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How Disney Built and Programmed an Animatronic President

original bit basher Animated devices goes back to the ancient Greeks. (97 comments)

The ancient Greeks had mechanical devices, such as animated birds, water works, temple Gods, and more, as far back as the 350's BC. By year 1 it was going strong.

greekautomata is just one listing I found.

about 3 months ago
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How Climate Scientists Parallel Early Atomic Scientists

original bit basher Climate Change Clock (440 comments)

The Union of Concerned Scientists had their Doomsday Clock that advanced and backed off of midnight depending on the level of political sanity being shown. Has something like that been done for climate change? How bad the floods will be in some future date? A measurement of a major seaport being underwater?

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Could We Deal With the End of Time Zones?

original bit basher timezones are here to stay (990 comments)

Time is a complex subject and nothing can make it simple. Sure, if you deal with local time things can be simple, but step into international times or high-precision measurements and you get complex. While the proposal to end time zones keeps popping up across the decades I've been tracking time keeping, I suspect that those who really work with time can have nightmares over it.

Ignoring the inertia of an international timekeeping rule that has been in effect for over a century that was based on conventions going back millennium, any proposal involves revolts of both the masses and many techies who do the actual work. But ignoring all of that,

  1. If you force everyone to have a work cycle consistent around the world you will get revolts as most people like to get up near dawn and got to bed at night.
  2. If you let people get up at dawn after shifting the local dawn time numbers to a new standard you will still get revolts. Worse, you must now remember what the working hours are for each zone you contact as they are no longer 9-17 (yes, I support the 24-hour clock). Rather than simplifying your zone calculations you just added more work to the effort.

Moon colonization and space habitats can be different due to the local day being non-existent or way different from earths.

more than 3 years ago
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What Do I Do About My Ex-Employer Stealing My Free Code?

original bit basher Re:What was in your employment contract? (545 comments)

Yes... some companies claim everything you think of on a 24x7 for the duration. Others just claim what you worked on with company equipment or company time.

If you signed the later you need to be able to document that you wrote it on your own computers, on your own time, etc.

I keep work and personal computing strictly separated by the bright line of not working on personal stuff on company equipment, time, nor any service the company pays for. Nor do I work for long for the 24x7 companies unless an agreement is reached.

If and when I import personal stuff into company land pulling it from a public open source archive seems best to me. Better, make an agreement like alostpacket mentioned and have your boss pull it from the public archive. No questions on how it got into the company then.

Without a bright-line and documentation I fear you may be lost.

more than 3 years ago
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Adding Some Spice To *nix Shell Scripts

original bit basher Re:None, I have given up bash scripting - mostly (411 comments)

For anything complex I tend to use a real programming language, just to avoid the script problems with strange characters in file names.

Personally I favor avoid shell scripts unless I totally control the incoming (file) name arguments scripts see. Using scripts where users provide input has proven deadly too many times as spaces are just mild annoying problems compared when ', $, ", and other fun characters shells treat as metacharacters, even within double quotes, are in file names.

for i in *.txt; do
ugly and certain bug if really sufficiently evil chars are in file names
done

My rules for safe shell follow:

  1. Always enclose variables in double quotes (doesn't work on some specials).
    Corollary: understand the difference between "$*" and "$@".
  2. When you can, always use options to end file names in "\0" rather than end-of-line.
    Corollary: always write any real programs that accept or spit file names to support -0 options of some form.
  3. Always allow scripts to be driven by other scripts. 100 % keyboard input is not good beyond throwaway scripts.
  4. Use find to get file names rather than "*" or "?" wild cards.
  5. KISS: if it's easier to write in another language, than use that language if at all possible. I would rather customers and users be safe than shelled.

A few straight jazz notes:

  1. case "$in_point" in
    xyx*?) echo "You can actually use file name wild cards here";;
    esac
  2. function die () { echo 2>&1 "DIE: $*"; exit 1; } #Easy way to quit with message
  3. Command || die "Oops: already nominated by someone else, but let me add die"
  4. First && Second && echo "Chain commands to stop" || die "Any failure dies" trap ERR "x = $?; echo 'BYE BYE'; exit $x"; #aggressively find errors & keep $?
    (Not neat visual jazz, but anything that helps me find problems quicker is music to my ears, but don't use things like above "die" within trap).

more than 4 years ago
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Browsing Frugally Without Wasting Bandwidth?

original bit basher Re:No Script (450 comments)

Back in the bad old days when the 56KB shaping you are dropped down to was the top end, I did indeed use Lynx. But from a shell account at my ISP (surely at a university there's a Linux system you can log onto with ssh). Therefore the download to my system was only the opening screen... the remainder of the download went to my ISP host, which was high speed and at no charge. For most pages the first or second screen was enough to reject pages that were not going to do me any good.

I still sometimes use this trick to this day for other reasons. But I have to admit more and more pages are not friendly to anything but browsers with Javas and Flash enabled. And Web 2 stuff requires it. But,

May I put a plug in for the Viewable With Any Browser Campaign at http://www.anybrowser.org/campaign/ as I believed in that before I found the campaign.

And if you don't need fancy graphics or fonts in your E-mail, there is pine/alpine text based e-mail agents. Again, less hit on your bandwidth if you run them from a shell account.

more than 5 years ago

Submissions

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As the Watson wheel turns to JEOPARDY!

original bit basher original bit basher writes  |  more than 3 years ago

original bit basher (1394013) writes "Being a long-term computer programmer I'm following this Watson thing with interest, amusement, and a greater understanding of the meaning of this slice of life than the average viewer. Which makes me want to ask the following question:

So what happens if you plunked Watson down on that other game show called Wheel Of Fortune? I'll bet Watson is so specialized it literally would not notice the difference and keep giving Jeopardy answers to the Great Wheel, assuming it could spot an answer to question.

Wish I thought of this earlier, but I'm greatly human."

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