Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!



Five Years of the Go Programming Language

darenw Re:Parametric polyforphism (82 comments)

I am so old, over the hill! So out of it! Completely fell off the wagon when it comes to shiny new things.

I don't even know about monoforphism!

about two weeks ago

Speed Cameras In Chicago Earn $50M Less Than Expected

darenw Re:OT: ":Fine money should be burned (398 comments)

I like negative feedback loops to stabilize systems. I like having such systems fine-tuned for optimum performance, but often just a loosely thrown-together system will help, compared to nothing.

Many /.ers reading this understand feedback loops. even if it's not directly in their main expertise.

What % of politicians understand feedback loops? Just to know anything at all, never mind engineering level concepts.

It is a small number, somewhere between the population density of unicorns in Albuquerque and the decay rate of protons.

about a month ago

The Era of Saturday Morning Cartoons Is Dead

darenw Re:Speaking for myself (320 comments)

Yellow Submarine! Pfah. Try Pink Elephants on Parade from Disney's Dumbo.

Nothing like that made in the last decade or so, unless you look into Spike & Mike's stuff.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

darenw Re:Don't put PhD in the resume (479 comments)

Interesting, since my own choice was the opposite. I was in grad school aiming for a PhD, but left because I prefer industry. Real-world problem solving, making stuff, satisfying markets, saving/improving lives or making something so someone else can save/improve lives, and earning good money but not in a way that scares off potential employers during a job hunt. Haven't written an academic paper in a long time, just internal technical reports.

My resume says "Graduate studies in Physics at $UNIVERSITY" or similar (I change wording every so often). Happily, I have several good job prospects at the moment. Life with a not-quite PhD is good.

about 2 months ago

3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

darenw Take a Hint from Atoms (819 comments)

One thing they haven't tried yet is hexagonal packing. Any physicist, chemist or minerologist can tell you hexagonal is denser packing than rectangles.

Even better, pack in those passengers in three dimensions, Face Centered Cubic lattices and all that. Of course, this works best for spherical passengers.

about 3 months ago

Scientists Record Quantum Behavior of Electrons Via Laser Lights

darenw Re:Is it just me? (33 comments)

Ooop, sorry for my doing at good english! I meanted to say:

How one to downvote, flag, and throw it rotten tomato to at badly writtened submission? It must. Be removed Slashdot's highly reputatation for the accuracy, incite, and scietific relevance not isn't tarnished.

about 3 months ago

Scientists Record Quantum Behavior of Electrons Via Laser Lights

darenw Re:Is it just me? (33 comments)

How does one downvote, flag, or throw a rotten tomato at this badly written submission? It must be removed so that Slashdot's high reputation for accuracy, insight, and scientific relevance is not tarnished.

about 3 months ago

Extracting Audio From Visual Information

darenw Re:Not surprising (142 comments)

This needs to be put on a T-shirt.

about 4 months ago

Nanoscale Terahertz Optical Switch Breaks Miniaturization Barrier

darenw Never Replacing CMOS (35 comments)

Indeed. For Si-based electronic technology, CMOS or other, we routinely deal with two-digit nanometer scales. 22nm, for example.

For optical technology, structure on that scale has no effect on EM radiation with wavelengths on scales of mm (THz) or microns (IR). This is seriously into UV territory. Bits of matter holding bits of information as a phase changes need to be of a certain size, probably larger than we would like (but I'm not expert on it), for phases to be meaningful.

For a given energy of interaction, massless quanta tend to be more spread out than massive, as a rule of thumb for practical purposes. I think we'll be using electron-oriented information processing technologies for a long time, until someone figures out a way to stabilize muons. Then we can make some really tiny technology.

about 8 months ago

Austin Has Highest Salaries For Tech Workers, After Factoring In Cost of Living

darenw Re:Too bad the scope seems to be somwehat limited (285 comments)

Boulder has plenty of high tech, especially space science and computing. And great craft beers, if we could rationalize counting that as high tech.

Just what is in Missoula? It is a nice place to visit, but I didn't see anything high-tech there beyond the expected ambient background level for any small city. Unless you are counting the excellent craft beers made in that area as high tech?

about 9 months ago

Austin Has Highest Salaries For Tech Workers, After Factoring In Cost of Living

darenw Small scientist-infested NM town = wealth (285 comments)

Spent one year in Socorro NM, where NRAO operates the VLA and VLBA. Renting a whole house was astonishingly cheap. Why, I'm not sure. Salary was a bit lackluster compared to industry, but not bad. I piled up so much $$$, bought a car, got some rolled-up prints framed, even bought the fancy coffee. Donated to projects on Kickstarter. Life was good.

As long as there's a good coffee shop in town, cutting-edge astrophysics lectures, and income much greater than outgo, I'm happy. I'd stay there forever if not for water scarcity throughout the southwest.

For anyone who likes explosions, the dynamite research done by NM Tech would be a bonus.

about 9 months ago

Austin Has Highest Salaries For Tech Workers, After Factoring In Cost of Living

darenw Re:LA smog not so bad (285 comments)

Far worse: Climb the foothills near Boulder, and look at Denver.

People suffer effects of breathing carbon monoxide after driving through Denver on I25.

about 9 months ago

Best skywatching equipment at my disposal:

darenw Re:Missing option (201 comments)

Yeah, there are many fine instruments up there, and every one of them has a staff to operate them. Nothing like sitting up at 4am watching a remote disk for incoming image files, being the first or second person on Earth to see history-making planetary science images!

about 10 months ago

Experiments Reveal That Deformed Rubber Sheet Is Not Like Spacetime

darenw It's about time not space (264 comments)

Yes, there's a lot wrong with that old rubber sheet analogy. As a zillion previous /.ers have stated, it's just a simple crude means of making an intuitive point, that in some general way curvature affects objects moving about in the arena they inhabit.

Of course the biggest bit of silliness is that the analogy relies on gravity in order to explain gravity. Duh.

Some have mentioned that marbles rolling about on a curved rubber sheet are _rolling_, and that has no analogy with reality. But we can ignore that.

Rubber, or whatever more or less solid type of "fabric of space-time" one uses, allows longitudianal motions, stretching and jiggling tangentially along the surface. This has no analog in reality. We can just ignore that too. A better way to think of curved space is as liquid, in an analogy with soapy water films and bubbles. There's no stretching, as liquid readily flows to fill in areas being pulled apart. There's only curvature and boundary conditions as the films of liquid find minimal surface area.

But then, even that fails, as gravity as we deal with it in the real world is almost entirely explained by the time-time component of the metric. Curvature of space is secondary, hard to measure, and a matter for precision experiments involve spacecraft and lasers. It's the differential rate of progress of time between nearby points that "explains" gravity. But to explain it intuitively to the layman, that I'm not so sure about.

about a year ago

Is Ruby Dying?

darenw Practical book giveaway: Ruby vs. D (400 comments)

FWIW, at one place I worked there was a table anyone could dump a book on for others to "borrow". No real expectation of getting it back, but a way to pass on unwanted books to someone who might find it useful.

I wanted to reduce my collection of books. So I dumped a less-popular Ruby book onto that table. It vanished before the end of the day. I dumped a couple other ruby books, including The Ruby Way and some book on Ruby brain-teaser quizes, something like that. Poof, as if done by a magician trying to impress members of the opposite sex, they vanished quickly and completely, by the next time I passed through that room. Interesting.

Then I dumped Andrei Alexandrescu's The D Programming Language. It sat for a day, then another day, and another. After a week it was still there. Eventually someone took it. At least at this one company, D is 1/100th as popular as Ruby. Neither language is used officially on company projects - it's all Java, C++, C# and Python. Internal web sites do not use RoR that I know of.

Ruby is a fine language, but in practical implementation other languages, in particular, Python run circles around it. A circle. Maybe half a circle, but you know what I mean - Ruby is fine but never in first place. I still use it for some electronics graphics (http://www.darenscotwilson.com/spec/stereo888/stereo888.html) It's certainly not dying if there are such quick book-snatchers in a company not using it.

OTOH, those who know of D like it quite well, actually use it, try to spread the word, and that includes me. Maybe D is in the stage of early growth outside it's originating community, where Ruby was in 199x where I'm not sure what 'x' is.

D is clearly growing, but has a long way to go, while Ruby is way up there, and has a long way to go if it is in fact shrinking.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: How Long Will the Internet Remember Us?

darenw Monument (126 comments)

When I am a multi-billionaire, I will build a giant monument, 100 miles wide, fifty tall, and engrave on it all over every tweet and facebook post ever written since the 1990s, through all of the 21st century, so our descendants one thousand years in the future will not lose all that precious wisdom and insight into our culture.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: How Long Will the Internet Remember Us?

darenw Ever-Growing Accumulation (126 comments)

When my university's library expanded in the late 1980s, I wondered about two things: in another two or three decades, will they need to expand again? Of course. And also: Who is going to read or look up info in all those books? Of course, there will always be specialists and indexes and catalogs, but if the trend continues for all the 21st Century, and all of the 22nd Century, ..., at some point there will be far too much "literature" even in a very narrow academic specialty for any human to make use of. Then what about all the non-academic stuff, cheap romance novels and mysteries and memoirs of flash-in-the-pan pseudo-celebrities?

It's not that we need a good ol' roaring book-burning now and then like at Alexandria long ago, but somehow the best needs to be brought to the top, and the most of the mediocre disposed of. And maybe keep mediocre writers from ever starting. (Stuff that's actually *bad* not merely mediocre - keep some as examples and for the entertainment value!)

So now we have disks and all manner of extremely dense storage materials. This changes nothing, aside from the physical space requirements are reduced to near nothing. Even with intelligent indexes and indexes of indexes, or miraculously good search engines such as Google, or whatever we'll have in fifty years - it's mind-boggling to wonder how such a huge growing pile of information will be utilized.

about a year ago

Neglect Causes Massive Loss of 'Irreplaceable' Research Data

darenw A Thing or Two, Within a Factor of Fifty (108 comments)

"Research scientists could learn an important thing or two from computer scientists,..."

What is the error bar on "a thing or two"?

As someone with a foot in each camp, I believe it's more like fifty or a hundred. The methods of scientists regarding computing are often built of slow evolutionary changes upon old familiar methods, while incorporating selected cutting edge hardware or algorithms. It is partly the nature of some science projects to carry out observations over many years, ideally with the same instruments, processing and management. In academic computer science, as well as real world IT, all layers and all aspects of any large system are always changing over time. ("All" = 100% give or take a few %) (And yes, somedays, it does seem like over 100%)

about a year ago

Life Could Have Evolved 15 Million Years After the Big Bang, Says Cosmologist

darenw Would cool spots have existed? (312 comments)

Would the chemistry leading to primitive life, and the very earliest life forms, need cooler places? If all of space is permeated by comfy temperatures, where could things happen needing to happen at cooler temperatures? Maybe evaporation in certain places could lead to that, or some other nonequilibrium situations.

Amoebas gotta keep their primitive beer cold!

about a year ago



Ancient Stone Age Toy Car on Display in Turkey

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 2 years ago

darenw writes "It's not exactly proof that Fred Flintstone and family were real, but this artifact now on display in Turkey is made of stone and does resemble a car (or tractor) and is dated from the late stone age, 7500 years ago. Also found in the area were whistles and dolls. Perhaps a tiny stone toy GPS unit will be discovered next? Or maybe the artifact is a roller skate for a small strange foot?"
Link to Original Source

Solutions to People-name Overloading?

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 3 years ago

darenw writes "I started wondering when I received a weird phone call about 15 years ago. The guy was saying things that made no sense. "This *is* Daren, right?" he asked. "Yeah" I say. "Daren Wilson?" Yup, I confirmed. It took a minute to realize he wanted to call another Daren Wilson, not me. Maybe with two Rs in the name, I don't know.

Just a minute ago I was websurfing and found mention of "The Non-Designer's Presentation Book" by Robin Williams. The actor? No, this is a different person. This example is interesting in that one's female and the other male.

When pop singer Michael Jackson died in 2009, some beer aficionados wondered — again? Didn't he pass away, what, two years ago? Oh, I see, the pop singer. Sad, too...

I knew a guy in high school named Steve Wozniak. No, not that one.

There are more fine examples you can dredge up with an easy Google effort. Almost every one of use has Googled our own name, with or without minor spelling variations, to find strange people out there that you'd prefer not be sharing a name with. Or maybe you would. Maybe someone already took your name as their own domain name.

This is what hitmen are for... Kidding! Really, what amusing or troublesome experiences have you had with same-named others, and what do you think are good ways to avoid confusion in the future?

Routinely add town of birth or residence, as depicted in literature and films set in past-centuries Europe? "John Smith of Piddlesville." Some towns have multiple John Smiths. If that town is Athens, is it Georgia or Greece? Perhaps multiple names strung together as illustrated in a certain Monty Python skit? (Maybe not _that_ many.) Numbers as already done online — jane2345974 — as official legal names? Hmmm....

True, this isn't directly a technology question, but _is_ a matter of information science, and relevant to databases, enterprise computing and anything involving the internet. The crowd of high IQ geeks here are qualified to consider this issue, and with unique viewpoints."

Layoffs at EA

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 5 years ago

darenw writes "EA Tiburon, maker of some very popular sports video games, and in and industry often said to be fairly recession-proof as financially struggling people seek entertainment and escapism, will be laying off people. "Today we hear that Mariam Sughayer, senior manager of corporate communications for Electronic Arts, and the person often quoted in official responses to rumors about cuts was herself laid-off today. Her position eliminated." (http://kotaku.com/5132468/more-ea-cuts-go-live-today) Darn it, and i was looking for fresh pixel-pushing work..."
Link to Original Source

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 8 years ago

darenw writes "Not everyday does mankind learn of a previously unknown ring around Saturn. Recent photos from Cassini, taken at high phase angle (pointing the camera almost toward the sun) from the protection of Saturn's shadow, show a new faint ring co-orbital with Janus and Epimetheus. Other photos show Enceladus adding to and stirring up material in the E ring. Home planet Earth appears as a small spot in a few of these images. Photos, captions and press release at CICLOPS."



Using the D Programming Language

darenw darenw writes  |  about a year ago

Hmm, what to write about - my recipe for clam-sauce pasta casserole? Clever ways to feed the cats so one won't steal food from another? Touchy-feely poetry about flowers? Hmmm.. hey this is Slashdot - how about software development? Okay. I don't actually write code that much, or write anything bigger than five or six lines of curve-fitting code in Python, or image processing filters in IDL or C++. Ew, C++. That is a topic!

Where I currently work (fill in the blank, any company in 2013 will do), Almost everything is written in C or C++, some Python and Java in certain places. This is for the company's product, and half their in-house stuff. Web apps and services use the usual technologies, but aren't the focus of the company's market or my interests, so beside the point.

Large C++ projects take hours to compile. A few weeks ago, someone complained about a build taking too long - about 11 hours, iirc, instead of the expected 5 hours. Huh? Is it really okay for an allegedly intelligent carbon-based species to be needing 5 hours to compile and link a large piece of software. Yes, I heard, it's "large". But still... I know we can do much better.

Ten years ago, or thereabouts, I wrote some stuff in Ada95. It compiled fast. It ran fast. The execution speed wasn't different enough from C++ or C to concern me. And I do image processing, scientific simuations, 3D graphics, stuff like that where speed *is* important. Developer time is expensive. Ada95 all the way! I thought then. But there are other languages. In the last few years we now have Google's Go programming language, and Walter Bright's excellent D programming language, and if you like things that have faded from glory, the Modula3 language had some nice features (and some show-stopper lapses in syntax.)

Why is C++ so heavily used? It's popular, and an example of "nothing succeeds like success", and has had an infinite number of developer tools(*) on the market since the late 1980s. It allowed (almost) OO style thinking and designs in a tight pointer-based C-style world. It provided enough power to enough different programmers in enough different fields, including large fields such as business infrastructure and consumer products, that it caught on.

But C++ dragged in #include headers, certain syntax peculiarities that annoy compilers but please Humans, and a lack of useful complex data types except as defined through headers and templates (such as STL). There are oddities of the C++ language that prevent the easy and reliable development of tools for easy and reliable procedures such as static analysis, and automatic creation of interface code for connecting to other modules/libraries/whatnot in other languages. Yeah, pre-compiled headers help, but still, the lack of a real module system in C++ puts it way in back for compile time compared to almost any other language in widespread use today. Slow for compilers, and difficult for Humans who never master all the aspects of the language. ("Just use the features you like!" No, most of us work on code others wrote, so must know all aspects of the language.) Remember also that C++ took a lot from C, where it's easy to forget "break" in switch statements, and many other syntax errors trip us up every day.

C++ development is slow, and C++ builds are slow, yet projects written in Go, D, Ada95, Java, C#, Modula3, ..., can be written in half the time, and compile and link in seconds instead of minutes. Why does this not translate into financial pressure for most companies who develop software in-house or as product? Developer time is expensive. (Oh, I said that already.) Seems like executives and project managers would be pushing hard for everyone to switch to D, or something. Anything but C++. Wouldn't faster edit-compile-test-think cycles go faster and therefore result in better products and therefore better profits?

It can't be mass-think or institutional inertial holding C++ in place. Such forces aren't a match for profit, but beside that, just look at how fast Java became popular, and C# (after some initial wobbles), and other new tools are being adopted all the time.

Studies have been done showing other languages beating C++ for developer time, for compile time (obvious from personal experience), and occasionally even execution time, though that's pretty hard these days. Many languages and their toolsets can meet C++ execution times, but not beat. That is a minor issue - it is developer time that costs businesses and other organizations.

So far, few programmers use D but all say it's quicker to get the code written correctly, compiles blazingly fast, and overall have a better experience with it. It allows use of existing libraries with C-style APIs. I don't think it can be used to write a *nix kernel or device drivers, yet, but there's no reason in principle preventing that. You cannot reject a language due to lacking some feature - someone will add it! If D cannot be big right now, it's in a great position to become big.

Note that I care nothing for web app tools, big-time enterprise business tools, databases and their tools, beyond what I need to deal with for my science, engineering, animation and art projects. Someone who has a foot in those other worlds should think about and comment on this from their point of view.

(*) - some exaggeration may be involved.


Big Move

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 6 years ago Phasing out Cassini work. A number of reasons conspire, but primarily concerns involving family/relatives. After working on a zillion Saturn images, i won't mind doing something different for a while. Though i expect to be working hard on advanced scientific software, Python development, physics research, and such, i also should have in my new situation more time to work on photography. Will be moving to Florida. Not saying just where or why, not just yet... It has been a massive effort brain-dumping my know-how and enhancement tricks, recording some how-to demos, and organizing the move, etc. This will involve a change of email address. New addr TBD; i have no idea what ISPs are available at the new location. So i'm using a gmail account for now, and probably should figure out how to get an email address working on my home website's server... if i weren't lazy/busy/tired....


A Word for Cheaters Like Me

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 7 years ago

My brief self-description describes myself as "a vegetarian who cheats a lot". I stick to a mostly plant-based diet, with a good variety of salads, veggie soups, fruits, pepperoni-and-veggie pizza, and occasional turkey pot pie - but only if it's loaded with veggies. Never a thick slab of steak, or a mound of meat. Ugh! I've heard of vegetarians, vegans, and even fructarians, but no term to categorize weirdos like me - just "vegetarian who cheats".

While web-surfing today i discovered there *is* a word for this eating preference: flexitarian. it's in wikipedia, so its official! Found The Word in a recent article on American-style eating and health by Michael Pollan in the NY Times (link to page 11 of 12:


Marvels of Subversion

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Cold, snowy, windy....more so tomorrow. To work from home tomorrow becomes appealing. Thanks to Subversion, i can check out files from various projects and crank away. No mucking aroun in a telnet or SSH session, making tarballs, tapping in long URLs that i dont' get right the first time. just a dumb-simple "svn update". Many use subversion every day, as we all make use of indoor plumbing, artificial lighting, and other marvels of modern invention, thinking of our task at hand but hardly ever thinking of these technologies themselves. Except, of course, for plumbers, electricians, and software developers.

I am very glad for Subversion and look forward to working from home tomorrow.


Fountains of Enceladus

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 8 years ago Well, this was worth getting up early for - Enceladus plume images, spectacular ones, released from CICLOPS today. http://ciclops.org/view.php?id=1688. There's definitely something going on there at Enceladus' south pole. Seeing this heavenly orb with what appears in overexposed images like rocket exhaust reminded me of a painting - Frank Kelly Freas' illustration of the Earth boosted by a giant rocket engine embedded in Antarctica (hmm, the south pole...) - art for the story "Sins of the Fathers", Stan Schmidt, published in Analog 1973, and reproduced in Frank Kelly Freas: The Art of Science Fiction, publ. in 1977.


Tethys and Hyperion

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 9 years ago

We are being slashdotted! The intriguing new images of Hyperion and Tethys went online (ciclops.org) and we watch the apparent sluggishness of our http server. It's actually a quite powerful machine set up as right as can be by our talented sysadmin, a machine that never breaks a sweat with even the biggest spikes of traffic, but i guess we need to convince the boss to upgrade from the 300 baud modem as our link to the outside world....

It has been fun watching these images appear in the media, but now it is late and i must sleep well so I can help make more of these magnificent images - i think it is Dione getting the next flyby. So many great images have been made, every target we image in the Saturn system has had surprises - Cassini scientists are having more fun than cats at the tuna cannery.


This *IS* required!

darenw darenw writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Though this will go down on my permanent record, i must create at least one admittedly lame Entry, just to see what happens... (in fact i didn't know /. had a Journal feature til i started poking around just now)

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?