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Ask Slashdot: Supporting "Antique" Software?

plcurechax Re:20 year old antique?? (212 comments)

Am I the only one laughing at the thought something from the early 90s is now considered antique?

Ha, darn kids probably can't fathom the idea that there were real computers in use by companies and organizations before those flashy single chip microprocessor based PCs were all the rage.

No mention of minis like PDP, VAX/VMS (RIP DEC), CDC Cyber (12-bit bytes), Data General, or IBM & Unisys mainframes.

Thankfully there was at least mention of Zilog's Z80, terminal servers, RS-422/485, and green screens.

Bunch of whiny kids. Next they'll complain their first automobile or hand-me-down cathode ray tube colour television doesn't have WiFi and a web browser. Get old my lawn.

Heck, I develop, maintain, and extend software that's over 20 years old. I've worked on software written before I was born. Software approaching 50 years old is more like what I would consider ancient. Like much of the insurance and banking industry in Europe and North America.

So. my serious bit: Learn about industrial computer market, products, and vendors. Use industrial USB to RS-232C converter in most cases (where timing or bit banging isn't used), not the $5 USB-to-serial adapter from the big box electronics store. Take a class from your local community college if PLC or ladder logic is relevant to your environment.

about a year ago
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Boycott of Elsevier Exceeds 8000 Researchers

plcurechax Re:Public is Public (220 comments)

For example, a lot of research in computer graphics

Which is a very young field (first article published in late 1960's? the term was coined in 1960, Ivan Sutherland started in 1959 or so on MIT's TX-2), so is not necessarily indicative of all fields. The researchers mean age also tends to be lower, with many professors and professionals not being as badly affected by the greying of labour force in general (or in tenured professorship).

I don't think it's my imagination: the number of recent graphics papers with substantial contributions behind ACM paywalls seems to be dwindling fast.

Reference? Not disputing at all, just haven't noticed such a trend personally. I do know that many academic comp.graphics types do make their papers available, but industry contributors are still mixed, I imagine in part due to their companies own damn lawyers who don't want to lose a potential patent or revenue stream. I don't believe Ken Penlin, Ed Catmull, or Ivan Sutherland's papers are (officially) freely available.

While Computer Science itself is modern field, and computer graphics has a short history, they also are computing pioneers in personality, of whom most are early adopters of Internet technology and culture.

more than 2 years ago
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Career Advice: Don't Call Yourself a Programmer

plcurechax EM&C (422 comments)

EM&C - Electron Manager & Capitalist

more than 2 years ago
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Re-evaluating the Benefits of Cancer Screening

plcurechax The risk of false positives outweight the risks... (253 comments)

The change in policy stems from good mathematics, namely good statistics. Where the number of people who are subjected to a test may suffer from one of two failures,

a) false negative - that is the test fails to detect the presence of a disease and thus incorrectly reports a negative results, and
b) false positive, the test incorrectly reports a positive result, but the disease is not actually present.

The problem is that with a large pool of test population and a small affected sub-population, the misleading results are counter-intuitive, and can end up causing more harm (otherwise healthy individuals undergoing unnecessary biopsies, radiation, and chemotherapy increase mortality rate) to the overall population.

See The dangers of false positives by Dr. Dave Richeson, don't take my word on it.

more than 2 years ago
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Open Source Software Hijacked To Push Malware

plcurechax Re:Digital Signatures (from distributions) (147 comments)

this is entirely and precisely why distros such as debian go to such lengths to place GPG digital signatures on the downloads; why they go to such lengths to enact extensive GPG key-signing web-of-trust exchanges etc. etc.

And Microsoft has gone to considerable lengths to promote and strongly encourage the usage of code signing for installers of Windows software. In fact many if not most of the larger Open Source projects that have a large Windows community sign their code too.

The problem is that people are use to ignoring the security warnings from Microsoft, compared to most administrators (or root/sudo users) read and heed security warnings in Linux and *BSD package management.

about 3 years ago
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How Do You Get Your Geek Nostalgia Fix?

plcurechax I grab my soldering iron... (422 comments)

and build retro micro-computer kits, like the Replica 1 (Apple I clone, MOS Tech 6502), and Spare Time Gizmo's COSMAC Elf 2000 (RCA CDP1802 CPU). I also have an unfinished N8VEM Z80 single board computer (SBC) with an optional S-100 like backplane called ECB, and multiple expansion boards

Who needs more than 4 MHz, I can't type 50wpm anyhow; :-)

about 3 years ago
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Congress Voting To Repeal Incandescent Bulb Ban

plcurechax Re:Wrong summary (990 comments)

Just so we are clear - there never was an incandescent light bulb ban; this was/is spin.

So wall mounted open torches are still entirely legal in all Department of Motor Vehicle and IRS buildings?

about 3 years ago
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Apple Wants To Block Some HTC Products From US Under Tariff Act of 1930

plcurechax Re:Apple has almost always been worse than MS (297 comments)

I'm sure Stallman and the FSF / GNU had a serious hate-on towards Apple years ago when Macintosh were still running on 68x00 and PowerPC CPUs (i.e. 1990s).

Apple was walled garden back then too, it was just that they were merely the size of most PC clone manufacturers / OEMs so no one else really cared.

about 3 years ago
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Programming Is Heading Back To School

plcurechax Re:This will turn off some portion of students (169 comments)

You did note that it is an education program for teachers, designed to give them material to teach to public school (primary / elementary and secondary school) level students, that is under 18.

And because it is important to stress this point, this material is intended to be taught by teachers, not programmers, to any student. The goal of such a program should be basically to look behind the curtain of prepackaged applications and understand the basics, in general terms, of how computer systems (hardware and software) work. Whether they become programmers (or do other IT job) is irrelevant, the first goal of education is knowledge. It is also an opportunity for students to try to experiment, and to be creative, where students with strong mathematics, logic and analytic skills may find easier to express themselves creatively rather than in essay writing assignments in English (or other language) classes where linguistic and writing skills are more ambiguous and subjective when it comes to evaluation.

Motivational agents for children include: social contact (& status), monetary, and entertainment. Most kids don't have much real-work that needs to be done / automated. Of course there are exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions.

more than 3 years ago
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16-Year-Old Discovers Potential Treatment For Cystic Fibrosis

plcurechax Re:He will shortly find himself in court... (236 comments)

Not true. Canada does it's on clinical trials and usually takes a little longer in their process which is why you'll see the same drugs approved in Canada a year or two later.

The government (Health Canada or FDA) does not do their own clinical trials, (phase III, IV in US parlance IIRC), though the pharmaceutical company may do them in Canada, as an adjunct or alternative to US, as the test subjects have free basic (normally not drugs) health care, which can reduce the cost to underwrite the study and potentially raise the averge health of test subjects (i.e. not necessarily just looking for free health care), thereby improving their results (healthy subjects will normally tolerate side effects better, and with fewer complications). I don't know if a weak Canadian dollar was a secondary benefit (to reduce cost), but that's not true currently.

The clinic trials are done (through a contractor, hired by the manufacturer) as evidence submitted to the regulator agencies requesting approval to market the drugs. This is what allows so many "dirty tricks" to be played by manufacturers against the regulators; who's rank and file, in general, try their best to act in the public good.

Most often drugs from major manufacturers are available in the US for 1-2 years before being finally approved in Canada. Europe is often slightly slower than Canada, I believe; I don't watch availability there in general, but that statement is based on comments of medical researchers, and my own doctors.

more than 3 years ago
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Editing Wikipedia Helps Professor Attain Tenure

plcurechax Re:Likely had nothing to do with his wiki edits (139 comments)

This is like saying that, since his name was also on his C.V., being named Michel helped him get tenure.

Thanks, I was going to change my name to Michel Aaij to see if it helped me...

more than 3 years ago
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Editing Wikipedia Helps Professor Attain Tenure

plcurechax Re:Oh, Good."Gifted Masters Student." We're Saved! (139 comments)

Unfortunately, for every "gifted Masters student" writing in Wikipedia there are three angry fourteen-year-olds focused like lasers on advancing some social agenda or another.

Oops, ths software most of drop a word in your comment, let me fix that for you...

... there are three thousand angry fourteen-year-olds ...

more than 3 years ago
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Getting L33t Into the Oxford English Dictionary

plcurechax Re:Jesus. (167 comments)

One thing it does not do, which you may be expecting, is make any judgement about /proper/ usage. It is descriptive, not prescriptive. If you are expecting guidance as to good usage, look elsewhere.

Don't fret poor logophiles (or linguists) Oxford University Press has that covered too, Fowler's Modern English Usage, 2004 edited by R. W. Burchfield, is about as suitable as anything to be the authority in a single volume.

more than 3 years ago
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Getting L33t Into the Oxford English Dictionary

plcurechax Re:Oh dear God, no. NO. (167 comments)

Precisely, the OED is a record of language, not a guardian of it.

Obviously you are not British*. Of course Oxbridge's presses (OUP, CUP) are the guardian of English as much as L'Académie française is the guardian of the French (sorry, française) language. Don't let the Telegraph tell you any different.

* Wait, you may be. Sod it.

more than 3 years ago
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NASA Green-lights $16.5M To Advance Future Jets

plcurechax Re:$16.5 million = peanuts (107 comments)

Compared to the $110-115 million for a single F-35 next generation fighter jet (per unit in quantity), it seems very low.

Admittedly the research grant seems to be focused on just the jet engine, not the vehicle (jet airplane), it does still seem like a small amount to build even a single prototype. While a healthy grant as far as research grants so, it is still pretty small compared to other things. Then again, compared the average R&D spending of $0.0 (USD or Euro) in most areas of engineering and science presently, it's a good (faint) sign.

more than 3 years ago
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Microsoft On List of Most Ethical Companies

plcurechax Check the source?! (465 comments)

Oh, Ethisphere Institute, who claim to be a research based institute, yet seem to be a for-profit business selling certification and a magazine. Obviously an authoritative source.

more than 3 years ago
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Cocaine Found At Kennedy Space Center

plcurechax False positive? (276 comments)

While entirely possible that there are illicit drug usage at the Kennedy Space Center, it is also entirely possible that it was a false positive given that it was a field tests by law enforcement officials, it does not confirm anything. AFAIK there are a number of substances that produce false positives for most illicit drug field tests (which are merely quick and simple tests). And if you want a work place with possible mundane usage of unusual chemical substances that most street thugs don't have in their kitchen, then KSC is the place to be.

While the initial report is newsworthy, it isn't particularly interesting until the substance is at least confirmed in an analytic laboratory.

Maybe I'm going to have to write a math test module for the Slash code, testing basic statistical knowledge before to post stories and comments.

more than 3 years ago
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Timezone Maintainer Retiring

plcurechax Other potential hosts/sponsors (198 comments)

I would expect US NIST Time & Frequency division or US Naval Observatory Time department would be more than willing and able to host the zoneinfo database. Otherwise the time-nuts would likely step in and offer their support. A number of them being long time Unix folk, they wouldn't be total strangers to IANA or various national time authorities.

more than 3 years ago

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