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Comment Re:Welcome to the rental economy (Score 2) 43

I concur that the benefits of "upgrades" have been a matter of diminishing returns for quite some time now. Even if there's upgrades and features now, I worry that in five years from now, the real value will be "not losing access to your data".I share your staunch aversion to software subscriptions for that reason.

The problem with relying on the Open Source community to fill the vacuum is that there are lots and lots of factors that are involved. People genuinely do appreciate and benefit from ubiquitous access to their data. That's certainly possible with a whole lot of self-hosted software, but those methods require back end resources, a firewall of consequence, backups, and an internet connection that not only has enough upload bandwidth to support these applications, but an internet connection that doesn't block ports 80 and 443. Here at Slashdot those things aren't a problem, and the Synology NAS units (as well as a few others) help to streamline these through things like QuickConnect, but now we've left OSS solutions.

If we're looking at desktop applications, Quickbooks' greatest asset is the fact that every accounting firm will take a .QBW file, and any Main Street business owner can talk to any other Main Street business owner and probably find out how to do what they need to do. Meanwhile, virtually every OSS accounting package I've looked at has either had a Spartan UI, doesn't do payroll, is gross overkill, or is cloud-only...and all of them are double-entry. The closest I've found from a UI perspective is Xtuple, but its server requirements are insane compared to Quickbooks for a single-machine install. Thus, I submit that the reason why Intuit (whose level of evil in the software world is only eclipsed by Oracle) owns the small business accounting market is because there aren't any single entry OSS financial management applications at all...and with the exception of GNUcash, the only reason why there are the higher end OSS products is because all of their commercial packages have massive price tags attached to them that will rival Intuit's enterprise editions.

On the creative software front, OSS is still very difficult to acclimate to. GIMP can generally do the job in spite of its suboptimal interface, Inkscape is limited but can do the basics well enough, and Scribus is in the uncanny valley between Publisher and InDesign. KDenLive isn't the worst thing ever, but video editing = patent encumbered formats = OSS license hell. Ardour and Audacity can do the job, but they definitely lack the polish of Audition. Honestly, the best competitor to Adobe is Corel, not Github.

There are lots of places where OSS shines (pick just about anywhere in the server closet - you're crazy to run Windows Server as a router, but pfSense, Untangle, Smoothwall, Endian, ClearOS......). There are, however, going to be areas where OSS just will always play second fiddle to commercial software houses. As my very loose rule of thumb, I've found that the further away from programming a discipline is, the worse the OSS software packages are for it.

Comment Re:Come on... (Score 1, Insightful) 234

The definition of the term "better" is the key here. In broad terms, a product is "better" if it more closely meets the needs of the person or organization than what was previously being used.

One thing that comes to mind that made old software "better" was how much smaller it was. The oldest Microsoft Office ISO I have immediately available is 2003 Professional. It's 410MB for, if memory serves, everything including Access and Frontpage. The Office 2016 Professional installer is 2.4GB, and doesn't allow for any installation customization unless you use the volume licensed editions. There are certainly improvements (>1 million rows in Excel, multiple Exchange server support in Outlook, sparklines, and better PDF support and WordArt in Word), but a sixfold upshot in installer size? Those don't align. A kitchen-sink installation of the current version of Winamp is about 50MB - a number that is incredibly bloated by 2.91's 26MB full install, but a bargain compared to the 200-300MB required by iTunes. Then, there is the train wreck that are HP printer drivers...

Older software was much more frugal with its system resource usage. Today's software couldn't care less. Whether the increase in user friendliness really justifies the much larger increase in application size is an exercise left to the reader - there are plenty of examples in either direction. Install size is just one example. The increased requirement of an internet connection is a point of contention for me. The mass migration to "cloud applications" that are indefinitely rented, but never owned, isn't something I'm generally a fan of. The increase in telemetry and decrease in customization options are two things that I find are not things from which I benefit. There is a reason why is a thing - because newer is not always better.

