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Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

Teckla Re:Modula-3 FTW! (461 comments)

Why do you need native binaries? You can package the Java JRE with your app so it can be run if no Java is installed.

Having to wrap small utilities with an installer and a big JRE stinks. Plus there are licensing considerations when redistributing the JRE. No?

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

Teckla Re:Modula-3 FTW! (461 comments)

I would say that Delphi's advantages over Python and Java are native compilation and its advantage over C++ is the speed of compilation.

A lack of good, free Java compilers that produce native binaries (with no additional dependencies!) is the Achilles' Heel of Java. I'm convinced languages like Google Go would never have been invented if Java's ecosystem wasn't missing such an important piece of the puzzle.

I say this as someone who thinks Java struck the right compromises in most design decisions.

yesterday
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Lies, Damn Lies, and Tech Diversity Statistics

Teckla Teachers and Nurses? (335 comments)

How come there are never any reports on the fact that elementary and middle school teachers are overwhelmingly female? How come there are never any reports on the fact that nurses such as LPNs and RNs are overwhelmingly female?

What's being done to close these gender gaps? Why is it never reported? Why is it not important? Wouldn't it be good for kids, who spend a lot of their life in school, to also have male teachers as role models?

What about college admissions? Female admissions have been much higher than male admissions for quite a while now. Why isn't this being reported? Shouldn't we be discussing what to do about that?

Forgive me, but I've seen this "gender gap in technology" thing reported over, and over, and over and over and over and over and over and over ad nauseum, the last few years. It's a discussion that's worth having, to be sure, but it astonishes me how gender gaps in other, probably much more important areas, are completely ignored.

Why is that?

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Migrating a Router From Linux To *BSD?

Teckla Re:pfsense (402 comments)

So software written in C is bad now? What if you find a bug in the kernel, or in ls? You do know that ls is also written in C?

The application domains for which C is an appropriate choice has been shrinking for a few decades now. For example, C is not memory safe and pretty error prone. For those application domains where security and/or reliability trump maximum performance and/or low resource usage, languages other than C are probably appropriate.

about two weeks ago
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Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

Teckla Re:Hypocrites, liars and communists. (441 comments)

My family did pretty much the same stuff. And since we're really not exceptional in any way, I have to assume that there are more people doing the same thing.

I'm not a climate change denier or anything, just trying to stress the (probably insurmountable) scope of the problem. Kudos to people who care, and do the right thing, but I don't think there's enough of them, sadly enough.

about two weeks ago
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Why We Have To Kiss Off Big Carbon Now

Teckla Re:Hypocrites, liars and communists. (441 comments)

Some of us are doing quite a lot ourselves, actually. Starting a couple years ago I actually started refusing to commute to do work that can be done just as well over the internet. Sure, it meant turning down some jobs, but it also cut my total miles driven per year (at low speed in stop-and-go traffic no less) by thousands, and my total gasoline consumption by a factor of over 90%, and though I didn't plant a tree (I don't own any land to plant it on), I did plant an herb garden on my balcony.

Awesome! Only 6,999,999,999 humans to go!

about two weeks ago
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2014: Hottest Year On Record

Teckla Re: noooo (560 comments)

On current trends solar and wind are set to hit that goal within a decade or so. There are some interest engineering problems around storage/demand management and power transmission, but the trend lines look quite good. Especially if you enforce even reasonable local environmental standards on mining and burning coal.

I think wind and solar are already quite competitive, except for the base load problem. I'd love to see a lot more R&D money go into things like storage and distribution.

about three weeks ago
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2014: Hottest Year On Record

Teckla Re: noooo (560 comments)

Let me start my comment by saying I very much believe in global warming and that I believe it is primarily caused by humans dumping enormous amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

I would suggest sheer perseverance of publishing the science in the face of such unfounded denialism will eventually do the trick, in the same way that it worked to convince the public of the link between smoking and cancer despite the opposition from vested interests at the time.

There's a big difference this time that makes your analogy break down. Smoking does not give people that much of a boost in their quality of life. (In fact, it costs them a lot of money, and it makes them horribly sick--possibly even killing them!)

Lots of cheap energy gives people an enormous boost in their quality of life. Even if you get everyone agreeing that global warming is real and caused by human industry, they're still going to want their cheap energy--even if that means we continue dumping unprecedented amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The two primary camps today are the deniers (who are obviously deluded) and the believers (who are also deluded--they actually believe humanity will solve the problem, given enough evidence or education or whatever).

There are billions--billions--of humans on the planet, and a large percentage of them want to improve their quality of life--or, at the very least, not see it drop. There are hundreds of countries, many of them ready, willing, and able to burn all the coal and oil they can afford. (If some countries use less--in an attempt to reduce CO2 emissions--there's less demand, thus prices will drop, thus it'll become more affordable to those people and countries that so desperately want that energy to improve their quality of life.)

Humans are simply not going to stop dumping enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. It. Just. Isn't. Going. To. Happen.

Our only hope at this point is some breakthrough technologies that produce energy at a lower cost than alternatives like burning coal and oil. If that happens, the free market will take care of the rest. If you want to slow, stop, and reverse global warming, we need to throw money at alternative energy research. Anything else is doomed and hopeless. There's simply too much demand for (cheap) energy.

about three weeks ago
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Box Office 2014: Moviegoing Hits Two-Decade Low

Teckla Re:You know what would get me going again? No 3D! (400 comments)

My wife and I stopped going to the cinemas a year or so ago because every movie we wanted to see, there was no option within a 45 minute drive to see these movies in anything but 3D.

I also dislike 3D movies. The goofy, uncomfortable glasses. The higher ticket prices. The fuzziness. Blech.

The good news is, Hollywood is slowly but surely discovering (for the second or third time) that people don't like 3D movies. You probably won't have to put up with them for much longer.

about three weeks ago
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2014: The Year We Learned How Vulnerable Third-Party Code Libraries Are

Teckla Re:not just many eyes (255 comments)

TLS is the issue. It isn't simple. It isn't even secure in many compliant configurations. It invites implementation errors.
A good spec of a secure protocol would make secure implementations easy. If you don't think about the implementability while you're writing a spec, you're doomed, like TLS is.

Well said! You deserve +5, Insightful. Get on it, mods!

about three weeks ago
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2014: The Year We Learned How Vulnerable Third-Party Code Libraries Are

Teckla Re:not just many eyes (255 comments)

Very few people or organizations are likely to be able to securely implement their own version of TLS.

Security and Complexity are enemies. Call me paranoid, but given recent revelations, I suspect TLS was purposefully made complex--so that any implementation was likely to have bugs that could be found and exploited.

Secure communication shouldn't be, and doesn't have to be, so mind-bendingly complex. It should be relatively easy to implement secure communication libraries. It should be fall-off-a-log easy to use said libraries, so that software developers can get client/client apps, client/server apps, and even server/server apps communicating over a secure channel without needing 20 years of security experience first. The code examples showing how it's done should fit on a single printed page.

Until the (purposeful?) complexity is ejected, secure communication will continue to be a fantasy.

about three weeks ago
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Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit For Shrinking Storage Space In iOS 8

Teckla Re:MicroSD card? (325 comments)

There would probably be almost no debate if Apple wasn't ridiculously stingy with their storage and charged so damn much for more. 16 GB is pretty much a laughable amount these days. The flash memory used in smartphones and tablets costs like 1/3 or less compared to 5-6 years ago. There's no good reason to sell iPhones or iPads with only 16 GB of storage these days.

Wait, I take that back. There is a good reason. Apple wants to push you to grossly overpay for more storage--or push you into iCloud. i.e., They simply want more money.

about three weeks ago
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Chromebook Gets "OK Google" and Intel's Easy Migration App

Teckla Re:OK Google? (35 comments)

It means Google has given up, and admitted that they are listening to everything you say.

Obviously, it needs to listen so it knows when you say, "OK Google." Also, it's trivially easy to turn off. Lastly, you can clearly see there's no Internet traffic (uploading of audio) unless and until you say, "OK Google."

I'm opening up my chromebook to install a hardware switch on the microphone wire.

Are you doing the same on all your smartphones, tablets, and laptops, too? Or are you just paid to write anti-Google posts? Does it pay well?

(Goes without saying that there is already duct tape over the webcam. )

It goes without saying you're wearing a tinfoil hat to stop government mind control rays from getting into your brain, too.

How you got modded +5 is beyond me. Damn mods on crack again.

about a month ago
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Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

Teckla Re:The thing that made the Sinclairs popular ... (110 comments)

That was wonderful time. I really look forward to when we get a new generation of computers as easy to pick up and develop for as home computers were. It's a shame Microsoft didn't bundle VB with Windows back in the 1990s, and we're still stuck with relatively impenetrable - for newcomers - tools for mainstream development elsewhere.

The web was kind-of sort-of another programming renaissance (of sorts), but as the years go by, I'm not sure such a thing as our beloved 8-bit years or the web will ever happen again. Software expectations are too high. Nobody is amused by simple text games anymore. Once in a while a retro graphics style game makes an impact but it's pretty rare and not much of an impact.

I fear those days are over, never to return.

about a month and a half ago
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Microsoft Files a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit For Activating Pirated Software

Teckla Re:They used the wrong windows (268 comments)

The windows 7 I installed was pre-activated when I downloaded it from the Pirate Bay.

And the deeply embedded malware included in just about everything from The Pirate Bay is just icing on the cake.

about a month and a half ago
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The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

Teckla Re:GPL (205 comments)

How about you use the GNU General Public License? It has strong copyleft, which prevents people from distributing closed-source software that uses your library.

It may also result in less contributors / contributions. The company I work for contributes to open source, but only to open source with liberal licenses (e.g., BSD). The GPL is strictly off limits.

about a month and a half ago
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The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

Teckla Re:Marketshare (205 comments)

There needs to be a licence that obligates those who profit from software to contribute whilst still allowing colaborative development and still free for personal use.

Such licenses have existed for a long time. They typically specify something along the lines of "free for non-commercial use" (which tends to imply "you have to buy a license to use the code in a commercial application").

The company I work for contributes to open source / free (little 'f') software, but only when the licenses are liberal in nature (e.g., BSD). The GPL is off limits.

about a month and a half ago
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WhatsApp To Offer End-to-End Encryption

Teckla Re:FBI Director James Comey may not care. (93 comments)

Yeah, pretty much. The power of subpoena to acquire those keys would be trivial.

I think that's one of the problems Perfect Forward Secrecy is supposed to solve. If I understand it correctly, upon connection, the two connecting systems that support PFS generate brand new and ephemeral public/private key pairs for bootstrapping the encrypted connection.

Since those keys are ephemeral, even if some entity collected all the data between the two connecting systems, it would never be able to decrypt that data, even with subpoena in hand: those keys are long gone, as they only existed for a few seconds before being wiped from memory.

about 2 months ago
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Android On Intel x86 Tablet Performance Explored: Things Are Improving

Teckla Re:Why should I care? (97 comments)

The part of that page that confused me is right above what you quoted: "Notably, using native code on Android generally does not result in a noticable performance improvement."

Yeah, I agree that the page is confusing. It seems to contradict itself. My guess is they consider games a special case, or something.

A friend of mine does iPhone and Android development and his comment is that NDK is basically a requirement for any non-trivial games on Android.

about 3 months ago
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Android On Intel x86 Tablet Performance Explored: Things Are Improving

Teckla Re:Why should I care? (97 comments)

I thought the Android NDK wasn't intended for performance [android.com] as much as for sharing the model [wikipedia.org] (application logic and data access) code with versions of the application made for other platforms.

A quote from the URL you linked to:

Typical good candidates for the NDK are CPU-intensive workloads such as game engines, signal processing, physics simulation, and so on.

So, according to that page, the NDK is largely made available for performance.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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The Truth about Violence

Teckla Teckla writes  |  about 2 years ago

Teckla (630646) writes "Just as it is prudent to wear your seat belt while driving, it makes sense to know how best to respond to violence. In fact, it is overwhelmingly likely that some of you will become the targets of violence in the future. The purpose of this essay is to help you prepare for it."
Link to Original Source
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The Riddle of the Gun

Teckla Teckla writes  |  about 2 years ago

Teckla (630646) writes "Fantasists and zealots can be found on both sides of the debate over guns in America. On the one hand, many gun-rights advocates reject even the most sensible restrictions on the sale of weapons to the public. On the other, proponents of stricter gun laws often seem unable to understand why a good person would ever want ready access to a loaded firearm. Between these two extremes we must find grounds for a rational discussion about the problem of gun violence."
Link to Original Source
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Teckla Teckla writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Teckla (630646) writes "With Democrats soon having the majority in the House and the Senate, the issue of minimum wage is sure to follow. I've seen very little in the way of convincing arguments that minimum wage is a good thing or bad thing. Democrats typically argue that everyone deserves a minimum living wage, and that the economic impact on companies is negligible. Republicans often argue that imposing an artificial minimum wage hurts the economy. I haven't seen either of these viewpoints supported with any kind of serious economic analysis. My question for Slashdot is simple: Is minimum wage a good thing or a bad thing, and why?"

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