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Comment: This is absolutely ridiculous (Score 1) 183

by dread (#41601993) Attached to: Microsoft Patents 1826 Choropleth Map Technique

1: There is a ton of prior art in general
2: There is a ton of prior art for Excel specifically

Exhibit a) Microcharts from Bonavista Systems, released in 2006 or even earlier (http://www.juiceanalytics.com/writing/microcharts-a-different-take-on-excel-charting/)
Exhibit b) EVERY OTHER BI TOOL IN THE UNIVERSE

How incredibly incompetent are the people at the Patent Office? There is a mandated discovery process after all. What the hell is going on?

Comment: CMMI - religion masquerading as whatever it is (Score 5, Insightful) 200

by dread (#34354860) Attached to: What Software Specification Tools Do You Use?

Listen. I've spent far too many of my working years dealing with companies that have caught religion of some sort. It doesn't matter which one it is, be it ISO, CMMI, Six Sigma or some virulent form of agile (yes SCRUM people, I'm talking to you); its a religion. Instead of focusing on the business and developing sound processes that fit the business model and the company culture these companies put in place this huge infrastructure hoping that this will make them automatically successful.

It doesn't.

It does kill whatever passion there is though. Yes that goes for agile too but in other parts of the company than the one you might be sitting in.

These days I have a good rule that works - when a company tries to sell me services based on being CMMI level 5 I tell them to far, far away and preferably perform some acts that are illegal in several states. After having dealt with a couple of them I have realized that the only genuine thing generated is a huge paper trail and innovation is dead or dying.

As to your question - I don't know and I don't care. I can only make the friendly suggestion that you look for work in a place that doesn't focus on religious adherence to principles defined elsewhere. I promise you that it'll be more fun, challenging and ultimately interesting.

Censorship

Pakistan Court Orders Facebook Ban Over Mohammed Images 949

Posted by timothy
from the certainly-should-block-wikipedia-too-then dept.
jitendraharlalka writes with this excerpt from Al Jazeera English: "A Pakistani court has issued a ban on the social networking site Facebook after a user-generated contest page encouraged members to post caricatures of Prophet Mohammed. The Lahore High Court on Wednesday instructed the Pakistani Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to ban the site after the Islamic Lawyers Movement complained that a page called 'Draw Mohammed Day' is blasphemous. ... 'We have already blocked the URL link and issued instruction to Internet service providers,' Khurram Mehran, a spokesperson for the PTA, said."

Comment: I'll buy one (Score 1) 617

by dread (#31717744) Attached to: iPad Launches, FCC Teardown Leaked

once someone has bothered jailbreaking it. Prior to that - no chance of me spending my cash on it as my interest in feeding Mr Murdoch and his ideas is exactly zero.

It's an interesting step. I think we will see devices down the line (add cameras, eye tracking and general inventiveness) that come close to a cut down version of Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age" ideas. But right now it's nowhere near that. Just an interesting piece of hardware that I can use as a glorified screen/reader/remote. Which is pretty much what I will do. If someone hacks the damn thing.

Comment: Bad for coding, good for debugging (Score 1) 198

by dread (#31431560) Attached to: Code Bubbles — Rethinking the IDE's User Interface

I absolutely see where this would be useful but it's just another concept that can alleviate some of the burdens of certain parts of our (?) work. For coding, all out, no-holds-barred, i-need-to-get-this-out-of-head coding you need something that is structured around packages and classes/interfaces. Whether you have to create it yourself or you started with UML (you fancy person you) or a whiteboard doesn't matter. You want to write the code, test cases and move on. I am a believer in making mistakes and correcting them rather than overanalyzing at the beginning and that has worked well in all sorts of environments, whether it has been carrier grade telecom stuff or enterprise widget work. Doesn't matter. Get an initial design, hammer in the functionality and iterate. However, in that type of scenario Code Bubbles doesn't really help. Where it does help is in debugging and documenting, I can certainly see how this would be enormously useful in that situation. The problem is that you don't normally shift between IDEs that way. Some do, I don't and even though I don't necessarily kill the people working for me if they do it, it adds a lot of maintenance overhead to deal with dual project structures.

Anyway, if this ever gets into IntelliJ I'll be happy clam I think.

Space

Astronomers Discover 33 Pairs of Waltzing Black Holes 101

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the teach-them-to-foxtrot dept.
Astronomers from UC Berkeley have identified 33 pairs of waltzing black holes, closing the gap somewhat between the observed population of super-massive black hole pairs and what had been predicted by theory. "Astronomical observations have shown that 1) nearly every galaxy has a central super-massive black hole (with a mass of a million to a billion times the mass of the Sun), and 2) galaxies commonly collide and merge to form new, more massive galaxies. As a consequence of these two observations, a merger between two galaxies should bring two super-massive black holes to the new, more massive galaxy formed from the merger. The two black holes gradually in-spiral toward the center of this galaxy, engaging in a gravitational tug-of-war with the surrounding stars. The result is a black hole dance, choreographed by Newton himself. Such a dance is expected to occur in our own Milky Way Galaxy in about 3 billion years, when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy."
Books

Comic Books Improve Early Childhood Literacy 127

Posted by timothy
from the shore-helped-mee dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that Professor Carol Tilley, a professor of library and information science at the University of Illinois, says that comics are just as sophisticated as other forms of reading, children benefit from reading them at least as much as they do from reading other kinds of books, and that there is evidence that comics increase children's vocabulary and instill a love of reading. 'A lot of the criticism of comics and comic books come from people who think that kids are just looking at the pictures and not putting them together with the words,' says Tilley. 'But you could easily make some of the same criticisms of picture books – that kids are just looking at pictures, and not at the words.' Tilley says that some of the condescension toward comics as a medium may come from the connotations that the name itself evokes but that the distinct comic book aesthetic — frames, thought and speech bubbles, motion lines, to name a few — has been co-opted by children's books, creating a hybrid format."
Robotics

Robot Controlled By Human Brain Cells 86

Posted by timothy
from the rat-is-a-pig-is-a-boy dept.
destinyland writes "There's a new experiment from the British researchers who created a robot controlled by cultured rat neurons. They're now using a line of human brain neurons to control robots. The neurons are placed onto a multi-electrode dish that registers the neurons' electric signals. 'Every time the robot nears an object, the electrodes generate signals to stimulate the brain. In response, the brain's output is used to drive the wheels of the robot left and right so that it avoids hitting objects. The robot has no additional control from a human or a computer — its sole means of control is from its own brain.'"
Security

Cyber-criminal Left In Charge of Prison Computer Network 389

Posted by samzenpus
from the fox-in-the-hen-house dept.
samzenpus writes "A 27-year-old man serving six years for stealing £6.5million using forged credit cards over the internet was recruited to help write code needed for the installation of an internal prison TV station. He was left unguarded with unfettered access to the system and produced results that anyone but prison officials could have guessed. He installed a series of passwords on all the machines, shutting down the entire prison computer system. A prison source said, 'It's unbelievable that a criminal convicted of cyber-crime was allowed uncontrolled access to the hard drive. He set up such an elaborate array of passwords it took a specialist company to get it working.'"

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