Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:macro assembler (Score 1) 641

by danaris (#48584523) Attached to: How Relevant is C in 2014?

When I was in college, one of my CS professors had a weekly quiz that he called "Iron Code." It required you to write a (relatively simple) program, and submit it, using a custom utility (I forget the details; this was 15+ years ago now)...but you only got one shot. Your grade was based upon the degree to which your program's output in response to various inputs met the specifications. If it didn't even compile, you got a zero.

I was so-so at this activity, but there were a fair number of students in the class who consistently got high marks.

Humans can be taught not to make errors. It just requires more time and more careful attention to detail. It's not sexy, and it's usually not fun, but it's totally possible, and if it's your job, then you can damn well do it.

I'm just glad it's not mine, because patience and attention to detail are not my strong suits. :-)

Dan Aris

Comment: Bought and paid for? (Score 3, Insightful) 129

by danaris (#48547689) Attached to: Economist: US Congress Should Hack Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Any rational interpretation would suggest that when people buy or pay off the loan on a piece of equipment—whether a car, a refrigerator or a mobile phone—they own it, and should be free to do what they want with it. Least of all should they have to seek permission from the manufacturer or the government.

Any rational interpretation would suggest that when rich people and large corporations buy or pay off the loan on a congressperson, they own it, and should be free to get whatever legislation out of it they see fit. Least of all should they have to deal with interference from busybody economists trying to tell them what's "rational."

Dan Aris

Comment: What people want to read (Score 4, Insightful) 368

by danaris (#48542407) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

The biggest problem with what Stross is saying is that people, in general, want to read about situations that are familiar to them. It's damn hard to come up with a truly believable far-future culture in the first place, but it's much harder to do so in a way that makes it both alien to us and something that people can identify with enough to actually enjoy reading.

If you really follow Stross's advice when writing far-future sci-fi, you're likely to lock yourself into a very small niche of potential readers. And if you're writing that way because that's the story you want to write, or because you truly believe it's important to the integrity of the story that the culture be very different than our own, and you're OK with selling a few thousand copies or less, then that's fine. But I dare say most sci-fi authors who actually publish do so because, at least in part, they actually want to have people read their books, and to make a little money off them.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:So what should they have done? (Score 1) 250

by danaris (#48527487) Attached to: Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

"so what should they have done? Just let those pieces of random garbage data take up space on the iPod for the rest of its life?"

Do you realize how inane your argument here is? The answer to your question there is simply "yes". If they wanted to be customer friendly, pop up a warning message that files were detected that were now garbage and prompt for a deletion.

OK, that's not an unreasonable option. Apple could have chosen to do that, and that might have avoided this issue. But it seems likely to me that when Apple wrote the iPod OS (not to be confused with iOS) and the iTunes synchronization mechanism, they didn't even consider the possibility that someone would manage to put songs on there that tricked the iPod into thinking they were FairPlay DRMed files, and thus it would have been a considerable extra effort for them to put such a notification in place. But even without it, it's not like any actual data would have been lost—files synchronized to an iPod would still exist in the music library. Unless they were using unsupported third-party software in the first place, in which you should be blaming the third-party software for doing things that are explicitly not supported. So once the files are deleted off the iPod...they're still on your computer where you downloaded them to originally.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re: Get the facts first (Score 1) 250

by danaris (#48527449) Attached to: Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

If you can find some actual "tricky, monopolist behaviour" somewhere, I'll give you an answer. Until then, though, all we're talking about is FUD regarding Apple not wanting to go to a lot of effort to implement various random competitors' DRM algorithms...which said competitors would have had to license to them, and provide proper information for third-party implementation of, etc, etc.

Dan Aris

Comment: So what should they have done? (Score 0) 250

by danaris (#48526783) Attached to: Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

and removed the songs with bogus FairPlay from people's devices, because they would no longer work.

See that's the thing, it's MY filesystem on MY device.

If the files exploited a hole in the DRM, then the DRM was patched and the files no longer work... fine, the files don't work, but you can't delete my files on my device .

Face it, Apple screwed the pooch and got called out on it. Hopefully they get a sharp smack in the nose with a newspaper, learn from the past and don't do stupid shit like this again, and everyone can move on.

Okaaaay...but, see, first of all, even by the time of the events in the lawsuit, pretty much everyone already knew, if you want to have total control over your device and manage every single configuration and file copy by don't buy an iPod.

Second of all, what the hell were you going to do with those songs once Apple fixed the bugs? Without the buggy code, the bootleg implementation of FairPlay just wouldn't work. The files wouldn't play, and the way they were put on the iPod would mean that there would be literally no other purpose to having them on there. I don't know if you know how syncing to iPods worked in the pre-iOS era, but while there was a "disk mode" that would allow you to mount the iPod's hard drive as a simple HFS+ filesystem (or, presumably, FAT on Windows? not sure of the details on that end) on your computer, it would not allow you to directly access the music on the iPod, either to add it, copy it off, or delete it.

So basically, once the bugs were fixed, these files were nothing more than junk data, in a section of the iPod that there was literally no other way for you to get rid of them unless you were using one of a few different pieces of third-party software—obviously not supported or assumed to be the case by Apple—so what should they have done? Just let those pieces of random garbage data take up space on the iPod for the rest of its life? Forced you to erase the whole thing just to get rid of them?

Based on your tone, I'm pretty sure your answer to all this would be along the lines of, "They should have just left it all up to me in the first place," but that ship had sailed long ago. And I think that really just brings us back full circle, to "yeah, but if you wanted that, you'd know perfectly well not to buy an Apple device."

There is—demonstrably—room in the market for devices with multiple competing philosophies. At the time, there were a number of devices made by various other companies that would have allowed you to manage your music by hand. Demanding that every single company adhere to your personal philosophy, provided they are not infringing any actual rights or breaking any laws, is not a reasonable position to take.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:Get the facts first (Score 2) 250

by danaris (#48526697) Attached to: Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

How can you be such a corporate apologist?! Apple in no place advertised that the only DRM music that could be played on iPods was Fairplay music, this screwed over customers, it was a shit thing to do but you go out and defend and praise Apple for it. "Oh yes thank you master for fucking me over Ill tell everybody how good it was, may I have another?"

They may not have put up giant posters proclaiming that the only DRMed music that you could play on an iPod was FairPlay, but it's not exactly like it was some kind of secret, either.

I'm not saying I don't feel bad for the people who honestly didn't know how these things worked who bought music from RealNetworks, then had their music stop working when Apple fixed the loophole. I can imagine how frustrating that would have been.

But that doesn't mean that Apple is at fault for fixing bugs in their code. I suppose you could blame them for having the bugs in the first place, but I think that's kind of a "let he who is without sin" situation to get into. And the decision not to license FairPlay, or implement any of the dizzying array of competing music DRM schemes that existed at the time, is one that can be legitimately questioned by reasonable people, but I don't think that makes it by any stretch of the imagination Obviously Wrong.

However, it seems to me that you've got an axe to grind against Apple specifically, and possibly against corporations in general, and aren't actually interested in reasoned discourse. (The first clue was leading with an insult, by the way. Ad hominem attacks are never a good sign.)

Either way, I don't see your objection as having any serious merit.

Dan Aris

Comment: Get the facts first (Score 1, Informative) 250

by danaris (#48526217) Attached to: Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

First of all, what lead has Apple lost that it ever really had? They're set to cross the $1 trillion market cap barrier—for the first time of any company ever—in the not-too-distant future, selling iPhones and Macs faster than ever before, and iPads only very slightly slower than their peak.

Now, if you were paying any attention whatsoever, instead of just writing a knee-jerk Apple-hate comment, you'd know that this was in reference to acts that allegedly occurred many years ago, before the iPhone was even released. That's why it's talking about iPods, y'see?

Furthermore, what actually happened is that a) people had purchased music from stores other than the iTunes Music Store, which had DRM on them that Apple didn't support, and/or b) people had put songs from RealNetworks on their iPods, who had somehow managed to exploit some holes in the FairPlay DRM to trick the iPods into allowing them on there while still maintaining their DRM-ness...and Apple figured out what they had done, fixed the bugs in their code that allowed RealNetworks to get around the fact that they never licensed FairPlay, and removed the songs with bogus FairPlay from people's devices, because they would no longer work. This is not Apple getting upset that it's not the top dog (in some way) and lashing out in immature ways. This is other people getting upset that Apple was the top dog (in some ways) and lashing out in immature ways.

Dan Aris

Comment: Feedback loops (Score 1) 167

by danaris (#48517873) Attached to: Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

Irrelevant perhaps, but that doesn't mean it won't be popular, at least among certain demographics.

After all, if it comes to reflect their biases more the longer they use it, they'll be more and more likely to want to get their news from there.

So from that perspective, it sounds like a win for those selling the ads on it, and a depressing loss for the rest of humanity.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:It's all bullshit (Score 1) 157

by danaris (#48444197) Attached to: Greenwald Advises Market-Based Solution To Mass Surveillance

it doesn't matter how many parties there are in the systemâ"only the two major ones have more than a snowball's chance in Hell of actually winning more than 1 or 2 legislative seats in anything but the rarest circumstances.

And this is true exactly because everyone assumes it is true and adapts their voting behavior accordingly.

Changing a political system, even one as inertia-ridden as we have in the US right now, is easier than changing human nature.

Dan Aris

Comment: Poor? Who's poor? (Score 1) 203

by danaris (#48436609) Attached to: Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court

If you are wealthy and conservative, it's just to be expected as it is in your own self interest.

If you are poor and conservative, what the hell are you thinking? Why are you cutting your own throat so a few wealthy people can have lower taxes, lower estate taxes, and ship your jobs overseas if not ask you to build a stage so they can climb up on it and fire you?

There are no poor in America. There are only, in the words of John Steinbeck, "temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

One of the most insidiously effective tactics of the American right wing has been convincing the poor that they should support policies that only benefit the rich so that they can benefit from them when they're rich. (Though I'm not sure whether they were able to create such a sentiment, or merely capitalized and expanded upon one that was already there.)

Unfortunately, it seems to completely escape the understanding of far too many such that those same policies are making it that much harder for them to ever become rich.

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:It's all bullshit (Score 1) 157

by danaris (#48434241) Attached to: Greenwald Advises Market-Based Solution To Mass Surveillance

How can you blame the voters for an evil choice when the choices are evil and evil?

Because the actual choices are evil, evil, I-don't-know-you, never-heard-of-you, who-are-you and I-don't-care-enough-to-actually-check-who-the-choices-are.

There are more than two parties in the system. The fact that only two of them matter is what voters can and should be blamed for.

However, as I think you know perfectly well, as long as we have single-selection first-past-the-post voting, it doesn't matter how many parties there are in the system—only the two major ones have more than a snowball's chance in Hell of actually winning more than 1 or 2 legislative seats in anything but the rarest circumstances.

No; once you've reached the polls, the chance to select better candidates is already long past. If you want a better choice of candidates, then the first answer is "do your best to become one yourself." Since that's not a viable option for many people, the second answer is "get involved at the local level, and start pushing for the things you believe in to be implemented there, and for them to trickle up the chain to state and national candidates."

In other words, if you want to have more than a choice between the establishment Republican candidate and the establishment Democrat candidate, or you want one or more of those candidates to actually represent your views more than they usually do, you need to sacrifice some of your time and/or money to make it happen. (Money is generally only relevant if you've got a LOT of it to sacrifice, though.) Simply showing up at the ballot box and expecting there to be a candidate that you can vote for, who has a reasonable chance of winning, who actually represents a significant majority of your views, is, in America today, naive at best and mind-numbingly ignorant at worst (depending largely on how well your views align with those of the people you tend to live among).

Dan Aris

Comment: Re:redundancy (Score 1) 213

by danaris (#48429761) Attached to: Congress Suggests Moat, Electronic Fence To Protect White House

I think the evolutionary psychology line is going too far. I don't think anyone is suggesting that losing the president will make us all leaderless and lost. Instead, that losing the president is a substantial blow that's best avoided. The reason for this is that the "shared leaders" you describe do not have equal seniority. So if you lose the top one, you still require a reshuffle and there will still be disruption. Further, the president is the figurehead of the nation and it is a blow to morale if he is taken out. For similar reasons, there was a big security boost around the statue of liberty following 9/11. Symbols matter, that's all.

I think you misunderstood his point—though your point is good too.

But what I read in Tom's post was that the reason we have a single President in the first place, rather than some sort of coequal ruling council, is because of our primitive desire for single, focused leadership.

Dan Aris

Egotist: A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. -- Ambrose Bierce