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Comment: Re:Idiots (Score 3, Insightful) 29

What the hell they are complaining about now? If court ruled that how Aereo previously defined itself was illegal, then obviously it has to change it. First they win now they complain about it?

As best I can tell, they are whining because they preferred the imaginary world where the lawsuit against Aereo was actually over whether the filthy, disruptive, upstarts shoudl be burned to the ground and have the earth beneath them salted, rather than whether they were more like an antenna rental service or more like a cable company.

Aereo obviously didn't want to be a cable company, hence its ongoing defense; but the tone of the rhetoric against them was never "Yeah, because of a raft of tedious reasons, Aereo ought to be classified as a cable company for regulatory purposes"; but rather a bunch of fire and brimstone nonsense about the signal-stealing piratepocalypse.

Comment: Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (Score 1) 102

by TheRaven64 (#47430255) Attached to: Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted
In the UK, university research departments are assessed base on the Research Excellence Framework (REF, formerly the Research Assessment Exercise [RAE]). Each faculty member is required to submit 4 things demonstrating impact. These are typically top-tier conference or journal papers, but can also be artefacts or examples of successful technology transfer. The exercise happens every four years, so to get the top ranking you need to write one good paper a year. The only incentive for publishing in second-tier venues is meeting other people who might lead to interesting collaborations.

Comment: Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (Score 1) 102

by TheRaven64 (#47430227) Attached to: Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted
Reproducing work is often a good thing to set for first-year PhD students to do. If they reproduce something successfully, then they've learned about the state of the art and are in a good position to start original research. If they can't reproduce it, then they've got a paper for one of the debunking workshops that are increasingly attached to major conferences and that's their first publication done...

Comment: Re:Tannenbaum's predictions... (Score 1) 124

by TheRaven64 (#47425531) Attached to: Prof. Andy Tanenbaum Retires From Vrije University
Predicting that x86 would go away was more wishful thinking than anything else. At the time, Intel had just switched from pushing the i960 to pushing the i860 and would later push Itanium as x86 replacements (their first attempt at producing a CPU that it was impossible to efficiently compile code for, the iAPX432, had already died). Given that Intel was on its second attempt to kill x86 (the 432 largely predated anyone caring seriously about x86), it wasn't hard to imagine that it would go away soon...

Comment: Re:A great writer (Score 2) 124

by TheRaven64 (#47425431) Attached to: Prof. Andy Tanenbaum Retires From Vrije University
I found Modern Operating Systems better than the Minix book. The Minix book tells you exactly how a toy OS works in detail. Kirk McKusick's Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD OS (new version due out in a month or two) tells you how a real modern OS works in detail. Modern Operating Systems gives you a high-level overview of how modern operating systems work and how they should work. If you want to learn about operating systems, I'd recommend reading the FreeBSD D&I book and Tanenbaum's Modern Operating Systems and skipping the Minix book (which was also a bit too heavy on code listings for my tastes).

Comment: Re:Does this mean the death of Minix3? (Score 1) 124

by TheRaven64 (#47425395) Attached to: Prof. Andy Tanenbaum Retires From Vrije University

I feel it necessary to point out, though, that OS X is not a microkernel system comparable to Minix

While this is true, it's worth noting that a lot of the compartmentalisation and sandboxing ideas that most of the userland programs on OS X employ (either directly or via standard APIs) have roots in microkernel research. OS X is in the somewhat odd situation of having userspace processes that are a lot more like multiserver microkernels than its kernel...

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Twenty Nine

Journal by mcgrew

Movies
Destiny and me woke up at the same time the next morning. We cuddled a while, made love again, then made coffee and took a shower together while the robots made us steak and cheese omelettes and toast and hash browns. Destiny put on the news. There was something about a problem in one of the company's boat factories; some machinery malfunctioned and killed a guy. I sure took notice of that! They didn't really have much information about it, though

Comment: Re:Law Enforcement has been doing this forever. (Score 4, Interesting) 214

If memory serves, the ostensible logic was that civil rights groups were pawns of International Communism(because clearly only sinister foreign influences could have given the negro the crazy idea that certain aspects of American life were less than ideal) and thus a terrifying internal threat. That, and Hoover just didn't feel alive if he wasn't wiretapping somebody.

Comment: Savings? (Score 2) 147

Even in areas where all the cabling is buried(which definitely isn't all of them) how much do you save by putting some fancy and expensive widget within a couple hundred meters of every customer's location? Aside from the joys of managing a zillion touchy network devices out on the poles in all winds and weathers, you'd better hope that there's no secondary market for such gear or people will be harvesting them faster than you can install them...

Comment: Re:I wrote about this in 1996 in BYTE (Score 1) 561

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#47415295) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
While I strongly suspect that anyone who thinks that good developers can be made without also being correctly born is either terminally optimistic or a biologist who should quit talking and get his work into wider availability, there is a case to be made for the issue of building tools that allow seriously mediocre not-really-developers to solve the (effectively endless) supply of theoretically uninteresting, but too large to be manually tractable, problems that come up in all kinds of business and other situations. Ideally without setting them loose to produce brutally unmaintainable and incomprehensible messes.

It arguably fails the 'brutally unmaintainable and incomprehensible messes' criterion; but that's basically the function that has allowed either a dubiously sensible pile of Excel hacks, or a shambling Access monstrosity(often several of both) to become a vital part of offices everywhere. They are pretty dreadful; but they allow people with very, very, limited programming knowledge (and essentially zero computer science skill) to bodge through the assorted business-process data schlepping tasks that are too small or mundane to get an actual developer involved with. Not glamorous; but extremely useful and widely used. Even the humble mail merge, commonly treated as an invaluable tool by secretarial workers who explicitly claim to 'not know computers' is valued because it allows somebody without programming knowledge to perform the oh-so-frequently-useful "Iterate through this file and do something sensible with each line" function.

Making more good programmers is hard; but building tools that allow bad programmers to get some of the benefits of programming, ideally with features to keep them from hurting themselves or puking up unmaintainable messes, is a more tractable problem, and a valuable one to solve.

To go with your music analogy, normal humans are effectively excluded from composing and performing music at anything resembling a serious level; but hobby/amateur level musical activity is extremely widespread(and contemporary societies with recorded music and mass media might actually be atypically low, by historical standards, in mass participation in musical culture). Doesn't mean that kiddo's high school rock band doesn't suck, or that kiddo would know 'music theory' if it bit him in the ear; but music-making for recreational and social purposes is very accessible without much specialist knowledge.

Comment: Re:Classic 100 years from now? (Score 3, Insightful) 138

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#47414547) Attached to: Dwarf Fortress Gets Biggest Update In Years
In terms of replay value and intricacy, 'computer games' are arguably several largely different things that all just happen to be amenable to running on computers and being sold in software boxes:

The trivial analog to simple games is (of course) those games implemented on a computer. Being the trivial case, this is mostly a wiseass cop-out; but it's worth mentioning because computer implementations have made a substantial difference in what games are considered 'solved' and how strongly. Some games are so simple that children can solve them by hand (tic-tac-toe, most notably, since people do actually play it; but it's simple enough that most players eventually solve it and lose interest); but solving checkers, or the partial solutions for chess and go, are exercises that require ingenuity and cunning; but a lot of brute force.

The slightly less trivial analog is extensions of classic games that would be impossible or impractical to fabricate as board games. Mostly 2d games adapted to 3 or more dimensions(or 3d puzzles, like Rubik's cubes adapted to 4 or more dimensions). These usually have some improvised implementation that doesn't need a computer (multiple chess/checkers boards with rules for pieces moving between them in the extra dimension, that sort of thing); but computers make them easier and less knock-over-and-abandon-in-frustration prone.

Then there are computer games that are really, in terms of playability and intricacy, basically team sports, rather than anything analogous to deterministic games of perfect information like chess, checkers, go, etc. Something like Counter-Strike is replayable much like soccer or football are (ignoring the fact that operating systems and Glide/OpenGL/DirectX tend to break backward compatibility more often than 'grass' does, so a single, specific, implementation may not remain playable in the long term without porting, though games with robust port support are in decent shape). There is strategy and teamwork; along with individual expertise in implementation, so most of the 'churn' in these games is either abandonment of older engines in favor of nicer ones, or iterative tweaking of weapons and balance. Specific 'games' in the sense of 'Program X sold under name Y' tend to come and go; but the overall dynamic is similar to regional variations, changes in equipment, occasional rule tweaks, and the like in traditional sports, except that traditional sports tend to treat variants as all being flavors of A Sport, while the trademark and SKU-focused game market tends to treat each variant as a separate game.

Then there are the 'games' that really shade into choose-your-own-adventure books with pictures, or movies with reflex tests: I enjoy these myself, and they are a perfectly valid form of entertainment; but they are about as dissimilar from classic 'games' as something called a 'game' can be. Single-player FPSes, relatively 'closed world' RPGs, that sort of thing. Hardly identical to a film(in all but the worst excesses of the early days of "Wow, we have a whole CD to fill with shitty, overcompressed FMV!" era), the tests of reflexes, RPG party management, or whatever are genuinely part of the experience; but they aren't terribly replayable because, sooner or later, you run up against the fact that there is only so much manually-generated, written, and voice-acted plot to uncover. Likely good for more than one playthrough, unless brutally linear; but each 'branch' costs so much dev and artist time that there aren't going to be too many of them.

There may also be a category for the games (the Civilization series being the most prominent example that comes to mind) that could have been implemented as board games; but would be near insanity if you had to keep track of teeny plastic wheat counters for every single square. If these are single player, they often wear out their welcome sooner or later because the AI opponents just aren't good enough (whether because there just wasn't anything in the budget for 'hire academic computer scientists to do deep analysis of the game and attempt to solve it', which there isn't, or because the game may not be solvable in any remotely computationally tractable way); but against humans these might qualify as both genuinely somewhat novel, and genuinely replayable and intricate, it will be interesting to see.

'Emergent' games (like DF), may or may not be sufficiently mature; but if they do end up standing the test of time and intricate replayability, that would be the most novel of all, since (unlike games that attempt, with varying levels of success, to make an AI do a human's job) these games tend to give the NPCs fairly limited intelligence; but enough room for the world as a whole to just go nuts in interesting ways. That has not historically been possible in games; but it is also not an imitation (however accurate or inaccurate) of a human opponent or opponents, as with 'Chess-but with someone who's always up for a game!' type computer games.

Comment: Re:Is it still braindeadly single-threaded? (Score 1) 138

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#47414121) Attached to: Dwarf Fortress Gets Biggest Update In Years
Why wouldn't it be an explanation? 'Excuse', is a slippery term because it tends to have moral connotations that can lead one into the rather subjective territory of arguing about what somebody does or doesn't have a duty to learn and why; but an 'explanation' is just an account of why something is as it is.

It might be that 'He's an autodidact' isn't the correct explanation in this case; but 'He picked it up on his own, because of his interest, which is why the result shows an idiosyncratic emphasis on what interests him to the exclusion of some accepted best practices.' certainly sounds like a reasonably well formed explanation, whether one finds it excusable or not.

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