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Comment: 1986-87 Sun WorkStations. (Score 1) 204

by idommp (#47277005) Attached to: X Window System Turns 30 Years Old
The VAR for which I was the Tech Support Department became a reseller for SUN, NOVEL, and AutoCAD during one busy six month growth spurt. Most of my training consisted of "here's the manual, read it and explain it to us tomorrow". When they handed me the document crate [ about 10,000 pages ] for UNIX and the Sun system I suggested that a bit of formal training might be in order. I got a 4 day System Admin class from SUN that included an afternoon on the X-window system.

By 1988 we were networking PCs and Sparcstations using PCNFS and running X11 clients on the PCs using Hummingbird software. That allowed us to move the workstation out of the engineers office and into the server room where no one person could horde the physical machine by virtue of it being located on his/her desktop. It was a giant step backward for personal computing but a leap forward in productivity since the grunts didn't have to wait for the boss to leave for lunch in order to get into his office to use the decent computer.

Comment: Re:What about flat cards? (Score 1) 142

I also have one of the flat, credit union issued debit cards. Not only can it not be imprinted, it plainly states, in bold red letters across the top of the back of the card," FOR ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ONLY". If you don't swipe the card, submit, and get approval at the point and time of purchase, you aren't getting paid.

Comment: Those are side-mounted REAR VIEW mirrors. (Score 1) 496

by idommp (#46646973) Attached to: Will Cameras Replace Sideview Mirrors On Cars In 2018?
I've been driving for over 50 years and I have never seen a vehicle with a sideview mirror. It's no wonder we're going to have to require backup cameras on every vehicle what with all you idoits aiming your mirrors to see sideways.

I was reared on a farm and learned to drive on tractors and large trucks. In a farm truck, when you look in the center mounted rear view mirror all you see is the livestock staring back at you from the bed of the truck, or the bed of the truck itself if you're hauling grain. You learn to backup using the outside rearview mirrors. They're aimed down the side of the vehicle and give you at least the idea of where the rear wheels are even if you don't actually see them. You draw an immaginary line for those wheels to follow and stear the truck along it. But you never look back, only in the mirror. With a 30 foot long vehicle the front end can swing 20 feet to either side while you're lining the backend up to a loading dock or the barn door. After you run over a few outbuildings and your favorite motorcycle because you weren't looking where the front end was going you learn to pay attention to both ends. You NEVER face backward to back up a vehicle.

So what's with this thing about sideview mirrors? Yes, I know about those little round convex stick on things that let you see the people who insist on driving in your blind spot and who deserve to get run over when somebody bigger than them changes lanes. I have them. They came with the aftermarket turn signals mounted on my mirrors. The only thing I hate worse than having to share the road with idiot drivers is having to fill out insurance claims after I run over one of them. Would I like to have a camera to replace the blind spot mirrors. NO. What I'd like is some type of short range collision avoidance system that, when I turn on my blinker, it checks for a clear path, and gives me a verbal OK or tells me to WAIT. I don't need anything that distracts my eyes while I'm trying to navigate a path between vehicles moving at different speeds of upwards of 80 miles an hour.

Comment: A Free copy of Windows is still way too expensive. (Score 1) 392

by idommp (#46373677) Attached to: Free (Gratis) Version of Windows Could Be a Reality Soon
If Microsoft wants me to ever run anything windows on any of my computers EVER again they will have to pay for the priviledge. I had no choice but to deal with their monopoly for twenty years when I was employed but, now that I'm retired, I don't have to put up with them anymore. I'll build my next computer from discrete transistors if I have to before I buy another machine pre-installed with windows and all the OEM bloatware that comes with them these days.

Comment: Old News. (Score 1) 161

by idommp (#46318543) Attached to: The Neuroscience of Computer Programming
I studied Physics and Chemistry in the College of Science at the University of Southern Mississippi from 1969 to 1973. Our degree requirements called for passing either a proficiency test in one of several 'scientifically' relevant foreign languages or passing one in FORTRAN. I took one semester of FORTRAN and passed the test. I went on to minor in computer science.

In 15 years of formal education in the English language no one ever mentioned the word 'syntax'. We diagrammed sentences and conjugated verbs and identified parts of speech but no one ever explained the mechanics of what or why we were doing it. It was just English and it was necessary. Two weeks into computer programming and I knew WHY it was necessary. Understanding the structure of language, be it a computer language or a human one, I'm better equiped to learn new ones of either type.

Are learning to program and learning a foreign language equlivant? NO. We talk to machines: we communicate in a foreign language.

Comment: ASCII punched into stainless steel tape. (Score 1) 329

by idommp (#44213469) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Store Data In Hard Copy?
Back in the days of yore [ late 60's ] I was a physics / computer science student who worked part time as a newspaper photographer. The newspaper got a newfangled computerized typesetter that used punched paper tape for it's input. The bootstrap program was about 10' of 1" wide paper tape. The machine crashed and had to be rebooted at least fifteen to twenty times a day. We didn't have a duplicator for punched tape and we were having to re-punch the entire program every five or six days. Until we found a punch that handled a thin stainless steel tape that the reader would accept. I still have several short programs that were read hundreds of times and have been sitting on a shelf for over 40 years. I can still read the data on the tape manually bit by bit and, if a machine existed, I'm sure the tape would still work fine. I'm pretty sure it'll still be both machine and human readable after another 500 years assuming it doesn't get hot enough to fuse the reel together or get exposed to enough radiation to make the stainless steel brittle. Program code was straight octal machine code and text was encoded as 7 bit ASCII with an 8th entropy bit.

Comment: Pathetic! How to really shoot an anvil. (Score 1) 330

by idommp (#44206969) Attached to: U.S. Independence Day is a ...
That was pitiful. Here's a short video of a decent anvil shoot .

A good anvil shoot will fire the top anvil 75'-200' into the air. The secret is recoil. The blast only separates the anvils a matter of inches. The top anvil hops up and the bottom anvil drives down, compressing whatever base it is resting on. [ Around here we use an eight to ten foot length of tree trunk about fifteen inches in diameter buried vertically in the ground.] The base decompresses, driving the bottom anvil upward, ramming it into the top anvil, which, if you've lucked up and tuned the system perfectly, has not quite reached the top of its trajectory. The recoil from the bottom anvil kicks the already moving top anvil into high gear and sends it soaring.

Comment: Re:Independence (Score 1) 330

by idommp (#44206727) Attached to: U.S. Independence Day is a ...

The only reason the Chinese aren't flying over the Eastern seaboard is because their equipment doesn't have the range for it.

China can currently put humans into orbit. The USA can't. China has demonstrated that they can hit a target in deep space. I'd say their range is pretty Universal.

China has thermonuclear weapons. You only need to deliver a couple of those to put a serious dent in another countries ego. They could easily toss one out of their orbiting spacecraft or, with the size of their labor force, they can take turns rowing a boat over and launch it with a catapult. Relying on their lack of logistical capability for your (and my) safety is naive if not just plain stupid.

Comment: A proper astronaut would die of embarrassment (Score 1) 412

by idommp (#43382913) Attached to: How Would an Astronaut Falling Into a Black Hole Die?
for having gotten into this situation in the first place. Any jury of your peers will rule your death a suicide. Your life insurance isn't going to pay off. When you call home and say, "Houston, We have a problem." they're going to say,"No, we have a cancled program. You have some free time on your hands. Enjoy the ride."

Comment: Re:Green Tea (Score 1) 283

by idommp (#42906551) Attached to: I Get Most of My Caffeine Through

I drink two 20 oz cups of green tea most days at work..

There is no such thing as a 20 oz cup. By definition, a cup holds 8 ounces. If your container holds 20 ounces it is actually 2-1/2 cups, 1-1/4 pints, or 5/8 or a quart.

The 40 oz of tea you drink each day is actually one-half of a gallon plus one cup. I don't know about your caffine intake but you should be well hydrated.

Comment: We have a resource pool of 7 billion people. (Score 1) 352

by idommp (#42257535) Attached to: I'd like us to explore with greatest emphasis ...
That ought to be enough brain and body power to attack every thing on this list plus thousands of other problems. Knowledge is nothing but an accumulation of facts--answers to questions posed. Wisdom is knowing what the question is. Knowledge can always be aquired but it is often costly in terms of time, money, and human life. The only two things required for knowing anything are someone wise enough to ask the right question and the dedication of sufficient resources.

What hath Bob wrought?

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