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Can Our Computers Continue To Get Smaller and More Powerful?

shoor Re:yes. Especially per passenger. (151 comments)

The Concorde also had a sonic boom which limited the airports it could fly to. (Competitors may have exaggerated the problem, but I do believe it was a problem.)

about a week ago

Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

shoor Re:Is the complexity of C++ job security? (425 comments)

I'm not a C++ programmer. But I have come across situations where people seemed to deliberately use weird, obfuscating stuff just so nobody else could take their place, (I particularly remember a company where somebody had convinced management to use UUCP instead of FTP for internal data xfers because it was more secure. When I was being interviewed on the phone they asked me what I thought of UUCP, and I think I was one of the few people they interviewed who had even heard of it.)

So, if C++ is as complicated and full of stuff as I keep reading about, I can see how somebody might deliberately cultivate for themselves a set of esoteric off the wall constructions that they'd throw in their code just so nobody else could work with it, all the time selling management on how 'good' it was.

about a week ago

Interviews: Ask Bjarne Stroustrup About Programming and C++

shoor Re:Is the complexity of C++ a practical joke? (425 comments)

"Life is a learning experience, so break out the reference manuals"
That's fine if you're a student. I've been in situations where I was working for a small company and I had to fix problems for the company quickly so they could bill their client and make payroll. If C++ is supposed to be a bunch of languages rolled in to one, then, the code should be flagged, "This is C++ as a functional language, only people who know all the functional stuff should use it, or be hired to maintain it in the future, and don't stick in anything of exotic flavors X, Y, or Z from C++ in it". Or, if the company was serious about doing the product in a functional way, one could use Haskell or Scheme or whatever in the first place."

about a week ago

Wiring Programmers To Prevent Buggy Code

shoor Re:Premise flawed? (116 comments)

NOW, after my moderator points have expired, somebody posts something I would want to mod up!

From my own experience, when I had really difficult, gnarly problems, the code came out really clean at the end. The bugs came when I was least expecting them with stuff that should have been a piece of cake.

I think it might be a bit like what somebody once told me about private airplane pilots. Statistically, accidents didn't happen the most when people were novices, but after a certain number of flight hours. I don't remember exactly what they were. Actually there were 2 peaks, for the sake of argument I'll say that one was at 2000 hours and one at 8000 hours flight time. An interesting phenomenon.

about two weeks ago

Comparison: Linux Text Editors

shoor Re:You're welcome to them. A few words re Emacs (402 comments)

Hear Hear,
I generally use vi myself, though I've actually forgotten some of the fancier stuff. I even have some muscle memory for emacs which I acquired because I had an Atari 500 ST back in the 1980s. Having cut my teeth on old glass teletypes (Uniscopes, Hazeltines, and even genuine VT-100s with the gold keys pad) I needed a basic term window and text editor for my Atari. The best text editor for the Atari that I could find on Usenet in the old binaries groups was 'Micro-Emacs', a very stripped down version of emacs, but in using it, my fingers learned CTR-E to go to the end of a line, CTRL X 2 to split a screen, etc. It's because of that that I still use emacs sometimes for very basic stuff. (I always install the -nox version). Heh, back in the 80s, I knew if I was on a fast computer at work if I could use emacs and it was responsive, which made Micro-Emacs, running on my Atari so well, all that much more impressive.

about three weeks ago

The Simultaneous Rise and Decline of Battlefield

shoor Re:Holy shit, this IS news for nerds (208 comments)

IANAG (I am not a gamer). Also, I did not RTFA, but I did read the summary, where it explicitly didn't comment on the game itself, but on 'poor behavior'. I think there's a difference.

about 2 months ago

Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

shoor Re:Ummm (347 comments)

Ah, this is getting off topic, but your comment raised a question in my mind. Suppose the light is blue shifted for an observer approaching it so that it does have the energy to form an electron-positron pair, but for another observer not approaching it as fast, it doesn't have the energy. Might one observer see the pair formation while the other did not?

about 2 months ago

After the Belfast Project Fiasco, Time For Another Look At Time Capsule Crypto?

shoor Re:Time release escrow (170 comments)

Could the encryption be in the form of a one time pad? Then it would be 'unbreakable'. Perhaps there could be several one time pads, and only when all of them were brought together would the data be decodable.

Ultimately, the only suggestion I saw, including suggestions on the site, that would be as inviolable as the laws of physics, is sending the message in to space as electromagnetic radiation to a place where it would be echoed back. But first you would have to have something in position to do the echoing, so that won't be practical for a long time.

All the other methods depend on the world not changing too much. Governments, laws, and institutions remaining stable, Encryption methods not being cracked. Using a satellite in a far elliptical orbit would work with present technology, but if the message is supposed to be kept for 50 or 100 years, technology might catch up and the satellite be retrieved sooner than the originators wanted.

about 2 months ago

After the Sun (Microsystems) Sets, the Real Stories Come Out

shoor Re:Cool Technology (166 comments)

Despite being on the Internet for a pretty long time (I made my first post to Usenet in 1984) I only have a hazy notion of what Facebook is. I've heard about it, and in googling and stuff actually been on Facebook pages of some sort I think. I say this to establish my credentials as NOT being a Facebook fanboy.

Nevertheless, I've heard that in other countries when there were revolutions and stuff going on, people used Facebook to rally and organize. So give the devil his due. (Or am I getting Facebook mixed up with some other social media thingy?)

about 3 months ago

Become a Linux Kernel Hacker and Write Your Own Module

shoor Re:First Tutorial I've seen with Goto... (143 comments)

I got my intro to programming in the mid 1960s with 'the college computer' a PDP-8 that we programmed in Fortran using punched cards. In those days, just getting access to a computer was a pretty big deal, but things were changing, so 'programming paradigms' started appearing, and the first one that I remember was 'structured programming'. This is where I first heard the mantra of 'goto-less' programming. (Before that, the mantra was not to write self-modifying code, which was something you almost had to be writing assembly language code to be able to do, though COBOL had an 'alters' statement as I recall.)

I remember being somewhat startled by the idea of excluding gotos. How could you write non trivial code without any goto statements? I actually thought of it almost as a challenge to figure out how to do so. The opposite of structured code was 'spaghetti code'. Anyway, it's become a conventional bit of wisdom that I suppose is just automatically passed down to each generation of students without anyone ever seriously questioning it, except those who find they really need it sometimes. At some point I started defiantly putting an occasional goto in my code again, but not often.

about 3 months ago

The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

shoor Using the word 'kill' in the article's title (255 comments)

A discussion of decision making algorithms for various situations is a reasonable topic, but using the word 'kill' with respect to what the robots should do was bound to provoke responses the kind of responses the author is bemoaning.

about 3 months ago

The Truth About OpenGL Driver Quality

shoor Question, how big a team is required? (158 comments)

I used to write drivers for hardware a looong time ago (disc drives, UARTS, that kind of thing.) I realize that these graphics cards are way more complicated and trying to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of them can be a lot of effort. (I can remember spending a day trying to save a single instruction inside a device interrupt, and those were relatively simple devices.)

Even so, eventually you can't just kkep adding people to a project. If the concepts are well known then you get some decent programmers to do a workmanlike job of writing the software. If there are still areas of research and black art, then you need people who are initiates in the black art. So, I'm just curious, how many people, and what kind of skills, are involved in creating good drivers for this hardware, and, when a new piece of hardware comes out, how much new stuff is required to make use of it?

about 3 months ago

Why Disney Can't Give Us High-Def Star Wars Where Han Shoots First

shoor Re:Honestly, can't walk and chew bubble gum? (210 comments)

Why worry about this kind of stuff when so much worse is going on? Maybe it's a good way to practice for the bigger stuff. Somebody starts out fretting about overdone 'intellectual property' for their favorite movie, then later, they're ready to take on something bigger. (Or maybe they become jaded and cynical and ask 'why bother', who knows?)

about 3 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Which VHS Player To Buy?

shoor Nobody you can borrow from? (201 comments)

If it's just a few tapes, don't you know anybody, friend or relative who still has a VHS player tucked away in their attic or basement that you could borrow from?

BTW I still have a working VHS player. Once in awhile I'll find where somebody has put their old VHS tapes out on the street or something and there will be a title that intrigues me enough to take it home and try it. (I also still have an old analogue TV capture card from the late 90s that works.) I don't think you need to be too concerned with the player itself. The quality of the images from those old VHS tapes certainly leaves a lot to be desired after one has gotten used to HDTV, but, if there is no alternative, as when it's a home movie, then it's just a question of whether it's worth the bother at all. If the tape isn't playable in standard consumer equipment, then ask yourself it you want to pay the premium for a recovery specialist.

about 4 months ago

Data Mining the Web Reveals What Makes Puzzles Hard For Humans

shoor Where does Rubik's Cube fit in all of this? (44 comments)

Once in a great while, I drag it out and try yet again to solve it. (Sigh)

PS Yeah I know there are books that tell how to do it. That's not what I'm after.

about 5 months ago

Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

shoor Darmok is Science Fiction about an idea (512 comments)

There are people who are attracted to Science Fiction as a literature about ideas. 'Darmok' is a relatively pure version of that. It does have a physical threat and there's some facing off between the aliens and the Enterprise so it's not completely devoid of Space Opera, but maybe not enough to please, or maybe not done well enough to please those that were expecting Space Opera.

Also, the idea in 'Darmok' is very subtle and cerebral for TV, and I think that's why a lot of people like it. It must have been a tough one to write. I do think they glossed over some complications. Children would have to learn a more conventional form of language first, in order to be taught about the metaphors for example.

I do vaguely remember reading something like this is in some sci fi book I read once. I think it might have been a Larry Niven book. The protagonist is stuck among some aliens who communicate by singing excerpts from some big epic. He meets another human who was raised among them from the time she was a child and knows some basic usages and teaches him enough to get by. It was just one episode in the protagonist's various adventures in the book.

Suzette Haden Elgin's 'Native Tongue' and Jack Vance's "Languages of Pau" also deal with ideas about language in science fiction but not in the same way as 'Darmok'.

about 5 months ago

Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode

shoor Re:Troi (The Good Troi Episode) (512 comments)

The guy from the Ars article went over to the IMDB for checking outside his own little village. is another good place to look for disussions and other opinions on anything to do with entertainment. There they use to have a trope called "The Good Troi Episode", though when I went to confirm, I found that it's been renamed to 'A Day In the Limelight' after some discussion amongst the tropers. (Personally, I knew instantly what the trope was about from the old name, much more than 'Day In The Limelight', which doesn't even seem to be about the same thing. After all, having a day in the limelight doesn't mean you have a good episode for a change.) The episode in question is "Face of the Enemy", episode 14 of season 6. The implication is that this was the only episode featuring Deanna Troi that was actually good.

about 5 months ago

How Satellite Company Inmarsat Tracked Down MH370

shoor A very plausible scenario from March 18 (491 comments)

I found this article in the Christian Science Monitor to be very plausible. That was on March 18, when they were still looking all over the place for the plane, and it's a scenario that still holds up. Basically, something went wrong, the pilots started to head for the nearest airport, but then passed out.

about 5 months ago

Russian State TV Anchor: Russia Could Turn US To "Radioactive Ash"

shoor Economic Warfare, that dog might hunt again (878 comments)

Ronald Reagan waged economic warfare on the Soviet Union. I think that dog might hunt again, what with all the money Russia is spending on its military right now, and maybe trying to digest the Ukraine which I think could be expensive.

about 5 months ago



Why doesn't somebody invent a GOOD archival system

shoor shoor writes  |  more than 5 years ago

shoor (33382) writes "It seems like the topic of good archiving, via tape, hard drive, optical media or whatever, is always coming up with a lot of debate and no good conclusions. There certainly seems to be a need, and I wouldn't think the problem is all that hard. (Too hard for me, but not for a small research department with an engineer, materials scientist, and appropriate lab equipment.)

To me, an archival system is write once because, from personal experience, I've lost as much stuff I wanted to keep by overwriting it as by any other method. The main factor is pure longevity of course, but other factors are ruggedness (could it withstand moisture? a small fire? getting knocked off a shelf in an earthquake?), compactness (dvds and tape are sure a lot better than punched cards or floppy disks), and cheapness. I would say it doesn't have to be particularly fast, but it should have random access ability, which leaves out tape.

The way the media is written doesn't have to be the way it's read. Trying to think how I might do it if I had the scientific/engineering chops, I conceptually start with old fashioned photographic film. The negative is exposed to light when the picture is taken. The negative is still very fragile until it gets chemically fixed. After that it can safely be 'read' (exposed to light) while an indefinite number of positives are made. In a hypothetical computer data archiving system, the fixing operation could, for example, be a chemical reaction that is triggered somehow immediately after or while the data is set, and it could be triggered mechanically or in response to heat or UV radiation or a magnetic/electrical charge, or something exotic that I haven't thought of, while at the same time, some other effect (mechanical, electrical, photonic,...) is causing chemicals to react, as in photography, or perhaps tiny nanoparticles to either accumulate in a region or disperse or maybe molecules/particles just rotate slightly in one direction or another due to a magnetic field or polarisation of light. What matters is that the end state is stable and non-destructively detectable.

It doesn't really seem like it should be all that hard to do, so what's the problem? Not a big enough market? Not glamorous enough? Are the current solutions just considered good enough? Or is it actually a much tougher problem than I imagine?"

Is there open source ganzfeld software?

shoor shoor writes  |  about 7 years ago

shoor (33382) writes "I recently saw a BBC documentary, one of a series on supernatural science, about ESP. They mentioned "ganzfeld experiments" which seemed to be the most reproducible versions of ESP. I've always been very skeptical myself about ESP, but this particular episode of this series seemed less skeptical about the possibility than about other subjects it's tackled (zombies, levitation, etc). So it occurred to me that it shouldn't be that hard to write software to allow do it at home ganzfeld experiments. Basically, the computer chooses randomly from a set of pictures, the 'transmitter' person, stares at a picture, maybe tries to draw it, for a set amount of time, then the 'receiver' who has been isolated is shown a set of pictures, one of which was the image, and tries to pick the correct one. The computer could keep track of the statistics of success and so on. Here's a link to a website that offers a little more background (and skepticism) than the documentary: If I wrote up a program, would there be a chance of copyright or patent flack over it?"


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