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Comment Who cares about operating systems? (Score 0) 344

Honestly, isn't Slashdot about news for Nerds and stuff that matters? So why do we keep discussing operating systems? The far more interesting stuff is built on top of the operating system, and the operating system merely serves that. I don't use the operating system to draw in 2D or 3D, I don't use it to write software, and I don't use operating system to write mail and posts.

Current operating systems offer file systems and hardware abstraction, and have done that for decades. We should be discussing where we want to take technology, not where it lead us in the past. How can we find better metaphors for storing data than a folder structure? How can we improve collaboration between different applications? How can we make more intelligent machines? Let's keep dreaming, and find ways to make these dreams come true.

This isn't to belittle the efforts of Linux, Microsoft or Apple, but just to put stuff into perspective. Operating systems are overrated. When people care about code being able to run on several operating systems, that just proves my point.

Comment Offer help (Score 1) 276

I suppose the best way is to offer help, and say that you can help best if the kid chooses a similar career as yours. If there is interest, giving a good book can do lot. Later, you may be able to help prepare for tests or give career advice.

If the kid is not interested, let him or her pursue something else, but don't feel bad about it - after all, you offered help.

Back in the eighties and nineties, you could achieve a lot with a little effort - now most often it takes groups of people to achieve little advances, and earlier opportunities are well-covered with patents. Still, we take pride in our work, and need a new generation to continue work on our projects, or these projects will die.

Comment Things of practical value? (Score 1) 462

I would propose to give your students something of practical value. Before you jump into programming with them, make them understand that they should start to program only when necessary. For example, many people underestimate the power of spreadsheets. If you can express a program as a single function, mark all cells in a spreadsheet, and copy the formula into that block, what you get in essence is a Turing machine with limited storage. Meaning: this can compute anything the human mind can compute. And often all that is needed to solve recurring mathematical problems is a well-designed spreadsheet. This will teach them a lot about programming already: they will have to deal with the fact that certain dependences between cells would lead to infinite loops, and how to solve mathematical equations using assignments.

Whether you want to teach this with Microsoft Office or with Open Office may not matter from a theoretical point of view, but please keep in mind that they own Open Office for life time, without need for ever purchasing an update.

Comment Re:Do not use batteries and gas tanks in cars (Score 1) 284

Then use batteries only to bridge gaps between road segments with overhead lines. Or go even further: integrate overhead lines into rails mounted at a height of 4m to eleminate any threads that cars pose to pedestrians. I am seriously sick of breathing in exhausts of people's cars who come to visit to my city or being nearly overrun by them while I live in a place where all essential spots can be reached by bike, on foot or by tram.

Comment Re:In order to avoid Microsoft and Apple ... (Score 1) 344

This would never work because of the myriad hardware/driver configurations necessary to support,

No problem. Linux drivers support lots of hardware. For older hardware, driver support is often better than for new editions of Windows. Also, not all types of hardware need to be supported. Instead, vendors could test their hardware to be compatible with a test boot disk.

and distribution rights for chipset, graphics, and sound drivers.

Also not a problem, because Linux drivers are mostly open source. For the few pieces of hardware where no Linux-compatible driver exists, such hardware would simply not be compatible with such a boot disk. Still no problem, as plenty of alternatives exist.

Even if they could produce the magic Linux boot CD that would work on every gaming PC made for the last 15 years, on Intel, AMD, Nvidia, ATI, Matrox, and any other graphics card known to man,

As I said, Linux works on a wide variety of configurations, and such a boot CD does not need to support legacy hardware.

Nvidia would still go after them for distributing Nvidia copyrighted software without the rights.

From the licensing agreement for Nvidia drivers: "2. GRANT OF LICENSE 2.1.2 Linux Exception. Notwithstanding the foregoing terms of Section 2.1.1, SOFTWARE designed exclusively for use on the Linux operating system may be copied and redistributed, provided that the binary files thereof are not modified in any way (except for unzipping of compressed files)."

Comment Minimal Server ... (Score 1) 105

Does your game really require a server? Servers increase cost for open source projects, so I would run as much code as possible on the clients. Granted that you need the server to set up the games, but all actions could be refereed indepently by several clients. If they don't agree, this may mean that someone is using a hacked client, and a warning should be displayed. The more players participate in such a peer-to-peer game, the more clients would have to be hacked in order cheat, but of course a single vulnerability in your system may still be fatal for security.

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