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Whatever Happened To Programming?

Chief Camel Breeder Re:Frameworks (623 comments)

... Machines today are fast. Much, much faster than what we need for programs to run. ...

If only! If your computer is faster than your needs then you're blessed with an easy project. Or you spent a vast amount on hardware. One of my current projects lies bleeding because we can't afford the machines to run the simple solution; and we're doing some painful redesign to fit the project to the hardware budget

more than 4 years ago
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Details Emerge On EU-Only "Browser Choice" Screen For Windows

Chief Camel Breeder Re:More to come (220 comments)

I find this too. But, sometimes being the one providing the advice (for software other than Linux and Unix), I can see why it happens. It's not always snottiness on the part of the experts.

My ideal, as a potential provider of information, is a question that I can answer easily, in one short post, without research, and using jargon. I.e., I like to help but I'm lazy. It's tedious if I have to spend 20 minutes translating the jargon into something a beginner can understand. It's more tedious if the answer turns into a dialogue because the questioner doesn't understand the first answer. It's extremely tedious if a later answer in the dialogue turns out to need research (which the questioner can't do for himself) and where I feel obligated to look for him because I already engaged (mutter mutter).

Basically, answering questions well for beginners turns into writing good documentation for an unskilled audience. It's brain-meltingly difficult and no fun at all.

more than 4 years ago
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Australian Senate Hears Open Source Is Too Expensive

Chief Camel Breeder Re:There's also functionality to consider (365 comments)

You completely ignore a critical factor: per seat licensing. ...

No, the example in the GP explicitly considers it and provides an example where the licensing costs wouldn't outweigh the OSS costs.

I know you want the per seat licensing always to end the debate in favour of OSS, but life isn't that simple. Wishing doesn't make it true.

more than 4 years ago
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Murdoch Says E-Book Prices Will Kill Paper Books

Chief Camel Breeder Re:This just in... (538 comments)

You're presuming that the author does the layout, detailed typography, indexing, illustrations, etc. I don't think that's typical. I don't believe that it's an automatable process either.

more than 4 years ago
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Murdoch Says E-Book Prices Will Kill Paper Books

Chief Camel Breeder Re:This just in... (538 comments)

The pre-production cost to the publisher is also necessary. That's taking the author's typescript and actually making it into a book. For technical works, it would include the cost of the illustrations.

more than 4 years ago
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UK Government Crowd-Sourcing Censorship

Chief Camel Breeder Re:What is considered "terrorism-related"? (262 comments)

Following the links in TFA leads to a goverment web-page listing one-line descriptions of things they consider illegal. But their definitions are broken. They include this:

web pages that show pictures, videos or descriptions of violence against anyone due to their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity

That would be...news sites? Maybe we should all report news.bbc.co.uk?

more than 4 years ago
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Sherlock Holmes and the Copyright Tangle

Chief Camel Breeder Re:So much for public domain... (290 comments)

I thought, perhaps wrongly, that the copyright was attached to a particular edition of a book. Therefore, if a book was published separately in the UK and in the USA, I could make a facsimile of the British edition and distribute that in the USA while the American edition was still in copyright. Correct? Wrong? Different rules for images of the pages vs OCR'd text?

more than 4 years ago
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IT Job Satisfaction Plummets To All-Time Low

Chief Camel Breeder Re:No more working for the man (453 comments)

And then there's ICT, which is probably not quite the same, but I have no idea what the difference really is.

If you provide the servers and workstations and applications for an organization, that's IT. When they cut your budget and make you responsible for the 'phones as well, that's ICT.

more than 4 years ago
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Texas County Will Use Twitter To Publish Drunk Drivers' Names

Chief Camel Breeder Re:What? No Due Process? (301 comments)

TFA says that the county also tweets names of people charged with "soliciting a prostitute" (whatever that means exactly in Texan law). That sounds like a whole new blackmail industry hatching. At least with DUI you can objectively prove innocence.

more than 4 years ago
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TSA's Sloppy Redacting Reveals All

Chief Camel Breeder Re:why are they so scared about xray monitors? (605 comments)

Third guess: X-ray machines are very good at finding weapons in luggage unless said luggage is carefully arranged to confuse the view. To get the right arrangement you'd have to study some of the radiograms to see what worked.

Personal experience supports this. My laptop back-pack, which is full of cables, chargers and peripherals, usually goes through security unchallenged, except when it gets jumbled such that the security person can't work out what they're seeing; then they search. I often get a look at the screen while I'm waiting for it to come through (screens not concealed in most European airports). When it passes, I can identify my stuff. When it's searched, I can't.

