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Fixing the Pain of Programming

Mr_Blank Difficulty Spectrum (294 comments)

Programming has a spectrum of difficulty. The tools can always be improved to make the easier parts easier and the harder parts more manageable, but in the end the hard parts are hard because of the nature of the work; not due to lack of tools.

In more mature fields the spectrum of difficulty is well understood and no one expects the hard parts to be easy. If a person can write a "hello world" program then it should not be expected they will have the wherewithal to roll out If a person can apply a bandage to a skinned knee then it should not be expected they will have the wherewithal to do brain surgery; regardless of how good the tools are.

about 4 months ago

Facebook Being Sued Over Mining of Private Messages

Mr_Blank Common Carrier (170 comments)

The brave new world is sorting out what companies, services, and communication mediums are subject to Common Carrier regulations. If Facebook is a common carrier, then there should be some expectation of privacy. If not, then not.

Facebook (and many service providers) are currently and deliberately in a gray zone. If they are not common carriers then they can do whatever they please with the goods (electrons, bits) that they transport because it is their own private property once you hand it to them; per the terms of service. That is good for business because people are handing over "free" stuff that the companies can turn into profits.

However, if companies are not common carriers and they own whatever is handed to them then they are subject to intellectual property violations, libel suits, fourth amendment oddities, and other violation of the law. A telephone company is not criminally prosecuted when land lines are used to break laws; a common carrier is immune to prosecution for what is transmitted. The lawsuits resulting from not being a common carrier could be bad for business.

In the long run, the market could sort this out. If some companies clearly are common carriers and some are not then consumers can decide. Or, it can stay muddled long enough for the gray area to become its own class according to judicial precedent, law, and the public.

about 9 months ago

Physicists Discover Geometry Underlying Particle Physics

Mr_Blank Impossible Math & Chemistry (600 comments)

Every attempt to refer chemical questions to mathematical doctrines must be considered, now and always, profoundly irrational, as being contrary to the nature of the phenomena. . . . but if the employment of mathematical analysis should ever become so preponderant in chemistry (an aberration which is happily almost impossible) it would occasion vast and rapid retrogradation....
Auguste Comte, The Positive Philosophy, 1853

1 year,5 days

Atari Facing $291 Million Debt Claim From... Atari

Mr_Blank Re:Total Annihilation - Will it ever come back? (121 comments)

    Keep an eye on Planetary Annihilation.

The Planetary Annihilation engine was built for this project, so we could make the game that we wanted to make. Built by the same engineers who built the Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander rendering engines.

about a year ago

Xbox 720 Could Require Always-On Connection, Lock Out Used Games

Mr_Blank Re:So, Microsoft, you're saying just like Steam? (592 comments)

    Too right. If Xbox wants the profits from the Steam model then they will have reduce prices drastically.

    On the Xbox I buy new games for $50 ($60 minus pre-order discounts) and resell them quickly for $30 - $40. I buy 4 - 6 Xbox games per year.

    On Steam I buy games for $2 - $10, typically. I buy 15 - 30 Steam games per year. I never buy games for more than $30 on Steam.

    Also, Steam costs $0 per month to maintain my library. Xbox costs $5. If the Xbox locks me out of games that I own and that I can't sell then the Xbox will not be part of my gaming free time.

about a year and a half ago

DMVs Across the Country Learning Textspeak

Mr_Blank I LV TOFU (178 comments)

2009 Story out of Denver, Colorodo:

Kelly Coffman-Lee wanted to tell the world about her love of tofu by picking the letters for her car's license plate. Her suggestion for the plate on her Suzuki: "ILVTOFU." Department of Revenue spokesman Mark Couch said the letters could be misinterpreted. Coffman-Lee, 38, said tofu is a staple of her family's diet because they are vegan and that the DMV misinterpreted her message.

2012 Story out of Virgina:

If the Department of Motor Vehicles is going to let people praise certain religions or ethnicities on their license plates, it also must let people denigrate individuals of those faiths and nationalities. That's the opinion of a Circuit Court judge, who ruled last week that part of the DMV's guidelines governing vanity tags is unconstitutional. The ruling stemmed from an appeal from an Iraq War veteran who disagreed with the state's decision last year to revoke his personalized plates, which read "ICUHAJI." "Haji" is a common and often derogatory term for Arabs used by U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The veteran's attorney, however, said his client did not intend to offend anyone.

about a year and a half ago

If Tech Is So Important, Why Are IT Wages Flat?

Mr_Blank Rich Get Richer (660 comments)

IT is not being picked on, in particular.
    Only the rich are getting richer.

Click that link to see
1) Corporate profit margins just hit an all-time high.
2) Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low.

about 2 years ago

Solid State Quantum Computer Finds 15=3x5 — 48% of the Time

Mr_Blank What comes after? (262 comments)

    If quantum computing is the end of encryption as we know it, then soon the internet as we know it will end too.

    How will electronic communication be secured after quantum computing?

    Someone call Al Gore: We need a new internet.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Option For Heavy-Duty, Full-Home Surge Protection?

Mr_Blank Anti-Lightning (341 comments)

Protecting an entire building from lightning is a solved problem. You need a lightning rod.

My aunt and uncle live in a hundred year old farm house. It has a lightning rod. Their butter churn has never had to be replaced due to a blown circuit.

more than 2 years ago

French President Proposes Jail For Terrorist Website Visitors

Mr_Blank Violence or Violence? (402 comments)

Anyone who regularly consults Internet sites which promote terror or hatred or violence will be sentenced to prison

Such a law would be a joy for military recruiters. Click the links below to be put onto a French terrorist watch list!
Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines!
Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines!

I suppose the French President meant violence he does not agree with should be prosecuted. That makes more sense.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Tools For Teaching High School Kids How To Make Games?

Mr_Blank It just so happens (237 comments)

    I am teaching my nephews how to program during their week off from school. I went with a platform that all households had readily available: Excel. Excel VBA is robust enough to create fun games from the Atari generation, forgiving enough to keep new programmers from being frustrated quickly, and the skills learned will carry my wards into many business environments for years to come. Even if Excel goes away, learning to manipulate data, graphics, and data in a spreadsheet program will be useful some day.


more than 2 years ago

Why are most U.S. tabletop gamers white and male?

Mr_Blank I like data (1 comments)

It is a good question. I would like to hear a good answer.

The data from the article leads to good questions.

Some Data

2009 U.S. demographic info:

        * Gender breakdown: 50.4% women, 49.6% men
        * Racial breakdown: 63% white, 15.8% Hispanic and Latino, 12.4% black or African American, 4.5% Asian, 4.3% “other” or people of mixed race (I dislike the term “race,” but it’s useful as shorthand. We’re all humans, part of the human race.)

In a fictional world where:

        * Everyone has an equal likelihood of enjoying gaming
        * Everyone’s on equal economic footing — IE, has time to worry THAC0 rather than putting food on the table
        * There are no factors to consider other than gender and race

and gaming groups always include a GM and five players, you’d expect those five people to break down like this:

        * Two or three would be women, the remaining two or three (depending) would be men
        * Three of them would be white, two of them would be people of color (most likely, one would be Hispanic or Latino and one would be black or African American

In that same fictional world, you’d expect GenCon 2010, which had roughly 30,000 attendees, to have looked like this:

        * 15,120 women, 14,880 men
        * 18,900 white people
        * 4,740 Hispanic and Latino people
        * 3,720 black or African American people
        * 1,350 Asian people
        * 1,290 “other” or mixed-race people

more than 3 years ago

TSA Pat Downs, Searches After Passengers Get Off T

Mr_Blank TSA Response to the video (4 comments)

    The TSA has responded on the TSA blog. The response does not explain, IMHO, how the searches are legal under the 4th Amendment. From the blog...

Screening of Passengers at Savannah Amtrak Station

A video of Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) screening passengers at a Savannah, Georgia Amtrak station has been gaining quite a bit of attention and many are wondering why we were screening passengers who had just disembarked from a train.

We were wondering the same thing.

The screening shown in the video was done in conjunction with a VIPR operation. During VIPR operations, any person entering the impacted area has to be screened. In this case, the Amtrak station was the subject of the VIPR operation so people entering the station were being screened for items on the Amtrak prohibited items list as seen in the video.

It should be noted that disembarking passengers did not need to enter the station to claim luggage or get to their car.

Signs such as the one shown here are posted at the entrance to the impacted area. {image}

However, after looking into it further, we learned that this particular VIPR operation should have ended by the time these folks were coming through the station since no more trains were leaving the station. We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused for those passengers.

So by now, you're probably wondering what a VIPR is? Is it a type of snake that we misspelled? A really cool car... Nope. It's a team that's made up of Federal Air Marshals, Surface Transportation Security Inspectors, Transportation Security Officers, Behavior Detection Officers and Explosive Detection Canine teams. The teams provide a random high-visibility surge into a transit system and work with state and local security, and law enforcement officials to expand the unpredictability of security measures to detect, deter, disrupt or defeat potential criminal and/or terrorist operations.

more than 3 years ago

Electric Cars May Be Made Noisier By Law

Mr_Blank Re:Idiocracy (620 comments)

    Fair points.

    I notice that there are massive differences between turn signals between cars. Leds & halogens. Stylish and garish. Round and boxy. High or low. Wide or slim.

    The government, we the people, will have to be careful to set the regulations such that innovation is not stifled.

    That is all.

more than 3 years ago

Electric Cars May Be Made Noisier By Law

Mr_Blank Idiocracy (620 comments)

As Green Car Reports notes, the legislation would allow for a common set of standards, rather than than a motley crew of approaches attempted by various automakers.

Brilliant. Legislate away the possibilities for innovation before the new market has a chance to solve the problem. Is it only in America that "leaders" push science and math and the entrepreneurial spirit, and then quickly make it illegal to innovate lest anyone gets hurt? sheesh

What this country needs is a good five cent nickel.

more than 3 years ago

Today's Children Are Officially Potty Mouths

Mr_Blank The Other Potty Mouth (449 comments)

PVP Online makes comedy out of the discomfort some people feel in the presence of a potty mouth.

Personally, my belief in free speech is strong enough that I do not care what words a person uses to express ideas. However, there are ramifications for how a person expresses those ideas; similar to how there are consequences for how society reacts to the clothes a person wears.

about 4 years ago

Cow Clicker Boils Down Facebook Games

Mr_Blank Strange Game (237 comments)

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"

more than 4 years ago

George Lucas C&Ds 'Lightsaber Laser'

Mr_Blank Diablo II Too (481 comments)

Did George ever getting around to suing Blizzard for including a brightly lit and lightweight sabre in Diablo 2? Just ridiculous if he did not go after those deep pockets. He's had 10 years to sue, so I guess if he has not gotten to it by now it might not happen...

more than 4 years ago

Too Many College Graduates?

Mr_Blank An Example From Ohio (1138 comments)

Nobody funded my college degree.

Most students get help and do not even realize it. Many States use money from the tax coffers to make higher education more affordable. Even people who beg, borrow, or steal the money to "pay their own way" through a university in these states are getting help from all tax payers.

Citation: Ohio's Office Of Budget Management Budget Highlights

Making Higher Education More Affordable

State Share of Instruction
To supplement the general operation of the state's 13 four-year universities, 24 regional branch campuses, one free standing medical college, 15 community colleges, and eight technical colleges, H.B. 119 appropriates over $3.5 billion in the fiscal years 2008-2009 biennium for unrestricted operating subsidies through the State Share of Instruction (SSI) line item. ....

more than 4 years ago

Church Turns To Facebook To Find Priests

Mr_Blank Re:A better, more old fashioned solution (286 comments)

From Catholics in Crises

Are there any bright spots?
Yes--Africa and Asia. The African church has grown from 55 million in 1978 to 150 million today. "The church has provided, in many cases, the voice that stands on behalf of the voiceless," says the Rev. Emmanuel Katongole, a leader in the Ugandan church. In Asia, church membership increased 80 percent since 1978, while the number of priests rose 74 percent. In fact, Africa and Asia now supply priests to the rest of the world, with about 300 coming to U.S. parishes every year. But the church faces problems in the developing world, too. Evangelical Protestantism is making inroads, and many African priests live openly with wives and children, in defiance of the Vatican's celibacy requirement.

more than 4 years ago



What's Causing the Rise In Obesity? Everything.

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  about a year ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "We all know — because we are being constantly reminded — that we are getting fat. Americans are at the forefront of the trend, but it is a transnational one. Apparently, it is also trans-species: Over the past 20 years, as the American people were getting fatter, so were America’s laboratory macaques, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys and mice, as well as domestic dogs, domestic cats, and domestic and feral rats from both rural and urban areas. Researchers examined records on those eight species and found that average weight for every one had increased. The marmosets gained an average of 9% per decade. Lab mice gained about 11% per decade. Chimps are doing especially badly: their average body weight had risen 35% per decade. What is causing the obesity era? Everything."
Link to Original Source

