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Comment: Re:What's so hard about using the time-honored (Score 5, Insightful) 241

by toejam13 (#48015489) Attached to: At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert
Came to say the same thing. How many different restaurants print your order number on your receipt, then call the number when ready? While more impersonal than calling names, it makes it easier since you can display a number on a screen. Also, numbers are more easily pronounceable than some names, and avoids the issue when two or more customers have the same name.

Comment: Re:I dunno about LEDs, but CFLs don't last (Score 1) 595

by toejam13 (#48003831) Attached to: The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy
Actually, there are about 20 HVDC lines within the United States. Three are in California alone: Trans-Bay, Pacific Intertie and Intermountain Power. And given the recent advancements in HVDC breakers, that number is expected to rise significantly.

HVDC is no longer just for bridging grids or for short industrial lines.

Comment: Re:I LOVE READING PROPAGANDA (Score 5, Insightful) 976

by toejam13 (#47931267) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Geopolitics aside, some would say that a strong man who sees a horrific crime that he has the strength to stop has the moral responsibility to do so. ISIS has conquered territory by force of arms - do we want to allow that sort of thing to be acceptable on the world stage again? The way ISIS is treating their conquered subjects is horrific and appalling, and we should probably put a stop to it.

Some would also suggest that the current instability within the Near and Middle East is the result of European colonial powers drawing national borders in such a way to cause instability and invoke inter-racial and inter-religious tension.

Perhaps the better solution is to withdraw from the area and let the regional powers work the issue themselves. If that means a century of warfare, not unlike what Europe experienced after the Protestant Reformation, then so be it.

Sure, such a conflict would result in a spike in the price of oil. But last time oil went above $160/bbl, we saw factories in North America being brought out of mothball, a renewed interest in alternative fuels (methane, nuclear, solar, wind), higher urban growth, an increase in the use of transit and a decrease in the use of petroleum derived fertilizers. Our economy and environment actually benefit in many ways when oil gets expensive.

Comment: Re:Still behind the times (Score 1) 108

by toejam13 (#47894475) Attached to: Verizon Working On a La Carte Internet TV Service

I believe that the boat for à la carte channel lineups has already sailed. Back during the 1990s when digital cable and mini-sat were starting to hit their prime, à la carte channel lineups would have been cutting edge.

But technology has since moved forward, and à la carte programming is now a mature market. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime and the like give you access to individual shows at any time. And you now have an entire generation that has been raised with DVRs, PPV and BitTorrent. Broadcast schedules are increasingly seen as antiquated.

Lastly, there is a larger force at play here. People aren't just cutting their cords because of price or because of poor quality content. They're cutting because they have better things to do. Video games and the Internet now consume a large chunk of my "wired" free time while cooking and home improvement stuff that I learned on PBS and online takes up the rest. I don't need 299 channels of crap to keep me entertained.

Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 1) 282

by toejam13 (#47857313) Attached to: Is It Time To Split Linux Distros In Two?

Except Microsoft went this EXACT same route of merging them all into a single system starting with Windows 2000.

My understanding is that the Windows NT series has always used a unified code tree for Workstation and Server, save for a few exotic one-off builds like NT4 Terminal Server and NT4 Enterprise Edition with PSE-36 support.

Maybe you remember the days when there was a separate uniprocessor and multiprocessor kernel? Both versions were available with the Workstation edition.

But otherwise, you're spot on. Mostly it came down to kernel tunings defined in the registry, available packages and licensing.

Comment: Re:*drool* (Score 1) 181

by toejam13 (#47787095) Attached to: Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory

I second this. It isn't always about performance.

I recently replaced my Core i7-930 (Nehalem) system with a Core i7-4790S (Haswell) system. The new system is modestly faster. But mostly, it requires significantly less power, resulting in a cooler and quieter system. My case fans now only run when gaming for long periods.

If I lived in a colder part of the country, I probably would have kept my i7-930 for another couple of years. But I live in an area where A/C is a must. So I expect the upgrade to eventually pay for itself in the form of reduced electrical bills.

Comment: Look it up (Score 1) 382

by toejam13 (#47775865) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection?
You could look up games based off of their annual sales rank or based off of the number of awards they've won. Probably more accurate than asking everyone for their personal favorite. Some of the lists are broken down to genre specific categories, so if a first person shooter isn't your thing, you can always look for what is.

Comment: Re:why can the world (Score 5, Insightful) 329

by toejam13 (#47743407) Attached to: ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science

If there is a social cause, then society can work to undo it. If it is a biological cause, then we can stop wasting time and effort thinking it is a social cause.

Had my mom been born a decade later or in a more progressive area, she probably would have pursued a career as a chemist. But my grandmother wouldn't allow it and many of her peers discouraged her. She became a nurse instead. She still has some regret over the decision decades later.

In her case, she wasn't so meek as to dismiss being a chemist from the start. She actually stuck her neck out only to be swatted down. But I bet that many women of her era would have convinced themselves that being a chemist was a foolish notion and wouldn't have pursued it at all. That's social self-regulation. That should be eliminated.

Comment: Re:why can the world (Score 4, Insightful) 329

by toejam13 (#47743107) Attached to: ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science

But why do they like different career paths? Is it that there is a biological difference that guides men and women to different career choices, or is there some social prodding that causes men and women to self regulate?

On the flip side, there have been few articles that talk about why men often avoid female dominated jobs such as primary school teaching, nursing, housekeeping, secretarial / office management, social working, accounting and the like. Often, it turns out to be self-regulating. Remember the movie Meet the Fockers and how Ben Stiller's character was given so much crap for being a male nurse? Yet male nurses are in high demand because they can lift heavier patients and better restrain unruly patients.

Comment: Re:What's the point? (Score 2) 511

by toejam13 (#47742983) Attached to: If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

Both Java and C# are nice in that they give you more power than many scripting languages, while obscuring some of the headaches (read: pointers) that come with lower-level languages like C. Both are [IMHO] also cleaner implementations of an object-oriented language than C++.

Another benefit of Java and C# are in their standard libraries. They're a bit more refined and a lot more consistent than the standard libC library. There has been a huge amount of drift in the libC world since wchars, long longs and safer array handling functions have been adopted. When writing portable C code for both Visual C and Klang, I'm constantly having to write wrapper code that deals with missing, renamed or depreciated functions on either the Windows or BSD side.

Lastly, if your Java or C# apps are speed sensitive, you just do the same thing that people have been doing with C and C++ for years: run your code through a profiler and then write your time critical code in a lower-level language that you call as an external procedure. I haven't written a large app entirely in ASM since my Amiga days (even then, it wasn't the norm).

When learning a new language, students shouldn't have to worry about if Getopt() is a valid function or not. Save that for a more advanced class. With Java, you can assign homework and know that students with Windows, Linux, BSD or MacOS will have the same environment. And in the real world, Java and C# eliminate some of the hassles of the C and ASM worlds, while still allowing you to reach back using external calls when needed. I really do find myself programming in C and C++ less and less every year.

Comment: Re:Confusing the issue (Score 1) 337

by toejam13 (#47658111) Attached to: Microsoft Surface Drowning?

Yeah, like lack of drivers for completely contemporary peripherals ... Manufacturers of equipment don't feel like writing drivers for equipment they no longer sell.

Part of the problem is that device standard committees have failed to introduce proper generic device classes for their buses. I should be able to attach any printer, scanner, audio i/o, modem, mass storage or the like to my machine and it should work with a lowest common feature set using a generic driver. The lack of a custom driver shouldn't resign a device to paperweight status.

This isn't just a Microsoft issue. This is an every OS issue.

But in a world without generic drivers, either direction comes with its pitfalls. When hardware manufacturers are maintainers of the device drivers, you end up with hardware with a short shelf-life in order to sell more hardware. Just look at how notorious HP's printer division is with regards to this. But when the OS manufacturers are the maintainers, you end up with fewer supported devices. Somebody is going to cry that their new 802.11ac dongle doesn't have a driver, but the EISA NE2000 NIC in their junk box does.

Yeah, I mean the remaining Windows machine I have is running Vista, whatever the latest SP is, and it's okay. But it took too long to get that way.

I don't disagree, but it did come up to speed faster than NT 4.0 did, an old darling of long-time NT users. It wasn't until SP3 that NT 4.0 was really stable.

What? Seriously, why do people put up with absolute crap from Windows and still worship it?

I think many people have a more pragmatic view of the situation. Switching platforms can be a complicated endeavor for many people and businesses, laced with its own set of pitfalls. If you want to keep your WinAPI software library, your choice in platforms shrinks considerably. So people stick with the platform they know, selectively picking versions that work for them

Microsoft knows this. Shame and delayed sales are insufficient to deter such behavior. But even if they wanted to change, the internal culture at Microsoft is so broken and substandard that I don't think they could change course even if they wanted to.

So other than to suck it up, what are you going to do?

Comment: Re:COBOL was better than JavaScript. (Score 1) 294

by toejam13 (#47652655) Attached to: The Technologies Changing What It Means To Be a Programmer

There's a good chance that, without JavaScript, the web would have vanished. You probably don't remember all the hype surrounding the "x internet" back in the early 2000's, but the web was on it's way out. If not for JavaScript (and XHR) the web would likely have been replaced by some other set of technologies.

We probably would have ended up with some variant of REXX or TCL on the client-side. Thankfully we didn't end up with Perl.

Comment: Re:Confusing the issue (Score 1) 337

by toejam13 (#47651083) Attached to: Microsoft Surface Drowning?

They've used up their allotment of fuckup forgiveness. Starting largely with Vista

I consider much of the negative criticism of Windows Vista to be vastly overblown. People forget that dot0 releases of NT tend to be turds and that they should reserve judgement until SP1 arrives.

When looking at Vista SP1, I had mostly good experiences with it. My largest complaint was the WDDM video driver requirements for Areo. Nvidia's failure to release WDDR drivers for the Geforce 5 series GPUs and Intel's failure to do the same for GMA 8xx and 91x series GPUs was a huge disappointment. But is that Microsoft's fault or the hardware manufacturers? And after some fuss, I was still able to use i855 XPDM video drivers with Vista for my old laptop. It is running W7 today.

Other major issues such as totalitarian DRM and Driver Signature Enforcement can be somewhat side-stepped. The vastly higher processor and memory minimum requirements are a welcome step to get people onto machines that can actually run apps and not just the OS (not that they're actually enforced by either the OS or the installer).

Poor driver support for cheap and unpopular legacy hardware is nothing new with dot0 releases of NT. Coming from Windows XP x64 edition, Vista was actually a step up in that regard. Same goes for the use of legacy software packages. I had more issues going from XP x86 to XP x64 than I did XP x86 to Vista x86.

UAC was annoying. So were some of the new file ownership issues. But I'm not a novice. They were easy enough to disable.

Comment: Re:No need for a conspiracy (Score 1) 281

Oh, one other thing, once I tossed out iPhones, I went to Android. You certainly do not have to worry about updates rendering your phones useless in America. The carriers actively block all updates whatsoever because they refuse to update their own "control" software that they built into the original Android software that they shipped in your phone. That means unless you are running Cyanogenmod or some other custom "ROM", you will never see an update... which means that the updates do not actually slow down your phone because their is no economic incentive to do so!

That's not exactly true. Google has moved a lot of their code out of their kernel and into the Google Play Service in order to side-step the problem of carrier delays and refusals in rolling out new kernels. So if you update your copy of Google Play and related apps, you are getting a major update.

Having said all that, I did not notice any major slowdowns when upgrading my Galaxy S1 from Froyo to Gingerbread. I did notice a slowdown in bootup times when installing Cyanogenmod 7, which got progressively worse with CM9 and CM10. But CM9 and CM10 were about the same speed once loaded, and were only slightly slower than CM7. I never noticed any slowdowns with newer versions of Play Services.

So perhaps the CM team is smart enough to use per-device build options that compile code optimized for each handset as opposed to using a single kernel binary across multiple platforms.

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.