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Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

tyggna It's in the pipeline (107 comments)

Dividing out compute functions into mobile devices might have been the key to this happening. Tablets/smartphones do a lot of the leisure activities associated with computers, and can do some of the minor business features too.

This means that, increasingly so, the market for desktop computers will be for heavy business uses, and for heavy gaming. The marginal stuff will move to mobile as it's able to.

The day the Linux desktop comes is when it becomes easier for the majority of people to use Linux in the office than the alternative.

So, how is that going? What are some of the heavy-use applications that will likely never move away from a desktop computer?

Office applications - Openoffice and libreoffice are considered a viable alternatives to Microsoft Office. The fact that you can write macros in python gives the FOSS stuff a bit of a longevity advantage as new office workers come into the labor force and don't feel like learning Visual Basic. Where it lacks is the Exchange server market, where there's no viable FOSS software to handle email, organize meetings, allocate resources, and have it all work natively with single-sign-on credentials.
Gaming - OpenGL has seen huge improvement over the years, and it gets easier to work with every release. If it isn't already equivalent to DirectX, then it's well on its way. I see OpenGL as having more potential as well, since there are more interested and intelligent parties involved with its development than DirectX. The rendering library is just one component though. You also need top-notch hardware and drivers to match. The NVidia drivers are equivalent from Linux to Windows and are pretty good, if a little unstable. The FOSS drivers for NVidia have a long way to go still, as do the ATI drivers. NVidia is on-board with maintaining Linux as diligently as Windows, but ATI tends to lag behind in that area. Most major gaming engine components already work for Linux, like Havok, or the Source engine. With Steam picking up the banner of Linux gaming, it will certainly grow more viable over time too.
Interface - This is a big one. No matter how proficient you are, this one has to be learned. Linux has hundreds of different interfaces, and all of them require some amount of training to use and customize. Windows has this one because it has been essentially the same since Windows 95, and the paradigm and prior knowledge from all previous Windows OSes tend to transfer over from release to release. The only solution to this one is making streamlined workflows a priority inside of the interface, and then training people on it. As odd as this might sound, I think the best candidate for Linux gaining more ground on the PC interface is a window manager that focuses on ease of user customization, rather than ease of use. For me, that's fluxbox or openbox, with xfce making strong ground. Teaching people how to edit a text file and customize their menus and hotkeys takes me about 10-20 minutes, and the person learning it usually can get far enough with it to make it their own after an hour or two of use. Add in a program that turns your interface into a drag-and-drop to customize mode that's easy to use and it might start making some serious ground. I mean, Linux's real interface is the command line, and bash largely put to rest our ancient shell holy war. Once we can intelligently combine the advantages of gnome, kde, and xfce (which are the three biggest contenders for user space) and make all these paradigms work together, then we'll be on track for taking the desktop.
Anyways, just my two cents.

22 minutes ago
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Writer: Internet Comments Belong On Personal Blogs, Not News Sites

tyggna Yet another reason (298 comments)

that the traditional news-media is doomed to slide further and further from relevance.

about a week ago
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The ESports Athletes Who Tried To Switch Games

tyggna eSports aren't like regular Sports (146 comments)

because they're constantly subjected to rule changes. Every week, month, year, decade, there is the potential for having a very upsetting change in the fundamentals of the game. If eSports players can't keep up with these, then they fall out of brackets. That's why the people who were the top of the top 3 years ago aren't. Maybe that's what'll prevent eSports from ever gaining the same prominence as regular sports--an athlete can expect to have a 10-25 year career. A pro-gamer would be lucky to see a 10 year career, and I don't expect that'll ever change.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: IT Personnel As Ostriches?

tyggna Sound advice I was given (246 comments)

Just keep the guy who does your yearly reviews happy and make him look good. Also, make his boss look good. If you're like me and have multiple bosses, develop your relationship with the one you think will hold that position longest. Don't burn any bridges unless you have to in order to keep your job. Every company has different standards of security, and an even wider variation of enforcement. Don't intentionally be a butt-head to anyone, and if you see anything that's off policy or could get someone fired, just politely point it out to the individual so they can correct it.
As for dealing with sensitive information, I usually ignore it. You'll see lots of stuff you probably shouldn't as the only IT guy. Just file it away and don't bring it up again--even if it seems like a good idea or a neutral situation to do so. You don't want upper management finding out the IT guy knows more about the company than they do, or they'll (often unintentionally) make your life miserable.
IT can be likable, but there will be a lot of people who will make your job harder because of their ignorance. Just do you best to educate them in a friendly way so you can work on more important things than dealing with office dunce's all the time.

about three weeks ago
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Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step

tyggna At an interview (514 comments)

I was once told that I'd be working primarily with white males, because only one out of every 200 candidates that apply to work there fit that demographic.

about three weeks ago
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Gamestop's Ludicrous Idea: Require Preorders To Unlock Custom Game Content

tyggna To what end? (86 comments)

Is this supposed to get me to buy through gamestop? Is this their effort to claw at a dwindling physical-medium retail space?

No amount of douche-baggery will cause me to give up my preferred method of spending money. If I want the release-night environment and other anonymous gamers to talk to while waiting for my copy, then gamestop it is. If I want to forego putting on pants, I'll go with a digital distributor, and no amount of virtual clothing tweaks or outlet-specific items can make me put on my pants!

about a month and a half ago
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NSA Considers Linux Journal Readers, Tor (And Linux?) Users "Extremists"

tyggna It's not what you think (361 comments)

They're looking for potential hires. What better pool to pull from than technical terrorists?

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Switching From SAS To Python Or R For Data Analysis and Modeling?

tyggna Python because (143 comments)

When you get into the statistics, numpy, and scipy, it's all just python bindings for native fortran/C code--so it tends to be about the best there is in terms of execution time.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Web Language That's Long-Lived, and Not Too Buzzy?

tyggna Research (536 comments)

Every web framework and technology has benefits and drawbacks. It's a matter of finding the right fit for your company. It's a good thing they're letting you ask the question, because managers/bean-counters make bad decisions in this area claiming that devs can't "see the big picture." Find one that fits well with your system and needs.

But, I assume that's why you're asking slashdot--you don't know what's out there or what their benefits are.

Well, I've spent the past 7 years benchmarking web frameworks and systems and I'll share a bit of what I've found out. Keep in mind, all information given here is my opinion and subject to debate and correction.

First--if you need near-infinite scalability and the absolute best performance, there is nothing that can beat mongodb for a database backend with fastcgi++ for your "framework." Mongodb is a bit buzzy still, but there are good reasons for that. It scales extremely well, and was designed to scale at speed. Fastcgi is anything but buzzy, but it's the fastest there is and it's built right into most webservers--but you're writing C/C++ code so that's an odd beast to deal with.

Now that I've said something that management will undoubtedly shoot down, here are some other frameworks and what they were originally designed to do, and some highlighted features.

Python - Django : "perfectionists with deadlines." Django was designed to chug out simple, straightforward web applications as quickly and cleanly as possible inside of your overall project. Contains template inheritance that has a small learning curve and is very powerful. Uses any SQL backend you want and provides an abstraction layer for it with caching. Cons: can be pretty heavy for a webapp, and difficult to integrate into a production environment.

Python - Flask : Simple and lightweight. Uses the same templates as django, but no database backend. It's meant to be standalone and simple (5 lines of code will get a website up). It's easy for your code to grow unwieldy inside of flask.

Ruby - Rails : Continuous development and test-first environment. This is kinda the poster boy for buzzwords, in my opinion, but it has some strength beneath it. Ruby is largely on-par with perl, so you have that. Rails provides the data modeling and really streamlines a lot of the annoyances common to web development. They designed the system to be the whole "45 minutes to a production environment" pipeline. You're supposed to write your tests first, then your code, and you write your deploy scripts and settings before you even start your project.

PHP - Drupal : Make a website without knowing crap about making a website. Haven't used it personally, someone else can comment.

PHP5 : "Hey, let's fix all the problems with PHP4!" Seriously, though. PHP was meant to add one-off server side scripts inside of your html, and has grown to be so big in comparison. PHP5 is actually a good language though, but it took a while to get it there. It's best used for image data processing, in my humble opinion, but it's on-par with any other language out there.
So, search them, find out who is using which systems, and which ones seem the most similar to your setup and go from there.

about a month and a half ago
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Venture-Backed Bitcoin Miner Startup Can't Deliver On Time, Gets Sued

tyggna Risk Assessment (120 comments)

You mean there are venture capitalists who can't do basic risk assessment?

That's how these miner manufacturers operate. It is relatively low and well-understood risk to sell physical goods. We have X orders, and can produce Y units each month. The reason they don't mine bitcoins themselves is that they don't want to take that risk. They sell the machine, and they get their money. They sell more machines, they get more money. It's simple, it's safe.

For the people who purchase them, they are assuming the risks of mining. They take the risk that their machine will underperform, that their miners won't find any blocks, and that the value of the bitcoin will stay stable or increase. The people actually mining have much higher risk than the people just selling the equipment.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Bequeath Sensitive Information?

tyggna Few options (208 comments)

So, what I would do is pick a few passphrases that are long and cryptographically secure. Print these out and store them in a safety deposit box, bequeathing said box to whomever you want to give this information to.

From there, the linux command-line utility gpg will work nicely.

gpg -c filename

Will prompt for a passphrase twice (use one on your sheet), and output "filename.gpg" leaving filename still in tact.

From there, you can do whatever you want with the encrypted file--store it on a USB and put it in the safety deposit, email it, whatever. No one will be able to do anything with it until they have the passphrase.

The other way I'd do that, which is more of the day-to-day stuff, is create two bitmessage accounts and just send it via that.

PGP encrypted email is also a good way to go, so long as the recipient has their private key properly protected.

about 2 months ago
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FWD.us: GOP Voters To Be Targeted By Data Scientists

tyggna Wrong and wrong (422 comments)

Your average GOP voter is the same as your average democrat voter, with different parents and geography. I have never, personally, met more than one republican that didn't like science, and she was a nut-job. Also, republican or democrat is not the dividing line for individual privacy. That's a non-partisan issue (unless you're libertarian, in which case it's your quest in life to remove all privacy violations). I was skeptical, at first, about targeted approaches generated from big-data problems. Then I got on google fiber. There were some HUGE privacy concerns there, since they basically keep a tcpdump (minus packet contents) of all your internet history as part of your google-fiber profile for 3 days. Before that, they just knew that I was an adult male. After being on google fiber, all my internet ads changed from gaming and porno to high end computer hardware and data center products. As it turns out, I greatly prefer seeing computer hardware ads (particularly when I'm at work). Targeted approaches bred from privacy violations aren't necessarily a bad thing, it's what people do with them that's the problem. Technologies can be used effectively to make the world a better place, or abused to make it worse, it doesn't mean the technology is inherently evil. I don't think democrats would have problem being data-mined and invited to public events surrounding global warming policy, and I doubt these GOP voters will care that they were selected by a computer to be invited to take part in something that they're interested in.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Start With Linux In the Workplace?

tyggna You have 10 machines, try 10 setups (452 comments)

let the monkeys choose which GUI they want. Whichever one the majority of them chose, force the others to abide by it.

about 4 months ago
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Old Operating Systems Never Die

tyggna Yes (875 comments)

Windows--in my head. Took several counseling sessions and intense electro-shock therapy, but my therapist says the scars are slowly healing.

more than 4 years ago
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Does Your College Or University Support Linux?

tyggna Easy way to find out (835 comments)

Find a university that mirrors a Linux repository. They are very commonly hosted there. If it hosts it there, then there will be some kind of official Linux support on campus.

more than 4 years ago
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Utah Law Punishes Texters As Much As Drunks In Driving Fatalities

tyggna From someone in Utah (620 comments)

Well, the drivers are so bad over here that we need every advantage we can get.

more than 4 years ago
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Open Source In Public K-12 Schools?

tyggna Try before you buy (323 comments)

Well, I'd have both OSes at a school. While the CSRs and network admins will hate you for it--I think both OSes provides the healthiest learning environment. Every kid is different. Some get things quick, some don't. Personally, I think you should just make the resources available to the students, and then let them decide what they want. That will be more informative to you about whether or not its a good idea. If you put in Linux machines, and none of the kids use them--then take them out and say its not worth it. If you put them and Windows almost never gets used, then take the Windows machines out. Trying Open Source is really very cheap. For an entire school district, you could probably have one or two Linux guys set everything up for you within a month or two.

more than 5 years ago
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Massive Martian Glaciers Found

tyggna Nitrogen (314 comments)

Personally, I think we should just start sending up high-payload conventional explosives to Mars. Releasing nitrogen into their atmosphere would make it so the planet could hold heat for a longer time, and conventional explosives are all Nitrogen-based. If we could do that, and there's already glaciers on mars--then that'd be the first step to terraforming it to be a habitable planet. Granted--that'd take hundreds of megatons of nitrogen, but it'd be cool to say, "we tried blowing up mars, but all it did was make it more habitable."

more than 5 years ago
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AMD Shows Upcoming Phenom II CPU At 6.0 GHz+

tyggna Flops? (159 comments)

Clockspeed is good and great and all, but that isn't a very good measure of how many calculations it can do. 6.0Ghz doesn't mean anything (especially if we're talking radio frequency) other than how quickly your processor's heart pumps. This is why the 3.0Ghz "barrier" has been in place for so long--it's because Intel internally switched from benchmarking by clock speed to benchmarking by floating point operations per second. Sure, it might be clocked at 6Ghz, but if I'm only getting a 6giga-flops outta that, I'd be better off buying an Intel Atom.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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Text Editor and Programming Language Correlation

tyggna tyggna writes  |  about 2 months ago

tyggna (1405643) writes "The flame wars of different shells and text editors have long been established, but my question is this: are text editors and various languages linked? Do the majority of Ruby programmers use Emacs? Are most Perl programmers using vim?
Please post your editor and language of choice in the comments."
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Power from trees

tyggna tyggna writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Maybe-The-Hippies-Were-On-To-Something (1405643) writes "Researchers over at University of Washington have given another meaning to the term "flower-power." Using nothing but the internal energy of a tree they powered an electronic circuit. While it may never be able to shoot fireballs, power cities, or bring world peace, it may prove a good indicator of the health of the tree. Read more here."

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