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Comment: The Design of Everyday Things (Score 2) 352

by rmccoy (#47004617) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Should Every Programmer Read?

I see some good suggestions on how to code well but it's important to know how to produce human interfaces that are understandable, effective and even fun.

For that, my favorite book is "The Design of Everyday Things." It's not about software design, it let's you see effective (and bad!) design all around you and will make you think about your own designs. The affordances, or clues, you provide on how things work without having to spell it out in documentation.

Good programming is just the start. Good problem solving is the goal.

Comment: Re:Names... (Score 1) 118

by rmccoy (#38913683) Attached to: SpaceX Tries Out Its New SuperDraco Rocket Engine

"'You name the satellites after gods?' he asked.
Shah shuffled uncomfortably but Sirsikar beamed at Baedecker. 'Of course!' Recruited while Mercury flew, trained during Gemini, blooded in Apollo, Baedecker turned his eyes back to the steel symmetry of the huge antenna.
'So did we,' he said."

--Phases of Gravity by Dan Simmons

Comment: Re:You're sooo riiiight, mccoy dood... (Score 1) 197

by rmccoy (#36788188) Attached to: Judge Says You Can't Know If Google Spies For NSA

I'm not sure what you're trying to say but, gosh, you're saying it so badly it must be important!

I'm not saying we're always responsible and that governments and companies should be given a free pass. Exactly _not_ my attitudes. What I'm saying is that, if you're paying attention, the internet was not built with security in mind. If you think that google "not being evil" would make you safe, you don't understand how things work.

Piss and moan all you want about evil empires but take fucking responsibility for using the tools other have made for you if you really need security. Whining isn't going to do it, dude.

Comment: Re:Sooooo (Score 3, Insightful) 197

by rmccoy (#36784760) Attached to: Judge Says You Can't Know If Google Spies For NSA

The NSA doesn't need google to watch all of your internet traffic. They are already on the backbones. Google can certainly add value to the spooks with their search-related technologies but do you really think any US corporation isn't going to role over when the guys-in-black come calling? We allowed the Patriot Act, among other forfeitures of our civil rights, what did you expect?

So, google got big because they did it best. Isn't that what the market is supposed to do? They did it before there were high barriers to entry and when there actually was a little bit of free in that particular marketplace. Even now, when the barriers to entry to search are much higher, they are mostly technical barriers, not ones put up by lobbyists and lawyers. I can live with that. The next search engine should be one that comes up with something fundamentally new, not the one with the best patent portfolio.

What irritates me most is people who are complaining about privacy who won't take any responsibility for protecting it. You can't expect privacy on the internet even if you don't use google. If you want privacy, start using encryption. There are free and open tools for every platform. Worried about traffic analysis? Wow, you must be doing something really interesting with your pron collection but, stil, there are tools for you to use to mask you traffic. Use them.

Use the time spent complaining about your loss of privacy and take it back. Make a personal threat model and respond to it.

Comment: Network Down (Score 4, Interesting) 248

by rmccoy (#36291510) Attached to: What's Killing Your Wi-Fi?

Back in the day...

When WiFi was just starting to get rolled out in most businesses, I had set up a multi access-point wireless network that had worked really well for about five months. Then, with no known changes, it started dying across the entire building almost every afternoon about the same time.

I worked with the building maintenance staff to try to find any electrical gear that might be starting up about that time with no luck. Finally, because the executives loved their wireless, I had to buy a spectrum analyser to try to track down the problem. I kept it on my desk until the next time we had an outage and started following the high amplitude broadband noise that had suddenly appeared.

The directional antenna led me straight to the kid that worked in the mailroom who had his feed up on the desk talking into a wireless phone. I pulled the plug on it and the noise stopped, the network reappeared. He'd brought in a consumer wireless phone so he could talk to his girlfriend while he moved around the mailroom sorting mail. I'm surprised his hair wasn't smoking with the signal the thing was emitting.

