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Do Sleepy Surgeons Have a Right To Operate?

FredMenace Re:This is just another waiver (332 comments)

You've just described a whole lot of inertia. Business practices that, you know, may need to change.

Preventing tired surgeons from operating is the kind of thing that could force such change.

more than 3 years ago
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Joel Test Updated

FredMenace Re:A serious question (182 comments)

Why should I care about distributed source code control in a monolithic commercial development environment? I can see its value in a distributed open-source project, but I really don't understand the necessity otherwise.

Let's let Joel (the original Joel) explain why in his own words: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2010/03/17.html

Did Joel think this was important? You be the judge:

In that podcast, I said, “To me, the fact that they make branching and merging easier just means that your coworkers are more likely to branch and merge, and you’re more likely to be confused.”

Well, you know, that podcast is not prepared carefully in advance; it’s just a couple of people shooting the breeze. So what usually happens is that we say things that are, to use the technical term, wrong. Usually they are wrong either in details or in spirit, or in details and in spirit, but this time, I was just plain wrong. Like strawberry pizza. Or jalapeño bagels. WRONG....

...And here is the most important point, indeed, the most important thing that we’ve learned about developer productivity in a decade. It’s so important that it merits a place as the very last opinion piece that I write, so if you only remember one thing, remember this:...

...This is too important to miss out on. This is possibly the biggest advance in software development technology in the ten years I’ve been writing articles here.

Or, to put it another way, I’d go back to C++ before I gave up on Mercurial.

If you are using Subversion, stop it. Just stop. Subversion = Leeches. Mercurial and Git = Antibiotics. We have better technology now.

more than 3 years ago
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Look Forward To Per-Service, Per-Page Fees

FredMenace Before you get your panties too much in a ruff (400 comments)

While they may still try to apply deep packet inspection to regular net connections (ie, web usage), I suspect that most of these ideas will, in fact, apply to *Apps* on mobile devices, rather than to web usage.

So they could do various kinds of novel charges for using a YouTube App, etc., but possibly leave alone use of YouTube through a browser (other than overall bandwidth limitations). Now whether they would try to marginalize web browsing generally in favor of (favored) app access, I don't know...

more than 3 years ago
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Compiling the WikiLeaks Fallout

FredMenace Re:I, for one, am glad these cables were leaked. (833 comments)

None of the things I have learned from these leaks surprised me at all.

While I haven't read any of the releases directly or read too many reports about them, I agree with this statement so far. I mean, is there really anything particularly shocking here? Is there some compelling reason for us to be keeping such massive amounts - I'm sure this is only a tiny fragment of it all - of fairly obvious and unsurprising information secret?

more than 3 years ago
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Obama Says Offshoring Fears Are Unwarranted

FredMenace Re:Obama is not the Great Leader that many wish hi (763 comments)

Here's what has typically happened in the past 30-50 years:

- Republicans tend to spend as much money as democrats, but instead of investing in infrastructure, education, research, health, etc., they plow it into starting wars, putting people in prison, and spying on everyone.

- On the revenue side, Republicans tend to lower taxes for the rich (but not, contrary to popular supposition, the poor or middle class), thus substantially increasing the deficit while not helping anyone that really needs "relief" from taxes.

By making government borderline useless to ordinary people and fiscally bankrupt, Republicans can make a case for the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of government, allowing them to cut MORE public services (while not cutting overall spending - ie, plow even more into military etc.), and cut taxes on the rich even more (again, while not cutting others' taxes), which makes government seem even more bankrupt which allows them to complain some more, which gives them license...

more than 3 years ago
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Obama Says Offshoring Fears Are Unwarranted

FredMenace Re:No it doesn't but your worry DOES show the real (763 comments)

You are very correct, but people harp on this is because they feel swindled, and like there is nowhere else to turn. We were all told that in this post-manufacturing jobs market, we should pursue a college degree to become part of the "knowledge economy". Then, within just a few years, many of those jobs, too, got shipped overseas, and those that were left became vulnerable to corrupt H1B insourcing.

more than 3 years ago
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W3C Says IE9 Is Currently the Most HTML5 Compatible Browser

FredMenace Re:I feel conflicted (382 comments)

I wouldn't say that IE6 was really the problem. While it did things differently from Netscape (and it may have been clear by then that those differences were not complying with the standards being formed), it was still probably the best browser in existence when it was released (as IE 4 and IE5 had been). Remember, its competition was Netscape 4...

The problem was what came after: IE7 wasn't released until 2007 (six years later!), and required XP Service Pack 2 or higher to install. This meant that developers had far too long of IE6 being the state-of-the-art in browsers (or at least of IE versions) for them to target, as well as not very long since then for people to upgrade. MS browsers also don't do anything to encourage users to upgrade (aside from generally sucking). It also meant corporate users on Windows 2000 and home users on Me/98 couldn't install it at all.

IE7 really should have been released in 2004, should have run on Windows 2000, Me, and maybe even some versions of 98, and should have been included as at least an optional component of XP Service Pack 2. (No XP service pack has ever suggested users install a more modern browser than IE6.)

Then IE8 didn't come out until 2009. This is the browser Microsoft should have released in 2007 (which could have made it the default Vista browser), and could have been included as an optional upgrade with XP SP3. It should also have been more backward compatible, maybe to some versions of Windows 2000 at least.

(Considering that IE8 has the same system requirements as IE7 and is better in every way, nobody really has any excuse for using IE7, whereas there are still some excuses to use IE6.)

Now they are doing it again: IE9 should have been released (fully, not just beta) in 2010 and should have had better backward compatibility, but it's not coming out until next year, and requires Vista SP2 to install. (On the other hand, they are catching up, moving from a six-year gap to a two-year cycle of browser development, and IE9 really does look competitive. Even IE8 is a decent browser if you aren't using any CSS3/HTML5 features or relying too much on heavy Javascript that could run slowly.)

Considering the slow uptake of IE8, and the significantly higher system reqs of IE9 (despite being released just a couple of years later), I don't think it's going to have very significant uptake any time soon. IE 6/7/8 (with their total lack of HTML5/CSS3 support) will still comprise the bulk of IE usage for years.

As such, we developers need to keep doing more to encourage people to switch from pre-IE9 versions of IE (by more-freely using CSS3 etc. for cosmetic enhancement that IE users won't see, fixing only functional problems in IE6 and IE7, not cosmetic ones, etc), or we're going to be shackled to outdated development practices for years. Microsoft sure isn't doing much to encourage users to switch (you'd almost think they were discouraging it, based on the above history).

more than 3 years ago
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W3C Says IE9 Is Currently the Most HTML5 Compatible Browser

FredMenace Re:Not suprising (382 comments)

or this: Limited to Windows 7 / Vista Service Pack 2 or higher.

more than 3 years ago
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Drupal 7

FredMenace Re:Drupal 7 is already 80 weeks overdue (85 comments)

Hear, hear. I especially like the series of bugs that they refuse to acknowledge because they think that's how it should work. Look people, I don't care if you categorize them as "intentional design flaw bugs", they're still bugs.

more than 3 years ago
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HDCP Master Key Is Legitimate; Blu-ray Is Cracked

FredMenace Re:not protects (1066 comments)

Oh? Let's not forget that copyright isn't a one-sided thing - end users (society) have rights, too. And "copy"rights aren't inalienable, they're granted by society to the original copyright holder. So it SHOULD mean managing the balance of rights of the copyright holder and the end user. DRM in practice tends to ignore user rights (such as fair use), and thus ought to be illegal as it's generally practiced.

about 4 years ago
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Gaming Without a Safety Blanket

FredMenace Story vs gameplay (79 comments)

'Writing about pure gameplay is tough. ... I say in the book that's one of the most suspect things about the form; a game with [an] incredibly dopey story but a really compelling mechanical set of resonances can still be a great game. I don't know if there's really a way to talk about that with people who aren't sold on the form.'

Yes, this is exactly the problem, trying to describe games in the wrong terms and evaluate them in the wrong framework. We all probably agree that great games are great due to gameplay mechanics, and story doesn't really matter (some may also have good stories, but it's certainly not necessary, and for me if the story drones on too long, even if it's good, it just gets in the way of actually playing the game - like how you always skip cutscenes after the first time through).

Yet non-gamers seem to think of games in a story-driven entertainment sense, like "how does this compare to a movie?" The answer should be "it doesn't, it compares to chess and poker and ping pong and billiards (and car racing and tennis and other sports, minus the sweat)." Games are GAMES, do you care if checkers or monopoly or bridge or badminton have great stories? So why do you care if a video game does?

