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Comments

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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Slartibartfast You can get for-real IBM Model-M like keyboards... (304 comments)

I've got one, and it's *the same* -- and I care, 'cause on a Model M, I can break 100 WPM -- from Unicomp, and, yes, with USB connectors. Some even have trackpoints (which is what I went with). AWESOMENESS DEFINED.

But I may be somewhat biased.

P.S. My co-workers hate 'em, 'cause it's so damn loud. So do consider them before purchasing for the workplace.

about three weeks ago
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30% of Americans Aren't Ready For the Next Generation of Technology

Slartibartfast I tepidly disagree... (191 comments)

Your comment is way funnier the way you put it, but I trust the Internet as a transmission medium -- so long as I'm using solid encryption. Unfortunately, between reports of NSA backdoors in NIST encryption algorithms, and SSL bugs, "solid" has become a somewhat relative term.

Excuse me. Time to fire up my Tor client over OpenVPN using pufferfish through an SSL tunnel.

about 4 months ago
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30% of Americans Aren't Ready For the Next Generation of Technology

Slartibartfast And this surprises... who? (191 comments)

I mean, really. We *know* that (most) grandmas ain't exactly surfin' like crazy. They're terrified of viruses, and all the other associated buzzwords, and were uncomfortable around new technology before that. Certainly there are exceptions -- but I'm not at all surprised to hear that the demographic mentioned isn't exactly spearheading the digital revolution.

about 4 months ago
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Fox Moves To Use Aereo Ruling Against Dish Streaming Service

Slartibartfast Wow, I wish you were right. (210 comments)

But you're not. (For the record, I work for $MAJORCABLECOMPANY as an engineer in the group... well, under discussion. So I'm somewhat informed.) Case in point: the ability to use a song in a movie for theatric release is not the same as the ability to use the song when released on DVD. Likewise, songs played on the radio cannot (unless, of course, specified) be willy-nilly copied for downloads in podcats. The biggie, of course, is region-enforced blackouts for sporting events.

I could give more pertinent examples, but I also like my job, so I guess I'll have to take a pass. But trust me: it ain't as easy as you'd like to make it out.

about 4 months ago
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Sigsense is Making Interchangeable, Modular Sensors (Video)

Slartibartfast Ironically... (21 comments)

I was instrumental in the non-launch of a Linux magazine. I planted the right idea in the right person's brain, and he was going to go with it... but then he kinda bailed on magazines altogether as part of his divorce.

All things being equal, that was probably the best choice after all, anyway. I hadn't realized just how hard magazines were gonna get hammered by the web. (I used to live in a town that had a HUGE number of tech magazines published from it. The late 90's were not a good decade, there.)

about 4 months ago
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Sigsense is Making Interchangeable, Modular Sensors (Video)

Slartibartfast If Roblimo makes a video in a forest... (21 comments)

Does anyone care?

I mean, really. Granted, I have some animosity toward him on general principle -- I think he's a bit of a jerk. But more seriously, he keeps putting out these videos that are essentially the multimedia equivalent of a vendor press release. Why should I care? There are so many cool things that videos could be made of, you gotta wonder why we should care about these even a little bit.

Get Command Taco and Hemos on and have them talk like in the olden days. Get videos with interesting content from (say) a kernel conference, or an embedded conference. Get Google to give some down-low on Android development. Find a cool something that *isn't* vaporware. (Having worked for two failed startups -- both of which had really cool ideas on which they couldn't fully execute -- I'm far too familiar with just how ethereal vaporware really is.) Get some black hats to talk about root server DNS vulnerabilities, or real-life ways to fight DDoS attacks. Get a banker and a BitCoin guy in the same room and see who walks out at the end. Arduino! ARM! 64-bit ARM! IPv6 adoption rates and how to make use of it, especially since the country's largest cable provider, Comcast, has pushed it out to the majority of their subscribers -- something most people seem not to have noticed! Linux-based intro to robotics that's more than just video from a FIRST competition! Al Franken on Net Neutrality! Of course, this might actually take *EFFORT*, as opposed to asking vendors if they want to sell stuff. But that's kinda what journalists are, y'know, supposed to do.

about 4 months ago
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Perl Is Undead

Slartibartfast Perl isn't (un)dead: worse, it's moribund. (283 comments)

All traction was lost when Perl 6 became some amorphous goal, and nobody gives a damn any more. Personally, I think this is a shame -- but I've found Python and Ruby to be more-than-acceptable replacements. (Honestly, I think Ruby is the cat's pajamas, aside from regex speed on 100+ MB logfiles.)

So... does Perl wish to make a comeback? It really would be fairly easy:
1) Have Larry Wall take the reins well-and-truly again.
2) Give a timeframe for a for-real reference release of Perl 6. Not this sort of wish-wash "everything that says it's Perl 6 *is* Perl 6" thing. Choose *one* of the projects, and have it be the reference against which all others are measured.
3) Give direction and make it public. While associated clearly with #1, merely taking the reins won't do the job -- it has to be clear that Perl is *GOING* somewhere, and not just stagnating. And this has to be made known.

There are plenty of sysadmins who learned Perl when it was 5.x, and who have fond memories of it. Give them something more than memories to work with, and you may well go somewhere. As it is? I just couldn't be bothered to care. Gimme Ruby.

about 4 months ago
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Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

Slartibartfast I keep *hearing* about age discrimination... (370 comments)

But, as a 47-year-old Linux guy, with many different positions at companies large and small over the years, I've never *seen* it. Of course, anything I say is anecdotal; makes me wonder if some facet of my experience is keeping me from where it's practiced, e.g., I'm in the northeast; I'm a 100% Linux-head; I've been in senior positions for years, etc. Perhaps it's more prevalent in different locales, outside of the Linux community, or among mid/junior-grade positions?

about 4 months ago
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Freecode Freezeup

Slartibartfast "Was this Freshmeat?" -- says it all, alas. (62 comments)

Yes, it was Freshmeat. They changed the name about two years ago, though it still resolves to freecode.

I, for one, am very sad. Any time I was feeling like I had a bit too much time on my hands, I'd go to Freshmeat^WFreecode, and check out the newer projects. Almost always, something would catch my eye. And, yes, I still get their daily updates mailed to me, too. I'm wicked bummed. Though I do appear to be one of the relatively few who still use it, so I guess it's no big surprise.

Sad day.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful?

Slartibartfast Engineer at $CABLEMONOPOLY (158 comments)

I made the jump, at 40-something, from IT to an engineer with that-cable-company, where I now get to play with thousands of Linux boxes, and never, ever have to get viruses off someone's damn laptop after they surfed too many pr0n sites. And, while my company has a not-exactly-sterling reputation from outside, inside, it's surprisingly fun: management really *does* "get" technology, and is doing its best to both back it and see it forward.

Bottom line: still a stressful environment with on-call, etc., but in many respects, a lot more fun.

about 5 months ago
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Which desktop environment do you like the best?

Slartibartfast Re:A lack of Enlightenment? (611 comments)

I'd say Enlightenment certainly played a role in early posts, but I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that Slashdot got started *because* of it. As I remember it, Slashdot really got started because it was more of a Linux(and-related)-in-the-news aggregator; if Linux was mentioned somewhere, Rob did his best to link to it with some commentary. Sadly, I don't think the archives go back that far, so I guess we'll just have to have Battle of the Slightly Dusty Recollections. ;-)

Or...

https://web.archive.org/web/19...

That's the oldest listing I could find. It lists (including overlap):
Three Linux stories
One Gnome story
Eight MS stories
Two RH stories
Two Sun stories
And a smattering of other stuff...

(As a side note, Rob has an editorial -- https://web.archive.org/web/19... -- talking about "his" solution to the browser wars: GPL'ing Netscape. And the way it's written, it sounds like ESR hadn't gone public with that suggestion, yet. Looks like Rob may get an awful lot more credit for FireFox than I'd been giving him.)

about 5 months ago
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Should Tesla Make Batteries Instead of Electric Cars?

Slartibartfast Wrong. (362 comments)

Who said "car batteries"? If someone came up with a truly revolutionary battery -- say, one that stored 10x what batteries do now -- you could sell them, at great margin, to *everyone*. Cell phones. Tablets. Computers. Cars (a battery 1/5 the size that's more powerful than the old one, and costs the same? Damn straight I'd buy it). Etc.

THAT BEING SAID... I don't see anyone coming up with a revolutionary battery technology. Not even Elon. So I agree with you, but think your rationale was incorrect.

about 5 months ago
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Should Tesla Make Batteries Instead of Electric Cars?

Slartibartfast Batteries are *HARD*. (362 comments)

I think Elon Musk is awesome, but I haven't seen him do anything, battery-wise, that makes me think he's got anything revolutionary up his sleeve. If he does, I completely agree with her -- or at least make it a separate company to do "battery stuff." But otherwise, getting rid of the "Motors" in Tesla to go and try to be Yet Another Company Trying To Make Batteries Better is probably a fruitless endeavor.

about 5 months ago
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Game of Thrones Author George R R Martin Writes with WordStar on DOS

Slartibartfast Wordstar even kinda lives on elsewhere, to boot... (522 comments)

Several of the Wordstar key bindings are supported in -- of all things -- "edit.exe" under Windows.

