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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

rsmith-mac Re:It's OK for Apple but not Microsoft? (565 comments)

Well you're comparing phones/appliances to computers, so yes.

Windows has for many years now used a multiple-tier support strategy (the Windows Lifecycle policy). Microsoft supports an OS for 10 years, and during that period if they issue a service pack then they support the previous sub-version of Windows for 2 years. Windows 8.1 Update is about 30% of a service pack; the update contains a number of feature enhancements and on a code level it becomes a "base" OS that all future updates are built against. So unlike a normal security update, you can't skip Windows 8.1 Update and still get other security updates. This in turn can be interpreted as a violation of the Lifecycle Policy, as it's functionally a service pack and therefore Microsoft should continue providing security updates for Windows 8.1 (sans Update) for 2 years.

iOS on the other hand offers no such policy. You are expected to use the most recent version of the OS and Apple has never said any differently, full stop.

Never mind the huge difference between an OS for a disposable device, and an OS for computers that is expected to last for a decade or more and is interfaced with massive amounts of custom hardware and software. Unsurprisingly, the type of device and the expected use case for it is a big factor in how long an OS is supported and how OS updates are handled.

3 days ago
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Comcast PAC Gave Money To Every Senator Examining Time Warner Cable Merger

rsmith-mac Order Of Events (133 comments)

It would probably be useful to specify the order of events in TFS, as the current summary implies they received campaign contributions after they started investigating the merger.

TFA is focusing on past campaign contributions - that is contributions before the investigation, seeing as how the investigation just started. Everyone on the committee has received a campaign contribution at some point in the past, even Al Franken. Which is more a statement on the fact that Comcast pretty much contributes to every incumbent's congressional campaign, rather than this being a case of where these senators were specifically targeted.

Which to be clear, still isn't a good thing by any means. This means everyone on that committee has received a contribution at some point. But it's not the same thing as giving contributions to someone when an active investigation is going on, something that would be far shadier.

about a week ago
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Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

rsmith-mac Re:WTF? (193 comments)

And because most of us like Stephen Colbert. It fits under the "news for nerds" criteria.

about a week ago
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How much do you spend yearly on mobile apps?

rsmith-mac Re:WOWZA! (240 comments)

If the people on /. don't see the worth of buying decent mobile apps - what's the point of them other than to advertise and hijack the masses?

Well let's not immediately lump together people who don't buy apps because they're cheap with people who don't buy apps because they don't need them.

I probably didn't spend more than $10 on mobile apps in the last year, but at the same time I only do a handful of tasks on my phone. And even then most of those tasks are covered by the built in email, web browser, and media applications. So the collection of 3rd party apps I do own I pay for as needed, but there just aren't many things I've found I need/want to do on my phone that require a 3rd party application.

But I imagine this also depends on whether we're talking about phones or tablets, and what other computing devices a person may own. I already own a desktop and a laptop, so my phone is a distant third on my computing devices. I only need it to portably run a small number of none the less important tasks, so that's all it gets used for. However if I wasn't a power user and more the type of person that uses a tablet as their primary computing device, then that would represent a far different situation for demand for 3rd party apps.

about a week ago
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Do Free-To-Play Games Get a Fair Shake?

rsmith-mac Re:Free to play, otherwise known as pay to win.... (181 comments)

Indeed.

As a whole, mobile game players don't actually buy anything. It's the tiny, tiny percentage of whales that brings in much of the revenue (and ads fill in much of the rest).

0.22 percent of players account for 46 percent of mobile app revenue

Given this, it's no surprise that mobile game development is so damn broken. It's impossible to have a healthy development environment if most players aren't actually willing to pay for the game.

about a week ago
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Estimate: Academic Labs 11 Times More Dangerous Than Industrial Counterparts

rsmith-mac Re:I must have taken the wrong courses (153 comments)

That...isn't always true... after certain classes of mathematics accident

Quantum physics isn't any better. Oh sure, they send you home in one piece; but you're in a state of quantum superposition. As a result no one is willing to open the box and let you out, for fear of collapsing the superposition and killing you.

about a month and a half ago
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Study: Half of In-App Purchases Come From Only 0.15% of Players

rsmith-mac Re:$10,000?!? (144 comments)

So, Candy Crush then?

about 1 month ago
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South Park Game Censored On Consoles Outside North America

rsmith-mac Re:Are you sure? (221 comments)

But is modifying it because "it won't be carried on store shelves because it's rated X" a business reason or a censorship reason?

Businesses aren't the government and therefore what they do technically isn't censorship. But what else do you call refusing to sell a creative work based on the offensiveness of its content?

about 2 months ago
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Fire Destroys Iron Mountain Data Warehouse, Argentina's Bank Records Lost

rsmith-mac Re:Classic Slashdot (463 comments)

i've got the feeling the beta slashdot was designed by someone who makes websites for the elderly

Not quite. It was designed by someone who (sadly) knows what they're doing, and more importantly knows what advertisers currently want.

A lot of sites have shifted over to this kind of design, so Slashdot is far from alone. Advertisers like it for various reasons - mostly it comes down to ads being more eye-catching - and of course advertisers control the purse strings. But at the same time the public has also had it ingrained into their heads that such a design is the definition of "modern", and therefore any site not using such a design is by definition not modern, and therefore not worth their time ("the site's owners can't be bothered to keep up with the times?"). Which just leads to a feedback loop of advertisers liking it even more, since they want to advertise on sites that the public perceives as hip/modern so that their products are seen in a similar manner.

But the truly terrifying thing is that the industry isn't done yet. I can show you what the future will look like and it isn't pretty: http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/21/5307992/inside-the-mind-of-a-fanboy. By all accounts the advertisers seem to love it; the text is big and readable (i.e. not threatening), there's animation and lots of flashy effects, etc. It basically reads and behaves like an interactive glossy magazine (People, not Popular Science).

Not that I agree with any of this. Beta needs to be buried 6ft under in a grave lined with lead. But there is a method to their madness; despite what a lot of people here think, Dice hasn't gone off of their rockers. The rest of the world is just slowly moving on from text to images and iconography, as sad as that may be.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Online News Is Worth Paying For?

rsmith-mac Re:None (361 comments)

<tongue in cheek>
Can't that be someone else's problem?
</tongue in cheek>

about 2 months ago
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Government To Require Vehicle-to-vehicle Communication

rsmith-mac Driving Utopia (390 comments)

Combine this with remote kill-switches or pulse guns, Amber-alert scrolling signs, proliferating cameras, automatic plate recognition and unstoppable text messages from on high for some not-so-distant driving dystopia.

Or you could combine this with smarter power grids, EV technology, improved image recognition, and automated driver technology for some not-so-distant driving utopia.

Technology isn't good or bad. It's all about how it's used. This is just as much the technology that can build a utopia as it is a dystopia, but if we always act solely in fear of the dystopia we'll simply be stagnant forever.

about 2 months ago
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Researchers Try To "Close the Nutrient Cycle" Through Better Waste Recycling

rsmith-mac Is It Safe? (112 comments)

Since epidemiology is well outside my area of expertise, I have to ask: would this be safe?

With artificial fertilizers we don't have to be concerned about the purity of the material, whereas if we were to use natural fertilizers (animal or otherwise) it introduces all of the impurities and other undesirable byproducts that come with waste. And if we're talking about human waste in particular, does that mean this would create a new cycle for pathogens? Or is there a way to process waste to remove pathogens?

about 2 months ago
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Apple Devices To Reach Parity With Windows PCs In 2014

rsmith-mac Re:Apple "devices"? (511 comments)

Apple marketing at its best.

Even Apple isn't this stupid. This is an analyst trolling for attention.

about 3 months ago
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Many Mac OS Users Not Getting Security Updates

rsmith-mac Re:Just no (380 comments)

And their assertions that Mavericks was the only way to get security updates for MacOS going forwards seems to be contradicted by the fact that the previous version of MacOS was security patched when Mavericks was launched.

A big part of the reason they can even get away with that claim is because Apple doesn't publish a proper software lifecycle policy. For all I do like about Apple, that's the one big thing I feel they do wrong. Mac OS X and iOS badly need a documented support policy so that it's clear how long they'll receive security updates. Is 10.7 safe? How about 10.6? iOS 6?

Throwing a wrench in all of this of course is Apple's decision to stop charging for new Mac OSes as of Mavericks. Since it's free, is it a new OS or is it just another patch for Mountain Lion? From a pricing standpoint you can get away with calling it the continuation of Mountain Lion since you don't need to pay for it. But from a technical perspective it's definitely not the same OS, and introduces new features and makes changes that can break software. To use Microsoft as an example here, they treat Windows 8.1 as a service pack for Windows 8, which is to say that they'll be ending support for Win8 in just under 2 years. So there's certainly precedent for quickly dropping Mountain Lion.

about 3 months ago
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US Coast Guard Ship To Attempt Rescue of 2 Icebreakers In Antarctica

rsmith-mac Re:In one week... (382 comments)

In one week will we be reading about how country X is sending an icebreaker to free the three stuck icebreakers?

From what I understand, the Polar Star is quite a bit more powerful than any of the other vessels currently involved in this event. To the tune of being able to sustain bashing through 6ft of ice, and peaking at around 21ft.

Consequently, if the Polar Star can't cut it (figuratively and literally speaking) then we're in big trouble. Ice breakers don't come much bigger. Plus Russia's big guns, their nuclear icebreakers, are more for operational endurance and speed than they are ice thickness.

about 3 months ago
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Intel's Knights Landing — 72 Cores, 3 Teraflops

rsmith-mac Re:No it cannot compete with nVidia and AMD/ATI (208 comments)

"eDRAM" in this article is almost certainly an error for that reason.

eDRAM isn't very well defined, but it basically boils down to "DRAM manufactured on a modified logic process," allowing it to be placed on-die alongside logic, or at the very least built using the same tools if you're a logic house (Intel, TSMC, etc). This is as opposed to traditional DRAM, which is made on dedicated processes that is optimized for space (capacitors) and follows its own development cadence.

The article notes that this is on-package as opposed to on-die memory, which under most circumstances would mean regular DRAM would work just fine. The biggest example of on-package RAM would be SoCs, where the DRAM is regularly placed in the same package for size/convenience and then wire-bonded to the processor die (although alternative connections do exist). Conversely eDRAM is almost exclusively used on-die with logic - this being its designed use - chiefly as a higher density/lower performance alternative to SRAM. You can do off-die eDRAM, which is what Intel does for Crystalwell, but that's almost entirely down to Intel using spare fab capacity and keeping production in house (they don't make DRAM) as opposed to technical requirements. Which is why you don't see off-die eDRAM regularly used.

Or to put it bluntly, just because DRAM is on-package doesn't mean it's eDRAM. There are further qualifications to making it eDRAM than moving the DRAM die closer to the CPU.

But ultimately as you note cost would be an issue. Even taking into account process advantages between now and the Knight's Landing launch, 16GB of eDRAM would be huge. Mind bogglingly huge. Many thousands of square millimeters huge. Based on space constraints alone it can't be eDRAM; it has to be DRAM to make that aspect work, and even then 16GB of DRAM wouldn't be small.

about 3 months ago
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US Customs Destroys Virtuoso's Flutes Because They Were "Agricultural Items"

rsmith-mac Re:Saw this earlier (894 comments)

Actually they sort of do. All major airports have industrial grinders to destroy confiscated items, though it's primarily for foodstuffs. For wood they probably hauled it away to a bigger (and proper) chipper.

CNN (Unfortunately they don't have a picture of the grinder).

Ginep. Mangosteen. Guava. Eggplant. Nance fruit. Ginger. Jocote. Grapefruit. Watermelon.

These aren't the offerings of some international supermarket. They're seized produce, destined for Customs and Border Protection's grinding machine.

Some items that need more inspection get sidelined to a nearby U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory. Bigger items - beef, sugar cane or bags of food banned from coming into the United States - are hauled away. Everything else goes through an industrial kitchen grinder in a back room in the International Terminal.

Tonight, agriculture specialist Lauren Lewis does the honors. It's 6:40 p.m., just past suppertime.

Slipping on black gloves, she takes each piece - garlic, onions, rambutans, carrots and more - and feeds it into the whirring machine.

With that, what might have been someone's post-flight snack is reduced to mush.

All in the name of safety.

about 4 months ago
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The Rise of Hoax News

rsmith-mac Re: You Get The News That You Pay For (181 comments)

All the more reason to pay for it. Your local paper isn't going to improve in quality by having its budget cut further.

Though considering papers try to be all-encompassing, I never understood the AP complaint. It doesn't make any sense to rewrite a national story for a local paper, and would you rather the paper not include national news? These are still papers of record for their local communities, after all, so there's still a historical interest in making sure both local and national news is covered.

about 4 months ago
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The Rise of Hoax News

rsmith-mac You Get The News That You Pay For (181 comments)

Correction for TFS: Readers are cheap, the media is understaffed.

All of this just goes to show that you get the news that you pay for. If you're not paying for your news, not only are you not the real customer, but you're not offering any kind of signal to the writer and publisher that rewards them for quality.

Instead you're probably drawing your news from the 24 hour news cycle, which is the epitome of low quality TFA discusses. The 24 hour cycle offers no time for quality, and being entirely advertising based means that it trends towards sensationalism in order to keep viewers watching (and the ad dollars flowing in). Blogs for that matter aren't any better for largely the same reason, as they have the same instant-publishing goals and are equally prone to sensationalism.

Real news takes time and money. Time to do research, and money to pay for staff and travel to go do that research. If the public won't pay for that, then the public won't get real news. It's as simple as that.

Which is why it's all the more important to support newspapers, which are by and large the last bastion of quality reporting and research. They aren't perfect, but they're all that's left. If you care about the news then the single best thing you can do to help quality journalism thrive is to go buy your local paper (yes, buy; not read for free on their website). Only by giving the journalists in your community a paycheck, some time, and a bit of trust, will you get quality journalism. Otherwise if you aren't paying for your news, you're getting the news that you pay for.

about 4 months ago

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