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Comments

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Ray Kurzweil's Slippery Futurism

Pinball Wizard Re:I disagree w/ his predictions (308 comments)

A) It's not that big of an assumption. The exponential curve in computing power doesn't just go back to the advent of computers, it goes back as far as we could perform simple arithmetic. It's an assumption based on our long history of improving methods and fabricating machines to compute. Unless we have capped our ability to invent new methods of computing, it's a fairly safe assumption to make. Our ability to compute is probably not limited by the number of transistors we can pack on a silicon disk.

B) given a large enough knowledge base and a set of really good AI algorithms, one should be able to create intelligent machines. There's nothing to prevent them from replicating, either. However, I don't think that they will ever be truly sentient. Even so, careful design will be necessary to ensure Asimov's laws of robotics are strictly enforced.

C) I don't believe Kurzweil has ever claimed NP-Hard problems would be solved by the exponential increase in computing power.

more than 3 years ago
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SSL Certificates For Intranet Sites?

Pinball Wizard Re:Untrusted certs should not raise an alarm (286 comments)

Why the above tripe was modded insightful is beyond me. Certificates are the oldest and most reliable way of anonymously verifying identity between sites or otherwise anonymous users.

Nobody expects certificates to perform on the fly authentication. Authentication is performed before the certificate is issued, and thereafter one has the assurance that the certificate is being held by a previously authenticated authority. You might as well complain that authentication itself is a scam because it is not 100% reliable.

Where the F have you been for the last 15 years, anyway? Essentially, you're making the ridiculous claim that assymetric public/private key based encryption is worthless, when it has been proven to be anything but.

more than 3 years ago
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Desktop Linux Is Dead

Pinball Wizard Re:Linux has the same drag as Mac in business (1348 comments)

Open Office Base does have a form builder. It's not as slick as MS Access, but it does work. The main issue I had with Base the last time I used it was that the query designer only supported select queries - no inserts, updates, or deletes. So you could use the form builder, but you'd still have to hand code the SQL for most of the work you'd be using forms for. Not particularly a big deal to me, but if you're used to the Microsoft drag and drop sort of programming, I guess it could be an issue.

about 4 years ago
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Bjarne Stroustrup Reflects On 25 Years of C++

Pinball Wizard Re:the best. (553 comments)

FTW?

Maybe, if you're in a contest to find the slowest sorting algorithm. :)

about 4 years ago
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Race Pits Pigeons Against Poor UK Rural Broadband

Pinball Wizard Re:What is your name? What is your quest? (298 comments)

Well, the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is 11 meters per second. African or European.

http://www.style.org/unladenswallow/

However, as soon as you strap a memory card to the swallow, it is no longer unladen. By definition.

Therefore, the bandwidth capacity of an unladen swallow is zero.

more than 4 years ago
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The Hell Known As Internet Screening Services

Pinball Wizard I know I was scarred for life (557 comments)

mainly from the kind of sites people from Slashdot would link to like rotten.com or that goat site.

That was like 10 years ago and I still havent recovered!

more than 4 years ago
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Arlington National Cemetery's Many IT Flaws

Pinball Wizard Re:How Sad... (191 comments)

A computer with an offsite backup still preserves data when the building is bombed, burned down, flooded, or otherwise destroyed. A map in such a building will be gone forever. Sayonara, data. Your Vet teacher and apparently the entire Marine Corps have it wrong.

more than 4 years ago
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Flash Crash Analysis of May 6 Stock Market Plunge

Pinball Wizard What is the justification for allowing HF trading? (411 comments)

I remember reading an article about Goldman Sachs in Rolling Stone last year by Matt Taiibi. Ah yes, this is the one:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/12697/64796

He describes them as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." That quote really stuck with me since then, and I've often thought about these huge trading businesses on Wall Street that somehow are so valuable they provide their workers with luxury working conditions in highrises in downtown Manhattan and millions of dollars a year in salary and bonuses. But I can't quite figure out what value they actually provide anyone. Last quarter they reported they made money every single trading day. Uncanny that they can ri^H^Hpredict the market so accurately. Is there a purpose for letting people suck money out of the stock market the way they do? Or are they really a giant vampire squid as Taiibi describes them to be? Seems like all this could be doing is hurting the people who actually do provide goods and services and actual value to the economy, but what do I know, I'm certainly no Wall Street master of the universe.

more than 4 years ago
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Google Sorts 1 Petabyte In 6 Hours

Pinball Wizard Re:MapReduce = map + reduce (166 comments)

But its the distributing part that is special, not the map/reduce part.

You're basically just dividing up a huge list and sending each part to a different machine. Tacked on to each list are the map and reduce functions themselves so each machine knows what to do with the list.

Its the parallelization of the problem that is the hard part. Map does not mean the mapping of the problem to thousands of machines - it means the mapping of a function to a list, and that is not a terribly difficult problem.

more than 5 years ago
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Google Sorts 1 Petabyte In 6 Hours

Pinball Wizard Re:MapReduce = map + reduce (166 comments)

Exactly. There is nothing special to map and reduce.

Here's an example. Map and reduce are functional programming tools that work with lists. So we'll start with a simple list.

1 2 3 4 5

Now we'll take a function - x^2, and map it to the list. The list now becomes:

1 4 9 16 25.

Now, we'll apply a reduce function to our list to combine it to a single value. I'll use "+" to keep it simple. We end up with:

55

And that is pretty much all there is to map and reduce.

more than 5 years ago
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Google Sorts 1 Petabyte In 6 Hours

Pinball Wizard Re:Need to benchmark against the best sorts (166 comments)

Parallel/distributed sorting doesn't eliminate the need for map/reduce, it just helps spread the problem set across machines.

Here's the thing though...its the distributing of the problem set and the combining of the results that is the hard part - not map/reduce.

Map and reduce are simple functional programming paradigms. With map, you apply a function to a list - which could be either atomic values or other functions. With reduce, you take a single function(like add or multiply, for instance) and use that to condense the list into a single value or object.

That's my understanding of map/reduce from my functional language classes in school and that's exactly how Google describes it. I don't really see what the big deal is with map/reduce in itself.

Like I said, its the distributing the problem among thousands of machines that is the hard part.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

Pinball Wizard hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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What to eat with your freedom fries

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 10 years ago

If you just can't stand the thought of putting Heinz ketchup on your *cough*freedom fries*cough*

W Ketchup

And don't forget, Ronnie sez, "Ketchup is a vegetable!". Good for a shot of Vitamin W, or any old time you need to wash down a pretzel.

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My take on Fahrenheit 9/11

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 10 years ago

First of all, I'd like to confess that I'm somewhat of a Michael Moore fan. I've enjoyed his books and movies ever since Roger and Me, I've went to a booksigning of his just to meet him and get a signed book, and I made it a point to see Fahrenheit 9/11 on the first day it was out.

That said, I tend to look at most things, Moore's movies included, with a critical eye. The biggest problems I have with this movie are not with its content, but the way the content will be recieved. Moore has created an extremely powerful movie, but will it meet its goal of persuading people to change their minds about Bush or the war against terrorism? I really don't think so, and I'll explain why.

The crowd at the theater had already made up their minds about Bush. The movies main points - Bush was elected unfairly, Bush is an idiot who didn't know what to do for seven minutes after the second plane hit the tower, Bush diverted attention to creating a war against Iraq as soon as possible, and that he lied to the American people - were all applauded loudly by the crowd inside. Moore used an extreme amount of artistic licence and left out many facts to make his point, and the audience lapped up his viewpoint without question. This was not an audience that needed any additional persuading not to vote for Bush. Perhaps conservatives are seeing the movie in other theaters or waiting until the lines die down. But I didn't see them or hear any of them at the showing I attended.

The thing is, people who are still on the fence about who to vote for this November are likely to be those who need to understand both sides of the story. This movie deliberately sidesteps anything that could be used to question its points of view. Anyone who needs to see a different viewpoint about the things in Moore's movie will have to look elsewhere. When they do, it will become immediately apparent how Moore deliberately avoided lots of obvious things to make the points he did.

For instance, the movie states that with any possible recount, Gore would have been re-elected. That's a rather narrow viewpoint, because with both the recount the Supreme Court stopped and with the recount Gore wanted, Gore still would have lost. What Moore meant, but didn't say was that with any possible statewide recount with a certain arbitrary standard applied uniformly, Gore would have come out ahead. But we are made to believe that the Supreme Court stopped a process that would have resulted in a Gore presidency. Not true.

Richard Clarke appears in this movie where he states the Bush administration too quickly focused on Iraq, which weakened our war with Al-Qaeda. The movie also makes you believe that Bush was behind getting the Bin Laden's family out of the U.S. before the general ban on flight was lifted. What it doesn't say is that the flights didn't begin until the ban was lifted - and the authorization to get the Bin Ladens out of the country was made by Clarke himself.

Anyone wanting to dig a little will have no problem finding out that Moore was against taking action against Afghanistan when we did. But one of this movie's main points was that we didn't go after Osama hard enough and fast enough.

Moore portrays Iraq before we bombed it as an idyllic place, with children playing in the streets and happy citizens going about their business. This at the very least ignores the basic facts about Sadaam's murderous regime. For someone who really wanted to examine the facts, they could easily find out that more people were killed and maimed each year under Sadaam's regime than under the occupation. But this is opposite of the impression we get from this movie.

That's not to say this movie didn't score any points with this skeptical viewer. The scene of the contractors convention designed to teach people how to profit from the war turned my stomach. Watching the blank stare on Bush's face after he was told about the second plane made me seriously wonder about his competence. And I hadn't realized the extent the Bush family was involved with the Saudis.

As I said earlier, I don't think this movie alone will persuade anyone still on the fence to make up their mind one way or another. Although I made up my mind a long time ago who I would vote for(Kerry), I also supported the removal of Sadaam. This movie had too many narrow opinions, conspiracy theories and omissions to convince me my support of the war was wrong. And I suspect anyone else who hasn't made up their minds about the war or who to vote for will still need to look elsewhere for their facts.

All in all, Fahrenheit was an extremely entertaining movie. But it's just that - entertainment, and not the scathing political bombshell Moore hoped it would be.

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The full list(Blender's 50 worst artists)

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago

For those who read the article on yahoo today, and then followed the link to Blender's site only to find the bottom ten, rather than the full 50 worst artists of all time.

Of course, Kenny G and Michael Bolton are obvious. But ELP at #2?! C'mon, get real. Keith Emerson was the greatest keyboardist ever - not only an incredible live performer, but the only musician ever to play with both Jimi Hendrix and the London Symphony Orchestra. He took compositions by Ginastera and Holst and made them better(in fact Ginastera said so himself.) He was the pioneering synthesist, recording the first ever synthesizer solo(Lucky Man) not to mention working with Bob Moog himself.

Anyhoo, here's the list. Post your rants below.

1. Insane Clown Posse
2. Emerson, Lake and Palmer
3. Michael Bolton
4. Kenny G
5. Starship
6. Kansas
7. Asia
8. Vanilla Ice
9. Lee Greenwood
10. Air Supply
11. Latoya Jackson
12. Tin Machine
13. Mick Jagger
14. Yngwie Malmsteen
15. Yanni
16. Oingo Boingo
17. Benzino
18. Pat Boone
19. Dan Fogelberg
20. Howard Jones
21. The Alan Parsons Project
22. Primus
23. Creed
24. Bad English
25. Jamiroquai
26. Celine Dion
27. Colour Me Bad
28. Crash Test Dummies
29. Skinny Puppy
30. Richard Marx
31. Arrested Development
32. The Hooters
33. Japan
34. Live
35. Paul Oakenfold
36. 98 Degrees
37. The Doors
38. Nelson
39. Bob Geldof
40. Blind Melon
41. Whitesnake
42. Rick Wakeman
43. Mike and the Mechanics
44. Manowar
45. Gipsy Kings
46. The Spin Doctors
47. Goo Goo Dolls
48. Master P
49. Toad the Wet Sprocket
50. Iron Butterfly

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Where have I been?

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago

Wow, last journal was January 23. (pauses to sweep up the cobwebs) OK, where were we? The continuing effort to obtain my CS degree is going along quite nicely. 2 B's and one A last semester. I'm taking engineering stats now, should be another A, if I can keep it up.

Maybe my new toy will help. Any ticalc fans out there?

I can't believe this didn't get posted all over slashdot. The Real Sadaam Shady. It's pretty funny, although it would have been more funny two months ago. It's at the very least as entertaining as All Your Base or Soviet Russia jokes.

Concert of the summer(and Toronto's answer to SARS) Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto. Rolling Stones, Rush, AC/DC, the Guess Who, but what really kicks ass is that Justin Timberlake is performing! Yeah, I'll suffer through all the old fogey dinosaur rock just to be able to see JT in person. (kidding) And the tickets are only $16 USD(!) Now if only round-trip airfare from Albuquerque wasn't $1,000, I could go. Is anyone going, so that I might live vicariously through you?

Oh yeah. Here's to you, Canada!

Does anyone think the new sidebar is an improvement? I now need three clicks to read the journals, unless theres something I missed. Worse, I can't log out and see other journals easily like I used to.

I took an IQ test recently and scored a full 10 points higher than ones I took in high school. I credit this entirely to studying math, logic, and computer science. I'm not trying to brag, just posting something I thought would be interesting to some and encouraging to others. If you've never read the Bell Curve, it's pretty damn depressing unless you happen to be among the 2 percent on the right side who will inevitably triumph over life's challenges, unlike the masses in the middle who are doomed to a life of repetition, boredom, and limited freedom working for those smarter than them. I now firmly believe, at least to the extent that IQ tests really gauge IQ, that one can significantly improve themselves by studying the aforementioned subjects. I drew a distinct coorelation between the way I've learned to think and my performance on the test.

Well that's all for now, folks. I'll try to keep this thing updated more often. Promise. ;)

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The Big-O value of "friends of friends"

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago is n^2 if I'm not mistaken(as users increase their friends by n friends, their friends of friends increases by n^2. Roughly, up until the point that you and all your friends are at the limit => 200^2 = 40,000 friends of friends) Slashdot calculates these friend of friend values many times over each page we load.

Perhaps this is the reason for the slowness. An n^2 algorithm is one of the most unscalable algorithms you can have.

Thoughts?

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CS no longer a popular major?

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago Back at UNM today, so here's the report. This semester I'm taking discrete math, non-imperative programming(eg Lisp, Scheme, functional, recursive programming), computer ethics, and a business class for my minor.

Discrete math is a required course for graduation in CS. Its usually taken in the sophomore year. There are upwards of 25,000 students at UNM. There was only one section open for this class.

I kid you not, there were less than 35 people there today. Prof. Luger said he was used to classes three times the size.

I haven't gone to my other CS class yet(its a MWF, school just started, and MLK day we had off.) But if this is the indication that means I'll graduate with less than 40 people - assumming everyone makes it. At one time CS was widely known to be a weed out program. Now I bet they're devising strategies to keep people in.

Is this the same for other CS students who frequent the journals? I wonder if the current economy has soured people from going into CS. Then again, I'm glad the people who are there are doing it because they like it, not because they heard it was the path to big bucks.

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Global warming: perception vs. reality

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago Whether or not its the humans' fault, global warming is a reality. When you look at the stats, it doesn't seem so bad. The EPA site on global warming states that average temperatures have risen by 1 degree in the last century.

However, my own experience has been that its been worse than that. Where I live(Albuquerque, NM), temperatures haven't increased that much in the summertime - last summer for instance there were only five days it got higher than 94 degrees, which is normal for here. But in the wintertime, it has gotten much warmer on average than it used to be.

Here in Albuquerque, it used to snow every winter. I used to be able to go cross-country skiing out on the mesa. Now, our local ski area way up on the mountain(10,000 ft. altitude) hasn't even gotten enough snow to open, and my prediction is, it will not open at all this year. December and January have been our coldest months - with an average low of 24 degrees F. and frequently dipping into the teens. Now, it barely freezes - our lows have been in the low 30's.

If its not snowing in the Rockies, that spells big trouble. For instance, Southern California gets much of its water from the Colorado River. If there's not enough snow in the wintertime, the rivers eminating from the Rockies don't get replenished. I predict real trouble when Colorado and New Mexico start getting sued by their bigger and richer neighbors(California and Texas). All the water agreements specify specific acre-feet, rather than percentage of flow. If the rivers dry up, Colorado still owes California X amount of water each year.

So, how are things in your neck of the woods? Has global warming affected you in any way?

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Palladium

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago Well, the XBox hackers have finally thrown in the towel and given up on any hope of running unsigned code on the XBox.

Its really not that big of a deal that we will never see Linux on the XBox - that really was never the point of the project. The point is, we don't want to see computers out there that will only run what Microsoft says can run on them.

Unfortunately, Microsoft succeeded. Watch for computers in the next few years that will only run signed code. Since AMD and Intel have signed on to Palladium, its possible that PC's in the future will no longer run Linux or BSD.

Its not enough that the tiny Linux community is against this. We have to tell our friends and families to unequivocally refuse the DRM-enabled products that are certain to appear in the near future. Nothing less than the freedom of computing is at stake.

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The Value of Physical Labor

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago Got outside yesterday and did some work around the yard(raking, trimming, pulling weeds, etc.) And you know what? It felt really good. There's been something I've been pondering for quite awhile now, probably since I saw Office Space, you know, the line where Peter says something to the effect of "man wasn't designed to sit in cubicles staring at computer screens all day". Well, sitting at a computer for ungodly hours is how I've spent the last six months between work and school, averaging 70-80 hours per week. As a result, my eyes hurt, I'm getting flabby, and my wrists/forearms are sore.

I think I've come to a decision. As much as I love programming, I don't think I will be completely happy doing it full time. On the other hand I used to work outside and do physical labor most of the time. I wouldn't be happy with that either.

So, what I really want to do in my heart of hearts is to have two occupations. One where I can do physical work and get fresh air and excersize, and the other where I can satisfy my need to use my brain.

A couple of problems present themselves with this goal. First, most employers want you full time, especially in programming jobs. Well, I realize that in order to acheive happiness, not to mention financial security, that I'm going to have to find work as an independent contractor, either doing consulting, writing shareware stuff and selling it, or something else to that effect. No problem, thats been a goal of mine for years. The second thing I worry about is that if I try to do two things part time I risk losing the edge to people willing to work 70-80 hours a week at one particular thing.

Any thoughts you might have on this subject are greatly appreciated. Regardless, I know I can't go through life sitting on my ass looking at a computer screen. At least not all day every day. I need other stimulation, in the form of physical work to be completely happy.

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Quickies

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago Saw LOTR last night. If you haven't seen it, do so. Best. Movie. Ever. Im serious. That movie blew away every Star Wars movie I've ever seen, and even topped last year's FOTR. OTOH, if you haven't seen ST Nemesis, you may safely skip this one. Its worth a view at the dollar flicks or on video, but I wouldn't recommend paying $8.50(or whatever movies cost in your area) to see it. Really Nemesis was on par with a decent TV episode of the Next Generation, but thats about it.

I've gotta get this silliness off my chest: That commercial for SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals. Looks like a great game. After the Navy Seal dudes kick the snot out of the Gen-Y hipsters one of the Seals says "like shooting fish in a bucket". I'm sorry but that's one phrase that needs to be stricken from the English language. First of all, its "shooting fish in a barrel" and even that one has major problems with it. Number one, if the fish are already in a barrel, why do you need to shoot them? You're just going to destroy the fish and put holes in your barrel, or bucket as the case may be. At any rate, I don't get it. How on earth did that become a recognizable phrase; its about the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

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2 more finals

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago and I'm done. This was my semester of electives. Why? Because I am planning on going through UNM's academic renewal program(I dropped out 5 years ago due to personal reasons and got 3 F's) and won't actually start there until next month. This semester, I got my brain back in gear at TVI. I am taking Spanish, Economics, History, and Public Speaking.

Assumming I don't freeze up on those last two finals, I'll have 3 A's and a B in Spanish this sem. The A in Public Speaking was very unexpected. Its not my strong suit, and I would have been happy with any passing grade. However, the instructor really felt I improved a lot over the semester. Moral: If you're a geek and you want to strech your capabilities, try something you're not good at. It can be tough, but it's worthwhile.

This is on top of working full time running an ecommerce site. Hey don't laugh. It may be small, but its profitable.

In other words I've been a very busy bee this semester. I don't expect it to get any better, but I'll try and post more during my breaks.

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The Geek News(that /. deemed unworthy of coverage)

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 11 years ago Get your Segway today!. I have to say, the Segway is cool, but not for 5 grand. They already said this thing could go for 3 grand(which is a much more reasonable price). So basically that extra 2G is price gouging. You're not going to get a world-changing invention if you're price gouging. The automobile didn't take off until Ford made them affordable. Personal computing has yet to become pervasive in households for the same reason. I only bring these examples up because Kamen's goal was to create a world changing invention and to fundamentally alter the landscape of cities.

Bin Laden associate warns of Al Qaeda cyberattack. Most alarming quote: "I believe that Osama bin Laden has earned his leadership and most [Muslim students] who are graduating in computer science and computer programming and IT technology are supporting Osama bin Laden." Personally I've met a lot of people from Arabic/Islamic countries in the engineering and science depts. I would never even think to imagine that the majority of these people are learning tech to take home to fight the country that educated them. I think perhaps this gentleman is overstating things, even if he is close to Bin Laden(maybe thats whats clouding his view). I would imagine that most Arabs and Muslims want nothing to do with Bin Laden, including those studying science and engineering.

And(gasp!) Microsoft does a good deed! MS, Apple, and others (A group of high-profile technology companies), lobbied Congress recently to ensure consumers aren't being slowed down unnecessarily by their providers. I have to say, the lack of cheap broadband did more to slow down the acceptance of the Internet than any other factor. I'd almost have to blame the dot-com bust on this factor alone.

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Haiku Error Messages

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  about 12 years ago

In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages.

Better Haiku, than Seppuku, I say. If you have any more to add, post away.

The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

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Macroeconomics

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  about 12 years ago Finally my critiques of capitalism will have some theory to go behind it. This is my first business or economics class ever. It's just that when I was in high school this stuff never interested me. However, having been stupid with money and having felt the consenquences, and also having been involved with growing a business has changed my outlook considerably. In fact I'm taking econ 105 now to keep my options open in case I want to minor in business.

So anyway, allow me to very briefly touch on some of the Macroeconomic wisdom my school has imparted upon me.

The basic goals of economics are as follows:

Economic growth

Full employment

Economic efficiency

Price-level stability

Economic freedom

Equitable distribution of income

Economic security

Balance of trade

To achieve these lofty economic goals, the prevaling wisdom is that you reach a point of economic nirvana called market equilibrium in which the circle of businesses, households, resource markets and product markets are each serving each other perfectly and thus fulfilled.

Unfortunately for us, as I discovered when I asked a few questions about our economy, we are far from attaining this state. In particular, having a monopoly of any type severely disturbs this equilibrium. Many of our most basic services like gas, electricity, and water come from a single source. 95% of media comes from 7 companies and a single company produces 90%+ of desktop software. These, among many other examples, have a deleterious effect on the economy.

At any rate, we're just getting started and both the professor and the book we use have a very traditional capitalistic approach to the subject. So I may be adjusting my view of capitalism in the near future. I will say however, it appears that capitalism needs a lot of government regulation to function correctly. I think perhaps the point I made previously about businesses cannibalizing each other(with a coincident harmful economic effect) until a monopoly emerges may not be so far the truth.

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Moderation rant

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 12 years ago I know I'm not the only one here who has experienced this, but it still sucks.

I can't remember the last time I was moderated down where the moderation was something other than "overrated". To paraphrase Jack Black from High Fidelity, the overrated mod is very pussy.

You just know that these people use this mod because they either don't like you or disagree with what you say. Yet they are too chicken to use something that will show up in M2.

With all the nice changes that have occurred around Slashdot lately, the "overrated" mod abuse is the one remaining glaring flaw in the system. There are undoubtedly people with several accounts that mod nearly every day - and if they are using the overrated mod, well they basically have free license to swing any discussion they way they want, without any checks against their behavior.

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Want extras/more friends/more fans? Subscribe.

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 12 years ago A lot of journal entries recently have commented on friends/foes limits, the disappearance of templates, etc. Not to mention that the whole thing has been buggy lately.

Well, if you haven't seen this already, here's the reason. The changes are designed to get us journal writers to subscribe to Slashdot.

Interestingly enough, I decided it was the right thing for me to do shortly before I read Taco's journal. I have no doubt I'm draining $5 worth of resources on this site every month.

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Whats in a name?

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 12 years ago Something I've wanted to know for a while about you guys and gals that read and/or post in journals. Why did you pick your nickname?

I'll go first. I picked the nickname 'Pinball Wizard' for two reasons. Firstly, CmdrTaco is a big Who fan, as am I. Secondly, 'Pinball Wizard' is highly symbolic of the geek type - someone who is really good at what he/she does, but generally doesn't fit into 'normal' society. In his case, he's the deaf, dumb and blind kid who plays a mean pinball.

In my case, well I try to fit into normal society as much as I can, but there is a twist: I have some very oddball friends. In HS there were certain stuck up types that had problems with me because of who I associated with. Well, I associated with everyone, except the stuck up types. I've made friends with everyone from the very wealthy down to the homeless, from the brightest people to people who walk the streets mumbling incoherently. Some people think you are known by whom you associate with, but I disagree. I'm interested in all sorts of different people.

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Back to School

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 12 years ago Well, I've been admitted into computer science at UNM and am back on track to get my degree. If you read my Religion journal entry, you'll recall that my future looked uncertain(to me at least). I did have to take time off work and go talk to several people, but other than the time it took to make the appointments and see the advisors/professors necessary to let me back in it wasn't too painful. I know its nothing to a lot of you but I was a bit worried there. I didn't want to face the prospect of not being able to continue my education.

The downside is, since I am switching from computer engineering to computer science I've got 2.5 to 3 years to go still because the requirements are quite different. I need a minor now, plus I need a foreign language, a fine art, and either public speaking, technical writing or creative writing. I could do either a comp engineering minor or a math minor which would give me a leg up on completing the minor. Not sure I want to though - I'm thinking I would like something significantly different, perhaps a business minor to round out the degree.

At any rate, thanks for everyone who was supportive when I wrote that last journal. Moral of the story: stay in school(if you're in school) and don't let life get in the way of acheiving your dreams. It's much easier to slog through than it is to go back after you've given up and dropped out.