Comment Depends on what you get (Score 1) 183

I am a simple man. A touchpad from ten years ago can fit my needs - left button, right button, edge scrolling. I do like the "chiral scrolling" as well, but that's a bonus. These are all provided with every Synaptics touchpad ever, and Synaptics even awesomely has a driver right on their website that'll handle basically every touchpad you install it on. They have enable/disable/optimization controls for every gesture control available, as well as tutorials on how to use them. It's great. I can't speak highly enough about them. I only realized that there were worse touchpads because I'd been spoiled by getting Synaptics touchpads on my laptops for years, and boy was that lucky.

Alps touchpads aren't too bad either, but that entirely depends on whether you get a Dell branded driver or not. Alps drivers are pretty feature complete, but when they're rebadged as Dell, it's luck of the draw whether there's useful stuff or not. Literally, there are Dell touchpad drivers that don't allow the disabling of tap-to-click.

The ones I can't stand are the touchpads with the "virtual buttons", and HP I'm looking squarely at you. May the lovechild of Carly Fiorina and Leo Apotheker be sentenced to use one of those atrocities until the end of time. They think you click when you don't, and they invariably end up with a slight mouse movement when you do actually click. It's nearly impossible to get an exact location clicked without a mouse on those stupid things, and the drivers for them don't do much to compensate.

The somebody-hates-you company when it comes to touchpad, though, is Sentelic. I returned a $3,100 Origin laptop because the touchpad was THAT bad. I attempted to use the multi-touch features, but it was terrible at its ability to discern exactly how many fingers were on the pad. The PalmCheck discernment was abhorrent, and the button placement was such that I was right-clicking when I typed because I'd hit the button. The drivers were a year old when I got the laptop, and good luck finding Sentelic online. It was the worst touchpad experience I've ever had.

So yes, Windows providing a standardized interface is a godsend for people who have Sentelic touchpads or the crappy Dell drivers on the Alps ones. I do hope that Precision is able to be overridden by my Synaptics drivers though, because I'll take them over the Windows implementation any day.

Comment Honest Thought: Free Speech + No Platform = ? (Score 5, Interesting) 369

If I can get a bit more theoretical here, a number of people have posted the Free Speech xkcd comic. It's absolutely right that there is a difference between 'the government won't arrest you' and 'no one should be compelled to host content they disagree with'. For this reason, I am indeed glad that Milo is keeping 4chan as a place where people can indeed post unpopular opinions.

However, I've been thinking about this recently: to what end is it not required for there to be a platform given? Twitter doesn't want to host offensive tweets. Fine. I'll join the four people on Google Plus and do it. Well, seems the other three people on Google Plus don't like my offensive speech, either.

Okay. I'll head on over to HostGator and install Friendica and make my own place where I can post my offensive things. Well, HostGator says I can't do that on their servers, rinse and repeat for GoDaddy, BlueHost, and 1&1. I head over to Amazon and rent some server time there, but Amazon says I can't post my offensive things there.

Fine, no more cloud for me - want something done right, DIY time. So, I call up Verizon and get their you-can-have-a-web-server FiOS package and load up an old desktop with a LAMP stack and host it myself. Verizon says they're not obligated to give me a platform, and when I call Cablevision, I get the same story. So, "no one is required to give me a platform" is, at its logical conclusion, a statement that can prevent a sufficiently offensive message from ever reaching the internet.

What is the reasonable expectation here? Should someone sufficiently down the line be expected to provide the same platform to hate speech as they provide to acceptable speech? Obviously I paint a picture of a fairly remote possibility, but it does raise the question of how "freedom of the press" works if no one will sell you a printing press.


Comment Re:The most most seriously needed LEO database (Score 3, Insightful) 185

I get, and to a certain extent agree with your premise that the newsworthy cases of police brutality are most certainly the exception and not the rule, there are two parts of your post with which I shall formally rebut:

While it is true that there are a few officers that deserve jail time (and the do get it most of the time) 99.99% of the LEOs our there are the good guys. They go out every day with a target painted on their back to protect the rest of us for crap pay. I am fine if they want to make sure their neighbors/acquaintances/dates don't have drug or assault convictions. Using that information to blackmail is different, but just having the information is fine as long as they are responsible with it.

I think the 99.99% figure is exaggerated, but I'll roll with it for the moment. I don't get to check if my date has an assault conviction. Just because the police office is in a place where such information is readily accessible doesn't mean that they are allowed to just use it for whatever they want. As an IT/support tech, I have remote access and admin passwords to dozens of servers for dozens of companies. Only once have I ever used one of my clients' servers for personal use, and that was to demonstrate a particular piece of software for a friend of mine, with explicit consent of the owner of that server. LEOs don't sign up to be LEOs with the promise of a $250,000 salary and then realize it's between $40K and 70K a year. That information is abundantly clear long before they ever step foot in the police academy. Access to my confidential data is not penance for making less money than a doctor or lawyer. Even if you are okay with it (as is your right), I am not. The question is which one of us should be able to impose our feelings upon the other.

The second issue I have is with this part...

Put yourself in their shoes. [snip] You have no clue if he just murdered his girlfriend, has $5M in heroine in the trunk, is off his meds or is high out of his gourd.

Nope. But the foundation of everything LEOs are required to uphold is summed up in the following sentence: Innocent until proven guilty. Maybe he did just murder his girlfriend...but unless there's a dead body in the front seat, he didn't. Maybe he's got $5M of heroin in his trunk...but until there's probable cause to search the vehicle, he doesn't. Maybe he is indeed high...that will become bleeding obvious in about 30 seconds of interaction.

If he is not obeying orders and is putting his hands in places where a weapon might be concealed, you have a very reasonable fear for your life. So while not 100% of police shootings are justified, you are a sociopath if you can't at least empathize with the people in our society who put their lives in danger to protect us from the criminal element.

My level of empathy is strenuous at best, for two reasons. First, if the job is too hard, quit. It's not hard to stop being a police officer. There is no shame in saying, "being a competent police officer is too hard for me". It is a tough job, but the difficulties of that job are no secret. If someone signs up to be a police officer, they are signing up to carry a gun that they will hopefully never have to use, but are lawfully authorized to use far more liberally than the average citizen. With that authority should come accountability...and the perceived lack of said accountability is the root of the challenges at hand.

Comment Genuine question - Why Modal Text Editors? (Score 3) 131

I've done some minor Linux administration, generally in the realm of getting some Turnkey Linux appliance or other to run. When I've done so, I've always used nano - it tends to do what I need it to do, it has command cues on the bottom so I don't need to memorize the man file to use it, and it seems to be available basically-everywhere. I used vi a bit in college, and the concept of a modal text editor with next-to-no window dressing doesn't seem, at first blush, to have any real advantages to using something more like nano.

I am *not* looking to enter into some sort of flame war, but I do hope that someone would be generous enough to help me understand the draw to either vi or emacs.

Comment Re:DVB-C (Score 1) 149

Windows Media Center... which was free in Windows 7, cost you a bit (if you didn't grab it during the first year) in 8, and is no longer available as part of Windows 10.

Much hope is being held out for the SiliconDust effort to make a working DVR app... however they are a year behind schedule.

It took a few tries to get it to work, but I can speak from personal firsthand experience that it works on Win10 the way you remember it, down to the guide data downloads.

With respect to other options, I'm hoping that the PlexDVR app allows for live streaming eventually, if SiliconDust doesn't get their life together.

Comment Re:Why did they "cut them a break"? (Score 3, Insightful) 77

You misunderstand my question.... I was asking why heavier penalties for false DMCA takedowns would make any difference when anytime high penalties for piracy are ever talked about around here, someone usually brings up the point that higher penalties for crimes is not an effective preventative.

Lemme break it down...

Suppose that I, Voyager529, were to download a copy of Fantastic Voyage, and that I was one of a million people to do so. Suppose I was stupid enough to leave a nobody-doubts-it evidence trail that I personally committed that specific act of copyright infringement. It goes to court, the judge decides to make an example out of me and give me a $150,000 fine for my misdoing. My current socioeconomic status is such that a $150,000 fine would basically be life ruining. Whether it was $150K or $150M, I'm screwed for life; the fact that there's a few orders of magnitude difference between those two numbers is inconsequential. I downloaded the film figuring that I wouldn't get caught, but since I did, I'm screwed. 20th Century Fox can try to file a few more lawsuits, but since I had the most clear paper trail available and the case was the easiest to win for them, even if they went down the line to the next 5-10 people who were similarly easy to successfully sue, any one person would have less than a 0.01% chance of being a target. Increasing the fines to "ruin the defendant's life even more" isn't going to be much more of a deterrent.

By contrast, 20th Century Fox sends a DMCA notice for Fantastic Voyage to one million random Youtube videos. that guy smoking a pipe? infringer. Pewpewdie? Infringer. Jenna Marbles? Infringer. Justin Bieber music video? Infringer. One guy who did, in fact, upload a ten second clip from the film? Infringer. Rinse and repeat a million more times, except that last one. 20th Century Fox has spent a few hundred dollars sending out those mostly-automated takedown notices. Google treats all million of those takedown notices equally, which takes weeks to sort out. The one guy with the ten second clip gets hit with an infringement suit. He loses and the judge says the defendant has to pay $10,000. 20th Century Fox says "oops" 999,999 times and made thousands of dollars on the one guy, meaning that there is incentive to basically treat DMCA takedowns like phishing e-mails - send 'em out, see who bites, and the cost of being wrong is $0.

Now, the GP says that $10 per invalid notice is a reasonable number. I'd personally make that $100 plus any expense incurred fighting the invalid notice (including down time, lost wages, etc.), but we'll keep the math simple and stick to ten bucks per 'oops'. Same scenario as above: one million takedowns sent, one technically-not-valid-but-judge-says-so $10,000 ruling. 20th Century Fox isn't making a few grand, they're paying $9,999,990. Even if they got ten times the maximum $150,000 penalty, it's still a losing proposition by millions of dollars.

tl;dr: The fines for infringement are extremely high, but the enforcement rate is very low. Increasing the fine without increasing enforcement isn't going to change things much for the unlucky person, but giving copyright holders a disincentive for sending out massive numbers of DMCA takedowns is clearly a requirement as a result of its abuse.

Comment Re:No surprise - same erorrs in finance & ops (Score 1) 349

In the year 2016, a disturbing amount of human activity is run through Excel instead of proper databases.

A similar study from 2009 tested for errors in various operational spreadsheets and concluded, "Our results confirm the general belief among those who have studied spreadsheets that errors are commonplace." The Financial Times commented on the prevalence of spreadsheet errors in business, saying it's probably a function of training and organizational culture.

I've heard from a few salespeople in the software industry that their biggest competitor in the SMB space isn't $BigCRMCorp, but Excel spreadsheets that have acreted over the years.

This absolutely doesn't surprise me. The concept of thinking about where one's data lives is nearly extinct outside of technical circles, and even Access is seen as "too complicated" by a lot of people. The utility of third normal form is obvious to us, but lots of people are perfectly served with pivot tables. How many people receive formal training in any form of database anymore? Even lots of web designers who use MySQL on the back end of their CMS software don't do a whole lot in PHPMyAdmin unless they have to.

Excel is very simple, ubiquitous, and has a low ceiling of functionality. It's the lowest common denominator, and unfortunately, it's "good enough" for lots of people.

Comment Re:25 years, still garbage for the mainstream (Score 1) 316

ImageMagick definitely has its place; it is invaluable as a backend to Piwigo, Coppermine, (presumably) Pixlr, and plenty of others. No hate against it at all. However, the benefit to using it on a CLI, by your own admission, is based upon its capacity to perform batch actions like resizing. Would you do one-off image processing using a CLI rather than using GIMP or Photoshop? What about things that aren't easily automated, like color correction? There are some things that still require human input, and the process/export/evaluate/repeat concept doesn't save anyone any time.

By contrast: GUI tool that will do virtually all of the same batch processing as ImageMagick, giving users a simple to use GUI that does not take nearly as long to use or operate.

Comment Re:25 years, still garbage for the mainstream (Score 1) 316

When will Windows get rid of the registry?

Windows has 'the registry'...which for all its hate and faults is, from an objective standpoint, about as difficult to work with as .conf files.

And what is it about this GUI obsession with you millennials?

The GUI changes the paradigm from 'fill in the blank' to 'multiple choice'. I can find what I want to do and figure it out pretty simply, between programs, even ones I haven't used before. The CLI is great when you know all the switches, but I personally can never remember if it's chmod 644 -R /dev/null, or chmod -R 644 /dev/null. CLIs don't scale down well - something like 'creating a mailbox in Exchange' requires a massively long command that takes far longer to type than to click through the GUI wizard, so while making 100 mailboxes is faster in a CLI because it can be scripted or copy/pasted, making 1 mailbox without copy/pasting will always be quicker in a GUI...and there are endless examples of this sort of thing.

A good terminal (like bash) lets you do stuff faster and easier than any GUI. editing then? Or audio editing? Did you type this comment in Lynx, or Chrome/Firefox/Whatever? PC games? Again, it's only "faster and easier" if you already know the commands. If you don't know the commands, add in all the time it takes to discover the commands, read the man page to figure out what order the arguments go in, and then input it while substituting your own data properly. Also, how do commands deal with spaces and special characters? The command line absolutely has its place, but eschewing the GUI wholesale is just as ignorant as eschewing the CLI in its proper context.

It's also damn easier to give the advice to "open terminal, copy past these lines" than it is to have to create multiple screen shots of how to do the same thing in a GUI and then hope and pray that the end user is using the same language and version of OS as you do.

Yes. And in those cases where that is properly done, it most definitely is preferable. However, anything other than a perfect set of copy/paste lines gets very complicated, very quickly. I tried five times to get Rocket.Chat installed in a Linux VM, before I gave up and asked my friend to help. He did, and the server is up now, but when the copy/paste directions are incorrect, change between versions, make assumptions that aren't there, or are otherwise ineffective, now any advantage to a CLI over a GUI is completely gone.

Comment Re:Professional level audio experience (Score 5, Insightful) 316

Ardour is great, and so is Reaper. The existence of a solid DAW on Linux isn't the issue at this point.

First, one of the major issues is inertia - Logic Pro, Ableton, ProTools, Cubase, Sonar, and FL Studio are all respected names in the field, with lots of users, forums, and ecosystems around them. Audio engineering is very susceptible to a herd mentality, because anyone who uses something different will be told to join the herd, rather than getting actual support.

Next, audio engineering is much more hardware dependent than most CS/IT disciplines. For us, 'input' basically consists of keyboards and NICs, which are interchangeable. Pro audio involves audio interfaces from Tascam, Presonus, M-Audio, and FocusRite, with MIDI controllers ranging from Korg/Yamaha keyboards to guitar pedals and drum pads. We'll circle back to the interface problems in a moment, but the MIDI controllers are largely USB now, meaning there are abstraction layers that may require specialized drivers, mapping software, and plug-ins.

Back to the audio interface question, amongst the major things we have here is that Jack/Alsa are fine for desktops with Realtek chipsets, but when you're dealing with thousand dollar interfaces that can record sixteen channels of audio in real-time with 1ms latency, Jack and Alsa just don't cut it. OSX has CoreAudio and Windows has ASIO, both of which are industry standards that work with those interfaces. Linux would need something similar to it, but even if such a thing were to come into existence, support by the hardware OEMs is certainly not coming into place overnight. Meanwhile, those OEMs need to sell gear, which means that CoreAudio and ASIO handle over 99% of the market, and no one seems to be chomping at the bit to write yet another audio system for Linux to even provide a viable target. Reaper and Ardour could well start on that, but now you have DAW devs stuck writing middleware that already exists on Windows and OSX.

I look forward to it happening, but it's a pipe dream right now. Hardware OEMs are targeting ASIO and CoreAudio, plug-in writers are targeting Ableton, Protools, and VST hosts, industry standard DAWs are targeting Windows and OSX, and a soup-to-nuts Linux ecosystem would require cooperation from everyone at the same time for a market segment that's super picky at best.

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