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North Korea's Home-Grown Operating System Mimics OS X

mothlos Re:Dates (252 comments)

I wasn't referencing the linked articles, but commenting on the summary.

The Red Star OS is peppered with North Korean propaganda, and its calendar tells users it is not 2014, but 103 — the number of years since the birth of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung.

The term "propaganda" may have inoccuous roots, but clearly holds a sinister connotation and it is juxtoposed in the same sentence with the bit about the North Korean year. This is the xenophobic fear mongering I was referencing.

about 2 months ago

North Korea's Home-Grown Operating System Mimics OS X

mothlos Dates (252 comments)

its calendar tells users it is not 2014, but 103

So what? Is this supposed to be some menacing thing that one group of people use a different date system than I do? Should I be concerned that in Japan the state writes Heisei 26 as the year on official documents? There are serious problems in North Korea, but we don't need to stoop to xenophobic fear mongering to illustrate it.

about 2 months ago

Should Everybody Learn To Code?

mothlos Perhaps not everybody, but many more (387 comments)

Having worked in office environments, the amount of effort office workers could reserve by having access to a decent scripting language is immense; I once saw someone renaming over three thousand files by hand in order to change a date format. The potential drawbacks are also fairly obvious since businesses tend to do a terrible job of managing their IT tools and anarchistic coding is going to make this worse. However, the potential for productivity enhancements is there and it seems like a challenge which can be largely overcome, particularly if the workforce had these skills which were languishing. If this is the reality we should to push for, then some sort of programming experience which can be linked to useful activities seems like it would be worthwhile for many, from the drones in the office to automated farm equipment and CNC operators.

about 2 months ago

Is Ruby Dying?

mothlos Re:Short answer: no (400 comments)

As a big fan of Ruby generally, I hate to take this side, but Ruby is definitely no longer for the 'cool' kids and the community has been shrinking a bit for a while now.

Your Google query chart is a bit wonky as it captures all sorts of oddities. Here is a revised chart which only looks at Computer + Electronics related searches using Google's categories for everything except Python, which I can't seem to figure out how to get it to appear.

about 4 months ago

US Government Embraces Bitcoin in Hearing on Virtual Currency

mothlos What's the point of Bitcoin if this happens? (233 comments)

The hopes underlying Bitcoin rely on the belief that this currency has qualities which other currencies lack, namely anonymity and freedom from government manipulation. This hearing seems to be a bunch of government officials saying that they love Bitcoin, but the government is already getting good at figuring out who is participating in transactions and wants to figure out how to regulate it, which would be a trick to pull off without making it vulnerable to government manipulation. What is left if these are no longer credible advantages?

about 5 months ago

A Math Test That's Rotten To the Common Core

mothlos Re:Why reinvent the wheel? (663 comments)

It is this sort of uninformed armchair policy making which is the greatest obstacle to legitimate education reform. We defer to engineers on how to best keep a bridge from falling, but everybody seems to be an expert when it comes to knowing what is best and what works in education.

The biggest problem with your assertion that educational methods at the turn of the twentieth century had indisputably better results than schools today is that schools which produced artifacts of their success weren't in the business of educating all of their students to their fullest potential. The grading system, which we maintain, was designed as a system of discrimination intended to sort students by academic capability and eventually into different tiers of work performance. These schools set a rigid standard and those who failed to meet it were simply marked as inferior. The entire system was designed around conformity to a standard and those who failed to conform were tossed aside. By this measure, dropping out of school is not only accepted, a low rejection rate was considered to be a sign of poor standards. This entire mindset is incompatible with our modern vision of an inclusive education system with an intended goal of raising everyone to their maximal learning potential.

about 5 months ago

Motorola's "Project Ara" Will Allow Users To Customize Their Smartphones

mothlos When do we get this for laptops? (112 comments)

I honestly don't care too much about my phone's specs, but build-your-own laptops have never seemed to surface despite BYO desktops being an important surviving part of that shrinking sector. I just want to be able to buy processor and graphics upgrades and not have to purchase a new monitor and keyboard whenever I want a new mobile computer.

about 6 months ago

OS X 10.9 Mavericks Review

mothlos Re:Enough already! (222 comments)

bad design creates false cues that misdirect users

I don't think I could agree with this any more. I didn't intend to take sides in the pro/anti skeuomorphism debate; I'm simply annoyed to see /. consistently framing skeuomorphism as fundamentally flawed instead of something which newbs and the artistically inept (e.g. suits) will rely on too heavily and apply when inappropriate.

about 6 months ago

OS X 10.9 Mavericks Review

mothlos Enough already! (222 comments)

