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TechCrunch and Others On the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

fzammett For me, it's my next DESKTOP (136 comments)

For many years, I've resisted the laptop-only paradigm... laptops have only in the last couple of years been powerful enough to function as my primary PC, so I still have my desktop at home where I do most of my real work, and I also have a laptop where I can continue that work on-the-go, though at a slightly reduced rate. But, of course, that means synchronization issues (which I get around 99% of the time by keeping everything in Subversion).

So, for me, a SINGLE device that can do everything I want is what I've been looking for... laptops have gotten to the point where they could (especially given that my desktop isn't state-of-the-art like it was when I built it)... but, I don't want to go the laptop route even now because the form factor isn't as convenient as a tablet in some situations (I have a Nexus 7 for my tablet needs too).

I've been looking at the Surface's and Dell's Venue series for a while now and I've been thinking one could be my next desktop, and I could get rid of the laptop and Nexus as well... my wife grabbed a Surface 2 a few months back on sale so I've had some hands-on time with it... even though she didn't get a top-of-the-line model (though she DID NOT get an RT), it would *almost* be sufficient for all my needs... the cheaper i7 Surface 3 I believe is everything I need.

I personally think Microsoft has nailed it: the Surface is a DESKTOP replacement that ALSO can be a portable like a laptop or tablet. I view the later two things as add-on capabilities and I think that's the mistake many people are making. Don't look at the Surface as a tablet, or as a laptop replacement (unless your primary machine today *IS* a laptop)... it's a desktop replacement with great mobility added on, that's my view.

about 4 months ago
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First Arrest In Japan For 3D-Printed Guns

fzammett Re:Hey Tim (274 comments)

Because achieving that lower rate has an associated cost.

If we got rid of all guns in America, it's reasonable to assume the violent crime rate overall would go down to some degree. How much is debatable because some of the violent crimes committed with guns now would still be committed just with a different instrument. But it would go down, that seems fair.

But, what of the people who now do not have a gun to defend themselves? Quite a few defensive gun uses occur daily in America... exactly how many is difficult to know because they're frequently not reported (because simply pulling out a gun will sometimes end a violent confrontation and people tend not to report those cases). I wouldn't go so far as to say the number of people saved by there not being a gun involved is equal to the number saved by there BEING a gun involved, but clearly SOME number cancel out. Here's the big question: is a life saved because we got rid of guns somehow more valuable than one saved because we didn't? Do you want to tell the family of a gun who was killed because he wasn't allowed to have a gun anymore that it's okay because someone else was saved due to guns being removed from society? I'd bet not.

So, that's a cost. Whether the benefits outweigh that cost is what's debatable. A lot of people take the Spock approach: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. It's a great-sounding platitude, but when it gets down to actual people it doesn't stand up so well. See my above scenario.

A potentially MUCH bigger cost is the deterrent effect guns have against a corrupt government. We can argue all day and night about without an armed American population could overthrow a corrupt government with the might of the military on its side, but what CAN'T be debated is that if you remove guns from society you've given up just about the ONLY thing that gives us ANY chance whatsoever. I mean, if you believe the military would crush us WITH guns than you can't logically think it wouldn't be MUCH worse it we didn't have them!

So, that's a (potential) cost too... but that one is very important because the potential cost is MASSIVE. Is there really ANY benefit worth that cost? I for one argue no. It's exceedingly tragic any time someone dies... whether a gun is involved or not hardly matters... a suicide is a suicide, gun or not. A homicide is a homicide, gun or not. The only one that's a little different is accidental shootings because it's not like someone is going to accidentally kill you as easily with a baseball bat. But, statistically-speaking, accidental shootings in America isn't, to put it coldly, all that significant a number. It's certainly a much smaller number than car accidents, or even pool drownings year by year. Even if every last one of them is unarguably tragic, logically, the cost of saving those lives by getting rid of guns is too high, and that's even before we talk about the POTENTIAL costs.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?

fzammett It starts and ends with a game (172 comments)

As someone who's been programming for right around 30 years, more than 20 of it professionally, and has written a number of books along the way, I get asked for advice fairly often. One of the questions I get asked most is a variation on this one... for me, the answer is always the same: WRITE A GAME!

What developers often don't realize is that few programming projects touch on as wide a range of topics and disciplines as games do. Things like data structures, AI, file handling, input processing, obviously graphics and sound, networking sometimes, performance tuning... all of this comes into play in a game to varying degrees and in many forms. Very few things you'll ever program in a professional setting will be as wide-reaching... in fact, in my 20+ years of professional development I can't think of a single thing that has!

