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Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 4, Funny) 360

by Chelloveck (#48180295) Attached to: Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

The distortion is strong in that one. And now he must excuse his earlier brief glimses of reality.

This. Just the case of a fan trying to justify a questionable decision. UI has become a fashion show. Helvetica is this year's hem length. Flat, primary colors are in, and they're simply FABulous! None of the changes have anything to do with usability. It's all change for the sake of change, nothing more. It's the same reason dresses and cars change their outward appearance from year to year, regardless of any substantive changes. It's done to make you think, wow, this is new, I MUST HAVE.

(Full disclaimer: I'm a sucker for upgrades. I always need to have the latest version of any software, regardless of whether or not it's actually better. Call it an OCD-ish mental disorder. I installed Yosemite yesterday, but unlike the author of the post I don't feel the need to justify Apple's fashion sense.)

Comment: Re:Just Go Nuclear and Get There Quick (Score 1) 236

by Chelloveck (#48062539) Attached to: NASA Eyes Crew Deep Sleep Option For Mars Mission

Public relations. You have to get the nuclear fuel to orbit somehow. What if the rocket blows up and scatters it everywhere? What if it makes orbit but is inoperable, and falls out of the sky? What if the Mars mission fails en route, and the ship comes back on return orbit and whacks into the Earth? What if terrorists take control via the Internet and use it as a weapon? It doesn't matter if the scientists and engineers say it can be done safely. Who trusts them, anyway? Think of the children!

Remember, large fractions of people still believe that cell phones cause cancer and vaccines cause autism.

Comment: Re:Not surprised in the least (Score 1) 278

by Chelloveck (#48062441) Attached to: Marriott Fined $600,000 For Jamming Guest Hotspots

Then I found out the hotel has internet connected TVs, so I plugged my *nix laptop into one of their jacks, got DHCP, and did a (ze)nmap scan to find all the other TVs. Picked one at random, grabbed its MAC address, and spoofed it on my network card. Wallah! Free access.

Meanwhile, the guy in the other room is getting charged per kilobyte for use of the internet-connected TV. Good plan. For an encore, how about breaking into another room and raiding the mini-bar, too?

Comment: Ob. War Story (Score 1) 167

by Chelloveck (#48014049) Attached to: Why the Z-80's Data Pins Are Scrambled

I worked at Motorola in the late '80s in the Cellular Infrastructure Group. Moto's cellular switch was Z80 based, but it was a helluva hack. The thing had six Z-80s arranged in three nodes, each with an active processor and a hot standby. We had a custom MMU that extended the address space to 24 bits and could be mapped in 4096-byte blocks. Of the 16MB address space, 4MB was shared and simultaneously accessible by the active and standby processors.

It was mostly programmed in assembly, but we did have a "high level" language called MPL (Motorola Programming Language) which was little more than a big macro set around the assembly. It was very naive, had no optimization, generated crap code, and was buggy as hell. I always called it a pessimizing compiler. There was a newer, less buggy version available but we didn't use it. We had too many hacks and work-arounds that depended on the buggy behavior in the original.

All the code was, of course, linked into a single monolithic executable and loaded from tape. It took about 20-30 minutes to load the program. The processor board had a serial debugger terminal which could be used to poke changes directly into running memory. Each memory page had some space reserved for patches. I sometimes had to patch live customer machines by entering an assembly routine byte-by-byte into memory via the serial terminal and finally patching a CALL instruction into the appropriate address in main executable memory. And hoping really hard that I hadn't made any typos.

Later in its life peripheral boards were being built that were 68000 and PowerPC based and much more powerful than the main Z80 boards. The Z80 software was so crufty by then that the peripherals had hardware hacks to work around weird software behavior just because it was too damned hard to change the software.

Ah, memories...

Comment: Any of them, really (Score 1) 410

by Chelloveck (#48003667) Attached to: It's Banned Books Week; I recommend ...

Specifically for Banned Books Week I'd recommend Fahrenheit 451, just because of the subject matter. In general I'd recommend 1984 due to its continued relevance. Probably Brave New World too, but it's been so long since I've read it I really don't know if it still holds up.

A Clockwork Orange is a good story and a fascinating linguistic study. I love both the book and the movie, but I don't see it being nearly as socially relevant as the others. Recommended, but lower priority.

His Dark Materials is a toughie. The first book was absolutely fabulous, the second was pretty good, and the last was weird. Recommended with that caveat. The series usually gets placed in the juvenile section because the protagonist is a kid, but I don't consider them kids books. The subject matter (especially in the third book) gets to be hard to follow. (Not that I'd want to keep it away from kids, just that I don't think it would hold their interest. If they read it and like it, more power to them!)

I've never read The Handmaid's Tale, so I can't comment on it.

(Side note: I live in the US, but happened to be in Oxford when I finished reading His Dark Materials. If I'd realized at the time that Philip Pullman was living there I'd have beaten down his door and demanded to know just why he ended it like he did!)

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.