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Comment: car sellers are bad even at selling (Score 2) 386

by bzipitidoo (#47931215) Attached to: Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

This year, I went to the annual auto show in Dallas. What a total waste of money and time. The automakers who bothered to attend sent very junior people who didn't know anything. But they looked young and pretty. And that was their main selling point too: pretty. Pretty girls selling pretty cars. One of the few interesting cars there was a Nissan Leaf.

Don't know why they bothered having the show. If the show was an indication of the state of automobiling, I'd say they are out of ideas, and too gutless to try what few ideas they do have. Dealerships trying to stifle competition through legal technicalities makes them look really weak. Car makers need some serious shaking up, and Tesla may be the spark that sets off the forest fire. I hope batteries improve to the point that gasoline powered cars can no longer compete, and the public begins unloading them, rather like the way they unloaded SUVs in 2008 when the price of gas spiked, but more permanent.

Comment: Re:no permission needed (Score 1) 102

by bzipitidoo (#47884495) Attached to: Top EU Court: Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Publishers' Permission

Automobile makers do not get to dictate what their customers do with the cars they built. If the buyer wants to chop the car, make it into a lowrider, put different wheels on, change the paint color, smash it, bury it, or throw it with a trebuchet, there's not a thing the automobile manufacturer can or should be able to do about it. John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls Royce offended some people. Some of these people had nothing to do with the automaker, they were just upset that someone did something they thought inappropriate to a product they admired. Lot of rock stars are great at puncturing sacred cows that people didn't even realize they had.

Some people get all bent out of shape over a flag burning. Others find book burnings offensive. Get over it. Let them throw copies of Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, and the Dungeon Master's Guide in the flames all they like. Nothing is lost, even more so if digitization has not been blocked. The best the arsonists can hope for is that nothing comes of it, as it could backfire and raise awareness of those works. On numerous occasions, vandals have tried to destroy works of art. If there are digital copies, destruction is practically impossible. In any case, a great work like the Mona Lisa can last only so long. It will inevitably deteriorate. If idiotic copyright laws and museum policies have prevented us from copying it into a more permanent form, for posterity, we deserve to lose it to the next time some insane person loses his mind and attacks the art. Rarities have been lost because the owner decided to destroy it. If there are good copies everywhere, the owner of an original can't deny a work to the rest of us out of spite, malice, revenge, or whatever, can't demand a big ransom not to destroy it. Can't mutilate it either through reckless bureaucratic policy, as was done to many paintings, including Rembrandt's Night Watch when they cut the painting down to size to fit a space. Then there are always Acts of God. Art has been lost in fires, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.

I don't see why a work of art should be any different from a car. If the artists don't like it, it should be their responsibility to make copies or documents describing how to recreate it, before handing one over to a buyer. It's not like making a copy is so hard any more. Indeed, the biggest barriers can be legal ones.

Comment: no permission needed (Score 2) 102

by bzipitidoo (#47883101) Attached to: Top EU Court: Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Publishers' Permission

It's a start. Lot of "owners" think they have such far reaching power over works of art, think they get to dictate what others may and may not do.

I've heard many a museum claim that copyright gives them the authority to forbid photos. It's one thing to forbid flash photography on the grounds that flashes put out UV radiation which can damage art. But they try to forbid photos, not just flashes. Claim that it would violate copyright, even though the work of art in question is long out of copyright, and they never held ownership of any copyright over the work anyway. The Alamo also claims it's "disrespectful" to the dead. A building near downtown Dallas, the Infomart, has signs that say you can't take photos of the building, and they include in that photos of the exterior from public locations such as nearby sidewalks. They claim it's for security reasons. Some museums reveal their real fears, crying that they will not have any more visitors, not be able to sell postcards. Was funny to hear this one old lady complain about the Internet ruining their business.

One place I know of that did have a change of heart is the memorial to the Oklahoma City bombing. They still have signs up that forbid photos inside, but if you ask them, they will tell you that you can take pictures.

Comment: Re:Don't lie (Score 2) 499

They're in the business of assessing possible problems with people.

Too bad they get it wrong much of the time. These guys are pig-headed, simplistic thinkers. They are more interested in covering their asses than getting the facts right. They figure it's better to make connections that aren't there, no matter how stupid, than to miss something. If that catches a few innocents in the net, they accept it as unfortunate but a necessary price of security. What I found especially striking was that one of the groups is Communist. I thought we won the Cold War? What these guys do is total House Un-American Activities Committee. These guys could also be prejudiced against smart, creative people such as college professors and actors, secretly enjoying it when they get to use their petty authority and judgments to trip them up.

But that's not a founding principle of the US. Innocent until proven guilty is. British military justice, which operated the opposite way, guilty until proven innocent, had too many cases of good people's careers and lives being wrecked over unfounded accusations. The founding fathers recognized that accusations are legion, and under a guilty until proven innocent system, they might not be able to find any acceptable people. No one would be able to qualify. Unfair systems promote corruption. The people running it can more easily abuse a system for personal gain when it is already unfair and abusive.

Comment: Re:Bullcrap (Score 4, Insightful) 385

by bzipitidoo (#47863995) Attached to: Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

The entire premise of the article is bull. Are companies ever going to get off this fixation on specific programming languages? There used to be such a thing as training. Companies once did that.

Now it sounds like everyone has accepted that you should train on your own time. Worse, you have to do speculative training. Learn the specifics of some platform, and you might get a job doing it.

Comment: Re:Perl, anyone? (Score 1) 385

by bzipitidoo (#47863925) Attached to: Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

Last coding job I had used Perl 5. We recreated an app for a database. The original app had been discontinued in favor of a 4GL language.

Then the client decided they wanted that app coded in the 4GL language, and hired me to do it. Wow, what a lot of 80s thinking and cruft I saw. Managed to produce what they wanted, but they had to compromised a little. The input methods were typical of the era. Tried to do it all so the programmer didn't have to bother with tedious details. But if you wanted to change some of those details, you couldn't, not without a lot of extra work.

Comment: Re:C has bigger problems than that trivia (Score 1) 729

Ever used a Reverse Polish calculator? Or postfix or prefix notation? It does work. Yeah, I seriously would prefer prefix notation to superfluous parentheses.

Maybe you feel it's unclear? There's an answer to that too. Whitespace, as in Proper Indentation.

. thingB
. . thingC 4 7
. thingD thingE

Before you ask, no, the whitespace is not required, This isn't Python. It is merely there to aid coders, same as any other indentation in C source code.

Comment: Re:Humans have too much (Score 2) 206

by bzipitidoo (#47838817) Attached to: Should Cyborgs Have the Same Privacy Rights As Humans?

Very idealistic. We could do with more transparency. Mroe than that, we could do with more equality of transparency. The rich get to hide their mistakes behind the corporate veil. Those of us who aren't executives of corporations have more limited options.

However, until the law is perfect, justice is truly fair, and our peers are totally enlightened about freedom of thought, speech, and so forth, all of which may be never, privacy is important. Is there anyone who hasn't had things to hide from our own parents? Especially our parents? Like that you got a warning for speeding while you were out on the town last night? Think of all the potentially embarrassing things there are to buy, such as porn magazines, sex toys, alcoholic drinks, hemorrhoid medicine, denture adhesive, and certain genres of music. I would love to have the hypocrisies and tyrannies uncovered and shamed out of existence by acknowledgement that lots of people have the same problems and desires. I mean things like that your parents engaged in sex to bring you into the world, but they forbid that you learn any details about sex (The stork brought you? You appeared under a cabbage leaf?), and certainly forbid that you try it! Just having a waist size connected to your name could be more than embarrassing, supposing it suggests that you are overweight, and you suffer discrimination from people who have never even seen you?

There are also political issues. Do you want it known whether you voted Republican or Democrat, or some 3rd party? Some examples of political issues are the War on Piracy and the War on Drugs. Years ago, there was the hysteria over Communism, with the House Un-American Activities Committee and the infamous Joe McCarthy ruining the careers of many in Hollywood. That has all been discredited now and we are at last easing up on drugs. Piracy however is still raging. And it can still happen again, with climate scientists such as Michael Mann among some of the more recent victims. They did their utmost to fish through his private emails for evidence that he was incompetent or a liar, and when they couldn't find good enough dirt, they exaggerated what they could. There are powerful interests that would very much like to use more transparency to force their extreme views on copyright on the rest of us. Would you like to be sued for copying a recording to another device? Arrested and your equipment seized, for timeshifting? With total transparency, they could do that. But fortunately for us all, the universe does not work that way. They cannot win, but they can hurt plenty of people before they are at last shut down. I think someday, copying will be legal, and seen as good for everyone, even artists. Until then, we all just have to be a little cautious, and keep it quiet whenever we do anything they could construe as piracy.

Comment: C has bigger problems than that trivia (Score 1) 729

The "if (a = b)" syntax is among the first things newcomers to C are warned about. It's not a big problem.

Null terminated strings are a bigger problem. What do you do if you want to embed nulls in a string? Not use the entire string.h library for starters, have to write your own routines. It really is better to store the length in a simple integer, as long as it's not stupidly small like in Turbo Pascal where they set aside one measly byte, thus making the maximum length a paltry 255 characters. There are simply too many use cases where length information is needed. Having the length makes a strlen function trivial and run in constant time, instead of a time dependent upon the data. We now have the String class in the Standard Template Library which addresses these problems.

Bigger yet are the limitations of the function call syntax. This is not just C, but most programming languages that originated in those times. Most functions have a fixed number of parameters. If it's known how many parameters there are, it is not necessary to enclose the list. Basic math is done without that, eg. c = a +b instead of something gross like equal(&c,add(a,b)), Why can't functions be done the same way? Because they decided to allow variable numbers of parameters, with the printf function being the most prominent example of such a function. This was done in a very awkward manner. Consequently, most programmers avoid it. But we still have to include the parentheses even for functions with a fixed number of parameters. C enshrined parentheses as basically a sigil to distinguish function names from variable names. What does C gain from this? The ability to curry? No. Recursive functions? No, don't need variable length parameter lists for that, it does recursion anyway. The good in C's function syntax is that the programmer doesn't have to use a key word like "call" to call a function, and C has no unnecessary distinction between a function and a "procedure" as in Pascal. Can sort of do some functional style programming by passing pointers to functions. But they didn't get functions good enough. Operator overloading is an ugly hack that tries to address these inherent deficiencies. It doesn't succeed, can't go far enough. Same with polymorphism and name mangling. And C++'s addition of prefacing a parameter with an ampersand is nice, but merely a syntactic shortcut. The latest C/C++ standards also nibble at this problem with things like the introduction of "auto". But it still has the fundamental problem of excessive parentheses, like in LISP. C is all about brevity and economy, in both syntax and compiled code, but in this, they didn't do as well as they could have.

Then there's parallel programming. C wasn't designed for it, and can't do it clearly and cleanly. To be fair, there isn't a general purpose language that really nails parallel programming. Does it make sense to have to clear an array by using a loop, as in "for (i=0; i<MAX; i++) a[i] =0;"? Not if you're trying to use the massive parallelism of current commodity graphics cards. To this day, parallel programming remains a sort of black art, to be attempted only by the most skilled and intrepid programmers. Similar to the reputation that assembler still has in some programming circles, or that network programming used to have (sockets, ooh, scary!) Just include the magic library and call the magic functions, let them handle the complexities.

And that brings me to the next point, the libraries. The language designers didn't put enough consideration into libraries, or they would have realized how huge the entire set of libraries could get and made some provisions for that. Instead, years later namespaces were added. The next problem with the libraries is related to the problems with function calls. The library interface is too language specific. Those header files are a mess that makes it much harder for another language to use the related functions. A common solution is to resort to "wrappers", like much of CPAN for the Perl language. SWIG is another approach. There are also things like f2c and p2c. What's very badly needed is some kind of standard library interface. Not easy to do, not with the variety of programming paradigms out there, but maybe now we know enough to do it.

Comment: efficiency matters (Score 2) 161

by bzipitidoo (#47774093) Attached to: Research Shows RISC vs. CISC Doesn't Matter

This study looks seriously flawed. They just throw up their hands at doing a direct comparison of architectures when they try to use extremely complicated systems and sort of do their best to beat down and control all the factors that introduces. One of the basic principles of a scientific study is that independent variables are controlled. It's very hard to say how much the instruction set architecture matters when you can't tell what pipelining, out of order execution, branch prediction, speculative execution, caching, shadowing (of registers), and so on are doing to speed things up. An external factor that could influence the outcome is temperature. Maybe one computer was in a hotter corner of the test lab than the other, and had to spend extra power just overcoming the higher resistance that higher temperatures cause.

It might have been better to approach this from an angle of simulation. Simulate a more idealized computer system, one without so many factors to control.

Comment: Re: How the Patent System Destroys Innovation (Score 3, Insightful) 97

by bzipitidoo (#47714167) Attached to: How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

Be happy. The universe is not structured that way. Copying happens all the time in nature. Billions and billions of bacteria create copies of themselves every day. Events that generate light or sound radiate faithful copies of energy in many directions and also can generate echoes. One person can address a crowd of thousands, and radio stations can broadcast one signal to millions, because nature does work that way.

The insanity is the direction we tried to take ideas. We've tried to treat ideas like they're gold. Try to hoard them, try to demarcate and issue certificates of ownership. Tried to apply the logic of material ownership to the immaterial. Many people have fallen for the oversimplification, and have bought the lines that "property is property" and "stealing is stealing". But those pesky ideas just won't stay safely locked up. Someone else might get the same idea without ever breaking into the vault. The people who are regularly appalled and unhappy that vaults don't protect ideas are fools. That DRM exists and has been forced into so many products agasint the wishes of people who know better, is a testament to the large numbers of people who have failed to grasp this aspect of nature. The universe is a better place because ideas can't be locked up. It's the fools who have tried mightily to make patents and copyrights work who are struggling against reality. They're fighting an unwinnable battle. They will eventually lose, but until that day comes, they continue to cause a lot of waste, grief, and damage.

One good reason why computers can do more work than people is that they never have to stop and answer the phone.