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How Relevant is C in 2014?

heikkile Libraries (641 comments)

If you write a good useful library in C, it can be used from almost any other language, with little effort. If you write your library in any other language, you limit its use to a handful of related languages. Also, properly written C can be very portable to a wide variety of systems.

about two weeks ago
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Richard Stallman Speaks About Back Doors After NSA Documents Leak

heikkile Re:GNU/Linux is made in the USA (332 comments)

GNU/Linux is open source, so you can (in theory) verify for yourself that there aren't any back doors. And if there are, you can fix them

That's true, but not if you're among the 99+ % that installs a binary distribution.

The point is not that everyone needs to verify the code, but that anyone can do so, and that someone is likely to have done so.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Get Paid For Open-Sourcing Your Work?

heikkile One way (167 comments)

I work for a company that does a lot of Open Source stuff. Here is how we manage it: We have core toolkits that are open source, and custom applications that are closed source, made for specific customers. When ever a customer needs new functionality, we try to generalize it and put it into the toolkits, which we then release. We tell the customer that we have this open source toolkit which we use for the project, and which we keep improving. But we don't specify how much of the work goes into the toolkit, and how much on the custom side.

Those toolkits have been our main marketing effort, and have certainly paid off. Within our very narrow field we are world famous, and our toolkits almost dominate the market. Nobody can afford to build a competing one, when ours is free. Although anyone may use our tools, we happen to know them best and have most experience with them, so we can often do any given job faster than others. The company has survived over a decade, and has expanded internationally, and is now all of 15 people.

more than 2 years ago
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Project To Turn Classical Scores Into Copyright-Free Music Completed

heikkile Search sucks (290 comments)

It is really good to have music in the free. But it could be organized better. I tired to search for "Locatelli", a baroque composer I know a little about. The first hit found a "piece" with a headline "Battista, Locatelli & J.S Bach - Concetos". What passes for a comment for the music is some details about Vivaldi's life, and under that is a composer Bio, also of Vivaldi. The "piece" consists of four parts, starting with a Concerto Grosso by Vivaldi, followed by Pergolesi, something by Bach, and finally a single movement of a Locatelli concerto. Last there is a fact box that lists Vivaldi as the composer, and fails to mention anything about the performer or period...

more than 2 years ago
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Recreating a Mysterious, 2,100-Year-Old Clock

heikkile Re:The 'Mysterious' part. (209 comments)

"Gears are finicky things, every single tooth must have the correct angular position, pitch diamerter and involute profile"

no. The more accurate those things are, the better it measurs time. And this think wasn't very accurate. By today's standards.

As far as I know, the original machine was not meant to measure time. It had a crank you gave one turn every day, and it showed the position of various stars etc. More like a calendar than a clock.

more than 3 years ago
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Recreating a Mysterious, 2,100-Year-Old Clock

heikkile Re:Amazing (209 comments)

The first high carbon steel swords were not made by scientists that were thinking about it. they were made by a uneducated swordsmith who had worked in a dirty forge for all his life.

More likely, for three or four generations, if not more.

more than 3 years ago
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Best-Selling Author Refuses $500k; Self-Publishes Instead

heikkile Impossoble Licensing Agreement (290 comments)

I can not read the book. I can not accept the license that requires my moral values to coincide with those of the author. For example, "That your family is first and foremost the most important thing in your life." makes not much sense to me, with no wife, no kids, parents dead, and the rest of the family not interested in much contact, and residing in a different country anyway.

Although he means well with it, I find such licensing an offensive intrusion in my life. If my employer would put up conditions like "That you will exercise your body as well as your mind" I would certainly tell him to stay out of my private life.

Some of the points are blatantly impossible. For example, "That you will defend the rights of those who are unable to defend themselves". Note that there is no provision to make this apply only occasionally, only when practical or even possible. Thus, anyone who is not defending the people in Libya, in China, and in Afghanistan, at the same time, is in violation of the license.

Moral principles are fine, but trying to enforce them as a condition for reading a book is absurd. If that is the price for reading the book, I rather keep my freedom!

more than 3 years ago
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Can You Beat a Computer At Rock-Paper-Scissors?

heikkile Re:This game is random , you can't outsmart someon (292 comments)

I did this many years ago. No need for fancy AI, a simple Markov chain was enough to beat the people I tried with. Today I would make it adapt the chain length dynamically, trying with different lengths and keeping track of their performance. But even a 3-level chain (if I remember right) beat humans consitently in about 50 games, and the random number generator of that old machine in less than 10000 games. But it was probably not a good random number thing...

more than 3 years ago
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British ISPs Respond On Filtering

heikkile Re:The language all consumers understand: money. (163 comments)

And release a statement that they are testing this new filter, and have signed all politicians up for a trial. Randomly block about 10% of their traffic, and also some porn sites. Slow down their download speeds, and triple the prices. Anyone who publicly supports the filtering will of course get added to the trial.

about 4 years ago
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FCC To Allow Texting To 911

heikkile Re:What the hell (321 comments)

Here in Denmark we were taught that if the coverage is bad, as it often is at sea, a text message is more likely to make it through. Same might be the case with low battery situations, and even if speaking aloud is not safe, as could be the case in some shooting and hijacking situations. In some situations the background noise may make voice communications unreliable, and some accidents may even disturb your ability to speak... Many reasons to allow the use of text messages.

about 4 years ago
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SugarCRM 6 Released, But Is It Open Source?

heikkile Open Source Product vs Company (357 comments)

If that source code isn't made available, then you're not an open source company.

Technically, a single company can have products licensed for both closed and open licenses - I know, I work for one. They can even offer the same product under an Open Source license, and under a different license. Owning the copyright, they can fork the product, implement some features only in one version, and release that only under a closed source license.

Of course, nothing prevents anyone from taking a version that has been released under an Open Source license, and (re)implementing the features the company only offers under a closed license. Except that it requires time, effort, and know-how.

more than 4 years ago
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NASA Concedes Defeat In Effort To Free Spirit Rover

heikkile Re:Nevertheless, still doing science! (250 comments)

So what, pray tell, would have been the advantage of sending a human (other than shakier photos of the same rocks)? It would have cost an order of magnitude more money to haul a few people and all the supplies needed to keep them alive for a year-long mission

An order of magnitude???

In rough numbers, the mass of your normal human is one order of magnitude over the mass of the rover. The life support for said human would be another order of magnitude, or two. That would be fine, if we could leave the volunteer(s) behind on a dead planet. But getting them back would mean sending a big enough ship to bring them home. That would be at least thousand times bigger than what they'd need to survive on the surface - three more orders of magnitude. That's what I could think here and now. I believe there would be a few more problems to account for one or two orders of magnitude. So, my estimate for sending humans (that would expect to return) would be at least a million times more than to cost to send the rovers. With all these uncertainties, perhaps a billion...

Still, worth the effort, if and when we have the resources and technology. I hope to see that in my lifetime, or at least in the next 50 years!

more than 4 years ago
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TWiki.net Kicks Out All TWiki Contributors

heikkile Re:Welcome to the new economy (194 comments)

I hate to sound like a troll, but it looks like we may see the end of a marriage between what we believe an open source projects should look like and the venture capitalists that fund them.

Not all Open Source projects are funded by venture capital! I work for a small company that has several Open Source projects out there, and has never had outside capital. We've had our bad times, but at the moment we are expanding slowly, and the future does not look too bad.

(And yes, we use Twiki internally, and I got the "relaunch" mail. Sounded like they wanted "strong branding" that was "not compatible with Debian". Pity, but if that is the way it goes, I will need to find another Wiki system for us, and probably convert all our data - won't let any single application dictate what distro I should use. )

more than 6 years ago

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