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GNOME Project Seeks Donations For Trademark Battle With Groupon

Brian Kendig Re:Why feed the lawyers? (268 comments)

These days, is there anything that's NOT on a computer?

about a month ago

GNOME Project Seeks Donations For Trademark Battle With Groupon

Brian Kendig Why feed the lawyers? (268 comments)

One is a desktop environment. The other is a tablet-based point of sale system. Who's going to confuse the two? "I wanted to install GNOME on my laptop, but instead it's asking me if I want to redeem a coupon."

Is GNOME going to challenge anyone who calls anything a gnome?

about a month ago

Foursquare Splits To Take On Yelp

Brian Kendig History repeats itself (24 comments)

"One of them ... is actually losing the original check-in functionality, in favor of local reviews and recommendations..."

Because this worked *so* well for Gowalla.

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?

Brian Kendig Re:LaunchBar (531 comments)

I used to swear by LaunchBar, but now the built-in Spotlight is good enough for me.

about 10 months ago

Google Blogger: Vietnamese HS Students Excelling At CS

Brian Kendig Algorithm (291 comments)

So, the programming problem posed in the article is:

"Given a data file describing a maze with diagonal walls, count the number of enclosed areas, and measure the size of the largest one."

Who wants to take a stab at an algorithm for that?

about a year and a half ago

Of the Love of Oldtimers - Dusting Off a Sun Fire V1280 Server

Brian Kendig "Old"? (281 comments)

"Dusting off" a ten-year-old computer? Pah. Wake me when you get the latest Linux kernel running on a Mac IIfx.

about 2 years ago

Valve and JJ Abrams Collaborating On Half-Life, Portal Movies

Brian Kendig Pacific Rim (208 comments)

GLaDOS is already in the upcoming Pacific Rim. http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/12/13/yes-that-actually-is-glados-in-the-pacific-rim-trailer/ Way looking forward to seeing that.

about 2 years ago

What Are the Unwritten Rules of Deleting Code?

Brian Kendig Be bold (384 comments)

As Wikipedia says, "Be bold." If you see code that needs to be deleted, delete it. Don't just leave it commented out and taking up space.

If you're removing functionality, then make sure you note this clearly in your commit summary, so that it can be found again if that functionality needs to be put back in.

Also, the article talks about rewriting code - throwing out the old and creating it again. This is generally a bad idea, even if you're starting with bad code, because all a rewrite does is exchange a known set of bugs for an unknown set of bugs.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Explain To a Coworker That He Writes Bad Code?

Brian Kendig What you need (683 comments)

You (and every other development shop) need:

* A coding standards document. Using one from a large open-source project (such as http://framework.zend.com/manual/1.12/en/coding-standard.coding-style.html or http://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/CodingStyle) is a good idea. This ensures that you do not have to spend any time being surprised or misled by how a piece of code is formatted.
* Unit tests. They make sure that your code continues to work the same way as you develop it. They also exert pressure to make sure that your units (individual functions to be tested) remain small and concise (or else the unit tests become a bear to write).
* Code reviews. This ensures that more than one person understands how a piece of code was written. It also means that the reviewee learns from your comments and you learn from his code and you both are better programmers for it.

And, most importantly:

* A manager who believes in all of the above and is willing to support and defend it.

If you have all this, then it ceases being a personal "you vs. him" issue, because you can objectively point out (to him, to your team lead, or to your manager) where he's violating the coding standards, where his unit tests are not adequate, or where he is ignoring his code reviews.

The alternative is what it sounds like you have now: cowboy programmers, quickly cranking out code that satisfies a need right now but will take huge amounts of time and money to maintain and extend in the future.

about 2 years ago

Ouya Dev Consoles Ship, SDK Released

Brian Kendig Ouya Dev Consoles Ship (169 comments)

"There there, ship." *pats the hull*

about 2 years ago

USB NeXT Keyboard With an Arduino Micro

Brian Kendig The best keyboards these days (115 comments)

I am a keyboard snob. The keyboard is the part of the computer with which I interact the most, so I hate the mushy feel of membrane keyboards that are based on the same technology as VCR remotes.

If you want to be a keyboard snob too (in a good way), then start by going to wasdkeyboards.com and buying their sampler kit ("http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/sampler-kit-1.html"). For $8, you get eleven keycaps in different colors, four Cherry MX switches (blue, brown, black, red), and fifteen dampeners in three types. This is a cheap way to understand the difference between the four kinds of Cherry MX switches and decide which you prefer. You can then buy a custom-made keyboard from wasdkeyboards.com, choosing the switch, keycap color, and text for each individual key if you want.

I don't use my numeric keypad much, so I opted for a tenkeyless keyboard. wasdkeyboards.com doesn't yet offer these (current estimate is March), so I got it from "http://elitekeyboards.com".

If you want an old-fashioned IBM Model M clacky keyboard, you can get it from "http://www.pckeyboard.com".

about 2 years ago

City of Heroes Reaches Sunset, NCsoft Paying the Price

Brian Kendig Re:Reading between the lines (290 comments)

"No consequence to dying" - untrue. It's true that you can be resurrected, but dying damages your armor and makes it harder to continue to stay alive until you head back to a town to have it repaired. And if everyone in your party is dead and there's no one left to resurrect you, then you have to go back to the last waypoint. I've seen huge zergs go after bosses and fail by being entirely wiped out.

"Players versus door" - you're missing the fact that the other team is trying to reinforce their door and kill you while you try to break down their door and kill them. Strategy, boy, strategy.

"Complete ghost towns" - I've reached a level 75 PvE area in the game (Malchor's Leap) and there are plenty of people around to join, help, and be helped by. I've seen no evidence that people are abandoning Guild Wars 2; to the contrary, the events they've had so far (Halloween, Lost Shores) have been well conducted and extremely well attended, and a lot of people are looking forward to Wintersday.

It's a beautiful game, I've been enjoying the exploration and the crafting, the Trading Post (auction house) is done right, there's enough challenge to the dungeons to keep me coming back, the world is dynamic with a lot of things to do, and there are lots of other players to help make the going easier.

about 2 years ago

Disney to Acquire Lucasfilm, Star Wars Episode 7 Due In 2015

Brian Kendig Re:Obligatory (816 comments)

So, here's the funny thing. I heard the news right after it broke. I saw a discussion thread about it and I wanted to post a link to http://nooooooooooooooo.com/.

Except, at the moment, that site was responding really slowly and took two minutes to load.
... as if, all over the world, millions of other people were also hitting the site at the same time...

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: What Books Have Had a Significant Impact On Your Life?

Brian Kendig Re:Four more... (700 comments)

I will second "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah". That got me into a lot of early Richard Bach books, primarily "The Bridge Across Forever" as well as his biographies of piloting a biplane across the midwest. They showed me a different way of looking at life. Also, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull".

more than 2 years ago

Windows 8 Release Date: October 26th

Brian Kendig Explain Metro to me? (172 comments)

While we're on the subject of Windows 8, would someone please explain the Metro interface to me, and the lack of a Start menu?

I'm serious. I tried the W8 public beta, and it felt like I had one hand tied behind my back. I don't understand why the Metro tiles are different sizes, or how to resize them. I don't understand why dragging the interface left/right doesn't 'snap' to the next page like an iPad, but instead lets me see the right half of one page and the left half of another. I don't understand why some tiles are static icons and why others update with information. I don't get why apps now run full-screen one-at-a-time - right now (not in W8) I am typing in this Slashdot window while I have another window open to a Google Search of Metro images, and partially behind that I have a chat window and a notepad open; how is the Metro interface supposed to handle all of this? And a large part of the interface seems to involve wide, sweeping motions with the mouse to simulate dragging a finger back and forth across the interface; I hadn't realized how rarely I do motions like this, so it looks like it's time to lower the mouse sensitivity.

Yes, I can get to the old-fashioned Windows desktop, but ... how do I *do* anything there? I have no access to any of my apps from there, so how do I pin them to the task bar in the first place?

I'm willing to embrace the future, but I just don't understand how people are supposed to use this interface on the desktop.

more than 2 years ago

Comparing Today's Computers To 1995's

Brian Kendig Keyboard (461 comments)

Everything is better about PCs these days ... except the keyboard.

I missed the IBM Model M until I bought a USB version from "http://pckeyboard.com/". So much better to type on than the modern things that use the same membrane rubber-dome technology as you find in a DVD remote control.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Tech-Related Summer Camps For Teenagers?

Brian Kendig Re:A long time ago... (177 comments)

To be fair - my high school faculty were good at encouraging me in any direction I chose, and I owe some of my teachers a great debt for the effort they put forth for me. It was my peers, my classmates, who made my daily life a living hell. Being bullied was what disconnected me from other people and sent me deep into my studies, and that's what got me through an Ivy League education and a Silicon Valley IPO small fortune. But it also left deep emotional scars that I still deal with. I would gladly have given everything else up if I could have escaped the scars.

These days, being a "geek" seems much more socially acceptable, and there's a lot more work being done to stop bullying. Of that, I'm glad.

I don't follow the kinds of sports for which universities give scholarships. I know that the students are expected to keep up a certain GPA to be allowed to compete, but I don't know how well their courses prepare them for their post-athletic life, or what the students do when their athletic careers end.

There was a time when I imagined that my former "jock" classmates would never achieve the kinds of things I had in my career, and it helped me to feel better than they were. Then I imagined that even if this were so, they probably were living comfortable lives with comfortable families and comfortable friendships together, and I felt cold and alone. Finally I found wisdom in the words of the Desiderata: "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself." I hope that the people in my past have led good, satisfying lives. It's my job to find the same for myself.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Tech-Related Summer Camps For Teenagers?

Brian Kendig Re:A long time ago... (177 comments)

Like a bully, you're apparently the kind of person who feels a need to pick at other people's self-confidence.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Tech-Related Summer Camps For Teenagers?

Brian Kendig A long time ago... (177 comments)

In the summer of '87, just before I graduated high school, I was among a small group of students chosen to spend a week in a computer science summer camp run by Stuart Reges at Stanford. The lectures were all across the board, a smattering of a lot of stuff. We had a lab of Mac 512Ke computers (and a Mac Plus fileserver) on which we learned the basics of Lisp, and there was a networking lecture which posed the Two Generals' Problem, and a lecture on artificial intelligence gave us the Muddy Children Puzzle, and we got to learn Emacs on the school's VAX running VMS, and we got a glimpse of X windows running on a Sun workstation, and I remember a night in an auditorium where we got to see an Amiga use its 4096-color palette to display photorealistic images!

But the most important thing I learned that week - the thing that I've carried with me all the years since then - is that there are *other people like me*. I was a geek in an athletic high school. I was the kid who got beat up and picked on. I was told I had no future because I spent my free time disassembling Apple II games and figuring out how they worked instead of kicking a football. And I believed it - until the day I arrived at that Stanford camp and found other kids who did this sort of stuff, and built robots at home, and memorized pi to a hundred digits, and knew magic tricks, and had a whole bunch of other neat things in their heads which today seem stereotypically nerdy but, back then, the important thing is that none of them involved kicking a football, and these kids were *proud* of who they were and what they could do.

It was only a week. I could say that week changed my life, but it would be more accurate to say that, without it, I might not be here today.

more than 2 years ago

Microsoft Tried To Buy Netscape: Suppose They Had?

Brian Kendig What about the following year? (246 comments)

In 1995, Microsoft came back to Netscape with another proposal: dividing the market. If Netscape would stop developing its browser for Windows, then Microsoft would leave the Mac and Unix markets entirely to Netscape.

Netscape declined, of course, and so in 1996 came the first release of Internet Explorer for Mac and the announcement of Internet Explorer for Unix.

It seems crazy today to think that Microsoft would have been interested in something so blatantly antitrust as dividing the market, but that's the kind of company they were back then.

more than 3 years ago


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