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Comment: California, the Gateway Drug of States (Score 2) 233

by handy_vandal (#47756823) Attached to: California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch

... the inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the U.S. and around the world.

First they tempt you with California legislation.

Next thing you know, you're hooked on NAFTA, ACTA, and God knows what other Profit-Seeking Acronyms (PSA's).

I suppose we should feel lucky that Amazon is not using United Nations Black Drones to deliver tracking devices (such as your new phone) to your door ... or wherever they know you are ....

Comment: Face Recognition in Casinos (Score 1) 146

"One of the most important advances in casino technology comes from facial recognition systems, where guests entering the gambling area are photographed and their visages are compared with an ever-growing database of known cheaters and suspicious people."

- Link

Comment: Re:staunchy (Score 1) 213

by handy_vandal (#47576365) Attached to: Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

I was thinking that "staunchy" is a good word for "tending to staunch" -- for example, a bandage is staunchy when it staunches a wound.

But I was mistaking "staunch" for "stanch" -- ones stanches (not staunches) a wound.

So then I think, "staunchy", from "staunch" -- thus "tending to be loyal or devoted".

Now I find out that "staunchy" means "stinky".

Which kind of fits both ways ... bloody wounds are stinky ... tendencies to loyalty are stinky (by comparison with real, true, full loyalty, as opposed to mere tendencies) ... it all fits together.

Comment: Developers as novelists (Score 1) 89

by handy_vandal (#47515321) Attached to: Researchers Test Developer Biometrics To Predict Buggy Code

... really good developers are more a cross between engineers and artists.

Agreed.

When talking with non-developers about developers, I use the simile that developers are like novelists, who work out stories in their heads, and commit those stories to paper.

A novel contains a set of symbols which, taken collectively, and written correctly, form an impressive body of knowledge that can change the world. (Tolstoy's "War and Peace" is my usual example.)

But if the symbols are faulty -- if the book is badly written, if the grammar and spelling are faulty -- then the book will fail to sell, fail to make its point, fail to change the world.

Comment: Re:More creepiness (Score 1) 186

The idea of a back-talking robot cigar reminds me of this passage from Ubik:

Back in the kitchen he fished in his various pockets for a dime, and with it started up the coffeepot. Sniffing the—to him—very unusual smell, he again consulted his watch, saw that fifteen minutes had passed; he therefore vigorously strode to the apt door, turned the knob and pulled on the release bolt. The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.”

He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. “I’ll pay you tomorrow,” he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. “What I pay you,” he informed it, “is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.”

“I think otherwise,” the door said. “Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.”

In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.

“You discover I’m right,” the door said. It sounded smug.

From the drawer beside the sink Joe Chip got a stainless-steel knife; with it he began systematically to unscrew the bolt assembly of his apt’s money-gulping door.

“I’ll sue you,” the door said as the first screw fell out.

Joe Chip said, “I’ve never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it.”

-- Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Comment: "Cycle of poverty" is not a metaphor (Score 1) 39

Agreed, "cycle of poverty" is a descriptive phrase, not a metaphor. Poor writing on my part; thank you for calling me out.

I like the excited electron model of entrepreneurship, because electron-entrepreneur commonly de-excite and fall back to lower orbital shells.

By the same token, I can see how many restaurateur-entrepreneurs achieve creamy Alfredo-sauceness with just a hint of garlic, yet some revert to bread and water.

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