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Comment: Linux Was The Most Approachable (Score 1) 327

by Greyfox (#49632861) Attached to: Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded?
My first job was with a small company in 1989. They'd gone with SCO Xenix on a 286 machine (IIRC the 386 was still on the horizon at that point.) I looked briefly at BSD as a potentially less expensive and more feature rich alternative to that, but at the time the only options was to order tapes of the distribution and I didn't even know if it would work on our hardware. Even if that'd have been guaranteed, I'd still have to convince the boss to buy a tape drive to try it out. Given the fact that our immediate solution wasn't broke (even if it had cost $1200 for the base OS,) that would have been a tough sell.

Over the next couple years I worked there we looked onto potentially OS/2 and... I want to say DRM DOS? as a potentially cheaper multitasking alternative to Xenix on our systems. Even though I was nominally aware of BSD, the amount of tinkering to even try to get it working was intimidating, and we didn't have the immediate need for it.

By the mid 90's people were really starting to talk about Linux in exactly the sort of way they were NOT talking about BSD. I looked at the procedure to install it -- download a bunch of slakware install floppies off the newfangled internets (24 install floppies as I recall, which took for-fucking-ever! And I accidentally FTPed the first two in text mode. Shit!) and boot that shit up. I specifically remember finding the installer to be far less sucktastic than either the OS/2 installer or the Windows 3.1 installer that you ran shortly after pirating MS DOS (Which you typically would do even if you had a legitimate MS DOS install on your system.)

In short order, I had a working Linux system with a working C compiler, no fuss, no muss. Well some fuss -- couldn't run X11 very well on the VGA controller I had, but I was fine with a text console until I bought a computer that wasn't made out of duct tape and baling wire, that being the custom of the time. I almost immediately set up a TCP/IP network between the real computer and the baling wire computer, too, experimented with NFS, all that fun stuff. Got my system pwned several times, you know, all the usual stuff you go through to learn how to become a halfway decent Linux admin.

So yeah, for me at least it was all about accessibility. Minix was just a toy and BSD required a wizard hat and robe.

Comment: Virtual Quantum Burrito (Score 1) 203

by Greyfox (#49632695) Attached to: 17-Year-Old Radio Astronomy Mystery Traced Back To Kitchen Microwave
Much like the NASA EM drive, this happens when a virtual quantum burrito is created in the microwave chamber. Not only is thrust always guaranteed in the event that a burrito is in the microwave chamber, but virtual quantum burritos tend to be very loud in the EM spectrum due to quantum entanglement of the burrito particles.

Mmmm... burrito...

Comment: Re:VR is a fad (Score 3, Interesting) 72

by Greyfox (#49630239) Attached to: Oculus Rift Launching In Q1 2016
Mack over on Mackscorner on youtube has been playing with an Oculus Rift. Watching his response to that one game, the potential for the technology is amazing, if some company can make one that's not shit. I think that company might actually be Microsoft, based on what I've been hearing. If they can do this right, I'm willing to forgive all previous transgressions. He does one with Subnautica too, which looks freaking amazing (Even without an Oculus.)

If they can get a 360 degree camera into a reasonable form factor (neighborhood of a GoPro,) it would be possible to give people the experience of skydiving, rock climbing, or flying a wingsuit in ways that are significantly more real than just watching a video on youtube. You could actually be there, and look around as if you were the pilot. That would be a game changer both for the audience and for content creators.

Comment: Re:No single payer (Score 5, Funny) 472

by Greyfox (#49629857) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery
One bill, and that they be able to provide you with a reasonably accurate estimate of the costs when you go in. I had a moth fly into my ear, craziest thing, I'm just sitting there minding my own business and this moth just comes out of nowhere, hits the side of my face and disappears. And I freak the fuck out because a moth is now raping my goddamn ear. So I get my room mate to drive me to the emergency room to have the fucker removed. They don't believe me, have a look, and say "Yep, something's in there." And I'm like "Yes! It's a fucking moth!" So they make a couple of attempts and finally get the damn thing out, and it cost $1000 for that, in three separate bills. If they'd told me that in advance, I probably would have decided that I can put up with an awful lot of ear raping for $1000.

Hell of it was I'd just switched jobs and didn't have a new insurance card yet, but was actually insured. Over the course of my career, I've probably paid $20,000 or so worth of medical insurance and I've had the insurance companies weasel out of paying anything every single time I've had to have a medical procedure. And the total cost of those procedures so far has been significantly less than $20,000. I've had three trips to the ER or urgent care over 25 years, totaling about $3000 worth of care. $1000 of which was for a moth raping my ear.

So fuck the medical system and fuck the insurance providers. Over the past three decades, I'd have been better of with a jar of leeches. At least those are honest about sucking your blood.

Comment: Re:...eventually put people on butt (Score 2) 134

by Greyfox (#49624429) Attached to: Opportunity Rover Reaches Martian Day 4,000 of Its 90-Day Mission
Well another problem is that we actually know what conditions are like there. It's one thing to ask a bunch of religious fanatics who are being persecuted in their current setting to move to someplace nominally more rustic where they'd be free to practice their heathen rituals. It's another to ask someone to leave their gravity well for a long trip to a much crappier gravity well. It's kind of a hard sell. "Yeah, Mars is a shithole with nothing but dust and more dust, but we'd like you to move there so you can scrape out a subsistence living that we'll probably lose interest in the next time the budgets come up." At least in the new world you could live off the land hunting beavers in the event the budget for new world colonization ever got cut.

Comment: Re:It doesn't require perfection (Score 1) 152

by Greyfox (#49622935) Attached to: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text
It's really not that much of a problem. You just replace any words you don't recognize with "Jihad!" Like "Hey Alex! You want to go to jihad later and get some burgers?" Clearly there's some sort of terrorist activity going on there which justifies an increase to the budget next jihad!

Comment: Nope (Score 1) 257

by Greyfox (#49622553) Attached to: Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?
You get typecast. You could have 3 decades of C/C++ and mention that you studied APL for one semester in college and all the calls you'll get will be for APL jobs. I don't even list LISP on my resume, even though I became enlightened in LISP in the 90's. With LISP, enlightenment is a heady feeling where you suddenly see the elegance with which everything fits together, followed by the sinking realization that if you want to actually do anything with the language you'd have to write all the libraries yourself.

Comment: Wait What? (Score 1) 415

by Greyfox (#49621239) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth
LWN is still a thing? Damn, I stopped reading them ages ago, when I realized that all the stories I was reading were popping up on slashdot several days earlier.

Amm... anyway, most of the programmers I've known over my career have been average. They don't seem to particularly enjoy programming but they can generally make the computer do what they want it to do. Then they're quite happy to go home to their families and do other things. I've run across (and had to clean up for) five or six truly inept ones. And I mean people with no ability with computers whatsoever, who were essentially defrauding the company they were working for. Usually those people had left the company by the time I'd gotten there.

I've never met a true rockstar programmer at any company, although I have met a couple in Linux channels on IRC. I got to audit the source of the AT&T C standard library on a contract in the '90's and a lot of that stuff was brilliant. I wish I could have worked with the programmers who wrote it.

Me? I'm not going to try to appraise my own skill at it. I enjoy programming and do it at home. I've retrofitted several projects with data structures and will fix crashes that other programmers tend to ignore. I've also been told code I've worked on is easy to understand and maintain (By people in other countries who it was outsourced to.) I prefer not to subscribe to institutionalized learned helplessness that dictates that the software works that way because the software works that way and nothing can be done to fix it. I have several github repos where I work on things that interest me at the moment, mostly licensed under the Apache license. That may make me different from a lot of programmers, but I won't argue that it makes me any better or worse.

Comment: Mmm, Delicious, Delicious Chemicals! (Score 2) 314

Why doesn't the industry just charge those people for the addition of chemicals to their water? Those people are getting those chemicals for free right now, and chemicals don't cost nothing! The industry should be billing everyone in that town for the chemicals they're currently getting for free!

Comment: Re:Volunteers (Score 2) 59

by Greyfox (#49621063) Attached to: The BBC Looks At Rollover Bugs, Past and Approaching
Oh we went to a 64 bit time_t ages ago. You should just have to recompile, even if you use long instead of time_t. Assuming you ever upgraded your machine to a 64 bit platform, which won't be a problem for most people by 2038. Even the US military and NASA should be on 64 bit systems by then. So essentially we've already fixed the problem for Linux. Specific installations that don't upgrade might have some problems, but most of those systems won't last another couple of decades and will require replacement sooner. Specific in-house software that was compiled 32 bits and the the source lost might also have problems. Any remaining SCO installations might also still have problems. I actually kind of hope I can spend my last couple of years before retirement stamping out the remaining SCO installations, naturally while billing $200 an hour.

Comment: Scales with input power? (Score 2) 407

by pz (#49616631) Attached to: No, NASA Did Not Accidentally Invent Warp Drive

The Forbes article lists five criteria that would make it a more plausible claim. One stands out in particular: the thrust scales with power. The drive reportedly creates on order of 30-50 microNewtons (uN) at 100 W input power. 1 KW power at microwave frequencies really isn't that hard (most kitchen microwave ovens operate near or at this scale), and 10 KW shouldn't be beyond the skills of a decent microwave engineer. Beyond that and it gets into Serious Engineering.

This idea came to me in a matter of seconds, so I must assume that the people currently testing it at NASA should also have thought of it as well and are working at testing the device at a range of power levels to plot out the power-vs-thrust relationship. Should be a piece of cake for at least one order of magnitude.

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