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Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

cerberusti Re:What can be done about this? (109 comments)

The phrase "close enough for government work" comes to mind.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling?

cerberusti Re:AT&T DSL/Uverse Data Limits (355 comments)

Lies, base64 encoding (as in e-mail) only bumps it up to 4/3. Even when you add TCP, ATM, and all the rest you are likely to run into, it will only be about 1.5x.

A worst case there and back is more like ever so slightly above 30 than 60. To get 60 on an e-mail you would need to bounce it between a totally stupid number of mail servers to get the mail headers to become 30MB.

about a month ago
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Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

cerberusti Re:Let's do what every other third world country d (108 comments)

TFA states that they are considering it.

It also states that we were supposed to set up our own production line quite some time ago, but never did so as it was cheaper to continue buying them directly.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

cerberusti Re:C++ is not the language you start with (548 comments)

I am not arguing the advantages of C for some tasks, it is my favorite to this day. I really only use other languages when I want to be able to hand maintenance off to someone else (if I think I will end up maintaining something anyway, I nearly always use C.)

While I have a fair amount of code running on Linux at work, none of my servers have the X window system installed. UI stuff is usually win32 or web based (if it can be.)

I still think the answer to the "I want to use C, but also want built in objects." problem is "Use C++."

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

cerberusti Re:Know where your programming language is headed! (548 comments)

They have no reason to do so, that project fails a risk / reward analysis hard.

Old does not mean bad, there are many more recent but much worse languages which have not stood the test of time. COBOL works well for what they do, the existing code is written in it, and it is well tested.

Designing a new language requires that you have staff who can design, implement, and test that compiler / interpreter. You then need to task that staff with doing so instead of something else which could make the company money, and retrain the programmers who would be using it.

If you try to pitch a project to an insurance or banking VP which involves a lot of risk, a lot of cost, and has no real benefit... you will at a minimum get a polite no as an answer.

C is pretty old as well (40 years compared to COBOLs 55), but most really important modern code is still written in it. I would not be surprised if it was still a popular language at the century mark.

The syntax for general mathematics is about 400 years old, and still going strong.

about a month ago
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

cerberusti Re:Must be an alternate earth. (441 comments)

We should just open immigration up again with some minor basic criteria (learn english, no communicable diseases, job offer or enough cash to live for a year, etc.)

I have no problem with someone who comes here to make a new life. I do have a problem with the way we run the visa program right now.

about a month ago
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

cerberusti Re:That's why slashdot is against tech immigration (441 comments)

Down with all the barriers!

I should be able to choose which country I pay personal taxes in too, it is only fair that I also get to shop around for the best rates available. The US wants an over 65% effective tax when all is said and done? Screw that, Bahrain says I owe nothing.

The local pharmacy wants big money for a prescription? Some importing can fix that problem.

Cigarette prices in NYC getting you down? Time for some arbitrage.

Problem with my order of a 5 megawatt magnetron and 50,000 smoke detectors? A vacation to central Africa sounds about right, I doubt they have a problem with it.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

cerberusti Re:Know where your programming language is headed! (548 comments)

COBOL also happens to be very good at what it is mostly used for (insurance / banking.)

There are very few languages with fixed point and binary coded decimal support. You want this for financial applications.

Most other languages are C derived, and do not support these. The C solution is usually to use a scaled int, or two ints. This works, but is not obvious to a new programmer. New programmers tend to use floating point numbers, which is slightly wrong... banks hate being wrong, and hate having to staff a ton of very expensive programmers in order to get what should be simple tasks right.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

cerberusti Re:Know where your programming language is headed! (548 comments)

There is always C, if you can hack it.

It has a near monopoly in systems programming, is common in serious applications across a large range of industries, and the standard sees minor changes every decade or so. The combined usage is enough to make it the single most popular language, and it has been for a very long time.

Most operating systems, compilers, virtual machines, and scripting interpreters are also written in C, which makes it easy to learn these when you have a reason to do so.

It is not for everyone though, and the learning curve to become competent is longer than most languages.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

cerberusti Re:Kids These Days (548 comments)

I still end up hand optimizing a lot of code. There are many tasks which are at the limits of current computational capacity, and require a lot of optimization in order to achieve a run time which is acceptable.

That mindset, and the newbies who have no idea how to do it, lead to few people who can do so competently these days, and therefore make it a very valuable skill.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

cerberusti Re:Pick a different job. (548 comments)

I would refuse as well, there is no personal benefit to me. Most of what stops any attempt to unionize programmers dead in its tracks is that the ones who write the vast majority of the working code out there have no desire to join a union.

The people who want it are usually fluff, and would be no great loss anyway. Then again I always insist upon partial ownership, so maybe I would be considered part of the other team these days.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

cerberusti Re:C++ is not the language you start with (548 comments)

Why would you try to use some random macro library to get objects in C?

Use C++ if you want objects, or make your own custom and perfect for your task objects with structures (and maybe some functions pointers.)

about a month ago
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Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

cerberusti Re:Complexity (427 comments)

I have the same habits. One of the first things I do on a new compiler is go find the warning for assignments within conditions and turn it on. It produces errors which can be hard to find, and do not always come up in testing (since it effectively makes it always take one code path, and sometimes this is the far more common case anyway.)

I think pretty much every C compiler has that option, some issued a warning by default.

I like my braces to line up vertically as well, so the brace gets its own line indented a space from the prior line. I sometimes go without braces if it is going to be a long block of conditions I want on single lines and I cannot use a switch, but this is very rare.

I tend to make casts explicit and group everything myself, but do it inline (most of the time the type is the same anyway.)

assuming int is 16 bit and long is 32:
int a;
unsigned int b;
long int c;
c=((long int)a) * ((long int)b);

Or do you have a compiler which does not give the expected results there?

about a month and a half ago
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US Senator Blasts Microsoft's H-1B Push As It Lays 18,000 Off Workers

cerberusti Re:Require H1-B visa recipients be paid more (529 comments)

It's easy, make the cost of an H1B 500k/yr payable to the IRS as a fee by the sponsoring company (with no deductions, you pay or it is not granted / renewed).

There are few enough positions which are paid at this level that you could be assured it really was a valuable and hard to find skill set if the company must pay this plus the actual salary. It does not matter what games they play if each license has a minimum fee of half a million regardless of why you want it or what you are paying as salary. This is low enough that in cases of real need it can be done, but will generally be a last resort.

about 2 months ago
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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

cerberusti Re:Why isn't the U.S. doing things like this? (156 comments)

The most important thing for hydrogen as a car fuel is that it is impractically dangerous. Sure you can bind it to something else to mitigate that... but then we are talking about something like gasoline anyway (or your hydrocarbon of choice, but substituting other atoms for carbon tends to make it toxic.)

The safety issues with liquefied dihydrogen are so insanely bad that anybody seriously proposing it knows this cannot possibly work, or has very little chemical and engineering knowledge. The basic properties of this substance make it entirely unsuitable as a common fuel.

The suggestion that hydrogen will be useful as a fuel source on a moving vehicle would be hilarious if it was not suggested in all sincerity by individuals with the power to make laws.

The reality is that we are going to simply burn the methane (natural gas) as that is where we would be sourcing the hydrogen anyway, and it is much safer to transport.

about 2 months ago
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Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars

cerberusti Re:Absolutely - it is filthy (156 comments)

Even if we could produce it in a reasonable manner hydrogen is highly explosive, very easy to ignite, cryogenic when liquefied (as in 20 K cryogenic), and likes to leak out of most containers at an impressive rate (even very well sealed and cooled containers which you could not practically place in a moving vehicle).

Leaks can also cause spontaneous ignition due to the fact that unlike most gasses, hydrogen warms on expansion and requires a terrifyingly low amount of energy to ignite.

There is effectively no way to overcome the practical issues with using dihydrogen alone as a fuel source while being competitive with anything else. It must be bound to another atom, such as carbon (and if that counts as hydrogen powered we already have it with gasoline.)

In the US we will end up doing exactly what you mention: We will burn the natural gas directly for energy, because that is a sane thing to do. It is stable and easy to store compared to hydrogen, and the energy density is good enough.

about 2 months ago
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Preparing For Satellite Defense

cerberusti Re:Wrong approach (118 comments)

It will always be easier to blow one up than to put it there. You do not need orbital velocity to take it out, you just need to get into its path at the correct time. This takes a lot less fuel to do, and should therefore be cheaper.

about 2 months ago
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Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

cerberusti Re: Administrators (538 comments)

To some degree it depends upon the specialty of the programmer. Programmers who mostly write business apps in Java or C# may not get much exposure to a lot of this, but systems programmers will due to the type of code they write.

In a previous job as a consultant I picked up a fair amount of work from various IT departments in diagnosing what went wrong when things did not work as expected.

It can be useful to have someone you can call to dump a network capture and determine who messed up the implementation of a protocol (and help write up a bug report for the vendor, fix it if the source is available, or insert a bridge with a program which will fix the issue as it passes traffic if necessary.) This is especially true when less common operating systems are involved, as sysadmins tend to specialize a bit more in this way (OS400 and S/390 were good sources of income on a few occasions.)

I may not be as fast at configuring whatever they are using since I do not know how the menus or config files are put together until I look, but having implemented most of the major protocols over the years I know what the options mean (or failing that, I can read the spec.)

about 3 months ago
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Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

cerberusti Re:Administrators (538 comments)

You can also get a personal subscription for about $200 per year if you want one. Most journals are fine with letting you subscribe directly.

Many also have abstracts for free and let you buy papers individually. Arxiv is free.

about 3 months ago
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Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

cerberusti Re:Administrators (538 comments)

Few sane people use HR to fill the good jobs, you use your contact network to do that. That is how I used to get good jobs, it is how I fill good jobs now, and that is true for almost everyone I know.

HR is a last resort, or for entry level positions. Even if you cannot fill something, if it is important you take on some contractors or consultants for a while and find someone that way (either directly, or through one of their recommendations.)

I am not sure what you do for a living, but good programmers are very hard to find (even decent web developers are getting difficult.) If you have been around for a while and are competent, you probably know someone who wants to hire you.

about 3 months ago

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