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Comment Comments from a former MUMPS programmer (Score 4, Informative) 166 166

I used MUMPS (and MIIS) extensively while working in healthcare in the 80s and 90s. It was an efficient programming and database environment for mini-computers which combined a hierarchical database and interpreted language with sparse arrays and extensive pattern-matching capabilities baked in. It was widely used in hospitals for clinical operations and that legacy is still present in healthcare. The language itself would scare the shit out of anybody using modern technologies (self-modifying code, anyone?), but used with discipline it ran many applications that were literally a matter of life or death for patients. Some variants (MIIS, DEC) were also stand-alone operating systems running on the bare metal. It gave you lots of bang for the buck, even if the code itself looked like a printer test. There used to be a small but active community of vendors and users. Today, there is one large player, Epic Systems, which dominates the applications market, especially in the electronic medical records area. They use Intersystems MUMPS (now known as M) as the underlying language; it has an extensive application building environment on top of the basic language to provide relational, Web and object-oriented abstractions. You can build applications in this environment without ever touching MUMPS code, though commercial applications will generally drop down into MUMPS for special purpose routines.

Comment Re: Google (Score 3, Informative) 269 269

Well, maybe. What I know is that I don't see much spam even in my spam folder, which does suggest that Gmail may be blowing a lot of stuff away before I have any chance to see it. OTOH, I don't ever recall a case of learning later that something legitimate had been deleted instead of put into my spam folder, and the number of false positives there is tiny. My overall impression is that their filtering system is very effective. I haven't seen a true spam message in my inbox for years and don't even think of it as a problem anymore.

Comment And OJ offers a reward to find the real killer (Score 5, Insightful) 236 236

My first reaction was that it was like OJ Simpson offering a reward to find the real killer. But then I took off my snarky goggles and on reflection, I realized that given government, corporate and media interests and manipulation there's no way in hell we'll ever know the truth. Sad but true, I'm afraid.

Comment Fortune cookie (Score 4, Interesting) 367 367

It seemed remarkably appropriate that this was the cookie at the bottom of the thread:

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."

-- Bertrand Russell

Comment Good news for Leopard users (Score 1) 99 99

I don't think any software vendor should be required to support software forever, but there is a difference between withdrawing support and disabling a product without ample prior warning. They blew the rollout, but it looks like they're going to make amends, at least for the Leopard crowd. Hopefully, they'll learn a thing or two about the value of good corporate communication as well.

Submission + - Skype Blocks Customers Using OS-X 10.5.x and Earlier 1 1

lurker412 writes: Yesterday, and without previous warning, all Mac users running Leopard or earlier versions of OS-X have been locked out of Skype. Those customers are given instructions to update, but following them does not solve the problem. The Skype Community Forum is currently swamped with complaints. A company representative active on the forum said "Unfortunately we don't currently have a build that OS X Leopard (10.5) users could use" but did not answer the question whether they intend to provide one or not. I had a chat exhange with a Skype rep, who told me that not only would there be no version for Leopard, but that refunds were not going to be given for those with paid balances "...outside of 15 day cooling off period," whatever that means. I'm not assuming that the chatbot really speaks for the company. I understand that software vendors cannot be expected to support products forever. But would a bit of advance warning be too much to ask?

Comment Re:Creative Suite Six will be Adobe's XP (Score 3, Interesting) 74 74

For me personally, you're quite right, though I'm on CS5 and will stay there for the foreseeable future. I'm an amateur photographer and have no need to keep up with the latest and greatest effects for graphic artists. There are a lot of Adobe customers like me, and many of us preferred the old model, where we could pay to upgrade when the new features seemed worth it. The new model makes sense for companies and design pros who (think they) always need the latest. They probably will save money. I'm not interested in the lock-in the new model imposes.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the "cloudiness" of CC. The recent outage didn't take all the subscribers down, at least as long as they are using local storage for their work. The software runs locally. It would actually be a step forward if, say, they came up with some killer algorithms that require super-computer power to run and gave subscribers access to those cycles in the cloud. But currently, the cloud is mainly used for license validation (periodically) and software updates.

Adobe is leaving money on the table by not accommodating the customers who used to go for every other or every third update. I expect that within a couple of years they will realize this and come up with some sort of hybrid subscription/perpetual license scheme.

Comment New York Review of Books (Score 1) 361 361

While it's not a news site, among other things it provides thoughtful analysis of current affairs and cultural trends. Some of it is available for free, but subscribing gives you access to all content, current and past. It's not light reading, but Vishnu knows we have more than enough of that the Web.

Comment Re:Not so fast... (Score 1) 356 356

"And yes, until it broke, I loved the fingerprint sensor on my laptop."

My old Thinkpad T61 had a fingerprint reader, which worked maybe half the time. So (naturally) I stopped even trying to use it after a week. Apple's implementation may be better, but if it's no better than Siri, well, nothing to see here...

Comment And the rest of the world? (Score 5, Insightful) 202 202

Few American commentators seem to be questioning the unstated assumption that spying on non-Americans is perfectly OK, even if there is no reasonable cause for suspicion. By that logic, it's perfectly OK for other countries to spy on all Americans.

Aren't we all entitled to a little privacy?

Comment Re:zero evidence (Score 2) 182 182

There are many ways to lie with a camera, and most of them don't rely on Photoshop--framing, cropping, timing, staging or simple selection from a number of shots. Rules tend to be arbitrary--composites may be utter fictions, but they can also be stitched panoramas that provide a wider view and greater detail than the lens/camera combination could provide in a single frame. Film shots were dodged and burned in the darkroom long before digital photography was created. Digital has merely made manipulation easier than it used to be. The only meaningful question is, did the photographer stay within the bounds set by the rules of the competition? Producing the raw file should provide a conclusive answer.

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