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Comment: Re:Not likely. (Score 1) 166

by Opportunist (#49757537) Attached to: Video Games: Gateway To a Programming Career?

The examples you mention are the low hanging fruits of the computer industry. Yes, EBay, Google and all the other "Internet wonders" started out small. Hey, MS started as a garage shop, and so did Apple. And I think I remember something about Henry Ford starting his motor company with little more than his own bare hands.

The point is that in the early days of a technology, what you mention is possible. It is no longer possible, though, once big players have emerged. You think a garage shop making cars, OSs or search engines could hit it anymore? Nope.

Big things can still be done, that's right. If, and only if, it hasn't been done before. And in this time and age, "doing big things" essentially means "try to find something that ain't been done to death, then hope that Google or Facebook buys you out before you drown in litigation fees".

Comment: Re:Not likely. (Score 1) 166

by Opportunist (#49757527) Attached to: Video Games: Gateway To a Programming Career?

Excuse me, but it's not just "generation bashing", it's simply an observation of how computers evolved. Before my time, when people pretty much had to "roll their own", they needed to know electrical engineering to run a computer. You'd have to be able to pretty much piece it together. And to operate it, you had to understand how to troubleshoot in hardware because this or that failed, got out of sync or simply needed a nudge.

My "generation", so to speak, had to learn how to operate the OS, how to configure startup sequences and organize ram and resources like IOs and interrupt lines. We didn't need an EE degree anymore, though, for our hardware was stable enough to "just work".

And now you don't need to learn those "intimate" OS details anymore. Computers evolve. And the people don't have a need anymore to know certain things to use them. Yes, if people are interested they will of course dig into the matter and learn things, but there is no longer a need.

Comment: "Leak". Yeah. Sure. (Score 3, Insightful) 294

I can only wonder how incredible the timing of those "leaks" always happens to be. Just not that the big discussion is brewing on whether the UK should retain its "Brit-rebate" and other undue privileges, we get to hear that the sky is falling over Europe should they dare to withdraw.

Timely blunders indeed.

Comment: Re:Not likely. (Score 2) 166

by Opportunist (#49757405) Attached to: Video Games: Gateway To a Programming Career?

I don't make my own clothes, don't slaughter my own beef and don't distill my own gas. And I probably would fail miserably at trying to do so. Then again, I also don't bemoan that people lose the skill to do so.

The point was that it didn't matter in the "old days" whether you're curious enough so you'd want to do it. Back then, you simply HAD TO learn this to get things done. There was no way around it. If you wanted to program a game in the days of the C64, you HAD TO learn assembler since there was no other language remotely fast enough to accomplish what you wanted to do. And for the longest time, games and programming them meant riding the bleeding edge of technology development because only then you could actually squeeze those few last cycles out of the CPU or GPU and abuse some quirks of this or that chip to your advantage.

Advances in compilers meant that eventually we could dump asm in favor of C and C++ because those compilers were actually advanced enough to optimize sensibly, and soon their level of optimization beats the average asm programmer. But when I look at the development and how games are today written in C# or, like the Minecraft you used as an example, in Java, it mostly means that game programming now, too, has left the field of "bleeding edge tech" in favor or making it easier. Computers are fast enough that cycles wasted don't matter no longer.

But this also always means that certain skills will no longer be learned simply due to a lack of need. Which may be good, since it frees up time for learning something else, but it also means that some foundations are lost. Convenience always entails not knowing, or rather, not having to know something. Whether someone will learn it depends only on him wanting, not him needing, to learn it.

That difference is crucial. Some times are simply no fun to learn, but they may well be very important for understanding something and doing it the right way. Learning Big O Notation is no fun. None at all. But it is crucial if you want to understand (and not just accept as given) the advantages and drawbacks of various algorithms. And yes, you can simply learn that this algo is "better" than that one, but you will always be dependent on someone who learned it to calculate it for you.

Comment: Re:Not likely. (Score 4, Interesting) 166

by Opportunist (#49753861) Attached to: Video Games: Gateway To a Programming Career?

Good analysis. I think the main problem of today is that there is no need for being a "hacker" anymore.

The ancients here will remember how it was vital for them to be "hardware hackers". Because a computer, that was something IBM built, that filled storage rooms and that NASA could afford. If you wanted one, you built your own. Out of necessity. It was either impossible to get one, or at the very least impossible to afford one.

Fast forward to the 70s and 80s, when computers became more or less portable little things you would plug into a TV. We didn't have to solder our own boards together anymore, but programs was a different matter. We had to know quite a bit about programming, even if we weren't into it, for some of the more important tasks were only possible if you at least understood what's going on inside your machine. Not to mention that nearly all of them came with some kind of "user port", where the user could plug in ... hell, nearly anything.

90s and 2000 brought the internet, along with having to learn a bit about TCP/IP if you wanted to actually get anywhere. Let's face it, Windows was not really too keen on letting you connect to the internet without jumping through more hoops than should be necessary, and trumpet was to us far more than just an instrument.

What these eras have in common was that you had to learn something to get somewhere. In the stone age of computing, you actually had to learn how to build such a machine. And I'm not talking about "putting a CPU without accident into its socket". Later you had to understand the machine's language and had to be able to program, at least a bit, if you wanted to get anything. The early years of the internet meant for you to learn a thing or two about networking if you wanted to succeed.

Today, we transcended it all. Nothing is necessary anymore. NO knowledge, no information, for everything there is a "wizard". Our kids aren't learning anything anymore, and I could hardly blame them. Would I have learned how to build a computer if I didn't have to? Unlikely.

We're also at the point where anything big can only be done with a LOT of manpower behind it, and everything small can be bought for a few cents from China. There simply is no reason anymore for anyone to learn anything about the machines he uses. Unless, of course, he'd be interested in it.

Comment: Re:Anyone surprised? (Score 1) 65

It depends on their business plan. If they sell high speed internet connections, chances are that they do want people who use them, too. Because I sure as hell don't need 100mbit simply because, well, I don't download movies where I need a few gig a pop. So I don't need (and hence don't pay for) a huge pipe.

On the other hand, if their customers notice that they must not download movies anymore, well, what do they need the fat pipes for? Right. Nothing. So the logical consequence would be to step down to a smaller package. A cheaper package. Generating less revenue for the provider. And since providers planned for the customers they have, that would leave them with a LOT of unused bandwidth that can't be sold.

So depending on how desperate your ISP is to sell bandwidth, it may actually be in his best interest to tell his customers "Hey, don't worry, relax, keep downloading!"

Comment: Re:Anyone surprised? (Score 1) 65

Depends on your definition of siding.

They need to send out the notice. It's in the law. They need not participate in the usual FUD of the content industry that only costs them money but doesn't generate any, while offering advice to the paying customer not only satisfies the customer but also keeps him interested in the high priced premium service. Because, well, what does the average person need a 100mbit link for if he can't leech movies?

Comment: If anyone wants to hear this in better quality... (Score 1) 72

by Opportunist (#49751831) Attached to: Musical Organ Created From 49 Floppy Disk Drives

I tried to find different people doing it. Funny enough, the three songs played (Toccata and Fuge, He's a pirate and "the Tetris theme" (seriously, when will /. support Cyrillic characters?) were done by pretty much anyone doing floppy music.

Yes, it's not interactive. But please, it's not like they invented the genre of floppy music, there's a ton of videos out there of people making music using floppies. With far better results.

Hint: The key is to make both directions sound equal. I'm still working on that. The interactive part (i.e. playing it with a piano) is actually surprisingly easy to do.

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan