Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell
“I was in Nashville, Tennessee last year. After the show I went to a Waffle House. I'm not proud of it, I was hungry. And I'm alone, I'm eating and I'm reading a book, right? Waitress walks over to me: 'Hey, whatcha readin' for?' Isn't that the weirdest fuckin' question you've ever heard? Not what am I reading, but what am I reading FOR? Well, goddamnit, ya stumped me! Why do I read? Well . . . hmmm...I dunno...I guess I read for a lot of reasons and the main one is so I don't end up being a fuckin' waffle waitress.” -- Bill Hicks
But seriously, why? Why buy from Amazon or why buy at all (i.e. pirate)? Or is it why buy 1300 books? I know several people that can easily read an entire (200-300 page) book in just a few hours. One of them reads at least one book per day -- this is in addition to having a life. I'll never read 1300 books but they will have no problem doing it.
Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later
Risk - Odds are everything will go fine but my eyes are pretty important to me. Is it that big of an inconvenience wearing contacts? Not for me. Been wearing them for over 25 years with no issues. If I couldn't wear contacts though, laser surgery would have been more tempting. I don't like the narrow field of vision and other visual aberrations you get with glasses.
Age - I talked about laser surgery with my eye doctor when I was in my mid-to-early-30's. He said don't bother because you will need glasses for reading before long. I'm 40 now and still on my same prescription, but my eye(s) did start to decline slightly on my last visit. I'll be using bifocal contacts / reading glasses in the not-so-distant future.
Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer
We need to get this dude (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yj2oXMdZ4sk) and this rep from Comcast on the same line.
Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment?
I had the optical output on my motherboard run into my home theater receiver in the living room (where the computer was too). After 3 years of the PC always being on and the optical LED being lit, the LED brightness had diminished (yes, this happens) to a point where it could not signal reliably over the cheap 30 foot optical cable I was using (I did a lot of troubleshooting). To remedy the problem I bought the cheapest sound card I could find with an optical output. That solved the problem.
I have since moved the PC into a different room (and upgraded the motherboard, CPU, etc) and went back to using analog headphones. I kept the sound card in the PC and used that with my headphones. Then one day that sound card quit working. So, now I use the analog out on my motherboard.
Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion
They're coming after us now -- the hardcore gamer, PC using, hipster, Facebook holdouts. Screw this, if Zuckerberg wants to infiltrate my computer with some Facebook authentication required "oculus configuration tool" and track all of my processes, keystrokes, and mouse-clicks, he can do what every other soulless marketing company does and just buy that information from Valve!
Harold Ramis Dies At 69
"Print is dead."
- Egon, 1984
"Egon is dead."
- Print, 2014
Zero Point: The First 360-Degree Movie Made For the Oculus Rift
I can't wait until they bring this to reality TV. I'll finally get to experience reality like it was meant to be experienced!
Egg-free Flu Vaccines Provide Faster Pandemic Response
You probably know whether or not you are allergic to eggs. How many people know whether or not they are allergic to grasshoppers?
Time Warner Deal Is How Comcast Will Fight Cord Cutters
I don't know if it is necessarily law. Perhaps only one company is given access to the existing infrastructure by law, but there can be multiple cable companies.
My town (Cedar Rapids, IA) has 2 cable providers. Imon and Mediacom. Imon just serves our metropolitan area (Imon is not municipal -- they are an independent, for-profit company), whereas Mediacom is a regional cable provider and serves many other metro areas. There are 2 sets of cable infrastructure run side-by-side throughout the city. I have 2 cable feeds terminating at my house.
The problem is, who wants to come in as an unestablished second provider and foot the bill to re-wire the entire city again? Probably not many companies. Cedar Rapids' situation is definitely unique and it may not last as there were (are) rumors about Mediacom leaving the city because of the local competition.
30 Minutes Inside Valve's Prototype Virtual Reality Headset
I'm coming out with an application called "Solitary Confinement".
Required hardware will be a VR headset, noise-cancelling headphones, and a typical closet or shower (shower/tubs will not work). You can play single player but it's much more realistic if a friend or family member takes on the role of the warden. I'm integrating it with the steam API and am currently ironing out the achievements.
An OS You'll Love? AI Experts Weigh In On Her
Disclaimer: I have not watched the movie yet.
In this movie the user and the AI grow to love each other. Can't the opposite also happen? How about the AI likes you, but just as a friend. Is the AI going to hang out with the AI down the street more than it spends time with it's "owner"?
If the AI is truly intelligent than isn't this the same as human relationships, only at near light-speed?
How would you use science to innovate upon sports?
Man, away games would be brutal.
CES 2014: Ohio Company is Bringing Military-Grade Motion Sensors to Gaming
Complete living room destruction!
And probably a trip to the ER.
No. of vehicle license types I hold:
You may need a certificate in Iowa if you are between the ages of 12 and 18 (I assume if you are under 12 then no boat for you). Otherwise, individuals only need to register their watercraft with the DNR, no certification or licensing required.
From the site:
Who Needs the Card?
Persons at least 12 years old but less than 18 years old may operate a motorboat over ten horsepower or personal watercraft (PWC), only if they complete a boater education course and possess a Boater Education Certificate approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Even if not required by law to get the Iowa boating license, many boaters take the boat safety course in order to save on their PWC or boat insurance.
Australian Police Warn That Apple Maps Could Get Someone Killed
Just for clarification:
EPIRBs are generally used for maritime incidents. They float, can be activated manually but automatically activate when they enter the water.
PLBs are Personal Locator Beacons. Similar to an EPIRB except they are usually smaller, less expensive, and most do not float.
ELTs are used for aircraft related incidents.
They all perform the same function which is to alert rescuers to the location of the beacon. For terrestrial use it is generally recommended (required?) that you use a PLB.
The system is expensive to maintain since (unless you are abusing the system) the search and rescue usually comes at no cost to the beacon owner. Because of this, you should really only use these devices in situations that may involve the loss of life or limb. Running out of gas on a remote Australian road is not necessarily an emergency. There may be help nearby or other vehicles that may come along within a relatively short time frame. The beacon should only be used if you think that there is a good chance you will end up dead or permanently disabled as a result of your situation.
Of course, one would hope that if you have the presence of mind to carry a locator beacon that you would also make sure to fill up your gas tank before a long trip into an unfamiliar, remote area.
Compared to my siblings ...
I'm the oldest of 5 boys and I have the least amount of (formal) education. FYI, there is a 16 year gap between me and my youngest brother.
1) Me: College dropout (4yr university (comp sci) - attended for 1.5yrs) Job: Software developer.
2) Next: Electrical Engineer (4yr university). Job: Works for an electric power company (utility).
3) Next: BA Marketing (attended probably 4 different 4yr universities and changed majors 4 times over a 14yr time span). Job: PR/Communications director for an affluent (redundant?) country club.
4) Next: BS Anthropology (4yr university). Job: A naval officer on an aircraft carrier.
5) Next: Finishing AA in Restaurant & Hotel Management (2yr community college) this semester. Job: Grocery store (non-managerial).
But I make the most money, so I win right? :P
Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Working With Awful Legacy Code?
There are (at least) 3 things that lead to bad code: 1) Poor Planning. 2) Time Constraints. 3) Mediocre (and even bad) Developers.
Planning takes time and it is difficult. We employ "Systems Engineers" to capture requirements, understand the existing code base, and then determine what work actually has to be done. Then the developer takes those plans and turns them into code. Unfortunately, and especially as complexity increases, you are going to: 1) miss things, 2) break existing things, and 3) run into conflicts that often require complete refactoring of some part of the code or an ugly kludge to get you by. On a large development effort you usually hit all 3 of those.
Time. Obviously time affects everything. There's never enough time, so it's very important to get the planning stage right. If you skimp on time with planning you will pay it back 10-fold over the course of maintaining your software. And then there's just the obvious stuff. How many of us are juggling multiple projects, bug fixes, documentation, etc. Priorities change week to week, day to day. Is it management's fault? Ultimately, yes, but their jobs aren't easy either.
Developers. Hey, most of us have been mediocre at some stage during our careers. Hopefully we all get better with age (I've only met one person who got worse) but some progress much more slowly than others. I've been coding since I was 9 (I'm nearing 40 now) and if I look at code I did even 5-10 years ago, it makes me cringe a little. The code works, but it is not as efficient or well organized as I would do it today (or so I've convinced myself).
We code in C++ where I work. Most of the developers have been coding for a long time. But they coded for a long time in 80's languages and transitioned with no training at all to C++ (which I consider a 90's language). People still roll their own lists (i.e. don't use or aren't aware of the STL), misuse the object paradigm, don't understand templates, still use pointers when they should use references, etc. Most are basically still C developers and they are perfectly competent C developers -- but we're using C++ in a highly threaded environment.
So, imagine, if you will, the state of a decade+ old code base for a massive, monolithic application which has to communicate with a (very) random and ever-changing assortment of hardware devices, protocols, etc. written in C++ by developers who never really learned C++. Also, the poor bastards that have to do the planning in this quagmire and the managers that are taking fire from all sides.
Yes, bad code is the norm (and, yes, I do enjoy my job).
A Day in Your Life, Fifteen Years From Now
I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and we pay by the CCF (100 cubic feet or 748 gallons). Oddly, water consumption is a fairly small part of my water bill.
In January 2011 here's what I paid (note: we pay bi-monthly, so this is roughly 2 months worth of charges):
Water - Residential:
68 days at $0.31 per day = $21.08 (this is just for having water hooked up regardless of usage)
4 CCF (about 3000 gallons) at $1.62 per CCF = $6.48 -- this is the only figure affected by my consumption (aside from the subsequent taxes)
Tax = $1.93 (I don't know what this tax is)
Total Charges: $29.49
Sewer - Residential:
68 days at $0.35 per day = $23.80 -- this is allegedly influenced by my consumption, but they do not show the math. I think the 4 CCF figure above probably includes both supply and sewer costs. I think this fee is a fixed maintenance fee.
Total Charges: $23.80
Storm Sewer - Residential:
68 days at $0.14 per day = $9.52 (maintenance fee)
Total Charges: $9.52
Sub Total: $62.81
Tax (7%) (state + county): $4.40
Grand Total: $67.21 of which about 10% is for actual water usage - the rest I owe even if I never turn on a tap.
Ask Slashdot: What Distros Have You Used, In What Order?
1) Slackware (yes, on floppies)
2) RedHat (for quite a while) -- this was also the only time (until recently) I ran Linux as a desktop OS
3) Gentoo (for quite a while)
5) Debian (headless server/nas), Ubuntu (laptop) & Amazon Linux (in the "cloud" :P)
I've played with most of the available distros at one time or another. I also ran FreeBSD for a while (alongside Linux).
My current setup has my Windows 7 64-bit PC (main workstation) with an Ubuntu laptop (embedded development) and a Mac OSX laptop (general purpose use & music recording). My headless Debian server/firewall and my headless Debian 16 TB NAS. I used to host DNS, HTTP/S, etc. locally but have since moved those to Amazon's EC2 service and am running Amazon's Linux AMI there on my virtual server.
On my summer vacation, I did / will do / am doing:
I used to hunt and I don't mind hunting/hunters. I'm not a fan of hunting purely for sport though. If you eat what you kill, don't trespass on private property, and treat the land, your weapon and your prey with respect then I think it's fine. No one who eats meat has a good reason to get indignant with a hunter if they follow those rules (IMHO).
I will be taking 2 shorter vacations this fall. They both involve the outdoors but there won't be any hunting -- well, I'll do some fishing but that's generally not considered hunting.
I'm going out to Colorado to hike a few 14ers. Then a while after that I will head up to the boundary waters in Minnesota and portage up into Canada. Hopefully do a little fishing but mainly I will be camping and canoeing. I'd like to do some back country camping this winter too, we'll see.
I don't suppose any of that sounds like a vacation to some of you. ;) It's hard to beat being surrounded by all of that natural beauty though. It can be hard work, but the scenery and solitude is always worth it and I can always use the exercise.