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Oracle and Google Spar Over Whether Programming Languages Can Be Copyrighted

beej Re:What About Machine Language and Assembly? (316 comments)

This whole comparison is also further complicated by the fact that the Z80 mnemonics did not resemble those of the 8080. It was binary-compatible, though.

So *now* what are we copyrighting? :-)

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Switches (Mostly) To OpenStreetMap

beej Re:Google Maps -- flawed, but still pretty good (218 comments)

I've found a lot of mistakes with Google Maps, but I still find it invaluable for plotting real-time routes by incorporating traffic information.

Agreed. I use it frequently. Not to mention the public transit tie-in. Yesterday I dropped my motorcycle off at the shop, and punched up Google maps, and it routed me right home on the bus.

Does OpenStreetMap link to real-time traffic info?

That's beyond the scope of the project. A third-party project could definitely do that mash-up, though.

Some OSM contributors might dispute this characterization, but OSM is about the map data far more than it is about the presentation of that data. Anyone can build whatever renderer they choose to present the OSM data, and that renderer can be selective about what to present in order to make a map that is appropriate for some particular use, e.g. ski runs or rollerblade-friendly streets. The OSM main page happens to default to the mapnik renderer, but you can switch between several by hitting the "+" icon in the upper right.

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Switches (Mostly) To OpenStreetMap

beej Re:Maps? (218 comments)

I don't doubt it--in many places, OSM data is superior. Out of curiosity, is this true in all of Europe?

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Switches (Mostly) To OpenStreetMap

beej Re:Maps? (218 comments)

A self-correction: Google does note that the hiking trail is a "restricted usage road", so that's something. However, I happen to know that this trail is the same type of road as the nearby Seaview Trail, which is not marked as driveable on the Google Map. So I still maintain it is an error. :-)

more than 2 years ago
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Apple Switches (Mostly) To OpenStreetMap

beej Re:Maps? (218 comments)

I won't speak of the "audible" part, since that's just a small matter of programming.

Turn by turn is... complicated. Of course, you can upload OSM maps on your Garmin right now and get turn by turn instructions. However, accuracy is a factor.

The amount of information needed to drive through a city is absolutely astounding, as is the frequency with which it changes. For example, a street near my house is closed mornings and evenings to vehicle traffic, except weekends and holidays and June through August. That data has to be in there to accurately route. "No left turn, 4-6 PM Monday through Friday." "No northbound traffic except bicycles." "Carpools only 7 AM to 10 AM"--God help us.

Not to mention just plain errors in the data. Near my house, an overpass was accidentally connected to the freeway. My Garmin with OSM data wanted to route me off the freeway directly onto the overpass. (I fixed the error.)

Realignments don't happen that often in cities any more in the US, but they happen on country roads and interstates *all the time*. I didn't realize until I started contributing to OSM exactly how much construction was always happening.

Highway 36 west of Red Bluff, CA, was recently realigned. Google even has it wrong for now: http://g.co/maps/mhdkm . And check this out: Google wants me to drive on a hiking trail: http://g.co/maps/jpxr8 I'm not saying they suck--Google's map quality is *exceptional*, and yet it errs. But I'd say that for turn-by-turn, it has OSM currently beat.

I guess what I'm saying is... uh, contribute to OSM. :-)

more than 2 years ago
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Why Developers Still Prefer iOS To Android

beej Re:The Desktop Mirror (614 comments)

For reasons I don't understand, average people are willing to frequently switch the OS or UI on their phone, whereas they tend to stick with the same computer they're used to using.

more than 2 years ago
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Jobs Wanted To Destroy Android

beej Re:So Windows 95 was the first OS with a gui? (988 comments)

Oh, you guessed! Does this mean I don't win the stuffed wombat?

There is always prior art for everything. Apple, Microsoft, and Google have all been liberally inspired by each other, and by a great many other companies. It can always be said that a different company did it first, and if not, that a different company was the first to do it right. And after a few evolutions, the noise restarts again. Where's the hacker love? Can't we just appreciate these awesome machines for what they are?

more than 2 years ago
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Jobs Wanted To Destroy Android

beej Re:and what about xerox's stuff? (988 comments)

The point is that Apple stole from Windows 95!

This whole "stealing" thing is pointless.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Reader's Social Features Merging With Google+

beej Re:Subscribers (100 comments)

Dumping tech links in Public just spams the 90% of my followers who don't want to see them, so that's not really going to work, I don't think.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Reader's Social Features Merging With Google+

beej Subscribers (100 comments)

I post things to my Reader feed. I don't have *that* many subscribers, but I'd like to replicate the experience in G+. Namely:

1. Third parties should be able to subscribe/unsubscribe to my feed
2. My feed should not be shown to non-subscribers in my G+ circles
3. I should be able to add stories to my feed with a bookmarklet
4. People should be able to subscribe to my feed with an RSS reader

AFAIK, all of this is currently impossible in G+. So... it's a downgrade for the moment.

more than 2 years ago
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Why Does the US Cling To Imperial Measurements?

beej Re:Good Question (2288 comments)

Same with miles. For comparison, here are all the numbers by which 1000 is evenly divisible:

2 4 5 8 10 20 25 40 50 100 125 200 250 500

and here are all the numbers by which 5280 is evenly divisible:

2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 15 16 20 22 24 30 32 33 40 44 48 55 60 66 80 88 96 110 120 132 160 165 176 220 240 264 330 352 440 480 528 660 880 1056 1320 1760 2640

Feature!

In practice, though, I prefer metric--only so many divisions are practically useful to me. I GPS a lot and I found that after I set the unit to metric, I became used to it in a relatively short amount of time. Eventually I just got to know both, sometimes mixing systems in the same sentence.

more than 3 years ago
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Michigan Police Could Search Cell Phones During Traffic Stops

beej Re:it's a trap (525 comments)

Play your cards right, and you can get them to pay for a new phone, too. ;-)

more than 3 years ago
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Python 3.2 Released

beej Re:Unnecessary complexity (164 comments)

I see no change that makes it simpler to use, no change that requires less code than the former version.

"I mean, if you've seen one change, you've seen 'em all."

"And have you seen them all?"

"Well, I've seen one. Well, a little one... a picture of a... I've heard about them."

Unicode and binary data handling. That's enough for me, right there. The new command line parsing stuff is more concise than getopt. And it parses JSON, too.

Not everyone is going to like every change, but declaring you've seen no change for the better out of the huge number of changes just means you haven't looked enough.

more than 3 years ago
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How Do You Store Your Personal Photos?

beej Re:How I back up photos/videos (680 comments)

Main store is on a MAC

Can't store a lot of data in 6 bytes...

It's compressed... a lot.

"What! Man, you asked for a data compressor, so that's what we gave you... you never said anything about writing a decompressor, too!"

more than 3 years ago
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Wikipedia Could Block 67 Million Verizon Customers

beej Re:Easy solution (481 comments)

"I tried that! Don't you think I would have tried that?"

more than 3 years ago
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Flash Can Rob 2 Hours From MacBook Air's Battery Life

beej Re:I think this should be read more like... (509 comments)

WebGL is currently doing stuff Flash can't dream of, and that will only improve (unlike Flash).

With Molehill, it looks like they're dreaming pretty closely. Care to bet which tech hits 90% market share first?

more than 3 years ago
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Flash Can Rob 2 Hours From MacBook Air's Battery Life

beej Re:No ABP in OSX? (509 comments)

Switching to HTML5 canvas animations actually *increases* battery life up to 37%!

more than 3 years ago
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Flash Can Rob 2 Hours From MacBook Air's Battery Life

beej Re:No ABP in OSX? (509 comments)

Since Apple only recently allowed access the access to the hardware video decoder that Adobe needed, it's probably fair to cut Adobe some slack in that department. As I recall, it took about 5 business days for Adobe to put out a dev build that supported hardware video decoding.

more than 3 years ago
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What If We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia?

beej Re:Degrees (380 comments)

Well, there are a few. If I won the lottery and never had to work again, I'd definitely teach people computer stuff for free, both in person and in writing. I love it.

more than 3 years ago
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US Says Plane Finder App Threatens Security

beej Re: US Department of Homeland Security (524 comments)

Here's another idea: how about preventing the crimes that are already happening in this country!

Wait--was the original story about, again?

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

beej hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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GPS

beej beej writes  |  more than 11 years ago I've been going ape with my new Garmin eTrex Legend GPS lately, especially when it comes to Geocaching.

Ostensibly, I was purchasing it so I could find scuba dive sites while diving from my sea kayak. I just haven't bought the kayak yet.

If you get a GPS, I wholeheartedly recommend one with a map, and one with a data transfer cable. Garmin is nice enough to have published their data communications protocol which means there's a slew of free software out there supporting their products, on Linux even!

Geocaching, in case you don't know, is basically the global equivalent of an easter egg hunt. You get the coordinates of the cache from the Geocaching.com or Navicache.com website, and head out there to find it. Usually your GPS will get you within 15-20 feet of your goal, and then the rest is a bit of hunting around.

Which to choose, Navicache or Geocaching? Geocaching.com has something like 95% of the geocaches in the world listed on it. People like it more because it has more share. It's also a bit more of a business than Navicache is. Navicache is a lot more free with their data (it's a serious business asset, after all) which you can download in their own XML format through a perl CGI GET script.

Being a free information sort of guy, I really like Navicache...but most of the caches I find are from Geocaching--there are just more of them!

Geocaching will let you sort of download raw data, too, but not in bulk. They use a different XML format.

There is a third XML format that is trying to become the standard: GPX. It's pretty complete for basic data, and other sites could extend it as they so chose. As far as I know, neither Geocaching nor Navicache support this format.

Once you have your data in a standard format (try using gpsbabel to convert it) you can pass it on to a variety of mapping programs that will plot waypoints and tracks on topo maps, aerial photographs, and so on.

One of these is available online through a CGI interface: GPS Visualizer. It returns the results in SVG format which requires an Adobe plugin, but they seem to have plugins for Linux and OSX, as well as Windows. Very useful if you want to, say, plot a trail map of your hike.

In short, I have a grand time with this thing. The Legend is a high-mid-range GPS, and I got it on sale at Amazon for only $150. If you don't have one already, perhaps it's time to consider getting outdoors a little more often. :)

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