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Comment: Use the monitor arm as a laptop stand. (Score 1) 312

by Doubting Thomas (#43096437) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Monitor Setup For Programmers

Do you still have the original stand for the monitor?

Put the monitor back on its stand. There are laptop 'stands' that have a VESA bolt pattern on the back so you can mount them on a monitor arm. They're like $30 or something on Amazon. Get one of those, put the laptop onto it and put it next to the display at eye level. You can even float it off the side of your desk if you don't have one of those monster desks.

Comment: Jobs the Liar (Score 2) 433

by Doubting Thomas (#43095639) Attached to: Did Steve Jobs Pick the Wrong Tablet Size?

One thing I think the naysayers have consistently (and stubbornly) misunderstood about Jobs is that his verbiage doesn't mean what they think it means.

You have a man who was uncomfortable promising things he couldn't deliver, and yet his defining characteristic was that constantly pushed his people to accomplish the improbable. Like a lot of other CEOs, he's going to tell the customer that an infeasible product idea is not going to work, or is impossible. The difference is that while other companies will take this as gospel and will give up on the idea, or at least defund or marginalize the team that was working on the idea, he kept them working on it.

If he tells you that a 7" tablet won't work, what he actually means is, "It's a shitty experience, and I don't peddle shitty experiences. Come back in a year and ask me again'". If the guy who introduced a tablet that was 1/3rd thinner AND faster than anything you'd ever seen before tells you it's a shitty experience, he's probably right. For now.

Comment: Re:Firefox and automated testing (Score 1) 665

by Doubting Thomas (#40884117) Attached to: Why We Love Firefox, and Why We Hate It

This is actually a really big deal.

I believe that Firefox got popular in the first place because it had decent developer tools before anybody else. So we developed websites that worked on Firefox first, even when our bosses told us not to support Firefox at all. We just didn't talk about it, but the users knew.

Now everybody has decent-ish tools, and it's actually becoming -harder- to make it work on Firefox than other browsers (except IE, nothing will ever be as hard as IE). Particularly in the case of automated testing, which is becoming a huge part of your product roadmap.

Stop breaking the dev tools, guys.

Comment: Re:Annoyances (Score 1) 665

by Doubting Thomas (#40884031) Attached to: Why We Love Firefox, and Why We Hate It

I really hate working with people like you. You always end up being a liability. You're not so much fun at parties either.

Not everyone has a bunch of addons going. Your experiences don't define the universe. Christ man, look at the change list for any release of Firefox. They are ALWAYS fixing memory leaks. How can they do that if there are no memory leaks?

PS: I have Firebug, Flashblock, and nothing else.

Comment: Re:Annoyances (Score 1) 665

by Doubting Thomas (#40881439) Attached to: Why We Love Firefox, and Why We Hate It

It happens to me less and less, but it still happens. The constant denials are the second most irritating part.

These days Firefox often eats itself before it eats my computer, but usually when I finally kill it, it's over 800 MB, 1.2g tops. I can't imagine waiting until 2G.

This happens on my work machine, but that could possibly be Firebug leaking.

Comment: Dust? (Score 1) 500

by Doubting Thomas (#39798959) Attached to: Planetary Resources Confirms Plan To Mine Asteroids

I used to support this sort of thing wholeheartedly, but then one niggling detail stuck its head up and now I'm not so sure.

What happens to the dust?

It's one thing to shatter a rock to bits out in the asteroid belt and leave a million microscopic orbiting bodies in the plane of the ecliptic. We could always just bank shot around the asteroid belt to avoid the worst. It's another to have a million microscopic orbiting bodies around earth. People are already biting their nails about the number of satellite fragments we already have.

Have they figured out how to avoid this, or will this be another industry that pollutes first and apologizes later (if at all)?

Comment: Re:Cryptography? (Score 4, Informative) 165

by Doubting Thomas (#39797925) Attached to: Travelling Salesman, Thriller Set In a World Where P=NP

In cryptography you're looking for a problem that is asymmetric. NP is your ideal, but as a lot of other people have pointed out, practical cryptographic algorithms are a not ideal. IBM actually had a cryptography algorithm based on the TSP once, but they must have found a flaw because it was never popularized.