Of course, the entertainment industry doesn't help by putting out endless big-budget, story-driven games often derived from other forms of entertainment, but which have crappy gameplay (if there's much actual gameplay at all), thus feeding the stereotype...

more than 4 years ago
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Adding CSS3 Support To IE 6, 7 and 8 With CSS3 Pie

FredMenace Re:IE? Seriously? (142 comments)

In fact you need XP SP2 or higher to install IE7.

IE6 was actually a great browser when it came out - the best browser in existence, hands down (its main competition was Netscape 4), and became something like 90% of the total browsers in use. But that was nearly 10 years ago... Nobody should be using it today, yet it's still 5-15% of the browsers in use.

The situation isn't IE6's fault, but it is Microsoft's fault for not making IE7 backward compatible with Win2K and early XP at the least. Actually, nobody should be using IE7 any more either...FireFox and Chrome users (and probably Safari, for the most part) manage to upgrade to pretty recent versions without any difficulty, so what is it about Internet Explorer that more than half its users are using versions at least 5 years old?

But still, even IE8 has zero support for CSS3 or HTML5, so even it needs massive help if developers want to move the web forward... We can all hope IE9 lives up to its promises, but how many years will it take before even half the IE users have switched over to it??

more than 4 years ago
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IE9 Preview Touts Cross Browser Compatibility

FredMenace Re:IE9 and WebM (181 comments)

Probably doesn't matter that much, because the main reason to use HTML5 video anytime soon will be to support the iPhone/iPad - everything else must still support Flash (for the ~50% of browsers that are IE 6-8). But the Flash will work in other desktop browsers, and on Android phones going forward, leaving only the iPad/iPhone incompatible. So the predominant HTML5 video format for the next few years will likely be whatever Apple is supporting (H.264), with others being entirely optional.

more than 4 years ago
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Ranking Soccer Players By Following the Bouncing Ball

FredMenace Re:Um ... (142 comments)

Soccer is a game of statistics. Get the ball close to the goal, and your chances of scoring go up. Whip a cross into the box or slip a ball through the defense, and there's a chance a teammate will be in the right place to manage to kick it toward the goal. Take a shot on target, and there's a chance it will get by the goalkeeper.

So anything that increases the likelihood of a shot on goal is increasing the likelihood of scoring, even if it's not the final step in the process, and even if it doesn't happen to go in this time. (And conversely for preventing balls from being in likely scoring positions against your team.)

more than 4 years ago
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Apple A4 Processor Teardown

FredMenace Oh? (79 comments)

"Here's what EETimes.com is claiming to be the first teardown of the A4 processor

Oh really?

more than 4 years ago
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Zen Coding

FredMenace Re:Let's see... (175 comments)

It is trivial to have not a singe line of Javascript in your HTML, other than the link to the external Javascript file.

See, for instance, http://api.jquery.com/category/events/ for a set of jQuery methods for attaching events, using css-like selectors. (Most of these methods are special cases of "bind".)

To avoid mixing HTML and PHP, you can use a templating engine like Smarty (http://www.smarty.net/crashcourse.php). (I prefer those that use a different syntax from regular PHP to help enforce the distinction.) I do understand that PHP was originally a templating language itself, at a time when most hard-core back-end logic might have been in C/C++ and the PHP was for gluing that to the markup. But now that PHP is used for that same back-end code, it makes sense to separate it out of the HTML, so front-end coders don't need to wade around in back-end logic, programmers don't need to worry about markup and presentation, and each file to edit is clear and understandable in itself, partly by consisting of a single language and sticking to a single task. (The template language is designed to be as simple as possible, and only has the limited capabilities necessary to include dynamic content - generated elsewhere - in HTML markup.)

At the least, SQL should be in a separate data-abstraction layer. That layer may also be in PHP, but at least it's a special-case set of code just for accessing the data store (partly so that it can be replaced with a different data store if needed, without affecting any other code). Many frameworks use an object-relational mapping layer so you don't need to touch SQL at all.

It's also pretty easy to keep CSS completely out of HTML, and if well-designed, the number of special cases to apply to single paragraphs can be very minimal.

Yes, it can seem like all this is a lot of trouble when you're starting out or working on a very simple project, but as a project grows, it can very quickly become unmanageably complex otherwise. These are all tools for managing complexity and scale so that medium-sized projects are easily workable and large-sized projects are possible at all.

more than 4 years ago
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Zen Coding

FredMenace Re:don't mock the Notepad++ (175 comments)

I've noticed this too. Seems they broke something in the last couple of months.

more than 4 years ago
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FBI, DoJ Add 35 Positions For Intellectual Property Battle

FredMenace Re:From a historical perspective (140 comments)

Besides that file sharing is much more commonplace and mainstream than hacking or cracking, as already pointed out, it's also the case that copyright is a compact between society and content creators (really owners). And many people, particularly those most aware of the history of copyright, strongly feel that the current balance of law is improperly tilted toward content owners, at the expense of society as a whole.

Thus copyright infringement in many cases can be seen as a form of civil disobedience. (Sure, we could all cry to our Congresscritters, and many of us already have, to no apparent avail, but who are we kidding? You think they are going to listen to us, or the corporations that provide their slush funding?)

Among the ridiculous abuses: "Happy Birthday to You". The song was originally "written" when kindergarten teachers Patty and Mildred Hill added the words "Good Morning to All" to an existing popular (and unattributed) melody sung (and even published) since at least the 1850s with similar, but different, words ("Happy Greetings to All", "Good Night to You All", "A Happy New Year to All", etc.). This they published in 1893 (though this original copyright has long since expired). Later, some of their (needless-to-say uncredited) 5-6 year old students spontaneously began singing it with the words "Happy Birthday to You". The real ridiculousness begins in 1935, when a publisher hired someone to (re-)add the "Happy Birthday" words to the long-existing melody, and gained a copyright on the whole thing. A number of corporate acquisitions later, and today that copyright is owned by Warner Music, who shakes down restaurant chains et al for royalties on all performances, with the copyright not set to expire in the United States until 2030 (unless Congress extends copyright yet again, in which case it might never expire). That is probably close to 200 years after the melody was first sung, and perhaps 150 years since the words were added, and neither the predecessors of the current copyright owner nor the "authors" granted the original, expired, copyright had much of anything to do with creating either the melody or the lyrics in the first place.

more than 4 years ago
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Adobe Stops Development For iPhone

FredMenace Re:This is different. (497 comments)

What happened here is that Adobe took them at their word, and did something totally different: they wrote a compiler which takes content written using CS5 and targets *Apple's* runtime. FLA file in, iPhone Binary out. Not SWF, iPhone Binary. Doesn't need the Flash Player to run. Apple wouldn't have had to do a damn thing to "support" these applications.

Sort of, but not really. That "native" iPhone binary is statically linked to a built-in Flash player and massive runtime library, all of which gets loaded in its entirety whether its needed or not. This has the result of using up lots of memory, slowing down the CPU, and eating up the battery. Plus Flash doesn't run efficiently on anything other than Windows anyway. Flash on OSX is dramatically slower and takes up twice as many CPU cycles to play videos or animations as on Windows running on identical hardware (and by twice as many, I mean like 20-80% of CPU cycles on two cores, just to play a single, non-HD video).

That's been Steve's biggest beef with Flash, is its poor performance and battery-eating characteristics (on iPhone mainly, but buttressed by its poor performance on Mac), though making the interface work on mobile devices is kind of a challenge too.

more than 3 years ago
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Crunch Time For IRS Data Centers

FredMenace Re:Infrastructure (277 comments)

Totally agreed with your first paragraph - increased complexity dramatically increases computing (including development) costs, and the complexity of the system is Congress' fault, not the IRS's.

While the second point is true in terms of overall visits, I'm not sure how many of those sites are processing that many form submissions (over SSL) with the amount of data submitted with a tax return (including schedules, supporting documents, etc.), that then needs to be validated (one assumes) and inserted into a database (though probably a lot of the business-logic/accounting type validation may occur during later batch processing).

Plus other high-volume sites use their servers year round (more or less - though to the extent that it's seasonal, some, like Amazon, started renting out their excess capacity at other times), and such infrastructure is certainly not cheap. What happens to all this computing power the rest of the year?

more than 4 years ago

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