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Ubuntu Community Manager: RMS's Post Seems a Bit Childish To Me

m50d Re:RMS should take a hike (529 comments)

if it wasn't for Ubuntu, I would be running OSX

Would that be any different?

about 2 years ago

Linus Torvalds Answers Your Questions

m50d Re:here we go again with the FUD (326 comments)

One of the reasons I left linux was that I had the drivers for three different peripherals that used to work stop building against new kernel releases: my webcam (qc-usb.sourceforge.net), my winCE PDA, and the remote for my TV card (via lirc).

more than 2 years ago

EA Defends Itself Against Thousands of Anti-Gay Letters

m50d Re:Anti-Gay? (1069 comments)

Actually, interestingly enough you can't legally consent to be punched in the face (at least in my country).

more than 2 years ago

Master Engineer: Apple's "Mastered For iTunes" No Better Than AAC-Encoded Music

m50d Re:CD quality is the best? (312 comments)

The DVDA release of REM's best of album was just an upsample of the CD version. It took quite a while before anyone noticed (and only because they happened to look at the frequency graph on a computer, not by hearing it).

more than 2 years ago

Master Engineer: Apple's "Mastered For iTunes" No Better Than AAC-Encoded Music

m50d Re:Hey, the pirates can help (312 comments)

If you're encoding with AAC, sure. But in the context of FLAC, there's no point getting 24-bit over 16-bit.

(amusing side note: I must've been the first person ever to decode a 24-bit flac with ffmpeg, since I had to fix a (trivial) bug to do so).

more than 2 years ago

Asus Transformer Drops Quad-core In Favor of Dual-core

m50d Re:Core count obsession (207 comments)

On my original (dual-core) transformer, I find system performance suffers noticeably if I'm torrenting in the background. Niche use case maybe, but I do it fairly often, and it seems like more cores should be able to help with that.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With University Firewalls?

m50d Use their obligations as a landlord (582 comments)

If you're staying in university accommodation, and they're in a monopoly position as your internet provider, then they have an obligation (moral and possibly legal) to provide an equivalent service to what you'd get from a commercial ISP in private housing.

more than 2 years ago

Hard Drive Shortage Relief Coming In Q1 2012

m50d Re:Something wrong here... (205 comments)

Not at all. There's nothing inevitable or deterministic in your suggestion. The secondary market isn't relevant to all the participants of the primary round-robin system. Most participants will use the hard drive they got for their own projects (that's why they joined the round-robin queue in the first place). A small fraction only will decide to defer their projects, and sell their drive on a secondary market.

Only very briefly. Then the bureaucrats responsible for running the system, or the guys driving the van that delivers them, will realise that they can make life much better for themselves by "losing" half the supply and selling it on the secondary market. Go look at the USSR for what happens when you try and run a society on something like round-robin.

The state ensures that all the population is able to obtain access to goods, and that is exactly as fair and legitimate as letting people die in the streets?

Yup. It ultimately depends on how you define fairness - whether the fair way to get more resources is to work for them, or to have more children and have the government confiscate them for you.

Finally, if *survival* is at issue, I'd say that rationing is a lot more rational than a free market alternative, irrespective of fairness, welfare or legitimacy.

You'd have to look at the results, and I'm not aware of any proper studies on this. Maybe a free-market system would have let more people starve initially, but also mean the people most vital to the war effort were better-fed and thus able to work harder, ending the war sooner and thus saving more lives overall.

more than 2 years ago

Proposed Video Copy Protection Scheme For HTML5 Raises W3C Ire

m50d Re: analogies and reality (412 comments)

If they caused performance or reliability issues like random freezes/crashes, people would scream and complain until those problems were fixed -- just like any other code.

Ten years of flash suggests that's not entirely reliable.

more than 2 years ago

Hunters Shoot Down Drone of Animal Rights Group

m50d Re:This is hardly surprising (1127 comments)

Something I just can't help wonder is... Do you eat meat? Have you thought through the ethics of keeping animals confined for the single purpose of killing them and eating them?

I see nothing inherently wrong with this (I have plenty of problems with specific implementations). I care about animal suffering, but "purpose" is meaningless, and there's no reason the life of a meat animal has to involve any more suffering or cruelty than a wild one.

It's a matter of removing animals that causes problems with our way of life as well as gathering meat. I have no wish to bring extra suffering to the animals I hunt just because I don't use the correct tools for the job.

I have no problem with killing animals as necessary, but following this argument through to its conclusion probably does mean using aeroplanes, or whatever gets the job done most efficiently. Primitive hunting as still practised in parts of Africa is possibly the cruellest way to die outside of deliberate torture (the animal is literally run to death, chased for ~3 days unable to stop or rest until it's exhausted enough to kill; of those which escape, many will die from the exertion shortly after). A skilled hunter, bringing down the animal with one shot before it's even aware of him/her? I have no problem with that. But as soon as you inflict any extra suffering in the interests of sport, that's wrong - and I suspect even the best of modern hunting tactics causes more of that, on average, than the most efficient possible way of doing the necessary killing.

more than 2 years ago

Hunters Shoot Down Drone of Animal Rights Group

m50d Re:If they hadn't brought their drone (1127 comments)

When the Tony Martin(?) case first came up, a policeman I know gave a simple prediction: If the burglars were shot in the front he'll go free, if they were shot in the back he'll be convicted.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What Would Real Space Combat Look Like?

m50d Terrorism writ large (892 comments)

In space, everyone knows where everyone is (scattering sensors around is cheap, and the second law of thermodynamics means there's no way to hide unless you know which direction your enemy's looking from), and everyone can kill everyone else quite easily. Just the velocities involved mean an interstellar ship is a missile (and probably one that can devastate planetary ecosystems); there is no defense other than to strike first, no way to meaningfully armour a ship (even counter-missiles are impractical due to conservation of momentum), and honestly, when it comes to war, no reason to even have ships at all - just launch missiles directly from whatever your bases are.

If we survive long enough as a race to have interstellar travel, I predict people living on artificial habitats inside gas giants and/or stars, the location/flight-plan of each a closely guarded secret (and probably communicating/trading only by meeting on neutral ground), since that seems like the only place you could hide. If you're out in the open, any idiot with a grudge can wipe out your civilization.

more than 2 years ago

Should Microsoft Put Office On the iPad?

m50d Re:Would *I* use it? (402 comments)

Since I got my Transformer I never carry my netbook around any more - a tablet with a proper keyboard is good enough for everything I used to use it for. Why carry two devices when you can make one do both functions?

more than 2 years ago

iPad 3 Confirmed To Have 2048x1536 Screen Resolution

m50d Re:Are you SERIOUS?! (537 comments)

I don't believe they're selling more, but I believe they're making a better product. That was the line apple fanboys were giving us throughout the 90s.

more than 2 years ago

iPad 3 Confirmed To Have 2048x1536 Screen Resolution

m50d Re:Nice. (537 comments)

I got two CRTs that do that resolution for $15 from my old school, six years ago (they were "upgrading" to flatscreens).

more than 2 years ago

Looking For Love; Finding Privacy Violations

m50d Re:Proportional? (112 comments)

Um... yes? The ladies will be happy with that.

more than 2 years ago

Facebook Details Executive Salaries, Bonuses

m50d Re:Still a little disturbing (168 comments)

Most people who went into tech don't make as much as Zuck. I suspect top scientists (even the average nobel prize winner is only the best in a given year - Zuckerberg has done better than that) make similar money.

more than 2 years ago

U.S. Navy Receives First Industry Built Railgun Prototype

m50d Re:Obsoleting their own fleet? (277 comments)

If being able to hit something 600km away is all a carrier is good for, shouldn't missiles have made them obsolete?

more than 2 years ago

U.S. Navy Receives First Industry Built Railgun Prototype

m50d Re:WTF submitter?! (277 comments)

What is gun culture / military about, if not killing people (or at least animals)? I can appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into handmade guns, but that doesn't seem to be what most gun nuts are about. Being able to aim steadily at a target is an interesting skill in the same way as driving or carpentry (though with less to show for it at the end), but guns are disproportionately popular for that to be what it's about.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Does Europe Have Better Magazines Than the US?

m50d Re:Better is in the eye of the beholder (562 comments)

As a brit I've taken to reading TIME. The writing seems to be better than our own magazines, and it's nice to have something without the focus on local politics and crime.

more than 2 years ago


m50d hasn't submitted any stories.



Taking a break

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 8 years ago I really can't stand the new layout. So I'm leaving slashdot for a while. I may be back.


Where'd the ponies go?

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 8 years ago Dammit, I even switched browsers so I could use the slashdotter extension to make everything pink and poneyey. But to no avail. It seems they've taken everything down :(


Anyone got a spare alpha OS (or lives in the US)?

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 8 years ago A few weeks ago I was amazingly lucky in acquiring an alphastation 600. Beautiful machine, and it's currently running gentoo very smoothly. However, it has a hulking graphics card (ZLXp-L) taking up two 64-bit pci slots which is currently acting as an 80x25 VGA card, because there is no open driver for the card. I either need to persuade a free os to use the xfree86 3.something version that digital supplies drivers for, or acquire a copy of openvms, tru64 or windows NT.

It looks like there's a way for people in the US to get a free copy of openvms. If you join encompass (http://www.encompassus.org/) as an associate member, you can get a hobbyist license (which is all I need). However, I'm living in the UK, so I don't have a valid US address with which to sign up for this.

So, is there anyone with a copy of an alpha OS they could give me? Or, would someone in the US be willing to get me a hobbyist copy of openvms by this method (if it works)?


GCC stage 2 complete

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 8 years ago About 6 weeks ago I began a gentoo stage 1 install on my 486. The ncurses problem I had was because bootstrap had not in fact completed; it had died while unpacking linux-headers due to insufficient swap, but this was the time the machine crashed, and when I attempted to resume bootstrap it somehow thought it was completed. Anyway, it's bootstrapping again, and most of the time since then has been taken up with gcc since distcc is no use in building this. Today I noticed the stage 2 xgcc being used, so it has finished the first two stages and is now doing the rebuild of itself using itself for optimization purposes. Of course this is the longest stage (it's unoptimized, but optimizing)...


Say what you like, plug-and-play is a good thing

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 8 years ago modprobe ne io=0x0...nope...modprobe ne io=0x20...nope...modprobe ne2 io=0x40...

Finally got it working, at 0x280. Now for the other three.


Ok, I'll admit it, the red bull was a bad idea

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 8 years ago See timestamp. Did I mention I have a test tomorrow morning?


Take two

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 8 years ago I have just pressed enter on "emerge -e system" for my second attempt at installing gentoo on a 486. So far there has been no output. My eventual goal is to run KDE on it. I will post updates as and when things happen.


Looking to set things up

m50d m50d writes  |  about 9 years ago

What I have:
1 modern x86 machine (Semperon 2600+). PCI only, and sound is so modern it has no DOS support. Onboard sound, also a PCI sound card (both no DOS support), and 10/100 (possibly gigabit) ethernet. Standard parallel and 9-pin serial ports.
1 pentium 1. PCI and ISA, onboard sound which presumably works with DOS, IIRC onboard ethernet (haven't tested the speed). Standard parallel and 9-pin serial ports.
1 486. ISA only. No sound. Standard parallel and 9-pin serial ports.
1 Sparcstation 10. SBUS only. Sound, onboard 10baseT/AUI ethernet. 25-pin serial port and sun parallel port.
Networking equipment:
2 PCI 10/100 ethernet cards.
1 ISA 10baseT/thinnet/AUI ethernet card
4 cat5[e] cables
2 24-port 10/100 hubs, rear stacking connectors, AUI, one with fiber.
1 8-port 100baseT switch.
1 plip cable
1 25-pin slip cable
1 25-9 pin serial adapter
What I can probably accquire:
1 ISA 10/100 ethernet card
1 cat5[e] cable
What I can connect to:
LAN. 1 ethernet jack. Must have a single MAC address on the end of it.
What I want:
Play modern windows games over the LAN with IPX
Play dos games with sound
Permanently accessible webserver running
All computers able to access the lan, at least with TCP/IP
Anyone figure out a way to get this all working?
TIA for any advice


The book meme thing

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Turn to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.


Nearest Book: "Market Forces" by Richard Morgan
ISBN: 0-575-07584-8

Fifth sentence on page 23: "'The hospital?' Hamilton's voice was politely disbelieving."


A good film

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago Night Watch (no relation to the Terry Pratchett book of the same name), though not as good as the last film I saw, is a good film. The overstory sounds preposterous but works very well, the characters are possibly too grim but this makes them seem more realistic, and the action is well executed. The philosophy is impressive but also where the film falls short of greatness. Too many questions are left unanswered, and the upbeat conclusion is completely at odds with everything that lead up to it. The film asks us "why is light better than dark?", but doesn't even attempt to answer that, just assumes it is true.

Overall a good film, worth watching, but flawed and ultimately slightly disappointing.


The best film I've seen

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago If, like me, you put off going to see Howl's Moving Castle, go see it right now. It's simply amazing, wonderfully drawn, and incredibly emotive. There are scenes that are truly harrowing, some sad enough to make you cry, a nobility of spirit that will bring a lump to your throat. Watch it, now.

And if you already have, what happens in the first five minutes that I managed to miss? (Everything before the title).


Q: How do you get intellectuals to like a dumb action film?

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago A: Pretend it's a parody of the dumb action film

I'm sitting here on my own because I really could not stand the film a group of the UK's finest students were about to watch. The Incredibles takes all the worst elements of every bad action film ever, rolls them all together, and expects you to find it hilarious. No, if I want to laugh at a bad film there are plenty of bad films I can do that with. Pixar should go back to making good films. They're much better at it.


Do as we say, not as we do

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago I am amazed that most of today's news sources seem to be accepting the rescue of British troops by breaking them out of an Iraqi prison as a heroic episode. While I can understand the tabloids enjoying saving our brave boys from the evil beturbanned arabs, I'm far less enthusiastic than they and would expect more opposition than has been seen from elsewhere in the media.

Firstly, the British troops in question shot a police officer. That much isn't disputed even by the British authorities. Whilst I can appreciate the need to fit in when going undercover, and am happy to allow undercover troops or police to deal drugs, launder money, maybe even commit minor thefts when it's in the interest of stopping greater crimes, that stops well short of shooting at anyone, yet alone a police officer. Only the truly desperate criminal will kill an officer of the law rather than come quietly, but here are our "brave boys", supposedly the good guys, refusing to answer questions and opening fire when approached.

Second, if the soldiers were guilty they deserve what they get. It is, supposedly, the Iraqis' country, their government is supposed to be running the place, their legal system is supposed to be in charge. If, as the papers seem to be assuming, the soldiers were innocent, then shouldn't we have faith in the Iraqi justice system to clear them? How come the Iraqi government is good enough for Iraqis but not for the British troops? Could it be we don't believe the government is good at all, we're just installing one which will be the best for our interests, the very same policy that lead to Saddam being there and in charge in the first place?

Thirdly, the method of releasing them. The fact that official sources initially denied they'd broken down the walls shows there is at least some shame about this, but really, letting 150 criminals loose because you're worried about your 3 men who were arrested is a bit of an inappropriate response, to say nothing of wanton property destruction. Is the Iraqi prison situation so bad that we believe people would be killed that quickly, and if so, why are we allowing those 150 people to be held there? If they are genuine criminals, what about all the problems they'll now cause for other, innocent Iraqis?

We appear no better than an inner city gang busting da boyz out of the nick, because, y'know, they're da ladz, we stick together. I would expect more concern for other people, and more willingness to consider errors on our part, from the military of a civilised nation, and it seems hipocritical to expect others to accept the authority of the new Iraqi authorities when we are not willing to do so ourselves.


Linux 2.6 is unstable

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago I don't care what other people say. I'm sitting here trying to run a vanilla kernel. It crashed four times last evening and has already crashed once this morning in eight minutes of use. Hard lockup, nothing to do but push the reset button and thank god for reiserfs.

No, it's not just X locking up, I've tried SSHing in to no avail.

No, it's not my hardware, my hardware worked fine under 2.4, heck it's more stable than this when I boot win98 on it.

No, it's not my config. I've configured the minimum possible into the kernel, even leaving off some filesystems that I occasionally use, to try and get rid of this freezing. Also, the same config seems to produce a working kernel with 2.6.11, but no other versions.

No, I'm not trolling. I genuinely want to fix this and I can't.

No, I don't work for microsoft. I'm not trying to discredit linux. I just want a working home system and I can't get it.

I'm sick of everyone either denying that I can possibly be having these problems or insisting they're my fault. They're not. I've done everything right and the damn kernel isn't stable. There are many possible points of blame, but to me the fact that the crash was fixed in 2.6.11 and then a new one introduced in 2.6.12 points to the new 2.6 policy of doing development in the stable tree. I don't know if this is right, but I do know that 2.6 is not a stable kernel and should not be released as such.


Internet Fragmentation

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago I'd make this into a science fiction story if I was a better writer. It's not necessarily going to happen, but it's enough of a risk that people need to be made aware of it.

The days of the Internet as we know it are coming to an end. The squabbling we're currently seeing over the root DANS servers is just the start. Links in the network cost money. Real money, not some theoretical service thing. They're currently provided by either universities as a public service that aids the university academically, or by ISPs where the link benefits both. But the expensive ones like the transatlantic cables are all in the former category. (Feel free to correct me on this.) As more and more content becomes illegal in various places, the universities will retreat, routing only academic content. With the rise of DRAM systems and general improvements in cryptography, eventually only provably academic content will be routed. For the rest, you'll have to find someone else whose interest it serves to forward your packet.

There will be all sorts of innovative money-making schemes from people running server sets. For a monthly fee, companies will guarantee routing from any of their endpoints to any other endpoint. Of course, getting the packet to your local endpoint, and ensuring your recipient can pick it up from theirs, is your business. You might find postal-service-like setups who will deliver "door to door", but I wouldn't count on it, and it will probably be priced per packet. A cadre of hackers will offer free routing anywhere, like in the old days, but it will be unreliable and congested. The spread of wireless adds another dynamic to this, because it allows cheap routes between any two basestations within several kilometres, provided they're willing to cooperate. There could well be several networks layered over each other all around you. Of course encryption technology will be advanced and adopted enough that they are no use to you. The really interesting part will be the half-open networks, those that pass unsigned packets based on automated inspection (manual is impossible with the volume of packets around). These rules will probably change daily, and there will be a new rush of hacking crafting encodings for arbitrary data to go from A to B on. It requires cunning and agility, and can't be used with huge amounts of data, but it's doable. Things might be sent with some of the steps being physically moving discs, or links that only work half the day because they're being run by some kiddie hacker and his friend a few miles off. The current routing protocols won't be able to handle it as well as a competent human, meaning hackers will have an advantage over normal people who simply curse their slow link and hope it will work better next time, or pay for a premier routing service. To send a packet around the world will be a tricky feat, maybe even an induction test for those joining the resurgent hacking gangs. Over time a complete economy will emerge, with exchanges tracking the prices of packets between major locations. Neighbourhoods will lay their own cables to popular servers, and anyone who can provide content people are interested in - probably cracked software/music/movies, now very much a rare commodity with the strong encryption, stronger laws, and slow spread of cracked versions - will be able to get their connections free, maybe even have people pay to connect and charge those who route through them. Networks will form around these hubs, and then dissolve as the operator gets raided, one of the leaf nodes perhaps trying to trade their way with what they managed to acquire before the raid. The canny will stay on the edge, not popular enough to attract attention but popular enough to be able to get what they want, much like posters in mp3 newsgroups today. (If you haven't ever been to such a newsgroup, they're worth watching just for the social dynamics, not to mention the mp3s). Bang paths, UUCP, netnews and local BBSes will all see a revival. It will be a wilderness once more, but a post-apocalyptic one, with older hackers reminiscing about the few decades they had when there was free routing everywhere. Eventually, when wireless evolves to a range of hundreds of miles, free networks may see a return, but the rules of mesh networks dictate that the bigger they get the scarcer bandwidth becomes. As normal Internet bandwidth has increased content has grown to fill the space available (text->images->music->applications and video), and although it's hard to imagine a higher-bandwidth successor to current content it seems inevitable that one will arise, perhaps full 3-d simulations. So the Internet will always be an economic entity, and with the increased power hackers get will come a sadness at the loss of that period of freedom.

Anyone know if anyone has tried to write about this kind of idea?


There was a wrong question on my physics paper

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago I'm sure of it. Today's (16th June) OCR A level physics paper, the Field and Particle physics one, question 11b. Very much a schoolboy error - the question setter had used nanograms and then assumed that meant *10^-9 in formulae. Unfortunately, thanks to a historical quirk related to the french revolution, the kilogram is actually the base unit, so nanograms are *10^-12. Anyone else notice this? More to the point, anyone know what happens about it? Should I complain to the exam board? How are such things marked? Or did I do something stupid and there's another explanation.


Yet another ROTS review

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago Went to see it yesterday. Like AOTC, I feel it's worth watching once but doesn't stand up compared to the originals. Whilst I have attempted to avoid spoilers I make no guarantees.

The Good

Hurrah! Hayden has - just about - learned to talk! He still sounds flat and wooden, but at least it's a human degree of flat and wooden, not the previous computer-beating monotone. He's not up to love scenes but some of the conversations with Obi-Wan manage to sound almost genuine. There's a person underneath there, at least, and he seeps through occasionally.

The spaceships. At the start of the film we see a genuine fleet engagement, although mostly from the perspective of a few fighters one gets a sense of two full lines of battle, with ponderous cruisers exchanging tremendous firepower.

The Bad

"General Grievous". I mean, really. That sounds like the villian out of a kiddie cartoon. No, it's worse than that. It sounds like the villan from a set of action figures. Would it really have cost too much to get someone to find him a proper name?

Kenobi. He's now much nicer to Anakin, far friendlier. This is good, but it's happened at the wrong time. In the last movie he was patronising and didn't seem very close to Anakin, who nevertheless stuck by him. This time he really loves him, and yet he turns from him.

Portman's voice. Somehow she's gone from queen to council estate. Maybe it's just too much time around Christiansen.

The Ugly

The dialog. We know what to expect by now. Urgh.

The plot. The macro-plot is actually fairly good, with the collapse of the republic making simplistic but striking points about society. But anakin is just not believeable or human enough.


Here we go again

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago Fate told me something today. I'm not quite sure what, yet, but I know there was something important.

I forgot my violin, and my music. This used to be something that happened fairly frequently. But this morning I was making a special effort to remember it. This wasn't a random event, it was important.

I was expecting to play the violin with a particular girl for the last time. And I was expecting to play the music to another. Now I have done neither. I feel there must be a reason for this. Things don't happen to me without a good reason for them, especially when they are things which are important to me.

Gosh, that sounds awful.


OK, I take it back

m50d m50d writes  |  more than 9 years ago Amarok has now learned what I like - well, fairly well anyway - and I must say I'm really appreciating it. All the integrated things like lyrics and cover management really add to the experience. It seems a very good player. I wonder when this, K3b and Kaffeine will make it into the main KDE tree. I think they all should. Amarok is a superior replacement for JuK in almost every way, it seems a shame to lose a program so quickly after it was introduced but that's the way things are. K3b there is no excuse for leaving out, it's one of the best showcases for K3b, being the best cd burning program on linux. Kaffeine makes a good competitor to Gnome's totem, using a lot of KDE technology with kparts, the universal sidebar, system tray interface etc. With Kaffeine installed viewing web videos in konqueror becomes painless, having it part of the main KDE tree would finally make out of the box video playback on linux a reality.

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