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Comment: History lesson for you non-technicals. (Score 1) 564

by Medievalist (#49173231) Attached to: Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions

File extensions were originally something that humans put on files to tell each other what they were. Around 1974, for example, I might have a file called "phlist.txt" on an PDP-11 and my cow-orkers would know that was a phone list in raw ASCII format. The OS did not care, labels were for humans. If you wanted to tell the OS to execute a program, you typed "run filename" and if it wasn't an executable you'd get an error message.

Then unix and friends came along, and put an "executable bit" in the metadata for each file, so that you didn't have to type "run" any more. If you typed the name of a file, and it had the executable bit set, the system treated that as if you'd run it. Saved some ink on the teletype, don't you know.

Well, 8-bit micro computers running CP/M and DOS came along, and they sort of half-assed the concept. They still didn't have very much metadata on files, but the extensions .exe and... hmmm... something else I forget right now... were designated as "special". If you typed a word that the system did not recognize, it would look for a file with that name followed by .exe, and try to execute it.

But then Apple came along and built resource forks into their file system metadata, so they were able to associate information about what applications and/or utilities were used to create a file, and give some recommendations on what should be done if a user simply clicked the file. A really significant advance for filesystems, at least in theory.

Now, Microsoft wanted to make people believe that their OS and file system were as capable as the early Apple Macintoshes (pre-OSX) so they faked up a sort of back-alley version of the resource fork using file extensions. They were already checking for that .exe extension anyway, so most of the infrastructure to do this was already in place, they just jammed some hacks in to generalize the mechanism for all file extensions. And then they hid the extensions, so that to a clueless end-user it looked exactly like an Apple mac - you clicked on a file named "phone list" and the phone list application opened up.

This hare-brained scheme doesn't really work like Apple's, of course, because instead of including extra information about the file in the file metadata, instead they have built a separate list of file "types", designated by extension, and actions to associate with those types. In terms of the required slashdot car analogy, this is the difference between having the name of your state or country blazoned on your license plate, or having a giant book where you can look up the number of a car's license and see what state the car was registered in. Obviously the latter is inefficient and scales poorly as well as being fundamentally less capable and having no consistency across individual machines. Using the Apple method, if someone gives me a file with a resource fork, I get the resource metadata with the file. Using the Microsoft method, somebody gives me a file and maybe - if I'm lucky, and have the same applications installed - I will have the same resources associated with the file extension that the person giving me the file had on their machine.

But people who grew up after all this was invented can rarely see how stupid this all is, and always has been. It's like the idiocy of having the label of the volume MFD being the same as the subfolder separator character - nearly all of you young folks think that actually makes sense, in the same way that people brought up in the Westboro Baptist Church think raving bigotry makes sense. You've been conditioned to accept it.

This is only one of several giant steps backwards in computer technology. We used to have automatic file versioning but now programmers are so thoroughly conditioned they don't even seem capable of understanding why that was so awesome.

Now get off my damn lawn, you whippersnappers!

Comment: You should all go buy some RIGHT NOW (Score 1) 61

by Medievalist (#48241441) Attached to: Haier Plans To Embed Area Wireless Chargers In Home Appliances

Wireless charging schemes are totally awesome, because I am heavily invested in Texas and Arab Oil.

If you are a non-billionaire, remember profligate waste is super patriotic, and be sure to do your part! For AMERICA! (Or for the heathen foreign ideals of your benighted snail-eating nation, should you not be American.)

If you're a billionaire, I'll see you at the club later. Today we're using Tea Party congressmen as ponies for the polo match, and later we're having naked petroleum jelly wrestling featuring network anchor-babes. It'll be great!

Comment: There are racial differences too - so what? (Score 1) 399

by Medievalist (#48196155) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

Supposedly a man of Indian heritage (Asian Indian, from India, not Amerindian) will burn fewer calories than a woman of so-called "white" heritage.

Of course, all this is based on "average" people of particular genders or races, and the variance within those groups is probably far greater than the variance between the averages. And you don't necessarily expect astronauts to be average, now do you?

So you're still probably better off picking people with exceptional caloric efficiency who have the other skills you need and leaving race and gender entirely out of the selection process. Don't pre-bias your results with bigotry based on averages - average people are not what you want!

Comment: I can't wait for it (Score 2) 98

by Medievalist (#48171237) Attached to: Python-LMDB In a High-Performance Environment

>wasn't there a journalist who published a blog and used that as the only notable reference to create a fake article? :)

I can recommend you a fascinating pair of books: The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis and The Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes. There is a very long history of circular self-reference among dishonest journalists and scientists; for example Fred Singer would write a letter to the Wall Street Journal, then write an Op-Ed piece for a smaller outfit using the Wall Street Journal as a reference, then write an article for WSJ referencing the op-ed. In each case the claimed accuracy of the sources would be boosted - first in the letter it might make a bald claim like "tobacco is proven not harmful" or "global warming is beneficial" and the the op-ed would go on to state that "the wall street journal says tobacco is proven not harmful" then in the final piece "prominent scientists have repeatedly proven that tobacco is not harmful" (Singer really is a physicist or something like that). Eventually the final WSJ article would be cited in thousands of journals and papers funded by Singer's paymasters - this is still going on, the articles are still cited today. Read the books to find out more.

Comment: Re:Useless Elements and Padding. (Score 1) 250

by Medievalist (#47993079) Attached to: GNOME 3.14 Released

Ah, the joys of 3 VT100s on your desk.

And if you took the lid off, you could grab the CRT yoke and the cheap varnish holding it to the tube would crack so that you could spin the image on the screen.

That way, you could have two of your three terminals sitting sideways on your desk. Or even upside down!

You couldn't do it with VT52s because the keyboard was attached. VT100s had a cable.

Comment: Welcome to our world... :) (Score 1) 795

by Medievalist (#47966779) Attached to: How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

I know quite a few atheists and am one myself. Most of us don't go around talking about it and are somewhat surprised to run into another one.

Unfortunately the Internet amplifies the voices of the least intelligent and most strident.

It's a problem you atheists get to share with us theists.

Comment: Quite the opposite. (Score 2) 469

by Medievalist (#47966699) Attached to: Fork of Systemd Leads To Lightweight Uselessd

Is linux so unreliable and prone to disaster that "kill -1" used on a regular basis?

Quite the opposite!

Kill -1 tells a service daemon that is handling hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections that it needs to re-read its configuration file, without interrupting service even momentarily.

Kiddie stuff doesn't need kill -1. It's only the ultra-reliable stuff in mission-critical roles that needs it.

Suppose you, personally, have a piece of software that controls your artificial heart. Your doctor has discovered that there's a security vulnerability in the silicon, but luckily it can be remediated with a change to the software configuration, so that you don't have to get your chest cracked to fix it. He uploads the new configuration and kill -1's the running software, and it picks up the changes between one beat and the next, never causing you to, you know, die.

OK, maybe that was an unnecessarily dramatic example. A more mundane one would be adding a new web site - you enter the new A, AAA, SPF and MX records, put the new config in the httpd.conf and access.conf files, then you kill -1 the DNS and httpd servers, and none of your other customers have to have their web sites shut down while the new one is being brought up. This happens ten thousand times a day at web service providers all over the world.

Comment: Re:2015 Pluggable Prius - Only 11 miles on EV Mode (Score 1) 51

by Medievalist (#47918869) Attached to: Toyota and Tesla May Work Together Again

Perhaps that's what the spec sheet says, but my car will hit 65 in pure EV on any given day (did it twice yesterday) and it will go higher in hot weather (as long as I'm going downhill).

I always figured the hot weather factor was because at high speed it wants to spin the gas engine with all valves open, and it needs to be properly hot to do that.

But hey, maybe I got one with improper control calibration - all I can tell you is what I'm seeing empirically!

Comment: Re:2015 Pluggable Prius - Only 11 miles on EV Mode (Score 3, Interesting) 51

by Medievalist (#47866071) Attached to: Toyota and Tesla May Work Together Again

And the Plug-in-Prius can't even drive 100% electric at freeway speeds.

I frequently drive a plug-in Prius at 65mph in pure EV mode. It's really no big deal (unless you're one of those people who insist on stopping at the top of the on-ramp, so you have to stand on the accelerator to get up to speed.) I can hit 70 or more on a downhill with a tailwind :) .

The "plug-in" part really is a joke on the Prius. It's definitely not worth the extra $5k over the regular Prius.

Unless 90% of your driving is under ten miles round trip, and you don't like to rent cars in order to drive more than the 80 mile range you'd get from a 2014 Leaf, in which case the PiP pays for itself.

FYI, I drive a Leaf and my husband drives a Prius.

The Leaf is a great car if you get the 6.6 KWH on-board charger and a level 2 EVSE ($600 minimum). If you have only the level 1 EVSE and the lame charger, you're talking about a vehicle that literally spends far more of its time on the charger than on the road. Not worth the price for most people.

But in any case you can't just buy a car without analyzing your needs - not even a gas car. It's even more important when you buy an EV or plug-in. You have to know what you'll be doing with it, and how long you plan to keep driving it. They aren't for everyone yet, although Tesla is working on changing that.

My spouse drives a Leaf and gets three days driving from one charge; I drive the plug-in Prius and charge every day - sometimes two or three times a day. In firewood cutting season I spend more money on gas for my chain saws than I do for my car.

One thing that does totally suck about both cars is the lack of a spare tire. This offends me so much I am trying to figure out how to mount spares on the rear bumpers! The regular Prius has a spare.

Comment: Re:At home too (Score 3, Informative) 185

by Medievalist (#47838065) Attached to: Why Munich Will Stick With Linux

I'm just curious. Are you telling me that Ubuntu installed with no additional configuration

Yep, on the Dell laptop I did a couple weeks ago for my daughter, and the last two LTS releases have installed clean out-of-the-box on my Dad's desktop that I built for him from generic parts. Hmm, I should probably note that I often use the disk partitioning tools during installation rather than letting the install choose its own layout... but I didn't do that on the laptop.

I have friends that eat Linux for breakfast and they do not hesitate to tell me there is no straight forward installation. Sometimes it's easier but if you want a smooth running machine you need to do a little bit of tweaking.

I would agree with that last statement, but I always have to tweak every OS to get it to where I would consider it "smooth running". For my daughter and father, who only want to do web browsing and a few simple applications, I didn't do any tweaking. They are limited by their connection speed anyway. On my windows boxes, I tweak and tune for a week or more (mostly with Mark Russinovich's tools) before I get them where I want them.

I am far more versed into the setup of Windows machines so the installation of a driver on Windows for me is a piece of cake whereas a Linux driver installed always feels like a lot of work to me. Is it lack of experience? My friends Linux buddies don't seem to think so.

Well, honestly I've spent six to eight hours a day at the command line for the last 30 years or so, using every kind of OS, so I'm not a representative sample of anything. I am vastly more productive with a cli, and I find the process of installing a windows driver to be insanely slow, tedious and repetitive. I can install a hundred drivers using a cli and only reboot once, but most of the times I've tried to install more than one driver at a time in Windows I've end up with a trashed system, so now I always reboot for each and every driver, which is super slow and boring.

It sounds like the big factor here is our relative experience. You are so accustomed to the stuff I find horrifying in a windows install that you didn't even think about it, and it never occurred to me that anyone would be bothered by having to use a command line because that's where I prefer to be (I use powershell in windows these days, and we are moving to no-GUI installs for our windows servers). We're both highly experienced in different realms, and consequently we find it aggravating to work where we are less efficient.

I mostly use linux to opt out of costly vendor upgrade cycles, not because I have any special devotion to the *nix paradigm. At work I use windows, OSX, HP-UX, Solaris... whatever they'll pay me for!

Comment: Re:At home too (Score 1) 185

by Medievalist (#47837431) Attached to: Why Munich Will Stick With Linux

Maybe I was just unlucky to hit 0/5 against Ubuntu and 5/5 for Windows 7

I think so, because I've never had a machine fail to load Ubuntu - and I've done many dozens of them over the years. Most of the install failures I've experienced were from Fedora, and not Ubuntu. But somebody has to be at the end of the bell curve, and it looks like you were unlucky enough to be that guy. I would not have guessed five laptops existed that couldn't run Ubuntu!

I've haven't installed Windows 7 on any machine that didn't have a "built for windows 7" sticker on it, so I can't really use that for comparison either... but I can tell you that 100% of the time when I install windows I've had to go download additional software - typically network and video and sound drivers, and of course all the same web browser plugins and productivity apps that I'd have to load no matter what the OS was. The big advantage of windows is that it's easy to buy a system with all that stuff preloaded; you're got more vendors available than there are pre-loaded linux vendors.

Comment: String concatenation operator in awk (Score 1) 729

In all the various awks the string concatenation operator is implicit. Brian Kernighan is quoted as saying "It seemed like a good idea at the time".

Thus, awk literally has an invisible operator. Most coders make this a little more obvious with an explicit space, ASCII code 32 (decimal), but it's still invisible. Hijinks ensue.

Other that this, awk is admittedly a great language for text processing. And the GNU awk is an exceptionally good version - it permits fixed fields and socket I/O and has numeric conversion operators.

Comment: Re:This is frightening (Score 1) 82

I want all of my digital stuff to be destroyed when I die. I really don't want my family combing through all my personal shit when I'm dead.

Unless you take strong measures on your own, there's zero chance that any of your "digital stuff" will be destroyed when you die.

Your choices, if any really exist, are having your family comb through it, setting up a dead-man switch, or having a corporation use it for their own profit. Because once they're sure you're dead, the zaibatsus would sell your toes to foot fetishists if they could get away with it. Their sole purpose for existence is to maximize profit within the law. And some of them interpret that last bit to mean "anything I can get away with is effectively legal".

Comment: Re:Will they ban this ? (Score 1) 748

by Medievalist (#47703209) Attached to: News Aggregator Fark Adds Misogyny Ban

"They tied the hands of one woman to the back of a car and her legs to another car and they split her into two," he said beside makeshift tents as women cried

Would Fark ban the above news, from Reuters ?

If the article (which I did not read) explicitly approves or promotes the activity described in your quote, then yes.

If not, then no.

Usually it's easy to tell the difference between reporting an atrocity and cheerleading for the perpetrators. Usually.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan