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Processors and the Limits of Physics

holophrastic popular science is back (168 comments)

one day, computers will be twice as fast and ten times as big -- vacuum tubes? meet transistors.
computers can't get any more popular because we'll run out of copper. . . zinc. . . nickel -- welcome to silicon. Is there enough sand for you?

everything will stay the way it is now forever. things will never get any faster because these issues that aren't problems today will eventually become completely insurmountable.

relax. take it easy. we don't solve problems in-advance. capitalism is about quickly solving huge problems, while totally ignoring small and medium problems.

wait for it. computers will be different in twenty years. I promise.

about two weeks ago

Posting Soccer Goals On Vine Is Illegal, Say England's Premier League

holophrastic Read your ticket (226 comments)

Have you ever read the back of your ticket? Check out your MLB baseball tickets too. You've agreed to not talk to a small gathering of your own friends about the game too.

about two weeks ago

The Doctor Will Skype You Now

holophrastic "convenience" (97 comments)

So, without commenting on accuracy, precision, completion, mis-diagnoses, missed symptoms, bias, colour correctness, nor smell, I think convenience is the all-time most important part of a doctor's check-up.

Oh yeah, house-calls. Remember? That's where we started. We are where we are because we made it convenient for the doctors, not for the patients. Remember? The guy with the expertise gets the convenience. Remember? The guy getting paid gets to make the rules. Remember?

about three weeks ago

MIT Considers Whether Courses Are Outdated

holophrastic Re:University of Waterloo, Independent Studies (205 comments)

Quite well actually. With an aim for artificial intelligence, I started in the computer science set of courses, hated what it was in terms of mathematical algorithms, shifted to the psychology set of courses and wound up in cognitive modelling with lisp and neural networks. Of course, as with any independent learner, I then focused on my own business, programming web-oriented business solutions for small and medium business. I still program the odd neural network solution now and then.

All of that said, apparently it was a very odd and very unusual university experience. Completely unstructured, and no one else in the same "stream" of courses. Obviously I had no appreciation for how unusual that is. But as an entrepreneur, that's been true for ages.

University got me through the years of friends and family telling me to "get a real job" and to "get a degree to fall back on". With six-months left to get my degree, I left the world of academia behind me forever, to focus on my successful business, which worked out splendidly.

So yes, I see it as two-and-a-half years wasted in that I'd have rather spent it developing my business full-time; but I didn't know that before hand, so I see it as the limbo-time to realize that I don't fall back on things, I fall forward, and that my own business is infinitely more stable than any real job, and it's a much better lifestyle too.

How did it work out for me? It got me what I wanted, when I wanted it, the way I wanted it. So, perfectly.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Is Running Mission-Critical Servers Without a Firewall Common?

holophrastic Absolutely it is, and that's ok (348 comments)

You drive your car quite fast on roads with on-coming traffic separated by nothing more than a stripe of paint.

There's no limit to the amount of security that you can add to a network. But in the end, the odds are fairly good that fixing the few problems likely to occur is far simpler and more cost-effective than preventing them in the first place.

Obviously, we're talking about a small business, that isn't subject to large and persistent attacks. And should the day come when it is, that's when increased security can come around.

Regarding the ecommerce side of things, most small companies use ecommerce to receive money. So the worst thing that can happen is that they receive more money. That'll be noticed. Providing they aren't storing credit cards, then there's nothing to lose.

Safety third: first the job needs to actually get done, otherwise there was no point in starting it. second, the job needs to be worth doing, or there was no benefit to having done it. third it needs to be done safely. think of all of the great achievements that came from numbers one and two without any degree of reasonable safety. think the discovery of new worlds, exploration, animals, major construction, and every dangerous job out there. the line of what's considered "safe" moves quite freely to accomodate the other two priorities.

Safety Third.

about a month ago

Better Living Through Data

holophrastic Hmmm, how much computer use is healthy (38 comments)

just a guess: none. Unless, of course, we're comparing it to other activities like running, cycling, playing with children, sex, and driving the right kind of car. Then it's less than none.

Compared to alcoholic drinking, computer use is very healthy.

about a month ago

Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

holophrastic Risk vs Reward (550 comments)

It's never been about cost. Even at the early prices, it was "affordable" for a one-off life-changing surgery.

The issue is the same as it's always been. There is risk. There is virtually zero reward. My vision isn't poor enough that I can't go to the bathroom at night. I wear glasses all day every day, minus sleeping, sex, and swimming. Right now, I have zero problems, and a set of light glasses on my face.

Why would I ever risk damage to my eyes -- which I use to earn every dollar of revenue to fund my life -- when I can do nothing and having everything that I plan to have?

It's an easy decision. I don't opt for voluntary surgery. That's the rule.

about a month ago

Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

holophrastic Re:400'000 volts (162 comments)

Depends on the humidity.

about 1 month ago

Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

holophrastic Name things that shouldn't be automated. (265 comments)

Consider all of the tasks that you do as a part of your job. Identify which ones should absolutely never be automated -- maybe they're too dangerous, maybe the risk is too great, maybe they're too much fun. I'd bet that upgrading the OS would be pretty well the top of your never-automate-this list.

about 2 months ago

Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

holophrastic 400'000 volts (162 comments)

Yeah, um, just, no. Once a decade at the science centre is one thing; weekly in public is something totally different.

I ain't touching that with a ten-foot pole.

about 2 months ago

By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem

holophrastic How original (564 comments)

So let me get this straight. Humans are bad because they create computer viruses. . .that apparently the conscious computers can't easily resist. Thanks for re-iterating 100 years of sci-fi non-sense.

I, for one, look forward to living the life of a pet. Like a puppy; safe and happy.

Of course, I may be a wee-little-bit different from most. I guard ants in my house and spiders have my full protection -- but that's because I'm smarter than most humans.

about 2 months ago

IEEE Spectrum Ranks the Top Programming Languages

holophrastic Most discussed = worst (197 comments)

So if a language is particularly awful, and troublesome to use, or used by students discussing homework exercises, then it'll score high here. Thanks for the useless popularity sketch.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

holophrastic Re:What's wrong with html and javascript? (466 comments)

v5.8.8. So yeah, it winds up suddenly auto-vivifying a few million array elements. You must have gotten lucky that your memory address just happened to look like a negative number.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

holophrastic Re:What's wrong with html and javascript? (466 comments)

Yup, that's what I did too! Now I laugh hysterically at it in hind-sight.

Ok, here's another simple bug that had an unexpected symptom..
my $spi = [5,6];
my $ind = [2];
$spi->[$ind] = 7;

Why might line three take thirty full seconds to execute?

about 2 months ago

Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year

holophrastic Re:The difference is obvious (431 comments)

A bit of a difference though. I'm Canadian as well. Our economy doesn't struggle the way theirs does.

about 2 months ago

Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year

holophrastic The difference is obvious (431 comments)

I can tell the difference quite easily. Americans buying european cars improves european economies. Americans buying chinese cars improves chinese economies. What I can't figure out is what would happen if Americans were to buy american cars. hmmm.

about 2 months ago

Starbucks Offers Workers 2 Years of Free College

holophrastic Very neat (169 comments)

I have no intention to take away from the good-will intentions here. What Starbucks is providing is very nice, and very neat. But you just know that it's profitable too right? So much is likely left out. Obviously starbucks isn't paying full price, business relationships are discounted all the time. And obviously the university is offering retail space to starbucks as a result too. In two years, you'll see government agencies giving money to starbucks for this program, especially as retail profits get channeled through this program's obvious expenses and losses, which will again save starbucks some money in the form of taxes. They'll likely also have avenues where they qualify as a charity, or as an educational agency. And since they are funding later-year students (only teasing early-year students) they'll wind up getting employees who plan to finish university, which means they'll get higher-quality employees from the start -- for those four years at least. And parents won't argue with students working more if that's what's paying for the school.

It's a great business tactic in every way.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

holophrastic Re:What's wrong with html and javascript? (466 comments)

Wow, you are incredibly confused. b = {}; doesn't modify b, it re-assigns b. Please learn how variables work. And if you think that "1" and true are different values, then you don't understand what a "value" is.

So you and I are obviously done here. You're either really old, used to bit-registers not complex objects, or you're really young reading text books, or you've navigated the industry by avoiding business-level programming. I've focussed on business-level programming. In this sub-industry, everything you've said simply isn't true. a==b, b==c, would never presume a==c. It's never true in real-world business, so I'd never want it to be true in business programming.

So I'll leave you with this, because it makes one angle very clear. Have you ever used perl? Perl does something interesting in this regard. Printing a reference to a variable (we'll call these objects conversationally here) never attempts to cast anything. It simply prints out the type and memory address. So a = {foo:1,bar:[123]} might be "HASH(32598763)". It actually is the memory address, but it's more than that. Because if you're numerically comparing it to another variable, it'll get cast as a number -- the memory address. In perl, using the value of a reference requires explicitly dereferencing it, making this particular issue quite straight-forward -- especially since casting is done on operators, not on values, which is awesome by the way.

Javascript does some of the same stuff, but conceals it all. Like most languages, lvalues are cast differently than rvalues. But because javascript is designed, primarily, for non-algothimic and non-scientific use, of course [] is 0. There are six versions of nothing, and whether you have nothing once or you have nothing multiple times, you still have nothing. But you've only gone half-way with your last example there. Add a numerical 0, as well as a null value, then the fun really happens. Try "0happy" too. Woah the fun you'll have!

Here's the skinny. I've been using javascript for professional profit for 17 years. I've needed to use === merely four times. Let's ignore, for the moment, how stupid javascript is in many ways, and especially in this crazy-casting way -- because it is crazy-cryptic to anyone who hasn't memorized it all, and there's always one thing that's forgotten. The real question is what would a programmer expect from string == object? Why would a programmer be comparing a string to an object in the first place?

If we're talking about a complete logic error, then I don't really care what a language does when I screw up my entire concept. If it's a convenience service, then as long as the language is consistent then I'm fine with whatever it's going to do.

Pop quiz. What do you think perl does with "5" + "information". The answer may surprise you. Here's a hint, it actually casts "information" to a number because the first three letters match a defined numerical value.

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

holophrastic Re:What's wrong with html and javascript? (466 comments)

Well, seeing as how I guarantee that my clients won't need stuff re-written, that I maintain their loyalty for years and sometimes decades at a time, and that I guarantee minor changes forever for free, if that were me I'd have gone bankrupt long ago.

But I certainly agree that my previous reply is consistent with what you describe. Alas, it was one of many replies, each incomplete as a character description of my business.

about 3 months ago



Why haven't other businesses sparked like IT?

holophrastic holophrastic writes  |  more than 5 years ago

holophrastic (221104) writes "So, when I was young, I was the typical "computer guy" on the block. Be in neighbours, friends, family, family-friends, neighbour's friends, or friend's neighbours, I was often called upon to put together some kind of computer setup. Nothing too professional — I was twelve and this was 16 years ago — but something that worked to run a small home business, or a family, or a small start-up company. No one expected very much, and everyone got well more than they expected. And lo the IT industry began.

So now I'm 28, and I want some things done. I'd like my home to benefit from solar/wind energy. I know nothing of such things. I run a successful business and have no time to figure it out. I'd like to know a neighbourhood young-person who dabbles in such things, and give them a few thousand dollars to use my home as a canvas. I find that no such people exist, or I don't know where to find them.

How come "computer nerds" and "grease monkeys" pervail, and maybe a gardner or two, but no other enthusiasm- or passion-based mini-businesses exist from which I can benefit the way that I helped oh so many people in my youth? Everyone knows a "web-guy", how come I don't know a "solar" guy? Or the many other things that I'd love to have done to my life/home/business by a twelve-year-old with enthusiasm?"

Vista games for my grandparents

holophrastic holophrastic writes  |  more than 6 years ago

holophrastic writes "So my grandparents are now touching a computer for their very first time! (she's 75, he's 85) They've got a nice and creamy-smooth Vista machine to play with. I want to buy them some games, and I'm looking for some suggestions. Ultimately, duplicate bridge online ('s Bridge Base Online) is keeping them many hours per day. I've got them learning to type with The Typing of the Dead, and they love it, funny as that is. Any other ideas? I'm thinking that it has to be something with a flat interface that they can easily use, since they've never seen anything before — so that rules out FPS, Sierra quest games, and galactic conquest. Most arcade games are going to be too frustrating for them when they forget which sprite is them, and which sprites are the baddies. I'm thinking the incredible machine, myst, and tetris. But I haven't the foggiest as to where to find Vista versions. Any other ideas? (oh yeah, on-board video/audio/nic, core 2 duo, 1.8GHz, 2Gb, vista ultimate, 24" wide)"


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