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Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 304

Turning off lights in cities isn't going to help astronomers much.

Actually, no. City glow is a huge impediment to astronomy for an area hundreds of times the size of the city.

There's a middle ground here. Lighting can be designed so it primarily lights the ground, instead of going every which way. Goes a long way towards reducing problems optical telescope use faces.

Comment Software Priesthood (Score 1) 352

The whole thrust of ESR's Cathedral and the Bazaar essay...

You're about 30 years late WRT your reference. When I said "back in the day"...

I first saw the term "software priesthood" in print in Byte magazine -- it was 1976, I think. It was already in play among those of us who had already been programming for a while, and even more so among certain sectors of management.

Comment Re:use this one neat trick (Score 4, Insightful) 352

Back in the day, we called this concept the "Software Preisthood"

It wasn't complementary.

1) I am not threatened by "everyone" learning to program

2) don't buy a bunch of stupid apps, and,

3) Apparently, you're a programmer, so write your own apps. :)

Comment Re:Yay no more stupid videos! (Score 1) 550

Videos are 5x slower than reading

Yep. And they're extremely difficult to deal with contextually, unless you take the time to generate a full transcript - ugh. So (a) waste your time watching, (b) waste your time writing up a transcript, (c) take the time to post... and (d) everyone has already moved on.

Most video "stories" are for droolers. If you can't write it up, it often isn't worth saying. Exceptions being movies of Pluto, that sort of science-y goodness. I don't think I've ever seen *anything* on the idiot box that was worth a full page of actual cogent explanation. And "interviews".... ffs, just write it down.

Comment Our value is community. Not the broken site. (Score 0, Offtopic) 550

Perhaps the new owners will finally fix the massively broken and stupid moderation system that the previous and current owners have left bereft of badly needed attention:

o Moderators can't post with ID. Stupid. Utterly, completely, stupid. Pointless. Ridiculous.
o Moderators have zero accountability for what they've done -- only for what they might do later
o Absolutely no effective mechanism to remove bad moderation (and that really screws up threads here)
o AC's unjustly penalized, many of the site's best posts never rise above the noise level
o Trolls go un-handled -- the AC low-runging is a punt at not having to work at moderation. But it doesn't work.
o Perversely limited set of mod types leaves moderators unable to moderate reasonably
o Limits on mod ranges penalize the very best posts (and don't adequately address the trolls, either, because...
o On slashdot, troll is effectively equal to AC with one person disagreeing, and...
o Because we can't attribute the "disagree" to the mod, it can't be remediated except by the...
o Random and future-behavior-only-focused meta moderation system.

And then we have:

o Ridiculous delays between posts for ACs AND for logged-in users. Big convo? Too bad for you.
o Inability STILL to handle many character entities after all these years. Not to mention UTF-*8, omg.
o Retarded signature limits. C'mon. Bad sigs should be moderated. It takes a lot of chars to use HTML.

And of course there are the short-bus elephants in the room:

o "Editors" that know nothing about editing. Or writing. Or what constitutes a "story"
o The "firehose", a way to vote up stuff that won't get posted -- can be a total waste of time
o And the continuous mucking about with the parts that worked, making them NOT work,
      while all of the above, which ACTUALLY needs fixing, goes unfixed.

I'd fire the bloody lot of them, frankly.

Comment Re:Even better news for China (Score 3, Insightful) 97

It doesnt matter if those countries get 100 bucks if 99 of them end up going back to cost of manufacturing.

Part of "cost of manufacturing" is paying workers. There and here. So it does matter. When my $100 goes there instead of here, our economy takes a hit. Tiny, sure, but when it's thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of "whatever", then it's no longer a tiny hit.

Comment I was thinking of "high end" in terms of (Score 1) 152

what consumers had access to by walking into a retail computer dealership (there were many independent white box makers at the time) and saying "give me your best."

You're probably right about me underestimating the graphics, though it's hard to remember back that far. I'm thinking 800x600 was much more common. If you could get 1024x768, it was usually interlaced (i.e. "auto-headache") and rare if I remember correctly to be able to get with 24-bit color—S3's first 16-bit capable chips didn't come out until late-1991, if I remember correctly, though I could be off.

SCSI was possible, but almost unheard of as stock, you either had to buy an add-on card and deal with driver/compatibility questions or one of the ESDISCSI bridge boards or similar. Same thing with ethernet, token, or any other dedicated networking hardware and stack. Most systems shipped with a dial-up "faxmodem" at the time, and users were stuck using Winsock on Windows 3.1. It was nontrivial to get it working. Most of the time, there was no real "networking" or "networking" support in the delivered hardware/software platform; faxmodems were largely used for dumb point-to-point connections using dial-up terminal emulator software.

And in the PC space, the higher-end you went, the less you were able to actually use the hardware for anything typical. Unless you were a corporate buyer, you bought your base platform as a whitebox, then added specialized hardware matched with specialized software in a kind of 1:1 correspondence—if you needed to perform task X, you'd buy hardware Y and software Z, and they'd essentially be useful only for task X, or maybe for task X1, X2, and X3, but certainly not much else—the same is even true for memory itself. Don't forget this is pre-Windows95, when most everyone was using Win16 on DOS. We can discuss OS/2, etc., but that again starts to get into the realm of purpose-specific and exotic computing in the PC space. There were, as I understand, a few verrry exotic 486 multiprocessors produced, but I've never even heard of a manufacturer and make/model for these—only the rumor that it was possible—so I doubt they ever made it into sales channels of any kind. My suspicion (correct me if I'm wrong) was that they were engineered for particular clients and particular roles by just one or two orgnaizations, and delivered in very small quantities; I'm not aware of any PC software in 1992 timeframe that was even multiprocessor-aware, or any standard to which it could have been coded. The Pentium processor wasn't introduced until '93 and the Pentium Pro with GTL+ and SMP capabilities didn't arrive until 1995. Even in 1995, most everything was either Win16 or 8- or 16-bit code backward compatible to the PC/XT or earlier, and would remain that way until around the Win98 era.

The UNIX platforms were standardized around SCSI, ethernet, big memory access, high-resolution graphics, and multiprocessing and presented an integrated environment in which a regular developer with a readily available compiler could take advantage of it all without particularly unusual or exotic (for that space) tactics.

Comment So funny, but yeah, totally true. (Score 1) 152

The 386 box that I installed Linux on my first time around was 4MB (4x1MB 30-pin SIMMs). 4MB! I mean, holy god, that's tiny. It seemed sooooo big compared to the 640kb of 8-bit PCs, and yet it's basically the same order of magnitude. Not even enough to load a single JPG snapshot from a camera phone these days.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.