Even things like usability and UI design, project planning and many other "soft" skills come into play when you're a one-man show.

The best part about a game project is it can be as challenging as you want and it can grow in complexity over time. Start with a simple Pong clone. That's not too tough. But then, update the code to add more intelligent paddle movement of the computer opponent. Then modify it so you can play against a friend over a network. Then change it to a 3D view. And so on and so forth. Each step of the way increases the challenge and also the learning.

Plus, of course, being a game that you're making, it tends to be FUN! Both in developing and testing. It also tends to be very demonstrative in terms of progress... you can SEE what's being produced and little changes in the code can make a big difference on the screen, which makes you feel pretty good and that in turn makes the project continue to be fun to work on, which means more opportunity to learn. Hey, I get paid good money to write financial software all day... I even enjoy it most of the time... but it's nowhere near as gratifying as the game programming I do on my own time!

Game programming is also almost entirely technology-agnostic. There's virtually no language, no platform, no set of new tools or libraries that can't be used to make a game of some sort. That makes it the ideal tool for learning a new set of technologies. Gotta learn HTML/CSS/JavaScript? Write a game! Moving on to Java using Spring and running on Tomcat? A game, sir! Whether you choose a new game concept each time or just keep recycling one (making it a porting exercise, which is a great way to learn a new toolset) it'll work for you.

Also note that you don't need to write the next 3D masterpiece here... in fact, writing a Zork-style text adventure game can be a huge learning exercise on its own, especially if you write a natural language parser (though, again, it's up to you: you can start with a simple keyword analyzer that you can bang out in an hour at most and grow it from there). Graphics and sound are a great learning experience on their own (I can't tell you how much better at math, always a weak subject of mine, I've gotten by working on games!) but they aren't required for a game... though, I've also gotten pretty adept at working in various graphics editors, which definitely has helped me in my day job (I'm still no artist, but I can manipulate existing graphics quite well now, which will make you a more valuable asset as non-graphic artist developer).

Whatever the concept, whatever the toolset, whatever the learning goal, a game is the way to go in my opinion. It's how most of us now old-schoolers got started frankly and it has served us very well over the years. Some of us still write games of course because it's fun and we continue to learn from the experience... and also, especially with the rise of mobile devices, there's an opportunity to make money! Look at some of the recent hit games and it's obvious you don't need to write the next Titanfall to make some good coin. It's a secondary benefit to be sure, but it's nice to know it could be one :)

about 4 months ago
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Apple Reportedly Testing Inductive, Solar and Motion Charging For Its Smartwatch

fzammett Re: Apple tests everything (219 comments)

In point of fact, nearly every mainstream Android device released over the past 3-4 years at least has received at least one major upgrade overs its lifetime and usually more than one. Sure, some of the cheaper ones may suffer the "no updates" fate, but that's one of the unseen prices you pay when you get a cheaper device. They're cheap *in part* because they don't receive updates. I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule, but it's *generally* true.

about 7 months ago
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Federal Judge Rules Chicago's Ban On Licensed Gun Dealers Unconstitutional

fzammett Re:Took them long enough... (934 comments)

If you say the murder rate would be decreasing even without carry, a notion I agree with, then clearly you're saying that carrying DOES NOT negatively contribute to the murder rate... to which I'd say what POSSIBLE justification could you have for having a problem with carrying? Are we really going to ban things for no other reason than they seem dangerous? 'cause I'll tell ya, them baseball bats I see on the fields during the summer, them things sure look dangerous to me, we'd better ban them too... oh, and let's not even talk about your table saws or claw hammers or motor vehicles!

If the murder rate is going down DESPITE carrying, then just leave carrying alone. Doesn't that simply make logical sense to you?

about 8 months ago
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Federal Judge Rules Chicago's Ban On Licensed Gun Dealers Unconstitutional

fzammett Re: Took them long enough... (934 comments)

He was doing no such thing. Constitutional Carry is a term that is generally applied to any jurisdiction that allows carry without needing permission to do so (vis a vis, a permit). He didn't make up the term, he wasn't co-opting it, it's simply the accepted term for that arrangement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutional_Carry

about 8 months ago
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Why Don't Open Source Databases Use GPUs?

fzammett Re:Something something online sorting (241 comments)

Very good point, entirely correct. However... for an in-memory database I wonder if there's gains to be had? I'm not sure CPU-memory I/O is much of a bottleneck, though such DBs aren't suitable to every task of course.

about 9 months ago
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Feinstein and Rogers: No Clemency For Snowden

fzammett As much as it pains me to say it... (504 comments)

...I actually agree with that she-bitch Feinstein that he shouldn't get clemency. However, that's where it ends for me. Not giving clemency is different than hunting down.

To me, leave the guy alone. Let him live out his life in whatever country he wants that isn't America, free from the threat of assassination or jail. The only caveat is he's lost his U.S. privileges. It's kinda like Wallace in Pulp Fiction: "You lost your L.A. privileges".

Here's my thing: he DID break the law. Now, me, I say he did it for the right reasons and I'm glad he did... but he still did leak classified information and that can't go unpunished. But, to me, the punishment of never being able to set foot in his home country again is plenty. I don't need him dead and I don't want him in jail. There's plenty of other nice countries out there Mr. Snowden- pick one and make it your home and enjoy the rest of your days. But you don't get to come back here either.

about 10 months ago
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TSA Reminds You Not To Travel With Hand Grenades

fzammett Re:For those of you that don't RTFA... (378 comments)

"There is no good reason to have facsimile hand grenades on a plane." Yikes... so now you want to make FACSIMILES verboten? Come on.

Clearly a *REAL, LIVE* grenade has no good reason to be on a plane (a civilian plane obviously we're talking about)... but a facsimile? A completely inert piece of metal that just HAPPENS to look like something dangerous?

Come. On. You've GOT to see that's ridiculous. Please, tell me you do.

1 year,6 days
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Linus Responds To RdRand Petition With Scorn

fzammett Correct title of this should have been... (566 comments)

"Linux Torvalds says something AGAIN that would get him fired from VIRTUALLY ANY COMPANY ON EARTH, and Slashdot fanbois rush to SUCK HIS DICK so hard it breaks".

Look... Linus is a super-genius that has accomplished more in half a lifetime than most of us will accomplish in our ENTIRE lifetime (and this is coming from someone who has 7 published tech books and an 8th on the way- an accomplishment that itself dwarves most other peoples', yet is almost nothing next to what Linus has done)... he is virtually always right when he says something technical and he deserves to be listened to on any technical topic he chooses to speak. His name will echo through the halls of technology history for decades to come, and rightly so. He deserves every accolade he gets.

Yet, with all of that being true, he's a socially-inept bully, plain and simple. If only he could solve that problem with clever algorithms and architectural knowledge, he'd probably be up for sainthood already. Instead, he embarrasses himself every time he opens his mouth in this way, and so do you if you defend him. Belittling people, even when they are completely, amazingly, HOPELESSLY wrong about something, is simply not acceptable.

1 year,7 days
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Security Researcher Makes His Point By Hacking Into Zuckerberg's Facebook Page

fzammett Re:Take it public (266 comments)

Exactly, and I'm surprised people are arguing anything but this. Even for a report that you completely believe to be bogus, what time does it take to reply "hey, can I get more info?" Best case, it WAS bogus, and you never hear from the person again. You "wasted" all of 30 seconds. For a company like Facebook, that should be a trivial investment when the downside of an ACTUAL security problem is so bad. Assuming the report that they didn't reply in any way is accurate, then THIS is where Facebook fell down worst, and it's what is inexcusable.

1 year,29 days
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Hardly Anyone Is Buying 'Smart Guns'

fzammett Re:Smart guns... (814 comments)

You may have a point... as I said in the original post, I don't doubt that the ease of which guns can be used to kill, and the relative ease of availability of them, probably does have some impact on some murders being committed or not... get rid of guns entirely and I'd agree that at least SOME lives will be outright saved... not all gun deaths would suddenly become knife deaths, that seems obvious... So I think there's logic in your statement.

However, I have to disagree with the last sentence... we live in a violent society... whatever the underlying reasons, it's a true statement... yes, most of us frankly never encounter violence, thankfully, but it's there and all around us... given no other societal changes, would removing guns make confrontations less likely? I don't see how, in fact, it seems to me they'd be MORE likely... if I'm sure that guy I beat to the parking space at the grocery store doesn't have a gun then it seems I'd be MORE likely to do it and risk pissing him off because the worst that happens is a fist fight.

More importantly though, even if your assessment is correct, I'd suggest that you'd be putting lives at risk... it's undeniable that guns are pretty frequently used to save lives (it's a shame the biased media won't report on those incidents)... I'm not going to sit here and say that happens MORE than murder with a gun does, but it does happen, and even if it's only some fraction of murders with a gun, are those lives somehow less important? If I save my own life via self-defense with a gun, does that life saved somehow matter less than the guy around the block that had a fist fight and didn't die because the other guy didn't have a gun to shoot him with?

On balance, given an inherently violent society, and given the inherent right (responsibility, really) of every living being who wishes to remain living to defend themselves, I think having guns is better than not, although I'm totally willing to acknowledge that having guns sometimes is a contributing factor to bad things happening. They're a necessary evil, if you will.

about a year ago
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Hardly Anyone Is Buying 'Smart Guns'

fzammett Re:Smart guns... (814 comments)

You're right that suicides are usually lumped in with "gun crimes" because it makes the problem look much worse for those who have that agenda... but in this case, you're mistaken: table 20 is dealing with murders only... at least, that's what I take the column header that specifically says "murders" to mean. I 100% agree with your point, but in this case it's not a factor.

about a year ago
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Hardly Anyone Is Buying 'Smart Guns'

fzammett Re:Smart guns... (814 comments)

Would it surprise you to know that, well, you're wrong?

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-20

I'll save you time: while you would be correct to say that firearms are responsible for more murders than any other cause, the number of non-firearms murders is very nearly half that of firearms... roughly 8k to roughly 4k.

The point being: yes, granted, guns are used more often in murders... but it seems like those without guns are managing just fine without them too. Besides, I'm pretty sure those getting killed with fists and feet don't feel any better about it than those shot with a gun.

Now, a little thought experiment: if there were no guns, what do you think would happen? Would the TOTAL number of murders go down by roughly 8k? Or, would the number of murders not using guns GO UP? I hope you wouldn't try and say the former because if so, sir, you're retarded. Would non-firearms murders go up 8k? No, I very much doubt it... but the number WOULD go up.

And why is that? Simple: violent people are violent people. Yes, guns might make it easier for them to kill... but a good percentage of them are going to murder WITHOUT a gun just the same... and hey, to use the anti-gun argument against them: isn't ONE murder with a boxcutter too much? Better ban them! If we can save just ONE LIFE by banning baseball bats, shouldn't we?

I'm not saying that if we removed guns from the equation that we wouldn't save a few lives. I think we would. There's no doubt some murders that wouldn't occur at all if there were no guns. The problem is that guns UNDENIABLY save lives, nearly every day. Are those lives saved somehow less important than those saved if there were no guns? I'm not even claiming the number of lives saved by guns is greater than those taken by murder with guns (although I believe that's the case, but I don't have a reference so I won't claim it)... I'm just saying if it's all about saving lives (hint: IT'S NOT) then a life saved with a gun is just as valuable as one taken with a gun.

People who want to kill will, by and large, find a way. That's the bottom line and that's the fundamental problem in our society, the fact that people WANT to kill (putting self-defense aside of course). The fact that guns might make it easier is tangential to the root cause and while banning guns might save a few lives, the impact won't be nearly as large as you want to think it might be and we'll be talking about banning the NEXT inanimate object quickly. Stop trying to attack something that's a proximal cause AT BEST and get to the root of the problem. That's the way we might actually make a difference in this country. We don't have a "gun violence" problem, we have a VIOLENCE problem. Any time you see "gun violence", that just shows there's an agenda at play and that person actually cares very little for saving lives and is more interesting in exerting and extending control (Oh, did our president say that? Hmm, point proven!)

about a year ago
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Former Sun Mobile JIT Engineers Take On Mobile JavaScript/HTML Performance

fzammett Re:Data vs Hand-waving (106 comments)

I too am a game developer... no, not professional as you are, but I've written almost a dozen games on a number of platforms over nearly 20 years, sold most of them and even had two nominated for some awards years ago. I won't put myself on the same level as you, but I do have some relevant experience.

I would agree if you said the "never" statement is hyperbole... but you wouldn't argue the underlying gist of it, would you? Certainly it's true that a game programmer will seek to MINIMIZE object allocations and deallocations as much as possible within the performance-critical sections of code, right? I think that was what he was getting at, even if he didn't say it very well. Yes, I'd agree, what he LITERALLY wrote is false... but I suspect it was just a case of being overzealous with word choice... get him in a quiet room and I bet he says "yeah, I didn't actually meant NEVER there".

about a year ago
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An Interesting Look At the Performance of JavaScript On Mobile Devices

fzammett It's more about developers than technology (157 comments)

Bottom line: just because you're using a GC'd language and you CAN ignore memory management, doesn't mean you SHOULD. That goes for JS, Java or any other GC'd language in existence.

I hate to go off on a tangent... but that won't stop me from doing so, because I think it's actually the core of the issue and is entirely non-technical:

This all goes back to the abysmal state of many (most?) "modern" developers.

If you grew you with computers at the time I did, the late 70's/early 80's, and you learned to program those early 8-bit home computers, you kinda take this stuff for granted (memory management I mean). You just inherently think differently than "modern" developers do. You see things at a much lower level... even when you're working at a high level of abstraction, your mind automatically goes lower... instantiating an object in Java? You're mind at some level is thinking about how memory is being allocated, how the object reference is being stored, etc. Hell, you even start to think about the messages the OS is passing around, how those messages must map to C functions, and how those functions ultimately resolve down to assembly.

I'm NOT saying you KNOW all those details... not really... you just know the concepts... and I'm certainly not saying such details are relevant most of the time because they're not... I'm just saying that's the way our brains work... we can "see" all the levels below the one we're actually working on in our minds' eye, if only in a conceptual sense, and it happens without trying.

I's because we generally started learning at those low levels and everything over the years has built up logically from there. Most of us started with BASIC but quickly jump to Assembly because that was the only way to achieve what we really wanted to (games, mostly). Once you're at that level, it's an entirely different mindset. Those of us that also had an electronics background go a step further because we even go below the Assembly level sometimes (and that wasn't all that uncommon back then... of course, the electronics were considerably simpler and easier to understand than they are now).

That's a VERY different evolution than the kid that STARTS with Java or JavaScript or whatever now, then goes to school and learns more high-level stuff. And it shows in daily work life all the time! I see people constantly in my career who aren't really bad developers, but they are, somehow, lacking... it usually shows when things aren't working as expected. They have a difficult time breaking things down and figuring out what's going on. Oh, they can Google an answer as well as anyone, and hey, probably 9 times out of 10 that's sufficient. But they're just stumped beyond belief that one time... they just can't get into the details and work the problem at a fundamental level. They don't REALLY understand how these machines, these operating systems, work. And that's a really bad state of affairs.

(to be fair, some of us that learned in the "ground-up" way sometimes have difficulty STAYING at a high level... we sometimes trip over discussions that are too abstract because our brains are searching for the details that aren't there, and really aren't even relevant... that's a whole other discussion, but it's a true phenomenon).

All of this... to try and pull it back to topic relevance... means that relatively simple things like designing your code to minimize object allocation and deallocation seems mysterious to a lot of modern developers... they don't always get why it's important, and it seems like some black art or something even when they do... to us old-schoolers, I guess that's what we are now, it's actually quite natural to think that way. Even in JavaScript, where I've done considerable work, and highly complex work, GC has never presented a big issue for me, primarily because I've ALWAYS thought about it and know how to avoid it at the right times. The language itself isn't flawed, modern developers' ability to use it effectively is.

We're probably past the point of making developers better by and large... the time of kids starting close to "bare metal" and building from there is long gone in most cases... hell, how many modern developers have EVER done Assembly in their lives, outside of perhaps one class in school? So I guess the only real choice is we have to come up with a technological solution somehow, and we'll continue to have articles like this.

about a year ago
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Samsung Ups Ante In Smartphone Size Wars: 6.3 Inches

fzammett Re:Ridiculous (221 comments)

I'm 5'9" and I wear almost nothing but jeans and jean shorts most days. I don't wear skin-tight jeans, but neither am I wearing "fat guy" jeans... they fit "right" in my eyes: no struggle to button, but they're far from cargo pants territory.

My Nexus 7 TABLET fits in the BACK POCKET of my pants without struggling to get it in and out. It's actually comfortable there (aside from the weight, which is a bit much and tries to pull my pants down). Now, yes, that's only true if I'm standing up... sitting ain't happening... this "phone" (phablet I guess is the term they invented?) should fit just as well as it's smaller.

Now, me personally, I don't want a phone this big. I have an S4 and I think it's just about perfect... I considered the Note II and I could see possibly going to that size, but that's the upper limit for me I think. To me, this phone is just too big to be carrying around all the time. But to say it doesn't fit in "regular" pants I just don't think is accurate. You most definitely do not need a fanny pack or anything like that.

about a year ago
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Why JavaScript On Mobile Is Slow

fzammett Re:That's just not a viable option. (407 comments)

None of that is "flaky"... these are all features of the languages that if you bothered to learn you'd see that it makes JS one of the most flexible languages out there.

Some devs can't deal with the freedom to think for themselves and need rigid rules to function. Not the languages's problem.

about a year ago

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