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Comment Re:Too little, too late (Score 5, Insightful) 262

The fact that they ship an improved version every year or so is NOT the issue here. Seriously if the new version is not a big enough improvement over the one you have, you don't need to buy it. You can keep your phone for 2 years, or 3 years, or however long you want. That is hardly "pushing it through the throats of customers". You have to have a major victim mentality to think that. I do agree though that shipping non-equivalent versions of the processor is a big deal. That's not okay.

Comment Re:Saw it last night in 3D (Score 3, Insightful) 242

The challenge is stranding someone alone on Mars. It's easy to envision the entire crew getting stuck there. Malfunction in the ascent vehicle would do that. If it had a sufficient electrical meltdown it could even justify the loss of contact with Earth. But getting five people safely off the surface, all of them convinced of the sixth crew member's death and unable to retrieve his body, was a writing challenge. What scenarios can you think of for one man being left alive, alone, and presumed dead on the surface of Mars?

Comment Gatekeeper (Score 4, Interesting) 66

If a user doesn't know how and can't figure out or google how to bypass Gatekeeper, they shouldn't be bypassing Gatekeeper. I'm a Mac developer and I work on a commercial application that uses a privileged helper tool which the app loads using SMJobBless and that tool is managed by launchd and executed as root. We are an identified developer and we sign our app as such. We don't distribute via the App Store and we are about to ship a new version that adds a kernel extension that I wrote. In recent versions of MacOS X, kernel extensions must be signed and they have to at least by signed by an identified developer who has applied for a kernel extension signing certificate. One of the scenarios that I pay attention to as far as security goes is that our daemon (aka "privileged helper tool") executes other processes and also controls the loading and unloading of our kernel extension. Most of those processes, and our kernel extension, are located in our application bundle. I wanted to avoid making dumb assumptions like that our application is running from a particular path, so the app communicates to the daemon via XPC and tells the daemon where the app bundle is located. The daemon doesn't just trust the app. It verifies that the app is code signed and that it is our app and that it hasn't been modified before it starts executing things or loading kernel extensions from inside the app bundle. I can easily imagine a scenario where an app could call our daemon and tell it some other location and cause us to execute malware if we didn't do this. Since I'm not a security expert, I constantly worry that someone will find a way to do this and I just hope we never become an attack vector. I do not want my product on Slashdot because of a security problem.

Comment Doing the Math (Score 1) 55

SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers about the first chapter of the book follow! (Because someone is likely to complain about that kind of thing.)

Has anyone actually done the math on this? We are not talking about a man being blown around in a windstorm, really. We are talking about equipment that NASA launched to Mars getting blown around in a windstorm. The ascent vehicle getting blown nearly over is a stretch, for sure, but perhaps the injury that befalls the protagonist is not. It was inflicted on him by a piece of metal that was thrown by the windstorm. I am not qualified to do the math, but I hope someone else here is.

While the protagonist and most likely the ascent vehicle are fairly heavy, presumably everything else that NASA spent rocket fuel to put on the surface of Mars is as light as it can possibly be to still do its job. It would not take much air density to pick up a piece of metal that has high surface area and small mass, like a thin piece of aluminum with a bend in it to make it rigid would be. It certainly could be whipped by the 150kph (42m/s) wind. Anything near that speed and it would not have a problem piercing a spacesuit or damaging a circuit board. Maybe it would not likely have enough energy to do both of those things and still seriously injure a human, but it is at least plausible from this high-level perspective.

So, who here has the knowledge and the energy to run the numbers on whether this is more than just plausible and actually possible? I wish I had the former because I certainly have the latter and enjoyed the book--the plot, the technical details, and the writing style--enough to want other people also to enjoy it. Maybe Randall Munroe will give it a shot, although it is a bit non-absurd for his usual taste.

By the way, let's give the author one deus ex machina point for how he solved the final problem that his characters faced. Does he get a negative deus ex machina point for how he created the first problem that they faced and thus balance it out or do both problems and solutions have positive valence when counting the dei ex machinis?

Comment Are the reviews useful? (Score 4, Insightful) 206

If I was planning to switch from Android to iOS, I would consider using an app like this. The question is, do the app itself work well for the use case it is advertised for? Does it actually move your data over to iOS? What data does it specifically move? What does it not move?

I don't care what kind of computers other people use. I write MacOS X software for a living. I chose MacOS X as a user and as a developer for a variety of reasons, but I recognize those reasons may no longer be current. I haven't used Windows since Vista - and my use of Vista was doing development on a cross platform Windows/Mac/Linux app I wrote. I have written software for iOS (before it was even called iOS) and some iPhone apps I've written have been commercially quite successful. I thought about writing software for Android, but I haven't because my understanding is that Android users don't (in general) spend money on apps. I don't like "freemium" apps. I prefer to charge up front or else have it free. These days, I'm really more interested in MacOS X software and Linux software.

That said, I don't care what phone you like. I am very glad there are multiple viable phone platforms. I think iOS is cool. I don't like having to ship software through the App Store. That said, I've certainly sold more through the App Store than I ever sold through other channels like Kagi.

Anyway, I'm disappointed that the conversation here isn't focused on whether the reviews are useful. That's what I would care about.

Buzz: a Novel Programming Language For Heterogeneous Robot Swarms 30

New submitter pRobotika writes: Designing the behavior of robot swarms is difficult; the larger the group, the more tricky it is to predict its dynamics and the causes of errors. Buzz is a new open-source programming language specifically for robot swarms. It's designed for ease of use and is inspired by well-known programming languages such as JavaScript, Python and Lua. Buzz also includes a number of constructs specifically designed for swarm-level development. The “swarm” construct allows a developer to split the robots into multiple groups and assign a specific task to each. Swarms can be created, disbanded, and modified dynamically. The “neighbors” construct captures an important concept in swarm systems: locality. In nature, individuals interact directly and only with nearby swarm-mates. Interactions include communication, obstacle avoidance or leader following. The neighbors construct provides functions to mimic these mechanisms.

Comment Fax Machines gone? (Score 5, Informative) 395

There are tens of thousands of fax machines and fax systems still in use today because, despite all of our technological advances, the fax machine is still the most secure way of delivering medical and legal documents between locations in a compact time frame.

E-mail? Right out unless you're configured for encryption and getting all the companies you deal with to agree on, utilize, and understand how the encrypt/decrypt works is ... beyond Herculean in scope. In the medical field alone that would require suppliers, doctor's offices, HME/DME companies, hospitals, hospices, quick care/walk-in style facilities, pharmacies, and so on to all have a system that worked easily that everyone agreed on. Of course, that doesn't begin to take into account the MILLIONS of patients that just might want to communicate with you via e-mail.

The legal field is just as bad - judges, courts, lawyers, public defenders, police departments, fire departments, etc, and clients of course.

So, yeah, technology that has supposedly died usually is alive and well and the people who think it has died just work somewhere they don't have to deal with it.

Comment Re:Curious... (Score 1) 1094

I had this happen to me a while back as I was working while going to college. Admittedly, it was when the minimum wage was $5.00/hr and they raised it to $5.25 per hour so nothing drastic like $7.00/hr to $15.00/hr but for a college student it was a decent increase. The problem was, I was already making $5.25 per hour because I was good at my job and had earned a pay raise.

So, the week after the minimum wage increase went into effect my co-workers, who had not earned a raise, were now making $5.25 per hour and I was looking forward to my $5.50 per hour. Check came in, checked my totals, and my pay was $5.25 per hour. I explained to the store manager that this was incorrect and, at first, he just kinda laughed and said it was correct. I explained to him that no, it was not, because my pay was tied directly to the minimum wage and I had EARNED a pay raise of $0.25/hr and I asked him to explain to me how it was fair for the other three employees (small store) to be making the same I was when they had not earned a raise, but been handed one by the government. He just stood there for a minute with his mouth hanging open and said "You're right. Let me talk to corporate." Sure enough, our parent corporation agreed with me and increased my pay to where it should be and paid me my missing wages for the previous week.

Unless I am a salaried employee, I _always_ make it plain to my company that my pay is tied to the minimum wage and if it goes up my pay goes up by a corresponding amount -- otherwise, I just took a pay cut and someone fresh off the street without my years of experience with the company could be making nearly as much as I do (depending on the increase of the minimum wage vs. my wage, of course).

Comment Re:It not very hard (Score 1) 167

I thought their current business model was to charge everyone $5 per month, including non-subscribers. At least that's what my credit card statement and numerous online forum posts seem to indicate. Their customer service apparently also sucks, as they refuse to answer when you e-mail or call to discuss the fraudulent charges. They could probably become more profitable if they started earning money instead of stealing it.

Comment Missing Option: Start projects and abandon them (Score 1) 190

I've started several open source projects. I have one that I started in 2002 and have continued to use myself over the years. Its an xml parser that works the way I think it should work. I wrote it and made it open source because I found myself wanting to use xml in projects at various employers and it was always a hassle finding an xml parser and convincing management to allow me to use it (because open source) and then it never had exactly the right features, etc. Xerces was too big, etc. So, finally I just wrote my own. Since I own the copyright, I can use it and grant the employer a non-exclusive close source license if they want.

I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.