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Comments

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Profanity-Laced Academic Paper Exposes Scam Journal

billstewart Vulgarity, not Profanity (131 comments)

The paper isn't mis-using religious concepts or entities or terminology for secular and negative purposes, it's using vulgar terms instead of more polite ones. People keep f******* mistaking the two concepts.

yesterday
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Eizo Debuts Monitor With 1:1 Aspect Ratio

billstewart Monitors for publishing (289 comments)

I did some work with the publishing industry back in the 80s, and one of the projects had some portrait-mode 200dpi monitors for editing. Absolutely wonderful things; we're only now starting to get that kind of resolution again.

As it was, I found it annoying enough to go from 1152x900 in 1992 down to 640x400 in 1993, and didn't get as good a monitor on my main work machine until maybe 2009 or 2010. (There were laptops with 1280 or more pixels before then, but we didn't have them; our Corporate IT department always preferred to get hardware with more color depth instead of more pixels, thinking for instance that 640x480 with 16-bit color was better than 800x600 with 8-bit color. Nope.)

yesterday
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Eizo Debuts Monitor With 1:1 Aspect Ratio

billstewart Reading portrait-mode paper-shaped documents, duh (289 comments)

Yes, it's much nicer to read portrait-mode documents on a portrait-mode or at least square display, not on landscape. It's especially the case for PDF files in multi-column formats where you otherwise have to scroll up and down and up and down to read the things.

But that's not a friendly shape for a laptop, unfortunately. I'd probably be ok with a tiltable display to get 4x3 or 16x9-10 portrait mode, though it seems manufacturers assume you're going to be using displays to watch movies on so the default position is landscape.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

billstewart Any opinions about DragonFly BSD? (264 comments)

I'm looking for a small desktop BSD, something that runs Xorg and fits in a GB or less of disk, so I can run multiples of them as virtual machines. I need some kind of browser that can run YouTube, plus ssh, and otherwise I don't much care what it does, but small disk is good.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

billstewart Security, but also YouTube (264 comments)

Yeah, there are some websites you might want to go to that still need Flash or some equally ugly support to get video to work. Right now I've been trying to get SliTaz Linux to let me watch YouTube as well as finding the right operating system and VMware settings to make the display resizeable, but I'm also trying out DragonFly BSD (still at the "installing Xorg" stage.)

2 days ago
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Intel Planning Thumb-Sized PCs For Next Year

billstewart Get a fast GPU and run CUDA/etc. (98 comments)

If you really need computational horsepower, get yourself some kind of PC with a fast graphics card and run CUDA or one of the other GPU-based computation packages. (In my case, I went with a Raspberry Pi :-)

2 days ago
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Intel Planning Thumb-Sized PCs For Next Year

billstewart Home File Servers (98 comments)

I hope they at least let you mount disk drives using Samba or NFS or whatever from your own file server at home, in addition to whatever walled-garden functionality they may be selling. Much of their target market is going to include people who have those, either purpose-built servers or terabyte-disk USB/Ethernet external drives or their old Windows box with file sharing turned on.

2 days ago
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Tracking a Bitcoin Thief, Part II: Illustrating the Issue of Trust In Altcoins

billstewart That's why I mine Dogecoins (46 comments)

Ok, some jerk actually managed to steal enough Dogecoins a few months ago to be worth actual money, which is so not the point of Dogecoin. I mine them partly because they're worth basically zero while still being cryptographically interesting; six months of one CPU on my old lab PC might have added up to 25 cents, but it's still in the "Reddit tip jar" range, not the "So wow! Many money!" range even though I have much coins.

2 days ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

billstewart Exploding Rockets vs. Nuclear Power (493 comments)

Once you get the rocket safely out past Earth's orbit, most of us hippies aren't too worried about it.

The problem is getting it there - what percentage of space launches fail? Way more than zero, and we don't want plutonium-powered reactors on an exploding rocket, even if ETGs really are about as safe as you can get for nuclear power generation.

3 days ago
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NYC To Replace Most of Its Payphones With Free Gigabit WiFi In 2015

billstewart Where in the city are they? (106 comments)

Mostly Manhattan, with a few in the outer boroughs? Mostly not in poor neighborhoods, where they may not have been as widespread, and they got taken out earliest because of the War On Politically Incorrect Drugs?

5 days ago
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Education Chief Should Know About PLATO and the History of Online CS Education

billstewart Re:Not news (134 comments)

Candidate Obama gave great, inspiring speeches, but wasn't that good at real-time conversation. (President Obama not so much.) Dubya Bush always looked like a deer in the headlights, amazed that he was getting away with what he said and hoping nobody would ask questions about it.

But the guy who was really good? Bill Clinton. He was always on, always quick thinking, always had a good comeback for anything, lots of fun to listen to. Sure, he was lying through his teeth half the time, but he knew which half it was, and he did it with a smile that said that he knew that you knew he was lying, and that he'd make the game worth playing, and he usually did.

about two weeks ago
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Education Chief Should Know About PLATO and the History of Online CS Education

billstewart What we had in the 70s (134 comments)

If he's 50, he was born in 1964, so he might have gone to college before Apple II's became widespread. But when I was in high school from 1972-1974, we had time-sharing access to a PDP-11 at the nearby state university (with one teletype shared for the entire school), so by 8 years later it's likely he had something a lot fancier. My wife's high school didn't have that - they used punch cards, which got batch-processed weekly.

I first encountered PLATO in college, and it had Notesfiles (which contributed significantly to the evolution of Usenet, as well as Lotus Notes), and the coolest-ever Star Trek game.

about two weeks ago
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Eben Upton Explains the Raspberry Pi Model A+'s Redesign

billstewart Re:More RAM is easy for A/A+, Faster is Hard (107 comments)

In the US, the Pi was $25 for the A (now $20 for A+), and $35 for the B (which is what I actually bought, but this discussion is mainly about the A/A+.) The Beaglebone currently runs $52-55 online, and has 4GB memory instead of 2GB (it was getting hard for them to find 2GB parts), and the processor's been updated a bit since last fall when I looked at it (it's also a newer ARM core than the Pi uses.) The catch is that if you want to do 1920x1280 video, you only get 24Hz, vs. 60 for the Pi, which affects using it as a media platform. (But if you don't care about that, yeah, it's a great deal, especially now that it has more RAM.)

about two weeks ago
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Eben Upton Explains the Raspberry Pi Model A+'s Redesign

billstewart More RAM is easy for A/A+, Faster is Hard (107 comments)

The Model A boards have 256MB, the Model B have 512MB. They could have put 512MB in the Model A, but it would have cost them a bit more and they were trying to make it cheaper. (I still wish they'd done it.)

But one reason the board is so cheap is that it's using a System On A Chip that's designed for other applications, not custom for them, so making it faster, or using a newer ARM instruction set, or (apparently) putting more than 512MB on the board would be hard, requiring a major redesign and increasing costs. For instance, the BeagleBone Black costs about twice as much, and while it uses a faster CPU with a newer instruction set, the video processing part is slower, so it's not a total win.

about two weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

billstewart CowboyNeal! Really!! (551 comments)

City council elections here in Mountain View California had a bunch of candidates running, including a guy named Neal, who has posters of himself wearing a cowboy hat. I didn't actually vote for him, but maybe my wife did. (It's a non-partisan "pick 3 of N" election, there were two we liked, one we disliked, and a few in the middle that we picked randomly.)

about three weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

billstewart Re:California Top-Two Primary (551 comments)

Oh, it's much messier than that, though that's usually how I vote. But consider an open-primary system where the Democrat incumbent is running for re-election and you have the option to choose which party's primary to vote in - you know the Democrat incumbent is going to win her party's primary (if there aren't any serious opponents), so the best strategy for the primary is to vote in the Republican primary instead, for the least electable candidate, whether that's a far-right Tea Party challenger or at least the second-tier candidate who doesn't have GOP machine money. That means that in the general election, your favorite candidate is running against a weaker opponent.

Gaming top-two is much trickier; there are more unstable ways to go wrong, but a lot of it has to do with the candidates' supporters spending money on various people from all parties in the primary.

about three weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

billstewart Making ballot access harder (551 comments)

I didn't know they'd done that, but I can't say I'm surprised. Another thing that's going to hit all the third parties is maintaining ballot access, since the main thing that's kept them on the ballot is vote count in the governor's or other state-wide races, and none of us are getting them this year. It's also possible to get party status by getting enough registered voters, but I don't know if any of California's third parties meet that threshold.

about three weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

billstewart California Top-Two Primary (551 comments)

California recently imposed a hopelessly annoying new voting system - instead of per-party primaries, and a general election in the fall, all the candidates for a partisan seat get thrown into one ballot, and the top two candidates move on to the general election. This means that in a heavily Democrat district, you might end up with two Democrats in the general election (but the Republican voters get to pick the one they object to least instead of voting for a Republican who's guaranteed to lose.) That happened in a few Congressional and assembly districts this year, and I think there's one Republican-vs-Republican race in southern California.

For third parties, this is terrible - it means that third-party candidates are almost never going to get into the general election, which means they won't be able to get enough general-election votes to keep ballot status after a few years. You might have an exception like a Democrat and a Green in a liberal district (though that didn't happen this time), but most of us kept ballot status by getting a moderate percentage of votes for governor or minor offices like Secretary of State. And for the major parties, it's also possible to game the system, e.g. helping a couple of minor Democrats split their parties ballot to get your Republicans in, or Democrats voting for the craziest Tea Party candidate so the Democrat can easily beat them in the fall.

So while I'm a Libertarian, I had to split my ticket between mostly Democrats and one or two Republicans. On the other hand, in the primary, there were several offices for which we didn't have a Libertarian candidate, and I voted for one or two Greens and at least one Occupy person; Silicon Valley is strongly enough Democrat I saw no reason to give thm

about three weeks 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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