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Programming

Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the farewell-and-thanks dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Dr. Dobb's — long time icon of programming magazines — "sunsets" at the end of the year. Editor Andrew Binstock says despite growing traffic numbers, the decline in revenue from ads means there will be no new content posted after 2014 ends. (The site will stay up for at least a year, hopefully longer.) Younger people may not care, but for the hard core old guys, it marks the end of a world where broad knowledge of computers and being willing to create solutions instead of reuse them was valuable. Binstock might disagree; he said, "As our page views show, the need for an independent site with in-depth articles, code, algorithms, and reliable product reviews is still very much present. And I will dearly miss that content. I wish I could point you to another site that does similar work, but alas, I know of none."
Cellphones

In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License 207

Posted by timothy
from the search-incident-to-arrest dept.
New submitter dubner writes Simply hand the law enforcement officer your mobile phone. That's what you can do in Iowa rather than "digging through clutter in your glove compartment for an insurance card." And soon your driver's license will be available on your phone too, according to a story in the (Des Moines Register). Iowans will soon be able to use a mobile app on their smartphones as their official driver's license issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Some marvelous quotes in TFA: "The new app should be highly secure ... People will use a pin number for verification." And "Branstad (Iowa governor)... noted that even Iowa children are now working on digital development projects." A raft of excuses ("battery's dead") and security problems come to mind; how would you implement such a system?
Government

Army Building an Airport Just For Drones 48

Posted by timothy
from the first-part-of-the-plan dept.
schwit1 writes The Army's ever-growing use of unmanned aerial systems has gotten to the point where two of the most commonly used UAS are getting their own airport. The service's Corps of Engineers at Fort Worth, Texas, has awarded a $33 million contract to SGS to build a 150-acre unmanned aircraft launch and recovery complex at Fort Bliss for Grey Eagle and Shadow UAS. In related news, the FAA has just cleared 4 companies (Trimble Navigation Limited, VDOS Global, Clayco Inc. and Woolpert Inc.) to use drones commercially, for purposes such as site inspection and aerial surveys. (A lot of drones are already in use, of course, but the FAA doesn't like it.)

Comment: Re:WTF is wrong with you? (Score 3) 193

by jklappenbach (#47007177) Attached to: Are Glowing, Solar Smart Roads the Future?
Actually, the parent's post is not funny at all, considering that graphene based solar technology has reached over 15% efficiency in recent efforts, and I would bet environmentally friendly solutions will continue to double in efficiency over a given time period. After all, we're chasing the benchmarks established by plants.

As far as roads go, here's an opportunity to leverage a massive area of square footage that is guaranteed to be clear of plants or other obstructions, that would benefit from power and data networking, and if leveraged correctly, can be improved to save many lives.

Why anyone would choose to use this as an opportunity for ridicule is beyond me. Certainly the technology isn't ready yet, but I can see a clear pathway from idea to eventual perfection, given our penchant for achieving economics with scale. The resulting solution might not look anything like the original concept, but the idea of turning our roadways into an intelligent grid, featuring solar power generation, optics, data, and even thermal regulation is brilliant.

Comment: Benefits of Uber (Score 1, Interesting) 417

by jklappenbach (#46956813) Attached to: London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber
- Both driver and rider can view each other's history / ratings. If a rider doesn't like the driver, they can choose a different car.
- Both driver and rider can see each other's location, in real time, up to the point of pickup.
- Both driver and rider can contact each other either by phone or SMS (I've moved location, I've forgotten a bag / phone, I can't find you).
- Both driver and rider can rate each other after the experience.
- No need for carrying cash, or dealing with post drive transactions -- just hop out, it's all handled.
- Several levels of quality, ranging from eco, black car, and suburban / limo.

Uber provides a safer experience for both driver and rider, with accountability and communication.
If you've never ridden Uber (or similar), it's a vastly superior experience to old fashioned cabs.

When you've been disrupted like this, it's either evolution or extinction.
AI

Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable 426

Posted by timothy
from the opposite-would-be-more-suprising dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "One of the most profound advances in science in recent years is the way researchers from a variety of fields are beginning to formulate the problem of consciousness in mathematical terms, in particular using information theory. That's largely thanks to a relatively new theory that consciousness is a phenomenon which integrates information in the brain in a way that cannot be broken down. Now a group of researchers has taken this idea further using algorithmic theory to study whether this kind of integrated information is computable. They say that the process of integrating information is equivalent to compressing it. That allows memories to be retrieved but it also loses information in the process. But they point out that this cannot be how real memory works; otherwise, retrieving memories repeatedly would cause them to gradually decay. By assuming that the process of memory is non-lossy, they use algorithmic theory to show that the process of integrating information must noncomputable. In other words, your PC can never be conscious in the way you are. That's likely to be a controversial finding but the bigger picture is that the problem of consciousness is finally opening up to mathematical scrutiny for the first time."

Comment: Radiation... (Score 5, Insightful) 216

by jklappenbach (#46830867) Attached to: NASA Chief Tells the Critics of Exploration Plan: "Get Over It"
If I were planning a trip to Mars, solar and cosmic radiation would be one of my main concerns. And to date, I have not seen designs for a delivery system that would adequately protect crew members from what could be a catastrophic situation. We do not want to lose the first expedition to something like this. However, the shielding required dramatically alters the economics of the mission (lead's not cheap to shoot into orbit, let alone Mars). And that's just getting there. If we want to enjoy any duration of exploration or colonization, we should be looking for caves. Without a magnetosphere, it's going to be tough.

Radiation Rules Exploration
Google

Anyone Can Buy Google Glass April 15 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Starting at 9 a.m. ET on April 15 anyone in the US will be able to buy Google Glass for one day. From the article: 'This is the first time the device has been available to the general public. So far, the face-mounted computers have been sold only to Google "Explorers," the company's name for early adopters. At first only developers could buy Glass, but Google slowly expanded the program to include regular people. Some were hand-picked, others applied to be Explorers through Google contests by sharing what cool projects they would do if they had Glass.'"
Media

Why Movie Streaming Services Are Unsatisfying — and Will Stay That Way 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the shut-up-and-take-my-money dept.
mendax sends this excerpt from a New York Times op-ed: "like Napster in the late 1990s, [torrent-streaming app Popcorn Time] offered a glimpse of what seemed like the future, a model for how painless it should be to stream movies and TV shows online. The app also highlighted something we've all felt when settling in for a night with today’s popular streaming services, whether Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, or Google or Microsoft’s media stores: They just aren't good enough. ... In the music business, Napster’s vision eventually became a reality. Today, with services like Spotify and Rdio, you can pay a monthly fee to listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. But in the movie and TV business, such a glorious future isn't in the offing anytime soon.

According to industry experts, some of whom declined to be quoted on the record because of the sensitivities of the nexus of media deals involved, we aren’t anywhere close to getting a service that allows customers to pay a single monthly fee for access to a wide range of top-notch movies and TV shows.Instead of a single comprehensive service, the future of digital TV and movies is destined to be fragmented across several services, at least for the next few years. We’ll all face a complex decision tree when choosing what to watch, and we’ll have to settle for something less than ideal."
Communications

WSJ: Americans' Phone Bills Are Going Up 273

Posted by timothy
from the at-what-margin-do-you-pivot? dept.
There's been some positive news in the last year (and the last few) for American cellphone customers: certainly there's more visible competition for their business among the largest players in the market. Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal reports that while more competition may translate into some more attractive service bundles, flexibility in phone options, or smoother customer service, it doesn't actually mean that the customers are on average reaping one of the benefits that competition might be expected to provide: lower price. Instead, the bills for customers on the major wireless providers have actually gone up, if not dramatically, in recent months — which means U.S. cell service remains much more expensive than it is in many other countries. The article could stand a sidebar on MVNOs and other low-cost options, though -- I switched to one of these from AT&T, and now pay just under $40 for one version of the new normal of unlimited talk and text, plus quite limited (1GB) data, but still using AT&T towers. Has your own cost to talk gone up or down?
Programming

Does Relying On an IDE Make You a Bad Programmer? 627

Posted by samzenpus
from the speak-up dept.
itwbennett writes "Writing about his career decisions, programming language choices, and regrets, Rob Conery says that as a .NET developer he became more reliant on an IDE than he would have with PHP. Blogger, and .NET developer, Matthew Mombrea picks up the thread, coming to the defense of IDEs (Visual Studio in particular). Mombrea argues that 'being a good developer isn't about memorizing the language specific calls, it's about knowing the available ways to solve a problem and solving it using the best technique or tools as you can.' Does using an IDE make you lazy with the language? Would you be better off programming with Notepad?"

Comment: Self-Fulfilling (Score 1) 394

Oracle and Redhat are great examples of how *not* to run an open source team:
  • - Constrain a project to prevent it from having more advanced features than your "enterprise" mirror
  • - Cherry pick the best "community" developers moving them to the "enterprise" staff, leading to brain / experience drain
  • - Cherry pick the best features from the "community" APIs, moving them to "enterprise"
  • - Fail to enforce rigorous standards on code commenting, documentation, unit / build acceptance / integration tests
  • - Allow conflicting APIs or features into the development process

Then, throw up your hands in disgust at the result, and blame the very concept of F/OSS. That's why, but for limited exceptions, I avoid the "community" products of Oracle and Redhat. And when the open source community provides much better alternatives, I avoid their "enterprise" products as well.

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." -- John Wooden

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