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Why You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets For Important Work

Diddlbiker Blame the tool... (422 comments)

My father was a wise man, and a solid programmer. He liked Basic, because it was simple, and readable (in his environment the alternatives were mainly Assembler, Cobol, and RPG). Whenever people made fun of his love for Basic, and how it resulted in bad code, he always replied “there are no bad languages, just bad programmers.

The problem isn't the spreadsheet. The problem is people building ugly models in it. Do they seriously think that if those models were written in C, Java or Perl they would have been magnitudes better? I doubt it; you're just transplanting bad habits onto a different platform.

Of course, if he'd used trained professionals to build his models in whatever language of choice the models would be better. If he'd used trained professionals to build his spreadsheet models they would have been better as well.

about 4 months ago
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The World's Worst Planes: Aircraft Designs That Failed

Diddlbiker Re:Stupid (209 comments)

And in space, as well!

about 4 months ago
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The World's Worst Planes: Aircraft Designs That Failed

Diddlbiker Re:Stupid (209 comments)

No that's the DC-8.

about 4 months ago
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Death Wish Meets GPS: iPhone Theft Victims Confronting Perps

Diddlbiker Except in the US (664 comments)

In the rest of the world a stolen smartphone will get bricked, but carriers are working against that in the US. I guess because stolen phones mean people will have to buy replacements and they'll get the kickbacks from Apple and Samsung for that. As long as stolen phones keep working in the US, they'll continue to be stolen.

about 4 months ago
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Ford Exec: 'We Know Everyone Who Breaks the Law' Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car

Diddlbiker Approval & Consent (599 comments)

Meaning it's listed somewhere in the bill of sale. "Well you bought the car, didn't you? There's your consent"

about 8 months ago
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Sorm: Russia Intends To Monitor "All Communications" At Sochi Olympics

Diddlbiker Pot, Kettle... (193 comments)

It'll be hard for the US government to file a formal complaint without getting laughed at, as they've been doing the same (although not limited to Olympic Games) in their own country.

about a year ago
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Google's Scanning of Gmail To Deliver Ads May Violate Federal Wiretap Laws

Diddlbiker Yawn (325 comments)

I thought it was made pretty clear over the last few months that federal wiretap laws are worth less than used toiletpaper, so why is this a big deal?

about a year ago
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Container Ship Breaks In Two, Sinks

Diddlbiker Re:Easy solution for catching this kind of thing (361 comments)

No, you know what you paid for when you refueled. And with near certainty that you took less than that on board.

Working for a major shipping line, installing flow meters on the intake valves showed "systematic measure errors" that all of a sudden were surprisingly easy to fix by the vendor.

Keep in mind that refueling a deep ocean vessel is not the same as getting 10 gallons at your local BP station. This is stuff that has the consistency of peanut butter and needs to be heated to flow in the first place; measuring how much fuel you have or took on board is not as trivial as it seems.

about a year ago
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PayPal Denies Teen Reward For Finding Bug

Diddlbiker Paypal did him a favor (318 comments)

For a few hundred bucks, the kid learned some valuable lessons that will last a lifetime. That's less than $1 per month.

  • Paypal will fuck you over
  • In fact, large corporations will
  • And so will anyone else
  • Learn to read the fine print

about a year ago
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Electric Car Startup 'Better Place' Liquidating After $850 Million Investment

Diddlbiker Look at the grand picture (193 comments)

Technology, as much as we think when it's disruptive and ground breaking is rarely ever revolutionary. It's not like everyone started to use Windows instead of DOS, or that in one fell swoop the mobile market switched from dumb phones to smart phones overnight.

In that sense, Better Place seemed indeed to have focused on the wrong problem. Yes, electric charging stations are far and in between. Right now. But unlike gas pumps, practically every residential unit and business location can have one. So, for now, your Tesla has an effective drive radius of, what, 150 miles? That's good enough for most daily commutes. Maybe not if you're a salesman, but I think Tesla has envisioned this. They're not catering for the entire car market; after all, the car is not really a good deal for Joe Average who has to live on $50,000 and bring two kids to college on that either.
There is the uncertainty of electric cars becoming a success, but given the development of fuel prices and M&R that is much higher with gasoline engines (all those moving parts) it surely is attractive. So let's assume Tesla sells well. What will happen? The $100,000 price point will ensure that certain business will scramble to get charge stations. Four and five star hotels and restaurants for instance. Where will Mr. Executive stay overnight? Why, where he can charge his Tesla, of course!
Movie theaters, malls... any place where it's likely you're going to stay for a prolonged time will offer charging. Once the market of charging station installing businesses has risen, why not coffee and fast food? One thing that everyone seems to forget in the discussion—you don't need to charge the battery all the way up in most cases. You need to make it home—or at worst to the next charging station. That can bring down the charging time needed considerable. If as a business it will lure in five or ten customers every afternoon the decision to get a charging station might be an easy one.
Better Place is opposite: the process seems cumbersome, and as shown in the video more akin to going through a carwash than getting a tank full of gas. Here's why I don't go through the car wash on a daily basis: it takes too much time and I can't do another thing. On the other hand, getting a short charge-up for the batteries while getting breakfast, or stopping for a drink on the way home—perfectly acceptable to me.
For the gentleman who drives 800 miles per day: if you make ten stops, you only have to "charge 80 miles" on each stop on average. And if you only make three stops, I'm sure that those are not five minute ones. Once charging stations are everywhere, doing 800 miles visiting customers shouldn't be a problem anymore.

about a year ago
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Astronauts Fix Phantom Space Station Ammonia Leak

Diddlbiker Next unit to fail... (54 comments)

I bet they'll have to go out next to replace that defective AE-35 unit.

about a year ago
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Dropcam CEO's Beef With Brogramming and Free Dinners

Diddlbiker Retention rate isn't everything (400 comments)

Without RTFA, not sure if retention rate is the be-all-end-all. I can easily get a retention rate of 100%--hire all the incompetent idiots nobody else wants. They'll never leave my company, because they'd be out of a job. Voila!

Not saying this guy is doing it wrong; just saying that retention rate alone isn't that much of a useful indicator.

about a year ago
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Excel Error Contributes To Problems With Austerity Study

Diddlbiker Re:Note the legal disclaimer (476 comments)

The US is one of the bigger countries and is #1 in agri culture. The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries and is #2 in agri culture. Why? Every American black and white cow was created by a dutch boy sticking his arm up a cow. And jerking of a bull. The US exports low value agri cultural products, the Netherlands high value.

But it means the SAME industry, is COMPLETELY different. Baby cow production US style is cowboys and homo sexuality in the prairy. Dutch baby cow production is bestiality and high tech in the desolate north.

I think the high value of Dutch agricultural products has more to do with the gigantic high-yield flower industry than with jerking of cows. Go over the Dutch border and try to find Dutch cheese. Famous as it is, you will not find the entire dairy island stacked with Dutch cheese outside the Benelux. Visit any flower store in the world, and it's a different picture: you're likely to find a good amount of Dutch flowers. My ghetto neighborhood supermarket sells more packets with Dutch flower seeds than it sells Dutch cheese (most of that made in the US anyway; there's no "regional" protection like that in the EU)

about a year ago
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Excel Error Contributes To Problems With Austerity Study

Diddlbiker Re:Excel error? (476 comments)

There are two factors in play here.

(1) Likely, they didn't use drag-and-drop to copy the cells, but double-clicking on the fill handle (the same widget used for drag&drop copying) which stops extending the range up to but not including the first neighboring empty cell, not at the end of the table. As such it's perfectly possible to not include the entire cell range while realizing that.
(2) Having said that, one would expect that whoever makes a model with that much impact double checks their model against n00b errors like that. A good model has some functionality built in for cross-checking data, making sure everything adds up, etc.

In the end, this is as much Excel's fault as blaming your calculator when you don't enter all the numbers. But when you release it to the press, "Excel" makes it sound better. Everyone knows that Excel is a Micro$oft product, and that they're evil and conspiring to take over the world.
"Oooh, it's Excel that made the mistake, not you. We'll forgive you for that. We know how evil and sinister they are"

about a year ago
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DARPA Develops Non-GPS Navigation Chip

Diddlbiker Re:Similar to some existing systems (84 comments)

And why one would need to navigate in a tunnel? (Other then how deep one's in...).

Certainly more applications are possible as I'd expect it will have much higher sampling rates and precision than GPS and hence can be use in control applications more than in navigation.

Troops with colorful berets (green, red, black, etc) navigating through a sewer system, needing to know what manhole to get out.
Or navigating quickly through a large building. Urban combat is combat too
Or simply knowing *where* you are when you leave the tunnel without having to wait two minutes for acquisition. Well, you might know where you are, but the nav system of your car needs to know too.

about a year and a half ago
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DARPA Develops Non-GPS Navigation Chip

Diddlbiker Re:Don't they already have this? (84 comments)

DC8 jets had inertial navigation systems back in the '60s. You could fly from LAX to Tokyo without touching the controls and the plane would only be a few hundred yards off alignment from the runway. Not bad for a 5000+ mile flight.

A few hundreds yards off when aligning with the runway can make a good flight a really bad one. But I get your point :)

about a year and a half ago
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Wi-Fi Enabled Digital Cameras Easily Exploitable

Diddlbiker Oh the horror! (96 comments)

Let's see... professional DSLR's to be used for spying

That's going to be hard with the camera in the camera bag, where most SLR's are when not in use. But let's assume this one's not.
That's going to be hard with the lens cap on the lens, which is the case with most SLR's that are not in use but not in the bag. But let's assume this one's not.
That's going to be hard with the camera pointing in the right direction, which is pretty hard given the form factor (vertical grip) of a "casual laying around" SLR. But let's assume for some godforsaken reason I tend to store my SLR, without a lens cap, in my living room, mounted on a tripod.
That's going to be pretty hard, unless I have *exactly* the right lens mounted on my camera. Ok, so let's assume that I randomly leave my SLR in my living room, mounted on a tripod, with wide angle lens mounted on it, pointing in the right direction.
That's going to be pretty hard, unless I happen to have it focused on whatever I want to see. Ok, granted, hyperfocal distance on WA lenses is pretty short. But still.
That's going to be pretty hard. Because even though my professional SLR, mounted casually on a tripod in my living room, capturing most of that room, set to hyperfocal distance, without a lens cap, is ready to go, keeping it on "live view" is going to run the battery down pretty seriously, even with the serious batteries those flagship cameras have. You're not going to take pictures in regular SLR mode, right? Because you will hear the shutter on a camera like that. So battery sucking, sensor overheating live view it is.

Mmmh. I guess it's a risk. I always have my SLR with the lens cap off, wide angle lens, covering the entire room, hyperfocal distance, camera on, tethered into a power plug. Wait. If I have my camera tethered in, then why wouldn't I also be tethering it to my PC. Why is it that wireless is a risk? If we're going to make all these half-ass assumptions about using an SLR for spying, why not assume it's hooked up to a computer with a cable? We might as well.
I don't think *wireless* is going to be that much of a security risk.

about a year and a half ago
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Steve Jobs' Yacht Impounded In Amsterdam

Diddlbiker Re:"Valued"? (221 comments)

I'm sure there's an app for that.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Transporting Computers By Cargo Ship?

Diddlbiker To point out the obvious (249 comments)

Every single computer that the above comments have been typed on, has been manufactured in China. And they've all been shipped all over the world in freight containers. Wrap things in a plastic bag, put them in a cardboard box and let the moving company take care of it. Don't worry about temperature, humidity, etc - just make sure what you pack is dry or you'll be greeted by a big furry mass when opening the boxes.
There is a remote chance that the container will get lost. Assume 5000 boxes on a large vessel. One might get lost during a voyage, on average. So divide the value of your belongings by 5000 and that's, on average, what you should be paying on insurance, likely less than more.
And it's worth doing some research and use a reputable moving company. Skimping a few dollars and not getting your stuff is not worth it.

about 2 years ago
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America's Future Is In Software, Not Hardware

Diddlbiker Do the math (630 comments)

Currently millions of people are unemployed. Are we really going to give them all jobs as developers?

Consider Zynga. You can't open Facebook or be slapped in the face with Farmville, Cityville, Suckville or Mafiawars. Apparently it's one of the largest companies (revenue-wise) in what is one of the largest segments (gaming) of software development. In other words, this is one of those 800 pound gorilla's in the industry.

Total number of jobs: 1,200 and I bet a large part of that is in India and China. The toilet paper factory in my town employs half of that (and likely more if we're looking at USA jobs only) and that's only a small regional player. How can software development replace millions of low-schooled manufacturing jobs, especially with education in the USA going down the crapper?

more than 2 years ago

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