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No RIF'd Employees Need Apply For Microsoft External Staff Jobs For 6 Months

gman003 Re:NTFS, exFAT, UDF (259 comments)

Look at Windows CE stuff some time - I've seen two different systems, made by two different companies, running on CE 6 and WP7, where the media player doesn't work quite right playing from SD cards or USB flash drives (they cannot read files where a file with the same name had been written and then deleted, and they sort by file creation order, completely ignoring directories).

Perhaps it was just the same mistake made twice, but the simpler explanation is that Windows CE has shoddy FAT support, since both systems run CE kernels.


Researchers Test Developer Biometrics To Predict Buggy Code

gman003 Here's a better idea (82 comments)

How about instead of spending a small fortune solving the handful of bugs caused by programmer typos, you spend that money on better requirements gathering, keeping specifications from changing constantly, and giving programmers time to actually unit-test and document their code?

If you want some fancy tech so you can write a paper on it, make an "electro-stimulus behavior moderation band", strap it onto clients/managers, and give them fifty thousand volts whenever they say or do something stupid.


No RIF'd Employees Need Apply For Microsoft External Staff Jobs For 6 Months

gman003 Re:NTFS, exFAT, UDF (259 comments)

Considering I still encounter Microsoft products that have problems with FAT32, yeah, there probably are some that have problems with UDF.


A Look At NASA's Orion Project

gman003 The one good feature of ARM (108 comments)

NASA's vaunted "Asteroid Redirect Mission" is now widely regarded as crap. It doesn't give us any new knowledge, it's not a good intermediate step for human colonization of space, and it's been mismanaged so badly that you could tell me it had been infiltrated by Russians intent on destroying America, and I wouldn't much doubt it.

But it does have one saving grace: it's our best shot if we ever find an asteroid headed for Earth impact.

I found this out sort of by accident - I was playing Kerbal Space Program, which has a NASA-sponsored module for doing asteroid redirects. I had a ship designed for that in orbit, and was looking for a good target.

I found one. On a direct intercept course. About a week out.

To make things worse, it was at like 80 degrees inclination. To cut a very long story short, I managed to redirect it to aerobrake, then stabilized the orbit so it wouldn't eventually deorbit.

Now, I fully realize that was a game, and that rocket science is actually a lot more complex than strapping a shitload of boosters to everything (my standard design). But the basic principle remains - something that can redirect an asteroid to enter lunar orbit is also something that can redirect an asteroid off of an impact course.

I don't know if that fully justifies the program - it's an absurd expense for what we get. On the other hand, what price can we put on avoiding extinction?

2 days ago

Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

gman003 Re:In Verizon's defense (388 comments)

I prefer the old maxim "nuke it from orbit - it's the only way to be sure".

4 days ago

Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

gman003 Re:In Verizon's defense (388 comments)

Trebuchet? Why so low-tech?

They should call up Elon Musk, see if they can launch 15 tons worth of pennies onto a nice trajectory ending at Verizon HQ.

4 days ago

Selectively Reusing Bad Passwords Is Not a Bad Idea, Researchers Say

gman003 Re:This makes sense. (278 comments)

We are, regrettably, impeded by whacked out sysadmins who insist we must use THEIR idea of a strong password -- which always seems to be different from anyone else's idea of a strong password, and/or that we need to change passwords periodically, and/or that we can't reuse passwords.

I sometimes seems that there is an inverse relationship between the actual need for security and the system administrator's perception of the need for security.


I tried to do something basically like this - I have three password strengths, one for low-security throwaway stuff, another for regular stuff (with suffixing so one compromised site won't affect others unless I am specifically targeted), and a max-security one.

Guess which one I use for banking. It's the mid-tier one, MINUS the special characters and suffix. They have an upper length limit that keeps my max-security password from being used for the one thing it really should have been used for.

The only thing that max-security password secures now is root access to my BSD box (and I have sudo set up with nopw, so I never even use that). Everything else is secured by something that really isn't secure enough.

about a week ago

Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer

gman003 Re:Same business model, different business (401 comments)

That's part of the joke. If they're able to catch it, you get even more fun - accuse them of switching to IPv5, on the logic that IPv6 uses hexadecimal but 666 won't fit into IPv4, so it has to be whatever's in between.

about a week ago

Marvel's New Thor Will Be a Woman

gman003 Feminism is trendy now - good! (588 comments)

The comic book industry has started to realize that sexism is bad for business. There's still plenty of remnants left (especially at DC - see the New 52 Starfire kerfluffle), but it's changing. The comics press has been talking about it for years, indie comics have been doing it for longer, and now Marvel is riding the trend. If you can even call it a trend - I really doubt "treating both genders as equals" is something that will go out of style, barring another dark age or something.

Yes, it's a bit gimmicky, taking an established character and replacing him with a her. But comic plots in general are pretty gimmicky. And they took care to keep the "old" character around, he's just depowered (something that happens to superheroes pretty much constantly). So it's not as big a change as it might outwardly seem (especially since Marvel has two continuities, and they haven't said if this is Ultimate universe or the original universe Thor being replaced - so either way, a male Thor will still be around in at least one universe).

Marvel's business side is probably doing it only because it's trendy and makes them look good, but I don't feel like the writers are doing it purely for that reason. Hard to tell at this point, though. The armor is potentially problematic - boob plate is better than most female characters used to get, but it's still not good design (both from a realist perspective (good way to break your own ribs and guide blows straight to your heart), and a feminist perspective (you're only doing it because boobs)). But other than that, they're at least talking like they're making her a proper female character. Marvel's been doing well with that of late (see Ms Marvel for a widely-praised example).

Modern feminism gets a bad rap because of the extremists, because they're the loudest and easiest to argue with. But they aren't the majority - the bulk are just people who think gender equality is a good thing, which is much harder to argue with.

about a week ago

Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer

gman003 Re:Same business model, different business (401 comments)

But that's boring. There's so many more fun responses you could give. CSRs don't argue as much with "crazy" customers so it even makes things easier for you (plus, it messes with their statistics).
"That information is classified."
"The stars are in alignment. The prophecy must be fulfilled."
"I'm moving to Elbonia."
"The NASCAR team you sponsored keeps losing, so I'm switching to a winner like AOL."
"I got assigned an IP ending in .666. I refuse to support any company with such obvious anti-christian leanings."
"I finished reading the whole internet, I really don't see any point in keeping it once I've read it all."

about a week ago

Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer

gman003 Re:Had to stop after a minute... (401 comments)

And there is no good reason to make it public, either. If I want to stop doing business with anybody, I do not have to give them a reason.

They aren't really interested in the reason - at least, the CSR doesn't give a single fuck about it. I'm sure management is interested in the numbers, but even then I doubt they care too much. The CSR was just using it as a ploy to make it harder to cancel.

Had it been me, I would have said this:
"If you continue to refuse to cancel my service, I will be forced to take legal action. This call is being recorded and may be used as evidence. I don't know how bad your employers penalties are for letting a customer leave, but I imagine the penalties for giving a customer grounds for a lawsuit are far worse. So I will say this one last time: cancel my service immediately."

about a week ago

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off From Florida

gman003 So was the landing successful? (112 comments)

The article is pretty vague about potentially the most important part of this launch - the reusable landing system. The article says they were going to "test" this. First, they're unclear as to whether that's a full return-to-launch test, or another "soft landing in water" test. Then they don't say whether that test was successful - they switch weirdly from past tense when describing the launch to future tense when describing the test, despite them being pretty much the same event.

about a week ago

The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One

gman003 Re:Hi speed chase, hum? (443 comments)

Minor collision? The BusinessInsider source claims the pursuing officers had to be hospitalized. That doesn't sound "minor" to me.

And they only broke off pursuit when it became impossible for them to continue, not when it became unsafe. Many police departments now have a policy of not performing chases for non-violent crimes because, statistically, you're more likely to kill bystanders by chasing than by letting the criminal drive off.

about two weeks ago

Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment?

gman003 Better than WHICH integrated audio? (499 comments)

Which integrated audio is it comparing to?

Let's use Realtek as an example, because they're a very common one. They have a variety of chips, ranging from the ALC231 to the ALC1150,

The ALC231 is rubbish. Four output channels (two stereo outputs), four input channels, and a 97dB SNR on output. But even that is probably enough for most users.

A good "middle-end" chip is the ALC861. That brings you up to 7.1 audio out, and a pile of sound-processing features (EAX, A3D, all that - including Creative's own standards). You still only have a 90dB SNR, but on a clean line that's tolerable. And it's cheap enough to be seen on sub-$150 motherboards.

Their top-end ALC1150 is basically the same, adding a few more output channels for some reason, a second ADC, and a 115dB SNR. That puts you above the low-end SoundBlasters, and within spitting distance of the high-end ones. On an integrated chipset. For anyone not doing professional audio work, that's probably enough. And you can find it on motherboards that cost less than this discrete card alone - sometimes even with advanced features like swappable op-amps.

It gets worse, because the main advantage of a discrete card is the SNR. Problem is, S/PDIF over TOSLINK is becoming a more common feature. And that means your computer's DAC doesn't matter - it's done on the sound system itself. Line noise isn't an issue, because it's fiber-optic. Every single Realtek chip I looked at supported this - probably not every implementation does, but it's something that doesn't cost the manufacturer any more than the cost of the connectors. That's another blow against them.

This isn't like video cards, where integrated can handle light users but any remotely intensive task requires at least a low-end discrete card. Probably not even one in a thousand users will need a discrete sound card - the ones who need more than the low-end integrated chips, like gamers, will be buying mobos that already have a higher-end audio chip.

about two weeks ago

ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers

gman003 Possible, yes, but feasible? (104 comments)

Helicopters work well on Earth for several reasons - first, our oxygen-bearing atmosphere means we don't have to carry our own oxidizer, just fuel, which makes it far more mass-efficient. Then our thick atmosphere means you get a lot more lift for a given amount of airspeed.

I have no doubt that you could get a rotorcraft to work on Mars. It's a question of whether it will work better than alternatives - such as the rockets used by Curiosity. But in essence this will have to be a rocket-powered rotorcraft as well - either rocket-like gas generators, or electric motors would be needed to work in the oxygenless environment, and I don't see electric being feasible in this situation. It then comes down to "is it more efficient to use the fuel+oxidizer to turn a rotor at supersonic speeds, or use it as a rocket?"

I'm no rocket scientist, but it seems to me that the simple extra mass of the rotor is a big strike against it being a good alternative to rockets, never mind the thinner atmosphere.

about two weeks ago

Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

gman003 Re:What's wrong with reselling? (131 comments)

The problem is that this is not a consumer product - it's a development kit. It isn't ready for consumers yet, and is intended only for use by developers so they can have something ready when the retail version is available.

Reselling to non-developers might give Oculus a bad rep because they're being judged by an incomplete product that wasn't supposed to be used by such people. So I can see why Oculus is trying to avoid this happening.

about two weeks ago

NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever

gman003 Re:I dont see a problem here (146 comments)

My problem with SLS is that it's a rocket built almost entirely on existing tech, and it's still taking them this long to develop it. You're taking existing engines, existing boosters, and (in some configurations) existing upper stages, and yet you still have nothing to show after three years and millions of dollars? Not to mention all the design work you could reuse from almost identical programs that got scrapped - I'm sure there's work from Ares V that could be reused.

about three weeks ago

Goldman Sachs Demands Google Unsend One of Its E-mails

gman003 Re:why? (346 comments)

Well, that's what the court is for. They get to decide if deleting this email is the right thing to do or not.

Who else would you suggest? Goldman Sachs is out, obviously. Would you rather Google be the one to decide?

about three weeks ago

Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists and Climate Change

gman003 Reverse that logic (567 comments)

I've never eaten any food from Sweden, other than a few candy fish. Is it logical for me to doubt the existence of Swedish agriculture based on it not affecting me (as far as I know)?

about three weeks ago


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