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Missing friends?

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 12 years ago I appear to have "fans"(i.e. people who have declared me a friend) that don't show up in my fans list. Anyone else have that problem? What good is it if you can't reciprocate when someone declares you a friend because you don't see them on your fans list? Perhaps its the ones that don't write journals? Only that doesn't make sense because there are a couple of people who don't write journals on both my friends/fans lists.

On the subject of journals and friends and fans, allow me to list a couple of interesting things I've run across.

Most lopsided friends/fans ratio: John Carmack, with a huge list of fans and no friends.

Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of C++, has only one fan(me). He's only posted two times though, I bet most people have no idea he ever made an account.

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Thoughts on Java?

Pinball Wizard Pinball Wizard writes  |  more than 12 years ago <background>I've been programming now for 8 years, 6 of them professionally. I started off learning C++. On the job, I started out doing web pages using ASP/VBScript and ocassionally writing backend components and programs in C++. Recently, my company changed its server platform and I've been doing a lot of Perl. Although I've never had the opportunity to use it professionally, I'm now completing my second class in Java.</background>

So here are my thoughts about the language. I would especially appreciate anyone who's had more experience with Java(FortKnox?) to add their thoughts here.

1) Java is just about the nicest, cleanest language I've had the opportunity to program in. The structure of this language, the syntax, and the conventions employed all combine to make Java a very nice, easy to write, and easy to read language. I feel it would be very enjoyable to use it in a professional setting.

2) Java is a very complete language - meaning that for 95% of anything I would want to do, there is a library available to help me do it. Of all the other languages I've looked at or used, only Perl has a similar capability. That's good, because I really hate reinventing the wheel every time I want to put a vehicle together.

3) Java has some shortcomings - such that I could see myself hitting a wall in serious(read: not classroom) development. For instance: what would you do if you need to create complex data structures like a hash table or binary tree? Or if you did manage to create those structures(perhaps by using references rather than pointers?) what do you do in a program where you wanted to inherit from both classes? Java allows for single inheritance, and mimics multiple inheritance by allowing interfaces(you can't modify or implement new methods in an interface, you only get what is there) Now I know you can use CORBA to interact with other languages. However, it appears to me that you can't make use of the other languages special features(like, say templates or multiple inheritance in C++) because the interface itself isn't designed to deal with them.

3a) Another shortcoming with Java compared with other languages is the investment a company and its programmers need to make to become productive with it. Think of all the things you need to do just to get a simple servlet working on the web - you need to create an application, create and compile your classes, write your web.xml file to let the server know where everything is, and finally package it all into a war file. With Perl, by contrast, all you need to do is write a Perl script and drop it in your cgi-bin directory. I heard complaints from other students who worked for huge organizations about the complexity in getting a Java environment working. If its difficult for them, it would be next to impossible to realistically deploy Java in small to medium sized companies.

4) OK, I'll admit. For most corporate development you are not going to be concerned at all about things I brought up in item 3. You will be creating user interfaces, simple classes that incorporate your business logic, and database access methods. For this type of development, Java excels, and the bigger your company is the better off you will be for using Java since it is logical, very well organized, and can scale itself to the biggest of companies. But, where is Java going? For the last couple of sessions at my Java class, everyone has been talking about how Sun's stock is basically in the toilet(hovering around $5), how they might get taken over by another player(Oracle, IBM), and the fact that while Java makes no money for them, it requires a huge amount of development resources. If a company did take over Sun, would they want Java the way it is? Or would they exercise their right to make Java a proprietary language and try to start making money off of it? Meanwhile, MS is promoting .NET, and although they have their problems, they appear to be a much stronger company than Sun. How closely tied is Java to Sun's success as a company? What will happen if Sun folds or gets bought out?

Experienced Java programmers, your comments are very welcome.

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