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Comment Re:Egypt in 1922? (Score 3, Insightful) 375

Yeah, but if were to walk into Stockholm in 1250 and say hi to Birger Jarl and ask him what country you were in, what do you think he would have said? Not "Danmark" or "Kalmarunionen" or something like that, I can guarantee you.

A lot of the "independence" dates for European countries are really arbitrary, because they just gradually grew into place.

Equally idiotic is calling the Koreas "68 years old". So what the hell was there before 1945? Or how about year 1000?

Comment I implemented a teensy WWCB transmitter once (Score 5, Interesting) 97

Some 15 years ago, when they were at their original low power, my area was so fringe that my fancy new WWVB wristwatch just wouldn't pick it up.

The protocol is really quite straightforward and well documented at their site. The 60kHz signal sends binary by sending either full power or a bit less (I forget how many dB). I used a computer synced with NTP and a plain old soundcard generating 60kHz from a sound card into an audio amp, and I just did either full on or full off. The output ran into a big coil that I had wound to be roughly resonant around 60kHz.

Much to my amazement, it worked. So I just kept the watch near that coil overnight and it synced perfectly, until WWVB cranked up their power at which point I retired the mess.

Comment Re:Mechanical calculators (Score 1) 83

Slide rules give approximate answers. VERY approximate answers; their only advantage back in the day was that they were fast. These mechanical marvels give exact answers. Considering that when you divide it gives you a remainder that you can use to extend the answer to any arbitrary number of decimal places, they are in fact more accurate than a modern electronic calculator (apart from fancy ones like hp50g)

Anyway, why the negativity? Do you not appreciate well built complex machinery? My example was a Facit calculator, made in Sweden and extremely popular around the world. A similar marvel was the M209 cipher machine. Even includes a printer, yet it fits in your pocket. I'd love to have one.

Comment Re:Mechanical calculators (Score 1) 83

Very little force is needed, and I've never gotten caught on those tabs. Actually, the force depends on how many numbers have to change: rolling over something like 999999 to 1000000 makes a noticeable difference in resistance. Really I should open it up and lube it.

I'm told you can still find these in remote villages in India and Africa and the like. They don't need electricity and are very reliable.

Comment Mechanical calculators (Score 4, Informative) 83

I have one from around 1958, and it's quite satisfying to use.

They can multiply and divide as well as adding/subtracting. The above link shows the result of doing 355/113: 3.1415929 with a remainder of 23.

The top left is an accumulator, the top right is a counter, and the lower register is the number you want to add/subtract (entry register). So to do 355/113, the procedure is

  1. Pull all three 3 metal tabs on the sides to clear all registers
  2. Enter 355, press the rightmost red arrow button to shoot the entry register number all the way to the left
  3. Crank forward once. You now have 3550000000000 in the accumulator and "1" in the counter's leftmost position.
  4. Squeeze the two rightmost chrome handles together to clear both the counter and entry register back to 0
  5. Enter 113, press the rightmost red arrow button to shoot the number all the way to the left. You're done entering numbers at this point.
  6. Crank backwards to subtract from the accumulator until it is less than the entry register (takes three times). Don't worry if you overshoot; a bell will ring to indicate underflow and you just add it back. The counter now shows three in the leftmost position. The red dot indicates that it notes you started off subtracting, so it's counting backward cranks as +1 instead of -1.
  7. Press the right arrow to shift the entry register one position to the right
  8. Repeat the subtracting process, shifting right until you can't go any more right. You're done.

It sounds more complicated than it is, but really it's just long division. It takes about 20-30 seconds to do that division. That sucker works as well as the day it was built. I've looked inside; it's a mechanical marvel.

Oh yeah, those white slider tabs are for placing the decimal points where you want them

Comment Re:COBOL.....or j2ee (Score 1) 339

C'mon, that's unfair. COBOL was in all seriousness meant to let "Managers do Programming", and so it had syntax like "ADD 1 TO X".

Java really was like an easy C/C++. The the object system wasn't bolted on like with C++ and memory management was GC done for free. I program in C for a living but I don't see the hate for Java. It seems like some trendy bullshit to me.

j2ee on the other hand, holy crap what a stinking turd..

Comment Re:chicken or egg? (Score 1) 269

Here's an honest, no trolling, I'm just curious question: when was the last time your heard "begs the question" used to mean "this is a circular argument"?

It has been a long time. It is used incorrectly so often, that I no longer consider it to be a cromulent expression. If you use it correctly, 90% of your readers will be confused. If you use it incorrectly, 10% of your readers will be left wondering what other aspects of your education are also deficient. So it is best to know what the phrase means, but avoid it in your own writing and speaking.

Did they really say "begs the question" or did they say "begging the question"? There's a big difference. If you say the former, you're obviously saying "raises the question". If you say the latter, it's "making a circular argument".

I just don't see why people get so hysterical when "beg" and "question" end up in the same sentence. I think the context always makes it clear. "That begs the question, ..." has an obvious meaning.

Comment Re:chicken or egg? (Score 1) 269

You need to compile this compiler with a compiler which begs the question....

Sigh. It raises the question. To "beg the question" means something completely different. Here is a simple rule of thumb of when that phrase should be used: never.

Here's an honest, no trolling, I'm just curious question: when was the last time your heard "begs the question" used to mean "this is a circular argument"?

Comment I usually can, but I rarely care. (Score 5, Insightful) 749

I'm listening to a performance, not some audio benchmark. If a bit of loss bothers you, it must be some pretty damned uninspiring music you're listening to.

And if you're listening on some random mp3 player with bud headphones while walking around doing stuff, compression loss is the least of your worries.

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