Here we have Soulskill yet again trying to act like skeuomorphic artistic design is some sort of big, bad thing which we should be concerned about. This is not an important issue in human interface design. This seems to be some sort of pet peeve lens which Soulskill keeps bringing up. Skeuomorphism may bother designers who don't want to be tied down to designs based on mid-twentieth-century conventions of office life and people who demand every last pixel of their screen be useful for them. ell, it may even be the plastic teak dashboard of the 21st century, but its presence or lack thereof has such a tiny impact on usability for all but the most constrained interfaces that it is not worth /.'s concern. Please stop.

about 6 months ago

I wish my car could...

mothlos be replaced by convenient, reliable mass transit (443 comments)

I want my automobile, and the cars of everyone else who lives in an urban environment, to move away and never return so that we can reclaim the horrendous amount of wasted space and inconvenient placement of services. Cars for city folk should live in parking structures in the urban/rural interface where they can be rented and taken for work or recreation. The money we save by drastically reducing the number of vehicles we own and reduced infrastructure costs directly through roads and indirectly by placing things so far apart from each other can be used to build mass transit systems which don't suffer a large host of problems which plague them in automobile-centric communities.

about 6 months ago

The Luddites Are Almost Always Wrong: Why Tech Doesn't Kill Jobs

mothlos The Real Lesson (674 comments)

Arguments of this sort should help us understand that talking about this problem as a matter of jobs numbers is a flawed strategy. We should be talking in terms of how economic production is distributed and how much of the risk workers should be expected to assume to provide the workforce flexibility required to accommodate these productivity enhancements. There is only a dilemma between protectionism and innovation if we are unwilling to take responsibility for the economic outcomes which give the vast proportion of productivity gains to the investor class.

about 6 months ago

I'd prefer my money be made of ...

mothlos Fungible IOUs (532 comments)

I want people to be able to create IOUs which they promise to reclaim in the future in exchange for goods and services. I want these IOUs to be fungible, so that I am not up a creek if any particular debtor fails to service his or her debt. I want the entire scheme to require that regulated institutions be responsible for managing the risk of the system so that those who do default are offset by greater contributions from those who do not. These institutions could be rewarded for securing particularly good debt and punished for securing bad debt.

Hmmm... all of this sounds vaguely familiar.

about 6 months ago

You're Invited: Take a Look At Slashdot's New Beta

mothlos why do web designers hate their users? (69 comments)

As mentioned elsewhere, you seem to think that people don't actually use their screen real-estate. You are throwing away nearly a quarter of my browser's horizontal space for empty regions which fail to contain my gaze in the information I care about. You then go and give two-fifths of the used space to the right-hand side-bar which contains your adverts, yes, but it also means that the region remaining for the story summaries is inadequate. If I have the images on, many summaries require scrolling to get through.

The stalking header bar is useless. It contains links to things which I might want to utilize upon visiting, but when I am paging down to read stories, I'm not suddenly going to think, "I need to submit a new link." or "I can't remember what site I am on and need a link to it.". It just steals vertical space in a world where people have an excess of horizontal space on their screens. Stalking elements also break the idea of a web page of being a page which the user is examining through, which is not only creepy, but it makes it more difficult to maintain a spatial awareness on the page.

There is insufficient visual hinting regarding the boundaries of stories. Visual hinting allows people to more efficiently navigate information by ignoring what isn't important to them. In particular, the story titles are in a font which takes up too much space (too many stories have multi-line titles) and the font weight is so low as to not give them sufficient contrast. Speaking of contrast, the light grey frame is far too weak to create a box for the story. You also are trying to use white space to organize the data within a story element, but it just means that nothing in it anchors the reader's gaze requiring constant reevaluation.

Comments are just fucked. You have thrown out a somewhat successful threading system for an unnavigable mess. Even more than stories, the ability to skip comments is essential to find the parts of a conversation the reader finds interesting. The lack of width and size of overhead for each comment, plus the fact that auto-minimizing of comments isn't functional makes it just a stream of awful.

For all of the slamming of skeuomorphism and seeming praise for iconocentric user interfaces which gets promoted on this site, this pedestrian redesign to look like an AOL blog site is utter crap. Are there improvements to be made to the old design? Absolutely. It would be less offensive if this particular redesign was actually trying something new instead of regurgitating the crap which is already out there.

about 7 months ago

Ars Technica Reviews iOS 7

mothlos Skeuomorphism? Still? (233 comments)

The small minority of designers with an axe to grind about skeuomorphic interfaces does not deserve a shout-out. Interface design is just generally bad on consumer products, trading long-term productivity for short-term accessability. These designers who eschew skeuomorphic design rarely are proposing anything of real value aside from asthetic alterations; they don't like putting spiral binder holes on the interface, waah. If they were proposing real long-term productivity improvements and had decent arguments about how skeuomorphic details are impeding this, then I would be happy to listen, but comparing these designs vs. the sorts of designs I see the anti-skeumorphic community proposing and it just seems like they don't enjoy the asthetic.

about 6 months ago

Elementary OS 0.2 "Luna" Released

mothlos Re:More grids? Seriously? (117 comments)

When, exactly, does the increased information density of grids really help? Grids obscure organization, making navigating through information-dense views worse. Sure, you have more stuff, but it is more difficult to find what you want. More does not immediately mean better and increasing the cognitive load required to solve a problem is not a reasonable solution to utilize 'wasted space'.

