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Comment: Maturity is the word you're looking for. (Score 2) 218

Kids get all excited about things. When you grow up, have a family and realise the world is made of more than bits dressed-up as glossy pixels, then you'll understand that software is a craft to involve your inner programmer not a ski-slope for the sparkle-headed. Complacency is the wrong word. Look at people. Graduate, by study and research, into management. There are many disappointments to be had there but also many opportunities to use experience to pour oil on the waters of desperation and panic. Grow up.

Comment: Whatever I can avoid (Score 1) 635

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#47788151) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?
Tech has to deliver a bonus. So a USB stick beats 8",5",3" floppies (It's scary) I have a mobile (not smart) phone but I write numbers I need on the cardboard case (a bog-roll inner tube) because that's quicker than farting about with a 0-9 keyboard. My best desktop utils (calendar, menu, password cache, documentation finder) were written 15 -- 20 years ago. There *IS*progress but mostly it isn't something to invest in until it becomes mature.

Comment: Keep a sample (Score 2) 122

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#44366845) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Keeping Digital Media After Imaging?

The actuality of bit-rot in media is uncertain. Many documents 500 years old are readable-ish if you have the skills and accept that some parts may have decayed. That tells us a lot about te exact media people used way back then.

The trouble with digital records is this:-
Searchability is a requirement (even though we don't expect that with written records). The reason is that there is so much of it when compared with the sparse records of times past. So you need a 'good' copy for data analysis and some original media to inform historians of the future how we looked upon the information, or what 'ordinary people' or 'ordinary businesses' had at their disposal.

Comment: An idea for the hackers (Score 1) 445

Outside You know the rows of path lights typically powered by a solar cell on the top that are a glowworm if you don't have long nights and short days? Well, if they're on a path or steps then make the one at each end responsive to some stimulus, eg the light from an opening door or a IR approach AND have the chain react sympathetically so they all light up one recognising the next's burst into life. This means the light output can be much higher for a short period rather than emitting a miserable glimmer all night. Once proven the tech could be baked in a 2-cent chip. Also the setting-up would give /.ers hours of tweaking fun.

Inside As a midnight programmer I often want to go downstairs to make a cup of tea etc. My computer room has subdued lighting and I don't want bright lights in the stairs when 3 leds will do. But I would like the simplicity of battery source with automatic operation.

Comment: No she doesn't (Score 1) 384

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#44356239) Attached to: The Book That Is Making All Movies the Same
  • She is the one who forces the issue with Witch and wizard.
  • Her 'friends' are companions who jump on her wagon for their own reasons.
  • OK there is some cute/schmaltzy/apple-pie stuff, but she's not growing the lion, tin man etc. but letting them free.

The reason it's a great film is that it has a vulnerable/confused girl becoming feisty and then at the end still lonely. That's the Monomyth writ large.

Comment: Save the alternatives! (Score 0) 384

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#44351547) Attached to: The Book That Is Making All Movies the Same

Snyder's book implies there's ONE way to plot a film. The danger is that this sort of story arc does not fit well with the way females do their heroing. (In short, boys go away to have an exciting time and the story is about them, girls stay at home and deal with whatever has to be dealt with and the story is about how people deal with issues.) A good example of the boy's story is the Wizard of Oz. A good example of the girl's way is the TV series Dad's Army. (There's a reason why the first is a film and the second TV. Notice of course the main protagonists are 'wrong-sex')

So if you follow 'Save the cat!' you'll miss out on lots of interesting plots with powerful characters. I've got an essay on the subject at for anyone who wants to compare and contrast.

Comment: Informed comment -v- Ignorance (Score 1) 406

SOME slashdoters want insights into how to passage the rapids of Information Technology. Possibly MOST. At the least it is about learning from other people's mistakes. So in the middle of a (possibly) heated _discussion_ about foo one or more twerps barge in. They have mouths but not ears. I'll just repeat that: They have mouths but not ears. (Their brains may be a bit tiny as well.) Now if I was in a pub I could stand up and tell them to DIAF and leave their betters to fix problems on behalf of everyone. (IME this works if you have at least one supporter who is fully behind you at the time.) The equivalent in the Internet/Forum/Developer Café is some sort of censorship.

