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Ask Slashdot: Professional Journaling/Notes Software?

dslbrian freeplane (167 comments)

I use this: Freeplane

It's not the right tool for long verbose text, but for collecting ideas and arranging them together it works well. I tend to think of it as a free-form web page. A few key things:
- It is portable, at least I run mine off a USB flash drive. This is a key feature, if it were not so then it wouldn't get used. It's not "cloud" but then I think of this as being better than a cloud version, as it does not require network, and you don't have to worry about cloud security.
- It can support links to other files (local on the drive) or web links to external sites. This ability to organize an amorphous collection of things (text, local links, remote links, images) is what makes it a good idea tool.
- It can collapse/expand parts of the map so you can focus on topic at hand. Just make sure to enable the setting that saves the state of the map (for some reason IIRC it defaults to everything collapsed when the map is first opened).

Once you setup a couple keybindings, and get the hang of creating and linking new nodes it becomes a pretty fast tool to work in also.

3 days ago

Stung By Scandal, South Korea Weighs Up Cost of Curbing Nuclear Power

dslbrian Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (200 comments)

Publicly owned utilities have no incentive to cut costs in an effort to boost profit margins. They can run with a zero margin and no shareholders exist to whine and bitch.

        Or is government a default solution to every problem regardless of its own (numerous) problems?

It's a possible course of action when private industry rears its corrupt, incompetent head.

O,RLY? Well let me introduce you to our local Austin Energy, which despite being public utility does not run a "zero" margin. In fact the city of Austin steals $100Mil/year from it to dump into the city's general fund (things absolutely unrelated to power generation - it is effectively taxing people on their utility bills without all the annoyances of passing an actual "tax"). I can guarantee you if our local corrupt, incompetent city leaders could steal anything else out of it they absolutely would. You want to hear whine and bitch, try cutting off that $100Mil/year flow and watch what happens..

In fact I would challenge anyone to find more corruption and incompetence in private industry than you can find in our local Texas gov't - TTC anyone? It explains well the level of corruption and incompetence that the gov't operates at:
So while TTC-35 committed to construct $8 billion in infrastructure Cintra-Zachry expected to collect $114 billion in toll revenues as shown in the preliminary plan.

about 6 months ago

How LucasArts Fell Apart

dslbrian Re:always a bit of a disappointment (178 comments)

I loved the X-wing/Tie Fighter assault games - you're IN the tie fighter, man - awesome!

For me the Freespace series took over that genre (back when it existed). More recently the X-series games (X3AP). Upcoming X-Rebirth is looking pretty awesome.

The thing I don't get though - I would be honestly surprised to find a single gamer in the executive staff at LucasArts. I really don't know how execs get placed who have no knowledge of what their product is, or what makes it good or bad. People rail on it in reviews and yet they keep churning out the same garbage. Anyone with 1st person experience of some of their games would know that, so it is obvious their execs have none. Worst of all, Star Wars basically invented the concept of movie-based merchandise and tie-ins (toys and games). How they can turn THAT into a money-losing venture is a really amazing story of FAIL. Not that it is an exclusive club (*cough* SimCity)...

about 7 months ago

The Trouble With Bringing Your Business Laptop To China

dslbrian Re:That's what encryption is for. (402 comments)

This exactly. Encrypt the laptop but don't actually keep anything important on it. Instead use Truecrypt and a USB thumb drive. Have the thumb drive keyed to a different password than the laptop.

Further, as far as customs, drop a live CD of any variety in the CD drive, and have the laptop default to booting the CD. Now when custom guys asks to inspect your laptop, say sure, and let it boot the live CD. You can be amused while they laugh at how slow your laptop boots. In the end let em clone the HD, whatever, even if the NSA cracks it there is nothing on it. Everything important is on the thumb drive that you have "hidden" away (usually in plain sight on a keychain).

As far as the article, carrying your corporate secrets encrypted in your pocket will make any thieves job harder, and having the laptop encrypted will force them to install keylogger hardware, a more time consuming and harder thing to get away with. If I were such an executive and had real concerns I would just get a throwaway laptop, or better yet have some fun and epoxy all the case screws in. There are possibilities.

about a year ago

X11 Window System Turns 25 Years Old

dslbrian Re:X12? (285 comments)

I'll be honest, I was a little sceptical when I read about some of the design decisions in Wayland. In particular, the decision to move some of the window management to the application (in general, that means the toolkit, like Qt, GTK+, etc) makes me wince a bit, because it will lead to the hung-window-syndrome we know and love from MS Windows.

It causes more than that. This is a good read on the problems caused by CSD.

about a year and a half ago

Microsoft Relents On Metro-Only Visual Studio Express

dslbrian Re:Well, it's a beginning (228 comments)

I prefer the apps list in Windows 8 as a list of all programs in one quick spot. It's alphebetized and doesn't include nonsense like uninstall wizards and docs like the start menu does. And it shows all the icons at once so I don't have to read a series of folder names like with the Start Menu.

Well you must not use very many programs. Their ridiculous flat organization method quickly falls apart and looks like crap. Just take a look here (images 3-5 on that page pretty clearly demonstrate). So yeah, you enjoy that needle in a haystack...

about 2 years ago

Microsoft Ignores Usability With All-Caps Menu in Visual Studio

dslbrian Re:All part of their retro-COBOL strategy (415 comments)

Freaking Office 2010 with the ribbon crap confuses the heck out of me, because I can never find the function I want.

You need to install UBitMenu. It creates a new tab with the old 2003 menus, so you can at least find things. Their main site is down at the moment, but if you google it you can find it on a download site.

about 2 years ago

The Supreme Court To Rule On Monsanto Seed Patents

dslbrian Re:Make your own decision! (372 comments)

The courts have painted themselves into this ridiculous corner based on idiotic interpretations of the Constitution. In ascribing to the letter of the law they have completely disregarded the spirit of the law, and in so doing allowed this stupid situation to exist. The fact that patents are granted on a ~20-year duration regardless of field allows companies like Monsanto to lock down the food supply in perpetuity. By contaminating the soybean supply every few years with a new slight derivative, and claiming infringement on natural cross-contamination, they can effectively undercut the patent system and extend their monopoly forever.

Now what do the courts do - they flail about asking other branches for ideas. Seriously? This is the type of gov't / corporation complicity that the 99%ers complain about, and if there is ever another revolution in this country it will be based on stupid crap like this.

about 2 years ago

Tom's Hardware Tests and Reviews Fedora 16 and Gnome 3

dslbrian Re:Divisiveness for Fun and Profit (101 comments)

I agreed with his review as well. Frankly I found his tolerance far exceeding my own when it comes to GNOME3. Pretty much everything he said on the "Why it Failed" page is spot on. I thought this was insightful regarding their target demographic:

So, when the power users are leaving, GNOME doesn't really seem to care. After all, GNOME 3 isn't designed for them. But what the GNOME Project leaders don't seem to understand is that new Linux users are like vampires, or werewolves, or zombies. Stick with me here.

New Linux users don't just spontaneously pop into existence, they have to be "bitten" by someone who is already involved. Average Joe, who needs to use his computer and doesn't care how it works, doesn't wake up one day and, out of the clear blue sky exclaim, "You know what? I think I'm gonna screw around with Linux today.” New users are typically converted by a friend or family member who gets them set up and interested.

By gutting GNOME of every power user-oriented feature (a functional desktop, virtual desktops, on-screen task management, applets, hibernation, and so on) it's losing that intermediate-to-advanced crowd that's responsible for bringing users on-board. The power user demographic isn't going to recommend and support GNOME 3-based systems if they've already jumped ship.

Just how does GNOME intend to put the GNOME Shell into the hands of new users? By chasing away its current base with a brand new interface designed to be "easy," and with no clear strategy for acquiring an easy-seeking audience, GNOME simultaneously shoots itself in the head and foot.

And finally:

Using GNOME Shell is an exercise in supreme frustration. After spending the first month with this interface, I wanted to crawl into a corner and die.

Just the reaction the GNOME devs were hoping for, no? I kind of wonder how long Fedora will stick with it given that.

more than 2 years ago

Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis Meet One Last Time

dslbrian I hate it when museums do this (52 comments)

I hate it when museums do this kind of thing to aircraft (or in this case spacecraft). Nothing is more uninteresting than a hollow shell body. Once the problematic liquids are drained there is no reason they can't leave the engines in place. The parts that make things like this interesting are all the mechanical components and displays that make up the actual vehicle. Every time I see this done to an aircraft, I can't help but think of how much of an utterly boring display it makes. They might as well erect a cardboard cutout equivalent, it's nauseating.

more than 2 years ago

Code Cleanup Culls LibreOffice Cruft

dslbrian Re:Bad examples (317 comments)

I think it's pretty common, and not just with test logic like scan chains. I've worked on numerous ICs where some later project wants to reuse a part of the design, without necessarily using everything. If time and budget allow the unused bits get removed and a smaller design results, but more often the unused logic is tied off (at the board level or via metal mask - board level being cheapest and metal mask being cheaper than cutting a new set of diffusion masks for a potentially small runner) and the same die and package are reused (this may allow test fixture reuse also).

I've seen some pretty egregious cases of this however. I recall opening up a 4-port USB hub once (the cheap $10 ones) only to find a gigantic controller chip on it (something like 80 pins) of which about 10 pins were connected. It was obvious the chip didn't start life as a USB controller, but apparently it was cheap enough to throw down as-is. I always wondered what else was on the chip, perhaps part of something that normally has an embedded USB hub (monitor or keyboard maybe).

more than 2 years ago

GNOME 3 Wins Linux Journal's Readers' Choice Award

dslbrian Re:There will be no GNOME 4. (378 comments)

IMO, look and feel is hardly the biggest failing of the GNOME system. There are more fundamental problems with their user philosophy. Years ago when a new set of workstations were deployed where I work everyone had the option of running either GNOME 2 or KDE 3. Officially the admins only wanted to support GNOME, but within a short time everyone in our location was on KDE 3.

Why? Well it turns out the admins never really did a thorough test of our tool flow on GNOME. We use a lot of expensive tools that come from legacy Unix backgrounds (they aren't recent GTK devel), so it turns out we had major problems with things like focus stealing. This would be where the app would pop up a messagebox and GNOME would happily yank you from whatever desktop you were working on to wherever the messagebox was. At the time there were no options in GNOME to handle this kind of thing, whereas KDE had a number of focus stealing controls.

Then there was the issue of resizing windows. At the time GNOME had one method of resizing windows, and that was to continually redraw the content in it - no wireframe or outline methods, only continuous redraw. That's great and all if your most complex app is a web browser, but when you got an app showing a couple gigs of visual data and every window resize event triggers a redraw, it quickly locks up the machine.

And then there was the question of the right-click menu. WTF was with this menu. It was loaded with a bunch of useless options for creating folders and crap. It was like someone who had never used a Unix machine before just decided to shoehorn in some crap there so the menu did something. KDE at least allowed the menu to be customized into something useful.

This is all regarding GNOME 2 at the time, but it gets to the core of what I perceive as GNOMEs problem - and as I understand it, this is both widely understood, and truly a development target of GNOME (and I fully expect GNOME 3 to be no different) - and that is that the GUI is not designed to be flexible or changeable, it is designed to be rigid and idiotproof. They are providing a fixed GUI interface for the lowest common denominator of user, and anyone who wants something different can STFU.

This is of course further compounded by their method of burying the GUI settings in a hundred different files across a dozen hidden directories, perhaps wrapping it in some obscure XML pseudo-code, so nobody can figure out WTF the options really are or what they do (perhaps it's some kind of subtle method of eliminating those annoying hacker types who might undo their GUI "vision"). KDE is no better in this regard. I remember when at least one GUI I used to use kept its menus in plain text format that was easily understood and modifiable, what the heck ever happened to that concept?

I'm sure if I were to relate to a GNOME dev the problems I had with focus stealing, he would turn around and tell me the problem was with my app, not the GUI. And if I were to relate how I like to launch programs from the right-click menu I would be told I'm doing it wrong and I should learn how to do it the "right" or "better" way. And thus I become yet another alienated user who has moved on to something else. Radically changing an interface and then pushing it as a rigid right-and-only way is going to piss off a lot of people. Lots of people left KDE when they did it, and the same will happen to GNOME.

more than 2 years ago

After 6 Years, Aptera Motors Is No More

dslbrian Re:beautiful ? (173 comments)

Overall terrible news IMO. I wish they wouldn't have focused on the electric aspect so much. Same body design, but with a normal internal combustion engine and a decent price, and I probably would have gotten one as a commuter vehicle (very similar concept to say a T-rex motorcycle, but without the high price). I think there is definitely a market for vehicles like this, lightweight like motorcycles, but enclosed (not always exposed to the environment like on a bike).

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Physical Input Devices For Developers?

dslbrian Re:Flight Simulator Inputs (147 comments)

I can't believe no one has suggested one of the many MAME interface boards. Arcade enthusiasts have a myriad of inexpensive interfaces for connecting custom controls to a computer. They are cheap and easy to use:
http://www.ultimarc.com/ (follow U-HID links, or the I-PAC, Opti-PAC, etc links)
http://groovygamegear.com/ (follow the controls interfaces link)

Buttons, spinners, joysticks (optical, microswitch, etc), and analog controls - there is almost certainly an off the shelf interface for any kind of basic control like that. Beyond that a microcontroller kit (arduino or other) could fill in anything more exotic. I'm going a similar route to this for a custom CNC control panel I'm building, fun stuff.

more than 2 years ago

Star Trek Online Going Free-To-Play In January

dslbrian No pay = red shirts and no name (77 comments)

Free subscribers to the game will be able to play, but will not get the same benefits as paying subscribers still get.

Most importantly, non-paying customers only get red shirts and generic names. They also have to be one of the first people to beam down to the planet, and the only sound they can make is the Wilhelm scream.

more than 2 years ago

End Bonuses For Bankers

dslbrian Re:True to every corporation (548 comments)

Indeed. I heard an interesting argument a week or so ago, where one businessman said that one of the problems with banks in the US is that the government insures all deposits (up to a limit). On it's face it sounded possibly terrifying, can you imagine giving your cash to a banker with no gov't insurance. However since the gov't backs the holdings the banks do not need to operate in a low risk manner with that money, since they know regardless they will get bailed out. It made for an interesting thought, in that if the gov't did not insure any of the holdings you can be sure people would only put their money in a bank with an absolutely solid reputation and no tolerance for risk.

There was a similar argument I heard a few years ago regarding insurance companies, in that they also have large holdings which they were investing in ever more risky ventures. The fact that the gov't backs up all deposits implicitly indicates their distrust in the banking system (after all, if it were trustworthy, why would it need backing), but yet they do things like repeal Glass–Steagall which encourages ever more risky behavior. There is a lot the gov't could do to rein in bad bank and investment behaviors. After all if things like derivatives are indeed equivalent to financial mass destruction tools, why not ban them outright. Just because things can be done, doesn't mean they should be allowed.

more than 2 years ago

Strange Places To Find Open Source

dslbrian Re:watchout (118 comments)

I saw that in one of their videos and couldn't figure out if the wall of unconnected bricks was just storage for them to be used properly later on, or if they were really intending that to be a structural wall. It was so wrong on so many levels. It was unreinforced, it had no running bond or tie pattern in it, there was little to no "mortar" between the bricks, it didn't even look like they had been dried properly. Even with a proper tie pattern and bricks, from what I've read unreinforced masonry is a lousy construction method anywhere that might have an earthquake risk.

more than 2 years ago

Paywalled NYT Now Has 300,000 Online Subscribers

dslbrian Re:this just in! (179 comments)

If only Netcraft had confirmed it instead...

Well at least we can all agree BSD is dead.

more than 2 years ago

Microsoft Killed the Start Menu Because No One Uses It

dslbrian Re:Ok, how do they know? (862 comments)

the start menu is an easier way of locating programs than anything else that MS has provided. The only reason I can think of for people not using it is that they already have the 3 programs they use pinned to the task bar.

Seriously, this is another example of GUI design based on the average idiot user. Misguided and idiotic GUI redesigns serve no purpose but to annoy the userbase (ex. KDE4 and GNOME3). I find that I use the Start menu far less often because I've moved the apps I use to the PA menu. It's my way of doing what MS should have done a long time ago - separation and modularization of the apps from the OS (no install, no registry crap, etc). Seriously all this GUI rework and MS has yet to implement truly useful and fundamental changes to the OS. They still by default cram all the OS, apps, and data into a single place on a single drive (seriously 'My Documents', 'My Music', etc.. argh, does anyone actually use this idiotic and stupidly placed directory structure for managing their data?) Tying all that together insures when an OS gets corrupted/infected/whatever a reinstall will become a painful and long process.

But no, instead of something useful like eliminating the registry, they spend their time unnecessarily reinventing the GUI. Perhaps at least they will finally discover multiple desktops. Of course just looking at the tile-based monstrosity I can just imagine how they will play the hide-the-system-settings game. Instead of something useful I'm guessing they will play the usual game of shuffling the settings and burying them several layers deep (you know as far as possible from the user).

more than 2 years ago

Robot Workforce Threatens Education-Intensive Jobs

dslbrian Re:Lawyers will be OK, the rest of us are screwed (496 comments)

Lawyers will make sure laws are enacted to protect their jobs.

Then the robot lawyers will move in and enact laws to protect the robot jobs. And just wait until the robot unions get involved, those parasites - but of course where there are unions, soon there is the mafia - thats right, the robot mafia. Where does it all end - let me tell you, it's not pretty. Soon we will be paying our tax dollars to support the robot welfare state, while those deadbeats leech off government at our expense. The epi-center of this disastrous robot future world - Detroit naturally. But there is hope, a man who can save us from the robot tyranny, I think his name is Neo...

more than 2 years ago



Chinese Spacewalk Faked

dslbrian dslbrian writes  |  more than 5 years ago

dslbrian (318993) writes "The Chinese spacewalk previously posted looks like it might not have made it to space at all. In fact Inside China Today first noticed and subsequently Gearlog posted that by careful inspection of the uploaded video one can see several indicators that the whole thing was faked and shot in a pool. These include bubbles rising from the astronaut's helmet, and reflections of lighting arrays in the mirrored sections of their spacesuits."


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