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Comment nixos and urbit (Score 2) 206

NixOS has a package manager that I think has a real shot at achieving scalability and repeatability in package management. Once something works in NixOS it will keep working on it's own, since specific versions of dependencies are tracked and can coexist, whereas in mainstream distros shit breaks all the time. The current model of freezing everything once in a while and patching up some of the most obviously broken stuff simply isn't keeping up with the pace of software development IMHO. For a real moonshot OS/language/decentralize_all_the_things project, check out Urbit:

Comment Re:$2b / 9m users (Score 1) 80

Github is really nice, but git itself is the core tech, and undermines the heck out of their lock-in. If they push too hard to monetize, a competitor will come along and everyone will just push their repos there or self-host. Some of the ticket stuff might not migrate well, but many of the nice activity plots, etc... that github provides are just visualizations of data that is in your repo.

Comment Re:Blackberry. (Score 1) 484

I would add that part of the problem is that in the mobile ecosystem, the march of technology isn't voluntary. Your phone is subject to a constant barrage of software updates that gradually make your phone slower and more crashy. Any software update that increases resource requirements ~should be regarded as a breaking change, but that is not the case. Since the entire smartphone industry works this way, the only real recourse for the user is to revert to a dumb phone, but that isn't terribly satisfying.

Comment Re:What has Rust been used for? (Score 1) 181

If you really have a significant amount of Ada experience, and spend enough time with Rust once it reaches 1.0 to get over the initial pain of a new language, please write a blog post about it, and be very constructive with your technical criticisms. I have yet to see an in-depth comparison between Rust and Ada; just a handful of short forum posts by the Rust devs saying that Rust has stronger safety guarantees for parallel code. I attended an Ada talk at a high profile open source conference recently and was a bit underwhelmed; I came away with the impression that aside from ranged integers, the compile time safety features of Ada (beyond memory safety) are a bit kludgy, i.e. they don't fit will into the syntax, are vendor specific, or only work in restricted cases... Of course, that could have been a problem with the talk, rather than the Ada ecosystem.

Comment Re: What has Rust been used for? (Score 1) 181

Don't worry, nobody is going to make you program in Rust unless it really proves valuable in practice. One good litmus test for this will be if Servo gets productized and ends up being the only browser ~not getting hacked every year at the pwn2own. Rust has a steep enough learning curve that you pretty much already have to be a good programmer to even get started. You have to not only grok what pointers/references are, there is the additional overhead of mutability and ownership that you have to understand to write even trivial code. I think once Rust matures a bit it will still have a shallower learning curve that C++, though; I have a hunch new users will learn faster from Rust's compiler errors than from C++'s segfaults (and data races once you get to parallel programming).

Comment Embarassing use of tech (Score 0) 99

Stuff like this makes me embarassed to call myself an electrical engineer. If you tell someone you've worked in the field of robotics or UAV's, there's a decent chance they're going to think something along the lines of "oh, so you're the kind of person who builds machines that rain death from the sky." Doctors take a pledge not to kill people; I see no reason why we engineers shouldn't hold ourselves to the standard.

Comment Slashdot editorial standards? (Score 1) 181

While this is one of my favorite discussion topics, TFA is extremely badly written. If someone is not writing clearly and concisely, they are probably not thinking clearly either. Why is this below average blog post getting treated like a serious rebuttal to a report from a major financial instution?

Comment Re:just like software, centralizion is inevitable (Score 1) 181

It is unlikely the automation of cars willl be centralised to the point that they ~can't also work autonomously. The interstate highway system was built because fast road transportation for defensive forces was viewed as a military necessity. If all of our roads could be gridlocked by a cyber attack commanding all of the robot cars to stop in the middle of the road, I'm sure the military would have something to say about it.

Comment Re:Never (Score 1) 181

I disagree with this sentiment. If we can figure out how to program planes to never crash into mountains/buildings/the ground, we absolutely should. If it's fault tolerance you're concerned about, apparently a single pilot with a head full of bad ideas is still a potential single point of failure. Maybe we're not ready to take humans out of the loop completely, but surely we can make it necessary to have consent from ~both pilots to disable the plane's safety features.

Comment Re:Never (Score 1) 181

It is not just about reaction time (thought that sure helps stopping distance); it is also about sensors and reliability. Humans cannot shoot lasers out of their eyes to precisely and directly measure the distance to every object in every direction, know intrinsically where they are (GPS), how to navigate (google maps), where there are traffic jams (via other cars running google maps), where there are potholes (via the accelerometers in the smartphones in other cars), etc... As for reliability, an autonomous car does not ever have to reach the performance of our ~best drivers, it just has to beat the performance of our ~worst drivers. Would you rather cross the road as a pedestrian in front of a robot car, or a human driver that is tired/drunk/distracted/half blind/stupid/enraged/hurried?

Anything cut to length will be too short.