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Comment Re:History lesson for you non-technicals. (Score 1) 564

It probably depended on your PDP-11 operating system. On RSTS/E, the extension determined which run-time system was used to run an executable. Off the top of my head, there was BAC for BASIC-PLUS, SAV for RT-11, TEC for TECO, and I can't remember the RSX one. The systems administrator could install other run-time systems and assign extensions to them.

However, at this time, extensions were closer to being actual meta-data since they were stored separately from the filename. Again, for RSTS/E there were six characters for the file name and three for the extension. I suspect that many other operating systems of a similar vintage did things similarly, except for Unix which just had 14 bytes. Even early Unix though had things like .c for C source code and .o for object files.

Comment Re:Publication bias (Score 1) 1105

97% almost exactly the portion of biologists who believe in evolution according to one survey []. The Slashdot community seems perfectly ready to accept evolution as fact, yet anthropogenic global warming remains "controversial."

I would hope people believe in evolution because they've looked at the evidence, not because some scientist told them to.

I think that most people simply believe what someone tells them, whether a teacher, a scientist, a preacher, a news commentator or whatever. I know that I simply don't have the time or expertise to look at the evidence for everything that affects me, so I have to take some things on faith from an "authority". Now, if evidence comes up that contradicts that "authority", I should be able to reevaluate things and reject that position.

Comment Re:Gravitational tides will kill you (Score 2) 412

Actually this says that one member of the particle-antiparticle pair could fall into the black hole. It says nothing about which one would. Sometimes it could be the particle and sometimes the antiparticle. They are both treated the same by gravity. My understanding is that since the particle-antiparticle are separated by a tiny distance, sometimes one is inside the event horizon and is swallowed by the black hole leaving the other one to escape. Since they don't recombine, the one that is swallowed has negative energy causing the black hole to lose energy. Whether it's the particle or antiparticle is completely random, to the best of my knowledge.

Comment Re:Who cares? (Score 1) 354

I still have a G3 iBook that I use regularly. It has the 13 inch screen and is good for taking text notes. It's nothing fancy, but it fits into a particular niche fairly well. I'll probably keep using it until the battery finally give up the ghost. I got it probably 2005-ish so it's not quite 10 years old yet, but getting close.

Comment Re:lost? (Score 1) 407

They may have had real multitasking prior to NT had it not been for IBM insisting that OS/2 ran in 286 mode.

Intel produced an operating system iRMX that ran on the 8080 and 8086 processors. It was a real-time, multitasking operating system and was introduced in 1980. There was also MP/M which was a multi-user version of CP/M that was introduced about the same time. It had versions that also ran on the 8080 and 8086.

One thing that bugs me about the field of computing is that many people in it seem to be intent on deliberately ignoring its history.

Comment Re:lost? (Score 1) 407

The first computers to have true preemptive multitasking were Commodore (1985). Not Microsoft which took ten years to get, and it didn't work with the then-standard 16-bit apps. Only new 32-bit programs. (Apple didn't get it until 2001 with OS 10.1.)

I understand that you're talking about mass market microcomputers, but I still need to point out that true preemptive multitasking was available in the 70s and probably even 60s on minis and mainframes (think Multics and a bewildering array of operating systems from IBM, DEC, HP, and others, as well as Unix). In the 80s, IIRC, Intel was selling something called iRMX which was a real-time multitasking operating system that ran on a variety of their processors, including the 8086 (no 80286 or 80386 here). I'm sure that there are many more that I missed.

Comment Re:Mass Produced education. (Score 1) 191

Even worse, many of the students I encountered we're absolutely horrible writers and very, very poor readers as well, unable to do more than barely functional writing and often unable to appreciate nuance in a text, preferring instead to be hit over the head with bald statements.

Oh, the irony...

Sorry, but apostrophe abuse is a pet peeve of mine.

2 pints = 1 Cavort