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Comment: Re:draws a lot of comparisons to Mac OS X (Score 1) 209

by rolandw (#47664327) Attached to: Elementary OS "Freya" Beta Released

As the boss of a company playing in the UK enterprise Linux space I have two machines on my desk. One a MacBookPro and the other a Lenovo running Elementary Luna. I try to run open source software in both - Firefox, Thunderbird, Terminal, Emacs, Gimp, Inkscape and Scribus are my regular tools (did I mention Terminal - that's about 50% of my day?). As OS X develops I reject more and more of what it stands for. I can't stand the App Store and I refuse to install App Store only products. I hate being pandered and molly-coddled. If I want to do something then I want to be able to do it. The only reason I'm writing this on OS X is that the hardware is just better (come on, how hard is it to make a decent keyboard, trackpad and display?). Match Elementary with decent hardware and I'd relegate the Mac (after 30 years...) to legacy only use. Both OSes are equally good at managing a business, managing a stack of Linux servers and writing software.

Comment: Re:Prince XML (Score 1) 132

by rolandw (#47640825) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best PDF Handling Library?

PrinceXML is reliable, simple and produces the most beautiful PDFs ever. We've used it to replace InDesign as a tool for high end magazine page generation and have analysed the output of both - PrinceXML is significantly cleaner. However, it does help if you combine it with an image (re)sizing tool otherwise you end up with huge bloat with oversized images embedded in your PDF.

Comment: Visual programming - look at Prograph (Score 1) 876

by rolandw (#46208227) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

Visual representation of source code does not and will not work effectively. Equally, visual representation of the written word will not work effectively. Where images and text go together, either the text is used to explain the image or the image is just an illustration to go with the text, not a real representation.

This all changes when the code is visual, when the programmer programmes visually and there is no text involved other than for labels, names and attributes. This was what Phil Cox and colleagues realised when they produced Prograph, a visual, object orientated data flow language. Prograph was directly compiled into an executable - it was no pseudo coding system that merely generated C or Java, yet it could run interpreted (making it a dream to debug). In comparisons, clean Prograph code could be produced in about 20% of the time taken to produce the equivalent in C++ but ran only 5% slower. Isn't that what we are always looking for?

Sadly, the commercial exploitation of Prograph was not as successful (isn't it ever thus?) but the concept still lives on as Marten.

Thank you Jack.


+ - 5000 fps camera reveals the physics of baseball->

Submitted by
concealment writes "This clip from Game 4 shows Marco Scutaro hitting the ball right near the tip of the barrel. The amplitude of the resulting vibration is so large that the bat breaks and the ball weakly dribbles off the bat. Note that the bat splinters toward the pitcher. The reason is that when the ball hits the barrel tip, the barrel of the bat bends backward toward the catcher and the center of the bat bulges forward toward the pitcher. That is the natural shape of the fundamental vibrational mode of the bat. Since the fracture occurs near the center which is bulging outward, that is how the bat splinters, as the wood fibers on the pitcher side of the bat are stretched to the breaking point. If the ball had impacted the bat near the center, the center would have bulged toward the catcher, as in the Yadier Molina clip. Had the vibrational amplitude been strong enough in the Molina case, the bat would have splintered toward the catcher."
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+ - Can you recommend a book on English grammar for an 11 year old? 2

Submitted by
rolandw writes "My daughter was complaining that she didn't like learning French because she didn't understand the equivalent English grammar. Despite my own classical education (same as the UK's Prime Minister, but at least I know what "Magna Carter" means in English) I also struggled with English grammar until I was in my 20's. I'm now striving to explain it to her so that it sinks in; I have adult grammar books but nothing for a child. Can anyone recommend a good book to help her understand?"

+ - OracleUSA - total failure in SF Bay?->

Submitted by
rolandw writes "The crew of Larry Ellison's 72ft wing sailed catamaran took an unfortunate swim when it buried it's nose in the swell in San Francisco Bay and flipped over. Luckily no one was hurt. With a falling tide, the platform was swept out to sea and was 2 miles outside the Goldengate Bridge before a tow could be made to work. Much, if not all of the boat appears to be totalled. Many thousands of man hours have been put into this machine and many millions of dollars — it represented the state of art of sailing in the USA.

But the biggest losers could include you — the Oracle customer. I'd expect your license fees to be going up next year to help pay for the rebuild."

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+ - MIT's Robot Uses Cuteness to Get Help-> 3

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "If you saw a helpless robot grinding up a wall, would you stop to help it? What if it told you it needed you? It is harder than one may think to get people to help robots. However, when a particularly cute robot looks like it needs help, those around it can't wait but to give it a hand. A robot named Boxie was created to do just that, be cute and helpless enough that people stop to help it do what it needs to do. Boxie's goal to test this idea, was to interview people and create a movie. By doing things like asking for help in a cute voice, getting stuck and looking lost, Boxie was able to complete a documentary about its surroundings. Boxie, with the help of people, was also able to do things that it physically could not do alone, like climb stairs or find places. When robots become more common in our everyday lives, there will be situations in which they will need help. Having the robots use social cues is a powerful non-verbal mode of communication. This "cuteness principle" is built into our very genes. Where will this lead in the future?"
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Comment: Re:What a sham (Score 1) 526

by rolandw (#41262711) Attached to: The UK's New Minister For Magic

Actually there is lots of evidence that some homeopathy does actually work. Much of it is disguised as "normal" medicine and I bet you use it without knowing.

Interestingly there is equal evidence that idiots in charge really don't work very well. The number of British MPs with any sort of scientific or engineering background is paltry at best (check out the excellent Mark Henderson's "The Geek Manifesto" for more). Having said that, Boris was pretty damn hot at physics and maths as a teenager and should have gone into science so perhaps it doesn't help anyway.


+ - BBC helps hack to the future->

Submitted by
rolandw writes "The BBC's Michael Sparks blogs about teaching kids in northern England about coding at "Hack to the Future"

"Last month, the BBC went into a school in Preston to help some children get started with learning to code in order to inspire them and help answer some important questions around children, coding and the BBC. I helped with the preprations and went along to assist BBC Learning. This post gives you a little background, describes how it happened, what happened on the day, and why. I personally find the video giving a flavour of the event inspiring and hope you do too."

I did!"

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+ - RIM give up the consumer route to market->

Submitted by
rolandw writes "The UK's Grauniad newspaper is reporting that RIM are essentially going back to basics focusing "its consumer efforts on targeted offerings that tap the company's strengths". This is because, as RIM CEO Thorsten Heins says, "We can't do everything ourselves but we can do what we're good at". We can all hear Apple and Google breath huge sighs of relief that they are no longer under threat from north of the border."
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+ - The BYOD Threat - the internal threat->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "The acronym "BYOD" stands for "Bring Your Own Device" — a common practice in many corporate setting whereby employees are allowed to 'bring your own device' to work and IT will allow it to access the corporate network.

BYOD can also be known as Bring Your Own Disaster

“Consumer devices were never intended to be highly secure,” says Steve Durbin, global vice president of the Information Security Forum (ISF)

“Unless you’ve thought through your BYOD strategy, unless you’ve put in place some real good governance around it and you get your users to sign up to acceptable use policies, there’s very little you can do to enforce some of these things,” he adds

Another source is at"

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+ - Borat used for Patent prior art->

Submitted by Kurofuneparry
Kurofuneparry (1360993) writes ""Rarely does patent law meet pop culture so hilariously. But it gets to a more important point: An invention cannot be patented if there has been a public disclosure of said invention prior to the date of filing." Not exactly a tech patent, but it does comically display the kind of prior art searches that are often being done so poorly in the tech industry by the over-burdened patent office. After talking about how a "scrotal support garment" patent is invalidated by the Borat movie, the article also mentions a case involving Apple last year as well as a case in which the Bible was used for prior art."
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I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky