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Could High Bay-Area Prices Make Sacramento the Next Big Startup Hub?

firewood Re:History repeats... (190 comments)

Absolutely. If only the natives had been more disease resistant and put up a better fight, the area might have developed more on the European model, farms down on some of the best agricultural land in the world, with civilization up in hilltop fortifications to better keep out the looters and marauders. The gold rush might have still brought in a critical mass of crazies though. Silicon castles.

The planet changes sea level up and down by over 100 meters all by itself (and the solar cycles). Humans have migrated miles back and forth with the sea level changes though at least a few ice ages already. They'll just have to figure out how to keep on doing that.

about 3 months ago

Could High Bay-Area Prices Make Sacramento the Next Big Startup Hub?

firewood History repeats... (190 comments)

HP tried this during the tech (real estate and traffic) boom of the mid 1980's. Moved a whole bunch of R&D and operations to Roseville and other environs near Sacto. Pretty much for the same reasons.

A failed experiment.

The SF/Silicon Valley area occasionally succeeds because of pure critical mass, it's density of top research universities, tech talent, and crazy people with more money than sense. Very few other "corridors" continue to put that much money into crazy people's ventures.

about 3 months ago

Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

firewood Where's the opposing boycott? (1746 comments)

Where's the Conservative movement's boycott of Mozilla for oppressing an employee's exercise of their U.S. 1st Amendment rights, including freedom of political association, freedom of religion, freedom to petition, and freedom of speech (even, or especially, if not "politically correct")... and done on their own private time?

about 5 months ago

Better Tools For Programming Literacy

firewood Re:I agree that programming is not for geeks (317 comments)

Show me a great artist or architect, and you'll probably also find someone who as a kid made some very primitive and stupid looking (except to parents) scribbles. Take away all their drawing and painting (etc.) implements until someone is old enough for Structured Programming and Algorithms 101, and probably a huge portion of the great artists in the world would have never picked up an interest in the subject during their formative years, or ever after.

about a year and a half ago

Better Tools For Programming Literacy

firewood No, it is not out of reach (317 comments)

Programming at a professional competancy might be out of reach. But programming badly isn't that hard. As in:

10 print "my sister is ugly" : goto 10

Back in the days of the TRS-80, Commodore Pet, Apple II and BBC personal computers (, millions of kids could turn on their personal computer and start typing in Basic right away, usually using stuff copied off of a magazine article... at first. But then they could modify their programs and crash them in a million different ways. That caused learning, and very likely ending up producing a generation of people with much higher basic computer literacy than in the general population than today (not including professional techies).

Don't confuse a professional level of understanding with computer literacy. No one confuses the kid who could (back in the day) (mis)use their chemistry sets to blow things up in their backyard and singe their eyebrows off, with National Medal of Technology prize winners. (Or could you?).

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Explain To a Coworker That He Writes Bad Code?

firewood It's really "good" code. (683 comments)

Nowhere did you say the old guys code didn't work, had serious bugs that weren't being fixed, or was noticeably behind the rest of the team according to the project schedules. Until that happens, and as long as the old guy is solving problems with his skill set, management may well consider your "good coding" criteria to be bad for the company, thus making you, not the old guy, the troublemaker for suggesting changing what works. Businessmen have been burned by too many trendy sounding academic fads, such as all the good coding practices recommended here.

Wait till you can out-code him, solve major problems he can't, and get promoted above him (or he dies or retires). Even if his smelly pile of code crashes and burns, if he can tape it back together faster (running) than you can rewrite it (feature complete), he's the hero, and you're the troublemaker.

about a year and a half ago

Acer Rethinks the "Tablet Bubble," Launching $99 Tablet

firewood Re:Summary implies that tablets are not a fad (243 comments)

I don't see how tablets are any different from netbooks. They're semi-useful devices that have a limited place but are outclassed by more capable machines which have been around for a long time..

Didn't someone at DEC say the same thing about PCs? Those desktop toys must have been just an outclassed passing fad, and real businesses still buy far more capable minicomputers from DEC, Data General, Prime, Tandem, and ...

Oh wait.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Retrain?

firewood Age is no excuse. (418 comments)

Age isn't the problem. It's just an easy to find excuse.

I know several engineers in their mid to late 50's who completely retrained in the latest mobile development technology (Objective C and iOS or Java and Android or both) and ended up with new jobs or fairly lucrative consulting gigs. It's actually easier for some of the older ones, since they were used to writing code for big complex computers that had a fraction of the memory and were over 100X slower than any recent smartphone, and the kids are already grown and out of the house.

about 2 years ago

Why Apple Replaced iOS Maps

firewood Maps need to be used to become good (561 comments)

Nowadays, a usable map database has gotten so big and complex that it can made decent only by putting something in the hands of millions of users, letting them (forcing them to) find errors that can only be found by actual field usage, and using that volume of feedback to scale up a competent team; a team that might eventually be able fix a healthy portion of the problems so found. Apple may have put this half-baked map app out now, where millions of people will be stuck using it because they want the exciting new iPhone 5, and are too lazy to use any other map app. Using the feedback contained within millions of complaints deriving from actual mass volume field usage, Apple's map database will eventually evolve to something closer to a Google maps competitor, maybe over the next year or three.

They can't say they are doing this because not enough users want to be unpaid beta testers and/or usage analytics data sources. And it's hard to build a good database without knowing what data is bad.

about 2 years ago

Melting Glaciers Cutting Peru Water Supply

firewood Re:Ahem... sorry... (421 comments)

We don't need a solution for a world of 5, 6 or 7 billion people, with maybe half of them living in the developed nations.
We need an adaptable, scalable solution for at least 9 billion humans, with at least 7 billion of them living in the developing nations.

Or perhaps we need a way to reduce the human population to the longer term carrying capacity of the planet, which might just be far far below 5 billion... or nature will surely figure out a way to accomplish that for us.

more than 2 years ago

Melting Glaciers Cutting Peru Water Supply

firewood Re:"Earlier than expected"? (421 comments)

Read about the major mass extinctions, and then ponder the question whether humans would have been able to rise above the environmental pressures that destroyed more than 90% of species in the time of the dinosaurs. And even if we weren't to go extinct, consider what it would look like of 90% of us were to die. Not just 90% of those in some far away desert, but 90% of the people in your own country. Consider what such a world would look like.

That's pretty much what's theorized to have happened to the population in large regions of North American just after Europeans introduce their various "Old World" diseases. A lot of land became largely reforested, but the small population remainders still had plenty enough fight left in them to generate lots of cowboys vs. Indian folklore.

more than 2 years ago

Why We Agonize Over Buying $1 Apps

firewood Re:Why? (523 comments)

The answer is simple, isn't it? The seller is not making just one mug of coffee and keep selling clones of it at 4$ a mug.

Actually, they are, or pretty close. The cost making that very first mug of coffee can require a good fraction of a million bucks for the site lease, permits, construction costs, restaurant equipment, employee hiring, training, advertising, and etc. That doesn't even include millions of dollars in research to standardize franchise operations. Once the store is inspected and staffed and opens the door and sells that very 1st mug, after spending many thousands of $$$, that day's marginal cost of making a 2nd mug is pennies.

more than 2 years ago

Denver Must Prove Red-Light Cameras Improve Safety

firewood Re:Changed my mind (433 comments)

Nothing the driver in front of you does should result in you crashing into him.

If I am the driver behind: Sure.

If I am the driver in front, and the light timing allows, there's plenty I can do to reduce the likelihood of the sleepy, the housewife distracted by screaming toddlers, elderly-dementia-candidates, race-driver-wannabes 3 centimeters off my bumper, hungover/drunk/stoned dudes, or people texting while trying not to be seen, (etc.etc.), idiots who are following behind me from potentially wrecking my car, causing me back/neck injuries, having me waste days/months dealing with insurance agents+lawyers, and etc.

Even if it's not legally my fault. It's called defensive driving.

more than 2 years ago

GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast

firewood Re:BSD license was always more permissive, so grea (808 comments)

And as far as the political aspects, to most companies GPL == toxic, and they don't care about the details.

Exactly. The executives will see big companies being sued over using GPL software. You think they are going to take the word of some low level coder that this isn't a legal risk? No way.

They are going to ask their legal staff, who's going to say it take X tens of thousands of $$$ (or more) in equivalent billable hours to evaluate all these lawsuits and all the potential risks, and then Y hundreds of thousands of $$$ to put in place procedures and review systems to prevent these potential lawsuits while still maximizing competitive IP value in ways that the even higher paid patent attorneys require. Management will look at these legal and procedural costs, ignore the lowly coder who hosts his own GPL source code on his free blog as knowing nothing about real business risk management.

more than 2 years ago

GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast

firewood Re:BSD license was always more permissive, so grea (808 comments)

I think the purpose of the GPL is to ensure that those that profit from your work also give back.

Nonsense. In fact, potentially completely the opposite. Someone who profits from distributing unmodified copies of your code doesn't have to give you anything back. But someone who tries to combine your code with code which they have previously written, and give away the combined result for free (or maybe even at a loss including their server hosting fees), is still required to send you a whole bunch of code unrelated to your work.

A commercial distribution license based on a percentage of sales would be more in line with your stated purpose. Or maybe a commercial license with a 100% discount for people who send you rights to use a number of lines of their own code equal to yours.

more than 2 years ago

GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast

firewood Re:BSD license was always more permissive, so grea (808 comments)

I don't see why anyone would not want to use the GPL if they want their software to be free and open. Why create something, give it out for free, and then allow businesses to take your work, profit from it, and give nothing back?

Why require something back only from those who improve your software with bug fixes and additions, and not from all other users and distributors? Sounds more like an unfair disincentive for creating better software to me.

more than 2 years ago

Windows 8 Store Will Allow Open Source Apps

firewood Re:How funny that I already corrected you (333 comments)

The VLC developer made the claim because Apple's TOS is incompatible with the GPL. Apple is 100% to blame for that incompatibility.

Actually, the authors of GPLv3 were perfectly aware of the concept of a tivo-ized app store when they designed the license. So those GPL authors are 100% to blame for the incompatibility. Not Apple.

BTW, there is no absolute App store restriction on the distribution of open source apps. Any user who purchases the standard iOS developers tools (comes with the $99/annum iOS Developer enrollment) is free to (re)build an App store app from source and install it on their iOS devices without going near the App store.

more than 2 years ago

Using a Tablet As Your Primary Computer

firewood Re:iDevice walled garden = no creativity (627 comments)

...This prompted the Dad speech: "when I was your age, we had C-64's. They plugged into the TV and you could write your OWN games".

Her eyes lit up. "I want to do that" she said. ... she had a couple of amusing ideas for angry birds knock offs.
Of course, starting from 0 might take a while to get there.

It started me thinking. The C-64 could suck you into programming real easy. Because with a few one liners you could change the screen color, make some noises, etc etc. It peeled back the curtain a little, and let you see how the thing you just bought worked, and how you could make it do neat things, and it didn't take a lot of effort to get there.

How in the hell could I even start my daughter down this path today?

There's a C64 emulator app available for the iPad in the iOS App store. Also about a half dozen BASIC interpreters.

One can also learn some Javascript just using the iPad browser, or with some apps that make it slightly easier to type in Javascript and run it.

more than 2 years ago

HP Spent Over $80M To Get Rid of Its CEOs

firewood Re:Where are the shareholders? (261 comments)

One problem with shareholder democracy is that if a shareholder doesn't like the management of the company it is far easier for them to sell the stock and forget about it then to work to elect better management.

A lot of people have been selling their HP stock recently.

If enough shareholders sell in disgust, that will eventually depress the stock price until some take-over artist can do a leveraged buy-out and fire the existing board and the management. It's usually in the interest of management not to let that happen.

more than 2 years ago

What HP's TouchPad Fire Sale Teaches iPad Rivals

firewood Re:Apple sells millions of iPads for $500+ (312 comments)

Fixed that for you.

The customers for iPad don't know about or care about tablets (even if some vendors are deluded into thinking they are the same thing because the specs are comparable).

about 3 years ago


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