A lot of people confuse NP and/or 'intractable' with 'impossible'. They do not mean the same thing. Intractable problems are often practically impossible, if for instance it would require more mass than the entire universe to calculate the answer. But since our understanding of physics is incomplete, we can't say for sure how big a 'perfect' computer you'd need to solve a certain problem, so you can't categorically say that it's impossible. All you can say is "we can't do it today." or "That's a problem for my grandchildren to deal with... hopefully."

Remember that for certain inputs an NP-Complete problem can be solved on the back of an envelope. If I tell you to place a dot in the middle of the envelope, and one more or less near each corner, you can find the shortest path in a few minutes. It's an NP complete problem, but it's still trivial to solve. NP is not a magic wall. It all depends on the context (ie, the inputs).

Comment: Re:New power source? (Score 1) 241

It's one thing to say, "water can't be a problem because there's no water in the design". It's quite another to say, "water can't be a problem because no water can ever get into the reactor".

Earthquake + tsunami = water in reactor
Catastrophic flooding = water in reactor

(do these things have sprinkler systems in them? Disaster + fire = water in reactor)

I'm curious how these things behave when water does find its way in...

Comment: Re:Space elevator coming next? (Score 1) 159

by Doubting Thomas (#38296982) Attached to: Graphene Spun Into Meter-Long Fibers

I was replying to your assertion that islands couldn't make a suitable terminus. As I pointed out, the cable will tear long before that.

And even if we made the cable out of diamond, we don't know how to make an anchor so strong that it can lift an island. So if the cable didn't tear, you'd just rip the anchor out of the ground and it would float away...

Comment: Re:Free market for the win (Score 1) 644

by Doubting Thomas (#38296158) Attached to: Will Firefox Lose Google Funding?

This is my favorite but now old joke about FF: FF doesn't have memory leaks! Well, except for the four we fixed in the new version. I've been hearing that story since 2.0, and I appreciated it about as much as you obviously do (which is not at all).

However, this is not entirely true anymore. There's a few sharp people working on improving both the high and the low water mark memory usage in Firefox. You should read this guy's whole blog, but this entry in particular stands out:


There was substantial page fragmentation mis-feature, which was improved for FF 7. When you closed a tab, most of the pages allocated for that tab still had live objects in them. That's bad for memory usage.

Comment: Re:Wisdom (Score 4, Insightful) 253

by Doubting Thomas (#38286920) Attached to: The Rise of Developeronomics

I don't say this often. Hell, I never say this: this is one place where the military has the right idea about how to manage people. Or at least, my poor, second-hand understanding of military chain of command suggests that is so.

Non-Commissioned officers are on a separate career path. They are expected to continue managing 'the workers' in some capacity for their whole career. They both know what has to be done and can sympathize with the poor bastards who'll get stuck doing it. They are not expected to seek a C level position. That's not their job. Getting shit done is their job, and no assignment or promotion will ever completely hamper that goal.

Meanwhile, the commissioned officers never manage the workers. Occasionally junior COs will try get things done that are a Bad Idea, and an NCO (eg, a warrant officer) will tell them to "Kindly fuck off, sir.". These people ARE expected to seek a C level position. Perhaps most importantly, if you demonstrate an inability to eventually achieve a C-level position, you may find yourself unwelcome, and encouraged to leave. "Up or Out"

I think where this breaks down when applied to civilians is that we don't distinguish people who DO from people who manage. If you can get things done, we should let you do that until the world ends. If you can't get things done, but you can kinda sorta interact with some people who do, should we really keep you around forever? It seems to me like maybe that's not such a good idea.

Comment: Re:Space elevator coming next? (Score 1) 159

by Doubting Thomas (#38285874) Attached to: Graphene Spun Into Meter-Long Fibers

Not so sure about the anchor point bit, but the rest seems true.

One of the proposals terminates the cable at a boat. I dunno how they keep the thing from being pulled downwind (other than "because it's in the doldrums"), but the tension on the cable only needs to exceed the weight of the cars, the freight, and the safety margin. If you put too much tension on the cable, you'll snap it. If you're trying to hoist an island off its foundations, that would definitely be 'too much tension'.

Some of my readers ask me what a "Serial Port" is. The answer is: I don't know. Is it some kind of wine you have with breakfast?