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Industry-Based ToDo Alliance Wants To Guide FOSS Development

gstoddart So ... herding cats? (51 comments)

So these companies think they're going to herd the cats which make up the FOSS communities?

Good luck with that, you might cause more damage than you solve problems.


Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

gstoddart Re:Ya, but... (358 comments)

You can teach people how to write better code. You can't teach a stubborn old self taught programmer with 40 years experience why it is better to have maintainable code than to save a few CPU cycles if he doesn't want to hear it.

You know, I don't disagree with you.

But, conversely, I've been on the receiving end of a programmer who refused to do any optimization whatsoever because he said it was pointless (as a result his code frequently became a bottleneck because he had no idea of just how much stuff he was calling), and his (to his own mind) lovely and elegant code was actually brittle crap which was anything but maintainable. In fact, it was garbage which painted him into corners more times than I could count.

On several occasions when asked to make a code change, there was a realization that it was impossible without a complete re-write (because the change violated the aesthetics of his assumptions he'd built into it). In other words, his code was shit to begin with, His "theoretical" understanding of writing good code didn't translate into a "practical" ability to write good code.

Sometimes people trip over their own "elegance", and create garbage.

I'm not saying "all young punks are stupid", and I'm not saying "all old timers know everything", because I think categorical statements are usually garbage.

Programmers of all ages think they know everything and have bad attitudes.

On that point, we are completely in agreement.

But, in my personal experience .. sometimes having been there and done that means you have a bigger picture understanding of what you're really doing, and not some theoretical model you don't know how to apply.

Similarly, if you get to the point where nothing new is worth looking at, you have your own baggage and issues which gets in the way of you doing a good job.

In the middle of those two is where you find the good.


Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

gstoddart Re:I like to tell college-bound people... (358 comments)

...double major in something useful and something useless.

I'm of the opinion that it isn't "something useful and something useless" ... it's more about "something directly practical" coupled with "something interesting and abstract to give you balance and perspective".

Not all things are 100% objective. And, likewise, in some things there's just no room for subjectivity.

Being able to tell the difference is something many people don't learn.


Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

gstoddart Re:You guys are always entertaining! (358 comments)

The dogmatism that I have seen and heard on the job and here on Slashdot makes all of you come across as delusional and self aggrandizing.

LOL, you know, I won't dispute the point. Because I agree with it. It's been true for a very long time, and is widespread.

What I suggest is that being an asshole isn't due to a lack of critical thinking skills, it's a personality defect which can subsequently be overcome. ;-)

In some disciplines (*cough* Poli Sci *cough*) where there is no objective right or wrong, the ability to state a case for anything as being equally valid to anything else ... well, some of us don't see that as critical thinking, we see it as rhetoric and sophistry. Because you're not measuring against an objective standard.

The problem comes when you do come from a discipline where things are right or not right, you end up with an overly simplified world view, and nuance becomes something you don't necessarily get.

When there's no room for wishful thinking and sophistry, and you need to use empirical evidence to determine what is happening and what to do about it ... your "feeling" that your "belief" that the router must be sending moon packets is meaningless if you claim it has as much weight as me telling you that the cable is unplugged. Mine is testable and can be acted on, yours is the mistaken belief that if we solve the existential crisis of the router things will sort itself out.

But it becomes a clash of cultures when someone's sensing/feeling/intuition has nothing to do with objective reality, and objective reality is the only thing which matters.

And, likewise, people who only deal in objective reality and can't see past it are largely incapable of doing anything else, unless they've tried really hard to pick up an additional set of skills.

Which means we mostly want to punch people who say the universe could be just a simulation or that a tree doesn't make any noise if anybody is around to hear it, because if it can't be proven true or false, it's probably just a pointless mental exercise. ;-)


Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

gstoddart Re:Ya, but... (358 comments)

Some do, but the stereotype of IT having a myopic view of technology and projects didn't spring from nowhere.

In my experience, that's not a lack of critical thinking skills.

It's a lack of a breadth of education, and a complete lack of maturity and wisdom.

The problem is a lot of people come out of a STEM degree with a minor god complex, and are completely incapable of recognizing when their book learning doesn't match real world experience, and the stuff they're digging in their heels about doesn't work so well in the real world.

Basically they think they know everything.

But ask any senior programmer who has dealt with one straight out of school. Very often the lack of real world experience means they're unwilling/incapable of recognizing that someone knows some things they didn't cover in school, and that their theoretical model falls on its face when confronted with other things.

I once worked with a junior programmer who really didn't know nearly as much as he thought he did. He wrote crap code, and I once had to demonstrate why his version of the code was 100x slower than mine when called a very large amount of times. He quickly got shunted into a corner because he wouldn't listen, and management eventually realized he was useless to us. He had an engineering degree, and he had the right skills ... but he had the entirely wrong attitude. In his mind, nobody could possibly tell him anything ... which made him an asshole, not someone lacking in critical thinking ability.

I'm more of the opinion that STEM candidates should be forced to take a little more arts classes to make them more well rounded and be able to interact with other people.

But, who do you want debugging your production outage? Someone who is well versed in Chaucer, or someone who can apply logic and critical thinking to the problem at hand and has the technical skills to back it up?


Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

gstoddart Re:Ya, but... (358 comments)

Yeah, no kidding ... I'm pretty sure you can't get a STEM degree without critical thinking skills.

However, some of the Poli Sci majors I've met have precisely zero critical thinking skills, and mostly just parrot whichever rhetoric they adopted in their second year of school for the rest of their lives.

I'm not saying liberal arts students don't have the chance to develop critical thinking skills. But I am saying anybody who thinks STEM graduates don't have them is clueless.

I've lost count of the number of sales people I've known who don't come from technical backgrounds. They lack the critical thinking skills to even know if they're lying to you or not.


Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

gstoddart Re:International Copyright (162 comments)

I often wonder if it's not a "why make $30 million now when we might be able to make $300 million later" kind of deal.

By committing to a licensing deal now, they're stuck with it.

But I've definitely heard many Aussie's lamenting that you pay much more for the same thing there than you do here, and the corporations we're talking about really don't do anything unless it's maximizing profits.

So, if it's a company like Sony who is refusing to license the content ... then I can only assume it isn't, and never has been, technology which is the barrier.

Because I doubt the Australian packets drive on the wrong side of the intertubes and create a safety hazard. ;-)

At which point "licensing" comes down to: national regulations prevent you from doing it, or unwillingness to do it for whatever reason -- which to me comes down to profit, or creating artificial scarcity (again, for profit), or because at some point you want to have your own service and don't want to cannibalize it (again, profit).

Essentially it's a business decision.

But the technology of streaming a video over the interweb? That's not what stops this.


The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

gstoddart Re: Escapism (275 comments)

Quite possibly true.

I definitely stopped making food in the game once I figured out what alchemy was for, and I've definitely upgraded my gear to the point that most encounters don't provide too much sport (the odd leveled character still gives me a go). But then again, I'm not the best at the combat, so I'd rather get it done quick and/or work on style points than really have to grind through it.

But then I switched my focus to collecting stuff and going back and leveling up some of the skills I'd initially missed.

For the time being, I'm sill content to go on a walkabout, collect raw ingredients and trade with merchants, flesh out the bits of the map I've not been to, and occasionally do one of the quests to advance something along. Having a couple of houses makes that a little easier as you have some place to go back to and drop off the stuff you've collected until you can turn it into something more valuable.

There's dozens of side quests I've not done yet, a bunch of main quests I haven't done (and some I'll never do), lots of places I've not been to, and probably some places I should go back and revisit since I probably missed stuff on the first pass through.

It's like it's an interface to OCD you can turn off and on as you see fit, and just focus on whatever minutia appeals to you on a given day. ;-)

Which definitely isn't how most people play video games, but for some reason is something that keeps me playing it. When I've done about all I can with my current character, I might start all over again and play with completely different skills and do the quests entirely differently.

For some reason, the open-ended nature of the game keeps me fascinated, because I don't have to do anything on anybody else's timeline. Which makes it pure escapism for me.


Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

gstoddart Re:International Copyright (162 comments)

This is what I always here, same with Anime. But I don't understand why this is hard.

It's not hard from a technology perspective, and it never has been.

It's hard from a "these corporations are greedy bastards" perspective. They want to maximize profits. Pure and simple.

If that means telling the consumer "no, you can't have our product until we can figure out how to sell it to you for more money", they're OK with that.

You don't need to look beyond money, because technology isn't the roadblock here.


Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

gstoddart Re:International Copyright (162 comments)

But, why would licensing in Australia be different from licensing elsewhere?

Best guess: the content creators use it as a way to extort more money out of people.

Why go for "just as profitable" when you can have "more profitable". If we can't get more profit, we're not licensing it to you.

The companies who own the content and are in charge of licensing see people as nothing more than a revenue stream, and want to be able to control what you see so it's on their terms.

In other words, greedy assholes.

There's no technical reason I can imagine, which means it's all about money.

Same as the region codes in DVDs, because heaven forbid you be able to buy a movie in another country and watch it at home. Because that could disrupt corporate profits and executive bonuses.


Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

gstoddart Re:Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (162 comments)

Given a chance, I believe any company would seek a monopoly.

Given the chance to force consumers to use your product, I think the people who run corporations would jump at it.

But if you think forcing me to subscribe to your product instead of the competitor I was already happy with ... you'd have to be a complete idiot, and I think these people might be.

This isn't anything other than trying to force people to use your service, even if your service isn't as good or people aren't interested in it. And that doesn't always get a good reaction from people.

If I was an Australian Netflix users, Quickflix would not be getting any of my business.


Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

gstoddart Idiots ... (162 comments)

So they want a competitor to cut off customers which they can't serve (or because they can't compete)?

If your service is good and it's what people want, you will survive. If it isn't, and people go elsewhere ... too damned bad. If I was dealing with a company, and their competitor made them stop providing me service, there is no way in hell I'd go with the competitor, since they effectively blocked me from getting the service I do want.

This just sounds like "waah, we can't compete with Netflix, so Netflix needs to stop serving the customers we haven't been able to attract". Screw that. Your "local alternative" may not be as good, and the consumer shouldn't be forced into using your crappy product just because you say so.

I'd be seriously pissed at Quickflix for being self entitles assholes. And I sure as hell wouldn't do business with them.

Why do companies feel they are entitled to our business? I'll do business with whomever I want.

These clowns sound like candidates for the B-ark.


AT&T Proposes Net Neutrality Compromise

gstoddart Such crap ... (227 comments)

Such an approach would preserve the ability of Internet service providers to engage in individualized negotiations with [content companies] for a host of services

See, the problem with this is AT&T is the network. That's it.

It's none of their damned business what content companies and services I use. Their job is to give me a network pipe to access the internet.

This is just propping up a business model where they can say "Nice Netflix you have there, it would be a shame if something happened to it". They want the right to do more rent-seeking from new services.

If AT&T and the other ISPs hadn't built a model based on over-subscription, and avoided investing in their infrastructure to actually meet the capacity they claim, they'd be able to do this.

But instead they like to pretend they're selling you a good service, when in reality they are selling you a service which is woefully underpowered and hasn't been upgraded.

Every one of these companies advertises their big awesome service, which you can stream all sorts of HD and do all sorts of cool things .. but the reality is they don't have the infrastructure for people to use the service as it's been advertised. So, in theory someone somewhere might get the same awesomeness in the commercial .. but in practice, that's not what they're really selling.

ISPs should just be made common carriers, and told that they don't get to try to charge people extra for the services they already claim to have sold them.

My cable company advertises about how much awesome HD content I can get. But in reality, when you watch the HD channels, they're all heavily compressed to the point that in some instances you can see more digital noise than anything else. I can tell straight away I'm not really getting 1080p all the time, I'm getting a heavily compressed version of it.

So, when all of these companies start talking about ultra HD, or their shiny new wireless network, or anything else ... I automatically assume that what they're selling is not what they're claiming, and they're going to degrade the quality of it and claim that's how it's supposed to work.

It's like buying a car, only to find out that the claimed performance isn't anywhere near what they said, and that if you actually wanted that you need to pay extra. It's false advertising.


WSJ Reports Boeing To Beat SpaceX For Manned Taxi To ISS

gstoddart Hmmm .... (183 comments)

So, does Boeing's offering exist now? Has Boeing been working on a launch vehicle.

I've seen lots of stuff about what SpaceX is doing, but not a lot about Boeing on the space front these days.

So, is this something which actually exists and is being tested? Or is this vapor ware?

I half expect to hear that SpaceX has people up waving out the windows before Boeing gets something there.


The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

gstoddart Re:Online only gives the illusion of accomplishmen (275 comments)

LOL ... as with anything else, one person's "feature" is another person's PITA.

Which is why I think TFA is kinda pointless ... for the poster, solo play feels empty. For those of us who don't like multiplayer, it seems like a waste of time.

Group A will never convince Group B they're missing anything of value, because the groups value different things.

I know I'm shocked.

Of course, if game publishers lose the plot and forget that not everybody does want multiplayer play, they'll basically lose the segment of the market which doesn't play those titles.


The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

gstoddart Re:Online only gives the illusion of accomplishmen (275 comments)

The problem with non-online only games, is that you can't prove that you accomplished anything in it, since it is so much easier to cheat.

And to whom, exactly, do I need to prove anything?

I play video games to relax, unwind, and kill a few hours. It's recreation. I'ts diversion. It's play.

I neither crave nor care about how other people feel about my success (or suck) at video games.

If I want any of those things, I'll play a round of golf with my friends. And, even then, I don't care about their score versus mine. Because that too is recreation and I'm under no illusions I'll ever be any good.

So, if you need to measure yourself against people who have 12 hours a day to play that game, by all means, go ahead. But for many of us, that's the last thing we care about in video games. In fact, that's exactly why we don't play on-line games.

Not all of us care about competition. For some of us, the play is the rewarding part, no matter how good or bad we are at it.


The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

gstoddart Re: Escapism (275 comments)

Skyrim had a story?

Sure it does.

But you know the really great thing about Skyrim? You can pretty much ignore the story and just wander about on your own and play it how you like.

You're not constrained by a linear story, you can go anywhere at anytime, and you can do things however you like. There's no set sequence to it.

The world is huge and immersive, and you can go pretty much anywhere you like. Every now and then you decide to advance one of the story lines. Or not. You can play for 30 minutes, or you can geek out for 4 or 5 hours. You can put it down for a few weeks and come back to it.

And then you could start from the beginning and play in a completely different way, as a character who uses entirely different tactics and fighting styles.

For me, Skyrim is pretty much an awesome game, simply because I can play it in a way that appeals to me -- and which would probably not be very fun for other people.

But with the vast amount of wiki pages describing everything, the ability to focus on leveling up or making better gear, gold farm, or just go around and collect things to upgrade and sell ... for me Skyrim is just a big giant world I can wander around and play it as I please.

But, as an old fart who started getting his ass kicked on games like MDK on the PS2, I got tired of getting stuck on a level I couldn't get past only to give up on the game and never play it again ... it's the open-ended nature of Skyrim which really appeals to me.

But I'm certainly in no hurry to actually follow the rest of the main plot line. I'll get there eventually, but for now I'm content to play it how I like, level up my character, collect stuff, and see more and more of the world they've built.


The Growing Illusion of Single Player Gaming

gstoddart They'll lose an audience ... (275 comments)

These days, it's different: many games are marketed under the illusion of being single-player, when their focus has shifted to an almost mandatory multiplayer mode.

They may not care, because the on-going gouging for multi-player is probably quite lucrative.

But I will not play any form of on-line or multi-player game, unless it all happens in the same room. I want to be able to pick up a game when I have time to kill, and play for a while ... be that an hour or several hours.

Multi-player games have no appeal to me whatsoever, and my XBox 360 hasn't been connected to a network in a very long time and won't ever be again. The first time I saw ads in the games was the last time the XBox saw the network, because I realized that on-line gaming was to give them even more money.

When microsoft said the XBone needed to always be connected to the internet they lost a potential customer. No way I'll own it now. And, at this point, I've lost track if that's even the case or not, Microsoft has flip-flopped so many times.

Give me a title like Skyrim, or Portal, or even a Tiger Woods golf game. But when the day comes there are no console games which I can play entirely offline, I will no longer own a console. It's as simple as that.

I'm old, I'm slow, and I lack the mad skills to play against other people. That pretty much sucks all the fun out of a video game for me, and I'm not paying extra for the privilege of getting my ass handed to me by a smarmy 10 year old.

They may not be as aware of people who play offline games, and the people who do may not generate the on-going revenue. But I'm betting there's a lot of people who don't play on-line games, and they have no way of knowing just how much those get played.

So, for the gaming companies ... ignore the offline, single player market at your peril.


The FCC Net Neutrality Comment Deadline Has Arrived: What Now?

gstoddart What now? (131 comments)

My guess, the FCC chair will do whatever his former employers tell him to do so that he can guarantee when he's done pretending to be the regulator he can go back to his cushy lobbying job.

Does anybody really believe they're going to do anything not endorsed by the cable, wireless and content cartels?

Having that guy in there is pretty much the definition of regulatory capture.

2 days ago

Canon Printer Hacked To Run Doom Video Game

gstoddart Re:So it runs Doom ? (86 comments)

You know what the next logical step is?

It involves the internet ... so I'll assume some form of pornography.

2 days ago


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