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Of the following, I'd rather play ...

mckwant Balance of Power? (274 comments)

Way back, in The Long, Long Ago, on the Apple ][, there was a game called (I think) Balance of Power. It was actually a pretty good simulation of cold war diplomatic brinksmanship, by which you fought several proxy wars (Afghanistan, for instance) while trying to avoid driving the other side to launching their nukes.

Never worked, of course. You'd get antsy ("They'll never take Belgium!!!", or similar), and you'd get a disappointing "This is the end of the game, but we're not celebrating the fact that you destroyed the world." text screen.

And yes, I get the joke. Hell, I'm pretty sure I saw WarGames in the theater.

mckwant.

about 3 months ago
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My degree of colorblindness:

mckwant Re:Very genetically linked (267 comments)

They probably are. My maternal grandfather was R/G colorblind, as am I. I have two daughters, and a geneticist said their sons are very likely to carry the gene.

about 3 months ago
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Microsoft Confirms Disconnecting Kinect Gives Devs 10% More GPU Horsepower

mckwant Re:Why the hyperbole? (174 comments)

Even worse, you have a situation where people with Kinects disconnect them. Then your Skype / NetFlix / "XBox Bing Whatever" experience gains a "hook up the Kinect" step, and the XBox One isn't the centerpiece of your living room rig any more.

about 6 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Linux For Grandma?

mckwant obligatory xkcd (287 comments)

http://xkcd.com/934/

My 70 year old parents have been running Mint for four years, largely without incident. It's on a dual core Atom / 2G / 80G. I kinda want to trash that box, but the damn thing refuses to break badly enough.

Note that just about any (grand)parental use case outside of browsing fries this implementation. The sole "major" issue we've had is when Dad tried to get Picasa going on Wine. I'm sure it's possible, but it was far simpler for him to install it on his Windows laptop.

about 8 months ago
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Skinny Puppy Wants Compensation For Music Used in US Interrogations

mckwant Re:Why must this be{ta}? (271 comments)

My UID is too high to qualify, but speaking for my lowish-UID brethren, we take checks. Good bourbon and/or scotch will do nicely as well.

And should beta come to fruition, I will likely leave, ending a 15-ish year relationship with this site and its community. Really, just leave it as an option for anybody already signed up. (top gear) How hard can it be? (/top gear)

about 10 months ago
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At my current workplace, I've outlasted ...

mckwant Re:Golden handcuffs (177 comments)

Yeah, it's a little hard to explain. Dating myself, but it's David Byrne singing "Well, how did I get here?", except that most choices have been conscious and logical.

Example: I have a friend who recently got tenure in the southeast US. His wife has tenure at the same college. Both worked hard, and got the desired result. Fantastic, right? No adjunct nonsense, stable positions, and their lifestyle is pretty much as they designed it.

But: It's a smaller, third rate academic institution, and no interesting, let alone groundbreaking, work is in the future for either of them. Smaller, semi-rural town, maybe an hour from a mid-level city. Barring a massive (and extremely unlikely) job offer, neither is likely to leave.

Let's be clear: Nobody feels sorry for them. Considering the alternatives, it's a pretty good spot to land. Having said that, they're done professionally, and there's no outlet for the "gotta progress" mentality. They're in a "comfortable enough bubble," but they're also looking at 25-30 years of it.

And yes, it's very "first world problem."

about 10 months ago
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Dogs Defecate In Alignment With Earth's Magnetic Field

mckwant statistically implausible (222 comments)

70 dogs * 730 days = 51,100 dog-days.

Now, let's morph all the dogs into one dog's lifespan.

51,100 days / 5,582 urinations = 9.15 days / urination
51,100 days / 1,893 defecations = 27 days / defecation

I'll allow the [grad assistant | poor bastard] actually doing the research to miss a few, but NFW.

about a year ago
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How Snapchat Could March Startups Right Off the Cliff, Lemming-Style

mckwant Re:Overvalued? (143 comments)

Real Estate: I don't have anything to back this up, but lots of real estate markets have been blowing up. My neighborhood is up about 20% year on year, but we've seen a lot of rentals cropping up. My guess is that either REITs or well-heeled investors are buying loads of houses at the low end and renting them out. Rent ~= mortgage payment, so you're just out the maintenance and handling, if that, and you're gaining equity.

If you go onesie - twosie, and one goes vacant for a few months, that nukes a lot of your (not tremendous in the first place) profit. At 20-25 houses (@200k/house, that's about $4-5M total capital investment), your risk probably isn't too bad.

1 year,3 days
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Digital Revolution Will Kill Jobs, Inflame Social Unrest, Says Gartner

mckwant Re:it's not 1943. (754 comments)

On a personal level, I concur completely. Grow or expire, accept personal responsibility for your situation, and CYA as appropriate. Why do we fall, Alfred?

On a societal level, I doubt most people are prepared for it. There are going to be a lot of issues with the long-term un- and under-employed, especially among those nearing retirement. Even should the lost middle-class jobs come back, they're not going to be at the same financial level, and a sinking tide lowers all boats.

Notably, G5s aren't boats. That doesn't help.

about a year ago
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Digital Revolution Will Kill Jobs, Inflame Social Unrest, Says Gartner

mckwant it's not 1943. (754 comments)

We're not talking about an evolutionary change in industrial production. Yes, buggy whip makers were going to go out of business. Fine, so those guys have to find different jobs. I hear the car factory's hiring. A little retraining, maybe a year of school / vo-tech, and he (no women in the workplace) would be back in a middle class job.

That's not the case here. The destruction part of your argument remains valid. Do we need lawyers to draft, say, formative corporate documents? Never did, frankly, but now that you can do it for $50 online, that's pulling $200 out of a lawyer's pocket. Better? More efficient? Sure. No chance we'll ever go back.

Now, take the case of a lawyer. If the online thing happens enough times, they're out of work. Now what? Law schools have produced more lawyers than available positions for years, so there's somebody younger and cheaper right behind them, even ignoring globalization. Retrain? For what? Most professional degrees and certifications are in the same boat. Unless they were just short of getting their Master's in (something where hiring is actually occurring), they're not much better off than a high school graduate.

If the lawyer is 50, they could easily have 15 working years left, and 15 more in semi- or full retirement. Never mind replacement income. It is entirely possible that they will never see a paycheck again. Economic multipliers, opportunity cost, and all that.

That's what we're up against.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can Valve's Steam Machines Compete Against the Xbox One and PS4?

mckwant This isn't a hardware problem (348 comments)

Just another ecosystem play.

Outside of Kinect, I can't think of a console upgrade that actually worked in the marketplace (XBox HD-DVD, XBox external HD, PS3 Move, PS2 external HD, PS2 Network, I'm sure I've forgotten some). All of those are in the "plug into console, plug in power, reboot" sort of upgrade. No way is a general user cracking a $350 console to upgrade anything.

(Sidebar: I'd be interested to see the percentage of PS3 hard drive upgrades, which requires about an hour, removing 10 screws, and a large-ish USB stick.)

So now the console provides 1080p on your living room TV. Tremendous, except that a typical Steam PC (http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey) is dual or quad core, 2.5GHz, 8G, running 1080p or dual 1080p. Generally, anyway, and the PC is more likely to be upgraded over time. Now, I'm taking over the living room for an inferior gaming experience?

$350 might not be enough, and the stock console is going to age very quickly. HL3 better be exclusive for an extended period (and AWESOME), and even then, it's going to be uphill.

about a year ago
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U.S. Government: Sorry, We're Closed

mckwant Re:The Blame Game (1532 comments)

Well, you have to remember that the US doesn't have a political spectrum like most European countries. In those terms, I suspect the Dems would be center-right (ish), and the Republicans would be moderate right. IMS, the US hasn't had a significant socialist movement under that name since the 1920s.

As such, the connotations behind the words "socialism" and "communism" aren't the same here. Besides, that 11% is probably something like (4% communist + 7% socialist), moving both well into a "fringe/outlier" sort of space. Frankly, I'd bet that of those 11% "supporting" leftish ideals, the vast majority couldn't explain what they were supporting.

But yes, everybody hates Congress.

about a year ago
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Firsthand Impressions of Now-Delayed NVIDIA SHIELD

mckwant Re:Android still needs better games. (74 comments)

Fine, we disagree. I don't see how one would pitch developing one's game in Android. Too many variables:

- Screen Resolution - A free Android phone from my carrier is 480x800. It isn't, but for convenience's sake, let's call that the base. Top is 1080p (1920x1080, I always have to check), with 4k on the horizon eventually.
- Screen Size - Phone is 3.7", top "vaguely affordable living room" screen is what, now, 80"?
- CPU / RAM - God only knows, let alone the question of resources actually available.
- Local storage - How much? At what speed? HD or flash?
- Network Connectivity - GB cat5 to DSL/Cable, Wifi N to DSL/Cable, Wifi A to Coffeeshop WAP, 4G or 3G?

And yes, you could get the marketing guys to minimax the target hardware / audience, or split your offering by platform (e.g. Non-NFL Madden where roster management is done on tablet/smartphone, gameplay on Ouya or similar, data in the cloud).

But you're adding cost at every step, and your initial install probably has to be under $10, with a free taster edition. That's a lot of in-game sales.

No PHB in their right mind is going to tackle that. Even if you said "ok, only the Android game consoles," there have been, like, three or four already, with a market penetration of (pretty nearly) nil.

Trust me, I want to believe. I just don't see how it works out.

about a year ago
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Firsthand Impressions of Now-Delayed NVIDIA SHIELD

mckwant Re:Android still needs better games. (74 comments)

> That's a lot of potential gamers who want to play something better than Fruit Ninja.

Except that you're assuming:
a) That all 900M of those devices are still active (bitter about a shoddily made $99 tablet).
b) Of the active ones, that they're capable of gaming (my phone's fine, but the tablets weren't, Android market fragmentation).
c) Of those remaining, that their owners want to game.
d) Of that subset, that they want to play something better than Fruit Ninja.

and possibly:

e) Of THAT subset, that they're willing to pay for it, either directly or in-game.

I'm not really arguing. I'd like to see it, too. But your massive market may not be so massive.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Easiest Way To Consolidate Household Media?

mckwant drobo (272 comments)

I have an FS, which I think is similar to the 5N.

http://www.drobo.com/products/professionals/drobo-5n/index.php

That initial cost is quite the leap of faith, but dually redundant mismatched drives that I can upgrade seamlessly at my leisure (and if drives ever get cheap again)? Done.

And yes, you could build your own network of rsync shares more cheaply, and performance is frankly unspectacular (may be my crusty 100M network.) But it's a ten minute setup for a virtually inexhaustible file share that you don't ever have to worry about. Sounds about right for our tech-wary OP.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: DIY NAS For a Variety of Legacy Drives?

mckwant Re:Don't Build.... Buy a Drobo (260 comments)

Seconded, down to the TiVo comment. I'd shake hands, but I'm worried about a quantum singularity.

However, like the TiVo in 2000, it's a tough check to write. I have to admit I was edgy about getting my FS. It's tempting to think that a FreeNAS (or whatever) would be fine. For comparison, though, here's the short version of the FS install procedure:

- Unpack Drobo.
- Plug Drobo into power and network.
- Insert drives.
- Wait a bit while Drobo configures itself.
- Log into Drobo, create the shares you want.
- Hook the shares up on your desktop.

Ball game. And it doesn't break. It's in my un-A/C'd garage in Austin, and if it didn't complain last summer, it's fine.

Mild qualm about available space. To be fair, the set of drives in there is sub-optimal, and I went with double redundancy (which even I think is overkill). I have 7.5TB of drive supplying 3.08TB to the network. I don't really care, as I'm only using 2.13T, and the drives are either leftovers or birthday gifts, but the geek in me shudders just a hair. For the record, single redundancy would be something like 5T usable.

Oh, and, if you're an Apple guy, it'll work as a Time Machine box, too.

Easily one of the better $500 I've ever spent.

more than 2 years ago
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Linux Journal Goes — Surprise! — Digital

mckwant marginal production cost (184 comments)

Sorry, I'm tired of this. Marginal cost of production, that is, the cost incurred to make one copy of the magazine is NOT equivalent to the actual cost of creating that copy. There is a fixed cost involved with making the master copy. Granted, that cost is fixed, and because it is fixed, as the number of issues produced increases, the contribution of the fixed cost goes to zero.

But asymptotic to zero isn't the same thing as zero. There are costs to be recouped, ROI to be realized, and salaries to be paid. I'm not about to argue that Linux magazine is correct in charging the same amount for print issues as digital, but "free to make and distribute" is ridiculous.

more than 3 years ago
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Linux Journal Goes — Surprise! — Digital

mckwant Marginal cost of production (184 comments)

Sorry, I'm tired of this. Marginal cost of production, that is, the cost incurred to make one copy of the magazine is NOT equivalent to the actual cost of creating that copy. There is a fixed cost involved with making the master copy. Granted, that cost is fixed, and because it is fixed, as the number of issues produced increases, the contribution of the fixed cost goes to zero.

But asymptotic to zero isn't the same thing as zero. There are costs to be recouped, ROI to be realized, and salaries to be paid. I'm not about to argue that Linux magazine is correct in charging the same amount for print issues as digital, but "free to make and distribute" is ridiculous.

more than 3 years ago

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