Greg's recent activity

  1. Comment on Sad state of cross platform GUI frameworks in ~comp

    Greg
    Link Parent
    From the way he writes, it seems like he genuinely doesn't entertain the idea that other people interact with technology differently to how he does. You really can't see the difference in end user...

    From the way he writes, it seems like he genuinely doesn't entertain the idea that other people interact with technology differently to how he does.

    I can’t quite figure it out, why do people prefer writing Electron apps as opposed of having a thin backend layer that communicates with the frontend in the user’s existing browser via websockets or long polling or whatever. All you need to do is create a small native wrapper that opens a new tab in the user’s existing browser and package it in an platform specific installer.

    You really can't see the difference in end user experience between something that looks and behaves like its own, dedicated, standalone application with all that implies, compared to just opening a random tab somewhere in the user's browser? You can't see how one is clearer from a UX perspective? You can't see how, even if they happen to be functionally identical in your use case, the blurred line between dedicated application and web page could be confusing to a less technical user?

    Even putting all that aside, bundling the major dependency (browser engine) compared to relying on whatever configuration the user happens to have is a vast win for the developer. He acknowledges it further up with a bundled JRE installer, so why not here as well?

    I don't even like Electron that much, but claiming not to understand why it's valuable (even if not optimal) makes me think less of him, not think less of it.

    The icing on the cake is the casual dismissal of mobile applications towards the end. I spent the whole article thinking that "cross platform" in 2020 can't reasonably exclude iOS and Android, only to find out at the end that he did so intentionally.

    Like it or not (and again, I have a lot of concerns about walled garden operating systems and their increasing prevalence), phones are the primary mode of interaction for the majority of users and the only one for many millions of people globally. If you consider that irrelevant, you're building for yourself rather than for the user.

    4 votes
  2. Comment on Why authors are so angry about the Internet Archive’s Emergency Library in ~books

    Greg
    Link Parent
    First-sale doctrine says that the author doesn't get to make that determination. Libraries (or individuals, for that matter) don't need a special license to lend a book, they just need to legally...

    First-sale doctrine says that the author doesn't get to make that determination. Libraries (or individuals, for that matter) don't need a special license to lend a book, they just need to legally own the copy they're lending.

    8 votes
  3. Comment on Why authors are so angry about the Internet Archive’s Emergency Library in ~books

    Greg
    Link Parent
    My understanding is that every book was obtained legally and (up until now) they only lent as many digital copies as they had physical copies on the shelf. Saying that the books were obtained...

    This book repository has books that were not legally purchased or contracted and is therefore housing illegal product

    My understanding is that every book was obtained legally and (up until now) they only lent as many digital copies as they had physical copies on the shelf.

    Saying that the books were obtained illegally does them a serious disservice, in my opinion.

    taking that illegal product is by definition stealing

    Since, as you say yourself, we're having a discussion of nuances and philosophy here as much as practicality, I want to say emphatically that copyright infringement is not stealing. One might argue that it's as bad as stealing, but the fact remains that theft inherently deprives another person of something whereas copyright infringement does not.

    Because it's copying, we get to play some more interesting philosophical games, in fact. What if, for example, the library lent out extras now but kept track of how many cumulative weeks a book racked up during this period and then kept it out of circulation for a corresponding period later? Would that change the morality of the situation? Could there even be a spirited argument for it changing the legality of the situation, as the total number of book-weeks is conserved?

    That example wasn't even intended to be as absurd as it sounds now I read it back, but I think that alone shows that we're playing in interesting territory.

    7 votes
  4. Comment on Apple has acquired the Dark Sky weather app - Android version and website will shut down on July 1, API active through end of 2021 in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I actually contemplated mentioning E-E-E explicitly, because I don't really disagree with you. I think Google is probably the more dangerous of the two at a global scale, but the fact remains that...

    I actually contemplated mentioning E-E-E explicitly, because I don't really disagree with you.

    I think Google is probably the more dangerous of the two at a global scale, but the fact remains that there still is generally an escape hatch for users to take their own data, fork their own implementation, and so forth, at least for now. Perhaps I'm being naïve in thinking that matters in the face of overwhelming corporate might and millions of hours of dev time - but it still gives me some comfort.

  5. Comment on What's a good way to learn how to maintain my own computer hardware? in ~comp

    Greg
    Link
    iFixit make amazingly thorough and detailed disassembly/repair tutorials - they originated as an Apple spare parts company, but they've expanded beyond that now and they're a big community voice...

    iFixit make amazingly thorough and detailed disassembly/repair tutorials - they originated as an Apple spare parts company, but they've expanded beyond that now and they're a big community voice for the right and ability to repair your hardware.

    I find their teardowns particularly interesting; if you want to get an idea of how a (somewhat specialist) modern desktop is put together then the 2019 Mac Pro disassembly will give you a fairly solid overview.

    12 votes
  6. Comment on Apple has acquired the Dark Sky weather app - Android version and website will shut down on July 1, API active through end of 2021 in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    They're also a big influence on the state of video delivery. VP9 could have been great if they'd allowed it to be prevalent, and I'm concerned that they might turn their back on AV1 as well....

    They're also a big influence on the state of video delivery. VP9 could have been great if they'd allowed it to be prevalent, and I'm concerned that they might turn their back on AV1 as well. Thankfully the fMP4 vs MPEG-TS issue was settled a couple of years back, meaning that DASH and HLS can share infrastructure, but they still use HLS to dictate policy rather than engaging with the open standard.

    3 votes
  7. Comment on Apple has acquired the Dark Sky weather app - Android version and website will shut down on July 1, API active through end of 2021 in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    That's an interesting one, actually. Google's influence is pervasive and inescapable, but broadly open: they support published standards (even if as a means to steer those standards in their own...

    That's an interesting one, actually. Google's influence is pervasive and inescapable, but broadly open: they support published standards (even if as a means to steer those standards in their own direction), they allow and even encourage data to be exported, they interoperate cleanly with competitors' solutions.

    Apple, on the other hand, are ultra insular. Our way or the highway. It means their influence is more contained within their own ecosystem, but when they do make a decision that leaks into the greater community there's very little option for integration.

    2 votes
  8. Comment on What have you been cooking during quarantine? in ~food

    Greg
    Link
    I've been eating so much more healthily that it's almost embarrassing. My normal schedule is the perfect storm of convenience lunches at the office, last-minute invitations to grab delicious,...

    I've been eating so much more healthily that it's almost embarrassing. My normal schedule is the perfect storm of convenience lunches at the office, last-minute invitations to grab delicious, fried, buttered, carb-laden dinners, and far too many evening delivery orders when I'm so flat and exhausted that I need some kind of indulgence. When I did make the effort to cook, it tended to be just that: effort. Big, elaborate dishes to try out some new technique or ingredient.

    Now all that's been turned upside down, I'm not usually making anything fancy: simple grilled meats, good quality vegetables, maybe some rice or pasta on the side; what I am doing is cooking proper fresh food for every meal. The restaurant suppliers around here have retooled to home delivery, so there are amazing ingredients coming to the door once a week or so. There's time to plan and time to keep an eye on things because I'm working a few steps away from my kitchen. There's a routine that I know won't be disturbed. There's suddenly room for me to have a better relationship with food than I have done for quite some time.

    5 votes
  9. Comment on Jitsi Meet: Secure, fully featured, and completely free video conferencing in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    There's Netflix Party if you want to keep exactly in sync, too. Everyone uses their own Netflix account, it just syncs the play/pause/skip events - and gives you a text chat on the side, but we've...

    There's Netflix Party if you want to keep exactly in sync, too. Everyone uses their own Netflix account, it just syncs the play/pause/skip events - and gives you a text chat on the side, but we've been ignoring that and running video chat at the same time.

    Zoom seems to have become the go-to, which I've gone along with in the interests of keeping in touch, but I'm dubious about their security history, and the 40 minute limit gets irritating. Tried Jitsi today for a chat and games session and it was great, so I'm going to push it for the next movie night too.

    4 votes
  10. Comment on Alternatives to desktop speakers in ~tech

    Greg
    Link
    Maybe oversimplifying a bit, but I'd probably just get a basic small speaker and drop it under the monitor. The Anker Soundcore does a very solid job, although I've heard that the cheaper JBL Go 2...

    Maybe oversimplifying a bit, but I'd probably just get a basic small speaker and drop it under the monitor. The Anker Soundcore does a very solid job, although I've heard that the cheaper JBL Go 2 edges it out on sound quality. They might not transport you to the Royal Albert Hall and bring a tear to your eye, but I've still been continually surprised at just how good some of these basic workhorse type speakers actually are.

    There's also the Sonos Beam up at the other end of the market if you want top end audio, which is a bit larger but still shouldn't be more than the footprint of a normal LCD.

    Since you mentioned biking as well, I wanted to drop in an honourable mention for the Sony WS410. They have an ambient audio mode which is essentially the exact opposite of noise cancelling - the mic picks up external sound and pipes it into the earbuds along with your music. They probably aren't quite what you want for home use, but I use a pair for exercising and I'm a big fan.

    2 votes
  11. Comment on Coronavirus measures could cause global food shortage, UN warns in ~food

    Greg
    Link Parent
    Irresponsible of the Guardian, or irresponsible of the UN economist who spoke to them? I feel as though both are in a fairly tough position: they have a moral obligation to disseminate information...

    Irresponsible of the Guardian, or irresponsible of the UN economist who spoke to them? I feel as though both are in a fairly tough position: they have a moral obligation to disseminate information to the public, but to do so in a way that doesn't cause undue panic, all while a large chunk of the media is profiting directly from intentionally spreading panic.

    3 votes
  12. Comment on Coronavirus measures could cause global food shortage, UN warns in ~food

    Greg
    Link
    I really, really hope this doesn't make the front pages, otherwise we're in for a whole new wave of panic buying that'll exacerbate the issue for everyone. The underlying point is a relatively...

    I really, really hope this doesn't make the front pages, otherwise we're in for a whole new wave of panic buying that'll exacerbate the issue for everyone. The underlying point is a relatively technical question of export restrictions and global trade; the ten-word message will easily morph into "We're running out of food and your family will starve", maybe even with a dash of nationalism added which will also exacerbate things. Even the relatively sober and factual Guardian headline is somewhat anxiety inducing.

    7 votes
  13. Comment on How to boost your home’s Wi-Fi in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I think they mean your ISP's public hotspot, which you may well have set up on your devices to use when you're away from home, because you probably get free access with your plan. It's quite...

    I think they mean your ISP's public hotspot, which you may well have set up on your devices to use when you're away from home, because you probably get free access with your plan. It's quite possible to hop over onto that without noticing, especially if you're in a spot that doesn't get good signal from your router.

    3 votes
  14. Comment on Wanting to play Pandemic during the pandemic in ~games.tabletop

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I think running the physical board alongside the virtual is a great idea! It'll make the process more satisfying and let you enjoy the attention to detail they've put into everything. Opening a...

    I think running the physical board alongside the virtual is a great idea! It'll make the process more satisfying and let you enjoy the attention to detail they've put into everything. Opening a physical box on camera at the end of each session and reading out the next bit in the story will add a bit of drama before clicking through and having everyone silently looking at the cards, too.

    2 votes
  15. Comment on Wanting to play Pandemic during the pandemic in ~games.tabletop

    Greg
    Link Parent
    Firstly, it's a great game; we played a more or less real-time campaign through 2018 and everyone really got into it. Fitting something like this to the current situation seems like a great way...

    Firstly, it's a great game; we played a more or less real-time campaign through 2018 and everyone really got into it. Fitting something like this to the current situation seems like a great way for everyone to keep in touch and inject a bit of normality into the days.

    In terms of remote gaming for groups I think Tabletop Simulator works very well - it does what it says on the tin, you get a 3D environment with a virtual tabletop that everyone can interact with. It does cost money, and everyone playing needs a copy. The interesting part is that there are then mostly fan-made versions of popular games (Pandemic Legacy included) freely available to download on Steam. The legality of this is questionable; the morality comes down to your own choice, but I think few people would make any argument against you since you already paid for a physical copy.

    4 votes
  16. Comment on Apple announces new MacBook Air and iPad Pro in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I've only played around in the store with the new ones (on the 16"), but to me they felt kind of mushy, compared to a more satisfying click on the 13" that I'm typing on now. The reliability on...

    I've only played around in the store with the new ones (on the 16"), but to me they felt kind of mushy, compared to a more satisfying click on the 13" that I'm typing on now. The reliability on the 13" is unequivocally terrible, so as you say making a change was the right decision, but on feel alone I wasn't convinced.

    1 vote
  17. Comment on Apple announces new MacBook Air and iPad Pro in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I'm increasingly anxious about a walled garden OS being used on a person's primary machine. It's a direction that the industry has been pushing for many years, and one that's almost unequivocally...

    I'm increasingly anxious about a walled garden OS being used on a person's primary machine. It's a direction that the industry has been pushing for many years, and one that's almost unequivocally anti-consumer.

    We might not see Apple kicking Microsoft or Google out of their ecosystem (although even that is possible), but smaller developers are likely to bear the brunt. High fees and anticompetitive practice almost go without saying, and on top of that we have already seen several years of overtly political policy making in the App Store. Even if Apple were irreproachably trustworthy, they still provide a single entity which governments can easily pressure into making decisions on my behalf - perhaps even governments far more repressive than my own.

    9 votes
  18. Comment on MathJax turns 3.0 in ~comp

    Greg
    Link Parent
    MathJax uses MathML internally for representation, so it's not necessarily an either/or question. The bit that MathJax does is interpreting and rendering LaTeX formatted equations (which are...

    MathJax uses MathML internally for representation, so it's not necessarily an either/or question. The bit that MathJax does is interpreting and rendering LaTeX formatted equations (which are ubiquitous in many academic fields) into consistent output for the web.

    I've used MathJax a good amount but only have the barest understanding of MathML, so I certainly couldn't comment on whether or not scientists should be using MathML directly rather than translating from LaTeX - but even if it were the most perfect and elegant markup ever devised, inertia would count for a whole lot and keep many systems on LaTeX for years to come.

    Although it's been a couple of years since I last used it, I'm very glad to see that MathJax is still getting serious development. It was one of the more significant sources of technical headaches in the project we were working on, but it did a damn good job of a very complex task. Having it do so without fighting against the rest of the codebase it's working alongside would be a big win!

    3 votes
  19. Comment on Coronavirus could force internet service providers to abandon data caps forever in ~tech

    Greg
    Link Parent
    I feel slightly absurd suggesting this, but if you can't trust the "WiFi off" setting, you could just wrap the whole thing in a couple of layers of kitchen foil and then hook your own router to...

    I feel slightly absurd suggesting this, but if you can't trust the "WiFi off" setting, you could just wrap the whole thing in a couple of layers of kitchen foil and then hook your own router to the ethernet port.

    8 votes