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Comment: Re:Still a hack, but way better than nothing. (Score 1) 53

by Immerman (#49763229) Attached to: Software Patch Fixes Mars Curiosity Rover's Auto-focus Glitch

Well you'd still have to take images to tell the current state of the contrast, after all the camera can only "see" through the lenses when taking a picture. Also a binary search is likely suboptimal for such things, an interpolation search is likely to be far more efficient since you presumably have enough information after the first few images to make a good guess as to where in the spanned range the "sweet spot" will be.

Comment: Re:Big job (Score 1) 55

by Immerman (#49706149) Attached to: MAME Changing License To Fully Libre One

As far as I'm aware, emulating Macs is perfectly legal. It's only running MacOS on that emulated Mac that's an issue, because the MacOS license specifically states that it can only be used on legitimate Apple hardware. If you want to run Linux on your emulated Mac though, that's perfectly fine.

Hmm, though I seem to remember that back in the day Macs had required software in ROM as well - and copying that was illegal in most contexts. In fact, I remember some emulator that came with support for a custom expansion card into which you could plug the legitimate ROM chip from your old Mac if you wanted to be completely, unquestionably legal.

Comment: Re:Since when rewarding pirates is "good"? (Score 2, Insightful) 214

Except that unauthorized software copying costs the source company nothing - unlike the Mercedes factory that faces considerable per-unit costs. Meanwhile in the *specific case* of OS, office, and a few other genres of software, vendor lock-in is achieved largely via network effects. Get enough people using illegitimate software on their personal PCs, and companies will tend to use the same thing. And *they* run the risk of license audits, so will tend to buy legal software. If most individuals were acclimated to using Libre Office, do you really think companies would still be inclined to pay the MS Office tax and have to keep track of licenses, etc.?

For non-infrastructure software of course the argument evaporates - Valve gets no benefit from people pirating Half Life.

Comment: Re:Since when rewarding pirates is "good"? (Score 2) 214

The differece of course being that nobody has ever been directly hurt by software piracy - at worst someone has been deprived of potential profits. And even that assumes that the infringer would have otherwise resorted to buying the software, which is rarely the case.

Comment: Re:Pretty sure the heat death of the universe will (Score 1) 386

by Immerman (#49689067) Attached to: Criticizing the Rust Language, and Why C/C++ Will Never Die

Sure it can. In C and C++ you can *specify* that using pass by value, or by pointer to constant object. Granted it's still *possible* to cast away constness, but only reckless idiots do such a thing without being really, really sure it's safe to do so. And so long as you don't jump through hoops to eliminate const-ness you're protected from accidentally changing something that was supposed to be unmodifiable.

Comment: Re:A.I.? (Score 1) 403

Who says a "true AI" has to match the way the human brain works? It has to get at least vaguely similar results - but that's likely an entirely independent criteria. And in point of fact, and from what little I know of neuroscience, your description bears absolutely no resemblance to the way the human brain works.

Comment: Re:Pretty sure the heat death of the universe will (Score 1) 386

by Immerman (#49682425) Attached to: Criticizing the Rust Language, and Why C/C++ Will Never Die

You can bypass the type safety on pretty much any language that doesn't do runtime type checking - which imposes a massive performance overhead by C standards. General-purpose memory management similarly comes in two flavors: manual, or some sort of high-overhead garbage collector. The hardware of the time simply didn't have the available resources to be thrown away on such things - if you wanted them you had Simula and other such "toy" languages that offered nice features at the expense of being so slow you couldn't do any serious work on them.

I do agree that C++ would have benefited from removing some aspects of backward compatibility, or at least had standard compiler warnings available for "deprecated" C functionality. But had they broke backwards compatibility C++ would likely have never taken off - it rose to prominence in large part specifically because it was interoperable with the massive existing C codebase and libraries.

Besides, it's not like modern languages don't have huge holes of their own. I mean Java? Ugh, the performance penalties of having *every* damn thing be a pointer. And I cant even specify that my function definitely won't modify the parameters being passed to it! And how many people go to the trouble (and performance expense) of passing copies of large objects that absolutely must not be modified? "final Thing x" is only equivalent to C's "Thing * const x" - doesn't guarantee a thing as far as the calling context is concerned.

Comment: Re:But... (Score 1) 244

I should have made clear that I do agree the wealth distribution should be more equitable - but that could as easily be accomplished by demanding much higher wages up front. And regardless of method would almost certainly require that the software development industry unionize so that we have enough bargaining power to demand such a thing - just like doctors, lawyers, etc. have done.

And sure you could charge royalties per hammer - it happens all the time. That's exactly what patents are for. But lets take it up a notch, so it a bit more comparable to software, and say I designed a software-free hammer building machine (after all automation pre-dates software substantially). Should I be entitled to a share of profits from hammer sales in perpetuity?

Comment: Re:A.I.? (Score 4, Interesting) 403

I don't know - a lot of current weak AI may end up being sub-systems for a strong AI - so in that sense we may well be getting closer. The problem is we have no real idea what strong AI might actually entail, implementation wise, and so have essentially no idea what if any progress we're making in that direction. At the very least we've found a great many strategies that don't work, which is in fact it's own kind of progress.

Honestly though I'm happy with the current state of affairs - weak AI may be able to get us into a lot of trouble (market crashes due to HFT algorithms anyone?) but it's nothing compared to what a strong AI would be capable of.

Comment: Re:But... (Score 1) 244

Admittedly it's not a simple question. But yeah, if I put in a year worth of labor on a software product, am I really entitled to a lifetime of income there either? There's also a matter of degree - how many man-hours go into producing your average $1 music track, versus your average $1 smartphone app?

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.