This may be one of the rare, non-theatrical parts of the operation. But I still don't see why this particular regulation was redacted.

more than 4 years ago
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Laser Weapon Shoots Down Airplanes In Test

Chief Camel Breeder Deja vu (627 comments)

This is a bit like gunpowder weapons in the 14th century. They appeared in Europe early in that century, were pretty pointless at first, then useful in special cases, then, after about 100 years, more-generally useful. Professional soldiers at that time must have been pretty skeptical. "Interesting, but I'll keep the trebuchet for now, thanks." Up to, say, 1350, it would have been difficult to predict whether gunpowder would ever become a practical weapon.

about 5 years ago
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Firefox Passes IE6 In Browser Share

Chief Camel Breeder Re:Hoping for Windows 7's success... (350 comments)

What this article tells me is that a quarter of the internet users are still using a web browser that was released on August 27, 2001. From a peak market share of %95, it has only come down to %23 in eight years (and change). [...]

That's telling us something about the replacement cycle for Windows PCs. As discussed on Slashdot before, few private citizens will upgrade a browser on a "working" machine.

about 5 years ago
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Scientists Decry "Horrifying" UK Border Test Plan

Chief Camel Breeder Re:Emigration is a Privilege, not a Right (515 comments)

Umm...you mean immigration is a privilege, don't you? When the right to leave the country is withheld things are really bad. (Yes, I know, the anti-terrorist laws probably do restrict the general right to leave.)

more than 5 years ago
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Production of Boeing 787 Dreamliner Delayed Again

Chief Camel Breeder Re:And somewhere across the pond... (334 comments)

The downside of smaller, more-numerous planes is having to rebuild airports for a greater throughput of flights, as currently being considered in the UK. Perhaps Boeing's approach fits better with US facilities than European airports?

more than 5 years ago
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In UK, Two Convicted of Refusing To Decrypt Data

Chief Camel Breeder Re:What I want (554 comments)

If the police can demand a decryption key, then presumably they can legally demand actual decryption. E.g., if you encrypt with an algorithm for which they have no software (maybe one you invented yourself), then I suspect that they can demand that you provide the plaintext, not just the key.

If the police may demand plaintext, then they can probably demand that the plaintext data be rendered into a form intelligible to humans. A non-technical person might not distinguish the decryption from the rendering, and therefore it's possible that the law might be interpreted this way even if the wording is specific to encryption. Therefore any attempt to conceal or destroy the data would be legally equivalent to refusing to provide the encryption key.

IANAL and haven't read the text of the relevant UK act; it may not work like this. But if it does, then anyone with digital archives could be in deep shit. If you have data files you can't read because they're in a custom format and you lost the parser (and that's just about every science department of every university, for starters), then the authorities might consider them equivalent to a refusal to decrypt.

(This is speculative. Please tell me I'm wrong in this conclusion.)

more than 5 years ago
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What Open Source Can Learn From Apple

Chief Camel Breeder Re:I Can Tell You This About Users (309 comments)

"Also, stop talking about programs being "stable." Isotopes are "stable." Programs either run well, or are buggy."

Point of detail: users care a lot about true stability.

For argument's sake, define stability of a program as meaning that it always does the same thing for the same inputs and does something incrementally different for incrementally-different inputs. An unstable program is one that goes wrong at random, or for insignificant changes in the input; e.g. a contact list that accept all names except that it crashes if a name has an apostrophe.

For a user - me, for instance - instability is far worse than a feature that consistently broken. If something just doesn't work I try it once and then avoid it; but if it randomly blows my work away it's utterly toxic.

Developers in general seem to care more about fixing repeatably-broken features than unstable one, and this is exactly the wrong approach to satisfy users.

more than 5 years ago
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Is Sat-Nav Destroying Local Knowledge?

Chief Camel Breeder Misuse of post codes = confusion (519 comments)

In the UK, many Sat-Nav destinations are programmed by entering the post code (which is specific to ~10 houses here). Some Sat-Navs, particularly the ones used by delivery firms, map our post code, for our house in rural Devon, to the wrong village entirely, sending the trucks up some pretty dodgy roads to a place where there aren't any locals to ask.

Sure, people don't entirely trust these things. But it's for practical reasons, not because of the angsty bullshit in TFA.

more than 5 years ago
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Why Isn't the US Government Funding Research?

Chief Camel Breeder Re:Its simple.... (599 comments)

The government exists to disburse funds for paving roads etc., not to directly employ those who do the work. It's the way of collecting the money, sharing the cost across the citizenry, avoiding the arguments about who pays for what and making sure that everybody can get the essential services. In my part of the UK, government hires contractors for just about all the work, so the private sector is happy.

If government didn't mediate the service work, imagine the arguments about who pays for which bit of road. And just imagine the stink if you get poor and can't pay to get your garbage collected.

more than 5 years ago
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Music Streaming to Overtake Downloads

Chief Camel Breeder Re:Whats a p? (254 comments)

Correct. And the PRS is a British organization, so the deal is national rather than international.

more than 5 years ago

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