* Posts by ricegf

106 posts • joined 11 Feb 2011


84-year-old fined €250,000 for keeping Nazi war machines – including tank – in basement


Re: WTF?

Unless you decide to join a gang or otherwise commit suicide, your odds of being shot in the USA is much less than your odds of being stuck by lightning. Not to drag facts into an emotional discussion, of course.

LibreOffice 7.2 release candidate reveals effort to be Microsoft-compatible


Back when I worked a corporate job, we had to switch one large team away from Word because its conditional text feature regularly corrupted documents. Fixing corrupted Word documents was actually a line item in their budget, as I recall. (We moved to FrameMaker, I believe, because the team had used it earlier and thus needed little training to implement the switch.)

In general, back when I used Office, I found less popular features to be bug-ridden and unreliable, but perhaps we were just above the safe power user level. I've personally had fewer problems with LO. *shrug*


Re: Surprised

This is a feature, not a bug. But LO has several alternate UI configurations, even the abominable ribbon one.

I actually had to switch my last book from Word to Writer because Word kept moving images outside the margins. The bug report on it was rather old - no idea if it has been fixed since, because I don't see a reason to switch back, being happily non-corporate now.


Re: Use early Microsoft formats where possible for interchange

Or just txt or md - though in all 4 cases complex formatting is lost.


Reveal Codes RIP

WordPerfect's Reveal Codes (which were an unrelated precursor to the web's HTML) was the last time I felt truly in control of a document's content and layout. That Microsoft used their Windows monopoly to cram Word down corporate throats will forever be to their shame - not that Gates' or Ballmer's Microsoft had any. At least Sayella has given up his predecessors' irrational jihad against free and open source software.

Kaspersky Password Manager's random password generator was about as random as your wall clock


The Only Safe Password

The only Safe Password is twelve words rolled using the Diceware tables. In a darkened closet. With death metal music playing at full volume. Rolled with hand-carved dice. That you smash immediately thereafter with a sledgehammer.

LibreOffice community protests at promotion of paid-for editions, board says: 'LibreOffice will always be free software'


Re: This has been handled badly, but it's not beyond hope.

They don't pretend to be honest - or did you miss the entire "Would you like to switch to Edge? Yes or Yes?" fiasco?

Pro tip: Plug in your Tesla S when clocking off, lest you run out of juice mid hot pursuit


It's actually a strength of battery operated vehicles: They are fully refueled at start of shift, so officers never needed to visit a petrol pump - IF the vehicle is connected to the mains while at the station house. But as the article briefly notes, ignoring fuel levels never ends well regardless of whether you store the energy as petrol, diesel, electrons, hydrogen, or a wound-up rubber band.

Back to drawing board as Google cans AI ethics council amid complaints over right-wing member


"Oppose immigration"?

She doesn't "oppose immigration". She opposes immigration that violates immigration law - like pretty much every other country on the planet. Orwellian newspeak is a poor substitute for rational debate.

Pointless US Congress net neutrality vote will take place tomorrow!


"I think the point is that Democrats aren't actually in government right now. So they can't do anything but try pointless things."

If that's their point, it's badly damaged by their claim that the LAST time they held the presidency and both houses of Congress (by overwhelming majorities) that the Republicans blocked them at every turn but one.

Why are the Democrats so dang impotent now when they are only *one vote* short in the Senate and reasonably close in the House? You frustrate me, Ds!


More of the Same

So the Democrats are running in the midterms on 2 main promises: "We'll impeach the president" and "We'll raise your taxes". Always popular slogans. 8-(

I wonder if the Republicans are funding the Democratic ads this time around? I certainly would!

Revenge pornography ban tramples free speech, law tossed out – where else but Texas!


"Several revenge porn laws have run into constitutional problems."

So... NOT only in Texas, then.

Tech giants' payouts go to everyone but affected citizens. US Supremes now urged to sort it out


Re: Here's my two cents

If The Jerk could do it, so can they! https://youtu.be/qaz2hxZLycY

T-Mobile US let hackers nick my phone number, drain my crypto-wallets, cries man who lost $20k


"Surely a username/password was also required?"

