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Comment Make it a publicity right (Score 3, Interesting) 295

While, in the US (or even the EU), we're not likely to see a "right to be forgotten", we might have a "right not to have one's identity exploited for advertising purposes". You should be able to quit an ad-supported service and insist that none of your data every appear on a page with an ad. If it does, the advertiser has to pay you a publicity fee. California has a law like that for photos - if you use someone's photo in an ad without their permission, you owe them at least $500 - much more if they're famous.

Comment Re:I've only ever seen it used right one time (Score 1) 372

The nice thing is the way the system grades our answers - it actually evaluates our answers to see if they are mathematically equal to the desired answer (within certain limits, for example if it asks me to integrate something, I can't just put in the integral, I actually have to do the work) so, basically if the answer is Pi/3, it will also accept 3Pi/9, etc.

Plato had that feature 40 years ago. It checked to see if two equations were equivalent by generating random test cases for the variables and checking for near numeric equivalence.

Comment Do you want fries with that? (Score 1) 347

There are far too many "web developers" already. Web development is an additional skill for copywriters, illustrators, and office admins. In 1998, you could make big money as a "web developer". Back then, it was important to get into the field fast and not miss out on the dot-com boom. That's over.

Most web development today uses some "framework" or content management system. Users of those need only a modest level of training. Weeks, not years. It's more like learning Microsoft Office.

Comment Re:Hurd(TM) (Score 1) 274

What happens when leftist developers don't rip off UNIX, Windows or MacOSX.

There's something to be said for this. There are things that open source development does not do well. Designing tight, elegant systems from scratch is one of them. The Hurd crowd started hacking on Mach. That sucked. Then they tried L4. That didn't work. Then they tried Coyotos. That didn't work.

The QNX kernel is about 60K bytes of x86 code. Writing a microkernel is not about writing a lot of software. It's about writing a small amount of very well designed software. The hack and patch approach doesn't work for that.

Comment Re:HURD vs QNX (Score 4, Informative) 274

I know. QNX does a lot of things right. The company, though, is notorious for driving its customers and employees nuts. It's been sold twice, one to Harmon (car audio) and then to RIM (now Blackberry). The code went from closed source to open source to closed source to open source to closed source. During the latter part of the Harmon period, you could download the entire kernel source.

The developer community was fed up by this. During the open source periods, there were QNX builds for many major open source products, like Firebird (what Firefox was first called) and GCC. Those are no longer maintained.

The QNX kernel is only about 60K bytes on x86 platforms. All it does is message passing, CPU dispatching, memory management, and timers. There's also a built-in process called "proc", which is a few hundred K. All device drivers, file systems, and networking are in user space. One of the great things about having such a tiny kernel is that it can be fully debugged. It needs to be changed very rarely. It can be put in ROM and stay unchanged for the life of the machine. In many embedded applications, it is. If the Hurd kernel is much bigger than that, they're doing it wrong.

You can still get QNX for free for non-commercial purposes. Few people do.

Comment First "user interface" with any smarts (Score 5, Interesting) 120

He was also the Father of the User Interface. He was the first to take human factors into consideration in the design or products.

No, that goes back at least to the Gilbreths. Frank Gilbreth created time and motion study for industrial work. His wife, Lillian Gilbreth was more on the product side. She is responsible, among other things, for kitchens with long continuous counter space with cooking surfaces and sinks at the same level.

The first "intelligent user interface" is hard to pinpoint. Railroad interlocking control boards were close. They prevented the operator from doing anything that would cause a collision (that's why they're called interlockings) but didn't help set up routes. The General Railway Signal NX system in 1936 was probably the first automatic intelligent user interface. Routes were set up by pressing a button to indicate where a train was going to enter the controlled area. Lights on a track model board would then light up indicating all the places it could exit. The operator would select one, push one exit button, and all the switches and signals for the route would be set accordingly. The control system took into account all trains present, and all routes already set up, so only safe routes could be set. The operator could even set track or switches out of service and the system would route trains around the area of trouble.

Comment Non-English XML (Score 1) 330

I've seen XML with tags in Japanese. Tags in large-character set languages are troublesome. When text has to match exactly, full Unicode is a pain. There are homoglyphs; you can't tell by looking if there's a match.

There are huge headaches associated with Unicode URLs and domains. There are complex rules for avoiding domains that look visually the same but are different to DNS, and trouble getting the registrars to enforce them. Although they're fully supported by browsers today, they're not widely used in Japan or China. Arabic, Hebrew, and Cyrillic domains are widely used; they're unambiguous, provided that you stick to one language set per string.

Comment QNX does this and gets it right. (Score 4, Informative) 311

QNX, the real-time message passing operating system now owned by Blackberry, does all "console" handling in user space. They've done that for years. That's because, in the embedded world, you can't assume the target machine has a console, or even a serial port.

When you build a QNX boot image for an embedded system, you can add any programs you want to be available as soon as the system boots. All device drivers are in user space, so that's how the initial set of drivers gets loaded. You can also load applications that way. Having a file system is optional. If necessary, all software can be in a ROM. This allows scaling down to small embedded devices.

A serial console program is available, and is loaded into most systems that have a serial port. There are other options for systems that don't have a serial port, like connecting it to a network.

There's also a system logger. It's common to have the system logger log to some network destination elsewhere, so problems out at Pumping Station 42 are reported to the control center far away.

Linux has tried to emulate this architecture. More drivers are in user space. But in Linux that was an afterthought, and it shows.

Comment Hiding negative information on Wikipedia (Score 4, Interesting) 241

"Reputation defense" on Wikipedia has become an issue. Here's a wash cycle on Wikipedia, carried out on behalf of Michael Milken, one of the notorious financial crooks of the 1980s. ("Biggest fraud case in the history of the securities industry." back in 1990.) He has a self-admitted paid editor on Wikipedia editing his article to make him look good.

Comment What's new about this? (Score 1) 160

What's new about a wrist phone? Swatch had the Swatch Talk wrist phone in 1998. Samsung had one in 2001. If you want one right now, there are several on Amazon. They're cheap, too; well under $100 for an unlocked phone.

There's even a full Android device in a watch size announced. This thing can supposedly make phone calls, shoot video, browse the web, get your location, etc.

Comment Good for embedded systems (Score 4, Insightful) 255

Why not? For embedded systems, when you need more than a boot loader, don't want all the excess baggage of Linux, and don't want to pay for one of the embedded OSs like QNX, it's a good option.

You also know that FreeDOS doesn't have a "phone home" feature, a HTTP server, a mail server, or something else on an open port running in the background without your knowing about it.

Comment We had a solution (Score 1) 649

We had a solution to "too big to fail" for banks. There was the Glass-Steagall Act, which forced a complete separation between brokerage and banking. Worked fine from the 1930s to 1999. Then it was repealed because the big banks wanted to get bigger. "Today, Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century. This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.", said the Treasury secretary in 1999.

Right there is how we got into this mess.

Comment Takings clause issue (Score 1) 351

No, not student works. That's a 5th amendment "takings clause" issue. This is a public school, an agency of government. Public school students are not employees. Not even close. Any taking of student property must be compensated.

I don't think any public school board has been dumb enough to try this before. State universities have been careful about this, after some troubles. (Private universities are a different case. They're not state actors.)

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