Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment re: Includes 28" display (Score 1) 189

No ... I get that, and I do see where a lot of people claim the price tag for a touch-enabled screen of this density is a "$2,700+ value by itself".

But my point is that you're getting the (presumably pretty amazing looking) display and the digitizer functionality here as part of a $4K computer expense, but over on the Mac side, you're getting some other things instead, like a true workstation/server class CPU and a system designed and optimized to run Mac OS X instead of MS Windows. Plus, again, don't forget that the Mac Pro came out almost 2 years ago now and nothing about it has changed since then .... It was a better "value for the dollar" back then that it is today. You could buy a fairly nice IPS 4K panel for the Mac Pro for under $500, making the whole system less than $300 more than this new Surface desktop.

Conclusion? We've definitely got a market out there willing to pay $4K or so for a personal computer, despite all the nay-sayers, and it's not just some "crazy Mac thing because they always charge insanely high prices for no reason".

Comment Uh..... the price tag?! (Score 1, Insightful) 189

I actually think this sounds like a pretty nice, well spec'd out machine.... but then I saw the price tag!

$4,199 for the high-end config?

I thought everyone was throwing a huge fit about the insane pricing for Apple's Mac Pro "trashcan" workstation? Yet it's been offered since the end of 2013 in a configuration with a 3.5Ghz 6 core Xeon processor (not just a Pentium 4 desktop class CPU) and Dual FirePro AMD graphics w/3GB of VRAM per card, for $200 less than this! (Yeah, it "only" has 16GB of RAM instead of 32GB and a 256GB SSD -- but RAM is pretty inexpensive, and we don't even know for sure what type of storage makes up the 2TB in this new Microsoft Surface desktop. Pretty certain it's not just a 2TB SSD, in any case.)

Comment Company leaders CAN favor whoever they like ... (Score 1) 427

Of course, it's often a bad business decision to make one's political views public. Just ask the CEO of Chick Fil-A, for example.

But sure, it wouldn't normally be a problem..... except with Facebook and other forms of social media, their purpose is supposed to be to give a voice to EVERYONE who wants to use it and contribute content. If that can't be done impartially, it means the site can't be used properly for its stated purpose. (If you have to worry that your content might get censored/deleted or somehow marginalized so it shows up far less often in feeds than those expressing other viewpoints -- you need to find a different web site to use.)

Fox News can report the news any way they see fit .They hired their staff to do things the way they wished, and they own the network. That's not the same thing.

Comment Anyone see that Apple bid for them too, initially? (Score 1) 116

All things considered, I would have rather seen Apple buy Time-Warner than AT&T -- though I'm sure that would have raised the same alarms about anti-trust.

From Apple's point of view, they sell the AppleTV, a nice little set-top box that's never achieved more than what they keep calling "hobby" status. Primarily, that's because Apple has always hoped to partner with a large selection of partners so users would be able to cut the cord on cable and have a similar amount of content with just the AppleTV. (Essentially, doing for TV and movies what iTunes did for music.)

Unfortunately for Apple, most of the big players are refusing to negotiate with them, or at least not on Apple's terms. Many are afraid that doing so would lock them into being unable to ask more money for programming down the road (similar to the record labels who really wanted to ask more than 99 cents per album track, but found iTunes pretty much nailed that down as "the price" they had to accept).

So now, while Apple keeps trying to tip-toe around the issue by pretending their big challenge is just building a better UI for TV watching .... they're *actually* facing the facts that they probably need to start offering a lot of good original programming as the reason to buy AppleTV. (Netflix and others are learning the same thing.) Buying Time-Warner outright would give Apple a big boost in getting to where they want to be, though.

With AT&T, by contrast? I'm not seeing how the acquisition would do much of anything to benefit me as the end-user? Possibly it will improve TV content for U-Verse customers, but that service isn't even sold out here in the Northeast. Otherwise, I guess since they own DirecTV now, they think it will give them some more options to sell on satellite? But again ... that's kind of a snoozer, in a world trying to cut cords and rid of programming packages with limited or no reasonable "a la carte" options.

Comment Re:This borders on being a general warrant (Score 1) 430

I agree. The main reason for demanding such a thing is to test the legal waters and see if it flies. If so, they'll duly note that and use the tactic much more often.
They'll ALSO likely try to take it a step further and see where the line is drawn.

That's why it bothers me a bit when people smugly say "Just lock your phone with a PIN code instead of a fingerprint!" The fingerprint technology is popular precisely because people hate tapping in PIN codes every single time they need to do something useful with their phone! I grant that if you're targeted specifically by a warrant or even under arrest and dealing with the police one-on-one, they might have more legal ability to demand you unlock a device by fingerprint than by some other password you have in your head. But this is more about police having the ability to broadly poke around on everyone's phone or tablet, reading all sorts of irrelevant personal info in the process of trying to find content of interest to their case.

Comment Re:This is mostly a Red Herring (Score 1) 430

Except the public is led to believe that securing a device with a fingerprint is, in fact, practical and reasonably ok security. I remember when it was quite common for a phone answering machine to be secured with only a 2 or 3 digit code. (The devices often wouldn't even support using a longer one if you wanted to.)

That led to some problems with people getting access to ex-girlfriends/boyfriends/husbands/wives machines and listening in on messages or maliciously erasing them, etc. But still, it provided enough security to stop the casual would-be tamperer from messing with your machine. (Even with only a 2 digit code, you would quite likely have to call back dozens of times to guess it -- and that might lead to the owner becoming aware you were trying to guess it, if he/she came home and heard the phone ringing over and over like that.)

The fingerprint requirement is certainly more secure than some 2 digit code.... and it's so convenient, I can see why phone owners would like to use it. Entering a long PIN or password every time you need to unlock your smartphone gets really tedious, especially if you just need to access a single app quickly.

I think the real lesson here is that the law needs to be reviewed, to ask why it's ok for police to make a blanket demand for people to unlock their phones for them? We all know smartphones are repositories for such a wide variety of information (even with full search functionality), that asking someone to unlock one with even a fingerprint amounts to asking to view a LOT of personal, private data that a warrant should explain WHY they're trying to get their eyes on it.

Comment Re:easily made up in peripherals. (Score 1) 524

Our company has definitely experienced a bit of this .... BUT this is also where I.T. needs to step in and set some ground-rules, if the budget is limited.

For example? I got tired of all the expenditures on (IMO inferior) "Magic Mice". So I did some research and found a couple of solid,reliable bluetooth mice that could be used instead at far less cost. There's a Microsoft model that only costs about $30-35, for example. Doesn't support "gestures" by rubbing the top of it, but that's just really NOT necessary for any use-case I've seen a user come up with. It does have a scroll wheel which doubles as an assignable 3rd button and 2 regular buttons, and is very conservative on battery usage too.

If someone wants that "Magic Trackpad" mouse? I don't have a problem with buying that one, IF they honestly can be more productive with it. This is no different than in the Windows world though, IMO. A trackpad mouse will cost a premium for Windows too. It's a different way to interface with the machine, and if you really do a task regularly where the gesture support is helpful? One of these beats trying to do the gestures on top of a regular "Magic Mouse" any day.

We had to fight with some of our Creative professionals about the displays, as well. They were just SO certain that those nearly $1,000 each Thunderbolt Cinema displays were better than anything else. We cracked down on that and started physically removing a couple of them that they'd gone around I.T. and purchased for their department, substituting a matched PAIR of HP 24" IPS panel displays with anti-glare coated screens. After a few days working with a dual display environment with glare-free versions of panels with the same or better color calibration capabilities and similar resolutions? They really had no argument to want the Apple displays back. (And to be fair, those displays were kind of slick IF you had the right make/model of Macbook Pro laptop to pair with them, since they acted like a port replicator for one at the same time. But they replicated ports like Firewire 800, which are getting phased out in current machines!)

