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Comment: Espresso (Score 1) 108

by excelblue (#49467645) Attached to: The International Space Station (Finally) Gets an Espresso Machine

It's an espresso machine. Espresso requires very high pressure to make in the first place: between 9-14 bars. That's an order of magnitude above atmospheric pressure and several times more than what you'd see in a pressure cooker.

The pressure isn't the difficult part. It's making sure you get the product to come out safely and correctly without gravity after being subject to such high temperatures and pressures that's the hard part.

Comment: Rough Approximation (Score 1) 365

by excelblue (#45901367) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many (Electronics) Gates Is That Software Algorithm?

This is a horrible question to ask. Software is a tool to lower hardware requirements.

Compile your algorithm to the simplest RISC architecture reasonable. For most, something among the lines of ARM or MIPS works. Then, take note of all variables and add up how much RAM they'll take. Consider every bit (yes, bit, not byte) as a D-flipflop and convert every instruction (post-compile, in assembly) into a respective set of logic gates. A bit of googling should get you those values.

If your algorithm is reasonably complicated, chances are, you'll get a number that seems absurdly high compared to what state-of-art hardware is available.

In practice, it's probably best to just pick an off-the-shelf CPU and run the software on it. There might be some parts that are better done in hardware than in software, but you should get someone who knows what they're doing for that.

Comment: Re:Profiling (Score 5, Interesting) 199

by excelblue (#41762101) Attached to: Experts Warn About Security Flaws In Airline Boarding Passes

Airline employees can manually mark any boarding pass as SSSS.

How do I know? When it was possible to fly by purposely refusing to present ID, I once flew on a ticket that was paid for by another family member. When I went to check in and check my bags, they asked for ID. I told nicely told them that I prefer not to be identified and will be flying as a selectee. Person at ticket counter gives me a dirty look and responds (expectedly) that the SSSS is required if you don't present ID, but everything flowed smoothly after that. It's a shame that you can't refuse to identify yourself anymore these days.

After that, I think I was flagged as all my boarding passes for the next couple years had SSSS on it.

Comment: Go Embedded (Score 2) 360

by excelblue (#41628271) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Approach To Reenergize an Old Programmer?

It's a lost art. While most programmers are exposed to the high-level world of mobile and web apps, they're often clueless about what happens below a couple layers of abstraction.

Learn some ARM assembly and a bit about modern devices. Get a Raspberry Pi and see how far you can push its performance.

This low-level stuff is in your comfort zone, and you possess a skillset that few people have. Why not leverage that?

Comment: Start Searching (Score 1) 298

by excelblue (#41130849) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Did You Become a Linux Professional?

Put those Linux skills on your resume and start searching for a position that uses those skills.

At the end of the day, employers care about whether or not you can do the work and how good of a cultural fit you are. Skills are skills, whether or not you acquire them personally or professionally.

As far as positions go: you either build the systems or operate them. If it's the first, you're a developer. If it's the latter, you're a sysadmin.

Comment: Smart People (Score 4, Insightful) 239

by excelblue (#40497373) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Defines Good Developer Culture?

If your team only consists of the smartest people in the world who have the ability to work with others, then your team will respect each other. This reduces the unhealthy type of politics and allows everyone to just work together to create the best product ever.

Allow these people to utilize their intelligence, have ownership in the product, and be able to find meaning in their work. Everything else is just perks.

Comment: The Issue At Hand (Score 2) 294

by excelblue (#39141829) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Mobile Phone Solution With No Data Plan?

Those MMS text-messages are most likely to be the Group MMS messages that originate from iPhones when you do a group text. To the best of my knowledge, only iPhones support those; they do not even work on Android devices unless you have an app to handle them (very surprisingly, no good ones exist).

As for the data plan: smartphones can easily function over WiFi on a regular voice plan. However, you may find it useful to have data on-the-go: i.e. receiving picture messages, email anywhere, navigation, etc. You're basically paying for internet while you're not within range of any WiFi access point you can use.

For a cheap plan, look into something prepaid. I currently use T-Mobile's 200MB Monthly4G (actually HSPDA+, at the top end of 3G) service and pay $50/mo. I get unmetered talk and text, plus 200MB of uncapped data. No contract involved. Other companies to look at include Page Plus Cellular, H2O Wireless, and SimpleMobile.

Comment: Keep It Simple (Score 5, Insightful) 399

by excelblue (#38837589) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Techie Wedding Invitation Ideas?

It's a wedding. Those are supposed to be big, formal events.

Sure, you can have a bit of fun, but you got to keep in mind that not everyone is necessarily a geek. The QR code by itself, coupled with an otherwise elegant card, will more than suffice and drive across the point that you're geeky.

Comment: Embarrassing (Score 1) 495

by excelblue (#37719628) Attached to: Samsung Lawyer Fails To Differentiate iPad and Galaxy Tab In Court

It's quite embarrassing that the lawyers can't tell them apart. Working for a company that routinely develops on both iPad and the Galaxy Tab, there are a few clear distinctions that are obvious to anyone who has used both products:

- The iPad has one physical button on the front, the Galaxy Tab has no physical buttons on the front
- The iPad has a smooth metal back, the Galaxy Tab has a brushed metal back
- The iPad charges from the short-edge, the Galaxy Tab charges on the long edge (alright, no so obvious)

Although these may be minor differences, they should be obvious to anyone who's reasonably familiar with both products, especially if they're fighting a patent suit. Have the lawyers even done the most basic research?

Comment: Less Deserved (Score 3, Insightful) 97

by excelblue (#37391228) Attached to: Happy Programmer Day!

Having been both a sysadmin and programmer, I have to honestly say that while sysadmin day is deserved, programming day isn't. There's just simply much more to sysadmins that are underappreciated when compared to programmers:

* Sysadmins setup routine systems that are built by programmers (who usually get the credit).
* Sysadmins only get (negative) attention when something goes awry.
* There's usually no mention of sysadmins anywhere.
* Unless you are very technical, you probably don't even know that sysadmins exist!

In contrast, programmers have it nice in the sense that when they do a good job, they are seen as the heroes who created the system. People go to programmers for feature requests in addition to bug reports. Their names are usually listed in an about dialog or readme file somewhere. Also, unless you are completely technically illiterate, you know that someone has to create the software.

The final bit: the infrastructure will crash and burn without sysadmins, but without programmers, it'll just cease to advance.

Having a Programmer Day in addition to Sysadmin Day is like having an Executive Day in addition to Labor Day: unnecessary, unjustified. In both cases, the former already has the glory on a daily basis that the latter is hugely lacking.

Comment: Student's Fault (Score 1) 804

by excelblue (#34708618) Attached to: Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?

So, the article is addressing the possibility of a certain laptop distracting other students, but I do have to say: if you are a student and are distracted by the mere presence of a laptop, you have much more serious issues! Perhaps you should be checked out for ADD?

Using the same argument, clocks, windows, and other students taking notes on pen and paper may also be distracting.

I personally don't see this as a valid argument to ban laptops in a college classroom.

Comment: Re:The classics (Score 1) 458

by excelblue (#34297108) Attached to: Thought-Provoking Gifts For Young Kids?

Definitely a good idea to do Knex.

I personally never understood gear ratios until I was about 20 (and several years after I got my /. account). The reason is because I never had a reason to understand them, however simple they are, until I began to use a bicycle as my main commute vehicle. I live in a very hilly area, so an understanding on how to optimally use all those gears on my bike is crucial if I want to get to places as fast and with little energy as I can.

I just wish I understood all of that when I was a kid; I could have done so many more cool projects.

Get hold of portable property. -- Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"