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What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?

Alkonaut My shortlist (598 comments)

  • - Structured programming.
  • - Programming paradigms and their differences and benefits (functional/procedural/declarative/imperative/object oriented), how to choose language/paradigm depending on problem, and useful patterns and strategies for each.
  • - Type systems (weak/strong/dynamic/strict). Drawbacks and benefits
  • - Basic development methodology (version control, testing, error handling, debugging, ALM, documentation).
  • - "Data structures and algorithms" i.e. basic discrete math, complexity theory, data structures and their algorithms.
  • - Some low level knowledge: basic understanding of how a computer works, how memory/cache/file systems and OS:es work. What's two's complement? What's epsilon for IEEE 32 bit floats?
  • - Basic computer security, encryption and hashing.

I think databases, "The unix philosophy" etc. are more controversial and should not be on the essential shortlist.

about a year ago
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What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?

Alkonaut Re:databases (598 comments)

If you work on games, desktop applications, web frontend etc. the database is by no means essential. I have programmed for many years, mostly heavy desktop applications, without having to use relational databases (of course there is *data* but usually structured in binary, text or xml). I can see your point about structures and pointers being somewhat analogous to tables and relations *but* unless you are converting a DBA into a developer, wouldn't most developers see it the other way around? That is, when they see a relational db table for the first time (having coded for a while) they see the similarity to a struct or object?

about a year ago
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How To Turn Your Pile of Code Into an Open Source Project

Alkonaut Re: Approachable download for the way! (176 comments)

I think "tarball" makes very few people enthusiastic. Most people run windows (honestly people who know what "tarball" is are a rounding error) and prefer a zip or installer for applications, and a zip or package (nuget/npm/gem/etc) for source. When running Linux I don't care whether I get a git repo url or a tgz, they are about equally cumbersome.

about a year ago
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Break Microsoft Up

Alkonaut Re:Amusing (355 comments)

Well during the rise of Linux servers on both ends of the spectrum, microsofts revenues from its server business has been very good.

about a year ago
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Break Microsoft Up

Alkonaut Re:Amusing (355 comments)

People think of microsoft as making Windows, Office while failing with mobile and games. But you need to look a bit wider to see the whole picture. They have moved in on servers, making Windows Server quite a large player where mainframe systems used to rule. They have successfully moved in (through aquisitions) on the business system area, taking a large chunk out of the revenue of companies like SAP/Oracle. If you include Business systems, Databases, Servers etc. you will see that not only are they either enjoying there monopoly OR failing, they are actually quite successful in areas where they never had a monopoly.

about a year ago
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Transport Expert Insists 'Don't Dismiss Wacky Hyperloop'

Alkonaut Re:Sure it's a loopy idea (385 comments)

Leaving more often is convenient, but to calculate the cost per passenger journey you still need to look at the total cost of all the trips over the lifespan of the system. The convenience of fast and regular departures may be what lures people from the roads to the hyperloop (that wouldn't otherwise have taken the train), which is a good point. But still: one order of magnitude cheaper than HST is no big deal if the total passenger throughput is an order of magnitude lower!

about a year ago
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Transport Expert Insists 'Don't Dismiss Wacky Hyperloop'

Alkonaut Re:Sure it's a loopy idea (385 comments)

You do two things: 1) don't go into the actual city centers and 2) follow the corridor of an existing highway. But (and this is a big but) if you don't go into the city centers you lose a lot of the convenience of the small scale travel, and the idea becomes less competitive compared to air travel. High speed trains cost ten times more but transport ten times the amount of passengers. So the only way the hyperloop is a better idea is if you don't need the volumes that the high speed trains will give you.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is There a Good Device Holster?

Alkonaut Just get a bag (296 comments)

Just get a bag. Backpack or sling-type bag, depending on preference. Don't use belt pouches or anything like that. Ever. It doesn't make you look like a geek or hipster, it makes you look like an idiot. It's like having a bluetooth phone thing on your ear. Sure if you can strap a thing to your body under a jacket like a gun holster that is probably a good thing, it won't attract pickpockets and you won't have to carry a bag. But then you can't take yuor jacket off without looking like an idiot.

about a year ago
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Despite Global Release, Breaking Bad Heavily Pirated

Alkonaut Even record companies have got this by now (443 comments)

I expect to watch movie releases and TV shows at my discretion, without commercials. I expect it to always be possible because of the "analog hole", the question is only whether it will always be more convenient. I'm ready to pay for it if tre price is right. Only spotify have so far been able to reach the cost/convenience treshold by offering all the music I need at a fixed cost. The only way to stop pirating of TV/movies would be the same thing: A stupidly simple interface, available on everyone's TV (i.e. has to be on all TV's, consoles, devices) and with everything you want to watch within a few clicks. Dealing with cable companies and TV channel packages is analogous to signing up on a 12 month listening deal with a record company. A record company that only has half the artists you like. Its a business model that is dead in the water.

about a year ago
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Scanner Identifies Malware Strains, Could Be Future of AV

Alkonaut Re:No it isn't. - Whitelists (70 comments)

The whitelisting should of course be of the "walled garden" variety. For 99% of users, hardware based protections such as TPM is a good thing. Even having the option to whitelist arbitrary software should probably be a poweruser feature.

about a year and a half ago
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Scanner Identifies Malware Strains, Could Be Future of AV

Alkonaut Re:No it isn't. - Whitelists (70 comments)

Groups with large resources (such as governments) can always exploit. They can either find a vulnerability that they can exploit without being detected by blacklists, or they can exploit the whitelist system. Whitelists, would not get rid of stuxnet-type attacks, but it would probably get rid of the 99% of attacks that are driving botnets around the world and so on.

about a year and a half ago
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Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

Alkonaut Re:Microsoft's attempt at a do-everything box (782 comments)

You sir are a rounding error in microsofts bottom line. Next you'll say you don't want always on requirements, and after that you'll want to sell "used games". I think you need to look elsewhere for your gaming fix.

about a year and a half ago
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Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

Alkonaut Re:oh i see (782 comments)

First of all they will probably sell it at zero or negative margin in the beginning meaning it may be a decent "gaming PC" for the money. Second, it has some hardware and software features that a PC doesn't, so it can probably squeeze out a bit more performance from the same dollar, than a computer running a desktop OS does. Developers also have a fixed hardware target so they can cut corners and do optimizations that aren't possible in PC games. Lastly, even though it has been theoretically possible to e.g. play a game of FIFA with 3 friends on a PC on your big screen TV, it is just so much simpler to do so on a console.

about a year and a half ago
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Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

Alkonaut Re:Really? in 2013/4 (782 comments)

You could have had a dual titan graphics card and 32Gb of ram of course. But the price point is fixed, so you can't. For a the cost of the 500Gb mechanical you can get a, what, 64GB solid state? A (low) cap on installed games feels like a larger problem than load times. The new box will come in several iterations over the coming years, and solid state will be one of the first things that will be added. Also, it is probably user replaceable if you are adventurous. I don't see it as a big problem. That said, we haven't seen the price tag yet, so the 500GB mechanical better mean that it is priced the same as the 360 was at launch then.

about a year and a half ago
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Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

Alkonaut Re:Multitasking Irony. (782 comments)

Let me set you straight: the multitasking is pretty much identical to the "modern" UI in Win8. You can snap one more thing to the side. Doesn't seem to be any more in the xbox, but not less either.

about a year and a half ago
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Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

Alkonaut Re:Will Need Major Support from TV Providers (782 comments)

The interesting bit is how they plan to do the TV integration. They gave no clues in the presentation as far as I could see. I suppose in the US there are some large providers (Comcast, DirecTV and so on), but where I'm at I use an IP-tv provider that really stinks (I cannot even physically get cable or satellite to my home), and would switch instantly if Microsoft signed a deal with something half-decent in IPTV.

Very interested to see them reveal what their "global" plan for TV/Entertainment is. A limited deal with one provider in the US (and a few select sports leagues in the US) would feel like a big meh on the rest of the planet.

about a year and a half ago
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Microsoft Unveils Xbox One

Alkonaut Re:Microsoft's attempt at a do-everything box (782 comments)

Well, to be honest the gaming is the simple bit. You know that if you upgrade a gaming rig after 5 years it will be awesome. And all the gamers just want the next Halo/Fifa/CoD anyway, so what more do you want? Microsoft seem confident to take the livingroom before Sony/Samsung/LG/Apple/Google do, so this is their attempt. I think they are pretty confident in their gamer-customer base.

about a year and a half ago
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Smartest Light Bulbs Ever, Dumbest Idea Ever?

Alkonaut Are standard bulbs/sockets really enough? (235 comments)

This would be great if it wasn't for the fact that during the last decade(s) people have been fitting multi-socket halogen fixtures instead of single bulb standard socket fixtures in their homes. I'd definitely love having an app-controlled lighting system, but it would have to be much more flexible than just a bulb or single socket solution. For light fixtures with several low power halogen lights I'd have to hide the control unit somewhere before the power is split to the individual halogens, i.e. somewhere in the fixture or as a special lightswitch (essenially then a controllable dimmner switch). All the light fixtures that already have dimmers would have to go the same way: the wheel dimmer would have to be replaced by one that can be controlled by the app.

As long as I can dim 3 out of 4 lights but still have to get off my ass to go turn down the fourth light (at the same place where I could dim them all), there is very little gain. As soon as someone offers a simple solution that is expandable to existing switches, multi-socket fixtures and so on, i.e. beyond standard bulb/socket then I'm in.

about 2 years ago
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Report: Windows Blue Reaches Its First Milestone Build

Alkonaut Re:Let me guess...further deprecation of desktop a (199 comments)

I use windows 8 and don't get what the fuss is about. I basically don't use the metro interface and don't intend to ever do so until I can do ALL my work in it. That is, I don't dislike the UI per se, but dislike having to switch back and forth. I don't really care if MS gets a share of what I pay for applications either, but here is the chicken and egg problem: I won't buy any metro apps until I use that interface. I won't use that interface until I can use it exclusively. I won't use it exclusively until all my applications are there.

about 2 years ago
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Report: Windows Blue Reaches Its First Milestone Build

Alkonaut Re:Let me guess...further deprecation of desktop a (199 comments)

They will never, ever be able to remove support for the legacy desktop apps that is what keep customers from moving away from windows. What they WILL do however, is realize that home users don't really provide as much income as they should for microsoft. Apple is a shining example of a company that makes money from consumers, not business. Microsofts cash-cow is income from people using workstations and servers in offices around the world. So the question: How can microsoft make good business from consumers, without risking their revenue stream from business? Answer: by separating the tiers further. Make desktop/legacy a "premium" product, and sell the consumer OS cheaper by forcing users to adopt apps that give MS a piece of the revenue. I predict that the desktop will live forever, but only in the higher SKU:s of windows. Meanwhile, microsofts "Home"/OEM offerings of windows will steadily become cheaper and slowly move into an apps-only ecosystem.

about 2 years ago

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