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Comment The Age of Cyberpunk (Score 1) 586

I believe, and have been believing for more than a decade now, that we are in a transition into a new era, which would best be simply described as an age of cyberpunk. Giant quasi-national corps and mainly administrative nations ruling large chunks of regular ultra-economized life with the fringes morphing into different, post-industrial citizen societies alltogether, with areas where money isn't worth as much as reputation or skill or simular non-monetary values such as honor or membership in some group like something quasi-religious or something. Human interaction will be paid for, stuff and convenience will come free.

Pick your standard William Gibson or Neal Stephenson novel on the subject and you get the picture of what I mean.

The simple fact is: we are living in paradise with a bizare abundance of things quite a few of which would have been considered impossible in the 50ies.

The shit our field has been whishing for humanity all along has finally arrived. You can get computers that would have been considered borderline magic two and a half decades ago and would have taken up a mid-sized 5-story building; so powerfull, lightweight, easy to use and with software usefull and manifold beyond comprehension for a single individual, so cheap, they can be payed for with 4 days of regular manual unskilled labor!

Just last night I saw a poster of an offering for a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 Wifi for 250 Euros. Two-hundred and fifty fucking euros! I payed more than 2 times that much for my friggin Sony MD700 Minidisk player back in 1997, a device so old-school in its tech and so single-purpose, it close to appears to come out of the early steam age compared to my HTC Flyer.

The truth is we've basically just about arrived at where we wanted to go. 5 years into the future algorithms and large computing clusters won't just be interpreting language, they will be translating it, and quite probably in real time. Tablets will have print resolution, weigh less than a book, have 15+ hours of uptime of the grid, be forever connected for a token fee and do *anything* you would want to be able to do with such a device ... and then some. And they will cost as much as a round-trip to the next big city.

Jobs are dropping left, right and center because they aren't needed anymore. Imagine when paper documents have finally moved out. An entire field of jobs will simply vanish.

I made compareatively big bucks developing in Flash/AS3 5 years ago. Proprietary lock-in stuff. Neat, but adobe totally missed the touch-screen dev train. Tough luck. Now I'm lucky if I even get one gig in that field every two years. I'll probably be doing specialized vertical market PHP and webdev the next few years for less money and after that, who knows? Even the LAMP stack is so old-tech I feel like in an entertainment programme when developing for it. ... Maybe afters this I'll become a massager for old lonely ladies and do touch-screen development just for the kicks on the side.

Bottom line: The world our field lives in and caters to is changing. Fast. We're seeing to that ourselves.
It's the age of cyberpunk, plain and simple. That's what I call it anyway.

My 2 cents.

Comment In general: Yes. (Score 1) 417

The answer is "Yes, these new-fangled non-pc devices do cover everyday tasks for the layman user and thus are a good full-time replacement for a PC."

Personally I'd check out the Asus Transformer and the Chromebook for devices with KB integrated, and the Google Nexus and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 line of tablets.

Remember to clarify a few things first:

Printing required?
Data transfer / backup required?
Optical media reading required? (Audio CD, DVD Video?)

There are solutions for 1 and 2, especially on Android, some involve using WiFi for data transfer, so your mom would maybe need some kind of external WiFi HDD or something.
If optical media is required, you'd have to look carefully at what's needed and search for an apropriate drive. ... Dunno if WiFi optical drives exist.

All those things aside, if your mom isn't a developer, designer or about to go into video editing or something and doesn't need a full M$ Office suite because her friends all use it to send stuff around, then a modern tablet is a very good computer.

My 2 cents.

Comment Choose the field, then the language. (Score 1) 224

Choose the field, then the language.

In terms of the field, there are two basic things you can aim for: One of the popular fields (Web, Mobile, Games) or the big-bucks||safe-job fields (ERP, non-trivial Databases (big-table or big-company), *nix maintenance, embedded systems, specialized vertical markets, Enterprise Client/Server, etc.)

It depends on what you want to do.

Once you've chosen your field, you choose your technology and then your PL. For Web and Mobile, using anything else than free open source technologies these days is silly and pointless, for Games and all the other stuff it probably will be some proprietary closed source stack/technology.

The PL itself should be an official independant standard either way. Which PL it will be in the end depends entirely on the choices made above.

If you want to make a solid and future-safe switch, I'd stick to the chosen field and become an expert. Better jobs that way. ... Unless the technology goes entirely belly up. Happens rarely, but was the case just recently with Flash/AS3 - which, for example, got me by the balls, since AS programming was my main source of income until two years ago.

Good luck.

My 2 cents.

Comment Explain but don't start a blame-game (Score 2) 340

Give him a new mail account. And tell him not to trust anything, even if you sent it. And tell him that mails are basically electronic postcards that can be easyly searched, scanned and manipulated, even the sender and the reciever. If he's still with you, tell him a bit about mailheaders and look at them with him. ... Although I personally wouldn't bother going to much into the details of email, they are insane anyway, in my opinion. (The Type A email security incident you describe pretty much proves my point).

Clean his system, give him a fresh thunderbird install with a new account and - if he fell like doing this - set up an encrypted mail communication between you and him. Explain which part of that makes it a sufficiently secure means of communication and which part can still be compromised (his, your's or anybody elses system).

If he's a person who's usage patterns are covered by Ubuntu, offer to move his system to that. ... I got my daughter an ubuntu netbook for her birthday. The amount of hassle-freeness is refreshing. It does suck that sound and mic are causing trouble on Ubuntu 12LTS, but that's a minor tradeoff for the lack of headaches I've gotten in return.

Good luck.

Comment Looks neat. ... Should team up with Ouya maybe ... (Score 1) 126

I've had this sort of idea quite a few times. A few simple multiplayer games and a batch of cheap zero-fuss compatible controllers. The Android devices are open and widespread enough to make this sort of thing commercially viable. And these guys have on litte edge over the Ouya: They're focusing on their own set of launch games built around console multiplayer. Wouldn't if be cool if you could play their games on the Ouya using their controllers? Their controllers look more complex and seem to cater more to the hardcore console gaming community, but this is tres cool none-the-less.

I like they way things are heading with this new Android console gaming craze. ... Having been in the gaming industry myseld in the past, I'm seriously thinking about maybe developing a title for this approaching market.

My 2 cents.

Comment Re:This this not evolution (Score 5, Insightful) 253

What health care was there 200 generations ago?

Pretty good healthcare in some parts of the world. Arabia and parts of the Byzantine Era, for instance, were a high culture more than a thousand years ago with complete health care coverage and other public services. Including stuff you'd have considered high-tech right up to magical in other parts of the world. Water clocks, aquaeducts, mechanical devices, sophisticated smithery and metal working, a school system, superiour math, accounting and efficiency measurement techniques, etc. As for the public healthcare, there are written acounts of people being thrown out of hospitals because they were still enjoying the pampering even though they were well again.

Which, on a sidenote, goes to show how things go down the drain once religious fanatics take over.

Comment The Ouya could be disruptive. Big time. (Score 4, Insightful) 121

I give Ouya a solid chance to disrupt console gaming and living-room computing on a totally new level.
The two simple facts that it is a) dirt cheap and b) anybody who has one can develop for it, carries some hefty oomph that is probably already making some Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo execs getting nervous as we speak. I say it is no coincidence that Nintendo has anounced their Wii U Devkit will be free of charge for anybody who wants one.

If this baby gains critical mass, which I hope and expect it will, it could very well become the best selling piece of electronics hardware in history. Bulk produce the Ouya beyond a few million pieces and you have a console with solid general purpose computing capabilities that most of earths population can afford. If that isn't killer potential, I don't know what is.

My 2 cents.

Comment I don't think it will take the lead. Here's why: (Score 1) 170

It looks weird. Like a 2000ish color Palm with a PhoneKB attached. This device probably won't take the lead because it doesn't have enough of those flashy elaborated calculator buttons.
Seriously, the HP50G or simular devices simply looks cooler and has a more sturdy 'professional-looking' engineering-feel finish. That's my theory anyway.

But, as for smaller non-graphing calculators in general though, I have to say that Casio beats TI and the others hands down. I just bought the Casio FX86 DE Plus (it's the most powerfull permitted in exams at my College) and like it's predecessor the naturaly display (textbook style entry) along with the term-buffer, 7 variables and value table generation (the last step before grafing) are just plain awesome. Wouldn't want to go without it.

My 2 cents.

Comment It's often explained wrong. (Score 1) 116

IMHO, git is a shining example of bad design. You need too much info on how it works on the inside, to be able to use it. It is simply way too complicated. I regret the fact that it seems to be the most popular VCS for open-source projects. I'd prefer something simpler like bzr.

Git is very often explained wrong. Especially for those brain-damaged by the use of CVS or SVN. (I myself was/am too). And yes, 'brain-damaged' is a quite fitting term in this case. Think switching from Basic to OOP Java. That's the magnitude we're talking about here.

A matter of fact is that Git is extremely easy to understand, as every concept it covers is exactly everything you need to know about versioning in order to understand versioning correctly. The main problem I think is that with distributed Git, everything one knows about Subversion as a commit actually is covered by 'git push' which, as it involves merging two single repositories, allways includes a merge. Imperative merges are rarely done in regular use of centralized subversion, which is why Git may seem cumbersome initially. However, it never gets more complicated that understanding that concept of 'git push', your regular special-case superset of a merge. In fact, this is one of the great advantages of the Git workflow. Since basically everything team related always has a merge involved, merges begin to lose their scare and become a part of every-day regular versioning usage. Which is exactly how it should be.

Once one has gotten over the initial speed bump in learning, especially the one involved in moving from Subversion to Git, the insights are bedazzling. If you've used Git correctly in a Subversion replacement scenario, going back to SVN appears like going from Linux to DOS and you finally understand what Linus Torwalds was ragging about in that famous Google TechTalk on Git. And that's just for the regular versioning stuff you know from SVN, and not even including things like 'git rebase' or other luxuries.

I find a great introduction into the right way of grasping Git for the 'impaired by SVN usage' is this commercial video lecture by the PragProg people (10min Preview for free).

Their book on Git seems to be in the same ballpark quality wise.

After moving from SVN to Git - which took a few weeks time to get the hang of - I have to say that I now would second almost everything Linus Torwalds has to rag on about Subversion. Whenever I'm at my job where we use SVN, it feels like I've stepped back a decade or two. The crappyness of subversion and the elegance of git are simply unfathomable if you haven't used both extensively in versioning your projects. I personally find that even if you use Git as a drop in replacement for Subversion, mimicking the workflows including a centralised repos only used for pushing towards and pulling from, it still is light-years ahead of Subversion in every (un)imaginable way. Even the small things like configuring your ignores compare like Linux and DOS commandline between Git and Subversion respectively.

My KO criteria for Git 2-3 years ago used to be the lack of usable GUIs for Git and the abundance of mature SVN GUIs. However, today I'd stick with Git, even if all GitGUIs would vanish overnight.

My conclusion:
I strongly suggest you bite the bullet and wrap your head around what that what appears first as some arcane concept of Git and get to use it regularly. You'll very quickly find that Git has it right and Subversion has it wrong in countless ways you weren't even aware of. That's my experience anyway. ... The downside of that will be, of course, that you will lose your blissfull ignorance of the crappyness of subversion and will suffer whenever required to use it, be it at your job or elsewhere. :-)

My 2 cents.

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