I'm all for it. If you're in the elite then you should open your doors to the others but don't be afraid to 'Blackball' the scum that poison proper and necessary discussion.

Comment: Goal-driven re-write (Score 1) 254

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#44027027) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Start Reading Other's Code?

Start FIRST with what YOU want to do and WHY it is important to do it your way. Without this motivation you're wasting your time.

If you don't know anything about the architecture of the system then sketch your own over a cup of coffee to find out what are likely to be the key components.

Now you have a goal you can see what parts of the existing system are applicable, missing etc. Your basic knowledge of the inside cogs, wheels and not forgetting irrelevant bells and whistles will be a great help in focussing on elements, themes or modules. (For example the original might be full of cruft concerning what you regard as a dead-end but the original developers considered a bonus feature.) With the knowledge gained from the original system you may be able to look upon it as a prototype and build a much simpler system that isn't full of serial adaptations.

If you have a 'porting' job then there are probably tools to at least highlight places to deal with.

Comment: Use a physical key (Score 1) 284

Here's a thought. If firewall/router configs are too fluffy for the organisation to grasp[1] then use a technology that the end-users are familiar with. For example a router with a power supply controlled by a key switch. Who has the key, when it went out, why do you want it?, how long, what will affect? can be managed by production/shift managers as other things. It also means that there is some bod on site who has to be told by the vendor what's supposed to be happening and gets permission for *that thing* with *certain risks* who is on site and shares responsibility for the tweaking. If the vendor turns up on site then they jack-in to the LAN with their laptop with your firewall controls etc and the LAN connects to the process system via the switched router, and the same chain of *responsibility* applies with the shift-manager carrying the can and so exercising proper supervision.

Comment: Why not... (Score 1) 487

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#43923127) Attached to: BBC Clock Inaccurate - 100 Days To Fix?
Combine 'precision master source' from a 'BBC time' server with local time as set by the user. So for example BBC time might be 14:12:03 while the user is somewhere the other side of the Atlantic and their local clock says 10:10:56. The combined display would be 10:12:03. ie the hours sourced locally while the minutes and seconds come from a basement in Broadcasting house. OK this doesn't deal with latency etc but that's not a big issue is it?

+ - Coding competition. Like checkmate in five

Submitted by Peter (Professor) Fo
Peter (Professor) Fo (956906) writes "You know those chess puzzles that go 'Black to move, checkmate in five', what about code-fixing of a spot the bug type puzzle that might go: 'Add two sets of brackets to ...' or 'Add one line of not more than ten characters to fix this sort routine.' or 'rewrite the inner function to increase the speed by an order of magnitude by changing up to four lines'

This is the sort of mental challenge that should be bread and butter to programmers, can be set at different levels of difficulty and provide a diversion from our own bloody code-knots. The emphasis to be on coding algorithms rather than stupid bugs or quirks.

I'm curious too know if there is a home for such puzzles, people have examples and if anyone would be generally interested."

Comment: Supposedly trusted =/= Authority (Score 1) 238

Well done for (as you hope) keeping out 'the bad guys'. Now exactly who are these 'bad guys'? If they wear a badge saying 'security' does that make them good guys? No of course not. You NEED to see the chain of authorisation up to a board-level signature. (Not for your own security but theirs.) OK, so some security work is done unannounced, but if it's all unannounced that sounds suspicious. If the attackers really are properly authorised good guys then get a 'certificate' from them that shows you 'passed'. This might be important evidence if things went pear-shaped later and is a nice thing to have on your CV.

"It's curtains for you, Mighty Mouse! This gun is so futuristic that even *I* don't know how it works!" -- from Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse