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Comment: Install Windows (Score 0) 257

by petes_PoV (#49104661) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs?
Free OS's are designed to be just that: free. They are intended to circumvent controls and limitations imposed upon their users.

Windows, on the other hand has, as the author says, For Windows many solutions claim to exist, usually in form of massive antivirus suites that provide the locked-down, restricted environment that parents often think will stop their children accessing material the parents don't want them to (ha!).

So if you want to feel as if your child is "protected" then that is the way forward. At least while they are in your house, using your systems. Obviously once they go to school, to friends' or get a device of their own then none of these controls is worth a dam' any more. But that's life!

Comment: Re:You can't. (Score 2) 576

be glad that they're invading when they should simply destroy the entire solar system instead

If these aliens were intent on destroying us, they'd simply drop something large, fast and nasty into the sun and cause some sort of X-Ray eruption. Since there is a massive nuclear reactor so close, it would be silly not to leverage that to your goals. No need for ships or an invading force.

So we can assume that if aliens did arrive here, our destruction would not be their goal. They might, for example, just be neighbours popping over to ask politely if we'd mind turning down our electromagnetic emissions: TV, radar, etc.

If domination / subjugation / removal of humans to make way for their own settlers was their intent, then there's no reason to expect it would have to be done quickly. It could be a centuries long process. And, again, climate control or sunlight restriction would be a straightforward approach that would cause little permanent damage and wouldn't involve their actual presence in our system.

Comment: Re:That Explains Why Online News Is Removing Comme (Score 1) 267

by petes_PoV (#49059401) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

many news organizations are removing the ability to comment

The difficulty there is that it also reduces the engagement with the readers and thus the number of times they will return to the page and therefore see the advertisements. There do appear to be many (previously respectable) newspaper websites that publish articles that are only there as click-bait.

The the UK The Guardian (a once respectable, semi-liberal, print publication) has taken that route to publishing inflammatory, poorly written and factually incorrect op-ed / opinion pieces on its website who's only value seems to be to draw comments and provoke arguments.

Comment: The search for positive reinforcement (Score 1) 267

by petes_PoV (#49059365) Attached to: What Your Online Comments Say About You

many readers, especially those who are less Internet-savvy, assume commenters 'know something about the subject, because otherwise they wouldn't be commenting on it.

I believe that people are more inclined to give credibility to comments that they already have some sympathy with - rather than ones which take an opposing view.

I've never seen any follow-up comments, anywhere, that say "yes, you're right. I used to think differently, but your arguments have persuaded me I was wrong". At best you get other like-minded people agreeing with you and at worst you get those who disagree making an extreme, offensive, insulting or threatening retorts.

It also seems likely that the "less internet-savvy" are soon cured of that particular shortcoming and soon join in the fray. While most will be well-balanced individuals, a few will go completely over the top - some permanently as they then get the attention (and pity) they crave, but most will quickly have an "OMG, what am I doing" moment and become ashamed of their excessive behaviour.

Comment: Not so smart, after all (Score 1) 248

by petes_PoV (#49051651) Attached to: Smart Homes Often Dumb, Never Simple

If all the gadgets you install in a house need explicit controls, they're still dumb: not smart.

A truly smart device would "know" what to do and when. How it attained that knowledge - though being taught, observation, or some sort of self-learning / evolution process doesn't matter. The point is that merely swapping one sort of switch or control for another (less convenient, more complicated and dependent on a whole slew of subsidiary technology) isn't a sign of "smart".
A really smart device would, like a good butler (so I'm told), just fade into the background. It would produce just the required item or action at just the right time without the need to ask and it would just work - including handling exceptions in a "smart" way.

Comment: Wipe the slate (Score 2) 80

by petes_PoV (#49045415) Attached to: Facebook Adds Legacy Contact Feature In Case You Die Before It Does
Why not extend this so that after a period of inactivity (say: a year) the account is automatically wiped - leaving no trace of the user.

That would also allow individuals who wish to start over (say: when they grow up a little) to do so by simply starting a new account and leaving the old one to die off.

Comment: Mostly average - but great speakers (Score 1) 249

by petes_PoV (#49024585) Attached to: How good is your audio equipment?
Modern day electronics is excellent and inexpensive (until it dies). However the weak point is and always has been the mechanical interfaces. Thankfully we have done away with scraping hard rocks across pieces of plastic and rubbing pickups with rusty plastic tape.

However, the final step: where the sound is converted from electricity to air movement has always been the point that was most open to improvement - it still is. Hence a decent set of speakers will make an otherwise mediocre audio system sound so much better. This is never more true than when you wish to improve the tinny sound from modern, thin, TVs.

Comment: Whatever the TEACHER understands best (Score 5, Insightful) 648

by petes_PoV (#48856671) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

If the teacher doesn't know Python, they will have a difficult time teaching it and the quality of the lessons will be poor.

In practice, it probably doesn't matter what the language is. The key is that it will only be a student's first language - not the only one they will ever user. So it's far better to teach them well, in a language the teacher is competent in, rather than to have the teacher just a page or two ahead of the children in the class. Apart from anything else, that will give the kids a more positive impression of CS, rather than having a teacher who continually has to look stuff up or answer questions with "I don't know".

It's also important for assessments that the teacher is experienced in the language that coursework is written in. Otherwise the marking will be hit and miss and the teacher won't be able to properly distinguish well written work from stuff that works by chance rather than by design.

Comment: The simpler, the better (Score 1) 252

by petes_PoV (#48735317) Attached to: The Missing Piece of the Smart Home Revolution: The Operating System

All an operating system does is file (and secure - more or less) data and schedule/manage tasks: some at given times and optionally concurrently.

An IoT or "smart house" has little need for anything more than a state machine with local in-RAM data and possibly the means to interact with other IoT's within the same house. There are many solutions to this that have been around for years. Whether that involves 432MHz Tx/Rx modules, I.R. or the overkill and high power needs of a WiFi on a chip such as the ESP8266.

My own preference would be for as small a footprint as possible, with very little additional cruft -- even encryption would be too difficult for the average homeowner to manage (as evidenced by the parlous state of home PC security - even with the "can it get any simpler" functions of WPS) and therefore physical security would be the preferred path: not letting any signals out of the house. Have whatever sensors and controls on a I2C bus and get the unit price down to $5, so the units are both disposable and interchangeable without any need for reconfiguration.

Comment: Re:"Experienced" (Score 4, Insightful) 286

by petes_PoV (#48626023) Attached to: At 40, a person is ...

the only word I feel appropriate is "experienced"

Well, some are - some aren't. The best professionals will have used their 40 years - maybe 20 of which have been in the pursuit of their career, to expand their knowledge, experience and value. However there are a significant number of people who have been working in IT (and many other fields) who gained one year of experience very early in their careers and have simply repeated that year ever since. And some will have regressed.

Comment: Re:Currently 3D printing my own 3D printer (Score 1) 175

by petes_PoV (#48588535) Attached to: 3D Printer?

It's a mobius printer that prints itself.

Really - it prints everything needed to make a printer that can print itself?

Or is it like these "robotic" vacuum cleaners, that can merely clean small parts of a household that are just floors, so long as they are all on the same level? - Conveniently forgetting about all the other surfaces (and curtains) such as shelf-tops, stairs, behind the TV cabinet or under the cooker that collect crud, too.

Once someone designs a 3D printer that actually can print all the parts needed, then it might (just) start to have enough applications that I might need one, maybe once a month.

Comment: Re:Why tax profits, why not income? (Score 2) 602

by petes_PoV (#48514287) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Individuals aren't taxes based on their profit but income

Not strictly true. Individuals pay some taxes (here, at least - other countries: different rules) on their taxable income. That allows for certain deductions such as some expenses paid by people for items necessary for their work. It also allows them quite generous allowances and reductions.

It would be simple to think of all the income that a person received from their job as "profit". But governments don't apply rules like that, to protect low-paid workers and be progressive (tax those who can afford to pay more, at higher rates). Taxing companies on their profit is the only way that a sensible and proportionate system could work - while still incentivising companies to invest in their (and, by association, our futures). It is a reasonable parallel to the way that income is taxed. Sadly, companies employ cleverer accountants than governments do.

Comment: Keep the money close (Score 1) 176

by petes_PoV (#48441691) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

I'd like to start my own software product line and I'd like to avoid outsourcing as much as I can. I'm seeking advice on what you think are the best practices

The two "best practice" points that I know of are linked.

The first is to have a great deal of money - far more than you could possibly think is necessary.

The second is to be very careful, to the point of stinginess, on what you spend it for,
I would work on the assumption that it will be a year before you see any invoices getting paid and during that time you will have to pay out for both the startup costs and the people you employ. Since people will be the single biggest cost item, employ as few as is possible to get away with and work them as hard as possible - but only on things that will contribute directly on creating income. And then, only on short-term income.

Once you do that all the high-level questions will either answer themselves (and usually the answer will be "no") or they will turn out to be irrelevant to the immediate survival of the enterprise.

The reason computer chips are so small is computers don't eat much.