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Comment Re:The movie was good because the book was short. (Score 1) 125

There were some big chunks missing in the movie. In the book, he has to spell out messages in rocks on the ground that the orbiters can photograph because there isn't enough space in his vehicle to haul the old rover landing platform around. Also, in the book, he manages to roll the rover over just before reaching the launch site. In the movie, you only see him watching one episode of some 1960's TV series - and he's mostly complaining about the disco the book, he watches every episode of a dozen old TV shows to provide a break from the disco.

I'm sure there were a bunch of other things that were skimmed over or omitted entirely - but those are the three that stood out for me.

I think they did the movie pretty well considering the limitations of the medium - but the book is definitely worth a read.

Comment Re:sad (Score 2) 318

I know we have really thoughtful and intelligent people in this country, but for whatever reason, they don't seem to be able (or want) to compete with the horribly inept batch of clowns that we inevitably get.

What smart person wants to be blamed for every bad decision that other people make, every bad outcome no matter how much planning went into something, arguing with the "Pepsi" people who just don't want to agree with something from "Team Coke", owe this one a favor for lending support of a bill of theirs that inevitably means putting your name on something you don't actually support, make decisions that will affect thousands of lives in ways that couldn't possibly be foreseen (in some cases literally condemning some to die), and spend a billion dollars to do it?

Being the president is a crappy job, and every smart person realizes that.

Comment 40 years a programmer. (Score 1) 161

I learned to program in school in 1974, we used Fortran IV. But there were no computers at the school, so we had to write our programs out on special coding forms, post them via snail-mail to the regional computing center, where they punched them onto cards and fed them into their IBM mainframe - if/when they had time to spare at the end of their payroll runs. The resulting paper printout was then posted back to us. It took about 10 days to turn around a single run - and our course only lasted 8 weeks - so, as you can imagine, you learned to check every dot and comma!

I've been a programmer of varying degrees of seniority for the last 40 years - I resisted going into management, but I make a good living and have lead small teams, designed my own graphics chips, built a multi-million dollar laser projected graphics system, made arcade machines, written XBox games, built my own laser cutters and 3D printer - more projects than I can easily remember. I used the very first implementation of Bjarne Stroustrups C++ compiler (which compiled to C code) - and have loved C++ as my 'go-to' language every since.

Over that many years, programming gets a lot easier - I don't have many bugs anymore - and my interests tend to focus more on large-scale architecture and attacking the mathematical basis of image processing and graphics.

I still enjoy the art of programming - making something elegant, efficient, bug-free and useful - and doing it on time and in budget - is always a challenge.

Comment Why spend money to keep an old computer relevant? (Score 1) 127

Just do what I do, get one of these, and use monitors with at least three inputs. There's actually quite a few that do DVI, HDMI, and either Mini DisplayPort or VGA.

But oh noes, you'll have to change the monitor inputs individually. No KVM is going to let you swap them independently of the keyboard/mouse, at least not one that costs less than a whole computer, which poses the question - why are you fetishizing your laptop? What can you possibly run on it that won't run on the desktop PCs? And if it is so important, why not give it a dedicated monitor?

Comment Re:See (Score 1) 106

I find sometimes it is best to make it blow up to get it fixed.

Sometimes a bug is managed and annoys a lot of people.

Remember the fake PC support scam from a year ago? The calls have pretty much stopped once it became game on to call them and abuse them in a virtual PC and post the results online.

If this remains unfixed, there should be some way to bait it to overload the workers responding and never sending money.

How many users can a gambling website support who have no credit cards? Join and try to get technical support because your ficticious credit card isn't working. Overload them, then it will get fixed.

Comment Developers, Developers, Developers (Score 1) 308

Unfortunately Windows 10 will be constrained by the limited memory and speed on the Pi.

So to quote someone about Developers, Developers, Developers, All the apps are already built for Raspberian that can't currently run on Windows on the Pi.

I bought a couple of the SBC to run Falcon Pi Player and run a small version of Asterisk for my SIP home office phone system. I don't know how either could possibly run under the overhead of Windows 10.

This is only two examples of the many wonderful things being done on the Pi without Windows.

Want to see what a Pi can do without Windows 10? One of the greatest animated light displays last year had the sequence and music played on a Pi. Great timing, no glitches, no crashes. Why mess it up trying to run this under Windows.

Comment Re:Governments: Make LibreOffice the standard! (Score 2, Interesting) 147

I'd love to see this happen. Really, I would. However, let's take a walk down Pragmatism Road for a moment...

Government decides, "screw MS Office 2016, LibreOffice from here on out." They begin the rollout. And the user training. They train all the users who have /just/ gotten used to the Ribbon that "lol jk no more ribbon". This is the high point of the transition.

LibreOffice has no meaningful replacement for Outlook. Thunderbird doesn't do ActiveSync natively, and it's missing a number of advanced features. To hand-wave this into the "done" pile, we'll just assume that they get a sweet deal on a volume license for eM Client, somehow managing to convert all of the Offline Archived PST files into a useful format along the way, assuming no Outlook Add-Ins are in play (not the least of which are the virus scanning modules), and assuming that they'll hand-wave away the simplicity of "start outlook -> click 'next' twice -> click 'finish'" setup that Outlook provides and eM doesn't, in the case of internal Exchange.

Now, we need to deal with the SharePoint integration. The government uses SharePoint. A lot. The implementations span the gamut from "by some miracle, working as intended" to "being the running gag of the office for being mostly-broken, all of the time". Office integrates well with SharePoint, LibreOffice does not. In theory, they could just download-edit-upload, but now we lose any ability to do multi-user mode editing of files. And thus, they move all of their SharePoint installations to Alfresco, migrating all of the existing data, SQL data from SQL Server to MariaDB, and somehow, making all of THAT work, hoping that none of the other internal systems that rely on SharePoint information to function will notice the difference...

Now, let's head back to the desktop. Excel add-ins and macros don't work. Report generation software gets messy, documents that reference other documents give questionable numbers because LO can read some sheets but not others, with no add-ins to verify that the numbers match what they should. Access databases don't open, and yes, there are plenty. Powerpoint slides lose most of their transitions and WordArt (hey, silver lining to everything...), and you'll be hard pressed to find me a single secretary that can make a flyer in Scribus that was otherwise capable of making something remotely useful in Publisher.

Move to LibreOffice? I'd love it. It makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. In practice, and given the amount of inertia which it will be fighting, I see the transitional process being so incredibly painful and problematic that, the following year, Microsoft will start getting blank checks from Uncle Sam.

Comment But was what VW did actually *bad*? (Score 1) 392

The consequences of the hack were threefold:

* They improved acceleration when not under test conditions.
* They improved MPG when not under test conditions.
* They worsened NOx emissions compared to test conditions.

If they improved MPG then it follows that CO2 emissions were actually LOWER in real world driving than when it was being tested.

So with the (illegal) hack, the car emits less CO2 but more NOx. Which is worse...CO2 or NOx?

CO2 obviously causes global climate change - NOx produces acid rain, smog and acidic particulates that are not good to breathe. But NOx is *also* a "global cooling" agent - it actually reduces the greenhouse effect. It's also relatively short-lived in the atmosphere compared to CO2.

So if VW had been honest and met the emissions standards, we'd have less acid-rain/smog/particulates than we currently do - but *more* severe global warming!

Depending on your point of view, it's therefore at least arguable that VW helped the world as a whole by circumventing unhelpful regulations.

I don't think this forgives their actions - but it's at least worth thinking about!

Comment Re:Minority report. (Score 4, Interesting) 243

Interestingly, the TV series more directly addresses this idea than the movie. In the movie, the Precogs saw visions of the future, and the police acted upon those specific visions.

In the TV series, which takes place ten years after the Precrime division was disbanded, the politician presently running for office is lobbying to implement a system similar to the one described in the summary - using data mining and analysis to predict crime using raw data. The difference between then and now, however, is the amount of data being pervasively collected.

Comment Re:Detecting employees (Score 1) 278

Detecting an employee cam is not really all that difficult if done from the booth. Due to the geometry of the projected image on the screen, keystone distortion gives a combination of projection angle and viewer angle. Modern digital projectors have keystone correction. Old film projectors simply had aperture plates. Here is the difference.

An aperture plate is inserted into the projector to mask the sides and top and bottom of the projection beam to fit the screen. It provided no keystone correction. If a monitor test grid were projected, it would have keystone distortion with the lines narrow at the top due to the above audience projection angle. This applied to all 35mm and 70mm film projection. In short throw theatres, some barrel distortion is also introduced.

In digital projection, keystone distortion can be adjusted out by setting up the projector with a test pattern to make the geometry correct even with off axis projection.

No consumer phone that I know of has keystone correction for off axis correction of a film projected onto a flat screen. This will reveal the camera location when compared to the original projected image.

Most modern films are Digital, especially blockbusters. This means in most cases the projector has been professionally aligned to the screen with Keystone correction. With this knowledge, any keystone distortion and barrel distortion would be from the angle and distance of the camera from the flat projection surface. Shots taken from above the audience are taken from the projection booth.

With watermarking, a stray dot, blip, extra few frames between scenes, or other subtle alterations can identify which movie screen showed which film at what time. From there forensics can identify the general location in the theatre the cam was deployed. It's easy enough to identify a booth recording from the keystone.

Comment Re:What are advertisers thinking? (Score 1) 241

You probably think that's quite a clever retort and that I'm very unlikely to subscribe to such a service. However, I'd point out that both bitcoin and PayPal (both of which I use frequently) are quite capable of handling such tiny transactions.

The problem is that the only website that I care about that supports this kind of thing is right here....Slashdot....and I *am* a subscribed member here.

Mommy, what happens to your files when you die?