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Comments

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IE9, FF4 Beta In Real-World Use Face-Off

Weasel Boy Re:About that link (358 comments)

But why should upper-middle class pay a greater percentage of their earnings toward roads than the lower-middle class?

Marginal income. A lower-middle-class family might have to spend, say, 85% of their post-tax income on basic necessities, whereas an upper-middle-class family might be able to meet those same needs on 60% of their income. Wealthier people have more cash left over after their basic needs are met. That's why we have progressive marginal tax rates.

Do rich people wear out roads faster?

Yes, they do. They take public transit less, and they drive more and bigger cars.

Do the cops spend more or less of their budget year dealing with rich or poor people?

Rich people have a greater expectation of service from the cops than poor people do.

Obama, et al, really do think your money belongs to them first. To be doled out as they see fit.

The only difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama thinks the rich should pay taxes.

more than 3 years ago
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One In Eight To Cut Cable and Satellite TV In 2010

Weasel Boy No TV since 2000 (502 comments)

And don't miss it in the slightest. Okay, I do watch the occasional show on Netflix or streamed online. The internet is my TV, newspaper, and magazines.

more than 4 years ago
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Oracle Wants Proof That Open Source Is Profitable

Weasel Boy Re:Services (393 comments)

Or maybe the hardware you install it on will be. If you don't have to shell out $Millions for the firmware OS, you can pass some savings on to your customer and still make a buck.

more than 4 years ago
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Hacking Hi-Def Graphics and Camerawork Into 4Kb

Weasel Boy Re:I wish (255 comments)

It's not the executable size of most games that takes so much space on your disk, it's all the pictures and sounds.

more than 5 years ago
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Getting a Classic PC Working After 25 Years?

Weasel Boy Re:What are you guys talking about? (533 comments)

"Cut your teeth" is a term from the pre-industrial era, when only master craftsmen could design and build mechanical equipment. The masters worked with entire gear trains, apprentices were put to work polishing the metal plates from which gears were made, and journeymen made the gears. In order to graduate from apprentice to journeyman, you had to design and fabricate your own tooth-cutting bit and make a gear. If it meshed with the gears the established journeymen were making, you qualified.

more than 5 years ago
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Should Undergraduates Be Taught Fortran?

Weasel Boy Re:Maybe not ALL tenets... (794 comments)

Excellent response. Using break statements would have the same effect that my GOTO statements have, with non-GOTO syntax.

Using multiple return points in my experience is more trouble than not. It is just another magic "get me the fuck out of here", plus you have to duplicate your cleanup code.

When I'm chasing a bug, tracing the a program is easier when I know a function only exits in one place.

more than 5 years ago
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Should Undergraduates Be Taught Fortran?

Weasel Boy Re:Maybe not ALL tenets... (794 comments)

Boolean combinations doesn't really address my need. Most of my functions follow a pattern something like this:

Set the return code to fail.

Check the parameters. If there's anything wrong, just bail and return.

Perform step 1. If it fails, don't bother going any further, just bail, perform necessary cleanup, and return.

If step 1 doesn't fail, then use the results of step 1 to perform step 2. And so on through step N.

Set the return code to success.

Clean up and return.

Without the use of GOTO, the indentation level gets deep in a hurry. With GOTO, you know that at any given point in a function, all the dependencies are successfully met in order to get that far.

You may call it bad coding style; when I was a TA for freshman programming, I know I would have. But in practice, I find it to be a very elegant solution that dramatically improves code readability and debuggability in some cases.

more than 5 years ago
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Should Undergraduates Be Taught Fortran?

Weasel Boy Maybe not ALL tenets... (794 comments)

I use GOTO quite often. It is useful for keeping code from getting deeply nested, which in fact can impair code clarity.

Where you might say:

if( OK ) {
... function body ...

}

return;

I would say:

if( NOT_OK ) goto DONE;
... function body ...

DONE:

return;

Now imagine the above example, with 8 or 10 different places where the value has to be tested before proceeding. Without GOTO, your code is indented at various depths across the screen. With it, your code lines up neatly and is easy to scan.

more than 5 years ago
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Why IT Won't Power Down PCs

Weasel Boy Re:IT is a customer service group (576 comments)

"I'm trying to long into my system at work and it doesn't seem to respond."
"No sweat, Chief, your desktop is just a VNC session on our server. Just fire up VNC Viewer on your home machine and point it to this host..."

more than 5 years ago
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Old-School Keyboard Makes Comeback of Sorts

Weasel Boy Re:Mysterious but true (519 comments)

You tell it, Ilgaz. For years I've had a high-quality mattress to rest my weary bones, even when I didn't have a bed to put it on.

more than 5 years ago
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With a Computer Science Degree, an Old Man At 35?

Weasel Boy Wrong question (918 comments)

You should not be asking, "am I too old for this".

You should be asking, "do I love doing this".

more than 5 years ago
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Old-School Keyboard Makes Comeback of Sorts

Weasel Boy Re:Odd that we're seeing this again (519 comments)

How much would you pay for carpal tunnel surgery?

I like my clicky keys as much as the next guy (more than the next guy, actually, since he has to listen to me type). But the reason I shelled out big $ for a Model M is because my hands don't hurt after I use it for 8 hours.

more than 5 years ago
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Cities View Red Light Cameras As Profit Centers

Weasel Boy Re:Stupid Idea as many uninsured motorists are bro (740 comments)

That's a really easy opinion to hold until you try riding public transit four hours each day to and from your menial minimum-wage job. And I'm not making this up, I know someone with a college degree who is in this position.

more than 4 years ago
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350,000 Linux (Virtual) Desktops Land In Brazil

Weasel Boy Not how I remember it (109 comments)

The schools I attended from the late 80s through mid 90s had 5 to 10 Macs for every PC. In spite of this, there was usually a wait for Macs but never for PCs.

After we graduated, we found that the business world was 99% PCs, as it had been from day one, never having given Apple any serious consideration at all.

Most then went on to get the same kind of computer at home that they used at work because, as much of a pain as it is to use Windows, it's more of a pain to have to use both.

Then school boards started making noises, with some merit, that kids should learn in school what they'll be using in the real world. This caused many schools to switch to PCs.

This has nothing to do with technical merit and everything to do with first-mover advantage in the right market (personal computers for business).

Also, running virtual desktops over the network is not necessarily slow and clunky. Have you tried it? I've been doing it for years.

more than 5 years ago
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How Many Open Source Licenses Do You Need?

Weasel Boy Re:Biased... (276 comments)

Suppose you choose to release the source code of your product.

The BSD license allows your competitors to take your work and add to it in secret ways to gain a competitive advantage over you.

The GPL guarantees that if they use the fruit of your labor, you also get theirs. Maintains a level playing field for anyone who wants to open their source.

The GPL is the license for anyone who wants to share without being handicapped. The BSD license is best for for parasites.

more than 5 years ago
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How Many Open Source Licenses Do You Need?

Weasel Boy The License Proliferation Straw Man (276 comments)

Bruce's article discusses license proliferation from the perspective of how-do-I; I'd like to confront those who use it to say why-should-I.

I used to work for a company whose lawyers argued that we must avoid Free Software because there were too many licenses to understand. Really.

Okay, so hundreds or thousands of Free Software products tend to use one of a few dozen licenses. We get that.

When you use proprietary software, every software product is governed by its own unique license. This is an improvement?

License proliferation is a totally bogus reason not to use Free Software.

Epilogue: My former employer has since seen the light. The legal team (whole executive team, actually) was sacked, and the company now uses and writes software under the GPL.

more than 5 years ago
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Ubuntu 9.04 Daily Build Boots In 21.4 Seconds

Weasel Boy Re:Your Goal: One Second or Less (654 comments)

I have owned quite a few computers that could boot in about a second. One of them is even a PC-grade machine with a GUI and a hard drive. What they all have in common is the OS burned into fast ROM.

more than 5 years ago
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Fun Things To Do With a Math Or Science Degree?

Weasel Boy Re:Be a teacher (564 comments)

I agree with you that people of ordinary skills can choose to apply themselves and succeed in most endeavors. And if they enjoy doing it, they will probably be fulfilled. My point was simply that being good at something doesn't mean you will be happy doing it. As your post illustrates.

I wouldn't agree with your statement about aptitude, though. I hope you would agree that possessing adequacy is quite different from virtuosity. You can achieve mastery either way, but the former is more work.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

Weasel Boy hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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Mac OS X looks greener from the other side of the fence

Weasel Boy Weasel Boy writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Dark Paladin suggests that the key to loving MacOS X may be not knowing MacOS 9 and below. Maybe he's right. I've been watching MacOS X mature for years, but I still haven't quite been pursuaded to switch.

Mac OS 9 is just too good.

Do I know what I'm missing? Sure I do. I have an awesome dual-screen Athlon running Red Hat at work, and am no stranger to Windows. My roommate runs OS X. It looks very pretty.

I'm still not switching. Mac OS 9 is too good.

My tower also boots into MacOS 8 (as well as Linux). That was a fine system, too. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

What do I stand to gain from OS X?

Memory protection -- I don't have problems with rogue apps in MacOS 9. My MacOS 9 system is very stable. Memory protection is overrated.

Multitasking -- Cooperative multitasking actually works very well. It is often more responsive than my X-windows desktop, despite having a CPU half as fast. Preemptive multitasking is overrated.

Unix -- Oh joy, I can run thousands of nonintuitive CLI utilities and inconsistent, mentally taxing X programs. Does this program use alt or control for its accelerator keys? Can I paste with the mouse, or do I have to use a menu? Can I copy from this window and paste into that one? Only under some conditions! Yeah, gimme some more of that Unix lovin'.

Aqua -- I really need my desktop picture to bleed through my windows. Give me a break, I only have a 400-MHz G3 and 256 MB of RAM. I don't have enough resources to run Aqua. Funny how OS 9 runs fine on it, though.

Broken HI guidelines -- Some things in Classic MacOS are just better thought out than their OS X counterparts. A photograph of a hard drive mechanism to represent a volume of storage? Sure, I know what it means, but my mom doesn't. Nor does she want to. Go back to school, propellerheads. Learn the difference between "we can" and "we should".

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I'll stop using Mac OS 9 when it no longer meets my needs. And not a day sooner.

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Play buzzword bingo!

Weasel Boy Weasel Boy writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Do you, like most people, have trouble staying awake in business meetings? Liven things up a little by playing Buzzword Bingo! Each time you hear one of these overused words or phrases, mark it off. When you get five in a row, you win! Try to have a good cover story to explain to your confused coworkers why you just yelled, "BINGO!" in the middle of a meeting.

...|.....B......|.....I.....|.......N......|........G.........|......O......|
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
.B.|.merger.....|.strategic.|.synergy......|.economy.of.scale.|.growth......|
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
.I.|.leverage...|..value....|.leader(ship).|.positive.impact..|.sustainable.|
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
.N.|.innovate...|.emerge....|.customer.....|.franchise........|.margins.....|
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
.G.|.initiative.|.cash.cow..|.opportunity..|.cost.structure...|.engine......|
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
.O.|.end-to-end.|.solution..|.enterprise...|.focus............|.competition.|
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Postscript: There are lots of instances of Buzzword Bingo floating around. What makes this one special? Answer: Every single buzzword in my board was taken from a single press release. Wish I remembered which one it was.

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Effective Word

Weasel Boy Weasel Boy writes  |  more than 12 years ago

"MS Word forces you to deal with presentation issues at all times."

Naturally, you want to compose the structure and content of your document first, and worry about presentation later. I can hardly imagine any sensible writer doing otherwise. In Word, this is trivially easy.

The key is to write your document in Outline View. For all of its warts, Word has the best outline editor I've ever used. Use the outline view to create your sections and subsections; fill in body text blocks; and rearrange to your heart's content. Use change bars to track your changes if that's important to you.

Once the content is in place, note that the different levels of headers are associated with styles -- very convenient! All you have to do is define your styles, and *poof!* the presentation aspect of your document is done. Better yet, define your styles ahead of time and save them in a temlpate. Note also that your table of contents is trivially generated from your outline headers.

If you don't want to be annoyed by the instant spelling and grammar checkers, just turn them off. I do.

While I detest the anticompetitive business practices of MS as much as the next mustelid, I have yet to encounter a better application for most writing tasks than MS Word. It's not perfect, but it's better than the competition. Its cross-referencing capabilities are a bit weak for academic or scientific publishing, but for general technical writing it is excellent.

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Did Xerox invent the (PC|GUI|Mouse)?

Weasel Boy Weasel Boy writes  |  more than 12 years ago

A common misperception may be stated:

Xerox originally came up with the concepts of the personal computer, the graphical user interface, the mouse, and several other substantial breakthroughs in computer science.

According to this page, the personal computer was invented in 1949. Xerox was a chemical company called Haloid at the time, and was just getting into the photocopy business.

This very good primer describes how various pieces of the GUI were invented throughout the 50s and 60s by people such as Ivan Sutherland and Alan Kay.

The mouse was invented by Douglas Englebart in the mid-1960s.

Xerox did invent at PARC in the 1970s and beyond: several other substantial breakthroughs in computer science, such as Ethernet and Smalltalk.

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How will Free software succeed?

Weasel Boy Weasel Boy writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Easily!

You just have to ask some fundamental questions to see why.

Q: Who benefits from Free software?

A: Absolutely everybody who uses a computer, except those who make money by selling competing software -- and even they benefit, because they can use Free software, too.

Q: If nobody's paying for software, who's going to write it?

A: Free software will be supported by companies whose main business is not selling software, but who do need to have software. IBM, Apple, Sun, and HP all benefit when they develop software and give it away for free, because they sell hardware. Systems integrators can afford to give software away because they sell configured systems. Large web sites can afford to give software away because they sell advertising. AOL can afford to give software away because they sell content. Contracting shops want to have a free infrastructure because they sell vertical-market applications. There are more than enough businesses with solid, nuts-and-bolts financial incentives to keep Free software going indefinitely. Companies whose sole product is Free software may be funded by industry consortia that wish to have the benefit of continued support of the product, or that wish to forge an industry-wide standard.

Q: How stupid do you have to be to fail to see that most people and companies stand to benefit if they can get (some of) their software for free?

A: Very stupid. Stupider than the people who make mony selling software.

Q: So what could possibly stop Free software?

A: Plenty of obstacles can slow or even stop the spread of Free software. Ignorance is now pretty much out of the running; millions of people know about Free software. Lies will slow the adoption of Free software by scaring away potential users. Greed may prevent some companies from realizing that giving software away as an incentive to buy their other products and services may do more for their business than selling it. Betrayal, e.g., persuading governments to outlaw Free software, can easily kill it. Disorganization is probably the biggest threat. Free software projects need strong leaders to hold them together and assimilate all the contributions to improve the project for everyone, and discourage forking.

Q: What's wrong with charging money for software?

A: There's absolutely nothing wrong with charging money for software. It is difficult to sell something that's freely available, but it can be done. People pay for bottled water, even though they can slurp it straight from the tap. People will voluntarily pay for anything -- even software -- if they perceive some added value.

Q: Does this mean the long-term dominance of Free software is assured?

A: Not at all. The opposition is extremely dedicated, and has vast resources. Free software has gotten off to a good start, but it is by no means too strong to be smothered.

If enough people with real business interests come to realize how they will benefit from writing and distributing Free software, then it stands a good chance of surviving.

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Thank goodness for journals!

Weasel Boy Weasel Boy writes  |  about 13 years ago

We all have our hot-button issues. Okay, most of us do. Most ignorami I can ignore, but occasionally one trots out some overused piece of misinformation that hits so close to home that I can't let it go undispelled (or, at the very least, unchallenged). I'm sure you know the feeling.

So there you are, hammering away at the keys all afternoon, 3 or 4 browser windows open at once pulling in references, composing a masterpiece of rhetoric to put this yokel in his place. If the parent article is close enough to the top of the first page, you might even get modded up to +5 -- bonus! Life is good.

Time passes. 3 or 4 months go by, and what do you know, your favorite issue is again the topic of the day. And, as surely as night follows day, some other often-in-error-never-in-doubt idiot is spreading the same propaganda that you poured your creative genius into rebutting. "Ha ha," you say, "I have you now! My counterargument is all ready to go, and all I have to do is point you to my previous article!"

Oops! Your article no longer appears in your info page! Of course, you did save the source in a text file on your home machine, but you're at work now, and it would be a waste to post the same article all over again.

Journal to the rescue! A place where the fruits of your intellect won't get lost among the weeds of idiocy; only the choicest plums dangling tantalizingly before your readers' very eyes. A place to which you can easily divert the discussion in the threaded news commentary. That, one hopes, will not be thrown out with the bathwater of lame -1 Anonymous Coward trolls after a few short weeks.

Thanks, guys! We owe you one. Stop by to collect it next time you're in town.

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