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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Show -- Don't Tell (Score 1) 696

Of course that's the first directive of movie-making, and also of raising kids. They don't listen to what you say, but they sure do watch what you do and that's how you end up rearing them. Any parent who thinks their lecturing matters just isn't paying attention.

So, if you still want to make videos, make them about you and the rest of the family. Show how you are with various people (including your daughter, her mother, your parents, etc), how you approach things & situations, what you're proud of/like/dislike about yourself, etc. The good and the bad or it'll come off fake. Maybe tell some stories that show some of the how & why you're like that. I'm afraid that's about the limit of the medium. Get too preachy and you lose 'em every time. Oh, and keep the segments short... you know where attention spans are heading.

Comment: Service Sector Robots (Score 1) 307

by mileshigh (#49070769) Attached to: The Software Revolution

You missed the point. 20 years from now, everybody in your bracket will have a 24/7 robot to do the cleaning, cook and take care of the yard. All without wondering how much to tip them, nor the nagging doubt that the servants are giggling over your sex-toy collection! (Though you can bet the robots will report what they see back to Amazon for targeting advertising, and for figuring out how to tailor your individualized pricing to what they can get away with.)

There will, however, be a thriving market for robot repair techs. And targeting/pricing data analysts.

Comment: You shoulda seen programs before Djikstra! (Score 5, Informative) 677

by mileshigh (#49040899) Attached to: Empirical Study On How C Devs Use Goto In Practice Says "Not Harmful"

In the 60's and much of the 70's, most people wrote in high-level languages as if they were coding assembler. Goto's all over the place. Not that they had a choice -- for example, control flow in Fortran IV, the most-used high-level language of the time, featured IF, DO (a crude version of the modern FOR -- not do), GOTO, CALL, RETURN. No else, while, do/while, no modern-style for, case, etc. AND, get this: NO BLOCKS; the IF statement controlled only a *single* statement, so that meant you often *had* to say IF (...) GOTO xxx. Just like assembler. It was awful! There were other less-popular but more-evolved languages, but unstructured practices were very often carried over to those as well. GOTOs were just how most programmers thought.

That's the backdrop for Djikstra's condemnation of GOTO. Certainly, the then-current mass use of GOTOs was a very bad thing since it completely obscured program logic. If you read the original article, he's not so much condemning GOTO as he's arguing for structured programming.

Consider GOTO Considered Harmful as a successful wake-up call. By keeping his message black/white, i.e. GOTO is bad, he gave his message punch and made it much talked-about. People started to think in a more structured manner (though at first we thought the "structured crowd" were a bunch of weenies), and started to demand better control-flow features. Pretty soon, structured control-flow was de rigeur in any new or revised language. Fortran even got IF/END IF in Fortran 77!

People nowadays have hardened the anti-GOTO bias into gospel. At the time, the response was more nuanced, more in line with the spirit of what Djikstra was saying. For example, in 1974 even Niklaus Wirth's new PASCAL (a principled, hard-line structured language if there ever was one) included the goto statement with the warning in the User Manual and Report that "the goto statement should be reserved for unusual or uncommon situations where the natural structure of an algorithm has to be broken." If anybody was going to out-and-out outlaw goto, Wirth would have been the guy.

Comment: Los Angeles or Louisiana? (Score 1) 611

by mileshigh (#48604431) Attached to: Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

Is this "LA" a reference to Los Angeles? In California? Since 2010, Los Angeles freeways *have* been widened to the tune of many $B and years of traffic delays. Opposition and complaints were simply ignored. Some surface streets have been widened in a major way (e.g. Santa Monica Blvd.) and most other major surface arteries are being repaved and "optimized." Ditto about opposition and complaints. Traffic control & signalling has been vastly expanded -- just look at the level of detail available on Google Traffic now vs. 2 years ago. And just try (like my very politically connected and organized neighborhood did) to cut down on local traffic -- all you'll get is city administration's sympathy, but then they add that the roads must roll and we should actually expect our local traffic to increase significantly.

Comment: Forget healthcare. Canada's full of Realists (Score 1) 221

by mileshigh (#47786501) Attached to: Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

Ask a Canadian and an American if tomorrow will be sunny. The American "believes" it will be. The Canadian doesn't know, because s/he's "being realistic." They'd go on to say that the American is just "being a typical American" thinking happy thoughts. What can I say? Canadians just don't believe in the power of positive thinking. Or much else for that matter.

Cynics? Oh yeah! Canadians and Americans fundamentally look at life differently, and that's been going on since way before healthcare. On New Year's eve, Americans look forward to the sure-to-be-wonderful new year while Canadians celebrate that they made it through the old one! Cynicism bordering on pessimism is in Canada's DNA, same as positive thinking is in the US' DNA. Yes, I'm painting with an overly broad brush here, but to make a point.

Science may require some belief, too, but it sure feels less like of a stretch than religion.

Oh, and most Canadians are well aware that as recently as the early 60's they were historically oppressed and kept in "the great darkness" by an unholy cabal of church and semi-totalitarian state. That's enough to make a hard-ass "realist" of anyone.

Comment: That depends what your definition of "is" is. (Score 1) 371

by mileshigh (#47306539) Attached to: Court Releases DOJ Memo Justifying Drone Strike On US Citizen

Hard to not think of Bill Clinton's infamous words while you actually read the memo.
A lawyer's opinion is just work for hire. If all you needed to legally kill somebody was a lawyer's opinion letter, we'd all have killed each other long ago for perfectly "justifiable" reasons.
By definition, it's the the job of any lawyer to be able to make a case that black is white, or anything else you like. The next day, they can make the case that black is red. Just depends on who the client is that day.

Comment: IF they can beat Shannon, there's still Nyquist... (Score 1) 120

by mileshigh (#46298495) Attached to: New 'pCell' Technology Could Bring Next Generation Speeds To 4G Networks

But doesn't recreating a waveform by summing several other waveforms require that those components be of significantly higher frequency? Basic Taylor series stuff? E.g. recreating a 1 GHz carrier at the receiver from 10 random-distance sources would require each of those sources to be in the order of 10 - 100 GHz, especially if those transmitted waveforms are further constrained to be simultaneously delivering signals to other receivers.

Comment: FIPS requires weakness, so exceed std key length (Score 1) 138

by mileshigh (#44838231) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can We Still Trust FIPS?

FIPS certification is only available for systems that implement modest key lengths. Many of the approved algorithms are designed to support much greater key length, but longer keys are not allowed by the specs. FIPS won't certify 'em. It's a pretty safe guess that the allowed key lengths are such that the NSA can break them if needed using custom hardware or whatever else quasi-unlimited money can buy. Remember 20+ years ago when the gov't regulated all crypto as a munition? They still allowed low-bit encryption because they knew they could break it. They're still playing that game, except now it's done with standards and certifications instead of laws.

You really don't want to start making up your own ad hoc crypto. Approved algorithms have been extensively vetted by honest experts; any possible weaknesses would be very, very subtle. Using approved algorithms with non-standard "ridiculous" key lengths is probably the safest workaround to suspected weaknesses until... on second thought, key lengths much greater than the gov't "recommends" will always be a good idea! Keep in mind that any weaknesses in crypto algorithms would merely make them easier to break, but breaking still requires huge resources and takes time. Longer keys kick up that effort exponentially to the point that very probably nobody can break them in a useful time frame, provided that implementations are reliable and trustworthy.

Comment: So G20 conferences are for real after all! (Score 1) 262

by mileshigh (#44032105) Attached to: Revealed: How the UK Spied On Its G20 Allies At London Summits

To think that for all these years I had assumed these types of conferences are just well-publicized cocktail parties. Maybe that's the most revealing part of this new round of disclosures. But then again, those upper-crust Brits have been known to take their parties (and their spying) pretty seriously...

Comment: Make like the Easter Bunny (Score 2) 480

Won't help your current situation, but in the future consider routinely dropping some standard personal easter eggs into your code. You need to invent your own obscure bag of tricks, but some silly examples would be that stringing together the 3rd letter of each of the first 10 variable names spells your name, or trivially encrypted words in numeric constants or variable names. It's been done in literature for years, for example

Yeah, I know you can supposedly hear "Paul is dead" if you play a certain Beatles track backwards. This isn't the kind of "proof" that would send someone to prison, but being able to demonstrate a few such little flourishes should be plenty enough to buy you the benefit of the doubt and likely constitute probable cause for an investigation.

Most importantly, SHUT UP and don't tell ANYBODY what your secrets are unless you're up against the wall. Even then, don't spill all of 'em. This is security by obscurity -- not an opportunity to show your friends how clever your little treasures are. People talk.

Comment: School purchasing is a deal killer (Score 1) 128

by mileshigh (#41807279) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Funding Models For a Free E-book?

From my experience as an ISV selling a low-price tool, it's very hard for teachers to get you paid unless it's out of their own pocket. This kills most school sales for us.

School boards tend to require *all* purchases to go through a rigid, old-fashioned admin maze where the teacher submits a purchase order, the administration maybe approves it & mails a PO, vendor receives PO and possibly rejects it due to oftentimes onerous terms & conditions, vendor ships the product, invoices the school, does some more chasing after the money when they don't pay, etc, etc. For e-goods, there is sometimes a hassle getting paid because there's no physical item that their receiving department can confirm they received. There are usually no shortcuts like you'd have with regular businesses, e.g. the teacher buying or contributing and then getting reimbursed. Definitely no corporate credit cards in this market, either.

Obviously this cuts out e-vendors who require up-front credit cards or e-checks (just about all of 'em), and no teacher's going through that maze just for $10 - 20 unless they're crazy desperate. I'd suggest you either set up a scheme where payments/contributions are low enough for teachers to pay out of their own pocket and where you make it clear that you recognize and appreciate their personal expense, or high enough to make it worth everybody's while to go with purchase orders.

Comment: Last Man Standing (Score 1) 269

by mileshigh (#37155300) Attached to: Sluggish Android Tablet Growth May Give Microsoft an Opening

Microsoft technically was at the starting line.

It's actually a 2-way matchup: Android vs. Windows. Apple doesn't want to be #1. They're married to their high-margin boutique business model and the really big market numbers are for low-cost items where Apple can't outgun the entire rest of the hardware industry. Android aspires to the mass market but faces several very real perils from different directions right now (e.g. fragmentation, no control over the total experience, the patent war isn't over yet, ridiculous process for pushing updates, problems with partners due to the Motorola deal, inconsistent Marketplace App quality, etc.), so odds are very good that Google will fumble one or more of those... at which point Windows will be waiting, with nowhere to go but up.

The question will then be whether Windows is ready to pursue the advantage. Um, make that "ready enough" since we're discussing a Microsoft product.

Remember that Microsoft's biggest cash cows (Windows NT family, Excel, Word) were once distant also-rans (vs. Novell, Lotus, Word Perfect) that ended up being the last man standing. Admittedly, Microsoft wasn't above pursuing their advantage whenever their competitors faltered, but mainly they just kept ratcheting up their products + marketing and watched the others screw up. XBox, Exchange Server & a bunch of others also come to mind. Oh, and Bing: it's solidly #2 now that Yahoo has fallen, though they're still way behind Google.

Of course Microsoft have also had many failures (hell, they completely blew Hotmail's #1 spot), especially recently, but the tablet OS business is no sideshow: they well know it's do or die for them. They will use their biggest guns (they still have plenty) to make their OS attractive by sheer effort and perseverence, even if it costs billions, takes 2 more versions of Windows, and they have to bribe every 3rd party developer + device maker on the planet. They wrote the book on how this is done and they won't run out of money in the meanwhile.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.