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Comment: Re:Easy of porting over is the key (Score 1) 190

by NickFortune (#49145745) Attached to: The State of Linux Gaming In the SteamOS Era

The Linux fanboys can scream and curse me all they want, but time will prove me right.

Well obviously they're going to curse you. I mean you have just single-handedly ensured the demise of SteamOS by virtue of grumpily posting a pessimistic opinion on a nerdy discussion board. Because that's the way Cause And Effect works, right?

Seriously, a bit of perspective here?

Comment: Re:Pointless (Score 1) 754

by NickFortune (#49072289) Attached to: Removing Libsystemd0 From a Live-running Debian System

It takes real effort to support multiple init systems, so the question becomes, is it worth it?

Define "worth". I mean, can you put a dollar value on not fragmenting the whole Linux community, for instance?

The people actually doing the work in many distributions don't think it is.

Some of the people. The Debian decision was only carried by the chairman's casting vote. So in that case at least people doing the actual work seem pretty damn undecided to me.

You can either work to change that by putting in your own time/money, try to convince them that it is worth the time, or just use systemd.

*Yawn* Or I can use Gentoo or Slackware or (pretty soon) Devuan. Currently I'm using Gentoo and a systemd-free Wheezy. I do hope you're not going to tell me that disqualifies me from having an opinion here?

If systemd is as good as its supporters suggest, then it'll become widely adopted without all this ballyhoo. Conversely, if it's failings are severe enough that it can't gain widespread acceptance without politicising the entire debate, then I don't want it anywhere near me.

This is exactly what is happening. Distribution maintainers are choosing to use systemd because they find it the best of the options available.

Well, except for the whole "without all this ballyhoo", since that is definitely happening. And without the implied unanimity of opinion on the part of the developers: see the previous point about Debian. So, you know, no that isn't exactly what's happening. Sorry.

Also, once again, the only people I see making this political are those who seem to find systemd emotionally repulsive.

It takes two to make for a political debate. We can argue about who started it if you like, but it still takes two. Like the two of us, for instance. Now personally I don't think that either of us are aguing based on primarily emotional or aesthetic grounds. Of course, we can talk about that a bit more if you want.

But if you want a purely technical argument, immature software still under heavy development, lacking an interface spec should be sufficient for most reasonable people.

All of the arguments I've seen in favor of systemd are purely of the "it works better and has more features" variety.

Meh. There's also been plenty along the lines of "systemd just works and if you're too stupid to see it then that's your problem because it's already been decided by people far more intelligent than you so just sit down and shut up already".

If fact, absent the rudeness, that's pretty much the substance of your own argument, if you don't mind me saying so.

Comment: Re:Pointless (Score 1) 754

by NickFortune (#49065891) Attached to: Removing Libsystemd0 From a Live-running Debian System

Literally the only argument I've seen that is even close to reasonable is that some people like text logs and journald is a binary log format, and fixing that requires adding one line to a config file.

Please, someone explain this to me.

I'll give it a shot

See, traditionally, this isn't how things are done in the Linux world. Generally, if you have a snazzy idea for an init system (for example) what you'd do is offer it as an option and let users decide.

The idea is to minimise the changes that will be made by the new system (other than improvements to the boot system). That way people who are interested in the new technology can try it and report benefits, problems, make suggestions and, if the new software really provides tangible improvements, more people will start using it and in time it'll probably end up as the default init system on a good many distros. Even then, you'd expect other init-systems to be available as options.

What doesn't work so well on the whole is taking your new init system, declaring that anyone who can't see its benefits is either an idiot or a luddite, and bringing political pressure to bear to get distros to adopt your baby as the default choice. Especially at the same time as trying to tie it into as many other pieces of software as possible thus making it very difficult to replace it with any of the alternatives.

That goes doubly when, as is the case with systemd, we have an immature solution under heavy development, with no firm specification, and developers who have a reputation for being less than helpful. This isn't Microsoft. Solutions don't get invented by some privileged few and adopted because Word comes down from On High. They get adopted because a lot of people use them and find them useful.

And any time it looks like someone is trying to subvert that process ... well, it makes a lot of people skittish. And in those cases, I'd just as soon not have the offending package on my computers.

If systemd is as good as its supporters suggest, then it'll become widely adopted without all this ballyhoo. Conversely, if it's failings are severe enough that it can't gain widespread acceptance without politicising the entire debate, then I don't want it anywhere near me.

Comment: Co-Conspirators? (Score 5, Insightful) 188

by NickFortune (#49050175) Attached to: MegaUpload Programmer Pleads Guilty, Gets a Year In Prison

So, someone hires you to work on a file sharing network. And this is conspiracy? I mean there was a time when "file sharing" was a legitimate thing to do and didn't automatically imply copyright infringement.

Even if it did, I doubt Kim Dotcom said "hey, how'd you like to join a conspiracy to enable copyright infringement?" I think it was more likely "I want to hire a database programmer"

I know it's kind of hip to say "well what do you expect?", but really this seems punitive vindictive and disproportionate.

I mean if this can happen when you write code in good faith for someone who used it for purposes later deemed illegal ... that kind of puts us all in the frame. I mean, corporate ethics being what they are and all that.


Comment: Re:I agree (Score 1) 677

Well, it worked, didn't it? He made 45 years of programmers afraid to use a GOTO unless in dire need.

Well, he definitely got the point across. And it was a point that needed making, certainly.

It's as valid today as when he spoke it.

Is it? The problem was never with the goto statement per se. The problem was huge monolithic code blocks with flow control effectively obfuscated by arbitrary gotos.

The thing is, this was before the days of structured programming, let alone OO. One goto in a 20 line function is not going to bring about a return to those evils. And even if we all decided tomorrow that gotos were all right after all, it's unlikely that we'd all return to writing 10,000 line subroutines controlled only by gotos.

On the other hand, it's perfectly possible to write spaghetti code without a single goto. You can use exceptions, delegates, lambdas and inheritance to make a far more confusing mess than Djikstra ever dreamed possible.

Overall, I think it was a valid point and well made, but I honestly question its relevance in the context of modern languages and practices.

Comment: I agree (Score 4, Insightful) 677

by NickFortune (#49041511) Attached to: Empirical Study On How C Devs Use Goto In Practice Says "Not Harmful"

People forget that Djiksrtra wrote his famous missive back when the dominant languages were PL/1 and Fortran and goto was the main mechanism for flow control.

Dijkstra's point was perfectly sensible and a valid at the time. I'm just not sure that it deserves to be elevated to the status of Eleventh Commandment.

Comment: Pre-Allocated Blame (Score 1) 214

by NickFortune (#49005429) Attached to: Verizon Sells Off Wireline Operations, Blames Net Neutrality Plans

They don't want Net Neutrality, so anything and everything bad that happens is going to be down to Net Neutrality.

Trouble in the Ukraine escalates into WW3? Net Neutrality would be to blame. A dinosaur killer asteroid on collision course with Earth? All cause by market instabilities due to Net Neutrality. Osama Bin Laden returns from the dead and starts making more Dr Evil broadcasts? Net Neutrality. That's what you get..

In fact, if the Large Haddock Collider was to collide too many Haddocks at once and cause a singularity that went on to devour the planet, it's a fair bet that the last man alive would be a Verizon marketroid who would survive just long enough to launch a deep space probe that broadcast "it's all the fault of Net Neutrality"

Comment: They're not claiming Lego is necessary... (Score 1) 93

by NickFortune (#48996277) Attached to: LEGO Contraption Allows Scientists To Safely Handle Insects

One does not, nor did they, need Legos to do this.

Quite right. In fact they pretty much imply that in TFS/TFA:

The design improves on previous insect manipulators because it's cheap, customizable, and easy to build.

So the point is not so much that they used Lego to do something that could not be otherwise achieved, but rather that the Lego solution was cheaper, simpler and more flexible.

But yeah. It could absolutely be done, and presumably has been, without the use of Lego.

Comment: Re:The time for "from scratch" is gone for ALL of (Score 3, Insightful) 302

by NickFortune (#48874035) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Has the Time Passed For Coding Website from Scratch?

The hardest lesson to learn as a programmer is that "not invented here" is code for "I am too arrogant to use someone else's solution."

Well sure. No one should ever invent anything without written permission from the Flying Spaghetti Monster, countersigned by Bill Gates, His Holiness the Pope and the ghost of Alan Turing. I mean everyone knows that!

Seriously, I quite agree with Dutch Gun's point that we all build on the work of others. I just think that blindly accepting third party solutions can be just as bad as blindly rejecting them. And if no-one ever reinvented the wheel, we'd probably still be coding in COBOL

Comment: This is why so many people are frightened (Score 1) 448

by NickFortune (#48610697) Attached to: Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies

Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies

See, this is exactly the sort of thing that Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have been warning us all about. First of all you try and simulate reality. Then your program gets smart enough that it starts to formulate desires. Next thing you know it wants to experiment with brain transplants and bioengineering techniques. Before you know it...

Wait ... what's that, you say? The headline should read "Virtual Reality experimenters want to give white users black avatars?"

Why didn't they say that in the first place?

Comment: Re:Microsoft has targeted other platforms in the p (Score 1) 192

by NickFortune (#48396165) Attached to: Visual Studio 2015 Supports CLANG and Android (Emulator Included)

It doesn't always end badly either.

Remember when Apple owned the word processing market? MS go very standards-friendly and very much into cross-platform this and interoperable-that.

Of course, it only lasted for about as long as it took for Word to dominate the market and then goodbye RTF and "hey guys, how about we make a mockery of the ISO standards process?"

I think what we're seeing here is MS in defensive mode. They'll embrace open source, open standards open sesame, whatever it takes until they're where they want to be in the market. And then, same old same old.

That said, I'm willing to be proven wrong. Time will tell :)

Comment: Re: The only way MS gets more apps in their store (Score 1) 192

by NickFortune (#48396155) Attached to: Visual Studio 2015 Supports CLANG and Android (Emulator Included)

The future is in electronic distribution, and software services that collect information. It's not a great future, but it has been created by a population that is willing to trade their privacy for free stuff.

A population that is currently willing to make that trade. I think it's only a matter of time before we see a popular backlash against all this pervasive snooping.

Still, I agree that software licensing is unlikely to continue to yield Microsoft scale money into the future. There's so much good, free software out there that it's getting harder and harder for MS to justify the margins they traditionally charge

wouldn't be surprised to see them start to give Windows away in the future.

Hmm... makes sense for the home market, where most users get their OS "free" with the computer and if they do upgrade, it's generally from a friend of a friend who "has a disk".

PC manufacturers do pay, of course, and with desktop sales shrinking, the risk here is probably minimal. In fact if the MS tax is eliminated it could do a lot to stem the rise of Android. Or at least ensure MS' place as a player in the mobile arena.

The problem though is going to be corporate customers. The ones with thousands of desktop systems that do pay. Big corps tend to be conservative about IT upgrades, and by giving Windows away MS would be sacrificing that revenue stream. They're probably reluctant to do that.

Of course, they could just drop the price of the Home Edition (or whatever they're calling it today) to zero and charge for the Pro one. But then they need to make the home edition good enough to be useful, but not so good that business would be happy using it. That's not compromise that's worked well for them in the past.

Maybe we'll see it licenced as "free for personal use". That would be something! :)

Comment: Re:Wait (Score 1) 52

My point was that it's much simpler when you have direct control over the node.

Entry or exit? I mean sure, if you connect to Silk Road and you're unlucky enough to enter through an NSA node at one and and exit through another one, then you're probably toast. But as I understand it, the number of subverted nodes is still fairly small compared to the total number. Which brings us back to the GP's point about security increasing with the number of nodes.

Cookies and javascript are not the only ways to track you. Doesn't Facebook require cookies to be enabled?

The weak link there is Facebook. I don't think anyone's seriously proposing FB as a champion of individual privacy.

And yes, there are ways other than JS and cookies to track people. But they tend to involve things like traffic analysis which is time consuming and requires human surveillance. Little Johnny who just wants to connect to the Pirate Bay from his mum's basement is probably fairly secure.

As much as Tor can help, there is no such thing as being perfectly anonymous on the internet

See, this is the crux of the matter, really. Security is a relative value. It's not like "oh, it's possible to circumvent this measure therefore it is of no value". It's "I know this channel is potentially insecure, but it's sure as hell better than communicating in plaintext, and hopefully the bad guys will go after easier targets".

It's like having a lock on your font door. They won't keep the government out, but there's all sorts of good reasons for having them installed.

Comment: Re:Wait (Score 1) 52

Tor becomes less effective when corporations are running the nodes. Nothing like funneling all your data through an untrusted proxy. Besides, didn't the NSA already show us that Tor does little to protect anonymity?

I think they demonstrated that Tor can be beaten, but that doesn't necessarily imply that defeating it is simple or cost-effective for most cases.

The way I see if, if you're running Silk Road X.Y then it's probably worth their while to take the time and trouble needed to find you. If all you want to do is stop your mobile phone company from tracking every site you visit over 3G (speaking purely hypothetically, of course) then without evidence of any illegal activity, they're unlikely to bother..

Just because it's not perfect doesn't mean it's useless, you know?

Between cookies and other tracking methods, all those website already know who you are, regardless of how the traffic got there.

Yeah. If only there was a way to disable cookies and javascript in a web browser. You know, like the Tor browser does by default?

Innovation is hard to schedule. -- Dan Fylstra