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Comment Re:Compare to cease and desist notices (Score 1) 178

I don't know about the ETF, but I found that the $1.99/MB was charged when I turned on my new phone and pushed the button looking for the tool menu. I reprogrammed the buttons to avoid that, but it was clear that accidentally turning on the "standard" service was going to cost me $2 each time. It's obviously "$1.99 per (MB or fraction thereof)" and that includes the splash screen, without a data plan.

Comment Re:Long live Hypercard (Score 1) 578

Precisely!

One only needs to look at what was done in Hypercard to see that this will actually be useful to many people, especially with modern hardware underneath it.

It will be used for inappropriately complex systems, of course, but so it goes. Many people will find it's wonderful for the problem they want to solve, for which they'd never hire a "real" programmer.

When I was designing a scripting language for testing wireless protocols I modeled parts of it on Hypertalk -- I allowed programmers to use either message[id] or 'id of message', for instance. It wasn't particularly fast, compared to what one could do in C, but it was certainly more usable by someone who understood the domain but wasn't a programmer.

The testers found it very useful. The people writing the protocols weren't interested in using it to produce realtime efficient implementations, but nobody expected it to be used that way. I was surprised to find some testers, who were also programmers, using it to write load generating tests, though.

Very few people need to extract every bit of efficiency out of a dual core CPU in order to manage their model railroad and train collection, or their knitting pattern collection, but the relatively inexpensive computer they might buy will certainly have such a CPU in the near future. Such a machine will run such an application very satisfactorily, and they'll be able to make it do just what they want.

Go find a copy of Danny Goodman's Hypercard Handbook and see how well it explained how to use the language. People did great things with it -- but they weren't interested in writing operating systems.

joe

Comment Perhaps the new InternetGlue should be "Goo"? (Score 1) 512

Given it's purpose, to be the glue that fastens functionality to web pages, it should be called "Goo"...

Of course, the makers of ShoeGoo may think people will be confused, and those who clean their hands with Goop may also have some difficulty being clear, if it should stick to their fingers...

joe

Comment Re:What's the impact on Global Climate Change? (Score 1) 247

Anyway you slice it, human demand for energy is only going to increase. We all know that.

I wonder if the ant feels that way when a boy finds how to use magnifying glass to increase the energy available to it...

I suspect the human energy needs (on earth) will peak and decline within the next century or so, because the human population will. I suspect we'll also learn we need to focus on sustainability of the planetary system -- looks like we're beginning to see that need WRT the ocean fish stocks, for instance ...

joe

Comment Re:What's the impact on Global Climate Change? (Score 1) 247

How much of that energy would have reached Earth anyway, albeit in a less concentrated form?

It's an interesting question -- might be fun to try to calculate orbital parameters both to maximize (sunshade) and to minimize it -- can you make an orbit precess so it is always in the plane that contains the day/night boundary?

Otherwise, worst case would be if you put the collector in L4 or L5 so it's in solar orbit, rather than earth orbit, I guess.

joe

Comment What's the impact on Global Climate Change? (Score 1) 247

When I think about beaming energy from space to ground, I wonder about the impact on global warming...

The process basically increases the solar energy reaching the surface to be dissipated (eventually) into the atmosphere. Thus it's a positive direct contribution to global warming. What offsets that? If it reduces greenhouse gas generation sufficiently I can see it might reduce the warming, but I never see that issue discussed.

Joe

Comment Re:Hyperbole much (Score 1) 406

A compiler translates source language to target language (usually executable machine code) and stops there. It does not execute the code.

An interpreter translates source language to target language (usually machine code), and executes it.

...

If the federal law requires there be no interpretation, all code has to be compiled before the election to comply. That is clearly not the case with T-SQL exec statements running dynamically constructed statements.

Unfortunately, the hardware is an interpreter for "machine code". Thus, any code that actually accomplishes anything is illegal, as it is interpreted code.

Not to be pedantic, or anything...

Comment Re:We are our own problem. (Score 1) 757

Yes. And evil testing can be fun!

We had a summer student who was asked to write a hex dump (actually octal dump, but those were ancient times) analyser for some data structures we used.

When they brought it to me to test, the first thing I did was cat(1) a binary file at it... It crashed immediately, of course. You should have seen the shocked look on the student's face!

The next time it came for testing, it was quite stable and at least said "invalid input" on such an occasion.

joe

Comment Re:We are our own problem. (Score 2, Interesting) 757

I always employ the 'Shut the fuck up' protocol. Unfortunately for my testing team it is usually me who is shouting it . . .

Right. I work(ed) as a software tools developer in a group of such people. Most of our users were other technical people, a high percentage with MS in CS.

They needed to know how to use many Unix tools, plus the domain knowledge for whatever project they were working on.

Unfortunately, each tool developer had their own idea about what was an "intuitive" user interface, thus our users needed to learn them all...

When a "Brain dead User"(tm) tried to explain why they had difficulty using the tool for whatever their job was, they'd say something like "But then I need to do XXXX, and the tool won't do that" -- And the developer would say, "Sure it does, you just need to do YYYYY". As a BDU for some tools myself, I got really tired of that answer. Imagine a mechanical tool -- that response would be something like "Sure it can, you just need to stand on one leg and hold it behind your back with your other hand" (Geee, why didn't I think of that?).

Eventually I realized this was another place where "The Customer is Always RIght" applies, except many of us don't understand the proper meaning of that phrase: If the customer has a problem, you have a problem to solve, even if they don't properly describe it. It may be a matter of educating the customer, but it may be better to educate yourself -- how do they think it should work?

I don't know about where you work, but where I worked, it was hard to learn everything I needed to know about the product domain -- needing also to learn a couple of dozen idiosyncratic user interfaces was just extra work. The result was that even if I finally realized what the perfect tool was and made it, I couldn't get people who were already in overload to take the time to learn to use it. Then I started trying to understand what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it, and then made something they didn't need to learn to use, it just worked the way they did, and did more than they expected.

Of course the next step for the company was retirement incentives for the experienced employees with layoffs to follow.

Comment Shades of the Deltoid Pumpkin Seed (Score 1) 343

I've been watching for something like this since the New Yorker carried a series about hybrid airships when I was in grad school. Seems it was finally published as a book (1973): The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed

I guess it says something about the time it takes for new technology to get off the ground, so to speak.

Everyone thinks of the Hindenburg, but as the New Yorker article pointed out, there weren't many passenger aircraft in those days, and this was the first such crash caught on video, so it had a huge impact. These days, we have 10 times as many lost in a passenger jet crash and even if on video it has much less impact on the public at large.

Comment What's it do for Global Climate Change? (Score 1) 392

When I heard of this idea some time ago I wondered: Right now we have a "Global Warming" problem -- X amount of incident energy from the sun being absorbed and Y being radiated from the planet. Due to the "greenhouse gasses" the earth is getting warmer and we see it as a problem

I know! Let's attack the problem by increasing X! Why settle for only the energy that comes directly to Earth from the Sun? Why don't we add some mirrors in space, and beam some more down?

How does that compute?

joe

Comment Which tool should a carpenter specialize in? (Score 1) 569

The question seems odd -- it's as if a carpenter asked whether she should specialize in the hammer, the saw, or the square.

Personally, I'd recommend learning to program in C, Lisp, and Smalltalk -- three different ways of thinking about programming -- Too bad SNOBOL seems to have disappeared -- it was even more different.

Of course, those will probably be dismissed as antiques, but they are widely available and have many modern derivatives.

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