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Comment: What do you get the agency that has everything? (Score 1) 37

by Dr. Spork (#48672337) Attached to: DARPA Wants Help Building a Drone That Flies Like a Hawk
Maybe it's the season, but doesn't this sound like like a bunch of overindulged, adult children in uniforms, sitting around a table trying to figure out what toys they don't yet have, which might be fun to play with? Like, they're so bored with quadcopters now, they want a fucking hawk. Because fuck yeah, hawk. Taxpayers should buy them a mechanical hawk.

Comment: Re:Why bother? (Score 1) 418

by ndykman (#48644969) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET Up To the Job?

Performance is a tricky issue, but .Net does the same options as Java does in terms of dynamic optimizations. Also, the platform allows for pre-compilation of assemblies, which can really add to performance if used correctly (again, startup and memory performance). And .Net Native seems to be promising in some cases (potential for POGO based optimization), but it's in preview, so we have to see how it really plays out.

It's true that the Ruby and Python versions that run onto of .Net have stalled. There is a version of Scheme that runs on it. Basically, both the CLR and the JVM are fine virtual machines.

I can't speak to the ethical objections. For me personally, the technology works and Microsoft is not the same company it was in terms of power. Frankly, Microsoft at its worst in the day never bothered me as much as Apple and even Google now. I can still put together a great computer out of parts, and like it or not, Microsoft did play a role in making that market. It's good that Linux, etc came along and provided choices, but if the Apple model had prevailed, I think technology would not be as far along. But it's impossible to say what if.

Comment: What about that stupid book is worth US$244? (Score 4, Insightful) 170

by Dr. Spork (#48639385) Attached to: Calculus Textbook Author James Stewart Has Died

I really fucking hate this about academia. It's absolutely shameless to charge college students $244 for a single dumb textbook. It's not even that good. It's just that when a department chooses to standardize on a textbook, the move has inertia and is basically impossible to reverse. Then, the publisher can charge something absurd, and everybody pays it, because it is a required text. It's so dirty, because it's profiteering from people who are often barely making ends meet, and typically buying the book with debt.

What really bothers me is that nobody seems willing to do anything about it. If a big, publicly funded university system set aside some money to create and regularly update their core STEM curriculum textbooks - let's start with Calculus, Physics, GenChem, GenBio - it would certainly cost less than the almost $1000 per student that the textbook purchases cost. These universities have Nobel Prize winners among their faculty, surely they have the in-house resources to create excellent textbooks and distribute them on some sort of open license like CC. Arranging sabbaticals for the authors might cost at most a million dollars, or roughly 4000 Stewart Calculus books. That might be about the number of Calc 1, Phys 1, GenChem and GenBio books that are sold on a single campus in a single year.

But this move would help everybody, not just within the entire UC system that funded the effort, but across the globe. And the costs of updating and embellishing future editions would be far less. I'm so mad that a large university system doesn't just make this happen. And yes, raise fucking tuition by $200 to pay for it, if you absolutely have to. In exchange for textbooks you can have for free (or for printing cost if you don't like digital), everybody will recognize that's a great deal. The courses can explicitly invite students to devise problems for future editions, or to suggest changes and clarifications. And it will bring prestige to the colleges and to the authors, which is worth something too.

Comment: Because it works... (Score 1) 217

by ndykman (#48620353) Attached to: What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

It's not hard. They want .Net to gain more traction as a development platform. There's enough people that are contributing to things like ASP .Net MVC and Entity Framework to make it useful for them. Also, there were open source projects that have helped them a ton (NuGet) and they realize that it works for them in some cases. Also, I think they sense that there is an opportunity for .Net to become the "goto" enterprise development platform. Oracle's handling of Java is creating a space for a new player to come along. Oh, and all that .Net stuff will run great on Azure.

Azure is the big thing internally, and they know they have to run open source platforms on it. There is a shift in the Enterprise group to get away from a "captive" market to just trying to compete on features and to make a compelling platform, which Windows Server, .Net, etc. really is becoming.

Now, there's some things that just don't make sense to do. Open source Office makes little sense, as I doubt there'd be any real interest in contributing to that code base. Same with Windows. So, of course, it's a self-serving, pragmatic approach versus an ideological change on how software should be created and supported.

Comment: It is an end of a era... (Score 4, Interesting) 156

by ndykman (#48613001) Attached to: Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

Can't think of any one source that had the breadth and depth of Dr. Dobb's. Always look forward to when it came in the mail back in the day, because I knew that I'd always would learn something.

Seriously, I hope they can find funding or start a project to ensure their archive exists and is available to all. It'd be a unique contribution to computing history.

Comment: Gee, how innovative! (Score 1) 156

by Dr. Spork (#48601445) Attached to: Small Bank In Kansas Creates the Bank Account of the Future

Requests for ACH transfers are collected by banks and submitted in batches, once a day, and the banks receiving the transfers also process the payments once a day, leading to long waits. ACH technology was created in the 1970s and has not changed significantly since.

Jesus Christ. How much do we pay these people?

Comment: Re:Imagine that! (Score 2) 191

by Dr. Spork (#48597233) Attached to: Spanish Media Group Wants Gov't Help To Keep Google News In Spain

Yeah, except the Spanish media is not at all in a good negotiating position. It's not like the only Spanish-language press is in Spain. Spaniards who like Google's service can just switch their link to news.google.ar, .mx, or whatever. Or Google can even keep news.google.es but focus on stories about Spain as they appear in the Spanish-speaking press outside of Spain.

If Spaniards come to see domestic newspapers as dispensable, those newspapers are the only party that loses. In fact, I would bet that before long, some of the minor Spanish news outlets will break and announce that they have arranged an fee exemption for Google news. Without domestic competition, these sources will suddenly have top billing and a surge in traffic. And suddenly, everyone else will announce their own fee exemption, and this whole thing will end how it started.

Comment: Re:Sounds like they should ban the cabbies (Score 3, Informative) 295

by jcr (#48596967) Attached to: French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

That's what they would do if they had a functioning police department or legal system in France, but they haven't had that for many years. You might remember that they had a plague of thugs setting cars on fire a year or so ago, and the cops didn't even try to arrest any of them.


Comment: That has always been the case. (Score 1) 465

by jcr (#48590173) Attached to: Peru Indignant After Greenpeace Damages Ancient Nazca Site

Greenpeace is not, and has NEVER been an environmental organization. From the very beginning, they have been a marketing organization abusing the public's sympathy to environmental concerns to suck up contributions that would otherwise have gone to people doing real work to improve the environment.

If you care about pollution, deforestation, preserving wildlife, etc, contribute to Ducks Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society, and your local environmental organizations.


Comment: Watch it with the broad brush there.. (Score 1) 465

by jcr (#48590149) Attached to: Peru Indignant After Greenpeace Damages Ancient Nazca Site

At the most, some dozen people or so were involved in this latest Greenpeace vandalism stunt, and you're using that to blame tens of millions of people. There have been obnoxious people in every generation since mankind evolved, and they have always been vastly outnumbered by decent people.


"Any excuse will serve a tyrant." -- Aesop