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Comment: Pit traps (Score 4, Funny) 801

by stevied (#31671620) Attached to: How To Build Roads To Control How Fast You Drive
All of that is gonna work a lot better than my strategy of placing car sized holes covered with twigs and branches randomly every half mile or so down the interstates. Sadly, your strategy seems to have been widely adopted across the UK recently. I preferred the speed cameras - at least they didn't destroy your suspension ..

Comment: Re:Found a corroborating study on the net (Score 1) 515

by stevied (#28849899) Attached to: English DJ Claims Wi-Fi Allergy
Oh yes, that's also perfectly possible in this case, but to find an explanation that covers the Wifi issue, as well as other random weirdnesses here and there, we either need to posit another sense (ability to detect EMR) or look further afield. If you can't stomach even considering the possibility of Psi, by all means wield your razor*, but I've had certain experiences that make me less inclined to rule it out ..

(* I'm always a little dubious about that razor. If you're merely trying to "save the appearances", or develop a predictive model, then it makes perfect sense. If one's trying to get at the truth however, then there's always the possibility that there's other stuff going on that we don't know about that makes the situation more complicated, and anyway, isn't it dangerously close to assuming that universe conforms a "design aesthetic", when it isn't supposed to have been designed?)

Comment: Re:Found a corroborating study on the net (Score 1) 515

by stevied (#28845089) Attached to: English DJ Claims Wi-Fi Allergy
The convalescent hospital where I work has a regular guest / patient who insists on all her food being washed and cooked in mineral water, and other similar precautions.

The weird thing is, she does often seem to be able to tell the difference. Now, I'm not buying into the idea that the bottled mineral water is somehow better for her health than the tap water (which is actually spring water anyway at this particular site), but I do wonder if there is some Psi process / capability involved here, combined with a "conventional" psychosomatic illness.

It seems possible that some EM-sensitive people might be experiencing the same thing.

Comment: Re:Using the truth to bolster a lie (Score 1) 291

by stevied (#28720545) Attached to: Canadians Find Traffic Shaping "Reasonable"
Because people don't run ISPs out of the goodness of their heart?

Actually, maybe that points to the solution: non-profit making community ISPs .. or more regulation. As the industry matures, and the internet starts to be seen as an essential utility, hopefully some of this will come out in the wash.

Comment: Re:Using the truth to bolster a lie (Score 1) 291

by stevied (#28705463) Attached to: Canadians Find Traffic Shaping "Reasonable"
What happens when someone wants to start offering cable TV over the net? It's already started, and that's much more bandwidth intensive than P2P. It is also completely legal, to boot! In Canada, you can rebroadcast OTA TV without paying anyone a dime, currently.

Assuming we're talking about live TV (if not, the situation is more like P2P), I think my answer is that this is a dumb use of the internet. In a situation where everybody wants the same data at a particular time, old-fashioned broadcast-through-the-ether is probably a better solution than clogging the internet's pipes full of hundreds of thousands of copies of the same bits. (Of course, another alternative would be to look at actually getting multicast to work..)

Throttling in *any way* causes issues with Network Neutrality. An ISP is a pipe. Provide $x bandwidth, with $y data cap, and GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY. Anything else is entirely, completely, and fully dishonest.

And how much would prices have to go up? In a world with limited resources, I don't see anything wrong with deferring bulk transfers to off-peak hours. If the ISPs wanted to do this and still be seen to be playing fair, perhaps they could offer a guarantee of how many bits you can transfer in a 24hour period? So I'll know my Ubuntu ISO downloads and all the other stuff will complete with in a reasonable amount of time, but not necessarily at 5.30pm in the evening when everyone gets home from school / work and wants to check their email ..

I'll concede, though, the word "unlimited" got used far too much in far too large typefaces in a lot of advertising. That was pretty dishonest ..

Comment: Re:Not Python! (Score 1) 199

by stevied (#28682937) Attached to: Hello World!
Back in the day - quite a long way back now, if I'm honest - I always found it a good rule of thumb that if you indent level was deep enough that you were pushing your code off the right hand side of your terminal, you should just pull stuff out into functions. Apparently these new-fangled modern compilers even automatically inline function calls where necessary, so there's no performance hit ..

(I'm sure there are situations where the insane indent is useful and/or necessary, but I can't imagine there are many of them.)

Comment: Re:The only thing I got out of TFA... (Score 1) 320

by stevied (#28678997) Attached to: Shuttleworth's Take On GNOME 3.0, Coordination with Debian
True. NTFS does this, though, and IIRC allows (in the sense that the on-disk structures permit it - don't know if there are any implementations that support it) you to define and index on arbitrary attributes.

That always felt like a bit a design flaw to me, though - requires updating the FILE object (inode) for any change in any of the directories it appears in.

After the ext4 dust-up recently, I think we need a bigger debate about providing alternative types of storage subsystems as a core part of the OS. Traditional filesystems don't do a good job of providing the indexing capabilities that you get with a DBMS, and as the ext4 thing proved, don't do a particularly good job of providing reliability in the face of consumer-grade hardware and "optimistic" application writers. Given that, as discussed elsewhere, they don't seem to do a good job of providing a comprehensible model to end-users either, perhaps it's time to move on to something else.

I've always felt a first step would be to dump filename handling out of the Unix VFS: just store wodges of data with associated inode numbers, and let user space decide what they mean. Replace */bin with a index of inodes that provide commands and names, provide some mechanism for doing the same for app specific data, and then maintain the user's data separately as well. Why should all the config stuff stored in ~/.* appear in my word processor's file chooser (whenever the "hide hidden files" option inexplicably toggles itself behind my back)? It's not relevant, and gives click-happy users too much opportunity to destroy things ..

Comment: Re:The only thing I got out of TFA... (Score 4, Interesting) 320

by stevied (#28674309) Attached to: Shuttleworth's Take On GNOME 3.0, Coordination with Debian
Arguably a Unix filesystem already is a tagged repository.

In Unix-y filesystems, you don't put files in folders. You put files in the filesystem, where they get a number (inode number). Then you can set up other special files (directories) to act as indices, linking names to the inode number - as many as you want. Voila - nest-able tags (albeit not versioned in most filesystems.)

(Actually, if Unix hadn't insisted on banning '/' and NUL from filenames, a directory could in fact link arbitrary binary data to inode numbers. Bit of a missed opportunity there ..)

Comment: Re:Hobby (Score 2, Insightful) 537

by stevied (#28669679) Attached to: Which Language Approach For a Computer Science Degree?
Amen. So long as you understand the concepts, it's very easy to learn a new language, or resume using an old one that you haven't touched for a few years. A pocket-sized language quick reference on the desk is sometimes necessary, and perhaps for the useful monstrosity that is C++ you'd actually need a copy of Stroustrup, as there are (far too) many wrinkles, but that's about it.

Incidentally, looking at the original list, C basically is portable assembly..

Comment: Re:programming without typing? (Score 1) 124

by stevied (#28666357) Attached to: How To Teach Programming To Kids, Via XBox
Outdoor distractions are arguably more purposeful, teaching coordination, balance, navigation, all that stuff.

The two things that bother me about the half-generation or so below me (and probably lots of my peers who I just failed to notice, if I'm honest) are (i) the excessively social side to it, the constant need to be in touch, the complete inability to amuse oneself or develop a personal sense of security, and (ii) the completely artificial nature of most of the amusements, that teach absolutely nothing about the real world. And yes, I know I'm sitting here moaning on the internet, but at least it's on a site for people who are, by-and-large, interested in doing and achieving stuff ..

Let our kids be dreamers, but only after they've done the chores, completed their homework, had dinner, and it's not past 9:00PM.

It's probably possible to overdo this, but letting kids understand (and share in) the basic skills involved in running a household and surviving life as an adult are important. School and homework I'm less sure about - a strongly academic education is a pretty abstract experience (and a weak one is kind of pointless), difficult for kids to connect to real life unless their parents were engineers or particularly practically minded. Personally, I think we should probably teach kids to read, write and add-up, and then get them out into the workplace very young (14?), alongside their parents, and their parents' friends, and their friends' parents, and given them some real world experience, although it would have to be at a pretty menial level. Then when they're 18 or 20 and have some idea of what might interest them, they'd be much more motivated to study .. Of course, this would mean a rather drastic overhaul of pretty much the entire structure of our society - but I'm not sure that would be a bad thing.

Comment: Re:programming without typing? (Score 4, Insightful) 124

by stevied (#28663767) Attached to: How To Teach Programming To Kids, Via XBox
Mine was something similar, but a few years earlier on a borrowed ZX Spectrum, and a few months later a BBC B+.

I don't know about you, but there were less "distractions" in my childhood - for example, only 4 TV channels, and I didn't watch that much. I spent a lot of time reading (books) - including under the bed covers with a torch when I wasn't supposed to be.

Modern kids have a lot distractions available - multi-channel TV (usually available in their rooms), PC or console based games, mobiles, the internet .. if we're going to get them hooked, we might have to use something that's more obviously visually appealing, and easier to get into with the systems they already have around them. It might seem depressing (especially to those of us who already feel like old-timers before they've reached 35), but sometimes you have to bend to reality a little.

And on the positive side, they have python available to them to progress to. Beats the crap out of any form of BASIC on the elegance and features front ..

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