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Comments

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Give me a solder gun, and I can produce ...

jms Stained glass (321 comments)

Missing option: Stained glass windows. I can do very nice electronic soldering, but it's whether you can solder 1" wide lead came with a 250 watt Hexacon iron with a 5/8" tip that separates the men from the boys. Hexacon makes bigger ones. I think they're for soldering together battleships or something. Recent accomplishment: Rebuilding all the leaded glass windows in the Yale University Art Gallery.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Good, Forgotten Fantasy & Science Fiction Novels?

jms Re:Stanislaw Lem (1244 comments)

I wholeheartedly second the recommendation of "Tales Of Pirx The Pilot." Terrific short stories with a lot of humor. This would be the book I'd hand to a young person who had never read any science fiction before.

more than 2 years ago
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Recent Discovery Contains Oldest Depiction of the Tower of Babel

jms Re:Tower of Babel (309 comments)

At any rate, whatever meaningful socialism there was in Hitler or in Nazism was wiped out ... during the Night of the Long Knives.

Whatever meaningful socialism there was in _______ was wiped out during ________

1) the USSR / Stalin's purges
2) communist China / Mao's purges
3) Cuba / Castro's purges

and on and on.

Socialism / Communism isn't a way of running a society. It is a method used to disrupt and destroy a society. The nuances and differences between socialism, communism and Progressivism are as meaningless as the nuances and differences between the effects of different types of nuclear weapons on a city. Socialism, Communism and Progressivism are a means to achieving totalitarianism, no more, no less.

more than 2 years ago
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Recent Discovery Contains Oldest Depiction of the Tower of Babel

jms Re:CS equivalent of the tower of babel (309 comments)

With the exception that BAL is still in use today. If you do systems programming on IBM mainframes for any amount of time, You. Will. Learn. BAL.
 

more than 2 years ago
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I typically run Windows ...

jms Windows 2000 (417 comments)

I used Windows 2000 until a few weeks ago. Rock stable. Ran everything I wanted. I just recently built up a new system (Phenom II X6 1100T / 8GB / SSD) to replace my Athlon XP 2000 system and bit the bullet and put Windows 7 on it. I got a 12 year run out of Windows 2000. Not too shabby.
 

about 3 years ago
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Competing Contests To Create Pro- and Anti-Piracy PSAs

jms Turntable mats (220 comments)

Heh. A DJ friend has a set of turntable mats with the slogan on them:

"Copyright infringement is your best entertainment value"

Says it all right there,

about 3 years ago
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The Death of Booting Up

jms RS6000 boot times were horrible (557 comments)

The worst I ever had to deal with was an IBM RS/6000 Model F50 with a lot of SCSI cards. This was in 1998. Boot time was upwards of 30 minutes. It did these incredibly long self-tests of every card in the system. IBM didn't seem to understand that spending 5-10 minutes self-testing a SCSI card wasn't acceptable when there were a half dozen or more of those cards in the system ...

That system really messed with us. I'd come in at midnight to take the system down, and if there was any problem that required multiple boot attempts, I would be stressing about getting the system back up by 8AM. Nothing like being blasted by industrial strength air conditioning at 5AM watching the little LED numbers change over and over again. Once the system got up and running it was pretty fast (for the time), but oh my god the boot times.

more than 3 years ago
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Artificial Leaf Could Provide Cheap Energy

jms Re:no free energy (326 comments)

Go feel the air blowing through the outside-part of your air conditioner or the air blowing out of your refrigerator vent in the back or on the bottom.. It's warmer than the air that went in.. That's where the heat is going. Air conditioners and refrigerators separate hot from cold, they don't generate cold only. They actually make more heat than they make cold. The difference is equal to the energy in the electricity used to run the air conditioner or refrigerator.

more than 3 years ago
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Artificial Leaf Could Provide Cheap Energy

jms Re:How do you separate the H2 and O2? (326 comments)

It seems from the article that the H2 and O2 come off opposite sides of the device, making it trivially easy to isolate the two gasses. This is a very important detail that is not exactly clear from the article. It's important because you can safely store H2, and O2, but not the two mixed together.

more than 3 years ago
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Artificial Leaf Could Provide Cheap Energy

jms Grid storage at last! (326 comments)

It seems to me like this would be a good candidate for grid storage. Say you had a solar farm with both conventional solar cells and this new technology. When the sun shines, the regular solar cells both provide the product energy from the power plant, and also operate pumps that pressurize the hydrogen and oxygen coming off of the new cells. At night and when clouds come overhead, the system switches to fuel cells to burn the stored hydrogen and oxgen, regenerating the water in the process, and keeping the power plant producing electricity through the night. Thus, you overcome the biggest problem with solar power plants -- their intermittancy. Such a power plant, properly designed, should be able to produce continual power effectively indefinitely, barring extremely long periods of overcast weather. The "nighttime" capacity of the power plant would be a function of the size of the hydrogen tanks you could store on site -- and I believe that pressurized gas tanks scale upwards very cheaply and easily. As a bonus, the water in the system would be continually contained and recycled, making the system attractive for use in arid places like deserts where solar is most profitable.

Hopefully it will turn out to be cheap in practice and can be used this way.

more than 3 years ago
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Kodachrome Takes Its Final Bow Today

jms Clueless on eBay (262 comments)

I'm amused at the apparently clueless people on eBay bidding against each other for film that can no longer be processed. There are several examples of multiple bids on auctions for unexposed film ending tomorrow.

more than 3 years ago
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What's the Oldest File You Can Restore?

jms Re:What's with the Y2K snark in the summary? (498 comments)

Ditto. I worked for a university at the time. We upgraded every last speck of software in our IBM 370 mainframe facility in the months leading up to Y2K as IBM went through the operating system with a fine tooth comb sending out bug fixes, and we found and killed dozens of minor bugs in our local software in the months leading up to Y2K running a second level OS with the date pushed forward. Then Y2K happened, and the worst thing that happened was that an old mail program that was only used by old timers started showing people's new mail at the wrong end of the list. And everyone sort of felt like it was a big non-event and kind of made fun of it. It's no coincidence that that era was a high water mark for IT jobs.

more than 3 years ago
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What's the Oldest File You Can Restore?

jms Re:Apollo Guidance Computer (498 comments)

Well if you're going to include surviving printouts that could theoretically be scanned, I have a complete assembly printout of the IBM APL/1500 operating system (fanfold paper, about 5 inches thick), dated 12/1/1968, but I certainly have no plans to take the time to recover the operating system from the assembly listing.

more than 3 years ago
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Does Typing Speed Really Matter For Programmers?

jms Re:Code monkey or engineer? (545 comments)

Yes, but good architects draw fast because they get lots of practice. It's like playing an instrument, or athletics, or any other skill. The more you do it, the better you get. Good programmers usually can type fast because they program a lot. But it's the fact that they spend a lot of time programming that makes them good programmers, not the fact that they can type fast. Fast typing is a side effect of spending enough time programming that you get good at the physical mechanics. If you can't type fast, then you're like a guitar player who can't find the notes on the fretboard. It's a sign that you aren't practicing enough.

The last part of this comment makes me laugh. If you're sitting around "processing the rest of the design" while "code monkeys" do the actual programming, then you are not an engineer. You are a manager, and you are not doing the programming. You may think that you are doing the very important thinking part of the job, but actually it's your "code monkeys" who are working their asses off trying to implement the half-baked designs of the "engineers" who not only never get their hands dirty writing code, but look down on the "code monkeys" who actually write the code and make it work.

more than 3 years ago
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Does Typing Speed Really Matter For Programmers?

jms Re:More important - having a Model M (545 comments)

I use a vintage 1984 Model M "compact" model -- with no keypad. I can type 100WPM on that keyboard. Any other keyboard and my speed falls in half.

more than 3 years ago
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Homeland Security Drops Color-Coded Terror Alerts

jms Purpose of the color coded alert system (183 comments)

The best explanation of the purpose of the color system I have heard is as follows. Potential suicide bombers are, by definition, not afraid of death, because they believe that their murder/suicide will bring them paradise. They are, however, terrified of being captured. This would mean an ignominous death in a jail cell of old age, and they would be denied their afterlife reward. As a result, AQ is said to be extremely skittish. If AQ believes that a plan has been exposed, they will scuttle the plan and go into hiding, sometimes for years.

The color system was designed to work in conjunction with the sort of intelligence we were getting -- where we knew from traffic analysis that an attack was likely about to be executed, but did not know the specifics. The idea was that the color level would be maintained at yellow, but when U.S. intelligence felt that an attack was imminent, but had no specifics, they would make a public announcement and raise the color level. This would, it was hoped, spook AQ enough for them to postpone or cancel the attack. Then, of course, there would be no attack, and the talk show hosts would mercilessly mock the government officials, who would have to console themselves with the knowledge that they had possibly saved hundreds or thousands of American lives, but not really knowing for sure.

The article gives no indication that the current Homeland Security understands the actual purpose of the system. They seem to be dismantling it for no other reason than that being mocked by the media rubs them the wrong way. I certainly hope that there are no more successful AQ attacks, but it is sobering to realize that the U.S. government is dismantling what may well be a very well functioning part of our national defense system because they find using it to be embarrassing.

more than 3 years ago
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Former Employee Stole Ford Secrets Worth $50 Million

jms Re:Wake up, people. (236 comments)

I suppose that by failing to elaborate on how they came up with the value, they invite speculation.

Sometimes, when asked the value of a document, companies will give a figure that corresponds to the cost of producing that document. In other words, if you were to add up all the engineer-hours involved in designing a car, it might add up to $50-$100M. Since Ford is not deprived of access to their own design (because they still have copies of it), this does not represent $50-$100M losses to Ford. They could be saying that, by stealing the design, the Chinese company saved themselves $50-$100M in engineering costs, but that explanation isn't really complete, because the design was manufactured, so the Chinese company could easily buy one and reverse engineer it. So, by stealing the design, the Chinese company at the most saved themselves the cost of a full reverse-engineering job on the Ford car. This might still be a substantial figure. However, automobile manufacturers regularly buy each others products and reverse engineer them anyway, to keep track of what the competition is doing, so the Chinese auto company's engineers were probably already pretty familiar with the basic Ford design before they stole the documents. They probably had already done most of the reverse engineering. These documents let them fill in the gaps in their knowledge.

This has damaged Ford to the extent that the design revealed trade secrets that the Chinese car company might not have been able to reverse engineer from existing cars. This might allow them to improve their cars to the extent that some number of people choose to buy Chinese cars instead of Fords. That is the real value of the stolen documents and might be worth $50-$100 million or more.

more than 3 years ago
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The temperature where I am now is controlled by...

jms How many computers I have on (402 comments)

Actually, the temperature in my computer room is controlled by how many computers I have on. My Linux machine generates very little heat. My windows box, quite a bit more. Turn off both and the temperature falls quite low. Both on, and it's the warmest room in the house.

more than 3 years ago
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The Oldest Timestamp On a File I Created and Still Have Is...

jms 1981 / 1968 (375 comments)

Oldest file created by me: I have a PDP/11 floppy disk formatted for RT/11 V01-01D. On it are a few MU-BASIC programs that I wrote as a high school freshman in 1981. My grand achievement was a version of Missile Command written using text graphics, playable on a VT-52 terminal. hj brings back fond memories!

Oldest timestamped media I own -- A distribution tape for an IBM/360 text editor dated 1968.

Oldest printout I own -- A complete assembly printout of the IBM APL/1500 operating system (fanfold paper, about 5 inches thick), dated 12/1/1968.

more than 3 years ago

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