crash&restart Firefox, which I do all the time - usually not on purpose, though I'll occasionally do it to scavenge memory or when performance has become unbearably slow.)

about two weeks ago
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DNA Reveals History of Vanished "Paleo-Eskimos"

billstewart Re:Wiped out by new diseases perhaps? (57 comments)

If you read the article, the paleo-Eskimos weren't North American Clovis descendents - they were a group of Siberians who'd come over much more recently, but still a long time before the current Inuit.

about two weeks ago
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NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

billstewart Diablo's built on an earthquake fault (216 comments)

The press is reporting that the Napa quake wrecked about a billion dollars worth of wine. Beats having a quake in Diablo canyon spilling plutonium.

about three weeks ago
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Google Announces a New Processor For Project Ara

billstewart Re: Google seems kind of serious about this (36 comments)

The reason for self-driving cars is so they can drive you by the billboards that match your demographic profile and skip the ones that don't bid as much for display time.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re: Redshirts vs. Old Man's War (180 comments)

Guess you and I are on opposite sides of the fence about Scalzi. I read Old Man's War, and while it was well done, it didn't grab me at all. Most military sci-fi is pretty soulless. Redshirts started out looking like it was going to be a fun Star Trek parody, but then went into a bunch of totally new directions. It wasn't my first choice of the nominees that year, but it way exceeded my expectations.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re:So, what controversy? (180 comments)

I recommend getting drunk first. What is it you trolls drink?

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re:So, what controversy? (180 comments)

Correia seemed to be trying to rudely bully a lot of people to make it clear that he doesn't like all of you politically correct liberal liberal liberals out there in the publishing business. He was the one who brought Beale in to offend anybody who's even vaguely possible to offend; I don't like people doing that at parties I'm attending. (He also ran a campaign slate for nominees, which is pretty much not done (except every publisher saying "hey, vote for all OUR stuff.") I assume they did that together, but I don't know either of them. Their other main slate-member was Torgerson, who writes Mormonish mil-sci-fi. (He also threw the Schlock Mercenary comic in as a graphic work, which I found quite enjoyable back when it was originally nominated but which wasn't eligible as a 2013 work, so I thought that was tacky.)

Beale's fiction wasn't, in my opinion, Hugo quality, but it would have been ok in a pulp magazine back when those were the dominant form. His personal writings are so creepy that I can see why anybody willing to vote for his work would get criticism; reminds me of the "Vote for the Crook" election in Louisiana a few years back. Correia's writing is entertaining, in a mostly cartoonish way, and I'm ok with that. Not super deep, moderately fun if you like the stuff. Torgerson's work was so utterly soulless I ranked it below Beale's.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Ideological right-wing whiners don't speak for me (180 comments)

Sorry, I'm a Libertarian, from a relatively conservative background (which is not at all the same thing as a right-wing background, so I guess I was the "wrong" type of conservative for you), and I'd much rather read good writing by somebody whose politics I disagree with than bad writing. There are writers who really need gatekeepers to keep them from wasting my time, and there are good writers who still need editors to rein them in (how did Neal Stephenson get to burn a Baroque Cycle worth of paper?) or to help them fix stuff that isn't working. Small presses or big presses can both do that, while electronic publishing usually means "self-publishing" by people who might know to hire a copy-editor, which isn't the same thing at all. And while Charlie Stross* is a socialist who hangs out with Paul Krugman, his economic writing is great stuff; I'm planning to finish Neptune's Brood after reading the Hugo nom excerpt.

Publishing on dead trees is a tough game these days - it has to compete with TV, video games, and the Web and other internet distractions for readers' time, bookstores are dying, getting people to sit down for an entire novel is harder than it used to be, and forget trying to make a living as a short-story writer now that the pulps are gone and the remaining outlets can't pay as much a word. "Hollywood accounting" is more of a problem for writers selling to the alternate-publisher press than the traditional houses.

And yeah, there's too much formulaic dreck out there; Sturgeon's Law hasn't changed, and many publishers are still willing to make literary decisions based on what they've been able to get bookstores to buy, but that's no different for Baen's mil-sci-fi writers than for the urban-paranormal subgenre or the million Tolkien imitators.

* (Yes, Charlie's published in London, and mostly only later in New York, because of the international publishing rights weirdness, but most of the other Scottish SF writers are fairly radically socialist just to annoy people like Anonymous Coward.)

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart "New York" was London this year - Orbit Excerpts (180 comments)

BTW, you might not have noticed, but three of the five nominees for the Hugo novels this year were published by Orbit Books, in London. The ideology that marked them was "Hey, we don't want to lose book sales by giving away free copies in the voting packet, let's just do excerpts!" Correia's trilogy was published by Baen, and the Wheel Of Time series, 15-or-so volumes, which got nominated as a single work, was published by Tor, both of whom included the entire sets, which I liked much better. (In Correia's case, Volume 3 was the new work that was actually nominated, but including the first two made it make a lot more sense.)

Excerpts didn't do the job for me. It's not just that I'm grumpy because I'm cheap and consider getting the nominated novels part of what makes it worth paying for the voting membership*, but it also affected how well I could judge the work before voting. For Stross's book, which I was planning to buy anyway, it was enough; for Mira Grant's, it probably was (though so far it doesn't look like as strong a work as the Feed series.) But I know both of their work and have read most of their novels, so I've got some idea of where they might be going; Ancillary Justice was Leckie's debut novel, and while the excerpt was enough to get some flavor of her writing skill, and see some of the things she did in the first few chapters, it's a bit of a slow start, I didn't get sucked into it, and also I can't yet tell whether the main character is just an interesting and complex post-human or a totally creepy slave-taker.

* The package includes the Hugo novels or excerpts, the Campbell-nominated works (mostly novels), all the shorter works, most of the graphical material, a lot of short stories in this year's short-form editor award, a really amazing related-works section (this was a good year for that), all for the cost of a supporting membership for the upcoming Worldcon, which is usually about $40. You get to nominate for the Hugos if you bought it in time, and you get to vote on the winners.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re:Tactics unsuccessful? (180 comments)

Yes. People talked about them. They got to whine to each other about how all the liberal feminazis voted against their immensely well-written books for political correctness reasons; I ranked them low because of the writing. They were pretty much going to do that anyway. Maybe they kept some better-written works from getting on the ballot (but there's usually lots of competition, and certainly was this time.) Maybe Correia will get some more book sales (a friend who likes his writing says that the trilogy that got nominated wasn't his best work; so far I've found it to be readable escape-fiction, fun if not deep.)

Having heard some of what Beale's written when he's blathering misogynistically about whatever vile tripe he's blathering about, I'm not going to buy anything that will pay him any money or even read more of his writing online. But I did give his nominated work a fair review (wasn't Hugo material; would have been ok as a story in a pulp magazine, back when there were more pulp magazines around.)

On the other hand, Torgerson's work surprised me - while his two pieces had much better writing mechanics than Beale's, they were utterly soulless non-introspective pieces of formulaic bland. Mil-fi isn't my favorite genre, but this isn't close to being Honor Harrington (which I liked) or Scalzi's Old Man's War (meh, and I like his other writing), or even up to the quality of one of the freebies given out at the previous Worldcon, where the author obviously at least enjoyed obsessively describing the spaceship which Our Guys were going to go Fight Aliens with.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Chris Hadfield's Space Oddity missed by 3 votes (180 comments)

It hadn't occurred to me to nominate it, and unfortunately didn't occur to enough other people, so it missed the short list for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form by about 3 votes (usually only the top 5 nominees get onto the ballot, occasionally 6 if there's a tie or fewer than 5 if not enough works meet the "5% of nominations" threshold.)

An actual astronaut, in space, performing a classic science-fiction-themed song, named after one of the most influential SF movies? It so totally belonged on the ballot, because [expletive deleted] we're living in the future!.

Of course, a few other works I liked, and works I haven't read yet by authors I like, also didn't get on the ballot, but that's normal.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Fantasy's part of the genre (180 comments)

No, it's not hard sci-fi. Neither are many of the winners many years.

about a month ago
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The 2014 Hugo Awards

billstewart Re:first post (180 comments)

That was nominated for best short story, but didn't get enough votes to make the short list.

about a month ago
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Interviews: Andrew "bunnie" Huang Answers Your Questions

billstewart Re:Nickname (32 comments)

You also forgot "Southerner" in your stereotypes, and you're probably thinking of a perfectly ordinary bunny rabbit. When I hear someone with the nickname bunnie, if they're a hardware hacker, he's who I think of.

about a month ago

Submissions

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US Senate passes Patent Overhaul Bill

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

billstewart writes "The US Senate passed a patent-reform bill, S.23 aka "America Invents", which changes US patents from First-to-Invent to First-to-File. (thomas.loc.gov Status Query, Computerworld Article, National Journal with comments pro and con, SF Chron). Patrick Leahy sponsored it. Passed 95-5, House expecting to introduce similar bill Real Soon. Silicon Valley businesses large and small were mostly against it, IBM was for it. Dianne Feinstein attempted an amendment to remove the First-to-File part, but voted for it anyway after that failed. Barbara Boxer voted against.

The US patent system has been first-to-invent for a long time, while Europe has been first-to-file. There's lots of other detail, largely intended to reduce the amount of patent litigation, improve the coordination with non-US patents, potentially improve the problems with patents on things with prior art and obviousness, and affect some tax issues."

Link to Original Source
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Pirate Bay is now Officially Notorious

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

billstewart writes "The U.S. Trade Representative's first global "Review of Notorious Markets" named Pirate Bay and Chinese search engine Baidu on a list of "notorious" sites for pirated goods and software. Most of the sites on the list were in China, and Pirate Bay's in Sweden, more or less, but other sites were in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Kiev, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Manila."
Link to Original Source
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Elonex announces £99 Linux laptop

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 6 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "Elonex is announcing a £99 Linux-based laptop for the UK education market. PDF Press Release. The debut will be at the Feb 28th Education Show and they won't actually be shipping until summerish. It weighs less than a kilo, has a 7" screen (no indication what resolution it is...), full qwerty keyboard, 1GB flash, 3 hour battery, speakers and headphone jack for playing MP3s. They're co-marketing it along with USB bracelets for kids who want to store more content (presumably supports regular USB sticks as well), and say that that will let kids use whatever laptop happens to be available. It doesn't say what Linux distro they're using, but they've got an online site for downloading more content.

While it's targeted for the education market (and part of a National Laptop Initiative), if they were selling it in the US I'd buy one — it sounds like a reasonable competitor to the Asus Eee, and closer to my toy budget.

One feature I'd really like to see on laptops these days is mechanical — it's having a USB jack that's set in some kind of indented docking space, so you can plug in a USB memory stick without having it stick out where it can get banged. There are some that have slots for compact flash or various SD cards, which can be a reasonable alternative, but memory sticks have become pretty universal."
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Microsoft to unveil virtualization strategy Tues

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 6 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "The San Jose Mercury News reports that Microsoft will be announcing a virtualization strategy on Tuesday, including
  • an alliance with Citrix Systems (owners of XenSource),
  • acquisition of privately held Calista Technologies of San Jose, which has software that speeds up the performance of applications running in a virtualized environment, and
  • lower price for Windows Vista used on virtualized computers. (More at Bloomberg.)
The company confirmed its plans to deliver its Hyper-V hypervisor within six months of the launch of Windows Server 2008 (betas available now), which is expected this quarter. And of course there's hype about competing with VMware."
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XenSource releases product, gets bought by Citrix

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 7 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "XenSource has been in the news twice this week — Monday they release a product, then Tuesday they get bought for $500m by Citrix. Here's Network World's take on the buyout and on the product. It looks like the product is packaging new releases of several of their components — there's a 64-bit hypervisor version 3.1 that uses the Intel and AMD hardware tricks, APIs, management tools, and XenMotion, which lets you move running virtual machines around. According to Xen's product page, the free-beer XenExpress version gets the hypervisor, APIs, and some of the management tools, but not the fancier management or XenMotion, and it's somewhat crippled in terms of capacity (max 4 VMs, 2 CPUs, 4GB RAM, while the commercial versions support 128GB total RAM, larger VMs, and unlimited VMs and CPUs.)

(But will it run Linux?) It will run Linux — one of the data sheets implies that Linux only runs in 32-bit mode, while Windows can run 64-bit. Perhaps there's more documentation that provides more details."

Link to Original Source
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billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 8 years ago

billstewart writes "Network World has an article on networks of pneumatic tubes, which are still around in some cities, and also used in places like hospitals. As the article says, "Try delivering bottles of pills over Ethernet." There have been a number of proposals to take unused city pneumatic networks and run fiber optic telecom lines through them. Unfortunately, according to the article, most of them haven't actually worked out — 9/11/2001 interfered with the plans to do that around Wall Street, and city governments haven't always been cooperative, especially when their water&sewer departments want to run fiber through their own tubes. One company has some patents on doing it — the business model may be obvious, but getting the fiber actually blown through the tubes without damaging it apparently has some non-obvious techniques to it."

Journals

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billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I usually give positive moderations lots of slack - I may think a joke or an article is lame, but if somebody wants to moderate it Insightful or Funny, fine - I'll mark those moderations as Unfair/Unfunny if they're promoting obvious trolls or whatever, but that's not common.

Negative moderations are usually obvious also, but the one that I don't give much slack is "Redundant". If an article really was duplicating existing content at the time it was written, or is just adding a content-free me-too, then it's redundant, but if it's a +1 article written two minutes after the main slashdot article, and somebody posts something similar but much more insightful an hour later that makes it up to +5, the first one is still Not Redundant. Maybe it's Overrated, maybe it's Flamebait, and I'd let those moderations through, but I'll call a "Redundant" as "Unfair" if it wasn't redundant enough.

"Flamebait" gets a lot more slack - sometimes there are articles that I strongly agree with (even if I've written them myself :-) that are aggressive enough that they get Flamebait, and I'll usually let those stand - but I try to ding any moderations where the moderator's calling something Flamebait just because they disagree with it.

The one meta-moderation I have trouble with is when somebody rates something as "Funny" that looks like it was intended to be serious, not funny (and wasn't accidentally funny either.) Does marking the moderation Unfair undo the moderation, decreasing the posting's status? Or does it just ding the moderator's karma, which is fine...?

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Wow! A Journal! It's like Blogging! :-)

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 11 years ago Wow! This says it will go down on my permanent record - that's pretty scary, given the recent Congressional activity....

Blogging is lame enough - it's a way of nagging people who don't write their own HTML into at least writing text and links. Guess I can't flame them too much, given that I've done almost no edits to my web page in years :-) So here *I* am, not even getting my own Blogging software for my web pages, much less writing it myself - I'm just using /.s.

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