Icons are not incompatible with list views and neither are pictures. Scrolling through a list of icons means that the user only has to focus on a single column of information. By narrowing the parameters of the search (simplifying a large, complex visual field) the user's brain is less likely to be distracted by non-useful information. This is not an anti-icon complaint, it is an organizational complaint.

To be clear, I am complaining more about sorted grids vs positional grids, where the physical location of a thing in the grid is largely static and hopefully user configurable. I do have gripes with the latter, but they are not the subject of this particular rant.

about 8 months ago

Elementary OS 0.2 "Luna" Released

mothlos More grids? Seriously? (117 comments)

Time for my occasional rant on grids.

Grids are terrible for displaying sorted lists of item collections. Almost all of the time, we sort a collection along a single dimension; a grid positions items across two dimensions, but that second dimension holds no information about the sort being performed. If you have more than a few items, your brain has to bounce back and forth and conform to the line breaks that the computer has chosen in order to find items in the collection. Displaying a collection in a table with each collection item taking up one row and attributes of that item can be displayed in table fields (a.k.a. columns) allows for easier, more intuitive searching of the list based on those field values. It also leaves plenty of room for textual display, which fits quite well in a long, horizontal space.

Grids of icons have been a blight upon GUIs for decades. Why do they persist?

about 8 months ago

Scientists Seek Biomarkers For Violence

mothlos Listen to a scientist in the field. (294 comments)

Introduction to Human Behavioral Biology - Robert Sapolsky

Here is a no-pre-requisite course from Stanford on the topic of the links between human behavior and biology. Listen and be educated on how ignorantly these people are framing the issue.

The interrelationship between biology and environment are inseparable and the value of a set of genetic markers related to violence in humans would have such a weak correlation as to predict almost nothing, but the opportunity for social misuse is huge. We should do (and are already doing) research into these relationships including relationships with violence, but we must be extremely careful about what we expect to get out of it and how we frame what the knowledge means so that the public is less likely to do stupid things with it.

about 9 months ago

Math and Science Popular With Students Until They Realize They're Hard

mothlos Immune to Criticism (580 comments)

Of course it couldn't possibly be that classrooms are frequently designed for the efficiency of the institution over the educational needs of students. Lecture-based education, unaccommodating clasroom policies, instruction and assistance provided by persons with almost no professional education training, uninformative grading systems, a culture of shape-up or ship-out, none of these could possibly be changed without compromising the integrity of the program. The industrial organization of education can efficiently educate students well only by reducing the diversity of student learning requirements and that is most easily accomplished by rejecting input units which fail to meet specification. Don't you dare criticize this structure as to do so would only be dumbing things down and that is unacceptable.

about 9 months ago

Electric Vehicles Might Not Benefit the Environment After All

mothlos The Really Environmental Hazard (775 comments)

As long as we are looking 'big picture'.

While critiques of this sort are still a bit controversial, simply because a lot of guessing has to be performed to account for various stages of the vehicles life, they also have a systematic bias which fails to account for an even greater environmental cost generated by the support infrastructure and social changes related to an extensive road network for personal vehicles. The environmental cost of so many roads covering so much of the landscape causing runoff, requiring maintenance, and leeching chemicals, re-radiating heat instead of trapping it in chemical bonds, and creating risks to wildlife is only the beginning. Medium density 'suburban' areas far from work and shopping, with huge, mostly unused lawns are much less possible without ready access to personal transportation and the infrastructure that requires supports and in many ways encourages lifestyles which use a lot of energy and harm the environment. That doesn't even include the cost to human health, psychology, and society, which are all areas where suburbia has received much criticism.

about 9 months ago

My view of touchscreen laptops:

mothlos Re:Why is this even an issue? (359 comments)

  1. Extra cost from extra electronics.
  2. Design compromises to accommodate the input type.
  3. Software becomes increasingly designed to utilize this input to the detriment or exclusion of other input methods.

about 10 months ago



Is Peer-to-Peer Giving the Wrong Impression?

mothlos mothlos writes  |  about 6 years ago

mothlos (832302) writes "With Comcast's clash with the FCC, the term peer-to-peer is being brought up in less tech-savvy venues. In anecdotal conversations with lay folk, I have found the sentiment that "peer-to-peer" is somehow breaking the rules of how the internet works. Is the term peer-to-peer damaging to the political effort to keep the internet open and what could it be replaced with that would be more agreeable to the undereducated public?"


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