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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

michaelmalak Re:The Model F is even better (304 comments)

The layout of the 88-key Model F is more functional, although less attractive. The function keys on the side are much more useful, and even the Microsoft Windows function key assignments reflect that to this day (and most Linux desktop GUIs that I've tried, too, actually). Ctrl-F4 closes a window while Ctrl-F6 cycles through the multiple documents in an application (originally MDI documents, later extended to multi-SDI controlled by a single application). F4 and F6 are adjacent to each other when the function keys are on the side (one column for odd-numbered function keys and the other column for the even-numbered, with the even-numbered being more convenient being closer to the Ctrl and Shift keys).

The whole switch to the 101 "Enhanced" keyboard like the Model M is because IBM wanted to standardize keyboards across its entire product line: PC, workstation and mainframe. Workstation and mainframe had function keys across the top, and it looked cooler, so we've been stuck with only "Enhanced" keyboards for nearly 30 years now.

Yes, the Model F and Model M are clicky, but I've gotten over the nostalgia of it. They're clicky because they click on both the downstroke and the upstroke, so they make it sound like you're typing twice as fast as you really are. I now consider it as fake as wearing elevator shoes or a toupee.

about two weeks ago
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Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

michaelmalak Space Trilogy (534 comments)

C.S. Lewis, Anglican and actually closer to Catholicism in theology, wrote, from 1938-1945, a science fiction trilogy known as the Space Trilogy that explores alien races in the context of Christianity.

I first read the trilogy when I was an atheist, and it helped remove that particular hurdle in my later study of the world religions that lead to my conversion to Catholicism.

about three weeks ago
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Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6

michaelmalak Re:Pixels (277 comments)

You have finally gotten something from iCupertino.

Not me. I tend to shy away from Apple products. In fact, as an early adopter of smart phone technology in 2005 with the Audiovox 6700 PocketPC, after it died in 2009 I just camped out in a dumb phone for four years to avoid the keyboardless iPhone mania, and jumped back in in 2012 with the S3, which was ahead of its time then (and compensated for lack of keyboard with swipe-typing, which iPhone didn't get until very recently).

If my S3 were to die today, though, it'd be a toss-up for me between getting a used S3 off eBay for $200 or $750 for an iPhone 6 Plus.

I've never had trouble seeing small things (though these days glass are required), and I prefer the smaller screen of the S3 over the Note for privacy.

about a month ago
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Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6

michaelmalak Pixels (277 comments)

In 2012, the Note and S3 had the same number of pixels. The iPhone 6 also has the same now as those two did then. In contrast, the iPhone 6 Plus has full HD 1920x1080 resolution. You actually get something for the larger physical size! The 2012 Note was pointless.

about a month ago
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Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

michaelmalak Re: What's Wrong with DC Drivers? (179 comments)

The new 7000 cars are being delivered to metro and replacing the 30 year old cars first.

More precisely, 38-year-old cars. WMATA took delivery of the 1000 series in 1976 -- which was closer to WWII than to today.

about a month ago
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Data Archiving Standards Need To Be Future-Proofed

michaelmalak Pragmatic: continual, active refresh (113 comments)

One can whine and wax poetic all one wants, but since we don't have a good archival format, the practical solution today is continual refresh of data: periodically copying data to fresh, and technologically up-to-date media. It's not sexy, but it does address three of the four points at the end of the linked piece (end-to-end data integrity, format migration and secondary media formats). The unaddressed point, access audit trails, makes no sense given the premise stated at the beginning of the piece that "No matter what anyone tells you, there is data that does not need to be on primary storage".

Yes, this is expensive. Yes, it would be nicer (cheaper) if a one-time single format could address the archive problem.

P.S. There is also this gem from the piece:

creation of a collision-proof hash

Of course the whole point of a hash is a mapping from a high-cardinality space to a low-cardinality space, and thus collisions are always a possibility. Collisions are minimized when a good hashing function uniformly distributes the resulting hashes, but given a large enough collection of source documents (no more are needed than the cardinality of the hash space), collisions will occur.

about a month ago
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Native Netflix Support Is Coming To Linux

michaelmalak Pipelight + SUSE (178 comments)

A video streaming provider other than Netflix also relies on Silverlight, and I was able to get it to work using Pipelight (couldn't get Moonlight to work), and only on SUSE (couldn't get CentOS or Ubuntu to work).

about a month ago
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Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

michaelmalak Re:Fallacy (937 comments)

It's a strawman argument, lacking an understanding of what actual science and the scientific process is.

And yet it is a common misunderstanding about the scientific method, namely:

"If it can't be proven by the scientific method, it must not be true."

This misunderstanding is false because there are things that are true that we know from outside the scientific method, namely by reason (e.g. Calculus and other philosophy of math) and by faith (religion).

The grandparent comment asks "show me the Spockists". To which I answer, show me where in public school curriculum the scientific method is explained and its relationship to philosophy, religion and truth (or even just philosophy and math, to keep things secular).

about a month ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

michaelmalak Seven letters (819 comments)

I travel a huge amount for work, and I am required to select the cheapest available option (within a window)

Three letters: ADA

Four more letters: OSHA

The $20 for Economy Plus is a "reasonable accommodation." However, if you're able to use frequent flier miles earned on the job to obtain Economy Plus, your case is much weaker.

IANAL, nor have I tried this yet (because I've never had an employer decline my initial polite request).

about a month and a half ago
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3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room

michaelmalak Tonya (819 comments)

Tonya Harding got three years probation for bopping Nancy on the knee, and so should anyone who lowers their seat onto my knee.

(And any flight attendant who allows it is an accomplice, and any airline executive who allows it is negligent.)

about a month and a half ago
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New Computer Model Predicts Impact of Yellowstone Volcano Eruption

michaelmalak 1 foot ash == 10 feet snow (121 comments)

Optimistically, here in Denver three feet of ash on the roof would be like 30 feet of snow.

about a month and a half ago
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What's After Big Data?

michaelmalak Marketing vs technology (87 comments)

From the linked piece:

In hindsight, his remark was a clear sign that the marketing hype around "big data" had peaked.

This is true, and it provides the context missing from TFS: "Big Data" is over as a marketing term. But as technological term and as far as actual implementation, it is the status quo and forevermore will be.

From a technological perspective, "Big Data" has a simple definition: more data than can be stored on a single machine. And this need will only grow as hard drives and maybe even SSDs plateau while of course enterprise data only grows.

Indeed, TFA itself states (that TFS omitted):

A particularly hot sector has matured around Hadoop, an open-source analytics software platform. Many tech companies are writing software to make Hadoop industrial strength and integrate it with new and existing types of databases.

So, from TFA itself: Hadoop is hot, but the term "Big Data" is not.

about a month ago
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Microsoft Tip Leads To Child Porn Arrest In Pennsylvania

michaelmalak Re:Why wouldn't you think they are scanning? (353 comments)

You are correct that automated scanning combined with reporting to the government is to be expected in today's political climate. However, you would be incorrect if you asserted that the founding fathers expected the asymmetry where the populace could not similarly examine Lois Lerner's e-mails.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: "Real" Computer Scientists vs. Modern Curriculum?

michaelmalak Buggy whip techniques (637 comments)

Much that is taught in CS today I had to learn on my own because it hadn't matured enough yet to be incorporated into CS programs: multi-threading, unit testing, OOP, SQL, data mining, all of the web technologies, etc.

But perhaps today's graduates will be complaining ten years hence how new graduates just rely on quantum computing searches and don't know anything about pruning search trees.

Seriously, though, to the point, I'd be more leery of those who graduated ten years ago and had not kept up their skills as opposed to those who graduated recently and did not learn skills from ten years ago.

about 2 months ago
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Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

michaelmalak 2006 Safari (213 comments)

Starting in the middle of the naughts, Safari was replacing ACM/IEEE as being the choice for practitioners. By the Great Recession, when choices had to be made, the replacement was cemented.

about 3 months ago
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Soccer Superstar Plays With Very Low Brain Activity

michaelmalak Re:"Intelligence" is not earned. (160 comments)

That's a common misperception of what Gladwell write. His actual formulation was 10,000 hours + talent + opportunity.

about 3 months ago
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Soccer Superstar Plays With Very Low Brain Activity

michaelmalak Flow (160 comments)

Should be no surprise to anyone who's every played a videogame: he's in "flow" mode.

Which raises the question: how is this news for nerds?

about 3 months ago
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'Just Let Me Code!'

michaelmalak Yes, no coding. No, problem is not tools (372 comments)

Yes, it is true coders have little time to code. But the author misses the primary cause: the ratio of library/framework code to self-written code.

In the old days (say, 25+ years ago), you would pick up a book -- a single book -- of the OS API calls, memorize, and start coding. Today, with github, it's as if everyone in the world were working on the same single project. Today, a developer needs to learn all these libraries that are coming out daily and how to work with them. In the old days, there was a lot of reinvention and co-invention of the wheel. Today, that is not allowed, because one has an obligation to "buy" (for free) instead of build because of a) of course, development time and b) more importantly, one gets updates/upgrades "for free" without having to invest (much) additional development time, and c) one's organization can advertise in the future for developers who already have experience with that particular library/framework.

To address specifically the reasons identified by the author:

  • Deployment. This is big, perhaps even as big as the above. In the old days, deployment was copying a single executable file. Today, not only is deployment to various and numerous servers more complicated, but for the past 20 years we've had people dedicated to managing those servers, called sys admins, to handle all those non-coding tasks. Of course, coders end up doing some admin and admins end up doing some coding, so now for the past couple of years we have a new half-breed, the Dev Ops. The very existence of both sysadmin and dev ops are themselves acknowledgement that coding is a smaller percentage of the total work involved.
  • Tools. The author spends most of the piece harping on this, and it's just totally bogus. We've always had source code control, editors, compilers, and linkers, and they've always been a pain at times to work with. But in fact, it's better now because you can find or ask about work-arounds and solutions on StackOverflow instead of calling up tech support at a closed-source vendor.

But this new development paradigm of the global github hive -- where we're all essentially working on and contributing to this one massive codebase that we all have to understand -- is what the author missed. The amount of custom code to actually code is small now, and the majority of time is spent figuring out how to get the various libraries and frameworks to work.

about 3 months ago
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Dungeons & Dragons' Influence and Legacy

michaelmalak Software (127 comments)

And software process methodologies as hokey as that game.

about 3 months ago

Submissions

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Undiscovered Country of HFT: FPGA JIT Ethernet packet assembly

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  1 year,25 days

michaelmalak (91262) writes "In a technique that reminds me of the just-in-time torpedo engineering of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a company called Argon Design has "developed a high performance trading system" that puts an FPGA — and FPGA-based trading algorithms — right in the Ethernet switch. And it isn't just to cut down on switch/computer latency — they actually start assembling and sending out the start of an Ethernet packet simultaneously with receiving and decoding incoming price quotation Ethernet packets, and decide on the fly what to put in the outgoing buy/sell Ethernet packet. They call these techniques "inline parsing" and "pre-emption.""
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No U.S. college in top 10 for ACM international programming contest 2013

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  about a year ago

michaelmalak (91262) writes "The annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest finished up last week for 2013, but for the first time since its inception in the 1970's, no U.S. college placed in the top 10. Through 1989, a U.S. college won first place every year, but there has been no U.S. college in first place since 1997. The U.S. college that has won most frequently throughout the contest's history, Stanford, hasn't won since 1991. The 2013 top 10 consists entirely of colleges from Eastern Europe, East Asia, and India."
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Fog computing

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 2 years ago

michaelmalak writes "From a piece recently posted to dailypaul.com: "About the mid-twentieth century, one of the greatest inventions in history made its appearance, and political and corporate leaders around the world were thrilled. Television [...] was wonderful; a quasi-hypnotic, ubiquitous device that allowed them to not only cultivate [read: socially engineer] the minds and values of their host populations, but also to encourage consumption, instill a largely self-sacrificing work ethic, and pacify them all at the same time. Of course, nothing lasts forever. Progress always comes along and disrupts that delicate balance, this time in the form of the personal computer, NCSA, ARPA, our fine and friendly nerds in the San Francisco Bay Area, and of course, Al Gore. A new age was born: the information age. [...] The last piece of the puzzle was the transformation of the internet from a horizontally integrated network into a vertically integrated top-down hub, where 'content providers' provide, and 'consumers' consume. [...] Even the way we went about interfacing has changed. Pods and pads are now the devices of choice, optimized for foggers. Who needs a keyboard, a mouse, or, heaven forbid, a Wacom tablet?! If u cnt say whut u ned 2 say w 11 btns ur prolly a terrist LULZ.""
Link to Original Source
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Those pixelated Army uniforms? "universally failed in every enviornment"

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 2 years ago

michaelmalak writes "Those pixelated U.S. Army uniforms that we've been seeing since 2004? Turns out they don't work, and they and $5b are being scrapped. "'Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,' an Army specialist who served in Iraq told The Daily. 'The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.'""
Link to Original Source
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One trillion records indexed in 10 minutes, queried in 3 seconds

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 2 years ago

michaelmalak writes "Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed software for a Cray XE6 to mine a dataset of one trillion particles. They "implemented an enhanced version of FastQuery, an indexing and querying tool. Using this technique, they indexed the trillion-particle, 32 TB dataset in about 10 minutes, and queried the massive dataset for particles of interest in approximately three seconds. This was the first time anybody has successfully queried a trillion-particle dataset this quickly.""
Link to Original Source
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TN crime to share Rhapsody p/w with your child

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

michaelmalak writes "As widely reported, it is now illegal in Tennessee to "share passwords". Specifically, SB 1659, signed by the governor on May 30, turns a violation of terms of service from a civil matter into a crime (and a felony for values over $500). Now the popular press keeps citing Netflix as the prime example, but when it comes to family matters Netflix has some common sense terms of use. Netflix say you "shouldn't" share your password, but that if you do share it with members of your household, you're responsible for their use of it. The terms of use for Rhapsody, the other service cited in the popular press for this story, however, are not as well thought out when it comes to family matters. It says, "Only you may access the Services using your user name and password", meaning, presumably, that you as a parent must manually click on every song you want your minor child to listen to. The only way around it would be to set up a co-signed credit card in your minor child's name, and have your child create his/her own Rhapsody account. To have your six-year-old access Rhapsody otherwise is now a crime in Tennessee."
Link to Original Source
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Groupthink vs. no cultural idioms

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

michaelmalak writes "When I showed my 7-year-old daughter the opening to Laverne & Shirley, she got a kick out of it and said, "wow, does momma know about this?" I had to explain, "of course, everyone watched the same TV shows because there were only three channels". A CNN story notes a similar thought in There will never be another Oprah with "because her program premiered in pre-Internet and largely pre-cable times. So there wasn't a whole lot else to watch." Having personally railed the past two decades against the negative effects of television, especially groupthink, I am wondering whether we are giving something up, namely cultural idioms. What better way is there for one geek to communicate to another about the other's misguided sense of risk and payoff for a proposed course of action that with "I find your lack of faith disturbing"? Overall, the negative effects of television outweigh the positive, but where is the balance point? And, more importantly, is there some way in the post-television era to both gain the benefits of cultural idioms that in some way enhance our language while avoiding groupthink?"
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Warren Miller non-compete expired; still no films

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

michaelmalak writes "As most ski buffs with an interest in intellectual property know, Warren Miller, who made ski films annually from 1950, sold his company, Warren Miller Entertainment, in the late 1980's, has not been involved at all in the films that bear his name for the past six years or so, and is not pleased with the most recent films. He's been getting involved in the ski film industry again, which he thought he could do since his non-compete expired in 1999. However, an arbitration panel decided based on trademark issues surrounding the name "Warren Miller" that Warren Miller is barred from the ski film industry for life."
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Not transparent aluminum, but conductive plastic

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 3 years ago

michaelmalak writes ""Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory have fabricated transparent thin films capable of absorbing light and generating electric charge over a relatively large area. The material, described in the journal Chemistry of Materials, could be used to develop transparent solar panels or even windows that absorb solar energy to generate electricity. The material consists of a semiconducting polymer doped with carbon-rich fullerenes.""
Link to Original Source
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Onerous New Law to Phase Out Wi-Fi

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 6 years ago

michaelmalak writes "In perhaps his most informative article this millenium, Dvorak lays down the implications of a bill just passed by Congress (with Ron Paul in the House and Ted Kennedy in the Senate being the only dissenting votes) that will, if Bush signs it as expected, auction off the 2.3-GHz to 2.9-GHz WiFi spectrum by 2012. It is expected that private entities such as Comcast will buy it up to allow WiFi to continue, but with subscriber fees of course."
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HOA: Mandatory and exclusive ISP for 20 years

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 6 years ago

michaelmalak writes "5-10 years ago when buying a house, the concern was whether or not it was close enough to the telphone company's central office for DSL. Now you have to check the fine print of the Homeowners Association. Residents in Southern Walk in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, are up in arms over being required to pay $149/month for triple-play (whether they want the service or not) from an exclusive provider, OpenBand, designated by the builder, Van Metre, who by covenant will hold onto a majority of the HOA board for the next 20 years. That's right — the residents are forbidden from purchasing a traditional analog landline from Verizon."
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U.S. has lost ability to build its own roads

michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 7 years ago

michaelmalak writes "The land famous for its love of the automobile and construction of Interstates and other highways, with high-elevation tunnels, viaducts snaking through canyons, and water crossings of up to 20 miles is now outsourcing design and construction of its roads to Asia — not because it's cheaper, but because the U.S. has lost the expertise. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer regarding the newly opened span across the Tacoma Narrows, "the American steel industry had imploded, while steel-making — and the expertise needed to build suspension bridges — had moved to Asia" and "the detailed engineering and fieldwork and all the spinning and cable-wrapping equipment ... were provided by ... Japanese construction giants""
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michaelmalak michaelmalak writes  |  more than 7 years ago

michaelmalak writes "The Denver Post is running a story on the area's fleet of high-tech snowplows that sport GPS, downward-facing infrared sensors, and touchscreen computers linked to a central computer receiving up-to-the-minute weather forecasts and road conditon information from pucks embedded in the pavement. The idea is to deploy the right equipment and chemicals at the right time and in the right amount. This Blizzard of '06, though, overwhelmed the system. (An article earlier this week noted that Denver has one of the lowest snowplow-per-annual-inch-per-lane-mile ratios — I guess they just like to rely on the strong sun and low humidity to their work for them, which admittedly has been effective at 6 inches per day at melting the 2-3 feet of snow we got Wed-Fri). The technology seems like a cache — it makes for efficient use of resources under normal load, but offers no assistance when put under firehose conditions. Still, the technology is interesting, and not something I would have expected from lumbering snowplows. On the other hand, maybe low-tech is better — that earlier article said other cities like New York cope by being able to slap on blades to their garbage trucks."

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