Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:#define BITLEN 48 (Score 1) 203

by cwsumner (#49752311) Attached to: Australian Law Could Criminalize the Teaching of Encryption

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

If you're going to just go ahead and assume it works as intended, sure.

I think you missed the point. What the line means is that Democracy doesn't work as intended, but even then it is better than others.
The major advantage is that we can have a revolution without shooting as many people. At least as long as most agree to follow the rules...

Comment: Re:Only Two Futures? (Score 1) 599

by cwsumner (#49739149) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

You mean jack income tax rates up to 90%? Half kidding, but I'm curious what you see about the differences between Democrats now vs. JFK era.

IIRC the 90% marginal rate was under Eisenhower. And I'd be all for returning to that!

Keep in mind that when the politicians say "tax the Rich", they mean anyone who has a job. So it includes you and me, probably... 8-)

Comment: Re:Pretty sure the heat death of the universe will (Score 1) 386

by cwsumner (#49737255) Attached to: Criticizing the Rust Language, and Why C/C++ Will Never Die

What you say about how well-maintained the old software is, is true. Good programming can extend the life of programs a lot.

But the ideas about "throwing away the old stuff" have been around at least since Assembler language, and it is often an excuse for lazyness. When anyone encounters something really new to them, it causes what the psychologists call "Learning Frustration". People that can't endure frustration will clutch at any way to avoid learning things, and they often have the idea that if they write it new it will be less frustrating.

This can result in the loss of the only documentation of what really needs to be done, i.e., the old source code. The "specs" are never correct and seldom even updated to the last version of the software. The managers seldom know exactly what is being done. The specs you are given new, are wrong. The only way to detect the errors, is to know what is being done in the old program.

Bottom line: You have to learn the old code just to be able to successfully write new code. And by then it is usually less time to update the old code. (If the term "update" includes perhaps converting to new languages.) Or at least, then you can make a rational decision about whether to use the old code.

Sometimes, the hard way is actually the easy way! 8-)

Comment: Re:Those pour [sic] souls (Score 1) 94

by cwsumner (#49729701) Attached to: Biologists Create Self-Healing Concrete

I think that had more to do with their use of Lead for piping and the aqueduct.

Lead piping and such is not that much of a danger. If it was we would all show lead levels in our blood, and we don't.

The Romans discovered this really neat artificial sweetner, though. It was a lead compound and they used it in many their wines.
-That- is what caused the problems!!

Comment: If Engineers... (Score 1) 612

by cwsumner (#49726019) Attached to: The Economic Consequences of Self-Driving Trucks

"If Engineers built buildings the way Programmers write programs, the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization!"

If you think computers would be better than truck drivers, you not only don't know driving, you don't know computers. Computers -can- make mistakes and it does not always cause a crash. Sometimes, it leaves the computer running with corrupted data. Quite aside from bugs in the programs.

This sounds like salesmen and college professors looking for grants.

But it is true that technological changes can cause disruptions in the economy...

Comment: Something... (Score 1) 401

Most likely, something that has not been invented yet. And that we probably would not recognise or even understand.

A good bet would be an engineered intellegent organism. Whether mechanical or organic would probably be a moot point, since advanced forms of either would be indistiguishable from the other.

Comment: Re:Not at all (Score 1) 461

by cwsumner (#49700325) Attached to: Does Using an AOL Email Address Suggest You're a Tech Dinosaur?

... I would guess 99% of the haters never actually used AOL.

Actually, they had good reasons. AOL wanted to be the first Google but didn't know how. They wanted to be the IBM of the internet. It was impossible to cancel your account once it was started. They just kept charging you forever. It was years before they got sued enough to finally cancel some accounts.

Plus, they made so much on Dial-Up that they refused to move to highspeed. You had to get a new account with a different ISP for faster connection. So you paid for both!!! 8-(

They straightened up later, after enough competition, but it was too late.

Comment: Re:The good old days... (Score 1) 461

by cwsumner (#49700259) Attached to: Does Using an AOL Email Address Suggest You're a Tech Dinosaur?

Ok, but how did it become fashionable to tie an onion to your belt?

It keeps insects away. And partly covers up the smell of farts.

Believe it or not, keeping insects away before repellant spray was a big thing. The alternative was something like rancid bear grease, which smelled terrible but worked.

Comment: Ha! (Score 1) 461

by cwsumner (#49700217) Attached to: Does Using an AOL Email Address Suggest You're a Tech Dinosaur?

You think AOL is old? My current email address uses "CompuServe.com"!! I got it before there was AOL and it was Dial-Up and they were the biggest company on the web.

Of course it doesn't go there any more, it was bought by a newer company. ... wait for it ... now it's actually AOL. 8-)

On the other hand, if you go to "compuserve.com" you will see the website, and it is still updated. Nothing on the Internet really dies...

Now you kids get off of my lawn! 8-{

Comment: Re:An Old Story (Score 1) 386

by cwsumner (#49689797) Attached to: Criticizing the Rust Language, and Why C/C++ Will Never Die

It is not. It is almost always "save a penny lose a million". The problem is that the million (or usually quite a bit more) is lost later and somebody else has to pay. This is both exceptionally bad management and exceptionally bad engineering.

I believe that the term for that is "Bureaucracy". A disease that afflicts large organizations of many types, and is often fatal eventually.

Comment: Re:An Old Story (Score 1) 386

by cwsumner (#49689749) Attached to: Criticizing the Rust Language, and Why C/C++ Will Never Die

The problem is that the issues tend to pile up over time, and at some point, the only sane thing would be to throw the whole mess away and start over. ...

The trouble with stating over, is that there is huge amounts of knowledge that is only recorded in the old source code. When an old program is thrown away and a bright new program is created, much functionality is lost. This type of new project has about an even chance of being rejected by the users. And they go back to the old program for years afterward, traumatised too much to start again.

And yes, I make my living "raking through trash piles for diamonds" !
It can be done. And it is often faster than the alternatives. But it is not always fun.

Like writing books: "It is not fun to write, but it is fun to have written."

Comment: Re:An Old Story (Score 1) 386

by cwsumner (#49689533) Attached to: Criticizing the Rust Language, and Why C/C++ Will Never Die

Plenty of carpenters pin back the shield on their skill saw.
I sure wouldn't. I'd cut off my leg.

Yes, you really do want the protections. They need a way to disable them, but don't. Unless there is really no other way.

Seriously. Two students fell off of a mountain overlook near here, this spring, and were killed because there was no guard rail at the edge. It can happen with your software, too. (And yes, some software can kill.)

Good languages have automatic safety checks, but also have a way to bypass them if really necessary.

Comment: Freedom (Score 1) 435

by cwsumner (#49689287) Attached to: Will Robot Cars Need Windows?

It's not a matter of windows, it's a matter of the citizen's freedom. There are a lot of people that hate freedom (at least for others) and will try to "stamp it out" at the first chance they get. And personal automobiles are the essence of freedom.

What is really wanted, by some, is to ship the passengers in a packing crate! Yikes! 8-)

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov