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Comment: Re:The beaks won (Score 2) 137

by shoor (#48602477) Attached to: How Birds Lost Their Teeth

I think it has more to do with being light weight since birds fly. After all, not all birds dig for grubs. Of course, not all birds fly anymore, but maybe the common ancestors did.

Another thing, birds evolved from reptiles. I watched the science documentary series 'Your Inner ...' (Inner Fish, Inner Reptile, etc). They mentioned that reptiles can replace their teeth but the teeth are undifferentiated, whereas mammals, who only get two sets, have them custom designed with a tight fit so some are good for tearing flesh, some for grinding, etc. Presumably the teeth the birds lost would have been less efficient reptile teeth.

Comment: nobody knows the future but AI is gonna happen (Score 1) 414

by shoor (#48567035) Attached to: AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us

Unless we wipe ourselves out or reduce ourselves to a stone age existence, AI will happen. Whether it will replace ordinary human beings in a gradual, gentle way (maybe preserving us awhile the way we preserve threatened species now) or whether it will be something more unpleasant, that's what is hard to predict. There's bound to be surprises however it goes.

But suppose somehow the folks opposed to AI could stop it. Then what? 1000 years from now, would ordinary human beings still be doing their thing? Would we have managed to create a utopia or would there still be human vs human strife? And a million years from now, would they still prevent anything 'superior' from replacing ordinary humanity? Is that a future to be yearned for?

Perhaps it will be a kind of middle way of transhumans with artificially enhanced intelligence, with the artificial part of the transhumans becoming a larger and larger part of the total being until the purely human part is just a tiny vestigial thing.

Comment: The original 68000 interrupts were inadequate (Score 1) 147

by shoor (#48440837) Attached to: Linux On a Motorola 68000 Solder-less Breadboard

The original 68000 was almost there for running a real multi-tasking OS. But, it didn't save enough state on the stack during an interrupt. You couldn't guarantee restoring a process's exact state when returning from an interrupt. I heard stories of designs that used two 68000s where one was running one step behind the other. I don't know how true they were. I see on the wikipedia that Motorola fixed that with the 68010 in 1982 and that's when the 68008 came out. So maybe the 68008 doesn't have that problem.

Comment: Re:In theory (Score 1) 130

Hmmm, I really like that saying, but I learned it as
"In theory, theory and practice are the same; in practice, they're different." It might even be a Unix fortune. I've seen it attributed to Yogi Berra. (A lot of things are attributed to Yogi Berra by the way, "Deja Vu all over again" is another one.)

In my day (and I'm old enough to have actually seen Yogi Berra play, though he was in the outfield by then), computers were not that common, so going to school was a place to have access to a computer. I did notice that by the 1990s, employers would give you some kind of test to make sure you weren't a fraud during the job interview, no matter what your resume said.

Comment: Re:Thinking back late 70's Algol, SNOBOL etc (Score 1) 547

by shoor (#48104735) Attached to: Goodbye, World? 5 Languages That Might Not Be Long For This World

I was a CS major in the late 70s too. We learned to program at least a smattering of Norwegian University Algol on our Univac 1106, as well as SNOBOL (StriNg Oriented and symBOlic Language), APL and something called XL6 (a 'list processing language' so obscure it's not even in the wikipedia, but I'm pretty sure I got the name right.) In other classes I learned some specialty languages, Dynamo (Dynamic Models) and GPSS (General Purpose Simulation System).

Whatever happened to Algol anyway?

As I recall, SNOBOL was actually pretty cool, sort of like Pearl in that you could learn to do some useful things very quickly in it. I don't know that the code was all that readable even to the coder after 3 weeks though, since I never had to look at my code 3 weeks later. And I think even the professor who taught it complained about some of the choices for characters to use as operators. Still, I have this lingering feeling that somehow SNOBOL was a language that was unfairly passed over, maybe because of the comical name.

Comment: Is it really the same as incandescence? (Score 1) 243

by shoor (#48084931) Attached to: 2014 Nobel Prize In Physics Awarded To the Inventors of the Blue LED

As I understand it, our eyes can differentiate the frequencies of visible light into the colors of the rainbow, but the rainbow is a continuum frequencies. There's not just one frequency that's perceived as 'red' for instance, but rather a band of frequencies perceived as 'red'. So, does the 'white' light from these newfangled things produce one red frequency, one green, and one blue, or is there a band of frequencies, such as you get from incandescence? And if there isn't a band of frequencies, will it matter to our eyes?

Comment: Re:Why do people still care about C++ for kernel d (Score 1) 365

by shoor (#48061203) Attached to: Object Oriented Linux Kernel With C++ Driver Support

Full disclosure: I have lots of experience with C and almost no experience with C++. (I started to learn C++ but I was suspicious of its complexity. At least, that's what I tell myself, but maybe I was just lazy or too old to learn new tricks. Anyhow, I didn't learn it.)

"Every sufficiently large C project re-invents key portions of C++, poorly."

I have to wonder if that is because every sufficiently large C project is going to have C++ programmers in it who are 'thinking' in C++, and if it was team just of guys like me we would be doing things strictly the 'C' way.

(Incidentally, I realize that C has lots of faults. That's why I'm intrigued by languages like Golang (aka Go) because Ken Thompson is one of the designers, out to fix the faults of his 1st language.)

Comment: Conservation of Momentum (Score 3, Insightful) 470

by shoor (#48014789) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

If you're going to have reaction drive style thrusters for maneuvering, you're going to run out of fuel very quickly, dissipating mass, unless your thrusters are thrusting out little bits of mass at VERY high speed, in which case they could be used as weapons themselves. (Sci Fi writer Larry Niven came up with the idea of a reaction drive as a weapon, google the 'Kzinti Lesson' for more info.)

I think it would be interesting to have space battles where several fighters were somehow connected to each other via some sort of tractor beam, so they maneuvered by transferring momentum between each other instead of dissipating mass into the vastness of space; they might look a bit like bolas circling each other but with quick changes snapping in and out as they went in to battle, or maybe they would be tethered to a mother ship, somewhat like World War II aircraft carrier that sends out figher planes to do the fighting. The mother ship would have enough mass to let the fighters seem to be free to zap around easily.

("Cough Cough") I wrote an unpublished Sci Fi Novel (I did send it to a bunch of publishers at the time, over 10 years ago), where interstellar travel used 'draggers'. There was no faster than light travel so it took years and years to go between even nearby stars, (The travelers themselves would be in an accelerated frame of reference so it wouldn't be so long for them.) In the novel it took a long time to set up a system between two solar systems, similar to the way it takes a long time to set up a railway between two cities, but then you could use it very efficiently. A vessel would attach itself to a dragger, and be quickly accelerated (that's the hard part, dealing with the sudden accleration that would flatten everything against the back wall like you were in a super cream separator), the dragger, much more massive than the vessel, would be slowed down some, but then, at the other end, as the dragger wheeled around a star, the vessel would transfer it's momentum back to the dragger and slow down to become part of the other solar system.

The thing about conservation of momentum is that it means the center of mass of a closed system doesn't change. If two solar systems and the draggers going between them were a closed system, then the center of mass would shift as the vessel moved between one and the other, but, if the vessel returned to the original system again, then the original center of mass would be restored, and the energy used to move between them could be recycled, plus there wouldn't be reaction mass being spewed out all over the place.

Comment: Is it healthy or unhealthy for society to have ... (Score 2) 275

by shoor (#47968141) Attached to: Nvidia Sinks Moon Landing Hoax Using Virtual Light

I'm just wondering if when a society has conspiracy theorists speaking out freely, the 'tin hat' crowd, is that the sign of a healthy society or not.

It's bad I suppose when conspiracy theorists are flat out wrong, but would a repressive government try to silence them or do repressive governments only bother suppressing people who are telling the Truth?

Does it do harm in that when somebody really finds something bad going on people will tend to disbelieve them because of all the flakos (sort of like crying wolf too many times)?

Is there some sort of bell shaped curve of attitude towards what the establishment tells us in that a few people on one end of the curve will believe everything and bury their heads in the sand over any problem (like maybe global warming), and a few on the other end of the curve will leap at anything as a plot, while most people are somewhere in the middle? If there is such a curve, maybe it's characteristics (skew, standard deviation, etc) are what determine the 'health' of the society.

Comment: Re:football can cause brain damage (Score 1) 405

by shoor (#47881327) Attached to: Microsoft Paid NFL $400 Million To Use Surface, But Announcers Call Them iPads

I agree calling the thing 'Surface' could lead to confusion. If an announcer said something like "the coach is checking his Surface now", what percentage of viewers might have thought he was referring to something other than the gadget in the coach's hand?

Comment: Re:Er? (automatic locale?) (Score 1) 314

by shoor (#47855391) Attached to: GSOC Project Works To Emulate Systemd For OpenBSD

Hmmm, it sounds like what's needed is a daemon that queries location from a GPS system as well as time, and automatically adjusts timezone and whatever (would you want it to change language? Seems like that's more of a user thing, and something you only change when you change users). Of course, it would require the system be hooked up to a GPS system, otherwise do things the old-fashioned manual way. There could be an app that puts up a map where you click on the location I suppose, instead of fiddling with configuration files.

I'm an old time unix user (going back to 4.2 BSD days). I like the idea of text configuration files for everything. But I wouldn't mind a front end app that was easier to use than constantly having to look at man pages on the formats of everything. A sort of IDE for all the text based config files the way an IDE is a helper for the text code files of a programming language. (But NOT a binary that bypasses the text configs! Which is what systemd seems to be doing, if I've been reading this right.)

"Buy land. They've stopped making it." -- Mark Twain