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Comment: Video games? Nope. (Score 1) 169

by userw014 (#49753567) Attached to: Video Games: Gateway To a Programming Career?

My first programs were on a TI-59 programmable calculator. There's a limited amount you can do with a 7-segment (with decimal point) 10 digit display.

But the FIRST program I still recall fondly creating from that time was on that device - it used up all available memory for a 2-player (with a simple AI able to play either player) space-battle game with a refueling base. It was also the BEST and LAST game I ever wrote. (As you might imagine, I'm not a gamer nor do I write games.)

Games seem to be a gateway into programming - but from everything I understand about the games programming industry (from a college aged son interested in such), games programming is cut-throat and speculative. I wouldn't consider it a career suitable for supporting a family - or if you have no other means of support. (My parents were disabled by the time I was out of college.)

Comment: Canvas Ads are even more annoying... (Score 1) 618

by userw014 (#49719915) Attached to: Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral

I don't think I need to justify running an ad-blocker (and poisoning my home DNS) for any reasons other than the following:

  • Advertisements are known vectors for malware

Of course, I also find advertisements annoying - and the more aggressive the advertisement is about demanding my attention, the more annoying I find it. (Indeed, these Canvas Ads seem to be extremely annoying as they demand that I have to click/swipe on a page I wish to visit AGAIN - and the motion is at present sufficiently unfamiliar that I briefly struggle with it.)

I understand that many of the websites I enjoy are supported by advertising - and so by using ad-blocking techniques, I'm denying those sites whatever financial benefit there is of those (valid) advertisements being displayed (that I'll NEVER click on anyway.) But I satisfy myself with thoughts of schadenfreude - that advertisements are (like state lotteries) a tax on the stupid, gullible, poor, and desperate. (Yes, a rather mean spirited attitude, but that's schadenfreude.)

But basically, the whole internet advertising business is so shabbily done that blocking advertisements is only safe computing, like washing your hands after using the bathroom.

Comment: The nature of comments (Score 1) 264

by userw014 (#49636715) Attached to: C Code On GitHub Has the Most "Ugly Hacks"

I wonder if 'C' encourages or has a culture of having more comments than some of the other languages.

And as other posters have hinted at when noting code that's trying to run in different environments, the environment C runs in (standard library, etc.) has varied longer (in time) and more (in versions) than the other languages mentioned. Seriously, is anyone writing new code for Ultrix anymore?

Comment: Automated sorting of mail and metadata? (Score 2) 66

by userw014 (#49537019) Attached to: New Privacy Concerns About US Program That Can Track Snail Mail

The USPS has been using automated systems of sorting mail for decades. It's why mail across town goes to a consolidated center (perhaps halfway across the state) first for sorting into carrier routes and has been for decades.

That Homeland Security want to capture this information - which has long been determined to accessible (the original pen-trace) isn't surprising at all.

And they only have to photograph/image the ones that the machines can't read. It's only surprising to people who drink the conservative kool-aide that government can't do anything right.

Comment: Counting IPv6 addresses - one, two, twenty-three.. (Score 1) 390

by userw014 (#49519947) Attached to: Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

I've been playing around with my own (tunneled) IPv6 prefix at home for some time now. (I think Comcast will deliver IPv6 to me - but I haven't bothered yet.)

I run IPv6 on some of my home LANs, but not on the one I have with legacy equipment on it like webcams, TV sets, printers, and other "Internet of Things" like devices that never get patches. Those networks get the usual NAT'd IPv4 stuff.

On my IPv6 networks, I have EUI addressing turned off - a pseudo-random address gets generated from time to time (within the IPv6 LAN network prefix), and I often see those devices having multiple simultaneous IPv6 addresses. I believe that this is the default anyway for modern OSes.

And so I think that any counting of adoption by full 128-bit IPv6 addresses will dramatically over-count IPv6 adoption - even if NAT could be taken into account. Google's technicians will know this. Google's marketeers might not care.

Comment: Forward thinking - after a fashion (Score 1) 649

by userw014 (#49519845) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

Young people are already abandoning car ownership as a value in and of itself. This kind of lawyered-up intellectual property protection will only insure that innovation will be eliminated in the automobile market - and continue to discourage personal ownership of vehicles. The Trans Pacific Partnership will help spread this pernicious model across the world, so everyone will become sheeple together.

Comment: Re:ISS as a space garbage bulldozer? (Score 1) 167

by userw014 (#49514231) Attached to: ISS Could Be Fitted With Lasers To Shoot Down Space Junk
I understand the idea of ablation propulsion works - I just have no (intuitive) feel for it. I can't help but think that it amounts to burning off paint on one side of an object in order to provide reaction mass for pushing it the other way. Perhaps if the system could survey the space junk and was able to target within a millimeter or so at a range of 1000Km, it might be able to push the junk into a different orbit - but deorbiting seems very ambitious.

Comment: Don't do it smarter, do it bigger (Score 1) 678

by userw014 (#49510513) Attached to: William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California

So, instead of fixing the horrible problem that California's (the West's - pretty much all of the US's) archaic system of legacy water rights has created, the solution is to do more of the same, except more expensively? Isn't one definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again, expecting things to change?

As for it being a fix for California's immediate drought problem - as I recall, the project he compares this to - the Alaska Oil Pipeline - took 20 years to survey, design, & build. Even if the political and legal environment could work it's way around the idea that this is extremely urgent and absolutely necessary, I don't see a water pipeline taking less than 10 years to build - 5 years at massive cost.

Comment: ISS as a space garbage bulldozer? (Score 1) 167

by userw014 (#49510231) Attached to: ISS Could Be Fitted With Lasers To Shoot Down Space Junk

This is not exactly how I envisioned the ISS years and years ago - as a kind of space going pooper-scooper.

Unless the laser can cause the space junk to emit reaction mass - from the space junk, I don't see how heating it with a laser is going to be effective. It's space-junk, after all - and while we sort of know what we put up there (for certain values of "we") I doubt we know the characteristics well enough to blast the stuff from orbit well enough to avoid causing more problems.

Lastly, 3000 tons (metric or english) is a lot of mass to do this with over the anticipated remaining life of the ISS and the power available - but I'm just going by a gut feeling about the power budget of the ISS.

Comment: This is crazy (Score 1) 587

by userw014 (#49414537) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

I'd never given much thought to the Hugo or Nebula awards, other than they seemed to be an attempt to promote Science Fiction writing beyond the Semi-Literate Boy's Comic Book Adventure model of writing. (I.e.: you could still write Boilerplate Boy's Adventures - as long as you used multi-syllable words.) However, the idea that they wouldn't be a festering nest of some kind of politics was ridiculous. That politics would be whatever the dominant clique would be.

That the outward expression of the politics has anything to do with the Culture Wars is somewhat startling. It's as if the people running the show think that now that Science Fiction has some kind of money earning power (at least occasionally) that the awards mean something more than advertising for fizzy sugar water that really is fizzy and sugary when you buy it at the store.

Personally, I've been finding it hard to take enjoyment in the genre as much as I used to. Of course, most Science Fiction doesn't age very well - technological developments and their consequence in real life too often rip apart the necessary suspension of disbelief necessary to enjoy the other elements of the story. However, I'm also finding discomfort in some of the same sorts of issues (which I'd prefer to think of as moral or ethical rather than political) embedded in some stories (and favored by some authors) that I used to either overlook or had a different perspective on when I was younger. That kind of change is inevitable - a lot of the stories I enjoyed most when I was younger use the polemics of extreme positions in order to remark on (then) contemporary issues (and they did it very well.) But many of those issues have changed since then - some resolved, some partially resolved, and even a few that have become irrelevant. (Think of some of the perspectives on privacy and government intrusion expressed in works from the 1960s - they seem rather naive now in a world with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Stingrays, and the Patriot Act. If only we could go back to a Nixonian era of privacy!)

However, my own laments about maturity and the disappointments of aging aren't the issue here. That issue is the petty nature of the issues inflaming these awards. The issue here is that these cliques forget that the purpose of the Hugo and Nebula awards setting some lower bound to distinguish the illiterate hack writer from the literate hack writer. It's a damn low bar, but I'd rather it not be stirring up the mud in the pigpen.

Comment: Re:Same Thing Almost Happened to Me (Score 1) 536

While I can understand your bitterness, I recall years ago looking at a cute little farm house just outside of town on a few acres of land. It was partially appealing because it was priced low (this was during the go-go housing price inflation of the early 2000s) and a large corner of the property was filled with 2nd (or 3rd) generation woods (weed trees) and that corner looked like a great way to make some money by selling of part of the property to someone to build a house on.

But when you looked into it, you learned that this area was outside of the city water/sewer system, and the soil was dense clay and water logged. There was no place on the corner to put a septic field, and in fact all of the available space for a septic field on the original property was already in use - so the house couldn't be expanded to have more bathrooms, a dish washer, etc.

In some parts of the country, you might have had a chance for some financial compensation from the developer/realtor for misrepresentation of the property if they had claimed that broadband was available.

Hackers are just a migratory lifeform with a tropism for computers.