Texas Declares War on Robots

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "Organizations like the EFF and ACLU have been raising the alarm over increased government surveillance of US citizens. Legislators haven't been quick to respond to concerns of government spying on citizens. But Texas legislators are apparently quite concerned that private citizens operating hobby drones might spot environmental violations by businesses. Representative Lance Gooden has introduced HB912 which proposes: "A person commits an offense if the person uses or authorizes the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image. ('Image' is defined as including any type of recorded telemetry from sensors that measure sound waves, thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or other electromagnetic waves, odor, or other conditions.)" Can you foresee any unintended consequences if this proposal becomes law?"
Link to Original Source

Batmobile Copyright Prevents Unauthorized Copies

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "A federal judge has ruled that Batmobile replicas built by Mark Towle, of Gotham Garage infringe on copyrights and trademarks held by Warner Bros. Towle's attorney argued that US copyright law doesn't allow "useful articles" to be copyrighted. Zerner, in court documents, insisted that Warner Brothers' lawsuit claimed the entire Batmobile was protected including doors, seats and tires. The judge agreed, but then ruled the law does allow copyrighting of unique design elements of useful articles. The judge said, "Defendant did not copy the design of a mere car; he copied the Batmobile character. The fact that the unauthorized Batmoble replicas that Defendant manufactured – which are derivative works – may be 'useful articles' is irrelevant. A derivative work can still infringe the underlying copyrighted work even if the derivative work is not independently entitled to copyright protection." Expect other car manufacturers to put their cars into copyrighted works soon!"
Link to Original Source

EA Is The Worst Company In America

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "After more than 250,000 votes, Consumerist readers ultimately decided that the type of greed exhibited by EA is worse than Bank of America's avarice. Game-players have voted to send a message to Electronic Arts and the gaming business as a whole: Stop treating your loyal customers like crap... There have even been numerous accusations that EA and its ilk deliberately hold back game content with the sole intent of charging a fee for it at a later date. It's one thing to support a game with new content that is worth the price. It's another to put out an inferior — and occasionally broken — product..."
Link to Original Source

CCTV to Stop Refueling for Uninsured Cars

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes ""Cameras at UK petrol stations will automatically stop uninsured or untaxed vehicles from being filled with fuel, under new government plans. Downing Street officials hope the hi-tech system will crack down on the 1.4million motorists who drive without insurance. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are already fitted in thousands of petrol station forecourts. Drivers can only fill their cars with fuel once the camera has captured and logged the vehicle’s number plate. Currently the system is designed to deter motorists from driving off without paying for petrol. But under the new plans, the cameras will automatically cross-refererence with the DVLA’s huge database.""
Link to Original Source

Police ask Google to Remove Brutality Videos

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "Videos of police brutality at Occupy Oakland are all over the Internet.

A few local law enforcement agencies would like to get the videos off of YouTube, going so far as to submit a request.

The Internet giant refused.

Here's what Google said in a blog post explaining the decision:

We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests."

Link to Original Source

FBI agent who wrecked Ferrari F50 off the hook

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "You might recall the tale of the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice being sued earlier this year for wrecking a Ferrari F50. The F50 was stolen from its owner in 2003. The feds then recovered the stolen scarlet screamer during a sting operation and held it in FBI custody in Kentucky. At some point, it needed to be moved out of its impound garage, but instead of making it safely to another garage, it got wrapped around a tree, with an FBI agent at the wheel. The insurance company that paid-out for the stolen vehicle sued the FBI. The judge has ruled against Motors Insurance, saying that law enforcement has immunity when it comes to property in its possession, and that even though "the object was to control and preserve relevant evidence," it apparently doesn't matter what happens to that evidence nor for what reason. This is bad news if your private property is taken by the DHS. Who is responsible when something goes wrong?"
Link to Original Source

NYC Mayor Wants Traffic Camera on Every Corner

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made it clear that he wants to see more traffic light cameras in the Big Apple, saying that he'd have the devices on every street corner if possible. According to The New York Daily News, the city brought in $52 million in fines generated by red light cameras last year alone. Bloomberg doesn't just want a jump in the number of cameras, however. He also wants to publish the names of those who blow through the stop lights in local papers to help shame wrongdoers into changing their ways. What's more, the mayor wants to look into the possibility of adding speed cameras to the mix. Big brother is coming to NYC."
Link to Original Source

3D Porn Outsells 3D Avatar in Hong Kong

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "Now there is a reason for 3d TV sales to take off... From the article: "Blue creatures in 3-D can't quite keep up with a 3-D blue movie at the box office in Hong Kong, apparently.3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, the porn film that Eyder wrote about earlier this month, "earned 17 million Hong Kong dollars ($2.2 million) as of Tuesday since opening last week on 73 screens" in Hong Kong, The Associated Press reports. And according to the BBC, on its first day the movie brought in 2.78 million Hong Kong dollars — more than the previous first-day Hong Kong record of 2.63 million, set by Avatar.""
Link to Original Source

Samsung Solar Powered TV

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes ""Samsung just unveiled an amazing new solar-powered LCD television that can operate completely free from the power grid. The 46 prototype TV, shown at CeBit in Germany, includes solar panels that produce energy from the ambient light in a room – because it was engineered to use very little energy, no additional power sources are needed. Another major breakthrough behind the concept is that the thin screen can display images and information while allowing objects behind it to be visible – this means that it has applications ranging from car windshield HUDs to storefront displays and digital window blinds.""
Link to Original Source

Quant AI Better than Human

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "From Technology Review: The ability to predict the stock market is, as any Wall Street quantitative trader (or quant) will tell you, a license to print money. So it should be of no small interest to anyone who likes money that a new system that works in a radically different way than previous automated trading schemes appears to be able to beat Wall Street's best quantitative mutual funds at their own game. It's called the Arizona Financial Text system, or AZFinText, and it works by ingesting large quantities of financial news stories (in initial tests, from Yahoo Finance) along with minute-by-minute stock price data, and then using the former to figure out how to predict the latter. Then it buys, or shorts, every stock it believes will move more than 1% of its current price in the next 20 minutes — and it never holds a stock for longer."
Link to Original Source

Former HP CEO Fiorina runs for Senate

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "CNN reports: "Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina finally made it official Wednesday: She's running for Senate in California. The first woman to lead a Fortune 500 company made the announcement at an event in conservative Orange County, pledging that her focus will be on economic recovery and fiscal accountability." After a history of off-shoring jobs, stepping down from HP with some controversy, and being a Fox pundit, will Fiorina help or hurt technology issues in California and the USA?"
Link to Original Source

Global warming to be put on trial

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  about 5 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "The L.A. Times reports: The nation's largest business lobby wants to put the science of global warming on trial. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate change. Chamber officials say it would be "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" — complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect."
Link to Original Source

How to fix the Income tax?

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "It is tax season in the USA, so no better time than now to ask: How could the tax system be shortened, made less complicated, more equitable, and still meet the needs of a service hungry nation facing an economic crisis? The US tax code is a 26 MB ASCII file that is so complicated that 82 million returns out of 136 million were done by a paid preparer in 2006. It does not seem fair that 10% of the population that makes more than $92,400 a year pays 72.4% of income taxes, while the 60% of the population that earns 28% of all income pays less than 1% of income taxes. Finally, the IRS spent $11.2 billion to collect about $2.74 trillion in FY 2008 (page 28), but the country still has a $11 trillion debt. How would the smart people of /. make it all better?"

Is HHO technology by Aquygen legitimate?

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Mr_Blank (172031) writes "Does "HHO" (water) technology by Aquygen really work?:

Aquygen(TM), also known as HHO gas, is already providing value in commercial use for: Fusing, Brazing, Cutting, Welding, Soldering, and Heating. Our H2O 1500 Aquygen(TM) Gas Generator produces the gas from water in a uniform, consistent flow. It can be used to fuse pieces of aluminum and other metals or to braze faster than traditional two-gas methods while requiring only one gas. Steel cutting is more fuel-efficient and 30% faster than traditional methods. Aquygen(TM) has numerous advantages over oxyacetylene, including improved safety and versatility in working with multiple materials. It even makes possible new artistic techniques. Wondering when someone will finally put a hydrogen-powered car on the road? We've done it twice. As seen on Fox news and CNN, our patent-pending Hybrid Hydrogen Oxygen System (HHOS) generates Aquygen(TM) gas as you drive, typically enhancing the fuel-efficiency of a traditional gasoline or diesel engine 25-30%.



Sign me up

Mr_Blank Mr_Blank writes  |  more than 10 years ago

If someone seriously wants to sign up to work on a Total Annhilation sequel then contact me first by replying to this journal entry. Give me your email address and I will email you.

I have a degree in computer science and have been working as a programmer and IT project manager for Dow 30 companies since 1998. I have also played, studied, and beaten hundreds of video games. I would love to help create an epic and excellent game.

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