Comment Not quite a fair statement, but ..... (Score 1) 524

Yes, Macs are more friendly to users who aren't willing to learn more than the very basics of how to navigate a computer. They're far less likely to succumb to random malware/spyware/virus threats than Windows machines -- and in my experience as a regular Mac user, when they DO get infected? They tend to clean up more quickly and painlessly too. (EG. They make a Mac version of Malware Bytes now, and it generally knows how to fully clean just about any of the Mac malware created to-date. It runs quickly, does its thing, and after a reboot - chances are high that you're back to normal. There simply aren't the challenges the Windows world faces of people constantly modifying existing malware into new variants that hide in different sub-folders, do different kinds of damage, etc.)

On the other hand? There's no good reason to claim you can somehow do more on a Windows PC, and/or a Mac is only appropriate for the most clueless of users.

You may have a personal hatred for Apple and possibly even for the design of Mac OS X ... but quite a few "power users" use them all day long, every day, to get real work done.

I work for a company that has close to a 50/50 split of Macs and Windows machines in use (we let employees choose which they prefer in most cases). It's really not a problem managing the mixed environment, other than a bit of extra work creating 2 sets of instructions with different screen-captures for Mac and Windows, when you want to document something. As it stands today? The Mac actually makes it easier to get a VPN connection going from a PC back to the office network. We use Cisco Meraki hardware which doesn't provide any special "extra friendly" VPN connection client. You're just supposed to properly configure what's built into the OS. On the Mac side, that pretty much "just works". In Windows, there are still annoying bugs in Microsoft's TCP/IP stack implementation that can create "gotchas" -- even when you use Windows 10. (For example, if you don't manually edit the "metric" values for each adapter, ensuring the VPN adapter in the list has a higher metric manually set, like 15? Win 10 will stupidly try to send out DNS lookup requests over ALL the available adapters, instead of only going through the VPN tunnel when it's up.)

And especially with the new update mechanisms Microsoft now uses in Win 10? It's just creating a lot of needless havoc. For example, we have a number of Surface Pro 4's out in the field, and because Microsoft insists on pushing updates through at some scheduled time (defaulting to 3AM or something like that), it will leave the tablets in odd states at times. People leave their system on to go into "sleep" mode overnight, and when they come back in the morning? They may have a solid black screen and seemingly unresponsive computer. Bingo... another trouble ticket gets put in, "high priority", for I.T. to troubleshoot. In reality, it can be things as simple as the Intel video driver getting an update pushed to it that needed a full reboot to start working correctly again. This is NOT something I've ever had issues with on the Mac side.

Comment AI -- FAR more hype than substance (Score 2, Interesting) 210

I'd argue that as far as I've seen, practically every single project or experiment labeled "AI" is really just fake intelligence.

In other words, you've cobbled together a mechanism so a standard human language formatted query (spoken or written/typed) can be parsed out and searched in a useful way through extensive databases of information and a sensible result spit back, again in a manner that mimics a human's way of communicating the result.

This is a pretty cool thing, as we've seen by how handy the "personal assistants" like Cortana or Siri can be on our smartphones.

But IMO, Hawking is talking about achieving a way to simulate the way a human brain actually thinks. That's something we're NOWHERE near doing successfully, and I'm not even sure it's realistic to pretend we could with today's computer technology.

For starters, it's becoming more and more clear that humans don't really file away tons of information in our brains like a computer does on a hard drive in a database. A big part of what we "remember" goes to "short term memory", meaning we'll try to keep it in our heads for a little while -- but as soon as it becomes something we don't need to recall again for a period of time, it starts fading away and eventually is forgotten. At the same time though? Our brain seems to make lots of other connections to these things. (Even though you forgot, say, an old phone number of a friend you haven't called in years? When you see the number again, you may recognize it from a list of other random phone numbers and remember that's the one you USED to remember. Computers don't do that.)

The entire concept of being "reminded" of something is pretty foreign to how binary computers compute... They either have or don't have information. They don't struggle to remember and occasionally recall things, and/or realize they used to know them when reminded.

Comment re: inkjet printers (Score 1) 315

Yeah, good point.... I admit I used a bad example with the printers. To be honest though, it's been quite a while since I bought one. I still own and use several older ones here, and in at least one of those cases, it actually did include a USB cable with it. But sure, the cost of a cable is relatively minimal and if they're going to make you buy it separately anyway -- no big deal to go with a USB-C type.

But flash drives are going to be a problem, as are plenty of specialty cables. (EG. I have a USB to OBDII programming cable that's needed to download custom tunes to one of my cars.) I guess you can use any of this stuff with USB-C to USB adapters or a hub that converts the connection -- but again, that's extra stuff you have to carry with you on a laptop, so not really an attractive option.

Comment Not happy at all for a "Pro" laptop from Apple.... (Score 4, Interesting) 315

I've been a long time Apple supporter, even going so far as to pay all the $$$'s for one of the late 2013 "trash can" Mac Pro workstations, shortly after it was released. (I did that only because I owned both a 2006 and 2008 Mac Pro tower before it, and both were excellent computers that I got years of daily use out of -- paying for themselves several times over with the work and entertainment value I got out of them. I figured I'd invest in the new direction Apple was taking things, with faith they'd make sense of what seemed at first to be kind of a step backwards in design and functionality.)

Well, unfortunately, what I'm seeing is a trend away from Apple catering at all to "power users" or "computer enthusiasts". Under Steve Jobs, at least their push towards minimalist styling/design was still well-balanced with giving the user what they really needed to get things done. (EG. When Apple declared the 3.5" floppy was dead and removed it? The rest of the Windows PC world thought that was crazy. Yet the advent of IOMega Zip disks, Syquest cartridges, dirt cheap CDR media, flash drives, SD and CF cards and more proved Apple was right. They were just pushing people a little further towards that "cutting edge" of tech, instead of sitting complacent in the middle of the "tried and true, but fading in usability" zone of technology. And when Apple decided to quit including optical drives in any of their systems? Again, some people threw fits but it's ultimately proved to be the sensible solution. External CD/DVD/Blu-Ray players and recorders are cheap and easy to plug in if/when needed, and they don't bulk up or weigh down a computer when you DON'T intend to use one. It also means when they break down, which they do fairly often with all their mechanical parts inside, they're easier to replace.)

With Thunderbolt? I feel like Apple tried, once again, to "skate to where they thought the puck was going to be" instead of to where it was. But that time, perhaps they took a chance and weren't quite right. Nonetheless, it wasn't really a big problem for users because it was only there in addition to plenty of other ports. The ability for Apple's Thunderbolt port to double as a "Mini DisplayPort" connector ensured people would use it with a dongle to attach extra monitors even if they never used it for anything else. And on higher end systems like my Mac Pro? It's actually quite useful since you pretty much need some kind of external drive enclosure to have a decent amount of storage space directly attached to the machine. There are a number of good options for multi-drive cabinets with Thunderbolt connections, and it provides great throughput without bottlenecking a USB bus.

But now, I feel like options are getting deleted just because Apple would prefer to have fewer configuration options to stock in their lineup, or because they're pushing change just for the sake of being different. (That whole elimination of matte vs. glossy displays is a great example, even if it still happened under Steve Job's watch. There was clearly a LOT of demand for anti-glare screen displays, yet Apple simply ignored it and told people "Tough luck. We think you'll love our product enough to buy it anyway, so we don't care.")

This move to USB-C? I think the new standard is just fine for netbooks or "Ultraportables" where people are primarily concerned about how light and thin it is, and probably don't WANT to connect very much up to it. But it definitely has no business in a Macbook PRO laptop being sold any time this year ... Not unless it's just there in additional to a couple of regular USB 3.0 ports. Otherwise, you're ignoring a universal standard that has no signs of dying yet. Go shop for a new inkjet printer and tell me how many have USB-C connections on them vs. traditional USB right now. Same for any digital cameras with connection cables.)

Secondarily, I agree that this change means eliminating a connector (mag-safe) that really does offer a great feature that competing laptops never had. IMO, if Apple really wants to move things forward again, they should create a laptop that inductively charges from a charging transmitter that you place anywhere in the same room with it. Moving it to charging via USB-C is a step sideways, if not backwards.

Comment It's also about one's mentality though .... (Score 1) 403

When you talk to some of these people who work full time for low wages, yet buy something like a high-end automobile on credit? You discover something interesting. Most of the time, it's not about them being so unable to do basic math that they don't realize they're "living above their means".

Rather, they're taking the attitude of, "Screw it.... If some lender is willing to let me get this, why not do it? Then I can drive something around I'm proud to be seen in and enjoy driving. If something happens and I can't make the monthly payment anymore? Oh well... let them come take it back from me. At least I got to enjoy using it while I had it."

In other words, they'd see YOU as the sucker for working as hard as they do, and still settling for driving around some 10 year old Toyota. I mean, YOU'RE the one playing into the hands of the bankers and the "system" -- all worried about hurting your credit score, instead of realizing that in the worst case scenario, you can just file bankruptcy, wipe away all the debts while hanging onto most of what you amassed up until then. Wait for 7 years and you're right back to where you were before with those scores and levels of "credit risk".

Comment Re:I like working. People are different. (Score 1) 403

Honestly, I think one of the sad things is that relatively few companies manage to make the work environment pleasant enough so people actually like (or at least don't dislike) working.

There are always going to be jobs to do that practically nobody enjoys.... But that's also part of the beauty of Capitalism. There will be people who do them anyway because they aren't skilled enough to move up to something better, and that may motivate them to learn those new skills. Others will be ok doing work they dislike because for them, it's still acceptable to them to spend that portion of their lives doing things they dislike so they have the income to do things they DO like when they're not working there.

But in general, I think MOST jobs can be made much more pleasant than they are. This is one of the things good management can help accomplish. It's often a matter of changing around a few rules to allow some of the "little things".... Let people listen to music while working, maybe? Or relax the dress code so jeans are acceptable, if that makes some of your workers happier. Organize small blocks of social time, perhaps? (One of my jobs was in a tall building, so they worked something out with the building management to let us have the rooftop area once a month to do a rooftop lunch.) Personally, I've never accepted a job for any length of time at a place where I hated going in. Even if the only thing a place had going for it was a group of co-workers I liked talking to, it had to offer at least something like that of value. Otherwise, no ... just quit and find a place that's a better fit for you.

Comment Re:Misleading results (Score 1) 403

Perhaps.... but at least in your example of "safety equipment and adaptations for people with disabilities" -- I'd say those are pretty well covered here in the U.S. today. In fact, some would say we overdo the "catering to folks with disabilities" with some of our legislation. (EG. Strict rules about how many handicapped parking spots you have to make available as a percentage of the total means in some establishments, you have row after row of them, unnecessarily wasting space and going unused.) And for some small businesses, they're forced to pay out large sums of money retrofitting older buildings to be wheelchair accessible as soon as they try to do any kind of update to the property that requires an inspection or permit -- even if they have no wheelchair bound employees at all, and no need for customers to access those parts of the building.

I'm not sure what types of safety related things you imagine the U.K. has in place that the U.S. doesn't, which they'd be eager to remove to be more competitive either? But from everything I've seen, safety is taken fairly seriously in the U.S. Organizations like OSHA impose all sorts of safety requirements, and even at the level of a person buying a used home, the homeowner's insurance often does a drive-by inspection and demands changes such as putting up railings on any outside steps, or else you risk getting your policy cancelled. The days of companies not caring at all about worker safety pretty much went out with the initial rise of the unions to power -- leading to those demands getting enshrined into Federal law of the land.

Comment re: quality applications (Score 1) 909

That's one argument you can make ... but my point is, this particular college also offered an opportunity where you get a full 6 weeks of vacation per year, starting with your first year of employment, and work weeks are 35 hours, not 40, despite receiving all the same health insurance and related benefits of any 40 hour per week job. The salary is definitely not measurably lower than what anyone else offers for the same type of work, given those facts.

If computer support is considered such as "low level" type of work today (as some people on here claim), then surely it's within the abilities of some of these folks currently upset that their retail or fast food job won't pay them $15/hr. or more? Study to get an A+ certification and show some enthusiasm for wanting to work someplace, and you're essentially qualified.

But no... I guess it's easier to bellyache and claim we all need a basic income paid to us for doing nothing instead?

Slashdot Top Deals

Do molecular biologists wear designer genes?