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Comment: Re:Is it really about "art"? (Score 1) 121

And the reality of the matter is that digital instruments do a good job of replicating piano, organ and other keyboard instruments.

My son, who is a talented piano player, disagrees. He has played some of the electric piano `replacements', and he says they are interesting to play, but the real thing is still a far richer and interesting instrument.

There are still plenty of effects in real pianos that are not emulated properly. Two examples: resonances in the other strings of the piano when you strike a string, and striking a key, leaving it half-pressed, and striking again. The piano pedals are also not easy to emulate, I understand, but I don't know the details.

Comment: Re:How does it work? (Score 1) 247

by mean pun (#47203307) Attached to: Mayday Anti-PAC On Its Second Round of Funding

But at that stage the hope is that the masses of voters like these laws so much that voting against them would be political suicide. Therefore, the Super PACs will have to make these laws controversial in some way, and they will have to start as soon as they can. I have no talent in this area, so I don't know whether these ideas grab your guns, are socialist, harm your children, support terrorism, promote unions/homosexuality/abortion/government, continue the war on christmas, are an IRS complot, don't have a proper birth certificate, land you in FEMA camps, deserve a dog whistle, or introduce death panels, but the mud will be ready.

I'm sure the Eye of Sauron is already on this initiative. The memos have been written, and the mud will start flying as soon as it gathers any momentum.

Comment: Re:Basic programming principles what? (Score 1) 127

by mean pun (#47158831) Attached to: GnuTLS Flaw Leaves Many Linux Users Open To Attacks

It seems like taint tracking and sanitation should be pervasive and explicit. This can be partially enforced by type enforcement, no?

This is possible in almost any modern language, although in some languages the code will be so horrible you can wonder if the cure isn't worse than the disease. For example, in C you could wrap tainted data in a struct that is only touched by a few select sanitisation functions. (You would still have to make sure no lazy or malicious code pokes around in the struct, or casts away this protection, but you could write a tool to check that.) Similar for languages like Python, although again it is easy to get around the isolation, so discipline and checking is still required. Languages like Java (or Swift :-)) are strict enough that you can almost completely enforce this isolation rather than rely on disciplined programming (I say almost because you cannot block access to I/O functions, so in principle you could still ignore the isolation, and directly access the tainted data). In C++ you can make the isolating `wrapper' almost transparent, but all the C trickery is still available.

I think it is fair to say that an important reason that these techniques are not used is cultural. Building a watertight taint wrapper in C (the most common language for this kind of code) is tricky and boring, and there is a lot of Real-Programmers-don't-Need-Handholding mentality among C programmers.

Comment: Re:Off-topic Maybe (Score 2) 411

by mean pun (#47148907) Attached to: Apple WWDC 2014: Tim Cook Unveils Yosemite

Why do you think Swift is platform specific? I think it is will almost certainly not be; Apple will be more interested in getting the new language adopted rather than locking in people. Therefore at least the core language is very likely to be neutral. In fact, there is a pretty good chance it will be available through the llvm channels, and have a BSD license.

Metal is more likely to be platform specific because the goal is to give more direct access to the hardware.

Comment: Re:jesus, I knew someone would play the gender car (Score 1) 65

by mean pun (#47145705) Attached to: Grace Hopper Documentary Edges on Successful Crowdfunding

For sufficiently loose definitions of "working tablet", you are of course right. Like those Microsoft thingies that everyone stayed away from in droves. Or Apple's own Newton.

So why was the iPad the first massively popular one? Because Apple produced one that was actually useful rather than started people cursing in the first few minutes. That took them years of experimentation and polishing; there is a reason there had been rumours about an Apple tablet for years before it was actually introduced.

It's easy to think up the concept of a tablet, and even to build some vaguely functional prototypes, but until Apple came up with hardware that was light and sturdy enough to be practical, and software that made the limited environment useful, tablets were something you only used if you absolutely had to. And Apple had nobody to `sponge off', this was Apple's effort only.

As far as I'm concerned this effort deserves the word 'invented', but by all means go for `reinvented' if it makes you feel better.

Comment: Re:jesus, I knew someone would play the gender car (Score 0) 65

by mean pun (#47142441) Attached to: Grace Hopper Documentary Edges on Successful Crowdfunding

Steve did not redefine personal computing, just a designer who sponged off other's engineering accomplishments. He invented nothing, conceived nothing other than perhaps artistic case and keyboard designs.

By that standard the Wright brothers were not inventors either, because all they did was sponge of real inventors, and bolt a lightweight combustion engine to some pieces of wood and cloth. By any sensible definition, Apple invented the tablet. Yes, there had been attempts at tablets before the iPad, but they were just as effective as airplanes before the Wright brothers. You're still allowed to hate Apple and Jobs all you want, but fair is fair: they did invent the tablet.

Power corrupts. And atomic power corrupts atomically.