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Comment: RAM (Score 1) 236

by Dr. Manhattan (#47476179) Attached to: Nearly 25 Years Ago, IBM Helped Save Macintosh

My own 486 had extremely dissappointing performance when compared to a even mere 68000 until RAM prices became low enough to adequately equip a PC.

True. I was astonished when I invested a decent chunk of change and bumped my 100MHz 486 from 16MB to 64MB of RAM. Multitasking actually became practical, especially running Mozilla alongside something else. Of course, the 68K Macs of the day weren't that much better at supporting 'a browser and something else'. The cooperative multitasking of the Mac OS helped reduce overhead, but it still took RAM.

Comment: I always wondered about M68K. (Score 1) 236

by Dr. Manhattan (#47474203) Attached to: Nearly 25 Years Ago, IBM Helped Save Macintosh

And the 68k platform seemed to be neglected by Motorola.

It sure seems like the M68k architecture could have been pushed forward more. Yeah, it was CISC, not RISC, but it was a very clean CISC. Modern x86 chips are really RISC machines internally, they just have a bunch of translation from the CISC instruction set to the 'real' ISA inside. If nothing else, that approach could have worked for M68k, right? Probably better, since the basic M68k ISA isn't so crufty and ugly like x86.

Comment: Actually, it needn't be a technical issue. (Score 1) 230

by Dr. Manhattan (#47179559) Attached to: Intel Confronts a Big Mobile Challenge: Native Compatibility
As I just got done saying in a comment above: Note that native development can be important to apps for a non-technical reason: preventing piracy. An app written purely in Java is relatively easy to decompile and analyze, and pirates have a lot of techniques for removing or disabling licensing code. Adding a native component makes the app much harder to reverse-engineer, at least delaying the day that your app appears on pirate sites.

Though I do agree that JNI is a serious pain. On the other hand, I've developed for Netware and Palm OS, so my standards for pain are probably artificially high.

Comment: Not useful to me, but I'll support Intel anyway. (Score 5, Interesting) 230

by Dr. Manhattan (#47179509) Attached to: Intel Confronts a Big Mobile Challenge: Native Compatibility
I made an app for Android - ported an emulator written in C++. (Link in sig, if you're interested, but this isn't a slashvertisement.)

So the core of the app, the 'engine', is in C++ and must be natively compiled, while the UI and such is in Java. Naturally, the binary's compiled for ARM first. This actually runs on a lot of Intel Android tablets because they have ARM emulators. But, thanks to a user finally asking, I put in some time and now I can make an Intel version. (Heck, the original source was written for Intel anyway, so it wasn't a big stretch.) The existing tools are sufficient for my purposes. And it runs dramatically faster now on Intel.

However, for the developer it's mildly painful. The main issue is that you have a choice to make, with drawbacks no matter which way you go. You can include native libraries for multiple platforms, but that makes the APK larger - and according to a Google dev video I saw, users tend to uninstall larger apps first. In my case, it'd nearly double the size. So instead I'm putting together multiple APKs, so that ARM users get the ARM version and Intel users get the Intel version - but only Google Play supports that, not third-party app stores. I haven't looked into other app stores, and now it's less likely I will.

Note that native development can be important to apps for a non-technical reason: preventing piracy. An app written purely in Java is relatively easy to decompile and analyze, and pirates have a lot of techniques for removing or disabling licensing code. Adding a native component makes the app much harder to reverse-engineer, at least delaying the day that your app appears on pirate sites.

Comment: Riiiiiiight. Get to work. (Score 1) 772

by Dr. Manhattan (#47112705) Attached to: Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy
Every single field has its own vernacular, its own special usage of words. It's unavoidable. If I refer to an 'atomic bus queue operation' in a computer context that's perfectly clear and unambiguous... but it's not what a 'layperson' would probably picture. If you can fix this, you will revolutionize human communication.

I wish you luck.

Comment: Re:Here's an inconvenient question (Score 4, Informative) 772

by Dr. Manhattan (#47107657) Attached to: Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy

This doesn't necessarily mean that he disagrees with evolution and mutation as a mechanism for change or that there is common DNA across a large number of species.

BTW, I couldn't let this one go. It's not just 'a large number'. It's the same DNA code across all organisms we know of. There are a couple of exceptions - but they edit the code back to the 'standard' one before the proteins are transcribed.

And the pattern of 'common DNA' confirms common descent to a ridonkulous degree.

Books used to be copied by scribes, and (despite a lot of care) sometimes typos would be introduced. Later scribes, making copies of copies, would introduce other typos. It's possible to look at the existing copies and put them into a 'family tree'. "These copies have this typo, but not that one; this other group has yet another typo, though three of them have a newer typo as well, not seen elsewhere..." This is not controversial at all when dealing with books, including the Bible.

Now, this process of copy-with-modification naturally produces 'family trees', nested groups. When we look at life, we find such nested groups. No lizards with fur or nipples, no mammals with feathers, etc. Living things (at least, multicellular ones, see below) fit into a grouped hierarchy. This has been solidly recognized for over a thousand years, and systematized for centuries. It was one of the clues that led Darwin to propose evolution. (Little-known fact: Linnaeus, who invented the "kingdom, phyla, genus, species, etc." classification scheme for living things, tried to do the same thing for minerals. But minerals don't form from copy-with-modification, and a 'nested hierarchy' just didn't work and never caught on.)

Today, more than a century later, we find another tree, one Darwin never suspected - that of DNA. This really is a 'text' being copied with rare typos. And, as expected, it also forms a family tree, a nested hierarchy. And, with very very few surprises, it's the same tree that was derived from looking at physical traits.

It didn't have to be that way. Even very critical genes for life - like that of cytochrome C - have a few neutral variations, minor mutations that don't affect its function. (Genetic sequences for cytochrome C differ by up to 60% across species.) Wheat engineered to use the mouse form of cytochrome C grows just fine. But we find a tree of mutations that fits evolution precisely, instead of some other tree. (Imagine if a tree derived from bookbinding technology - "this guy used this kind of glue, but this other bookbinder used a different glue..." - conflicted with a tree that was derived from typos in the text of the books. We'd know at least one tree and maybe both were wrong.)

The details of these trees are very specific and very, very numerous. There are billions of quadrillions of possible trees... and yet the two that we see (DNA and morphology) happen to very precisely match. This is either a staggering coincidence, or a Creator deliberately arranged it in a misleading manner, or... universal common ancestry is actually true.

(Single-celled organisms are much more 'promiscuous' in their reproduction and spread genes willy-nilly without respect for straightforward inheritance. With single-celled creatures, it looks more like a 'web' of life than a 'tree'. But even if the tree of life has tangled roots, it's still very definitely a tree when it comes to multicellular life. Which is the area that people opposed to evolution most worry about anyway.)

Comment: You don't need theory to be a technician (Score 1) 772

by Dr. Manhattan (#47107517) Attached to: Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy
You're absolutely right. You don't need to have much theoretical knowledge to practice a particular skilled trade. It's only when trying to develop beyond the current state of the art that a good grasp of theory helps. If you're not interested in that, go ahead and don't worry about the whys and wherefores.

Comment: No. "Theory" is not "hypothesis". (Score 4, Insightful) 772

by Dr. Manhattan (#47107205) Attached to: Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy
A scientific theory ties together a broad range of observations into a coherent model and makes testable predictions, that have since been tested and found to be accurate. It's still called the germ theory of disease, after all. Or the theory of Relativity, which you use every time you use a GPS. Without Relativistic corrections, the whole system would drift to the point of uselessness within six hours.

Comment: And in practice, laws 2 and 3 are swapped (Score 5, Interesting) 255

by Dr. Manhattan (#47049887) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence
I used to do software for industrial robots. Safety for the people around the robot was the number one concern, but it is amazing how easy it is for humans to give orders to a robot that will lead to it being damaged or destroyed. In practice, the robots would 'prioritize' protecting themselves rather than obeying suicidal orders.

Comment: Self-Destructing Cookies (Score 2) 219

by Dr. Manhattan (#46918273) Attached to: Help EFF Test a New Tool To Stop Creepy Online Tracking
I use the Self-Destructing Cookies add-on. It allows the cookies... but as soon as you move off the page, or close the tab, it dumps the cookies. Sure, I have to re-sign in to some places more, but so what? Add in "clear history when the browser closes" and it's pretty comprehensive.

About the only thing I've run into that it breaks is Disqus logins. But I use a separate browser - which also deletes everything on close - for that.

Comment: Youtube's pretty good, though. (Score 1) 100

by Dr. Manhattan (#46861871) Attached to: The People Who Are Still Addicted To the Rubik's Cube
My 14-year-old son found an old Rubik's cube and tought himself to solve it using youtube videos in about a week. He enjoyed it enough to ask for a 'speed cube' for his birthday. I don't think he'll be in world competition, but it frequently only takes him tens of seconds.

Me, I manged to teach myself to get one side solved and oriented, but I never figured out more than that on my own. (Nor felt the need to go look up solutions.)

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

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