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Comment For amateurs, it's the making not the having. (Score 1) 196

The guy who said this seems to be disconnected from the "maker" world. Amateurs make stuff in the full knowledge that it would be cheaper and faster to buy a ready-made pruduct that would (probably) have more features, be more reliable, DEFINITELY have a better quality enclosure and in all likelyhood be smaller, too.

But that's not the point. Amateurs make stuff: electronics and software because they like it. They know that there are alternatives that are better but there's no fun in that. There's no satisfaction in the knowledge that something is your own work, possibly your own design and in the true spirit of ameteur-ism, completely undocumented and an utter mystery to anyone else who would ever try to work out what it does, or how it does it.

Comment War, not war (Score 2) 241

With respect to the remote weapons operators, using drones and unmanned vehicles to "fight" a war doesn't count as warfare. The reason is that the country persuing this route has no skin in the fight. It is not risking its own people (while putting the population: military and civilian, of the target state at risk).

The other aspect of proper warfare is occupation. Without that, an attack is merely destruction of either people or property. It might achieve a certain, intended, goal - especially for a domestic audience baying for blood. But as a long term, inter-country conflict, without an occupation to produce long-term changes in the mindset of the "enemy" population, it fails.

Comment success criteria (Score 1) 218

The kids don't know much English and speak a local language called Odiya. There aren't any technical publications/resources in Odiya. Poor internet connectivity. No computer experts on the school staff.

Before you go anywhere near trying to find a technical solution, it is imperative you write a single sentence to say what direct, measurable, benefit will arise from this venture. Preferably a benefit to the children taking part, rather than imparting a nice warm feeling of having "helped" to the educators.

If that turns out to be a stumper, you really need to stand back and think of a different question - one that you CAN answer, before talking about languages, OS's, games and all that technical gibberish.

Comment Too high level. (Score 1) 429

The most important (or widespread) languages that nobody ever hears about are assembly and microcode. They are everywhere and are almost completely invisible. I would suggest that PIC assembly code is probably the one that we could least do without, today.

Comment Teach the coders accounting, instead. (Score 1) 87

He will not be able to get to a level where his technical expertise matches the coders. However he should (already) be able to listen and understand the business-orientated aspects of the issues put before him. It is probably worth his while becoming conversant with the basic workings, limitations and abilities of the platforms the startup is using, but any more would not be a good use of his time. You might as well require the coders talk accountancy.

For example, he should probably be aware, that no: you can't keep expanding the power of a computer indefinitely. Nor is a cloud solution always the best, cheapest and most reliable. He should probably be told that creating software is (still) basically a hit and miss exercise and that a great programmer does not make a great GUI creator or a great technical designer.

However, he should be brought up to speed on the need for designing in security and that testing, while a large cost in terms of developer time, is an even larger cost if not done. Give him a copy of The Mythical Man Month which should be right up his street.

Comment Don't tell me what it's GOT, say what I can *do* (Score 1) 109

The release claims a long list of changes: new versions of this and that.

But nowhere on the release page does it make any mention of what that means to the end user. If I run this, or upgrade from release 1, what will I be able to do, that I couldn't do before?. I don't care about features and versions or rolling this-that-or-the-other. What I need to know is why should I spent time and effort getting it, installing it and using it?

Since the announcement makes no mention, it would not be unreasonable to assume there aren't any actual, end-user, benefits. Or they'd be headlining the piece, right?

Comment Re:Why worry? (Score 1) 133

Sensible advice.

The problem is not about the phone getting hacked, it's about what exposure that gives you. If you don't have any information on the phone that leads back to the owner, their finances, their location or that gateways into a network that does - then who cares? There would be nothing usable that a hacker (and from what I have read hackers are like dragons: those people who want to see them will do so, they may even exist - but are probably an incorrect explanation for something more mundane, and are useful for scaring gullible people and children, but with sensible precautions and the right medication they simply don't exist for ordinary people doing everyday things) ... that a hacker ... would want or could use.

Comment Job or hobby? (Score 4, Insightful) 56

The report tells us that most developers make less than $500 / month. This is clearly not a sustainable income (except in a few countries) so we must suppose that these developers are not in it as a way of making a living. They must have some other means of earning a crust if they aren't still living with one or more parents.

This puts the majority of developers into the "hobbyist" category. They like to write "code" and if someone pays them a small amount in addition to the fun they get then that's a nice bonus. But that's all it is.

But from the users' perspective, it also means there is no security in the product they use (or buy - even if it's 0.99 ), since these hobby-programmers could easily lose interest, get girlfriends, choose not to fix bugs or provide any level of support that doesn't line up with their hacking / coding motivation. So while these apps cost less than it does to get a kid to mow your lawn, it would appear that they should be considered "disposable".

Comment Every programmer is an optimist (Score 1) 129

This time it WILL work! The mantra of the developer.

So is it that difficult to translate the same ethos into business: this time I will make it big! Whether there is any cold, hard, lying involved or whether the person touting for a VC payout truly believes what they are saying - that doesn't matter. A VC would have to be a particular kind of fool to be dragged in by the enthusiasm or "irrational exuberance" (to use a term that described the financial crash) and to simply hand out megabucks because one particular presenter waved their arms about more than another. You'd kinda hope the VC people would know the market, assess the chances of success, weigh the probability of failure and then - cautiously - extend a small seed-corn payment to see if there was any chance of success.

But since the VCs are often playing with other people's money, they probably don't care - and are as guilty of promoting their on successes and masking their own failures as the businesses they finance are.

Comment So all it would take would be a war? (Score 1) 112

Rocketry developed rapidly during WW2, after which everyone "borrowed" the German developments - and their scientists. If there is a parallel with quantum computing, it would seem likely that no real progress will be made until some sort of conflict (either in the real world or cyberspace) breaks out and some dramatic development takes place. After which the losers will "give" their technological developments to the winners. The winners will then play around with it, make it just about usable (if still incredibly inefficient) and call that "good enough" for the next 50 years.

It will only be after that when some commercial outfits start to get their hands on QC, that we'll start to see some innovation, progress and actual low-cost applications.

Or maybe it'll be like planes: 60 years from wooden biplanes to the Jumbo Jet and a few more to Concorde. Then it'll grind to a halt.

Comment Password protection --- of what? (Score 1) 365

Using the same password everywhere and/or spreading your security thin across a thousand different web services

Let's face it. Those "thousands of different web services" don't amount to shit. There are probably only a handful that contain any *valuable* information about the user: such as your online banking, online tax returns, the very few sites that a person of sound mind would trust with storing their credit card details (e.g, PayPal, Amazon). But apart from that, most web sites, like forums - and even Facebook (you don't really give them actual personal information - do you? ) contain nothing of any value. So why not use the same 6 character password that you've been using for 20 or 30 years? Even if someone does crack it, nobody here is important enough for anything of any consequence to happen.

Comment MASS spectrometry? (Score 3, Insightful) 82

shrinking mass spectrometry technology used in traditional lab settings into a device small enough to fit in the palm of your hand

Surely this device has nothing whatsoever to do with a mass-spec? It doesn't appear to use any of the techniques that a mass spectrometer does (even if it produces results to the non-technical consumer that appear similar) and to use the term sends a misleading message.

Maybe I should buy a whistle and re-badge it as a "sonic screwdriver"?

Comment Re:Don't worry (Score 1) 294

Why would the lights go out or the servers go down?

Because admins insist on doing upgrades over the weekends. Upgrades they aren't competent to do, or that they haven't properly planned for, or that they haven't allowed enough time for, or that don't work the way they should.

It's not common, but it does happen that ATMs are down, occasionally.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan