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Comment Replaced my old fax modem, also printers (Score 1) 291

I have an old telephone line serial modem made by Practical Peripherals that also had faxing ability. Occasionally I do still find myself wanting to send a fax, but it had gotten to the point where only one old computer still had a serial port, and using it even on that seemed like a dicey affair. (I'm not sure if the hardware was going South, or if support for serial ports in the software wasn't as good or what.) Anyway, I finally broke down and for a few bucks bought a usb fax modem, and it works well and smoothly. The only thing I miss is the song of the phone modem as it makes its connection since the new gadget doesn't have a speaker.

The other thing replaced is the parallel port for printers. I still have an old fashioned printer cable and a printer that has both parallel and usb connections on it. So, one time, just for grins, I tried to use it to connect that same old computer that had a parallel port, and I couldn't get the system to recognize the printer, whereas when connecting by usb it's detected automatically. (I vaguely remember in the old days, one had to go through various incantations to get linux to recognize a printer, I must still have my notes around somewhere, but too much work to try to dig them out.)

Comment Re:Too bad... (Score 1) 37

I'm not a sports fan. I am a retired computer programmer (does that count as an engineer?) Anyway, I wouldn't feel qualified to speak for how all computer programmers feel about this. I will say that I personally did not have any problem with them treating it like more traditional sporting events. Actually, I think it's better to have what I would call a multi-faceted presentation. Mostly, I want to know something about the builders, their philosophy, strategy, what got them in to this stuff in the first place, and to see what actually happens in the arena. But I don't mind a bit of hoopla on the side, especially since the matches themselves tend to be pretty short.

Comment Not just Computers, life itself is this way (Score 1) 291

People take calculated risks all the time in their lives, and different people will make different tradeoffs. Some are what the general population perceives as reckless, others are seen as overly cautious. There are contradictory aphorisms: "Look before you leap" and "He who hesitates is lost".

Once you've been burned, you tend to be more careful. Look at the increase in airport security recently as an example, or programs to protect against storm damage on the east coast. That stuff is expensive, and you have to feel like it's worth the expense. Same with computers. Is it worth it to go through an elaborate verification process to get into your online bank account? Wouldn't it be safer not to have anything financial done online? If you go online to do something you feel might be risky, try booting from a dvd with no writable storage except a ramdisk which will disappear as soon as you shut down to reconnect your regular hard drive. It's a PITA, but maybe it's worth it. (If you boot from an SSD it's usually a lot faster, and I doubt anybody can suborn an SSD in that situation yet.)

Comment Anyone Remember 'Future Shock' from 1970? (Score 1) 120

These kinds of worries aren't exactly new; the book 'Future Shock' made quite a stir when it came out 45 years ago. Still, that doesn't mean there isn't something to it. Governments maybe do have a harder and harder time 'getting it' when new technologies come out, and pass wrong headed legislation. (Then again, maybe wrong headed legislation isn't so new either. There were red flag laws inhibiting use of automobiles though they didn't last long.) I've been a fairly early adopter of new technology, but, as I get older, I find myself getting tired of learning new stuff, but that's been happening to people for a long time also.
The airplane was invented at the beginning of the 20th Century, and less than 70 years later men were walking on the Moon. But since then? Computers have been the airplane story of the last 70 years.
You know what? Nobody knows the future.

Comment Insight on horse betting is in Valachi Papers (Score 2) 63

I realize this article is about computing odds 'officially', but the book "The Valachi Papers" about mafia member Joe Valachi (Valachi didn't use the word 'mafia' himself; about that name he said that's "what you people call us."), has some insider scoop where Valachi talks about horse racing. He even owned some race horses himself. (Something most of his colleagues didn't BTW. He got into it by chance because some guy overheard his wife talking about a horse at a race track, and told her that, against conventional wisdom, she was making a good bet.) He explains that the way to know how to bet is to be cozy with trainers, jockeys, and so on. They know how a horse is feeling on the day of the race. There's more in there also, like how hard it is to 'fix' a race.

Comment Re:Pretty quickly (Score 1) 161

At this point there's no reason not to do anything new in Objective-C, and port what you can when it makes sense.

I really am not sure what you meant by that sentence.

Me neither. If you removed the word 'not', it would make sense, and maybe it's what the OP meant to write, but he or she got a little careless with the editing (can happen to anybody). But that's just a guess on my part.

Comment Re:Sincerely, good luck (Score 1) 688

I don't know or have personal experience of Linus Torvalds or working on the kernel, so what follows is pure speculation. It may be that Torvalds is getting burned out, or it may be that he has 'grown arrogrant', or it may just be that now that the kernel has gotten so big and so popular he is spread too thin to manage things except in a very brusque fashion.

Comment Got out ~15 years ago, but remember good times (Score 1) 162

I was a programmer, not a sysadmin, though sometimes I was in small shops where everybody kinda did sysadmin. My first experience was in college in the mid 60s with a PDP-8 but I didn't really get serious for another 10 years. But, it was a good time to be in computing. There were lots of different companies trying out different things, and you weren't forced into specializations. I worked for small companies, big companies, scientific companies with PhD physicists and chemists running around, business companies in one place working on transaction software for things like a supermarket checkout line and in another on stock trading software, and software development companies writing parsers with Lex and Yacc. Sometimes, working on unix systems, I'd just grab the manual and leaf through the whole thing looking for functions to do what I was trying to do. Now there's all this specialization with vast APIs to learn! I feel lucky I was in the field when I was.

Comment Do they need internet access and hdmi out? (Score 1) 508

Nowadays it seems like having a computer almost requires internet access of some kind. Is that free in your area? If so, it's probably wifi which means your computer needs wifi access. If it's not free, then that's going to end up being a significant part of the cost.

Also, your post implies one needs hdmi out. Why? What's wrong with good old vga?

Comment Their mass, electric charge, and spin (Score 1) 172

The article says that all that is preserved, that is, information still obtainable, from a black hole is mass, electric charge, and spin (or angular momentum). I think also their plain old momentum is also preserved. What's interesting is that these are the first properties of matter to be discovered and understood in the study of physics. Newton describes mass and conservation of momentum, including angular momentum, and Benjamin Franklin discovered conservation of electric charge. I wonder if it's just a coincidence early, easy to understand qualities are the ones you can still get out of a black hole.

Submission + - Why The Black Hole Information Paradox Is Such A Problem (

TheAlexKnapp writes: Really nice explanation of the Information Paradox for those who are unfamiliar with it. Lays out the basic gist — that right now if you take two black holes, one made from the collapse of one type of star, and the second from the collapse of a different type, you can't tell which is which. Rightly points out that Hawking's big announcement was really just a small step heading towards a possible solution, and highlights that the paradox highlights the incompleteness of our understanding of some types of Physics.

Comment Re:This is huge, how about superdeterminism? (Score 1) 214

Entanglement is just a property of Nature, it's there whether you want it or not.

Hmm, now that's a comment that troubles me a bit. Somewhere in this discussion somebody said that Richard Feynman (Ironically, I'm reading Surely You're Joking Mr Feyman right now.) said it's called Quantum Mechanics because we don't really understand it, it's just some mechanical rules. Your description of entanglement seems to be the same thing. I think scientists are like kids who always ask 'why'. Everytime their parents give them an answer, they ask 'why'. They're still asking 'why' about entanglement. If it turned out that everything was superdetermined, then they'd be asking 'why' to that as well.

What follows is a train of thought I've had when reading philosophical stuff and watching things like "Closer to the Truth". It isn't my personal 'belief', I'm way too agnostic to have such a complicated 'belief', but I think it might be appropriate to throw it out here:

This superdeterminism smacks of predestinationism, which is a religious notion that troubles people over the 'free will' question. To my mind, if it turned out the universe was a giant computer running a deterministic program, it wouldn't make us 'predictable', because the only way to get ahead of the Universe's own CPU clock would be to have an even bigger, faster computer than the whole universe. The future is set the same way the past is set, it just hasn't become the past yet for us. Phyiscist types are always talking about space-time, and how one observer can 'see' the future of another. Maybe it is all one big lump, Past, Future, Present, but living through it is still life, isn't it?

Comment Re:This is huge, how about superdeterminism? (Score 1) 214

I am a quantum physicist...If anybody wants to ask me anything, I'd be glad to oblige.

OK, I'll bite. You said in your post that the world is not deterministic. Does the new experiment disprove superdetermism?

Just to show where I'm getting this from I did glance just now at the wikipedia article on Bell's theorem and, I quote:

There is a way to escape the inference of superluminal speeds and spooky action at a distance. But it involves absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose the world is super-deterministic, with not just inanimate nature running on behind-the-scenes clockwork, but with our behavior, including our belief that we are free to choose to do one experiment rather than another, absolutely predetermined, including the 'decision' by the experimenter to carry out one set of measurements rather than another, the difficulty disappears.

Even though I don't get a lot of this stuff, I do sort of think I get the idea that if things were superdeterministic, like we're all somewhere in a pattern created by a rule 110 machine or something, that there would be no need for either instantaneous communication or a hidden variable in order to have 'entanglement'.

Comment I read in The Economist the other day ... (Score 1) 390

That it was Nevada (mainly Las Vegas) that was coping well and that California was struggling.

A quote:

Water-conservation policies in Las Vegas are more advanced than in surrounding states, particularly when compared with California, ...people who insist on keeping their palm trees and lawns must pay hefty sums for that privilege. In California, laws prevent many municipal water suppliers from charging any more than enough to cover their costs--which means that high prices cannot be used to encourage more frugal behaviour.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer