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Comment: Re:Levels (Score 1) 32

by rwa2 (#48919889) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Makes a Great Software Developer?

Yeah, there's probably a matrix of skills and abilities, depending on how much collaboration you need to do with customers / suppliers / other developers.

Great Coder: can make a computer do stuff. In code. No one else really cares how they do their thing. They just take a defined process and codify it to automate it or whatever.

Great Programmer: can write programs, presumably that other people have to use. Hopefully you still have this programmer around if you need to fix their program.

Great Software Developer: Now we're getting somewhere... they probably work together with other programmers as a team and start worrying about more of the stuff they learned in CS classes, like code reusability, refactoring, complexity, maybe some analysis of algorithms and pure math logic.

Great Software Engineer: Maybe less of the pure math and algorithms on how to do tricky things in code, but more of the practical stuff like defining code standards, test harnesses, and social aspects of code maintenance, like the discipline of setting up and maintaining the process through peer reviews, continuous integration, etc.

Great Software Architect: Solves problems before they occur by drawing pictures. But still gets blamed for all of the new problems anyway.

A lot of greatness involves managing complexity and making things as simple as possible for other people to understand and maintain. But no simpler.

Comment: Re:Lowest hanging fruit. (Score 1) 104

by rwa2 (#48918909) Attached to: New Google Fiber Cities Announced

But compared to Seattle? No. There's a reason people here in Seattle spend so much on dial-up. We long for the Internet. I pay almost $450 per month for the T1 to my house. The city granted a monopoly to Comcat for my neighborhood and will not allow competition but the city's rules also block Comcast from providing access so we're stuck with either dialup or paying for expensive typically business-only telco lines. Here in Seattle we care about Internet access. When I lived in Cary, NC, I had more than ten times as much bandwidth nearly ten years ago as compared to what I have in Seattle. It was also 1/8 the price. That shows NC doens't give a damn about the Internet. Here in Seattle we put our money where our mouth is. We are educated unlike those people that suck at the tit of cheap access. We pay our own way.

Damn... let me know when that changes. Here on the Eastside in Redmond we have 50/50Mbps FiOS from Frontier for $60/mo. or so. Back when I lived in DC, we had Verizon FiOS and it was pretty great, except I had to pay extra for the Business FiOS so they'd unblock HTTP(S)/SMTP on my home server (and get vaguely more helpful customer service). But none of that silliness is necessary at the Frontier Residential tier.

Comment: Re:Not their fault (Score 1) 336

by hey! (#48918827) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Something worth considering. We associate snow with cold, so it's tempting to see more and frequent snowstorms as disproof that the planet is warning. However temperature is only one of the constraints on snow. The other is moisture.

I have lived here in Boston over fifty years, and in the 60s and 70s the December climate was bitterly cold and *bone dry*. In recent decades there has been a marked tendency toward warmer AND wetter Decembers and Januaries, and thus frequent significant snow storms in December (almost unheard of) and January (rare until the 90s).

This storm was particularly intense, and in my town got two feet or more. This has happened on six prior occasions, once in 1888, and five times since 1969.

Comment: Re:Hear Hear! (Score 2) 336

by Rei (#48917379) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Ah, Americans and their "mammoth snowstorms" - try living on a rock in the middle of the North Atlantic. You know what we call a snowstorm with gale-force winds and copious precipitation? Tuesday ;) Our last one was... let's see, all weekend. The northwest gets hit by another gale-force storm tomorrow. The southeast is predicted to get hurricane-force winds on Thursday morning.

Here's what the job of someone dispatched to maintain antennae for air traffic control services has to deal with here. ;) (those are guy wires)

+ - Serious Network Function Vulnerability Found In Glibc 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A very serious security problem has been found and patched in the GNU C Library (Glibc). A heap-based buffer overflow was found in __nss_hostname_digits_dots() function, which is used by the gethostbyname() and gethostbyname2() function calls. A remote attacker able to make an application call to either of these functions could use this flaw to execute arbitrary code with the permissions of the user running the program. The vulnerability is easy to trigger as gethostbyname() can be called remotely for applications that do any kind of DNS resolving within the code. Qualys, who discovered the vulnerability (nicknamed "Ghost") during a code audit, wrote a mailing list entry with more details, including in-depth analysis and exploit vectors."

Comment: Re:jessh (Score 4, Informative) 336

by rwa2 (#48915489) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms


I grew up in the DC metro area. Snowstorms in New England are notoriously hard to predict, especially nor'easters like this one (which are typically a combination of 2-3 storm systems).

Sure, you can see it coming down from the Midwest, but it's always hard to tell exactly what's going to happen to a blizzard after it stumbles over the Appalachian Mountains, which will divert some of it and squeeze some or all of the moisture out of it. Then it collides with some storm full of rain coming in from the North Atlantic. Then the wildcard is some sort of warmer air coming up from the south... It all collides over New England. The computer models can tell you what's going into the mix, but who knows exactly where it's going to transition from rain to snow? WHICH STORM WILL WIN?! A butterfly in Miami decides.

Comment: Re:Visible from Earth? (Score 1) 111

by Rei (#48915031) Attached to: Proposed Space Telescope Uses Huge Opaque Disk To Surpass Hubble

A sun-like star is about 1 1/2 million kilometers in diameter. To blot out all light from such a star that's 10 light years away, a 0,75 kilometer diameter disc could be no more than 1/200.000th of a light year, or around 50 million kilometers (1/3rd the distance between the earth and the sun).

The brightest star in the sky is Sirius A. It has a diameter of 2,4 million km and a distance of 8.6 light years. This means your shade could be no more than 25 million kilometers away.

The sun and the moon both take up about the same amount of arc in the night sky so would be about equally difficult to block; let's go with the sun for a nice supervillian-ish approach. 1,4m km diameter, 150m km distance means it'd be able to block the sun at 800km away. Such an object could probably be kept in a stable orbit at half that altitude, so yeah, you could most definitely block out stars with the thing - including our sun!

Comment: Re:keeping station behind it? (Score 1) 111

by Rei (#48914773) Attached to: Proposed Space Telescope Uses Huge Opaque Disk To Surpass Hubble

It makes sense. We can radiate individual photons for thrust if so desired. We can move individual electrons from one position in a spacecraft to another for tiny adjustments of angle and position if so desired. It seems you're going to be much more limited by your ability to precisely track your target than by your ability to make fine adjustments.

I think a much bigger problem is going to be isolating standing waves from within the shielding material from distorting its perfect rim (with a shield that big and thin, there *will* be oscillations from even the slightest thrust inputs). You need to isolate the rim from the shielding. And you also need to make sure that you can have a rim that can be coiled up for launch but uncoil to such perfection in space.

Tough task... but technically, it should be possible.

Comment: Technology is a moving target. (Score 1) 111

by TapeCutter (#48914731) Attached to: Proposed Space Telescope Uses Huge Opaque Disk To Surpass Hubble

.... lead or follow it in EXACTLY the same orbit. That would be a feat of orbital mechanics never before achieved.

The GRACE mission has been doing it for a few years now, tiny fluctuations in gravity can be inferred by the change in distance between the two probes. However it's not a geostationary orbit, just one probe following the other in low orbit. Personally I think it's a genius idea to turn the problem of keeping two probes in sync into a highly accurate gravity probe.

Comment: Re:No (Score 2) 111

by Rei (#48914527) Attached to: Proposed Space Telescope Uses Huge Opaque Disk To Surpass Hubble

I would presume that the bulk material in the inside has no need for accuracy, only the very rim. The question is more of whether you can have a coiled material that when uncoiled (deployment) can return to a shape with that level of accuracy. I would think it possible, but I really don't know.

I would forsee a super-precise rim with just a small bit of light shielding on its inside, deployed via uncoiling, and then attached to a much stronger, less precise uncoiled ring to which the bulk shielding material (and stationkeeping ion thrusters) are attached. The attachment between the two would need to provide for vibration and tension isolation (even the slowest adjustments in angle of such a huge, thin shield are going to set in motion relevant vibrations, you've got almost no damping - you want the structural ring to deal with those and not transfer them through to the precision ring). Not to mention that your shield will be acting as a solar sail whether you like it or not (unless you're at L2... but then your craft better be nuclear powered).

Your telescope behind it is going to need to do some real precision stationkeeping (either extreme precision on the whole spacecraft positioning, or merely "good" positioning of the whole spacecraft plus extreme precision adjustment of the optics within) . This means long development times and costs to demonstrate that you can pull it off before you actually build the shield. But I would think that also possible - just very difficult. If they take the latter route they could probably demonstrate that here on Earth, which would be a big cost-saver.

Those who claim the dead never return to life haven't ever been around here at quitting time.