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Comment: For me, it's my next DESKTOP (Score 1) 136

by fzammett (#47088763) Attached to: TechCrunch and Others On the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

For many years, I've resisted the laptop-only paradigm... laptops have only in the last couple of years been powerful enough to function as my primary PC, so I still have my desktop at home where I do most of my real work, and I also have a laptop where I can continue that work on-the-go, though at a slightly reduced rate. But, of course, that means synchronization issues (which I get around 99% of the time by keeping everything in Subversion).

So, for me, a SINGLE device that can do everything I want is what I've been looking for... laptops have gotten to the point where they could (especially given that my desktop isn't state-of-the-art like it was when I built it)... but, I don't want to go the laptop route even now because the form factor isn't as convenient as a tablet in some situations (I have a Nexus 7 for my tablet needs too).

I've been looking at the Surface's and Dell's Venue series for a while now and I've been thinking one could be my next desktop, and I could get rid of the laptop and Nexus as well... my wife grabbed a Surface 2 a few months back on sale so I've had some hands-on time with it... even though she didn't get a top-of-the-line model (though she DID NOT get an RT), it would *almost* be sufficient for all my needs... the cheaper i7 Surface 3 I believe is everything I need.

I personally think Microsoft has nailed it: the Surface is a DESKTOP replacement that ALSO can be a portable like a laptop or tablet. I view the later two things as add-on capabilities and I think that's the mistake many people are making. Don't look at the Surface as a tablet, or as a laptop replacement (unless your primary machine today *IS* a laptop)... it's a desktop replacement with great mobility added on, that's my view.

Comment: Re:Hey Tim (Score 5, Insightful) 274

by fzammett (#46950527) Attached to: First Arrest In Japan For 3D-Printed Guns

Because achieving that lower rate has an associated cost.

If we got rid of all guns in America, it's reasonable to assume the violent crime rate overall would go down to some degree. How much is debatable because some of the violent crimes committed with guns now would still be committed just with a different instrument. But it would go down, that seems fair.

But, what of the people who now do not have a gun to defend themselves? Quite a few defensive gun uses occur daily in America... exactly how many is difficult to know because they're frequently not reported (because simply pulling out a gun will sometimes end a violent confrontation and people tend not to report those cases). I wouldn't go so far as to say the number of people saved by there not being a gun involved is equal to the number saved by there BEING a gun involved, but clearly SOME number cancel out. Here's the big question: is a life saved because we got rid of guns somehow more valuable than one saved because we didn't? Do you want to tell the family of a gun who was killed because he wasn't allowed to have a gun anymore that it's okay because someone else was saved due to guns being removed from society? I'd bet not.

So, that's a cost. Whether the benefits outweigh that cost is what's debatable. A lot of people take the Spock approach: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. It's a great-sounding platitude, but when it gets down to actual people it doesn't stand up so well. See my above scenario.

A potentially MUCH bigger cost is the deterrent effect guns have against a corrupt government. We can argue all day and night about without an armed American population could overthrow a corrupt government with the might of the military on its side, but what CAN'T be debated is that if you remove guns from society you've given up just about the ONLY thing that gives us ANY chance whatsoever. I mean, if you believe the military would crush us WITH guns than you can't logically think it wouldn't be MUCH worse it we didn't have them!

So, that's a (potential) cost too... but that one is very important because the potential cost is MASSIVE. Is there really ANY benefit worth that cost? I for one argue no. It's exceedingly tragic any time someone dies... whether a gun is involved or not hardly matters... a suicide is a suicide, gun or not. A homicide is a homicide, gun or not. The only one that's a little different is accidental shootings because it's not like someone is going to accidentally kill you as easily with a baseball bat. But, statistically-speaking, accidental shootings in America isn't, to put it coldly, all that significant a number. It's certainly a much smaller number than car accidents, or even pool drownings year by year. Even if every last one of them is unarguably tragic, logically, the cost of saving those lives by getting rid of guns is too high, and that's even before we talk about the POTENTIAL costs.

Comment: It starts and ends with a game (Score 1) 172

by fzammett (#46939873) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?

As someone who's been programming for right around 30 years, more than 20 of it professionally, and has written a number of books along the way, I get asked for advice fairly often. One of the questions I get asked most is a variation on this one... for me, the answer is always the same: WRITE A GAME!

What developers often don't realize is that few programming projects touch on as wide a range of topics and disciplines as games do. Things like data structures, AI, file handling, input processing, obviously graphics and sound, networking sometimes, performance tuning... all of this comes into play in a game to varying degrees and in many forms. Very few things you'll ever program in a professional setting will be as wide-reaching... in fact, in my 20+ years of professional development I can't think of a single thing that has!

Even things like usability and UI design, project planning and many other "soft" skills come into play when you're a one-man show.

The best part about a game project is it can be as challenging as you want and it can grow in complexity over time. Start with a simple Pong clone. That's not too tough. But then, update the code to add more intelligent paddle movement of the computer opponent. Then modify it so you can play against a friend over a network. Then change it to a 3D view. And so on and so forth. Each step of the way increases the challenge and also the learning.

Plus, of course, being a game that you're making, it tends to be FUN! Both in developing and testing. It also tends to be very demonstrative in terms of progress... you can SEE what's being produced and little changes in the code can make a big difference on the screen, which makes you feel pretty good and that in turn makes the project continue to be fun to work on, which means more opportunity to learn. Hey, I get paid good money to write financial software all day... I even enjoy it most of the time... but it's nowhere near as gratifying as the game programming I do on my own time!

Game programming is also almost entirely technology-agnostic. There's virtually no language, no platform, no set of new tools or libraries that can't be used to make a game of some sort. That makes it the ideal tool for learning a new set of technologies. Gotta learn HTML/CSS/JavaScript? Write a game! Moving on to Java using Spring and running on Tomcat? A game, sir! Whether you choose a new game concept each time or just keep recycling one (making it a porting exercise, which is a great way to learn a new toolset) it'll work for you.

Also note that you don't need to write the next 3D masterpiece here... in fact, writing a Zork-style text adventure game can be a huge learning exercise on its own, especially if you write a natural language parser (though, again, it's up to you: you can start with a simple keyword analyzer that you can bang out in an hour at most and grow it from there). Graphics and sound are a great learning experience on their own (I can't tell you how much better at math, always a weak subject of mine, I've gotten by working on games!) but they aren't required for a game... though, I've also gotten pretty adept at working in various graphics editors, which definitely has helped me in my day job (I'm still no artist, but I can manipulate existing graphics quite well now, which will make you a more valuable asset as non-graphic artist developer).

Whatever the concept, whatever the toolset, whatever the learning goal, a game is the way to go in my opinion. It's how most of us now old-schoolers got started frankly and it has served us very well over the years. Some of us still write games of course because it's fun and we continue to learn from the experience... and also, especially with the rise of mobile devices, there's an opportunity to make money! Look at some of the recent hit games and it's obvious you don't need to write the next Titanfall to make some good coin. It's a secondary benefit to be sure, but it's nice to know it could be one :)

Comment: Re: Apple tests everything (Score 1) 219

In point of fact, nearly every mainstream Android device released over the past 3-4 years at least has received at least one major upgrade overs its lifetime and usually more than one. Sure, some of the cheaper ones may suffer the "no updates" fate, but that's one of the unseen prices you pay when you get a cheaper device. They're cheap *in part* because they don't receive updates. I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule, but it's *generally* true.

Comment: Re:Took them long enough... (Score 3, Insightful) 934

If you say the murder rate would be decreasing even without carry, a notion I agree with, then clearly you're saying that carrying DOES NOT negatively contribute to the murder rate... to which I'd say what POSSIBLE justification could you have for having a problem with carrying? Are we really going to ban things for no other reason than they seem dangerous? 'cause I'll tell ya, them baseball bats I see on the fields during the summer, them things sure look dangerous to me, we'd better ban them too... oh, and let's not even talk about your table saws or claw hammers or motor vehicles!

If the murder rate is going down DESPITE carrying, then just leave carrying alone. Doesn't that simply make logical sense to you?

Comment: Re: Took them long enough... (Score 1) 934

He was doing no such thing. Constitutional Carry is a term that is generally applied to any jurisdiction that allows carry without needing permission to do so (vis a vis, a permit). He didn't make up the term, he wasn't co-opting it, it's simply the accepted term for that arrangement.

Comment: As much as it pains me to say it... (Score 1) 504

by fzammett (#45330451) Attached to: Feinstein and Rogers: No Clemency For Snowden

...I actually agree with that she-bitch Feinstein that he shouldn't get clemency. However, that's where it ends for me. Not giving clemency is different than hunting down.

To me, leave the guy alone. Let him live out his life in whatever country he wants that isn't America, free from the threat of assassination or jail. The only caveat is he's lost his U.S. privileges. It's kinda like Wallace in Pulp Fiction: "You lost your L.A. privileges".

Here's my thing: he DID break the law. Now, me, I say he did it for the right reasons and I'm glad he did... but he still did leak classified information and that can't go unpunished. But, to me, the punishment of never being able to set foot in his home country again is plenty. I don't need him dead and I don't want him in jail. There's plenty of other nice countries out there Mr. Snowden- pick one and make it your home and enjoy the rest of your days. But you don't get to come back here either.

Comment: Re:For those of you that don't RTFA... (Score 0) 378

by fzammett (#44826909) Attached to: TSA Reminds You Not To Travel With Hand Grenades

"There is no good reason to have facsimile hand grenades on a plane." Yikes... so now you want to make FACSIMILES verboten? Come on.

Clearly a *REAL, LIVE* grenade has no good reason to be on a plane (a civilian plane obviously we're talking about)... but a facsimile? A completely inert piece of metal that just HAPPENS to look like something dangerous?

Come. On. You've GOT to see that's ridiculous. Please, tell me you do.

Comment: Correct title of this should have been... (Score 1) 566

by fzammett (#44809533) Attached to: Linus Responds To RdRand Petition With Scorn

"Linux Torvalds says something AGAIN that would get him fired from VIRTUALLY ANY COMPANY ON EARTH, and Slashdot fanbois rush to SUCK HIS DICK so hard it breaks".

Look... Linus is a super-genius that has accomplished more in half a lifetime than most of us will accomplish in our ENTIRE lifetime (and this is coming from someone who has 7 published tech books and an 8th on the way- an accomplishment that itself dwarves most other peoples', yet is almost nothing next to what Linus has done)... he is virtually always right when he says something technical and he deserves to be listened to on any technical topic he chooses to speak. His name will echo through the halls of technology history for decades to come, and rightly so. He deserves every accolade he gets.

Yet, with all of that being true, he's a socially-inept bully, plain and simple. If only he could solve that problem with clever algorithms and architectural knowledge, he'd probably be up for sainthood already. Instead, he embarrasses himself every time he opens his mouth in this way, and so do you if you defend him. Belittling people, even when they are completely, amazingly, HOPELESSLY wrong about something, is simply not acceptable.

Comment: Re:Take it public (Score 3, Insightful) 266

Exactly, and I'm surprised people are arguing anything but this. Even for a report that you completely believe to be bogus, what time does it take to reply "hey, can I get more info?" Best case, it WAS bogus, and you never hear from the person again. You "wasted" all of 30 seconds. For a company like Facebook, that should be a trivial investment when the downside of an ACTUAL security problem is so bad. Assuming the report that they didn't reply in any way is accurate, then THIS is where Facebook fell down worst, and it's what is inexcusable.

Comment: Re:Smart guns... (Score 1) 814

by fzammett (#44308823) Attached to: Hardly Anyone Is Buying 'Smart Guns'

You may have a point... as I said in the original post, I don't doubt that the ease of which guns can be used to kill, and the relative ease of availability of them, probably does have some impact on some murders being committed or not... get rid of guns entirely and I'd agree that at least SOME lives will be outright saved... not all gun deaths would suddenly become knife deaths, that seems obvious... So I think there's logic in your statement.

However, I have to disagree with the last sentence... we live in a violent society... whatever the underlying reasons, it's a true statement... yes, most of us frankly never encounter violence, thankfully, but it's there and all around us... given no other societal changes, would removing guns make confrontations less likely? I don't see how, in fact, it seems to me they'd be MORE likely... if I'm sure that guy I beat to the parking space at the grocery store doesn't have a gun then it seems I'd be MORE likely to do it and risk pissing him off because the worst that happens is a fist fight.

More importantly though, even if your assessment is correct, I'd suggest that you'd be putting lives at risk... it's undeniable that guns are pretty frequently used to save lives (it's a shame the biased media won't report on those incidents)... I'm not going to sit here and say that happens MORE than murder with a gun does, but it does happen, and even if it's only some fraction of murders with a gun, are those lives somehow less important? If I save my own life via self-defense with a gun, does that life saved somehow matter less than the guy around the block that had a fist fight and didn't die because the other guy didn't have a gun to shoot him with?

On balance, given an inherently violent society, and given the inherent right (responsibility, really) of every living being who wishes to remain living to defend themselves, I think having guns is better than not, although I'm totally willing to acknowledge that having guns sometimes is a contributing factor to bad things happening. They're a necessary evil, if you will.

Comment: Re:Smart guns... (Score 1) 814

by fzammett (#44308633) Attached to: Hardly Anyone Is Buying 'Smart Guns'

You're right that suicides are usually lumped in with "gun crimes" because it makes the problem look much worse for those who have that agenda... but in this case, you're mistaken: table 20 is dealing with murders only... at least, that's what I take the column header that specifically says "murders" to mean. I 100% agree with your point, but in this case it's not a factor.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." -- The Wizard Of Oz