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Comment: Re:Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. (Score 1) 93

by pmontra (#49094159) Attached to: How Machine Learning Ate Microsoft

Great things don't have to be secret weapons nobody else can have. Word processors and spreadsheets used to be great things before being given from granted. They fuelled the computer revolution in the 80s (with video games.) Many companies sold them, MS being the most successful in the long run. Same with machine learning frameworks. We'll see how it plays out.

Comment: Re:Comment (Score 1) 168

by pmontra (#49004567) Attached to: Employees In Swedish Office Complex Volunteer For RFID Implants For Access
To prevent replay attacks you should beam a different signal to the RFID each time, and each RFID should reply with a different answer to the same signal. The receiver looks up the answer into a table of expected answers and identifies the wearer. Is this how they work or is there a smarter way?

Comment: Re:No facebook? (Score 4, Informative) 619

by pmontra (#48969437) Attached to: Google, Amazon, Microsoft Reportedly Paid AdBlock Plus To Unblock
I'm also a Firefox user, with AdBlock. I disabled the acceptable ads checkbox so I don't see any ad (I would have noticed). If AdBlock makes any money out of the ads companies, good for them. If they force acceptable ads to everybody, I'll move to something else. uBlock seems to be as good. There will always be something to block all ads. At worst the hosts file.

Comment: Re:Colony Land grab, history repeating itself (Score 1) 283

by pmontra (#48969041) Attached to: FAA Could Extend Property Rights On the Moon Through Regulation
You also have to defend the land you grab. UK, Spain and France grabbed vast expanses of North America and lost it in wars and rebellions. They were lucky to have sold part of it. Of course they already made a profit by exploitating the resources of those territories but (among the others) you have Lousiana and Quebec as part of the USA and Canada now, not as France Occidentale. I think you got the idea.
Any land grab on the moon will have the fortunate outcome of starting a new space era with the launch of many manned missions to there from any country who'll be able to do it, plus the unfortunate consequence of the first killings in space, where countries won't agree on borders, and some more down here (launch prevention, retaliations, etc). I'll be careful about starting it. Furthermore, opening up new territories is risky for who's ruling the world: history tells that new powers arise and old powers set.

Comment: Re:Modula-3 FTW! (Score 1) 492

by pmontra (#48904133) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?
I just looked at (picked almost at random.) There are some funny things in there but in general it's pretty readable. I realized that C starts looking as alien to me as assembly looked to me when I was writing C and Pascal at university. Not that I couldn't write in assembly but wow, it's so time consuming that it's only for when there are no alternatives.

Comment: Re:Modula-3 FTW! (Score 1) 492

by pmontra (#48904041) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated?

Well, do something in a Ruby block end didn't do any harm to that language. The form { something between braces } exists but it's used idiomatically only for one liners, so I don't think that Pascal has been haunted by it's verbosity (OK, probably do ... end is the only verbose part of Ruby.)

I believe that it succumbed to the competition of other languages that people felt to be better suited to the tasks that had to be solved in the 90s and 00s. Every language has its niches. Even C++ is mostly irrilevant on the web. Objective-C had to wait to be mandated for developing on the iPhone to become relevant. Pascal was eaten alive by C (with and without the ++) and VisualBasic on the desktop and never made its way to the web.

Why people liked VisualBasic more than Pascal, that's an interesting question. Maybe the feeling it was a language for the first year of CS courses, maybe the tooling (VisualStudio vs Delphi), maybe the costs? Unfortunately I can't remember how Delphi was sold 20 years ago and how it compared to VisualBasic for building Windows desktop apps, which was almost all it mattered at the time.

Comment: Re:Chinglish (Score 1) 578

by pmontra (#48723957) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?
SI has a French name because France has been main driver beyond its adoption for centuries. France was the main cultural and scientific driver in Europe in the '700 and '800, on par with the UK. Why French was adopted more than English... I don't think the UK was a lesser bully (they built up an empire after all) but maybe the French were more interested in setting up international organizations, whilst the UK was more insular. Maybe it was only a matter of geography: one country on the continent, the other one an island. The USA moved past the regional power stage only in the '900. Given their size their language got all the world quickly. Russian got important for a while in the mid of the last century but the USSR didn't have the same cultural and scientific impact of the USA.

Yes, Pinyin. I forgot about that. It could be the only way to make Chinese mainstream quickly. However we shouln't overlook the power of generational changes: adults die off in a few decades (more or less the time English took to replace French) and children learn whatever language is thrown at them. Anyway I'm sorry for the burden of all those characters. I sincerely hope they'll be replaced by a phonetic alphabet.

Comment: Re:Chinglish (Score 2) 578

by pmontra (#48723687) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?
French was still more lingua franca in western Europe than English, when I was a child 40 years ago. That role still echoes in the name of many international organizations, especially in sports. Check the title at and the name of The languages at and at are English and French (the original ones for the Comité international olympique and Union Cycliste Internationale). And wonder why is FIBA and not IBF despite the title of the page is International Basketball Association. It used to be Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball Amateur. All of them were born at a time when French (the people) were internationally as active as English speakers are now, and English speaking countries where more centered on themselves than they are now. Ultimately the language follows the power and dinamism of countries: if you have to know a language to make money, you learn it. Chinese could be the next one but it's severely handicapped by the writing system. Nobody really wants to learn by heart thousands of characters unless you're born there and have to. I expect a very bumpy transition, if it will ever happen, and a lot of resistence. A Chinese written with latin alphabet would have more chances. Given the attitude of Chinese rulers maybe I'll see them mandating a switch to latin characters, and don't dare to protest. After all they already use qwerty to write Chinese.

Comment: Re:I'm sorry (Score 1) 415

by pmontra (#48559067) Attached to: Microsoft's New Windows Monetization Methods Could Mean 'Subscriptions'
OK that's a possibility, but how could it possibly work? I mean, one goes to a mall and buys a PC for $500 now. That's it. Windows is included and it's supported until EOL for free. That could change to buying the PC for $500 and paying $5 per month for Windows. It's an obvious bad deal and somebody will discover that they don't really need Windows after all, and will install some Linux distro to stop paying. Who cares if they must use Open/Libre Office or Google Docs. They work good enough for most use cases and they have a PS4 or an XBOX for videogames. That would be suicidal for Microsoft. So... how about renting the whole PC? Suppose the average lifetime is 3 years. 500/36 = 13.88, round up to 15, round up more to 20, many wouldn't do the math. $20 per month for a PC with Windows included? Maybe people will like it, but would manufacturers? After 3 years the cashflow would be the same as usual but the transition could kill some of them. Is MS going to build their own PCs? Or: Windows is free (as in beer), copy it, torrent it, install it, but you pay for updates and if you don't you know you're at the mercy of virus and trojans. That won't work well because people feel Windows to be gratis right now: they pay for the PC and don't think about the share that goes to MS.

There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence. -- Jeremy S. Anderson