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Journal: So long, and thanks for all the fish

Journal by DragonHawk

http://meta.slashdot.org/story/12/04/30/2319256/introducing-slashbi

For me, this is Slashdot's official jump-the-shark moment. 1 May 2012. Or maybe when Taco left was really the moment and this is just the result. I dunno. Either way, I'm done. I've been reading this site since a few months after it stopped being "Chips and Dips", and frankly this makes me a little sad. It's clear the ownership wants to take this site in a direction I ain't going.

Comment: So long... (Score 2) 339

by DragonHawk (#39865165) Attached to: Introducing SlashBI

Yet this is GeekNet's Jump The Shark moment, today, May 1, 2012, for anyone keeping track.

I think you're right. I've been here a gawd-awful long time, and this latest abomination is by far the worst by several orders of magnitude.

I keep hoping to see an "UPDATE: Suckers! We trolled you good!" appear in the summary, but I don't think that's going to happen.

I wonder if the Romans felt this way as their empire declined and fell?

Comment: This platform will not last (Score 1) 196

by DragonHawk (#39853339) Attached to: Microsoft Forges Ahead With New Home-Automation OS

Anyone who buys into this platform is not paying attention. Not for the jokes about houses crashing, etc., but because it's not Windows. Seriously. History has shown again and again that Microsoft has one platform: Windows (or DOS before that). Anything else will eventually be killed off *by Microsoft itself*. Even for WinCE/PocketPC/WinMobile/WinPhone/whatever, the writing is on the wall -- Microsoft wants to get off that platform and on to a MinWin-derived, stripped-down mainline Windows system.

I don't want to have to replace all my home automation in X years when the upper echelon at Microsoft finally notices this thing isn't Windows and kills it.

Comment: TMRC did it first (Score 1) 65

by DragonHawk (#39766169) Attached to: MIT Hack Turns the Green Building Into a Giant Game of Tetris

As chance would have it, I was at MIT's Tech Model Railroad Club open house last night (Saturday 21 April 2012). TMRC, for those who don't know, is a well-spring of hacker subculture. Their model railroad layout is fully automated using homebrew control and interface hardware, and their own Linux-based software. Formerly it ran on adapted telephone switch relays.

Anyhow, their layout includes a scale model of the Green building, and yes, you can play Tetris on it. Granted, it's not as impressive as doing it on the *real* building, but there's something to be said for prior art. ;)

I'll see if I can't get a video of it uploaded.

Comment: Re:Long mode can't run 16-bit code (Score 1) 500

by DragonHawk (#39717525) Attached to: The Three Flavors of Windows 8

They could just do what Apple did (Rosetta, so you could run PowerPC apps on x86 Macs without needing another instance of the OS)

That's (pardon the pun) apples to oranges. Rosetta is a software emulation of the PowerPC architecture. x86 virtualization is typically hardware based; it's just a task switch, While they *could* go that route, it's not what I was getting at. :)

Comment: Long mode can't run 16-bit code (Score 1) 500

by DragonHawk (#39714801) Attached to: The Three Flavors of Windows 8

So far the only thing that has broken is 64-bit versions of Windows don't let you run 16-bit software.

For a change, that's not actually Microsoft's fault. When in "long mode" (the 64-bit mode), x86 compatible CPUs do not support "virtual 8086 mode". So, if you're running a 64-bit OS, it simply can't run a 16-bit process.

Although machine-level virtualization must get around this somehow. Which makes me wonder if that technique -- whatever it is -- couldn't be adapted to a more lightweight way to run a 16-bit process (without requiring a whole 'nother running instance of the OS).

Comment: Re:Pick one (Score 1) 282

by DragonHawk (#39522453) Attached to: Japan's Damaged Reactor Has High Radiation, No Water

I highly doubt you could find any commercial insurance company that would underwrite a new nuclear plant these days.

They're not allowed to - the Feds nationalized nuclear insurance in the 60's.

Interesting, but I believe my statement would stand true even if that wasn't the case.

There are three possibilities: global warming, agrarian society, nuclear power.

Right.

Nuclear power doesn't seem to be economically viable without government subsidies. The free market includes irrational actors, and too many people fear anything nuke-you-lar. At the same time, for the same reasons, most governments seem to be avoiding it -- it's bad for elections.

Agrarian society isn't going to happen willingly. Thriving civilizations don't decrease their energy usage. (Collapse of civilization would get us there, I suppose, but that's generally not a deliberate choice...)

Which leaves global warming.

I'm just one big ray of sunshine, aren't I?

Comment: Pick one (Score 1) 282

by DragonHawk (#39503575) Attached to: Japan's Damaged Reactor Has High Radiation, No Water

That would assume they'd let anybody build modern nuclear reactors, which is crazy talk, but if you want a funding model it's there.

I highly doubt you could find any commercial insurance company that would underwrite a new nuclear plant these days. Since I know you're staunchly against government funding of such, and I suspect it's impossible for any free civilization to deliberately curtail its energy use, I guess that leaves global warming, right?

(I'm stirring the pot, yes. :) )

Comment: Map vs turns; sense of direction (Score 1) 516

by DragonHawk (#39466237) Attached to: NHTSA Suggestion Would Cripple In-Car GPS Displays

Interesting. I hate having forward-up; I want a fixed map. But I also use the system differently than how you describe your use. I carry the map in my head and use the electronic map display to update my mental map. Even if I don't know the area, I want to have an idea of my route and the immediate surroundings. Having the map spin around disorients me: When I try to update my mental map, the on-screen map will have likely changed orientation and so I have to work harder to re-align mental with screen.

For turn warnings, I listen to audio and look at the next turn indicator at the top of the display. My GPS has a fairly easy to see arrow.

It would appear we use the system differently. It sounds like I'm more interested in the overall map than you.

It's common for people to describe themselves/others as having a good/bad "sense of direction". Different people have different skills. I generally seem to have a good sense of direction. I always have a mental map of my surroundings. How about yourself? I'm wondering if how we like to use GPSes reflects our own sense of the physical world.

Comment: Shuttle history (Score 1) 52

by DragonHawk (#39386803) Attached to: Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis Meet One Last Time

You may want to look up some of the shuttle history. Carrying out experiments in space was not the original idea. That was what the space station was for.

The original concept was a smaller vehicle, intended to move people and small cargo back and forth between a permanent manned space station. It was truly intended as a *shuttle*. It was intended for frequent launches; hence the interest in a reusable vehicle. Heavier payloads were intended for conventional rocket designs (some kind of Saturn evolution).

But then funding was cut. Getting a new heavy lift booster, a space station, *and* a shuttle was not going to happen.

At the same time, the Air Force got involved. The AF needs the ability to launch spy satellites in to polar orbits. By working together, the thought was that STS could be kept alive. But polar orbits are harder to reach, and spy satellites are big and heavy. That meant a much larger vehicle. So the shuttle design evolved into what it is today.

But then the Air Force realized that the compromise design was lousy, and decided to stick with conventional rockets. SLC-6 was never used.

As a result, NASA was stuck with something of a white elephant. The shuttle was trying to be too many things at once. It wasn't the small, cheap "bus" that was originally conceived, but it also wasn't a cost-effective heavy launcher.

It's a shame; some really brilliant technology and engineering went into the program. But when the design goals are conflicting and ever-changing, no amount of engineering skill can compensate.

Comment: The cycle of reincarnation (Score 1) 469

by DragonHawk (#39219757) Attached to: Why Didn't the Internet Take Off In 1983?

Services like this, and the French minitel (which was popular) weren't relying on client computers so much as dumb terminals. You dialed in to a remote machine and it just pushed text to your screen and took text from your keyboard.

Yah, and all the processing was done on the central host end.

Contrast this to the web paradigm, where all the data lives on servers, most of the processing happens on the servers, the servers just send a page description to your browser, and then send what you enter back to the server. That's totally different.

Oh, wait... ;-)

Comment: MS-DOS in ROM (Score 2) 469

by DragonHawk (#39219741) Attached to: Why Didn't the Internet Take Off In 1983?

Boot times increased rather than decreased until this century.

You obviously never used an old mini or mainframe that took minutes or tens of minutes to boot. 5 to 10 was a big improvement! ;-)

But it was more like 5-10 seconds on my IBM. But if you had a Commodore or the like with the OS in ROM boot speeds were far faster than the IBM.

My old Tandy 1000 SL, which was basically an 8086 IBM-PC compatible design, had the DOS kernel and COMMAND.COM in ROM. It appeared as "C:" -- the machine had no hard disk. So despite only having a floppy disk, turn it on, and the OS was ready in a second or two. It was nice.

Whatever is not nailed down is mine. Whatever I can pry up is not nailed down. -- Collis P. Huntingdon, railroad tycoon

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