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KDevelop 4.7.0 Released

petes_PoV Re:And KDevelope is what exactly? (30 comments)

It's something that's general knowledge for the majority of Slashdot readers

Nope. I've never even heard of it - and having read that announcement I'm still no clearer what it is, what it does or whether I should be interested in it.

However, it's not alone. There is a huge amount of FOSS that has an entire "front" web page that tells people in exquisite detail what changes have been made, who contributed, how others can get involved and what bugs are outstanding without ever mentioning what the hell the project does, or what benefits it brings the world. This just adds one more to the tally.

It may be the best thing since sliced bread, but until these projects extract their collective heads and start addressing the billions of people outside their closed, little development communities, no-one will ever know,

10 hours ago

Intel Releases SD-Card-Sized PC, Unveils Next 14nm Chip

petes_PoV Re:Pricing? (47 comments)

Would this be better than a RaspberryPI for small-scale arcade cabinets?

There are already dozens of boards available that are better than the RPi for this sort of use. Many at less than the $49 this thing is up for grabs at.

5 days ago

Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

petes_PoV Diving deeper (546 comments)

No. Learning to code is like learning the alphabet and some basic words.

Learning to be a programmer is being able to use a word-processor, having the rules of grammar, the 4 modes of discourse, a huge vocabulary and a storytelling ability fluently available to you.

"Coding" tells you the structure of a for loop. Being a programmer tells you when to use it and how to deal with the exceptions it could throw up. Sadly there are no job interviews I have ever encountered that are deep enough to split the one from the other.

about two weeks ago

Update: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Cancelled

petes_PoV Re:That's open source Bzzz--- that's cheap prices. (165 comments)

why do we advocate its use?

Why do people rave about it? Because it's cheap.

Forget all the principled arguments: free software, "for the children", pretty coloured boxes, or hackability. The only reason people buy Pis is the price. The only thing that most of them do is them load XBMC and then brag to their friends how they got a $99 media player for fifty bucks.

We're all tarts: chasing after the cheapest price and free-est stuff. Nobody really cares whether the software is FOSS, the hardware is open source or if the PCB is made out of panda skin. If it low on the $$$$'s it's top of every geek's wishlist.

about two weeks ago

Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

petes_PoV Re:Why does it take so long? (211 comments)

So what exactly requires so many years to make it al work

It takes as long as it does, because that is the amount of time (or money: same principle applies) than is allotted to the project. Finishing sooner makes no sense as you'd just be working yourself out of a job earlier. There is also no pressing need to have such a vehicle. It's not as if there was a killer asteroid heading this way that would spell doom - and worse: upset NASA's carefully crafted timetables.

In that situation, where there was a deadline to be met (and not a vacuous political one), then yes: I daresay the prototype would be on the pad in a matter of months. With 2 or 3 more following close behind.

about two weeks ago

Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

petes_PoV Re:Competition is good. (211 comments)

Anyhow, I went off the deep end on your idea to illustrate just how silly the idea that the government is holding back progress

unfortunately when you went off the deep end, you missed the pool completely.

This was never about government consipracy. It was simply that governments have no need of improved performance or improved efficiency - when they have (as near as dammit) infinite amounts of money available to "solve" the problem with.

The commercial aircraft makers, being subject to both competition and finite resources *had* to make things better to stave off their competitors who were in the same race for betterment and profit and to meet clients' expectations of improved performance: speed, reliability, payload capacity and lowered cost. Governments do not have those drivers, hence they have no need to improve the vehicles they use.


about two weeks ago

Battle of the Heavy Lift Rockets

petes_PoV Re:Competition is good. (211 comments)

engines designed in the 70's&80's are still seen as state of the art

But that's government "progress" for you. Compare 60 years of spaceflight technology from 1955 to 2015 (OK, the years were cherry-picked) and it's still basically the same: LOX/Kerosene or LOX/LH2 and some engines are bigger and some are smaller.

Now look at aircraft development from (another cherry-picked 60 years): 1910 to 1970. That went from wooden biplanes to the 747. Sure, there were a few "helpful" eras in between - like 2 major wars and lots more lesser ones, which kicked development up by several notches. But those developments were still the result of commercial companies, just as NASA contracts out work, today.

about two weeks ago

MIPS Tempts Hackers With Raspbery Pi-like Dev Board

petes_PoV Re:why submit a project without knowing the price (88 comments)

Why would anyone want to waste time on a project for this board

You wouldn't waste time on a project for this board as the specs for it seem to be entirely generic. So your project would work just as well on many of the other SBCs out there. There don't seem to be any killer features on this product (possibly the camera) so whatever you were planning to create for a Cubie, or an Olimex or any of the others would work on this one, too. And if it didn't then just toss this variant and continue working on the more mature SBCs

about two weeks ago

Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

petes_PoV Re:Binoculars (187 comments)

Get a tripod that can lift the binoculars high enough that you can stand upright while using them whether you are looking at the horizon or near the zenith

It doesn't work.

Not only would I need a tripod with a reach of over 7 feet (nearly 6 feet to my eyes, then the tripod head, then the height from the binoculars mounting screw to the tripod), but you'd be standing directly under the tripod to view upwards - and too close to the tripod's legs at lower angles. Tripods are also unstable, since if they do extend high enough, it's on a single, wind-out, pole which has no lateral support.

Finally, you get neck-ache from having your head tilted at such an angle. Which is why proper astronomical telescopes have right-angled viewing positions, so you can observe from a much lower pivot-point and with your head directed downwards which is much more comfortable.

If you absolutely *must* use binoculars for astronomical viewing, either get a sun-lounger and lie back, or get a parallelgram mount (which will cost many times the price of even a decent pair of binoculars). However, sun loungers only point you in one direction, so are inconvenient for long-term viewing, unless you have a sun-tracking model. In which case you can probably afford a decent telescope.

about three weeks ago

Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

petes_PoV Mosr recommendations are misleading (187 comments)

I'd be pleased if some of these kids decide to take up astronomy as a hobby, but don't have any strong expectation that will happen

And most won't.

Most kids (adults, too) will be curious, rather than interested, However, once they take a look through a telescope they will be disappointed. The only objects that give any sense of awe, or wonder, are views of The Moon, Jupiter, Mars (when it's close: once every 2 years), and Saturn. Everything else is just a fuzzy, faint, grey blob.

Sure, you can point a telescope at M31 (Andromeda) and tell people that it's a galaxy and that it's 2 billion light-years away. But really: who care? and who can appreciate how far a light-year is, either? Try a telescope on M13 (The Hercules cluster: either the best or second-best cluster in the night sky) and it is just a collection of points of light - quite pretty for the average newbie to look at once, but that's about it - a bit like picking up an unusual shell on a beach.

I have lots of friends and neighbours who have asked for a look through my telescopes. But none have ever asked again. They see things through my 12-inch Dob or 4 inch refractor (on a GOTO) and make all the right, appreciative, noises but that's mainly for show. Afterwards the reaction is mainly that's nice - who wants a beer? And the whole experience is chalked up "I've seen the rings of Saturn" - but that's all it is: a tick on a "bucket" list.

So I would ignore all these recommendations for this telescope or those binoculars. - they merely reflect the biases and posessions of people who are already enthusiasts. I wouldn't go buying equipment in the hope of impressing, or converting children to astronomy. It won't. They are used to bright, colour images from space telescopes of things at the very edge of creation. They will settle for nothing less and are much more used to seeing things on screens than first-hand. Who can compete with that?

about three weeks ago

Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids?

petes_PoV Re:Binoculars (187 comments)

This advice about binoculars had been obsoleted by cheap, good, chinese telescopes. (Ans pretty much every commercial telescope is chinese-made, these days)

The advice came about after WW2 when there was a good supply of army surplus gear at very attractive prices. At the same time any amateur telescope was both expensive (being essentially hand made) and with poor quality optics and even worse mechanicals. The eyepieces sucked and the mountings available were completely rubbish.

In those days, an "expensive" pair of binoculars would cost about £30 (UK currency - I don't know what that translates to in other currencies at the time). However that was roughly 2 - 3 weeks pay (before deductions) for a shop worker or junior office employee. Obviously at the the time, astronomy was a rich mans' game - and it was almost all men.

With binoculars you are paying twice for the optics (one for each eye). Unless you go for top-end gear, you have fixed eyepieces that will only give a wide field of view - and them, you have to buy additional eyepeices in pairs. You also don't get any sort of mount - and a standard photographic tripod is unsuitable as you need to have the binoculars at eye height, or higher, in order to look upwards - a configuration that tripods are not designed for since you'd be standing too close. Without a mount, small arms will soon get tired of holding them at raised heights and you can't easily "star hop" to targets when you are a complete newbie. So using them is both frustrating and tiring.

By all means buy a pair of binoculars (I have 3), but you'll also need a parallelogram mount - another 200 USD or more. You will also have to set their focus for each user, which means they will be nudged off target. Also you will only be able to see big things like The Moon. Planets will be too small to please with binoculars' low magnification and most dim astronomical targets will still be too dim to appreciate - just on the verge of vision: more "detecting" them than "observing" them - a turn off to kids used to seeing Hubble-like images.

So binoculars are a bad idea to start with. One that is handed down due to ignorance and repetition without any consideration for why the advice was once helpful. They are no longer any match for a small, cheap, telescope on a proper mount.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?

petes_PoV Re:Trolls == Necessary Evil (382 comments)

In a company monitored socail media

I find it quite alarming that anyone would go anywhere near a company forum, excpet to sing the company song and add their vote to how GOOD everything was. One place I worked had one. It was shut down after 6 months as it was only HR who posted anything and the number of times that content was read was in the single figures.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?

petes_PoV Re:Very subjective (382 comments) would know John Doe's real life info

Short of turning up at's premises with a government issued photo id, or swearing an affadavit, how exactly would know anything at all about anyone called John Doe? Let alone be able to differentiate one individual with that name from all the thousands of others.

Further, how could it know that John A. Doe was a different (or the same) individual as John B. Doe and that each actual, real, live person had only one identity filed with (and who would tell them when that person had died? - and what proof would be required to support that claim).

There are far too many pitfalls for anyone other than a government department to administer this level of control. There are also far too many different countries that would have to both agree standards and share this information in a secure manner.

about a month ago

Wiring Programmers To Prevent Buggy Code

petes_PoV Get rid of the distractions (116 comments)

Bugs come when people lose track of the big picture. When they lose concentration and focus - just like when jugglers drop the ball.

If you want to reduce the incidence of avoidable bugs, get rid of the distractions. Ones such as other people interrupting, phones ringing, asynchronous non job-related alerts going off (fire alarms excepted) and the administrivia associated with the programming environment. Maybe even unplug them from their "entertainment", too.

There will always be non-avoidable bugs: ones where the programmer is simply making a mistake, isn't up to the task in hand or has been given a bad brief or wrong information.

about a month ago

Cornering the Market On Zero-Day Exploits

petes_PoV Re:More money just increases the price (118 comments)

Exactly. You mine out the easy-to-find exploits until they are depleted

Which assumes there are a finite (and small) number of bugs - even zero-day exploits. I think we can safely say that's not the case.

As the "incentives" for finding new 0-day exploits grows, then more people will have a reason to start looking for them. If the government then buys up the "popular" ones, everyone who's running non-mainstream software will suddenly find they are being hacked. Whereas previously the 0-day exploiters would just have gone for the low-hanging fruit, now they'll be going higher up the (almost infinitely tall) tree.

about a month ago

Cornering the Market On Zero-Day Exploits

petes_PoV More money just increases the price (118 comments)

If a new buyer comes into the market - a buyer with lots of money, then all that happens is that the price goes up. It's simple economics and we see this happening in every market: from commodities to TV programmes.

If the price becomes high enough, new exploiters will enter the market and start discovering exploits, in competition with the original suppliers. Then the NSA would have to start dealing with those guys, too. And so the circle would keep going round: more money, new exploit finders, asking higher prices.

If the NSA wants to improve security, they would set up their own zero-day exploiters to not only find, but to fix security holes and then issue those fixes for free (or use the exploits to force fixes on the exploited software. They might also ask for new laws that would require software vendors to pay them for fixing these problems. However, it's by no means certain that this would be their intention. They may simply be collecting hacks for their own nefarious purposes.

After all, we haven't seen a government agency buying up all the drugs, in order to stop them being supplied to the population - so why would they use that tactic here?

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

petes_PoV Re:It's open source (430 comments)

... if someone donates his time to develop a program

But that isn't how it works.

The whole FOSS thing is a trade. On the one hand, the coder "donates" his/her/its time doing things that are funAnd when you multiply the time spent by maybe some thousands of users, all trying to work out the same problems - compared to the time taken to write, compile and toss-over-the-wall some of this stuff, "free" software is probably some of the worst deals on the planet.

And as for that old crock: You get what you pay for or "Hey, it's free: what do you expect?", most of this stuff is far from "free", it has a large negative value, as it takes many hours or days of your time just to get up to zero: the point at which you can start to do something useful with it.

about a month ago

Spain's Link Tax Taxes Journalist's Patience

petes_PoV A right to be remembered? (113 comments)

The simplest course of action would be for the major search engines, i.e. Google (there are some others, I'm told) to simply cut those spanish newspapers out of it's web-crawlers and search functions. If there are no links to the newspapers in question, there can be no tax to pay.

If that means that the online versions of these publications simply cease to exist? Well, that's not the search engines' problem. Would the E.U. then have to instigate a new internet law, to force these sites to be crawled and to force the search engines to do the opposite of forgetting about E.U. citizens and actively "remember" about them.

I have the impression that the newspapers that were pressing for this law don't realise that, despite what they may think, they really are not in a position of power, apropos the internet.

about a month ago

Psychology's Replication Battle

petes_PoV Re:Simple solution (172 comments)

Let's review:
"Pay authors" ... "Provide journal free ... "

The journal doesn't have to last long

Don't worry, it won't. I'd reckon on one edition.

Of course, what this whole field of study needs is a rich uncle (or sugar daddy) to provide funding for specific, basic, pieces of research. You'd think that for all the money they've made from social media, some of the FB/Twitter/others founders or major beneficiaries could put their hands in their pocket.

Or maybe they are the *last* people who want to make this subject rigourous and scientific?

about a month and a half ago

Psychology's Replication Battle

petes_PoV Re:Define 'replicate' (172 comments)

To replicate an experiment, you take the description of the conditions, tasks, environment, fixed independent and dependent variables, analytical method and results provided by the original experimenter in the (peer-reviewed) paper they published.
If you can show the same results, with the same statistical significance, then it's reasonable to assume that the experiment shows a valid scientific phenomenon.

If you can't then one of the two experiments got it wrong and more work is needed.

The basic problem with social experiments, that are based on the judgement, feelings, or anything else that the studied group merely says it would / would-not do, thinks, feels, or otherwise emotes is completely subjective. Asking people how sad, happy, angry something makes them feel and rating that feeling - or the difference from previous values - has no scientific merit, as none of the terms used have any hard, scientific, definition and none of the participants have had their feelings "calibrated".

It's little different from a scientist (a proper one) measuring electric voltage by sticking their tongue across two electrodes, or measuring distance by eyeballing it. The level of accuracy and standardisation the social "sciences" have at present puts them on a par with chemical research: phlogiston, fixed air (CO2) in the 17th century.

As for being able to determine which variables are being measured - or even what all the variables are in their experiments, the social scientists have yet to discover their subject's version of fire.

about a month and a half ago


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