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Comment: Re:Guy is a moron (Score 4, Insightful) 358

by Salamander (#47305823) Attached to: Florida Man Faces $48k Fine For Jamming Drivers' Cellphones

I agree with the first part of your comment, and came here to say almost the same thing. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

The second part makes you seem like a moron. Seriously, losing access to your e-toy for a minute or two is worth killing over? Get a grip.

Comment: Ancient news (Score 2) 190

by Salamander (#45495067) Attached to: Elevation Plays a Role In Memory Error Rates

About five years ago, I was involved in the installation of a thousand-node cluster in Boulder. We knew *before we went in* that we needed to change our EDAC (memory error correction) code to account for the higher rate of bit-flips due to the altitude. Some of the people we were working with had been there when those same problems nearly caused a months-long delay in a larger installation at NCAR nearby. We ended up running into a more subtle problem involving lower air density, heat and voltage, but *this* problem was incredibly old news even then.

Comment: Re:First game! (Score 1) 704

by Salamander (#42711577) Attached to: What Early Software Was Influential Enough To Deserve Acclaim?

Good point. In fact, what made me think of mentioning Adventure is that I'm hacking on Adventure 2.5 (a.k.a. 550) to make it playable with my daughter. I've already added code to work around one build error, modified some of the game logic having to do with save/restore annoyances, and found one crash if you "say" something too long. The point is that all of this is happening in Linux, based on code that was written well before Linux even existed. Surely there's a lesson there. Thanks for clarifying it.

Comment: First game! (Score 3, Insightful) 704

by Salamander (#42711209) Attached to: What Early Software Was Influential Enough To Deserve Acclaim?

Adventure, a.k.a. Colossal Cave, by Crowther and Woods (extended by others).

http://rickadams.org/adventure/e_downloads.html

This was many old-school programmers' first exposure to computers as entertainment. For example, both my wife and I recall playing it on TI SilentWriters (paper output plus an acoustic modem) when we were kids. Even more than Space Wars, which was written at least a year later and only ran on much less common hardware, this was the start of computer gaming.

Comment: Re:coding style can get you fired (Score 1) 430

by Salamander (#42366727) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do Coding Standards Make a Difference?

If one developer is that critical within your organization, you've got bigger issues than source code line width.

On most projects, there will be parts of the code that few understand. Yes, if that number is zero or one you have bigger problems, but trying to get it beyond two or three for every single piece is infeasible. Given how mobile people tend to be nowadays, and how variable their working hours across different time zones might be, it's quite common that the only reviewer available at a time of need (e.g. fixing a customer's problem in production) might be in a constrained environment. I guess it's not a problem if all you want is rubber-stamp reviews of simple code, but otherwise it's something you have to consider.

Think of the majority of developers that are sitting in an office environment.

Um, no. Having all of your developers in a single office all the time is increasingly uncommon, especially on open-source projects. Even fairly stodgy companies often have remote workers nowadays, all the way down to cutting-edge startups where practically nobody lives in the same city. Assuming such a majority is a bad basis for deciding policy.

I've seen this kind of thing kill code reviews. Instead of looking for logic problems or design flaws, you'll get that one guy being anal retentive about line width or ratio of one thing to something else.

Yes, I hate that kind of review myself, and I'll bet I've been subjected to about a dozen times more of them than you. However, conforming to a line-length limit is comparatively easy. Required scaffolding and forbidden constructs, function-length and even variable-naming conventions can all be much more of a pain. Part of teams being professional is respecting your colleagues and putting needs before whims. If you can't do that, or if staying within a length limit is so hard for you, then - to borrow your phrase - you have bigger problems.

Comment: Re:coding style can get you fired (Score 3, Informative) 430

by Salamander (#42366225) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do Coding Standards Make a Difference?

The only issue I have is with code diff utilities that don't work well with multi-monitor setups.

You should try to appreciate that not everyone shares your circumstance. Sometimes the most senior developers on a project might have to review code while on the road, e.g. visiting customers or presenting at conferences. Not too many laptops have multiple monitors, and you wouldn't want to carry one if it did. Some of the very latest have pretty decent resolution, but they cost a lot more and they have a very fine dot pitch so the number of characters doesn't scale up as much as the number of pixels. Under those circumstances, code that doesn't display well in a *side by side* diff on a single small-ish monitor is a more serious issue than the junior developer's fetish for super-long lines. Eighty columns might not be the absolute best width, but it's in the range that makes such diffs under such circumstances productive, and it's a width that a lot of people (and tools developed over the last few decades) can handle reliably.

Also, people who study reading have known for half a century that long lines are hard to scan accurately without a saccade leaving the reader's eyes on the previous or next line, which means that they're bad for readability even on wide monitors. There's a reason newspapers used to set type in columns instead of all the way across the page. You'll need a much better reason than personal aesthetics to do something that's bad for readability and a pain for other members of your team. Without such a reason - and I haven't seen any, anywhere in this thread - that's just selfish and immature.

Comment: Re:Go old school (Score 1) 210

by Salamander (#42140179) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best File System For Web Hosting?

Actually, there is a reason not to have different apps using different filesystems in partitions on one disk. If those apps just use subdirectories within one filesystem, that filesystem can do a pretty good job of linearizing I/O across them all, minimizing head motion (XFS is especially good at this). If those apps use separate partitions, you'll thrash the disk head mercilessly between them if more than one is busy. Your advice is good in the multiple-disk case, but terrible in the single-disk case, and any well trained sysadmin would know not to lump them together. Perhaps next time you shouldn't be so quick to attack others for asking reasonable questions.

Comment: Re:Fraud (Score 3, Informative) 332

by Salamander (#38101714) Attached to: B&N Pummels Microsoft Patent Claims With Prior Art

It probably has something to do with the difference between claims and description in a patent application. Claims are the part that matter. Often the claims are constructed so they *just barely* pass the obviousness test, e.g. by taking two ideas that are too obvious by themselves, but combining them in a way that's less obvious. The description can then be far more general, and is often shared between many patents, but that doesn't affect the validity of the claims *at all*. To determine the validity of a patent you have to look very carefully at what is being claimed, and only refer to the description as background to understand the claims.

Disclaimer: IANAL and I don't give legal advice. I've just been through this nearly a dozen times.

Comment: Other Options (Score 1) 320

by Salamander (#37907290) Attached to: Which OSS Clustered Filesystem Should I Use?

Disclaimer: I'm the project lead for HekaFS, which is based on GlusterFS.

If you're concerned about data protection, you'll want to worry about node as well as disk failures. Some distributed filesystems, including Lustre and PVFS*, take a rather old-school "use RAID and implement your own heartbeat/failover between server pairs" approach, and that just sucks. GlusterFS and Ceph don't have that wart; neither do MooseFS or XtreemFS, which I would consider the other alternatives. They all have their own forms of replication built into the filesystem, so you don't need to set up and maintain another layer for them. Unfortunately, neither MooseFS nor Ceph survived even simple tests - write a few files in parallel, flush caches, read them back in parallel - when I ran those tests on the same hardware as GlusterFS and XtreemFS which did fine. That was a while ago, though, so take that with a grain of salt. Ceph in particular has a lot of awesome technology and has a very bright future IMO, but it's taking a while for it to realize that potential.

Out of GlusterFS and XtreemFS, the choice has a lot to do with your exact use case. XtreemFS has a pretty strong focus on wide-area replication, so if that's part of your need now or likely to be in the future then it's probably a bit stronger. GlusterFS does have some wide-area replication, but I consider it rather weak. Within a single data center, I'd give GlusterFS the edge. It has better local performance than XtreemFS in my tests, and it has what I consider by far the best setup/management interface.

The one caveat I'd offer is that all of the filesystem I've mentioned excel for sequential access for large files. For random access, and especially for metadata-heavy workloads, they all suck to some degree. As others have mentioned, you might very well be better off with a simple NFS server pair with cheap shared storage and heartbeat/failover to ensure availability.

Comment: POSIX xattrs (Score 3, Insightful) 369

by Salamander (#37906962) Attached to: Rethinking the Nature of Files

Look them up. They already allow you to attach arbitrary metadata to a file. Most modern filesystems and user-level utilities support them already. They're even used as the underpinnings for security mechanisms such as POSIX ACLs and SELinux. Sure, there are issues with performance when you have *lots* of xattrs on a file, and that's a fruitful area of research, but we sure don't need some brand-new Microsoft-invented thing to deal with metadata.

Comment: Re:Numbers (Score 1) 76

by Salamander (#36881634) Attached to: IBM Speeds Storage With Flash: 10B Files In 43 Min

Doing something for 7857 files and doing it for 10 billion are very different situations. 7857 files, including metadata, can easily be sucked into memory in one big chunk and unpacked/examined from there. That simply doesn't work for datasets larger than memory. At the higher scale, modern filesystems do tend to fall apart, badly, so different approaches are needed. Comparing your paper airplane to an F-22 doesn't make it look like you know anything about writing software properly. Quite the opposite.

Comment: This is what happens... (Score 1) 467

by Salamander (#36722710) Attached to: When Software Offends

...when people in the community, instead of setting a good example, fetishize the act of trolling itself. When high technical contribution is combined with presentations full of pornographic images/metaphors and Twitter streams full of laughter at others' consternation, such childish behavior becomes the New Conformity. It's just as cliquish and pointless as the Old Conformity these rebels without a clue pretend to reject, but whenever aspiring programmers see that opinions presented in one set of clothes get a quicker/more friendly hearing than the same opinions presented in a different set of clothes it's totally predictable how they'll respond. They'll imitate all the off-color and trollish behavior that they see, and some of them will end up stepping over lines that actually matter. It's all good fun until promising projects and startups fail because would-be users and collaborators get turned off by the hipster posing. What kind of sociopath would make a decision where the only possible upside is a few laughs and the potential downside is colleagues losing their jobs? It doesn't matter if you feel your own job is secure, or if you feel that people shouldn't react as they do; anybody who pulls this kind of stunt doesn't deserve a job or funding or anything else but our contempt.

Comment: Missing a Big One (Score 3, Interesting) 213

by Salamander (#36633512) Attached to: The Most Dangerous Programming Mistakes

The Mitre list does include "Use of a Broken or Risky Cryptographic Algorithm" but in my experience that's far less common than improper use of a perfectly good algorithm. Many algorithms and modes have known weaknesses that require specific generation/handling of keys and initialization vectors to maintain good security. Most algorithms and modes that are secure against unauthorized *reading* of data still require an extra MAC step to prevent unauthorized *modification* of that data (including targeted bit-flips). Developers often take shortcuts in these areas because doing all of "the right things" adds a lot of extra complexity and can absolutely kill performance. Look at recent events involving Dropbox and Jungledisk for examples. I don't think the Mitre list adequately conveys that cryptographic security requires not just good low-level algorithms like AES or Blowfish but also good higher-level (usually domain-specific) algorithms governing how the low-level algorithms and their inputs are used.

Comment: Better game frameworks (Score 1) 527

by Salamander (#36543404) Attached to: Why Johnny Can't Code and How That Can Change

I recently went through a related exercise with my daughter. I showed her ponycorns because it's exactly the kind of game she already likes. She got the idea that we could create a game too, since I'm also a programmer and she's a whole two years older than Sissy. At that age I'm not about to teach her actual programming, but I thought it might be a good way for her to see the creative process at a higher level - plus we'd end up with something that she could enjoy and show off to her friends. We had a lot of fun with her drawing the characters which I then turned into sprites, and recording audio, and brainstorming about what puzzles would be in the game. Now the effort has stalled, mostly for lack of a decent framework. I mean, all we need is basic point-and-click stuff, maybe even an inventory and stuff like that, but it would sure be nice to have the characters actually *move* smoothly from one place to another instead of just disappearing from one place and appearing in another. Oh, it would be extra nice to have something open source, or at least runnable on Linux. I looked at dozens of frameworks that I found on http://www.ambrosine.com/resource.html and elsewhere, and very few could meet those simple requirements without getting into full-out 2D suitable for side-scrollers and platformers - meaning that they're way more complicated than I need and generally don't "scale down" to the simpler stuff very well. I tried Adventure Maker but quickly ran into its limitations even with a project as simple as this. I might try GameMaker next, even though it's also Windows-centric (I can use my wife's machine if I have to), because the other offerings out there seem so incredibly thin.

The point is not that I personally need help finding a tool with which to make this particular game - though suggestions would certainly be welcome. The problem is that the "state of play" is just so incredibly piss-poor overall. Forget about finding something that even an older child could use *themselves* to create a game that doesn't totally suck. It's hard enough to find something that a *professional programmer* (albeit not a game programmer like Sissy's dad) can stand to work with long enough to get such a result. Something just good enough to let parents and kids put together a simple adventure/puzzle game on par with ponycorns, to give them something that's fun and that just barely hints at what you can do if you can program, would go a long way toward making them want to learn more. As far as I can tell, such a thing doesn't exist.

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.

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