I took it away from him and everyone, except maybe his girlfriend, was happy. :)

Comment: Evernote and Remember the Milk (Score 2, Informative) 366

by rmccoy (#34005988) Attached to: How Do You Manage the Information In Your Life?

I use the Evernote web site, Mac application and iPhone app to capture information from the web, from images, from PDFs and assorted notes. The apps sync to the Evernote site and any image or PDF is OCRed so I can search on any text in them. I use multiple tags on each record so, combined with the ability to search any text contained in the item, I can easily locate anything in my data store. A day-to-day example is, I take a picture of any prescription label I get with my phone and send it to Evernote. Then, I can easily find it wherever I am when I need a refill. I also scan in receipts and then destroy the originals to cut down on the pile of paper that used to obscure my desk.

I keep track of to-do lists with Remember the Milk. I've never liked the name but it's the best task manager I've used. I can set up multiple folders for GTD-type use and it also has an iPhone app. I can create, maintain and complete apps on the phone and it pushes a notification each morning with the tasks that are due that day.

Not affiliated with either company, just a satisfied user.

Comment: Re:Not exactly a revelation (Score 1) 417

by rmccoy (#33948764) Attached to: Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley Dishes On Steve Jobs

I think separating "designers" and "technical people" is a false dichotomy.

The people I admire most are technically capable but also able to bring good design into their work instead of just layering a GUI on top of the machine functional view. People who consider how things should work instead of the mechanics that are under the covers. People that can even bring a bit of art, if I'm allowed to use that word, to their design. Not the flashy inovation-for-the-hell-of-it style of art but an interface that pleases us somewhere lower down the brainstem when we use it for its visceral feeling of rightness. People who have probably read at least the first section of "Design of Everyday Things" and might have a copy on the shelf beside their Knuth.

After a career of using Unix and Windows machines in corporate-land, I have my own company and I'm typing this on a Macbook Pro because I want a few good tools to simplify my life and allow me to be more productive.

+ - Scientists propose a variable law of physics ->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The laws of physics in our own part of the universe are geared towards life – but in the rest of the universe things might be very different, forcing a rethink of the way we understand fundamental physical forces, according to Australian and U.K. research."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:It was too easy (Score 1) 460

by rmccoy (#32564616) Attached to: NASA Ends Plan To Put Man Back On Moon

To go to Mars, we need to know the effects of long term duration of humans in a low (NOT ZERO) gravity environment.
We have 1G on earth, and zero G at the ISS.
What happens with Mars gravity? We have no idea.
Where is the nearest place to test that? The moon.

We need to see the effects of long term radiation exposure does to humans in space. The ISS is protected by the earth's magnetic field.
Where can we test this, and get back fast if there is a severe problem? The moon.

We should test robots that can build a shelter remotely in a hostile environment.
The earth will do at first, but to test in a low gravity and low atmosphere environment, you need the moon.

I keep seeing arguments that the moon is the stepping stone to the rest of the solar system and I just don't buy it. Why spend all the energy to get out of one gravity well just to fall down another one? If you're looking for raw materials, you can get them from asteroids for less delta-v than landing and taking off from the moon. I don't think we know if they have any significant amount of water but we'll find that out as we develop our deep space capabilities instead of a new generation of moon landers. Once you have deep space transport and mining capability, you really are most of the way to anywhere.

As to your specific uses for the moon, a deep space craft heading out beyond the moon would rotate for artificial gravity. No need for 1G so you'll get plenty of data on fractional gravity environments. Long term radiation exposure? Sure. Same deal with a true deep space craft and there are unlikely to be sudden-onset effects that would necessitate quick return. And I'd like to test my robots in a truly low gravity environment where the resources I mine and structures I build will not have to be lifted back up the well.

I knew the day the return to the moon was announced it would never be sufficiently funded to succeed. For all the reasons mentioned by others, I'm glad it was canceled. I'd prefer NASA be working on truly innovative propulsion and materials technologies including seriously funded work on a space elevator. Materials science is bringing us close to the strength we need but there are some, er, other details to be worked out.

Programmers do it bit by bit.