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Comment: Re:Already Happened (Score 2) 76

Yeah, I'm a bit confused because I thought this had become common practice. For a few years now, I've seen a bunch of games where you get some special content (a different outfit, or starting the game with some bonus or special gear) when you pre-order from a specific store. Since it's different "special content" for different stores, you'd have to buy multiple copies of the game to get all of the content. Then, after some period of time, the game releases all of the special gear as "DLC", and then it's also is included in the GoTY edition (or whatever they feel like calling the edition that includes all the updates and DLC).

Is there a difference between that and what we're talking about? I'm not sure I really see the problem. These bit of "special content" are usually kind of stupid, like maybe you start with a extra bit of body armor and some shotgun shells or something.

Plus, honestly, I usually wait until the "extra special edition" is on sale on Steam before I buy games these days. Not that I would expect everyone to wait, but it's kind of great. I avoid the hype machine and get to see what people think after the hype has died down, you get all the DLC, additional content, and bug fixes all at once, and you get it for 40% off or something.

Comment: Re:Windows 7 end of life... (Score 1) 667

I think that the examples you cite are bad decisions on Microsoft's part, not because of what they did, but because they simply did it too soon.

I'm not saying that you can't drop backwards compatibility. It just seems like Microsoft sometimes screws up compatibility with older versions of their software to force you onto the upgrade treadmill, which is what was originally being discussed.

Comment: Very clever (Score 4, Interesting) 67

Reminds me a little of some work done by Terje Mathisen, an expert assembly language programmer. Not exactly that same as the exploit, but probably interesting to a few slashdotters. I'll let him describe it:

"The most complicated code I have ever written is/was a piece of executable text, in order to be able to send binary data over very early text-only email systems:

"Minimum possible amount of self-modification (a single two-byte backwards branch), a first-level bootstrap that fits in two 64-byte lines including a Copyright notice and which survives the most common forms of reformatting, including replacing the CRLF line terminator by any zero, one or two byte sequence. This piece of code picks up the next few lines, combining pairs of characters into arbitrary byte values before flushing the prefetch cache by branching into the newly decoded second-level bootstrap. (Everything uses only the ~70 different ascii codes which are blessed by the MIME standard as never requiring encoding or escape sequences.)

"This second level consists of a _very_ compact BASE64 decode which takes the remainder of the input and re-generates the original binary which it can either execute in place or write to disk.

Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 4, Insightful) 390

by Xtifr (#47411369) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Have you ever been fooled by incorrect indentation that didn't compile the way it looked?

Nope. My editor takes care of indentation for me, in every common language except Python, and when I have to deal with a batch of code written by someone else, I run it through indent(1) first. So, in fact, it's just the opposite: when the indentation doesn't match what I expect, I know there's an actual problem in the code!

With Python, on the other hand, I'm actually more likely to have an error in the indenting, because there's no easy way to see how many blocks I'm terminating when I outdent by an arbitrary amount. Which is a real PITA when you're refactoring.

Of course, things may be different if you're using crappy tools. But professionals shouldn't be using crappy tools.

Brackets, begin..end, and semicolons are crutches for compiler writers not programmers.

No, they're tools to make my job easier. Whatever the historical reason for them may be, they benefit the programmer! They make me more productive.

Now, I'll grant that Python is a remarkably good language despite its horrible flaw of relying on indentation. And many of its good features also make me more productive. But that doesn't mean that relying on the indentation isn't a horrible flaw.

Comment: Re:Windows 7 end of life... (Score 1) 667

BTW, when has MS ever created incompatibilities with old versions for no reason? I assume you're talking old versions of software?

I don't remember what I had in mind when writing that, but the first thing that comes to mind is Microsoft Office formats. There were a few years where they would release a new version of Office with incompatible versions of their Office file formats, which meant that if one person in the company upgraded, every file they touched suddenly became unreadable in older versions. That was a few years ago, but they've gotten so much flack for it that they've stabilized the formats after Office 2007.

IIRC they did similar shenanigans at some point with WMA/WMV files, where they released a new version of Windows Media Player that automatically used the new version of their codec, which was unsupported on older versions of Windows Media Player. That would be fine, since Windows Media Player was free, except that they didn't allow you to install the new version of Windows Media Player on older versions of Windows. They've done similar things with DirectX and IE.

Comment: Re:A better list than expected (Score 4, Funny) 274

by nine-times (#47408179) Attached to: The World's Best Living Programmers

It doesn't happen very often anymore, but for many years I kept hearing people say things like, "The story of Bill Gates shows what's so great about our country. The guy started out poor, he had absolutely nothing, but he was pretty much the best programmer in the world. Using nothing but his programming skills, he managed to become the richest guy in the world. It's a great success story."

Yeah, Bill Gates got rich by being a brilliant programmer, and Steve Jobs got rich by being a really nice guy. Meanwhile, Ballmer just skated by on his good looks, social graces, and beautiful head of hair.

Comment: Re:They failed to realize... (Score 1) 244

Even if they used it now, I'm not sure they'd sue. It would make them look pretty crappy. As it is, they got a request to use their logo on a statue of a murdered child, and they were like, "Eh... we'd rather not." It's really not that hard to understand why DC wouldn't want to be strongly linked to child abuse and murder in such a potentially long-lasting medium, given the choice. How much trouble they'd go through to stop it, though, is another issue.

Part of the question, I'd imagine, is whether they're denying the use of the logo via copyright protection or trademark protection. I'm not sure it makes sense for them to claim trademark protection here, but if so, there are some legal requirements for them to protect their trademark, so they might need to at least send a cease and desist letter. I'm not a lawyer, but that's my understanding.


California Property Tax Exemptions For Solar Energy Systems Extended To 2025 76

Posted by timothy
from the special-favors-if-you-can-get-'em dept.
New submitter DaveSmith1982 writes with word from PV Tech that A property tax exemption for solar power systems in California has been extended to 2025, following the passing of a bill as part of the annual state budget. Senate Bill 871 (SB871) was approved during the signing of the budget by governor Jerry Brown, which took place last week. The wording of SB871 extends the period during which property taxes will not be applied to "active solar energy systems," which includes PV and solar water heaters.

Comment: "Why are we doing this?" (Score 5, Insightful) 131

by nine-times (#47376615) Attached to: Employees Staying Away From Internal Corporate Social Networks

Whenever you set off to do something like "setting up an internal corporate Intranet site", you should always be very clear about your answer to this question: "Why are we doing this?" As in, what problem are we solving? How do we actually imagine this being used?

Lots of people will start something like this and think, "This application looks cool. It's like Facebook, but private and we can control it." And yeah, it may be fun to set up, but why are you doing it? What problem does it solve? Does it serve a purpose in disseminating information in a way that a normal website or email mailing list would be less effective? Does it aid in collaboration somehow? Once you have a clear answer, then you have to have a plan on how to get buy-in from employees. How are you going to get them to think it's a good way of accomplishing whatever it is that you hope it'll accomplish? Why should they bother with it at all? You need to convince them and then remind them to follow through.

But none of that works if there's no purpose in the first place. Is the intention just to socialize? First, they can do that in Facebook. If they want a more professional setting, that's what LinkedIn is for. Beyond that, lots of those people are sitting in the same office building anyway, so they can meet face to face. Throw them a little cupcake party on the first Friday of every month. It'll be cheaper, and people will like it more.

Comment: Re:T-Mobile's Reponse (Score 1) 110

by nine-times (#47367997) Attached to: FTC Says T-Mobile Made Hundreds of Millions From Bogus SMS Charges

I feel like I'm being a little paranoid, but I had the same thought. And after all the NSA revelations and whatnot, I feel like paranoia is justified.

It's an industry that has always tacked on weird semi-fraudulent charges to your bill. The industry has always tried to hide what you're actually being charged for, advertised different prices than what you're actually charged, charged you for add-on services without consent, and charged for unexpected overages without warning. Meanwhile, T-Mobile has been shaking up the industry with simpler billing, making their charges more clear, and doing away with overages. Why would the FTC be going after them specifically?

Comment: Re:True of any job. (Score 1) 121

by nine-times (#47363409) Attached to: Happy Software Developers Solve Problems Better

Being unhappy tends to lead to increased awareness of details and a more cautious/pessimistic approach to problems. While that can be a handicap in many situations, it can be helpful when the shit hits the fan. "Stress" is itself a biological state that is priming us for bad situations. Stress can be helpful in dangerous situations. The problem is, in our relatively safe modern society, we have a tendency to enter a state of stress, and then never leave.

Comment: Re:True of any job. (Score 2) 121

by nine-times (#47360617) Attached to: Happy Software Developers Solve Problems Better

It's not just about putting in more effort to stay with the company, or putting in more effort out of loyalty. Both of those can play a role in increase efficiency, but it's also the fact that your brain's ability to function is impacted by mood. You will think differently when you're under stress, panicked, depressed, worried, happy, horny, angry, or hungry. Being in a "happy" state is often good for solving the kinds of problems that present themselves at work.

Some people make the mistake of saying something like, "You make better decisions when you're happy." That's not altogether true. Being in a different state of mind will alter your thinking in ways that may be useful for certain situations. Being angry might make you more ready for a physical fight. Being hungry might distract you from other concerns in favor of finding food, which can be useful in keeping you from starving. These are useful things until you're in the wrong state of mind for the things you want to get done.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.