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Why Microsoft Developers Need a Style Guide

jsac Has McAllister met any programmers? (262 comments)

'Occasionally, Microsoft's recommendations verge on the absurd. For example, you might not think it necessary to admonish developers to "not use slang that may be considered profane or derogatory, such as 'pimp' or 'bitch,'" but apparently it is.'

IT skews dramatically male, and those men skew dramatically towards the socially inept. Making explicit rules about not using profane or derogatory slang in your UI is completely appropriate.

more than 2 years ago
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Microsoft Demos C++ AMP At AMD Developers Summit

jsac Re:AMP? (187 comments)

Because "CUDA" and "GPGPU" are such obvious bits of terminology ... ?

more than 3 years ago
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Amazon Fake Products and Fake Reviews

jsac Re:Article is Clueless -- Reviews are Jokes (240 comments)

Having been recently thrown out and banned from Staples, Bestbuy, and Futureshop, for setting the IE Homepage on the display computers to the small local competitor down the street, I had no where to reasonably go but online.

Shoulda gone to the small local competitor down the street...

about 4 years ago
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Medical Researcher Rediscovers Integration

jsac Re:And he needs a computer to do it for curves (473 comments)

"If you can't get rich off of that over the course of your career, you are doing it wrong" -- remember, this discussion was started by an article in which a med school graduate and research scientist reinvented the trapezoid method of integration, presumably because he never learned it in math class. So we're not talking math geniuses here.

about 4 years ago
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The Problem With the Top500 Supercomputer List

jsac Re:Well, there's a non-notable point! (175 comments)

Did you miss the part of the artlcle where the TITECH team working on the Linux Top500 run on Tsubame also had to rewrite their HPL stack?

more than 4 years ago
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Computer Defeats Human At Japanese Chess

jsac Re:*yawn*. Call me when we lose at Go. (178 comments)

Computer programs have already beaten Go professionals at 7-stone handicap games. Mogo and Many Faces of Go have both done it for sure, and Zen is very competitive with both of them. If you go to http://gokgs.com/ and sign into the Computer Go room you'll see that Zen is ranked 3 dan and ManyFaces is ranked 2 dan, and they routinely win games off strong amateur humans. Both Zen and ManyFaces are single-box SMP programs, and the algorithm they use is a Monte Carlo algorithm so it should scale to hundreds of machines, while Mogo already runs on 600 processors...

So Go programs are getting there. Not as fast as chess, but they're still getting there.

more than 4 years ago
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Google Readying To Pull Out of China

jsac Re:Yep! Time to pack it up and go home! (343 comments)

Microsoft can't possibly withdraw from China -- it has a huge investment there that has nothing to do with the search engine market. Microsoft Research Asia is headquartered in Beijing; and a number of product teams have development teams in Shanghai (disclosure: including mine). They just opened a 4000-FTE office complex in one of Shanghai's technical districts. So I doubt Microsoft is going to close down Bing China out of principle.

more than 4 years ago
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Hollywood Sets $10 Billion Box Office Record

jsac A scary realization (276 comments)

Microsoft routinely grosses more than Hollywood does at the domestic box office.

Hmm, that's an apples-to-oranges comparison because that's Microsoft's international gross income compared to Hollywood's domestic income. But still ... I thought it somewhat eye-popping.

about 5 years ago
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Apple Seeks Patent On Operating System Advertising

jsac I approve! (342 comments)

I definitely approve of companies patenting technology I never want to see anywhere.

more than 5 years ago
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IBM's Answer To Windows 7 Is Ubuntu Linux

jsac Why Microsoft isn't worried about this (863 comments)

Linux has been at it for 15 years and (as indicated by an earlier slashdot story this very day) sound is still broken out of the box on Ubuntu.

And you still can't reliably cut and paste between apps.

Not exactly ready for prime time.

more than 5 years ago
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Microsoft Accused of Squandering Billions On R&D

jsac 4 MSR-initiated products off the top of my head (580 comments)

- Parallel Extensions to .NET
- Surface
- Photosynth
- WorldWide Telescope

I don't know if Parallel Extensions is worth $8 billion, but it's a huge deal and the cornerstone of the ManyCore/Multicore work MS is doing. It's pretty freaking cool. (And the Mono folks have already implemented it...)

more than 5 years ago
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Blizzard Wins Major Lawsuit Against Bot Developers

jsac Re:GPL like infact (838 comments)

It's not the same principle at all. This ruling is based on the fact that Blizzard distributes its software under an end user license. The GPL is not an end user license. The GPL gives you a blanket right to make copies of the software for any reason, to modify those copies as you see fit, and to use the software in any manner you like. The only thing you may not do without following the GPL is distribute modified copies to other people.

more than 6 years ago

Submissions

jsac hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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What's wrong with "literary" fiction

jsac jsac writes  |  about 13 years ago B.R. Myers has an article in The Atlantic Monthly which he subtitles an attack on the growing pretentiousness of American literary prose . A friend of mine said, and I concur, that this guy is explaining to us stuff we didn't know we were thinking. I can't count the number of mordern "literary" novels I've failed to complete because of sheer tedium -- and I love the 'classics'. I just re-read Gatsby with pleasure. And I've never been able to finish Cormac McCarthy.

There's a long list of genre authors who are writing or have written great stories and great prose: Patricia McKillip, Lois McMaster Bujold, Rex Stout, Iain M. Banks, John Varley, and Samuel R Delany, to name a smattering. Toss Annie Proulx from the train.

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In my mail -- week of December 3, 2001

jsac jsac writes  |  about 13 years ago

Monday

  1. America West frequent flyer miles update
  2. Newsletter from my old parish in St. Paul
  3. International Linear Algebra Society conference invitation and membership application form.

Ho-hum.

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The dangers of Cipro?

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago This article from the Washington Post discusses the dangers of prescribing Cipro -- the only officially approved drug for inhalational anthrax -- when penicillin would do.

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Quickies

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago A holding place for a bunch of stuff that doesn't deserve a full entry:

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Assault on public sector makes terrorists' jobs easier

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago

Naomi Klein makes a compelling case that neglect of public services in the U.S. makes terrorists' goals easier to achieve.

It has become fashionable to wryly observe that the terrorists use the West's technologies as weapons against itself: planes, e-mail, cellphones. But as fears of bioterrorism mount, it could well turn out that their best weapons are the rips and holes in the United States' public infrastructure.

Is this because there was no time to prepare for the attacks? Hardly. The U.S. has openly recognized the threat of biological attacks since the Persian Gulf war, and Bill Clinton renewed calls to protect the nation from bioterror after the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa. And yet shockingly little has been done.

The reason is simple: Preparing for biological warfare would have required a ceasefire in America's older, less dramatic war -- the one against the public sphere. It didn't happen. Here are some snapshots from the front lines.

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Selfish communities hoist by their own petard

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago The Dallas Morning News has an article about neighborhoods who fought light rail now begging for stations.

"Frankly, Dallas is not the same town it was 10 or 15 years ago," said resident Morris Smart of Vickery Place in East Dallas. "It makes a lot of sense now. I'm all for it. And I live about as close as you can get to where the station would be."

Before Mr. Smart moved to Vickery Place, residents there, along with neighbors in next-door Cochran Heights, fought a proposed station for Knox-Henderson more than a decade ago.

Now, they're working together to appeal to city leaders and DART board members to build an underground station there.

But the effort is late in coming. DART has told neighbors that although the space for a future station was excavated when the tunnel was built, there's no money in the budget for one now and probably won't be for years.

"That neighborhood was very opposed to what we were doing, but we over-excavated that area because we knew someday we'd like to have a station there," said Mike Miles, DART's senior manager of community and member city relations. "But now that's a long way off. The money is committed elsewhere. They basically have to get to the end of the line."

I like to see places like this get their comeuppance.

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I say Osama, you say Usama

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago Slate magazine has a good article on the problems with transliteration from Arabic to English. Among others, answers the question: How do you spell "Gadhafi" (that name is just as bad as "Chebyshev"...)? Also explains why "Muslim" is preferred over "Moslem".

