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Comment: Re:History repeats... (Score 1) 190

Absolutely. If only the natives had been more disease resistant and put up a better fight, the area might have developed more on the European model, farms down on some of the best agricultural land in the world, with civilization up in hilltop fortifications to better keep out the looters and marauders. The gold rush might have still brought in a critical mass of crazies though. Silicon castles.

The planet changes sea level up and down by over 100 meters all by itself (and the solar cycles). Humans have migrated miles back and forth with the sea level changes though at least a few ice ages already. They'll just have to figure out how to keep on doing that.

Comment: History repeats... (Score 1) 190

HP tried this during the tech (real estate and traffic) boom of the mid 1980's. Moved a whole bunch of R&D and operations to Roseville and other environs near Sacto. Pretty much for the same reasons.

A failed experiment.

The SF/Silicon Valley area occasionally succeeds because of pure critical mass, it's density of top research universities, tech talent, and crazy people with more money than sense. Very few other "corridors" continue to put that much money into crazy people's ventures.

Comment: Where's the opposing boycott? (Score 2) 1746

by firewood (#46653837) Attached to: Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

Where's the Conservative movement's boycott of Mozilla for oppressing an employee's exercise of their U.S. 1st Amendment rights, including freedom of political association, freedom of religion, freedom to petition, and freedom of speech (even, or especially, if not "politically correct")... and done on their own private time?

Comment: Re:I agree that programming is not for geeks (Score 1) 317

by firewood (#42541199) Attached to: Better Tools For Programming Literacy

Show me a great artist or architect, and you'll probably also find someone who as a kid made some very primitive and stupid looking (except to parents) scribbles. Take away all their drawing and painting (etc.) implements until someone is old enough for Structured Programming and Algorithms 101, and probably a huge portion of the great artists in the world would have never picked up an interest in the subject during their formative years, or ever after.

Comment: No, it is not out of reach (Score 2) 317

by firewood (#42541081) Attached to: Better Tools For Programming Literacy

Programming at a professional competancy might be out of reach. But programming badly isn't that hard. As in:

10 print "my sister is ugly" : goto 10

Back in the days of the TRS-80, Commodore Pet, Apple II and BBC personal computers (, millions of kids could turn on their personal computer and start typing in Basic right away, usually using stuff copied off of a magazine article... at first. But then they could modify their programs and crash them in a million different ways. That caused learning, and very likely ending up producing a generation of people with much higher basic computer literacy than in the general population than today (not including professional techies).

Don't confuse a professional level of understanding with computer literacy. No one confuses the kid who could (back in the day) (mis)use their chemistry sets to blow things up in their backyard and singe their eyebrows off, with National Medal of Technology prize winners. (Or could you?).

Comment: It's really "good" code. (Score 1) 683

by firewood (#42470699) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can I Explain To a Coworker That He Writes Bad Code?

Nowhere did you say the old guys code didn't work, had serious bugs that weren't being fixed, or was noticeably behind the rest of the team according to the project schedules. Until that happens, and as long as the old guy is solving problems with his skill set, management may well consider your "good coding" criteria to be bad for the company, thus making you, not the old guy, the troublemaker for suggesting changing what works. Businessmen have been burned by too many trendy sounding academic fads, such as all the good coding practices recommended here.

Wait till you can out-code him, solve major problems he can't, and get promoted above him (or he dies or retires). Even if his smelly pile of code crashes and burns, if he can tape it back together faster (running) than you can rewrite it (feature complete), he's the hero, and you're the troublemaker.

Comment: Re:Summary implies that tablets are not a fad (Score 1) 243

by firewood (#42388259) Attached to: Acer Rethinks the "Tablet Bubble," Launching $99 Tablet

I don't see how tablets are any different from netbooks. They're semi-useful devices that have a limited place but are outclassed by more capable machines which have been around for a long time..

Didn't someone at DEC say the same thing about PCs? Those desktop toys must have been just an outclassed passing fad, and real businesses still buy far more capable minicomputers from DEC, Data General, Prime, Tandem, and ...

Oh wait.

Comment: Age is no excuse. (Score 1) 418

by firewood (#41565895) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Retrain?

Age isn't the problem. It's just an easy to find excuse.

I know several engineers in their mid to late 50's who completely retrained in the latest mobile development technology (Objective C and iOS or Java and Android or both) and ended up with new jobs or fairly lucrative consulting gigs. It's actually easier for some of the older ones, since they were used to writing code for big complex computers that had a fraction of the memory and were over 100X slower than any recent smartphone, and the kids are already grown and out of the house.

Comment: Maps need to be used to become good (Score 1) 561

by firewood (#41483705) Attached to: Why Apple Replaced iOS Maps

Nowadays, a usable map database has gotten so big and complex that it can made decent only by putting something in the hands of millions of users, letting them (forcing them to) find errors that can only be found by actual field usage, and using that volume of feedback to scale up a competent team; a team that might eventually be able fix a healthy portion of the problems so found. Apple may have put this half-baked map app out now, where millions of people will be stuck using it because they want the exciting new iPhone 5, and are too lazy to use any other map app. Using the feedback contained within millions of complaints deriving from actual mass volume field usage, Apple's map database will eventually evolve to something closer to a Google maps competitor, maybe over the next year or three.

They can't say they are doing this because not enough users want to be unpaid beta testers and/or usage analytics data sources. And it's hard to build a good database without knowing what data is bad.

Comment: Re:Ahem... sorry... (Score 1) 421

by firewood (#38522264) Attached to: Melting Glaciers Cutting Peru Water Supply

We don't need a solution for a world of 5, 6 or 7 billion people, with maybe half of them living in the developed nations.
We need an adaptable, scalable solution for at least 9 billion humans, with at least 7 billion of them living in the developing nations.

Or perhaps we need a way to reduce the human population to the longer term carrying capacity of the planet, which might just be far far below 5 billion... or nature will surely figure out a way to accomplish that for us.

Comment: Re:"Earlier than expected"? (Score 1) 421

by firewood (#38522124) Attached to: Melting Glaciers Cutting Peru Water Supply

Read about the major mass extinctions, and then ponder the question whether humans would have been able to rise above the environmental pressures that destroyed more than 90% of species in the time of the dinosaurs. And even if we weren't to go extinct, consider what it would look like of 90% of us were to die. Not just 90% of those in some far away desert, but 90% of the people in your own country. Consider what such a world would look like.

That's pretty much what's theorized to have happened to the population in large regions of North American just after Europeans introduce their various "Old World" diseases. A lot of land became largely reforested, but the small population remainders still had plenty enough fight left in them to generate lots of cowboys vs. Indian folklore.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 523

by firewood (#38521668) Attached to: Why We Agonize Over Buying $1 Apps

The answer is simple, isn't it? The seller is not making just one mug of coffee and keep selling clones of it at 4$ a mug.

Actually, they are, or pretty close. The cost making that very first mug of coffee can require a good fraction of a million bucks for the site lease, permits, construction costs, restaurant equipment, employee hiring, training, advertising, and etc. That doesn't even include millions of dollars in research to standardize franchise operations. Once the store is inspected and staffed and opens the door and sells that very 1st mug, after spending many thousands of $$$, that day's marginal cost of making a 2nd mug is pennies.

Comment: Re:Changed my mind (Score 1) 433

by firewood (#38441482) Attached to: Denver Must Prove Red-Light Cameras Improve Safety

Nothing the driver in front of you does should result in you crashing into him.

If I am the driver behind: Sure.

If I am the driver in front, and the light timing allows, there's plenty I can do to reduce the likelihood of the sleepy, the housewife distracted by screaming toddlers, elderly-dementia-candidates, race-driver-wannabes 3 centimeters off my bumper, hungover/drunk/stoned dudes, or people texting while trying not to be seen, (etc.etc.), idiots who are following behind me from potentially wrecking my car, causing me back/neck injuries, having me waste days/months dealing with insurance agents+lawyers, and etc.

Even if it's not legally my fault. It's called defensive driving.

Comment: Re:BSD license was always more permissive, so grea (Score 1) 808

by firewood (#38413416) Attached to: GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast

And as far as the political aspects, to most companies GPL == toxic, and they don't care about the details.

Exactly. The executives will see big companies being sued over using GPL software. You think they are going to take the word of some low level coder that this isn't a legal risk? No way.

They are going to ask their legal staff, who's going to say it take X tens of thousands of $$$ (or more) in equivalent billable hours to evaluate all these lawsuits and all the potential risks, and then Y hundreds of thousands of $$$ to put in place procedures and review systems to prevent these potential lawsuits while still maximizing competitive IP value in ways that the even higher paid patent attorneys require. Management will look at these legal and procedural costs, ignore the lowly coder who hosts his own GPL source code on his free blog as knowing nothing about real business risk management.

Comment: Re:BSD license was always more permissive, so grea (Score 0) 808

by firewood (#38413196) Attached to: GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast

I think the purpose of the GPL is to ensure that those that profit from your work also give back.

Nonsense. In fact, potentially completely the opposite. Someone who profits from distributing unmodified copies of your code doesn't have to give you anything back. But someone who tries to combine your code with code which they have previously written, and give away the combined result for free (or maybe even at a loss including their server hosting fees), is still required to send you a whole bunch of code unrelated to your work.

A commercial distribution license based on a percentage of sales would be more in line with your stated purpose. Or maybe a commercial license with a 100% discount for people who send you rights to use a number of lines of their own code equal to yours.

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