Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Ppl who don't know C++ slamming C++ (Score 1) 198

by david_bonn (#48894921) Attached to: Bjarne Stroustrup Awarded 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Prize

I've spent over a decade writing C++ code professionally for financial, insurance and CRM systems. So Stroustrup made a half-baked badly designed partially-OO langauge that has set back the evolution of real OO back at least two decades, and he gets an award? A kick in the ass would be more appropriate.

I have lost count of the number of times I have ran across a mess of C++ code where someone was trying to implement Smalltalk-style semantics in C++. Which doesn't work.

C++ rewards good design but brutally punishes poor designs. And most C++ coders aren't very good at designing clean class hierarchies. This means that most large C++ programs end up being insane vats of code goo after a few years.

Oh, and pet peeves...

The class mechanism in C++ is used to implement several incompatible concepts that would be best separated. One of these is "objects". Objects ideally are almost always used in pointer or reference context, use inheritance, and all public member functions and their destructor should be virtual (a class with a virtual function and a non-virtual destructor is a memory leak waiting to happen). Objects should almost never use operator overloading. Another concept is "values". Values use the copy-constructor and assignment operators, should almost never use inheritance (because getting a virtual assignment operator to work sanely is hard, and a virtual copy constructor isn't really possible) and might use operator overloading. Any case where these two concepts mix is very rarely good.

On the other hand, I can bill $1000/day telling people in painful detail that they have a screwed up mess of code. So C++ is at least rather lucrative for me.

Comment: Re:Not a fan (Score 1) 304

by david_bonn (#48892629) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

If the safety feature enables the brakes when a crash is 'imminent', it takes away the driver's discretion during the times braking is not advisable.

During icy conditions, when I'd rather kill that deer instead of my family, or when a piece of black plastic blows across the roadway, are three that come to mind.

I have lived in 15 years in an area with a lot of deer, some elk, and some moose. Usually there are about 200 deer kills per years in the county. And there are notoriously icy and snowy roads in the wintertime.

About five years ago I hit a deer going about 45mph just outside of town. The deer came from the passenger side, hit the right front corner panel, and bounced up and left a basketball-sized hole with the deer head sticking through right in front of my face. The county sheriff said (and I agree) that if I would have been going 5mph faster I would have been killed. So I am all for such features.

And oh, if you are worried about icy roads your hi-tech car will almost certainly have anti-lock brakes and should have skid control (since that is just a software feature of your anti-lock brakes). So your fears about spinning out of control aren't very likely.

Comment: Re:A Boom in Civilization (Score 1) 227

by david_bonn (#48853511) Attached to: Sid Meier's New Game Is About Starships

Why is war an assumed mandatory condition for space travelers? This is patently absurd (though perhaps fun in a game). Don't ya think we would have already located some extraterrestrials if there were wars going on in space? Or is this war thing predicated on humans being out there?

We are entrained to believe wars are inevitable, due to differences in opinion or scarcity of material. May I once again posit that war is not a natural result of being human, but rather one put upon mankind by strong, selfish, sociopaths that profit from it?

There is so much we don't know that we can't really assume one way or another. Face it, we don't even know if interstellar travel is even possible (and it is not at all clear that it is possible with our present technology, and reasonable travel times require technologies that we don't know about).

The Earth seems to be at just about the minimum size needed to have plate tectonics, which is needed to keep the planet habitable long enough for complex life to arise. If that is the case most of the "habitable" planets out there are quite a bit more massive. The downside to that is an intelligent species on even a slightly more massive planet will find space travel of any kind to be quite a bit more technically challenging than even we find it. They might even find it challenging enough that they cannot or will not even try at all. So even with us finding lots of "Earth-like" planets we still might not find extraterrestrials. So I'm not so sure we'd have located those extraterrestrials.

In a similar sense, while planets are probably common, really nice planets (with the right combination of reasonable gravity, low axial tilt, a big but not too big hydrosphere) might not be that common at all. They might, in fact, be damned rare. Certainly in that case such planets would be worth fighting over. Yes, if we have super-advanced technology, we can probably terraform a planet. But I'd hate to watch the terraforming process that would create reasonable 1 gravity on a world that was twice as massive as earth. And even a terraformed planet wouldn't be as nice a place to live as Earth still is.

Comment: this is actually an old technique (Score 2) 110

by david_bonn (#48835495) Attached to: To Avoid Detection, Terrorists Made Messages Seem Like Spam

During WWII the 'beeb sent messages to the resistance in occupied Europe. (examples at ... damn that is an insanely long url...). If I remember my history "innocuous" announcements in newspapers were used to send covert messages by all sides in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

Heck, if you controlled your own botnet (reasonable to do and a minor profit center for terrorists) you could put "random" text at the ends of your spams to confuse bayesian spam filters and piggyback coded messages in the random text as well.

Chaffing your messages this way has the bonus of making traffic analysis useless if you are sending your message to literally millions of people.

Comment: Re:Tell me it ain't so, Elon! (Score 4, Interesting) 181

by david_bonn (#48813207) Attached to: Tesla To Produce 'a Few Million' Electric Cars a Year By 2025

Can Tesla do something like pick a dealership and add conditions like, "must sell only tesla or only electric cars", "Tesla will retain the right to sell directly too" etc? Why are the standard auto makers not able to sell directly? Is it because A: the law stops them or B: They had signed exclusive agreements already. If Tesla starts with a clean slate, can it have dealerships and sell directly too? Or at least have some more balanced rights and decent negotiating position compared to the gas giants who are wimps against NADA.

Yes, Tesla could do all of that. Most dealers wouldn't sign such an agreement. For that matter, most dealers wouldn't want to sell an electric car.

Seriously, most existing car dealers don't know how to sell an electric car and make money at it. Since, for the most part, a Tesla requires far less maintenance than a modern internal combustion car, and since, for the most part, the biggest profit center in most car dealerships is the service center I can't see how the existing dealer networks can adapt to selling a Tesla or any other electric car.

Right now there is a dizzying patchwork of laws requiring automobiles be sold through dealers and not direct from the manufacturer. Historically, a lot of this was to protect local small businessmen (car dealers, who even today are quite well represented in local government). The other argument was that with a local dealer the purchaser of a car could also be sure his car could be serviced locally as well -- and since an electric car requires so much less service, that logic is kind of questionable.

Oh, and car dealerships (or any franchisee) can protect themselves from being undercut by the automaker by insisting on the same terms as any other dealer in their territory. There is also this thing called the Sherman Anti-Trust act that also prohibits undercutting your own dealers.

Comment: Re:Stop trying to win this politically (Score 1) 786

by david_bonn (#48783803) Attached to: Michael Mann: Swiftboating Comes To Science

If Global Warming is a science issue then stop trying to make political arguments.

You are LOSING the political battle. Stop fighting. Everything since Al Gore started organizing this movement has been one political miscalculation after another.

Why would you expect otherwise? This is the same guy that lost to GWB after serving a Bill Clinton's Vice President for eight years. That election was in the bag. And he blew it by thinking that attacking guns in the middle of a presidential election was a good idea.

Are you saying that we should use guns to settle the "debate" on global warming?

Are you saying that advocates for action against CO2 pollution should present themselves as gun-friendly?

I don't get it.

Comment: Re:All you people here need a reality check (Score 1) 219

by david_bonn (#48781883) Attached to: LAPD Orders Body Cams That Will Start Recording When Police Use Tasers

As long as you act like a jerk you're going to be treated like a jerk. That is the way the

And of course being a jerk is a capital offense?

There are plenty of accounts of police officers shooting innocent, law-abiding civilians in their homes (usually when a warrant was served at the wrong address or when an informant gave maliciously bad information). Who was the jerk in that case?

Cops are not judge, jury, and executioner.

Comment: What if amateurs get into this game? (Score 4, Interesting) 319

by david_bonn (#48769991) Attached to: How Close Are We To Engineering the Climate?

I'm getting kind of concerned. While I agree strenuously that intentionally messing with the climate is likely to end as badly as unintentionally messing with the climate, the scary part is that the cost estimates for doing so aren't really that high.

It is at least plausible that a Buffet, Zuckerberg, Allen, or Musk might just go ahead and start seeding the upper atmosphere with sulphur dioxide. The cost estimates are low enough (and I suspect that you could do it for a lot less) to make it plausible for non-state actors to do exactly that -- without asking anyone's permission. I kind of doubt anyone would be able to stop them, either. And once they had managed to get away with it for a decade or so, my understanding is that we'd almost have to keep seeding the stratosphere or we'd have a very rapid, very scary climate shift in a very few years.

For that matter, I could see the Russians or the Saudis quietly pursuing a geoengineering program just so they can keep selling oil. It isn't that much of a stretch to imagine a consortium of hedge-fund billionaires with large holdings of Florida real estate doing exactly the same thing.

The heck of it is, if someone quietly did a sneaky climate hack, people would forget about the whole global warming thing in a very short time. Politicians, either ones who had pressed for action or who had pushed for doing nothing at all, would not pay very much attention to the issue if it appeared to be going away. And scientists who claim that someone is messing with the climate would be just as easily ignored as they are now.

Comment: Re:Time to Pause and Rethink (Score 1) 78

I think the challenge should be something like, "reduce manned launch costs by 95% and increase launch reliability by 500%". That doesn't sound glamorous, that won't excite people, but that is exactly what it will take to make a manned Mars mission, asteroid mining, and all of the other great ideas a reality.

Honestly, at this point I could argue with a straight face that we ought to emphasize unmanned missions with high scientific returns and take the enormous pile of money spent on manned space programs for comparatively little scientific return and get the launch costs down and the reliability and safety way up, You'd probably want to bring in outside talent from NASA and you'd definitely want an administrator and a President and enough congresspeople and senators on board that could make the change in direction stick.

I do believe that it would be great for humans to become a true spacefaring species. The fact of the matter is that the present approaches that I see being seriously proposed will not get us there.

Comment: Re:noooo (Score 1) 560

by david_bonn (#48719985) Attached to: 2014: Hottest Year On Record

Also, I still believe the focus is on the wrong thing: rather than try and stop climate change (after all, if it doesn't change because of CO2, it may change due to something else) we should try and work on technologies so we can survive - no, thrive - regardless of the climate. (Isn't that what humanity has done for most of its existence anyway?)

I'd like to ask the Mayans, Anastazi, Minoans, and the Harappans, about surviving and thriving regardless of climate.

.... or the Vikings who colonized Greenland.

Comment: Re:noooo (Score 1) 560

by david_bonn (#48719971) Attached to: 2014: Hottest Year On Record

Also, I still believe the focus is on the wrong thing: rather than try and stop climate change (after all, if it doesn't change because of CO2, it may change due to something else) we should try and work on technologies so we can survive - no, thrive - regardless of the climate. (Isn't that what humanity has done for most of its existence anyway?)

I'd like to ask the Mayans, Anastazi, Minoans, and the Harappans, about surviving and thriving regardless of climate.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl