Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Not their fault (Score 1) 355

by hey! (#48918827) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Something worth considering. We associate snow with cold, so it's tempting to see more and frequent snowstorms as disproof that the planet is warning. However temperature is only one of the constraints on snow. The other is moisture.

I have lived here in Boston over fifty years, and in the 60s and 70s the December climate was bitterly cold and *bone dry*. In recent decades there has been a marked tendency toward warmer AND wetter Decembers and Januaries, and thus frequent significant snow storms in December (almost unheard of) and January (rare until the 90s).

This storm was particularly intense, and in my town got two feet or more. This has happened on six prior occasions, once in 1888, and five times since 1969.

Comment: Re:Salary versus cost of living in each city (Score 2) 136

by m.dillon (#48895213) Attached to: By the Numbers: The Highest-Paying States For Tech Professionals

Well, not necessarily true. You are ignoring the costs to maintain the home, a myrid of utilities you have to pay every month that renters often don't, insurance, and property taxes. I'm a home owner but I don't think there is such a huge gap between owning and renting. A lot of older owners are faced with having to sell their homes after retirement and moving somewhere cheaper when they would rather stay where they are. It's more like a safety net and less like a nest-egg, frankly.

That said, I prefer to own.


Comment: Might be difficult (Score 1) 421

by m.dillon (#48895049) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?

Mice are so mass-market these days that it is hard to find one that actually performs properly. I've gone through a lot of mice over the years, always preferring the hardwired mice over the wireless (dead battery == unhappy), but in the last round I simply couldn't find a wired mouse that worked well. Everything being sold was wireless.

Of late, many of the mice I've tried have simply been too big and bulky, stretching my fingers and generally uncomfortable.

I wound up going with a Microsoft Sculpt 1569 wireless mouse (w/ Nano Transceiver). The Logitech M325 wireless also works but its middle-button-scroll wheel isn't ratcheted. These small mice are nice, my thumb and two right fingers hang over the edge and stay relaxed.

Also I recommend buying a non-rechargable alkaline AA for it, which will last 6 months. The rechargable NiMH batteries usually only last 1-2 months before they have to be replaced/recharged due to nominal leakage, which is too annoying (though I suppose one could buy low-leakage NiMHs).

The middle button scroll wheel isn't a problem. Most of them can also be clicked left and right which IS a problem because it's trivial to accidently click left or click right when you are just trying to push down on it as a middle button. So I disable the mouse-wheel left/right action entirely via:

xinput set-button-map Mouse1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 0 0 10 11

For the transceiver I find that (obviously) the closer it is to the mouse the better. The best solution is to buy a keyboard that has a USB extension on its right or left side and plug the transceiver into that. Then the transceiver is right next to the mouse with no extra cabling. The Razer (mechanical) gaming keyboards are my favorite... very heavy so they don't move around and have the same feel as the old IBM mechnical keyboards had. 80 WPM is a breeze on them.


Comment: Re:Ppl who don't know C++ slamming C++ (Score 5, Insightful) 192

by hey! (#48894501) Attached to: Bjarne Stroustrup Awarded 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Prize

Well it's been many, many years since I've used it, which was back in the late 80s and early 90s. My impression from this time is that C++ is unquestionably a work of genius, but that I didn't particularly like it. Part of that is that we didn't really know how to use it effectively. In that era most object oriented programmers used concrete inheritance way too much. Part of that is due to aspects of what we thought an OO language should have that turned out to add complexity while being only marginally useful in practice (e.g. multiple concrete inheritance and operator overloading).

But in terms of meeting its design goals C++ is a tour de force of ingenuity -- even if some of those goals are questionable by today's standards. The very fact that we know some of those features aren't necessarily ideal is because they were taken out of the realm of academic noodling and put into a practical and highly successful language that could tackle the problems of the day on the hardware of the day. It's hard to overstate the practical impact of C++ on the advancement of both theory and practice of software development.

Any prize for contributions to OO programming pretty that didn't include Stroustrup in its first recipients would be dubious.

Comment: Re:I have an even better idea (Score 3, Informative) 304

by hey! (#48894185) Attached to: Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

I have an even better idea: let's find a way to fix human beings so that they're perfectly consistent in their behavior.

While certainly taking demonstrably bad drivers off the road is a no-brainer, even good drivers have lapses. My teenaged son is learning to drive, and whenever someone does something like cut us off I make a point of saying we can't assume the driver did it on purpose, or did it because he was an inconsiderate or bad person. Even conscientious and courteous drivers make mistakes or have lapses of attention.

It's the law of large numbers. If you spend a few hours on the road, you'll encounter thousands of drivers. A few of them will be really horrible drivers who shouldn't be on the road. But a few will be conscientious drivers having a bad day, or even a bad 1500 milliseconds.

Comment: Re:Just give the option to turn it off... (Score 5, Informative) 808

by hey! (#48878045) Attached to: Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

As a cyclist, I can attest a Prius is not a totally silent vehicle. Nor, I am sure, is a Tesla although I've never encountered one on the road. The reason is tire noise.

For a modern car traveling at 20+ MPH and not accelerating, tire noise is the dominant sound. You can easily hear a car traveling at speed from a hundred yards or more away, almost entirely from the tire noise. The engine of a well-maintained car traveling at a constant 30 MPH might as well be totally silent.

At low speeds such as would be encountered in a parking lot or congested city street the engine noise is dominant, particularly because the car is doing a lot of accelerating and decelerating. At those speeds I think a modest synthesized engine sound is a very good idea, especially when you consider blind people and even more especially service dogs, who would have to be re-trained for some other kind of noise. There would be no need for the artificial sound once the car is at cruising speed.

Comment: Re:Splits the community in half (Score 1) 808

by hey! (#48877805) Attached to: Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

If you play a synthesized noise back through the car's sound system the energy wasted is negligible. And arguably, anything that serves a purpose isn't wasted, so long as it is done with minimum energy needed.

I actually kind of like the idea of synthesized sounds. Think of it as being like haptic feedback. Anyone who's ever driven a car with an exhaust leak knows the powerful illusion it creates that the car's engine has lost power. So why not use sound to convey feedback about what the car is doing -- in this case using lots more gasoline.

In fact I'd take it further. If the oil is low or past due for changing, why not pipe valve tapping sounds into the passenger compartment? Or if the pressure of a tire drops maybe impart a thrum to the steering wheel.

Comment: Re:Internet cables? (Score 1) 418

by hey! (#48877483) Attached to: Blogger Who Revealed GOP Leader's KKK Ties Had Home Internet Lines Cut

A jacketed linear medium which carries data is called a "cable" whether it's RG-6 coax, Cat 1 UTP, or fiber. And if that cable carries Internet traffic, it's perfectly reasonable to call it an "Internet cable". The only problem I have with "cut the Internet cables" is the superfluous pluralization, which I suspect is the product of an analogy with "cut the telephone wires", which in contrast is technically accurate because a telephone cable carries a twisted pair of wires. But if people use "Internet cables" because they're not precisely aware of what's in the innards of a cable, we'll just have to accept that. When people use a word it becomes their property, no matter how ignorant or uninterested they are. They always win in the end because it take no effort to sustain ignorance and lack of interest in the details.

I understand the impulse to language pedantry; my particular bugaboo is is the contemporary use of "broadband", which sets my teeth on edge. It's futile to object to how people use and understand a phrase. It's the result same inexorable process that makes Shakespeare incomprehensible to modern audiences without special training, and which will make *Star Wars* incomprehensible to future generations. I've seen fairly radical changes in my own 50 year lifetime, like the disappearance of the verb "shall" from everyday speech.

Comment: The thing I remember about EISA? (Score 1) 188

by m.dillon (#48877089) Attached to: User Plea Means EISA Support Not Removed From Linux

I remember that every time I changed a card out the machine took 30 minutes to reconfigure itself, because some doochebag of a programmer wrote the #$%#$% configurator that all the vendors used. An operation that could have been done in 5 seconds if written properly. That was the first ... and last EISA machine I ever bought.


Comment: Re:Person who worked in mosquito control here. (Score 1) 666

by hey! (#48873007) Attached to: US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

Almost certainly would have been stolen for agricultural use. I've supported teams going to Africa and theft is extremely common in many of the places DDT would be needed the most. And it's unlikely that the theft of DDT would result in more people being fed in the long term, for reasons to numerous to go through.

In any case your post illustrates the problematic mindset I alluded to: the tendency to imagine DDT as a panacea, and a substitute for expertise and forethought. Eliminating DDT caused pest control to get a lot smarter and intelligently targeted, which was a good thing, and leads to more sustainable gains. Admittedly it''s harder work to make smart, informed decisions, than to spray and pray.

An adequate bootstrap is a contradiction in terms.