Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?
Ummm ... Egyptian hieroglyphics were actually phonetic symbols. And Chinese (still i use) is pictographic and not phonetic.
Chinese is (basically) ideographic ("symbols representing ideas"), but not generally pictographic ("symbols representing ideas/objects directly by resembling them"). Some Chinese characters are arguably pictographic, and in many cases there was probably a pictographic stage in the historical evolution of other characters, but the bulk really aren't.
In response to the grandparent: it doesn't appear that alphabetic/phonetic languages are faster to write/read than ideographic languages like Chinese. Chinese seems to be generally faster to read, and roughly equivalent to write in many cases. It's obviously a pretty hard comparison to make, since there are so many variables, but while ideographs are generally more complicated, they're also more information dense (so you need fewer of them to communicate a given idea) and can take better advantage of the human visual system to allow recognition of more text in parallel .
Who's Getting Pay-By-Phone Right? The Fast Food Industry
Why can't I just get a 5 cent thingy to put on my keychain, then?
Er, well, you can, sort of ... Japanese phones with NFC payment are compatible with common Japanese smart-cards, for instance public-transit cards like Suica and PASMO in the Tokyo region. These smart cards aren't quite 5 cents—there's typically about a $5 deposit on them—but they're extremely cheap compared to a cellphone, are easily recharged either automatically from a credit-card or via the ubiquitous TVMs in stations, and can be either anonymous or keyed to your name (so you can get something back if you lose it)...
Although pretty much any Japanese phone, "smart" or basic, can be used for payment like this, I don't see the point really... it's easier to just pull out a transit card from my pocket... and frankly, I kinda prefer using cash anyway...
The Greatest Keyboard Shortcut Ever
(I can never remember the Emacs one... it's ctrl-x u, right?)
Emacs contains multitudes...
undo is on C-_, <undo>, C-/, C-x C-u, C-x u, <menu-bar> <edit> <undo>
Kernel Dev Tells Linus Torvalds To Stop Using Abusive Language
Linus isn't a dick though; indeed, he's quite laid-back and personable. When he criticizes someone like this, his criticisms are almost universally very accurate, and he only uses "extreme" language when (1) the person he's addressing did something really stupid ("merely stupid" isn't enough) and (2) that person really should have known better (so he doesn't tend to do this to strangers, only people he's well acquainted with, and has some trust in). He doesn't just call people names, he makes detailed technical arguments which happen to be decorated with er, expressive language.
This particular style is very common in the tech world, and if anything, Linus is far better than most, because he strictly sticks to technical criticisms; his language may be extreme, but for him, it isn't personal—if he is wrong, he'll very quickly admit it and apologize. Almost all of the time, the conversation quickly calms down and settles into a discussion of how to make things right. Note that this makes him vastly better than average: there are many others in the tech community who do take things personally, and won't back down no matter how obviously wrong they are.
This style isn't to everyone's tastes, and to someone who isn't familiar with Linus or the LKML, I guess it can be startling to see one of these exchanges. Maybe there are times when he goes too far. But claims that he's "abusive" are simply laughable. Things are not always as they appear at first glance...
Android Co-Founder: Fragmentation "an Overblown Issue"
I can't help but feel that you've been a bit out of touch with the market, since you've got facts wrong on both sides.
Eh, probably, though I'll note that I'm in Japan, where the smartphone market is quite different from the U.S...
Android Co-Founder: Fragmentation "an Overblown Issue"
Apple is still the one making the vast majority of the money. Quantity is a quality all its own, but come on?
Are they making the vast majority of money? There's a great deal of hardware competition in Android phones, which means no one manufacturer does the kind of volume Apple does, but many Android phones seem to have very similar hardware specs and very similar prices to the iPhone, and the overall volume of Android phones is greater than the volume of iPhones; in places like Japan, the overall volume of high-spec (iPhone or better) phones is probably greater than the volume of iPhones. Apple can profit somewhat by taking advantage of volume pricing for components, but many of their competitors are very large companies, with significant sway of their own.
I think Apple thought they'd have iPod-like market domination in this market, i.e., no significant competiton. Despite the iPhone's obvious popularity, Android really threw a spanner in those plans.... [Thus Steve's fury...]
British Airways Set To Bring Luggage Tags Into the 21st Century
So BA is making an electronic luggage tag ... and as some have pointed out, Qantas already has them.
Are they compatible? Will frequent flyers that use multiple airlines end up with 10 different electronic tags hanging off each piece of luggage?
A universal standard tag would seem a good idea...
Can Ride-Sharing Startup Lyft Survive the SoCal Heat?
Public transit is great for commuting, maybe getting to and from big events, and for low income people completely familiar with lots of routes. It's practically useless for tourists
Of course this is an over-generalization.
There are cities with good transit (Tokyo, London, etc), and there are cities with bad transit (most of the U.S.), and naturally transit in the former is a much better experience than transit in the latter.
Tokyo, for instance, is a rail city (rail has a majority transportation mode-share, across all uses); its many rail lines are fast, clean, efficient, go everywhere, and are significantly cheaper than a taxi. For typical trips (and especially for tourists, who visit mostly popular locations), rail is faster almost all of the time, and if there's any road congestion (which is ... often), it's much faster. If you're loaded down with suitcases, you might want to take a taxi (assuming you're not going too far, because taxis are very expensive), but if you're just looking around the city, you're far better off just using the rail system.
The Average Movie Theater Has Hundreds of Screens
Most phones throw out a huge amount of light from their screen when in use... this isn't noticeable in normal situations, but it's extremely noticeable in a dark theater, especially during dark scenes. It's very annoying when the guy next to pulls out his portable searchlight / phone and lights up during a tense moment in the movie for an angry-bird break...
The real answer is social, of course—people should stop acting like entitled children and show some consideration. In many other countries, peer pressure serves to enforce such unwritten rules, but in the U.S.'s violent and self-focused culture, it's a bit scary even to just ask someone to turn off their phone...
PlayStation 4 Will Be Running Modified FreeBSD
MacOS X is a FreeBSD-derivative
Hmm, but using a Mach kernel, not the FreeBSD kernel...
Saudi Arabia Blocks Viber Messaging Service
But this app seems totally dodgy. Free communications? No adverts? Where the hell are they getting the funding to run any servers and application development?
I agree with you, and I'd probably never install because it doesn't pass the smell test, but every VOIP app on android seems the same way (crazy permissions, no adverts, free install and free use). That includes those which are massively popular bastions of the establishment, and so presumably considered "respectable" (skype, kakaotalk, etc). [Kakaotalk at least seems to have some sort of attempt at its own store ecosystem integrated with it, but basic use is completely free.]
The entire app ecosystem seems rather dodgy come to think of it, but it continues to steamroller along...
Saudi Arabia Blocks Viber Messaging Service
Pretty much every VOIP app on Android (and there are a lot of them) seems to require the same laundry-list of permissions though... as far as I can figure, it's more due to lazy devs (who know most users won't even notice) than sinister ones...
Aussie Government Proposes OpenDocument As the Standard Format
Look, I get that you don't like Libre Office, but don't pretend the MS version is any paragon of stability. It just isn't.
Seriously... Every time I have to use MS office, it's a miserable experience. Not so much crash bugs as maddeningly inconsistent and hard-to-control formatting behavior, etc. Well, that and the insanely opaque user-interface...
I think the thing is that people get used to whatever software they use a lot (I don't use MS office a lot), and after a while instinctively work around its foibles and problems without really thinking abou tit. If they suddenly have to use some other software which has a different set of foibles and problems, it will seem like it's much buggier / more confusing, even if it isn't really.
Google Drops XMPP Support
It's not actually a generic pejorative though, it's a common pejorative among 13-year olds.
The effect is that using it as an adult makes you sound childish...
The Amazon Rainforest Wants Its TLD Back From Amazon.com
I hate this new TLD crap. It's such an obvious scam from ICANN it makes my head feel like it's going to explode.
Indeed, and I'm curious, actually: what's the last thing ICANN did that wasn't an obvious scam making the Internet a bit worse in order to pump some money into their coffers (so they can afford airfare to exotic locations for their meetings, of course)...?
Gartner Says 3D Printers Will Cost Less Than $2,000 By 2016
Lets be honest, we barely use our home printers. I'm glad I have it, but I bought my color laser in 2009 and have never changed the toners.
Sure, but I think for many people, printers fall into the "not often needed but occasionally really nice" category.
This would explain why the printer market has developed the way it has, with super incredibly cheap printers that quickly get expensive if you use them a lot.
For some people, a better method of achieving this is easily availabled shared printers (e.g. there are still plenty of internet/manga cafes around here with printers, and the convenience stores all have copiers that can do printing or scanning from/to USB devices and SD cards), but especially in the sparsely populated U.S., I guess mega cheap personal printers that fall over after 10 pages are more popular...
United States Begins Flying Stealth Bombers Over South Korea
None of their recent threats have been at South Korea
Other than the part where they talk about turning SK into a "sea of fire" and about "raining bullets on them" etc. Have you not been paying attention?
Also, of course, by far the easiest U.S. bases for NK to attack are those located in ... South Korea.
Drone Swarm Creates Star Trek Logo In London Sky
Who edits this stuff?? (the video, not the submission)
It doesn't look like the editors had a whole lot to work with ... the quad-copter stunt, while a fun idea, didn't seem to work very well in practice (the drones were almost invisible), and the movie it's intended to promote looks absolutely cringe-inducing (Justinnnnnn Beiberrrrrrr innnnnn spaaaaaace > )?
Ask Slashdot: Why Buy a Raspberry Pi When I Have a Perfectly Good Cellphone?
The bottom line is your old phone is less versatile with less support, but its great at being a phone...which if its the task you want go ahead. Otherwise its such an incredible strange question.
I think it's not really an unsurprising question though. Highly functional phones are relatively new (especially in the U.S.) and thus very fashionable now, and have sort of come to occupy a mental slot as the "do everything solution"—even though they're actually pretty bad for many tasks.
In some cases, of course, the poorer functionality of a phone-based solution is acceptable, and using a device one already has offsets the problems, but I think even in cases where this arguably isn't true, people want it to be, and so tend to try and justify a phone-based solution anyway.
Samsung Unveils the Galaxy S4
higher resolutions for the same technology require bigger screen
"Resolution" is pixel density, pixels-per-inch or whatever, not number of pixels.
So a higher resolution is actually a great way to give a smaller screen for a given display size...
One reason I mentioned that in particular was because the GS3 mini seems to have a resolution of 224ppi, which is significantly less than current high-end phones. There are also plenty of small high-resolution displays around; my current non-smartphone has like a 2.5" display with about 350 ppi...
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