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How Relevant is C in 2014?

danaris Re:macro assembler (641 comments)

When I was in college, one of my CS professors had a weekly quiz that he called "Iron Code." It required you to write a (relatively simple) program, and submit it, using a custom utility (I forget the details; this was 15+ years ago now)...but you only got one shot. Your grade was based upon the degree to which your program's output in response to various inputs met the specifications. If it didn't even compile, you got a zero.

I was so-so at this activity, but there were a fair number of students in the class who consistently got high marks.

Humans can be taught not to make errors. It just requires more time and more careful attention to detail. It's not sexy, and it's usually not fun, but it's totally possible, and if it's your job, then you can damn well do it.

I'm just glad it's not mine, because patience and attention to detail are not my strong suits. :-)

Dan Aris

about a week ago
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Economist: US Congress Should Hack Digital Millennium Copyright Act

danaris Bought and paid for? (129 comments)

Any rational interpretation would suggest that when people buy or pay off the loan on a piece of equipment—whether a car, a refrigerator or a mobile phone—they own it, and should be free to do what they want with it. Least of all should they have to seek permission from the manufacturer or the government.

Any rational interpretation would suggest that when rich people and large corporations buy or pay off the loan on a congressperson, they own it, and should be free to get whatever legislation out of it they see fit. Least of all should they have to deal with interference from busybody economists trying to tell them what's "rational."

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

danaris What people want to read (368 comments)

The biggest problem with what Stross is saying is that people, in general, want to read about situations that are familiar to them. It's damn hard to come up with a truly believable far-future culture in the first place, but it's much harder to do so in a way that makes it both alien to us and something that people can identify with enough to actually enjoy reading.

If you really follow Stross's advice when writing far-future sci-fi, you're likely to lock yourself into a very small niche of potential readers. And if you're writing that way because that's the story you want to write, or because you truly believe it's important to the integrity of the story that the culture be very different than our own, and you're OK with selling a few thousand copies or less, then that's fine. But I dare say most sci-fi authors who actually publish do so because, at least in part, they actually want to have people read their books, and to make a little money off them.

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

danaris Re: Get the facts first (250 comments)

Sorry, of you can't see that when Real advertises that the DRMed music you buy from them will play on an iPod without problem, Apple will have to make sure it does - then you are obviously a fanboy.

Well, in that case, I guess I must be a fanboy.

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

danaris Re:So what should they have done? (250 comments)

"so what should they have done? Just let those pieces of random garbage data take up space on the iPod for the rest of its life?"

Do you realize how inane your argument here is? The answer to your question there is simply "yes". If they wanted to be customer friendly, pop up a warning message that files were detected that were now garbage and prompt for a deletion.

OK, that's not an unreasonable option. Apple could have chosen to do that, and that might have avoided this issue. But it seems likely to me that when Apple wrote the iPod OS (not to be confused with iOS) and the iTunes synchronization mechanism, they didn't even consider the possibility that someone would manage to put songs on there that tricked the iPod into thinking they were FairPlay DRMed files, and thus it would have been a considerable extra effort for them to put such a notification in place. But even without it, it's not like any actual data would have been lost—files synchronized to an iPod would still exist in the music library. Unless they were using unsupported third-party software in the first place, in which you should be blaming the third-party software for doing things that are explicitly not supported. So once the files are deleted off the iPod...they're still on your computer where you downloaded them to originally.

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

danaris Re: Get the facts first (250 comments)

If you can find some actual "tricky, monopolist behaviour" somewhere, I'll give you an answer. Until then, though, all we're talking about is FUD regarding Apple not wanting to go to a lot of effort to implement various random competitors' DRM algorithms...which said competitors would have had to license to them, and provide proper information for third-party implementation of, etc, etc.

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

danaris So what should they have done? (250 comments)

and removed the songs with bogus FairPlay from people's devices, because they would no longer work.

See that's the thing, it's MY filesystem on MY device.

If the files exploited a hole in the DRM, then the DRM was patched and the files no longer work... fine, the files don't work, but you can't delete my files on my device .

Face it, Apple screwed the pooch and got called out on it. Hopefully they get a sharp smack in the nose with a newspaper, learn from the past and don't do stupid shit like this again, and everyone can move on.

Okaaaay...but, see, first of all, even by the time of the events in the lawsuit, pretty much everyone already knew, if you want to have total control over your device and manage every single configuration and file copy by hand...you don't buy an iPod.

Second of all, what the hell were you going to do with those songs once Apple fixed the bugs? Without the buggy code, the bootleg implementation of FairPlay just wouldn't work. The files wouldn't play, and the way they were put on the iPod would mean that there would be literally no other purpose to having them on there. I don't know if you know how syncing to iPods worked in the pre-iOS era, but while there was a "disk mode" that would allow you to mount the iPod's hard drive as a simple HFS+ filesystem (or, presumably, FAT on Windows? not sure of the details on that end) on your computer, it would not allow you to directly access the music on the iPod, either to add it, copy it off, or delete it.

So basically, once the bugs were fixed, these files were nothing more than junk data, in a section of the iPod that there was literally no other way for you to get rid of them unless you were using one of a few different pieces of third-party software—obviously not supported or assumed to be the case by Apple—so what should they have done? Just let those pieces of random garbage data take up space on the iPod for the rest of its life? Forced you to erase the whole thing just to get rid of them?

Based on your tone, I'm pretty sure your answer to all this would be along the lines of, "They should have just left it all up to me in the first place," but that ship had sailed long ago. And I think that really just brings us back full circle, to "yeah, but if you wanted that, you'd know perfectly well not to buy an Apple device."

There is—demonstrably—room in the market for devices with multiple competing philosophies. At the time, there were a number of devices made by various other companies that would have allowed you to manage your music by hand. Demanding that every single company adhere to your personal philosophy, provided they are not infringing any actual rights or breaking any laws, is not a reasonable position to take.

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

danaris Re:Get the facts first (250 comments)

How can you be such a corporate apologist?! Apple in no place advertised that the only DRM music that could be played on iPods was Fairplay music, this screwed over customers, it was a shit thing to do but you go out and defend and praise Apple for it. "Oh yes thank you master for fucking me over Ill tell everybody how good it was, may I have another?"

They may not have put up giant posters proclaiming that the only DRMed music that you could play on an iPod was FairPlay, but it's not exactly like it was some kind of secret, either.

I'm not saying I don't feel bad for the people who honestly didn't know how these things worked who bought music from RealNetworks, then had their music stop working when Apple fixed the loophole. I can imagine how frustrating that would have been.

But that doesn't mean that Apple is at fault for fixing bugs in their code. I suppose you could blame them for having the bugs in the first place, but I think that's kind of a "let he who is without sin" situation to get into. And the decision not to license FairPlay, or implement any of the dizzying array of competing music DRM schemes that existed at the time, is one that can be legitimately questioned by reasonable people, but I don't think that makes it by any stretch of the imagination Obviously Wrong.

However, it seems to me that you've got an axe to grind against Apple specifically, and possibly against corporations in general, and aren't actually interested in reasoned discourse. (The first clue was leading with an insult, by the way. Ad hominem attacks are never a good sign.)

Either way, I don't see your objection as having any serious merit.

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

danaris Get the facts first (250 comments)

First of all, what lead has Apple lost that it ever really had? They're set to cross the $1 trillion market cap barrier—for the first time of any company ever—in the not-too-distant future, selling iPhones and Macs faster than ever before, and iPads only very slightly slower than their peak.

Now, if you were paying any attention whatsoever, instead of just writing a knee-jerk Apple-hate comment, you'd know that this was in reference to acts that allegedly occurred many years ago, before the iPhone was even released. That's why it's talking about iPods, y'see?

Furthermore, what actually happened is that a) people had purchased music from stores other than the iTunes Music Store, which had DRM on them that Apple didn't support, and/or b) people had put songs from RealNetworks on their iPods, who had somehow managed to exploit some holes in the FairPlay DRM to trick the iPods into allowing them on there while still maintaining their DRM-ness...and Apple figured out what they had done, fixed the bugs in their code that allowed RealNetworks to get around the fact that they never licensed FairPlay, and removed the songs with bogus FairPlay from people's devices, because they would no longer work.

So...no. This is not Apple getting upset that it's not the top dog (in some way) and lashing out in immature ways. This is other people getting upset that Apple was the top dog (in some ways) and lashing out in immature ways.

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

danaris Only if you've destroyed the laws of causality. (250 comments)

Wow. You spent all that time explaining how iOS devices sync with iTunes when the lawsuit is referring to a time period before iTunes existed.

Umm...no, sorry, you lose. iTunes existed for years before the first iPod was ever sold.

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

danaris Feedback loops (167 comments)

Irrelevant perhaps, but that doesn't mean it won't be popular, at least among certain demographics.

After all, if it comes to reflect their biases more the longer they use it, they'll be more and more likely to want to get their news from there.

So from that perspective, it sounds like a win for those selling the ads on it, and a depressing loss for the rest of humanity.

Dan Aris

about two weeks ago
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Greenwald Advises Market-Based Solution To Mass Surveillance

danaris Re:It's all bullshit (157 comments)

it doesn't matter how many parties there are in the systemâ"only the two major ones have more than a snowball's chance in Hell of actually winning more than 1 or 2 legislative seats in anything but the rarest circumstances.

And this is true exactly because everyone assumes it is true and adapts their voting behavior accordingly.

Changing a political system, even one as inertia-ridden as we have in the US right now, is easier than changing human nature.

Dan Aris

about a month ago
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Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

danaris Poor? Who's poor? (203 comments)

If you are wealthy and conservative, it's just to be expected as it is in your own self interest.

If you are poor and conservative, what the hell are you thinking? Why are you cutting your own throat so a few wealthy people can have lower taxes, lower estate taxes, and ship your jobs overseas if not ask you to build a stage so they can climb up on it and fire you?

There are no poor in America. There are only, in the words of John Steinbeck, "temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

One of the most insidiously effective tactics of the American right wing has been convincing the poor that they should support policies that only benefit the rich so that they can benefit from them when they're rich. (Though I'm not sure whether they were able to create such a sentiment, or merely capitalized and expanded upon one that was already there.)

Unfortunately, it seems to completely escape the understanding of far too many such that those same policies are making it that much harder for them to ever become rich.

Dan Aris

about a month ago
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Greenwald Advises Market-Based Solution To Mass Surveillance

danaris Re:It's all bullshit (157 comments)

How can you blame the voters for an evil choice when the choices are evil and evil?

Because the actual choices are evil, evil, I-don't-know-you, never-heard-of-you, who-are-you and I-don't-care-enough-to-actually-check-who-the-choices-are.

There are more than two parties in the system. The fact that only two of them matter is what voters can and should be blamed for.

However, as I think you know perfectly well, as long as we have single-selection first-past-the-post voting, it doesn't matter how many parties there are in the system—only the two major ones have more than a snowball's chance in Hell of actually winning more than 1 or 2 legislative seats in anything but the rarest circumstances.

No; once you've reached the polls, the chance to select better candidates is already long past. If you want a better choice of candidates, then the first answer is "do your best to become one yourself." Since that's not a viable option for many people, the second answer is "get involved at the local level, and start pushing for the things you believe in to be implemented there, and for them to trickle up the chain to state and national candidates."

In other words, if you want to have more than a choice between the establishment Republican candidate and the establishment Democrat candidate, or you want one or more of those candidates to actually represent your views more than they usually do, you need to sacrifice some of your time and/or money to make it happen. (Money is generally only relevant if you've got a LOT of it to sacrifice, though.) Simply showing up at the ballot box and expecting there to be a candidate that you can vote for, who has a reasonable chance of winning, who actually represents a significant majority of your views, is, in America today, naive at best and mind-numbingly ignorant at worst (depending largely on how well your views align with those of the people you tend to live among).

Dan Aris

about a month ago
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Congress Suggests Moat, Electronic Fence To Protect White House

danaris Re:redundancy (213 comments)

I think the evolutionary psychology line is going too far. I don't think anyone is suggesting that losing the president will make us all leaderless and lost. Instead, that losing the president is a substantial blow that's best avoided. The reason for this is that the "shared leaders" you describe do not have equal seniority. So if you lose the top one, you still require a reshuffle and there will still be disruption. Further, the president is the figurehead of the nation and it is a blow to morale if he is taken out. For similar reasons, there was a big security boost around the statue of liberty following 9/11. Symbols matter, that's all.

I think you misunderstood his point—though your point is good too.

But what I read in Tom's post was that the reason we have a single President in the first place, rather than some sort of coequal ruling council, is because of our primitive desire for single, focused leadership.

Dan Aris

about 1 month ago
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The Great IT Hiring He-Said / She-Said

danaris Re:There's a clue shortage (574 comments)

If you want a career in software development, stay far, far from the places where there stuffed suits run the shop. It's a small and dirty corner of the industry.

I'm sorry, but while I don't have numbers on it, I don't believe that's true. It is my understanding that there are at least as many programmers, system architects, and all other sorts of software developers working in-house for companies that do not sell software, writing programs that will never be seen or used outside of that company.

Remember, in the modern world recruiters and hiring managers find your resume online, it's all "pull-based" now. Hiring manager want to solve specific kinds of problems. You want to list the specific kinds of problems that you've solved, because that's what they're actually looking for. Sure, sure, make sure to work in the keywords that recruiters search for, that's quite important, but those keywords can be anywhere.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that, at present, there are a significant number of big-corp hiring managers who will ignore any resume that doesn't "list specific kinds of problems that you've solved." However, I'm not willing to believe that it's every single hiring manager in the country, nor even every Fortune 500 hiring manager. Nor am I willing to believe that, if there are indeed a large percentage doing it, that is anything more than Yet Another Hiring Fad. Because I've heard about dozens of different hiring fads on Slashdot over the past decade and a half.

Me, I'm lucky. I got hired in academia, in a job that fits my skillset and temperament very well, so it doesn't actually matter just at the second (knock on wood) what my resume looks like. But if I took the advice of every person who comes along, like you, and says, "OK, you must have X in your resume or you'll never get a job," my resume would be about 20 pages long. (Except that one of the Xs I've heard is, in fact, "your resume must be no more than 1 page." So, go figure.)

If I had a way to evaluate such advice, to know which pieces are good, which are snake oil, and which are just out of date, it would be fantastic. Unfortunately, I don't—and I don't think you do, either.

Dan Aris

about a month and a half ago
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The Great IT Hiring He-Said / She-Said

danaris Re:There's a clue shortage (574 comments)

Well, personally, I managed to snag a really nice job (for my own skills and temperament), and am not looking.

But it would shock me if there aren't places that "actually let HR do the hiring," but still have IT teams with good people on them that are worth working with. Sure, there are also places like that that you should run screaming from, but to say that "all businesses that do X are terrible places to work" is pretty commonly a false generalization, especially when X is a relatively common practice among large companies.

Dan Aris

about a month and a half ago
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The Great IT Hiring He-Said / She-Said

danaris Re:There's a clue shortage (574 comments)

(protip: no one cares about "duties and responsibilities" - explain cool problems that you personally solved instead)

Do you have any idea how many people will give different pieces of often totally mutually exclusive resume advice? Your "protip" sounds like a great way to never get looked at by a very large number of firms who actually let HR do all their hiring. And yes, those exist.

Your desires, requirements, and experience are not universal. They are yours. It is important to recognize that, and at least try not to penalize other people when their experience with the hiring process doesn't match what you expect or want.

Dan Aris

about a month and a half ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

danaris Re:So What? (669 comments)

That interpretation is actually less of a break from the Old Testament, wherein Lucifer was just an extremely unpleasant Persian king, Satan is only mentioned a couple of times in passing, and God is as terrible as he is great.

Another part of the Old Testament that doesn't get talked about much, but intrigues me greatly is the degree to which it seems to be telling the story of (the followers of) a God who is, at first, fighting for supremacy against various other Gods, but who eventually emerges triumphant. Again, I'm not enough of a theological scholar to be able to speak with any real authority about this, but stuff in the Exodus story (the Egyptian priests being able to perform what were clearly supernatural feats, despite the fact that Moses was able to defeat them), through to Kings (Elijah calls down fire from heaven, while the priests of Baal are unable to do anything similar), and various phrasings (like "you shall have no other God before me") all seem to suggest it.

Dan Aris

about 2 months ago
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Pope Francis Declares Evolution and Big Bang Theory Are Right

danaris Re:So What? (669 comments)

For instance, the modern synthesis of descent with variation has no supernatural guidance, but the Catholic version does.

While that's true, it's something of a misrepresentation of the situation. Catholics (and many other religious people, and most Christians) believe that everything is influenced by their God. Depending on how excited they are about this, they may insist that God is capable of producing any individual result, or that he is responsible for every outcome, but His Hand is supposed to be everywhere, or at the very least, everywhere necessary for His Plan. With All Appropriate Capital Letters, of course.

I think far too many people—not just atheists, but theists of whatever sort who are less familiar with the thinking of Catholics—miss this important point. It's not that God specifically decided to control evolution, and left other stuff alone—it's that He, through whatever means, guides everything, all the time, in accordance with His plan.

Though one thing I've always been somewhat fuzzy on is to what extent free will—both of humans and of Satan—really enters into the equation. Sometimes, it seems like Satan or humans acting badly can mess up God's plan, and other times it seems like everything they try to do just plays back into God's hands. And I'm not aware of any specific blanket pronouncements on the subject within standard doctrine, either clearly stating that humans do have free will or that we don't.

Just part of why I'm much more fond of the theology in the Curse of Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold. Not only do humans have explicit free will there, the Gods can't even interfere in the material world in more than tiny, subtle ways without humans deliberately surrendering their free will to one or more of the Gods...

Give me something clearly defined like that any day, over the mishmash that is Christian doctrine and theology. ^_^

Dan Aris

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Legend: Tabletop Gaming for a Good Cause

danaris danaris writes  |  about 3 years ago

danaris writes "On Friday, Rule of Cool gaming released Legend, a d20-derived tabletop roleplaying game system designed to be easy to learn, easy to play, and just really fun. As the names suggest, they recognize that people in an RPG frequently want to be playing epic characters with cool abilities, so they provide that—while making sure that all such characters are reasonably well balanced against characters and monsters of the same level. For a nice overview of the system, there's a review up on RPG.net by one of the playtesters, and another review by a moderator from Reddit's RPG section. The game is initially being distributed as a pay-what-you-want benefit to the Child's Play charity, with all proceeds (not just all profits) going to the charity."
Link to Original Source
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Apple's Response to Lodsys

danaris danaris writes  |  more than 3 years ago

danaris writes "Apple has released their long-awaited reply to Lodsys's spate of patent infringement notices, and it was worth the wait. Choice excerpts:

Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patent and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license. There is no basis for Lodsys’ infringement allegations against Apple’s App Makers. Apple intends to share this letter and the information set out herein with its App Makers and is fully prepared to defend Apple’s license rights.

Therefore, Apple requests that Lodsys immediately withdraw all notice letters sent to Apple App Makers and cease its false assertions that the App Makers’ use of licensed Apple products and services in any way constitute infringement of any Lodsys patent.

"

Link to Original Source
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Opera Mini Not Really Rejected from iPhone (Yet)

danaris danaris writes  |  more than 6 years ago

danaris writes "John Gruber has done some digging on the reported rejection from the App Store of Opera Mini, and has written up his findings in an informative article of his own. Some choice excerpts:

My understanding, based on information from informed sources who do not wish to be identified because they were not authorized by their employers, is that Opera has developed an iPhone version of Opera Mini — but they haven't even submitted it to Apple, let alone had it be rejected. [...] If what they've done for the iPhone is along the same lines — that they've gotten a Java ME runtime running on the iPhone — it's clearly outside the bounds of the iPhone SDK Agreement. [...] What Opera would need to do to have a version of Opera Mini they could submit to the App Store would be to port the entire client software to the C and Objective-C APIs officially supported on the iPhone. It could well be that even then, Apple would reject it from the App Store on anti-competitive grounds — but contrary to this week's speculation, that has not happened.

So it looks like all may not be exactly as it seems..."

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