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Ask Slashdot: Professionally Packaged Tools For Teaching Kids To Program?

infernalC Some ideas (107 comments)

My first programming language (5 years old, 1985) was Apple BASIC. Online interpreter:


When I was in 3rd grade, we programmed in LogoWriter. Looks like there is a web-based LOGO interpreter here:


Next, I learned PASCAL.


None of that stuff is OOP (although imperative is still a very important paradigm).

Once you want to move past kiddie stuff, I'd set her down with a C# IDE (the free-as-in-beer Visual Studio edition or the free-as-in-really-free MonoDevelop) and some YouTube tutorials.

about 2 months ago

How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

infernalC Andi Graph (359 comments)

Andi Graph is the bomb... you can switch between any TI-8x ROMs. The only thing I miss about it is the tactile keys.

I own a TI-85. Therefore, I have no remorse about using the TI-85 ROM on my Android devices, as I'm not letting anyone use my calculator at the same time. I paid for the software.

In conjunction with BlueStacks on my Samsung ATIV Pro 900T, I can even project and take screenshots of the whole calculator without any special TI hardware.


about 5 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

infernalC I recommend (176 comments)


about 7 months ago

Kids With Wheels: Should the Unlicensed Be Allowed To 'Drive' Autonomous Cars?

infernalC More nuanced choices would be nice here. (437 comments)

I'm a parent of four precocious kids in a small college town in the mountains of NC.

We have taxpayer-funded public transportation here. 12 years old and up are allowed to ride the bus alone (to go to the library, etc). Would I let my 7-year old if he were allowed? No. Would I let him go with his 12-year-old brother who has a way to stay in touch with me? Probably.

I don't think the issue here is automotive safety. A fully-automated car should be safe enough for kids to ride in by themselves, or it shouldn't be on the road. I think the bigger concern is, when is it okay to let your kids out in public without supervision? 72% of the people who said flat out "no" did so because they have the impression that parents should be attached to their children at the hip, or because there was no option for, say, 15 and up. Maybe kids should be able to earn the freedom of being out without their parents with good grades above a certain age, etc. The survey sucked. There should have been an option for unlicensed adolescents but not younger children, etc. Parental consent and discretion should be part of the equation as well. We're the ones responsible for our kids, and with that responsibility should come some discretion on our part.

On a side note, I think autonomous cars will reduce the need for us to go out for non-social things. I mean, aside from losing the ability to pick the best produce, I certainly wouldn't mind telling my car to make a run to the grocery store for me. For me, shopping is just time I'd rather spend with my family.

about 8 months ago

How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

infernalC SChannel (582 comments)

Most of the non-OpenSSL instances of TLS implementations out there are probably SChannel.

I would be shocked if Microsoft hadn't had equally severe bugs, and further surprised if they could fix them as fast.

about 9 months ago

Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires

infernalC POS Ready 2009 (860 comments)

POS Ready 2009 *is* Windows XP SP3 with a cheaper license ($99).
If you can get your hands on it, it's supported until 2019. Since end of support is 2019, they should still be providing security updates...
They may be killing XP, but not it's lesser known twin.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Automatically Logging Non-Computerized Equipment Use?

infernalC If you have to do it, this is how I would do it (130 comments)

Put bar code labels on everything with the asset identifiers.
Make a simple web app that authenticates to the LDAP server (you don't even have to write the auth part - Apache will handle that for you). The app will have two basic functions: start using asset and stop using asset.
They will touch one function or the other and enter the asset ID to generate a log entry.
Write an iOS native wrapper app for it using UIWebView and ZBar, to let them scan the asset tag using the camera on their phone.
Leave a $170 iPod touch in the lab for anyone who doesn't have an iPhone, so they don't feel left out.
If desired, automate sending nag messages to people who forgot to log stopping the use of something. Give them a way to enter corrections with a web form.
Provide your bean counters with a suitable report, preferably something that exports to their favorite bean counting app's format (I'd probably use the free Crystal Java Runtime just because I know it).

It can be made generic enough to get app store approval.


Cost to implement: 2 weeks of my time - negotiable.

There is an upside to logging stuff like this besides satisfying the beanies... you also have data to justify new purchase requests.

about a year ago

High-Gain Patch Antennas Boost Wi-Fi Capacity In Crowded Lecture Halls

infernalC More like Slashvertisment (104 comments)

This is a parroting of a marketing-derived press release. Move along. I think I'm going to move along. Thanks for the memories, Slashdot.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Best SOHO Printer Choices?

infernalC Copying music (381 comments)

You do realize, in the post-Snowden era, that the NSA probably already forwarded your Slashdot submission along with your social security number and those of your 8 closest relatives to the RIAA, dont you? :-P

about a year ago

How a Grandmother Pioneered a Home Shopping Revolution

infernalC She never saw the computer? (94 comments)

That's about the silliest thing I've heard today. A television screen, even in 1984, was probably a computer monitor. Granted it was NTSC, but around that time most televisions were switched over to digital tuners (which are computers).

I mean, I'm a computer programmer, and I spend my day working in Visual Studio, vim, and NetBeans (depending on what I'm doing). By that logic, I never see a computer either, at least not the one I'm working on. I spend most of my day in an RDP session on a retired tradeshow 27" iMac. I have to touch xcode once in a while, but I mostly keep it for the real estate.

about a year ago

New Animated PNG Creation Tools Intend To Bring APNG Into Mainstream Use

infernalC quite a few browsers? (246 comments)

Animated PNG support is terrible... see:


No IE, no Chrome, Opera dropped it when they went to Webkit, no iPhone, no Android...
looks like it's pretty much only available on 20%ish of desktop browsers and pretty much nothing mobile. You aren't going to get anyone to use it in a public-facing web application yet. Remember the days of "this site looks best in (Internet Explorer/Netscape/whatever)"... let's not do that again.

Maybe if the HTML 5 standard said that conforming user agents have to do this it would put a little more umph behind it. Of course, the standard seems to follow browser development in many cases now, not the other way around.

about a year and a half ago

Encrypted Email Provider Lavabit Shuts Down, Blames US Gov't

infernalC Here's some practical advice in return (771 comments)

"...I'm planning to do a cross-country trip quite soon with a car..."

Just a bit of advice I got from my sister this March after she and her husband drove from Boulder, CO to Decatur, IL:

"Never accidentally drive across Kansas. It's surprisingly wide."

about a year and a half ago

The Days of Cheap, Subsidized Phones May Be Numbered

infernalC I don't (329 comments)

I'm a QA analyst for a software company. My workplace is saturated with WiFi. My wife has a cheap-but-has-everything-she-wants HTC One V (Android ICS) with prepaid Virgin Moble. I live 0.75 miles from my home, which is also saturated with WiFi. I get by on just an iPod Touch 4, with vTok for calls between me and my wife. We have $7/mo voip service at home for a pseudo-landline, but I bet I could put a client on the iPod if I wanted to.

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Is It So Hard To Make An Accurate Progress Bar?

infernalC Cost Benefit (736 comments)

Progress bars do not make sequences of actions complete any faster. In fact, they make them slower.

That being said, take for example an installer that must perform the following steps during an upgrade:

0. Figure out how many files need to be replaced.
1. Replace 30 files of varying sizes.
2. Add 10 files.
3. Update a half million rows inn a table with a million rows setting a column to a computed value based on some predicates.
4. Run a third party installation mechanism (MSM?) for a supporting library, etc.

Modern computers are time-sharing systems. Each process that involves computation is at the mercy of the scheduler in the kernel to give it the cycles it needs to complete. That means that even if you measure the time it takes to complete some process, it's not going to be the same a second time, because the installation process doesn't get undivided attention.

Steps 0 - 2 - you're at the mercy of the IO buses, hard disk, antivirus software interfering, etc.
Step 3 - What shape are the database statistics in? How efficiently can you apply the predicates? What does the distribution of the data look like? You can't tell this ahead of time...
Step 4 - Does this third party installer provide you some sort of metrics as it runs?

These are the sorts of problems to be overcome to do an accurate progress bar. In short, they aren't worth overcoming.

about 2 years ago

My favorite New Year's celebration:

infernalC Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (157 comments)

I celebrate the new year by attending Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

This isn't really "Good-old Gregorian January 1st". When Gregory XIII introduced the new calendar in the 16th century, new year's day was the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, and that's the way the calendar was until the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council restored the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God to the 1st, which is when it had been celebrated in ancient times since the early councils established the dogma of Theotokos.

So, I think I'd rather say I celebrate the New-Fangled Gregorian January 1st.

about 2 years ago

Will Tablets Kill Off e-Readers?

infernalC My e-reader killed its own market (333 comments)

I have an iPad2, which I use for all indoor reading with the Kindle and Bluefire apps. I also had, before the iPad2, a Sony PRS-300 and I still use it for outdoor reading. The iPad2 is already bordering obsolete, but the Sony still does what I want. It's only function is e-reading, and I just don't see how, except the battery being too expensive to replace, I would justify replacing it in the next couple years. When we get something like a piece of paper (a killer form factor) for e-readers, I will replace it.

I guess what I'm saying is that the market is declining because people already have them.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Replacing a TI-84 With Software On a Linux Box?

infernalC Andi Graph (254 comments)

For that TI-8x look and feel...

I use Andi Graph. http://dougmelton.com/android/andie-graph/ . It's free if you already own a TI calculator. If you don't, you are morally obligated to purchase a TI calculator so that you can say you've paid for the software. It is exactly like using a real TI-8x calculator except the buttons are not tactile.

It runs faster than a real TI-8x on an HTC One V phone, which is a low-end ICS phone. If you want to run it on a PC, get the Android emulator from Google.

If you don't have your cable to rip the ROM from your calculator, you can find the ROM using Google. I don't think there is a version for iOS.

more than 2 years ago

In Calculator Arms Race, Casio Fires Back: Color Touchscreen ClassPad

infernalC Re:Let me be the first to say... (170 comments)

There are TI-83/83+/85/86 emulators for Android. You just load a TI ROM into them and you're done. Having tried it, here are the biggest problems:

1. Battery life sucks.
2. The touchscreen is a lousy keypad for a calc with that many buttons.

I know that many profs won't allow these devices during tests because of the potential for communicating with other people using them during the tests.

Apple will never allow these emulators on iDevices. They don't like people running arbitrary code in the walled garden. zShell anyone?

more than 2 years ago



Faced with a breach, Hypercom screws merchants

infernalC infernalC writes  |  more than 3 years ago

infernalC writes "Hypercom, faced with a recently discovered security vulnerability in their Savannah payment software, decided to drop support and terminate the product immediately rather than fix the problem. Credit card processing servers are very mission critical to merchants. Interestingly enough, this comes as their acquisition by VeriFone is held up on anti-trust grounds. VeriFone makes a very similar competing payment platform, PC Charge.

According to the notification, with zero advance notice, the only support they will offer merchants is to uninstall. No refunds if you bought the software before April. How's that for a mission-critical application?"

Link to Original Source



infernalC infernalC writes  |  more than 7 years ago

So... I have not posted a /. journal entry in four years... so here goes:

I AM NOT SEEKING EMPLOYMENT ANY MORE. I have been happily employed by a major point of sale software company for two years. Just trying to clarify things a bit.



infernalC infernalC writes  |  more than 11 years ago

I am currently seeking employment as a software developer. My resume is available here.

Please e-mail me if you are interested.

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