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I typically read about __ books per year.

bit9 Re:Reading problem (363 comments)

If I see something written down, I /have/ to read it.

I'm thinking you should probably stop writing stuff then. I mean, why torment yourself like that?

about 4 years ago
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Library of Congress Opens Records of Anti-Comic Book Shrink

bit9 Re:X-Ray glasses (257 comments)

Yeah, but it wasn't the girls' skeletons that I wanted to see, and I'm pretty sure that the thoughts that went through my head were precisely the thoughts the advertisers wanted me to have.

more than 4 years ago
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Library of Congress Opens Records of Anti-Comic Book Shrink

bit9 X-Ray glasses (257 comments)

The only juvenile delinquency that comic books ever made me want to delve into was with the X-Ray glasses they always advertised on the back page of the comics. For a little boy, I apparently had quite the dirty mind. The thought of being able to see through girls' clothes held more awe and wonder for me than any amazing stunt Superman or Batman could ever pull off.

more than 4 years ago
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Windows 95 Turns 15

bit9 Re:Who cares? (461 comments)

Did you ever use Windows 3.11?

Yes, and Windows 3.0 before that. And yes, when Windows 95 came out, I (eventually) upgraded. However, pre-emptive multitasking or not, Windows 95 hardly qualifies as an important computing milestone in my book. More to the point, even if it was an important milestone, it would still be, IMO, completely pointless and vapid to have a news story about it turning 15.

more than 4 years ago
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Windows 95 Turns 15

bit9 Re:Who cares? (461 comments)

Okay, but was Windows 95 really such an important milestone? And why is 15 years so significant? Next year it will be 16 years old. Are we going to have another Slashdot story about it then?

more than 4 years ago
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Windows 95 Turns 15

bit9 Who cares? (461 comments)

I'm really not trying to flame/troll/etc, but these "X turns N years old" stories are among the stupidest, most worthless non-story, non-news items ever posted on Slashdot.

I mean, really, WHO CARES??? No, seriously, I'm not just trolling. I really want to know, who among you actually thinks this story is newsworthy and/or prescient, and more importantly, why?

more than 4 years ago
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How Should a Non-Techie Learn Programming?

bit9 That's an ambitious goal. (346 comments)

Most programmers (at least the ones I know, including myself) didn't start with such lofty goals. We also started very young - I started in middle school writing tiny little BASIC programs on a TRS-80. It took me several years, and lots of tiny, simple programs, before I even realized I had any sort of actual talent for it, much less the desire to do it for a living. Then I went to college and spent several more years learning programming at a purely academic level - again, lots of relatively small, simple programs that did not solve any difficult real-world problems.

Truth be told, it takes at least a year or two just to learn the fundamentals of computer science - which you should do, if you ever want to be any good at programming.

I'm not saying that it isn't worth your time to merely dabble in programming, and that you shouldn't do it unless you're willing to go at it hard core. What I am saying is that you should have realistic expectations, and lots of patience. Don't expect to pick up a copy of "Teach Yourself Web Programming in 7 Days" and expect to be cranking out professional looking (and more importantly, functioning) websites in a week or even a month or a year.

There is a lot of accumulated knowledge and hard experience that goes into being a successful professional programmer.

So my advice to you is to start with whatever kind of programming you have a real interest in. Be prepared to spend countless hours hacking away at your code before it even comes close to working the way you envisioned it. The more non-trivial the task, the more time you should expect to struggle with it. And remember that the learning process will be non-linear at first, because every answer will raise several more questions.

Most importantly, don't give up! Learning a difficult technical subject like programming involves lots of tears, sweat, and frustration. You will get to a point where it's 2:30AM and you've been staring at your code for hours trying to figure out why it's getting a "Segmentation Fault" or some such thing. In fact, there will be many such points. You just have to be willing to push beyond those barriers, and not give up. Of course, having a programmer friend that you can ask (hopefully someone with lots of patience) for help goes a long way.

My writing tends to be overly verbose and rambling, so let me just reiterate the main points:

  • Start with an area of programming you're truly interested in. Your interest in the topic will help you overcome all the many hurdles.
  • Be prepared to make agonizingly slow progress
  • Don't expect to be able to accomplish non-trivial tasks any time soon. Otherwise you'll just get frustrated and quit.
  • Be adventurous. Don't forget to try new things, and don't fall prey to the old saying "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

more than 4 years ago
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DMCA Exemptions Don't Matter

bit9 Re:My first response as well (146 comments)

The entire point of your post was that the 1984 ruling represented a high point of sorts from which we have declined.

You're almost right, but not quite. If you re-read everything I've posted here, you will see that at no point did I claim 1984 was some sort of local maxima, only that we have declined significantly since then.

My point is that there has never been a high point in copyright law as far as citizens are concerned, only a long decline since the concept was first introduced.

I would mostly agree with that, but I do think there has probably been at least some degree of ebb and flow. Whether or not SCOTUS intended to score any points on behalf of consumers, their 1984 ruling did exactly that. Just because Sony happened to also benefit doesn't mean that it was bad for consumers. If anything, the decline you've mentioned has been in favor of content producers, and the 1984 decision was a definite blow to content producers - a group which Sony was not a member in 1984.

more than 4 years ago
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DMCA Exemptions Don't Matter

bit9 Re:My first response as well (146 comments)

My point isn't that the case wasn't that clear cut.

No, your point was this:

If you think a ruling in a case between two major multinational corporations in any way represented a high point in fair use doctrine, you'd want to start thinking again.

But this is something I already acknowledged by saying this:

Well, seemingly, anyway - I'm sure if I went back and looked closer, I would probably find that things weren't quite as clear cut in 1984 as it felt like they were.

by which I clearly meant that the balance of copyright law in 1984 was not tipped completely in favor of the consumer, but that it merely seems like it was compared to the fucked up situation we find ourselves in now.

If your point is just that copyright law is there to protect corporations and not consumers, you could have just said that instead of beating on a strawman about how 1984 was not a high point of copyright law.

more than 4 years ago
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If You Don't Want Your Car Stolen, Make It Pink

bit9 Re:Tonight in COPS! (390 comments)

Troll strategy #501:

Step 1. Find a comment modded "Funny".
Step 2. Find a reply that appears to be serious.
Step 3. ASSume this means that respondent did not get the joke. Doesn't matter how stinkingly obvious the joke was, as long as respondent can be interpreted as having not gotten the joke.
Step 4. Use the magic troll word: "Whoosh" (practically guaranteed to garner a mod point or two).
Step 5. ????
Step 6. Profit!

more than 4 years ago
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If You Don't Want Your Car Stolen, Make It Pink

bit9 Re:Tonight in COPS! (390 comments)

I stand by my statement.

Good. That and $1 will buy you a cup of coffee. You can stand by your statement all you want - doesn't make it any less of a karma-whoring troll comment.

more than 4 years ago
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DMCA Exemptions Don't Matter

bit9 Re:My first response as well (146 comments)

Are you just a karma whore, or do you have reading comprehension problems. Why else would you waste your energy pointing out something I already conceded in my original post?

more than 4 years ago
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DMCA Exemptions Don't Matter

bit9 Re:My first response as well (146 comments)

When I look at the current state of IP law, the one thing that always strikes me is how far we've fallen since the Sony vs. Universal case in 1984. That wasn't that long ago, and yet in that relatively short amount of time, IP law has done a complete 180-degree turn. Well, seemingly, anyway - I'm sure if I went back and looked closer, I would probably find that things weren't quite as clear cut in 1984 as it felt like they were. Nonetheless, to go from having SCOTUS declare that timeshifting == fair use to having a federal law that criminalizes fair use (which is essentially what DMCA does, since you have to circumvent CSS et all these days in order to exercise your fair use rights) in such a short time is something I find difficult to wrap my mind around.

more than 4 years ago
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If You Don't Want Your Car Stolen, Make It Pink

bit9 Re:Tonight in COPS! (390 comments)

Duh. Not only did I get the joke, but it was already modded funny before I replied. Just because I give a half-serious reply to a joke doesn't mean I didn't get the joke. Or were you just hoping to get modded "Insightful" for saying "Whoosh"?

more than 4 years ago
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If You Don't Want Your Car Stolen, Make It Pink

bit9 Re:More lies with statistics... (390 comments)

Why bother looking at the statistics? It's common knowledge that 78% of statistics are made up anyway.

more than 4 years ago
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If You Don't Want Your Car Stolen, Make It Pink

bit9 Re:Maybe it's simpler than that. (390 comments)

I suspect it also has to do with being able to strip the car down and sell the parts. My guess is that in modern car theft rings, even things like doors, fenders, and trunk lids are resold on the black market. A bunch of pink body panels showing up at a swap meet somewhere would be a lot easier to trace.

more than 4 years ago
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If You Don't Want Your Car Stolen, Make It Pink

bit9 Re:Solution to theft (390 comments)

Did he tap his foot twice while in the next bathroom stall err I mean cubicle?

more than 4 years ago
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If You Don't Want Your Car Stolen, Make It Pink

bit9 Re:Tonight in COPS! (390 comments)

Then don't get arrested. It's generally not hard to avoid.

more than 4 years ago
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Safari Privacy Bug May Be Leaking Your Data

bit9 Re:So..'many eyes make bugs shallow'? (152 comments)

I've done some work on avionics displays code too, and from what I saw, the displays code is one of the least complicated parts of a typical avionics system. But that doesn't paint an accurate picture of the avionics system as a whole. Other parts, such as flight controls, vertical profile, the terrain avoidance system, etc are an order of magnitude more complex.

Also, there seems to be a tendency in this thread to equate complexity with convoluted code. Convoluted code can be quite complex, but is often unnecessarily so. Some software, however, is very complex due to the requirements that drive it, and would still be complex no matter how cleanly it was written.

more than 4 years ago
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Safari Privacy Bug May Be Leaking Your Data

bit9 Re:So..'many eyes make bugs shallow'? (152 comments)

I find it amusing that people think that because embedded software has to be predictable, deterministic, and well-documented, that it is therefore simpler. That's pure nonsense. The complexity of the software is driven by the system's requirements, and no, I don't mean the requirement that it be predictable and reliable. I don't know what avionics software you've worked with, but from what I've seen, avionics software has to control a huge number of different systems, and respond to a huge number of different inputs, and the logic involved is often very complex (flight control calculations, etc). Even the "simple" logic it performs is made much more difficult because of the enormous number of different cases it has to handle, meaning that it's almost never as simple as just having a huge switch statement. Yes, there are certain areas of the code that are straightforward and simple, as you would expect in any large system, but those parts tend to be the exception rather than the rule. In either case, the one thing I can say with certainty is that web browsers are nowhere near the "most complex piece of software you will find anywhere".

more than 4 years ago

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