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Comment: Re:Can't imagine anything going wrong (Score 1) 92

A system that can deliver Molotov Cocktails for less than the cost of a soft drink? What could possibly go wrong? This concept is almost as inherently safe and harmless as hooking every traffic light in the country to the internet.

And furthermore we're going to need it to deliver food and medicine when some bored teenager in Budapest switches every traffic light in Western Europe, Australia, and North America to a permanent red.

Comment: Re:excessive scripts (Score 1) 143

by vtcodger (#48496065) Attached to: Black Friday '14: E-commerce Pages Far Slower Than They Were in 2013

> All the user can do is complain that bootup is slower...yeah, y'reckon?

At least one can evict most stuff from the system tray if one works hard enough at it. And it is handy to have a volume control and possibly a few other things there. What, can be done about whackjobs who believe, almost always incorrectly, that javascript is essential to their user's "website experience?"

Comment: Re:But why? (Score 1) 143

by vtcodger (#48496043) Attached to: Black Friday '14: E-commerce Pages Far Slower Than They Were in 2013

It's because every web page wants to load a metric fuck-ton of third-party Javascript and Ajax code from 10 different sources - just to display their banner and navigation panels ...

Sounds right to me. All I know for sure is that today's web has managed the rather remarkable feat of mostly being slower in use than Compuserve was in the early 1990s with a 1200 baud modem. And that's AFTER blocking about 16000 nuisances in /etc/hosts. Our EEE PC's where I don't currently have a hosts file, have become pretty much unusable in Firefox. My esteemed spouse has come to blame Firefox for the situation and would probably advocate execution of the Firefox programmers.

Personally, I think the basic problem is that web site designers are often incompetent and almost universally nuts

Comment: Re:In Finland (Score 1) 516

by vtcodger (#48466069) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

In California for example much of the earthquake damage seems to be wooden houses although they have noticeably strengthened building codes Californians are still stuck with a whole lot of vulnerable older houses.

Backwards. Wooden structures do much better in earthquakes than more rigid structures -- which is why California's building codes allow wood, but ban unreinforced masonry (i.e. bricks) and lightly reinforced concrete. Wooden buildings aren't always as straight or safe after a major earthquake as they were before. But the vast majority of fatalities and serious injuries in quakes since 1933 have been from the collapse of concrete structures -- buildings and roads. see

Wiring? I live in a mostly rural area, and it's mostly a matter of cost I think. My neighborhood has underground utilities that are quite reliable. But most of the region has overhead wiring that is vulnerable to rain, ice, lightning and vehicles amputating the utility poles. Reason: If there are only a handful of customers per kilometer, the costs of burying the wiring are too high for the customer base to fund.

Comment: Re:car (Score 2) 144

by vtcodger (#48456243) Attached to: Here's What Your Car Could Look Like In 2030

It looks like a black rectangle to me. Maybe their web page is just fucked up.

Didn't miss anything. I got as far as the first slide. Or maybe it's their site web page. Whatever it is, it is quite incomprehensible. I don't know what my car will look like in 15 years -- assuming I'm still alive and still have a car. But I'm virtually certain that these dudes will have no role whatsoever in it's design and implementation.

Comment: Re:In a Self-Driving Future--- (Score 1) 454

by vtcodger (#48444495) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

Compared to a computer, a human is utterly incompetent to operate any heavy machinery. The reaction times and accuracy just aren't there, and never will be. That makes you comparatively dangerous, no matter how 'law abiding' you might be

I'm sure the air forces and airline companies will be pleased to know that they can fire their pilots and turn the whole operation over to machines.

Comment: Re:In a Self-Driving Future--- (Score 1) 454

by vtcodger (#48444445) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

I'm quite willing to believe that self driving cars on an expressway that is not undergoing maintenance and in weather that isn't too appalling are significantly safer than human drivers. The worst human drivers are really atrocious. The barrier isn't high.

But I think it is likely to be a long, long time before current map based driving systems are able to navigate suburban or rural roads, deal with detours, pets, or kids, or livestock, or wildlife, or pedestrians with or without strollers, or utility crews, or guys trimming trees, or road crews digging deep holes, or folks signaling a left turn while turning right, or falling/drifting dust or snow (where the hell is the edge of this road and is there a ditch?)

Then there really is a problem with the sales guys overpromising. Are you aware that ABS braking systems worked abysmally for years -- OK on dry roads. not awful on wet roads. Useless or worse in sand, snow, gravel. Probably not, because no one went out to their way to inform the public

I'd like nothing better than to pay someone to install a box or three and a few actuators and sensors that will do my driving for me. But I don't expect it any time soon.

Comment: Re:I liked the original title better (Score 2) 66

by vtcodger (#48404917) Attached to: The New-ish Technologies That Will Alter Your Career

Pretty much :

Internet of Things: The strange idea that my internet connected refrigerator is going to engage in long philosophical discussions with a laundromat in Tashkent and that I will somehow benefit from the discourse. (And that my fridge will not be defrosted by a sociopathic twelve year old in Capetown). Certainly some factory applications will work out. But life changing? My bet is not. (And if I have my way, my ap[pliances aren't going to have an internet connection anyway.)

Parallel Programming: I dunno about the rest of you folks, but I HATE debugging race conditions. There are some applications where parallel programming is a great idea. But mostly, as was pointed out decades ago by I forget who, any advantage gained from multiple CPUs is likely to be lost in expanded interprocess communication and waiting for locks to clear.

3D printing: Seems like it HAS to be good for something. But other than prototyping and maybe some appliance repair where shape is more important than material characteristics, it's hard to see what.

Web APIs: Yechhh. With the best of intentions we've created a monster by allowing everyone to do pretty much whatever they damn well please. Your basic tower of Babel. Yes, there will be careers based on trying to work with this stuff. But I think cleaning septic tanks might be more fun.

Embedded Systems: Fun as a hobby. Will probably be the basis of some really mind-boggling science fair projects. I expect a few folks will somehow create genuinely useful devices and may even profit thereby. But mostly I suspect we're going to end up with uncounted digital nutcrakers and similar pointless stuff.

Comment: Re:Donald Knuth (Score 1) 223

by vtcodger (#48390817) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Programming Education Resources For a Year Offline?

The art of Computer Programming would be my thought as well, but Knuth isn't for everyone. I'd suggest starting it as soon as possible so there's time to put together a Plan B if TAOCP doesn't appeal. The only other book I can think of that really deals in fundamentals is Hamming -- Numerical Methods for Scientists and Engineers. In any case having lived out of a single suitcase for months more than once in my life, I'd suggest taking something somewhat challenging to read on rainy evenings or dealing with public transportation. which is almost always "hurry up and wait". Things that might provoke thought like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance or Fooled by Randomness. The choice is very much a personal thing. In any case, I'd include at least a couple physical books. They are far more robust than even the best of todays electronics. And they don't need batteries.

Comment: Re:There is always a top 100 (Score 2) 104

by vtcodger (#48119987) Attached to: Only 100 Cybercrime Brains Worldwide, Says Europol Boss

Lots of job advancement opportunities for Number 3 thru N guys at Al Queda. The trick looks to be is to find another gig before you advance to Number 2..

As for Mr Oerling, I think he is probably delusional and is vastly underestimating both the number of serious security flaws in modern software and the number of folks attempting to find and exploit the flaws, but maybe he knows something I don't.

Comment: Re:Analog displays are better in some situations. (Score 2) 155

by vtcodger (#48118563) Attached to: Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

Almost everything electronic has been replaced with higher complexity, yet still higher reliability,

Half right. Stuff does tend to become more complex over time. But not necessarily more reliable or more usable. For example, some of our kitchen appliances are indeed more usable than those I grew up with in the 1950s. Some are cluttered with unnecessary, weird, or incomprehensible "features". There are a couple of companies whose products I won't even consider any more when making purchasing decisions because of the loathsome controls they have inflicted on the world in the past.

Reliability? Thanks largely to the Japanese -- who actually care about such things -- Automobiles actually have become more reliable over time. Kitchen appliances. Not so much. Electronics? Look no further than the shambles that the internet has become.

Complexity is not necessarily good. I suspect that if the newer is better school had their way, hammers would weight 20 kilos, have an incomprehensible control panel, 17 moving parts, three circuit boards and would require both power and internet connections. And you'd need to log into them

Comment: Re:Analog displays are better in some situations. (Score 1) 155

by vtcodger (#48118539) Attached to: Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

So it seems to be less about the medium and more about the designed controls.

Exactly. If designers want to do internals with digital bits, that's their decision. If they even have a decision. But the output should be adjusted or adjustable to user needs. Which is hard, because frankly we techies suck at interface design and .experts on interface design seem to be, if anything, worse than non-experts at producing usable devices. For situations like trying to adjust for maximum or minimal level, digital readouts can be pretty much unusable and it's hard to beat the classic analog design that Wikipedia tells me has been around for two centuries.

Slowly and surely the unix crept up on the Nintendo user ...