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ODF Support In Google Drive

jtara Unexplained acronyms (40 comments)

What would a lazy slashdot post be without a few unexplained acronyms?

Next up, support for PQZ, RUO, U89, and VUI files!

4 days ago

Spanish Media Group Wants Gov't Help To Keep Google News In Spain

jtara Re:HAHA! (191 comments)

You beat me to it!

Idiots got what they wanted, now they are unhappy.

about a week ago

Hollywood's Secret War With Google

jtara Google is not an ISP - it's Cox (176 comments)

There's no secret here. Perhaps some old memos used codewords, though.

Pretty sure it is Cox, which has refused to go along with draconian measures that are not required by law.

We have Cox service here in San Diego (at least parts). It's one reason I will not live north of Interstate 8, which is Comcast territory. The difference is night and day.

Comcast pulls all this anti-consumer BS and under-delivers on services.

Cox doesn't put up with it and goes to bat for their customers on privacy. They also over-deliver on services. (I have always got higher than advertised Internet speeds. I currently get 120mbit/sec down/20mbps up on a 100/10 plan, and they just doubled the bandwidth from 50/5 to 100/10.)

Both Comcast and Cox are expensive. You can't have everything.

about two weeks ago

Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

jtara Quarantine them! (1050 comments)

Anybody should be able to avoid vaccination on a philosophical exemption.

And then society should proactively quarantine them in order to protect society.

You have a right to not vaccinate. You do not have a right to endanger everybody else by doing so.

Australia would be a good place. I hear they have some abandoned prison facilities. (They might need some modern updates...) And a government that envies the U.S.'s high incarceration rate. This should give the politicians something to do, rather than further restricting the rights of Australians.

about two weeks ago

Computer Error Grounds Flights In the UK

jtara It's not a bug, it's a feature! (68 comments)

the problem was caused by a computer glitch that co-ordinates the flights

It's great to see for once that a glitch has been doing something worth-while, rather than just causing problems.

It's unfortunate, then, that this glitch has fallen-back to the errant ways of most glitches, which typically just cause trouble, without doing something useful.

I'm not sure it is time for a 12-step program for glitches, though, because I think most glitches do not want to change.

about two weeks ago

In North Korea, Hackers Are a Handpicked, Pampered Elite

jtara Movie Time! (102 comments)

And free movies!

about two weeks ago

Node.js Forked By Top Contributors

jtara What a great reason to fork a project.... (254 comments)


Can't we all just get along?

Now, let's focus on more serious issues. I've dealt with my share of this. I was almost fired from Sony San Diego Studio for my clicky keyboard. Let's make sure all projects permit the use of clicky keyboards, or FORK IT!

You know what, though - I decided it wasn't worth it - I just put up with a crappy Microsoft keyboard.

about two weeks ago

Why Apple, Google, and FB Have Their Own Programming Languages

jtara Domain-Specfic is a more compelling case... (161 comments)

These all strike me as iffy use cases. What is more compelling is creating a language for some more-specific need. These are generally referred-to as Domain Specific Languages, or DSLs (not to be confused with trying to push high-speed internet over a twisted pair...)

I designed one and implemented a compiler and interpreter for it in the early 1980's. It's not all that hard. I had had one compiler construction course in college. I used classic tools Yacc/Lex/Prep and wrote it in C.

The language is (was? haven't followed) called VSL, or Variation Simulation Language.

The problem was this: in the early 80's auto companies were experimenting with variation simulation. It's simulating the build of complex mechanical assemblies so that the effects of dimensional variations can be analyzed. The technique was developed at Willow Run Labs during WWII, as part of the solution to the awful-quality airplanes they were building for the war. They gathered experts to fix the problem, and they used this technique. At the time, it was done by a room full of woman working Friden mechanical calculators...

So, in the early 80's there was some Fortran code written by a university professor that ran on a mainframe. I worked for a company that set out to commercialize it. My first task was to port it from the mainframe to IBM PC.

Two problems: Models were written in Fortran, and then linked against a library. Fortran is painful, for anything. It's especially painful for manipulating representations of 3D objects. And compiling and linking Fortran on a PC was slow! Half-hour builds! And that's just to find you had a syntax error and then rinse and repeat.

My boss wanted to build a "menu system" that engineers could design in. Keep in mind, we are talking 80's and this was just to be a scrolling text menu. Yes, there were graphics workstations, but this was a new untested product, and nobody was going to pop the $20,000 that they did for, say, finite element workstations. they wanted it to work on a PC so that we could more easily convince the auto companies to try it - make it an easier decision to give it a go.

He wrote up the menu system, and presented it to us in the conference room. He rolled-out a roll of paper the length of the conference table, and then it hung over both ends! I convinced him that the time for this approach had not yet come.... Sure, point and click on graphics - but he couldn't afford either the time or money for that development. But not that silly long-ass text menu!

The alternative was VSL. It was specifically-tailored to the task, it had "objects" of a sort - and by this I mean "3D objects". You could just pass a fender around in a function call, for example.

It didn't compile to machine code, but generated bytecode. I wrote an interpreter in Fortran, and so eliminated the costly link step. The Fortran program just read the bytecode into an array and interpreted it. Was it slow? No, it was fast as heck! That's because almost all the work was done in well-optimized library functions written in Fortran or even assembly in some cases. (I also talked my boss into hiring an actual mathematician who fixed our broken edge cases, and knew the right heuristics to speed things up.)

This made it much easier for engineers to create and use models. Now they wrote them in VSL, much more expressive to the task than Fortran. And in a minute they either knew they had a syntax error or were testing their model.

In a couple years, we went from a couple of pilot projects to like 50. Every auto company took it up. Boeing used to help re-engineer the FA-18. Today probably every car, airplane, and hard drive was analyzed using VSL. (Siemens wound-up with the product eventually, after a few acquisitions.) I don't know if VSA is still under the hood, or if it really has any practical use today: the models are now written using point/click/drag/popup stuff on drawings. What my boss new we had to eventually get to, but couldn't at the time.

Of the languages mentioned in the article, I suppose Go makes the most sense, because they had a specific need that wasn't well-covered by other languages. (I wonder what was thought wrong with Erlang, though?) But they are all languages with pretty broad use cases, and so it is less compelling than something more focused.

about two weeks ago

FTC: Online Billing Service Deceptively Collected Medical Records

jtara BILLER, not PAYER (25 comments)

It just seems to make sense to me that a payer of medical bills would collect information that would confirm the validity of the bills that they were paying. Sharing that aforesaid information is a totally different ball of wax though.

No. did you bother to read the very first paragraph?

An online service allowing consumers to pay their medical bills failed to adequately inform them that it would also try to collect highly detailed medical information |from their pharmacies, medical labs and insurance companies, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said.

They send out bills. Patients send them money. They send money to the doctor or hospital. They keep ledgers.

They don't need to know detailed medical information. They are acting as a billing agent for the doctor. They don't need to verify what the doctor did or what the patient had.

about two weeks ago

The Sony Pictures Hack Was Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

jtara Cutting the cord (528 comments)

So, does this mean that the Supreme Leader is cutting the cord?

about two weeks ago

South Korea Bans Selfie-Stick Sales

jtara How is this specific to Selfie Sticks? (111 comments)

How is this different from ANY unregistered/knockoff/Chinese copy Bluetooth device? Why suddenly the issue with "selfie sticks"?

What a pain, though, to have to register in each country. Why, I'm shocked, shocked, that FCC registration is not enough. ;)

(OK, SRSLY, assume EU has some common registration. But how do smaller countries deal with this? Are there other region-wide registrations other than EU?)

Or is it that Selfie Sticks are just so wildly popular that suddenly this has become some sort of problem? I'd assume that by next Christmas, this will be a non-issue, as South Koreans will all be hopping on 500mbit/sec pogo sticks.

about three weeks ago

Interviews: Ask the Hampton Creek Team About the Science and Future of Food

jtara Re:Eggs are a very healthy food (145 comments)

I agree.

But you can't put egg yolks in a jar and put it on a shelf for months without refrigeration.

Not without preservatives and/or by using some processed "egg product" instead of whole, fresh, egg yolks. You'll never catch Hellman's saying they use whole, fresh, egg yolks, because it's impossible to make their products with them.

about a month ago

Interviews: Ask the Hampton Creek Team About the Science and Future of Food

jtara Soy and Almond milk ISN'T, though. (145 comments)

| In contrast, I don't have the same issue with "soy milk" or "almond milk" not being some mammal's milk

I don't know why.

Soy "milk" and Almond "milk" aren't milk. At all. They aren't even milk substitutes.

They are marketing terms for some white gunk made from soy or almond that has nothing to do with milk. Not by source, not by nutritional content, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Some people enjoy this white gunk, some people think it's beneficial in some way, and some people who can't drink milk because of allergies or other adverse reactions see it as a godsend.

But it is not milk, which is a natural, minimally-processed product that comes from mammals. Soy or Almond "milk" is a product manufactured from natural ingrediants.

Mayonnaise, on the other hand, is a manufactured product. One might argue about it's composition.

about a month ago

Interviews: Ask the Hampton Creek Team About the Science and Future of Food

jtara Re:Why would you call something Mayo that isn't? (145 comments)

It's a legit question.

And that's why Hellman's themselves then had to scramble to clean-up their marketing materials and website and stop using the term "mayo" for some of their own products of theirs that don't contain any "egg product" (what? Did you think it contained EGGS?! ROFLMAO!)

Hellman's invalided their own complaint, by their prior use of "mayo" for non-egg-producting-containing spreads. Maybe not legally, but morally. They can't go back and retroactively change the fact that they've been using the term "mayo" improperly themselves for years.

about a month ago

Interviews: Ask the Hampton Creek Team About the Science and Future of Food

jtara Just Mayo is DELICIOUS, too! (145 comments)

I took notice when I saw the stories about Hellman's suing Hampton Creek. Oh, the irony, when Hellman's had to change their own marketing once they realized that they, themselves, have been using the term "mayo" to describe non-egg-containing spread!

