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Comment A few I cherish (Score 4, Informative) 1244

Mervyn Peake - Gormenghast (and sequels). HARD to get into, but rewarding if you understand that they are very experimental.

F.M.Busby - The Demu Trilogy. Nothing ground-breaking, but it is well written escapist fiction.

James Blish - Cities in Flight. Ditto the previous.

John Crowley - Little, Big. Please please please DO read this. It is the single best book in the English language. Each chapter is like a gem. Another of his books "Engine Summer" is also jaw-droppingly lovely and has a "reveal" at the end that makes M.Night Shamylam seem like a moron. You WILL weep unashamedly. His later stuff is hard to digest, but worth the read if you stick with it.

Lin Carter - The Martian books (The Valley Where Time Stood Still, The City Outside the World, Down to a Sunless Sea, and The Man Who Loved Mars). Thinking man's pulp fiction.

James H. Schmitz - The Witches of Karres. So fun to read. It's a novelization of a series of short stories (or it reads that way, anyway) concerning a trio of underage witches and the space captain they "adopt" and whose life they make miserable but in a good way.

Apologies for spelling/grammar/mispronunciation/

Comment Some of the most common leap-year bugs (Score 5, Informative) 247

Some of the common leap year bugs that I've seen over the years:

1. A matrix with the number of days per month:
e.g. smallint dayspermonth[12]={31,28,31,30,31,30,31,31,30,31,30,31};
Indexing into the matrix for February (index 1) ignores leap years.

1. A matrix with 365 elements to represent a year's worth of something:
e.g. smallint hightemps[365];
This usually doesn't fail until Dec 31, when hightemp[mydate.dayofyear()-1] points to a non-existent element.
Of course, if dayofyear is calculated using the matrix in the prior bug, it will fail invisibly since that will be incorrect
as well.

2. Quck-n-dirty subtract one year math:
e.g. Convert date to char in YYYYDDMM format, convert char to int, subtract 10000, convert back to a char and then date.
Why people do this when you can dateadd(year,mydate,-1) is that easy, I have no clue. But it breaks horridly when
you use it to determine "one year ago today" from Feb 29.

Comment Re:Distance calculation is trivial... (Score 1) 316

Second (or apparently third) that opinion. Here is a tip to make queries based on distance MUCH faster:

First, divide your territory into equally-sized "squares" based on the maximum "within N miles of" distance or some other convenient size. Give each an X and Y coordinate starting at 0,0=westernmost,northernmost and continuing Eastward,and Southward with incrementally larger values of X and Y. Store them as individual columns with a bitmap index.

When joining the table to find records within N miles of a set of given lat/long coordinates, you only have to determine which X,Y square the lat/long coordinates fall into and query just those records that are within X+/-2 and Y+/-2. This will make use of the indexes on X and Y and greatly reduce the number of records that you need to perform the (CPU costly) distance calculation upon.

This method increases the efficiency of questions that require a join (e.g. "records within N miles of each other") because the X and Y coordinate join, although not an equi-join, can still use the indexes.

It also helps with figure-based queries (e.g. "records inside a circle of radius R miles" and "records inside complex polygon with vertices P1,P2,P3...") because the squares that the figure fully or partially encompasses can be pre-calculated and used in the WHERE clause of the query.

Comment Biting hand that feeds you, 2.0 (Score 1) 390

Libraries could just take the easy way out and not purchase ANY books (real OR imaginary) from publishers whose eBook library licensing terms they consider to be unreasonable. When people stop seeing real the publishers' real books at the library, the loss of free advertising will hurt more than the loss of revenue from sales of imaginary books. Libraries need to wise up and realize that they are the ONLY showrooms for publishers now that real book stores are going out of business left and right. In a couple of years, they will have the power to put individual publishers out of business.

And to everybody who said "eBooks won't fuck up the whole world of reading," a big hearty "I told you so."

Comment Geological Process? (Score 1) 90

MESSENGER revealed an unexpected class of landform on Mercury and suggest that a previously unrecognized geological process is responsible for its formation. I'm not an astrophysicist. Doesn't "Geological" refer specifically to Earth? The "Geo" comes from "Gaea," the Greek personification of Earth. Mercury would be something like "Hermeticological" I would think. I got this from a sci-fi book (one of Heinlien's, if I recall correctly), so don't jump on me if it's incorrect.

Comment Lawsuit pending for Bethesda Elder Care in MD (Score 1) 332

In other news, software giant Bethesda Softworks LLC has go ahead with its pending lawsuit against Bethesda Elder Care in Bethesda, MD. The software corporation claims that the patients of the assisted care facility are at risk of confusing their residence for an open-ended role playing environment, citing such similarities as both having features in common like "air" and "ground."

Bethesda Softworks, LLC President and CEO Vlatko Andonov said the following in a press release last Thursday:

Look, we're not here to pick on the little guy, but this is a serious problem. We've already heard reports that seniors have been hospitalized due to confusion with the potion-making abilities. We're working on a way to make the poision/potion indicator more accessible to people who are color blind or have other vision issues such as cataracts. And last week, Mr. Gershowicz was found over five miles away from the facility on a stolen horse. I mean, the man was about to enter a troll cave with ceremonial armor. CEREMONIAL- can you believe that? And his save-on-hit skill was only like 120 with buffs. These are prefectly nice old men and ladies, but they do not belong in a world focused on "aesthetic presentation and open-ended adventuring."

Andonov went on to explain that his corporation is the clear and undisputed trademark holder for the term "elder" and warns that other infringing parties such as the Box Elder School District in Utah will be facing similar litigation in the near future.

Comment No technological basis, just $$$ (Score 1) 661

This is no different from iOS devices not supporting Flash, or allowing any app that does support Flash or other embedded programming environment.

Microsoft has already said they will not allow non-validated Metro applications and won't allow distribution via any method other than their app store.

Sound familiar? By not supporting Flash (or other plug-ins), they make sure nobody can develop for their platform without them getting a cut. It's weird how Microsoft jumped on that bandwagon, especially after all the digs at Apple for doing exactly the same thing.

Comment All "Metro" Apps Go Through App Store??? (Score 1) 538

This is a stupid idea. It was a stupid idea on the i-whatever devices that Apple sells, and it will be a stupid idea on Windows. Say I want to develop and use an application that I write myself. For myself. On my computer and nobody else's. Now I have to get Windows' approval to "sell" it to myself? I'm heading out to buy a couple of copies of Windows 7 (which I actually kinda like) in case I get a new PC sometime in the future and it comes with Windows 8. That way, I can wipe the disks clean and do a fresh install of a slightly less crippled OS.

Submission + - Which weighs more, 1s or 0s? 1

tillerman35 writes: Pick a a type of storage device (hard drive, thumb drive, RAM memory chip, CD, DVD, BRD, whatever), and set every bit possible to 1, within the limits of how the device works. Would it weigh more than it would if you set all the bits to 0? Obviously if there's a difference, it wouldn't be large even if the storage device could hold terabytes. I'm not sure it would even be measurable. But in theory is there a difference, however small?

Comment This crap is why we have "Math Explorations." (Score 1) 677

I'm all for "math is cool," and "let's explore," but this guy seriously torques me off. My kids are currently suffering from the influence of people like him. They have taken the basics out of math and substituted this useless "math explorations" curriculum. Other folks have written better criticisms, but suffice it to say that the vast majority of kids don't benefit from all this "exploration" and "visualization" and the ones who do would have had those epiphanies anyway without any help whatsoever.

The BETTER way is to stick to the basics and train teachers to recognize kids who have a mathematically artistic talent and then remove them to an environment where it can flourish. That's tough for a couple of reasons. First, those kids might not actually get good grades. The author of TFA is entirely correct that the basics bore them which results in inattention and lack of motivation. Second, when they ARE good, removing them will lower the overall test scores of the class. Since teachers' pay and bonus structures are based on their students' test scores, there would be a strong monetary motivation to intentionally fail to recognize them.

Assuming that those two problems can be overcome (big assumption there), you continue to train the "artistic" kids in the basics, but only just enough to get by. The rest of the time, you motivate them in a way that would make the author of TFA happy.

The problem is, people have this wonderful but sadly mistaken belief that ALL kids can benefit from artistic mathematics when in fact most can't. Compounding the problem is the bizarre theory that teaching the artistic mathematics will somehow magically result in the basics becoming trivially easy. It doesn't. And unfortunately, our kids have to fail spectacularly in order to teach the education system this simple fact. "Luckily," that's what they're doing in droves.

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