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Comment: Yes, the absolute risk is low, but... (Score 1) 78 78

Most articles I've read about this point out that the risk to any given swimmer is still extremely low. We all know that humans are bad at weighting risks from very low-probability but high-horror events.

By the same token, though, the risk to any given golfer out on a course during a thunderstorm is pretty low -- but nearly everybody agrees that going out on a large, open expanse and holding a metal stick over your head during a thunderstorm is kind of stupid.

I can't say that I blame people for deciding to stay out of the water.

Comment: I miss 1970s tech. (Score 2) 191 191

I started out with a TRS-80 Model I in high school. I spent a lot of time on that machine, and applied a lot of the "canned hacks" developed by others -- add-on hardware better than that Radio Shack sold, a memory remapper to let it run CP/M, soldering in another 1024x1 RAM chip to support lowercase video, jumpering the clock divider chain to effectively overclock the CPU, and so on.

Eventually, I noticed that I was starting to have wrist problems, especially when I used WordStar -- that WP used the non-existent Control key quite a lot, and the CP/M port mapped it to one of the arrow keys, which was an ergonomic nightmare. But I happened to find a pair of foot switches on clearance at Radio Shack, pre-wired to mini audio plugs. I drilled two holes in my system unit, mounted two mini jacks, and wired them to the keyboard in the same position as the shift key and that arrow key. Stomp-K-D for the win! My wrists were better in no time.

Later, I got a state-of-the-art 1200bps modem, but my poor terminal program couldn't keep up. Any time the screen had to scroll, I dropped characters. The solution: I rewired the 40Hz real-time interrupt to fire at 160Hz, and wrote a little interrupt-driven driver to catch and buffer characters coming in over the RS232 interface. It was completely bulletproof. Unfortunately, it also sped up the keyboard timing (repeat delay and rate) by 4x in CP/M.

I guess the biggest hack, though, was building a full character-based video display subsystem that hung off the expansion port. Forty or fifty SS/MS LSTTL packages spread across eight or ten solderless breadboards, with a couple of static RAM chips thrown in for character generation and storage. It ended up being something like 30 lines of 100 characters, comfortably larger than the original 16x64 display or even the 24x80 displays in the computer labs, and each cell was 8x16 pixels, so they were nicely readable characters. Luxury. I used that "in production" for a year or two, until I managed to land a Lisa.

Comment: And yet, here we are on the Internet... (Score 1) 194 194

...reading your op-ed (as opposed to, oh, I don't know, an actual report containing actual facts).

One of the unique characteristics of the Internet is that it provides a way to monetize tiny minority tastes. That way, bozos can produce books or videos on "Down is Up", "Beanie Babies: The New Future-Proof Investment", or "The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media in the Digital Age", and find enough paying customers to make it worth their while.

Comment: Hypersupervised programming? (Score 5, Insightful) 126 126

Golly! How do you suppose that having one person at a time writing code, with the rest of the team effectively doing simultaneous code review, magically produces "fewer features" but "better code quality" than having everybody writing code, then throwing it together and maybe doing a cursory bit of code review at the end?

Next, you'll be telling me that having one or two testers per developer produces better-quality software than spending all your money on developers so you can "get more features".

Comment: Never thought of plasma sheath as Faraday cage... (Score 1) 62 62

Turning the shield (conductive layer around the craft) into an antenna? I like this idea. And with the full paper freely available through the link in the source article, I could in principle learn more -- if only my math and EM physics were up to it. Sigh.

Comment: Re:skip the gender (Score 1) 412 412

Some of us are heteroromantic, biromantic, homoromantic, panromantic, demiromantic, or even aromantic.

We realize that different cultures have different hygiene practices, but really, can't you put on a bit of deodorant in the morning?

Oh, wait. Never mind.

Comment: Then why say "you" instead of "I"? (Score 2, Insightful) 412 412

"I was just being honest about my own shortcomings -- by talking about what 'you' do when there are women in the lab. 'You', of course, being a straight male, because duh, who else would I be bothering to talk to about science?"

I know engineers. They love to change things. - Dr. McCoy