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Comment: There is an antisocial behavior precedent (Score 1) 183

by bradm (#45486999) Attached to: FCC To Consider Cellphone Use On Planes

In the bad old days, when there was another antisocial behavior that profoundly affected the innocent victims in adjacent seats, we divided the plane into smoking and non smoking sections. There was leakage from section to section, but at least it wasn't in your face.

Many Amtrak trains have a highly desirable "quiet car",which helps to separate those the see the trip along the east coast as a continuous sales call opportunity from those that see the trip as a continuous concentration or sleeping opportunity.

So, I'm all for allowing calls on planes, provided I can book a seat in the STFU section for no extra cost. Especially if it saves me from taking a transatlantic flight surrounded by a gaggle of teenagers that think it's a Beatles concert and not a redeye.

Comment: Re:Sure, to lower paying jobs (Score 1) 674

by bradm (#45034739) Attached to: The Luddites Are Almost Always Wrong: Why Tech Doesn't Kill Jobs

That's just the tip of the iceberg:

350k telephone operators (who provided a service appreciated by the people they spoke to) in 1940 with a US pop of ~ 132m.
408k combined telemarketers and call centers (who provide a service widely reviled and high stress) in 201x with a US pop of ~ 308m.

Not more jobs, fewer. 50% fewer population adjusted.

Indy bookstores up from 1,401 in 2009 to 1,632 today. The final Border's closing wave? 399 stores. That's fewer jobs in bookstores, not more. Might be better jobs in this case.

Technology absolutely kills jobs, and kills careers. It also creates new jobs and new careers, but not necessarily for the people that lost their jobs. The fallacy comes from pretending that all jobs are equal and can be subsumed into a single total job count.

Doesn't mean I want to live like a Luddite, however. But TFAs above are rather thin on reasoning.

Comment: So? Send 'em a check! (Score 1) 562

by bradm (#38525132) Attached to: Verizon Adds $2 Charge For Paying Your Bill Online

Seems like the answer is pretty simple to me: Verizon customers should send them a check until they drop this policy. Note that I didn't say "drop your online payment option and send them a check." Simply send them a check, for a little bit too much, a week before your automatic billing date. They can sort out how to handle the expense of processing all of those checks, plus cancelling (or reversing, even better) the automatic payment for that cycle, deal with the trivial credit balances on the account, and generally be miserable. If they charge you automatically with the service fee, complain that the service was already paid for. If you and 10,000 of your closest friends do this, the policy will change in one month. If they refuse your alternate payment in any fashion, call your state attorney general, the BBB, enterprising consumer reporters, and the rest of the usual suspects.

Or just shrug and go along with it as most consumers do, which is why this is a smart move for Verizon. Wait until you get a "wire maintenance fee" for the charger on your cell phone.

Comment: Take a FOSS challenge - at full capability (Score 1) 240

by bradm (#35629540) Attached to: AMD Challenges NVIDIA To Graphics Throw-Down

If you're going to spend $700 on a video card, you'll probably spend on monitors too, especially since monitors tend to have a longer usable life cycle than video cards.

Show me free software/free drivers running four to six physical displays with full 3d acceleration. Let me choose whether it's a single desktop with one logical display, a single desktop with multiple logical displays, or multiple desktops. While I'd personally prefer GNU/Linux of a Debian flavor, ship it for any open environment you want, we'll take care of the rest.

Ship this software environment at the same time you release the card. Betas and patches are fine. Yes, that means collaborate in advance, and leave behind the last vestiges of pretense about competitive advantage via secrecy. Marketing, do-not-discuss-before-date NDAs are fine. Withholding the engineering data that will eventually be public anyway is counterproductive.

Comment: The question is the software and the data formats (Score 1) 1217

by bradm (#32549334) Attached to: MA High School Forces All Students To Buy MacBooks

Parent post got part way there - yes, the web and HTML is a great way to deliver content.

However, the key here is what _software_ the students will be expected to run in order to _author_ content.

For those of you Windows zealots that haven't bothered to try a Mac, please be aware that it's perfectly possible to run MS Office. But it's also possible to run Apple's iWork suite, or OpenOffice. Or Google Apps in the browser.

It's very common for IT departments in all types of organizations to choose to support a single OS platform. It's equally common for competent power-users in those organizations to opt-out and use the platform of their choice - but to take on the responsibility of self support. Those policies are usually written in draconian tones "we only support X, you must use X" - but in practice it's easier to keep the power users occupied self-supporting their unapproved platforms than have them hacking away at your standard ones.

The thing that makes or breaks this situation is the software platform chosen. I'd be a lot more concerned about requirements to submit classwork in native Pages (the iWork word processor) format than I am the choice of official supported hardware. If the software and data formats are reasonably compatible with multiple platforms, things will work out.

It's fine for them to choose a supported platform. It's not fine for them to make it gratuitously difficult for others to self-support. If a group of determined parents and students want to use Linux environments instead, it should be possible - not supported, but possible. Similarly if they want to have a Windows group, so be it. This school hasn't made the mistake of blocking this - yet, or at least according to the data available to us.

Now, for those who haven't actually laid hands on a MacBook side by side with an equivalently equipped other laptop, you really ought to do so before asserting the value for your dollar spent. Heck, run Linux on both for a week, taking the OSX out of the equation, and see what think. It's premium hardware, and sometimes that's worth it and has a lower TCO. Looking only at the initial purchase price is foolhardy.

Comment: Re:Food? (Score 3, Funny) 640

by bradm (#31897416) Attached to: Cows On Treadmills Produce Clean Power For Farms

TFA says that cows walk around 8 hours a day grazing anyway.

Let's get to the more important questions: What impact does all that captive exercise have on the tasty dairy and beef products so critical to maintaining our waistlines and thickening our arteries?

If it makes the beef even better and generates power, it's a total win.

(With unheartfelt apologies to the veg types in the crowd).

Comment: File systems were simpler back then (Score 4, Informative) 325

by bradm (#31557198) Attached to: Need Help Salvaging Data From an Old Xenix System

Ah, the Altos systems. 8800 series, then 486, then 586. They used up numbers years before Intel got to them (the Altos 486 had an Intel 80186 in it, and 4 serial ports). Often paired with Wyse terminals. Anybody else remember "business basic"?

It's almost certainly an ST506 drive; you will be very hard pressed to connect it to a PCI era system; probably can only get as far as AT bus machine.

In any case, if you do manage to image the drive, the filesystem will be based on either Unix version 7, Unix System V, or the Berkeley Fast File System. It wasn't until Linux rolled along that we started to seriously fork into lots of file system variants. It's most likely the basic System V file system, which is well documented, and pretty simple stuff.

The posters above are correct, however. You really should try the serial port approach first. I'd go for cu over uucp - getting uucp running can be quite an exercise in itself. And you'll want either tar or cpio; probably tar, but watchout for version and format incompatibilities there as well.

You can also just cat the data out a serial port, and capture it as a session log on the other end. That's likely to be the easiest solution, and perhaps more reliable than any other.

You haven't said what the nature of the data is, but after this much time laying dormant, you are likely to have substantial challenges at the application level interpreting the data as well.

Education

Study Finds That Video Games Hinder Learning In Young Boys 278

Posted by Soulskill
from the fun-activities-distract-from-studies,-film-at-11 dept.
dcollins writes "Researchers at Denison University in Ohio have shown that giving PlayStations to young boys leads to slower progress in reading and writing skills. Quoting: 'The study is the first controlled trial to look at the effects of playing video games on learning in young boys. That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' game habits, but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to receive a PlayStation or not ... Those with PlayStations also spent less time engaged in educational activities after school and showed less advancement in their reading and writing skills over time than the control group, according to tests taken by the kids. While the game-system owners didn't show significant behavioral problems, their teachers did report delays in learning academic skills, including writing and spelling.'"
PlayStation (Games)

US Air Force Buying Another 2,200 PS3s 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the quick-who-knows-a-good-ps3-flight-sim dept.
bleedingpegasus sends word that the US Air Force will be grabbing up 2,200 new PlayStation 3 consoles for research into supercomputing. They already have a cluster made from 336 of the old-style (non-Slim) consoles, which they've used for a variety of purposes, including "processing multiple radar images into higher resolution composite images (known as synthetic aperture radar image formation), high-def video processing, and 'neuromorphic computing.'" According to the Justification Review Document (DOC), "Once the hardware configuration is implemented, software code will be developed in-house for cluster implementation utilizing a Linux-based operating software."
Education

Computer Games and Traditional CS Courses 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the terrible-terrible-games dept.
drroman22 writes "Schools are working to put real-world relevance into computer science education by integrating video game development into traditional CS courses. Quoting: 'Many CS educators recognized and took advantage of younger generations' familiarity and interests for computer video games and integrate related contents into their introductory programming courses. Because these are the first courses students encounter, they build excitement and enthusiasm for our discipline. ... Much of this work reported resounding successes with drastically increased enrollments and student successes. Based on these results, it is well recognized that integrating computer gaming into CS1 and CS2 (CS1/2) courses, the first programming courses students encounter, is a promising strategy for recruiting and retaining potential students." While a focus on games may help stir interest, it seems as though game development studios are as yet unimpressed by most game-related college courses. To those who have taken such courses or considered hiring those who have: what has your experience been?
Programming

The State of Ruby VMs — Ruby Renaissance 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-your-pick dept.
igrigorik writes "In the short span of just a couple of years, the Ruby VM space has evolved to more than just a handful of choices: MRI, JRuby, IronRuby, MacRuby, Rubinius, MagLev, REE and BlueRuby. Four of these VMs will hit 1.0 status in the upcoming year and will open up entirely new possibilities for the language — Mac apps via MacRuby, Ruby in the browser via Silverlight, object persistence via Smalltalk VM, and so forth. This article takes a detailed look at the past year, the progress of each project, and where the community is heading. It's an exciting time to be a Rubyist."

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