Arthur Koestler, in an appendix to The Thirteenth Tribe , notes:

T. E. Lawrence was a brilliant orientalist, but he was as ruthless in his spelling as he was in raiding Turkish garrisons. His brother, A. W. Lawrence, explained in his preface to Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

The spelling of Arabic names varies greatly in all editions, and I have made no alterations. It should be explained that only three vowels are recognized in Arabic, and that some of the consonants have no equivalents in English. The general practice of orientalists in recent years has been to adopt one of the various sets of conventional signs for the letters and vowel marks of the Arabic alphabet, transliterating Mohamed as Muhammad, muezzin as mu'edhdhin, and Koran as Qur'an or Kur'an. This method is useful to those who know what it means but this book follows the old fashion of writing the best phonetic approximations according to ordinary English spelling.

Clearly the problem is not a trivial one.

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Hiking around Japan's hot springs

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago The New York Times's Frugal Traveler managed to avoid renting a car to drive up to far northern Honshu for a hike around the famous hot springs there -- then spent $100 a night at the ryokan for his bed and meals. I'd love to do this some day.

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Spongiform encephalopathies are here to stay

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago State officials are raising an alert about the possibility of the spread of mad elk disease outside of Colorado (where it is common in the wild) to the rest of the nation.

State officials here fear that some elk that may be infected with a fatal illness were sold to private ranches in as many as 15 states and could spread the disease to the wild elk and deer throughout the nation.

The fact of the matter is that some sort of encephalopathy is waiting to happen in the U.S. -- meat industry practices assure it. We can only hope that it will be a visible and diagnosable one like Mad Cow disease, rather than a quiet one that isn't obviously a neuropathy. For more information -- enough to turn you vegetarian, if you're sensible -- read Mad Cow U.S.A.: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber.

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What is the Koran?

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago This article from The Atlantic Monthly provides an informative overview of the current state of Koranic textual scholarship. This kind of textual analysis is as controversial today in Islamic societies as Biblical scholarship is among fundamentalist literalists; it's more problematic even because the Koran has a creation mythos about it (all received literally from the angel Gabriel by Mohammed) which the Bible as a collection of scriptures of varying dates does not have.

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The future of warfare is information warfare

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago This article from Insight Magazine discusses the Chinese Military's current thinking on how to win a war against the United States: since a developing country has no chance to beat the US on a battlefield -- change the theater. Fight information warfare; cause financial chaos; attack key infrastructure using terrorist tactics. US military thinking is "a slave to technology". By thinking "outside the box" as it were, China can try to neutralize the superior gee-whiz weapons of war; instead of matching the US missile for missile, they'll match it mind for mind.

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Terrorists in the Pentagon

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago Undernews linked to this ABC News Story detailing plans laid in the early '60s by the Pentagon to fake terrorists incidents in the U.S. in order to incite the American public against Cuba.

DAVID RUPPE, ABC NEWS: In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba. Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities. The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba's then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.

America's top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," and, "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation." Details of the plans are described in 'Body of Secrets,' a new book by investigative reporter James Bamford about the history of America's largest spy agency, the National Security Agency. However, the plans were not connected to the agency, he notes.

The plans had the written approval of all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and were presented to President Kennedy's defense secretary, Robert McNamara, in March 1962. But they apparently were rejected by the civilian leadership and have gone undisclosed for nearly 40 years. "These were Joint Chiefs of Staff documents. The reason these were held secret for so long is the Joint Chiefs never wanted to give these up because they were so embarrassing," Bamford told ABC News . . .

This is why the military needs strong civilian oversight -- and why Heinlein was on crack when he suggested in Starship Troopers that only veterans get to vote.

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Garrison Keillor couldn't make this up...

jsac jsac writes  |  more than 13 years ago Two stories of small-town Minnesota life which seem like they come off the stage of the Fitzgerald theater. First, the town of Nicollet is shocked when two entrepreneurial college students open up a strip joint -- the town of 800 never even thought to pass an ordinance or zoning rules.

Second, Prior Lake High School let a journalist in for a whole year, and were dismayed when the subsequent book aired all the dirty laundry. Sex, pot, and rebellion, in a Minnesota school? Who would have thought ...

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