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Comment: BeOS used to do that with CDs (Score 1) 41

by Xcott Craver (#48308579) Attached to: The 7th Underhanded C Contest Is Online

They added a feature to the filesystem that let you insert a music CD and see the tracks as WAV files, so you could rip the CD simply by dragging them to your desktop.

I remember that because I tried to play a CD by selecting all the tracks in the folder and double-clicking, only to hear the OS play all the CD tracks at the same time.

Comment: Re:The previous entry page leads to 404 (Score 4, Funny) 41

by Xcott Craver (#48301973) Attached to: The 7th Underhanded C Contest Is Online

That's not a defunct link to previous entries, but a defunct link to a previous version of the contest site. I've un-defuncteded it to more recent previous version of the contest site, but soon that will also be defunctitated or defunctified, or defunctored.

You can see the previous entries by scrolling down, or by selecting "past years" from the menu bar on the web page.

+ - The 7th Underhanded C Contest is Online->

Submitted by Xcott Craver
Xcott Craver (615642) writes "The 7th Underhanded C Contest is now open. The goal of the contest is to write code that is as readable, clear, innocent and straightforward as possible, and yet somehow exhibits evil behavior that cannot be seen even when staring at the source code.

The winners from 2013 are also online, and their clever and insightful submissions make for fun reading."

Link to Original Source

Comment: I used BeOS for audio analysis (Score 2) 226

by Xcott Craver (#44798045) Attached to: Thought Experiment: The Ultimate Creative Content OS

I mostly used BeOS in grad school because I liked alternative operating systems, but several times I'd try to port my work to Windows or Windows NT and find myself astonished at how impossible my this stuff was to do on other computers at the time (late 1990s.) NT's architecture and event processing often prohibited the sort of real-time audio and video apps I was writing, and the API standing between me and the data was much more restrictive.

In retrospect, I think a number of my research successes were accidentally due to using an OS that would let me implement some really nutty ideas.

Comment: Jesus, Java? Why not COBOL? (Score 1) 245

by Xcott Craver (#43419189) Attached to: 'CodeSpells' Video Game Teaches Children Java Programming

Java is an OK language, but it's kind of bureaucratic and boring. I can't think of a better way to suck all the magic out of a fantasy game than to have the spells written in Java---except maybe having the kids produce an ER diagram and a set of tables in Boyce-Codd normal form.

At the very least, they could do without the pointless punctuation. Does a spell really have to have semicolons and empty parentheses to denote that the spell is imperative?

Comment: I think it's more fundamental than that: (Score 5, Insightful) 489

by Xcott Craver (#43369991) Attached to: Getting a Literature Ph.D. Will Make You Into a Horrible Person
Baby boomers or not, the number of PhD graduates far exceeds the number of professors due to the simple logistics of teaching. Suppose you start a professorship at 30, and retire at 70. How many PhD students do you advise per year? Let's say 1.5 just to be on the low side. And suppose they each take 5 years to graduate. You just cranked out a dozen PhDs, and created one faculty opening by retiring. One should expect an advanced degree to increase one's job prospects, but it's numerically silly to expect, specifically, a faculty position. This is why every university hires people with degrees from an even better university---not because NIU frowns on NIU grads, but because the market for the teacher's job is so competitive that only the best CVs get in.

Comment: This won't last (Score 1) 253

by Xcott Craver (#43364285) Attached to: Automated System Developed To Grade Student Essays
No matter how sophisticated the algorithm, the set of strings that get graded an A is bound to contain some weird and illegible elements. They probably won't be too hard to find by inspection of the algorithm and its training data. It will only take a few widely publicized examples of meaningless essays with a high auto-grade to cast doubts on this method of grading, no matter how effective it is in the common case.

+ - The Underhanded C Contest is back->

Submitted by Xcott Craver
Xcott Craver (615642) writes "After several years of inactivity, the Underhanded C contest has returned. The object is to write a short, readable, innocent-looking computer program that nevertheless performs some evil function for reasons that are not obvious under code review. The prize is a $200 gift certificate to ThinkGeek."
Link to Original Source

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.