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Comment New tools in the game engine (Score 1) 77

It is easy to argue that all of the ideas in the article are not new.

What I found interesting is that rather than reinventing the wheel with custom built functions this author took advantage of
library element that are already in the game engine. Using the physics engine is only a heavyweight solution if you don't have a
preexisting API for handling physics. Since all modern game engines come with these tools it makes sense to adapt the crusty
old process of generating mazes to the tools that are right in front of your nose.

And all you fellow graybeards kvetching about this kid's solution... get stuffed. He's doing something and sharing his solutions. /rant

Comment Re:False Flag (Score 1) 198

The splice would be visible once the decoy cuts were patched. If the fiber crew is doing their job, they will see a new blip of attenuation and reelection loss right where your tap-splice is. It is good practice to maintain records of OTDR for every fiber run so that changes in the run can be spotted. Now, maintaining these records and actually looking at them when something weird happens to the network, is a different issue. Detecting a tap is trivial for someone who knows what they are doing.

Comment this is not an OS (Score 1) 175

it is probably a boot loader.

Apple ][+ had an OS that was 4KB, it was a boot loader too. The default behavior was to launch the 8KB AppleSoft interpreter. If you happened to have a Disk ][ unit installed it would digress into loading 6KB of AppleDOS into RAM from a 2KB ROM on the DISK controller before seeding the low level globals of AppleSoft to patch interpreter's command dispatcher to handle DOS commands from the CLI, and then calling into the interpreters main loop.
Kids these days.... No appreciation for how much quality work a few KB of assembly language code can do.

The largest Atari 2600 games were less than 10KB, most were 4KB, until bank swapping became popular and that included ALL game assets! Most NES games were less than 16KB of executable code.

Comment Re:Theft (Score 2) 171

Integer BASIC on the Apple ][ (not the Apple ][+) was written from scratch by Woz. It is a mutant implementation because it used what we now call a VM embodied in Sweet16, a 16 bit virtual processor. Most of Integer BASIC's core functions were written in this interpreted 16 bit VM. Sweet16 was designed to allow a programmer to easily blend Sweet16 instructions with native assembly code with almost no overhead.

Integer BASIC was an order of magnitude faster than AppleSoft BASIC. It was often used as the executive in video games of the era on Apple ][+ and later machines with Apple Disk ][ drives. Integer BASIC could be loaded into High-Memory or into the Microsoft designed 16K Extended Memory Card that had the ability to bank out the System ROMs. This allowed games developers to leverage a lot of the code in Integer BASIC for their games. It also made reverse engineering such games difficult as calls into the Sweet16 VM would completely confuse most disassemblers of the era. A key reason that Integer BASIC was used this way was that XREF source code for Integer BASIC and Sweet16 were published in early Apple ][ Reference manuals. The XREF source for AppleSoft was not readily available until much later, and even when it was, leveraging it as a runtime library was very difficult.

The Apple ][+ and later Apple //e, //c, //gs models used AppleSoft BASIC, (Floats for all numeric processing) which was written by Microsoft and licensed to Apple. Microsoft later used the license for AppleSoft BASIC as a bludgeon when Apple tried to develop a BASIC interpeter for the Macintosh that would have supported building stand-alone Apps. Apple was threatened with losing all rights to AppleSoft BASIC if they continued development. MacintoshBASIC was quietly suffocated in its crib, and Microsoft quickly announced Microsoft BASIC for Macintosh, an early implementation of what eventually evolved into Visual Basic (BASIC with labels instead of line numbers).

Reference: I was an in-house contractor at Apple SQA as a test engineer from mid-1984 until 1988, and then again from 1990 through early 1992.

Comment BLDC Motors (Score 1) 75

Are extremely efficient for their mass and volume. The key issue they must overcome is cooling. If the motor is in the liquid stream, (and this is a likely assumption) cooling is damn near free. As for the power supply, I am fairly sure that the reduced mass, complexity of the pump, plumbing and associated benefits with reducing the volume of the pump system that must survive extreme temperature and pressure, more than make up for the battery mass.

Those that doubt the tech will scale up to larger designs don't really understand how flexible BLDC motor configurations can be. Comparing a custom engineered BLDC motor application with a stock industrial motor, even a stock BLDC, is simply a waste of effort. Modern BLDC hobby motors can easily produce 16 HP/kg with air cooling for intervals similar to what these turbine pumps need to do at efficiencies up to about 95%. I'm sure they do much better when liquid cooled. The battery tech is not quite as good at scaling yet, so some kind of fuel cell might be needed to produce the required electricity, but I could see this approach working for pump designs that scale to what Falcon 1 can do now with gas powered turbines.

TL;DR: Reducing the pump to an integrated Impeller/motor result in enough reduction in mass and complexity that using primary batteries to power the pumps is a net gain in lift capacity compared to a traditional gas turbine pump design.

Comment Re:Innovation vs. Commodity (Score 1) 392

The other key for VHS adoption: it was a consortium standard, not a Sony exclusive. All the consortium partners cross-liscensed their relevant patents. That led to a diversity of VHS compliant and compatible systems that trumped Sony's exclusive offering. The only real technical failure of Beta was the 1 hour recording limit.

Comment Hey... maybe you just need a math class (Score 1) 144

How about after teaching Algebra, but before heading off into Trig and Calculus spend a quarter or two on Discrete Math. Right there in one fell swoop is the foundation of all computer science in one fairly easy to grasp branch of mathematics. Tie that in with a bit of PASCAL or Python and there is your wade into programming without forcing students into a CIS track. For budding programmers, that class would tie their foundation together, and with others it just gives them some insight into how a computer or even just a calculator really works.

Orienting the study around languages only works with people who already have some idea of how to program.

Comment Re:Consumers win (Score 1) 210

If you weren't so cheap, you could have been buying computers not covered in crap for years. Apple has never sold computers with crap like that on it.

The problem is, you want to pay $100 for a $2000 device and ignore the consequences.

Lenovo hasn't actually done this yet, and when they do, they won't be the first.

[emphasis added]
This is simply not true.
Apple included 3rd party crapware on their computers just as often as the PC OEMs did until the second coming of Jobs.

Comment Re:Honestly (Score 1) 187

This goes back to some ideas Neal Stephenson was scratching at in Anathema.

Humans know that the symbols their minds operate on MEAN something. Our minds operate on the meaning of symbols not the symbols themselves.

No machine she have ever built has anything close to such a capacity. In Stephenson's parlance such machines are only capable of parsing syntax to operate on it, and transform it into more syntax.

We have a long way to go before machines can understand their instructions, and thus operate on meaning, rather than syntax.

Comment I know a lot of female geeks... (Score 1) 779

They are focused on biochemistry, biology, medicine, audio engineering, geology, architecture, marine biology, genetic engineering, truck mechanics, electrical technicians, etc. I have only met a few that were hip to CS in any real sense. Those few were either UI designers/developers (yes they wrote code), or Psychology majors with an interest in UX (didn't write code for development, but did write code for processing their study data).

Stop the pigeon-holing! Many disciplines encourage their practitioners to learn coding, indirectly! HOWEVER, most of the specific personages I reference indirectly above were coders because their disciplinary goals required that they learn to write code on their own, NOT because their discipline requires it, but because their projects indirectly require it! Having a strong coding background myself I was in a position to offer useful advice on where they could refine their skills to achieve their disciplinary goals with code. It really had very little to do with pure CIS... It had to do with getting a pie-eating-contest off their plate so they could move on to the rest of their research!

Code development is not an end. It is a means to accomplish a disciplinary goal that cannot be solved by any other method, and all of the academic and professional women I have met dealing with that particular challenge grok that. They don't love computers, but they know what such machines can do for them, and they are more than willing to roll up their sleeves to learn it, and keep their hands dirty in it, only so long as that effort is required to satisfy that portion of their larger goal.


In K-12 teach Discrete Math, Data Structures, Algorithms and call it good. If you must get feed back, teach them a core language like ANSI C. But let it go after that. Make it a required section of every math class, scale it to fit the level expected for that student. By the end of k-12 every student should know what an integer and a float is, what a pointer is, what arrays and strings are, what control statements are, and why they are important for computer processing. This should be true even if they never want to see a line of code again. Put it where it belongs. Programming is applied math. Treat it as such. Don't bury women in a discipline that does not interest them. Teach them how they can apply Discrete Math and automatic computation in their own path.

Coda: Women generally won't spend 20 years studying one species of dragonfly -- guys have, and do similar things all the time. That is a guy thing.

Women, if they focus down on something like fruit fly larva, it is generally for a greater purpose that tends to broaden their efforts not narrow them. That is a key difference between guys and gals. Guys are content, for a lot of bad, or ill-defined reasons, to narrow down to a laser fine focus on shit that most women just can't be bothered with. It is not that women can't do it, or won't do it! I think it is more that they recognize it is usually self-destructive and self-limiting. I think the feminine approach is healthier, for a lot of reasons.


Comment C/PM and a VOTRAX (Score 1) 79

First time I saw blind programmer was a professional C/PM App developer back around 1982. He used a minimalist text editor and a Votrax speech speech synth as the print device. I was in high school at the time and said programmer was the father of a fellow hacker in my Pod of computer, theater, and gamer nerds. Seeing (and hearing) this kids father program in C and Fortran was fascinating.

You want to accommodate blind developers? Give them CLI access to every element of the system, with consistent shortcuts and high quality voice//auditory feedback for navigation in screen-format editors.

The only reason this particular developer had a CRT is because it was an integrated part of the serial terminal he used to communicate with the host system.

A sine curve goes off to infinity, or at least the end of the blackboard. -- Prof. Steiner