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Comment: My reason for using a sound card. (Score 1) 482

I had the optical output on my motherboard run into my home theater receiver in the living room (where the computer was too). After 3 years of the PC always being on and the optical LED being lit, the LED brightness had diminished (yes, this happens) to a point where it could not signal reliably over the cheap 30 foot optical cable I was using (I did a lot of troubleshooting). To remedy the problem I bought the cheapest sound card I could find with an optical output. That solved the problem.

I have since moved the PC into a different room (and upgraded the motherboard, CPU, etc) and went back to using analog headphones. I kept the sound card in the PC and used that with my headphones. Then one day that sound card quit working. So, now I use the analog out on my motherboard.

Full circle.

Comment: So, (Score 1) 535

by dohnut (#46578817) Attached to: Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion

They're coming after us now -- the hardcore gamer, PC using, hipster, Facebook holdouts. Screw this, if Zuckerberg wants to infiltrate my computer with some Facebook authentication required "oculus configuration tool" and track all of my processes, keystrokes, and mouse-clicks, he can do what every other soulless marketing company does and just buy that information from Valve!

Comment: Re:Cellular is the business model (Score 1) 424

by dohnut (#46260865) Attached to: Time Warner Deal Is How Comcast Will Fight Cord Cutters

I don't know if it is necessarily law. Perhaps only one company is given access to the existing infrastructure by law, but there can be multiple cable companies.

My town (Cedar Rapids, IA) has 2 cable providers. Imon and Mediacom. Imon just serves our metropolitan area (Imon is not municipal -- they are an independent, for-profit company), whereas Mediacom is a regional cable provider and serves many other metro areas. There are 2 sets of cable infrastructure run side-by-side throughout the city. I have 2 cable feeds terminating at my house.

The problem is, who wants to come in as an unestablished second provider and foot the bill to re-wire the entire city again? Probably not many companies. Cedar Rapids' situation is definitely unique and it may not last as there were (are) rumors about Mediacom leaving the city because of the local competition.

Comment: Hmm.. (Score 5, Interesting) 59

by dohnut (#46111419) Attached to: 30 Minutes Inside Valve's Prototype Virtual Reality Headset

I'm coming out with an application called "Solitary Confinement".

Required hardware will be a VR headset, noise-cancelling headphones, and a typical closet or shower (shower/tubs will not work). You can play single player but it's much more realistic if a friend or family member takes on the role of the warden. I'm integrating it with the steam API and am currently ironing out the achievements.

Comment: AI Rejection (Score 1) 175

by dohnut (#46092025) Attached to: An OS You'll Love? AI Experts Weigh In On <em>Her</em>

Disclaimer: I have not watched the movie yet.

In this movie the user and the AI grow to love each other. Can't the opposite also happen? How about the AI likes you, but just as a friend. Is the AI going to hang out with the AI down the street more than it spends time with it's "owner"?

If the AI is truly intelligent than isn't this the same as human relationships, only at near light-speed?

Comment: Re:LMGTFY (Score 1) 312

by dohnut (#45880457) Attached to: No. of vehicle license types I hold:

You may need a certificate in Iowa if you are between the ages of 12 and 18 (I assume if you are under 12 then no boat for you). Otherwise, individuals only need to register their watercraft with the DNR, no certification or licensing required.

From the site:

Who Needs the Card?
Persons at least 12 years old but less than 18 years old may operate a motorboat over ten horsepower or personal watercraft (PWC), only if they complete a boater education course and possess a Boater Education Certificate approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Even if not required by law to get the Iowa boating license, many boaters take the boat safety course in order to save on their PWC or boat insurance.

Comment: Re:Apple bashing (Score 4, Informative) 452

by dohnut (#42243527) Attached to: Australian Police Warn That Apple Maps Could Get Someone Killed

Just for clarification:

EPIRBs are generally used for maritime incidents. They float, can be activated manually but automatically activate when they enter the water.
PLBs are Personal Locator Beacons. Similar to an EPIRB except they are usually smaller, less expensive, and most do not float.
ELTs are used for aircraft related incidents.

They all perform the same function which is to alert rescuers to the location of the beacon. For terrestrial use it is generally recommended (required?) that you use a PLB.

The system is expensive to maintain since (unless you are abusing the system) the search and rescue usually comes at no cost to the beacon owner. Because of this, you should really only use these devices in situations that may involve the loss of life or limb. Running out of gas on a remote Australian road is not necessarily an emergency. There may be help nearby or other vehicles that may come along within a relatively short time frame. The beacon should only be used if you think that there is a good chance you will end up dead or permanently disabled as a result of your situation.

Of course, one would hope that if you have the presence of mind to carry a locator beacon that you would also make sure to fill up your gas tank before a long trip into an unfamiliar, remote area.

Comment: 5 Boys (Score 1) 178

by dohnut (#42097881) Attached to: Compared to my siblings ...

I'm the oldest of 5 boys and I have the least amount of (formal) education. FYI, there is a 16 year gap between me and my youngest brother.

1) Me: College dropout (4yr university (comp sci) - attended for 1.5yrs) Job: Software developer.
2) Next: Electrical Engineer (4yr university). Job: Works for an electric power company (utility).
3) Next: BA Marketing (attended probably 4 different 4yr universities and changed majors 4 times over a 14yr time span). Job: PR/Communications director for an affluent (redundant?) country club.
4) Next: BS Anthropology (4yr university). Job: A naval officer on an aircraft carrier.
5) Next: Finishing AA in Restaurant & Hotel Management (2yr community college) this semester. Job: Grocery store (non-managerial).

But I make the most money, so I win right? :P

Comment: Re:any questions? (Score 1) 360

by dohnut (#41752587) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Working With Awful Legacy Code?

Yes, this.

There are (at least) 3 things that lead to bad code: 1) Poor Planning. 2) Time Constraints. 3) Mediocre (and even bad) Developers.

Planning takes time and it is difficult. We employ "Systems Engineers" to capture requirements, understand the existing code base, and then determine what work actually has to be done. Then the developer takes those plans and turns them into code. Unfortunately, and especially as complexity increases, you are going to: 1) miss things, 2) break existing things, and 3) run into conflicts that often require complete refactoring of some part of the code or an ugly kludge to get you by. On a large development effort you usually hit all 3 of those.

Time. Obviously time affects everything. There's never enough time, so it's very important to get the planning stage right. If you skimp on time with planning you will pay it back 10-fold over the course of maintaining your software. And then there's just the obvious stuff. How many of us are juggling multiple projects, bug fixes, documentation, etc. Priorities change week to week, day to day. Is it management's fault? Ultimately, yes, but their jobs aren't easy either.

Developers. Hey, most of us have been mediocre at some stage during our careers. Hopefully we all get better with age (I've only met one person who got worse) but some progress much more slowly than others. I've been coding since I was 9 (I'm nearing 40 now) and if I look at code I did even 5-10 years ago, it makes me cringe a little. The code works, but it is not as efficient or well organized as I would do it today (or so I've convinced myself).

We code in C++ where I work. Most of the developers have been coding for a long time. But they coded for a long time in 80's languages and transitioned with no training at all to C++ (which I consider a 90's language). People still roll their own lists (i.e. don't use or aren't aware of the STL), misuse the object paradigm, don't understand templates, still use pointers when they should use references, etc. Most are basically still C developers and they are perfectly competent C developers -- but we're using C++ in a highly threaded environment.

So, imagine, if you will, the state of a decade+ old code base for a massive, monolithic application which has to communicate with a (very) random and ever-changing assortment of hardware devices, protocols, etc. written in C++ by developers who never really learned C++. Also, the poor bastards that have to do the planning in this quagmire and the managers that are taking fire from all sides.

Yes, bad code is the norm (and, yes, I do enjoy my job).

Comment: Re:Live free or DIE (Score 1) 687

by dohnut (#41611153) Attached to: A Day in Your Life, Fifteen Years From Now

I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and we pay by the CCF (100 cubic feet or 748 gallons). Oddly, water consumption is a fairly small part of my water bill.

In January 2011 here's what I paid (note: we pay bi-monthly, so this is roughly 2 months worth of charges):

Water - Residential:
68 days at $0.31 per day = $21.08 (this is just for having water hooked up regardless of usage)
4 CCF (about 3000 gallons) at $1.62 per CCF = $6.48 -- this is the only figure affected by my consumption (aside from the subsequent taxes)
Tax = $1.93 (I don't know what this tax is)
Total Charges: $29.49

Sewer - Residential:
68 days at $0.35 per day = $23.80 -- this is allegedly influenced by my consumption, but they do not show the math. I think the 4 CCF figure above probably includes both supply and sewer costs. I think this fee is a fixed maintenance fee.
Total Charges: $23.80

Storm Sewer - Residential:
68 days at $0.14 per day = $9.52 (maintenance fee)
Total Charges: $9.52

Sub Total: $62.81
Tax (7%) (state + county): $4.40
Grand Total: $67.21 of which about 10% is for actual water usage - the rest I owe even if I never turn on a tap.

"Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out." -- Montaigne