Yes. From the article:

"From there, the thieves used the cell number to reset the password on Tapang's online cryptocurrency account – which was linked to that number – and then take over its wallets and drain his funds."

Electric cars to create new peak hour when they all need a charge


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

It's not necessary to eliminate all fossil fuels, only to reduce fossil fuel use to where plant life can handle the CO2 load again. It's fine to use natural gas as the last line of defense against a significant voltage drop, though we have other options and potential options to explore first.


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

You'll likely be a late EV adopter. No shame in that. Us boxed in types will thus pay for the research that delivers a 1000 mile range EV that recharges in 5 minutes to your grandchildren. ;-)


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

A tree takes carbon from the atmosphere and sequesters it in wood. You burn the wood and release the carbon. Net change in CO2 this century is zero.

You burn coal, releasing carbon sequestered millions is years ago. Net increase in CO2 this century is significant.

The percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere had been rising steadily since about 1950, indicating that we've saturated the ability of plant life to handle the supply.

We don't know for certain the impact of a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, but "bad" is pretty likely.

So, investing in not releasing long sequestered CO2 is a very good idea.

Releasing briefly sequestered CO2 is the better option of the two. Capturing and using fusion power arriving daily from the nearest star is even better.

Importing wood pellets from the USA is rather suboptimal for the UK, though. :-)


Re: here are a number of companies out there...

They sell 100% renewable energy. You're thinking power, which is a different thing. You shouldn't mock others because you lack a basic knowledge of science.


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

Your insults are misdirected. Had the author correctly written "Does their supply drop out at night IF there's no wind?", he would have been understood.


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

No. Refrigeration, A/C and heat, water heaters, EV charging, laptop charging, and the like don't require constant power. Demand can be moved around by minutes to balance out spikes in grid demand.

Appliances that require constant power such as stoves and non-battery electronics obviously get priority access.

Really, engineers aren't as stupid as you seem to believe. We've solved FAR harder problems than this!


Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

Not at all obviously. I'm an electrical engineer, and (respectfully) you're confusing power and energy.

Energy is the potential to do work, such as moving a car. The "power company" sells, and the battery stores, energy measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Power is the instant motive force that actually stores energy into the battery or accelerates the car, measured in kilowatts (kW).

The grid isn't the Internet, routing power instantaneously from the wind farm to your house. Power is added to and consumed from the aggregate grid minute by minute in careful balance. So the power feeding my EV battery is "obviously" from a mix of fuels. You're right as rain about that.

But the energy for which I pay is 100% wind energy. That is, if my EV uses 150 kWh this month, the local wind farm adds 150 kWh to the grid during the month, and I pay them $9. This is what EV owners mean when they say their EV runs on 100% wind energy.

So, I can power my EV with 100% wind energy without any grid instability at my house at all.

The UK has actually reached 100% renewable power inputs at slack times, btw. Managing a grid with a large portion of renewable energy requires care, but solving technical challenges is what engineers do. Trust me, it's doable, as is continuing to upgrade grid capacity to continue to track increasing demand. We've been doing it successfully for over a century, and the slow transition from petrol to electricity allows ample time to manage the grid properly.


Re: actually no

Consider a Chevy Bolt, with 238 miles of range, or a Model 3, with 215 miles, or even a 2018 LEAF, with 151 miles (USA EPA ranges).

The average US commute is 30 miles total. Do we expect drivers (who lack workplace slow charging) to plan over 100 miles of errands in the typical evening?

On the rare occasion where they will be traveling to a distance city, say for a concert or sporting event, a quick charge replaces those 30 miles of range in under 10 minutes, even at today's leisurely 120 kW charge rate.

In the next few years, the problem becomes even more moot, with fast charge rates of 350 kW already specified for the Common Charging Standard, and ranges up to 620 miles already announced.

So, I don't believe this is will be a problem for the vast majority of drivers even in the near future.

Linux Mint 18.3: A breath of fresh air? Well, it's a step into the unGNOME


Re: Great OS

Cntl-Alt-t is the 3-finger salute to bring up a terminal in Cinnamon as well as all other desktops I've tried. Type 'xkill', then simply click the hung application to close it.

If the windowing system is unresponsive due to the hung app, don't reboot as in Windows. Instead, use ctrl-alt-1 and login to the console. Type 'ps -ef', find the process id of the hung application from the list, and type 'kill [process id]' or (if it's so hung that it won't respond to the kill signal) 'kill -9 [process id]'. Then type 'exit' to logout, and use ctrl-alt-7 to return to the gui.

The Ubuntu forums are a great resource for learning Linux, btw.

Back to the future: Honda's new electric car can go an incredible 80 miles!


Re: 80mile range?

"As for charging points... These are a joke. Operated by different companies with different connectors. CHADEMO, Type 2 or whaever. It is a minefield. To run an EV car, you have to sign up to at least two different Charging point operators."

*sigh* It pains me to see so many upvotes for a fundamentally flawed paragraph such as this (I say this gently and without intending offense). Here's the reality.

Every single EV on the market today supports the standard connector used in that region - called J1772 in the USA and Mennekes in the UK and Europe. These are used for slower charging - overnight at home, at work, or at a destination such as a hotel or theatre.

Every single EV on the market that supports rapid charging supports EITHER a fully compatible superset of the slower regional standard universally called the Combined Charging Standard (CCS), OR the older Japanese CHAdeMO standard. These are used for recharging in under an hour when traveling.

Tesla also has their Supercharger network with proprietary connectors that only a Tesla vehicle can use, but a Tesla vehicle can certainly use the slower regional standard via an included adapter, and the CHAdeMO rapid standard via an available adapter - rather like a USB to USB-C charging adapter.

So what do rapid charge stations do? Exactly what petrol pumps do - they support both standards! A petrol pump supplies gasoline (often in 3 grades) via one hose and diesel via the other. Rapid charge stations simply provide two connectors, one for CCS and the other for CHAdeMO. It's impossible to plug the wrong connector into your car, unlike putting the wrong grade of gasoline into your car - or worse, a diesel truck!

BTW, I only belong to one charging network: EVgo. I've never needed any other membership to roam the DFW Metroplex, which is about twice the size of Northern Ireland, in my first-generation 80 mile range Leaf. All of their local stations support both CHAdeMO (used by my Leaf) and CCS. Your Membership May Vary. But yes, just accepting a credit card like the petrol pumps would be a definite step in the right direction as well. Just give it a little time. :-)

Hope this clears up the confusion about a "minefield" that is actually somewhat simpler than drivers currently face in petrol-fueled vehicles.


Re: Seems foolish

I commute in a 2012 Leaf (first-gen modern electric frog with Clarity's range), and A/C cuts range by 5 miles or less even in Texas summer heat - even less if the cabin is pre-conditioned while still connected to the grid. It's resistive heating and the cold battery during both days of the Texas winter that cuts range by double digits. So yeah, for most people ready to go electric, a current-gen Bolt or Model 3 makes more sense unless you're saving a LOT of money! Even with its limited range, though, we love our Leaf for driving around town, and are considering a Tesla to replace our remaining gasoline car.

El Reg just saved your Wikipedia Xmas



This was the last year of my annual Wikimedia Foundation donation. Having given my usual Christmas Bitcoins of appreciation, I was inundated with emails pleading for more. When I replied that I already gave as usual, I was told that their email deluge was my own fault for using a different email address than my only one for this year's gift. Right. If I want harassment, I'll find it elsewhere, thanks. Now to go review some new projects to support financially in 2017...

Guessing valid credit card numbers in six seconds? Priceless


Only 5 wrong guesses to lock a card for an hour? I could shut down the entire Visa network with only a modest DDOS attack with those rules!

US election pollsters weren't (very) wrong – statistically speaking


Re: You illustrate this perfectly!

Mr. Reagan inherited a dismal economy (even the incumbent openly admitted this) and worked with a congress held by Democrats for 20 solid years to turn things around. And turn them around he did, so much so that he won every single state except his opponent's home state in 1984 - and he only lost that by a slim margin. I think you are suffering from revisionist memory.


Re: Margin of error

In 2000, the media called Florida for Gore while the polls were still open, potentially discouraging many voters from voting after work. This may have flipped the state, or reduced the margin of victory, depending on which voters you believe were affected.

In 2016, the media called the national election for Clinton before election day, potentially discouraging many voters from voting at all. Given several very close states, this may have affected this election as well.

The media shouldn't call ANY election until ALL polls are firmly closed, including those still waiting in line.

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Re: @Eddy Ito - gerrymanding

Exactly that. For states with a voter initiative process, they should vote to replace the current "first post the post" system with "instant runoff". This voids the "throwing away your vote" argument that effectively blocks third parties from participating in the electoral process, and makes California's "only Democrats in November" laws unnecessary. Instead, voters can more accurately specify their preferences, e.g., "Sanders first, then Stein, then if all else fails" (holds nose) "Her".

Ubuntu daddy Mark Shuttleworth loses fight to cancel $20m bank fee


But Mark really DOES help pay for the features he wants! You?

"Hey, here's a silly idea. Listen to the small donors, too. Let us help pay for the features we want, even including support of features we don't want broken."

You're being sarcastic, I suppose? Because if you've downloaded Ubuntu over the past few years (from ubuntu.com/download/desktop), surely you would have noticed the second screen - the one that says "Tell us what we should do more... and put your money where your mouth is ;)", with the opportunity to donate money to various Ubuntu initiatives. I typically donate $25. You?

But you needn't stop there. If you're a Gnome fan, for example, try gnome.org/friends - you can Adopt a Hacker or Become a Philanthropist, or anything in between. Or maybe you prefer Cinnamon - try linuxmint.com/donors.php. Or maybe the huge KDE software system is more to your liking? kde.org/community/donations/

Your offer to tell volunteers what they should be doing is certain to be greatly appreciated, however, a nice little stack of certificates of appreciation would go further toward making your dreams reality that mere suggestions. Just... a suggestion. ;-)

Visual Studio running on OS X and Linux for free? SO close


Beware the License Agreement!

I have routinely dealt with legal reviews of license agreements for the past few decades, so I have developed a feel for where the problems lie. The license agreement included with the Visual Studio Code download for Linux is a disaster IMHO. Consider these terms:

"You may make one backup copy of the software, for reinstalling the software."

If you run nightly system backups, and keep a 30 day rotating image, you violate the agreement. And why in this day and age is a license agreement restricting the number of copies you may keep of a *freely downloadable application*???

"The term of this agreement is until 30/04/2016 (day/month/year) or next public release of the software, whichever is first."

The INSTANT a new version is released, whether you know about it or not, you must uninstall this release or you violate the agreement. Hope nothing in your applications depend on a feature removed in the next release, by the way.

"Some features in the software may enable collection of data from users of applications you develop using the software."

They not only collect data from you, as with (I suspect) most non-libre software, but also potentially from every user of every application you develop. 'I'll see your bet, Google, and raise you a generation of users.'

"If you give feedback about the software to Microsoft, you give to ... third parties, without charge, any patent rights needed for their products, technologies and services to use or interface with any specific parts of a Microsoft software or service that includes the feedback."

Nothing like a blanket gratis license of your patents to the entire world to raise a lawyer's eyebrow.

"The software contains third party components licensed under open source licenses with source code availability obligations. Copies of those licenses are included in the ThirdPartyNotices file or accompanying credits file... You may obtain the complete corresponding source code from us if and as required under the relevant open source licenses by sending a money order or check for $5.00 to: Source Code Compliance, Team, Microsoft Corporation... We may also make the source available at http://thirdpartysource.microsoft.com/."

ThirdPartyNotices.txt (wrong filename, but we'll let that pass) lists 81 packages. Source code is provided on the specified website for 3 of them. It's certainly *legal* to charge for the source of the other 78 packages, but how many companies actually require this in the Internet age?

It's also weird that you can't pay $5 for a copy of Visual Studio Code as far as I know - just the source code they *didn't* write. Again, not illegal, just... unusual.

