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Comment: Re:Iapetus (Score 4, Funny) 51

by tyme (#46770517) Attached to: Astronomers Solve Puzzle of the Mountains That Fell From Space

Yes, Iapetus was photographed by Voyager 2 in 1981 (link to NASA image with metadata listed), and I would suspect that there were earth based images taken well before that (but none that would show any detail).

Who would have expected a summary on Slashdot to be carelessly wrong about something factual and easily verified?

Comment: VMS was doomed when HP bought it (Score 4, Interesting) 238

by tyme (#43968001) Attached to: HP Discontinue OpenVMS

When the amount of development your OS gets suffers "compared to HP-UX" you are in astonishingly deep trouble. I have had three run-ins with HP-UX, first in 1998, next in 2004, and finally in 2010 (when my current job retired all it's existing HP servers and moved to Solaris). When I encountered HP-UX the first time, in 1998, it seemed to be at least 10 years behind the times. Very little had changed in 2004, which meant that it was falling farther and farther behind each year. In 2010 it seemed little better than it had been in 2004, and I guess that management agreed, since we finally cut the cord and moved on to something that was, at least by comparison, more up to date.

I also used OpenVMS in the early 2000s, and it was capable, but idiosyncratic (record structured files were a PITA, and the file versioning was no replacement for proper version control. I really liked logical names, however, and the global symbol table was useful). It had a head start on lots of other OS's with respect to clustering features (cluster wide file system, message queues, and distributed lock management was all built-in), but much of the userland was GNU stuff ported over on the POSIX layer. DEC seemed to have given up on the whole "innovation" thing and was just milking existing big contracts.

Comment: "Experts" (Score 4, Insightful) 398

by tyme (#40425857) Attached to: U.S. Gas Prices Continue To Fall

Experts who claim that prices will continue to rise when prices have been rising, or continue to fall when prices have been falling, are nothing but weather vanes. These are the same idiots who have denied that we were in the last half dozen bubbles; the same idiots who were excited about DOW 30,000; the same idiots who claimed that stock/housing prices could just keep going up and up FOREVER!

Comment: bigger display means a bigger... (Score 5, Interesting) 330

by tyme (#38186238) Attached to: Next Apple iPhone To Have a 4 Inch Display?

I tend to agree with John Gruber of Daring Fireball that all of these rumors of larger screen iPhones are just bullshit, except for one detail: a larger screen would mean a larger phone body, which would allow for a larger battery, and would give even longer battery life. Battery life is the name of the game in mobile devices, and the larger display would give Apple an opportunity to get an additional leg up on their competition. It would also be helpful to have more battery capacity if they were upgrading the iPhone to 4G, which seems to need a lot more power.

While I tend to find Gruber's arguments about maintaining the dimensions of the UI by maintaining the dimensions and resolution of the display convincing, the change in dimensions of the iPhone interface going from a 3.5" to a 4" screen doesn't seem to be much of a concern. The greater concern is that the 4" screen is too large for many people to comfortably access the full screen with their thumb while holding the phone in the same hand (though that could be alleviated by narrowing the bezel around the screen).

So, while I'd love to bet against the rumor mongers clamoring for a 4" display on the next iPhone, I think that it might actually happen. A 4G phone will need a bigger battery, and I think Apple would rather make the phone face larger, than make the phone thicker, and that make a 4" display an easy sell.

Comment: As one who lived through it... (Score 4, Informative) 480

by tyme (#38120580) Attached to: Andrew Tanenbaum On Minix, Linux, BSD, and Licensing

I can say, with some authority, that Linux succeeded on it's own merit, mostly because it supported a broad range of commodity hardware. It got a boost because everyone started buying 386s, which were the first competent hardware for the IBM PC. There were lots of options back in the late eighties, all vying for some kind of position, but most of them had big problems of community: Coherent, MINIX, xinu, Xenix, Apple A/UX, netBSD, OS/2, OS-9, QNX, Lynx, etc. I looked at all of them as reasonable alternatives to the laughable PC operating systems of the day (MS-DOS and Macintosh System 7). NetBSD was a reasonable competitor right up through the mid-nineties, but Linux hardware support eventually blew it out of the water. By 1995 it was clear that Linux and the open source development methodology had won handily.

Yes, licensing had something to do with all of this, but so did Linus' management style: people wanted to work on Linux, and Linus did not turn them away: he welcomed them. I wouldn't want to say anything bad about Dr. Tanenbaum, I have the greatest respect for him and his work, but other than netBSD, none of the other free and open OSs of the day were making any attempt to take the general market, MINIX included. I remember looking at MINIX and rejecting it because of it's limitation to academic use (the limitation to the 286 wasn't that much of a concern, though it probably should have been).

Comment: forget the economic effects (Score 1) 402

by tyme (#37912230) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Securely Share Passwords?

Contracts made with your dead father a null and void at his death. The folks dealing with him through eBay are just out of luck. If they are nice to you, maybe you should consider helping them out, but that's all you're own good will, legally they have no claims (or, maybe they do have claims, and they can take them up with the executor of your father's estate, and will have to get in line, assuming that there's any estate to claim against). The banks should respond more rapidly, but will require a death certificate. Once you have shown them the death certificate, they should be able to shut down the automated bill pays, and maybe even claw back some of the payments that went out after the date of death.

As for making this stuff easier on your own survivors: I'll second the safe deposit box idea. Just put a list of your passwords in the safe deposit box. It's a bit of a pain to keep it up to date, but not too bad. I just keep a list of passwords in my desk, and my survivors have been told about it. I only tell the folks that I can actually trust, so there's no question of anyone impersonating me (or, no question worth fretting over). Keeping that list in a safe deposit box would offer 1) better security (burglars wouldn't find it, for example), and 2) also protects the list from being destroyed in a house fire. (Man! I gotta go get a safe deposit box!)

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 339

by tyme (#37277718) Attached to: Is Tablet Success Bound To Their Crackability?

Bullshit. And unsupported bullshit to boot.

I bought an iPhone so that I could read and send e-mail on the go, which gave me an edge keeping in contact with my boss and our clients. I bought the bottom of the line 3Gs, less than a year before the release of the 4G, so there was damn little "cool" or "status" involved. Similarly, I bought an iPad (version 1) only a month ago (again, no "cool" or "status" in owning the obsolete older model) because I could build spreadsheets (Numbers), write documents (Pages and PlainText), draw diagrams (iDraw), read and write e-mails (Mail), and connect to our production servers (Prompt, iSSH and ezDesktop, all over a Cisco VPN. which is supported natively by iOS) from a device that weighs a fraction of what my laptop weighs, whose battery last two or three times as long as the laptop's battery, and which cost half what my work laptop cost.

Just spouting off your prejudices doesn't make you right, no matter how many times you repeat yourself. The idea that "open" is a winning strategy in the tablet market is belied by simple observation: the dominant platform in the tablet market, by a factor of at least 10 to 1, is NOT an open platform. The people spending the money obviously don't care about "open" and to assume, as you obviously do, that this is evidence of the buying public's stupidity just brands you as arrogant and elitist. I would say that it's a damn good thing that you are not running one of the companies trying to make and sell tablets, but it seems that most of the companies in the market display the same kind of contempt for their prospective customers as you do, so it wouldn't much matter.

Comment: Re:Questions from the original article... (Score 1) 444

by tyme (#37161106) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Will IT Look Like In 10 Years?

digitalchinky asked:

What exactly does "This." mean? (It seems redundant)

in reference to CJSpil's reply

This. For a living I do support and spend most of my time speaking to people who really shouldn't have been granted admin privileges on anything more complicated than an etch-a-sketch.

to biodata's original question:

What will be the effect of organisations outsourcing everything and not employing engineers?

It seems to be an abbreviation of the the phrase "it means this."

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.