Just Mayo is available in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods, and they have trouble keeping it in stock. It is really that delicious! Last time I took it through the check-out there was a scramble as the employees went to claim a jar once they knew it was back in.

Most shelf-stable "mayo-like" spreads you find on the shelf do not contain any egg. The thing is, it's difficult to make a shelf-stable product that contains eggs! You need to load it up with preservatives. "Real mayonnaise" on the aisle? It's kinda-mayonaise.

Yes, the pendulum has swung-back on eggs. For those (like me) who do NOT have an egg allergy or some other reason to avoid eggs, we should take another look at eggs - I have. I stopped removing half the yolks from omelets, for example. We learn a bit about food, we over-react, we learn a bit more.

Here's the ingredients for Just Mayo. Pretty short list:

- Non-GMO expeller-pressed Canola Oil
- Filtered Water
- Lemon Juice (note that "lemon juice" means "lemon juice" not some reconstituted concentrate, extract, or citric acid...)
- White vinegar
- 2% or less of the following:
- Organic sugar
- Salt
- Pea protein
- Spices
- Modified food starch
- Beta-Carotene

The only thing suspect here is the Pea protein, because I imagine it is a highly-processed ingredient. Hopefully not made in China.

They don't say, but I'd guess the modified food starch is Tapioca Maltodextrin. I have a big bucket of the stuff in my pantry. It's magic stuff.

When I want actual mayonnaise, I make my own actual mayonnaise. It's quick and easy to make up in a food processor, but of course then there's the cleanup. Egg yolk (you can pasteurize if you like easily in a sous-vide' cooker - I don't), salt, lemon juice, olive oil. You can keep it a few days, but best fresh. I wouldn't touch any of that stuff in a jar. Even in the refrigerated section, real mayonnaise is impractical to sell in a supermarket. I would not call anything that Hellman's sells "real mayonnaise", though they are allowed by law to call some of it such.

Unfortunately, most people don't know what real mayonnaise tastes like any more, and if you serve it to others they will say "what is this"? So, screw em' I reserve this for myself.

If I want to make a quick tunafish sandwich - I use Just Mayo. It tastes way better than that shelf-stable stuff from Hellman's

about a month ago

Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

jtara Or you can just install an ad blocker... (319 comments)

I use AdBlock Pro as a browser extension.

However, I'm excited about the prospect of installing it on a router, and that's what I'm gonna do on my new Asus RT-AC87.

I currently run OpenWRT on a D-link DIR-825, and guessing I could install it there. But I want 802.11ac and a router that can handle a VPN connection at something closer to my cable modem throughput (currently, 120mbps down/20mbps up). The DIR-825's CPU is out of gas.

OpenWRT for the AC87 will likely never happen, or be hobbled by open-source drivers if it does, but ASUS has open-sourced their own ASUS-WRT and distributes binary drivers with it. So, I will use ASUS-WRT-merlin and there's an AdBlock service you can install from the package installer. It'll block ads from going to your portable devices, iPhone, iPad, Android, etc. which do not have any plugin capability in their browsers.

You need to set fix DHCP reservations for your devices, and add the addresses to the AdBlock preferences on the router.

about 1 month ago

Customers Creating Fake Amazon Pages To Get Cheap Electronics At Walmart

jtara Dumb-asses! (Fry's is not so dumb...) (287 comments)

Fry's has a simple system for this.

1. You tell the sales associate (it's not done at the checkout counter) what site you want them to match.

2. They check it against the list of sites that they are willing to match.

3. They go to the site on their computer, and look it up.

4. They print an invoice that you take to the counter with your purchase.

5. BTW, they have incentive to do this, because they get something any time they print an invoice. I don't know the details, but it would be dumb for Fry's to withhold whatever the reward is just because it was a price match. So, anytime somebody at Fry's is actually helpful (rare, I know, but sometimes happens...) don't balk when they want to print an invoice!

You don't get away with just showing them your screen.

You can show them a screen, from the web or some price-search app, and then they will go to their own browser to look it up.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

jtara OSX (267 comments)

| which variety of BSD would you suggest?


about a month ago

What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

jtara Heavy, low-output, little fuel (523 comments)

I know a little about this just because a friend of mine is a Materials Scientist, and worked for a company that makes the thermocouple devices that convert the heat to electricity.

He switched jobs recently, and now works for a company that make semiconductor substrates. His old company had gone through several salary cuts and was seeming on the ropes, so he was happy to get into a better situation.

They haven't had much call for these, and their other markets are minor - like generating some electricity from stove flues in remote locations, and those silly little camp stoves that will charge your iPhone.

No fuel source I think is the biggest issue. Doesn't make sense to buy thermocouples when you know you won't have enough fuel to be able to use them.

As others have noted, it's an extremely inefficient conversion process, and takes a lot of space (don't know about weight). It's been used primarily in deep-space probes. I don't think it's likely it would be suitable for a lander.

about a month ago

Uber Threatens To Do 'Opposition Research' On Journalists

jtara Re:OMG I can't believe it. (299 comments)

Mis-direction. Trying to focus slashdotters on the scummy practices of others.

about a month ago


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