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Comment: The british government runs on anonymity (Score 4, Informative) 269

by petes_PoV (#47577271) Attached to: UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity
One of the techniques the government has for allowing the discussion of sensitive issues, without starting a witch hunt is called The Chatham House Rule

Meeting held under this rule do not allow the the disclosure of who said what. The "what" can be reported, but no-one is permitted to say who said it. That permits people to express views, or ask "what if" questions (and get considered, informed answers) without having to always play to the (media) audience and make guarded, ambiguous and watered-down statements.

Since the government recognises the value of these sorts of meetings (as well as the established protocol of "off the record" briefings, which cannot be quoted) it's ludicrous that they would think that removing anonymity would be a good idea. This can only be one of those "silly season" media reports, usually made up by journalists who are bored as politicians are away during the summer months.

Comment: Re:Here's a novel idea (Score 1) 47

by petes_PoV (#47572515) Attached to: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Released
The world has moved on since the BBB was the game in town.

Now there are much better boards (though maybe not all with the BBB's size) that, unlike the BBB support audio in & out, have more RAM, dual-core processor and more flexible power options.

Some of the new generation boards also make the BBB look quite expensive - both for what you get and in absolute terms.

Comment: Re:Pi has poor flash file system (Score 1) 47

by petes_PoV (#47572487) Attached to: Raspberry Pi-Compatible Development Board Released
Well if you hardly ever reboot, then of course you won't have problems. (Just so long as you don't wear out the flash used for /tmp and /var/log

The whole point, as raised in the observation about crappy SD-card + power regulation is that when the board experiences power failures, then it is likely to corrupt its filesystem. Since your board doesn't suffer from outages, it's no surprise you don't have these issues.

Comment: It's the internet, not the computer that's needed (Score 3, Interesting) 88

by petes_PoV (#47564471) Attached to: Reglue: Opening Up the World To Deserving Kids With Linux Computers
A household that can't afford $100 for a used PC isn't likely to be one that's paying for an internet connection.

Give them a computer and it's like giving a starving man a tin of beans - but no tin opener.

The computer is only the tool. The resource that stop children being underprivileged (in an extremely narrow, and not very practical sense) is internet access.

Comment: Re:Why flash and not microSD? (Score 3, Insightful) 53

by petes_PoV (#47547883) Attached to: A Router-Based Dev Board That Isn't a Router
MicroSD required mechanical connectors to the device and is a great deal more expensive that flash - in a very price-sensitive market. Given that an IoT thing could find its way into any environment, the last thing you want is for its operation to be dependent on the correct operation of nasty, cheap (and they *would* have to be cheap for comparable production costs) connectors and uSD cards of variable quality - that are outside your control.

Far better to have everything firmly and permanently attached to the board. Why solder in a connector whan it's just as easy (and takes the same amount of board space) to solder in flash instead. That way you don't get the blame when an idiot user "recycles" an old uSD card and blabs all over the internet how crap and unreliable your product is, as their card keeps corrupting.

RPi got it completely wrong in this respect. You don't hear of corrupted software & kernels on all the cards that use flash. If it's more "difficult" for noobs to use, then that's no bad thing either as it discourages those who are lacking in the clue department. This is not meant to be a plaything for children.

Comment: Re:The price you pay (Score 2) 369

by petes_PoV (#47518333) Attached to: 'Just Let Me Code!'

Such checks can be inserted without going beyond a few hundred lines of code

And then the next guy writes their own set of checks, which work slightly differently and check different things and in a different order. So both of you have spent time writing essentially, the same thing. - And maybe even spent even longer testing it and occasionally documenting it too. OK, maybe that last one''s a stretch. Nobody bothers to document "simple" programs, since we all know the code IS the documentation and any good programmer can work out what is going on (are they still teaching that garbage?)

And then when there's a change to the data formats, or a migration to a new environment, instead of swapping out one library of standard code - every single soddin' "simple" program has to be checked, re-tested and debugged.

So no. People who are still doing this sort of thing, even though the industry has been suffering from their intellectual laziness for decades, shouldn't be allowed to develop commercial code.

Comment: The price you pay (Score 4, Insightful) 369

by petes_PoV (#47518131) Attached to: 'Just Let Me Code!'

The simple programs of a few hundred lines of C++ long ago disappeared from my experience

I think the reason is, that people who pay for software have been bitten by "simple" programs too often.

With a simple program: one where you open a file, do some stuff and produce an output - that always supposes that everything works as it's expected to. It assumes the input file has the expected name, that it contains the expected data and that the format is what you expect. It also assumes that the data will fall nicely within the bounds of "sensible" values, and that the output can be written as the coder expects.

However, real-world data is never as neat as we plan for (especially when there is a deadline). There can be missing values, changed formats, some data is floating point or fixed and DATES. Can the "simple" code deal with DD-MM-YY and DD-MM-YYYY or even some people who randomly swap that day / month / year field order, or use names for months - or slip leap years into the fields.

Basically, with the "simple" libraries that most of us use, there is a fundamental lack of robustness. Our code works with data we expect, but coughs a brick with something unusual - or from a changed specification.

And then there's the security angle. There's always a security angle

These are the factors that have made "coding" a complex business. Simply because the simple coding models we use to knock out a couple of hundred lines of code with, have shown themselves up to be wrong, limited an unreliable.

Comment: Re:A worldwide contest ... but only in English (Score 2) 127

by petes_PoV (#47446499) Attached to: Public To Vote On Names For Exoplanets
But it's not about majorities (or minorities, come to that). it's about inclusivity.

If you're going to hold a "world wide" contest, then to not care enough to provide even a few of the most popular non-english languages, seems parochial, if not downright ignorant. You'd think that among all the IAU members, some individuals would have sufficient command of some other languages to be able to offer some alternative translations.

Or did it simply bot occur to the IAU that there may be a few billion non-english speakers who might like an chance to name a planet (not exacly science, is it) with an equal voice to their western counterparts.

Comment: A worldwide contest ... but only in English (Score 3, Insightful) 127

by petes_PoV (#47446279) Attached to: Public To Vote On Names For Exoplanets
You go to the IAU website and it's written in english. No language selections for non-english speakers. (Even IKEA.com does better than this). What does the "I" in IAU stand for, again?

You go to the nameexoworlds.org website - same deal.

You read the rules and all submissions (max 250 words) must be in english, too.

Given that this is about astronomical objects that are so far away, to them The Earth doesn't even register as a blip. Therefore to limit the naming process to one single earthly language seems like an extraordinary limitation. Especially when you consider that so many stars have Arabic names - couldn't we be a bit more inclusive?

Comment: To answer the question (Score 1) 183

by petes_PoV (#47422859) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Dedicated Low Power Embedded Dev System Choice?

Look at the Olimex range of boards.
I've been using these for a year or two and found them to fit the bill nicely.

There are single and dual core boards, with / without embedded flash memory (or micro-SD card slots) and they'll run Debian (or other) Linux They have a lot on on board peripherals and pinouts for their own range of LCD screens - though I use an HDMI monitor for simplicity. The power supply will accept anything from 6 - 16 Volts from a phone-charger type PSU and you can even plug in a LiPo for backup.

I'll stop there before someone accuses me of advertising (I'm not, and I have no connection to the company). But as a last point, they are also pretty cheap.

Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes. -- Mickey Mouse

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