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Comment: Slidebox Bob (Score 2) 46

by epine (#48228353) Attached to: Google Search Finally Adds Information About Video Games

Google didn't do this to make the gamers happy. They did it to make the non gamers happy, because video game culture is ladden with a rich and repurposed vocabulary that constantly shows up when people don't want to see video games in their search results.

They have to recognize games in order to remove games. Once they've gone that far, throwing up a positive infobox is Slidebox Bob.

Comment: Re:Not a surprise, but is it just one ingredient? (Score 1) 422

by epine (#48182649) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

I didn't see an actual link to the study anywhere, but TFA at least appears to assume correlation = causation.

No, actually every version of the article I've seen bends over backwards to end off by saying "correlation does not equal causation".

With this kind of a study, which is methodologically weak (participant recall), I don't think one gets uniform results across gender, age, race, and education very darn often. You would get this in a study of cigarette smoking, because the health impacts of smoking are direct and universal.

When one gets a study with a profile that resembles a study on cigarette smoking in its power and statistical profile, it does tend to clear the mind of ancillary explanations. Occam's razor is practically beating the door down. It's not like sugar have never before been suspected as an agent of direct metabolic stress.

If this study holds up, it's a pretty darn big deal no matter how you slice it. Anyone here have a method to detect 5 years of invisible biological aging which is less onerous than giving someone a fifteen minute quiz? No, I didn't think so.

Comment: why won't it just die.die.die? (Score 1) 240

by epine (#48145111) Attached to: Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

Almost all the hacks imposed on C++ to remain compatible with C are linear hacks that don't combine combinatorially. That's what makes these hacks ugly: bending over backwards to achieve hack containment. The C++ standardization literature contains many of the fiercest debates ever waged among pointy hats concerning hack containment. Purity wasn't an option. Impurity segregation was.

The hacks in C++ that do have combinatorial complexity pertain to features of the C++ language completely unrelated to C, such as templates and namespaces.

The bending over backward to avoid non-linear hacks due to compatibility with C got the standards committee into a wee bit of time pressure. Both the template and namespace features were added "on the fly" against the stated policy of the standardization group to only standardize after there was enough experience on the ground to avoid the worst mistakes.

If the standard isn't finished on a timely basis: market fail.

If the standard is finished without templates and namespaces: paradigm fail.

If the standard makes blunders in defining templates and namespaces: an eternal witch's brew.

The committee members rather sanely (and unhappily) chose the least of several competing evils.

There's never been a language like C++ to get otherwise smart people to say stupid things.

* C++ contains many ugly hacks due to its C legacy
* most ugly hacks are combinatorial
* C++ contains many combinatorial hacks
* therefore C++ is riven with combinatorial hacks due to its C legacy

Yes, but the ugly hacks to support C are not the combinatorial hacks, and the combinatorial hacks to support templates and namespaces before their time are not the hacks to support C.

Of course, if you don't delve deeply enough to figure this out, one might just conclude that C++ was concocted by a brigand of insane ideologues. You'd be stupid and wrong, but if your surround yourself with an echo chamber of the equally lazy, there's hardly any detectable social downside (near you).

There's remains, however, this irritating tendency of the world around you not to adopt your favourite "clean" language and put C++ out to pasture once and for allâ"due exclusively to inertia, incompetence, and mendacity. Of course.

The next rank of fierce debate during standardization concerned the elimination of all proposed features where adopting the feature imposed a performance penalty across the board even when it isn't used. A few performance points here and there on a heavy-lifting, industrial programming language quickly adds up to entire data centers. Elegance was never a sufficient argument, unless the performance tax imposed was—at most—barely measurable.

Elegance looks like such a great thing until one begins writing an application at industrial scale. The hacks inherent in making any computational system work efficiently on industrial scale (with smooth degradation around the edge cases, and no crippling instabilities) instantly dwarfs the hackishness of the C++ language itself.

Comment: Re:Still being made... (Score 1) 304

by epine (#48098865) Attached to: The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

I've had an Erase-ease Keyboard For Compaq Computers for a long time now.

Surprisingly, almost without me noticing it, it's become my silent workhorse. It's fairly heavy and stiff, with just enough key feel for the speed I type. It has nice key surface sculpting, too. Every couple of years I shake an entire meal out of the mechanism and give the key caps the car wash treatment. It still works great, but does get a bit sticky for a few days after being washed.

I had two of the old IBM keyboards around, but I simply type too fast to use one as my main keyboard. My typing oscillates between high speed ticking and a low frequency buzz. IBM keyboards are noisy and stiff and I began to wonder about the strain on my fingers, as well.

On this keyboard I've never actually forced myself to use the backspacebar key. I popped the the key cap off the right Windows key a long time ago. Miraculously, Firefox is now the bane of my typing existence, since any accidental strike of the right ALT key takes me into a modal menu-bar mode.

About six months ago I bound the Linux compose key to capslock and set it up to generate mdashes and ndashes and a whole bunch of HTML markup.

I have <blockquote> bound to caps-q-a and </blockquote> bound to caps-q-s. I have <nowiki> bound to caps-w-a and </nowiki> bound to caps-w-s. I guess it's obvious what software I use for taking notes. What a godsend to have a useful capslock key. Now if I could just shoot someone at the Mozilla Foundation for perpetrating the modal Alt key to activate the drop-down menubar, my keyboard life would be nirvana.

Yeah, maybe there's a Firefox setting to disable this. Can't be bothered just yet. Too many moving carpets. This I learned from Ubuntu. If you hate something, do nothing about it. If twelve months down the road some twenty-something GUI designer asshole hasn't already yanked the carpet out from underneath you consider investing three minutes of quality Google time in stone-from-shoe removal prowess. (My what sharp fangs you have, Grandma! All the better to service the tablet marketplace, my darling little Ms Underhood.)

For example, I use middle-click paste all the time, while also carrying a to-be-pasted item around in my regular paste buffer (and even more in my clippy tool). I'm sure I read something about some distro/desktop deciding to eliminate this from their next GUI iteration, right before I hit the emergency stasis field activation button and curled into a foetal ball.

What I desperately want is a middle-click erase-paste, in which the contents of the target area are vaporised prior to the paste operation (clearing out search boxes is especially annoying). I just noticed that the paste happens on button release. A long middle-button press could be a field erase operation. Then long-press/release would be paste-replace. That would be golden. All the methods I know to quickly delete a field involve first selecting the field, which really sucks when you're already carrying something in your X buffer.

Hard on the heals of my compose key triumph, I might give it a go at some point in the next six to nine months.

Comment: Re:Lots of cheap carbon stuff (Score 1) 652

by epine (#48080073) Attached to: Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It?

Actually you only need to pear the population down by about 20 million. The top 2% of the world's population consume something like 90-95% of the resources, they are extremely expensive to have around. Remove them and everyone's standard of living jumps significantly.

And what about the other 98% who dream of becoming the 2%? Nature abhors voluntary prudence. Stable equilibria in straightened circumstance is what you get after everyone goes "oh shit, what now?"

Perhaps in about twenty more years, we'll have a SimEarth realistic enough to set your proposal up to watch the earth burn. The stampede to replace the profligate 2% being but the first unmitigated ecological disaster of many to follow.

Skill testing question: Does the extremely high American incarceration rate aid or abet the trade in deprecated substances? I'm not even going to bother offering up antonyms. Prison is many things, and one of those things is serving as a first-rate finishing school in general lawlessness. Every trip to prison makes your "straight" options that much less attractive. After three trips to prison, minimum wage under the table is your glass ceiling in the straight economy.

The law of unexpected consequence is nowhere else in force so strongly as it applies to human incentive.

Comment: the core problem (Score 1) 139

by epine (#47977469) Attached to: Google Quietly Nixes Mandatory G+ Integration With Gmail

The core problem is not Google+ (pustulent imposition that it was) but that Google does not provide clean answers about anything it does. Google's motto has long ceased being "don't be evil" and morphed into "that's for us to know, and users to divine".

My view is that happiness in life is directly proportional to eliminating all forms of "X behind a curtain" where X is man, woman, beast, tyrant, saint, priest, missionary, Smallpox vector, committee, club, association, organization, governmental body, natural, supernatural, mythical, legendary, or outright fabrication.

Google as presently configured is not a conduit of happiness in this world.

Comment: ask not for whom the bell doesn't chime (Score 1) 478

by epine (#47966973) Attached to: Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

Yeah, if he's stuck in a state of decline, he can still contribute.

I guess you don't have any grandparents who live alone, but can no longer reliably identify their own children. My wife's grandmother recently "celebrated" her ninetieth birthday (I don't use scare quotes lightly). All her "loved ones" showed up. She spent the entire day looking like a four-year-old lost in a giant shopping mall. She didn't know who she was, who anyone else was, where she was (with all the people around, she couldn't identify the house she had lived in since 1950). Out of compassion, the family soon arranged a quiet room, so that she could "contribute" to the celebration by sitting alone in a nearby room.

You are so deep into denial about the reality of aging, I had to pull out triple scare quotes. If you still don't get it, I'm done. I'll just have to say "I've got nothing" and leave to you to your own date with destiny. Enjoy it, if you can.

Comment: Re:What is BSD good for? (Score 1) 77

by epine (#47479327) Attached to: FreeBSD 9.3 Released

So I am honestly asking, what is BSD good for.

When exactly did "honestly" become a synonym for living under a rock? This question comes up on almost every thread where FreeBSD is mentioned, though granted this is barely more often than its major releases.

The first answer in every such thread for years now is always ZFS, but actually this just disguises how many people have been using it for years or decades and just plain like the way FreeBSD does things even if nine out of ten, or ninety nine out of a hundred, or nine hundred and ninety nine out of a thousand have different tastes.

I get intensely piqued over the implication that there's a nuisance hurdle that needs to be cleared just for existing. When "honestly" becomes a cover story for living under a rock (or an equivalent not-be-bothered-hood) this ultimately seems to resonate as the main implication.

It's especially irritating when FreeBSD predates all the Johnny-come-latelies. It would have needed to be clairvoyant to have correctly decided to not exist, so as not to strain the reputational resources of open source groupthink.

I used to use an axe, but I stopped using it when I had to cut down a tree ten-feet wide at the base. I am presently using a Husqvarna and I am perfectly happy with it but for some reason the axe retains a magical "hard core" allure. So I am honestly asking, what is an axe good for?

Comment: we'll see if this cures my ten-year Slashdot habit (Score 1) 454

by epine (#47333441) Attached to: CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

@namespace url(;
@-moz-document domain("") {
div, p, h1, span, table, footer, header {
      display: none !important;
body:after {
    content: 'CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking';
    color: #FF0000;
    display: block;
    text-align: center;
    font-size: 1.5vmax;

Comment: article headline sucks ass (Score 5, Insightful) 454

by epine (#47333011) Attached to: CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

This does not deserve to live on Oprah, much less Slashdot. Not on Fox News, not on Rush Limbaugh, not on Howard Stern, not on Jerry Springer. On its own, exactly as it stands, it would set a new standard for outright stupidity in any legal jurisdiction that has yet to legislate pi = 3.

Oh, but wait, there's a footnote: preventable deaths among working-aged adult Americans. THAT'S NOT FUCKING FINE PRINT. My credibility circuit assigned six zeros (0.00000% chance of being true) before I managed to read the next line.

In all the many long years I've been here, I can not recall a single story headline that revolts me to this degree. I was reading recently Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics by Michael Ignatieff. At some point during his election campaign he said something stupid about the Middle East. His campaign manager pulled him aside and explained to him: "Politicians have nine lives. You just burned eight."

I have a finite amount of all-caps to expend on Slashdot outrage. I just burned 80% of my lifetime supply. Next time I resort to all-caps, I'll never post here again.

Comment: jumping off FTW (Score 3) 268

by epine (#47314145) Attached to: Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit

It's only good for a jumping off place.

So totally true. But once you allow that 99% of modern life is jumping off, I'm not sure what you're griping about.

Just as one comparison, take every organization prominent enough to have it's own article in en.Wikipedia, go to their own websites (the vast majority will have one) and scrape all of the "about us" web pages these organizations authored about themselves, and imagine these as a collective "About Us"-apedia.

This "About Us"-apedia would make MySpace's worst year look like an exercise in design consistency. I for one can live without the metric fuckton of Flash-based incoherence as my standard point of departure on the agencies of the world.

It seems to me that all the people who hated Wikipedia on first sight share an underlying belief in knowledge as an authority network. The reason Wikipedia succeeded is that knowledge isn't what we thought it was. For the vast majority of purposes, authority is a boundary condition, not the thing itself.

The first step in assimilating a new body of knowledge is to survey the field's lexicon: What words are used and roughly how are they linked together? This cognitive process takes place long before factual assertions amount to a hill of beans. When the facts do begin to matter, most smart people are well aware that in this world we're all fed baloney 24 hours a day. Wikipedia is one of the places where it becomes especially clear how the baloney is made. That doesn't make it worse baloney than Superbowl Sunday—America's national slick-baloney celebration day. Is iOS somehow less Orwellian than the IBM PC? So we were told through a non-linguistic medium.

On Wikipedia, when I spot baloney, I click the magic button called "History" where I scan for edit wars and substantial discards. For the vast majority of articles, it's all there in plain view. The mythical, Orwellian-smashing parentage of iOS is harder to trace.

In the upcoming era of Deep Watson, those Wikipedia crumb trails of sturm und churn will suddenly become interesting resources to expose to automated data mining. Perhaps then the present surface form of the articles will begin to fade in importance. There's nothing stopping this, except for the will to go there, which is depressingly thin in the general public for the 99% of the time they're merely jumping off.

Comment: Re:Is there a 'less nerdy version'? (Score 1) 347

by epine (#47313417) Attached to: Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

Apparently over a 168000 light year stretch this adds up to a 0.0005 light year detour

After scanning TFA, the first thing I looked up was the distance to SN 1987a, which the author somehow regarded as beneath notice. Perhaps he was preoccupied with the correct keyboarding of "orthopositronium".

Call me old fashioned, but I think that a person bleating away about an esoteric footnote of astrophysical revelation ought to first muster basic magnitude mastery.

Comment: Re:More expensive for whom? (Score 0) 183

by epine (#47305033) Attached to: How Vacuum Tubes, New Technology Might Save Moore's Law

There is reason to believe that Intel has done CPUs for quite a time at a loss in order to ruin AMD. The effects of AMD being reduced are also blatantly obvious with massively retarded innovations.

That's the danger in posting so soon after being woken up from a long sleep by a handsome prince. You need to shake your head and check out the competitive landscape in 2014.

4 Cores @ 2.5GHz Qualcomm Krait 400

Intel might wish to rethink sitting on their innovative thumbs.

Comment: Perl's heyday in hell (Score 2) 283

by epine (#47303355) Attached to: Perl Is Undead

At least it is steadily loosing ground to Python and for reason.

None of those dynamics have ever occurred in a Python shop?

The second half of the nineties was a bad scene for code readability all around, or did you somehow not notice the Herman Miller office furniture bubble?

There was a lot of Perl written during this era. Perl was the only language that could keep up with the Vogon rapture of all things brick and mortar. The ferryman threw in the towel, auction off his ferry on eBay, bought two cords of dynamite (mail order), and simply diverted the river. Pretty much everything was still where it had been, but traditional commerce was all on the other side now.

My development platform circa 1996 was NT 4, on a P6 200 with 32 MB of EDO system memory, a 640 MB disk drive, and a good quality 17" Dell CRT. It was tolerable, but hardly coding nirvana. The world was shifting under my feet almost daily: Linux, BSD, 2000, LBA, AMD64, SATA, DDR, broadband, Mozilla, Google, DVI, PHP, Python, Ruby, C++, STL, and not an open source version control system worth a crock of shit for love nor money.

I wonder why my coding standards at the time did not optimally favour my future self in the mid 2000s with my CoreDuo workstation, 4 GB of ram, 200 GB of disk space, and twin 19" monitors.

Do recall the little puzzle with the sliding digits 1-15 in a 4x4 grid? Trying to get any significant piece of glue code to run on NT and Linux and able to survive unscathed a major upgrade of each was a lot like that. Or have you blacked it out? Many ugly lines of code were written because the tiles were sticky. In the stupidest possible ways. And it was all going to be Ruby next year anyway. Whatever language you were working in was next up against the wall after the demise of B&M (if any wall could still be found). Soon the Wall was up against the wall, but I digress.

Programmers were in such short supply that vast numbers of people were coding in languages they only pretended to know. Have you forgotten that, too? If Visual Basic had been a better scripting language, Perl would have come out the other side better loved.

The great thing for the smart young programmers about becoming trendoids is that it helps to insulate them from the ugly job of cleaning up yesterday's bubble's giant mess.

Comment: Re:Intel Knights Landing (Score 1) 143

by epine (#47297891) Attached to: Researchers Unveil Experimental 36-Core Chip

The paper's contribution is to propose a new cache coherence scheme which they claim has scalability advantages over existing schemes.

Somehow this was obvious to me even from the press release. I've never yet seen details of an ordering model laid bare where it wasn't the core novelty. Ordering models are inherently substantive. Ordering models beget theorems. Cute little Internets drool and coo.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis