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Comment Re:Dont buy apple for the hardware... (Score 1) 914

Don't buy a Mac because you think it has great hardware. If that is your reason for buying a Mac, go buy a PC and turn it into a Hackintosh, it's much cheaper.

I bought a Macbook Air because I liked the hardware. The OS was secondary. By now I've gotten used to OSX, it does the job. I'm not sure it makes me more efficient or anything. As a software person, I do find the unix base quite useful.

With the Air and now this new Macbook Pro, Apple is hitting target markets that no one else has. My requirements were simple:

  • Must be extremely light (~2lbs or 1kg).
  • Must be thin enough (for me that is less than 1")
  • Must be powerful enough (i3 or i5 minimum, Intel Atom does not cut it)
  • Must be capable of SSD storage
  • Must be 11" screen size, no bigger, no smaller.
  • Must have a method of port expansion (usb2 hubs are not good enough).

Given that, I did not buy the first or second iteration of Macbook Airs. I waited until last year's iteration which came with Thunderbolt and i5 CPUs. Prior to that, I can tried a few different PC alternatives. The first 10" Asus netbook, and later Acer 11" notebook with a slightly faster AMD processor. They were both extremely lacking though they were close in the form-factor department. The first computer to pretty much meet my requirements was the Macbook Air 11" with Thunderbolt.

My use case is fairly simple. I needed a computer that is portable yet powerful enough to take with me. This makes it possible for me to bring my work with me and rid myself of all the extra computers that are totally unnecessary in my opinion. I shouldn't need a powerful desktop just to do software development. I don't play games anymore so I don't care about graphical performance. I do care about video acceleration so many netbooks fell flat in this area. The SSD is necessary for fast application startup and file access. You simply do not go back after using an SSD. Finally the 11" screen is both the minimum and maximum size I'm willing to deal with when traveling. It is both small enough to fit in a small backpack yet large enough to do work.

The only things I desire for my Air right now are:

  • HiDPI screen
  • Thunderbolt dock

If they could also manage to make the charger a little thinner, that would be a bonus.

Other than that, when it comes to PCs there's always something amiss. Either they fumble with the key layout, the trackpad sucks in some way, or they have some kind of build-quality defect. My Air wasn't exactly perfect, but it did manage to get the key points correct. The keyboard is actually spot on (although OSX key bindings take some learning) and the trackpad is good. One thing that does suck about Macs is there's a limited selection of input devices or you need third party software to make it work right. My logitech G5 mouse is evidence of this where I had to use usb overdrive to make it work better.

But it wasn't until Apple made the Airs until everyone else started to copy. I don't care about copies, I do care that other PC manufacturers couldn't figure this out fast enough. When netbooks came out they were happy to just keep making more colors and shinier netbooks. They never thought to put a serious effort into making something thin yet sturdy. They didn't bother to make the hardware fast enough. Most of them pretty much just competed on price. Now Apple's proven people wanted something like the Air, and only now will the other manufacturers follow. That's ridiculous.

The Macbook Air is actually my second Mac. The first was the first generation of Intel Mac Minis. It was a good computer but I didn't see much of the point. It was still a time when things were underpowered and having a small desktop computer didn't have much general purpose. Your comment probably would have been applicable then. But these days the portability requirements are taking over. People are moving back to the city, they're on the go, they want a computer that can match that lifestyle. For that the Air is perfect.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 3, Interesting) 683

If you work in programming or anything related to graphical design or the visual arts (video included) I would say yes.

For everyone else, maybe they can get by. The problem with our current displays is text is rendered like crap. The low resolution displays are the entire reason why sans-serif fonts (Arial, helvetica, etc) became popular. In print serifed fonts (Times New Roman) used to be popular because they had more DPI to work with. That meant fine details necessary for the font were actually printed nicely. On a low DPI (less than 100) serifs look like absolute junk. Yet a serif font in print is actually easier to read than a sans-serif font.

So if you read anything on an electronic device, you should want a high DPI display because it will actually be easier on your eyes. Furthermore things will start to scale naturally where as right now they just turn out to be this blurry mess because we need to apply antialiasing magic to make it look right at the expensive of being blurry.

Comment Re:sexism (Score 1) 687

No. Sympathy. At. All.

Read the article. The girls know what they're getting into and if they have issues with it, they quit.

But, again. Stupid companies. Stop using booth babes. It makes the industry look adolescent in nature, and is disrespectful to all women, and even more disrespectful to women in tech. THIS kind of attitude is why many of us geeks can't get a date.. change it!

No, the reason why you can't get a date is because your logic and self-esteem is all wrong.

The industry is merely taking advantage of a weakness in (male) psychology. It is shown over and over again that people do judge a book by it's cover, so a marketing department would be stupid not to accept that fact. They are there to increase ROI, not be "politically correct".

Second of all anyone can get a date with the right kind of attitude. Step 1 is to treat people like people regardless of their shortcomings. You've already judged booth babes based on some slashdot headline and summary so I don't doubt that you'll do the same with others. A common theme in any social interaction is that people don't want to be judged, they want to have conversation. When trust and understanding is established, only then can advice be made and accepted.

Step 2 is to stop succumbing to your own perceived "disadvantages". It is true that some people will never accept you, but their logic is just as shallow as yours at the moment so they are not people you want to interact with anyway. But of the people that are willing to accept you, the idea is not to push them away because of your own shallowness. When you get your head over that, you can begin to have a healthy social experience.

Comment Re:"Her other part-time job as a dancer" (Score 1) 687

I'm not a dad, but do you realize how hard that kind of thing is? If you want to be logical, the easiest method is to marry the ugliest woman you can find to ensure that your potential daughters have no chance at ever becoming attractive (of course these days they always have the option of plastic surgery).

These days kids have all kinds of external influences parents have no control over. Their friends, the radio/tv/internet, the people they meet everyday. The more restrictive you get the more likely you are to push your kid into making rash decisions simply out of angst. Become too loose and they're more susceptible to "meeting the wrong people". While there is certainly some kind of formula that tends to have success, it isn't full proof. You can find exceptions in nearly all cases.

Comment Simple (Score 1) 201

That's easy:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Degree of current use by others

A language generally succeeds if both of those are true. Now ease of use is a moving target; if you're writing system level code, you're not going to want to use a dynamic interpreted language, if you're writing some throw-away script however, dynamic interpreted languages become attractive.

I'm not sure why we even need to ask/answer this question. Languages are just like products of technology. People use them based on their requirements and how popular they are. Popularity is important because if you have a problem, you know that others using the same product may have some experience with your problem so you can seek help/advice.

Comment Re:If you're subscribed to him.. (Score 1) 335

The slashdot male bias is strong in this one.

There are logical and valid reasons for why women want to get married and have kids. As women age, their fertility drops and it becomes increasingly harder to have a kid with fewer complications. If they were to follow statistics of known studies they would be having kids in their early 20s.

Generally, the logic process is quite simple: if they want to have kids then they should have kids before age 35. Wanting kids also isn't necessarily a dream, I would say it is more defined by our species and evolution. I will say socially, there is a huge difference between having a couple kids and many kids. Having many kids tends to create population problems. Having a few kids stabilizes the population. Having no kids (a declining population) is a problem as nobody will replace dead members of society.

Even though I think Zuckerberg is a douch-bag, I still think he and what I barely know of his wife are much more capable at producing beneficial "kids" to society than say... Britney Spears. If we want to be logical about this process, we should have educated and more responsible members of society doing that majority of pro-creation for us. But we don't, instead we have poorer people producing the most kids either as "mistakes" or religion or because of (initially) cheap entertainment purposes.

You can blame this on the reactions you see from girl's toys to mother's behavior but there's hard evidence that that is more likely a symptom of a deeper need.

Before you snap back at me, I think it would be a good idea to have a look at female fertility before you dismiss everything.

Comment Re:Wrong (Score 4, Interesting) 487

Most people's vocabulary is not that large.

Let's use the xkcd example: correct horse battery staple.

Using a list of the 5000 most commonly used words, I was able to find rankings for 3 of the 4 words:

  • 1813 correct
  • 1291 horse
  • 3226 battery

"staple" doesn't even appear on the most common 5000 word list. But let's assume it did at 5000. That means your dictionary now is 5000 words large. 5000^4 = 6.25 * 10^14.

Now let's address your suggestion:

you don't really have a key space much larger than normal 7 character or so passwords offer

Now your average English keyboard has 47*2 = 94 type-able characters. 94^7 = 6.48477594 * 10^13. The xkcd example assuming it was smaller than it really was beat your suggestion by an order of magnitude.

Now let's address how large people's vocabularies are. According to wikipedia:

This translates into a wide range of vocabulary size by age five or six, at which time an English-speaking child will have learned about 2,500-5,000 words. An average student learns some 3,000 words per year, or approximately eight words per day.

But 6 year old kids don't have much interesting personal information that people are really after like credit cards. Let's read further:

A 1995 study estimated the vocabulary size of college-educated speakers at about 17,000 word families, and that of first-year college students (high-school educated) at about 12,000.


So let's re-do the calculations with 10,000 words: 10 000^4 = 1.0 * 10^16.

Things will only get worse if you tell people to use numbers, names, special abbreviations, etc. For example it will be highly unlikely the following phrase will be in your dictionary: "5000 most common vocabulary". People can also use natural language and still fall way out of your dictionary: "yummy carne asada dinner". They can also use personal and vulgar language: "Stupid bitch Alice, never again".

Comment Re:Can already have all that (Score 1) 648

Buses, subways, etc all fail hard when you start talking about suburbs, rural areas, etc.

I would argue the problem isn't in the mode of transportation, it is how the city was designed. In this case suburbia is built around the car while subways and trains were intended for people and associated urban areas.

The problem withe driverless cars is it is likely going to solve nothing. The idea that they're going to solve traffic is not going to happen. Traffic occurs because demand exceeds road capacity. It doesn't matter if you have a computer doing the automation. A pipe that can only allow 10 megabits per a second isn't going to go any faster than 10 megabits per a second. Same is true for roads but instead for number of cars allowed.

Traffic is still going to occur and maybe in fact it can get worse as people now don't care about how long the commute is since they are not responsible for driving. While road capacity might improve a bit since computers can efficiently allow smaller gaps between vehicles (but wouldn't this be countered if all cars effectively follow the speed limit? here in California it is common to be above the speed limit by 10mph effectively increasing the capacity of the roads), the problem of sustainability still exists. People travelling via cars and roads for 30 minutes to 1 hour is still not right.

In fact, some will say car ownership should go down. However, if this occurs, vehicle miles travelled in a suburban setting should go up. This means instead of parking the car in your garage, it goes back to where it needs to park or to a farther passenger if it can't find another person to service in the immediate area. So while we reduce the effective number of cars available at any point, we increase the amount of travel each car must do. This currently would actually be a step backwards since many cars are actually run until they aren't cheaply maintainable. So while we aren't necessarily "wasting cars" we are wasting fuel.

A lot of people don't want to accept this but I still think this is a problem of suburban living instead of urban living. There are countless examples of people living in cities all over the world yet only in North America do we have this aversion to urban settings. The conclusion I've come to is that this is a North American cultural problem, not a human needs problem. People in other countries of the world are free to live wherever they want but they typically congregate around cities. Only in places where resources like land are plentiful do people suddenly start to consume more land and often for no good reason. Driverless cars will only feed that wastefulness.

The only thing that will likely improve is passenger safety and perhaps pedestrian safety.

Comment Re:I say drop nickels too! (Score 1) 473

I agree, although you would change your coin system if you dropped one decimal.

I'm all for dropping a decimal and going to dimes. However, I would go ahead and change a few things: dump all current coins and switch to dimes, 50c coins, and $1 coins. This way cash prices can only be in dimes and you phase in $1 coins. The shape of the new 50c coin would be slightly larger than today's nickel, and the dollar can still be those dollar coins they've been minting.

Dimes will be dimes and they'll start to feel like pennies. The only difference is now you only need 50 to trade to a $5 bill (new lowest bill denomination) instead of 100 pennies to get to a $1 today. Similarly, 5 dimes would get you to 50c just as 5 pennies get you to 5c.

Comment Re:Avid TAL Fan Here (Score 1) 332

Journalism itself cannot be trusted. It is often filled with biases or spins the source purposely puts in in order to accomplish spreading their intended message. It doesn't matter if the media is publicly owned or corporate owned. It is guaranteed that you'll get shoddy journalism if laws don't protect free speech.

The only thing that can prevent a population from buying into poor journalism is an educated population. That is a population where individuals are capable for uncovering lies and biases inherent in the sources. This is why adequate education of citizens is crucial.

Comment Most companies are not in the IT business (Score 1) 235

This is likely to be an unpopular opinion on slashdot, but the fact is most companies are not in the IT business. That means their primary service/product is not IT. If a company is selling shoes for example, they're not exactly going to be innovators in the IT world. In fact they'd much rather hire an external IT agency to handle their IT requirements because let's face it, there isn't much tie in with IT for their shoe selling business.

You can replace shoes with nearly anything. Now if your company's business relies heavily on IT infrastructure like certain engineering and technology segments, then perhaps it makes sense to bring in your own in-house IT department.

This applies not just to IT. For example the same shoe selling company isn't going to have a spectacular accounting department. They're either going to hire an accounting firm or just enough accountants to make the wheels spin for accounting.

The quicker you realize this the quicker you should be able to find a position that is stable for your own profession. If you want true stability and you want to stay in IT, then it is time to start your own IT business and bid on IT contracts.

Comment Re:Great but... (Score 1) 467

Now consider that binary search is a freshman level programming problem and therefore is pretty low in terms of the complexity a developer is going to deal with. Much of software development will deal with far more complicated scenarios than this, and the facility doesn't *really* cover even the binary search complexity.

You're thinking a little narrow. You've found a problem with this style of programming and therefore dismiss its merits. But in the real world, I would say 90% or even more of the code we write is boring and lifeless.

For example his "replay" demo concept or the binary search demo where he gave the function values and saw the output was basically unit testing but interactively. So once he has inserted some values and found the correct output, shouldn't he be able to record that as a macro and now be finished with a unit test? That's a lot less mental work than imagining the boundary cases and inputing values or setting up scenarios to come up with a test suite. If this was possible it would take much less time than it currently does to write unit tests.

Another important aspect of his demo is the tree vector image. I think it includes an aspect that is missing from most UI development interfaces. The general consensus among UI development is the best we can provide is a drag and drop "what you see is what you get" but once you want to get into the details (the code) the WYSIWYG view disappears so now you're back to the tweak-compile-check loop. If there was a real-time display of your UI right next to the code as well as an inspector tool like he demo'ed, then making that UI wouldn't be so tedious especially since everyone has a different UI API to work with.

The closest I have seen to this is actually firebug and firebug's inspector tool. If we could take the same concept one step further into our programming code, then I would expect UI experiences and quality to improve across the board.

One field where his ideas are actually being implemented is photography. Cameras have gone quite a ways in "doing the boring stuff for you" so that you can focus on the creative process. (In fact the new lytro cameras allow you to change focus after the fact.) But because of this improvement in instance feedback on digital cameras, the number of photographers that can produce good quality work has increased dramatically. The traditional dark room is now replaced with software where you can see real-time edits with nearly unlimited undo. You could say within perhaps a decade everyone and their parents will be professional photographers. Sure, we just killed yet another profession, but I think that's the entire point of technology.

On the other side another field that is sorely in need of this is the medical field. A simple example would be that we have built machines to take blood pressure and heart rate automatically. But why aren't they in homes? We brush our teeth everyday, why can't we take blood pressure? Why can't we get a daily or even real-time heart rate? We carry smart phones. We have wireless networks. Why not advocate daily blood pressure readings tied to a wireless network that would log and analyze your blood pressure and heart rate over time so you could see trends on a daily basis rather than behaving in a reactive manner by going to the doctor when you do start to have severe symptoms. If this information was available, the doctor would not just have your vital readings on the day you show up, he would have an entire history of your readings. Why even stop there, why not have the system signal when thresholds or trends are developing and recommending you see a doctor about a developing trend so preventative care can be utilized.

Comment Re:A Joke (Score 1) 599

Sure, I could have bought a cheaper car, and I'll never save enough in gas (well, unless Iran destabilizes the middle East and we end up with $10/gal gas) to recover my cost, but I actually like driving the Volt. It's not a sports car, but it's not sluggish either. 0-60 is 9.2 seconds, but the instant torque from the electric engine makes it feel much faster. In "Sport" mode, it does 0-30 in 3.0 seconds.

That's great for you. But here's what's going on in my mind: I could buy the upcoming Toyota Prius C for $20k, use it for the lame commute. Then later buy the upcoming Scion FRS (Toyota GT-86 outside of US) for ~$23 to $25k (official price not announced) for my "sporting" desires.

Buying the Volt is asking me to subsidize GM's plans without much benefit. Furthermore, I only have the capacity to afford at maximum a $25k car. I could afford more, but it isn't a good use of my income at my level.

At least a Tesla Roadster was something to be interested in. A Tesla Model S as well. GM really tried to meet too broad a market with the Volt. And the sales prove that.

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