Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Why do companies keep thinking people *want* th (Score 1) 89

by tlhIngan (#49633543) Attached to: Ubuntu May Beat Windows 10 To Phone-PC Convergence After All

Untrue. Watch the very first iPhone keynote. The endless claims about it running full OSX are presented in full force.

Yes, it runs OS X internally. But the UI kit is completely different from OS X. As it should be because a mouse, keyboard, touchpad forces a different style of interactions than a touchscreen. The easiest way to make a piss-poor UI is to pretend a touchscreen is a mouse (what Windows had done traditionally). Because what happens is the UI works with a mouse, but it's finicky and painful to use on a touch screen. (There isn't any "right-click" on a touch screen. You can emulate it, but it's not as convenient).

Likewise, you can't "hover" with a touchscreen so tool tips are ineffective (and your finger covers half of it up).

Apple may have based iOS on OS X, but the upper layer stuff is completely different to force developers to actually consider how they use a touchscreen over simply porting an existing app.

Comment: Re:Brand? (Score 1) 183

by tlhIngan (#49633479) Attached to: 17-Year-Old Radio Astronomy Mystery Traced Back To Kitchen Microwave

I'm surprised they lasted that long, but for a specific reason: what they were doing typically breaks microwave ovens. There is a switch that turns the magnetron off when the door is open, but if it opens while there is current flowing, it creates an arc. This arc causes a lot more wear than if the switch had opened with no current flowing.

Actually, I believe most safety switches don't cut out the power supply to the magnetron - they instead either signal the microprocessor to shut down the power supply or they merely bring a power inhibit signal to the power supply. This way the safety switch isn't carrying dangerous currents, and the processor has to shut down the power supply. usually it's just a solid-state relay where you deassert the signal and it'll stop at the zero-crossing.

Comment: Re:15 co-authors (Score 1) 183

by tlhIngan (#49633431) Attached to: 17-Year-Old Radio Astronomy Mystery Traced Back To Kitchen Microwave

I'm surprised it was written at all. Would YOU want anyone to know that you'd spent 17 years looking out into the galaxy for a signal that only occurred during office hours on weekdays and came from the microwave oven in your own break room? It would be much less embarrassing to just buy a new microwave and let the signals mysteriously disappear. Maybe attribute them to some convenient change in the galactic environment. Or maybe even better to remove sources of microwaves from the vicinity of an operating radio astronomy telescope?

Well, actually, they knew it was man-made because it triggered all the detectors at once. If it was from outer space, then only the telescopes pointed in the general direction would pick it up. Here, all the telescopes picked up the same event at the same time, which indicates manmade interference.

The problem is it was erratic, it lasted barely a second, and it was completely unpredictable.

Perhaps it happened a touch more often around noon, but that could be any number of things - including solar induced interference. And it only happened when the user opened the door prematurely - if they let it run through the clock, or hit the stop button, nothing would happen.

And perhaps some days it doesn't happen at all.

The problem is the data points were insufficient enough to put on a correlation - and if it happens infrequently enough, well, it's easier to ignore it if it happens twice a week.

In other words, its discovery was probably close to accidental, and only then did they actually go and test the hypothesis out.

Comment: Re:To think I once subscribed to this site (Score -1, Troll) 228

And though they have only combed through a small portion of the data, they say they have found several instances of officers appearing to lie, use racist language, and use excessive forceÃ"with no consequences. In fact, they believe that the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) has systematically "run interference" for cops. In the aforementioned cases of alleged officer misconduct, all of the involved officers were exonerated and still remain on the force.

"We're trying to do OPA's job for them because OPA was so explicitly not interested in doing their own job," said Rachner.

When the police ignore the law without consequence, someone needs to be doing something, because clearly the damned police are incapable of it.

Blah blah blah.

You do realize that an accusation doesn't mean it's true, right? There's things like evidence and other things that are required to sustain the conviction.

Just because a cop "appears" to use excessive force doesn't mean it wasn't justified in the end. Or perhaps the victim believed he was brutally assaulted because he got in the end a bruise.

And that's the problem with the article - it's all couched in language that basically says "we think this happened, we believed the victim, the police are hiding something" than "this is really happening, here's the evidence of it, and despite this, you can see this police officer is still actively serving".

Yes, I advocate more cameras on both sides, as well as the standard that lack of camera footage shall be interpreted in a way most beneficial to the other party (i.e., against the officer).

And that's the real problem - it's all he-said she-said, with no evidence. In a lot of places said officers who were dismissed could sue to get their jobs back and win because of lack of evidence.

And yes, most officers lie. The only way to keep them honest is video because in a he-said she-said, the one who appears more credible wins, and that's rarely a bystander.

Comment: Re:People still "buy" music - really? (Score 1) 42

by tlhIngan (#49630269) Attached to: Apple Gets Antitrust Scrutiny Over Music Deals

If you really want to support a band that you like especially if they are on an indie label, just go to one of their concerts, buy a t-shirt, have fun, and maybe meet the band.

That works only for bands. But there's more music than bands, especially when it's composers, musicians and others that get together for a recording session, usually because the music in the end is a work for hire.

Stuff like classical music, soundtracks (movie and video games) and others.

And yes, I try to avoid buying lossy compressed music. I mean, one of the biggest things that Neil Young has done was open a FLAC-selling music store. Ignoring all the crap about high res audio and his sucky hardware player, at least his music store sells stuff in FLAC. And unlike say, HD Tracks, does carry "regular" CD-quality music as well. (HDTracks only sells music with higher sample rate than 44.1kHz (i.e., 48kHz+) or (inclusive) bit depth greater than 16 bits. So you can find 16 bit 48khz at a minimum).

But being able to just find even a 44.1/16 recording is good enough.

Comment: Re:Take the responsibility onto yourself (Score 1) 462

by tlhIngan (#49630161) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery

And if he was to prescribe a standard antibiotic, you can buy them yourself at a pet supply.
The same antibiotics used for fish are the same that you are given. Exactly the same, just different labels and no prescription required.

True, but it's usually the other way around - filling out the pet's prescription at the pharmacist is usually CHEAPER than getting the vet's office to fill it out. It's a huge scam really - and many vets will actively refuse to give you a scrip for the medicine - they'll simply package it up at the counter and ask you to pay an inflated rate for it.

Yes, it's a business model. The reason human medicines are cheaper is greater volume - there are just simply more humans who need a particular antibiotic than dogs or cats who are prescribed same.

Comment: Re:Uber cars not covered by insurance (Score 2) 251

by tlhIngan (#49630013) Attached to: Uber Forced Out of Kansas

Uber provides insurance for drivers when they are in commercial use:

Only while there is a passenger in the car. It does NOT cover the period where the driver is actively looking for a fare.

It's a subtle point, but a driver going to pick up a fare can get in an accident, and an insurance company can consider that commercial uncovered behavior (the driver was not using the car for pleasure, or commute purposes).

And it can be a lot worse - Uber could be required to follow things like "taxi bill of rights" laws that say if a driver is unable to provide the fare the required trip, they must wait for another driver who will. (Too many taxi drivers were passing up fares because they were "too black" or other discriminatory measure, or even something as simple as not being handi-accessible. They're required to call in a new vehicle and wait with the fare until the replacement arrives.).

Comment: Re:Resources not generally (Score 1) 83

Since when have the bad guys limited themselves to what was available to the general public? Or even limited themselves to what one person could do?

Exactly. These locks are supposed to be used in very high security areas. You know, protecting stuff with lots of value. If the stuff inside is worth $10M, would $1M in equipment be expensive? Not really (especially if you know of another site with another $10M of stuff and can re-use your purchases).

Even the mechanical destruction is a concern - unless the lock is in an area under constant surveillance, there's an opportunity to find one in a poorly lit area that people forgot about. Knock it out and you have access into the area it was protecting.

Comment: Re:Oh, no... (Score 1) 137

by tlhIngan (#49624553) Attached to: Microsoft: No More 'Patch Tuesday' For Windows 10 Home Users

So... they will have to reboot daily from this point onwards ?
And wait for extra 15 minutes before leaving work ?

Oh god. Bring back patch Tuesday.

Thank you Google, for your inflexible 90 day deadlines that expired a couple of days BEFORE patch Tuesday.

You can bet this came out directly because of those issues that Google published a few days early This way Microsoft can have patches ready ahead of time before the deadline, instead of having to wait for patch Tuesday.

Google: FYI, Windows users probably make up the bulk of advertising revenue. Having Microsoft release shoddy patches early to meet your arbitrary deadlines would mean more breakage and therefore less people to sell.

Comment: Re:2038 is working itself out already (Score 1) 59

by tlhIngan (#49621751) Attached to: The BBC Looks At Rollover Bugs, Past and Approaching

If the hardware is still fully operational after 20 years in a hostile enviroment like an oil rig I'd say its anything but "crud". It was probably some of the best kit on the market.

Yeah, but it's now unsupported kit and who knows if there are rollover issues? It already ran 20 years, so it's conceivable it will run another 20+ years and hit the 2038 bug, then what? And catching this bug is a lot more subtle than the y2k bug.

We've already run into rollover issues - on an old processor board that people are still paying us to support (it was over 10 years old when it was designed, and practically every component on it is EOL'd except the Ethernet chip. Fortunately it's the Ethernet chip that basically is the problem). Considering the volumes and the customer involved (they only really come back to us annually) we never bothered updating the software and now what were automated tests and provisioning tools don't work anymore so when we repair and reflash them, it has to be done manually because the automated tools don't work anymore. It's not worth the time to update the tools (too little money, too little quantity, too infrequent).

Comment: Re:Measurements (Score 1) 410

by tlhIngan (#49621595) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

Defining programming ability is a real challenge and the definition probably varies based on what is being programmed. I had a teacher who defined it as being able to complete a task in as few lines of code as possible. OTOH, is it worth spending 2x the hours to get rid of 2 lines of code when a quicker solution works just fine?

And that is the crux.

Lines of code is already a poor measure since you can take a few lines and turn them into one giant compound un-analyziable hard-to-debug line, or leave them in several lines and save yourself a lot of trouble in a month's time when it comes to revisit the code and be able to pick it up far quicker.

I mean, if we take bubble sort, and inside it's core is a routine to swap two variables. (Well, I guess most sorts have this property). You could save yourself a line of code by not declaring a temporary variable and just do manipulations on the two variables you have to swap them. But is this better than using a temporary variable and using a bog standard, trivially analyzable and idiomatic method to swap the variables?.

Similarly, there are "clever" ways of doing things that may rank higher up on the "skill" level, but make it a PITA to analyze later on when you're either debugging some future issue or just trying to figure out what you wrote a month or more ago.

So yeah, measurement is hard. Is someone who takes the easier route but writes easier to analyze code less skilled than someone that could write the code in the fewest lines possible, but the lines are horrendously complex and difficult to analyze or debug? The code is clever, fast, and does work...

Comment: Re:Not that big of a deal... (Score 1) 227

by tlhIngan (#49621339) Attached to: Singapore's Prime Minister Shares His C++ Sudoku Solver Code

"Perhaps it was written by him in his spare time". OF COURSE it was written in his spare time. His a prime minister, he doesn't write code on the job. What comments do you want? The code is simple and obvious. What data structures to explain? If you are too stupid to understand them immediately, then you shouldn't be programming. What lack of error checking? What scenario do you suggest where error checking would help?

Easy. What does (x & -x) compute, off the top of your head?

There's so much bit-twiddling there that it's confusing and does boggle the mind. It's clever, yes, but guess what? Clever sucks. It's the code you get from prima donnas who don't expect to maintain it. Heck, someone posted a link to bit twiddling hacks on a Stanford server - it's a lot of elaborate code that's non-obvious (and even that hack isn't actually in the list, interestingly).

And yes, error checking. Sure it's a simple app that doesn't need error checking, but it's useful to have common error checks put in - I mean an 80 char buffer for a 9 char string is not an error prevention. Using scanf() with a field width specifier is dangerous - you might as well just use gets() and be done with it - you get the same result. And we know WHY you don't use gets().

You seem extraordinarily proud that he might code something up like this. Perhaps. All I say is that perhaps it isn't 100% original code, he didn't sit down one day and say "I can't solve this Sudoku, so I'll write my own solver" and crank that out. It almost seems like someone provided basically everything and his "contribution" is he typed it in.

There are enough fancy tricks in there coupled with a lot of interesting issues that I would call it as perhaps a bit more effort than what Obama did, but not by much.

And comments? Yeah, they're important, especially assuming it was done in his spare time. I mean, if he's doing it on and off, I expect him to forget. Anyone who maintains software knows after a month, the code you wrote might as well be written by someone else.

Yes, it's possible it's 100% original code that he cleverly wrote a few years ago, in which case, yes I apologize. But it reeks of a lot of things that seem far outside the realm of common domain knowledge amongst developers (nevermind high-ranking government officials) that either he had a lot of help, or someone wrote 99% of the code, and he finished it off, kinda-sorta like Obama's JavaScript thing. (And given it IS Singapore, I expect the original developer to keep silent on the matter for many reasons).

Comment: Re:Not that big of a deal... (Score 1) 227

by tlhIngan (#49618629) Attached to: Singapore's Prime Minister Shares His C++ Sudoku Solver Code

I don't know.

The code resembles something you expect from a first-year programming student - there's an input buffer overflow bug waiting to happen, the array size is odd (80 byte array? why? scanf() is still called without a field length specifier, and you only use 9 of those 80 bytes in a normal case).

Perhaps it was written by him in his spare time. Or maybe it was like Obama where the base of the code was already provided and he needed to fill in a few things.

Plus the general lack of commenting, explanation of the general data structures used, or algorithms. Maybe even ding points on practically everything being a global variable.

Either he was learning to program, or someone basically told him what to do which explains the lack of error checking, the lack of comments, and the use of globals and he was a coder-monkey and not someone who develops software who took a set of requirements and created something from scratch.

So, props for the effort, but is it really original work, or was there someone else at the keyboard helping him along?

Comment: Re:Nothing new (Score 1) 74

I only wonder why they only tested android apps, and left out IOS apps. Without this comparison, the first paragraphs of the article, blaming the tracking and ads on the openness of Android, is little more than wistful thinking.

Well, if the apps are just ports of each other, then it's exactly the same.

However, if you want to make money, the business models on iOS and Android differ. On iOS, selling a paid app is a really good way to make money - iOS users will pay for apps.

But on Android, paid apps are put under a huge disadvantage compared to free apps, especially since Google Checkout isn't available in a lot of markets because of regulatory or other issues. Compare paid versions of iOS and Android apps, and iOS pretty much dominates - despite Android's far far far greater marketshare. So if you're a developer, you're going to make your app ad-supported. Not only is this the only business model that works on Android, it's one where you can easily make way more money than iOS.

Even ad-supported apps on iOS are under disadvantage - Apple has restricted what you can do to track users, for example. If you try to get the UUID, your app gets a unique per-app one, so even if two apps use the same ad networks, they appear as two separate users. And an iOS user can reset them at will. And Apple asks you why you're getting the UUID, as well. Also there are restrictions on accessing contacts, location, photos (which can proxy for location).

Comment: Re:Who will win? (Score 1) 175

Hardly. AirBnb and PayPal are both good examples of this sort of thing. PayPal got raided a lot and got sent C&D letters by various state regulators when they were rolling out across the USA. Eventually they had to sell to eBay (their primary competitor) to get enough money and political immunity to survive. There's a book about it called the PayPal Wars that goes into more detail on this.

eBay and paypal were never competitors.

eBay and Paypal are synergistic - eBay needed a low-friction payment platform. Prior to the Paypal acquisition, an auction listing might only take money orders for payment (thought many sellers took Paypal because it was way more convenient). And money orders in the age of the Internet really goes back - I mean, telling the buyer to go to a post office, buy a money order, then stamp and send it off the seller and hopes it all goes alright? If you were a buyer out to screw the seller, you could win a bunch of time-sensitive auctions, then hang them up for weeks waiting for money orders. (You have to remember they will take roughly a couple of weeks for the buyer to get one and mail it off, and perhaps you can claim "lost" and take another couple of weeks). If it was a time-sensitive material, that could span a couple of months and render the product worthless.

Then there was the seller who might receive and claim it as not paid still.

Paypal offered something no one else did (or still do) - the ability for Joe Random to take a credit card payment irregularly. Merchant accounts are expensive and often have conditions. Paypal did not - if you only did 1 $100 sale in a year, that was fine for Paypal. Most merchant accounts would've charged you several hundred dollars if you did that. And credit cards ensured payments could be sent instantly and quickly, more in line with traditional online shopping.

Sure it probably took eBay's might to sort out all the financial and banking issues, but eBay and paypal are not competitors. They're not even just two random companies - they're companies that realize each has a product or service that works really really really well together. Even post eBay/Paypal split the relationship is more than that of two companies.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?