I downloaded Code to try on my Ubuntu workstation, but after reading the license, I deleted it. I'll have to make do with one of the 146 other text editors and IDEs on my system. :-/

'Android on Windows': Microsoft tightens noose around neck, climbs on chair


Guess not

Sorry, they just made their announcement at Build, and Windows Phone 10 can NOT run Android (or iOS) apps "without the user having to do a thing". Rather, the source must be loaded into a development tool, and then ported to the Windows 10 environment (which has been extended to provide more, but not full, commonality with Android and iOS), and then extended if desired to make it look more like a native Windows application.

The good news is that a developer ends up with an actual Windows app (sort of) that will run on desktops and Xbox as well (though not necessarily *well*, depending on the app itself). The bad news is that it will take some non-trivial work per app to get there.

Also, they are unfortunately NOT providing Visual Studio for OS X and Linux, but Visual Studio *Code* - which is essentially just a text editor with Intellisense(tm). Most of the goodness isn't there (yet). But at least it's free. I may download it and give it a whirl on Ubuntu tonight, just to see how it compares to my favorite editors.

Not as much as we'd hoped, but a step in the right direction - if they choose to continue with Windows Phone long-term. However, they *desperately* need to sell a significant number of phones if they want to stay in the game, and "we can run some of the same apps as Android and iOS!" is a pretty weak marketing pitch, I'm afraid. :-/


Did you try it?

"OS/2 didn't have any unique features at all compared to everything else"

True multi-tasking? Large memory model? Object-centric UI paradigm? App persistence across reboots? Did you ever *use* OS/2 2.0 and Windows 3.0 on the same machine?

I was never much of an OS/2 fan, because I didn't have IBM hardware and it had stability issues on my clone - and kudos to IBM tech support for investing a full hour trying to debug those issues. But I spent that time trying to get it to work specifically because it had a lot of advantages to offer!


Re: Times change, business does not

Microsoft's best business strategy at this point is to just drop native Windows phones entirely and start manufacturing Cyanogenmod phones with Windows services. They've already established the business relationship, and Cyanogenmod already has excellent Android compatibility and a solid fan base. They can probably resurrect the Windows 8-like shell from the Nokia X code base for a Windows 10 complementary look and feel. And think of the free publicity and headlines - Microsoft launching an entire new product line based on Linux! Accept the inevitable - it's about profits, not pride.


To quote an old lady...

It's turtle speeds all the way down.


Whither Anti-Google Litigation?

"Google has no monopoly on phone OS."

That's true, as Amazon Fire and Cyanogenmod and a long list of unlicensed devices from (mostly) Asian manufacturers, as well as Blackberry and Microsoft's own compatibility layers, demonstrate. And if you purchase one of these devices, you can probably load Google Play on them (manually) and enjoy access to the Play store - though compatibility of apps isn't guaranteed, of course.

The complaint isn't focused solely or even primarily on Android, though, although Android running on 17 of 20 smartphones sold in the world does give Google an unhealthy influence over a critical market.

Rather, companies such as Yelp, Expedia, Foundem, Euro-Cities, ICOMP, Hot-Map, and 1plusV have asserted that Google unfairly directs searchers to their own services rather than more popular competitors on both mobile and desktops, in essence giving a special boost in rankings to properties in which they have financial interest. Google is also famously aggressive at collecting and analyzing personal data to provide exactly what each person wants, not always with the most fully transparent approach.

I've been a huge fan of Android as they battled Windows, iOS, Symbian, Blackberry, and the like, and Google's other services have made my life far more convenient. But their amazing success has made me a bit nervous. Am I certain that the results of my searches are representative of web content? Is their tailoring of search results biasing the information I consume and thus molding my opinions in their preferred image?

I'm ambivalent regarding this litigation in part from these concerns.

Summer bust-up expected with new Apple TV and Roku coming onstream


Re: Amazon Prime

@me 1: "Roku doesn't have Amazon Prime"

Is that a British thing?

Edit: Yes, of course it is. Should have read the link you posted. I'd downvote me if I could. :-(

We watch Amazon Prime on our Roku 3 quite often here in Texas. Actually, Roku 3 and the Tablo OTA PVR is what made ditching DirecTV such a clear step up, since we already had Prime for the "free" 2-day shipping and books for my wife's Kindle. And even with Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Sling for the live sports channels, we're saving about $55 a month.