That being said, I hope he's using a machine with 3.5" floppies -- gonna start getting hard to pull data off 5.25" floppies in the not-crazy-distant future.

about 6 months ago
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Luke Prosthetic Arm Approved By FDA

Slartibartfast I am -- literally -- shocked (and pleased!) (59 comments)

After years of working at Segway (though not while Dean was around), I'd had no small exposure to his... ethos. And, generally, he most excelled at self-promotion. To see an engineer from the project answering -- in detail -- questions about it simply floors me. Perhaps Dean has reached the stage where he's willing to let others have a shot at the limelight? Whatever the reason -- congrats to the team for their hard work, and to Dean for giving them the opportunity to pursue it! My ex-boss actually ran the team for about a year, before he decided to leave for other pastures, but I'm sure that those who are still there are exceptional engineers, and should be proud of their hard work. Kudos all around.

about 6 months ago
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The Greatest 'Amateur' Astronomer You've Probably Never Heard Of

Slartibartfast Re:Here, here! (or is it hear, hear?) (37 comments)

It's "Hear, hear!" I'd wondered about that for some years until I'd read in some book someone saying, "Oyez, oyez!" Not sure where that derived from, but it's close enough to Spanish's "Oye, oye" (Literally: (you) hear) that its origin became clear. And, oh, hey -- here's Wikipedia to give me more info than I ever knew existed on the topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O...

about 6 months ago
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The Greatest 'Amateur' Astronomer You've Probably Never Heard Of

Slartibartfast Pray tell... (37 comments)

How are you getting six-fold? Am I missing something crazy obvious? Let's look at the parameters, shall we?
"But in all the time since then, the largest telescope ever developed is not even six times bigger than the largest from nearly 200 years ago."
It is currently 2014 -- at least, in my world. That makes "nearly 200 years ago" fall pretty darn near 1815. If he meant the 1845 date, he should have specified it, as there is one closer-to-but-not-hitting 200. The one from 1815 is 1.26m. 10.4 (the largest mirror mentioned) is 8.25 times larger, or 68 times more area. If, indeed, the 1845 number were intended, it should not have been phrased as it was: not only was there a closer candidate for "nearly 200 years," but 2014-1845 = 169. I guess that you could rationalize a rounding up to 200 with that, but I think most would round down to 150... or maybe up to 170 -- both of which it's nearer to than "nearly 200."

Do you somehow come up with something different?

about 6 months ago
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The Greatest 'Amateur' Astronomer You've Probably Never Heard Of

Slartibartfast Six times? (37 comments)

Not by my math. The largest on that Wikipedia page was over 10 m. That's over eight times the 1.26m telescope's diameter from 1815. Which is around 64 times the surface area. Please: better math, more precise statements.

about 6 months ago

Submissions

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Facebook snags top btrfs hackers.

Slartibartfast Slartibartfast writes  |  about a year ago

Slartibartfast (3395) writes "Facebook, in a somewhat surprising move, has snatched up the creator and lead developer of next-gen filesystem Btrfs, Chris Mason, and one of his lieutenants, Josef Bacik, who had previously both worked at Fusion-io. Mason wrote, 'I'm leaving for Facebook, where I'll continue to focus on Linux kernel development. Facebook is also very interested in helping to improve Btrfs.'"
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Segway and GM introduce two-wheeled electric car.

Slartibartfast Slartibartfast writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Slartibartfast (3395) writes "It looks like Segway and GM have teamed up to produce a two-wheeled electric car (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, or "PUMA"). This is just a prototype, so don't get your credit card out just yet, but if it sees the light of day, look for it to cost between 1/4 and 1/3 of a traditional car's price. Looks like it runs at 35 MPH for up to an hour, with lithium-ion batteries."
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Asterisk 1.6.0 released!

Slartibartfast Slartibartfast writes  |  about 6 years ago

Slartibartfast writes "Asterisk 1.6, the long-awaited update of everyone's favorite Open Source PBX, has been released. New features include AEL updates for more capable extensions parsing, additional improvements to the "old" extension language, built-in HTTP for a new default GUI, a long-anticipated bridge feature to bridge live calls, and many other additions and improvements. Download it now and start dialing!"
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47-year-old Internet stalker causes suicide

Slartibartfast Slartibartfast writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Slartibartfast writes "Perhaps others had heard about this story, but I hadn't noticed it until it hit The Times today. A 47-year-old woman — pretending to be a teenage boy — played with the emotions of a neighboring teenage girl, eventually causing her to commit suicide. Her penalty? Nothing. I admit to being of two minds on this one: should someone be culpable for, by way of the written word, causing mental anguish leading to someone's death? The Free Speech part of me says no; the humane part of me says yes."
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Slartibartfast Slartibartfast writes  |  about 8 years ago

Slartibartfast writes "(Well, I didn't want to choose "Democrats" as my sub-category, but "Politics" isn't there.) What with the impending election, I suggest a poll as follows:

With which political entity do you feel most closely aligned?

- Democrats
- Republicans
- Liberals
- Conservatives
- Centrists
- Libertarians
- Communists
- CowboyNeal

[Feel free to add, subtract, or modify political entities as you see fit.]"

Journals

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Roblimo: good, bad, or indifferent?

Slartibartfast Slartibartfast writes  |  about a year and a half ago

So, here I bless you with my third journal entry; puts me at an average of one every three years. Alert the media.

Anyway -- what does Roblimo actually do for this site? I'm sure he'd contend it's something -- but, really? Does anyone actually care about the videos he seems so determined to foist off on we Slashdotters? How about his interviews? I mean, for one, they could almost be scripted in Ruby -- "highest rated comments, one question/comment". How hard is that? I see no reason it needs his (eh-hem) steady editorial hand to guide the ship through those particular shoals. Then there's his tone, which seems, at least to me, to go somewhere between ESR and simply null set.

Contrast this with, say, Timothy, who I find relatively benign and doing a solid job, or Rob M., whose presence and guidance built /. into what it is, and who, at the site's peak, permeated every facet -- and in a good way. Indeed, I fondly remember, and miss, the "quickies;" Rob and Hemos doing their thing; CowboyNeal doing his.

I can't, for the life of me, think of one item that Roblimo has contributed which I found truly interesting, compelling, or novel. I can't think of any way he's truly affected the site for good.

I'm sorry, Rob -- maybe you're a nice guy under it all -- but please, just go away.

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The good ol' Alexis de Bozo Institute folks strike again.

Slartibartfast Slartibartfast writes  |  more than 9 years ago The famous -- or, perhaps, infamous -- Alexis de Tocqueville Institute is an interesting site. Having spent years lambasting Linux and "hybrid source," as shown here, and here, and elsewhere, I found it fascinating that when I viewed the site today, its title tags now say, "This site best viewed using Mozilla Firefox(r)"; you'd think, at the least, they'd put it in the body of the page, and might, instead, actually say what their site is in the title tags; they must really like Firefox. In addition to that, showing their usual penchant for "fair and accurate" reporting, their lead quote goes thusly: "Not because it is easy, but because it is difficult...", and attribute it to John F. Kennedy. I found this interesting, as well, because, according to the JFK library's transcription, it goes more like "not because they are easy, but because they are hard." When one of the 20th century's best-known president's has one of his best-known quotes mis-quoted -- and it's the intro banner to the site -- it just makes you wonder about their ability to do any type of research into esoteric matters such as the lineage of 30-year-old operating systems.

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Slartibartfast Slartibartfast writes  |  more than 9 years ago Well, a mere five years after getting my Slashdot account, I might as well enter something. It's been a strange trip: from Summa4, telecom vendor extraordinaire, to Cisco, then to Xanoptix... errr, Xan3D Technologies, Inc. And now? "To oblivion, and beyond!" As of 12/31, I'm scheduled to get the axe, and join the 80% of the company I zorched the accounts of last Tuesday. Ah, the joys of being IT.

The thing that's up in the air, though, is the fact that there's still 20% of a company in place. An engineering company. With computers, and servers. That I've managed for the last four years. Which leads us to the conclusion that someone is going to have to maintain the damn things.

Meanwhile (a la Lemony Snicket), back at the ranch, in July sometime, visions of a Xanoptix w/o VC were dancing in my head. And visions of Asterisk 1.0 were, too. As well as visions of the quote (in hand) that Xanoptix received for our PBX install. All of which, once combined, made me think that getting into the whole telecom thing might not be a bad move. I'd kind of been hoping that Tyco would have propped us up until at least April, but nooooo...

So, fast-forward to now: they still need me for p/t IT, I'm not established in telecom... let's blend 'em! I'll propose to management that I be a contractor for 1/2 my cost to Xanoptix, while going forward with Asterisk, and using the Xanoptix facility for office-y stuff (eg., fax machine, phone, conference room, T1).

In the immortal words of Yoda, "An interesting time, it will be."

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