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Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

Hyperhaplo Money (876 comments)

The answer to your question is: money

Code exists as a way for humans to talk with the computer in a way in which the computer understands what actions to take in what circumstances. Each generation away makes code easier for humans to read and use and (generally) more expensive and specific to implement. Adding a visual layer on top of this is another expense.

It has been done. It will be done again. Most likely very specifically and probably quite badly. A lot of programs can be introduced when putting another layer between the programmer and the machine. webMethods is a good example of what not to do. CA Workflow is another.

Coding with a 2GL or 3GL or 4GL directly in text is currently the most efficient method for achieving the desired results. Existing systems do the job well enough. New systems are expensive.

In many cases it is a 'build it and they will come'. Quite a few attempts have been made to make GUI programming language interfaces; in particular for workflow applications. It gets messy quite quickly. Take a program which has 900 lines of actual code (disregard comments, headings, etc, just the raw code). Translate that into a diagram and then try to debug it. Print out out? On what? an A0 printer?

Visualise a program with 100 calls in the main. How would this be represented on the screen? Would each call open up in its own screen? Would you spend your time scrolling around looking for bits and pieces?

Have a read of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

If you want a practical idea of why it is not feasible then have a look at some of the existing examples of visual front end for code generation.

I have used a CASE tool to create a system for a project. The first month was not too bad. After a while traversing through the screens can really get to you. I found that many people had printed copies of what the program had so they did not lose track of where they were. Humans can only hold so much in their mind at any one time. At the end of the project the system would not 'balance' and finding the 'bugs' was an absolute nightmare, one which involved using the existing solution as a basis and redoing the whole thing from scratch from the bottom up. If this happened in the corporate world the tool would be out the window very shortly.

As another example, I have used a Workflow tool which had a graphical interface to define the rules for the workflow engine. Great. Except when it didn't work. Or did something in the output which did not match the graphical interface. Or where it just plain did not match up. In the end I ran SQL queries on the database to the rules table to write the rules I needed.

Another example of using a graphical method for programming instead of text is Atlassian who removed wiki markup from their flagship product Confluence. This resulted in a huge backlash in the corporate wiki arena with many still bitter over the loss of the ability to write code in text. Atlassian have since somewhat recanted and users can now enter code as xml markup. It is a good case showing that the flexibility of code can not be easily replaced by a gui.

about 6 months ago
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PC Shipments In 2013 See the Worst Yearly Decline In History

Hyperhaplo Re:Current PCs are good enough. (564 comments)

yet think twice before spending $1.99 or some app.

What is stopping me is that I will not hand over my credit card information beyond the basic details needed for the purchase, my home address or other personal information to buy a $1.99 app.

It is a serious roadblock for the app market that paying for apps is a hurdle many users just do not want to jump.

In relation, I do not want to give Google my credit card details, personal details, home address, etc. Perhaps if everyone switched to paypal or bitcoin...

about 7 months ago
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Have a Privacy-Invasion Wishlist? Peruse NSA's Top Secret Catalog

Hyperhaplo Open router project (259 comments)

Time to support the open router project! If we want to change the world we will need to rebuilt the internet from the ground up.. starting with the devices in our homes.

http://orp1.com/

A trustworthy, open-source software & hardware router

ORP1 is a high performance networking router that allows you to run a firewall, IPSec VPN (virtual private network), and a TOR server for your home network. Its easy-to-use web interface will make encrypted and anonymised communications for your entire network easier to set up and manage. Now you don’t need to be a geek to be able to ensure that every device you use at home uses the internet with privacy, whether it’s your home PC, smartphone or tablet.

about 7 months ago
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Should John Seek Overtime Pay or Insist on Maintaining His Current Arrangement?

Hyperhaplo Keep timesheets (1 comments)

This is easy. He is asking for 'flextime'.

Best approach is not to make an issue of it. Create a timesheet or get a time tracking application and start logging start and stop times.

Break times are interesting.. do you clock out to get a coffee for 5 minutes or clock out for a 10 to 20 minute break?

Definitely log everything in your favour. Start times. Stop times. Time for work on the weekend.

Do up all of the paperwork for time worked over normal hours. Keep it with you. Have a lawyer review it if needed. Prepare everything to make a claim for everything.
This is not to actually make a claim. This is to get the PHB off your back and protect your job. Do not ever show this until you are backed into a corner or handed your papers.

Keep going with your current work. Get everything in writing. Make sure you record or get records of your yearly review. Get it all in writing.

What this employee is asking for and is doing is acceptable. The problem is that it can go downhill.

I did much the same years ago. I was formally reprimanded for turning up 30 minutes after everyone else, even though it was within the company policy. My previous manager stepped in and pointed out that I regularly worked until 6pm. End result was not pretty. Some manager are just assholes.

Find out what the expectations are in your workplace. Try to align with them.
You would be surprised how often arrival and end time equates to work done regardless of actual work done

about 8 months ago
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MasterCard Joining Push For Fingerprint ID Standard

Hyperhaplo No. Use one time passwords or parallel auth (138 comments)

Some banks issue a key fob for which generates a 6 digit number when the button is pressed. To logon to the bank's website you need your username, your password and a six digit number. This provides two factor identification - that which you know (username and password) and that which you have (keyfob to generate the one time password).

This system works very well. You can't logon to the bank's internet banking website without both whatyouknow and whatyouhave and once you are logged in you can not use major functions without generating a key using the fob which prevents someone taking over the session. This security provides solid protection from most types of automated and associated attacks including some MITM. I was very impressed with this system and heartily endorse it.

Other banks have two factor authentication using SMS or other side channels. Another bank I have an account with uses SMS as a side channel to confirm that the user at the computer is the user who owns the phone registered with the bank. This is similar to the key fob in that you need to be able to receive the SMS to make changes to the account using the bank's internet banking website or major functions like large money transfers or adding a new account to transfer money to. Again, this works quite well.

In both cases this is not about perfect security it is about increasing the cost and effort involved for an attacker to compromise the system.

I will never willingly give my fingerprints or any other biometric data. Yes, I know, someone could go all CSI on me and take my prints off of my glass when I put it down at the pub.

This idea of biometric identification needs to be shot down and buried. Perhaps in a future time we will have the infrastructure to support this and it may well be feasible but for now we have two factors systems which are in the field and work well.

about 10 months ago
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Microsoft Integrating Xbox One Advertising With Kinect To Profile Users For Ads

Hyperhaplo Think of the porn (300 comments)

Oh come on
Think of the PORN millions of xboxes could produce... for free!

We'll have a whole new category for porn now and you too can access is for $10 a month on xboxkinection.com

For a reasonable fee of $50 per year AND $5 per message Micro-One-Dating will also put you in touch with single attractive dating prospects!
Ignore the SQUICK we cut to the QUICK! Why stalk the girl of your dreams and get arrested peeping through her window when we can provide you with high resolution full colour video - and NOW we feature On Demand for just a little extra $$!

Join the ratemyxboxoneperformance.com site as we now are accepting public submissions in addition to those provided by the professional critics at MicroSoft headquarters!

1 year,25 days
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EA CEO's Departure Might Be Good For the Company

Hyperhaplo Re:I wouldn't get my hopes up... (84 comments)

That certainly worked in my case. I loved Diablo and Diablo 2. I would most certainly buy Diablo 3. However, I can't. The always on DRM is a step too far for me. So, I did not purchase Diablo 3. I will never buy it. Their scheme has worked perfectly in my case. No piracy here folks. No game sale either. Oh well.

about a year ago
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If You're a Foreigner Using GPS In China, You Could Be a Spy

Hyperhaplo Re:Legitimate complaint? (219 comments)

Okay, don't coke machines have sensors to determine how full they are, and they can phone home to alert a technician that the machine needs to be emptied of money and refilled?

In this case, knowing the precise location of a machine could be very useful.

Also quite useful if someone moves the machine.

about a year ago
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Samsung Unveils the Galaxy S4

Hyperhaplo Granular permissive permissions (619 comments)

So can we expect to see a granular permissive permission system where if an Application asks for Full Internet Access the user has option to install and use the Application and disallow access to the Internet?

about a year ago
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Credit Card Swipe Fees Begin Sunday In USA

Hyperhaplo Re:I'm curious to see how many retailers actually (732 comments)

For clarification, by 'many people' I mean that I have spoken to quote a few people around the place and heard of other people's opinions about this in these discussions and overall the opinion is that yes, they can do it, and yes, you can go elsewhere.

Most just blame the government for changing the law allowing it. People seem to understand that the bigger stores which don't charge the extra for using credit mop it up in higher prices, but don't care. Probably because they don't see it, therefor don't think about it.

about a year and a half ago
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Credit Card Swipe Fees Begin Sunday In USA

Hyperhaplo Re:I'm curious to see how many retailers actually (732 comments)

When this actually happens to you, come back and let us know if that actually happens. When you shop at Aldi stores here the machine throws a message saying that there will be a surcharge for credit card use (there is also a sign, and the clerk tends to tell you if they notice you pull out a credit card) and you have to click OK to continue. It gives you a chance to pay by another option, or leave.

In other stores they tend to tell you up front if they haven't said before.

I've never seen anyone just walk out. Not for ~50 cents.

However, many people don't go back. I avoid large purchases at places which have these types of fees, or make sure I have cash.

about a year and a half ago
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How the Cool Stuff At CES Will Ruin Your Life

Hyperhaplo Re:You can decide to ..... (171 comments)

I refuse to buy PC games or programs that use online activation

I saw Angry Birds PC game yesterday while wandering around the local shops. I would have loved to have this game a couple of years ago when Angry Birds was all the rage. Today I'll buy it if it is cheap. It was cheap. I didn't buy it. On the back it clearly states that internet activation is required.

Shame. I really would like to play Angry Birds on the PC. Spent hours, no days, no weeks, playing it on my phone. Oh well.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do You "Unwrap" e-Gifts?

Hyperhaplo Laziness pays off now (86 comments)

This year I went online, found things the people who live in other states will probably like, and put their name in the shipping information.

One has worked out quite well, except that she didn't exactly know it was from me. Email fixed that.

Still waiting to see if the others got their parcels..

about a year and a half ago
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How do YOU establish a secure computing environment?

Hyperhaplo Re:Secure computing IS possible. (3 comments)

I was going to say "Build your own CPU, mothervboard, daughter cards, write your own code OS applications and all and never allow it to connection to another device" but let's go with your answer :-)

about a year and a half ago
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I measure my weight ...

Hyperhaplo You can measure methane (150 comments)

Like this:
http://www.livestockemissions.net/user/file/32/d1_Vlaming%20Current%20methane%20measurement%20techniques.pdf

http://www.ehow.com/how_7834233_measure-methane-gas.html

http://phys.org/news/2011-03-methane.html

I love the blurb on that page:

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Wetlands, gas hydrates, permafrost, termites, oceans, freshwater bodies, non-wetland soils, are all natural sources of atmospheric methane; however, the majority of methane presence can be accredited to human-related activities.

about a year and a half ago
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Real World Code Sucks

Hyperhaplo Re:Captain Obvious? (292 comments)

You ask good questions. Here is the answer: Money

Most likely you'd like a longer answer.

1) The marketing people generally will have a 'final say' as they are 'closest to the customer'. Depends. All it takes is for any person who is deemed to be higher in the food chain to trump those lower down and chaos can ensue.

People like marketing generally don't get on the ground floor because there is nothing to see. No product. Nothing to toss around, perhaps there might be mock ups or diagrams.

What *should* happen is that the UI should be mocked up and flagged with any group with an interest. Problem there is that sometimes the UI doesn't exist until the software is half written because the functional requirements determine what is on the UI and the functional requirements were not completed until the coding was 1/4 done.

Google why the Waterfall Model is no longer in use outside big business. You need the whole spec up front, business spec, tech spec, functional spec, you get the idea. This costs MONEY. It is expensive to do and expensive to change. In the real world you need code up running and out the door as fast as possible.

I lost count of how much code I've seen in Production with no specs at all.

2) Mostly because there is nothing to see
Unless you are designing the next Photoshop, the UI is not the first thing to be designed, and can change. Also, these people tend to be visual and don't always respond without images or a good specification in front of them.

Now imaging this and comment on it... oh no, it's not build yet, and there is no prototype.. just imagine it.

As it happens, I've seen a board put together to stop this sort of problem from happening. What happens then is that programmers, business people, project managers, test managers and anyone else with a stake on getting this code into production yesterday complains about the extra layer of red tape needed to release code.

Sigh.

See also: Money

Lack of organisation, lack of coordination, lack of methodology, not adhering to the agreed methodology, bad management, good management, bad programmers, good programmers, coding in the real world can be "very interesting" in the manner of 'may you live in interesting times'.

about a year and a half ago
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Australian ISP iiNet Walks Out of Piracy Warning System Talks

Hyperhaplo Re:Game of Thrones from theoatmeal (120 comments)

I've ranted it before.. so won't go again.. but.. all I want is to but something once, be able to download it whenever I need to, and be able to play it whenever I want to.

One day it will be like that. Quite possibly first in the illegal realm, then later in the legal realm. Until then we just have to do what we can with what we have where we are.

$1000 Cdn? Geez. And I thought excess data charges were terrible

about a year and a half ago
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Google requires Google+ membership to submit reviews on Google Play

Hyperhaplo Re:Skewed reviewws (4 comments)

Funny you should say that... I do take back alleys to work and yes, there are a few shady people around.

No, I am not kidding.

Back to the topic at hand though... what I was saying boils down to that only G+ users can now comment on apps which represents only a part of the app using population.

Yes, I know that the old system could be gamed, and I don't doubt that there's probably quite a few fake or useless reviews. However, for android software I have installed I've generally found the old system to be quite good.

On that: It would take quite a bit of effort to game the old system. Possible, but is it really worth it? For paid apps perahps, but that can backfire.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Jobs' Dutch-built superyacht impounded

Hyperhaplo Hyperhaplo writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Hyperhaplo (575219) writes "Steve Jobs' Dutch-built superyacht has been impounded in Amsterdam because of a dispute between the late Apple founder's estate and designer Philippe Starck over an unpaid bill. The yacht has been impounded due to some unfinished business, namely two invoices which were issued by Ubik last summer after Mr Jobs died. Steve Jobs was still involved with the design and build of the craft when he died."
Link to Original Source
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Web Comic Gains 30K Donations in Less than a week

Hyperhaplo Hyperhaplo writes  |  about 3 years ago

Hyperhaplo (575219) writes "Thunt, the author of the Goblins Comic recently announced via a blog post that he would soon be out of a house due to the owner selling. Thunt decided that he wouldn't ask his fans to help, instead opting to deal with the issue himself. After receiving many emails from fans about this, Thunt decided to run a Tempts Fate — which he normally uses to raise funds for his site — to buy the house he currently lives in for which he needed $30,000. This amount was achieved in a matter of days; a great show of support from the fans of this web comic."
Link to Original Source
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US trade plans to make Oz 'pirate martyrs'

Hyperhaplo Hyperhaplo writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Hyperhaplo (575219) writes "The ACTA has come and gone, but the RIAA/MPAA battle on with the TPPA. From the article: Another round of negotiations kicks off in Singapore for the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and copyright user advocates have expressed fears that the agreement could see Australians automatically fined thousands for illegally downloading music if the US succeeds in introducing strict intellectual property provisions."
Link to Original Source

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