Cyanogen said to be hoovering up cash, but NOT from Microsoft


Re: They're evil, not stupid

He said *practically* everything. They also make great keyboards and mice, a very nice (but unfortunately OS-locked) development environment called Visual Studio, a fairly decent managed language called C#, and a good Linux web hosting environment called Azure that also hosts Windows sites.

But the point is that Microsoft's DNA isn't to be A player, but to be THE player - to dominate entire product categories and strangle the innovation out of them to extract maximum profit. Think IE6 before the great Firefox liberation, or Windows Mobile before the iPhone, or Windows tablets before the iPad.

But despite massive investment, they've never replicated the cash-generating technorati-infuriating success of Windows and Office, and so by those standards, they are an aging 2-trick pony vulnerable to a herd of break-dancing young Arabians.

YEAR of the PENGUIN: A Linux mobile in 2015?


Re: Can you easily buy a Linux desktop/laptop from a major OEM yet?

EVERY major laptop vendor in North America sells at least one Linux-based laptop model, actually, most with the Chrome user environment pre-installed (i.e., Chromebooks). They sell quite well, too. They were the most popular product for education in the 2014-2015 school year, beating the iPad and leaving Windows in the dust, and 3 of the top 5 Amazon best selling laptops are Chromebooks as I write this (just checked).

The Gnu environment doesn't seem to attract mainstream users - or perhaps it's just lack of consistent marketing thus far - but like its smartphone Linux sibling, Chrome is certainly selling well!


Re: Are Canonical still waiting for Intel to make x86 Phablets a "Thing"?

"What tablet computers have they been building for about fifteen years?"

Microsoft and their manufacturing partners introduced their first tablet PC back in 2002, which was about 12 years ago. Read all about'em at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Tablet_PC.


Re: Sorted the desktop out?

My first thought on reading your comment was "AcetoneISO? What the heck is that?" I've used Linux full-time at home since 2000, and mostly at work since 2011, and I've never even heard of it.

Found it on Sourceforge (I remember Sourceforge!). Last release was 18 months ago (!). 332 total downloads EVER. Says this about itself: "It is a feature-rich and complete software application to manage CD/DVD images. AcetoneISO will let You mount typical proprietary images formats of the Windows world such as ISO BIN NRG MDF IMG and do plenty of other things."

So... It's a little-maintained app that deals with obscure optical media formats, which most people have probably never even HEARD of.

So tell me - have you honestly never seen a badly written Windows shareware application? THAT'S what you picked as an example of "what's wrong with Linux"?


If at first you don't succeed ... Fire, FIRE again: Amazon mulls smartphone sequel

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Re: Anything to keep fooling the investors

Usually we chide American investors for their impatience. Why in the world would you chide them for *patience*?

Amazon investors have been very patient because their strategy is working - market share continues to grow, and many initiatives are positioning Amazon to compete effectively with behemoths like Walmart and Target. Investing for the long term is ultimately the winning financial strategy in life.

Elon Musk and ex-Google man mull flinging 700 internet satellites into orbit


Re: isn't there enough shrapnel orbiting this ball?

I found the movie Gravity to be very entertaining, inspiring, and totally lacking in virtually any semblance of reality with regard to space technology, science, or reality. The idea that the explosion of a satellite would send a shrapnel cloud around earth at much higher velocity (yet in the exact same orbit?) as the Hubble, the ISS (when did it move to the Hubble's orbit?), and the Chinese space station (which exists only in Hollywood's fevered imagination) is pure dramatic license.

Basing actual space policy advocacy on a movie is rather frightening, actually.

One Windows? How does that work... and WTF is a Universal App?


Re: WTF is a Universal App?

Most people call them "web apps". The more modern (lower case "m") environments allow you to "install" and run them exactly like native apps.

Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps


Re: Can you say, "Read between the lines...", boys and girls?

"...not being able to print..."

Odd. Mine prints just fine.

"...no serial port..."

Odd. When I connect USB devices into those ports with USB logos over them - mouse, file system device, etc. - they seem to work just fine.

"...not being able to store and run YOUR software..."

Odd. MY software (which I write in Python ftw) seems to run just fine.

Methinks you've never actually used a Chromebook at all. Right?

Amazon 'adware' laden Ubuntu passes ICO's data smell test


A Contrarian View

A lot of grumbling here aimed at Canonical. Please allow me to offer a humble difference of opinion, as someone who is enthusiastic about libre software and who adopted Linux in 2000 and Ubuntu (non-exclusively) in 2006.

I too left Ubuntu for Mint shortly after Unity was introduced - slow, buggy, limited functionality, *different* from Gnome's logical and beloved tri-menu - but I returned at the next release as improvements began to address my concerns. I test a lot of distros, and use SUSE and Red Hat heavily at work, but Unity is now my favorite interface. I use it exclusively on my dual-monitor home workstation - clean, fast, and productive. I particularly love hiding the menus in the title bars - it works despite my initial misgivings, and is quite clever and efficient!

I'm also not angry at Canonical for attempting to generate income from their consumer-centric product. The other options - pay by SKU aka Microsoft, premium proprietary hardware requirements aka Apple, or overt aggregation of personal data for profit aka Google - strike me as much less desirable. I realize you'd like for Ubuntu to just be free, like air, but to be commercially viable in the long-term, Canonical must have consistent revenue, and anonymous ads are the least objectionable revenue stream for a commercial company that I've yet seen.

We've always had free, geeks-only options like Debian, and I certainly don't want to lose them (nor do I think Canonical threatens them in the slightest). Two thumbs WAY up for free-as-in-liberty software. But I've become convinced that those projects and products will always be niche products, unknown by the mainstream. I would like to see at least a few Gnu Linux-based products aim to achieve enough commercial success that a broader audience could experience its benefits and know they have a choice. Canonical is investing a lot of Mark's money to make that happen, making what I consider reasonable and pragmatic decisions, and I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt.

And yes, if it is of similar quality to desktops based on Unity, I'll buy an Ubuntu phone when they launch this year. Still wish I could be using my Edge by now. :-)

Dungeons & Dragons relaunches with 'freemium' version 5.0


Re: Anyone remember Dragon Warriors?

Ah, yes - Death Test, Silver Dragon, and other modules you could actually play solo. Wonder if anyone ever found the gold... What was it? A golden orc or something. Hidden somewhere in the Midwest USA, as I recall. Metagaming went out of business before the finder was announced, Steve Jackson went on to GURPS , and now I'll never know...


"Good" varies widely - whaddaya like?

My kids, grandkids, and I actually added so many in-house rules that we finally just wrote and published our own manual from scratch on Amazon (called it "Elven Fire"), because it was cheaper to print a whole new book than addenda on a laser printer. Published it under CC, of course, to ensure my GREAT-grandchildren-to-be and friends can make their own variants if they like. Really, this is a great time to be alive!

Fun for us includes using bizarre dice - in addition to 5-, 7-, 14-, and 30-sided, we've also used backgammon doubling dice and nested double-dice and 3D printed dice and special rules on max and doubles rolls to provide exponential probability distributions. (One friend who played with us drily commented, "You guys like math, don't you?" :-D )

But in the end, the rules you adopt matter much less than the right players. We fall out of our chairs sometimes laughing at the predicaments into which we thrust out avatars sometimes, and that's what matters to us!

Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops


Re: Accessing data , and Chromebooks

I back up my documents as ODF, of course. It's a non-proprietary format, unlike Office formats, and fully supported by Docs. I also use InSync Pro to replicate Drive files to my Ubuntu workstation, and rsync to create snapshots for offline backup under my personal control, so I'm not dependent on the Google or MS cloud.

I added a free text editor from Play to my Chromebook. Like Docs, and in fact most of my tools and games, it works just fine offline.

If you want more than Chrome offers, though, load Crouton, an Ubuntu distribution tailored for Chromebooks - even if you have an ARM Chromebook (unlike MS ARM devices, Google always provides a simple keystroke to unlock the bootloader). It runs simultaneous to Chrome (no disk-boot or VM - same kernel) and is light enough for low-end hardware. Unity works well with touch on my C720P, too.

So I guess I miss completely any mechanisms at all by which Googly is seeking anything resembling Microsoft's epic levels of lock-in. Have you ever used a Chromebook?



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