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Comment: What about the new wave of proprietary programs (w (Score 2) 126

by necro351 (#46402429) Attached to: Interview: Ask Eric Raymond What You Will

So it seems these days the most effective method of DRM is a network interface, like that used by Facebook, Google, Pinterest, etc... You cannot run your own instance of Gmail or Facebook, and you certainly cannot see or modify the code. At the same time all these companies are pressuring us to push our data into their servers by not supporting or coming up with solutions that let us continue to control/manage our data on our own machines and private networks. What can open source do to stem that tide? What about open source licensing? Could webkit or mozilla have slowed down the encroachment of Chrom/ium and its pro-Google agenda if it had more defensive licensing terms like something similar to the GPL? How do we convince hackers to hack on open-source 'website programs', like an open Gmail or an open Facebook (e.g., Diaspora)?

Comment: Language is the answer to your question... (Score 5, Insightful) 876

by necro351 (#46192061) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

...and I do not mean programming language, though that can help.

There is not a big gain (any gain?) to seeing a square with arrows instead of "if (a) {b} else {c}" once you get comfortable with the latter. I think you hinted at the real problem: complexity. In my experience, text is not your enemy (math proofs have been written in mostly text for millennia) but finding elegant (and therefore more readable) formulations of your algorithms/programs.

Let me expand on that. I've been hacking the Linux kernel, XNU, 'doze, POSIX user-level, games, javascript, sites, etc..., for ~15 years. In all that time there has only been one thing that has made code easier to read for me and those I work with, and that is elegant abstractions. It is actually exactly the same thing that turns a 3--4 page math proof into a 10--15 line proof (use Louisville's theorem instead of 17 pages of hard algebra to prove the fundamental theorem of algebra). Programming is all about choosing elegant abstractions that quickly and simply compose together to form short, modular programs.

You can think of every problem you want to solve as its own language, like English, or Music, or sketching techniques, or algebra. Like a game, except you have to figure out the rules. You come up with the most elegant axiomatic rules that are orthogonal and composable, and then start putting them together. You refine what you see, and keep working at it, to find a short representation. Just like as if you were trying to find a short proof. You can extend your language, or add rules to your game, by defining new procedures/functions, objects, etc... Some abstractions are so universal and repeatedly applicable they are built into your programming language (e.g., if-statements, closures, structs, types, coroutines, channels). So, every time you work on a problem/algorithm, you are defining a new language.

Usually, when defining a language or writing down rules to a game, you want to quickly and rapidly manipulate symbols, and assign abstractions to them, so composing rules can be done with an economy of symbols (and complexity). A grid of runes makes it easy to quickly mutate and futz with abstract symbols, so that works great (e.g., a terminal). If you want to try and improve on that, you have to understand the problem is not defining a "visual programming language" that is like trying to encourage kids to read the classics by coming up with a more elegant and intuitive version of English to non-literate people. The real problem is trying to find a faster/easier way to play with, manipulate, and mutate symbols. To make matters worse, whatever method you use is limited by the fact that most people read (how they de/serialize symbols into abstractions in their heads) in 2D arrays of symbols.

I hope helping to define the actual problem you are facing is helpful?

Good luck!

Comment: Jesus vs. Kant (Score 1) 617

Kant: Q: If everyone did not return merchandise mistakenly mailed to them, what would happen [approx. categorical imperative]?
A: Probably the cost of shipping and retail would go up slightly to pay for more expensive insurance to account for the potential of sending the wrong item. Order processing and shipping would employer slightly higher paid people. Overall, we'd expect to see less shipping errors from all retail companies and shipment companies. Overall, a slight price increase on the cost of goods, less shipping mistakes, and not much else.

Jesus: Q: Would you like it if someone else did not send back a package to you that you mistakenly sent them [golden rule]?
A: No, that would suck.

Two different moral systems go in different directions here. Still, I think Kant would probably mail the Vita back. Nobody wants to be a dick.

Comment: Hard sells (Score 1) 243

by necro351 (#45440155) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Makes You Uninstall Apps?

The reasoning behind why paid apps are less likely to be uninstalled is because the buyer feels "attached" to their purchase. This reasoning is exactly wrong and agreeing with it actually makes it easier to miss the larger point. I would argue the reason almost all of us uninstall apps are because they take more than they give. For example, games asking for recommendations before the honeymoon wears off, apps that change the rules half-way (e.g., ask for more system privileges in an update), apps that just ask for personal info up front but offer no real use (WiFi buttons with e-mail access), apps that sell you intangible things that you can only get at through the app (e.g., background tracks to rap against). All of these apps take more than they give. Furthermore, apps that try to hide this relationship are especially hated. So we uninstall apps that take more than they give, and how long it takes us to uninstall them depends on how well the app can hide this inequity. Apps that do a poor job of hiding the inequity at all never get installed.

Conclusion: word of advice to app developers: You want to put out apps that give more than they take, and ask for what they take up front. Deception in this regard is hated and is punished. No "please review me" prompts, no upsells, no in-app business, no fake currencies or intangible goods. Oddly, I don't care about ads, the relationship there is up-front to me, I pay for the app by looking at its ads, but others might find them too distracting.

Comment: hyperbole.txt (Score 1) 234

by necro351 (#45415691) Attached to: Britain's Conservatives Scrub Speeches from the Internet

Apparently using the common practice of putting up a robots.txt to ask crawlers to stay away for better political messaging control is actually an Orwellian thought-control power grab. Obviously Cameron was talking about other news/archive sites keeping a permanent record of his speeches, since that is the only way it could work for any party in power. Do we really expect a politically motivated website, of any party, to keep an honest and complete record of its positions and speeches for indefinite periods of time for public scrutiny?

The way this headline read, I half expected to hear about Cameron's administration sending take-down notices to bloggers for dredging up campaign promises, but no, his party's website just updated its robots.txt, sheesh!

Comment: Threshold Ticket Prices Filter Consumer Masses (Score 4, Insightful) 1029

I haven't gone to see any of these movies not because I wasn't _mildly_ interested, but because it wasn't worth $14--$17 times three: the cost of bringing myself and my family. That is a lot of cash to see a "meh" movie. It wasn't long ago that movies used to cost $6 a head.

Perhaps the geniuses in Hollywood should use their analytics to actually pick per-movie MSRPs: something they can do with Google's analytics, after they've already bought the movie and are just trying to maximize their investment. Or if that would piss off customers, then just decide to roll out movies such that 3D is the same price as 2D as a special "bonus" or promotion, to effectively bring the price down on movies that you are afraid aren't going to do as well as you thought pre-production.

Comment: Re:Alternate perspective from an indie dev (Score 1) 463

by necro351 (#44033855) Attached to: MS To Indie Devs: You Have a To Have a Publisher

Either we were reading different messages, or we understand English in different ways.

Nice false dichotomy. Pretty crafty for a non-native speaker. You are learning the internets well!

Microsoft hasn't changed the deal for Indies, it's trying to improve upon it to attract more developers and is very helpful all around.

Sure, but who cares? Microsoft's policy toward indie devs may be improving upon what it was 5 years ago when they were leading the pack among consoles, but this article is about how the other consoles are surpassing Microsoft in its friendliness toward indie developers, for example, by publishing this new Oddworld game. This article is relevant because in other news Microsoft plans on imposing obnoxious DRM restrictions that chase the typical player of an indie game away from a system and there have been reports of developers having problems working with Microsoft that they don't have with other consoles. The gamasutra guy in the link above, and you my friend, are both missing the point.

Bottom line: the notion that MS is improving on what it was 5 years ago is just not good enough when its competitors are going beyond that to attract indie dev talent and indie game players. MS is getting outflanked by Sony pretty hard right now...

Comment: Re:Alternate perspective from an indie dev (Score 1) 463

by necro351 (#44033035) Attached to: MS To Indie Devs: You Have a To Have a Publisher

This guy basically says: "look, everything is like it was before, its all cool at MS." Which is fine, but irrelevant. It is irrelevant because Sony, Nintendo, Apple, and Google/Android do not just keep doing the same thing, they change the terms of their contracts with indie developers over time. So why compare MS to how MS was 5 years ago? We should compare how MS is to its competitors _now_. If you follow that line of reasoning, it seems MS does not want to allow a company to release this Oddworld title for their console because they do not have a publisher recognized by Microsoft, but that is not a problem for the other consoles. Times are changing and MS is trying to turn back the clock to 5 years ago, and further with their ratcheting up of DRM controls.

Comment: Emergent Effects (Score 1) 601

by necro351 (#44032917) Attached to: Canadian Couple Charged $5k For Finding 400-Year-Old Skeleton

This is another case of legislators not looking at very basic emergent effects. This article takes a big step toward making this law, and its consequences, widely known. This law, combined with widespread awareness of it, will obviously have chilling effects on archaeology in Canada. Regardless of what you think is right or wrong, or who should pay, the simple fact is that forcing the property owner to fund a proper excavation of these sorts of artifacts effectively means artifacts found by property owners during a construction project will be repeatedly reburied while no authorities are notified. If we do not want that, we have to change the law. You cannot change human nature.

Comment: NEWS: Terrible Journalism Undermines Argument (Score 2) 474

by necro351 (#43797259) Attached to: The Canadian Government's War On Science

The first four paragraphs of the second linked story consists of the author basically rationalizing her terrible journalism. She makes a terrible error in misquoting a Candian official: “Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value.” instead of: “A new idea or discovery may in fact be interesting but it doesn’t quality [sic] as an innovation until it’s been developed into something that has commercial or societal value.” which is closer. Never mind though, the author doesn't skip a beat and goes directly onto jumping innocent conclusions in a dark cyber-alley.

Why is this article one of the (just) two lemmas in the submitter's argument that Canada's current government is trashing publicly funded research?

Comment: Not comparable (Score 1, Insightful) 171

by necro351 (#43221021) Attached to: Cubans Evade Censorship By Exchanging Flash Drives

Every time someone posts about some awful dictatorship like Cuba, someone on Slashdot invariably equates them to the US. I like putting freedom in "scare quotes," that was a nice touch, but also really lazy. You basically did not have to substantiate or prove your point at all, yet you still got 3 points, phenomenal. I am sorry, but having to swap forbidden books using flash drives dwarfs whatever first-world problem crawled up your posterior and made you feel like you could ever possibly understand what it is like to live in a mind-controlling, life-or-death, blighted country like Cuba.

Comment: Real advice from fellow ADHDer and past undergrad (Score 1) 561

by necro351 (#43186203) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Block Noise In a Dorm?

I also was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and have gotten by without drugs (which you may or may not value) for my whole life. My technique is to change my environment. You cannot make the people in your dorms less noisy, but you can go somewhere else. For now, you can go to that quiet basement in the physics building, or the graduate study lounge on the third floor of the math building, or that anonymous study area in the Library with all the lockers where the students come and go talking of Michelangelo (but you don't notice because there are a hundred of them). I found all the little quiet spots on my campus when I was an undergrad, and knew how to hop from one to the next if an unexpected distraction arose. Long-term you will want to move into an apartment and get a car which will give you further capability to control your environment. Later on when I was a junior I moved into an apartment but always remembered and occasionally used my old haunts on campus. Changing my environment has been the best and most effective way I have found to get work done. Good luck.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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