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Comment: Re:Who they do not attempt to stay relevant? (Score 1) 145

by pamar (#48874089) Attached to: Doomsday Clock Could Move

War has ALWAYS gone on. Never have we had wars with SO FEW casualties. Certainly never have we had wars with SUCH a small percentage of the population as casualties. Historically, wars have been known to obliterate 50% of the population of a country quite easily. Same for plagues, etc.

Is it really so? (I am asking out of genuine curiosity, or at most trying to challenge this specific point):

From what I understand war in ancient time were fought mostly between opposite armies meeting on a more or less "agreed-upon" battlefield.
This was more or less true for any kind of organized conflict up to WWI, and only with WWII (and the widespread use of planes as offensive weapons - so more precisely we should probably start counting from Spanish Civil War at the end of the 30s) warfare started targeting civilian (i.e. industries and cities) objectives.
Cities were "targeted" in the past too (sieges) and I don't mean that civilians weren't suffering for wars (aftermath of large battles would often result in pillaging, rape, slavery) but I really believe that civilians are more directly involved in warfare starting from the beginning of XX century.

Comment: Re:the more things change... (Score 1) 130

by pamar (#43364197) Attached to: Rare Docs Show How Apple Created Apple II DOS

I am from a European country, and I can assure you that there was a thriving clone market - you could get any at a much more affordable price basically everywhere. These were probably under the radar for Apple - or maybe they prosecuted only American-based makers/resellers because they couldn't afford international cases, but the fact is that, even if this was surely not part of Apple's plan - Apple ][ had a larger share of the market than what you would expect by just comparing "official" Apple numbers to Tandy or Commodore.

http://old-computers.com/MUSEUM/computer.asp?st=1&c=1031

Comment: Re:the more things change... (Score 3, Informative) 130

by pamar (#43359887) Attached to: Rare Docs Show How Apple Created Apple II DOS

You apparently forgot the fact that Apple published schematics and was built with "off-the-shelf" components, and this soon resulted in a massive "clones" market, offering good if not perfect compatibility (the ROMs were easy to copy, too) at vastly reduced prices.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Apple_II_clones

Comment: I think I have a better idea... (Score 2) 313

by pamar (#42573579) Attached to: Learn Basic Programming So You Aren't At the Mercy of Programmers

The suggestion in the original article is (IMHO) completely and utterly wrong, for a mix of reasons explained in other comments.

So let me offer an alternative: instead of learning a smattering of markup language and how to copy JS fragments and trying to modify these for you purpose... learn the basics of being a competent SW TESTER instead.

So when you get a good idea for an app, before looking for a non-asshole programmer, draft a test plan. The more detailed, the better (because tests may also serve as specifications, as TDD teaches us).

When it's done you will have a better idea of the "technical complexity" of your idea, and you don't have to learn any specific programming language for it.

Comment: Red Plenty (Score 1) 278

by pamar (#41764615) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Mathematical Fiction?

See the website to get an idea if this can be of interest to you...

And here is my own review (from anobii):

I love the smell of simplex in the morning...

Red Plenty is pretty difficult to categorize. As the author explains, this is about history, but at the same time most of the characters are either fictional, or are shown thinking and saying things that, while plausible and based on actual historical recordings, have been made up by the author.

And even most importantly, the various characters, some recurring, some briefly sketched never to return in the narrative, are just different ways to talk about the real "hero" of the story. Except that this hero is not character, either real or fictional. The main character, you see, is an Idea.

The idea that by using maths (especially Linear Programming) first, and applying computers later, you can run a centralized, planned economy and make it grow at amazing rate till it takes you, and all your citizens, to a sort of materialistic utopia.

Of course, we all know that history took a different turn, but up to the 80s the Soviet government really tried, and (for an admittedly shorter time) believed that this was possible, and that the "red plenty" of the title would really benefit the whole Soviet Union, and show the USA that Capitalism was inherently less efficient.
We see the whole dream unfold (and sadly turn into a nightmare) through the eyes of low-level citizen, Party members, scientists, criminals.

I am amazed by the technical tour de force that this book represents: it explains very complex (and probably dull and boring) events and theories in a clear and entertaining way - I do have a bit of experience with the specifics regarding the math theory used in here, but I was very ignorant in terms of Marxism, Russian history, Economy, how people gets cancer and a slew of other issues... so if have been entertained (and educated) about the latter themes, I suppose I can say that Marxism experts who don't don't know much about Cantor will find the book equally entertaining, and interesting.

Please understand that the book is a gripping read even if you really don't care about any of this. I can't really think of another example of a book that entertains so much while explaining so well... but I really hope to find another two or three in the future.

Comment: They *do* listen (Score 3, Informative) 218

by pamar (#40993797) Attached to: How Google+ Punk'd The Oatmeal

I suppose that the original post should have included at least two things:

a) Apart from the harmless prank, Google is actually moving towards sane aliases for G+ profiles: http://www.engadget.com/2012/08/13/google-plus-custom-url/
b) For the impatients, there is a sort of "url shortener" providing the service now: http://iplus.im/

Apologies if someone else mentioned this already and I missed it in the discussion.

Comment: Teamatic/Elementool/Redmine (Score 1) 221

by pamar (#40630787) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You Track Bugs For Personal Software Projects?

I have used, in the past, Teamatic (http://www.teamatic.com) and http://www.elementool.com/ - their offering may have changed in the last few years so check exactly what you can do for "free".

Also: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/966404/does-anyone-know-of-a-decent-free-online-bug-tracker-for-web-development-purpose

Comment: Re:Issue for me is pattern recognition. (Score 1) 204

by pamar (#39259325) Attached to: Computer Programmers Only the 5th Most Sleep Deprived Profession

I have a similar problem (even if it looks way milder than those described here and in the OP).

I use an iPhone app called NatureSpace (http://www.naturespace.com/) - even just the free soundtracks included in the basic version help me focus by covering human conversation (when I am trying to read during a commute, for example).

Comment: Re:Christ ... (Score 2) 328

by pamar (#35625134) Attached to: German Politician Demonstrates Extent of Cellphone Location Tracking

In the most recent Berlusconi trial - here in Italy - the prosecution is working not just on the actual recording of the voice conversation over cellular phones, but the case rests at least in part on the fact that a minor spent one or more nights inside Berlusconi's villa... as demonstrated by checking what cellular repeater was covering the minor's cellphone over the night.

And this had been under scrutiny for at least six months.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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